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Lenten Thoughts – 26 March – Prayer knocks, fasting obtains, mercy receives – St Peter Chrysologus

Lenten Thoughts – 26 March – Tuesday of the Third week of Lent, Year C – Gospel: Matthew 18:21–35

St Peter Chrysologus (400-450)
Bishop of Ravenna, Father & Doctor of the Church

An excerpt from his Sermon 43

Prayer knocks, fasting obtains, mercy receives

There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant and virtue endures.   They are prayer, fasting and mercy.   Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives.   Prayer, mercy and fasting: – these three are one and they give life to each other.

Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting.   Let no one try to separate them, they cannot be separated.   If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing.   So if you pray, fast;  if you fast, show mercy;  if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others.   If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself.fasting is the soul of prayer - st peter chryasologus 26 march 2019 tues3rdweeklent

When you fast, see the fasting of others.   If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry.   If you hope for mercy, show mercy.   If you look for kindness, show kindness.   If you want to receive, give.   If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.if you want to receive give - st peter chrysologus 26 march 2019 tues3rdweeklent.jpg

Let this be the pattern for all men when they practice mercy – show mercy to others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness, as you want others to show mercy to you.

Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea to God on our behalf, one speech in our defence, a threefold united prayer in our favour.

Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others.   Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting.   There is nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy – A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit, God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart.

Offer your soul to God, make Him an oblation of your fasting, so that your soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining your own and at the same time made over to God.   Whoever fails to give this to God will not be excused, for if you are to give Him yourself, you are never without the means of giving.

To make these acceptable, mercy must be added.   Fasting bears no fruit unless it is watered by mercy.   Fasting dries up when mercy dries up.   Mercy is to fasting as rain is to the earth.   However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the soil of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the springs of mercy, your fasting will bear no fruit.

When you fast, if your mercy is thin your harvest will be thin, when you fast, what you pour out in mercy overflows into your barn.   Therefore, do not lose by saving but gather in by scattering.   Give to the poor and you give to yourself.   You will not be allowed to keep what you have refused to give to others.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever.
Amen

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Lenten Thoughts – 21 March – The Primacy of the Spiritual:  Saint Nicholas of Flue

Lenten Thoughts – 21 March – Thursday of the Second week of Lent, Year C and the Memorial of St Nicholas of Flue (1417-1487)

The Primacy of the Spiritual:  Saint Nicholas of Flue (Excerpt)
By Christopher O Blum

Born to a pious, upstanding peasant family, young Nicholas stood out for his goodness, simplicity and mortification.   While still a young man, labouring in the fields and meadows of the valleys south of Lucerne, he fasted four times per week, explaining himself, when pressed, by saying, “Such is the will of God.”   Until his fiftieth year, his life was that of an exemplary Swiss free man.   Like many of his fellow countrymen, he served his canton both under arms and by holding civic office.   And this pillar of the community raised up five sons and five daughters with the help of his exemplary wife Dorothy.   Yet God persisted in calling him to a life beyond that of the domestic holiness he had already embraced and sent visions to him in his late-night prayer vigils and his moments of afternoon solitude in the fields, visions that beckoned him to leave all.st nicholas of flue pray for us 21 march 2019 no 2.jpg

As the eminent Swiss theologian Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975) explained in his biography of the hermit-saint, “it no longer sufficed for him to walk along the roads of the world with God in his heart, he had to take the path set aside for him, that he might be taken by the hand and led to where he knew not.”   What praise of Dorothy of Flue could be lovelier, Journet asked, than to admire her magnanimity in being able to “comprehend the drama of this great soul”?   They parted friends, just thirteen weeks after the birth of their youngest child and remained so.   Several years later, a pilgrim visitor to Nicholas’ hermitage saw the saint, with joyous mien, lean out of the window of his tiny cell after the morning Mass to greet his family with a blessing:  “May God give you a blessed day, dear friends and good people!”

