Monday, April 14, 2014

TEN WAYS TO PREPARE FOR EASTER AND MERCY SUNDAY….


Run the race of your salvation
 
 

The better the preparation the better the results!  This principle can be applied in almost any activity or enterprise.  Sports, academics, business, and even more important the spiritual life—the more time, energy and effort we expend, the better the results!

Olympic athletes start their preparation three to four years before the actual games; serious students burn the night oil to the point of exhaustion to pass tests so as to enter into Law School, Medical School or an Ivy League College, and millionaires are not born like leaves hanging from pear trees, but they work hard to rake in their surplus!

SPIRITUAL ATHLETES.  Our time, energy, initiative and courage should far supersede those who are interested in natural enterprises that culminate in fame, money and power but with dust is blown away by the wind! Why? For the simple reason that we should love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength and love what God loves—the salvation of immortal souls!  Indeed Jesus shed His Precious Blood on the cross on Calvary to save immortal souls from eternal perdition!

Therefore, let us make a concerted effort of mind, heart, body and will to live out these holy days of Holy Week that culminates in the victory of Easter and the deluge of grace available for us on Mercy Sunday!

Let us prepare! Following are ten short practical suggestions to make this preparation culminate in a deluge of graces for those who have magnanimity—generosity of heart, mind and soul!

Elijah's mystical experience on the mountain
 
1.    SILENCE!  God did not speak to the prophet Elijah in the earthquake, thunder or lightning, but rather in the gentle breeze. Unless we cultivate interior recollection through silence, it will be literally impossible to hear the voice of God in the inner recesses of our soul!  Then we can say with the young Samuel in the temple: “Speak O Lord for your servant listens!”

2.    WORD OF GOD.   The Word of God is a lamp for our steps and light for all of our paths. Suggested Biblical readings: Mt. 26-28; Mk. 14-16; Lk. 22-24; Jn. 18-21.    These passages contain the very heart of the Bible, the very core and center and heart of the Gospels—the Paschal Mystery. That is to say that in these twelve chapters we encounter the Passion, suffering, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Lord!

3.     MERCY!  “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.” Take these words of your merciful Savior to heart!   Rewind the film of your life!  Is there any person that you have not fully forgiven? Is there coldness and callousness in your heart? Are you clinging on to any resentments in your heart against any person in the world? Now is the time to come to terms with this and forgive. If you forgive then you are setting the captives free. That captive is you!   Bitterness, resentment, and lack of forgiveness enslave us interiorly, produce sadness and depression of heart and paralyze spiritual growth! Shakespeare put it concisely: “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”

4.    LOVE AFFAIR! Fall in love with Jesus again, but in a deeper and more profound way.  Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen expresses the primary reason for the failure and fall of Judas Iscariot.  A superficial perusing of the Gospel concludes with GREED!  Why?  The Evangelist John highlights Judas stealing from the purse.  Albeit the veracity of this assertion, Sheen plumbs the depths of the problem!  Sheen asserts that the fundamental reason for the debacle of Judas was that he FELL OUT OF LOVE with Jesus!  He  lost his fervor; the passion of Christ was extinguished; fiery love was transformed into smoldering embers and eventually cold ashes! Maybe our love has grown cold?  The Book of Apocalypse utters the stern reproach: “You have lost your first love….”  Why not beg the Holy Spirit, the fire of Divine love, to ignite in your hearts a fiery passion for Jesus and all that refers to His honor and glory and right now!

Money can buy you pleasure, but not true joy
 
5.    NO TO MATERIALISM AND CONSUMERISM!    A constant temptation that knocks frequently at the door of our hearts is the desire to have, buy and possess to the point that our possessions end up by possessing us!  Ponder the poignant words of the modern psychologist and writer Erich Fromm: “If you are what you have and lose what you have, then who are you?”  Pope John Paul II and the Dogmatic Constitution Gaudiem Spes remind us:  “Being is more important than having and that doing flows from being.”  Profound insights!

6.    GIVE UNTIL IT HURTS!  This is an immortal saying of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Why not live this to the max?   Give generously of your time, talents, and treasures. Why not give Mary your heart and she will give your heart to Jesus?   We become our true self not so much by receiving things and gifts from others, but by becoming ourselves a living gift to others! St. Paul encourages us with these words: “There is more joy in giving than in receiving.”

Baptism calls us to be saints!
 
