Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time

October 18, 2010

“Beloved: Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from Whom you learned it.”  These words of Saint Paul from our second reading today exhort us to hold fast to the Teachings which we receive from Sacred Scripture.  Saint Paul reminds us that Scripture is inspired by God.  He goes on to say that Sacred Scripture gives us wisdom for Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  The purpose of Sacred Scripture is to lead us to deeper faith, and into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

It is possible to know that God exists without looking to divine Revelation.  Our unaided human reason can come to the conclusion that there must be something greater than the universe which set the universe in motion.  Even some of the ancient Greek philosophers knew that there had to a single source from which all things proceed, an uncaused Cause or the First Cause of all things.  We can reach the reasonable conclusion that God exists through human reason, but we cannot come to know Who God IS unless He reveals Himself to us.

God is greater than we are; we cannot put Him under a microscope.  It is easy to learn things about inanimate objects, plants and animals.  If we want to learn about a rock all we have to do is take the rock and examine it.  We can break it open; we can run all sorts of different tests on it.  If we want to learn about plants, we can observe them in different conditions and find out which conditions the plant thrives in.  If we want to learn about an animal, we can examine that animal in its natural environment.  We can learn about the animal through observation, examination and through tests.  When I was in high school, I remember learning about the anatomy of a frog by dissecting one.  We cannot learn about human beings in the same way that we learn about rocks or plants or animals.  The only way that we can learn about a human being is through their cooperation.  In order for me to get to know you, I cannot just perform experiments on you; you have to reveal who you are to me.  I can learn things about you through observation, or through talking to others who know you; but for me to really get to know you, you have to tell me about yourself.  I have to spend time getting to know you.  I can only learn about what is in your heart by what you share with me.

God is greater than rocks, plants, animals and human beings.  He is infinitely greater.  If He were not, He would not be God.  We cannot experiment or observe God.  The only way that I can come to know Who God is, is if He reveals Himself to me.  I learn about God by His revealing Himself to me.  In order for me to come to know God, I have to be in a relationship with Him; I have to allow Him to reveal Himself to me.

God wants to be in relationship with each one of us.  He wants to reveal Himself to you.  One of the most important ways that God reveals Himself to us is through Sacred Scripture.  In the second reading Saint Paul said that all Scripture is useful for teaching, for correction, and for training in righteousness.  Scripture is supposed to teach us how to live; not that it is simply about laying down laws and rules (although it does that too).  Through Scripture, God tells us about Who He is, who we are in relationship to Him and how we are to live so that we can live with Him forever in Heaven.  Scripture tells us about Who God IS so that we can be in relationship with Him and live the way that He created us to live.  If you want to know the purpose for something, the easiest way to find out is to ask the one who made the thing.  God created us and through Scripture He is telling us why.  God made us for Himself.  He made us to be in relationship with Him.  God made us for love: to love Him above all things and others as ourselves for love of Him.  God wants to deepen His relationship with us: He thirsts for you.  He wants you to come to know Him ever more deeply and love Him ever more fully.

How do we grow in our relationship with God?  We spend time with Him.  Our relationship with God grows the same way that all of our relationships grow: by spending time with the person that we want to develop a relationship with.  Spend time with God and prayer and through praying with Scripture can help us grow closer to Him.  The more we learn and know Scripture, the more we come to know God as He has revealed Himself to us.  The Bible is not just words about God; it is the Word of God.  God wants to speak to you through Scripture; He desires to reveal Himself to you through it.  We have to read Scripture in order to allow God to speak to us through it.  The same Holy Spirit that inspired the writers of Sacred Scripture wants to inspire you through them.  We have to do what we can to learn about Sacred Scripture; we have to ask questions about Scripture: sometimes that question might be: “what the heck does this Scripture mean?”  We ought to take time to pray with and meditate upon Sacred Scripture.  Saint Jerome once said that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.  Our pastor, Fr. John, is fond of saying that Scripture is God’s love letter to you.  If you received a letter from a family member or a really good friend wouldn’t you open it immediately and read it?  God wants to speak to us through Scripture.  I challenge each one of us here to take some time this week to pray with Scripture.  Maybe just prayerfully read the readings for next Sunday.  Fr. John’s Wednesday Bible study focuses on the Sunday readings for the upcoming week; he always gives great insight into the readings.  That being said: a Bible study cannot replace taking time praying with Scripture on your own.  Bible studies can give us fruit for meditation (the more we understand Scripture the deeper we can enter into it) but each one of us has to enter into the Scriptures for ourselves.  Praying with Scripture is not the same as studying Scripture or just reading it.  Try to let God speak to your heart through it.  Meditate on it; enter into the scene.  Imagine what it was like to sit at the feet of Jesus as He teaches.  Think about what Jesus says: ask God what He wants to say to you through the passage that you are reading.  Praying with Scripture can be a powerful way to encounter the Lord.

