God’s Miracles Begin with an Act of Faith

In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 9:18-26, we find two examples where Jesus performed miracles following two small acts of faith.

The first, an official’s daughter had died. Yet, he kneels before Jesus seeking a miracle. “My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.”

The second, a woman who suffered from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched the tassel on his cloak, saying to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.”

In both cases, Jesus assisted them, raising to life the official’s daughter and healing the woman of her long-term illness.

What can we learn about prayer in these two examples, and how can we put it into practice? Both of these in need, sought out Jesus (first step of prayer). Both of them had a petition, one spoken audibly, the other in her heart. Both of them acted, expecting results. Their words show their confidence:

The father: “…she will live.”

The woman: “…I shall be cured.”

Does our prayer follow the same pattern? There are no conditionals in their prayer. They demonstrate a boldness; a confidence that God will act in their favor. This is faith.

Today, let us practice in our prayer such bold confidence. Trusting that God knows what we need before we ask, yet how much He longs for us to come to Him with our whole heart, trusting in Him to act on our behalf.

An Act of Faith

O my God,
I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit;
I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins,
and that he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe these and all the truths
that the holy Catholic Church teaches,
because you have revealed them,
who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

Abandonment to God’s Providence

My Lord and my God: into your hands I abandon the past and the present and the future, what is small and what is great, what amounts to little and what amounts to a lot, things temporal and things eternal. Amen.

–  Saint Josemaria Escriva

Mother of Sorrows – Mother of Hope

It was a terrible day; an incomprehensible day. Just hours ago my son was in this very room with his closest friends for the Passover. It was a festive night – one of the holiest nights – and yet, it was a night like no other I have ever known.  With Jesus, I have come to expect the unexpected, but nothing could prepare me for this.

It began as Passover always does, with prayers and songs, the questioning of why this is the holiest of nights, and the retelling of Israel’s deliverance from the Egyptians. From memory the ancient covenant at Mount Sinai was retold; and how God brought his people into the Promised Land. But at one point, Jesus spoke of a betrayer in our midst. That one of his inner circle was ready to hand him over. How our hearts were cut to think of it. ‘Is it I, Lord?’ echoed the voices of his friends. An examination of our hearts became a burden – have we betrayed him in some way? Then Peter was told that he would deny Jesus, not once, but three times!

There was a growing sense of awe and uneasiness at the thought, suggesting that after this moment, nothing would every the same again. The mood of finality increased at the height of the Paschal feast. He spoke words at the breaking of the unleavened bread, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” And again with the Cup of Atonement, he altered the customary words, stating, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”  The nuance wasn’t lost; I could tell by the faces of those gathered that they understood they were on unfamiliar ground. Questions began to form in their minds, yet, no one dared ask my son tonight. They ate the unleavened bread and drank the cup, pondering what he meant in the subtle changes words he chose to say.

Following the feast, my son and his closest friends went to the Garden of Gethsemane, as they often did, to pray. That was the last I saw of my son until this afternoon. John came rushing in the room early in the morning with news. The Chief Priests had Jesus arrested. No reason was given. It was Judas who led the soldiers to him. John took me to look for my son, and we found him on the road leading out of the city to Golgotha. Oh, the crowds! The soldiers! The yelling! My heart almost broke then, seeing my child bloody from beatings, bearing a cross too heavy. Could I have carried it for him? I wanted to protect him from his suffering, but the best I could do was to offer the pain of my own mother’s heart with the sacrifice of my son. Through the streets he stumbled and fell, got up again, but the weight was too much to bear. Somehow, he went on, every painful step resonating in my sorrowing heart. When, Son of Mine, did you ever prepare me for this moment?

Nothing could have prepared me. I have always known at some unspeakable level that Jesus would not grow old: But how am I made ready to understand that my son, who as a babe was worshiped by kings, today, treated as a dangerous criminal was hung up on a cross to die? The pain is too much to bear.

But then, from the Cross, the words of our last Passover together come back to me. “This is my body… this is my blood.” It strangely consoles the pain of my heart, and I turn to trust that God’s work continues on.

(warning: graphic crucifixion scene)

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Abram’s Faith

Today’s first reading, taken from the book of Genesis 12:1-9, is the narrative of God’s promise to Abram (before given his new name, Abraham):

“I will make of you a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you
and curse those who curse you.
All the communities of the earth
shall find blessing in you.”

What impresses me in this reading, is Abram’s response: he trusts that God’s words are true. The passage tells us:

“Abram went as the LORD directed him.” 

Abram received these instructions when he was seventy-five years old. He took all he had, along with his family, and set off for a foreign land. It’s hard enough today, with all of our conveniences, to pick up and move. It’s difficult to imagine the arduous journey through wilderness that Abram made. He was well established, had a wife and holdings, and had to pull up stakes and go.

Actually, Abram didn’t have to go. He could have stayed where he was, continue his life right where he was, but he chose to go ‘as the Lord directed him.” It is no wonder that he is called the Father of Faith (Romans 4:3):

“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

There are moments in our lives when we are called to make life choices. As Christians, we bring these choices to God in prayer, asking Him to help us, to shed light on what he wants of us. Today’s reading shows how when one stays close to the Lord, they are willing to choose His design over their own. This is repeated again and again in the scriptures:

Moses is sent to Egypt to lead Israel to the promised land (Exodus 3);

Elisha is called while plowing a field, burns the equipment and slaughters the beasts of burden as a farewell feast (1 Kings 19:19-21);

Prophet Nathan sent to King David (2 Samuel 7);

Call of Isaiah (Isaiah 6);

Call of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1);

Call of Mary (Luke 2);

Call of Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John (Matthew 4:18-22); and

Call of Saul (Paul) (Acts of the Apostles 9).

