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Posts Tagged ‘Gratitude’

Gireesh Gupta: Prayer is a gift from God to us

In 07 Observations on 2012/10/11 at 9:11 AM

gupta-gareesh

Prayer is a beautiful and polite way to talk to our Maker. Prayer is a way to cultivate our personal relationship and friendship with God. Prayer is the way to connect to God. Prayer is our direct link to God’s Kingdom. Prayer is the quality time that we spend in the company of God to feel close to Him.

Prayer is also to praise and thank God for His beautiful creation and for His merciful protection of us. Prayer is to ask for God’s blessings, guidance and direction to lead us on the right path and to be true to ourselves and to others. Prayer is a time to ask for God’s forgiveness for our wrongdoings and plead for His mercy. Prayer inspires us to help those in need and brings us closer to God, because serving the needy is to serve God. Prayer cultivates the love of God’s creation and helps us to be thankful. Prayer puts us on the path that leads us to our Creator.

God gave us the gift of prayer with many benefits in return. Prayer calms our minds in times of despair. Daily prayer helps us to focus on what’s important each day amid all of our daily activities and tasks. Prayer brings relief from stress, pain, sorrow and anxiety. Prayer engenders peace in mind and body, and cultivates love for others and for God’s creation. To forgive is divine, and it is the daily practice of prayer that brings out the divine in us and gives us the strength and will to forgive those who have hurt us. Prayer subdues our conceit and fosters humility. Prayer enables us to subjugate our material attachments and elevates our spirituality. Humility and spirituality are two important traits to foster in order to lead a life of contentment, gratitude, happiness and love.

Churches are the sacred and formal places of prayer for Christians, synagogues for Jews, mosques for Muslims, and temples for Hindus. Praying formally with a congregation in these places has the power of uniting people and fostering a community of brotherhood and sisterhood.

However, prayer can be offered at any time and in any place, as many times each day as we wish. We can pray briefly before getting up in the morning and before going to sleep, while working in the office, while doing chores around the house, and even while walking or jogging.

Some of us pray and plead for God’s mercy only when we are needy, sad, fearful or sick. But God wants us to think of Him in a humble manner at all times, especially during the good times and not just the bad times. Just as parents love when their children share their happiness and not just their sadness, we should share our happiness with God our Father in prayer as well.

Our prayers may be simple or short, because praying from the heart is what is important. It is not important how long we pray for, or how formally we pray. A short prayer with a pure and innocent heart will win blessings, but a long prayer without heart is meaningless.

I encourage you to pray with a sincere heart and to pray often, to cultivate your personal relationship with God and seek closeness to Him.

Gireesh Gupta is an associate professor of computer information systems at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont.

Reprinted with permission for the Catholic News Herald

Eucharist by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/04/06 at 11:09 AM

• About an hour north of Rome in the Umbria region of Italy is the very picturesque town of Orvieto. Like so many of the towns of Italy, at the very heart of Orvieto is a beautiful Catholic church.

• And within this beautiful Catholic church in the heart of Orvieto is the famed Corporal of Bolsena. A corporal, you may recall, is the square white cloth, placed on the altar, upon which the Eucharist rests during Mass.

• The Corporal of Bolsena is famous because it is stained with blood from a Eucharistic miracle that occurred in the village of Bolsena in 1263.

• A traveling priest from Germany was passing through that village while on pilgrimage to Rome, and while a pious man, this priest had some serious doubts about transubstantiation and the true presence of our Lord in the Eucharist.

• While offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Bolsena, blood started to seep from the Host just after the priest spoke the words of Consecration. The blood was so profuse that it soon covered his hands and spilled onto the corporal.

• Confused, the priest stopped Mass and then asked to be taken to the nearby city of Orvieto, where Pope Urban IV was staying at the time. Upon hearing the priest’s story, the Holy Father began an investigation to determine the authenticity of the miracle.

• Once the Holy Father ascertained all the facts, he had the corporal brought to Orvieto in a grand procession and placed it in the cathedral where it remains on display to this day.

• For the past couple of weeks, our Gospel reading has come from John 6, which provides much of the Church’s scriptural background for our belief in the Eucharist.

• In today’s Gospel we hear about the Jews who are murmuring against Jesus for saying that He is “the bread that came down from Heaven.”

• They know Jesus, they’ve watched Him grow up, they know His parents. So for them, to hear Jesus say that He has come down from Heaven, and that He is the bread sent by God, is scandalous! How could this be? Is this not Jesus, the Son of Joseph?

• Of course the Jews are relying solely on their physical senses to make this determination that Jesus is nothing more than a carpenter’s son.

• Although they have just witnessed the miracle of the loaves and fish, as well as countless other miracles, they refuse to look upon Jesus with the eyes of faith. Rather, they choose to limit themselves to the myopia and fallibility of human knowledge and experience.

• It is a sad consequence of that Fall that we humans often doubt. Even though God gives us the great gift of faith at our baptism, in our sinfulness, it is not always easy to be strong in faith, especially when our senses cannot confirm or deny a truth for us.

• Yet as Christians it is so very important that learn to rely not solely on our physical senses, which are easily deceived, but on our spiritual senses as well.

• It is so very important that we train ourselves to see with the eyes of faith, for it is only when we walk by faith and not by sight that we can see things as they truly are.

• While every human knows that there are visible realities that we can perceive with our physical senses, as Christians we know that there are also invisible realities that are knowable to us only through faith.

• So for example, while we cannot see it or touch it or drive to it, while it has no attributes that are accessible to our physical senses, as Christians we all know and believe that Heaven truly exists. It is a truth written on our hearts that we believe by faith.

