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19th April.

This is a recent bulletin from Fr Ron Rolheiser on prayer of adoration. Try to give it a quality, prayerful, reading.

Our faith suggests that time will be different in eternity, so different in fact that we cannot now even imagine how it will be in heaven. How will time be experienced in heaven? As St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.

prayerIn a wonderful new book on the Resurrection and Eternal Life, Is This All There Is, the renowned, German scripture scholar, Gerhard Lohfink, suggests that we can and sometimes do have an experience of time as it will be experienced in eternity.  For Lohfink, we experience this whenever we’re in adoration.

For him, the highest form of prayer is adoration. But what does it mean to “adore” God and why is that the highest form of prayer? Lohfink answers: “In adoration we ask nothing more of God. When I lament before God it is usually my own suffering that is the starting point. Even when I petition God, the occasion is often my own problem. I need something from God. And even when I thank God, unfortunately I am usually thankful for something I have received. But when I adore, I let go of myself and look only to God.”

Admittedly, lament, petition, and thanksgiving are high forms of prayer. An old, classical, and very good, definition of prayer defines prayer as “lifting mind and heart to God”, and what’s in our hearts virtually at all times is some form of lament, petition, or thanksgiving. Moreover, Jesus invites us to ask God for whatever is in our heart at a given moment: “Ask and you will receive.” Lament, petition, and thanksgiving are good forms of prayer; but, in praying them, we’re still focused in some manner on ourselves, on our needs and our joys.

However in adoration we look to God or at some attribute of God (beauty, goodness, truth, or oneness) so strongly that everything else drops away. We stand in pure wonder, pure admiration, ecstatic awe, entirely stripped of our own heartaches, headaches, and idiosyncratic focus. God’s person, beauty, goodness, and truth overwhelm us so as to take our minds off of ourselves and leave us standing outside of ourselves.

And being free of our own selves is the very definition of ecstasy (from the Greek, EK STASIS, to stand outside oneself.)  Thus, to be in adoration is to be in ecstasy – though, admittedly, that’s generally not how we imagine ecstasy today.

Moreover, for Lohfink, not only is adoration the only true form of ecstasy, it’s also a way of being in heaven already right now and of experiencing time as it will be in heaven. Here’s how he puts it: “In the miracle of adoration we are already with God, entirely with God, and the boundary between time and eternity is removed. It is true that we cannot now comprehend that adoring God will be endless bliss. We always want to be doing something. We want to criticize, intervene, change, improve, shape. And rightly so! That is our duty. But in death, when we come to God, that all ceases.  Then our existence will be pure astonishment, pure looking, pure praise, pure adoration – and unimaginable happiness. That is why there is also a form of adoration that uses no words. In it I hold out my own life to God, in silence, and with it the whole world, knowing God as Creator, as Lord, as the one to whom belongs all honor and praise. Adoration is the oblation of one’s life to God. Adoration is surrender. Adoration means entrusting oneself entirely to God. As we dwell in adoration, eternity begins – an eternity that does not withdraw from the world but opens to it utterly.”

Time can stand still! And it stands still when we’re in pure admiration, in awe, in wonder, in adoration.  In those moments we stand outside of ourselves, in the purest form of love that exists. At that moment too we are in heaven, not having a foretaste of heaven, but actually being in heaven. Eternity will be like that, one moment like a thousand years and a thousand years like one moment.

When we adore, time stands still – and we’re in heaven!

 

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17th April.

Jesus Bread of LifeThis is the commentary on today’s gospel by Bishop Robert Barron of Word on Fire Ministries. The gospel passage itself follows.

Friends, today’s Gospel is from the bread of life discourse: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” What God has wanted from the beginning is to sit down with his creatures in a fellowship banquet, sharing life and laughter, giving, receiving, and giving back again.

This is the loop of grace. The more we receive the divine life, the more we should give it away and thereby get more of it.

Throughout the Old Testament, we find images of the holy banquet. On God’s holy mountain, Isaiah says there will be good meats and pure choice wines. And throughout his ministry, Jesus hosts meals to which all are invited. God wants to share his life with us.

This comes to fullest expression at the Eucharist, where Jesus identifies himself so radically with the bread and the wine that they change into his Body and Blood, and then invites all of us around this table to feast and share life, to give and to receive and to give again.

Gospel JN 6:30-35

The crowd said to Jesus:
“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:

He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

So Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.”

So they said to Jesus,
“Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

 

15th April.

Today I felt inspired to say a few words after the gospel [see the passage below].

Jesus Bread of LifeWe all know people who work very hard, putting in long hours and who are materially well off for their efforts. They live in elegant houses, drive high-end German cars, earn large salaries, have huge pension plans and savings accounts, take exotic holidays, etc. Yet when their lives come to an end, they leave it all behind.

