Archive for “2014”

July 18, 2014 – Lectio Divina

Friday, July 18 ~ Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Camillus de Lellis, Founder of a Congregation of Regular Clerics, the “Ministers to the Sick”

Holy Gospel: Matthew 12:1-8

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the Sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Meditation

What does the commandment “keep holy the Sabbath” mean for us? Or better yet, what is the primary intention behind this command? The religious leaders confronted Jesus on this issue. The “Sabbath rest” was meant to be a time to remember and celebrate God’s goodness and the goodness of his work, both in creation and redemption. It was a day set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on our behalf. It was intended to bring everyday work to a halt and to provide needed rest and refreshment. Jesus’ disciples are scolded by the scribes and Pharisees, not for plucking and eating corn from the fields, but for doing so on the Sabbath. In defending his disciples, Jesus argues from the scriptures that human need has precedence over ritual custom. In their hunger, David and his men ate of the holy bread offered in the Temple. Jesus also quoted of the Sabbath work involved in worship in the Temple. This kind of work was usually double the work of worship on weekdays. Jesus then quotes from the prophet Hosea (6:6): I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. While the claims of ritual sacrifice are important to God, mercy and kindness in response to human need are even more important.

Prayer

O God, who adorned the Priest Saint Camillus with a singular grace of charity towards the sick, pour out upon us, by his merits, a spirit of love for you, so that, serving you in our neighbor, we may, at the hour of our death, pass safely over to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Contemplation

The message of today’s gospel can be complimented by contemplating on this prayer by Saint Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make us to walk in your way: Where there is love and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance; where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor annoyance; where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice; where there is peace and contemplation, there is neither care nor restlessness; where there is the fear of God to guard the dwelling, there no enemy can enter; where there is mercy and prudence, there is neither excess nor harshness; this we know through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

About Saint Camillus de Lellis

Saint Camillus’ mother was nearly sixty years old when he was born (1550). As a youth he gave himself to the sinful pleasures of this world. His conversion dates from the feast of the Purification, 1575. Two attempts to enter the Capuchin Order were frustrated by an incurable sore on his leg. In Rome, Saint Camillus was received in a hospital for incurables; before long he was put in charge because of his ability and zeal for virtue. He brought to the sick every imaginable kind of spiritual and bodily aid. At the age of thirty-two he began studying for Holy Orders and was not ashamed of being numbered with children. After ordination to the holy priesthood he founded a congregation of Regular Clerics, the “Ministers to the Sick.” With invincible patience Camillus persevered day and night in the service of the sick, performing the meanest of duties. His love shone forth most brightly when the city of Rome was stricken by epidemic and famine, and when the plague raged at Nola. Having suffered five different maladies, which he called God’s mercy, he died in Rome at the age of sixty-five. On his lips was the prayer for the dying: “May the face of Christ Jesus shine gloriously upon you.” Leo XIII declared him the heavenly patron of hospitals and added his name in the litany for the dying.

July 13, 2014 – In, Around and Near the Diocese of Columbus

UPCOMING PILGRIMAGES AT THE NATIONAL BASILICA AND SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF CONSOLATION – CAREY, OHIO

September 21 – Latino Pilgrimage Day, Confessions 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 Noon, Mass at 11:00 a.m. in the Upper Basilica in Spanish, 2:30 p.m. Outdoor Rosary Procession with Benediction and individual prayer;

September 28 – Family Pilgrimage Day, Family Liturgy at 12:00 Noon in the Shrine Park, Picnic Lunch following liturgy, 2:30 p.m. Outdoor Rosary Procession with Benediction and individual prayer.

For more information, please call the Shrine at (419) 396-7107, or visit the Shrine web site: www.olcshrine.com.

THIS SUMMER, VISIT SOME OF THE TWELVE CATHOLIC SHRINES IN OHIO

Yes, there are twelve Catholic Shrines located in Ohio, all worth making a day pilgrimage. These include: the Shrine of Saint Anthony (Cincinnati); the Shrine of the Holy Relics (Maria Stein); the National Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation (Carey); the Sorrowful Mother Shrine (Bellevue); the Saint Paul Shrine (Cleveland); the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes (Euclid); the Shrine of Our Lady of Levocha (Bedford); the Shrine and Church of Mariapoch (Burton); the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon (North Jackson); the Shrine of our Lady, Comforter of the Afflicted (Youngstown); Our Lady of Toledo, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Shrine (Oregon); and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Saint Dymphna (Massillon). For more information on these shrines, visit: www.catholicshrines.net and click on “Ohio,” or click on other states for information about Catholic Shrines located throughout the United States.

THE CATHOLIC MEN’S LUNCHEON CLUB…

will NOT meet in July or August due to summer holidays and vacations. We will return to St. Patrick Church on Friday, September 5th with an intriguing presentation on “Evangelization in the Workplace”! Mark your calendar! A blessed and relaxing summer to all men and their loved ones from THE CATHOLIC MEN’S LUNCHEON CLUB!

SAVE THE DATE of Dec. 7, 2014 FOR 5TH ANNUAL CYSC DINNER THEATER

We invite you to attend our 5th Annual Dinner Theater held on Sunday, Dec.7 at Villa Milano from 6-9pm. This is a one of a kind fundraising event to benefit the ministry and camperships of Catholic Youth Summer Camp (CYSC). Visit our web-site for info on CYSC and the Dinner Theater at www.cysc.com or contact julie@cysc.com.

