Prayer

Nineveh Repents, Can We?

Nineveh
Jonah at the Gates of Nineveh by Rembrandt

Jonah was given a nearly impossible job, preaching repentance to the City of Nineveh. And he succeeded. This greatly distressed Jonah, who was rather looking forward to the fire and light show of God's destruction of the city. 

Lent is a perfect time for repentance - a change of how we do things with an eager anticipation that our sincere repentance will be accepted by God.

 


Wisdom Hard To Come By

Wisdom

Today's reading from the book of Sirach teaches that wisdom is difficult to attain, surely not as simple as acquiring knowledge. Wisdom requires not only guidance from the Holy Spirit, but a capacity to map our life experiences and the example of others onto the new circumstances in our lives and discern a prudent course of action.

The statue of Sedes Sapientiae, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom shows the peace and serenity of quiet communication between Jesus and Mary that brings true wisdom.

 


The Devils in Mark's Gospel Know Jesus Best

Cross 

It can be difficult to sort out fact from fiction when it comes to exorcism and demonic possession these days. Hollywood special effects invent or exaggerate signs of demonic activity and minimize the destructive everyday influence of evil.

Nevertheless, Jesus meets a demon on nearly every page of Mark's gospel. He exercises complete control over all the demons - a spiritual truth we can clutch for security and protection during temptation or distress. 

 


St Peter Damian

Img-Saint-Peter-DamianSt. Peter Damian, Benedictine bishop and Cardinal of the Church preached and wrote at the turn of the first millennium. It was a time when the church was beset with widespread laxity and immorality among clergy against which Damian was a forceful reformer. Let us pray for his guidance on the eve of the Bishops meeting in Rome, for the leaders of the church to be inspired with his courage and zeal.

 


They Look Like Trees Walking

Trees WalkingThis great image from Pinterest shows even the well-sighted what the partially cured blind man might have seen when he exclaimed that he could see men walking like trees.

Jesus' progressive healing of the blind man reminds us that our response to prayer may unfold over time. Continue prayerful engagement with our Lord develops a loving relationship with Him.

Before the fearless moral inventory taking of Lent, it is well to remind ourselves that patience is required on our path to holiness. Seeking holiness is also a stepwise progression towards God.


A Sower Sowed Seed

Shutterstock_688338832Jesus tells the parable of the sower in this morning's gospel. 

We don't have much control over our changing environment and we don't select the time or place we are planted. Yet our task as Christians, especially in the present age, is to sink our roots deep in the Word and Christ's presence in His Church and yield much fruit.

In good times and bad times, Christ is the Way.

 


Keep Trying

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Both St. Paul and Jesus have encouraging words for us in today's Scriptures: keep trying, be encouraged, don't give up!

Achieving anything worthwhile is difficult - moral goodness is no exception. One important way to keep encouraged is by prayer, especially Eucharistic Adoration.

Stop in and spend some quiet time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament on Wednesdays during the day or on Thursday evenings. Even one hour will make a tremendous difference to your entire week.


Evening Memorial Mass For All Souls Day

CandleThank you to all those parishioners, who having prayed a Mass of Christian Burial this year at Holy Cross for a family member or friend, returned to share Eucharist with us on All Souls Evening. After the homily, each family lit a candle on the Tree of Life in memory of a deceased family member.

Hospitality and refreshments were provided after the mass in the St. Joseph's Room downstairs. 


Thoughts About Mercy on Feast of Saint Faustina

MercyThe children at this morning's mass had a very good understanding of mercy even at their young ages.

It seems that those crying loudest for "justice" are the ones most in need of mercy and sometimes the least likely to extend mercy to others.

If our own hearts seem reluctant to offer mercy, it may help to realize that all genuine mercy comes from the Heart of Jesus. We can pray for His mercy on ourselves and our transgressors.


Vanity of Vanity

Pier_Francesco_Cittadini_Vanitas-StilllebenVanity paintings, like the readings from Ecclesiastes, focus on the transient nature of life and the fleeting nature of natural beauty. In paintings, they may show cherished hobbies, an opened book, a burned out candle, flowers (sometimes past their prime or dying), a half-eaten meal and many times (in case we miss the point) a human skull.

Our belief in eternal life and the permanence of heaven, make vanity scenes nostalgic and sad, but not tragic. 


Sts. Cosmas and Damian

Twin physicians who became Christians and evangelized in word and deed through their free patient care and prayer. They were tortured and martyred under the emperor Diocletian for failing to renounce their faith. Many cures were attributed to their relics and prayerful intercession.

It is well that we remember that prayer and medicine work best together. Nor should necessary health care require that the patients become penniless.

0926SS. Cosm & Dam XIXs BulgCosmas and Damian with their empty coffers and healing instruments. ( via Vultus Christi)


President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Renews Commitment for Greater Effectiveness and Transparency in Disciplining Bishops

The President of the USCCB has reiterated his commitment to work with Pope Francis in establishing mechanisms to improve the effectiveness of child protection procedures and oversight of adults working in the church including seminarians. Read the full text of the Cardinal's letter which should give us all encouragement in this time of testing for the church.

 

" The more she is buffeted by storms, the more I am reminded that the Church's firm foundation is Jesus Christ. "

Full Text of Cardinal DiNardo's Letter

 

One of my favorite themes in art is Christ on the Sea of Galilee. Eugene Delacroix painted three versions and one of the stolen Rembrandt's depicted it as well.

Missing Rembrandt
Rembrandt's Missing Painting


Missing Rembrandt
Missing Rembrandt

Missing Rembrandt
The Delacroix Version In My Office

Saint Monica

St. Monica is one example of the power of persistent prayer. Her husband reportedly converted to Christianity on his deathbed and we know, of course, about the conversion of her famous son Augustine. I like this statue of her, because even though the opening prayer at this morning's mass invoked her many tears, it doesn't show her crying or sorrowful, but determined and resolute. According to Augustine's account, Monica was privileged with at least one experience of mystical prayer. Persistent prayer can be its own reward.

Monica


Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Scapulaire_carmeliteThe Carmelite "Brown" Scapular was shown by the Virgin Mary to St. Simon Stock, an early superior of the Carmelites during a time when their Order was under persecution, as an assurance of Mary's intercession especially at the hour of their deaths. The small, portable scapular of today derives from the work garment of the Carmelites. Keeping this in mind, the wearing of the brown scapular reminds us our responsibility to work for the Kingdom and of Mary's loving intercession for the disciples of her Son.

 

 

Daytime and night time scapulars from the late 1800's worn by the Carmelites.


Friday The Thirteenth

Most of us cope with little superstitions without too much of an impact on our daily lives. Saying "God bless you," after a sneeze is even attributed to a superstition regarding the devil.

Sometimes superstitions and arbitrary actions can become compulsory for the individual and begin to hem their lives in with restrictive rituals they must perform or avoid. Their daily rituals become far more oppressive than crossing fingers or throwing salt over their shoulder. Let us pray that those who are held prisoner to these compulsive rituals are loosed from their bonds by God's grace and the compassionate, knowledgeable care of others.

Too often even our religious faith can become more about following rules or avoiding sin than cultivating a relationship with a God who loves us. Let us ask to experience God's love more fully especially in the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist.

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