Awake, O Sleeper

Freeing SoulsI haven’t been too inspired lately, but every once in a while I stumble across something too good to keep to myself. This is from an ancient homily which appears in this morning’s readings of the Liturgy of the Hours:

“Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

“He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ Christ answered him: ‘And with your spirit.’ He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’….

“Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”

Advertisements

The Holy Hour: Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Agony From the Blessed Sacrament Prayerbook, a method of the Holy Hour, third quarter:

“Contemplate Jesus as He stands before His sleeping disciples and meekly complains:

‘I looked for one that would grieve together with Me, but there was none: and for one that would comfort Me, but there was none.’ (Ps. 69:21).

“Meditate for a moment on this complaint of Our Lord and then recite the ‘Litany of the Sacred Heart,’….

From Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The proper act of the devotion 

This act is required by the very object of the devotion, since devotion to the love of Jesus for us should be pre-eminently a devotion of love for Jesus. It is characterized by a reciprocation of love; its aim is to love Jesus who has so loved us, to return love for love. Since, moreover, the love of Jesus manifests itself to the devout soul as a love despised and outraged, especially in the Eucharist, the love expressed in the devotion naturally assumes a character of reparation, and hence the importance of acts of atonement, the Communion of reparation, and compassion for Jesus suffering. But no special act, no practice whatever, can exhaust the riches of the devotion to the Sacred Heart. The love which is its soul embraces all and, the better one understands it, the more firmly is he convinced that nothing can vie with it for making Jesus live in us and for bringing him who lives by it to love God, in union with Jesus, with all his heart, all his soul, all his strength.

 

During Lent devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus takes on even greater significance. Hence, the inclusion of the Litany of the Sacred Heart as part of a suggested method of observing the Holy Hour. I would encourage you to read the rest of the article in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Thanks to sacredheart.com for this version of the litany. 

Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus


Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, united substantially with the word of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Divinity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father is well pleased, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who invoke Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, saturated with revilings, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, crushed for our iniquities, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, made obedient unto death, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord,
Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart.
R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.

Let us pray

Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the Heart of Thy well-beloved Son and upon the acts of praise and satisfaction which He renders unto Thee in the name of sinners; and do Thou, in Thy great goodness, grant pardon to them who seek Thy mercy, in the name of the same Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end.”

 

The Holy Hour: Litany of the Love of God

Agony From the Blessed Sacrament Prayerbook, a method of the Holy Hour, second quarter:

“In the presence of Jesus Who is lying prostrate with His face to the earth, meditate on these words so full of resignation:

‘My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.’ (Matt. 26:39).

“Then read slowly and recollectedly a chapter of the “Imitation of Christ” bearing on the passion and love of Jesus (See Book II, chapters vii, viii, xi and xii).

“Or, read from some other approved work on the passion and death of Our Lord. Recite the Litany of the Blessed Sacrament or the Litany of the Love of God; or one of the Penitential Psalms, e.g., the Miserere.

I love discovering a new (to me) prayer, especially a litany. What better subject of a litany than God’s highest and most important commandment. Within this litany is a key to Heaven. Again, thanks to Catholic Online for this version of the Litany of the Love of God.

(Composed by His Holiness, Pope Pius VI)
(For private use)
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us. Christ graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us. Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us. Thou Who art Infinite Love, Have mercy on us.
Thou Who didst first love me, Have mercy on us.
Thou Who commandest me to love Thee, Have mercy on us.