Nicholas had initially thought to join a monastery, perhaps one in nearby Alsace known for its austerity.   But a chance conversation with a peasant helped him to understand another of his mystical visions – this one of the nearby town of Liestal wrapped in flames. His good works were needed in his own neighbourhood.   And so, he built himself a hermitage one valley over from his home and spent the next twenty years there, clad only in a tunic, with bare feet and a bare head, to do penance for his beloved people.   His piety was simple, for he was illiterate.   A neighbouring priest had taught him the practice of meditating on Christ’s Passion in stages to match the seven canonical hours of the Church’s daily prayer.   This method bore good results.   He soon became known for the wisdom and holiness of his counsel and pilgrims flocked to his hidden valley to listen to his simple, direct words:  “O man, when the world hates you and is faithless toward you, think of your God, how he was struck and spat upon.   You should not accuse your neighbour of guilt but pray to God, that he be merciful to you both.”

Writing during the Second World War, Cardinal Journet saw in Nicholas of Flue the “supreme incarnation of the genius of Switzerland.”   By this he did not mean that the hermit was a pacifist.   He was something higher and more important.   His greatness “was to have affirmed the primacy of the spiritual life.”   “For the saints”, the Cardinal explained, “are sent to us by God as so many sermons.   We do not use them, it is they who move us and lead us, to where we had not expected to go.”   Those were years of exceptional trial for the Swiss but they were also years in which men and women of good will prepared the ground for spiritual renewal and rebuilding.the saints are sent to us by god - card charles journet 21 march 2019.jpg

What lesson might Nicholas of Flue hold out for our generation?   Were he alive today this simple Swiss peasant would doubtless be startled by our wealth.   The recession of recent years seems to have done little to dull the edge of our consumption.   The adjective “worldly” is now being used as a term of approbation, to signify the savoir-faire of the person who knows the latest fashions and ways of thinking.   It is a telling linguistic development.   Nicholas of Flue spent the last twenty years of his life in a tiny room with two windows.   Through one of them, he could see something of the beauty of his native land, a beauty that nourished his reflection and piety:  “O man, think of the sun so high in the sky and consider its splendour – but your soul has received the splendour of the eternal God.”   Through the other, he saw the altar, whence came the very food of his soul.   “We should carry the Passion of God in our hearts, for this is the greatest consolation to a man at the hour of his death.”   The one thing needful indeed.we should carry the passion of god - 21 march 2019 st nicholas of flue.jpg

My Lord and my God
St Nicholas of Flue (1417-1487)

My Lord and my God,
take from me everything
that distances me from You.
My Lord and my God,
give me everything
that brings me closer to You.
My Lord and my God,
detach me from myself
to give my all to You.
Amen

The above prayer of St Nicholas, is cited in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph #226.
CCC 226 – It means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to Him and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from Him.

prayer-of-st-nicholas-of-flue-no-226-my-lord-and-my-god-take-from-me-everything-21-march-20181.jpg

Posted in LENT 2019, MORNING Prayers, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on FASTING, St Pope JOHN PAUL, The WORD

Friday after Ash Wednesday – 8 March “Then they will Fast”

Friday after Ash Wednesday – 8 March

“Come back to Me with all your Heart.”

Daily Meditation:
A Friday of Lent
and an introduction to “True Fasting.”
We are still in the first four days of Lent.
Today and tomorrow we read the 58th Chapter
of the book of the prophet Isaiah.
These powerful words have such a contemporary message.
True fasting will lead us to act justly and caring
for those who are most in need.

On every Friday of Lent we abstain from meat
as a sign of our common penance.
It represents our efforts to abstain from
– do without – so many other patterns
that get in the way of our happiness and wholeness.

“Then they will fast”

“Among the penitential practices that the Church suggests to us above all during this Lenten time is fasting.   It consists in a special sobriety in the food we eat, while ensuring care for the needs of our body.   This is a traditional form of penance, which has lost none of its significance and which we perhaps need to rediscover, above all in that part of the world and in the milieus where food not only abounds, but where we at times encounter illnesses due to overeating.

Obviously, penitential fasting is very different from therapeutic diets.   But as it is, we can see in it a therapy for the soul.   For when it is practised as a sign of conversion, it facilitates the interior effort to make oneself available to listening to God.   To fast is to reaffirm for oneself what Jesus replied to Satan, when the latter tempted him at the end of forty days of fasting in the desert:  “Not on bread alone is man to live but on every utterance that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4)   Today, especially in our well-to-do societies, it is difficult for us to understand the meaning of this word of the gospel. Instead of pacifying our needs, the consumer society creates ever new ones, even engendering disproportionate activism… Among other meanings, penitential fasting has precisely the aim of helping us to recover interiority.

