Day 9 of Lent prep novena based on Francis’ msg

Message of Pope Francis for Lent 2017

Quote:

“May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion…” (from n. 3)

Reflection:

St Paul informs us (in 1 Corinthians 12:3) that “no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”

The US Bishops note the essential role of the Holy Spirit in conversion:

The New Evangelization is an opportunity for ongoing conversion. This reorientation of one’s life toward Christ is possible because of the work of the Holy Spirit. The process of returning to active participation in the Church is a process of conversion that unfolds through the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, complete trust in the work of the Holy Spirit is essential.  (from Part 5)

How do we receive the Holy Spirit?  The Catechism teaches us (in n. 739):

Through the Church’s sacraments, Christ communicates his Holy and sanctifying Spirit to the members of his Body.

We also receive the Holy Spirit by beseeching our Lord earnestly in prayer as Jesus taught us in Luke 11:13

…how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Additionally, in these days, the Lord has been pouring out his love and power by allowing people to be “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (cf Acts 1:5).  This baptism in the Holy Spirit is a life-renewing experience — a personal Pentecost — in which my surrender to Jesus as Savior and Lord allows the intense love of God our Father to be poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit.  This grace of being baptized in the Holy Spirit can be granted by requesting it of our Lord in our personal prayer, or by asking others to pray with us and intercede for us that we may receive it.

May we all have a fruitful Lent in 2017!!

Novena Prayer:

Father, rich in mercy, I cling to you in love (cf Psalm 91:14).  I truly desire to engage in an ardent, life-transforming observance of Lent. Fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit, and bestow upon me the grace to be able to love others as you love me, and to make a gift of myself to them as you inspire me.  I ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Day 8 of Lent prep novena based on Francis’ msg

Message of Pope Francis for Lent 2017

Quote:

“…Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor.”  (from n. 3)

Reflection:

My Baptism into Christ and His Church must be fulfilled by means of my encounter with Jesus.  This encounter must be intensely personal and tangible.  I need to constantly nurture the intimacy of my encounter with Jesus, plunging into deep communion with Him.  My encounter with Jesus will lead me to an ever increasing longing to be in His presence and eternally see His Face in the Beatific Vision.   It will lead me to deeply heartfelt expressions of self-giving love directed to Him.  Yes, my encounter with Jesus must be rooted deep within my heart, occasionally springing forth in spontaneous prayer and expressive praise.  The depth of my encounter with Jesus becomes evident by the level of

  • sorrow that overwhelms me when I see someone receiving Holy Communion irreverently
  • repulsion and sadness that wracks my heart when I hear someone using the holy name of Jesus inappropriately
  • pity I feel when someone expresses their unbelief in the divinity and power of Jesus
  • disappointment I experience when parish life is more concerned with fund-raising than with reaching out through active evangelization with a message of joy and hope to the local unbelievers by boldly proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus

My personal encounter with Jesus is prerequisite to my being able to see His Face in others and serve them.  This Prayer of Commitment will remind you to live your encounter with Jesus.

I will continue to do lectio divina of the key passage of Sacred Scripture to which Pope Francis points us in his message (Luke 16:19-31).

Novena Prayer:

Father, rich in mercy, I cling to you in love (cf Psalm 91:14).  I truly desire to engage in an ardent, life-transforming observance of Lent. Fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit, and bestow upon me the grace to be able to love others as you love me, and to make a gift of myself to them as you inspire me.  I ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Day 7 of Lent prep novena based on Francis’ msg

Message of Pope Francis for Lent 2017

Quote:

“The rich man’s real problem thus comes to the fore. At the root of all his ills was the failure to heed God’s word. As a result, he no longer loved God and grew to despise his neighbor. The word of God is alive and powerful, capable of converting hearts and leading them back to God. When we close our heart to the gift of God’s word, we end up closing our heart to the gift of our brothers and sisters.”  (from n. 3)

Reflection:

First, I must strive to make the reading/hearing/praying of God’s word a priority each day.  Fr Larry Richards has a challenging maxim for himself that goes something like this: “No Bible, no breakfast; no Bible, no bedtime.”  I’m always impressed with the Office of Vigils when I visit Mount Saviour Monastery.  This is the office with which the monks begin their day at 4:45 a.m.  It consists of numerous Psalms and other readings from Sacred Scripture.  An admirable way to begin each day — arming oneself with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17)

From the 2006 Message for World Youth Day of pope emeritus Benedict XVI:

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote: “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (4:12). It is necessary to take seriously the injunction to consider the word of God to be an indispensable “weapon” in the spiritual struggle. This will be effective and show results if we learn to listen to it and then to obey it.

