Prayer Request(click for link)
who has given us the ardent testimony,
of the young Servant of God Carlo Acutis,
who made the Eucharist the core of his life
and the strength of his daily commitments
so that everybody may love You above all else,
let him soon be
counted among the Blessed and the Saints in Your Church.
Confirm my faith,
norture my hope,
strengthen my charity,
in the image of young Carlo
who, growing in these virtues,
now lives with You.
Grant me the grace that I need …
I trust in You, Father,
and your Beloved Son Jesus,
in the Virgin Mary, our Dearest Mother,
and in the intervention of Your Servant Carlo Acutis.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,
for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
This is my time to write about Father Jacques Hamel, the Catholic priest that was slain by extremists while saying the Holy Mass is a small church in France. The gospel readings this 19thh Sunday of Ordinary time urge us to keep vigilant because we do not know when the Son of Man will come. The gospel preaches vigilance, and that often is interpreted to be prepared for our final hour, or the darkest hours when we ae put to the test. It urges us to turn towards the LORD so that we might enter the kingdom promised when we are called. The message isn’t all about death, it speaks much about living life and surviving the trials of life. Father Hamel was vigilant. Did he expect the murderous thief to enter the church on that his final morning? Probably not. Was he prepared? Definitely yes. Father Jacques did not expect to be murdered as he said that morning Mass, but in saying that Mass he was prepared. The thief did not catch him off guard. The rituals of that priest’s vocation were put into place to offer him protection, to maintain his vigilance. The priest is a man of prayer. Prayers to protect and guide both himself and others, and prayer plays an important part of vigilance. They are the conversation with the Lord, and priests pray a lot.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
The Mass the father was saying as he was murdered would not have been his first prayer of the day. Fr. Jacques would have started his day with “Lord, open my lips and I will sing thy praise.” It is the opening line of the prayer that begins his day. Equally important was how Father closed the day before with an examination of his conscience and a plea for the forgiveness of his sins. He closed that day acknowledging his acknowledging his own faults, and then asking for forgiveness. Father Jacques knew that forgiveness would be granted, he knew the gospel Jesus preached. In knowing that gospel narrative he would have known the final words of Jesus on the Cross. “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” and “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.” He knew God’s forgiveness, he confessed and heard confessions. Fr. Hamel forgave sins in the name of Christ. Father Jacques Hamel was vigilant, he knew how to act. He both began and ended his day in prayer. He knew what was expected of him.
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have the servants recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants.
Father Jacques Hamel did not just begin and end his day in prayer, he prayed throughout the day. That is what is necessary for vigilance, the threats are numerous. They are continuous and the constant bombardment tends to wear one down. He prayed in the morning and evening and throughout the day, they are part of his obligation and what is needed to carry out his duties. Those prayer are the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours, a scheduled set of prayers said regardless of what the day brings. They prepared Fr. Jacques for his final moment, even for one that was as brutal as his. Father Jacques Hamel had his throat slit while saying the Holy Mass in France. How can one possibly prepare for that? The priest knew how to prepare, he prayed. The disciples once asked Jesus, teach us to pray. Father knew the Lord’s Prayer. The forgiveness of sin, and give us our daily bread.
Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect,
the Son of Man will come.”
Give us our daily bread, the duty the priest was fulfilling at his final hour. News accounts suggest he was preforming the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Preparing that bread for himself and others. Food for a journey and companions of the Lord. The priest was vigilant and he was prepared, and he was helping others. So relevant in the light of these gospel readings of vigilance, of being prepared for the thief that comes unexpected. Prayer, nourishment, and forgiveness. Father Jacques was prepared, he was vigilant. He taught others to follow by example.
Even the location of that priest’s death speaks of his preparation. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The location of his slaughter speaks of preparation. He resided in the Church that is the likeness of Mary. Mary, mother of God. Mary free from sin. Mary, the Holy Virgin. Her song, the Magnificat, he prayed at Vespers. A reminder of the joys of Gods grace. A fortress built to guard against temptation. Vigilance. Father Jacques Hamel, Pray for us.
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
I read the news headlines today and think good grief this cannot be.
In those days, the LORD said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great,
and their sin so grave,
that I must go down and see whether or not their actions
fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me.
I mean to find out.” Gn 18:20-32
The outcry, the outcry? There is no outcry, what this story condemns is precisely what my society promotes. It is what my leaders have been promoting for thirty years. It has been promoted every hour and every day for thirty years. Incredible! What Abraham thinks God will destroy, is today asked to be blessed. Vice has become virtue, and that is not merely the perversion of flesh. Ours also is greed, and abuse of authority, and perversion of the mind. It is not what the divine declares ‘good versus evil’, it is what man declares. It is not Abraham that should ask God, but God should consult with man. The cities I wander today.
I look at Abrahams questions, his “what if” scenarios. What if 50 people are innocent, will you destroy it? I think, wrong question. History tells that evil cannot prevail. The question to me is not will God destroy it, my plea is will it destroy me? With certainty I know the fate of evil, I pray that I might recognize it. I pray I survive it. Abraham had his prayers, and I have mine. Abrahams is a prayer of reason, mine a plea for safety. It matters not though, we both do the same thing. We pray.
That is what the disciples ask of the Lord. Lord teach us to pray. There were and are so many styles of prayer in the world, and those disciples wanted one that would work. The style of the day was long, and elegantly worded. It spoke as much of the person reciting it as it did to God. It showcased a rank and an authority, and it was not always directed toward the heavenly. No matter though, it was still prayer. Lk 11:1-13
Jesus understood the power of prayer, and He made use of it often. The disciples noticed the Lord in prayer, and they witnessed how it changed Him. They understood its power, and they wanted the same. When those disciples asked Jesus “teach us to pray” he knew both their needs, and their challenges. Just like today, they needed the power of prayer to navigate their world. The Lord knew they needed a prayer of perspective, one that put God and man in the proper order. “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.” Jesus knew the prayer needed to help them reach their destination. They are nomads, they need a prayer that is compact, one that can be carried with them and not recited over them. They were on a journey, “Thy kingdom come thy will be done, on earth as in Heaven.” That was their destination, and their prayer reminded them of that.
Like the exodus they needed nourishment, on that journey there was no time to leaven the bread. “Give us our daily bread” will be understood when Jesus says “take this bread and eat it” That bread does not simply nourish a body, it powers a soul. It strengthens a covenant. It gives them strength to march forward to the kingdom preached. It is prayer of strength.
It also is a prayer of forgiveness, it is the reason their Lord entered into creation. That was for the forgiveness of sins. The Lords Prayer is a gentle reminder to offer the same forgiveness to neighbors that God grants us. That is the essential message of the good news of Jesus. It defines Jesus’s disciples. The prayer reminds them of who they are, Christians. Col 2:12-14
Jesus knew well the world the disciples lived in as He walked among them. He knew their Sodom and Gomorrah’s just as the Lord knows ours. His ministry opens with the devils temptations. Jesus knows our opponent, and reminds us we are being challenged. To gain victory is to recognize the opponent. It is to keep a watchful eye and that is essential. To reach our destination, is not to fall into temptation.
Interesting how “The Lord’s Prayer” fits the traveler who must walk through those cities Abraham speaks of. Abraham asks God if He will destroy the innocent with the guilty. Jesus prayer gives the means by which God will protect them. Have a safe trip.
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time