Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Weekly Q&A- Post Sandy edition

This is a good week to recall that the Church allows us to add specific intentions to  the intercessions of lauds and vespers. It is suggested that these be added after the intercessions given in the breviary, although the final intention for the dead at evening prayer should remain as the last one. In other words, add your specific intentions before this petition for the dead.

This can be as simple as "For the victims of Hurricane Sandy" (Lord hear our prayer) since the Lord knows what all their needs are better than we do.
Or if you like, you may pray more specifically for their material and spiritual needs: medical aid, shelter, etc., and for the souls of those who were lost in this storm. You may even "tack" this on to an intercession in the breviary that already mentions the homeless or the dead by simply adding, "especially for the victims of hurricane Sandy."

It's yet another of those mysterious "both/and" situations regarding prayer. There are times when it is best and most heartfelt to intercede for others with few words, or just the "sighs and groanings" that the Holy Spirit gives us. On the other hand, there are times when praying specifically and in detail about our needs is better for us.  Yes, God knows what we are going to pray for. But sometimes, until we pray at length and in detail, we clarify what the need is in our own minds and,--this is important--exercise our faith and desire for the gifts God is waiting to give us. In last week's Office of Readings, the second readings were mostly from St. Augustine's Letter to Proba on prayer. He took up precisely this topic on Sunday (29th week).  He continued on Monday thru Wednesday with  a remarkable commentary on the Our Father, comparing its verses to verses from the psalms expressing the identical sentiments. On Thursday and Friday he brought up the quandary we often have of wondering whether we are asking for what is best when we pray.   It's worth reading all six days of this letter any time you need clarity on what prayer is, how to pray, and why to pray.
Here is a link to the entire letter to Proba, about twice as long as the excerpts we get in the Liturgy of the Hours. If you just want the excerpts, go to the online breviary of your choice.

It's weekly Q&A time. Submit any Divine Office difficulties, queries or comments below.

Don't forget that you start the office of All Saint's tonight with Evening Prayer I!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Joyous Stars

picture credit:

Today's first reading from the Office of Readings contains one of those little gems of  nature imagery that thrills any  reader who loves poetry:

He...before whom the stars at their posts
 shine and rejoice;
When He calls them,
they answer, "Here we are!"
shining with joy for their Maker. 

This verse puts me in mind of two things. First, C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia.  In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader it is revealed that the stars of Narnia are rational beings, who after their long lives in the heavens may  come to live down on earth. 

Second, I think of medieval theology,  which explains that the movement of the stars and the planets is supervised by the angels: that God delegates  some of his ongoing work in holding all creation together to his mightiest servants. One can read these words and picture the angels, joyful in doing the work God has given them, shouting out their nightly greetings to their Creator.

Third, every created thing, rational or non-rational, animate or inanimate, truly does offer praise to its creator simply by doing that which it was created to do.  So this scripture verse reminds me of how blessed are the stars, how happy they would be if they were rational, because they do fulfill  God's will perfectly. In this we might well envy them.

Now I'm looking forward to the next starry night when I can bundle up and gaze, with this verse in mind. But it might be a long wait given the next week's forecast. All of you on the east coast will be vastly relieved next time the stars are visible at their posts. Those of us in safer locations will be praying for you.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Year of Faith ideas, cotinued, plus tardy Q&A

On Wednesday I got carried away with Latin trivia and martyrdom, and so forgot to say that it was weekly Q&A time. Not that anyone is forbidden to ask a question in the comment boxes following any post at all. But in case anyone is waiting for permission, here you are.

We also talked last week about ideas for observing the Year of Faith.  One interesting suggestion was to make a pilgrimage to the church of one's own baptism.  This could be a very concrete way to help us ponder our own, earliest introduction to the household of faith.

Another activity worth considering is the weekly, line by line meditations on the Creed every Thursday over at the Wine Dark Sea.

The reading from morning prayer has good advice for all of us politically minded types during this interesting election season:
All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. 
Exactly the words I needed to hear today, how about you?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Non nova, sed nove & Martyrdom

"There is also a Latin expression that captures how we often see things we missed before even in familiar texts. The expression is Non nova, sed nove, meaning that, though the text is not a new thing, it is experienced in a new way, or newly."

