Friday, June 24, 2011

Service in Prayer and the Rosary for Priests

I am reading a book about Intrecessory Prayer for "Pastors, Christian Leaders, and others on the Spiritual Front lines". The author is not Catholic, but neither is he anti-Catholic, and in reading his book I learned first of all that being an Intercessor is a spiritual gift, and although not all have this gift (just as not all have the gift of preaching, or teaching, or hospitality, or evangelism, or tongues, etc...). yet all are called to fulfill the role of intercessor, especially for our family, our leaders, and our pastors... in the case of Catholics, our priests.

This book has been sitting in a drawer for months, and I find it no coincidence that I happened to come across it again at this time, when the Catholic Church is preparing to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Pope Benedict's Ordination to the Holy Priesthood. I haven't finished the book, and I look forward to reading more about intercession, and how to be an intercessor, but tonight while praying before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament I tried to "just intercede" for Pope Benedict, for our Bishops, and for priests that I know... suffice to say I ran out of things to ask God for on behalf of them pretty quickly. Granted, I'm a novice intercessor in this way, and I typically pray for priests using one of the many-many prayer cards I collected during the Year for Priests or using The Chalice of Strength, a book full of prayers for priests, but then I remembered the best intercessory weapon in a Catholic's Spiritual Arsenal: The Rosary.

I'm sure that somewhere out there in the world of Catholic books, devotions, and ways to pray the Rosary there is a Rosary for Priests, but obviously I didn't have one with me, and I didn't need one. Here is my Rosary for Priests.

Praying as normal with only one substitution in the Hail Mary, I prayed the following mysteries:

The Agony in the Garden: That priests will spend at least one hour with Jesus in prayer each day.
The Scourging at the Pillar: For those priests who suffer persecution, and even torture.
The Crowning with Thorns: For priests who suffer.
Carrying the Cross: For those priests who have fallen, that they will be sent a Simon.
The Crucifixion: That priests will put to death whatever is sinful.

I prayed the Hail Mary as follows:
Hail Mary, full of grace...
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for our priests, now and until the hour they enter heaven.

From the book I mentioned I learned that "Intercessor" comes from the Latin "inter" meaning "between" and "cedere" meaning "to go", and means "to go between" or stand inbetween, as in "standing in the gap", standing between. I can think of no greater service we can offer our priests than to stand in the gap on their behalf, both in lifting them up to God, and in shielding them from the attacks of the evil one... In fact, the book's title is "Prayer Shield".

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Garden and the Desert

A friend of mine, who gave me permission to share, shared with our women's prayer group a stunning realization from this Sunday's readings (The First Sunday of Lent) from Genesis and Matthew. Perhaps it's something we should have all realized before, but none of us did, and it is this...

In the second reading, from Romans, Paul compared the fall of Adam to the redemption brought by Christ, disobedience to obedience, but there's more- In the Desert, Jesus reversed every temptation Adam and Eve accepted.

In the Garden, the serpent tempted Eve to eat; "The woman saw that the tree was good for food".
In the Desert, Jesus faced the same temptation when the devil said "...command that these stones become loaves of bread."

In the Garden, the serpent assured Eve that "You certainly will not die!"
In the Desert, Jesus was told " throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you..."

In the Garden, the serpent said to Eve, and to Adam who was with her, "you will be like gods..."
And in the Desert, Jesus was offered "all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence".

To be sated, to avoid or conquer death, to have power. Each of these temptations was put before Adam and Eve and before Jesus. Adam and Eve sinned. Jesus did not.

Ironically, Adam and Eve were probably already sated, especially as compared to Jesus who had been fasting for 40 Days. And yet the first thing Eve noticed was that "the tree was good for food". Yes, it was "pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom", but first and foremost it looked good to eat.

Is it any surprise, is it not then twice as fitting, that our Lent should begin, end, and include all throughout it, fasting and abstaining... not eating of some kind? Meat on Fridays is not bad, eating three meals a day is not bad, food in and of itself is not bad. And yet, food was the tempter's tool for the first sin, and continues to be a tool for sin in the lives of many... perhaps in the lives of us all? After all, in "The Screwtape Letters" C.S. Lewis, through his diabolical characters, posited the idea that there is a gluttony not just of quantity, but of quality, when we will only be satisfied by just the right temperature/texture/taste.

