Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Fra Angleico rendition courtesy of Wikipedia

Do you ever feel like no one loves you, like no one cares? The Prayer Before A Crucifix can give you a poignant, if painful, reminder of just how much God loves you, and how special you are in His eyes. When you look at a crucifix you see Jesus on the cross dying not just for our sins but for yours as well.

The Prayer Before A Crucifix is also listed in some prayer books as a Prayer to Jesus Crucified.
It sums up beautifully the feelings we should have of love for our Lord and remorse for our sins as we contemplate His dying as if He were a common criminal for our salvation!

BEHOLD, O good and sweetest Jesus,
I cast myself upon my knees in Thy sight,
and with the most fervent desire of my soul
I pray and beseech Thee
to impress upon my heart
lively sentiments of faith,
hope and charity,
with true repentance for my sins
and a most firm desire of amendment:
whilst with deep affection and grief of soul
I consider within myself
and mentally contemplate Thy five most precious Wounds,
having before mine eyes that which David, the prophet,
long ago spoke in Thine own person concerning Thee,
my Jesus: “They have pierced My hands and My feet,
they have numbered all My bones.”

The Prayer Before A Crucifix can help us better reflect on our Lord’s Passion and on our own spiritual well being. The crucifix itself, a cross with a painted or carved representation of Christ’s body, began to be used in devotions around the end of the 6th century. It plays an important part both in the procession and on the altar at Mass.

The cross and crucifix are both sacramentals, defined as either objects (such as statues, medals, holy water, and rosaries) or prayers (such as blessings or chaplets) from the Church that can help prepare us to receive God’s grace. Sacramentals are not to be used as Divine Lucky Charms, however! We have to be open to doing God’s will in our lives for them to be effective.

Although people often pray in front of a crucifix in church, you can say the Prayer Before A Crucifix elsewhere, such as at home, using one of many smaller ones available.

The quote given at the end of the Prayer Before A Crucifix comes from Psalm 22:17-18, (also listed in some older prayer books as Psalm 21) composed by King David some eight centuries before Christ’s Passion. Our Lord was very much aware of the scriptural relevance of His mission while living as both God and a man among us in the 1st century.

He clearly saw Himself as the suffering servant prophesied centuries earlier in Isaiah Chapter 53 whose wounds for our sins would heal us. Christ willingly submitted to His arrest at Gethsemane the night before His Passion, asking if He were to resist, “How then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that so it must be done?” (Matt 26:54)

Jesus’s sacrifice was indeed a precious gift for all of us and each one of us, for you, as well, as mentioned earlier. What does He ask from us in return? As we read in the Prayer Before A Crucifix “lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity,” as well as true contrition for our sins.

St. Augustine called the cross a pulpit from which our Lord taught mankind. Indeed, Christ gave us lessons in faith, hope and charity in fulfilling Divine Justice for our sins by suffering and dying on the cross so that we might have Eternal Life.

Jesus showed us faith by trusting in His Father’s will and accepting His death for our salvation. He showed us hope in opening the gates of heaven for us to share Eternity with Him through His passion. And when it comes to charity he spoke volumes in dying for us while we were sinners so that we would be “reconciled to God through the death of His son,” as St. Paul put it (Rom 5:10).

Jesus also gave us a lesson in charity not just in His selfless sacrifice for us but also in His mercy, by the example He set in asking His heavenly Father to forgive His tormentors (Luke 23:34). He also gave us, through St. John, His Blessed Mother as our Mother as well (John 19:26-27) in His last moments on the cross!

Christ also taught us about the importance of “true repentance” (from the Prayer Before A Crucifix) for our salvation in assuring the contrite Good
Thief (St. Dismas) being crucified alongside Him that “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 24:43).

We can show our penitence through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and in asking God for His help in avoiding temptations and sin. When we meditate on His Passion we can better appreciate how tragic our sins are to our Lord.

After all, as we read in Isaiah 53:5, he was “pierced for our offenses.” In the Stations of the Cross we lament that our personal sins as well as those of humanity in general, led to His crucifixion, as mentioned earlier.

The reference from Psalm 22 found in the Prayer Before A Crucifix seems particularly both fitting and chilling in describing our Lord’s suffering on our behalf. The five wounds He received in His crucifixion included blunt nails through His hands and feet and a spear thrust in his side, out of which flowed blood and water, upon His death.

