Pastoral Message

 

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Lent Begins...

 

In today’s gospel we have the Holy Spirit driving Jesus into the Desert, the same Holy Spirit visible in the Baptism of Jesus. This excerpt is from early in the gospel according to Mark, the Apostle. The phrase that precedes our gospel reading this weekend is “Repent and believe in the Gospel”, one of the two formularies used this past Ash Wednesday. Once we have put on Christ, we are to repent and believe and live the gospel in our lives.

 

Jesus, like us, endures confrontation and temptation by Satan who attempts to frustrate the work of God. We have this special time of Lent to go into our own figurative “deserts”, to reflect and to try and better comprehend both the temptation of the devil and worldly allure and deliverance through our loving God. Our world is full of temptation and at the minimum, a “siren’s call”, so to speak, to ignore God or to never fully appreciate His presence in our lives. As we reflect upon our victories and challenges, we are hopefully using our Lenten time to mortify ourselves, perhaps by giving up a favorite meal item or beverage or activity. We are also called to see how much we give of our selves to others through the donation of our time, talent or treasure. The answer is personal for each of us.

 

I believe we should engage in an activity that allows us to imitate the angels who ministered to Jesus by doing something for other, that is not selfish in any way. The presence of ministering angels to sustain Jesus recalls for the Israelites the angel who guided the people in the desert in the first Exodus and the angel who supplied nourishment to Elijah in the wilderness. The combined forces of good and evil were present to Jesus in the desert. Jesus’ sustained obedience brings forth the new Israel of God in that place and equips him to return for further ministry to others. This applies also to us. We can be God’s heralds in the world, but it requires a conscious choice on our part. What are we to do?



Fr. Mike

 

 

Prayer As God's Gift

 

2559 "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or "out of the depths" of a humble and contrite heart? He who humbles himself will be exalted; humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that "we do not know how to pray as we ought," are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. "Man is a beggar before God."

 

2560 "If you knew the gift of God!" The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God's desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.

 

2561 "You would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." Paradoxically our prayer of petition is a response to the plea of the living God: "They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water!" Prayer is the response of faith to the free promise of salvation and also a response of love to the thirst of the only Son of God.

 

2562 Where does prayer come from? Whether prayer is expressed in words or gestures, it is the whole man who prays. But in naming the source of prayer, Scripture speaks sometimes of the soul or the spirit, but most often of the heart (more than a thousand times). According to Scripture, it is the heart that prays. If our heart is far from God, the words of prayer are in vain.

 

2565 In the New Covenant, prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit. The grace of the Kingdom is "the union of the entire holy and royal Trinity . . . with the whole human spirit." Thus, the life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the thrice-holy God and in communion with him. This communion of life is always possible because, through Baptism, we have already been united with Christ. Prayer is Christian insofar as it is communion with Christ and extends throughout the Church, which is his Body. Its dimensions are those of Christ's love.


— Catechism of the Catholic Church


The Importance of Eucharistic Adoration

 

The importance of Eucharistic Adoration is shown in the fact that the Church has a ritual that regulates it: the Rite of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction. This is an extension of the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament which occurs in every Mass: "Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb." Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament flows from the sacrifice of the Mass and serves to deepen our hunger for Communion with Christ and the rest of the Church. The Rite concludes with the ordained minister blessing the faithful with the Blessed Sacrament.

 

Holy hours are the Roman Catholic devotional tradition of spending an hour in Eucharistic Adoration in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. The bishops have created a variety of holy hours that focus our prayer to Jesus Christ on peace, life, vocations, and other topics that are at the heart of the life of the Church and the world.