Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Prayer To The Holy Family

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in you we contemplate
the splendor of true love, to you we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth, may the approaching Synod of Bishops
make us once more mindful of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.

-Pope Francis, Feast of the Holy Family 2013

Blessed John Paul II was a strong proponent and defender of the importance of family life. Let us pray today for all families, that they may live like the Holy Family, as authentic schools of the Gospel. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Life Was Made Visible

What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life —
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us—
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

Happy Feast of Saint John the Evangelist!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

To Us A Child Is Born

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given" (Is 9:5).

The words of the Prophet Isaiah, proclaimed in the First Reading, contain the truth of Christmas, which together we re-live this night.

A Child is born. In appearance, just another of the world’s many children. A Child is born in a stable in Bethlehem. He is born in a condition of extreme deprivation: poor among the poor.

But the One who is born is "the Son" par excellence: Filius datus est nobis. This Child is the Son of God, of one being with the Father. Foretold by the Prophets, he was made man by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of a Virgin, Mary.

When, shortly, we shall sing in the Creed "... et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine et homo factus est," we shall all kneel. We shall meditate in silence on the mystery which is accomplished: "Et homo factus est!" The Son of God comes among us, and we receive him on our knees.

"The Word became flesh" (Jn 1:14). On this extraordinary night the Eternal Word, the "Prince of Peace" (Is 9:5), is born in the lowly and cold cave of Bethlehem.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Gift Of Vocation

As a part of our countdown to the canonization of Blessed John Paul II, the Blessed John Paul II Shrine is spending the month reflecting on the young adult life and priesthood of the late Holy Father. This is the fruitful time in which Karol Wojtyła discerned a vocation to the priesthood and accepted the path that God was calling him to.

According to the Holy Father himself, a vocation is “an interior call of grace, which falls into the soul like a seed, to mature within it” (Angelus, December 14, 1980). It takes the form of a dialogue in the human heart, a “dialogue between Christ and an individual, in which a personal invitation is given” (Homily, February 10, 1986).

This dialogue was very much a part of Wojtyła’s young adult life, and he would say it was partially the fruit of his experiences. Everything from his passion for the theatre, to the hardships he experienced during Nazi occupation, to the conversations he had with co-workers, to the loss of his own father had an affect on his path to the priesthood. This dialogue was not only external, but it was also internal. Silence and prayer allowed Wojtyła to hear Christ’s call: “Come follow me.”

All are called to live out a vocation, and all are called in complete freedom to accept or reject God’s given task. According to Blessed John Paul II, freedom “is essential to vocation—a freedom which, when it gives a positive response, appears as a deep personal adherence, as a loving gift—or rather as a gift given back to the giver who is God who calls, an oblation…” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, n. 16).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Lord Is At Hand

In his Letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle exhorts us thus: "Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances.... May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thes 5:16-18; 23).

This is a typical Advent exhortation. Advent is the liturgical season that prepares us for the Lord's birth, but it is also the time of expectation for the definitive return of Christ for the last judgment, and St. Paul refers, in the first place, to this second coming. The very fact that the conclusion of the liturgical year coincides with the beginning of Advent suggests that "the beginning of the time of salvation is in some way linked to the "end of time." This exhortation typical of Advent always applies: "The Lord is at hand!"

…The Lord Jesus is at hand at every moment of our life. He is at hand if we consider him in the perspective of Christmas, but he is also at hand if we look at him on the banks of the Jordan when he officially receives his messianic mission from the Father; lastly, he is at hand in the perspective of his return at the end of time.

Christ is at hand! He comes by virtue of the Holy Spirit to announce the Good News; he comes to cure and to set free to proclaim a time of grace and salvation, in order to begin, already on the night of Bethlehem, the work of the world's redemption.

Let us therefore rejoice and exult! The Lord is at hand; he is coming to save us.


