Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’
An this Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I celebrate my 22nd anniversary as a priest, the last four and a half years of which have been in the capacity of Bishop of Cheyenne. I have so very much to give thanks for this day. I was up very early this morning so that I could celebrate a Mass before departing (once again) for the airport. Certainly, for every priest, there is no better manner or place to give thanks for the gift of the priesthood than the altar of the Lord.
Since this anniversary falls on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, it is also a day of prayer for the sanctification of priests. I wish to invite the readership of this blog to pray for your priests, that we may be faithful to our promises, and be holy, credible witnesses to Christ, and effectively lead others to Christ. More and more, I realize that a fundamental responsibility of the priest is to work for the salvation of God’s People.
On this day, I pray not only that our priests will grow in holiness, but also, that many other young men will open their hearts to God’s call. The most important thing for any person is to discover God’s will in their life. For life to be lived to the full, it is to be discovered in God, given to God and lived for God. An0ther reason I make this prayer is because my own life as a priest has been so fulfilling and rewarding. And finally, we, the Church, God’s people, need priests.
So, dear friends, please join me in giving thanks to God for all of our priests. Please join in prayer for the sanctification of all priests. Please join me in prayer that God will bless our Church, particularly the Diocese of Cheyenne, with many more holy vocations to the priesthood!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pray for us!
This Sunday, June 8, Pope Francis will meet with President Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas to spend time in prayer for peace in the Holy Land. The meeting will take place at the Vatican. During Pope Francis’ recent visit to the Holy Land, he extended the invitation to President Peres and Mr. Abbas to come to the Vatican to pray for peace. Both leaders accepted his invitation.
As we know, peace between Israel and Palestine has been an illusive pursuit for quite some time. Such a history creates doubts in the minds of many about the realistic possibility of the two nations every finding a path to peaceful co-existence. But, who would ever have thought 70 or 80 years ago that Europe would ever again know peace? Who would have guessed 40 years ago that the US would have a constructive relationship with Vietnam?
Fortunately, our Holy Father sees beyond the present, and has the courage, faith and hope necessary to envision the peace proclaimed by the angels at the birth of Jesus (Matthew 18:19) could prevail in the Land of Jesus in our time. Now that these three leaders are coming together for some time of prayer for peace, Pope Francis is inviting all the bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful to join in prayer this Sunday for peace in the Holy Land.
Let us be generous in the time we dedicate to this special intention. Let us be rich in faith as we pray for this necessary peace between Israel and Palestine, and indeed, throughout the Holy Land.
With the Parish Mission at Holy Family parish in St. Petersburg now complete, I would like to share some of the insights I gained. First, I’m reminded once again of Jesus’ teaching that every time we take the opportunity to give of ourselves, whether in ministry or in relationships, we always receive in return more than we give. This is primarily the truth of Psalm 126 when it teaches: “They go out, they go out, full of tears, carrying seed for the sowing: they come back, they come back, full of song, carrying their sheaves.”
These past three nights we focused on God’s love and how we experience this love through the Holy Spirit in the person of Jesus Christ. We further examined how Christ came into the world to reveal the love of God through His teaching, ministry, passion, death and resurrection. After His resurrection, Jesus commissioned His disciples to continue the same mission through the Church and by the power of their own witness of faith in Jesus Christ.
One person asked at the conclusion of Tuesday night’s mission: “What advice do you have for families to better live their faith?” Many asked other questions along similar lines regarding the parish as a whole or what to do in one’s individual life.
I am even more convinced today of the need for each individual, for every family to renew the trajectory of life to its true purpose. This (earthly) life is fundamentally a journey of faith, a pilgrimage. We are therefore to understand that a truly human life is oriented to God. Thus, a truly human journey is one that follow’s the way of truth, goodness, beauty, in short, holiness.
Just as all things which are bearers of truth, goodness, and beauty ‘transcend’ or ‘go beyond’ themselves and point to something else, so to the human person is ultimately to ‘go beyond’ him or herself and point to the Creator. So, the true trajectory of every human life is God.
Lent is therefore a time to renew one’s practice of prayer. Life with God also requires simplicity, (in the sense that we shed our worldliness) humility, (seeing that we are nothing and that God is everything) and community, particularly the community of faith, the Church.
To succeed in such ‘conversion,’ we need discernment, we need wisdom. Today’s Gospel (Luke 11:14-23) recounts a moment when Jesus expels a demon, only to be accused by some that “it is by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Obviously, that was not the case, as Jesus goes on to instruct, that it is by the “finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Jesus is our “strong man” who guards and arms the city of our soul. Thus, the need for us to renew the course of our life to Him. But, we also know that there are many distractions in our life, and many demons that wish to take over our inner life, values and practices. We need to be wise in the ways of the LORD, and have the perseverance to remain on the straight and narrow path.