LEAVE DISTRACTION BEHIND AND FOCUS ON YOUR MARRIAGE

Bring Christ’s peace to your marriage: learn how on a Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend! It’s last call for the next Marriage Encounter weekend on July 18-20, and the next is September 12-14; both are in central Ohio. For more information or to register, contact Paul & Marilou Clouse at 740-746-9003 or visit our website at www.wwmecolumbus.org

HOLY FAMILY SOUP KITCHEN – VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

Started in the 1970’s, it was a mission of Fr. Francis X. Schweitzer, former pastor at Holy Family, to feed the area’s hungry and homeless. Today the Holy Family Soup Kitchen & Food Pantry, located at 57 South Grubb Street (one block south of Holy Family Church, 588 West Broad Street) serves over 700 hot meals daily, Monday through Friday, and an average of 125 families receive assistance from the Food Pantry each week. Please call Sharon Wing at 461-9444 in advance to volunteer.

ALL MEN IN THE DIOCESE ARE INVITED…

…to participate in the Diocesan Catholic Laymen’s Retreat League September silent retreat at St. Therese’s Retreat Center. From 6 PM Friday, September 5 through 11AM Mass Sunday, September 7, Fr. Patrick Toner, pastor of St. Joseph’s, Plain City will direct the retreat on the theme “Lessons in the Pursuit of Spiritual Perfection.” Register early for this retreat. The total cost is only $130.00. Contact Charles F. Kielkopf at (614) 268-0175, or: kielkopf.1@osu.edu

WOMEN OF THE COLUMBUS DIOCESE…

…for just one week-end put away your cell phone, I-Pad and computer and spend some quiet time with God by coming to a SILENT retreat for women October 3, 4, & 5, 2014 at St. Therese’s Retreat Center, 5277 E. Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43213. Sponsored by the Catholic Laywomen’s Retreat League, this retreat begins Friday evening and ends Sunday at noon. Fr. Michael Hinterschied, parochial vicar at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Westerville, will be the retreat master. His theme is “The Holy Spirit: The Sanctifier.” The fee is $125. For more information send e-mail to retreatleague@gmail.com or call Sharon Gehrlich, CLRL Secretary, at 614-882-1946. Deadline is August 1, 2014. Space is limited and fills quickly. Please respond soon. God is calling you.

Book Review: Come, Creator Spirit: Meditations on the Veni Creator

TITLE:

Come, Creator Spirit: Meditations on the Veni Creator

AUTHOR:

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M., Cap.

PUBLISHER:

The Liturgical Press

Written particularly for the Charismatic Renewal in the English-speaking world, Come, Creator Spirit is a helpful guide for a better understanding of the Holy Spirit. In this detailed commentary on the famous hymn Veni Creator, sung at the beginning of every new year, ecumenical council, and priestly ordination, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa describes the Paraclete and gives praise to its glory. Progressing through the hymn line by line, he provides insights, reflections, hymnography of Christian traditions, and testimonies of the saints.

This book describes the Church’s experience of the Spirit of today, as well as the past. The biblical and theological base of the hymn opens the reader to the perspectives and inspirations in this book. Its Vision of the Holy Spirit in the history of salvation emerges as the reader progresses through the reading. In the celebration of the ecumenical character of Veni Creator, this book draws from Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic traditions for all those who wish to seek a better understanding of the Holy Spirit.

Chapters are Spirit, Come!” *Creator, – *Fill with Heavenly Grace the Hearts that You Have Made, – *You Whom We Name the Paraclete, – *Most High Gift of God, – *Living Water, – *Fire, – *Love, – *Anointing for the Soul, – *Sevenfold in Your Gifts, – *Finger of God’s Right Hand, – *The Father’s Solemn Promise, – *Gifting Lips with the Word to Say, – *Kindle Your Light in Our Minds, – *Pour Love into Our Hearts, – *Infirmity in This Body of Ours Overcoming with Strength Secure, – *The Enemy Drive from Us Away, – *Peace Then Give without Delay, – *With You As Guide We Avoid al Cause of Harm, – *Through You May We the Father Know, – *Through You May We Know the Son As Well, – and *And You, the Spirit of Them Both, May We Always Believe.

-Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M., Cap., is past professor of the history of Christian origins at the Catholic University of Milan and a member of the International Theological Commission. He is preacher to the papal household and author of The Mystery of Pentecost, Easter in the Early Church; The Eucharist: Our Sanctification; The Mystery of God’s Word; The Holy Spirit in the Life of Jesus; Jesus Christ, The Holy One of God; Mary, Mirror of the Church; The Mystery of Christmas; and The Mystery of Easter published by The Liturgical Press.

July 17, 2014 – Lectio Divina

Thursday, July 17 ~ Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Holy Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Meditation

What does the yoke of Jesus refer to in the gospel? The Jews used the image of a yoke to express submission to God. They spoke of the yoke of the law, the yoke of the commandments, the yoke of the kingdom, the yoke of God. Jesus says his yoke is “easy.” The Greek word for “easy” can also mean “well-fitting”. Yokes were tailor-made to fit the oxen well. We are commanded to put on the “sweet yoke of Jesus” and to live the “heavenly way of life and happiness”. Jesus also says his “burden is light”. There’s a story of a man who once met a boy carrying a smaller crippled lad on his back. “That’s a heavy load you are carrying there,” exclaimed the man. “He ain’t heavy; he’s my brother!” responded the boy. Think about it…no burden is ever too heavy when it is given in love and carried out in love.

