Some folks who have been away for a while have questions and concerns to express. (Even Catholics who have never been away have many questions!) Please feel free to use the comments section of this blog to ask questions and state concerns. All of us who contribute to this blog are pleased to answer your questions and address your concerns. Your questions will help this blog to get its wings and really fly. Ask and ye shall be answered!
Here is a beautiful video from Catholics Come Home.org
Here is another video of invitation:
One of the main themes of this blog is the subject of longing and desire. You and I desire infinitely—without limit—and this points to and proves that God exists and is calling us. The way C.S. Lewis put it is this: If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
Along these lines, I would like to call to your attention a talk by Dr. Peter Kreeft on the Argument from Desire. A written summary of the talk is available HERE . There is an mp3 audio of both the talk and a question/answer session with the audience available HERE Be aware that the talk is a scholarly one and was presented to a largely academic audience. But the fundamental point of his talk is clear enough.
- Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object in the world that can satisfy that desire.
- But there exists in us one desire that nothing in time, nothing on earth, and no creature can satisfy—a mysterious longing!
- Therefore there must exist something more than time, earth, and creatures that can satisfy this desire.
- This something is what people call “God” and “life with God forever.”
LONGING FOR SOMETHING? MAYBE IT’S GOD!
Among the apologists, philosophers, and theologians of our day, Dr. Peter Kreeft is one of the greatest. One of my favorite of his books is Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven But Never Dreamed of Asking . Other talks by Dr. Peter Kreeft are available HERE.
God in Winter:
He scatters frost like so much salt;
It shines like blossoms on the thornbush.
Cold northern blasts he sends that turn the ponds to lumps of ice.
He freezes over every body of water,
And clothes each pool with a coat of mail.
He sprinkles the snow like fluttering birds.
Its shining whiteness blinds the eyes,
The mind is baffled by its steady fall.
Sirach 43, selected verses
If I may be so bold, I am posting my sermon online in two forms.
The mp3 recorded version is HERE.
The written outline summary in PDF is HERE.
Note that the sermon was preached at Holy Comforter–St. Cyprian Parish in Washington D.C. We are a Catholic parish that is predominantly African-American. What this means in practical terms is that this sermon is LONGER (about 1/2 hour in duration) than the typical Catholic sermon.
The Title of the Message is “Four Habits of Effective Evangelizers”. It is a meditation on the Gospel for Today’s Mass, the text of which can be found HERE.
We received a question about how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. It is a great opportunity to talk about this form of prayer that has been central to the Catholic prayer tradition for more than 1,000 years. Praying the Liturgy of the Hours or the Divine Office as it is also called has its roots in Jewish prayer tradition and the tradition of Jesus to dedicate certain hours of the day to prayer. In the Acts of the Apostles we read “the apostles gathered at the third hour” (Acts 2:1-15). “Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour” (Acts 3:1).
What is the Liturgy of the Hours
The Liturgy of the Hours is prayer that is composed of hymns, psalms, Old and New Testament canticles, prayers, Scriptural and spiritual readings from the writings of the Church Fathers and Church documents. The hymns, psalms and canticles are designed to be chanted or recited. Many religious communities’ rule require they pray all seven hours(Office, Morning, Midmorning, Midday, Midafternoon, Evening and Night prayer). In recent years more and more lay people have discovered and are praying the Liturgy of the Hours either alone, with their family or as part of their parish’s prayer. It is a very important part of my and my husband’s prayer life, something we began while we were dating and have never stopped. A colleague shared that he prays the Hours while he is up in the middle of the night feeding a hungry baby or sitting with a restless child. It is such a celebration of the universal dimension of our Catholic faith that all over the world “the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praises of God” (Constitution on Sacred Liturgy).
How to Pray the Liturgy of the Hours
The Liturgy of the Hours consists of a four-volume set. Within each volume there are four sections. The first section is particular to the day. The second section gives detailed instruction for each hour and contains the prayers that do not change from day to day. The third section includes a four-week cycle that complements the first section. The fourth section is devoted to the feast days of saints and feasts of the Church.
For people who may not pray all seven hours there is a volume called Christian Prayer or Shorter Christian Prayer that is composed of Morning, Evening and Night Prayer and designed with the lay person in mind.
With the growing popularity of the Liturgy of the Hours as a practice of daily prayer, a modified version is called Magnificat. Magnificat is a “pocket-sized” monthly booklet. It contains Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer, readings for the Mass of the Day and spiritual reflections, including a reflection on a piece of Christian art. See www.magnificat.com
Praying the Hours takes some practice, though all of the volumes mentioned have helpful instructions. Another way to learn is to see if a parish near your home or work prays Morning or Evening Prayer. I am sure that your pastor or another person on the pastoral staff would not mind taking a few minutes to walk you through the structure. Keep in mind there is really no wrong way of praying when your mind and heart are lifted to God.
Please post a comment and share how you have made the Liturgy of the Hours part of your prayer life.
One of the most gifted priestly contributors to the Internet is Fr. Robert Barron, a Chicago priest. He is an insightful commentator on cultural issues and current events and how they relate to Church teaching. Here is an example of his commentary on the A-Rod steroid controversy. Through this example he explores a basic theme of this blog: the longing we all have for God.
You can see more of Fr. Barron’s videos here.
When I was a kid, I thought of Church as something my mom made me do with lots of rituals and stuff. I never thought of it as essential for my survival. But Jesus teaches something very profound in John’s Gospel when he was talking about Holy Communion (the Eucharist). In effect he says that without Holy Communion we will starve and die spiritually. Here is what Jesus says, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53)
Even as a young adult I never thought of Holy Communion as essential for my life, as something that, if I didn’t receive it regularly, would cause me to die spiritually. But it makes sense doesn’t it? If we don’t eat food in our physical lives we grow weak and eventually die. It is the same with Holy Communion. Remember what happened in the Book of Exodus: the people were without food in the desert and they feared for their lives. So God gave them bread from heaven called “manna” that they collected each morning. Without eating that bread from heaven they would never have made it to the Promised Land; they would have died in the desert. It is the same with us. Without receiving Jesus, our Living Manna from heaven in Holy Communion, we will not make it to our Promised Land of Heaven! I guess it’s not just a ritual after all; it is essential for our survival.
Don’t miss Holy Communion! Jesus urges you to eat. A mother and father in my parish recently noticed their daughter wasn’t eating. Within a very short time they took her to the doctor, who diagnosed the problem, and now the young girl is able to eat again. Those parents would have moved heaven and earth to make sure their daughter was able to eat. It is the same with God. Jesus urges us to eat, to receive the Holy Communion every Sunday without fail. Jesus urges us with this word: “Unless!”
Here is a powerful presentation of the “Jesus Bread of Life” discourse from the Movie, The Gospel of John. The movie is a worthy production and a word-for-word rendering of the Gospel of John. You can order it here: The Gospel of John.