THE FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION

I meant to write this Sat. March 25, since that was the Feast of the Annunciation. This is the day we celebrate:  Luke 1:26-38

The Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.: Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

CANTICLE OF MARY:  And Mary told Elizabeth  (Luke 1:46-55)

MY SOUL proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the might from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.

GLORY TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, and to the HOLY SPIRIT, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen


The Glory Be to the Father is a prayer Catholics say often.  If only we would be as willing to do what God asks without question.   Here is a prayer for that:

Jesus, You became flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pray for me, that I may deny myself and choose God’s will for my life, for I know and believe that He is a good Father and will lead me to salvation. Amen

 

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HISTORY OF LENT AND WHY 40 DAYS

The Catholic TV monthly magazine had an article about the History of Lent. I thought maybe some of you might be interested:

History of Lent-what did fasting used to look like: The Lenten season, preparation for Easter, has been observed from the onset of Christ’s Church, although there have been inconsistencies with duration and practices.  The Council of Nicea, 325AD, established Easter’s fluid date as the Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox. In 461 AD, Pope St. Leo established the duration as 40 consecutive days before Easter. Pope Gregory the Great, in the sixth century, added the dispensing of ashes the preceding Wednesday (Ash Wednesday), making Lent 46 days. Sundays were considered feast days and not included in the count. (However, my mother informed us kids that if we gave up Movies for Lent we could not go on Sundays, or it wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice. Connie)

Initially, all forms of meat, fish and animal products were excluded for the entirety of Lent. People were allowed one meal per day, after 3 pm. In the 1400’s that time was revised to noon. Eventually, a small snack was included to sustain energy. Over time, fish, meat and eventually dairy products were allowed. However, fasting was require all 40 days. It wasn’t until 1966 that fast days were lessened to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday only. (Now, we give up meat on Fridays during Lent, along with Ash Wednesday)

WHY 40 DAYS????The number 40 has ecclesial significance: Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai before receiving the Ten Commandments; Jesus spent 40 days in prayer and fasting prior to beginning his ministry. So, too, we spend 40 days preparing to do God’s work.

WHY  DO WE HAVE PENITENTIAL SEASONS?  (This is a question many Christians ask Catholics, who quite often don’t know the answer) Jesus gave the example of a penitential retreat, spending prayerful time in the desert preparing for His ministry, reflecting on God’s will and determining how He’d freely make that happen. Penitential seasons offer us this same opportunity to withdraw from our routines and evaluate our spiritual progress or regression. We do this through reflection and repentance, which enable us to identify our weaknesses and make reparation to amend our sinful ways. Penitential seasons create time to reflect on our need to make God the focal point of our lives. The result can be spiritually rewarding. (Many Catholics spend extra time in prayer. Go to extra Masses, the Stations of the Cross, and other spiritual reading during Lent)

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT RULES FOR LENT IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?

All Catholics, ages 14 and up, are bound by the law of abstinence. Abstinence means refraining from the consumption of meat (land animals) on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent. Why Friday? To unite ourselves with Jesus’ sacrifice, made for us on Good Friday.

All Catholics, ages 18-59, are to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting is defined as eating one full, meatless meal on prescribed days. Bits of food can be taken at other traditional meal times though their combined total should not equal a full meal.

Penitential practices, like fasting and abstinence, are intended to refocus our thoughts and intentions toward God. Lent’s 40 days include Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday (the Lenten fast continues until Holy Saturday), not including Sundays. Sundays are optional but encouraged. For health reasons, the infirm, ill, and pregnant or nursing mothers are exempt.

Three other Lenten disciplines are prayer (daily conversation with the Lord) fasting (from behaviors which detract from our relationship with God) and  almsgiving (sharing our resources, ensuring the basic needs of human dignity).

I WILL ADD; many Catholics like to go to the  Stations of the Cross usually on Friday if it is available in their Churches. The Stations of the Cross actually started before the Crusades when Christian were free to go to Jerusalem.  I read where they used to journey from Rome and Europe to Israel to follow the footsteps of Jesus to the Cross. Much like people do now. Then when the Muslims took over the Holy Lands and the Christians could not go there, they started setting up outdoor statues or pictures of what we now call the Passion of Christ. From the Last Supper to the capture in the garden, the whippings and crown of thorns thru the town, past the women, and when he had help carrying the cross and when He was nailed to the cross. Now Catholic Churches have pictures or carvings on the wall that go around the church, 14 stations showing the Passion of Jesus.  People say prayers at each station and they are called the Stations of the Cross.  It follows the story of His Passion in the Bible Gospels. Usually on Good Friday, when possible, the Stations are said at 3PM, the time that Jesus died.