Not new, but new for me.

This bit of Latin trivia comes from Msrg. Charles Pope, whose Archdiocese of Washington blog is eminently worth adding to your reader feed. He was writing about how a recent second reading in the Office Of Readings, something he'd read many times before, taught him something about preaching that he had never noticed before, despite having prayed the Liturgy of the Hours for 27 years.

We all have these delightful moments when a verse of a psalm, a reading, an antiphon that we've read a hundred times before just leaps out at us, blazing with new meaning.   Today, for example, the psalter for the Office of Readings was Psalm 18: 2-30. All about thanksgiving to God for saving us from our enemies. Perhaps King David was thanking the Lord for some military victory. So, thinking in political terms, I started to pray it as a way of anticipating what I am hoping will be a presidential election outcome that is favorable to the interests of our Church regarding religious freedom. But then I came to this:

From on high he reached down and seized me;
he drew me forth from the mighty waters.
He snatched me from my powerful foe,
from my enemies whose strength I could not match.
He brought me forth to freedom,
he saved me because he loved me.

It hit me (non nova, sed nove) that these verses apply just as easily, if not better, to holy  martyrdom at the hands of our enemies.  We can be very shortsighted as we work (as we should) for freedom and justice in the city of man. We forget how temporary the world is, how we are transients, exiles meant to be living elsewhere.   Should the enemies of God win a few battles, we still have one terrific escape hatch. A narrow hatch, to be sure, but God will reach down and yank us through--should we be so fortunate to receive this grace.

As a child I used  pray for the grace of martyrdom. At the time it seemed exciting and cool. (parents: this is what happens when you give kids lives of saints to read.)  Ten years later, experiencing the exquisite joys of true love, marriage, and motherhood, I began back-pedaling rather frantically on that prayer: "Heh-heh, Lord, I hope you weren't paying  any attention to that silly little girl who asked for martyrdom back in the 70s. I mean, kids! What cute, crazy thing  will they think of next! I hope you weren't planning on taking what she said seriously.. right Lord,... right? 

But when I look around the world outside of my safe, cozy, pampered USA, and realize what bloody times for Christians we actually live in, it becomes clear that the safety I take for granted may not be around forever. The time might come when  I might have to get used to the possibility of dying for Christ. 

Or maybe not. But in the meantime, I can pray these words of Psalm 18 for brothers and sisters in China, parts of India,  and in Muslim majority nations, who have to grapple with the possibility of dying for their faith on a regular basis. That God may reach down and draw them out of their (very reasonable) fear, and give them courage and hope, knowing he will snatch them from their enemies at last. And all will be well.

Have you had any non nova, sed nove moments while praying the liturgical hours lately?  Consider sharing that in the comments.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Feast of Blessed John Paul II - there's an office for that!

Okay, so the catholic calendar hanging on my fridge (printed by J.S. Paluch for dioceses in the USA) says that today--October 22--is the Memorial of Bl John Paul II "in Rome and Poland", followed by an asterisk which leads to no explanation or footnote that I can detect.  I think that when this calendar was printed last year, there was uncertainty about whether this feast could be officially celebrated in the United States. You see, these things are not automatic.

 Normally, a blessed, as opposed to a saint, is mostly of interest to a smaller niche within the church,namely the blessed's country of origin and/or the place where he or she did whatever is it they were best know for, and/or the religious order he belonged to/founded. . For example, Kateri Tekawitha was only celebrated in the United States and Canada when she was only of blessed status. Now she may be celebrated as an optional memorial anywhere in the world, under the usual conditions. Even so, it is likely that her feast will remain of greatest interest to North Americans. 

But John Paul II hardly fits the old rules, because he ceased being of local interest the day he was elected Pope. And his sphere of action? It was the whole world. So, shortly after his beatification, the US Bishops petitioned Rome to allow Bl. John Paul to be part of our liturgical calendar as well. That permission was recently granted.The USCCB website helpfully explains this, and gives further links to both the prayers for today's mass as well as the Office of Readings .