The effort towards moderation in food also extends to other things that are not necessary and it greatly aids the life of the spirit.   Sobriety, recollection and prayer go together. This principle can be appropriately applied to our use of the mass media.   They are unquestionably useful but they must not become the “masters” over our life.   In so many families, the television seems to replace rather than facilitate dialogue among the persons!   A certain “fasting” in this area can be salutary, either so as to give more time to reflection and prayer or to cultivate human relations.”

St John Paul (1920-2005)matthew 9 15 then they will fast - fri after ash wed 8 march 2019.jpg

Closing Prayer:
Lord,
I know how much You love me.
It’s hard for me to feel it sometimes,
but I know Your love is always with me.

Help me to use Your love as a way
to persevere in my Lenten intentions.
I am weak but I know with Your help,
I can use these small sacrifices in my life to draw closer to You.

May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
Amen

Posted in LENT, LENT 2019, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES - J R R Tolkien and MORE, QUOTES on CHARITY, QUOTES on FAITH, QUOTES on FASTING, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 8 March – Genuine Faith

One Minute Reflection – 8 March – Friday after Ash Wednesday, Gospel: Matthew 9:14-15 and the Memorial of St John of God (1495-1550)

“Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”…Matthew 9:15matthew 9 15 - can the wedding guests mourn.jpg

REFLECTION – “Genuine faith does not make a believer pretentious.   Dialogue with God is not a business bargain.   External observance of religion wins little favour with God, if it is combined with unfairness to the weak and indifference to the poor.   Openness to the indigent is the door to true religion.   The world itself changes for the better with the widening of human concern for the poor.   Good works multiply on the face of the earth and everyone sees the glory of God in action.
The Gospel presents Jesus as refusing to absolutise ritual fasting.   What He expects from His disciples, is that they remain faithful to the mission He is about to give them, even at great sacrifice.   It will make evidently greater demands of them than mere ritual fasting. They should be prepared.   Jesus is introducing a new set of values of immense worth, for which the old order of things must make way.”…Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil SDBgenuine faith does not make - fri after ash wed - 8 march 2019.jpg

PRAYER – Lord God, bestow a full measure of Your grace upon us, who seek to make our lenten journey fruitful.  Confirm us in Your service and help us to bear witness to You in the society in which we live by our lives, our fasting and prayer, our gift of self.   Listen kindly we pray, to the prayers of St John of God who so avidly followed in the footsteps of our Saviour, Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name, with the Holy Spirit, we pray, one God forever, amen.st-john-of-god-pray-for-us-8 march 2019.jpg

Posted in LENT 2019, MORNING Prayers, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL MESSAGES, QUOTES on ALMS, QUOTES on FASTING, QUOTES on PRAYER, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 6 March – Ash Wednesday

One Minute Reflection – 6 March – Ash Wednesday

“Beware of practising your piety before men in order to be seen by them;  for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”…Mark 6:1

REFLECTION – “Fasting, that is, learning to change our attitude towards others and all of creation, turning away from the temptation to “devour” everything to satisfy our voracity and being ready to suffer for love, which can fill the emptiness of our hearts.
Prayer, which teaches us to abandon idolatry and the self-sufficiency of our ego and to acknowledge our need of the Lord and His mercy.   Almsgiving, whereby we escape from the insanity of hoarding everything for ourselves in the illusory belief that we can secure a future that does not belong to us.

And thus to rediscover the joy of God’s plan for creation and for each of us, which is to love Him, our brothers and sisters and the entire world and to find in this love our true happiness.

Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain!   Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion.   Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption and turn to Jesus’ Pasch.   Let us stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them.   In this way, by concretely welcoming Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives, we will also radiate its transforming power to all of creation.”- Pope Francis’ 2019 Lenten Messagemark 6 1 - beware of practising your piety - let us not let this season pass in vein - pope francis 6 march 2019 ash wed.jpg

PRAYER – Remember Lord, Your solemn covenant, renewed and consecrated by the Blood of the Lamb, so that Your people may obtain forgiveness for their sins and a continued growth in grace.   Support us Lord, as with this Lenten fast we begin our Christian warfare, so that in doing battle against the spirit of evil, we may be armed with the weapon of self-denial.   Heavenly Father, help us to fast for the right reasons.   Teach us to fast to curb illicit desires and to obtain closer union with You.   Help us Lord, during this Lenten season to cleave to You alone and grow in sanctity and charity.   Create in me a clean heart O Lord!   Through our Lord Jesus Christ in unity with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.o-that-today-ash-wednesday-6 march 2019 ash wed.jpg

