"Walking in the way and the love of the Lord"
By: Fr. Thomas Rosica
Standing in the middle of the present day city of Nazareth is the mammoth Basilica of the Annunciation, built around what is believed to be the dwelling of Mary. In a grotto-like room at the heart of the basilica is a small inscription on an altar. It reads, "verbum caro hic factum est," here the Word became flesh. There, it is believed, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, and her response changed the world forever.
Imagine yourself in Mary's place, asked to say "yes" to a divine plan so vast, so profound and so seemingly impossible that you cannot comprehend it. "How can this be?" she asks, bewildered. She is rooted in the faith of her ancestors, and yet now an angel has appeared in the midst of everyday life, extending a startling invitation. "You have found favor with God," the angel says, "and you will conceive and bear His Son." Will she accept?
It is Mary above all others who can teach us what it means to live by faith, and how to respond when God's providence disrupts the daily course of our lives, overturning its rhythms and expectations. Despite her fears and uncertainty over how this promise could be fulfilled, she still answered "Yes." Are we able to respond to God this way?
When we reflect on the Annunciation to Mary, and her acceptance of the angel's message, we also reflect on our own vocation -- our own calling from God. In the Lord's Prayer, we pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" -- an echo of Mary's "Be it done unto me according to your word." Each time we commit ourselves to embracing God's call and accepting His will, we mark a new point on the path of our relationship with Him. For the rest of her life, Mary pondered her extraordinary encounter with God, turning the weight of the angel's message over and over again in her heart. From the manger to the cross, Mary's life was radically changed -- her relationship with God profoundly deepened -- the moment she said "Yes."
Mary received and welcomed God's Word in the fullest sense -- becoming impregnated with it, and bearing it to the world. Angels might not appear in our doorsteps, but we do encounter God in each of our daily prayers, and he whispers to us a similar invitation: Will we accept His love and bring it joyously to those around us? Will we trust in His providence, even when we can't see the path ahead? Amid the noise of everyday life, will we listen for and embrace his call?
When making his pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Annunciation, Pope Benedict XVI offered this prayer to the humble Virgin of Nazareth. It speaks for all of us who likewise seek to accept God's will with joy:
Mary, Mother of the "Yes," you listened to Jesus, and know the tone of his voice and the beating of his heart. Morning Star, speak to us of him, and tell us about your journey of following him on the path of faith.
A question for today:
When have I felt that God was calling me to something greater than myself? When have I succeeded, and when have I failed, in accepting His will? What was the outcome of those situations?
By Gerald M. Fagin, SJ
Mary at her Annunciation models faith for us. She shows us that faith is more than assent, but is also trust, commitment, obedience, and submission. Mary trusted in God’s promises, was obedient to God’s word of invitation in her life, surrendered to the mystery before her, and committed herself to be part of God’s plan of salvation in Jesus.
At the same time, we can easily romanticize the Gospel scene—Mary is at prayer, an angel appears, and she says a faith-filled yes. The Scripture also tells us that she was deeply troubled and wondered what the angel’s greeting meant. Certainly the angel’s explanation only left her with more questions and concerns. She did not say yes because she fully understood or had all her questions answered. She said yes in faith and trust. We do Mary a disservice to think she had some infused knowledge that dispelled all her doubts. She was a young woman of extraordinary faith. The “yes” at the Annunciation was not the first “yes” in her life nor would it be the last.
The really significant yeses in our lives also demand a great deal of trust and openness. We cannot know all the implications of them. We respond to the gift of God’s call in our lives. We say yes in hope and trust. Like Mary, we say “yes” to something being born in us that must grow and mature and take a shape we cannot predict. We are called to that depth of faith as we contemplate the story of the Annunciation and all the stories of the life of Jesus in the rest of the [Spiritual] Exercises. We are called to trust, obedience, surrender, and commitment in our own lives. We will hear an invitation to share in the work of Jesus and respond and live in faith.
Living in faith demands surrender to the stories of God and Jesus recorded in the Scriptures. Christian faith especially demands that we let the stories of Jesus shape our minds and hearts. Paul Wadell says that to live in faith means that we “appropriate these stories, striving to embody their viewpoints, values, and vision as our own. To assent to the truths of faith portrayed in the Scripture is to allow them to become the interpretative framework for our world.”
Wadell feels we need these narratives “to mold and shape us, especially in the attitudes and virtues of Jesus.” Ignatian imaginative prayer on the Gospel stories is a powerful way to grow in faith by putting on the heart of Christ. As Jesus trusted, obeyed, surrendered, and committed his life to the Father, we are to respond in the same way. All the contemplations on the Gospels throughout the Exercises foster growth in the virtue of faith that empowers us to trust God and commit ourselves to service.