But since eminently helpful blog follower Jim McAuley, Esq.,sent me this nice, red-lettered version below, I thought it would be easier for everyone to see it here. You would use the regular psalms for Monday week I, and from there go to either the first reading for Monday OR go to Common of Pastors (for a  Pope) and use the first reading given there. 

Liturgy of the Hours

Charles Joseph WotjtyÅ‚a was born in 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. After his ordination to the priesthood and theological studies in Rome, he returned to his homeland and resumed various pastoral and academic tasks. He became first auxiliary bishop and, in 1964, Archbishop of Krakow and took part in the Second Vatican Council. On 16 October 1978 he was elected pope and took the name John Paul II. His exceptional apostolic zeal, particularly for families, young people and the sick, led him to numerous pastoral visits throughout the world. Among the many fruits which he has left as a heritage to the Church are above all his rich Magisterium and the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well as the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church and for the Eastern Churches. In Rome on 2 April 2005, the eve of the Second Sunday of Easter (or of Divine Mercy) [a feast which he himself had established], he departed peacefully in the Lord.
Common of Pastors: For a Pope.
Office of readings
Second reading
From the Homily of Blessed John Paul II, Pope, for the Inauguration of his Pontificate
(22 October 1978: AAS 70 [1978], 945-947)
Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ.
Peter came to Rome! What else but obedience to the inspiration received from the Lord could have guided him and brought him to this city, the heart of the Empire? Perhaps the fisherman of Galilee did not want to come here. Perhaps he would have preferred to stay there, on the shores of Lake of Genesareth, with his boat and his nets. Yet guided by the Lord, obedient to his inspiration, he came here!
According to an ancient tradition, Peter tried to leave Rome during Nero’s persecution. However, the Lord intervened and came to meet him. Peter spoke to him and asked. “Quo vadis, Domine?” — “Where are you going, Lord?” And the Lord answered him at once: “I am going to Rome to be crucified again.” Peter went back to Rome and stayed here until his crucifixion.
Our time calls us, urges us, obliges us, to gaze on the Lord and to immerse ourselves in humble and devout meditation on the mystery of the supreme power of Christ himself.
He who was born of the Virgin Mary, the carpenter’s Son (as he was thought to be), the Son of the living God (as confessed by Peter), came to make us all “a kingdom of priests”.
The Second Vatican Council has reminded us of the mystery of this power and of the fact that Christ’s mission as Priest, Prophet-Teacher and King continues in the Church. Everyone, the whole People of God, shares in this threefold mission. Perhaps in the past the tiara, that triple crown, was placed on the Pope’s head in order to signify by that symbol the Lord’s plan for his Church, namely that all the hierarchical order of Christ’s Church, all “sacred power” exercised in the Church, is nothing other than service, service with a single purpose: to ensure that the whole People of God shares in this threefold mission of Christ and always remains under the power of the Lord; a power that has its source not in the powers of this world, but instead in the mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection.
The absolute, and yet sweet and gentle, power of the Lord responds to the whole depths of the human person, to his loftiest aspirations of intellect, will and heart. It does not speak the language of force, but expresses itself in charity and truth.
The new Successor of Peter in the See of Rome today makes a fervent, humble and trusting prayer: Christ, make me become and remain the servant of your unique power, the servant of your sweet power, the servant of your power that knows no dusk. Make me a servant: indeed, the servant of your servants.
Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ’s power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind.
Do not be afraid. Open, I say open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of states, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid. Christ knows “that which is in man”. He alone knows it.
So often today, man does not know that which is in him, in the depths of his mind and heart. So often he is uncertain about the meaning of his life on this earth. He is assailed by doubt, a doubt which turns into despair. We ask you, therefore, we beg you with humility and with trust, let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of life eternal.
R/. Do not be afraid. The Redeemer of mankind has revealed the power of the Cross and has given his life for us. * Open, open wide the doors for Christ.
V/. In the Church we are called to partake of his power. * Open, open wide the doors for Christ.
O God, who are rich in mercy and who willed that the blessed John Paul the Second should preside as Pope over your universal Church, grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole Redeemer of mankind. Who lives and reigns, etc.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Year of Faith--what are you doing about it?

