Divine Mercy Novena 2013


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Starting on Good Friday, I am joining more than 10,000 Catholics to pray a Divine Mercy Novena!

I’m actually trying to help this online prayer community (PrayMoreNovenas.com) to get 20,000 people praying this novena for God’s Mercy. We all need Mercy, right?

You can sign up for handy email reminders to get the the novena prayers here: http://www.praymorenovenas.com/divine-mercy-novena

After you sign up, maybe you can help spread the word as well. God’s Mercy is abundant and overflowing, let’s share it!

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How fast we move to blame and judge others on their acts and deeds without pausing to think about ourselves !


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“Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her.”

On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, we need to perk up the ears of our hearts when God says to a despondent people in exile, to look forward not backward, as though this moment in which they hear Isaiah’s prophecy is really the first day of their lives. He tells them to forget the past, for He has decided to do something new! This prophecy is really a veiled reference to the Father’s decision to send His Son Jesus as Messiah. By His sacrifice, He will bring them out of their vicious cycle of sinning. How sad that hundreds of years later, when their descendants actually saw their Messiah in the flesh, they failed to remember Isaiah’s words that God was doing something new!

In the light of that first reading, we can better understand that MERCY is the “something new” in the message of Jesus. The Gospel describes what incredible mercy Jesus shows toward this woman. The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along to Jesus who had been caught committing adultery. How fast we move to blame and judge others on their acts and deeds without pausing to think about ourselves and reflect on our own deeds. In one way or another each of us has sinned.

Jesus was very kind and patient. He told the crowd that whoever had not sinned could be the first to cast a stone at the woman. When doing this, he takes a pause for us to be able to reflect on ourselves. He does not condemn but forgives us and gives us the chance to try to sin no more.

The people left one by one and after they were all gone, Jesus raised his head and asked the women to go away and sin no more as she was forgiven. Jesus also asks us all to try and do the same.
Here, indeed, is “something new” and the Pharisees immediately see that Jesus has placed them in the trap! The elders among them are the first to acknowledge that Jesus has won the test, and they are the first to drop their stones and slink away. The others follow, leaving Jesus alone with the woman. Without excusing her sin, He merely tells her she is free to leave, but to “sin no more.” What surprises and delights us here is that the Lord has placed something new into the Law–He now includes MERCY–mercy is now a part of justice!

Here is what is new. Jesus is not being judicial as are the Pharisees whose interests are self-justifying performances of the Law. Jesus sends the woman back into a sense of relating as one member of the whole community. Lent, is never meant for us, to be a self-purifying season so that I merely remain more an I, self-purified and self-satisfied with my penances, mortifications, religious strictness. Lent ends with community. Lent ends with Jesus rising and gathering together those who have been untombed. Lent ends with us renewing our baptismal entrances into community.

‘By myself I can do nothing.’


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I shall not forget you. I have engraved you on the palm of my hand.’

Isaiah’s prayer is for all of us, but I would love those heartfelt words to reach those who are struggling, whose lives seem devoid of hope and possibility.

Our Lenten journey is a time to remember the “desert” times of our lives – the times when we suffered, nothing made sense, and God seemed distant and uncaring. Who were the people that helped you find sustenance? What circumstances forced you to dig deeply into the well of your experience to find the refreshing spring waters of life? When did you start noticing the green shoots of hope in the small deeds of love and care of those around you?

In the gospel, Jesus shows Himself to be the humble servant of God. ‘By myself I can do nothing.’ In everything, Jesus serves as our example. Here especially He shows us clearly what is expected. We all need to seek to do the will of the One who has sent us all into the world.

What is that work? Principally, we are sent just as Jesus was, as a clear sign of God’s all-encompassing love. We are to be, for each person we meet, a sign of the acceptance and completely unconditional love that God has for each of His children. And God loves us as though we were each an only child.

Our best work is done when it is not our work but the work of God who sent us. When we are about His work, we are following the example of Jesus. We learn day by day how to do the Father’s will.

God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress.


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The gospel today tells us that this man, lying by the pool, had lost the use of his limbs thirty-eight years before. Christ singled him out from the rest. Those, who have been ill or disabled for a long time long, may be comforted by the fact that God does, indeed, keep account of just how long they have suffered. When God heals our spiritual and physical diseases, we should take up whatever He lays upon us and walk before Him. And just as we should be thankful, so we should be patient!