Excerpt from Putting on the Heart of Christ: How the Spiritual Exercises Invite Us to a Virtuous Life by Gerald M. Fagin, SJ.
First, may Our Most Risen Christ be upon all of you my Brothers and Sisters in Christ in reading this:
Let's reflect a second.............. Suffering is "A lot" like this..........Let's say a mother takes her young child to the doctors office and then the nurse escorts the mother and her young child to the exam room. As the young child sits on the exam table she starts to cry and panic. The child's fear is confirmed when the mother tells her that she must get a "Shot!" This "Shot" is going to prevent any illness that may be around later in life and will make you stronger. The mother goes onto say to her young child
"Whom she Loves with her whole heart and soul", that "Yes, the shot is going to hurt and there will be some pain, but my child, I Love you! You must understand that by getting this shot, it is only going to make you stronger. So, please my child, know that I LOVE YOU and once you get through the pain, you will be a much stronger person."
Holy Scripture (The Word of GOD), is very clear and it is through out the Bible that suffering is a "Grace" and it will make us STRONGER!!
"For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am Strong." -2 Corinthians 12:10
Then Jesus said to them "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." -Matthew 16:24
I have said for years and I do mean I HAVE SAID THIS for years, that satan "Is" going to get at you to make you suffer in your marriage, job, finances, your children, the health of a loved one or your health, trying to pay the bills and the list goes on. There are so many ways we ALL suffer and carry our Crosses in this life. But these ARE our Crosses and through them, Our Most Risen Christ has PROMISED us that the eternal reward that awaits us is "Unfathomable" to us to even try to understand the: PEACE, JOY, LOVE THAT AWAITS US!!! AND "Yes" the pain of our Cross is like getting the shot but it "Will" make us Stronger and the suffering is only "Temporary." BUT the PEACE, JOY, LOVE IS FOREVER!!!
~Arrow your brother in Christ
A friend emailed this out to our prayer group, it is perfectly said. I had to share.
BE ENCOURAGED The LORD himself goes before you!
Fear sometimes keeps us from doing what we ought to do. I hope these verses will give you some food to chew on and thoughts to dwell upon today and to keep them in your heart. As Christians, we need to be bold in proclaiming the kingdom of God, and we need to be prepared for those times, when we will not be welcomed with open arms with God's message. This morning a lady came to me asking for prayer because she feels she's being persecuted by some, and I gave her the scripture
"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,"
and also I gave her the prayer from today's One Bread One Body; Prayer: Lord, may I let You fight my battles, even if I seem to be a casualty. I really love this scripture from Duet 31:8, because me being visual, I can see the Lord walking ahead and making everything to kneel or bow down because the anointed (us) are coming to spread his message. Can you see it?
"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,"
The Lord's will be done in our lives!
1 John 4:18a - There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear
So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
So what are you afraid of? What is keeping you from reaching your full God given potential? What is keeping you from accomplishing the task God has given you? Let us cast down every fear and all the other weights that beset us. Let us keep our eyes on the prize and let us run the race with boldness and courage knowing that God is on our side.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Your perfect love is casting out fear And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life I won't turn back, I know you are near.
I will fear no evil
Thank you Linda for sharing!!
In the Bible clouds are always associated with God. Clouds are the sorrows, sufferings, or providential circumstances, within or without our personal lives, which actually seem to contradict the sovereignty of God. Yet it is through these very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were never any clouds in our lives, we would have no faith. “The clouds are the dust of His feet” (Nahum 1:3). They are a sign that God is there. What a revelation it is to know that sorrow, bereavement, and suffering are actually the clouds that come along with God! God cannot come near us without clouds— He does not come in clear-shining brightness.
It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials. Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child— a relationship simply between God and our own souls, and where other people are but shadows. Until other people become shadows to us, clouds and darkness will be ours every once in a while. Is our relationship with God becoming more simple than it has ever been?
There is a connection between the strange providential circumstances allowed by God and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Until we can come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God’s character, we do not yet know Him.
“…they were fearful as they entered the cloud” (Luke 9:34). Is there anyone except Jesus in your cloud? If so, it will only get darker until you get to the place where there is “no one anymore, but only Jesus …” (Mark 9:8; also see Mark 2:7).
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
The great thing about faith in God is that it keeps a man undisturbed in the midst of disturbance. Notes on Isaiah, 1376 R
Not fun being lost, searching
over and over again,
for answers that give
Not fun when clouds surround me.....
not fun being lost to myself...
can't even see the end of my hand,
asking the wrong questions,
over and over
and all the sign posts
seem to be missing...
lost, afraid, unrecognizable to myself,
simply and positively in darkness.