7.     RENEW YOUR BAPTISMAL VOWS AND COMMITMENT! We who were baptized as infants did not explicitly take on these vows and commitments but they were made for us by our parents and godparents. In the Easter Vigil Mass, the Baptismal ceremony is one of the highlights of this splendid and sublime Mass in which we celebrate Jesus’ glorious resurrection from the dead! Why not renew our own commitment to renounce sin, selfishness, the devil’s pomps and lies and at the same time make a firm decision to strive to become a saint.  Jesus commands it:  “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.”

8.     HOLY COMMUNION.   All the most extraordinary graces and blessings are contained in the MOST HOLY EUCHARIST! Jesus complained to Saint Faustina saying that many people treat Him in the Eucharist as if He were a mere object! How horrendous the sad reality that Jesus is treated as a mere object! One Holy Communion is worth more than the whole created universe. Why? For the simple reason that Holy Communion is truly and substantially God Himself, Jesus Himself in His BODY, BLOOD, SOUL, AND DIVINITY. Every time you approach to receive Holy Communion, “The Bread of the angels” receive it as if it were your first, last and only Holy Communion! If done you will make huge strides on the highway to holiness!

He died for love of you and me!
 
9.    JESUS CRUCIFIED! Spend some time in silent contemplation before Jesus hanging on the cross. Meditate upon this profound truth of faith. Jesus died for the sins of all of humanity. Jesus died for my sins.  Of even greater importance, Jesus died of love for all of humanity.  Jesus suffered on the cross pouring forth all the drops of His Precious Blood for you and for me. He would have suffered and died on the cross for you if you were the only person in the created universe!  How precious you are in the eyes of God!

Turn to Mary!
 
10. MARY, MOTHER OF MERCY OUR LIFE , SWEETNESS AND OUR HOPE! At all times the Blessed Virgin Mary should be dear to us and close to our heart. Especially so should this be the case in Holy Week, and Easter. Nobody ever suffered more than the Blessed Mother on earth, with the exception of Jesus Himself. However, nobody experienced such overflowing joy as did the Blessed Virgin Mary upon experiencing Jesus rise from the tomb and triumph over sin, evil, hell, the devil and all death! Why not in these holy days of Holy Week, the Easter Triduum, and Easter itself beg for the grace to contemplate Jesus through the eyes and heart of Mary. She will lead us into the very Sacred Heart of the crucified and Risen Lord!

 

Monday, April 7, 2014

HOLY WEEK SHOULD BE THE HOLIEST WEEK IN OUR LIFE


Palm Sunday
 

Each year God showers us with countless blessings, especially in the Season of Lent, Holy Week, culminating in Easter—the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His triumph over sin, the devil, and death itself!

However, the effects of these Holy days are in direct proportion to our interior disposition of soul, openness to God’s grace, and docility to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. In other words a fervent practicing Christian will reap a much more abundant harvest than a non-practicing Christian!

St. Ignatius in prayer
 
MAGNANIMITY!   This is a key word to Ignatian spirituality. In simple English it means generosity of spirit.  St. Ignatius of Loyola, in the Annotations for the Director of the Exercises, emphasizes the primary importance of the Exercitant (he who is making the Spiritual Exercises) to enter in with MAGNANIMTY--- great generosity of spirit.

Likewise, we should enter into Holy week with the same disposition of spirit: MAGNANIMITY.  If you like, we should enter into these sacred Paschal mysteries of the suffering, passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus with an ardent longing to truly love God totally, unreservedly, with every thread of our being! We should live out this Holy Week as if it were to be the last in our lives--- only God knows if this will be our last Holy Week???

LIVE OUT THE EASTER TRIDUUM TO THE MAX!!!!

The Easter Triduum consists of three days culminating in Easter (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday)—the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us offer some short and simple ideas, reflections and challenges to derive the most abundant fruit from these holy days and arrive at an authentic transformation of our lives. May we be able to say with St. Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

HOLY THURSDAY.  On this day we commemorate with love, awe, tenderness, and gratitude beyond human expression the institution of two Sacraments, generously given to all of humanity from the depths of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus for our sanctification and salvation: The Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist, and Holy Orders (The Priesthood).  The most logical disposition and movement of our hearts should be to praise and thank Our Lord Jesus for having bestowed upon the Church until the end of the world the greatest of all gifts--- the most Holy Eucharist, that we can receive in Holy Communion every day(if we are properly disposed).   The most Holy Eucharist is truly and substantially the BODY, BLOOD, SOUL, AND DIVINITY of Jesus the Lord!  “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving”. Our whole beings should overflow with the most exalted and sublime expression of thanksgiving!