So are you in the Garden or the Desert this Lent? I know that now, a week into this year's Lent, I am rethinking and reconsidering my Lenten fasts.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

So Much To Pray For

I have a deep love for The Devotion of Divine Mercy in no small part because of the role it played in my conversion. In the "Prayer to Be Transformed into Mercy" the closing paragraph reads

You Yourself command me to exercise the three degrees of mercy. The first: the act of mercy, of whatever kind. The second: the word of mercy — if I cannot carry out a work of mercy, I will assist by my words. The third: prayer — if I cannot show mercy by deeds or words, I can always do so by prayer. My prayer reaches out even there where I cannot reach out physically.

That we serve others in our actions is almost so common sense as to not need to be said, that we can serve others in our words is something we may not have considered, but that we can serve others by our prayer is something that I think we all need to be reminded of. How many times do we hear (or say) "All I can do is pray" in some fatalistic tone, as though it's really nothing at all? "All" I can do? St. Therese the Little Flower is Patroness of Missionaries because of her prayer for them! Prayer is an act of service that we have no excuses and no reasons, not to fulfill.

And there are so many who need us to serve them in prayer.

If you are reading this the weekend I post it, I am sure you are thinking of the thousands who have been affected by the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan. My friend's Sister-in-Law is in Japan right now; thankfully, her family lives in the mountains, and were not injured or killed, but they are still affected in other ways. The strife in the Middle East, the slow recovery from 2010's earthquake in Haiti, all of the news that flashes across our monitors, TVs, and media everyday are like signposts of those in need of our prayer. We pray for their health and well-being, we pray for rescue and medical care and an end to war and violence... And I hope we pray for their souls.

Garden of Holiness posted this prayer request today. When I first saw the title of the post I thought perhaps there was a specific need or person for which she would be asking for prayer... But should we wait for a "specific" need or person? In her post she says "You who know God have a duty to those of us who do not." Everyone who does not know God is a specific person!

At the blog Acts of the Apostasy, after rejoicing in the conversion of a Catholic woman "priestess", the blogger hosted Adopt A Priestess so that instead of speaking and ranting against those who have decided they know better than the Church, we can pray for them. I signed up, and am praying for the conversion of all those who do not trust that God really did give the Church wisdom and authority in these matters, but also specifically for one woman. And it's not too late to visit the blog and sign up - Larry D will assign you a priestess by name for whom you can pray, and the more people praying the better.

I mentioned earlier in this post, and perhaps have mentioned it before too, that I am a convert. One of the things I love about being Catholic is Chaplets. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy was the first Chaplet I ever learned, even before I learned to pray the rosary, and with its prayer of intercession asking for God's Mercy, it is an ideal chaplet to pray for disaster relief, conversion, penance, etc... But I also love Our Lady of Fatima, and my love for chaplets and my love for Our Lady of Fatima resulted in this Chaplet of Fatima Prayers for the Conversion of Souls. I'm not pushing it on anyone, but it is, for me, the way I pray for conversion of souls, and I wanted to share it in case you, like me, have a hard time praying extemporaneously. (Right, wrong, or indifferent, I just feel like "God, please change so-and-so's heart and give them the gift of faith" just doesn't quite cut it long term; I feel like that's a great aspiration or ejaculative prayer, but it's more like a snack than a meal.) Or perhaps you love Our Lady of Fatima, or love Chaplets... In any case, it's there for you if you want it.

So - there it is. So much to pray for, so many ways to pray... Who will you pray for today?

Chaplet of Fatima Prayers for the Conversion of Souls*

Begin with the Angel Prayer.
Pray the Pardon prayer 3 times for each of 9 petitions.
End with the Eucharistic Prayer and the Decade Prayer

Angel Prayer
Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifference by which He is offended. And through the infinite merit of His Most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.

Pardon Prayer (3x)
My God I believe, I adore, I trust (or hope), and I love You!
I ask pardon for those who do not believe,
do not adore, do not trust and do not love You.

Eucharistic Prayer
O Most Holy Trinity, I adore you! My God, My God,
I love You in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Decade Prayer
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of Hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.

* While all of the above prayers are authorized or approved for the private devotions of the Church inasmuch as they were taught to the children of Fatima either by the Angel of Portugal or Our Lady of Fatima, this chaplet was cobbled together by me and has not been promulgated/authorized/approved by any ecclesial authority. Likewise, the "Petition Prayer" below is my own adaptation of the Pardon Prayer. It's just how I pray.

I regularly change my petitions (except for the last), sometimes I will pray each intention for each member of my family by name, sometimes for all of them generically as “my family”, so as to pray also for others etc...This is a very flexible chaplet.

Petition Prayer (1st - 8th)
My God, I ask for the gift of faith for N., that they/he/she may believe, adore, trust, and love You!

9th Petition
My God, I ask for the gift of faith for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love You so that they will believe, will adore, will trust, and will love You!