With all my heart,
I Love Thee, O My God
With all my soul,
I Love Thee, O My God
With all my mind,
I Love Thee, O My God
With all my strength,
I Love Thee, O My God
Above all possessions and honors,
I Love Thee, O My God
Above all pleasures and enjoyments,
I Love Thee, O My God
More than myself, and everything belonging to me,
I Love Thee, O My God
More than all my relatives and friends,
I Love Thee, O My God
More than all men and angels,
I Love Thee, O My God
Above all created things in heaven or on earth,
I Love Thee, O My God
Only for Thyself,
I Love Thee, O My God
Because Thou art the sovereign Good,
I Love Thee, O My God
Because Thou art infinitely worthy of being loved,
I Love Thee, O My God
Because Thou art infinitely perfect,
I Love Thee, O My God
Even hadst Thou not promised me heaven,
I Love Thee, O My God
Even hadst Thou not menaced me with hell,
I Love Thee, O My God
Even shouldst Thou try me by want and misfortune,
I Love Thee, O My God
In wealth and in poverty,
I Love Thee, O My God
In prosperity and in adversity,
I Love Thee, O My God
In health and in sickness,
I Love Thee, O My God
In life and in death,
I Love Thee, O My God
In time and in eternity,
I Love Thee, O My God
In union with that love wherewith all the saints and all the angels love Thee in heaven,
I Love Thee, O My God
In union with that love wherewith the Blessed Virgin Mary loveth Thee,
I Love Thee, O My God
In union with that infinite love wherewith Thou lovest Thyself eternally,
I Love Thee, O My God
Prayer
My God, Who dost possess in incomprehensible abundance all that is perfect and worthy of love, annihilate in me all guilty, sensual, and undue love for creatures. Kindle in my heart the pure fire of Thy love, so that I may love nothing but Thee or in Thee, until being so entirely consumed by holy love of Thee, I may go to love Thee eternally with the elect in heaven, the country of pure love. Amen.

The Holy Hour: Litany of the Passion

Agony  From the Blessed Sacrament Prayerbook, a method of the Holy Hour, first quarter:

“Picture to yourself our divine Savior kneeling alone in the Garden of Gethsemani, and then with deep recollection of mind meditate for a while on these words of Jesus:

“‘My soul is sorrowful even unto death.’ (Matt. 26:38).

“After this recite the Rosary, and say each of the decades in honor of one of the sorrowful mysteries: the agony, the scourging, the crowning with thorns, the carrying of the cross, the crucifixion.

“Or say The Litany of the Passion together with other prayers.”

The litany is one of my favorite forms of prayer. If the door is not open, God wants us to keep knocking. Each line should be reflected upon prayerfully. I could, and undoubtedly will, say more about the Holy Hour and the Agony in the Garden, but the Litany of the Passion is a good way to observe this Lenten season. My thanks to Catholic Online for the following version of this great litany, written by Cardinal Newman, and approved for private devotion:

Litany of the Passion, by John Henry Cardinal Newman (for private use),

Lord, have mercy. (Lord, have mercy.)
Christ, have mercy. (Christ, have mercy.)
Lord, have mercy. (Lord, have mercy.)
Christ, hear us.  (Christ, graciously hear us.)
God the Father of Heaven,
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Ghost,
Holy Trinity, one God,
Jesus, the Eternal Wisdom,
The Word made flesh,
Hated by the world,
Sold for thirty pieces of silver,
Sweating blood in Thy agony,
Betrayed by Judas,
Forsaken by Thy disciples,
Struck upon the cheek,
Accused by false witnesses,
Spit upon in the face,
Denied by Peter,
Mocked by Herod,
Scourged by Pilate,
Rejected for Barabbas,
Loaded with the cross,
Crowned with thorns,
Stripped of Thy garments,
Nailed to the tree,
Reviled by the Jews,
Scoffed at by the malefactor,
Wounded in the side,
Shedding Thy last drop of blood, .
Forsaken by Thy Father,
Dying for our sins,
Taken down from the cross, .
Laid in the sepulchre,
Rising gloriously,
Ascending into Heaven,
Sending down the Paraclete, .
Jesus our Sacrifice,
Jesus our Mediator,
Jesus our Judge,
  Have mercy on us
Be merciful, (Spare us, O Lord).
Be merciful, (Graciously hear us, O Lord).
From all sin,
From all evil, Lord Jesus,
From anger and hatred,
From malice and revenge,
From unbelief and hardness of heart,
From blasphemy and sacrilege,
From hypocrisy and covetousness,
From blindness of the understanding,
From contempt of Thy warnings,
From relapse after Thy judgments,
From danger of soul and body,
From everlasting death,
Lord Jesus deliver us
We sinners, (beseech Thee, hear us.)
That Thou wouldest spare us,
That Thou wouldest pardon us,
That Thou wouldest defend Thy Church,
That Thou wouldest bless Thy own,
That Thou wouldest convert Thy foes,
That Thou wouldest spread the truth,
That Thou wouldest destroy error,
That Thou wouldest break to pieces false gods,
That Thou wouldest increase Thy elect,
That Thou wouldest let loose the holy souls in prison,
That Thou wouldest unite us to Thy saints above,
We beseech Thee, hear us
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, (Spare us, O Lord).
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, (Graciously hear us, O Lord.)
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, (Have mercy on us.)
Christ, hear us. (Christ, graciously hear us.)
Lord, have mercy. (Christ have mercy.)
Lord, have mercy. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee,
(Because through Thy Holy Cross Thou didst redeem the world.)
Let us pray. O God, Who for the redemption of the world was pleased to be born; to be circumcised; to be rejected; to be betrayed; to be bound with thongs; to be led to the slaughter; to be shamefully gazed at; to be falsely accused; to be scourged and torn; to be spit upon, and crowned with thorns; to be mocked and reviled; to be buffeted and struck with rods; to be stripped; to be nailed to the cross; to be hoisted up thereon; to be reckoned among thieves; to have gall and vinegar to drink; to be pierced with a lance: through Thy most holy passion, which we, Thy sinful servants, call to mind, and by Thy Holy Cross and gracious death, deliver us from the pains of hell, and lead us whither Thou didst lead the thief who was crucified with Thee, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest, God, world without end. Amen.

 

Evangelical Catholicism

One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.                             Matt. 4:4.

Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.                                                               John 6:68.

This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.                                                                                                     Mark 9:7.

Is Catholicism relevant? If you find yourself asking this question, then ask yourself are you happy with the world as it is? If you blog, then you only have to look at your spam to know how full of filth the world is. Evil hunts you. You cannot hide from it. What about the people you know, your co-workers, your friends and acquaintances, your family? Are their lives as God-centered as you think they should be? Were you happy with our choices for the Presidential election? After all, there were Catholics on both sides of the ticket. This caused a number of us to consider family values Catholicism versus social justice Catholicism. Why should we have to vote for one to the disparagement of the other? Ask yourself, are you content with the growing secularism of societies? Are you content with the proliferation of pornography and mass murder? Do you walk away when talk turns to the filth that has infiltrated our Church?

I could not sleep last night thinking of such things. During the day I had read George Weigel’s column “The Rise of Evangelical Catholicism.” I longed to read his new book. I was wide awake, and so I opened up my Kindle in the dark bedroom and ordered it. No, I haven’t finished reading yet; I’ve just begun. No, this isn’t a review or an endorsement, not yet at least. However, I think I know what is coming.

In his article he considers the challenge that lies before us. “The challenge can be defined simply: throughout the western world, the culture no longer carries the faith, because the culture has become increasingly hostile to the faith. Catholicism can no longer be absorbed by osmosis from the environment, for the environment has become toxic. So we can no longer sit back and assume that decent lives lived in conformity with the prevailing cultural norms will, somehow, convey the faith to our children and grandchildren and invite others to consider entering the Church.

“No, in our new situation, Catholicism has to be proposed, and Catholicism has to be lived in radical fidelity to Christ and the Gospel. Recreational Catholicism—Catholicism as a traditional, leisure-time activity absorbing perhaps 90 minutes of one’s time on a weekend—is over. Full-time Catholicism—a Catholicism that, as the Second Vatican Council taught, infuses all of life and calls everyone in the Church to holiness and mission—is the only possible Catholicism in the 21st century.