HOLY ORDERS.  On the same day and in the same historical context Jesus instituted Holy Orders--- the Catholic Priesthood. This was in the Upper Room (Cenacle), at the Last Supper which was the first Mass when Jesus said the words: “Do this in memory of me”. At that precise moment the Apostles were transformed into the first priests as well as the first Bishops.

Every Holy Thursday, while participating in the Mass of the Last Supper and the washing of the feet, we should pray for priests.  Our prayers should be universal! That is to say we should pray for vocations to the priesthood; we should pray for seminarians who are preparing for Holy Orders—the Priesthood. Equally important, we should pray for priests that are already ordained.  Our prayers should be lifted on high for young priests, for elderly priests, for sick priests.  Furthermore, we should pray for tempted priests, priests that have many doubts, as well as for priests that have fallen so that they will  return to Jesus the Good Shepherd of their souls.  With a heavy heart Jesus prayed, “The harvest is rich but the laborers are few; ask the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers to work in his vineyard.”  So many souls are at risk and jeopardy for the lack of laborers, for the lack of holy and fervent priests. On Holy Thursday with fervent prayers and hearts on high pray for priests. Offer your own Holy Communion for them! Jesus is earnestly longing for your prayers!

Jesus dies of love for you and me!
 
GOOD FRIDAY!  One simple but profound idea for Good Friday! Holy Thursday we contemplated Jesus at the Last Supper blessing us with the two Sacraments of the Eucharist and the Priesthood.   On Good Friday our attention, gaze and contemplation is lifted on high to the cross. Let us unite our hearts with the famous prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi:  “We adore you O Christ and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”

CONTEMPLATE THE CROSS AND CRUCIFIXION! Spend some time in silence and contemplation before a graphic image of Jesus crucified. One specific aspect worthy of meditation and contemplation is the PRECIOUS BLOOD of Jesus!

With love, reverence, devotion and a spirit of reparation, contemplate the various outlets of His Precious Blood. Start with His Thorn-crowned Head!  The pierced brow, penetrated by long and piercing thorns almost arriving at the brain allows for a constant flowing of Blood; the Blood that He shed for your salvation. Jesus suffered His most excruciating Passion for all of humanity, but also for you and me personally. 

If you were the only person in the whole created universe, Jesus loves you so much that He would indeed shed every drop of His most Precious Blood for the immortal salvation of your soul. How precious you are in the eyes of God! How precious you are to His Sacred Heart!

Contemplate the nail-driven hands. These hands that blessed the little children, these hands that touched and restored sight to the blind, these hands that touched lepers healing them instantaneously of their incurable disease, these sacred hands that turned bread into His Body and Blood, these hands are now nailed to the cross from which His Precious Blood oozes out dripping to the ground!

Contemplate His feet.  These were the feet that walked to bring good news to the aliens, the abandoned, the poor and despised. He came to set the captives free! Now these feet can no longer move, but only shed blood so that we can walk the paths of purity, justice and peace.

His Sacred Heart pierced with the lance!
 
HIS SACRED HEART!  Finally let us contemplate His most Sacred Heart pierced with the lance. From this fountain of life, the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, after being pierced with the lance, Blood and Water came gushing forth, the source and fountain of our sacramental life.   The water is symbolic of the Sacrament of Baptism and Confession. The Blood is symbolic of the most Holy Eucharist! In all of our troubles, fears, anguishes and sufferings may we always seek our secure refuge in the pierced and open Sacred Heart of Jesus!

HOLY SATURDAY: THE SORROWFUL HEART OF MARY!

Mary at the foot of the cross!
 
One short suggestion to live out Holy Saturday would be to live this most special day with the Blessed Virgin Mary!

THE TONE AND SENTIMENTS OF HOLY SATURDAY.   For many Holy Saturday is barely understood! This is the tone and sentiments that we should cultivate on Holy Saturday. Fasting?  Good Friday fasting is obligatory! Holy Saturday the church encourages fasting, but it is not obligatory. SILENCE! Yes, silence! This day should not be full of unnecessary noises, but silence. Why? To cultivate a contemplative spirit of prayer.