The purpose of the Year of Faith is for us to better understand and grow in our, um, obviously, faith.

There are many ways to do that. My two favorites:

1. Sign up with Flocknote to read the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church in oe year.  They make this painless by emailing you the daily passage, and so far, (day seven) it looks like these are pretty short. Around ten paragraphs per day. Many of us prefer to read from the book rather than off the screen, so we just look at the numbers that Flocknote assigns, and read them comfortably from our hard copy of the CCC.

2. For anyone who does not already do the Office of Readings as part of their daily Liturgy of the Hours, I'd urge you to observe the year of faith by just reading the second reading each day. Use the free ibreviary program --the ibreviary widget on the right can be formatted for Kindle. They also have an app for phones and tablets. This second reading alone will give you the magnificent panorama of the Catholic faith as believed from the earliest centuries. The continuity will amaze you.

3.Read The Documents of Vatican II. The Year of Faith commemorates the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Clear your mind of whatever popular chatter tells us was the result of "Vatican II" , and find out what this council actually taught. You may be surprised. Here's the link to get them on Kindle.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Almost Forgot! Breviary Confusion...


...will be dealt with here, today, as usual. Just dish it out in the comments section.

"He gives bread to the Hungry" - two senses of Psalm 145


This morning at lauds we prayed these words from Psalm 145:

It is he who gives bread to the hungry, *
the Lord, who sets prisoners free,

the Lord who gives sight to the blind, *
who raises up those who are bowed down,
the Lord, who protects the stranger *
and upholds the widow and orphan.

Blessed John Paul II's meditation on psalm 145, given as a general audience in 2003, reminds us of both the moral sense and the christological meanings of the above words. First, we are meant to be participate in God's mercy:
We must live in consistency with the divine will, offer food to the hungry, visit prisoners, sustain and comfort the sick...In practice this corresponds exactly to the spirit of the Beatitudes...we will be judged on our decision to serve Christ in the hungry,the thirsty, the foreigner, the naked, the sick, the prisoner."

Bl. John Paul then cites Origen on the greater meaning of these words:when Origen, the great third-cetury writer, reaches verse 7, "the Lord give food to the hungry, the Lord sets the prisoners free: , he finds in it an implicit reference to the Eucharist: "We hunger for Christ and he himself will give us the bread of heaven. 'Give us this day our daily bread.' thos who say these words are hungry; those who feel the need for  bread are hungry." And this hunger is fully satisfied by the Sacrament of the Eucharist, in which man is nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ.

We can almost  always take any reference in the psalms to food, bread, wheat, wine and banquets and see  it as a type or symbol of  the Eucharist. Just one more thing to keep in the back of your mind as you mine the riches of the daily psalms of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"I am Poor and Needy"...and "I" would refer to...?

Today both Lauds and Daytime Prayer give us psalms that we just naturally want to pray on our own behalf. Because we are poor and needy. Pathetic, really.  Oh sure, when life is good we trust God and thank him that we have received the graces to be devout, orthodox, committed Catholics.  But then, some garden variety crisis occurs in our lives, or the novena does not produce amazing results. Suddenly, the proud and ruthless voices are right there: See? God doesn't answer prayer...for that matter, do you really think there IS a God? Satan tries to chip away at our faith every chance he gets. And sadly, we are actually shaken at times by the jeering crowd of demons.

So it makes perfect sense to pray these words with ourselves in mind. We are poor and needy.

Turn your ear, O Lord, and give answer *
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am faithful: *
save the servant who trusts in you...
...The proud have risen against me; 
ruthless men seek my life: *
to you they pay no heed. (from psalm 86)

However, if we have taken up the privilege/burden of praying the psalter liturgically, we have to moderate that tendency. As Pope Benedict reminded us last week, it's not just  about you. Or at least, its about you only insofar as you are one tiny member of the body of Christ. Because that is really what the "I" here refers to when we pray the Liturgy of the Hours.   