Lord, help us to come to an ever-deeper appreciation of your Holy Word.  Send Your Holy Spirit upon us and give us hearts that are open to listening to all that You want to say to us.  Help us, Lord, to grow in our knowledge and in our love of You.  Amen.

 

October 3rd

October 4, 2010

The month of October is a month dedicated to the Holy Rosary.  The Rosary is a beautiful devotion which combines two forms of prayer: vocal prayer and meditation.  While vocal prayers make up the body of the Rosary, meditation upon the mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of Christ makes up the “soul” of the Rosary.  In order to derive the most benefit from the recitation of the Rosary, meditation on the mysteries is vital.

The Rosary is a most effective way to show our love for Jesus and Mary.  It is a devotion offered in honor of Our Blessed Mother, but it is profoundly Christ-centered.  This devotion in honor of Our Lady causes us to meditate on her Divine Son.  Mary always leads us to Jesus.

As we meditate upon the mysteries of the Rosary, we can think of the example that Jesus and Mary are for us.  We are called to follow Our Lord, and no one followed Him more faithfully than Mary; therefore, she too is a model of virtue for us.  Simply by praying the Rosary, we already imitate Mary who kept all the things that Our Lord did in her heart and meditated upon them continuously.  (cf. Luke 2:9)

Praying the Rosary regularly is a great way to deepen our love for Jesus and Mary.  Meditating often on the mysteries of our salvation our hearts are inspired with gratitude for all that God has done for us.

The Rosary is also a very powerful spiritual weapon.  The Rosary was given by Our Lady to Saint Dominic as a weapon to battle the Albigensian heresy.  St. Pius V attributed the victory at Lepanto (a victory which saved Rome from the Ottoman Empire) to the Rosaries that had been offered for that intention.  He instituted a Feast day in honor of Our Lady: the Feast day of Our Lady of Victory.  That Feast day was re-named the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary by Pope Paul VI.  We celebrate Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7th.

Through the recitation of the Rosary we can obtain many graces and blessings for ourselves and for others.  Through the Rosary we can commend our families, friends and loved-ones to the most powerful protection of Our Mother and Our Queen.  Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

God bless,

Father White

August 1st

August 1, 2010

In the last few articles, we have been looking at the importance of daily personal prayer.  While it is true that faithfully living out our vocations from day to day is the most important thing that we do, we also noted that our work cannot replace prayer time.

Our relationship with God can only grow if we spend time talking with Him and listening to Him.  While making sure that we fulfill our daily duties, we have to also set aside time for daily prayer.

Prayer doesn’t have to be confined to our daily prayer time; we can, and should, think of God often throughout the day.  Saint Paul tells us that we are to pray always.  (cf. 1 Thess 5:17)  How can we pray without ceasing and accomplish all the things we need to do?

We can make each one of our tasks throughout the day a prayer if we simply offer it to the Lord.  Before starting each new project we can offer a quick prayer and offer the work that we are about to do for the glory of God.  We should then do that task to the best of our abilities and trust that it is a pleasing offering to God.  We can, in this way, make our whole day a prayer and thus fulfill the exhortation of Saint Paul to “pray always.”

This method of offering up all that we do also helps us get in the habit of thinking of Our Lord often throughout the day.  Again, we should not use this method to replace quiet daily prayer time, but it is a great way to help us to connect with Our Lord throughout the day.