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Remember you are Dust and Unto Dust you shall return

Remember you are Dust and Unto Dust you shall return remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return - 6 march 2019.jpg

Ash Wednesday 6 March 2019

Saint Peter Chrysologus (400-450)

Bishop of Ravenna, Father & Doctor of the Church

Sermon 8 ; CCL 24, 59 ; PL 52, 208

Exercises for Lent:  Almsgiving, Prayer, Fasting

My dear brethren, today we set out on the great Lenten journey.   So let us take our food and drink along in our boat, putting onto the chest the abundant mercy we shall need. For our fasting is a hungry one, our fasting is a thirsty one if it isn’t sustained by goodness and refreshed by mercy.   Our fasting will be cold, our fasting will flag, if the fleece of almsgiving doesn’t clothe it, if the garment of compassion does not wrap it around.

Brethren, what spring is for the land, mercy is for fasting – the soft, spring winds cause all the buds on the plains to flower;  the mercy of our fast causes all our seeds to grow until they blossom and bear fruit for the heavenly harvest.   What oil is to the lamp, goodness is to our fast.   As the oily fat sets the lamp alight and, in spite of so little to feed it, keeps it burning to our comfort all night long, so goodness makes our fasting shine – it casts its beams until it reaches the full brightness of self-restraint.   What the sun is to the day, almsgiving is to our fast:  the sun’s splendour increases the light of day, breaking through the dullness of the clouds;  almsgiving together with fasting sanctifies its holiness and, thanks to the light of goodness, dispels from our desires anything that could petrify.   In short, what the body is for the soul, generosity acts similarly for the fast:  when the soul leaves the body it brings about death;  if generosity abandons the fast, it is, its death.ash wed and good friday - days of fasting and abstinence

A very special day.

The ashes we use are the burnt palms from last year’s celebration of Passion Sunday.
We begin our Lenten journey aware of where we are going.
We want to enter into the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus for us more fully.
That is the purpose of our journey.   It is why we mark our heads with His cross.
It is why we fast today and abstain from meat.from pam fronds to ashes

Our Lenten program is not an effort to save ourselves.
We have been saved by His sacrifice.
Our self-denial helps us, in the darkness that surrounds us,
to prepare ourselves to receive His light.
For this is a journey to the Easter font,
where we will renew the promises of our Baptism,
remembering that in dying with Him in the waters of Baptism,
we are re-born with Him to everlasting life.

This year’s journey begins today.

Yet even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning;

Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Joel 2:12-13joel 2 12-13 ash wed yet even now - 6 march 2019.jpg

Closing Prayer:
Lord,
it feels like we are embarking
on a Lenten journey together, You and I.
Today, we are invited to let the Holy Spirit
purify our hearts and strengthen us in love.
That feels like what I am looking for –
or what You are looking for in me.
I want to remember how much I need You in my life
and how much my life needs redemption.
I want to remember it clearly and
in the background of my day, today and all through Lent.

On this special day, Ash Wednesday,
may my small sacrifices in fasting be a way to clear away
the clutter in my life to see You more clearly.
May my longing for meat and other food,
help me to focus my life today more outside myself.
Let me be aware of those,
who are in so much more suffering, than I am
and may I be aware of them,
as the brothers and sisters, You have placed in my life.

Lord, I know there is darkness within me and around me.
Bless these days with Your Word.
Let Your Light shine in the darkness.
Help me long for that shining Light
until we celebrate it at the Vigil, six weeks from now.

And most of all Lord,
help me to honour this day with the ashes on my forehead.
They help me remember where I have come from
and where I am going.
May I acknowledge to You my sins
and my deep need for Your loving forgiveness and grace.
I pray that this Lenten season will make me so much more aware
of how much I need Your love and care in my life.

May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
Amen

“The Lord, who always goes before us, said this and did this (Jn 12:24).   Whenever we experience the cross, He has already experienced it before us.   We do not mount the cross to find Jesus.   Instead it was He who, in His self-abasement, descended even to the cross, in order to find us, to dispel the darkness of evil within us and to bring us back to the light.”