Prayer

O God, who show the light of your truth to those who go astray, so that they may return to the right path, give all who for the faith they profess are accounted Christians the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ and to strive after all that does it honor. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Contemplation

Jesus offers us a new kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. In his kingdom sins are not only forgiven but removed, and eternal life is poured out for all its citizens. This is not a political kingdom, but a spiritual one. The yoke of Christ’s kingdom, his kingly rule and way of life, liberates us from the burden of guilt and from the oppression of sinful habits and hurtful desires. Only Jesus can lift the burden of sin and the weight of hopelessness from us. Jesus used the analogy of a yoke to explain how we can exchange the burden of sin and despair for a weight of glory and victory with him. The yoke which Jesus invites us to embrace is his way of love, grace, and freedom from the power of sin.

July 16, 2014 – Lectio Divina

Wednesday, July 16 ~ Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Holy Gospel: Matthew 11:25-27

At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

Meditation

In today’s gospel Jesus thanks the Father in heaven for revealing to his disciples the wisdom and knowledge of God. His prayer also contains a warning that pride can keep us from the love and knowledge of God. What makes us ignorant and blind to the things of God? Certainly intellectual pride, coldness of heart, and stubbornness of will shut out God and his kingdom. Pride is the root of all vice and the strongest influence propelling us to sin. It first vanquishes the heart, making it cold and indifferent towards God. It also closes the mind to God’s truth and wisdom for our lives. What is pride? It is the inordinate love of oneself at the expense of others and the exaggerated estimation of one’s own learning and importance. Jesus contrasts intellectual pride with child-like simplicity and humility. The simple of heart are “childlike” (not childish) in the sense that they see purely without pretense and acknowledge their dependence and trust in the one who is greater, wiser, and more trustworthy. They seek one thing – the “summum bonum” or “greatest good” who is God himself. Simplicity of heart is wedded with humility, the queen of virtues, because humility inclines the heart towards grace and truth. Just as pride is the root of every sin and evil, so humility is the only soil in which the grace of God can take root. It alone takes the right attitude before God and allows him as God to do all. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (ref. Book of Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6).

Prayer

May the venerable intercession of the glorious Virgin Mary come to our aid, we pray, O Lord, so that, fortified by her protection, we may reach the mountain which is Christ. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Contemplation

Jesus makes a claim which no one would have dared to make – he is the perfect revelation of God. One of the greatest truths of the Christian faith is that we can know the living God. Our knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing something about God, but we can know God personally. The essence of Christianity, and what makes it distinct from Judaism and other religions, is the knowledge of God as our Father. Jesus makes it possible for each of us to personally know God as our Father. To see Jesus is to see what God is like. In Jesus we see the perfect love of God – a God who cares intensely and who yearns over men and women, loving them to the point of laying down his life for them upon the Cross. Jesus is the revelation of God – a God who loves us completely and unconditionally.

About the Memorial to Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Sacred Scripture celebrated the beauty of Carmel where the prophet Elijah defended the purity of Israel’s faith in the living God. In the twelfth century, hermits withdrew to that mountain and later founded the Carmelite order devoted to the contemplative life under the patronage of Mary, the holy Mother of God. Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is worldwide, and most Catholics are familiar with the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, also known as the Brown Scapular. Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251, and gave him the scapular with the following words, which are preserved in a fourteenth century narrative: ‘”This will be for you and for all Carmelites the privilege, that he who dies in this will not suffer eternal fire.” The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was instituted for the Carmelites in 1332, and extended to the whole Church in 1726.

July 15, 2014 – Lectio Divina

Tuesday, July 15 ~ Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Holy Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24

Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum: Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the nether world. For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

Meditation

If Jesus were to walk down the streets of any community – your neighborhood, perhaps – what would he say? Would he issue a warning like the one he gave to Chorazin and Bethsaida? And how would you respond? Wherever Jesus went he did mighty works to show the people how much God had for them. Chorazin and Bethsaida had been blessed with the visitation of God. They heard the good news and experienced the wonderful works which Jesus did for them. Why was Jesus upset with these communities? The word woe can mean misfortune, calamity, distress, sorrow, sadness, misery, grief, or wretchedness. It is as much an expression of sorrowful pity and grief as it is of dismay over the calamity and destruction which comes as a result of human folly, sin, and ignorance.

Prayer

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, just as we celebrate the heavenly birthday of the Bishop Saint Bonaventure, we may benefit from his great learning and constantly imitate the ardor of his charity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Contemplation

Repentance demands constant change – a change of heart, a change of mind, and always a call to change the way we live our life. God’s word is life-giving and it saves us from destruction – the destruction of heart, mind, and soul as well as body. Jesus’ anger is directed toward sin and everything which hinders us from doing the will of God. In love he calls us to walk in his way of truth and freedom, grace and loving-kindness, justice and holiness. Do you receive his word with faith and obedience or with doubt and indifference?

July 14, 2014 – Lectio Divina

Monday, July 14 ~ Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin

Holy Gospel: Matthew 10:34-11:1

Jesus said to his Apostles: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple– amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.