– – –

And what about us? How do our daily decisions reflect our relationship with God? We too are called to a deeper faith, a deeper seeking out of His will in our lives. Are we, like Abram, ready to turn our world upside down to do what God wants?

After all, the promise we have received is even greater than that given to Abram — Eternal Life.

I Arise Today in Christ

Reading through the life of St Patrick, I was struck by the strength of his faith, that lead him to evangelize Ireland. The below song, The Deer’s Cry, sung by Angelina, is based on the prayer, St Patrick’s Breastplate:


I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.
I arise to-day

Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s eyes to look before me,
Gods wisdom to guide me,
Gods way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
From all who shall wish me ill,
Afar and a near,
Alone and in a multitude.

Against every cruel merciless
power that may
oppose my body and soul

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ to shield me,
Christ in the heart of every one who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me.

I arise to-day


Saint Patrick, Pray for us.


Foundations and Safety Nets

Today, many of us look upon our faith as a safety net – something to fall back on; rather than what faith should be – the foundation upon which our Christian lives are built.

The Gospel of  today sets up the question to challenge us:

“Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival…You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” (Luke 12:37, 40)

We’ve all experienced it. We’re expecting a friend or relative, and they arrive much earlier than planned. We find ourselves scrambling to accommodate them. We feel uncomfortable – out of our element. Naturally, our friend/relative is gracious, and lets us off the hook  pretty easily. But in reading today’s Gospel, several questions came to mind: Am I ready for the day of the Son of Man’s coming? What if the Lord came today? Or in my sleep? Or while I’m at the grocery store? Would I be ready to receive Him?

A growing mentality in our society approaches such questions like a trapeze walker with a safety net. She knows if she falls, her injury will be limited, and she will be able to climb up the tower and walk again the fine line. Do we live our faith in this way? Society tells us to do what we want, what feels good; what is convenient. For instance, the media propagates, “go ahead, have sex”; “worried about pregnancy – use  contraception”; “what? got pregnant anyway? there’s always option of abortion”.   And when an so-called “inconvenience” becomes a consequence of our choices, society gives us a solution for that – anything to allow us to get back on the tightrope and enjoy the “good life”.

The problem with such a way of thinking, is that our actions always have consequences outside of ourselves. There is more damage done than the so called “problem” at hand. Something that, unfortunately, not even our national leadership understands. This safety net mentality has stretched beyond societal issues, but has become a modus operandi for how many approach their relationship with God. At times of trouble, we get on our knees and turn to God for assistance. We see examples of this on large scales (Churches were full after 9/11; and people in Haiti put aside their voodoo practices and sought out the “Big God” of their fallen away Catholic faith following the earthquake). We see it on the individual level too, when serious illness strikes, or a loved one is in an accident, our hearts turn to God begging for his help. In these moments, we are shaken from our apathy, but overtime we find ourselves reverting back to the way things were before. It is not enough to turn to God until things seemingly get better; this only makes God a safety net – not your foundation. What must we do to strengthen our foundation of faith?

As anyone who has built structures will tell you, you build a shoddy foundation, you get a building that may be beautiful, but will not hold up under stress. A good foundation takes time and effort. So it is with building a firm foundation in faith.

  • Prayer. Talk with God often. Daily. Hourly. Like any relationship, our relationship with the Lord must be cultivated. Use simple prayers, one-liners, to accompany you throughout the day: “Jesus, I Love you” works well. As does, “Have mercy on me, Lord, a poor sinner.” The point of these small prayers is to turn our spiritual compass back back towards the Cross – the Spiritual North, which leads our feet closer to the Lord.
  • Read the Bible. Know the Lord through listening to His Word. This becomes a way to know what is pleasing to God, and to become more aware of His Divine purpose for your life. The Sacred Scriptures are also a good prayer manual, full of words to instruct the heart; edify the soul; teach the mind the way of prayer and praise.
  • Become Sacramental. Go to confession and communion often. These two fountains of grace will assist you in unexplainable ways to grow in your spiritual life. Be attentive of the presence of Christ in the sacraments, and make small acts of faith, such as, “Jesus, I do believe  you are truly present in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Altar”.
  • Become Marian. Mary is the perfect example for the Christian life, having embraced so fully in her own life the Will of the Father for all humanity. Mary taught us obedience in her words, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) When we pray, asking Mary to intercede for us, we have a strong advocate on our side, who prays according to the will of the Father.
  • Read/Watch wholesome stuff. This goes hand in hand with saying small prayers. We progress on the path of true holiness with the rate we feed our minds and hearts and souls with good, nourishing Christian food, in images we see, dialogue we hear, words we say.

Little by little these small things will open the door of the heart, so that it knows how to embrace what is good and reject what is evil. And a byproduct of these efforts to grow in our faith will be an increase of our openness to the workings of the Holy Spirit directing us, helping us to construct a foundation that will withstand the toughest of storms.

Many today won’t take up the invitation to give themselves over to Jesus until tragedy strikes close to home. They know that God is there when they need Him. It is true, God showers his gifts upon the good and the bad (Luke 5:45). But it is also true that the day of reckoning will come when we least expect it – “like a thief in the night” Saint Peter tells us (2 Peter 3:10).  But if our feet are not firmly planted on a foundation of faith on that day, we can hope all we want for our safety net to catch us. This is a pretty presumptuous position isn’t it? Yes, too often we presume God is there for us, but we are only fair whether friends in reverse. We are the grown child who only speaks to his father when we need something from him. What shall our inheritance be in the end? Are we sure our safety net will save us?