God bless,

Father White

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 1, 2010

We can learn a lot about prayer from today’s Gospel.  Our Lord teaches us the importance of prayer, by Himself praying.  Again and again in the Gospels we hear of how Jesus went off by Himself to pray.  Jesus travelled to many towns and villages teaching the people as He went.  Our Lord worked many miracles and He healed many people.  Jesus drove out unclean spirits and converted many sinners.  Our Lord lived a very active life, and yet He never neglected prayer.

Private prayer is indispensible for our spiritual lives.  We cannot be in relationship with someone we never talk to or spend time with.  Prayer is the way that we enter into a relationship with God and it is the way that we keep our relationship with Him alive.  Even Jesus took time to prayer to the Father.  One might be tempted to think that Jesus could have done more good by working miracles and teaching all the time: He could have been using the time He was praying to heal more people or reach more people through teaching.  Jesus shows us by His example the significance of prayer.  Nothing can take the place of prayer.  Prayer draws us closer to the Lord, and that is what we were all created for: union with God.  Doing good works and living out our vocation faithfully are essential parts of our faith life; yet we must never neglect private prayer.

If you are not in the habit of praying daily, or are just beginning to pray regularly and aren’t sure how to pray, you can make the request of the disciple we heard in the Gospel today your own: Lord, teach me how to pray.  There are many ways to pray; Our Lord teaches us a prayer: the Our Father.  It can be very helpful to use prayers that are already written down for us, either in Scripture or by the Saints.  We should always try to make sure that we are paying attention to the words that we are praying and pray them with attention and devotion.  We ought to mean the words that we say when we pray.

We can, of course, always simply pray from the heart in our own words.  Ask for what you need; thank God for the good things that you have; tell Him everything that is on your heart.  It is also good to take some time and simply listen.  Ask the Lord what He wants to say to you and then listen; wait for Him to speak to your heart.

Another form of prayer is meditation.  We can take a Gospel passage, or some part of Scripture and just try to imagine it.  Try to put yourself in the scene.  Ask what God is trying to say to you through that passage of Scripture.  All of Scripture is God’s letter to you.  He wants to communicate to you through it.  Scripture is not a textbook; it is the inspired, living Word of God; God wants to speak to your heart through the Scriptures.  Saint Jerome said that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.  Scripture teaches us about Our Lord and Our Lord speaks to us through the Scriptures.  Spend time with Scripture.  Especially spend time with the Gospels, which relate the life and teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  It will help you come to a deeper knowledge and, more importantly, a deeper love of Our Lord.

There are many different Christian approaches to prayer, and many books that suggest different methods.  The key is to make the time for prayer and then stick to it.  Persevere in prayer.  Our Lord promises that all those who seek, will find.  Seek the Lord in prayer: draw near to the Lord and He will draw near to you.  Lord Jesus, help us to encounter You ever more deeply in our prayer.  Draw us closer to You, Lord, and help us to love You ever more fully.  Amen.

July 11th

July 11, 2010

A crucial part of developing our prayer life is to set time aside for prayer.  We can and should pray throughout the day; it is good to stop often, even if for just a moment, and converse with God: offering our work to Him, thanking Him for all the blessings that He gives to us and asking Him for our needs.

It is also good to set aside some quiet time for prayer every day, even if only a short amount of time.  The hardest thing about praying is taking time to pray.  There are hundreds of “how-to” books about prayer available and all of them will do us absolutely no good unless we put them into practice.  We can learn how to build something from a book, but unless we actually build it, it won’t do us much good.

The important thing is not to wait to find time to pray: make time.  We have to make prayer part of our schedule.  Put it on the calendar, if you have to.  Decide on a definite place and time for daily prayer.  Don’t allow other things to crowd out your prayer time: our relationship with God is the most important thing.  We are called to love God above all things.  Can we say that we love Him above all things if we don’t spend time with Him?

It is easy to find hundreds of other things that “need” to be done instead of prayer, but if we are serious about developing our relationship with God, we have to make it a priority.  Emergencies do come up, of course, but as a rule we should not skip prayer time lightly.  Prayer is to the soul as eating is to the body.

I am not suggesting that we neglect our work.  By faithfully fulfilling our daily duties in love, we are fulfilling God’s will for our lives.  And yet that work cannot take the place of our prayer.

