As we enter the second week of Lent, it is good to examine how we are doing on our Lenten resolutions. Have we written them down? It is good to choose one thing from each area of traditional penance: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Is there a prayer that I can add to my normal daily prayers? Am I cutting back on food, comforts, or entertainment? Have I considered a gift to the poor or a ministry that has been beneficial to me? St. Paul tells us to "Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving in everything, make your needs known to God, then the peace which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Don’t we want this peace? If we don’t have it yet, this formula given by St. Paul is a perfect remedy. I celebrated the wedding of my nephew this past week in Florida. The night before, one of the bridesmaids believed she was having a miscarriage. She was in incredible pain and anxiety, so I invited her to join me in saying the Jesus Prayer, breathing in "Lord Jesus Christ", and breathing out, "have mercy on me, a sinner". This prayer alone is powerful in bringing the peace which we need to grow closer to Christ. Even reciting this slowly ten times a day will increase your desire for prayer.As the Father says in our Gospel, we are called to listen to His Son, Jesus Christ. Placing His name on our lips and in our hearts is a beautiful way to overcome the challenges of this world. May Jesus bless your Lenten resolutions and give you the courage and discipline to carry them out.Book Review: The Father’s Tale
I recently finished a wonderful book, The Father’s Tale, by Michael D. O’Brien. I’ve read other works of his and enjoyed them, especially Father Elijah. This latest addition to O’Brien’s list of works may well surpass the others in quality of writing and realistically portraying with great insight the human condition. This Tale is about the journey of a father to find his son who has fallen in with a cult. The ventures of this father, Alexander, take him around the world, finding providencial aid in conflict with very real evil forces. I found it hard to put down. As much as I tried to mortify the amount of time I spent reading, I couldn’t keep my poor resolutions because the book is so engaging.
It is one of the longest books I’ve read, on a par with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Tolstoy’s War and Peace. One of the encounters he has reveals an ultimate source of joy, once accepted. Alexander is being held in China on suspicion of espionage, but meets two Christians who are trying to assist him. His fate looks bleak as explained by Xia, a Chinese psychiatrist, "Officially, you would become ill and ide, or you would be convicted of an imaginary crime and executed rather thanbe returned to Canada. As for the other two options all factors will be weighted in the balance: what the final decision shall be is difficult to predict. One thing is certain: for you, all paths lead to the cross. I am sorry. I do not want to tell you this…"
"All paths lead to the cross", a harsh truth of Christian life, but a liberating one as well. Why do we avoid what gives joy? Have we traded joy for pleasure? Let us embrace the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ and experience true intimacy with Him who promises to be with us in every battle and challenge.
Texting in Church
I’ve heard of people using their phones in Church during Mass lately. It’s a sad reality for those who don’t want to "Listen to Him". Instead their minds are elsewhere on other relationships that will suffer for a lack of focus on the one thing necessary. When we are distracted from prayer, the very relationship that is distracting us will suffer a loss of love. If we say we care for our friends, the best thing we can do is leave our phones at home during Mass.
Not only does God deserve our attention, He created it! Our intellects were made by Him and for Him. If we cannot give God a few moments during the day, I guarantee that what we bring to others will be selfishness and harm. Without the grace of God, we cannot love one another as Christ has loved us. Parents, please make sure your children are respecting this time as totally dedicated to God. They will appreciate it some day, maybe sooner than you expect.