Dearest Eucharistic family,
I like to offer the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary in preparation for Daily Mass. I love to pray the Annunciation, the Incarnation of Christ; knowing that Mary said yes first means so much to me. This Incarnation of God lived in Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, Our Mother. Mary was the first Tabernacle in the world. When we receive Jesus, it is good to remember this; it’s a beautiful preparation for the Liturgy to offer the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.
Today, on my prayer walk strolling through creation, in the clouds, looking into the trees with the birds of the air, I offered the Apostles Creed, and something was prominent to my thoughts. I offer this Creed so many times throughout the day; the words, by the power of the Holy Spirit... He was conceived, kept echoing in my mind.
Jesus, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, took on a new light, a newborn message, and I prayed with this thought throughout the offering of my rosary.
Jesus was conceived out of love; Mary said yes, her fiat to her Father, her Creator. She was compelled and consented to say yes, knowing there was something more significant than her existence on this earth. Jesus was conceived out of love.
I was asked to speak at the Breakfast Conference for Magnificat of St. Petersburg last week, and although my life was in a whirlwind of busyness, I knew in my soul that I needed to say yes. The topic for my witness talk would be, “How has the Holy Spirit touched your life?” I was so grateful to have said yes because I was invited to pray with this incredible theme. It led me on a journey back in time into my life to see where the Holy Spirit has touched me.
One thing I remembered most was the holy people, the holy women and men of God, who invited me to places, prayer groups, Holy Hours, Masses, Rosary groups, and gatherings.
The invitations allowed me to say yes and grow in love more deeply with God, Our Father. We are God’s children, the chosen ones, those who love Him, and those who are helping others remember the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
God’s mercies are new every morning, so we must be attentive when praying.
There may be some new significant message in words that we hear often. We may listen to our prayers differently each time we say them. That’s why we repeat them. This valley of tears brings us into the waters of baptism, this everlasting water flow, an abyss of mystery that we trust and live in.
There is freedom of the Holy Spirit to live in new mercies this side of the heavens flowing in this beautiful water, beheld in Our Mother’s arms as she keeps us afloat.
How has the Holy Spirit touched my life and your life?
Remember how God’s Providence has been with us even when we didn’t see Him and even perhaps when we didn’t know Him. Jesus raises us up to the Altar, by the hand, out of darkness into light, into the Cenacle of His love.
In the Sanctuary, the Altar stands. We are blessed to receive the Incarnation of God every day, the Body of Christ. We are blessed to be immersed in God’s compassion, love, and mercy.
What more can we ask for this side of the heavens?
The Holy Spirit works in our lives, so all we have received may be shared with our brothers and sisters.
We are called; we have been graced.
We have been given. Let us provide and wash the feet of our brothers and sisters so they may be at the Altar of God with us.
May the banquet of God’s love, the Eucharistic grace, and of Mary’s heart, Saint Joseph, and all the angels and saints of Heaven, be with us and all our loved ones. Let us be mindful, attentive, and on fire to share the gift of God’s love with others. God let us be there.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the word sacrifice? For me, I think of a mom or a dad sacrificing themselves for their child, putting the needs of the children above their own, perhaps even going without a necessity. I think of how my husband lets the boys eat the leftover pizza he had saved for lunch without batting an eye. He gets annoyed for a moment but immediately turns around and says it is fine. I think of how I left my career to care for my sons or how my mom worked three jobs after my dad died. There is an immediate relation to suffering for someone - out of love - when I hear the word sacrifice, a voluntary giving-up of something of value… so that someone else might be allowed to rise up. This is the context in which I’ve always looked at Jesus on the Cross.
But today, I came upon some words from St. Augustine that challenged me to ponder deeper on the meaning of this word… sacrifice.
“A true sacrifice is anything that we do with the aim of being united to God in holy fellowship” …anything! The question to ask ourselves is, what are we aiming for? St. Augustine continues:
We can spend our lives sacrificing ourselves yet not making a sacrifice to God. Blood, sweat, and tears wasted, living for ourselves and for strange gods. Gods that can not speak and can not love, working endlessly just to end empty-handed. Sands of time run through our fingers as we keep running away from the One who never ceases to call out for us. Repent! Return! I am your God.
