Posted in CATHOLIC DEVOTIONS of the Month, DEVOTIO, MORNING Prayers, The HOLY NAME

The Wonders of the Holy Name – Fr Paul O’Sullivan, O.P. – “Revealing the Simplest Secret Ever of Holiness and Happiness.” – PART TWO – 11 July

Part One – here:  https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2017/07/10/the-wonders-of-the-holy-name-fr-paul-osullivan-o-p-revealing-the-simplest-secret-ever-of-holiness-and-happiness/

the wonders of the holy name-day two-11 july

What must we do?

St. Paul tells us that we must do all we do
whether in word or work in the Name of Jesus.
“Whether you eat or whether you drink or
whatever else you do, do all in the Name of our
Lord Jesus Christ”.
In this way every act becomes an act of love
and of merit and moreover we receive grace and
help to do all our actions perfectly.
We must therefore do our best to form the
habit of saying Jesus, Jesus, Jesus very often
every day.   We can do so when dressing, when
working – no matter what we are doing – when
walking, in moments of sadness, at home and in
the street, everywhere.
Nothing is easier if only we do it methodically.
We can say it countless times every day.
Bear in mind that each time we say Jesus 1) we
give God great glory, 2) we receive great graces
for-ourselves 3) and we help the souls in Purgatory.
We shall now quote a few examples to show
the power of the Holy Name.

The World in Danger – Saved by the Holy Name.

In the year 1274 great evils threatened the World.
The Church was assailed by fierce enemies from
within and without.   So great was the danger
that the Pope Gregory X, who then reigned called
a Council of Bishops in Lyons to determine on the
best means of saving society from the ruin that
menaced it.   Among the many means proposed
the Pope and Bishops chose what they considered
the easiest and most efficacious of all,
viz. the frequent repetition of the Holy Name of
Jesus.
The Holy Father then begged the Bishops of
the World and their priests, to call on the Name
of Jesus and to urge their peoples to place all their
confidence in this all-powerful Name, repeating
it constantly with boundless trust.   The Pope
entrusted the Dominicans especially with the
glorious task of preaching the wonders of the
Holy Name in every country, a work they accomplished
with unbounded zeal.
Their Franciscan brothers ably seconded them.
St Bernardine of Siena and St. Leonard of PortMaurice
were ardent Apostles of the Name of
Jesus.
Their efforts were crowned with success so
that the enemies of the Church were overthrown,
the dangers that threatened society disappeared
and peace once more reigned supreme.
This is a most important lesson for us because
in these our own days dreadful sufferings are
crushing many countries and still greater evils
threaten all the others.
No government, or governments seem strong
and wise enough to stem this awful torrent of
evils.   There is but one remedy and that is prayer.
Every Christian must turn to God and ask Him
to have mercy on us.   The easiest of all prayers,
as we have seen, is the Name of Jesus.
Everyone without exception can invoke this
Holy Name hundreds of times a day, not only
for bis own intentions, but also to ask God to
deliver the World from impending ruin.
It is amazing what one person who prays can
do to save his country and save society.   We
read in Holy Scripture how Moses saved by his
prayer the people of Israel from destruction, how
one pious woman, Judith of Betulia, saved her city
and her people when the rulers were in despair
and about to surrender themselves to their enemies.
Again we know that the two cities of Sodom
and Gomorrha, which God destroyed by fire for
their sins and crimes, would have been pardoned
had there been only ten good men to pray for
them!
Over and over again we read of kings, emperors,
statesmen and famous military commanders who
placed all their trust in prayer thus working
wonders.   If the prayers of one man can do much
what will not the prayers of many do?
The Name of Jesus is the shortest, the easiest
and the most powerful of prayers.   Everyone can
say it even in the midst of his daily work.   God
cannot refuse to hear it.
Let us then invoke the Name of Jesus, asking
Him to save us from the calamities that threaten us.

Posted in CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, IGNATIAN/JESUIT SJ- Reflections, Jesuit Saints and more, MORNING Prayers

The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

by Margaret Silf

Probably most of us, if we think of contemplative prayer at all, regard it as something that is beyond us and practiced only by a few contemplative monks and nuns whose whole lives are devoted to prayer.   Yet I have heard respected and experienced spiritual guides say that contemplation is often given to those you would least expect—to harassed mothers and people who think they can’t pray, to children, to the sick and dying, to people with no academic learning about prayer or Scripture or theology.   God sometimes seems to speak, heart to heart, in this mysterious way, to the untaught and unpracticed. None of us should imagine that the ways of contemplative prayer are closed to us because God is always infinitely larger than our expectations.

I suggest that creation itself gives us a gateway.   In every moment of our lives, a silent, invisible miracle of exchange is taking place.   We breathe out the air that our bodies no longer need, which is mainly carbon dioxide, a waste product for us but the very thing that the green leaves on the trees and plants need to produce their own energy.   So they receive our carbon dioxide and, through the process of photosynthesis, produce not only their own life energy, but also oxygen—a waste product for them but the very thing we need to live.   Whenever I stop my busyness for a few moments to look around me, I am amazed at this arrangement and it makes me think of prayer.

So perhaps a good way to open our hearts up to the gift of contemplation is simply to become still, and, quite literally, to breathe out our waste—all that clogs us and deadens us—and to breathe in God’s renewing life, as we breathe in the fresh oxygen that the plants have made for us.   This simple, deliberate breathing exercise can become something like what the French peasant was doing as he looked at God and God looked at him.   We are becoming aware of the mysterious exchange of life between ourselves and God.   And there is no reason that any period of quiet might not become prayer of this kind.

There may be other creatures who can help you cross the threshold of contemplation. If there is a baby in the family, try simply holding her in your arms as she sleeps and letting God hold both of you in his.   Nothing more.   No deep thoughts.   No search for meaning.   Just be there.

A cat (if you are not allergic to them!) can also be a great aid to prayer.   My own cat loves to sleep round my neck.   At first I found this disturbing but when he has settled into a particular hollow (perhaps where he can feel my pulse), he will lie there, quite still, just purring deeply, until he falls asleep and the purring ceases.   When he does this, I let myself find a hollow close to God’s pulse and let my own prayer become just a sleepy purr and then the silence of content.   Or you might discover prayer on a park bench.   The other day I was in Hyde Park and I spent a few minutes listening to the deep-throated cooing of the pigeons. I wanted to join them because, in their way, they were engaged in contemplative prayer, simply expressing, in this peaceful murmur, the song of their beings.

In your own home, prayer awaits you in the opening of a flower, the rising of your bread dough, or the steady, imperceptible development of a child.   Spend time in silence, aware of the wonder that is being unfolded in your cakes and your children, your houseplants or your garden.   For this is the essence of contemplative prayer—simple awareness, allowing God to be God, without trying to put the limitations of shape or meaning around him.

Contemplation, like all prayer, is pure gift and not anything we can achieve.   It happens when prayer becomes, wholly and utterly, the flow of God’s grace, transforming the land it flows through, like Ezekiel’s stream.   Or it happens when we lose consciousness of our own part in it and become simply receptors and carriers of grace.   It happens when we realise that our transformation depends on nothing but God’s grace and love, and, like the chrysalis, let go of all activity to try to achieve our own redemption.

When we try to describe it, we fail, for it lies beyond the world of words.   We can open our hearts to it by the practice of awareness but we cannot bring it about, any more than we can force a flower to open or an egg to hatch.   And in our silent, trustful waiting, we are acknowledging that God is God, the source and the destination, the means and the end of all our prayer, whatever form it may take.

from Close to the Heart: A Practical Approach to Personal Prayer

Make my Heart Still

“Lord take my poor heart. It is often so far from You, lost in a thousand things and in the trifles that fill up my everyday life. Lord, only You can collect the thoughts of my heart and have it concentrate on You, You who are the centre of all hearts, the Lord of all souls. Only You can bestow the spirit of prayer, only Your grace is able to allow me to find You amidst this multitude of things, amdist the distractions of everyday life, YOU, the one necessity, the one person with whom my heart can become still.”

“When man comes to God in awe and love, then he is praying.”

Karl Rayner SJ – The Mystical Way in Everyday Life

when man comes to god in awe and love-karl rayner sj

Posted in MORNING Prayers, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 11 July

Thought for the Day – 11 July

Seeking God is not the activity only of monks and nuns in monasteries.   Rather, it is the task given to all of the baptised.   And while most of us will not enter monastic life, there is an “inner monk” within us that compels us to seek God in our individual vocations and lives, whether as a diocesan priest, as principal of a high school, as members of families, married or single.   Seeking God takes place in the here and now, in this situation, with these people, in this family, this workplace, this school and in this time.   It is not only for those holy monks;  it is for me!   In his Rule, St. Benedict gives the world the roadmap to seeking God.   Prayer, work, obedience, simplicity of life and stability help monks seek God;  adapted, they can help the rest of us, too.

The monastic day is bookmarked by prayer early in the morning and in the evening, along with several moments of communal prayer throughout the day.   For anyone seeking God, prayer has to become the primary activity of the day.   It cannot be put aside for “more pressing” matters.   Prayer is the first priority of one’s day and all other activities of work, home and family work around it.   Monks pray the Liturgy of the Hours seven times a day, which lay people can also pray if they so desire.   However one prays, time with the Lord is a necessary component in seeking Him.   The Eucharist is the heart of prayer and anyone seriously seeking God ought to consider it a daily practice, if possible.   It is in those moments of spending time with the Lord that the person will detect His presence in his heart and soul.

Prayer, work, obedience, stability and simplicity of life marks the life of monks.   In developing the “inner monk” within you, take what you can from the monastic lifestyle to find God in your life…………Msgr. Bernard Bourgeois

St Benedict, Pray for us!

st benedict - pray for us 3

Posted in MORNING Prayers, SAINT of the DAY

Quote/s of the Day – 11 July

Quote/s of the Day – 11 July

“Be careful to be gentle, lest in removing the rust, you break the whole instrument.”

becareful to be gentle - st benedict

“He who labours as he prays,
lifts his heart to God with his hands.”

“Whenever you begin any good work
you should first of all,
make a most pressing appeal
to Christ our Lord to bring it to perfection.”

he who labours as he prays-st benedict

 

 

 

Posted in MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 11 July

One Minute Reflection – 11 July

Do not grow slack but be fervent in spirit; he whom you serve is the Lord…….Romans 12:11

romans 12 11

REFLECTION – “There exists an evil fervour, a bitter spirit, which divides us from God and leads us to hell.
Similarly, there is a good fervour, which sets us apart from evil inclinations and leads us toward God and eternal life.”

st benedict - there exists an evil fervour

PRAYER – Loving Father, grant me to have a true fervour in Your service. Let me never tire of following Your Son’s example and avoiding evil. St Benedict, pray for us! Amen

st benedict - pray for us 2

Posted in MORNING Prayers, PRAYERS of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY

Our Morning Offering – 11 July

Our Morning Offering – 11 July

Bestow upon me, O Gracious Father
Prayer of St Benedict of Nursia

Bestow upon me,
O gracious, O Holy Father
intellect to understand You,
perceptions to perceive You purely,
reason to discern You,
diligence to see You,
wisdom to find You,
a spirit to know You,
a heart to meditate upon You,
ears to hear You,
eyes to behold You,
a tongue to proclaim You,
a conversation pleasing to You,
patience to wait for You
and perseverance to look for You.
Grant me a perfect end –
Your holy Presence.
Grant me a blessed resurrection
and Your recompense –
everlasting life. Amen

bestow upon me o gracious father - prayer of st benedict

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 11 July – St Benedict of Nursia O.S.B. – Abbot Patron of Europe (Patronus Europae) and Founder of Western Monasticism

Saint of the Day – 11 July – St Benedict of Nursia O.S.B. – Abbot Patron of Europe (Patronus Europae) – Also known as: Benedict of Narsia, Benedict of Norsia, Benedetto da Norcia, Founder of Western Monasticism – (c 480, Narsia, Umbria, Italy – 21 March 547 of a fever while in prayer at Monte Cassino, Italy).   He buried beneath the high altar there in the same tomb as Saint Scholastica.   He was Canonised in 1220 by Pope Honorius III.  Patronages:  Co-Patron of Europe, Against poison, Against witchcraft, Agricultural workers, Cavers, Civil engineers, Coppersmiths, Dying people, Erysipelas, Europe, Farmers, Fever, Gall stones, Heerdt (Germany), Heraldry and Officers of arms, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, Inflammatory diseases, Italian architects, Kidney disease, Monks, Nettle rash, Norcia, (Italy), People in religious orders, Schoolchildren and students, Servants who have broken their master’s belongings, Temptations.

489px-Fra_Angelico_032
Fra Angelico

Benedict was born into a distinguished family in central Italy, studied at Rome and early in life was drawn to monasticism.   At first he became a hermit, leaving a depressing world—pagan armies on the march, the Church torn by schism, people suffering from war, morality at a low ebb.

He soon realised that he could not live a hidden life in a small town any better than in a large city, so he withdrew to a cave high in the mountains for three years.   Some monks chose Benedict as their leader for a while, but found his strictness not to their taste.   Still the shift from hermit to community life had begun for him.   He had an idea of gathering various families of monks into one “Grand Monastery” to give them the benefit of unity, fraternity and permanent worship in one house.   Finally he began to build what was to become one of the most famous monasteries in the world—Monte Cassino, commanding three narrow valleys running toward the mountains north of Naples.

The Rule that gradually developed prescribed a life of liturgical prayer, study, manual labor, and living together in community under a common abbot.   Benedictine asceticism is known for its moderation, and Benedictine charity has always shown concern for the people in the surrounding countryside.   In the course of the Middle Ages, all monasticism in the West was gradually brought under the Rule of St. Benedict.

Today the Benedictine family is represented by two branches:  the Benedictine Federation encompassing the men and women of the Order of St. Benedict and the Cistercians, men and women of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance.

St Benedict died at Monte Cassino not long after his sister, Saint Scholastica.   Benedict died of a high fever on the day God had told him he was to die and was buried in the same place as his sister.   According to tradition, this occurred on 21 March 543 or 547. He was named patron protector of Europe by Pope Paul VI in 1964.   In 1980, Pope John Paul II declared him co-patron of Europe, together with Saints Cyril and Methodius.

Rule of Saint Benedict

Seventy-three short chapters comprise the Rule.   Its wisdom is of two kinds:  spiritual (how to live a Christocentric life on earth) and administrative (how to run a monastery efficiently).   More than half the chapters describe how to be obedient and humble and what to do when a member of the community is not.   About one-fourth regulate the work of God (the Opus Dei).   One-tenth outline how and by whom, the monastery should be managed.

Following the golden rule of Ora et Labora – pray and work, the monks each day devoted eight hours to prayer, eight hours to sleep and eight hours to manual work, sacred reading, or works of charity

 

Saint Benedict Medal, front.
On the front of the medal is Saint Benedict holding a cross in his right hand, the object of his devotion and in the left his rule for monasteries.    In the back is a poisoned cup, in reference to the legend of Benedict, which explains that hostile monks attempted to poison him:  the cup containing poisoned wine shattered when the saint made the sign of the cross over it (and a raven carried away a poisoned loaf of bread).   Above the cup are the words Crux sancti patris Benedicti (“The Cross of [our] Holy Father Benedict”). Surrounding the figure of Saint Benedict are the words Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur!  (“May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death”), since he was always regarded by the Benedictines as the patron of a happy death.

On the back is a cross, containing the letters C S S M L – N D S M D, initials of the words Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Non [Nunquam?] draco sit mihi dux!   (“May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my overlord!”).    The large C S P B stand for Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti (“The Cross of [our] Holy Father Benedict”).   Surrounding the back of the medal are the letters V R S N S M V – S M Q L I V B, in reference to Vade retro satana: Vade retro Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana! Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas! (“Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!”) and finally, located at the top is the word PAX which means “peace”

Use of the Medal

There is no special way prescribed for carrying or wearing the Medal of St. Benedict.   It can be worn on a chain around the neck, attached to one’s rosary, kept in one’s pocket or purse, or placed in one’s car or home.   The medal is often put into the foundations of houses and building, on the walls of barns and sheds, or in one’s place of business.

The purpose of using the medal in any of the above ways is to call down God’s blessing and protection upon us, wherever we are and upon our homes and possessions, especially through the intercession of St. Benedict.   By the conscious and devout use of the medal, it becomes, as it were, a constant silent prayer and reminder to us of our dignity as followers of Christ.

The medal is a prayer of exorcism against Satan, a prayer for strength in time of temptation, a prayer for peace among ourselves and among the nations of the world, a prayer that the Cross of Christ be our light and guide, a prayer of firm rejection of all that is evil, a prayer of petition that we may with Christian courage “walk in God’s ways, with the Gospel as our guide,” as St. Benedict urges us.

A profitable spiritual experience can be ours if we but take the time to study the array of inscriptions and representations found on the two sides of the medal.   The lessons found there can be pondered over and over to bring true peace of mind and heart into our lives as we struggle to overcome the weaknesses of our human nature and realize that our human condition is not perfect, but that with the help of God and the intercession of the saints our condition can become better.

The Medal of St. Benedict can serve as a constant reminder of the need for us to take up our cross daily and “follow the true King, Christ our Lord,” and thus learn “to share in his heavenly kingdom,” as St. Benedict urges us in the Prologue of his Rule.