That can be counter intuitive. Most of us, loving the Church, have a mental archetype of her that it anything but "poor and needy". When we think "the Church", our imaginations might supply a grand parade of saints and heroes marching through history. We think of it as a grand edifice filled with beauty, like St. Peter's basilica or Chartres cathedral. We think of our Pope who fearlessly articulates the truth in and out of season.  And since we know, by faith, that the gates of hell won't prevail, well, it's a very natural thing to think "grand and glorious" rather than "poor and needy".

But try. Because the other side of the coin is this. The Church consists largely of all us "poor and needy" individuals. It is under constant assault from the forces of evil on all sides, and although those forces won't win the war, they in fact do win any number of battles.  That is why the lands of the ancient fathers of the church are now mostly under Muslim rule. That's why the lovely cathedrals of Europe are largely empty except for tourists and a tiny remnant of locals. The United States is headed down that same path, but at a slower rate. Persecution and martyrdom are very real in many places: China, India, the middle east. And, it goes without saying, millions of our fellow Catholics are poor and needy in the physical sense as well, even as many of them endure said persecution. 

So try to keep that in mind when you pray the hours. As Pope Benedict reminded us last week, it is "praying in the "we" of the Church, that directs its gaze not in on itself, but to God, and feeling part of the living Church of all places and of all time. "

Welcome to new blog follower Christina, who happens to be my sister,(yay!) and who knows far more about liturgy than I when it comes to the Extraordinary Form side of things.

This is also the weekly Wednesday Q&A post. Any question from new or experienced Divine Office devotees is welcome here. 

O God, make haste to my rescue, *
Lord, come to my aid!
Let there be shame and confusion *
on those who seek my life.
O let them turn back in confusion, *
who delight in my harm,
let them retreat, covered with shame, *
who jeer at my lot.(from psalm 70)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Get a clue to what it is you're doing, says Pope Benedict

As promised yesterday, here are highlights of this week's talk by Pope Benedict at the general audience given on October 3rd. Please remember that this teaching applies equally to the mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. My own reaction after reading this was along the lines of "Dear God! What have you been allowing me to do all these years with this breviary. It's too much, too great a gift for an ungrateful schlub like me."

Here are some highlights. The stuff in red is my own comments. The link for the full text is at the end.,

...Thus, participating in the liturgy, we make ours the language of the Mother Church, we learn to speak it and for it. Of course, as I have already said, this takes place in a gradual manner, little by little. I have to progressively immerge[my note: I think this was a slip on the part of the translator that was meant to say "immerse'] myself in the words of the Church, with my prayer, my life, my suffering, my joy, my thoughts. It is a journey that transforms us.[yes. we use the words of the bible to pray just as children are given the words to speak by their parents. If a baby did nothing but talk in his "own" words, for the sake of spontanaeity, he would miss out on learning to communicate well.]

Thus I think that these reflections enable us to answer the question that we posed at the beginning: how do I learn to pray, how can I grow in my prayer? Looking at the model that Jesus taught us, the Pater Noster [Our Father], we see that the first word is "Father" and the second is "our." The answer, then, is clear: I learn to pray, I nourish my prayer, addressing God as Father and praying-with-others, praying with the Church, accepting the gift of his words, which gradually become familiar and rich in meaning. The dialogue that God establishes with each of us, and we with Him, in prayer always includes a "with", you can not pray to God in an individualistic manner. In liturgical prayer, especially the Eucharist, and - formats of the liturgy - in every prayer, we do not speak as single individuals, rather we enter into the "we" of the Church that prays. And we need to transform our "I" entering into this "we". [there's something missed in translation in that "formats of the liturgy" phrase. My guess is that the pope was referring to forms of the liturgy other than the Eucharist, i.e. the Liturgy of the Hours.]

I would like to recall another important aspect. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read: " In the liturgy of the New Covenant every liturgical action, especially the celebration of the Eucharist and the sacraments, is an encounter between Christ and the Church" (n. 1097); so it is the "whole Christ" , throughout the Community, the Body of Christ united with its Head, that celebrates. Thus the liturgy is not a kind of "self-manifestation" of a community, but it is emerging from the simple "being-oneself", being closed in on ourselves, and accessing the great banquet, entering the great living community in which God nourishes us.[yes! escape from the tyranny of 'being yourself' to the freedom of being in Christ.] The liturgy implies universality and our awareness of this universal character must always be renewed. The Christian liturgy is the worship of the universal temple which is the Risen Christ, whose arms are stretched out on the cross to draw us all into the embrace that is the eternal love of God. It is the cult of the open skies. It is never only the event of a single community, in a given time and space. It is important that every Christian feels and really is part of this universal "we", which provides the foundation and refuge to the "I" in the Body of Christ which is the Church.