If we think that we are too busy to pray, that is probably when we need prayer the most.  If we try to do everything on our own, we will end up with a lot of stress.  Our Lord says that apart from Him we can do nothing, but through Him all things are possible.  When we take time for prayer, God gives us the strength that we need to do all that we need to do.  This has always been my experience.  In the seminary, I found that when life was busiest, I was often tempted to not pray in order to “get stuff done.”  I always found that if I took time for prayer, things got done and I had a lot less stress and anxiety over them.

Daily prayer requires effort on our part.  We have to decide to make a commitment to it.  Once we have decided that we are going to make time for prayer everyday, we should remain faithful to that daily prayer time.  It is more than worth the effort, for prayer puts us in contact with God and nothing is more important that our relationship with Him.  We were created to love Him, and nothing else in this world will ever satisfy our hearts.

God bless,

Father White

July 4th

July 1, 2010

Our Catholic Faith is a great gift that has been given to us by Our Lord.  The Church was instituted by Jesus, Himself, in order to lead us into all Truth.  Learning about our Catholic Faith is a life-long process.  We can (and should) go on studying our Faith throughout our lives: there is always more to learn.

The point of learning more about our Catholic Faith, however, is not simply to have more knowledge.  The purpose of the Church and all that she teaches is to help us grow in our relationship with God.  Catholicism is not merely set of ideas.  Our Faith helps us to learn about Who God IS so that we can then encounter Him.

All that the Church teaches us about God is only a kind of roadmap that is meant to help us along as we journey towards God.  Theology is knowledge about God: the whole point of having that knowledge is to lead us into a deeper love of God.

In order to grow in our relationship with God, we have to do more than just learn about God: we have to spend time with Him in prayer.  Studying our Faith can help us in our journey, but in addition to learning things about God we also have to encounter Him through prayer.

We can know lots of things about other people.  There are biographies written about all sort of famous people.  After we have read a biography of a person, we can say that we know a lot of things about that person, and yet we could not say that we have a relationship with that person.  A relationship develops only when we encounter the person and spend time with them.

Through studying our Faith we learn about God; in prayer, we experience Him.  Prayer is about talking with God and walking with Him.  How do we do that?  We should think of God often during the day.  We should tell Him all that is on our hearts.  It is good to ask Him for things, but we should also thank Him for all that is good in our lives.  We can offer to Him all that we do: before beginning whatever we are about to do, we can offer that activity to God.

God is love: He loves us and He wants us to love Him in return.  God shares His divine life with us, through His grace, and He desires that we share our lives with Him.  We can bring before Him all our joys and sorrows, all our hopes and anxieties, we should tell Him everything that is on our hearts.  God is not an impersonal force: He is our loving Father.  He wants us to come to Him and love Him.  Let us all work on growing closer to Our Lord each and every day.

God bless,

Father White

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 1, 2010

We were called to freedom; in today’s second reading, Saint Paul tells us that Christ has set us free.  What has Christ set us free from?  Jesus Christ has freed us from the yoke of slavery.  What does that mean?  Prior to our Baptism, each one of us was a slave to sin and to the Devil.  Ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve, every single human being ever born is born with original sin.  Through the Fall of our First Parents, the entire human race lost its friendship with God and we are not able to restore it: we cannot save ourselves.  It requires a divine intervention to restore what Adam and Eve lost: we stand in need of a Savior.

As a further result of original sin, we all have a fallen human nature; our human nature is weak and it is inclined towards sin: in other words, we are born into spiritual slavery to sin.  Sin separates us from God, and apart from God, we can never be happy: God created us to love Him and to be happy and He loves us too much to leave us in a fallen condition.  God sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, Who shed His blood upon the Cross in order to save us from slavery to sin.  Through our Baptism, we are cleansed from original sin and through Baptism we become free: we become children, sons and daughters, of Almighty God.