OUR THOUGHTS AND HEART?  Our thoughts and our heart should be with the Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Sorrows!   The Church recommends that we spend some quality time with Our Lady reliving what happened a few hours earlier. That is to say, we should enter into the Sorrowful Heart of Mary, who stood at the foot of the cross and relive the Passion, suffering and death of Jesus. In a word, on Holy Saturday, we should contemplate in our hearts the passion of Christ through the eyes and heart of Mary! Nobody every penetrated the height, width, and depth of the suffering and passion of Jesus better than His Immaculate Mother Mary!

In conclusion, let us live out the Easter Triduum with MAGNANIMITY. Let us enter in to the Triduum with great love and gratitude for Jesus who gave Himself up for me, shedding every drop of His most precious Blood for me as if I were the only person in the created universe. How great is the love of Jesus for you and for me!

Monday, March 31, 2014

CONQUER SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS!


Jesus heals the blind man
 

Jesus the “Light of the world” gave sight to the blind! Spiritual blindness is an extremely prevalent reality. However, spiritually blind eyes can still have their sight restored.

This short article will bring to the light three major reasons for spiritual blindness and then three remedies to conquer this blindness! May Jesus the “light of the world” dispel the spiritual blindness in our souls!

Jealousy can start quite young!!!
 
1.    JEALOUSLY AND ENVY.   One of the Capital sins is Envy.  A definition for envy:  “You feel bad because somebody else has something that you do not have and when something bad happens to this person you rejoice.” Cain killed Able due to envy.  Saul tried to kill young David because of envy.  Joseph was sold as a slave into Egypt due to the envy of his brothers. Finally, one of the principal reasons for the condemnation, crucifixion and death of Jesus was the envy of some of the Jews. Have you ever given into jealousy or envy in your life?  Time to repent!

2.    BITTER ANGER!   Anger does not fulfill the justice of God.  When the passion of anger has gotten control of your life, it is probably best not to speak and react towards others; this could prove catastrophic! We have to learn to cope with our anger and learn techniques to extinguish the fire and calm down.

Modern idols are many!!!
 
3.    IMPURITY.   Without a doubt one of the chief causes of modern spiritual blindness is a rapidly increasing viewing and addiction to pornography! One of the principal reasons why is the easy access to pornography. A half a decade ago, porn was available mostly through a magazine or two. However today no matter where one turns he is literally bombarded with impure images :   T.V. programs and commercials, Cable, Movies, Magazines, Newspaper advertisements, modern dress apparel, immodest dress in general from Spring till the Autumn Season, and most especially the easy access to Internet--- the sources never end! It is like an avalanche that has started and in full force!   There is barely anything in the world that militates more fiercely against growth in the spiritual life then giving in to impurity.  St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, asserts that impurity causes spiritual blindness and leads even to hating God.  Many will reject God, the Church, the reception of the Sacraments because they have become addicts--- to one of the tentacles of the ugly octopus of impurity, especially internet porn! May God save us, heal us and restore our sight!

As Jesus healed the blind two thousand years ago, so He is just as powerful today to heal all spiritual maladies and that of course includes spiritual blindness! Our prayer should be: “Lord grant me light to contemplate the beauty of your face now and for all eternity!”  Following are three ways that we can use our eyes well so as to glorify God, sanctify our souls and live out the beatitude: “Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8)
Jesus becomes alive when we meditate on the Bible!
 

1.    MEDITATE ON THE WORD OF GOD.   What chlorine is to the pool water, the Word of God is to the human mind. If our mind has been contaminated by indecent and impure images they must be dislodged, purified and discarded. One of the most efficacious tools to rid one’s mind of bad images and to restore spiritual sight is the daily reading, meditating and even memorizing of the Word of God. The Psalmist describes the Word of God as a light and lantern for our steps! Jesus is the Word of God and the Light of the World who came to dispel darkness and even blindness!
Let us praise the Eucharistic Lord!

2.    CONTEMPLATE THE EUCHARISTIC LORD.    When Jesus lived 2000 years ago people could not always see Him. When He was in Galilee, He was not at the same time in Jerusalem. In other words, even though Jesus could have been in many places at the same time, He decided to limit His presence to one time and place. Right now we have an extraordinary grace: contact and exposure to the Real Presence of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the most Blessed Sacrament.  In all of the Catholic Churches throughout the world Jesus is present in either the Tabernacle or exposed in the monstrance and sometimes both at the same time!  He invites all to come to Him: “Come to me all of you who are weary and you will find rest for your souls because my yoke is easy and my burden is light. I am meek and humble of heart.”(Mt. 11:28-30)  What a privilege we have right now: to visit Jesus, look at Him present in the Blessed Sacrament and to love Him with all of our hearts.  The Psalmist once again invites us:  “Look to the Lord and be radiant with joy.”
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us!
 

