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...