10 Scripture Verses for Holy Week

(repost)

In just a few days we will celebrate the solemn liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. To help us enter more deeply into these mysteries, here are ten scripture verses to pray over during Holy Week:

10 Scripture Verses for Holy Week

Image by geralt (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

From this week’s liturgies:

1. Isaiah 42:1 “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations”

2. John 13:26-27 “Jesus answered, ‘it is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.’ So he dipped the morsel and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After he took the morsel, Satan entered him.”

3. Psalm 69:14 “But I pray to you, Lord, for the time of your favor. God in your great kindness answer me with your constant help.”

From the Seven Last Words of Jesus:

4. Matthew 27:46 “And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?'”

5. Luke 23:34 “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.'”

6. Luke 23:43 “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

7. Luke 23:46 “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit;’ and when he had said this he breathed his last.”

8. John 19: 26-27 “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. ”

9. John 19:28 “After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I thirst.'”

10. John 19:30 “When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, ‘It’s is finished,'”

I choose these verses because they are very meaningful to me; however, there are many other beautiful scriptures applicable for this sacred week to pray over. What are your favorites? Do let us know in the comments.

*************

Tweetable: 10 Scripture Verses for Holy Week

Give Yourself the Gift of Confession this Lent

Give Yourself the Gift of Confession this LentGo to confession. Truly.

Church teaching requires that Catholics go to confession at least once a year. However, to grow in the spiritual life, the Church encourages Catholics to go at least once a month (when I was young, we were encouraged to go every two weeks). But this post isn’t about the theology behind confession or Church teach.

You see, I love going to confession. Besides the Eucharist, Confession is my favorite sacrament. (Crazy, I know!) Don’t get me wrong, I still get nervous sometimes when I go to confession. I sometimes think I don’t have anything to say. And yes, I often confess the same things over again. But that’s okay!

When we go to Confession, we don’t just have our sins forgiven. We gain grace and strength to live out our womanly vocation. Additionally, depending on the priest, we can get some really good insights and/or advice. Even if we don’t, we still encounter Christ in a very real and profound way in Confession.

Sure, just like the liturgy, it is great if get to confess to a priest who is on fire for his faith and truly a vessel of Christ. But, sadly, that just isn’t always going to happen unless we are blessed to be in a parish with priests who understand the value of the sacrament. We just need to remember that no matter what vessel Jesus decides to use, it is JESUS we confess to in the Sacrament. Years ago, I read in a book that when we go to confession we “whisper into the ear of Jesus.” That has made such an impact on me and to this day I try to remember that when I go to confession.

Over the years, I have gone to confession to some wonderful priests and there have been times when I left the confessional wondering if the sacrament was valid! One day I realized that I have a choice. I know the priests in the area that I like and I try to make a point of confessing to them. Of course, I realize that I am blessed to live in an area where there are several churches with at least two priests in the parish. If you live in an area where that is not possible, please don’t let that stop you from the Sacrament. The grace is still there!

So please, if you can, please take the opportunity to go to confession. Here is a little blurb on how to make a good confession, if you need it.

***************

Tweetable: Give Yourself the Gift of Confession

Guest Post: Sitting with Jesus by Sr. Christina M. Neumann

(Editor’s Note: Please enjoy this lovely reflection by Franciscan Sister Christina.)

Sitting with Jesus

Image by geralt (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Last week, I was privileged to be able to attend a Eucharistic Holy Hour at the Catholic Newman Center on the local university campus.  It was a beautiful time, complimented by guitar and vocal music, which was very conducive to prayer.

After a crazy day (including working an unexpected night shift at our assisted living home), it was so nice for me to have this chance just to sit there with Jesus, led into prayer by the beautiful praise music.

Another great avenue (probably the best) for leading one into prayer is scripture.  I deeply treasure Christ’s Eucharistic presence, and finding Him present in His Word also is an important part of my prayer.

I most often use the scripture readings for Mass for the day, found in a missalette (and often in church bulletins).

Although ‘just sitting with Jesus’ is a beautiful thing, as weak humans, we usually need some help to get started in our prayer.  Putting oneself into a scripture (I often prefer the gospels) passage is a great place to start.  I’ve been using a simple format for scriptural mediation since my college years, and I’d like to share it with you here.

I prefer to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, but even if that’s not possible for you, I’d suggest the following steps for meeting Him personally in His Word.