But if I am like those before me, then I am not alone.
Each one is my signpost and my companion....
I travel in good company; we all do.
The road is paved with their words of faith,
left for us like the stone path into a hidden garden.
One by one, step by step we follow after them....
Pick one stone to rest upon and listen.
St. Teresa of the Interior Castle explains...
St. Mother Teresa understands...
St. Padre Pio prays with us
and always, Mary our Mother intercedes for us.
All be well, I say
over and over and over
all will be well
by: Kathleen Aparo
A calm mind is a great asset in this life. Without it, your devotional life will not bear much fruit. If your heart is troubled, you are vulnerable to the enemy of the soul. When you are agitated, you are not able to make good decisions. You will stumble into snares.
The enemy detests this peace in you. He knows that is the place where the Spirit of God dwells. That's why he devises such devilish ways to destroy this peace.
Avoid rash acts. Even if you are sure the Holy Spirit wants you to do something, wait. Put off doing it until your eagerness has declined. Introduced with that kind of self-control, a good work is more pleasing to God than if it were done hastily.
It is also necessary to overcome a certain inner regret. Sometimes we think our bad conscience is being generated by God when in fact it is the work of the devil. Here is the way to tell: If your regret results in greater humility and increases your desire to serve God, receive it with gratitude as a gift from heaven. If it creates anxiety, makes you sad, depressed, fearful and slow to do your duty, then we can be sure it has been suggested by the enemy. Disregard it.
Laurence Scupoli: The Spiritual Combat
When we watch our children going through hard times, struggling, hurting, fighting addictions of all kinds and suffering with any pain or illness, our faith in our prayers is tested. We have covered them in prayer for all those firsts in their lives. First day of school, spending the night away, riding a bike and then the driving and dating. And though we know prayer is the answer for everything we struggle with, waiting becomes so very hard where are children are involved. Our prayer seems dry. But what we may forget in those dry times is that God knows our faithfulness. He has seen our trust in him from the beginning. And it is that trust that will move us and our children along the path of faith.
Yes,sometimes life is difficult and painful. And although we may not feel his presence, his help is always there, ready and waiting, dry prayer or not. We just have to remember to take shelter in him daily. “He is my refuge, a Rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people trust Him all the time. Pour out your longings before Him, for He can help!”
If we trust and believe in Our Lord Jesus Christ, we will find peace for today, strength for tomorrow and hope for a brighter future for our children.
Remember as Our Blessed Mother often tells us in her Medjugorje messages, Pray...Pray...Pray.
Oh, Lord my God,
You have called from the sleep of nothingness
merely because in your tremendous love
you want to make good and beautiful beings.
You have called me by my name in my mother’s womb.
You have given me breath and light and movement
and walked with me every moment of my existence.
I am amazed, Lord God of the universe,
that you attend to me and, more, cherish me.
Create in me the faithfulness that moves you,
and I will trust you and yearn for you all my days.
Amen. -Joseph Tetlow, SJ
My Utmost for His Highest
Daily devotionals by Oswald Chambers
. . . I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord --Jeremiah 1:8
God promised Jeremiah that He would deliver him personally— “. . . your life shall be as a prize to you . . .” (Jeremiah 39:18). That is all God promises His children. Wherever God sends us, He will guard our lives. Our personal property and possessions are to be a matter of indifference to us, and our hold on these things should be very loose. If this is not the case, we will have panic, heartache, and distress. Having the proper outlook is evidence of the deeply rooted belief in the overshadowing of God’s personal deliverance.
The Sermon on the Mount indicates that when we are on a mission for Jesus Christ, there is no time to stand up for ourselves. Jesus says, in effect, “Don’t worry about whether or not you are being treated justly.” Looking for justice is actually a sign that we have been diverted from our devotion to Him. Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it. If we look for justice, we will only begin to complain and to indulge ourselves in the discontent of self-pity, as if to say, “Why should I be treated like this?” If we are devoted to Jesus Christ, we have nothing to do with what we encounter, whether it is just or unjust. In essence, Jesus says, “Continue steadily on with what I have told you to do, and I will guard your life. If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance.” Even the most devout among us become atheistic in this regard— we do not believe Him. We put our common sense on the throne and then attach God’s name to it. We do lean to our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts (see Proverbs 3:5-6).
The First Gaze
Monday, June 30, 2014
I am just like you. My immediate response to most situations is with reactions of attachment, defensiveness, judgment, control, and analysis. I am better at calculating than contemplating.
Let’s admit that we all start there. The False Self seems to have the “first gaze” at almost everything.