3.    CONTEMPLATE THE FACE OF MARY.   All of us should form the wonderful habit of praying to Mary every day: the Morning Offering, Angelus, Memorare, Litany, and especially the Holy Rosary.  While praying to Mary it is of great help to have before our eyes a beautiful image of Mary—statue, painting, icon, mural, mosaic, stain-glass window…. Prayer is the lifting up of the mind and heart to God.  By contemplating a beautiful image of Mary, such as Our Lady of grace, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a transformation takes place in our eyes, mind, heart, soul and even in our body!  The scales of our spiritual blindness fall from our interior eyes and we are able to see God and all that refers to God with greater clarity! Indeed among the many beautiful titles given to Mary, several refer to light:  Mary, star of the sea, Mary, morning star, Mary, the star of evangelization.  Blessed Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic letter on the Rosary, in which he introduced the Mysteries of light, stated that we should strive to contemplate the Face of Jesus through the eyes of Mary. Let us cure our spiritual blindness by contemplating the beauty of the face of Mary, the “Masterpiece of creation”. (St. Louis de Montfort).

Monday, March 17, 2014

PONDERING THE PAINFUL PASSION OF JESUS!(ten helpful suggestions).


 

No greater love has a man than to lay down his life for his friends.  Jesus died for all of humanity, but for you and me individually. He would have died for you and for or me if we were the only person in the whole universe for all time. How great is the love of Jesus for you and me!

The sin of Adam and Eve, the Original Sin, was an infinite offence against God. Therefore, some act of reparation was necessary in justice.  So God in His infinite wisdom and love decided to send His only Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as the means to repair for this infinite offense against the majesty of an all holy God.

The Incarnation.  Jesus, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity became man; we call this the Incarnation of the Son of God.  Therefore, being both God and man, any action whatsoever that He performed, even the most minimal, would have been sufficient to repair for all of the sins of humanity. Jesus picking up a piece of wood, taking one step, a wink of the eye, one mere breath—any of these simple actions would have been sufficient to save humanity in its totality and every person individually, a million times over.

Why? Because any action of the God-man has infinite value!   The next question that follows logically is then why did He go through so much suffering in His earthly life, especially all of the cruel and atrocious tortures of His passion—from the sweating of His Precious Blood in the Garden of Olives, to the dripping out of His Precious Blood on the gibbet of the cross?  Why so much?

St. Ignatius of Loyola gives us two basic reasons!  First Jesus suffered such excruciating tortures, both physical and emotional, to show to all of humanity the gravity of sin. Second, and most important, to show us the depths of love. In sum, Jesus died on the cross for you and me to repair for our sin and to show you and me the depths of His love. “No greater love than to die for one’s friends!”   What love displayed by so much suffering and for you and me!

In this essay we would like to offer ten ways to understand the Passion, suffering and death of Jesus that was done for love of you and me.

1.    GOSPELS.  Meditate prayerfully the Passion accounts in the four Gospels; each Gospel has two chapters on the passion of Christ:  Mt.26-27, Mk. 14-15, Lk.  22-23; and Jn. 18-19. Go to the ultimate source; the Word of God!

 

2.    CONTEMPLATE THE CROSS.  Spend some time in silent contemplation before a graphic crucifix. Contemplate with love the head crowned with thorns. Then contemplate the five sacred wounds from which blood flowed for your eternal salvation.  Draw close and kiss these wounds expressing your heartfelt gratitude!

 

3.    WAY OF THE CROSS.   Make the Way of the Cross. Walk slowly and prayerfully contemplating the fourteen Stations of the Cross. Be with Our Lady and John and the Magdalene accompanying Jesus the man of sorrows in His passion that He suffered for you and me. In prayer, ask the Holy Spirit, which of the fourteen stations touches your heart deepest!

 

4.     MOVIE/FILM: THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST.   View the film of the Passion of the Christ. However, do not view it simply as some Hollywood rendition winning an Oscar for the season. No!  Rather contemplate the film as if it were a prayer! Enter into the Ignatian mode of contemplation. Be present there and ready to accompany the Lord Jesus in body, mind and heart with Our Lady of sorrows!