 Praying with the Scriptures

Preparation

Pick out a Scripture passage (the gospel of the day is a good choice)

Pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance, to open your heart.  It is difficult to launch into prayer from the midst of a flurry of distracting occupations so take a minute – call to mind that Jesus is with you (in the Blessed Sacrament/in your heart).

Reading

Read a small section of scripture that you’ve chosen slowly and prayerfully.

 Consider

Who is pictured here? What are they doing? What does it mean to me? How do they feel/what would it be like?

Imagine what it would be like to be there.  What would you do?  How would you feel?

Conversation:  Begin to talk slowly to Christ, telling Him of your love for Him, your desire to serve Him, your willingness to do anything for Him. Adore Christ in the scene of the day’s meditation; express your love for Him; thank Him for past gifts; ask Him for new favors in the future;

When the conversation begins to falter, return briefly to the reading to get new thoughts for additional conversation with Christ.

Conclusion

This is entirely optional; but it may be of great value in making progress in prayer.  Thank God for the graces received during the time of prayer now coming to a conclusion.  Then, very briefly, one might examine failings during the period, and resolve to get rid of these in the future.  This determination to hold better conversation with Christ gives a strong determination to make further strides along the road of prayer.

Bio

Sr. Christina works at St. Anne’s Guest Home, a care facility for elderly and disabled persons in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Along with her regular duties there, she also runs a blog for her religious community of Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen and one for St. Anne’s as well. You are welcome to check out the St. Anne’s Scoop and Our Franciscan Fiat.

**************

Tweetable: Sitting with Jesus

>Interested in guest posting? I’d love to have you! Please review the guest post guidelines and then be in touch!

The Secret to Holiness

(Repost but still relevant!)

Catchy title, eh? 😉 I don’t claim to truly have the secret to holiness, obviously. However, I think that as I’ve been The Secret to Holinessgetting older, I’ve discovered the secret of holiness for me.

In reality, holiness is nothing more than growing into a deep, living and personal relationship with God. We get to know God through liturgical and personal prayer, frequenting the sacraments, practicing virtue, reading scripture and studying our faith. It is living our lives in Jesus, and through Jesus, with the power of the Holy Spirit, with the Father. It is having our hearts aligned with God.

Isn’t that what the saints did (do)? They have an abiding prayer life – even when it is dry and difficult for them. They receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession, regularly. They practice virtue, often to an heroic degree, daily. They often have a great understanding of scripture and the precepts of our faith, as well. (FYI, knowledge of scripture doesn’t always mean being “learned.” There were, and are, many “uneducated” people who have great knowledge of the ways of God!)

The saints make no excuses. They are consistent in following the ways of the Lord. Instead of falling into complacency they actively seek God and work to serve Him. And, therein, for me, lies the secret to holiness: consistency. Consistency is key.

I don’t know about you, but I make excuses. It is just SO EASY to make excuses or to put other things first. I make resolutions and fail to keep them. I justify myself when I fail in virtue (he “made” me be impatient, because he won’t do what I want!). Sometimes I feel like I am the seed that was choked among the thorns (Matthew 13:1-23). I start out promising to be patient or pray more or go to daily mass or whatever; then, life gets in the way. Or, rather, I let life get in the way. I don’t manage my time properly or get my priorities mixed up. I’m inconsistent in living my faith, not only the way I “should” live it but the way I ultimately WANT to live it.

Is it a lack of faith? Maybe. I’m not sure. Maybe, if I had the faith of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), all the excuses, justifications, and inconsistencies would disappear. I don’t know. I do know that I need to work at being more consistent and focused.

How about you? What do you think about this? what does holiness mean to you? What do you think is the secret of holiness to you?

**********

Tweetable: The Secret to Holiness

How to Pray the Scriptures

Praying the scriptures is an integral part of a Christian’s life. How can someone get to know Jesus and the heart of God without reading His Word? And, although it seems like a “well-kept secret” for us Catholics, praying the Scriptures (Lectio Divina) is a long-time tradition within the Catholic Church. In fact, reading/praying the bible wasn’t just for priests or religious, but for the laity as well.

prayscriptures

There are many books on Lectio Divina, but the simplest instructions I found is on the Plain Catholic site (used with permission – italics are my insertions):

How to do Lectio Divina

1. “Take up the Bible in your quiet prayer place. Say a simple prayer such as the opening lines to the Liturgy of the Hours: “God come to my assistance, Lord make haste to help me. Glory be…” or “Lord open my ears and steady my heart to hear Your Word,” (I like to pray the ‘Come Holy Spirit’ prayer).

