Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Posted by Unstoppable Spirit
Ash Wednesday is derived from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burnt. In the liturgical practice of some churches, the ashes are mixed with the Oil of the Catechumens (one of the sacred oils used to anoint those about to be baptized), though some churches use ordinary oil. This paste is used by the minister who presides at the service to make the sign of the cross, first upon his or her own forehead, and then on those of assembly. The minister recites the words: "Remember ( O man) that you are dust, and to dust you shall return", or " Repent, and believe the Gospel."
The gospel of Ash Wednesday sets the tone of the Lenten Season. In the gospel, we hear Jesus talk about the so-called "three legs" of Lent" namely, Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. The faithful is encouraged to intensify their prayer life. We, the Church, are called to enter into our own forty-day retreat to encounter our God. During these days of prayer, we are invited to look at our own lives to re-evaluate our relationship with God and with one another. As part of prayer, the faithful is encouraged to pray such Lenten devotions as stations of the cross, taize (prayer around the cross), and the daily reflection of the Sacred Scripture. Since it is period of preparation for Easter, the faithful is also called to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Fasting is an important aspect of Lent. Traditionally, all of us are invited to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (that is to eat only ONE full meal). We are also asked to abstain from meat on all Fridays of Lent. However, fasting does not only pertain to food. We might want to fast from the things that inhibit us from growing in our relationship with God and with one another. Fasting would draw us closer to God.
Almsgiving is often associated with monetary donations, but that is only one of its facets. Remember, almsgiving is an act of charity. Almsgiving can be done in different ways. How? Maybe by helping in our Community Ministry by feeding the hungry, the poor, and the homeless? Maybe by being nice to one another? Maybe by being polite while we are driving? Maybe by reconciling with someone with whom we haven't talked to for a long time? Maybe by visiting the sick members of our family and this faith community? Indeed, there are countless ways we can practice almsgiving during the holy season of Lent.
As we enter Lent on Wednesday, I invite each one of us to look at our own lives. What part of our lives needs change? How about our prayer life? Are we spending ample time in communication with God? Let us remember, Lent is given to us as a time of preparation and reflection. This is a time for us to grow and mature in our faith. This is not a time of somber preparation, but a blissful season to encounter our God.
Finally, I also invite each one of us to include our catechumens and candidates, those who are about to celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation, in our prayers. Let us continue to journey with them as they enter their final stage of preparation to the Easter Waters of Baptism.
Labels: Lent ·
Monday, February 15, 2010
Posted by Unstoppable Spirit
|On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus. A little more than three years later, on February 11, 1858, a young lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous. This began a series of visions. During the apparition on March 25, the lady identified herself with the words: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”Bernadette was a sickly child of poor parents. Their practice of the Catholic faith was scarcely more than lukewarm. Bernadette could pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Creed. She also knew the prayer of the Miraculous Medal: “O Mary conceived without sin.”|
During interrogations Bernadette gave an account of what she saw. It was “something white in the shape of a girl.” She used the word aquero, a dialect term meaning “this thing.” It was “a pretty young girl with a rosary over her arm.” Her white robe was encircled by a blue girdle. She wore a white veil. There was a yellow rose on each foot. A rosary was in her hand. Bernadette was also impressed by the fact that the lady did not use the informal form of address (tu), but the polite form (vous). The humble virgin appeared to a humble girl and treated her with dignity.
Through that humble girl, Mary revitalized and continues to revitalize the faith of millions of people. People began to flock to Lourdes from other parts of France and from all over the world. In 1862 Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions and authorized the cult of Our Lady of Lourdes for the diocese. The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes became worldwide in 1907.
Lourdes has become a place of pilgrimage and healing, but even more of faith. Church authorities have recognized over 60 miraculous cures, although there have probably been many more. To people of faith this is not surprising. It is a continuation of Jesus’ healing miracles—now performed at the intercession of his mother. Some would say that the greater miracles are hidden. Many who visit Lourdes return home with renewed faith and a readiness to serve God in their needy brothers and sisters. There still may be people who doubt the apparitions of Lourdes. Perhaps the best that can be said to them are the words that introduce the film Song of Bernadette: “For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.”Quote:
“Lo! Mary is exempt from stain of sin, Proclaims the Pontiff high; And earth applauding celebrates with joy Her triumph, far and high. Unto a lowly timid maid she shows Her form in beauty fair, And the Immaculate Conception truth Her sacred lips declare.” (Unattributed hymn from the Roman Breviary)
PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF LOURDES
O Immaculate Virgin Mary,Mother of Mercy,you are the refuge of sinners,the health of the sick,and the comfort of the afflicted.You know my wants,my troubles, my sufferings.By your appearance at the Grotto of Lourdesyou made it a privileged sanctuarywhere your favors are given to peoplestreaming to it from the whole world.Over the years countless sufferershave obtained the cure for their infirmities -whether of soul, mind, or body.Therefore I come to youwith limitless confidenceto implore your motherly intercession.Obtain, O loving Mother,
the grant of my requests.Through gratitude for Your favors,I will endeavor to imitate Your virtues,that I may one day share in Your glory.
Labels: Our Lady of Lourdes ·
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Posted by Unstoppable Spirit
Answer: To know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life in order to be happy with Him forever in eternity.
Our primary obligation in life is to save our immortal souls by knowing, loving, and serving God. (Catechism) All else must take second place.
Every Catholic has an obligation to grow daily in his knowledge of God in order to more perfectly love and serve Him. It is impossible to serve God properly without knowing His holy Will. And we are obligated to serve God, for only thus do we prove our love for Him.
A Catholic must use every means available to him to grow in that knowledge, love, and service of God: Holy Mass, the Sacraments, prayer, spiritual reading, penance, etc.
An ideal means of fulfilling this obligation of every Catholic is:
PRAY -- STUDY -- PLAN -- ACT
under the patronage of Our Holy Mother, Mary Immaculate
Labels: Catechism ·