Keep in mind that the heart wrenching crucifixes we see, like the Fra Angelico painting above, are actually toned down representations of how Jesus really looked at that point! Mel Gibson’s acclaimed movie The Passion of the Christ shows a more accurate depiction of just how much of our Lord’s body was covered in scars and blood at His crucifixion, literally from head to toe!

Also note this other striking parallel between an event in Psalm 22 and an event in our Lord’s Passion: people mock the afflicted person in that psalm, saying “He hoped in the Lord, let him deliver him: let him save him” (Ps 22:9). Jesus was similarly taunted at His crucifixion by those who said “Let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him now deliver him” (Matt 27:42-43).

Fra Angelico rendition courtesy of Wikipedia Perhaps you’ve wondered from time to time, “Why didn’t He just come down from the cross? Why would God go through all that?” That thought is both very natural and very human! Jesus says to us, in effect “I had to do this, for you. Trust Me on this!” The Prayer Before A Crucifix invites us to ask for God’s grace as we accept in faith the necessity of His Passion.

Many theologians and scholars have marveled over the centuries at the depth of totally selfless love that our Lord felt for each of us in making this sacrifice! He wanted to show us just how much He loved us, to inspire us to love Him back by following His example.

That doesn’t mean you have to be a martyr or a hero on tonight’s 11 o’clock news! You can show Christ your love and gratitude in acts of kindness and charity towards others each day, much as St. Therese did with her Little Way. As our Lord said, “If you love me Keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

By following the Ten Commandments we can better show our love for Him and for each other as well. Likewise, the Prayer Before A Crucifix can help deepen our love for Jesus. Remember, His death on the cross here on Earth enabled us to share Eternal Life with Him in heaven!

Monday, December 20, 2010


Thursday, December 16, 2010



Tuesday, December 14, 2010


2011 Catholic Daily Bible Reading Guide

Monday, December 13, 2010


Sunday, December 12, 2010


Saturday, December 4, 2010



God's instructions: Do Not Be Afraid - Fear Not! In Matt 14:27 Just before Peter walked on the water, Jesus spoke to His disciples and gave them instructions saying, "Take courage! it is I; do not be afraid."

Acts 18:9-10 “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people.”

Isaiah 41:10 "...do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."

BE FEARLESS! Faintheartedness can cripple. Misguided precaution and exaggerated caution can stifle. Timidity can debilitate. Fear of taking necessary risk can paralyze. Running scared through life can "kill".

Running scared can KILL joy. It can KILL hope. It can KILL enthusiasm. It can KILL opportunities. And certainly it can cause death to God's purpose for a "quality life". ~ Rouquel & Nina Ponte, RUNNING SCARED - Ugnayan.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

CFC's Official Stand on the Reproductive Health Bill

Dear brothers and sisters,

Attached is a paper issued by our CFC International Council regarding our community's position on the Reproductive Health Bill. As a community that is "moved by the Holy Spirit, one with the Catholic Church, and richly blessed to witness to Christ's love and service," and with "Pro-Life" as one of our basic core values, it is incumbent upon all of us, CFC leaders and members, to take a united stand against this anti-life bill.

Please make the effort to disseminate to all your members, and to discuss among yourselves, particularly on how we, collectively and as individuals, can proclaim our being followers of Christ through our pro-life position.

As one community, let us pray for our nation and for our leaders, that they may be enlightened about the value of life. Let us pray that evil does not prevail and that our children may be spared from the gathering forces of darkness that threaten our very society.

May God bless us all.

CFC UGNAYAN - CBCP Monitor Vol. 14 No. 23

CBCP Monitor November 2010

ASPIRATIONS: Short Prayers to Help You Through Your Day

Picture of the Sacred Heart of jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Do you feel too pressed for time to pray? These short prayers (also known as aspirations) can help! They're are easy to learn. A good many of them are easy to memorize as well! They can provide you with a great way to stay in touch with our Lord and our Blessed Mother, especially for those times you feel most at your wits end!

At times like these when it seems like nothing is going right don’t lose hope! You can stay close to Jesus and Mary with these aspirations, many of which come from old prayer books. (These prayers are great in good times or bad!)

Be inspired by with these short prayers by our Lord’s words: “pray always” (Luke 21:36) and by St. Paul’s as well: “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:17)!