The freedom that we are talking about in this context is not the same thing as the freedom that we often hear about from the world.  Our society would have us think that freedom means the freedom to do anything I want, as much as I want, whenever I want.  Our culture views freedom as freedom from all restriction: freedom to pursue my every whim and desire.  Yet we have to remember that we have a fallen nature.  It is inclined towards sin: not all of our desires are good.  To indulge every desire to the fullest extent possible is actually bad for us.  Take a simple example: children and candy.  If there is a bag of candy, a child will want to eat the entire bag.  The child will not want to eat anything else except the candy and yet we do not allow the child to eat candy until they have eaten dinner; and even then we should not allow the child to eat the whole bag, lest the child get sick.  Is that taking away the child’s freedom?

Our culture says that real freedom is the ability to eat the entire bag of candy and then buy another bag and eat that one too: freedom to eat candy and nothing but candy to the point of becoming sick.  That is not freedom.  That is slavery to sin.  True freedom is freedom from sin.  Freedom from sin means freedom to control my desires and live the way that I was created to live.  Sin enslaves.  The more we sin, the harder it is to stop sinning.  The more we sin, the further we are from God.  The further we are away from God, the more unhappy we will become.  Sin promises happiness but leaves us miserable.

Jesus Christ came to set us free from that vicious cycle of sin and unhappiness.  When we were baptized, we were set free; yet our free will was not taken away from us.  The Christian life is constant choice that we have to make.  Again and again, each and every day, we have to make choices between God and sin.  We have to stand firm, Saint Paul says, and not submit again to the yoke of slavery.  When we fall into sin, we choose some created thing over God.  When we sin, we choose slavery over freedom.  We are called to live by the Spirit; Saint Paul tells us that the flesh has desires against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh.  The spiritual life is often referred to as warfare.  We have to stand firm, we are called to hold fast to our faith; we have to fight the good fight.  Living out our Faith is not easy, but we draw strength from the Lord.  The Lord has given us the Sacraments to assist us along our journey through this life.  In Baptism, He pours His divine life into our souls; in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, He restores that divine life to us whenever we fall.  In the Eucharist, He feeds us with Himself so that we can be united to Him, and strengthened.  All of the Sacraments are opportunities to draw closer to and be united with Our Lord, and that is the purpose of our very existence.

Jesus died so that we could have life, and have it more abundantly.  He wants to set us free from sin; He wants to fill us with peace and joy.  He wants us to love Him with all of our hearts and by so doing find the happiness that we are all long for.  His desire is that we give Him our whole heart, and only when we have done so, will we ever find fulfillment.  Our hearts are restless, until they rest in God.

How do we give our hearts to Him?  First: reject sin.  Renew today the promise made on the day of your Baptism: refuse to be mastered by sin.  Break sinful habits.  Breaking free from sin requires effort and God’s grace.  Yet we will never be happy until we are freed from sin.  Second: surrender yourself entirely to Jesus Christ.  Surrender everything.  Give Him your hopes and your fears.  Give Him your thoughts and desires.  Give Him your temptations and sins.  Offer it all to Him.  Give Him everything that is in your heart.  Ask Him to take your heart and to purify it of all that is not pleasing to Him.  Renew that total offering of yourself every day in prayer.  This is a not an easy thing to do: we all like to be in control of our own lives; our nature is inclined towards sin and pride.  Only when we turn away from sin and surrender our hearts to Jesus Christ will we find true freedom, real joy and peace.  God wants us to be happy, and He is the source of all true happiness.

Let us ask Him to help us to give our hearts to Him.  Lord, Jesus, help us to see sin for what it really is: slavery.  Inspire in our hearts true hatred for our sins and help us to live in the true freedom that we are called to.  Help us, Lord, to give our hearts entirely to You.  Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, enflame our hearts with love of You.  Amen.

June 27th

July 1, 2010

This life is a journey towards God.  We were not made for this world: we were made to be happy with God forever in Heaven.  During our lives on earth we are to prepare ourselves for the life which will never end: the life of the world to come.  Prayer keeps us focused on our goal and gains for us the strength to continue the journey.  Prayer helps us to put things in their proper perspective.

Prayer is not a trivial exercise: it is an encounter with the Living God.  God loves us and desires that we come to know and love Him.  He wants us to put Him first in our hearts.  By spending time with Him in prayer, we deepen our relationship with Him.  After all, we cannot love someone we never spend time with.