I wish to close by sharing some simple rules for discernment which the LORD shared with St. Catherine of Siena. These passages came from a book written by her spiritual director and companion, Blessed Raymond of Capua:
“Daughter, if you wish to acquire the virtue of fortitude you must imitate me. Though I have divine power and could have annihilated all the powers of evil in quite a different way if I had willed to do so, nevertheless, wishing my actions to be taken as a model, I willed to act by way of the cross, so that I could teach you by words based on actions. If you want to have the strength to overcome all the enemy’s powers, take the cross as your refreshment as I did. For indeed I, as the Apostle says, ran to such a hard and shameful cross because I had been offered joy, so that you would patiently choose pains and afflictions and embrace them indeed as consolations. And indeed they are consolations, for the more you suffer such things for My sake the more you make yourself like Me. If you conform yourself to Me in suffering, truly, as My Apostle says, you will become like Me in grace and glory. Therefore, O daughter, for My sake regard sweet things as bitter and bitter things as sweet and then have no fear, for undoubtedly you will be stong in all things.” (Catherine of Siena, pp.89-90)
“When she talked to us about this, she always told us as a general rule never to descend to the level of argument with the Enemy in times of temptation. Getting people to discuss the matter was exactly what he wanted, … so a soul chastely united to Christ should refuse to discuss the Enemy’s temptations but turn to its Bridegroom in prayer, relying on Him with absolute trust and faithfulness. All temptations, she said, could be overcome by the virtue of faith.” (Catherine of Siena, p. 91)
So, my friends, let us continue to follow Christ this Lenten season. Let us be “shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
After Mass at the Cathedral Sunday morning, I headed north to Casper to film this year’s Midnight Mass. The long-held tradition is that people from the Casper parishes gather with the bishop at St. Anthony’s on the Evening of the 4th Sunday of Advent to film the Midnight Mass. The Mass then airs at Midnight and again on Christmas morning.
Since the roads were mostly ice-covered from Glendo to Casper, I decided to spend the night in Casper. Another inch or two of snow fell through the night, so not much was gained, other than being able to drive in the daylight and see what the road conditions were as I drove.
I was glad to be returning to Cheyenne today, because I was hosting our seminarians for Mass, lunch and some social time. I realized today that this would be the last time I would ask the students to gather over their Christmas break. With the vast distances many of them need to travel, complicated by the almost certain reality of some winter weather, and sacrificing holiday time with family, it is too much to ask. But we sure had a good visit today.
We now have eleven seminarians, with a new candidate accepted just this month, who will begin studies this Spring semester. Four are in college, two are in pre-theology (studying philosophy) and five are in theology. We will (God willing!) ordain two men to the priesthood this summer, two more men to the priesthood the following summer, and one the year following. So, our future is bright!
But, we still need to keep praying for each of our seminarians and for the others God is calling to serve this diocese as priests. We give thanks to God for the willingness of each of these young men who so generously give themselves to their present studies and formation!
Today, Our Holy Father, Pope Francis is calling for a day of prayer in solidarity with the people suffering from hunger through the world. At the same time, he is inviting each of us to a greater awareness of our own use of food and food choices. We are challenged to a better understanding that the challenge of feeding the hungry is not a result of not enough food, but a just distribution of what is already available.
At Noon local time around the world, we are called to pray for those who suffer from hunger, and to pray for an end to the injustice of hunger in our world today. Below is the text of Pope Francis released earlier today.
The past few days the LORD has been testing my own perseverance in faith. God has been ‘breaking into” my own day-to-day experience lately to help me see where conversion is most needed in my life. The grace in this is being able to see with greater clarity where God is calling me to greater charity.
This morning I awoke with a strong realization that our life is a result of God’s enduring love, expressed most beautifully and completely in the mercy He so readily extends us through his Son, Jesus Christ. As every morning begins, I made a brief stop this morning in the chapel to visit the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament. Again, there was a deep sense of the Lord revealing his mercy.
I was in a hurry this morning to catch a plane, but made time for prayer. As I began praying the Liturgy of Hours, I could tell I was a bit distracted by being ‘rushed’ to start the day earlier than usual. I took a moment again to look to the Blessed Sacrament, and was quickly reminded, the Lord is the REALITY around which everything else revolves. The hurried start to this day had a feel to it that said: “I’m making time for you, LORD, in the busi-ness of this day.”
I was quickly reminded that the Lord does not revolve around me or the many activities of my day. Rather, the proper order is that I and all my activities revolve around the Lord. This realization of true Reality immediately put me at peace, and allowed me to return to prayer with a proper focus that could truly nourish my heart and soul in order to bring the Lord into (hopefully) all else that I will do today.
How perhaps are each of us called to recognize that our life is a gift from God? God is the Origin and final Goal of every human life and journey. How does my day-to-day routine reflect this Reality and incorporate a proper effort to cooperate with it? Do I see my life ‘ordered to God,’ or do I rather simply try to squeeze in time for God each day, once a week, something less?
Lord, help us live according to your way and will. Help us to live in relationship with you in all that we do. Help us to live life fully for you in every thought, word and deed. Help us to love and serve you in every person we meet. Help us make room for you in our homes, work and society. Give us the eyes to see that you are the sole desire of my soul. May the reality of our day revolve around the REALITY that is You.