Here’s a good one to both our Lord and his Blessed Mother, for starters:

Jesus, Mary, I love you. Save souls!

Here’s a good one to the Holy Spirit. This one is especially good when said with any prayer to the Holy Spirit, but is good all on its own, especially in those times you feel most in need of His counsel, comfort, and strength!

O Holy Spirit, sweet Guest of my soul, abide in me and grant that I may ever abide in Thee.

We’ve grouped these others into the following categories:

(It has been noted, incidentally, that a very good effective prayer is just to say the name of Jesus!)

Blessed be God!

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Divine Heart of Jesus, convert sinners, save the dying, deliver the holy souls in purgatory.

Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, increase in us our Faith, Hope and Charity.

Good Jesus, give me a deep love for Thee, that nothing may be too hard for me to bear from Thee.

Heart of Jesus, burning with love for us, set our hearts on fire with love of Thee.

Heart of Jesus, I put my trust in Thee!

Jesus I trust in You!

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our heart like unto Thine.

Jesus, my God, I love Thee above all things!

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!

May the most just, most high, and most adorable will of God be done in all things, praised and magnified forever.

My God and my all.

My Jesus, mercy!

My Lord Jesus Christ, for the sake of Thy sufferings, grant me such faith, hope, charity, sorrow for my sins, and love of prayer as will save and sanctify my soul.

My Lord, grant that I may love Thee, and that the reward of my love may be to love Thee ever more and more.

My sweetest Jesus, be not my Judge, but my Savior.

O Good Jesus, shelter me from the evil one, shed Thy dew upon me to calm my soul, and dwell in me fully, that I may wholly love Thee.

O Good Jesus, my God and my All, keep me ever near Thee, let nothing for a moment separate me from Thee.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forevermore.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come!

Savior of the world, have mercy on us.

Sweet Heart of Jesus, be my love!

Sweet Heart of my Jesus, grant that I may ever love Thee more.

We adore and praise Thee, most holy Lord Jesus Christ, because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.


Jesus, my God, here present in the Sacrament of Thy love, I adore Thee.

O Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, have mercy on us.

O Jesus, in the most holy Sacrament, have mercy on us.

Praised and adored forever be the most holy Sacrament.

We adore Thee, thou true Bread of angels.


Mary, Virgin Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me.

Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation!

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

Mary, our hope, have pity on us!

Mary, most sorrowful, Mother of Christians, pray for us.

O Mary, virgin Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me.

My Queen! my Mother! remember I am thine own. Keep me, guard me, as thy property and possession.

O Mary, thou didst enter the world without stain; do thou obtain for me from God, that I may leave it without sin.


Jesus, Mary, Joseph!

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless us now and at the hour of our death.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give You my heart and my soul. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, may I breathe out my soul in peace with You.


Courtesy of Wikipedia

Some people ask “why say prayers to saints? Shouldn’t all our prayers be to God?” Praying to the saints is praying to God, in a fundamental way. We're praying to those who can ask God to help us in our various needs in accordance with His will.

When you ask someone to pray for you are you worshiping that person? Of course not! It’s the same when we ask the saints to pray for us! In our prayers to saints we ask them to “put in a good word” for us with God in Heaven. They are not the focus of our worship, God is.

In this regard, it is worth noting that many compilations of prayers to saints also include prayers by them as well, to our Lord. The important thing to remember is that all these prayers have the same Divine destination, for our salvation.

The authors of the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium (“light of the nations”) noted that it was important that we “suppliantly invoke" the saints and "have recourse to their prayers, their power and help in obtaining benefits from God through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is our Redeemer and Saviour."

For example, in one well known prayer to St. Joseph we ask him to
“assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your
divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.”

From Sxc.hu In the saints we have as advocates members of what is called the Church triumphant (those already in heaven.) We on earth are part of the Church militant.

In addition, with the Church suffering (those in purgatory) we all make up what is known as the Communion of Saints, part of one glorious mystical body of Christ in His Church. We are truly all in this together!

Note that the saints had their weaknesses and struggles just we do. But they also had a tremendous devotion to God. They became canonized (that is to say, officially recognized) as Catholic Saints after their deaths. This was usually done after a lengthy review of both the holiness of their lives and miracles associated with them.

