Be Holy, Be Happy!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Immaculate Conception Novena: Reflections from Women

Day Three:

"The Church sees in Mary the highest expression of the 'feminine genius' and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration. Mary called herself the 'handmaid of the Lord' (Luke 1:38). Through obedience to the Word of God she accepted her lofty yet not easy vocation as wife and mother in the family of Nazareth. Putting herself at God's service, she also puts herself at the service of others: a service of love. Precisely through this service Mary was able to experience in her life a mysterious, but authentic 'reign'. It is not by chance that she is invoked as "Queen of heaven and earth." The entire community of believers thus invokes her, many nations and peoples call upon her as their 'Queen'. For her, 'to reign' is to serve! Her service is 'to reign'!" (Letter to Women 10)

The world has a misconstrued view of service. More often than not, it doesn't have a positive spin, since the world tells us to "do whatever we want", encouraging selfishness and irresponsibility. The Church has an entirely different view of service, raising it to great heights, finding deep meaning in giving of ourselves to others. And according to Pope John Paul II, Mary is our model and guide. It was she who gave her fiat, her yes to God. It was she who was the perfect model of love and service to others. Did she not hasten off to see her cousin Elizabeth as soon as the angel left her? She helps us yet today; we are her children. She is our Mother! We should let her intercede for us. How can Jesus refuse what His Mother asks of Him?

Each of us should imitate Mary's virtue and example. We are called to serve, as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, grandparents, sons and daughters, neighbors, brothers and sisters. It is in giving of ourselves that we fulfill our vocation, whatever it may be. And God has given us gifts and filled us with His grace so that we can serve with strength, joy, and in the spirit of love.

Today do a random act of kindness. Make the world brighter, more human!
(Reflection by Mary Patten)

Mary, Our Sweet Queen and Our Mother, pray for us!

Immaculate Conception Novena: Reflections from Women

Day Two:

"Progress usually tends to be measured according to the criteria of science and technology. Nor from this point of view has the contribution of women been negligible. Even so, this is not the only measure of progress, nor in fact is it the principal one. Much more important is the social and ethical dimension, which deals with human relations and spiritual values. In this area, which often develops in an inconspicuous way beginning with the daily relationships between people, especially within the family, society certainly owes much to the 'genius of women'" (Letter to Women 9).

Often, things that are of great importance are also small and not easily noted. For example, one of the beautiful realities of Sacred Scripture is what it does not say. Most of the lives of Mary and Jesus are left un-related, unspoken, hidden in petals of obscurity. The beauty here is the sound of the Lord's voice as He calls us to unpetal the rose of Scripture in intimate prayer and allow the Spirit to work through our imaginations and show us what Jesus looked like as He began to walk, how Mary and Joseph's faces lit up as they spoke with one another, what Mary talked about with her neighbors, how many times Jesus ran out of the house to look up at the birds flying in the sky, whether Mary borrowed more flour from her neighbors or vice versa...the list goes on.

These things are important because, as John Paul II says above, world changes have their roots in "daily relationships with people, especially within the family" (Letter to Women 9). How much attention do we pay to the small aspects of relationships that are easy to miss? Eye contact, the tone of our voice, gestures, the phrasing of our questions; all of these things contribute to forming the people around us, whether into persons that trust in the love that God has for them, or into persons who begin to expect that no one will respond to them with anything but sarcasm and pessimism, or inattention. The most powerful way that this can be seen is in the image of a woman who is with child. All of her actions profoundly affect the new person within her. All of us, whether we are male or female, contribute to the spiritual growth of those around us (and many of us are still spiritual fetuses, newborns, and toddlers!!). Although John Paul II points out that it is the genius - the essence - of women to receive others with love and foster their growth, all of us are called to do this for others.

Today, take an image from Scripture to unpetal in which someone is exhibiting a nurturing attitude: Mary, pregnant with Jesus; Anne, pregnant with Mary; God the Father leading Israel through dangers to the Promised Land; Jesus teaching His disciples; Paul encouraging the new Christian churches at the beginning of his letters. Ask the Lord how He is calling you to measure the progress of your day according to the inconspicuous details of your daily relationships, and nurture His love in those around you.
(Reflection by Heidi Essay)

Wife and mother in the family of Nazareth, pray for us!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Immaculate Conception Novena: Reflections from Women

Pro Sanctity recently sponsored an ENDOW study on John Paul II's Letter to Women. It was a beautiful study and the participants received much grace! The women of the study have been asked to share their reflections and graces as we prepare for the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Day One:

The maternal ‘reign’ of Mary consists in this; she who was, in all her being, a gift for her Son, has also become a gift for the sons and daughters of the whole human race, awakening profound trust in those who seek her guidance along the difficult paths of life on the way to their definitive and transcendent destiny. Each one reaches this final goal by fidelity to his or her own vocation; this goal provides meaning and direction for the earthly labors of men and women alike” (John Paul II, Letter to Women, 10).