There is something much worse than being sick for thirty-eight years. There is something much worse than Job’s sufferings of going bankrupt, suffering the tragic deaths of his ten children, and becoming seriously ill. There is something much worse than the greatest of calamities.

The worst thing that can happen to a human being is the second death, hell, which is everlasting damnation and alienation from God. However, the Lord wants all to be saved. He wants everyone in heaven and no one in hell. For love of us, God even became a human being and died on the cross so that all could live forever with Him in infinite love. The Lord has done everything necessary to give us the best and save us from the worst

Today’s Responsorial Psalm is reassuring for us, telling us that we are not alone.

“God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress.”

No matter what your situation right now, remember that you have a refuge. There is Someone to Whom you can go for help. And if you feel weak, remember that God is our strength.
No matter what kind of fear or distress you are feeling, remember that God is always there for you.

Perhaps right now you can’t feel Him, but He is there. Perhaps right now you don’t feel you need Him, but He is there. Perhaps right now you don’t really care, but He cares. And He is there.

So . . . be at peace. Stay strong. Lean on the Lord your God for strength today.
He is at your side. Holding you. Helping you. Caring for you. Loving you.

When we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we grow to recognize that everyone is part of His creation


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Modern society is obsessed with the pursuit of love. Sadly, the path of mankind is scattered with the facts of failed love: divorces, shattered families, brokenhearted people turning their backs on God Who is their only Hope of finding love . People are hungry for love, but not only can’t they find it, they don’t truly understand what love means or what they seek. Sadly, many teach a counterfeit “love” that is self-centered and leads ultimately to emptiness.

What the human heart wants is to be taught to experience true Christ-like “agape,” self-giving love, but how many are never taught the truth about love? Jesus told the scribe that the great commandment, which indeed includes everybody, is that of loving God with all our heart. Loving God with all our heart leads us to do everything else He has instructed us to do; particularly, loving our neighbor as ourselves!

How often do we consider hospitality as a genuine form of love and concern for others? We may be hospitable to our guests at home, but do we truly love our neighbor as ourselves? What about people we meet every day or those who live on the streets? What can we do to inspire true hospitality among others?

Is our neighbor more than that guy next door? Could he or she be someone in our community or almost anyone we meet? Could our enemies also be our neighbors? Jesus says that that is exactly what He meant. But how can we love someone who actually hates us? When we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we grow to recognize that everyone is part of His creation. For us, that is where faith comes in. It is not for us to decide who is following Christ and who is not. We are called to be witnesses to Him and, in order to fulfill that calling, we must love others enough to want their salvation, just as much as Christ does.

 

Pope Benedict XVI  wrote the first encyclical of his papacy to teach people about God’s love for them. He stated: “I wish in my first encyclical to speak of the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others…I wanted here — at the beginning of my pontificate — to clarify some essential facts concerning the love which God mysteriously and gratuitously offers to man, together with the intrinsic link between that Love and the reality of human love” (Pope Benedict XVI, God is Love, 1).

We who experience the burning love of God must constantly teach others to “come to know…the love God has for” them. Most Christians are drawn to Jesus through love. Therefore, teach the truth in love; teach the truth about love; teach them “God is love”.

Thank you to all the women in my life…Have a blessed Women’s Day.


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Each year, International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 not just in Uganda, but around the world. According to this year’s Women’s Day website, the theme today is ” “The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum”

I would like to share this letter of Pope John Paul to women with every woman; young or old, rich or poor, Black or white……..I love you all!

This word of thanks to the Lord for his mysterious plan regarding the vocation and mission of women in the world is at the same time a concrete and direct word of thanks to women, to every woman, for all that they represent in the life of humanity.

Thank you, women who are wives! You irrevocably join your future to that of your husbands, in a relationship of mutual giving, at the service of love and life.

Thank you, women who are daughters and women who are sisters! Into the heart of the family, and then of all society, you bring the richness of your sensitivity, your intuitiveness, your generosity and fidelity.

Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God’s own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child’s first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life.

Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life-social, economic, cultural, artistic and political. In this way you make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of “mystery”, to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity.

Thank you, consecrated women! Following the example of the greatest of women, the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, you open yourselves with obedience and fidelity to the gift of God’s love. You help the Church and all mankind to experience a “spousal” relationship to God, one which magnificently expresses the fellowship which God wishes to establish with his creatures.

Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.

 

I know of course that simply saying thank you is not enough. Unfortunately, we are heirs to a history which has conditioned us to a remarkable extent. In every time and place, this conditioning has been an obstacle to the progress of women. Women’s dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude.

This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity. Certainly it is no easy task to assign the blame for this, considering the many kinds of cultural conditioning which down the centuries have shaped ways of thinking and acting. And if objective blame, especially in particular historical contexts, has belonged to not just a few members of the Church, for this I am truly sorry. May this regret be transformed, on the part of the whole Church, into a renewed commitment of fidelity to the Gospel vision.

 

When it comes to setting women free from every kind of exploitation and domination, the Gospel contains an ever relevant message which goes back to the attitude of Jesus Christ himself. Transcending the established norms of his own culture, Jesus treated women with openness, respect, acceptance and tenderness. In this way he honoured the dignity which women have always possessed according to God’s plan and in his love. As we look to Christ at the end of this Second Millennium, it is natural to ask ourselves: how much of his message has been heard and acted upon?

Yes, it is time to examine the past with courage, to assign responsibility where it is due in a review of the long history of humanity. Women have contributed to that history as much as men and, more often than not, they did so in much more difficult conditions. I think particularly of those women who loved culture and art, and devoted their lives to them in spite of the fact that they were frequently at a disadvantage from the start, excluded from equal educational opportunities, underestimated, ignored and not given credit for their intellectual contributions. Sadly, very little of women’s achievements in history can be registered by the science of history. But even though time may have buried the documentary evidence of those achievements, their beneficent influence can be felt as a force which has shaped the lives of successive generations, right up to our own. To this great, immense feminine “tradition” humanity owes a debt which can never be repaid. Yet how many women have been and continue to be valued more for their physical appearance than for their skill, their professionalism, their intellectual abilities, their deep sensitivity; in a word, the very dignity of their being!

 Does this touch your soul as much as it touched mine? women are a unique being! Read more of the Pope’s letter HERE

Oh, that today you would hear his voice: “Harden not your hearts”!


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If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts (see Ps 95:7-8).

We can have hardening of our hearts for years, even for generations. For centuries, we can ignore God and become progressively worse than our fathers, who were worse than their fathers and grandfathers. The hardening of hearts can be chosen not only by individuals but by nations (see Jer 7:28). Hard and hardening hearts can be generational, epidemic, deteriorating, and international. They can become so hard that we kill God’s prophets, forget that there is faithfulness, accuse Jesus of working for the devil, become pawns of the devil, kill millions of babies in the womb, constantly watch sin on TV for entertainment, never bother to read the Bible, rebel against God’s Church, and be involved in other related perversions, self-deceptions, and atrocities.

As we near the middle of Lent, we should strive to be concerned with using prayer, fasting and almsgiving to open our eyes, ears and hearts to the prompting of our Lord. We need to quiet this noisy self-serving world, so that we will be able to follow our Lord–not question Him or test Him.

Lent is a privileged time for listening to the voice of God. Jesus is our model.  After his baptism by John the Baptist at the River Jordan, Jesus withdrew to pray. During his prayer Luke tells us that the skies opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove and a voice from heaven was heard, “You are my beloved son; on you my favor rests.” 

 Like Jesus we must find our own “desert place” where we can listen to God without distraction — without the noise of cell phones and iPads.  In Lent we set aside extra  times to go to our “desert place” — whether it be in church or in nature or in the quiet of our homes — to listen for God’s voice in the silence and solitude of prayer.  How is God calling us this year to turn away from selfishness and sin? How is God calling us to serve the Kingdom in new ways?

I harden my heart to so much that I hear and see these days. God calls us to be in solidarity with those who suffer, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the world’s problems. Do I give my full attention to the needs of others, both near and far away? Or do I follow my own stubborn inclinations? Do I listen to the prophetic voices in our community? Am I moving forwards in my faith?

Let us not get distracted by those who choose to follow the path of ruin, for the Lord truly can see into our hearts and will overpower the devil if we but ask. As we heard in the reading from the Prophet Jeremiah: “listen to my voice (says the Lord) then I will be your God and you shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 7:23)
Then we can speak and act as the Lord alone desires.

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.