What is comforting is that with the saints we have so many members of our Church in heaven to look out for us! Do you ever feel some days like you need all the help you can get? You can ask one of many patron saints for their assistance. They’ve been “put in charge” of various causes, occupations, (and even countries!), though popular traditions or by the Church. These saints are considered our protectors as well as our intercessors.

St. Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland, for example, and people get their throats blessed on the feast day of St. Blase. (Just as a reminder, a feast day in the Catholic Church is a day to give special honor, that is to say recognition, to God, saints, doctrines, or sacred events.)

Many saints are patrons of more than one occupation or cause, such as St. Joseph, who, besides being a Universal Patron of the Church is also considered a patron saint of fathers, carpenters, and social justice. St. Therese of Lisieux, the "Little Flower," is patron saint not only of florists but also of missions as well.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is also considered a patron saint and has been given quite a few names as one, including many for places she has appeared (as in Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, and Our Lady
of Guadalupe).

Many prayers to saints take these “patrons” into account. For example, people pray to St. Anthony for lost items; to St. Jude (or perhaps St. Rita) for lost causes; and to St. Peregine for Cancer victims. For many years the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel was included at the end of Mass for his help in defeating Satan.

Keep in mind that God also calls on us to be saints. If this seems like too tall an order, remember that, with God’s help we can live our lives reflecting His love and goodness, letting Him work through us, just like the saints!

As we read in the wonderful prayer of St. Francis “Lord make me an instrument of your peace…grant that I may not so much seek to be loved as to love.” Just ask for God's help in prayer. Remember, He’s an important part of your prayers to saints as well.


Picture of St. Therese courtesy of Wikipedia

Do you feel worthless sometimes? Does your life seem meaningless? Prayers to St. Therese of Lisieux, pictured at left, (who is affectionately known as the “Little Flower”) can help remind you that in God’s eyes your “nothingness” is really something, as long as you give Him your best each day!

What’s more, you don’t need to be a bigwig or a hero to be worthy of His love. St. Therese’s “little way” calls us all to a very special kind of holiness, that of doing God’s work out of love for Him in the way we handle our daily chores and cares.

St. Therese, born Therese Martin to a devout French family in 1873, became a Carmelite nun in 1888. With characteristic humility, she noted in her memoir Story of A Soul, written at the behest of her superiors, that “I may aspire to sanctity in spite of my littleness. For me to become great is impossible, I must bear with myself and my many imperfections; but I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way.”

Her idea was to do everything in life, especially the little things, out of love for God and for our neighbors. We shouldn’t expect a reward or even recognition. Doing daily errands can be as holy as doing missionary work if our desire is to serve God as best we can.

In our prayers to St. Therese we can ask for her help in following this simple yet beautiful approach to spirituality. She showed so much love for our Lord in answering His call for humility and service that she made the ordinary extraordinary!

Soon after her untimely death from tuberculosis in 1897, Story of a Soul touched so many hearts so quickly that it was widely translated and published throughout the world, and Therese was canonized as a saint in 1925!

At the Carmelite convent, St. Therese took the name “Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.” She wanted to approach our Lord with a childlike trust, while inspired by the image of His Holy Face to do His work “hidden” and “forgotten,” as she put it.

(On a side note, Therese is called “St. Therese of the Child Jesus,” “St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face,” or even “St. Therese the Little Flower of Jesus” in different prayer books and websites. Sometimes her name is spelled “Teresa,” but usually with one of these descriptions added to distinguish her from St. Teresa of Avila.)

St. Therese wrote of herself in her autobiography as “The Little Flower,” who “rejoices in the wholly undeserved favors bestowed upon her by Our Lord. She knows that she had nothing in herself worthy of attracting Him: His Mercy alone showered blessings on her.”

She added “I will let no tiny sacrifice pass, no look, no word. I wish to profit by the smallest actions, and to do them for Love. I wish to suffer
for Love’s sake, and for Love’s sake even to rejoice: thus shall I strew flowers.”

Among prayers to St. Therese, this one touches on the Little Flower’s “little way” itself:

O Little Therese of the Child Jesus,
Please pick a rose for me
From the heavenly gardens
And send it to me
As a message of love.

O little flower of Jesus,
Ask God today to grant the favors
I now place with confidence
In your hands.