Then I must allow the word of God — through its demanding call to self-giving love — to form my heart and direct my actions:

Social thinking and social practice inspired by the Gospel must always be marked by a special sensitivity towards those who are most in distress, those who are extremely poor, those suffering from all the physical, mental and moral ills that afflict humanity, including hunger, neglect, unemployment and despair. There are many poor people of this sort around the world. There are many in your own midst.
[…]
On various occasions, I have referred to the Gospel parable of the rich man and Lazarus….The parable of the rich man and Lazarus must always be present in our memory; it must form our conscience….All of humanity must think of the parable of the rich man and the beggar….We cannot stand idly by when thousands of human beings are dying of hunger. Nor can we remain indifferent when the rights of the human spirit are trampled upon, when violence is done to the human conscience in matters of truth, religion, and cultural creativity.
(St John Paul II, from his homily at Yankee Stadium 02-October-1979)

I will continue to do lectio divina of the key passage of Sacred Scripture to which Pope Francis points us in his message (Luke 16:19-31).

Novena Prayer:

Father, rich in mercy, I cling to you in love (cf Psalm 91:14).  I truly desire to engage in an ardent, life-transforming observance of Lent. Fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit, and bestow upon me the grace to be able to love others as you love me, and to make a gift of myself to them as you inspire me.  I ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Day 6 of Lent prep novena based on Francis’ msg

Message of Pope Francis for Lent 2017

Quote:

“…the rich man’s greed makes him vain. His personality finds expression in appearances, in showing others what he can do. But his appearance masks an interior emptiness. His life is a prisoner to outward appearances, to the most superficial and fleeting aspects of existence….there was no place for God in his life. His only god was himself.”  (from nn. 2,3)

Reflection:

On 18-May-2016, Pope Francis devoted his weekly General Audience to this same parable of Dives and Lazarus.  He taught:

Thus, that man turned to Abraham, imploring him in the name of ‘father’ (vv. 24, 27). Thereby claiming to be his son, belonging to the People of God. Yet in life he showed no consideration toward God. Instead he made himself the center of all things, closed inside his world of luxury and wastefulness. In excluding Lazarus, he did not take into consideration the Lord nor his law. To ignore a poor man is to scorn God! We must learn this well: to ignore the poor is to scorn God.
[…]
God is never called upon directly, but the parable clearly warns: God’s mercy toward us is linked to our mercy toward our neighbor; when this is lacking, also that of not finding room in our closed heart, He cannot enter. If I do not thrust open the door of my heart to the poor, that door remains closed. Even to God. This is terrible.

Why does Pope Francis say “this is terrible”?  Because the end result of having no place for God in my life would be that he will have no place for me in His eternal life.  I imagine the terrifying hopelessness that would descend upon me if I heard God say to me on Judgement Day “You will never enter my rest!” (cf Psalm 95:10-11).  Or the never-changing state of distressing regret into which I would tumble upon hearing Jesus judge me by saying “I never knew you.  Depart from me, you evildoer.” (cf Matthew 7:21-23).

I will continue to do lectio divina of the key passage of Sacred Scripture to which Pope Francis points us in his message (Luke 16:19-31).

Novena Prayer:

Father, rich in mercy, I cling to you in love (cf Psalm 91:14).  I truly desire to engage in an ardent, life-transforming observance of Lent. Fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit, and bestow upon me the grace to be able to love others as you love me, and to make a gift of myself to them as you inspire me.  I ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Day 5 of Lent prep novena based on Francis’ msg

Message of Pope Francis for Lent 2017

Quote:

“The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable.”  (from n. 1)

Reflection:

In the word of God near the very beginning (in Genesis), when Adam and Eve failed to trust God, he promised mercy, rather than leave them hopeless and in despair.  The Bible is replete with admonitions and examples of the concern I should have for the “weak and vulnerable,” for example:

  • Psalm 41:1  “Blessed is he who considers the poor!  The LORD delivers him in the day of trouble…”
  • Sirach 4:1  “My son, deprive not the poor of his living, and do not keep needy eyes waiting.”
  • Galatians 2:10  “…only they would have us remember the poor, which very thing I was eager to do.”

As I read God’s word, its author — the Holy Spirit — inspires me to take its message to heart, as do the holy leaders of our Church.

St John Paul II, from his homily at Yankee Stadium 02-October-1979:

The poor of the United States and of the world are your brothers and sisters in Christ. You must never be content to leave them just the crumbs from the feast. You must take of your substance, and not just of your abundance, in order to help them. And you must treat them like guests at your family table.
[…]
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus must always be present in our memory; it must form our conscience. Christ demands openness to our brothers and sisters in need — openness from the rich, the affluent, the economically advanced; openness to the poor, the underdeveloped and the disadvantaged. Christ demands an openness that is more than benign attention, more than token actions or half-hearted efforts that leave the poor as destitute as before or even more so.