GIVING ALMS: During Lent as with other times of the year, but especially during Lent, we can give up something we spend money on, coffee, candy, movies, whatever, and give that money to the poor. Examples; the Salvation Army, Local Food Cupboards or you can look up Catholic Relief Services (CRS) or Catholic Charities for example, all these organizations help people who are desperate for help.  Catholics have what we call a “Rice Bowl” we put on the table or somewhere in our home where everyone can drop money in, on Easter we put the money in an envelope marked RICE BOWL put it in the collection basket,and the Church sends all the money to Catholic Relief Services to feed the poor in other countries.  You can look up CRS Rice Bowl on line: http://www.crsricebowl.org. To get more information. Catholics have been donating to CRS for many years. They are all over the world helping and teaching the poor how to  feed and support themselves and they are at places of devastation like Haiti helping people to recover and start over.

CONVERSION STORY NO.???????????????

We have talked before about how our Conversion Stories never really end. Every once in a while something new happens that makes us want to re-commit ourselves to Jesus. This is one of those stories.

About 7 years or so ago, I started having a very fast heart beat, which then caused other problems, which resulted in several operations and a loss of energy. Of course, at the same time, I was getting older, which also results in a loss of that youthful energy.  Anyway, a few years before that after I retired from  working, I started talking to Jesus and asked Him what he wanted me to do next. After several years of prayer, and “What do you want me to do”? and several bible classes, a thought hit me during the night.  It seems, I always get my communications from Jesus at night.

The people that had been leading our bible and religious study classes had either moved or were worn out and had stopped coming up with ideas. It seems that is what Jesus wanted me to do. I had not led classes and come up with ideas for years, since before  I was married 25 years ago, so this took some praying and courage.  I was taking bible study classes in another church in our Cluster, so had someone to talk about it with and bounce things off from. Then the Presence Catholic Radio came on the air in our Area.

The Presence. FM is another miracle.  There are not that many Catholics in Maine. The Presence runs totally on donations. It started 6 years ago in Southern Maine and moved north, area by area until it covers all of Maine.   It is very informative, and everyone that listens, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, learn a lot.  I just happened to be listening one morning on the way to exercise class and heard the Rosary and then a prayer in song called: THE CHAPLET OF DIVINE MERCY.  This is a beautiful prayer, and the first time I heard it, it brought tears to my eyes.

First though, one thing I learned from one of the Presence talk shows, was that the Rosary, and the Mysteries that go with it, form  a STRING OF THE LIFE OF JESUS. Each Mystery that we say between the ten Hail Marys and the Our Fathers is a point in Jesus life and by the end of each week, day by day, we cover the Life of Jesus. It is so beautiful when you realize this.

Anyway, I thought more people should hear and pray the Chaplet. I did some research, spoke to other people at our church and spoke to our Parish Priest. The Sunday after Easter is called DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY, and the Pope had asked all Catholics and other Christians to pray the Chaplet on that Sunday afternoon at 3 PM for peace in our world. Three PM is the hour that Christ died and it is a special time for prayer.  It worked, the Priest agreed, and I and many others in our church worked to make Divine Mercy Sunday afternoon a very special time of prayer.  It worked so well that Father decided we should move this prayer service to other Churches in our Cluster, and that is what we have done.  This year it will be in another of our churches and we can all still pray together.

Why do I call this one of my Conversion Stories? Because, this Chaplet brought more prayer and joy back into my life. It is something I can share and other friends can share with me.  There are many benefits to saying the Chaplet and people all over the world say this Chaplet at 3PM each day, especially on Fridays.  So even if I say it at 5PM, someone somewhere is saying this prayer and we are praying for peace, for souls in Purgatory and other special requests for our family, friends and ourselves. Jesus listens.

If you type in “Chaplet of Divine Mercy” on Google or another search engine, you will see a picture of Jesus with the words, “JESUS I TRUST IN YOU.”

 

 

ASH WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1, GRACE TO BEGIN

Joel 2:12-18; 2 Cor. 5:20-6:2; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

We begin our Lenten journey today. Ash Wednesday is a day to recognize our smallness before God. “Remember, you are dust, and to dust you wil return.” the priest says as he makes a cross of ashes across our forehead.

In today’s first reading, Joel writes about a day of darkness and gloom, a day of events that are a sign of the coming day of the Lord when those who oppose the Lord’s righteous will shall be punished.

It’s easy to believe that all is right in the world when the sun shines and the flowers bloom. It is likewise easy to be afraid when the sky turns black and threatening.

During Lent, we’re called to repentance, rending “our hearts, not our garments,” as the prophet Joel writes (2:13). We’re called to recognize Jesus as our Merciful Savior. The more we turn our gaze toward the Cross, the more grace we will receive to bear our own crosses.