List of (some) Petitions (by name or by group):
Parents & Grandparents, Bothers & Sisters, Children & Grandchildren, Spouse, Aunts & Uncles, Cousins, Spiritual Leaders, The Church, Your Priest by name, The Holy Father, Military Personnel/Leaders,
School Administrators/Educators/Teachers, Media, Entertainment Industry, Civil Leaders/Elected Officials, Business/Industry Leaders, Healthcare Providers, Judges (Supreme Court - Local), World Leaders, etc...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I Could Have Been Aborted

A parent is a servant to their children. Providing them with the basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter, not to mention the holding, cuddling, and snuggling nurture necessary for healthy psychological development, puts parents in many ways "at the mercy" of their children. They can't leave them alone, for oh, about 12 years (minumum legal age to be home alone in some states) if they want to go out dancing or have a nice dinner. They must wake many times during the night for 2 or 3 years after the birth of a child, they can't drop everything on the floor when they get home from work, everything must be put safely away from curious hands and mouths. Parents are the first servants children meet, are their first example of how to serve others. A parent must serve his or her child.

My mother became pregnant at 17. She lived with my Nana and my Aunt C. She had a part time job at McDonald's and was still in high school. After telling her she was pregnant, her doctor asked when she wanted to schedule the abortion. She didn't bother to ask if she wanted an abortion, she assumed it was the only natural response my mother could possibly have.

But my mother had already spent most of her young life serving others. She'd clean the house, rearrange furniture, help with whatever needed doing; she would even sit with my Nana in the hospital and drill the doctors as to what they were doing, when, and why (my Nana had many chronic illnesses including severe asthma).

My mother knew her life was about to change radically. She knew life was going to be difficult, complicated, and messy. She heard predictions from many in her life that she and (the as yet unborn I) would end up face down in a ditch someday. She was told she couldn't possibly succeed in life if she had a baby.

My mother chose to serve me instead of herself, and I was born 6 years after the legal decision that decreed I could have been aborted... should have been aborted according to the mind-set of some. And for what it's worth, not only did my mom and I not end up face down in a ditch, I was the first member of my family to earn a college degree, my mother is now married and she and my dad (who adopted me at the age of 14) have adopted 5 sons and 2 daughters who also could have been aborted, and in the minds of some should have been aborted. Their mothers were drug addicts, "intellectually disabled" (the term which has legally replaced mentally retarded), and mentally ill; and some of them even have mental or physical problems because of the lifestyles their mothers lived while pregnant...

And yet, all of us, in being served by my mom, and later my dad, also served them. At the time I was born my then 18 year old mother made many decisions which could have led her down an ugly path, a path which might have led to her ending up face down in a ditch. But she put me first. Her care and concern for me, her child, led her to make the decisions to which can be attributed the successful life she now lives.

And yet, I could have been aborted. We've all seen "It's a Wonderful Life" (or some take on it). We've all seen the story about how one life impacts so many-many others. But I could have been aborted, as so many have been aborted.

On this 38th anniversary of the decision that made abortion legal, I mourn the loss of the billions lives that could be here now, if only their parents had chosen to serve, and I ask you to ask yourself which is more important, the life of a child, or a life lived to serve oneself.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Eternal Rest Grant Unto Lavona Rann, SFO

My friend Lavona Rann, SFO, passed into eternal life around 7 pm December 23, 2010. Today was her funeral Mass, or Resurrection Mass as it was described on the program. As Lavona had so very-very many friends around the world who knew her through the world wide web, from LaPub to Facebook and everything in between, I wanted to share this with those of you who could only join us in spirit.

Below is the program (by which I mean the paper itself, NOT the Mass, which is a LITURGY not a "program"). Father Podwysocki focused his homily on the Beatitudes, and challenged us to ask ourselves if we are ready to face God if we should die today. He also encouraged us to pray for Lavona and said "Even if she is in heaven already, our prayers will not be wasted." Another point he made is that we must let Lavona go even as Mary once let Jesus go, and as Christians, we don't say "good-by", but "see you later".

A statue of the Holy Family, to the left of the altar, above and to the right of which is...

Next are the photos of the Altar, and Lavona's memorial in front of it.

In honor of another of Lavona's friends, here is "The View From the Back Pew" of the church, which hosts 10 Masses every weekend. They have English, Spanish, and Polish Masses (and hymnals!)

Here is Father, who graciously allowed me to take his photo when I asked, telling him that I thought you would all want to see him.

Photos of some of the Memorial Cards and Enrollments.

And last, but most assuredly not least, Lavona.
Born into life February 23, 1943
Born into eternity December 23, 2010

May the Angels lead you into paradise.