• And much of our Faith is like this! Our belief in the Trinity, the angels, the intercession of the saints, the efficacy of the sacraments, and so on are all things that we cannot prove with our senses, but that we must believe by faith.

• Note well that the lack of empirical evidence doesn’t make these realities any less true. In fact, as Catholics we know by faith that the invisible realities of our faith are more real than the visible realities!

• Central among these matters of faith for us Catholics is our belief in the Eucharist. While our senses cannot perceive any change taking place in the bread and wine as the priest says the words of consecration during Mass, we know by faith that the bread and wine do, indeed, become our Lord’s body and blood.

• And every once in a while, in order to bolster the belief of the faithful, our Lord allows a miracle – like the Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena – to occur. Miracles like this remind us that our faith is not a collection of pious myths, but rather that what we believe is believable.

• Yet we cannot depend on these miracles. We must make the choice to believe. And this choosing to believe without any confirmation from our senses is an exercise of faith.

• But keep in mind that faith is not a matter of believing something irrational or illogical. To the contrary, faith is a matter of submitting our intellect and will to God. As Hebrews 11:1 tells us: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

• Thus, true faith is never blind. It’s simply a matter of trusting in our Lord and what He has revealed. It’s a matter of cooperating with the grace that God has given us. Thus, while faith is a supernatural gift from God, it is also something we must choose to exercise.

• At its heart, our faith is rooted in our relationship with Jesus. The stronger our relationship with the Lord, the stronger our faith will be. Thus, faith is not something that God gives to some and not to others; faith is accessible to everyone. But we must be willing to be in relationship with God and to humbly submit ourselves to Him.

• It’s important that we choose to exercise our faith because it is our faith in Jesus that leads us to eternal life. As Jesus tells us today: “whoever believes has eternal life.”

• So, truly, my friends, if you fear that your faith is weak, then look to strengthen your relationship with Christ through prayer and the worthy reception of Holy Communion.

• Several years ago a study revealed that only _ of Catholics really believe in the True Presence in the Eucharist. This is sad not simply because it means that most Catholics have a defect in faith. It’s sad because it means that most Catholics don’t really know our Lord!

• And in failing to believe in the Eucharist, we miss out on graces important to our salvation! The Eucharist strengthens us and prepares us for Heaven. It joins us in closer union with our Lord, and it forgives our venial sins. The Eucharist is how Jesus shows His love for us.

• Every time we come to Mass and are presented with Holy Communion, we respond “Amen!” Amen means: “I believe.” So ask yourself: do I really believe? Do I believe that the Eucharist is truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ?

• And if you do believe, then make it a point to act as if you believe. Ask yourself: do I always behave in a manner consistent with my belief in the Eucharist? For example, do I always genuflect when I pass in front of the tabernacle or do I walk by casually with nary a thought to the presence of my Lord?

• When I come to church, do I dress in a manner that shows my understanding that I am in the Lord’s holy presence, or do I just put on what feels comfortable? Am I quiet, reverent and prayerful in church, or do I chat needlessly with those around me?

• Do I take the time to prayerfully prepare myself to receive Holy Communion, making sure I have no un-confessed grave sins before approaching our Lord, or do I receive Holy Communion when I know I shouldn’t because I fear what others might think of me?

• Do I receive the Eucharist with great devotion and recollection, realizing that it is the Lord Himself Who is being placed on my tongue or in my hands? And afterwards do I return to my pew and thank the Lord for the graces He has just given to me?

• I ask you to consider these questions not simply to ensure that everyone is following “the rules.” I ask you to consider these questions because acting in way that is consistent with our beliefs actually strengthens our faith!

• When we respond to the Eucharist in a way that shows that we do believe it to be the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, our faith in the Eucharist grows, and we grow in holiness.

• My friends, it is our greatest privilege as Catholics to receive our Lord’s body, blood, soul and divinity in Holy Communion. It is not merely bread and wine that we receive. By faith we know that the Eucharist is truly our Lord made present for our salvation.

• As we consider this great gift, let us pray for a strengthening of our faith in the Eucharist and in all the divine mysteries of our faith, and let us resolve to exercise our faith with great zeal, charity, reverence, and integrity.

Copyright 2009 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

Holy Wednesday: “Love is with love repaid”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/04/04 at 8:09 AM
Do you to know how to thank Our Lord for all he has done for us?… With love! There is no other way. Love is with love repaid. But the real proof of affection is given by sacrifice. So, take courage!: deny yourself and take up his Cross. Then you will be sure you are returning him love for Love. (The Way of the Cross, Fifth Station, 1)

It is not too late, nor is everything lost… Even though to you it may seem so. Even though a thousand foreboding voices keep saying so. Even though you are besieged by mocking and skeptical onlookers… You have come at a good time to take up the Cross: the Redemption is taking place —now!— and Jesus needs many Simons of Cyrene. (The Way of the Cross, Fifth Station, 2)

To bring happiness to its loved one, a noble heart will not hesitate before sacrifice. To bring comfort to a suffering face, a great soul will overcome all repugnance and give itself unstintingly…And God, does he deserve less than a piece of flesh, than a handful of clay? Learn to mortify your whims. Accept setbacks without exaggerating them, without throwing up your arms, without… hysterics. In that way you will lighten the Cross for Jesus. (The Way of the Cross, Fifth Station, 3)

How can I really love the Holy Cross of Jesus?… Long for it!… Ask Our Lord for the strength to implant it in every heart throughout the length and breadth of this world. And then… make atonement with joy; and try also to love him with the beating of all those hearts that as yet do not love him. (The Way of the Cross, Fifth Station, 5)