November 20, 2014

Golden Bowls

...the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Revelation 5:8)

This week it's my turn to offer Mass in the mornings with the Capuchin Sisters of Mother Rubatto. Today I landed on the image above to preach on, the golden bowls of the citizens of heaven, filled with the prayers of the saints.

When prayer becomes difficult, or when we feel we are losing our taste for it, when our devotion goes dry and our meditation desolate, it is good to remember that the prayers of God's holy ones are held precious in heaven.

November 6, 2014

Blessed Andrés de Palazuelo and Companions, Martyrs

This morning the brethren entered the chapel to find at their places a holy card of Blessed Andrés de Palazuelo and Companions, those Capuchins among the most recently beatified martyrs of the Spanish Civil War. I didn't make the connection that today is their feast day (it had not been previously announced on the little paper of the week's liturgical directives) and so as first acolyte I was left scrambling to find the Common of Several Martyrs so I could intone the invitatory antiphon.

These are people who were killed simply for professing the faith, and they are recent enough to be our grandparents. May our prayers be with the persecuted of our time, and may God's strength be with us when the persecution comes to us.

The holy card offered this prayer, in Spanish:

Oh Dios omnipotente y eterno que has dado a los Beatos Andrés y Compañeros mártires la gracia de unirse a la pasión de Cristo con el sacrificio de su propia vida, ven en ayuda de nuestra debilidad y concédenos, por su intercesión, la gracia de ser fuertes, como ellos, para poder también nosotros confesar sin temor alguno tu nombre. Por Nuestro Señor Jesucristo. Amén

November 5, 2014

Some Fraternal Correction from Charles Borromeo

As it does every year on his feast, there came yesterday in the Office of Readings some fraternal correction from St. Charles Borromeo:
One priest may wish to lead a good, holy life, as he knows he should. He may wish to be chaste and to reflect heavenly virtues in the way he lives. Yet he does not resolve to use suitable means, such as penance, prayer, the avoidance of evil discussions and harmful and dangerous friendships. Another priest complains that as soon as he comes into church to pray the office or to celebrate Mass, a thousand thoughts fill his mind and distract him from God. But what was he doing in the sacristy before he came out for the office or for Mass? How did he prepare? What means did he use to collect his thoughts and to remain recollected?
A spiritual life is incompatible with our tendency to compartmentalize. I can't live a spiritual life some of the time, only during the times I have piously decided to call 'prayer.' I will never learn to use well my distractions in prayer if I live distractedly the rest of the time. As Pope St. John XXIII put it, "My day must be one long prayer."

I may wish to be holy but if wishing doesn't turn into a practical willingness in the little things, then my wish is probably vainglory. What I mean is that as long as I only wish to be holy I risk admiring the holy self I imagine I want to become, and this instead of paying attention to the people and circumstances God has put in front of me on a particular day, and the graces that I'm invited to accept through them. It is surrendering to these graces that will make me holy, not just wishing to be so.