 

5.    MOVIE/FILM: MIRACLE OF MARCELLINO.  View this charming film!  Focus on the little boy Marcellino and his intimate and growing friendship with Jesus as He hangs on the cross. Become Marcellino yourself. Contemplate Jesus as He hangs on the cross. But go deeper! Become Jesus’ loving friend. Talk to Jesus; share your feelings with Jesus, your sorrows, your struggles, your fears, your doubts, your insecurities, anxieties, your temptations and even your sins. Tell Jesus, as He hangs on the cross, how much you love Him, how much you want to give up your sin and how you want to be with Him in heaven for all eternity!

 


6.    CONFESSION!   Why not kneel before Jesus hanging on the cross and with the deepest contrition of heart express your sorrow for having been responsible for His horrendous and heart-rending passion. Then terminate this Act of Contrition by making a good—better yet the best—confession in your entire life!  The Suffering savior awaits you in this Sacrament of Mercy with His arms and Heart open to love and forgive you! He invites you:  “Come to me all and I will give you rest… “(Mt. 11: 28)

 


7.    Meditate upon the seven last words that Jesus expressed from the cross:

·       “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

·       “I thirst!”

·       “Woman behold thy son; son behold thy mother.”

·       “My God, my God, why have thou forsaken me.”

·       “Amen I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

·       “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.”

·       “It is finished!”

 

8.    HOLY MASS!  By far the greatest act on earth is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated on the altar. In an invisible but real way in every Mass the fruits of Jesus’ Passion and death on Calvary (that first Good Friday) are renewed.  Attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; participate fully actively and consciously. Most important, receive the Eucharist (of course if you are in the state of grace) with the greatest impulse of love from the depths of your heart.  No greater way beneath the heavens on earth to enter into the life-giving passion, death and Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!

 

9.    CONTEMPLATION ON THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF JESUS.   Jesus shed His Precious Blood several times for the salvation of the human race and for your soul that you might be with Him forever in heaven. Ponder slowly and prayerfully the various moments that He shed His Precious Blood, starting with the Circumcision as a little Child.  Then enter into the various scenes in His life--- specifically His Passion in which He poured forth His Precious Blood for love of you and me:

·       GARDEN— Huge drops of Blood came pouring forth from His pores.

·       SCOURGING—He was brutally scourged by the Roman flagellum, lacerating His flesh and leaving His Body an open wound! He suffers this to repair for sins against the virtue of purity.

·       CROWNING WITH THORNS—His Sacred Head penetrated from scalp to His very brain with sharp, piercing thorns, razor sharp!

·       OPEN SHOULDER ON CALVARY—St. Bernard and others saints comment on the excruciating pain He must have experienced with the cross and its splinters piercing and penetrating His shoulder.

·       RIPPING OFF OF HIS GARMENTS—Upon reaching Calvary the soldiers brutally ripped off His garments thereby reopening the wounds inflicted on Him in the scourging at the pillar; once again to repair for sins of impurity!

·       CRUCIFIXION—nails pounded through and penetrating His Sacred Hands and Feet.  His Sacred Blood comes gushing forth.  As he hangs on the cross His Sacred Blood oozes forth dripping to the ground.

·       OPEN HEART—Even after He dies, he still gives of His Precious Blood. With the lance, the soldier pierces His side penetrating His Sacred Heart and Blood and water gushes forth!

 


10. OUR LADY OF SORROWS.  As in the film of Mel Gibson, “The Passion of the Christ”, why not try to live all the different moments of the Passion, suffering, and death of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through both the eyes and the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, and our Mother!

LENTEN EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE


An examination of conscience
 
Following are some questions that will force us to look at our lives with sincerity and honesty and humility that will motivate us on the road to conversion from sin to love of God. Why not accept the challenge---- how are you in the practice of the following virtues?

1.    MERCY?   God is slow to anger and quick to mercy and forgiveness. Are you slow to anger and quick to mercy or quick to anger and slow to mercy?

2.    TEMPERANCE?   Do you eat what you like or do you eat what is healthy for your body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit and tabernacle of the living God?  Do you eat to live or live to eat?

3.    DILIGENCE?   As soon as the alarm-clock rings do you bolt from the bed and start your morning offering or do you hit the “Snooze-button” and take a few extra winks?  The Founder of Opus Dei terms this moment the “Heroic moment!”

