Saturday, February 6, 2016

May the Lord be in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts...

   May the Lord be in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts, that worthily we might proclaim the Good News!  

   In this weekend's reading from Isaiah, the prophet is purified when a seraphim touches a burning ember to his lips; it is the prelude to Isaiah's acceptance of his calling as prophet:  Here I am, send me!  

   This story may come to mind when we hear the Gospel announced and make a small Sign of the Cross on our forehead and mouth and over our heart.  Such crosses probably date back to Frankish or Germanic societies of the ninth to eleventh centuries.  For a long time, this gesture was reserved for priests, though over the years, probably after the Council of Trent, the assembly began to follow suit.  Since 2003, however, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal has extended the privilege to laypeople (Article #134). 

   And the words we say are significant:  May the Lord be in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts, that worthily we might proclaim the Good News!  In a sense, we are asking for the same kind of purification experienced by Isaiah, so that God may always be foremost in our thoughts, so that our lips might be devoted to giving witness to Jesus' redemptive Word, and so that our hearts might open in love to the Love that is ours through the Incarnation.  It is an eminently appropriate prayer to keep in mind as we enter the Season of Lent.

May the Lord be in your mind, on your lips, 
and in your heart, that worthily you might proclaim the Good News!

Image source:  Seraphim Purifying the Lips of Isaiah (fresco), Catalan School, 15th c.
Sources:  1 and 2

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sunday Gospel Reflection, February 7, 2016: Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?

   Is fear stopping you from answering the Lord's call?   

  When the Lord calls him to service, the prophet Isaiah feels unworthy:  Woe is me, I am doomed!  For I am a man of unclean lips… But the seraphim makes it possible for Isaiah to accept the Lord's call by purifying his lips with a burning ember, and Isaiah can now respond wholeheartedly, Here I am, send me!  Thus cleansed of his sin, Isaiah, like the psalmist in Psalm 138, can proclaim God's name, profess his faith, and speak to others of the Lord's kindness and truth, giving witness to all the world in the sight of the angels.

   Like Isaiah, the fisherman Simon does not feel deserving of the Lord's call in Luke's Gospel:  falling at the knees of Jesus, he says, Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.  But Jesus knows he is a man of faith, and he articulates Simon Peter's call:  Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.  Paul also recognizes his own prior hesitation at the call to serve:  For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle… Knowing the obstacles he himself has faced, Paul calls the Corinthians also to live faith they first knew in Christ:  hold fast to the word I preached to you.

   It's easy to convince ourselves that we are incapable, ill-suited to serve, a bad choice as an apostle; it's very hard to convince ourselves that the Lord is constantly at work in our lives, purifying our lips and raising us up.  Fear blocks us; doom silences us.  But the Lord touches us and opens us, making speech possible again.   Upon leaving the temple, Isaiah will never speak in the same way again; called by Jesus, Peter will never fish in the same way again; Paul, descending from his horse, will, by the grace of God, know radical conversion. 

   Consider this:  What if we are called to ongoing conversion daily, according to which today simply can't be like yesterday? What if we are called to start each day anew, with an opportunity to make decisions anew?   Each day we wake, and we fear -- but Christ is there to touch our lives, to lead us past our fear, to help us open to the Lord's call, each day, anew.

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Monday, February 1, 2016

Love Never Fails (David Haas)

           If I speak with the tongues of the earth, 
        If the angels fill my mouth, 
        Yet do not have love, 
        I am but a sound. 
        If I prophesy and understand all things, 
        If mountains shake by my faith, 
        Without love I am nothing at all. 
           Love is patient; love is kind; 
        Love rejoices in the truth. 
        It bears all things, believes all things. 
        It hopes all things, endures all things. 
        Love never fails. 
           If I give away everything I own, 
        Give my body to be burned, 
        Yet do not have love, 
        I gain nothing more. 
        Prophecies will cease; 
        Tongues will be silent. 
        Knowledge will be no more; 
        The partial will pass away. 
           When I was a child,
        I talked, thought, and lived like a child.
        But now that I have grown,
        I have put these things aside.
        My knowledge is imperfect now,
        Then I'll know as I am known:
        That faith, hope and love remain,
        And the greatest of these is love.

To hear David Haas perform this song, click on the video below:
You can purchase this song on 
David Haas's Echo of Faith CD by clicking here.

Image source
Video source

Saturday, January 30, 2016

When the heart opens (Roger Housden)


   When the heart opens, we forget ourselves and the world pours in:  this world, and also the invisible world of meaning that sustains everything that was and ever shall be.

                                   --Roger Housden
Quote source

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sunday Gospel Reflection, January 31, 2016: At present we see indistinctly...

Are we open to the power of God's love in our life?

   People can be so stubborn.  When the prophet Jeremiah tries to tell the people that good will come out of exile, they refuse to believe him, and God knows his struggle is great:  They will fight against you, God says, but not prevail over you, for I am with you.  God is there, present, in their midst, but God is only available to those whose hearts are open to God's work in their lives, as Jeremiah is.  

   Likewise, in Luke's Gospel, when Jesus, in Nazareth, suggests to the crowds gathered in the synagogue that the Messiah is in their midst, their doubts soon begin to grow.  After all, they know this son of the carpenter Joseph -- and their hearts are thus closed to the presence of God before them.  No prophet is accepted in his own native place:  Jesus knows that he will work no miracles in their midst, for when hearts are closed, no healing is possible.  Like the Corinthians, who see indistinctly, as in a mirror, looking only at themselves, refusing to recognize God's love incarnate in their presence, the people of Nazareth are unaware of the potential God has placed before them; they reject Jesus and he walks out of their lives, passing through the midst of them and going away.

   Psalm 71 offers an antidote to such self-centeredness:  you are my hope, O Lord; my trust, O God, from my youth.  Although he has faced difficulties, the psalmist has not turned away from the Lord, has not closed his heart to God, for the Lord sustains him through his greatest challenges.  We know that love never fails, after all.  But we have to recognize that love -- the very power of God -- in our lives, love made manifest in our relationships with God and with other.  We reach our fullest potential in Christ when we allow love to be our vision, when we are open to the opportunity truly to love one another, and to love God.  It is that transforming love that we are called to; it is our openness to and sharing of that love that can bring salvation to all.

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Thy Word (Amy Grant)

   Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet  
 And a light unto my path 
   When I feel afraid, think I've lost my way 
Still You're there right beside me 
Nothing will I fear as long as You are near 
Please me near me to the end 
I will not forget  
Your love for me and yet  
My heart forever is wandering 
Jesus, be my guide, hold me to Your side, 
And I will love You to the end 
Nothing will I fear as long   
As You are near 
Please be near me to the end 

And a light unto my path 
You're the light unto my path 

To hear this song performed by artist Amy Grant, click on the video below:
You can purchase this song by clicking here!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Journey through Lent with St. Francis de Sales...

   To celebrate the 50th anniversary of DeSales University, the Salesian Center for Faith & Culture offers this gift to the world:  the first ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the Everyday Spirituality of St. Francis de Sales.

   St. Francis de Sales' spirituality is one of a gentle, humble reliance on the presence of God in our lives, and a constant attention to the will of God as a sign of our love for God.  St. Francis himself is Doctor caritatis, or the Doctor of Charity of the Church, where Charity is defined as the love of God.  Though he wrote his major works in the early 17th-century, St. Francis's ideas are accessible and transformative. 

   All are invited to learn about Salesian spirituality at their own pace, with the ease of online learning.  All materials for this enriching experience will be provided to all participants for free.  Do consider making this MOOC a part of your Lenten journey!

For more information, visit the DeSales University website, 
Questions?  Contact Lore McFadden 

Today, January 24th, is the Feast of St. Francis de Sales!

P.S. If the term "Salesian" sounds familiar to you, it may be because Fr. Biju Michael, who has spent a good part of the last few summers at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is a member of the Order of the Salesians of Don Bosco.  Participants in the MOOC will most likely come to understand Fr. Biju's own gentle spirituality better as a result of their engagement with the teachings of St. Francis de Sales.

Image source