(Mention your specific requests)

St. Therese,
help me to always believe,
As you did,
In God's great love for me,
So that I might imitate your
"Little Way" each day. Amen

Some prayers to St. Therese, like the novena below, ask for her help in loftier terms. It is a beautifully divine irony that she who thought herself incapable of doing great things has been credited with numerous miracles since her death.

O Glorious St. Therese, whom Almighty God has raised up to aid and inspire the human family, I implore your Miraculous Intercession. You are so powerful in obtaining every need of body and spirit from the Heart of God. Holy Mother Church proclaims you 'Prodigy of Miracles... the Greatest Saint of Modern Times.' Now I fervently beseech you to answer my petition (mention here) and to carry out your promises of spending Heaven doing good on earth...of letting fall from Heaven a Shower of Roses. Little Flower, give me your childlike faith, to see the Face of God in the people and experiences of my life, and to love God with full confidence. St. Therese, my Carmelite Sister, I will fulfill your plea 'to be made known everywhere' and I will continue to lead others to Jesus through you. Amen

Let your prayers to St. Therese shower you with a fragrant spiritual bouquet to help you on your “little way” to Heaven with God’s help and His love. Remember, no one is too little or no task is insignificant in God’s eyes if it is done out of love for Him in accordance with his will.

The janitor is as precious to Him as the movie star or the high powered executive. In a world full of hype and flash, that thought, much like the prayers to St. Therese above and others listed here can provide comfort indeed!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Monday, November 22, 2010

Cluster Paul is... All About YOU, LORD!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Giotto painting of Christ's ascension into Heaven courtesy of Wikipedia

Are you looking for special prayers for a special favor? Novenas can provide you with some wonderful choices! These prayers for particular intentions or graces have been a great source of comfort and strength for the faithful for centuries. They are typically said as public or private devotions over nine consecutive days, or on one day a week for nine weeks. (The word “novena” itself is derived from the Latin word for the number nine.)

Most novenas are addressed to saints or angels (such as those shown in the painting above of Christ’s Ascension into Heaven), or to our Lord or His Blessed Mother. There are often several prayers to choose from for each of them.

While not formal liturgies per se when prayed in public, they nonetheless can include liturgical prayers of the church. Indeed, attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion daily are often an important part of these devotions.

The versatility and richness of these prayers goes hand in hand with their popularity. You might find some novenas in prayer books consisting of one particular prayer (sometimes a popular one like the prayer to the Holy Spirit) to be said each day for nine days.

Others might have a prayer of this type followed by other specific prayers for each day. And still others, particularly when used in public church services, might have additional readings, reflections, litanies or hymns. Clearly these are not cookie cutter one-size-fits-all prayers!

Many think of Mary, the Apostles and the disciples praying for the nine days before the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts1:14) as an inspiring model for the novena. Yet, it seems to have been adapted from the Greeks and the Romans’ nine day mourning period for the deceased.

There are novenas of:
a) Mourning (such as during the nine days following the death of the pope);
b) Preparation (for nine days of prayer before special feasts in our calendar such as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost);
c) Prayer for particular intentions as mentioned above; and finally,
d) Indulgence (to help us satisfy our remaining temporal punishment before God for sins that have been forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance, otherwise known as confession.)

Many prayers fit into more than one of these categories.

Novenas of masses and prayers for popes and cardinals, among the departed, became customary in the Middle Ages. So did those of preparation for Christmas (first in Spain and France), which paid tribute in part to the nine months our Lord spent in His Blessed Mother’s womb.

By the 17th century, many religious orders celebrated the memory of their founders with novenas of preparation leading up to their feast days. This practice dovetailed nicely with that of saying prayers for special needs to particular saints. Along this line, many prayer books include great opportunities for you to “(mention your request here),” as it is often written in a particular prayer.

The novenas we’ll cover on subsequent pages, including those to St. Joseph, St. Therese, St. Anthony, St. Jude, St. Benedict, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Souls in Purgatory, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Anne, and the Novena of Grace, are relatively simple. There are others in prayer books and websites such as these that include specific prayers for each of the nine days. Keep in mind, though that these prayers don’t contain some magic formula for God to honor these requests automatically at the end of a nine day period! Still, they encourage in us the spirit of perseverance that we need in our prayer lives.

Jesus extolled this virtue in Luke’s Gospel, saying “Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find” (Luke 11:9). He’s always listening to each of our prayers, whether or not He gives us the answer we desire, seeking to guide us in doing His will.