“The Evangelical Catholicism of the future is a Catholicism of radical conversion, deep fidelity, joyful discipleship and courageous evangelism. Evangelical Catholics put friendship with the Lord Jesus at the center of everything: personal identity, relationships, activity. Evangelical Catholics strive for fidelity despite the wounds of sin, and do so through a daily encounter with the Word of God in the Bible and a regular embrace of Christ through a frequent reception of the sacraments.”

The environment in which Catholicism, and yes all Christianity, depends upon for life and growth has become toxic. Our faith will no longer grow on its own. Recreational Catholicism as he defines it is no longer sufficient to grow our faith or even ensure its survival. No less than radical conversion, dedicated discipleship and renewed gospel-centered evangelization are what is now required.

I write primarily for the laity, because that’s where my experience and vocation lie. And make no mistake, the role of the laity is a vocation. Ever since Vatican II the Church has called for a renewal of the religious life and role of the laity. See The Essential Role of the Laity at Ignatius.com. Lay Christians need to permeate social, political and economic realities. Lay Christians must bring Christ’s message to the whole world. This is part and parcel of our coming evangelical orientation.

“Evangelical Catholics enter mission territory every day,” writes Mr. Weigel. The call is for our role of discipleship to invite the question “how can you live that way?” And to that our answer must be “how can you not live that way?” This brings to mind the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words. We must not only preach the gospel by how we live but sometimes, yes, by standing up for our faith with words and being counted.

It is not only Lent but a time for electing a new Pope. This is a great time to put on the new man and to renew our baptismal vows. This is a great time to be reborn again in the Holy Spirit and fire. And it is a necessary time of prayer for our church and the wisdom of its leadership as we move into the 21st century. Do not forget to pray and then pray some more. And burn for Our Lord.

A God Weary Upon Earth!

Agony 6We should reflect upon Our Savior’s passion all through the year, but if we do not, we certainly should think about it deeply during these days of Lent. The following comes from a meditation on His agony in the garden, excerpted from The Blessed Sacrament Prayerbook:

A God weary upon earth! What an expression is this! ‘And he began to be weary.’….

Contemplate your divine Master, His face prostrate on the earth, His sad, anxious expression; He looks on all sides, weeps, and cries; the blood flows from his sorely wounded Heart; His sacred garments are steeped in it; even to the ground flows this ruddy stream.

But, behold, He prays. Remember this; if someday weariness should seize upon your soul, penetrate even to your heart, so not fail to imitate your Savior and pray, and an angel shall descend from heaven to comfort you, or at least to strengthen you. Seek not for comfort elsewhere, complain not to others. The earth will not respond to you, your very friends will not understand your grief, nay, they will even seem insensible to it; pray, still pray, above all pray to the Heart of Jesus, which knew all and every weariness, and He will have pity upon you; He will save you from the abyss of despair which threatens you and is ready to swallow you up.

Since Jesus was made man, a person just as fully human as you and me, and because He is the Way, everything He did and said on earth are examples to us. Not the least of His examples to us is His resort to prayer, especially in time of suffering.

But He also taught us that there is an end to our short sufferings and weariness on this earth and an eternal reward for those who follow in His footsteps.

A Little Patience for Lent

I am one of the most impatient people I know. I used to have a small cushion hanging from my office door knob that said, “Lord, grant me patience. And please hurry!” I hate being impatient. I am impatient with my lack of progress remedying this flaw, which of course only makes it worse.

Sometimes the rhythm of life’s vexations almost seems to suggest a malevolent intelligence. Little coincidences of catastrophe. What now! I want to cry. Unbelievable is one of my favorite words. How is that possible? I so often wonder. I can’t do anything right. God must really hate me. I should have stayed in bed.

Later, under the cooler light of reflection, I realize that those seemingly malicious little coincidences might neither be coincidental nor malicious. My eyes begin to see, my ears to hear. Is that you, Lord? Ah, I’m sorry about that nasty thing I said. I’ll try to do better. I know I failed you once again. Forgive me.