In this we must be aware of and accept the logic of the Incarnation of God: He has drawn near, present, entering into history and human nature, becoming one of us. And this presence continues in the Church, his Body.... God acts through Christ and we can only act through him and in him. Every day the conviction must grow in us that the liturgy is not our, my, 'action', but the action of God in us and with us.
[Whoa! Do we even realize half the time what it is we are doing when we open a breviary or turn on that app?? I know that I don't always pray the hours with this kind of awareness. ]

It is not the individual - priest or layman - or the group that celebrates the liturgy, but it is primarily God's action through the Church, which has its own history, its rich tradition and creativity. This universality and fundamental openness, which is characteristic of the entire liturgy is one of the reasons why it can not be created or amended by the individual community or by experts, but must be faithful to the forms of the universal Church.
[exactly! This is why tinkering with the forms of the liturgy--adding or subtracting from it--is so wrong. Such abuses risk turning liturgical prayer back into private prayer, hence, losing out on this community and union with Christ in the world wide body of believers.Remember that next time someone complains about "liturgy police". ]

The entire Church is always present, even in the liturgy of the smallest community. For this reason there are no "foreigners" in the liturgical community. The entire Church participates in every liturgical celebration, heaven and earth, God and man. The Christian liturgy, even if it is celebrated in a concrete place and space, and expresses the "yes" of a particular community, it is inherently Catholic, it comes from everything and leads to everything, in union with the Pope, the Bishops , with believers of all times and all places. The more a celebration is animated by this consciousness, the more fruitful the true sense of the liturgy is realized in it. 

Dear friends, the Church is made visible in many ways: in its charitable work, in mission projects, in the personal apostolate that every Christian must realize in his or her own environment. But the place where it is fully experienced as a Church is in the liturgy: it is the act in which we believe that God enters into our reality and we can meet Him, we can touch Him. It is the act in which we come into contact with God, He comes to us, and we are enlightened by Him. So when in the reflections on the liturgy we concentrate all our attention on how to make it attractive, interesting and beautiful, we risk forgetting the essential: the liturgy is celebrated for God and not for ourselves, it is His work, He is the subject, and we must open ourselves to Him and be guided by Him and His Body which is the Church.

Let us ask the Lord to learn every day to live the sacred liturgy, especially the Eucharistic celebration, praying in the "we" of the Church, that directs its gaze not in on itself, but to God, and feeling part of the living Church of all places and of all time. 

Here you will find the entire text. Make sure to scroll down past the introductory summary to where it says "Below a Vatican Radio translation..."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

General Audience on Liturgical Prayer

Our brilliant Pope Benedict has given his last few general audiences on the topic of the liturgy. What he says applies equally to the Mass and to the Liturgy of the Hours. The paragraphs below are from last week's audience. I'll add some from today's in the next post. After reading these word you can't help but pray the liturgical hours more fervently and, to use a popular word, mindfully.

 Therefore, the first requirement for a good liturgical celebration is that both prayer and conversation with God, first listening and then answering. St. Benedict, in his "Rule", speaking of the prayer of the Psalms, indicates to the monks: mens concordet voci, "may the mind agrees with the voice." The Saint teaches that the prayer of the Psalms, the words must precede our mind. Usually it does not happen this way, first one has to think and then what we have thought, is converted into speech. Here, however in the liturgy it is the inverse, the words come first. God gave us the Word and the Sacred Liturgy gives us the words, and we must enter into their meaning, welcome them within us, be in harmony with them. Thus we become children of God, similar to God...

