A Prayer of St Benedict

Grant to me, O Father,
most holy and most merciful,
wisdom to understand Thy intentions with
regard to me, a heart to share Thy feelings,
courage to seek Thee alone, and a way
of life that contributes to Thy glory.

Give me, O my God,
eyes that see only Thee,
a tongue that may speak only of Thee,
and a life devoted entirely to Thy will.

Finally, O my Savior, grant me the joy
of seeing Thee one day, face-to-face,
with all Thy saints in glory.

Draw close to Christ

So much upheaval, and the acceleration is alarming! – Planned Parenthood, gay marriage, Islamic terrorism on the rise, public school crises, personal violence  . . .  crises in the Church . . .

It’s easy to take our eyes off God, but now, more than ever, we must draw close to Him.  All the indignation in the world, all the activism, means nothing if we aren’t close to the Source of our passion.  There must be time each day, out of the craziness, which we devote to being still and quiet with the Holy Trinity. Time for prayer, time for Lectio, time for entering a personal sanctuary where nothing matters at all but His sweet Presence.

 

Drifting by the Sloth of Disobedience

From the Prologue of the Rule of Benedict:

. . . The labor of obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience. (v. 2)

It’s a funny thing about drifting:  you’re just there, and you get distracted by new ideas, new distractions, new activities . . . and you finally look up and — Whoa! where am I?  I was over there, but now I’m over here! How did that happen?

It’s particularly easy to do in our walk with the Lord.  A day of skipping prayer makes it easy to skip again, and before you know it, weeks and even months have gone by . . . and you’ve lost your bearings and you aren’t really even sure when or how it happened.

Sloth. Laziness. Slack off in the habits of discipleship and before you know it you’ve been carried way on downstream and not in the direction you’d intended to go.

So stick with it.  If you’ve been lazy, if you’ve been careless, renew your resolve and turn the “ear of your heart” to sound instruction.

Prayer before reading

There are lots of prayers before reading the Scriptures.  I just did a quick Google search, and I found dozens, probably hundreds.  Pick the one you like best.

I talk to God rather plainly, and I say something like, “Father, come to me in the Scriptures, and help me to know You better. Make me tender-hearted to what I learn here, so I might be more fully converted. Amen.”   It varies from day to day.

Point is, do ask God to “open the eyes of your heart” and increase your receptivity to the Message.  The fancy words don’t matter. The intention of the heart does.

Pre-Lent reflection on living in the Last Days

Dear friends, as I post on news comment boards and read the comments left by other participants, I am astonished by the willful ignorance, compounded by the unveiled hostility, of other posters toward Christianity and Christian moral values. We do indeed live in the age foretold by Isaiah, when people would call black, white, and white, black. The Enemy has so deluded men and women that they have become his willing servants, hating what is true, hating what is holy.

Rather than posting the list here (I am thinking of compiling a list of examples to post as a note here, or on my Facebook Notes), I simply ask you to commit yourself to renewing your part, as Church Militant, in the Great Battle during this season of Lent which begins tomorrow.

Let your Lenten sacrifice not be merely the continuing of an old tradition, but a genuine offering of self to God through some form of denial that brings you closer to Christ’s gift of self in His Passion, and on the Cross.

And I ask you to pray daily – throughout the day – for the salvation of souls, for the conversion of sinners, for the forces of this present darkness to be pushed back… for our beloved Nation to be once more spared from the Judgment we increasingly seem to be begging for.

We have come full circle. Christianity began as a small, persecuted minority in the midst of a great pagan Empire – rose in influence and political power through the centuries until the entire West was shaped by the Church’s teachings and values… only to have declined, so very rapidly, into, once again, this persecuted and despised minority.

It is because of this cyclical reality I am seeing that I feel that this present crisis differs from the crises of prior generations. Our modern technologies take the evils once confined to major metropolitan areas and push them into our own living rooms – when once upon a time outlying and rural areas were largely spared from the wickedness marking various rulers and Courts, preserving enclaves of quiet, peace, and safety.