Whether you pray directly to God or to Mary and the saints (in which case you’re still praying to Him through them), pray with humility, sincerity and love. Then, if nothing else, our Lord will at least give you the precious gift of His Holy Spirit to help guide you in the midst of your trials and troubles.

As Jesus said to his disciples in Luke 11:13: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the good Spirit to those who ask him?”

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Picture courtesy of iStockphoto

Do you have a big exam coming up? These prayers before studying can help you focus on doing well, with God’s help! Maybe you’re taking the SAT, GRE, GED, LSAT, MCAT, or some other standardized test. Or perhaps just you’re just studying for a history quiz at school. Whatever the case, it never hurts to ask our Lord for His grace and guidance before you hit the books.

He can help steer you through the fog of anxiety and distractions so you can concentrate on your work. Two of these prayers before studying also ask for help from another powerful and loving source: our Blessed Mother!

This first prayer comes from a 1916 Catholic prayer book. The lofty language employed here centers in at its end to our most essential task. Passing the “exam” for Eternal Life!

Incomprehensible Creator, the true Fountain of light and only Author of all knowledge: vouchsafe, we beseech Thee, to enlighten our understandings, and to remove from us all darkness of sin and ignorance. Thou, who makest eloquent the tongues of those that want utterance, direct our tongues, and pour on our lips the grace of Thy blessing. Give us a diligent and obedient spirit, quickness of apprehension, capacity of retaining, and the powerful assistance of Thy holy grace; that what we hear or learn we may apply to Thy honor and the eternal salvation of our own souls.

The second one has a more contemporary feel:

Holy Spirit, Giver of all good gifts, enter into my mind and heart. Give me the gift of knowledge and the grace to use it wisely. Help me in all my endeavors. Give me perseverance and fortitude. Help my memory, that I may remember what I learn and recall it when necessary. Guide me in the classroom. You who are the Way, the Truth, and the Life, let me not be deceived by false teaching. Our Lady of Good Studies, pray for me. Amen.

And, finally the third of our prayers before studying was composed by the “Angelic Doctor,” one of the Church’s greatest theologians, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). His writings, such as his celebrated Summa Theologica, provide essential commentary and teachings about our Catholic faith.

When St. Thomas first attended the University of Paris, his quiet manner and heavyset frame earned him the nickname “the Dumb Ox”. Yet his teacher and mentor, St. Albert the Great, upon seeing his amazing memory and grasp of detail, said famously “we call him the dumb ox, but one day he will emit such a bellowing in his teaching that it will be heard throughout the world."

Note in this prayer as well how Aquinas appeals to Mary, “the mediatrix of grace” as St. Alphonsus Liquori called her, to help him receive the grace of the Holy Sprirt. St. Thomas honors, not worships, our Blessed Mother with his petitions.

O Mary, Mother of fair love, of fear, of knowledge, and of holy hope, by whose loving care and intercession many, otherwise poor in intellect, have wonderfully advanced in knowledge and in holiness, thee do I choose as the guide and patroness of my studies; and I humbly implore, through the deep tenderness of thy maternal love, and especially through that eternal Wisdom who deigned to take from thee our flesh and who gifted thee beyond all the saints with heavenly light, that thou wouldst obtain for me by thy intercession the grace of the Holy Spirit that I may be able to grasp with strong intellect, retain in memory, proclaim by word and deed, and teach others all things which bring honor to thee and to thy Son, and which for me and for others are salutary for eternal life. Amen.

Remember the key element in all three of these prayers before studying: calling on God (as well as the Blessed Virgin Mary) to help you succeed! You don’t have to feel alone at your desk. Keep in mind as well that whatever the outcome, you’ll at least know did your best for God by sincerely seeking His help and preparing thoroughly for your test with the help of His grace. Good luck!

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Favorite Quotes About the Rosary

"The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description."

- Archbishop Fulton Sheen

"The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying."

-Pope Leo XIII

"The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors."

-Pope Pius XI

"Among all the devotions approved by the Church none has been so favored by so many miracles as the devotion of the Most Holy Rosary"

-Pope Pius X

"No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they will give up sin or they will give up the Rosary"

-Bishop Hugh Doyle

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Painting of Mary Magdalene by Ary Scheffer courtesy of Wikipedia

Have you ever heard someone use the phrase “offer it up” about a problem? Offering up our troubles to God is a great way to remember that, in our faith, suffering is never wasted or meaningless when it’s united with Christ’s suffering on the Cross, for atonement for sins.