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us to adopt a radically different priority in life:  “Do not work for food – or goods – that cannot last, but work for food – or goods – that endures to eternal life, the kind the Son of Man is offering you.” One thing that counts as treasure in heaven is the time we give to God in prayer. Since I came here last December I have been encouraging you to spend a minimum of 20 minutes in daily prayer. This may involve a certain measure of sacrifice – we may have to get a little less sleep, spend less time watching TV, skip some cleaning around the house, etc  – but it will bring us ever closer to God, strengthen our belief,  as we journey towards him. Specifically it will fulfil the final sentence of today’s gospel passage:  ‘This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.’

 

GOSPEL                          John 6:22-29
Do not work for food that cannot last, but work for food that endures to eternal life.

After Jesus had fed the five thousand, his disciples saw him walking on the water.  Next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side saw that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that the disciples had set off by themselves.  Other boats had put in from Tiberias, near the place where the bread had been eaten.  When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’  Jesus answered:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
You are not looking for me
because you have seen the signs
but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.
Do not work for food that cannot last,
but work for food that endures to eternal life,
the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you,
for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.’

Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’
Jesus gave them this answer, ‘This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.’

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

15th April – 3rd Sunday of Easter (B).

BISHOP ALAN MCGUCKIANThis weekend we read a pastoral letter from the bishop on the right to life. Here is what he wrote.

My Dear People,

In anticipation of a Referendum on the 8th Amendment of the Constitution I want to write to you on the question of the Right to Life. As Catholics we all hold to the absolute sacredness of all life from conception to natural death. Still, I know that this is a very sensitive, delicate and, indeed, painful topic for many. I offer my reflections with great respect for the integrity of everyone while wishing to make some points clearly and unambiguously.

Fundamental Right.

You and I have a right to our life. It isn’t given to us by the Irish Constitution or by any law. We have it ‘as of right’, whether we’re wealthy or poor, healthy or sick. All human beings have it. For us as a society to now declare that any category of human beings should have that right taken from them is a seriously backward step. It effectively says that they don’t exist or, if they do, they don’t count. That is a manifest injustice.

We can allow ourselves to be desensitized.

When we change or delete a law we run the risk of blinding ourselves over time to the truth behind it even though all the evidence we need is before our eyes. In our day we see more clearly than ever before how everything begins at conception. There is no later stage in a baby’s development where we can say; ‘up until now the foetus was not a person and now it has become a baby’. At every point, from conception on, the baby has within him or herself the full potential to be whatever destiny might allow. All he or she needs is time and nurturing.

The Science is clear.

The scientific evidence was never clearer than it is now. It’s a great irony that we in Ireland are for the first time in history losing our clarity about the right to life of the unborn. Knowledge about the mysterious workings of DNA and the stunningly vivid evidence of ultrasound images of little persons in the earliest weeks in the womb should be making us more committed than ever to the protection of unborn life. Something is going on in the national psyche. Is it really what we want?

Life and Choice.

The little human in the womb has life and potential. However, like all babies, before birth or in the early years, he or she has no choice. Powerless to claim their rights they rely on the rest of us to choose for them and to vindicate their rights. When we use the word ‘choice’ we need to remember that for the baby waiting to be born the choice is a matter of life and death.

Two Lives One Love.

An expectant mother needs and deserves the care and support of everyone around her particularly if her pregnancy poses a serious crisis for her and her family. A mother may be informed that her baby faces serious challenges or is perhaps terminally ill. She might be pregnant as a result of rape. In such cases recommending abortion might seem like a gesture of compassion. Even in those tragic cases the unborn child needs to be loved and cherished. A compassionate society will do all in its power to support and love the mother and baby, and encourage responsible support from fathers. This vision of life makes sense to people of all faiths and none. While it is enriched by our Catholic faith, it is our common humanity that convinces us of the right to life of every human being.

In the coming weeks I invite you to pray earnestly that the people of Ireland will “choose life” and that the lives of all women and their unborn children will always be loved, valued, welcomed and respected in this country.

+ Alan McGuckian, SJ

Bishop of Raphoe

14th April.

This is the Medjugorje Message of April 2nd.

medj

our lady queen of peaceDear children, Through the great love of the Heavenly Father I am beside you as your mother and you are beside me as my children, as apostles of my love whom I ceaselessly gather around me. My children, you are those who, along with prayer, need to completely surrender to my Son so that you may no longer live but my Son may live in you – so that all those who do not know my Son may see Him in you and come to desire to know Him. Pray that in you they may see resolute humility and goodness, a readiness to serve others; that in you they may see that you live your vocation in the world with the heart, in communion with my Son; that in you they may see meekness, tenderness and love for my Son as well as for all brothers and sisters. Apostles of my love, you must pray much and cleanse your hearts so that you may be the first to walk on the way of my Son, that you may be the just who are united with the justice of my Son. My children, as apostles of my love, you must be united in the communion which emanates from my Son, so that my children who do not know my Son may recognize the communion of love and may come to desire to walk on the way of life, the way of unity with my Son. Thank you. ”

13th April.

This is a reflection on last Sunday’s readings by SOLT member Sr Mary Mediatrix of All Graces, reminding us of the gift of faith and encouraging us to let it shine in all parts of our daily lives.