I’ve come to recognize a particular type of tiredness that comes upon me when I have been laboring for fruit that perishes rather than making an offering to God. A “burnt-out” feeling reminds me to return to the source. The grace of being left to my own resources is that I recognize and remember. I recognize this desolate place where I feel tired and helpless, and I remember where my strength comes from. Again and again, I find my strength renewed in the Sacraments, especially receiving Holy Communion. The beauty of this movement is that every step in the right direction is not just a sacrifice on my part, but since it is done “with the aim of being united to God in holy fellowship,” every step becomes a TRUE SACRIFICE. This act of self-compassion done to relieve the distress I feel in my heart is acceptable to God! The pain I feel becomes the means to turn back; it helps reorient my heart. Then every other act of compassion to myself or others continues to be “holy-doing,” “holy-making,”…a beautiful sacrifice.
Let us then find moments through our day when we stop and examine where is our aim. If whatever we are doing is not done with the ultimate goal of being more united to God, let us ask for the grace to pivot, to reorient and set our eyes on Jesus. Let us ask Our Lady, to bring us with her heart into the arms of God. Let us become a holy living sacrifice to God.
Most of us look up to the Heavens when we are in dire need, the same way King David did.
“There are no atheists in a foxhole” is a well-known aphorism for a reason; it is not difficult to pray when we realize our self-reliance is not enough. And while pleading to our Lord when in need is perfectly acceptable, we are also reminded that we must be firmly aware of all the benefits received from God’s love and mercy toward us.
And yet, many of us forget to look up to God in thanksgiving for all that we receive and for His great care towards us, and that has been true even from the times when Christ Jesus physically roamed the earth.
The stranger, a foreigner that was already ostracized beyond his leprosy for being a Samaritan, had probably not known much mercy in his life. Yet he recognized the miracle for what it was, true compassion, and returned to offer thanks to Jesus. This is not too difficult to understand, for this miracle not only gave the leper back his health but also restored him, acknowledging his dignity as a human being in a land that repudiated him. This was a miracle in many ways, and since this much had been done for the leper, how could he not acknowledge that which also healed his heart? This leper connected the reality of his healing to the gift of love from Christ. Yet ten lepers were healed, and I often stop to think about the other nine.
The nine lepers were probably being obedient to Christ. Jesus sent them to go present themselves to the priests, and I like to think that they did. Christ did not tell them to come back. Technically, the nine did as they were told, so there was no fault there, but did they realize the fullness of what they received? No, I do not think they did. I can imagine they were thankful and quite amazed, considering how lucky they were, yet that was not enough for them to go back in gratitude to find Christ. Does this make us think of what we do ourselves? I sometimes look in the mirror and am sad to see one of the nine. Am I one of those in the foxhole that looks up to God only when I am in trouble? Am I grateful for the graces I receive, or do I attribute them to luck? I know that I can occasionally be dismissive of the gifts I receive, just like one of the nine lepers, yet there are also so many times when I can fully recognize the gift, just like the leper that went back to Christ. We can be very inconsistent in our recognition and acknowledgment.
This inconsistency is not good for us. It is time for us to open our eyes, hearts, and minds to the reality of how dismissive we can be of the graces God bestows upon us. We must strive for awareness and consistently be like the leper who recognized and acknowledged Christ. May we offer God our love, hope, and faith in full thanksgiving.
There is a significant movement in social media to get people to focus on gratitude. There is even a famous TED talk on living with gratitude in our lives from a Catholic monk that is very much worth your time if you can find it. It is possible that we can all receive great benefits from focusing on being grateful. Yet, the reality for a good follower of Christ is that we must be particularly conscious of where our gratitude is going. Our thankfulness is not to the world, the universe, some energy, or any other facsimile, but to God and our brothers and sisters through Him who loves us with all He is. We do not want to be like the nine lepers that did not go further than the minimally required, but instead, let us be like the one leper who saw the truth of God’s grace and ran to acknowledge Christ’s great charity and love.
The word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving, gratitude. The source and summit of our faith is thanksgiving, the Eucharist. God with us! Much grace have we received from our communion with Christ Eucharistic, gifts given to us without cost and totally undeserved. Just like the one leper, we are healed, but even more importantly, we are acknowledged and restored in our dignity as sons and daughters of God. Let us be conscious of this and grow ever grateful. Let us look up to the Heavens and give of ourselves back to Him in honest thanksgiving so that we may hear, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
Let us pray: