Memorial of Saint Monica
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
THURSDAY, August 26th Mt. 24: 42-51 “Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.”
- We have to stay awake for we do not know the day or the hour when the thief (the enemy of our soul) is coming to plunder and steal our families, our children, our very lives, both physically and spiritually.
- Never has the human person created by God and the family been under more attack than in these times.
- Our soul and the souls of our families are in the balance. Fr. Ed gives us guidance and counsel for these challenging times.
SAINT MONICA AND TROUBLED FAMILIES by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
Never has the world been given so much easy access to information. With a click or two you can obtain almost any information your heart desires: from the number of people living in Antarctic to the different variations of alligators, as well as crocodiles. Indeed, the rapid access to any form of information makes our head spin.
At the same time, never has the world experienced so much confusion, tension, disorder and dysfunction. Three generations back, most families would be considered stable and relatively happy. If we can use the term, functional families as opposed to dysfunctional families. Separations and divorces were an exception to the rule.
Recent Church documents and teachings have strongly insisted upon the indispensable necessity of the family, a strong family, a stable family, a permanent family. The family has been termed “The Domestic Church”, the basic cell and building block of society. Pope Saint John Paul II asserted that the way the family goes is the way the society goes.
World History has proven a hard but stark truth: the unraveling, demise and destruction of the family results in the unraveling of the society as a whole.
Children without the love, support, teaching authority, presence and permanence of Mom and Dad, grow up with fears, insecurities, as well as gaping emotional wounds.
All of us carry within our heart wounds from society, but also from our own families. We are all wounded due to Original Sin, our personal sins, and family structural sins. If these wounds are not addressed and brought to sources of healing then the wounds become gaping that spread out like tentacles to wound others.
This being said, there was an extraordinary woman who experienced enormous family problems, gaping wounds, excruciating pains and sufferings. However, she did not throw in the towel or give up. Rather, she sought the healing source and saved her family, being instrumental in the total conversion and sanctification of especially one of her family members.
The same of this person is SAINT MONICA, and her son, who was converted by God’s grace, mediated through her prayers, tears, patience and sacrifices is the great SAINT AUGUSTINE.
THE LIFE AND EXAMPLE OF SAINT MONICA
The life and example of St. Monica can truly spur us on, especially as Mothers, to never give up, but rather to fight the good fight and run the good race so as to receive the merited crown that God has in store for us.
The following are some details of the life of Saint Monica for our reflection, meditation, prayer, and imitation so that we choose her as our very special patron saint in these troubling times, especially for the family.
1. TIME FRAME. Saint Monica was born 332 and died 387—55 years to prepare for her heavenly reward. She was born in a Roman colony of Tagaste, North Africa. She was living at the time of two other Western Fathers of the Church—Saint Ambrose of Milan and the great Bible Scholar, Saint Jerome.
2. STRICT FORMATION. Her parents relied upon a very demanding woman to raise Monica. One of the rules of discipline was to avoid drinking between meals. Unfortunately, Monica, on the sly, would slip into the wine cellar and sip some of the wine. This went on and Monica eventually began to drink more and more. On one occasion, Monica severely rebuked one of the servants and this servant responded by calling Monica A DRUNK!!! Instead of exploding and laying into the servant, Monica accepted this rebuke and gave up drinking altogether. Therefore, we see even from a young age the humility of Monica, in her willingness to accept fraternal correction and to change, to be converted!
3. UNHAPPY MARRIAGE. Monica desired to spend time in prayer and reflection, but her parents wanted her to marry and they chose Patricius (Patrick). The man was a hard-worker, but had serious moral flaws. He often drank too much, he was a womanizer, and he had a very violent temper. Monica patiently put up with his glaring flaws and prayed for him.
4. HOW TO WIN THE BATTLE. Many of Monica’s women-friends ended up with cuts and bruises because they would fight with their husbands when their husbands were in a bad temper. Patricius never lifted a finger against Monica. Why? When she saw her husband in a bad temper, she maintained silence and prayed for him. A great lesson for us on how to deal with people when they are in a bad mood. It takes two to fight and if she would not fight, then the fight would soon come to an end!
5. CONVERSION. Before his death, due to the prayers of Monica, Patricius was converted. He was baptized and seemed to have died having made his peace with God. Monica also lived with a bitter and gossipy mother-in-law. In time she was also converted! The power of prayer, penance, and patience!
6. REBELLIOUS SON. Of their three children—two boys and a girl—one of the son’s caused Monica countless sufferings. His name was Augustine. His father, Patricius died when Augustine was 17. Patricius had cared very little about the moral and spiritual formation of Augustine. What mattered to his father were good grades in school, physical prowess and fame. Therefore, as a teen and young man Augustine was proud, vain, and especially lustful. His passions were never controlled, so they controlled him, and he became a slave to his sexual passions.
7. SICKNESS AND A FAILED PROMISE. In his youth, Augustine contracted a serious illness that led him to death’s door. He made a promise to God that if he were healed, he would become a Catholic. He was indeed healed but reneged on his promise to be baptized and embrace the Christian faith!
8. RELIGIOUS SECT. In the meantime, Augustine succumbed to following a Religious Sect called the Manicheans. He was attached to this anti-Christian sect for several years. This caused his Mother Monica even greater consternation and suffering.
9. MONICA’S CONSOLING DREAM. A resplendent figure appeared to Monica in a dream, reassuring her that Augustine would return to her. This dream consoled her and gave her great hope that Augustine would one day become a follower of Christ. Later on, the famous saintly Bishop, Saint Ambrose made this consoling comment to Monica: “It is impossible to lose a son after shedding so many tears.”
10. TRICKED BY HER SON, BUT PERSEVERING… When Augustine was 29, he decided to travel to Rome to exercise his profession of Rhetoric—the art of public speaking. Monica desired more than anything else the conversion of her son. Augustine told her to go into a nearby Church to pray, then he boarded the ship and left her praying. She took another ship and followed him to Italy. Despite the many contradictions and setbacks Monica never gave up. Biblically, she can be compared to the insistent widow who was rebuffed by the Judge, she persisted until he gave her justice. (Lk. 18:1-8) What an example for Mothers struggling with family problems and praying for the final victory!
11. SAINT AMBROSE: INFLUENCE ON MONICA AND AUGUSTINE… God often uses secondary causes to carry out His plans. The secondary cause often are people, and saintly people on the path. Such is the case in the lives of Saint Monica and Saint Augustine. That person was Saint Ambrose. Man of God, preacher, teacher, writer, intellectual, Saint Ambrose left a profound mark on both Monica and Augustine, but in different ways. Augustine was drawn by the words of truth that flowed from the heart of this great Doctor of the Church. But also, Ambrose was truly the Father-figure that Augustine never had, but desperately needed. The firm character, generous self-giving, courage in facing conflicts, and overflowing love and mercy exuding from Ambrose moved Augustine closer and closer to God. With respect to Monica, it was his attentive listening to her problems and broken heart, as well as the good advice Ambrose instilled in her Motherly heart that gave her confidence that one day her rebellious son would leave his sinful lifestyle and abandon himself to God. Ambrose reassured Monica with these consoling words: “It is impossible to lose a son after shedding so many tears.”
12. THE KEY-CONVERSION MOMENT. Monica had been praying, weeping, offering sacrifices and her sufferings for many years. Augustine was already 31 when the key moment arrived. Augustine was in the Garden and he heard a voice that sounded like that of a child, which invited him: “Take and read.” He picked up Sacred Scripture and read from the Letter to the Romans: “Let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” (Romans 13:13-14). Finally, after long years of struggle, Augustine willfully determined to renounce and abandon slavery to his sexual passions. Before then he would pray: “Lord, give me chastity: but not yet!” Now was the time to give up the works of the flesh, abandon the darkness, and walk in the light.
13. NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. Augustine told his Mother Monica of his decision, as well as the saintly Bishop Ambrose. He was baptized, putting on the new man Jesus Christ, and shedding the old skins of the flesh. The joy of Saint Monica had no limits! To finally see her rebellious son renounce his sinful lifestyle with a firm decision to follow Jesus was the fruit of long years of prayer, copious tears, intense sacrifices, and frequent consultations.
14. NOW I CAN DIE IN PEACE. Filled with joy and ready to return home to Africa, Monica had seen all her dreams realized. Her husband Patricius was converted and baptized before he died. Her gossipy and bitter Mother-in-law also was converted. But most important: her rebellious son, enslaved by his passions until he was 31 years of age, had been converted and given over to Christ; now Monica was ready to leave this world and go to her eternal reward.
15. CONVERSATION AT OSTIA. After Augustine’s conversion, he and his Mother Monica were deeply engrossed in a profound conversation on what it would be like in Heaven. Filled with joy and consolation, both shared their thoughts on their eternal Heavenly Home. Saint Paul reminds us of the joys of Heaven: “Eye has not seen; ear has not heard nor has it entered the mind of man the joys that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor 2:9) How important it is for all of us to meditate often on Heaven and the joys of Heaven, and the steps we should take to attain Heaven!
16. MONICA’S DEATH. Within about five days of their conversation, Monica fell sick with a high fever, then she lost consciousness. When she came to, she seemed to have lost the sense of where she was. Both her sons were present, aware that their Mother Monica was about to die. Augustine was holding back his tears, how much he really did love his mother. How important it is for us to be close to our loved ones when they are dying, if God gives us the opportunity.
17. HER GREATEST DESIRE AT THE MOMENT OF DEATH. Monica’s other son told her that he would provide for transporting her body back to Africa to be buried. Filled with sadness and anguish over this earthly desire of her son, Monica rebuked him for this silly talk. Monica’s great desire, after she died, was that she would be remembered in prayers. That she would be remembered at the Mass. How important to pray for the living and their conversion, but also to pray for the dead.
18. HER SUFFERING BECAME MORE INTENSE. As Monica spoke, her suffering increased. She was approaching the critical moment of her departure from this life to the next. Indeed, suffering has infinite value when it is accepted and united to the cross of Jesus.
19. THE DEATH OF MONICA AND FUTURE OF AUGUSTINE. Saint Monica died in the odor of sanctity. Augustine would eventually become a priest, and then a Bishop. As a Bishop, he became a true Pastor of souls. He fought bravely against the many heresies of the day: Manicheism, Arianism, and Donatism. He became one of the most prolific and profound writers in the History of Catholicism and the world at large. His greatest classic is his own Autobiography, Confessions. He is a Father and Doctor of the Church, given the title, “Doctor of grace.”
20. SAINT MONICA’S LESSONS ARE MANY: LET US PRAY AND MEDITATE UPON THEM:
1) HUMILITY. Her willingness to accept fraternal correction as a child (to give up her drinking) and to change her life. We are all called to be corrected many times and to undergo daily conversion.
2) MARRIAGE. She married a bad man—Patricius (Patrick) and suffered unspeakable pains. Let us help our young people to be very careful in their choice of a future spouse. This is the most important decision in their life on a human level!
3) HOW TO TREAT ANGRY HUSBANDS AND ANGRY PEOPLE. When relatives or friends are emotionally distraught and angry, it is better not to rebuke them, try to change them, or yell at them. This is like throwing a rock at a hornet’s nest; it only incites them to greater anger. A better solution: silence, prayer and patience!
4) CONTRADICTIONS AND SETBACKS—PERSEVERE! When things did not go her way, Monica did not give up and throw the towel in. Quite the contrary! Like the Parable of the insistent widow, Monica persevered in prayer and confidence in God.
5) THE SECRET TO UNLOCKING GOD’S HEART AND CONVERSIONS: THE FIVE P’S—PRAYER, PENANCE, PATIENCE, PERSEVERANCE, POISE. Saint Monica availed herself of the following keys to unlock God’s heart and to attain conversion. She prayed constantly; she practiced penance and fasting; she exercised the patience of Job; she did not give up, but persevered, and with great poise! In all of this Monica never lost her dignity, but maintained great nobility of character! These are the Five-P’s that we must wield for the conversion of our family members!
6) FAMILY CONVERSION. Not only was Augustine converted, but also her husband Patricius, and her mother-in-law. In a word, the whole family was converted due to God’s grace and the holiness of one person in the family—Saint Monica. Families today can still be converted by the holiness of life of individual family members!
7) SPIRITUAL DIRECTION AND CONSULTATION. Monica did not keep her problems to herself and allow her desolation to build up within her. Rather, she shared her problems with her spiritual director—the great Bishop, Saint Ambrose. How important it is for us to have some spiritual person with whom we can vent, share and express our anguish!
8) HER LOVE FOR HER SON AUGUSTINE. Of primary importance was Monica’s love for God, but also her love for her son, Augustine. Saint Thomas Aquinas defines love as: “Willing the good of the other.” The greatest good is the salvation of our soul!
9) THE LAST THINGS: DEATH, JUDGMENT, HEAVEN, HELL AND PURGATORY. Shortly before Monica dies overlooking Ostia, she contemplates and speaks about Heaven with Augustine. She worries little about her place of burial but that she be remembered after she dies, in prayers and especially in Holy Mass. She dies and takes flight to Heaven. May we often meditate upon the Last Things!
10. MONICA’S LESSON TODAY FOR MOTHERS. Today more than ever Mothers can easily identify with Saint Monica, assaulted by so many problems! Unbelieving husbands, or husbands with vices or multiple vices, rebellious sons and daughters, gossipy in-laws—may we look to the example of Saint Monica and utilize the Five P’s Program For Conversion: Prayer, Penance, Patience, Perseverance, Poise!
God of mercy, comfort of those in sorrow, the tears of Saint Monica moved you to convert her son Saint Augustine to the faith of Christ. By their prayers, help us to turn from our sins and to find your loving kindness. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
WEDNESDAY, August 25th Mt. 23: 27-32 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”
- Today, in contrast to the Pharisees, we will meditate on what is beautiful. We will consider the beauty of Jesus Christ, God become man for our eternal salvation!
The Beauty of Holiness… by Dietrich von Hildebrand (+1977)
When we are profoundly affected by the beauty of purity, or when we speak of the beauty acquired by a soul through humility, we are concentrating on a radiance of the inner quality of these virtues… this beauty is the foundation of love. The divine beauty of Jesus, the beauty of the Saint of all saints, inflames our heart. It shone resplendent on the Apostles on Tabor; the beauty of his divine mercy melted the heart of Mary Magdalen. The irresistible divine beauty of Jesus not only moves our will, but attracts our heart.
Part 2 Intro by editor:
In Sinu Jesu was written primarily for priests. However, in the introduction, the priest-monk invites those laity who feel called, to enter into deeper union with our Eucharistic Lord by reading these words of Jesus spoken to them, and then enter into a communion of prayer for priests. Monk: I have been repeatedly told by Our Lord Himself that His words are meant for the blessing, instruction, and comfort of many Christians today, above all, His beloved priests.
IN SINU JESU: WHEN HEART SPEAKS TO HEART! (Journal of a priest at prayer/a Benedictine monk) by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
Writing as a priest for more than 33 years, and being also a Religious priest consecrated and given to Jesus through the Blessed Virgin Mary, I honestly believe that if priests can find time to read, meditate and pray over the book In Sinu Jesus, their lives will be transformed.
In this brief article we will highlight the essential points and messages in this text with the purpose of encouraging priests—myself included—to fall in love with their priesthood by falling in love with our Model, Friend, and Guide, Jesus the High Priest and Savior of the world.
Incidentally, this book can of course be read and prayed over by lay-people—married people or any person of good-will. The net result will be deeper friendship with Jesus, as well as a greater love and understanding for the Catholic Church and the essential role that priests play in the building up of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, the Universal Sacrament of salvation.
To facilitate the reading of this article, I will highlight ten of the most salient messages contained in this modern spiritual gem. May you treasure them and find a place for them in the depths of your heart.
1. FRIENDSHIP WITH JESUS. At the Last Supper, which was the first Mass, on Holy Thursday in the Cenacle or the Upper Room, Jesus left us His Last Supper Discourse—Jn. Chap 13-17. Among the sublime words of truth that issued from the Sacred Heart of Jesus were these simple words: “I call you FRIENDS…” A priest must be firmly convinced of Jesus’ ardent desire to enter into a friendship with him that is dynamic and strong—that is to say, that will grow stronger as the days, weeks and years transpire. The priest is never alone because Jesus is at his side as his Best Friend. In Spanish, “El Amigo que nunca fall…” — The Friend that never fails!
2. FREQUENT VISITS AND CONVERSATIONS. A true friendship cannot subsist if there is little to no contact between the friends. Therefore, the priest should have an earnest yearning and longing to spend time, in quality as well as length, with Jesus. In the words of the Psalmist: “As the deer yearns for the running streams so my soul yearns for you, O Lord my God.” (Psalm 42:1)
3. PRIVILEGED PLACE OF ENCOUNTER: THE BLESSED SACRAMENT. True friends seek out propitious places for encounter. In this encounter between the priest and his Friend Jesus, the best place is in Church in front of the Blessed Sacrament, if exposed so much the better. As the text repeats time and time again, the priest will find consolation, light, peace and strength contemplating the Eucharistic Face of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Indeed, prayer is a Face to Face and Heart to Heart encounter and dialogue with Jesus.
4. ADORATION. Jesus earnestly yearns for priests who will come to adore Him. Friendship with Jesus must be ardent, frequent and dynamic. However, we should never be oblivious to the fact that Jesus also is God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. As such He merits sublime praise, glory and adoration. Two very appropriate short Eucharistic prayers are: “O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine” and “O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”
5. THANK HIM. Given that Jesus has given us so much, all that we are and all that we have, what necessarily flows is an attitude of gratitude, the urgent need to thank the Lord Jesus. Everything, except our sins which we have willfully chosen, are gratuitous gifts that Jesus has given to us. In the words of the Greek poet by Saint Paul in the Acts of the Apostles, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) By the way, the word Eucharist actually means thanksgiving. A grateful heart overflowing with noble sentiments of thanksgiving is very pleasing to God and is preparing the terrain for future abundant blessings.
6. REPARATION. Unfortunately, within the Church, and sad to say even within the priesthood there exists at times, coldness, apathy, indifference and lukewarmness. Jesus came to cast fire on the earth, the fire of His love for the salvation of immortal souls. However, all too many hearts are both cold and indifferent. Many years ago, when the Sacred Heart appeared to Saint Margaret Mary Aloqoque in Paray le Monial convent in France, Jesus complained, displaying His Sacred Heart from which flared out fire: “Behold the Heart that has loved so much and receives only ingratitude and indifference in return. Console my Heart.” A true priest friend of Jesus will be drawn magnetically to the Tabernacle, to the Eucharistic Lord, and there to offer prayers of sorrow, contrition, and reparation for such widespread coldness and indifference, sometimes even among the ranks of the clergy!
7. CAST YOUR CARES UPON THE LORD, HE CARES FOR YOU. These words are taken from one of the Letters of the Apostle Saint Peter. We all have problems, some of us many, and at times very heavy ones. An essential part of true Friendship with Jesus is the honest and humble acknowledgment to Jesus that we have problems weighing down upon us. Jesus longs for us to tell Him about these problems; moreover, He desires to help us with them. When kept to ourselves, these problems result in depression and deep sadness. May we take these words of Jesus to heart: “Come to me all of you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt. 11: 28-30) A problem shared is a problem halved.
8. TEMPTATIONS AND MORAL FAILURES—SINS! According to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen the most important title that can be given to Jesus is that of Savior. In other words, the primary reason for the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery—the Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus—was to save us from our sins and eternal death. For priests to be truly good confessors to their penitents, they must first be good penitents and experience the infinite mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In Sinu Jesu invites the priest to strive to go to Confession to another priest on a weekly basis so as to cultivate delicacy of conscience and purity of heart! St. Paul’s words have immense encouragement: “Where sin abounds the grace of God abounds all the more.” (Rom 5:20)
9. LOVE FOR THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS. Of course the highest form of prayer that a priest can offer is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In this most sublime and august Sacrament, the priest unites himself most intimately with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Mystery of His Paschal Mystery, in Jesus’ Passion, death and Resurrection. All the fruits of Calvary that first Good Friday become a reality in every Mass that is celebrated. Upon receiving Holy Communion, the priest receives the total Jesus—His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. And in all truth, the priest receives a Spiritual-Heart transplant in every Mass and Holy Communion. How great is our God and how loving He is to us His children!
10. MARY, THE LOVING MOTHER OF PRIESTS. In Sinu Jesu is replete with abundant references to the relationship between the priest and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The priest must get to know Mary, talk to Mary, confide in Mary, seek consolation and comfort in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, entrust and consecrate his life and priesthood to Mary, and love Mary as his most tender and loving Mother, our life, our sweetness and our hope. (The Hail Holy Queen). For this reason, the Lord Jesus wants all priests to strive to imitate the beloved Apostle and Disciple Saint John, as depicted on the front cover of In Sinu Jesu. Indeed, it was to Saint John that Jesus entrusted His Mother Mary as He hung on the cross: “When Jesus saw His Mother there whom He loved, he said to His Mother, Woman, Behold your son. Then He said to the disciple, Behold your Mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (Jn. 19: 26-27) Every priest must, in imitation of Saint John, have a filial and tender love for Mary, the Mother of all priests. In the midst of the sorrows, trials, sufferings and dark clouds in the life of the priest, Mary is the Morning Star, the Star of the Sea, the Mystical Rose, the Glimmer of Hope, the True Gate and Ladder to Heaven.
In conclusion, we invite all priests and lay-people to purchase, read, meditate upon and pray with the inspiring IN SINU JESU. We encourage all lay people to pray for priests, support priests, encourage priests, offer sacrifices for priests, and love your priests. The love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus passes through the heart of the priest!
Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
TUESDAY, August 24th Jn. 1: 45-51 “You will see greater than this…. Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’”
Jesus is gathering His Apostles. Today, Philip brings Nathanael to Him. Jesus came to call us also, and to bless us with new life in spirit and truth! Today, let us look at the blessings in our lives and how we can share them.
TEN WAYS WE CAN GET & GIVE MORE BLESSINGS by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
“Blessed be God, Blessed be His Holy Name, Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man…” At the conclusion of a Holy Hour, with the Blessed Sacrament exposed and adored, the priest or deacon gives the benediction or blessing upon the people with the most Blessed Sacrament, which is Jesus Himself.
Then, before reposing the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle, the ordained minister invites the people to praise God. St. Ignatius of Loyola, in the Spiritual Exercises, says that our primary purpose of our existence on earth is to praise God and to save our immortal souls.
In this short essay we would like to invite all to get into the habit of receiving blessings, while being a blessing to God, to others, and to the whole creation with our presence. May your life, words, presence, and actions be a constant blessing on the world now, tomorrow and all the way into eternity!
Various Forms of Blessings in Our Lives
1. Wake Up: Bless God Right Away!
Upon waking, the first thing we should do is to make the Sign of the Cross and bless ourselves: “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Every day, upon awakening, this should be our first gesture and our first words!
The Cure of Ars points out: “He who starts out well, will finish well.” Start your day with God’s blessing, live out God’s blessing, and end your day praising and blessing God!
2. Meal Time Blessings
We must recover and establish in our homes and lives those beautiful traditions of our parents and grandparents. Though it be a very simple gesture, it is very significant: bless your meals before eating. By doing this, we are expressing to God great gratitude for all that He has given to us out of His infinite bounty and goodness. Also, by blessing the meal with the family, we invite Jesus to sit down at the meal table to be with our family. What a great presence! What a wonderful Guest!
3. Parents Bless Your Children.
Every night parents should form the habit of blessing their children before they retire for the night. Parents are called to be a blessing for their children as well as to bless them. Better yet, let Mom and Dad bless their children with Holy Water—an added and even more powerful blessing! Even the devils fear the proper use of Holy Water!
4. A Priestly Blessing
The day after my ordination to the priesthood (May 25, 1986), I had the unique privilege of having the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa sing for my first Mass in our Roman Parish, Sant’ Elena. After the Mass, the nuns invited me to their convent which was less than a mile away from our Seminary.
Upon arriving the nuns opened the door and received me and my family with great joy; there were probably close to 70 nuns. From the midst of these nuns a smaller and elderly nun approached me. She knelt down for my blessing. It was Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I wanted to kneel down for her blessing. However, she insisted in kneeling down and begging humbly for my blessing. With fear and trembling, I imparted one of my first priestly blessings to Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Why did this great woman remain kneeling? Faith! She had great faith in the presence and the blessing of Jesus through the presence of the priest. Indeed, even though we as priests are unworthy of such a sublime and lofty calling, God still calls us. We are, in the words of Saint Augustine, alter christus—another Christ, through the Sacrament of Holy Orders imparted on the day of priestly ordination.
5. Blessings of Mass
This being said, we should bow our heads at the end of the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and implore the blessings of the Holy Trinity—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—with the priest’s blessing to conclude Mass.
Let us always implore God’s blessings, but especially in the context of the greatest prayer—the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!
6. Benediction of Holy Hour
As mentioned in the introduction of this article, another prime moment to receive the most special of blessings is in the context of the Holy Hour. The Holy Hour concludes with Benediction. The word “Benediction” comes from Latin and actually means blessing! The priest (or Deacon) lifts up the monstrance over the people of God and then imparts the blessing of Jesus. This is the same Jesus who lived 2000 years ago in Galilee. This is the same Jesus who healed the blind, cured the sick, cleansed the lepers, gave strength to the paralytics, and even raised up the dead.
When the priest is imparting this very special blessing of Jesus Himself, we should be very attentive to praise Jesus, thank Jesus, beg Jesus pardon for our sins, and beg Him for the most abundant graces that flow from the depths of our hearts!
7. Getting Religious Objects Blessed
Once we acquire religious articles we should have them blessed by a priest or a deacon as soon as possible. Rosaries, Scapulars, Holy cards, medals, statues, religious paintings of Jesus, Mary and the saints, crucifixes and water—all of these can be blessed by the priest.
These religious articles, because they have been blessed, should be treated with respect. Carry them on your person—your Scapular, Rosary, religious medal, Holy Cards in your wallet. These religious articles are not good luck charms but reminders of God’s holy presence in your daily walk, in your daily life. We should do all we possibly can in our life to think about God, speak to God, and to love God and these are holy reminders. Take advantage of them.
8. The Holy Eucharist
The greatest gesture you can perform on earth is to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receive Holy Communion—the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, the “Holy of Holies”. Do this as often as possible to receive the most abundant blessings. The greatest blessing is Jesus Himself!
9. Make Your Life a Blessing for Others
After you have received the Lord Jesus into the very heart of your being, go forth with the heart of a true missionary. Leave with the blessing of God within your heart and bring God’s blessing wherever you go, be a blessing to whomever God places in your path. God is the greatest blessing. God has blessed you most abundantly. Now it is time for you to be a constant blessing on the whole world. Blessed are you! Be a blessing for others!
10. The Blessings of Our Lady
When Our Lady greeted St. Elizabeth in the Visitation, St. John the Baptist leaped for joy within Elizabeth’s womb. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Saint Elizabeth addressed Our Lady in these all-inspiring, sublime and immortal words: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”(Lk. 1:42) Then Our Lady, in her sublime canticle of praise, (Lk. 1:48) echoed the word “blessing” by saying, “All generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is His name.”
Therefore, if we truly want to learn the art of living a blessed life and the art of blessing others, let us turn to the “Blessed among women”, Mary most holy, and beg her for her prayers and blessings in this life and for all eternity! May the Blessed Trinity be praised, blessed and worshiped, through the intercession of Mary.
Monday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
MONDAY, August 23rd Mt. 23: 13-22 Jesus says: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.”
Part 1: Lessons on the Kingdom of God by Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.
Part 2: Lessons from the Child Jesus: God’s Wisdom by Fr. Ed Broom OMV
1) Jesus condemns the Pharisees.
Relevant to Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees, Catholic theologian Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. (+1964) warns us of the dangers of pride.
“It gives us such confidence in our reason and judgment that we are not very willing to consult others, especially our superiors, or to enlighten ourselves by the attentive and benevolent examination of reasons or facts which may be urged against us. It leads also to asperity in discussions, to stubbornness in judgment, to disparagement which excludes in a cutting tone all that does not fit in with our manner of seeing things. This state of mind leads to manifest imprudent acts that will have to be painfully expiated.”
2) Jesus reveals the true teaching of the Kingdom of God. “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 18:3)
Garrigou-Lagrange contrasts growth in our natural life with growth in our spiritual life. This is the essence of his teaching.
In our natural life, maturing means leaving the embrace of mother and father and moving from dependence on our parents to independence and autonomy.
Growth in the spiritual life is a contrary movement… In our spiritual life, maturing means moving from a false autonomy of self-sufficiency to throwing ourselves into the arms of our Heavenly Father and Holy Mother Church (Mater Ecclesia), thereby embracing our total dependence on God by means of obedience to the commandments and the teachings of our Holy Church, under the leadership of our Holy Father and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
LESSONS FROM THE CHILD JESUS: GOD’S WISDOM! By Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
Jesus stated it very clearly: “Unless you become like a child you cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Mt. 18: 3) Another time, the Apostles were trying to prevent the children from coming to Jesus and He said forcefully: “Let the children come to me; if you do not become like a little child you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” (Mt. 19: 14)
OUR LADY OF FATIMA AND CHILDREN. One of the most famous, modern approved apparitions is that of Our Lady of Fatima. God sent His Mother from heaven to a little town in Portugal, Fatima, in the year 1917, six times from May 13 thru October 13. Who did Our Lady appear to? The brilliant? The scholars? The rich and important? The flashy and ostentatious? To none of these did Our Lady appear. Rather, she appeared to three little children—tenders of sheep with no formal education! God’s ways are not our ways—this is certain!
GOD’S PROVIDENTIAL DESIGN. God could have chosen any one of limitless scenarios to ransom or save humanity after the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, that we call Original Sin. God could have come as a powerful King, or a rich millionaire, or a brilliant genius, or a plethora of other flashy, fantastic ways! But no! God’s ways are as different from our ways as the heavens are above the earth! In His Providential Design, God willed to save the world by what theologians call The Incarnation—meaning? That God willed to become one of us, to become a man like all of us with one exception—He was born without sin, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross to save us from our sins!
AS A CHILD. Furthermore, God willed to enter the world by the same means by which we entered the world—through a woman. God chose Mary to be the channel by which He would enter humanity. The Ever Virgin Mary conceived Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit and maintained her virginity even in the moment of giving birth to Jesus. Indeed, she was ever virgin before, during, and after the birth of Christ.