Dear friends, we celebrate and live the liturgy well only if we remain in an attitude of prayer, united to the Mystery of Christ and his dialogue as the Son with the Father. God Himself teaches us to pray, as St. Paul writes (cf. Rom 8:26). He Himself has given us the right words to hear to Him, words that we find in the Psalter, in the great prayers of the liturgy and in the same Eucharistic celebration. We pray to the Lord to be ever more aware of the fact that the liturgy is the action of God and man; prayer that rises from the Holy Spirit and ourselves, wholly directed to the Father, in union with the Son of God made man (cf. Catechism the Catholic Church, n. 2564)

That last paragraph especially addressed the objection of protestants who believe that spontaneous praying "in our own words" is the highest model for prayer. 

The complete text is here.

I Need Angels in Autumn- Weekly Q&A plus welcome

September 29th thru October 7th is one of my favorite stretches of the entire year. On the natural level, the fall foliage is approaching its peak. Just walking the dog or driving out to buy milk becomes an exercise in joy, as sky and trees compete with one another to astound us mortals with their beauty. Liturgically, we get a string of beloved feasts: The Holy Archangels, St. Therese, The Holy Guardian Angels, St. Francis of Assisi, and Our Lady of the Rosary.

The only downside to this time of year is something I call on both my Guardian Angel and St. Francis to assist me with. Anyone who drives through the farms, meadows and forests of northwest Pennsylvania these next ten weeks runs a huge risk of hitting a deer. It's mating season among our hoofed and antlered furry friends. The boys are (literally)  chasing the girls, and no one is watching where they are going. True, deer never pay much attention to cars in the best of times, but they are twice as careless in the autumn. The roadside body count goes up dramatically this time of year. Along with insurance claims.

My first close encounter came yesterday morning on the way home from mass. This photo is almost identical to what I experienced:
photo credit: 
Except that I was a lot closer than this before the buck got to the other side of the road. I reflected that if, as I was leaving, our pastor had clearly heard a remark I called out to him and had NOT asked me to repeat it, I would have been a second or two closer to this creature and something terrible might have happened. At church  we had just  said this prayer twice, once at mass and once at the end of lauds, which we say every Tuesday and Thursday after mass:
O God, who in your unfathomable providence are pleased to send your holy Angles to guard us, hear our supplication as we cry to you that we may always be defended by their protection and rejoice eternally in their company.
picture credit:
St. Francis comes up tomorrow. Our pastor does a blessing of animals on this day. I'm going to ask him, when he's through with our dogs and cats, to extend his hands towards the woods and ask St. Francis to bless all those deer out there as well. Just by way of giving our guardian angels a hand.

Welcome new followers Gail Murphy and Ruth da Silva. Ruth is from India. It's always exciting to have followers from (for me) faraway places.  Ruth is a huge fan of St. Therese, and blogs about her and many other things.
Any Divine Office questions this week? I'll anticipate this one. To celebrate a memorial, use the psalms from the current weekday (unless otherwise prescribed. The Guardian Angels were one of the "otherwise prescribed", since it was given the full feast treatment with its own antiphons and psalms from Sunday week I. ), then go to the Common of Saints for the rest, substituting from the proper of saints anything that is set down for the saint's day.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Best Book on St. Therese

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There a lot of books about  the spirituality of  St. Therese, and I'm not sure why.  Since this saint and doctor of the church wrote during the late nineteenth century--indeed, she missed out on being a 20th century saint by only a few years--her writing is not at all difficult to get through. My own inclination is to skip the commentaries and just read Therese. (Today's Office of Readings give just one sample of her beautiful, ardent   thoughts.)

But I'll make one exception. If you  want a refresher on the Little Flower's teaching, yet are  not in the mood to wade through her entire autobiography, you might want to try out I Believe in Love.  This series of retreat conferences, translated from French, has been around since the 70s.
The author, Father Jean  D'Elbee,  takes you quickly into the heart and genius of Therese: her unique confidence in God's Love. A confidence that never fails, despite out sins, despite dryness and desolation, despite any suffering.

You can read I Believe in Love in a couple of sittings, or spread it out,say, with two chapters per day for a five-day, do-it-yourself retreat.   This book has been a spiritual milestone for me, my husband, and many people that I know.

Great stuff to read during Eucharistic adoration.