Meditation

Why does Jesus describe his mission and the coming of God’s kingdom in terms of conflict, division, and war? Jesus came in peace to reconcile a broken and sinful humanity with an all-merciful and loving God. Jesus also came to wage war, to overthrow the powers and principalities arrayed against God and his kingdom. What are these powers? Jesus describes Satan as the ruler of this world whom he will cast out (John 12:31). The battle Jesus had in mind was not an earthly conflict between nations, but a spiritual warfare between the forces of Satan and the armies of heaven. The scriptures make clear that there are ultimately only two powers or kingdoms – God’s kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. John contrasts these two kingdoms in the starkest of terms: We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19).

Prayer

O God, who desired the Virgin Kateri Tekakwitha to flower among Native Americans in a life of innocence, grant, through her intercession, that when all are gathered into your Church from every nation, tribe and tongue, they may magnify you in a single canticle of praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Contemplation

When Jesus spoke about division he likely had in mind the prophecy of Micah: a man’s enemies are the men of his own household (Micah 7:6). The love of God compels us to choose who will be first in our lives. To place any relationship or anything else above God is a form of idolatry. Jesus challenges his disciples to examine who they love first and foremost. A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Jesus Christ. Jesus insists that his disciples give him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty which is higher than spouse or kin. It is possible that family and friends can become our enemies, if the thought of them keeps us from doing what we know God wants us to do. True love for God compels us to express charity towards our neighbor who is created in the image and likeness of God. Jesus declared that any kindness shown and any help given to the people of Christ will not lose its reward. Jesus never refused to give to anyone in need who asked for his help. As his disciples we are called to be kind and generous as he is. Jesus sets before his disciples the one goal in life that is worth any sacrifice and that goal is the will of God which leads to everlasting life, peace, and joy with God.

July 13, 2014 – From the Rector

ON THIS FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME we are treated to one of the great parables of Jesus about the sower and the seed. At one point when Jesus talks about what happens to certain seeds depending on where the seeds fall, He says: “But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Matthew 13:8-9) What is this fruit that Jesus speaks of? In Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 5:22 he writes the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are the fruits of the Spirit that we learned of in preparation to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Think of how beautiful our world would be if every man, woman and child produced these fruits 100 percent all the time – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. We truly would experience heaven on earth! Jesus has a plan for our world, that we would form a new society where these fruits would be practiced by everyone, a new society which would be a most beautiful society in which to live. That society has not yet come into existence because none of us is yet producing these fruits 100 percent of the time, let alone that not every person is on the same page with Jesus. Jesus gives reasons why. Some people allow the evil one to take the Word from their minds and hearts. These are the people who receive the seed on the edge of the path. They hear the word of God but don’t believe its promises. They have heard the teachings of Jesus but don’t take Him seriously. They are the people who forget the meaning of life, who live as if God doesn’t exist, people who forget that in this life we are only passing through. In Ephesians 1:18 we read a prayer which goes like this, “May the Father enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit…” Folks, if we forget what hope God’s call holds for us, or what rich glories God has promised us, then we will not produce fruit and we will be like the seed sown at the edge of the path. In his first letter Saint John wrote, “Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children, and that is what we are.” (1 John 3:1) If we don’t believe with all our hearts that we really are children of God since we were baptized then we will not produce the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. Is it because we don’t believe fully the promises of God? Is it because we are like seed sown on the edge of the path and allow the evil one to carry off the Word from our hearts? Of course the second group who do not produce 100 percent fruit are those who fall away when some trial comes or some persecution. These people are like the seed sown on patches of rock, they spring up straight away but have no root and give up following Jesus when it gets tough. When the culture of the world is different from the new society Jesus wants to found they are afraid to take their stand for Jesus and so no fruit is produced. Then there is the third group Jesus lists – those who allow the worries of the world or the lure and temptations of riches to choke His message in us. They have forgotten that hearses do not pull trailers after them loaded up with the possessions of the deceased (remember, you can’t take it with you)! These people are like the seed that fell among thorns and the thorns that choked Jesus’ message are the worries of the world and the lure of riches. Then there is the fourth group Jesus names – those who produce fruit from His message. They are the ones who received the seed in rich soil and yielded a harvest, now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty. They are the ones who allowed the eyes of their mind to be enlightened so that they could see what hope God’s call held for them, and what rich glories the saints are promised to inherit. They are, in the words of James 1:22: “doers of the Word, not hearers only.” Folks, may God the Father enlighten our minds and set our hearts aflame so that we can see what hope His call holds for us, embrace and live His word, undergo a radical transformation of mind and heart and our very lives so that we can experience the rich glories He has promised the saints will inherit, so that we may receive the Word of God in rich soil and yield a harvest, now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.

QUICK HEATH UPDATE: My first follow-up with the surgeon took place this past week, and he is quite pleased with my post-surgical healing and my overall progress – if the surgeon is happy, I am happy. First meeting with the oncologist is this coming week – I will keep you apprised of this next step in my overall progress in ridding my colon of cancer.

Fr. Mike Lumpe

July 13, 2014 – Parishioners in Prayer

PLEASE KEEP THESE PARISHIONERS IN PRAYER
[one_half]Max Flores

Jennifer Bogdziewicz

Charles & Nancy Brant

JoAnn Buttler

Ann Marie Elkins

Don Fortner

Ruth Harper

Bernie Hause

Jonathan Holmes[/one_half] [one_half_last]Jonathan Holmes

Pam Jurgens

Fr. Mike Lumpe

Maria Paras

Linda Pauley

David Simmons

Sandra Valencia

Bill & Dora Zweydorff

Christopher Clark.[/one_half_last]Jack Beckman

 

“Jesus”: The Shortest, Simplest, and Most Powerful Prayer in the World

P e t e r   K r e e f t

I am now going to tell you about the shortest, simplest, and most powerful prayer in the world. 