There is sometimes a certain amount of fear and hesitation in giving of ourselves because deep down we want to be received and fear that we will not be. Even more so for women, the desire to be fully received is strong in our hearts. Therefore, we sometimes create safety nets when we give. In giving gifts, we give people gift receipts in case they do not want it. We excuse or belittle our efforts with “This might not be good or right, but…” We hold back in relationships and do not share who God has made us to be. In Letter to Women, John Paul II recalls Vatican II teaching that man "cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self" (Gaudium et spes, 24).

In order to fully give of ourselves, we must first believe that we have received Everything from God. He will give us all we need to respond to what He is asking of us to give. Mary is the perfect example. God made Mary “full of grace” and gave her every gift necessary to be the Mother of God; then He asked her to be the Mother of God. She was asked to receive the Love of God by opening herself to the power of the Holy Spirit. We too are asked to let God into our lives and to allow Him to give us Everything! Like Mary, we are asked to receive without fear and trust in God’s particular love for each of us. At his inaugural Mass, Pope Benedict XVI said, “Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us?” “No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed.” “Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ- and you will find true life. Amen.”

Can we make a sincere gift of ourselves? We can only if we first give ourselves to God who delights in our gifts and always wants to receive us again and again. He dreams of our holiness and longs for our company in Heaven forever. He calls us all day long to receive His love and grace. He wants us to trust Him, and not in ourselves; for it is He who perfects our gifts and gives us the grace to be gifts to others.
For in giving themselves to others each day women fulfill their deepest vocation. Perhaps more than men, women acknowledge the person, because they see persons with their hearts. They see them independently of various ideological or political systems. They see others in their greatness and limitations; they try to go out to them and help them. In this way the basic plan of the Creator takes flesh in the history of humanity and there is constantly revealed, in the variety of vocations, that beauty-not merely physical, but above all spiritual-which God bestowed from the very beginning on all, and in a particular way on women.” (John Paul II, Letter to Women, 12).

Let us pray today for the grace to receive with Mary, the Love of the Father that casts out all fear. (Reflection by Joan Patten)
Mother, who awakens profound trust in those who seek guidance along the difficult paths of life, pray for us!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from Pro Sanctity!

Eucharist means thanksgiving

A heart set on Jesus is a Eucharistic Heart. It is a heart filled with gratitude. The word “Eucharist” comes from the Greek meaning “thanksgiving”. Regardless of whether the blessings from God are great or small, I am one with the Eucharistic Heart of +Jesus. I live with a grateful heart.

A Eucharistic Heart is also a Sacrificial Heart. I am willing to be broken poured out as Jesus was for me. A sacrificial heart never cries out in times of trial or tribulation: “Why me, Lord?” In gratitude, it prays: “Why am I so loved?” Why am I so loved to be worthy to unite myself to the sufferings of +Jesus? (Fr. Mike Murphy, Retreat 2007)

Let us pause and give thanks for the Love we have received! Happy Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

All Saints, All Brothers and Sisters!

“God Chose Us...”
Eph 1:4

A reflection by Franca Salvo

“God chose us... to be holy... to be full of love.” I have meditated on and contemplated these words of St. Paul over the years, savoring them with great delight.

As I was reflecting on the deep effect that they continue to have in my heart, it became clearer and clearer to me that the word of God is alive. “It is not just ‘informative’ but ‘performative’; it can change our lives[1]”. Therefore the more I let the word of God abide in me, remain with me, the more God changes me and I become what I meditate and love: I am the chosen one! He makes me holy! He fills me with His love!

Yes, God chose us! God chose us to be holy! God chose us to be full of love!

He chose me, you, and you! Our Heavenly Father manifested His will and empowered us in His Son, Jesus the Lord, to be holy, to be full of love, to go about throughout the day, every day of our life, enveloped by His love, sowing love, singing for joy, until we see Him face to face!

Let us sing with the Psalmist:
Shout joyfully to God...
sing praise to the glory of His name;
proclaim His glorious praise

Filled with gratitude for the sacramental and liturgical life of Mother Church that empowers us to live rooted in faith-hope-love, let us continue our journey under the gaze of Mary, our Mother,
“eager in purpose
dutiful in conscience
hastening for joy.”

Then we will be ready to celebrate November 1st, All Saints Day, aware of God’s great love for all people, filled with zest for a world of All Saints, All Brothers and Sisters.

[1] Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, Nov. 30, 2007, #4
[2] Psalm 66:1-3
[3] St. Ambrose