JESUS THE CHILD—THE SON OF GOD. Jesus was the baby born of Mary. This Virgin Mother took Him in her tender arms, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and nestled Him close to her most pure and Immaculate Heart. Then Mary placed Jesus on the hay in the manger. The word manger comes from French and means to eat! It was the feeding trough of the animals. Later on, as a man, Jesus would challenge people to nourish themselves on His Body and Blood if they wanted to live, and live forever. “I am the bread of life. Whoever eats my body and drinks my blood will have everlasting life and I will raise him up on the last day.” (Jn. 6: 22-71—Bread of Life discourse).
BETHLEHEM: HOUSE OF BREAD. There are no coincidences or unplanned circumstances in God’s providential designs. The word Bethlehem actually means House of Bread. No surprise that Jesus, who was born in the city of the House of Bread, would declare Himself the Bread of life and challenge us that our eternal salvation hinges upon our consuming Him in Mass and Holy Communion as the Bread of Life.
IMPORTANT LESSONS FOR US FROM THE CHILD JESUS.
There are many lessons to learn from God becoming man, being in the womb of Mary for nine months, and finally being born as a little Baby. Let us dig deep into this goldmine of wealth and derive abundant treasures for our meditation, imitation, transformation and sanctification, as well as perseverance! What then are the lessons of the Infant-Child Jesus?
1. DEPENDENCY. Even though the Baby Jesus was God, the Son of God made man, still He made Himself totally dependent on others, in particular, Mary and Saint Joseph. Moreover, Jesus would live this attitude of dependency on His Heavenly Father during the whole course of His life. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” (Jn. 6: 38) In our spiritual lives we must develop and cultivate a child-like dependency on God in all times, places, and circumstances. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus challenges us to trust by contemplating nature—the lilies of the field who neither labor nor spin and the birds of the air who neither sow nor reap…yet our Heavenly Father provides for them. (Mt. 6: 25-34). In contrast, in His Public life, Jesus had no permanent home, saying: “The foxes have their holes and the birds of the air their nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to rest His head.” (Lk. 9: 58)
2. HUMILITY. The littleness of the Child-Jesus is an extraordinary example of humility. God loves the humble but casts down the mighty from their thrones. (Mary’s Magnificat Lk. 1: 52) He chose the Publican over the Pharisee, humility over overweening pride. (Lk. 18: 9-14) As a man, Jesus described His Sacred Heart using two descriptions: “I am meek and humble of heart.” (Mt. 11: 29) Arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, and self-importance are alien to the person of the child, and most especially the Child-Jesus! May He inspire us to pursue a life of great humility!
3. POVERTY. Once again, even though Jesus was, is, and always will be God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, He chose to enter the portals of this world not in a palace, castle, or opulent mansion. On the contrary, He entered this world being born in a stable that served as a refuge for animals. A good part of the warmth of that little cave was the heat from the breath of the animals present there! Ven. Archbishop Fulton Sheen penned it so eloquently: The Creator of the universe had no place to be born in His own creation!
We must learn that pursuing money, possessions, power, and esteem will not bring us happiness. Passing pleasure, yes, but true happiness never! The Child Jesus, born in Bethlehem teaches us that we will find our true happiness not in the created world, but in the Creator of the world—Jesus the Lord.
4. INNOCENCE. In a world where innocence is being lost, even among the children, due to uncontrolled use of modern technology, and the promulgation of false and heretical philosophies, the Infant Jesus teaches us clearly and unequivocally the importance of striving to live lives of innocence—freedom from sin! The Innocent Child Jesus in the arms of Mother Mary challenges us to strive to protect the innocence of our children threatened by so many modern wolves!
5. CHILDLIKE SIMPLICITY: INSPIRING TRUST. In the overly complicated world that we have created, we should all long for a more simple, humble, frugal, transparent, and detached life-style. Models for us would be Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and the children of Fatima—Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto, and their cousin Lucia De los Santos. May we learn from such saints to strive for the simplicity of Evangelical Poverty – defined as everything that we have and are, our material goods, time, talents, and skills, without being enslaved to these goods, we choose to use for the glory of God and the good His people. May the Infant Jesus resting in the loving and tender arms of His Mother Mary inspire us to greater trust and dependency on our Heavenly Father! Greater humility, greater simplicity, and a life of detachment from things, so that we can be totally anchored and rooted in God our Father! “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3: 16) How intimately and tenderly God loves us: with a love that is defenseless and inexhaustible, a love that shows us mercy and forgiveness while we are yet sinners, a love that gives us a sure path to heaven through the commandments and the teachings of His Holy Church guided by the Holy Spirit, accompanied by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.