From a recap of Pope Francis’ meditation at the morning weekday Mass of 19-October-2015:

Therefore, Francis summarized, the “first question: Do I give?”; second: “How much do I give?”; third: “How do I give?”. In other words, do I give like Jesus, by giving “with a loving caress, or like one who is paying a tax?”. He then asked: “When you help people, do you look them in the eyes? Do you touch their hand?”. We must not forget, the Pontiff said, that before us “is the flesh of Christ, it’s your brother, your sister. And in that moment you are like the Father who never leaves the birds of the sky without food”.

I will continue to do lectio divina of the key passage of Sacred Scripture to which Pope Francis points us in his message (Luke 16:19-31).

Novena Prayer:

Father, rich in mercy, I cling to you in love (cf Psalm 91:14).  I truly desire to engage in an ardent, life-transforming observance of Lent. Fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit, and bestow upon me the grace to be able to love others as you love me, and to make a gift of myself to them as you inspire me.  I ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Day 4 of Lent prep novena based on Francis’ msg

Message of Pope Francis for Lent 2017

Quote:

“A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value. Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summons to conversion and to change. The parable first invites us to open the doors of our heart to others because each person is a gift…”  (from n. 1)

Reflection:

St John Paul II in Novo Millennio Ineunte, nn. 42,43:

Communion is the fruit and demonstration of that love which springs from the heart of the Eternal Father and is poured out upon us through the Spirit which Jesus gives us (cf. Rom 5:5), to make us all “one heart and one soul” (Acts 4:32)….. To make the Church the home and the school of communion:  that is the great challenge facing us in the [new] millennium…..A spirituality of communion indicates above all the heart’s contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining on the face of the brothers and sisters around us. A spirituality of communion also means an ability to think of our brothers and sisters in faith within the profound unity of the Mystical Body, and therefore as “those who are a part of me”. This makes us able to share their joys and sufferings, to sense their desires and attend to their needs, to offer them deep and genuine friendship. A spirituality of communion implies also the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for the brother or sister who has received it directly, but also as a “gift for me”. A spirituality of communion means, finally, to know how to “make room” for our brothers and sisters, bearing “each other’s burdens” (Gal 6:2) and resisting the selfish temptations which constantly beset us and provoke competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy. Let us have no illusions: unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve very little purpose. They would become mechanisms without a soul, “masks” of communion rather than its means of expression and growth.

I recall the many people in my life who see me as ‘a part of them.’  I am grateful for those

  • who pray for me
  • who are generous to me
  • who serve me
  • who correct me
  • who listen to me
  • who offer me advice
  • who love me

During this Lenten season, I hope to grow to be more of a person who sees everyone I encounter as a gift to me, and who sees the face of Christ in each of them.

I will continue to do lectio divina of the key passage of Sacred Scripture to which Pope Francis points us in his message (Luke 16:19-31).

Novena Prayer:

Father, rich in mercy, I cling to you in love (cf Psalm 91:14).  I truly desire to engage in an ardent, life-transforming observance of Lent. Fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit, and bestow upon me the grace to be able to love others as you love me, and to make a gift of myself to them as you inspire me.  I ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Day 3 of Lent prep novena based on Francis’ msg

Message of Pope Francis for Lent 2017

Quote:

“At the basis of everything is the word of God, which during this season we are invited to hear and ponder more deeply.”  (from the Introductory section)

Reflection:

The word of God changes people’s lives.  It changed my life 35 years ago.  I was watching a Pentecostal televangelist who confidently asserted “Catholics don’t read the Bible.”  I was a Catholic.  I didn’t read the Bible.  Convicted by his comment, and prompted by the Holy Spirit, I purchased a Catholic Bible and began reading the Gospel of St Matthew.  By the time I was halfway through Matthew, I realized that I needed to do a great deal of repenting and life-changing if I wanted to be a true follower of Jesus, and a faithful Catholic.

St John Paul II said, in Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 39:

There is no doubt that this primacy of holiness and prayer is inconceivable without a renewed listening to the word of God…….. …..It is especially necessary that listening to the word of God should become a life-giving encounter, in the ancient and ever valid tradition of lectio divina, which draws from the biblical text the living word which questions, directs and shapes our lives.

Here is a prayer to open your heart as you prepare to do some Bible reading.

I will continue to do lectio divina of the key passage of Sacred Scripture to which Pope Francis points us in his message (Luke 16:19-31).

Novena Prayer:

Father, rich in mercy, I cling to you in love (cf Psalm 91:14).  I truly desire to engage in an ardent, life-transforming observance of Lent. Fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit, and bestow upon me the grace to be able to love others as you love me, and to make a gift of myself to them as you inspire me.  I ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.