It is called the “Jesus Prayer”, and it consists simply in uttering the single word “Jesus” (or “Lord Jesus”, or “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner”) in any situation, at any time and place, either aloud or silently. 

There is only one prerequisite, one presupposition: that you are a Christian. If you have faith in Christ, hope in Christ, and love of Christ, you can pray the most powerful prayer in the world, because you have real contact with the greatest power in the universe: Christ himself, who assured us, in his last words to his apostles, that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Mt 28:18). 

It is also the simplest of all prayers. It is not one of the many “methods”, because it bypasses methods and cuts right to the heart of practicing God’s presence, which is the essence of prayer, the secret of which has been given to us by God the Father. The secret is simply God the Son, God incarnate, the Lord Jesus. 

1. Its simplicity and flexibility 

As the Catechism says, “The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always…. This prayer is possible ‘at all times’ because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus” (CCC 2668). 

Because it is so short and simple, this prayer can be prayed literally at any time at all and at all times, even times when longer and more complex forms of prayer are not practical or even possible. This includes times of anguish, pain, or stress, and times of deep happiness and joy. 

It can be used by everyone (and has been): by the rankest beginner and the most advanced saint. It is not only for beginners; the saints use it too. It is not “cheating” just because it is so short. For it will make you pray more, not less. This only sounds paradoxical, for one of the things Jesus reminds us to do, when we invoke him by name, is to pray more! 

It is so simple that it is like the center point of a circle. It is the whole circle. It contains in itself the whole gospel. The Catechism says: “The name ‘Jesus’ contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation” (CCC 2666). Into this name the Christian can pour all of his faith, with nothing whatsoever left over, for to be a Christian is to rest all of your faith on Christ, with nothing left over. 

It is not only the shortest prayer but also the shortest and earliest creed. Twice the New Testament mentions this most basic of all the Christian creeds: the simple three-word sentence “Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor 12:3) and the same creed in four words: “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil 2:11). It is also the most distinctively Christian creed, for “Lord” (Kyrios) means “God”, and Christ’s divinity and lordship over one’s life is the distinctive, essential faith of Christians: no non-Christian believes that (if he did, he would be a Christian), and all Christians believe it (if they do not, they are not Christians) . 

2. What it is not: Magic 

Like any prayer, it “works”, not by the power of some impersonal magic but by the power of personal faith and hope and love. It is like a sacrament in that way: it “works” objectively (ex opere operato), by the power of God’s action, not ours; but it does not “work” without our free choice. It is like turning on a hose: the water comes to us, not from us, but it comes only when we choose to let it through. 

The mere pronunciation of the name “Jesus” is not invoking him and is not prayer. A parrot could do that. God does not deal in magic, because magic bypasses the soul, especially the heart; it is like a machine. But God is a lover, and he wants our hearts, wants to transform our hearts, wants to live in our hearts. 

Love is its own end. Magic, like technology, is always used as a means to some greater end. If you pray this prayer as a means, as a kind of magic or spiritual technology, then you are using it as you would use a machine or magic spell. What you love and desire is the higher end, the thing that the machine or magic spell gets you. But whatever that thing is, the love of things—of God’s gifts instead of God—does not bring God closer; it pushes him farther away. So using this prayer as a kind of magic does exactly the opposite of what prayer is supposed to do. 

When you pray this prayer, do not concentrate on the name, the word, the sound, or the letters. Do not think of the name but of Jesus. And do not try to meditate on scenes from the Gospels or truths from theology, or to imagine what Jesus looks like, as you do in some other forms of prayer. Just reach out to Jesus in blind faith. “The principal thing is to stand before God with the mind in the heart, and to go on standing before Him unceasingly day and night, until the end of life” (Bishop Theophan, quoted by Kallistos Ware in The Power of the Name: The Jesus Prayer in Orthodox Spirituality). 

3. What it is not: Psychology 

This prayer is not merely subjective, like a psychological device, any more than it is merely objective, like magic. It is not a sort of Christian yoga. It is not meditation. Its purpose is not to transform our consciousness and make us mystics, or to bring inner peace, or to center on our own heart. Whether these things are good or bad, these things are not what this prayer is for. 

For all these things are subjective, inside the human soul; but this prayer is dialogue, relationship, reaching out to another person, to Jesus, God made man, invoking him as your savior, lover, lord, and God. You have faith and hope in him as your savior; you love him as your lover; you obey him as your lord; you adore him as your God. 

In this prayer our attention is not directed inward, into our own consciousness, but only out onto Jesus. Even when we address Jesus living in our own soul, he is not self but other; he is Lord of the self. 

Yet, although our intention in this prayer is not to transform our consciousness, this prayer does transform our consciousness. How? It unifies it. Our usual consciousness is like an unruly, stormy sea, or like a flock of chattering monkeys, or a cage of butterflies, or a hundred little bouncing balls of mercury spilled from a fever thermometer. We cannot gather it together. Only God can, for God is the Logos. One of the meanings of this incredibly rich word in ancient Greek, the word given to the eternal, divine, pre-incarnate Christ, is “gathering-into-one”. When we pray this prayer and invoke Jesus the Logos, Jesus the Logos acts and does in fact unify our consciousness. But this is not what we aim at; we aim at him. The unification of our consciousness happens in us (slowly and subtly and sweetly) only when we forget ourselves in him. This is one of the ways “he who loses his self shall find it.” 