Pope Francis

(at the Canonisation of Saints Francisco and Jacinta on 14 May 2017)

the-lord-who-always-goes-before-us-pope-francis-20-feb-2017-sts-francisco-and-jacinta.jpg

Posted in Blessed JOHN HENRY Cardinal NEWMAN, CONFESSION/PENANCE, LENT 2019, NOVENAS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on ALMS, QUOTES on FASTING, QUOTES on PRAYER, QUOTES on REPENTANCE, QUOTES on the CROSS of CHRIST

Lenten Preparation Novena – Day Nine – 5 March 2019 “Come Back to Me With all your Heart”

Lenten Preparation Novena – Day Nine – 5 March 2019 “Shrove Tuesday”
“Come Back to Me With all your Heart”

Lent 2019 will begin on
Wednesday, 6 March
The Holy Triduum is
Thursday 18 April – Holy Saturday 20 April
Easter Sunday 21 April 2019

You have been crucifying Our Lord!

We come to confession quite preoccupied with the shame that we shall feel.   We accuse ourselves with hot air. It is said that many confess and few are converted.   I believe it is so, my children because few confess with tears of repentance.

See, the misfortune is, that people do not reflect.   If one said to those who work on Sundays, to a young person who had been dancing for two or three hours, to a man coming out of an alehouse drunk, “What have you been doing?   You have been crucifying Our Lord!” they would be quite astonished, because they do not think of it.   My children, if we thought of it, we should be seized with horror;  it would be impossible for us to do evil.   For what has the good God done to us that we should grieve Him thus, and put Him to death again — Him, who has redeemed us from Hell?

It would be well if all sinners, when they are going to their guilty pleasures, could, like St Peter, meet Our Lord on the way, who would say to them, “I am going to that place where you are going yourself, to be there crucified again.”   Perhaps that might make them reflect.

St Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars (1786-1859)what have you been doing - st john vianney - 5 march 2019.jpg

A Meditation for this ‘Prelude to Lent’

REFLECTION“Give back some of God’s gifts to God, that you may safely enjoy the rest. Fast, or watch, or abound in alms, or be instant in prayer, or deny yourselves society, or pleasant books, or easy clothing, or take on you some irksome task or employment;  do one or other, or some, or all of these, unless you say that you have never sinned and may go like Esau with a light heart to take your crown”

“But, O ye sons and daughters of men, what if this fair weather but ensure the storm afterwards? what if it be, that the nearer you attain to making yourselves as gods on earth now, the greater pain lies before you in time to come, or even (if it must be said), the more certain becomes your ruin when time is at an end?   Come down, then, from your high chambers at this season to avert what else may be.

Sinners as ye are, act at least like the prosperous heathen, who threw his choicest trinket into the water, that he might propitiate fortune.   Let not the year go round and round, without a break and interruption in its circle of pleasures.

Give back some of God’s gifts to God, that you may safely enjoy the rest.   Fast, or watch, or abound in alms, or be instant in prayer, or deny yourselves society, or pleasant books, or easy clothing, or take on you some irksome task or employment; do one or other, or some, or all of these, unless you say that you have never sinned and may go like Esau with a light heart to take your crown.

Ever bear in mind that Day, which will reveal all things and will test all things “so as by fire” and which will bring us into judgement ere it lodges us in heaven.”

Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)give back some of god's gifts to god - lent prep nov 5 march 2019.jpg

Lenten Preparation Novena

DAY NINE

O gracious Father,
infuse in our hearts
the spotless light of Your Divine Wisdom
and open the eyes of our mind
that we may understand the teachings of Your Gospel.
Instill in us also the fear of Your blessed commandments,
so that having curbed all carnal desires,
we may lead a spiritual life,
both thinking and doing everything to please You.
Help us to see,
in our ordinary difficulties and duties,
in the trials and temptations of every day,
the best opportunity of making up for past infidelities.
United with Your Son,
who makes His way to Calvary,
I offer You my intention
………………….
(Mention your intention)
For You, our God,
are the enlightenment of our souls and bodies
and to You we render glory,
together with Your Suffering Son,
and with Your all holy,
life-creating Spirit,
now and ever and forever.
AmenLenten prep novena day nine - 5 march 2019.jpg