General view of the open-air mass conducted by Pope Benedict XVI in the vast explanade of the National Sanctuary of Aparecida, in Aparecida do Norte, Brazil.
Popes have been using the Apostleship of Prayer as a dedicated prayer group for about 120 years. . Each month this group encourages us to pray for the monthly intentions of the Holy Father
Pope Benedict’s intention for November, 2007 is Respect for Life. That medical researchers and legislators may have a deep respect for human life from its beginning to its natural conclusion.
Each month the Apostleship of Prayer offers a monthly reflection on the the Holy Fathers intentions:
Something that many parents will appreciate is that they offer a reflection for children each month too.
The Apostleship of Prayer also encourages the morning offering. Their motto is a simple profound way of life. Father Raoul Plus, S. J. in his book Christ in Our Time explains:
“As all activity is offered to God in the morning, with occasional renewals during the day, all work is undertaken solely for the Glory of the Master, and rises to Heaven like a prayer…To pray always-that is what it means. That is not to say that the soul should always be in the act of prayer, but rather that it should live in a state of elevation. It is to live always with the implicit desire strongly formed in the soul to render to God, in every passing moment the glory which is His due.”
When most people start taking down their Halloween decorations, stores around Los Angeles put up garland and wreaths.
One of my pet peeves is the fact that commercially the Christmas season now starts right after Halloween. When I was young businesses did not promote Christmas until after Thanksgiving. But we are living more and more in a consumer society – you guessed it Christmas = money.
Why don’t we try to beat them at their own game? Let’s make this a real Christmas season and start preparing spiritually now. Today Dan and Mike Engler sent us a link to a really great video on You-tube. It combines Christmas with the pro-life message. Click here:
This weekend we attended the Holy Family Festival in Ojai. They had a wonderful speaker from Catholic Answers, Tim Staples, who gave two talks on “The Immaculate Conception and the Dignity of Man”. Tim Staples is a fabulous speaker and I would recommend him highly for both adults and teenagers.
At the end of the day, we were fortunate enough to get to speak with Tim and his lovely wife, Valerie. Tim brought up an interesting scripture about Mary and referenced St. Jerome’s interpretation of it. We were surprised because we weren’t aware of this passage about Mary’s pregnancy and the Unborn Christ Child.
“The LORD has created a new thing upon the earth: the woman must encompass the man with devotion.” Jeremiah 31:22
St. Jerome in his commentary on this verse understood it of Mary’s virginal conception of Christ. “The LORD has created a new thing on earth; without seed of man, without carnal union and conception, ‘a woman will encompass a man’ within her womb – One who, though He will later appear to advance in wisdom and age through the stages of infancy and childhood, yet, while confined for the usual number of months in his mother’s womb, will already be perfect man.” USCCB New American Bible Footnote 3 Point C
Our Lady of Perpetual Help *
Caryll Houselander was born on October 29, 1901. Caryll was one of the most popular spiritual writers of her day. She is certainly still one of my favorites. Many of her books are still in print. Maisie Ward (Frank Sheed’s wife) wrote a wonderful biography about her “Caryll Houselander – The Divine Eccentric” which was published in 1962.
While in college (many eons ago) a friend of mine and I were reading this biography at the same time – I still remember a funny comment that she made to me at the time – ‘Hey, this is actually, the first person I’ve read about who might be a saint who drank a Martini.’ I think Maisie Ward had a story in the book about inviting Caryll over for dinner and giving her a before dinner drink. I don’t have the book so I can’t check on why my friend made this comment but it made me laugh at the time and has always stuck with me.
On the occasion of her death, Ronald Knox said of Caryll Houselander that she could have established a school of spirituality. In a letter to The Tablet on 23 October 1954, he wrote:
“…she seemed to see everybody for the first time, and the driest of doctrinal considerations shone out like a restored picture when she had finished with it. And her writing was always natural; she seemed to find no difficulty in getting the right word; no, not merely the right word, the telling word, that left you gasping.”
Of course I’m going to end this with a quote from Caryll Houselander about the Unborn Christ Child from her book, The Passion of the Infant Christ.