Repetition of the holy name conditions our unconscious mind to see this name as normal, as central, and to expect him to be present and active, as a dog is conditioned by his master to see its master as central and to expect its master to be present and active. Do we train our dogs but not our own unconscious minds? 

You may object, “But this sounds like a magic spell or a mantra: something not rational.” In a sense it is (though not in the sense repudiated above). Do you not know that black magic can be overcome only by white magic, not by reason? And our culture’s secularism and materialism is a powerful spell of black magic. It makes us judge Jesus by its standards instead of judging it by his standards, because it makes us see Jesus as abnormal and our culture as normal; to see Jesus as a questionable, tiny thing surrounded by an unquestionable, greater thing, namely, our culture. This is a cosmic illusion! Invoking the holy name builds up resistance to that illusion. That is not black magic; it is not itself an illusion but sheer realism. Jesus is everywhere and everywhen and the ultimate meaning of everything. This prayer in deed conditions us, but it conditions us to know reality. 

4. What it is: Power 

“The kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power”, says Saint Paul (1 Cor 4:20). The reason this prayer is so powerful is that the name of Jesus is not just a set of letters or sounds. It is not a passive word but a creative word, like the word by which God created the universe. (He is the Word by which God created the universe!) Every time we receive Christ in the Eucharist, we are instructed by the liturgy to pray, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” All our energy and effort is not strong enough to heal our own souls, but God’s word of power is. That word is so powerful that by it God made the universe out of nothing, and by it he is doing the even greater deed of making saints out of sinners. That word is Jesus Christ. 

In most ancient societies, a person’s name was treated, not as a mere artificial label for pragmatic purposes of human communication, but as a truth, a sign of the person’s unique identity. Revealing your name was thus an act of intimate personal trust, like a handshake. A handshake originally meant: “See? I bear no weapon. You can trust me.” It is a little like your P.I.N. today. 

In all of human history, God revealed his own true name, his eternal name, only to one man—Moses—and only to one people—the Hebrews, his own “chosen people”—and only at one time—at the burning bush (Ex 3). This name was the secret no philosopher or mystic had ever attained, the very essence of God, the nature of ultimate reality: “I AM.” 

But then, many centuries later, God did an even greater thing; he revealed a new name in Jesus (“Savior”). This is now the most precious name in the world. 

It is a golden key. It opens all doors, transforms all corners of our lives. But we do not use this golden key, and doors remain locked. In fact, our society is dying because it has turned the most precious name in the world, the name of its Savior, into a casual curse word. 

Even Muslims respect the holy name of Jesus more than Christians do, in practice: they commonly add “blessed be he” every time they pronounce it. 

In the Acts of the Apostles (3:1-10), Peter and John heal a man lame from birth when they say, “In the name of Jesus Christ, walk.” Throughout the history of the Church and the lives of the saints, many such miracles of healing have been done “in his name”. Exorcisms are performed “in his name”. The name of Jesus is so powerful that it can knock the devil out of a soul! 

The name of Jesus is our salvation. John ends his Gospel with this summary: “These [things] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (Jn 20:31, emphasis added). “The name of Jesus Christ” is not only the key to power-filled prayer but the key to our salvation. So we had better understand it! What does the phrase “in the name of Jesus Christ” mean? 

Suppose you are poor, but your father is rich. When you try to cash a check for half a million dollars in your own name, you will get only a laugh from the bank. But if the check is in your father’s name, you will get the money. Our Father in Heaven gave us unlimited grace in the “account” of Jesus Christ and then put us “into Christ”, inserted us into his family, so that we can use the family name, so to speak, to cash checks on the account of divine grace. Saint Paul tells us that our account is unlimited: “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). Jesus himself first assured us of this wonderful truth, which we find hard to believe because it seems too good to be true, and then he explained why it is true: “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Mt 7:7-I I)”. 

If even we love our children so much that we do not settle for anything less than the very best for them, why do we think God loves his children less? 

5. What it is: Real presence 

It is probably a very good exercise to practice “the imitation of Christ”, to walk “in his steps”, to ask “What would Jesus do?” in all circumstances. But the prayer we are teaching now is even better, for two reasons. First, invoking his name invokes his real presence, not mental imitation; something objective, not subjective; between us and him, not just in us. Second, it is actual, not potential; indicative, not subjunctive; “What is Jesus doing?” rather than “What would Jesus do?” 

To invoke Jesus’ name is to place yourself in his presence, to open yourself to his power, his energy, The prayer of Jesus’ name actually brings God closer, makes him more present. He is always present in some way, since he knows and loves each one of us at every moment; but he is not present to those who do not pray as intimately as he is present to those who do. Prayer makes a difference; “prayer changes things.” It may or may not change our external circumstances. (It does if God sees that that change is good for us; it does not if God sees that it is not.) But it always changes our relationship to God, which is infinitely more important than external circumstances, however pressing they may seem, because it is eternal but they are temporary, and because it is our very self but they are not. 