Prayer is essential to the Christian life.  Prayer is to the life of the soul as breathing is to the life of the body.  Deep down our hearts long for God.  It is easy to think that some material thing or some experience will satisfy our hearts.  And yet again and again, once we have obtained that object or have had that experience, we realize that it is not enough.  No matter how much we have we will always want more.  God alone can satisfy our hearts because our hearts were made for Him.

In prayer we come to know God more and more.  It is important that we spend time with God everyday.  What should we do during prayer?  During prayer, we can bring all that is on our hearts to God.  When I bring my problems, fears, anxieties, joys, and everything else to the Lord, I become more and more aware of my dependence upon Him for everything.  Everything that we have that is good comes to us from the hand of the Lord.  We should give God thanks and praise for all the good things in our lives.  When we bring our cares and worries to the Lord, we are acknowledging that we are not in control.

Prayer time should not simply be filled up with words, however.  We also need to spend time in silence.  God speaks to our hearts in the silence.  Just trying to quiet our selves and listen to God can be challenging.  It can often happen that when we try to sit quietly we have a hard time slowing down.  Many thoughts bombard our minds: thoughts about people and situations that we have encountered throughout the day.  These thoughts can be used as the subject of our prayer.  We can pray for the persons or the situations that come to our minds, and entrust them to God.  We should not allow these thoughts to completely derail us from our attempt to quiet ourselves before Our Lord.

More next week.

God bless,

Father White

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 21, 2010

“Who do the crowds say that I am?”  Jesus asked a simple question and the Apostles gave a few interesting, but incorrect answers: John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the Prophets.  The crowds followed Jesus, the crowds listened to His teachings, they witnessed His great miracles: they knew that He was more than an ordinary human being and they had all sorts of theories about Him that all missed the mark.

Then Jesus turned His question on the Apostles: “Who do you say that I am?”  And the Apostles got it right: You are the Christ.  In other words: you are the one that has been promised from the beginning, from right after the Fall.  Jesus is the one that all of the Old Testament anticipated and all the People of Israel awaited for centuries.  Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all that God promised to do for us through the Prophets.  God promised us a Redeemer that would conquer sin and death and Jesus fulfilled that promise by His death and Resurrection.

How is it that the Apostles were able to get it right when the crowds got it wrong?  The crowds listened to Jesus’ teaching, just like the Apostles did.  The crowds witnessed His miracles, just as the Apostles did.  What was the difference between the crowds and the Apostles?  The Apostles encountered Jesus in a personal way.  They had a personal relationship with Jesus and because of that personal encounter they had faith.

Who do you say that Jesus is?  We can all say a lot of things about Jesus.  He was born of the Virgin Mary; He grew up in Nazareth and went around teaching and healing people.  We might add that Jesus is our Savior: He suffered and died for you and for me.  We might also say that Jesus is God: He reigns in Heaven at the right hand of the Father.  All of that is true and it is important to know those things that we all learned in catechism class.  The real question, of course, is do you know Jesus?  Who is Jesus to you?  It is important to know things about Jesus, but it is essential to have a relationship with Jesus.  Do you know Him?  Can you say that Jesus is your friend?  Can you say that Jesus is the Lord of your life, can you say that is He the King of your heart; is your relationship with Jesus Christ the most important relationship in your life?

We are called to love God above all things.  Can we say that we love Him if we only think of Him once in a while, or go to Him only when we really need something that we are unable to obtain on our own?  Jesus is not a genie in a bottle, to be consulted only when we want something.  Jesus loves us.  And He wants us to love Him in return.  He wants us to come to Him and share with Him everything that is in our hearts.  He does want us to ask Him for things; but He wants us to come to Him all the time, not just when we have needs.  Jesus desires that we share everything in our lives with Him.  It is good to ask for things and to seek His forgiveness.  It is also important to thank Him for all the good things that we have, because they all ultimately come from Him.  Jesus wants us to spend time with Him, to adore Him, to praise Him, and to intercede with Him on behalf of others.