Many people find it helpful to start the day with a morning offering. These prayers we present here for offering up suffering can help you and others as well. We start first with this well-known prayer Our Lady taught the three Fatima

visionaries, the children Lucia Dos Santos, and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, in 1917, to be said when offering up sufferings, sacrifices, or penances:

Oh my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In a similar vein, we offer this prayer:

Dear Lord,
Help me to remember in these troubled times
The cross you carried for my sake,
So that I may better carry mine
And to help others do the same,
As I offer up (whatever your concern or problem here) to you
For the conversion of sinners
For the forgiveness of sins
In reparation for sins
And for the salvation of souls. Amen

Here’s a shorter version that expresses the same sentiment:

Dear Lord,
I offer you (whatever your concern or problem here)
For the conversion of sinners
For the forgiveness of sins
In reparation for sins and
For the salvation of souls. Amen.

As the well-known Catholic author Peter Kreeft once wrote in this article, our suffering can help both ourselves and others we may not even know. As he put it "If we are 'in Christ', we, like him, can offer up our sufferings to the Father—and he uses them. They become seeds, or rainwater, and something beautiful springs up that we seldom see in this life."

This concept of redemptive suffering is one of those wonderful divine mysteries, much like our Lord’s Incarnation and His Resurrection that we as human beings will never fully be able to explain but that can give our lives so much meaning. Our sufferings can have a purpose!

God has given us free will to choose to follow Him or not. We’ve abused it many times because of our own sinful nature. And yet He can not only forgive our sins through the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) but also, if we stay close to Him in prayers of offerings, He can take our troubles of any size and use them to make amends for our sins or those of others. (Think of this like paying to fix a window you or someone else broke!)

As Bishop Fulton Sheen once wrote “Pain, agony, disappointments, injustices-all these can be poured into a heavenly treasury from which the anemic, sinful, confused, ignorant souls may draw unto the healing of their wings.”

Think of your sufferings and prayer offerings such as these as contributions into an “Atonement Bank.” It’s not in danger of needing a bailout, and it can give you quite a high rate of return! Your “deposits” can help you, your loved ones or people you don’t even know attain salvation and Eternal Life!

We’d also like to share with you this prayer to offer up sufferings related to confusion, doubt or despair you might naturally feel in bad times:

Dear Lord, during this trial,
I offer up to you my confusion
Give me clarity
I offer up to you my despair
Give me hope
I offer up to you my weakness
Give me strength
I offer up to you my pettiness
Give me generosity of spirit.
I offer up to you all my
Negative thoughts from Satan
So that when he asks ‘Where is Your God now?”
I may respond “Right here with me, giving me His grace
As a Heavenly beam of light penetrating your darkness!"

Remember that in God’s eyes, not one of us is useless. He doesn’t want to lose one sheep in His flock, not one! The one we call the devil, Lucifer, or Satan, however, would like nothing better than to see our destruction.

For most of us, the devil doesn’t turn us into Linda Blair types in need of an Exorcist (as in the movie of that title). His approach is more subtle but it can be deadly nonetheless.

Satan, the father of lies as our Lord referred to him once (John 8:44), tries to play on our weaknesses, our doubts and fears, even in good times, much less in the bad! Don’t let him get you down!

Do you feel like a failure? Frustrated beyond belief? At your wit’s end? Offer all that baggage up to our Lord. Give Him your frustrations and failures. Don't give them to the devil and his forces of darkness.

Do you feel lost? Think of people you look up to, or who inspire you. You think they’ve all had it easy? Look at Jesus. He was born in a cave to die on a cross between two thieves. He was abandoned as a common criminal by his disciples! He must have been a total failure, right? Not at all!

Our Lord came down on earth to share in our sufferings and to give His life not just for our Eternal Life but also so that we may see just how much He loves each of us. This love can strengthen us in our struggles and also help us to share our sufferings with His on Calvary. We can also get His grace, guidance and help through the Eucharist in Holy Communion and in Confession as well!

So, remember, as Blessed Robert Southwell, a 16th Century martyr for Christ once said "God gave Himself to Thee; give Thyself to God."

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