A Prayer

‪Dearest Lord Jesus,

Let me not think about the tomorrow that will never come,
nor for the yesterday that will never return.

May you always be before me, behind me, above me, below me,
encompassing me at every moment.

That I may walk always toward you, with Mary,
your mother and mine, to be my one companion.

Trust. Trust. Trust.‬

Amen

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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.
Amen.

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

Pruning the Heart

A visitor to our convent stopped to admire our roses that line the path up to the front door. “What beautiful roses!” he said, “How do you keep them so lovely?”

Well, we don’t have time to give them extraordinary care. We water them on a timer and prune them. They seem to do the rest.

As we begin a new liturgical year, and the time of waiting for the Lord in Advent, the theme of pruning has been on my mind. Not of roses, however, but of the heart.

I like to think of God as the gardener, who comes in the right season to prune my heart. He comes to take a critical look at what is growing in me, what needs to be trimmed to encourage more growth, and what is unhealthy and needs to be lopped off altogether.

Here are three lessons I have learned as I allow God to be the ‘Gardener’ of my life.

Lesson One: Pruning is painful.

No matter how gentle the Gardener is, the trimming is painful. We get comfortable with our habits, the way we say and do things. And, although not all of our habits are harmful, even too much of a good thing can become an obstacle to growth in the Lord. And so, the Gardener comes in our prayer this season of Advent wanting to prune away the excess of our lives so to make room for the coming of Christ.

Out of fear, I want to hold some of my branches back, out of the way of the holy pruning hands of God, believing I will not be able to endure the pain of loss. The challenge of this season is to trust, that whatever we give over to God, He will make what is good even more so, and that which is harmful, He will heal us from our dependency. Yes, giving it over to God to be pruned is painful, but in the end, we are better for it.

Lesson Two: The Gardener never prunes without our permission.

Then, what do we do when God wants to prune our heart of something? We know, perhaps, how much the pruning will cost, not fully sure we want to trust the Gardener. He understands us better than we understand ourselves, and will never force us to resign anything to Him. No. He will allow us to hold on to even those things that might be harmful to us because of our free will. But He will come and ask us to let go. He will wait until we are ready to turn our lives over to Him.

Many times in our lives, we go through the externals of doing things because others expect it of us. But are we acting freely in these moments? Are we freely choosing to do the good? God’s asking permission to shape us through the art of pruning the heart, He hopes we will allow it, not just begrudgingly, but wholeheartedly.

Lesson Three: There is no plant too unruly for transformation in God’s garden.

God is patient with us, yes, in His waiting for our readiness to turn our lives over to Him. He is the Gardener who intercedes for the barren fig tree in the orchard, who ‘leaves it for another year…cultivating the ground around it and fertilizing it, that it may bear fruit in the future’ (Luke 13:8). God is equally patient with us, giving us the graces to be fruitful in our lives too.

What is it in your life during this Advent time that, perhaps, God is wanting to transform, to cultivate? Where in your life are you not bearing fruit? How might God be calling you to conversion through His care?

Advent is a beautiful season of the Church calendar. A time of preparing the heart to ‘make room for the Lord at Christmas.’ It is a time for reflecting on the “reasons of the season”, calling us back to examine our relationship with God, which then takes us to consider our relationship with others (these two are forever connected).

We are called by God to turn our hearts over to Him. In our giving permission to transform us, we are telling God, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!”

Through the Eyes of God

 

Do you want God
to see the way you see
and do what you think
needs to be done?

or,

Will you allow yourself
to see reality
through the eyes of God?

 

 

 
Say to the LORD,
“My refuge and fortress,
my God in whom I trust.”

Psalm 91:2

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.