He is closer to us than anyone in the world.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  He loves each one of us more than we love ourselves.  He wants us to love Him with our whole heart.  Give your heart to Him.  Give Him your whole self, not just part of yourself: give Him everything.  Give Him your sorrow; give Him your anxiety; give Him your stress, your frustration, you fears.  Give your heart to Jesus with all of the temptations that you struggle with, with all of your faults and failings and sins.  Give Him your suffering, give Him your hopes and your joys; give Him your desires and your thoughts and your feelings.  Ask Him to purify your mind and your heart of all that is not pleasing to Him.  Ask Him to reign in your heart.  Ask Jesus to be Lord of your life.  Turn everything over to Him.  Whenever you find yourself being tempted, renew that act of giving everything over to Him.  Ask Him to set you free.  Only by abandoning ourselves to Him can we find real freedom.

Giving yourself completely over to Jesus might sound like a loss of freedom, but quite the opposite is true.  When we abandon ourselves into the hands of Jesus, we become freer.  We were made to know and love God in freedom.  It is sin that enslaves us.  Once we have committed a sin, it becomes harder and harder to resist other sins.  Sins can easily become habits and habits are difficult to break free from.  If you think that sin is real freedom, try to stop sinning for a month.  You will soon realize that sin is really slavery because it will not easily let go of its hold on us.  Breaking free from sin is a struggle.

God wants us to be free from sin.  And He will help us, but we have to want to break free and we have to ask for His help.  Once we are free from sin, then we are free to love God and others the way that we were created to love.  We were made to love God and we will never be happy, content, or fulfilled until we love God with our whole heart.  Sin promises happiness, but always leaves us unhappy in the long run.  God gives us real freedom; God is the Source of all life and the Author of all true happiness.  God doesn’t want to restrict our freedom; He wants to give us life in abundance.  God wants to share His divine life with us.  He wants us to be happy, but in order for us to receive that divine life into our souls we have to be free from sin.

Let us renew our commitment to give Jesus our whole heart.  Let us aim at loving Him above all things as we are called to do, realizing that only by putting God first in our lives will we ever find peace and joy.  Lord Jesus Christ, we give our hearts to You today.  Take our hearts, Lord, and make them completely Yours.  Remove from our hearts everything that is not pleasing to You.  Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, on fire with love for us, ignite our hearts with the fire of Your love.  Amen.

June 20th

June 16, 2010

We were not made for this world.  We were made to know, love and serve God and be happy with Him forever in Heaven.  We are pilgrims in this world; our life in this world is a journey towards eternity.  Throughout this life, we should continually be preparing ourselves for the life of the world to come.

In our spiritual lives, we are never standing still.  We are either moving closer to God or we are moving farther away from Him.  Sin is when we choose some created thing over and above the Creator and this never makes us happy.  We cannot be happy apart from God: God is the source and author of all true happiness.  God alone is able to make us happy.  Saint Augustine’s famous quote says it much better than I can: “You have made us for yourself [O God] and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

We were made for God and we will always feel empty and incomplete until we arrive at union with God.  Perfect union with God takes place in Heaven, but even now we can move towards that union with Him by means of prayer and through prayer we can have peace and happiness in this world.

The prayer that I am now referring to is not merely asking God for things.  It is important to ask God for things and it is good to do so, but prayer is meant to be more than just a list of requests.  Prayer is meant to be a conversation, by which we come to know God in an intimate and personal way.

Prayer is meant to be an encounter with God.  We should take time for prayer every day.  Each day we should make time to set aside the distractions and busyness of our daily lives and turn our hearts toward God.  When we open our hearts to God, we are doing that for which we were made.

Prayer is the most important thing that we do during the day.  It may not seem like it sometimes.  Our prayer may not be full of consolations, our prayer time may not seem like anything great happened.  But by being faithful to daily prayer, we move closer to God and that truly is the most important thing, because union with God is the goal of our very existence.

We should be faithful to daily prayer, even when we do not feel like praying; we should continue to pray even when we do not think that we are getting anything out of it.  It is like being in a boat on a lake: it is often hard to gauge progress, yet if you keep paddling, you will eventually arrive at your destination.

We can be certain that as long as we are faithful to daily prayer, God will draw us ever closer to Himself.  God is most pleased by our day-to-day fidelity.  Prayer is a journey towards God that lasts a lifetime, but its rewards are eternal.

God bless,

Father White