I believe we will soon – perhaps in my lifetime – see the culmination of human history as we have known it, when Christ will “Come Again in Glory to Judge the Living and the Dead, and His Kingdom will have no end.”

So – “let us not weary in doing good” as we enter into this Lent, but let our love for Christ be flamed, and our desire for sanctity burn brighter than ever before.

In the cultural crisis

Had a good chat with my friend Linda H. this morning. Linda’s active in politics in one of the states south of me, here, and we talked about the corruption and exclusivity that has come to mark the political parties controlling county and state process.

She made what I think was an astute observation, which is the point of this post. We both agree that we MUST have a solid and assertive set of candidates to choose from in the primary, next year. President Obama has already begun campaigning for his second term – and God knows, we cannot survive another four years of this incompetence.

She said, and I agree, that the nation could be heading toward another civil war if things aren’t turned around. BUT – she stressed the spiritual nature of the combat at hand.

And she’s right. The coming battles are those of character and principle and not of personality cults or even agendas. The current political arena is an exclusive old-boys’ club where too often the people with the concerns and the intelligence to DO something about them are locked out. Nepotism abounds – and that’s bad for the nation and for our communities.

We must prepare. We must begin with prayer, with regular, disciplined prayer that transforms us and leads us where we need to go – not the sort of prayer that attempts to dictate to God what we will and won’t have from Him, thank you very much.

And we must understand. Our public schools have been depriving us of understanding for more than forty years, now; we must educate OURSELVES to understand what the principles are, what they mean, how they affect us.

We have a tremendous responsibility. Privileges carry with them responsibility; I believe our rights carry even greater responsibilities. We are, we will be accountable for how we have lived as citizens and sojourners in this world.

After all – it is our mandate as Christians to bring true Gospel values into the world. True ones, not the politically correct ones that ignorant people have been persuaded they have to embrace – ones that even a rudimentary understanding of the Scriptures would show are soul-damaging. To take the Gospel into the world, to infuse the world with gospel values…

We have to begin with prayer.

(to be continued)

Final word on death: Prayer of the Faithful

I think (hope!) this will be my final observation on the deaths of Nora and Uncle Theo, but it is a story I think others would profit from reading.

I mentioned in my reflection on Nora’s death how people were changed by the caring for her. I am seeing in Uncle Theo a similar change – and from people who never heard of him until last week, and who never laid eyes on him in this world.

News of Uncle Theo’s situation spread through the internet rapidly. Several bloggers picked up the cry, and I myself shared the need for prayer with the 150 or so people on my email prayer group, some of whom also posted on their blogs, on Facebook, on other venues. The outpouring of prayer was immense.

Several of us have found renewed vigor in standing firm for the sanctity of human life as consequence of this.

But one of the most beautiful things I found – I’ve got to share this with you.

I’m a member of the Catholic Writers Guild,  This past week was our very exciting Writers Conference Online – begun each morning at 8:30, half an hour before the first chat conference, with Morning Prayer, led by… yours truly.

I mentioned the need for Uncle Theo on the very first morning after I found out his plight. It is the only time during the conference I initiated any mention of him – because thereafter, conference participants were intitiating the queries – “What’s the word from Uncle Theo?” – “Have you heard anything?” –

Chats were interrupted when I would sign in late – “Laura, have you heard anything?” followed by an explanation to the Presenter and those participants who had missed prior word. Others initiated prayer for Uncle Theo before I could have time to mention him, myself.

Even after his death, Friday, by legal euthanasia (he was in Holland, remember), the Guild members continued to hold his soul – and the souls of family and the medical personnel responsible for promoting this heinous act – in prayer.

We ended the conference last night with a “party,” of sorts – an open chat room. And one of our leaders said, “We need to take a moment to pray…” and it began with prayer for Uncle Theo.

The Communion of Saints – and saints-in-the-making – is a mighty powerful force.

In life we are in death… and in our unity of prayer, then we are very strong.

Amen.