Lately, the rather eclectic scope of my reading has found me stumbling across the subject of patience with disturbing regularity. I can only shake my head. Coincidence? No, I truly believe the Holy Spirit speaks to us and guides us in ways such as these. In fact He speaks to us more often, probably, than most of us know. He speaks to us not only though the media but through voices of others, through our random thoughts and through the ordinary events of life…for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. We just have to pay attention. Our entire existence can be a dialogue with God. “I think I’m getting the lecture,” I told my wife over dinner the other night, the lecture on patience. The very next morning I opened my copy of Padre Pio’s Spiritual Direction for Every Day[1] to the daily entry, and the first sentence read, “You can be certain, my dear, that what most assures us of perfection is the virtue of patience.” His counsel was particularly relevant to me, because he went on to advise that we have to be even more patient with ourselves than with others. Learning to endure our own imperfections is part of our spiritual growth, even as we try to correct them.

So what does this have to do with Lent? Everything. Impatience in its essence means something isn’t going our way. Impatience is resistance to God’s will, it is rebellion. Our will or God’s? So when we think about giving up something for Lent, what is more important than giving up our own will? Or more difficult? This isn’t just for Lent, it’s for life. Patience isn’t just penitential, it is surrender. It is living in complete conformity with God’s will, no matter how difficult. As Christians that really is our ultimate goal. Oh, so much more could (and will) be said about patience, penance and God’s will, but I want to keep these posts short. No one has time to read a tome. But I can’t resist appending the following seeds for reflection:

Penance is defined as conversion, as doing things God’s way instead of our own. When God’s way conflicts with ours, we choose His plans. He will let us know His plans when we embark on a penitential life.[2]

Patience is essentially a religious disposition of the soul by which in our sufferings and afflictions we bow our head in joyful submission to the will of our heavenly Father, Who thus enables us to prove our love for Him. I was dumb and opened not my mouth, says the psalmist, because thou hast done it (Ps. Xxxviii).[3]

There is no better remedy, then, than patience and denial of self, and an abiding in the will of God.[4]

“YE have need of patience, that, after ye have done the Will of God, ye might receive the promise,” says Saint Paul; and the Saviour said, “In your patience possess ye your souls.” The greatest happiness of any one is “to possess his soul;” and the more perfect our patience, the more fully we do so possess our souls.[5]

And take heart. The more patience God requires of us, the more He loves us:

For whom the LORD loves he reproves, as a father, the son he favors.[6]

He has not tested us with fire, as he did them, to try their hearts, nor is he taking vengeance on us. But the Lord chastises those who are close to him in order to admonish them.[7]

Lastly, the paraphrased version of St. Theresa’s bookmark is one of my favorites:

Let nothing trouble thee,

Let nothing affright thee.

All things pass away.

God never changes.

Patience obtains everything.

God alone suffices!

 


[1] Padre Pio’s Spiritual Direction for Every Day, Gianluigi Pasquale, Ed.; Marsh Daigle-Williamson, Trans.; Servant Books (2011).

[2] Handbook of the Confraternity of Penitents, Postulant: Lesson 11, p. 172; Pub. Confraternity of Penitents (2010).

[3] Blessed Sacrament Prayerbook, p. 574.

[4] Kempis, Thomas A; Aloysius Croft; Harold Bolton (2007-01-22). The Imitation of Christ (Dover Thrift Editions) (Kindle Locations 955-956). The Portable Library. Kindle Edition.

[5] Francis of Sales, Saint (2009-06-09). Introduction to the Devout Life – Enhanced Version (Kindle Locations 1598-1602). Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Kindle Edition.

[6] Proverbs 3:12. Authors, Various; United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (2011-06-06). New American Bible Revised Edition (Kindle Locations 77138-77140). Fairbrother. Kindle Edition.

[7] Judith 8:27. Authors, Various; United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (2011-06-06). New American Bible Revised Edition (Kindle Locations 52196-52197). Fairbrother. Kindle Edition.