4.    PURITY?   Do you entertain bad thoughts or do they entertain you?

5.    CHARITY?   Are you looking to be served by others as your rule of life or are you on the outlook to serve others?

6.    JOY?   Do you rejoice at all times in the Lord Jesus and His Holy Spirit or always have reasons and manners to complain about the problems of life?

7.    PATIENCE?   Are you the epitome of patience or want things your time, your manner, your schedule?   Is this your prayer?  “Lord I beg you to give me patience and right now!!!

8.    OBEDIENCE?   Are you ready to obey God’s will through rightful authority, the Church, and circumstances or always on the defensive to defend your “precious and inviolable rights”?

9.    MORTIFICATION?  Are you ready and willing to deny yourself , take up your cross and follow the Lord Jesus or are you always looking for the easy way out and the  short-cut?

10. MEEKNESS?  Do you try to imitate the Master who said that He was meek and humble of heart or are you brusque, cutting, demanding, and sharp towards others?

Lord, save me!
 
11. FAITH?   Are you a man or woman of faith ( the faith that could move the mountains) or a person whose faith totters, vacillates and changes like the weather and wind?

12.TRUST?  Do you trust the Lord as your rock and fortress or follow the voluble and sentimental path of your feelings and emotions?

13. CHARITY?  Do you love God with all your heart, mind and soul or allow selfishness and egotism to dominate you and enslave you?

14.HOPE?  Is your hope in God at all times and places or give into despair when confronted with the trials and setbacks of life?
               
Jesus teaches us to be patient and strong!
 
15. FORTITUDE?  Are the crosses and sufferings of life too much for your shoulders or do you willingly carry the cross with Jesus to Calvary that ends in the glory of the Resurrection?

16. HEAVEN?  Do you look constantly to the earth and worldly values or is your mind, heart and soul raised up to your eternal destiny--- Heaven!!!

17. HELPER?  Are you ready to be of instant help to all—especially at home with the family—or always on the search and lookout for others to help you?

18. PRAYER?  Is prayer the very breath of your soul, the lifeblood of your inner being or is your prayer life mediocre and declining like the sinking sun?

19.  KNOWLEDGE?   Is your life a constant yearning to grow in the knowledge and love of God or has your knowledge of God become stagnant, insipid and dormant?

20. PRINCIPLE AND FOUNDATION AND PRIORITIES?    Is God the Principle and Foundation of your existence?  Is God always the first in your hierarchy of values and the first of your priorities?

Jesus forgives the good thief
 
21. FORGIVENESS?   Have you forgiven in all times and places in your life or are there still remnants and residual traces of persons that you still hold on to resentments and grudges?   Maybe it is for this reason that your soul is not at peace.

22. HUNGER?  Jesus said that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.   What do you hunger for? The five P’s? Power? Pleasure? Prestige? Personal Vanity? Put me first? Or do you hunger for God? “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything else will be given beside!”

23. SUFFERING?   Is suffering a source of complaint, anger and bitterness on your part?   Or do you unite your suffering to the Passion of Jesus and allow suffering to sanctify you?   In other words:  “Does the cross make you better or bitter?”

24. JESUS?  Is Jesus your beginning and end, alpha and omega, your Way, Truth, and Life, your Light, Sustenance, and meaning in life?  Or do you have false gods and idols on the altar of your life? Money? Pleasure? Porn? Drink? Drugs? Vanity? Prestige? Gambling? T.V./INTERNET and electronic media as sovereign to God Himself? Why not make a serious examination of conscience?

Mary is our life, sweetness and our hope
 
25.MARY?  Is Mary absent from your life like that of a spiritual orphan? Or is Mary your life, your sweetness and your hope?  Is Mary the Mother in whom you can entrust your whole life: your joys and sorrows, successes and failures, temptations even falls?

EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE.  Why not spend some quality time in silence in front of the Most Blessed Sacrament where Jesus is truly and substantially Present or in the quiet of your room and enter into the very depths of your heart and life and examine your life in the light of these provocative questions?

Despite our many failures God’s mercy always far transcends our guilt. As the Apostle to the gentiles Saint Paul highlights: “Where sin abounds the mercy of God abounds all the more.”  Jesus pointed out to Saint Faustina constantly that His greatest attribute or virtue was that of His Divine mercy.   The greatest sinners of the entire world can be the greatest saints under one simple condition: TRUST, TRUST, and TRUST!!!  They must trust in the Infinite Mercy of our all-loving God!  JESUS I TRUST IN YOU!