-Blessed John Paul II, 1997

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chaplain Celebrates Mass at John Paul II’s Tomb

On December 6, 2013, Blessed John Paul II Shrine Chaplain Father Gregory Gresko concelebrated Mass at the tomb of Blessed John Paul II in Saint Peter’s Basilica. He reflected upon his experience here:

To be at the tomb of Blessed John Paul II is to be reminded of the beauty of dwelling in the house of the Lord, gazing on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplating His temple, as the Psalmist says in Ps 27. To celebrate the Eucharist on the altar containing the holy remains of the man whom the Church soon will recognize as Saint John Paul II is in itself a confirmation in faith as the Church has just concluded the 2012-13 Year of Faith -- confirmation of the greatness of the Communion of Saints to which each one of us as Christian faithful is called, but also of the spiritual presence of the saints among us, most strongly whenever we celebrate the Holy Eucharist. The tomb of Blessed John Paul II is a reminder of God’s call to holiness that is written on the hearts of all people who call themselves Christian, who are consecrated into the Lord in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. It is a firm reminder that every one of us is called by God to become a saint in whatever state of life we find ourselves – to embrace a life of genuine holiness by following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ in the daily path of this earthly journey, until we realize the promise of everlasting life in the beatific vision of God’s heavenly Kingdom. As the Gospel of the two blind men reminds us (Mt 9.27-31), Jesus is ready to enlighten our darkness in this Advent season through the gift of His healing touch, if we only would have faith and hope-filled trust in Him. May this Advent be a time when we ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts with the gift of a stronger faith, so that inspired by ever stronger hope, we might believe more fervently with open hearts to God’s perfect Love incarnate in the Infant Jesus this Christmas.

For more about his experience and for photos from the Mass, check out the Blessed John Paul II Shrine website.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Joy And The New Evangelization

The Church has taken another great stride towards responding to Blessed John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization. At the close of the Year of Faith, Pope Francis released his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii gaudium, inspired by the fruits of last year’s Synod on the New Evangelization.

According to the Holy Father, joy should be at the center of the New Evangelization. “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus” (1). Although there are many things holding us back from a genuine encounter with the Lord, the Gospel “constantly invites us to rejoice” (5). It invites us again and again to encounter Christ, and to share the fruits of that encounter with others.

In our work, in our parishes, and in our communities, Pope Francis challenges us to get involved in people’s daily lives. Join the Shepherd and take on the “smell of the sheep,” he writes (24). We the Church must constantly be open to all people in all walks of life, ready to rejoice with them, ready to pray with them, and ready to suffer with them. Pope Francis writes that it is better to be “a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security” (49).

In order to be “God’s leaven in the midst of humanity,” we must constantly and prayerfully be open to the grace that makes evangelization possible (114). This way we can become “missionary disciples,” in our interactions with others, in our preaching to others, and in our spiritual growth with others. This way we can truly make the kingdom of God present in the world.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Prayer At Basilica Of Guadalupe

O Mother, help us to be faithful stewards of the great mysteries of God. Help us to teach the truth proclaimed by your Son and to spread love, which is the chief commandment and the first fruit of the Holy Spirit. Help us to strengthen our brethren in faith, help us to awaken hope in eternal life. Help us to guard the great treasures stored in the souls of the People of God entrusted to us.

We offer you the whole of this People of God. We offer you the Church in Mexico and in the whole continent. We offer it to you as your own, You have entered so deeply into the hearts of the faithful through that sign of your presence constituted by your image in the Shrine of Guadalupe; be at home in these hearts, for the future also. Be at home in our families, our parishes, missions, dioceses, and in all the peoples.

Do this through the Holy Church, for she, in imitation of you, Mother, wishes in her turn to be a good mother and to care for souls in all their needs, by proclaiming the Gospel, administering the Sacraments, safeguarding family life with the sacrament of Matrimony, gathering all into the Eucharistic community by means of the Holy Sacrament of the altar, and by being lovingly with them from the cradle until they enter eternity.

O Mother, awaken in the younger generation readiness for the exclusive service of God. Implore for us abundant local vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holy Father’s December Intentions

This month, Pope Francis is asking us to pray with him for victimized children, “That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.”

He also asks us to pray that, “Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior’s coming.”

Let us pray with the Holy Father this month, and let us also be a light to those children in need as well as those who need to be reminded of the true meaning of Christmas.