“There is in fact, a huge force, a tremendous power for love being neglected, not being used, at the time when it is needed as never before and when every sign seems to be pointing to it and challenging it as the only answer-the power of the Infancy of Christ.
The Infant Christ is the whole Christ. Christ was not more God, more Christ, more man, on the Cross than He was in His Mother’s womb. His first tear, His first smile, His first pulsation in the womb of His Mother, could have redeemed the world.”
*An icon venerated by Christians of the East and West for centuries. The Archangels Gabriel and Michael hold the instruments of the Lord’s Passion, while the Divine Child looks on and clings to His Mother’s hand. Also known as “Our Mother of Sorrows.”
As God, He knew that the angelic apparition was prophetic of His future passion. Yet in His human nature as a small child, He is frightened and runs to His Mother for protection. Our Lady hastily picks Him up and clasps Him to her bosom. This action is indicated by the fact that the Lord’s right foot is nervously curled about the left ankle and in such haste that His right sandal has become loosened and hangs by a single strap. Further action is indicated by the way the Child Jesus clasps His Mother’s right hand with both of His, holding tightly to Our Lady’s thumb.
Caryll Houselander’s (1901-1954) birthday is October 29. Here is a beautiful quote from her book The Passion of the Infant Christ.
“Rest is not idleness; indeed, restlessness is the torment of idle people….
Rest, far from being relaxation, is a culmination, a fullness of gathered peace, like the fullness and stillness of waters gathered to a flood tide.
Think of a child asleep in his mother’s arms; the abandon with which he gives himself to sleep can only be because he has complete trust in the arms that hold him. He is not lying asleep on that heart because he is worn out with anxiety. He is asleep there because it is a delight to him to be asleep there. The mother rests too. She rests in his rest. Her mind and her body rest in him. … Rest is a communion of love between them. It is a culmination of content.
…Not content to be a human being, Christ wishes to be each human being, and in fact is born in the soul of everyone who will receive Him; and in each one in whom He lives, whose life He lives, He is loved infinitely by the Father, loved for what He is, the only Son.
…If this were realized there could be no one who could not fulfill the first condition of rest, which is trust.”
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae
Here is a beautiful quote from John Paul II’s encyclical, The Gospel of Life:
“In every child which is born and in every person who lives or dies we see the image of God’s glory. We celebrate this glory in every human being, a sign of the living God, an icon of Jesus Christ.” #84
One of my favorite quotes from St. Francis de Sales
“…if someone intends to build a house or a palace he must first consider whether it is to be a lodging for a vine dresser or a peasant or if it is for a lord, since obviously he would use entirely different plans depending on the rank of the person who is to live there. Now the Eternal Father did just that when he built this world. He intended to create it for the Incarnation of His Son, the Eternal Word. The end or goal of His work was thus its beginning, for Divine Wisdom had foreseen from all eternity that His Word would assume our nature in coming to earth.” The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Advent and Christmas
There is a wonderful tradition in Christendom of beginning each day by offering oneself and one’s day to God. It has been called by some ‘morning devotions’ or more frequently in Catholicism a ‘morning offering’. One of the traditional morning offering prayers is that promoted by the Apostleship of Prayer.
The morning offering is a great way to start each day. I know when I make this offering as I begin my day I am often mindful of the offering Christ made to His Father, from Mary’s womb, as He entered the world:
“Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired;
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, Lo, I have come to do your will, O God.”
Pope Paul VI called this “…the fundamental offering that the Incarnate Word made to the Father when He entered the world (cf. Heb. 10:5-7).” Marialis Cultus, #20
St. Alphonsus De Ligouri, a Doctor of the Church, made the following comment about this quote from Heb. 10:5-7:
“The divine Word, from the first instant that he was made man and an infant in Mary’s womb, offered himself of his own accord…” (The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ)
John Paul II, reflecting on these words in Hebrews states: “He places himself as a gift within the womb of Mary.” (The Word Made Flesh). Later, in the same book he says: “All Christians are in fact called to share in Christ’s priesthood and mirror his total gift of self to the Father and be a spiritual sacrifice…”
One way we can mirror this total gift of self that Christ made as He first came into the world is to offer ourselves to the Lord as we start each day.