6. What it is: Grace 

In saying it brings God closer, I do not mean to say that it changes God. It changes us. But it does not just make a change within us, a psychological change; it makes a change between us and God, a real, objective change. It changes the real relationship; it increases the intimacy. It is as real as changing your relationship to the sun by going outdoors. When we go outdoors into the sun, we do not move the sun closer to us, we move ourselves closer to the sun. But the difference it makes is real: we can get warmed only when we stand in the sunlight—and in the Sonlight. 

When this happens, it is not merely something we do but something God does in us. It is grace, it is his action; our action is to enter into his action, as a tiny stream flows into a great river. 

His coming is, of course, his gift, his grace. The vehicle by which he comes is also his grace: it is Jesus himself. And the gift he gives us in giving us his blessed name to invoke is also his grace. So, therefore, his coming to us in power on this vehicle, this name, is also pure grace. Even our remembering to use this vehicle, this name, is his grace. As Saint Therese said, “Everything is a grace.” 

7. What it is: Sacramental 

The Catechism says: “To pray ‘Jesus’ is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies” (CCC 2666). In other words, it is sacramental. 

God comes to us on his name like a king on his stallion. When we pray to the Father in Jesus’ name, we provide God with a vehicle to come to us— or, rather, we use the vehicle God has provided for us. We do not initiate, we respond; we respond to his grace by using the gift of his name that he gave us and told us to use; and he responds to our obedience by doing what he promised: actually coming. 

This is the definition of a sacrament: a sign instituted by Christ to give grace and a sign that actually effects what it signifies. Jesus himself is the primary sacrament. So the believing Christian’s use of Jesus’ name is sacramental. The very act of praying “Jesus” effects what it signifies, brings about what the name “Jesus” signifies, which is “Savior”, or “God saves”. That is the literal meaning, in Hebrew, of the name God commanded Joseph to give to Mary’s son: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21). 

A name is not a machine, for a person is not a machine. The name of a person must be personally “involved” (that is, called upon) in faith and hope and love, as a human father is “invoked” by his son in Jesus’ parable in Matthew 7. But though it is not a machine, it really “works”: when a son calls to his father, “Dad!” the father actually comes. Why? Suppose we were to ask the father. His answer would be obvious: “Because that’s my son!” The same is true of our relationship to God now that Christ has made us God’s children and his brothers. No stranger can call a human being “Dad”, and no stranger can be sure that a man will come if he calls him only by his “proper name”, for example, “Mr. Smith”. But Mr. Smith’s son can be sure his dad will come because his son can invoke him under the name “Dad”, as no one else can. Jesus has made it possible for us to do the same with God. In fact, the name he taught us to call God is “Abba”, which is the Hebrew word, not just for “Father”, but for “Dad”, or “Daddy”, or even “Dada”. It is the word of ultimate intimacy. 

You may think the claim that invoking his name actually brings about his presence is an arrogant one. But in fact it is a humble one, because it is obeying his design, not initiating our own. 

Or you may think, “What right do we have to think he will come whenever we call? Is he a dog?” No, he is a lover. 

8. What it is: Sacred 

The fact that this holy name of Jesus actually brings about the presence of God explains why God gave us, as the second of all his commandments, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” (Ex 20:7). In the Old Testament, the self-revealed name of God was YHWH, in Hebrew: a name is always written without the vowels because it was forbidden to pronounce it, since it meant “I AM”, or “I AM WHO AM”, and to pronounce that name is to claim to bear it. You can pronounce any other name, like “Ivan” or “Mary” or “Hey, You” without claiming to be the person who bears that name; there is only one name that you cannot say in the second person (you) or the third person (he or she), and that is “I”. Thus no Jew ever dared to pronounce that holy name, or even guess how the vowels were supposed to be pronounced, because it could be truly spoken only by God himself. That is why the Jews tried to execute Jesus for blasphemy when he pronounced it in his own name (Jn 8:58). 

And that is also why Jesus commanded us to pray to the Father, as the very first petition of the model prayer he taught (which we call the Lord’s Prayer, or the Our Father) “Hallowed be thy name” (Mt 6:9). For we actually bring about and fulfill what we pray for when we call on the holy name of Jesus. We bring his presence and his mercy down from Heaven to earth, so to speak. Thus it is blasphemy to treat this holy name like any other name, because it has a holy power unlike any other power. 

9. Its practice 

I will tell you a little bit from my own experience about what I think will happen when you use this prayer. For I have tried many other, more complex, and more abstract ways to pray, and I have found them all less effective than this most childlike of all ways. 

Perhaps the most shattering consequence of his real presence, which is brought about by invoking his name, is that we become unable to lie to ourselves any more. He is light, and wherever he inserts his lordship there is now an absolute necessity of honesty and a zero tolerance for any form of self-deception, self-congratulation, or self-gratification, even those forms that felt necessary, natural, and almost innocent before. He is gentle, but he is light, and he simply does not and will not coexist with any darkness at all; either he casts it out, or it keeps him out. 

This is the negative dimension of the fact that he is light. He subtracts our falsehoods. But he also adds his truth. The positive dimension is essentially a clarification of vision, of perspective, of “the big picture”. He does not (usually) give specific directions or instant solutions, but he always gives a clarification of our vision. (This usually happens gradually.) 