The first gaze is seldom compassionate. It is too busy weighing and feeling itself: “How will this affect me?” or “How can I get back in control of this situation?” This leads us to an implosion, a self-preoccupation that cannot enter into communion with the other or the moment. In other words, we first feel our feelings before we can relate to the situation and emotion of the other. Only after God has taught us how to live “undefended,” can we immediately stand with and for the other, and in the present moment. It takes lots of practice.
On my better days, when I am “open, undefended, and immediately present,” as Gerald May says, I can sometimes begin with a contemplative mind and heart. Often I can get there later and even end there, but it is usually a second gaze. The True Self seems to always be ridden and blinded by the defensive needs of the False Self. It is an hour-by-hour battle, at least for me. I can see why all spiritual traditions insist on daily prayer, in fact, morning, midday, evening, and before we go to bed, too! Otherwise, I can assume that I am back in the cruise control of small and personal self-interest, the pitiable and fragile “Richard self.”
Adapted from “Contemplation and Compassion: The Second Gaze”
(article by Fr. Richard available free on CAC website)
Gateway to Silence:
May I see with eyes of compassion.
“Do not be afraid.” We have read these words in the bible many times. We sing it in our songs. We hear our family and friends tell us not to worry. But we go on our fearful way, thinking our worry will solve the problem and then our fears will be gone with the wind.
We know in our hearts that Jesus is taking care of us. But why can't we get our thoughts to go along with our hearts? Why should that be hard? And the answer is in our humanity. Our weakness. We are tempted away from God and fall so easily into being lost in our questions. So we spend our time worrying, wasting our time and days. Worrying doesn't help anything, it just takes us away from Jesus. Worrying takes us out of the presence of God in the now and leads us nowhere.
I want you to remember something. Jesus is holding your hand. Just like Isaiah 41:13 says, 'I am holding you by your right hand – I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, do not be afraid. I am here to help you.'
Those are the words we need to live by. God is with us at all times, holding our hand. When we are worrying, we are letting go of Jesus' hand and saying, “Hold on Jesus. I am going to sit here alone for awhile. I need to figure this out.” Why would we want to make the choice to let go of Jesus' hand? Why would we want to tell Jesus to hang on a minute, while we worry about something we cannot change at that moment. Why would we let go of the loving hand of Jesus.
He has a wonderful plan for us. Part of that plan is allowing our Father to take care of us, allowing Him to hold us by the hand. In our most difficult times, when we do not feel God's presence and feel abandoned, those are the moments we need to hold on fast. Don't let go! Talk with Jesus, pray with Jesus and trust in Jesus. “Do not be afraid.”
By: Mary Maddox
Dear Lord, in this quiet night, guide my way.
Lead my dreaming into Your dreams for me.
Help me to understand that in their mystery
there is healing and divine assistance
waiting to free me,
just a little more from me.
Lord, in this sacred dark,
I invoke the angels to protect me,
to stay close,
spreading their wings over me,
surrounding me, covering me,
whispering their night prayers,
the ones that assure and promise to keep me
and everyone I love safe.
I need their prayers to keep the shadows at bay
and to ready my heart for the blessings
of guidance and grace
that awaits me tomorrow.
Lord, I thank you now, in advance,
just in case in the morning light
I am disoriented and doubtful
about beginning again
my greatest task....
the holy project of finding me,
the one You formed in my mother's womb.
By: Kathleen Aparo
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time...though it tarry, wait for it...”(Habakkuk 2:3, KJV)
TODAY’S WORD from Joel and VictoriaGod has an appointed time to fulfill the visions, dreams and desires in your heart. Just because it has taken a long time or because you’ve tried and failed doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. Don’t give up on those dreams! Don’t be complacent about pursuing what God has placed in your heart. Our God is a faithful God. No matter how long it’s been, no matter how impossible things look, if you’ll stay in faith, your set time is coming.
Remember, every dream that’s in your heart, every promise that has taken root, God put it there. Not only that, but He has every intention of bringing it to pass. Hold on to that vision today. Declare by faith, “My time is coming. God is working behind the scenes on my behalf. I will fulfill my destiny!” As you continue to hold on to that vision and speak life over your dreams, it won’t be long before you see them begin to take shape. You’ll see your faith grow, you’ll see your hope strengthen, and you’ll see yourself step into the destiny God has prepared for you!
A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for placing dreams and desires in my heart. I trust that You are at work to bring them to pass even when I can’t see it, even when it’s taking longer than I thought. I know that You are faithful, and I trust You completely in Jesus’ name, Amen.— Joel & Victoria Osteen
Prayerful Path/Mary Maddox
Saint James, pray for us that we may be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus as you did. Help us to become special friends of Jesus as you were. Amen