Ash Wednesday is a day of atonement for us. Turn to Jesus with trust and let Him lead you this Lent.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me to glorify Your mercy and lift my heart to You again. Help me to fully surrender to You, knowing that You hold me in the palm of Your hand. Amen

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As we begin the holy season of Lent, we are encouraged by these words of Pope Francis: “During Lent, let us all ask the Lord: Make our hearts like yours. In this way we will receive a heart that is firm and merciful, attentive and generous.. a heart that is not closed, indifferent, or prey to the globalization of indifference.

MAY your living out of Lent be a time of many graces and the joy of being made new in Jesus Christ.  God bless you all.

 

THE UNITED STATES, TRUMP ADMIN, WITCHES AND US.

Some of you may have heard the press being excited again because the witches in Our Country, the U.S., are calling up some kind of bad signs against the Trump Admin, which means they are against us and Our Country.  I would not ordinarily mention this, except when they all get together and call up more EVIL, they are calling up the Devil. When the Devil is called, he comes, which brings more trouble for us and our Country.  They may target Trump, BUT ANYTIME EVIL IS CALLED AGAINST THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, IT IS LEASHED AGAINST US AND OUR COUNTRY.  I put that in caps because it is so important. When Evil is unleashed, it is unleashed against us since it is our Government.

HERE IS WHAT WE CAN DO….PRAY, anytime and all the time. However, Jesus told St. Faustina,about praying at 3 o’clock each day. He called  it the HOUR OF GREAT MERCY. He said, “At three o’clock, implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This  is the hour of great mercy for the whole world. I will allow you to enter into My mortal sorrow. In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My passion.”   As second time he told St. Faustina, “………In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world – mercy triumphed over justice……………………….”

NOW, you could pray for evil on those witches, but as Jesus said, “They know not what they do.”  SO, we pray, for OUR COUNTRY, FOR OUR CITIZENS, FOR OUR GOVERNMENT AND THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, FOR OUR CONGRESSMEN/WOMEN, AND WE PRAY FOR THOSE WHO ARE SO ANGRY, AND SO FILLED WITH HATE, THAT THEY WILL LEARN TO LOVE AND FOR THEIR CONVERSION.

So folks, that is how we overcome Evil in this Country and the World. If you and I all pray at 3PM every day, are as often as we think of it, say a one line prayer,ASK JESUS for a blanket of protection over our Government and our leaders.  THINK  how powerful that will be against Evil in this country and the world. Remember, it is always 3PM somewhere, so there will be praying almost continually. GOD ALWAYS WINS, AND WE NEED HIM NOW.

GOD BLESS YOU ALL!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LENT AND THE 5TH COMMANDMENT

YOU SHALL NOT KILL:  YOU MAY NOT BE GUILTY OF MURDER AS SUCH, but this commandment has much broader applications, as indicated graphically in our Lord’s parable of the Good Samaritan.  Those who beat their victim and left him for dead were not the only guilty parties there.  Those who passed by on the other side without rendering aid were also seriously at fault.

“WE ARE TO FEAR AND LOVE GOD SO THAT WE DO NOT HURT OUR NEIGHBORS IN ANY WAY,” we are taught–and the word ANY is quite inclusive. “BUT WE ARE TO HELP THEM IN ALL THEIR PHYSICAL NEEDS:-and the word ALL is just as inclusive.

EXAMINE the damning evidence against you today, and place every accusation over Jesus’ head on the Cross.

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GRANT that I your Passion view with repentant grieving, Let me not bring shame to you by unholy living.  How could I refuse to shun every sinful pleasure Since for me God’s only Son suffered without measure????

LENT, WED. THRID WEEK OF LENT

MEDITATE ON THE COMMANDMENTS AND GIVE A GOOD EXAMPLE BY HOW YOU LIVE

DURING these two weeks you will be asked to think about the Ten Commandments, one each day and in great depth. Think about them personally, as “damning evidence of broken laws and commandments”   You are free in God;s love to take any infraction of God’s holy Law which you discover in your life–and nail it to the Cross of Christ.  He was willing to bear all the guilt and suffer all the punishment.  HE CAN TAKE IT! AND HE WILL.

FIRST COMMANDMENT demands from us a whole love for God,.-“with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might.” Nothing less than that is acceptable.

How well have you kept it?  Perhaps more honestly, how seriously have you broken it?

Is there anyone or anything that you fear more than God-like your own reputation, what others might think of you if you truly lived according to this commandment?

Is there anyone or anything you love more than God-like money or pleasure or even a soft pillow on a Sunday morning?

Is there anyone or anything you trust more than God-like your own wisdom or will or abilities?

EXAMINE THE DAMNING evidence against you today and place every accusation over Jesus head on the Cross.