Thus there is a positive side to even the negative point made above. For instance, he makes us men see how flawed and mixed our motives are even in such natural and spontaneous things as a look into the face of a beautiful woman. (Half of all the women in the world are beautiful to men, nearly all are beautiful when they smile, and all are beautiful all the time to God.) We find that there is something in this look that is his, and also something that is not from him but is from the world, the flesh, or the Enemy. 

And yet this insight does not bring about a guilty despair but a happy humility. For it is a sign of his presence. He is the standard. When the plumb line is present, apparently straight lines show their inclination. And this is, of course, upsetting (how easily our lines incline!), but much more is it a cause of joy (it is he!). As John Wesley said, “The best thing is, God is with us.” Once we realize that, we have the secret of joy: simply to do all that is from his will with joy, because he is there, and what is not from his will do not do. 

And when his light and our darkness, his straight and our crooked, are thus brought into relationship and warfare, we gain rather than lose, even if it is upsetting. It is like bringing in the Roto-Rooter man: the garbage becomes visible, but it also becomes removable. Before his light came in, our sin was just as much present but undetected. But he was not just as much present. So that is a gain. Furthermore, he is stronger than sin; he exorcises sin more than sin exorcises him. All we have to do is to give him a chance. Open the blinds, and light casts out darkness every time. 

This new sense of vision or perspective that invoking his name brings about is most sharply perceived when we invoke his name upon our problems and complaints. The wordless message I seem to get most frequently is something like this: “There are things that are infinitely more important for you than these little problems. They are all little compared to me. In fact, most of what you think of as your problems are in fact your opportunities—opportunities for the really important thing, the ‘one thing needful’, your relationship with me. So get on with it. You don’t have much more time.” He is surprisingly brisk and unsentimental. He is a no-nonsense God. 

Perhaps the most definite and ubiquitous sign of his real presence, and the clearest difference between the times when I invoke his name and the times when I do not, is the state of quiet, calm alertness that he brings. Usually, I am either calm or alert, not both. When I am calm, I am relaxed and ready for sleep; when I am alert, I am worried or agitated and ready for problems. His peace, however, is not sleepiness, and his alertness is not anxiety. 

His presence manifests itself, not in fire or wind or thunder, but in a still, small voice. Only in this quietness does he give us the certainty of his presence. We usually cannot hear this because we are making so much inner noise, especially when we are agitated. But this is when he wants most to come, for he goes where the need is. 

And what happens when we invoke him during our agitation? He answers! But not by magic or spectacle. Nothing spectacular happens when I invoke the holy name at times when I am reacting to my problems by the “fight-or-flight response” that is so natural to our animal nature (that is, either by the “fight” of inner rage and resentment or by the “flight” of self-pity and fantasizing). At such times, when I pray his name, I do not suddenly feel holy or happy, but I do suddenly feel … well, “mature” is the only word that comes to mind. The word from the Word is often something like “Grow up!” I suddenly see that far more important things are at stake than my feelings, when I let his great wave come in and wash my little garbage away. What had looked big on my beach looks tiny in his waves. 

We do not always get specific answers, even when we invoke his name; but we always get the Answerer. It is better to have his authority for “no answer” than our authority for ours. When I am in the middle of some garbage, he gives me no answer to my questions “Why did you put me here?” or “How do I solve it?”, but he gives me instead an answer to another question: “Who? ” It is he. That is his answer: himself. The real question is: “Who’s there?” And the answer is in Matthew 14:27. 

We always start our sentences with “I”. We unconsciously play God. He teaches us to see our “I” as surrounded by him instead of vice versa. He is no longer an ingredient in our experience; we are ingredients in his. We are actors in his play; he is not an actor in ours, not even the most important actor. 

Let me give you a small example of the positive side to this “sense of perspective” that we get from invoking his name. The other day he reminded me to speak his name while I was painting an unimportant piece of porch wood, and I suddenly saw that what I was doing was not just painting a porch but painting a portrait, myself, I was walking Home to him. Each brush stroke was a small step to Heaven. Heaven was here in this old porch, too. For all beauty, even this tiny bit of it that I was making, is his, is like him; beauty is one of the things he is, and all earthly beauty is a sunbeam of his sun. I remembered the story of two men hauling stones through a muddy medieval street. One was cursing and the other was singing. A traveler asked them what they were doing. The curser replied, “I’m trying to get this damned rock to roll through this damned mud!” The singer replied, “I’m building a cathedral.” 

Is there any downside to this prayer? What is the main problem with this prayer? 

Simply remembering to do it. This is embarrassing, because this forgetting is so foolish. Why do we forget? Clearly this forgetting is not merely a mental problem. There are mental blocks to remembering. Something in us fears remembering. And I think we all know what that is. 

When we do remember and call him, and he comes and acts, he does all the work, for free! Our part is only to call; the Great Physician makes house calls and charges nothing. And yet we continually fail to call him. Is this reasonable? 

The solution to this “forgetting” is not in our power but his. In order to receive, we must ask for the grace of remembering to ask. And for the grace to trust him with our thoughts as well as with our lives. He is the Master also of our miserable memories. A thought comes into our mind when he says, “Come!” and leaves when he says “Go!” He is the centurion, our thoughts are his soldiers. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord. 

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Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and at the King’s College (Empire State Building), in New York City. He was Baptized in the Spirit in 1972; is in wide demand as a speaker at conferences, and is the author of over 75 books including: Handbook of Christian Apologetics; Christianity for Modern Pagans; and Fundamentals of the Faith.