Tomorrow, Saturday, September 7 the world community is invited to join Pope Francis in a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria. Visit these links for more information: Our Sunday Visitor Center for Ministry Development USCCB and for Young Adults: Bustedhalo
In the Diocese of Cheyenne, I have asked our pastors to consider designating some time in their local parishes for adoration and prayer. For certain, I can announce that there will be time at our Cathedral in Cheyenne and at Our Lady of Fatima in Casper for their local communities.
Our Lady of Fatima in Casper will host Adoration following the 9:00am Mass until 5:00pm. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available from 3:30 – 5:00. I will be present in prayer at Our Lady of Fatima from 4:00 – 5:00.
St. Mary’s Cathedral in Cheyenne will host a Holy Hour following the Saturday evening Mass from 6:15pm – 7:15pm.
If you can visit a local church for some time of prayer on Saturday, that would be optimal. However, your prayerful presence where ever you find yourself in communion with believers world wide along with your fasting can provide a holy space in this world for the power of God to act on behalf of peace.
God bless you for your faith and goodness!
Saturday, President Obama announced his decision to take military action against Syria. Thankfully, he also announced his decision to seek approval of Congress for such action.
Yesterday, our Holy Father, Pope Francis made a passionate appeal for peace for the people of Syria.
As the people of this nation, we need to do two things (minimally.) First, we would do well to heed Pope Francis’ appeal for prayer and fasting in an effort to secure this seemingly illusive peace in Syria. Second, we have a short window of opportunity to appeal to our national representatives. Please, write, call, email, tweet, facebook… but communicate to our congress a strong and unified voice: No Military Action!
Is the situation in Syria not a truly devastating time for so many innocent people? Is it not heartbreaking to see so many dying? Are not millions now living in sub-human conditions in refugee camps? Will thousands not live with physical handicaps the rest of their lives? Will not thousands more live with psychological scars as a result of the actions of this dictator? Absolutely.
But, is military action of this nation truly going to change that situation? I believe it will have no such desired effect.
We must ask ourselves: ‘What is the good to be advanced by such military action?’ To punish a dictator for the atrocious use of chemical weapons is not a sufficient answer. To send a clear message to other dictators regarding their consideration of using chemical weapons is also inadequate. To justify such action in defense of national security seems self-serving at best.
The good we seek is the cessation of violence and the restoration of order. The good we seek is a safe environment for the millions of civilians to live and put their lives, homes and neighborhoods back together.
The other serious consideration regards unintended outcomes to the use of military weapons in such a politically fragile part of the world. The US has limited if any international support for this military response. How can we not expect unknown and potentially major military responses in retaliation for this planned military strike? How can we say definitively as a nation that our military response in this situation will not further erode the fragile peace that presently exists in the Middle East? How can we not expect that such military action will not further embolden the terrorists already intent on inflicting harm upon this and many other western nations?
Tell our Congress: Work for peace. Work towards true diplomacy. Efforts to promote and defend human dignity and sanctity must apply the same principles of human decency to its actions.
Let us pray that a strong diplomatic effort, not military action, may work towards a resolution to this growing and sad chapter in our human history.
Mary Queen of Peace, Pray for us!
Yesterday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon are another troubling reminder of the challenges our society faces. Thank God this evil deed was quickly met with the courage and kindness of so many first responders as well as bystanders and participants in the race itself. I’m sure all people of good will continue to hold in prayer the victims and their families and all those who have been scarred from witnessing and responding to the results.
These evil acts that so quickly take human life are becoming too much of a regular diet for our nation; for any nation. Boston, Newtown, Aurora just to name a few from the past year. Even though we do not yet know the individual(s) responsible for yesterdays attack nor their motive(s), these series of sins against humanity beg a broader question: How do we regain a proper and abiding respect for human life?
Our understanding of the dignity and sanctity of human life is rooted in our belief that every human person is created in the image and likeness of God, and redeemed by the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. To strengthen respect for human life is to grant God the honor that is His and His alone. To live by this Truth takes nothing away from anyone. Quite the opposite. To live by faith in God is foundational to a proper understanding of the human person. A proper respect for every human person is foundational to decent society.
A nation that legally allows the taking of life of the unborn has a serious flaw and a huge hurdle to truthfully claim it understands and respects the dignity of the human person. Practices that legally allow people to determine ‘ending life’ rather than allowing the Creator to determine issues of life and death reduces our ability to truly respect human life. Other than abortion there are capital punishment and euthanasia (ending life of the elderly or critically ill.)
Even our vast array of ‘entertainment’ is in need of deep reflection in its contribution to this growing lack of respect for the human person. From music, lyrics, tv sitcoms, movies, video games, pornography and I’m sure the list could go on and on, much of what passes for entertainment degrades the human person. The entertainment industry with such gifts and talent at its disposal can do far more for the building up of the human person and the good of decent society.
I pray that each of us take some time to pray for the many victims of violence throughout the world. I pray we as individuals and as a nation also begin to see what can and needs to change in our culture to work for good and build up the human person. May each individual and our leaders be granted the wisdom and the courage to defend life in all its forms. May we work as well to shore up and protect all the human institutions that nurture life, love and respect.