2. Open the Bible to the Mass Gospel readings for the day (or other scripture verses that speak to your heart). Slowly and prayerfully read the passages. Imagine yourself listening to Christ Himself, just as Mary did at His feet.

3. Sit with the Scripture you have just read, listening with the ear of your heart (As St. Benedict called it in he Prologue of the Rule). Do not rush it. Simply move through it gently.

4. At the end of the prayer time, thank Jesus and offer praises to the Holy Trinity; offer up your day to Him. (I pray an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be…)

Notes:

The average time for Lectio Divina is 20 minutes (you don’t have to use a timer unless you want/need to). Some days it will take 10 minutes. Other days it will take longer. Give what you can to the Lord and be at peace about it.

When you first begin Lectio Divina, stick with the gospels. They are easier to start with because it will feel more natural to “sit with Jesus’ words and listen to them”. Eventually, you will find the Psalms, Proverbs, and all the New Testament as fertile ground for Lectio Divina.

If you are having difficulty during your prayer time, try to remember that there is no such thing as “wasted prayer time.” If you get distracted, simply offer Jesus that distraction. Do not force yourself into trying to conform what you think they prayer time should look like. Most importantly, do NOT let yourself give into discouragement: instead, do the best you can and give the rest to God.

Listen to the Advice of St. Benedict:

‘LISTEN carefully, my child, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20). Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father’s advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.

To you, therefore, my words are now addressed, whoever you may be, who are renouncing your own will to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King, and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.

And first of all, whatever good work you begin to do, beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it, that He who has now deigned to count us among His children may not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds. For we must always so serve Him with the good things He has given us, that He will never as an angry Father disinherit His children, nor ever as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil actions, deliver us to everlasting punishment as wicked servants who would not follow Him to glory’

Therefore, if you don’t already spend a part of your day with the Lord, reading the Bible and praying over God’s Word, I highly encourage you to do so. Even if you can only find 5 minutes to read the Bible, and pray the Scriptures, I promise you, the time will be well worth it. 🙂

____________

Click to Tweet: How to Pray the Scriptures

For reference, you can print this post as a pdf here (no opt-in required): How to Pray the Scriptures

Image in Public Domain

Precious Blood of Jesus

When I created the list of Saints and Feasts for July, I somehow forgot to include that July is traditionally dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus (it’s added now). Even worse, I forgot about the devotion all together until yesterday.

PreciousBloodofJesus

Luckily, there is no time in eternity, and there are still 11 days left of July. 🙂 I encourage you to learn more about the devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus, here and here and here and here and find some time to praying this devotion.

There is no special day dedicated to the Precious Blood because it is incorporated into the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. However, it is good to plead the Precious Blood over ourselves and our families often. And, here is a link to the Litany of the Precious Blood which is just lovely.

 

Your Life is Precious and has Value

No matter what you are going through, no matter how bleak life seems sometimes, please never forget that life is a gift. You are precious, unique, and you are on this earth for a reason.

YouMatter

I write this because last week I read how a 24-year-old healthy woman in Belgium will kill herself this summer via assisted suicide. Her name is Laura.

According to LifeNews,

“Euthanasia for psychological reasons is done when a psychiatrist agrees that the psychological pain that a person is experiencing cannot be relieved in a way that the individual finds acceptable. That means, Laura may be treatable, but Laura has decided that the only acceptable “treatment” is death.”

How unbelievably sad and heartbreaking. Euthanasia should never be an acceptable option, especially for “psychological reasons.” People who suffer from depression or other type of psychological pain need help and support; what they don’t need is to be killed off, even if they “think” that’s what they want.

God has created every human being in HIS image. Life is a gift and God is always with us, whether we realize it or not. Which leads me to the heart of the issue here. Life is hard. It just is, but life without God, can be almost impossible.

Belgium is supposed to be a predominately Catholic country. But where is God in this situation? He has been completely disregarded and ignored. The doctors and government officials have made themselves “god.” God’s existence and active presence has been almost completely eradicated from the minds and hearts of so many of us, it is  not that too surprising that death has become a viable option for some.

Listen, I’m not a Pollyanna. I have struggled (and sometimes still struggle) with depression. In fact, there have been times in my life when I seriously considered suicide. So believe me, depression is real and psychological pain is very real.

However, I also have the love and support of wonderful family and friends. I am also blessed with an uncompromising faith that knows that God is there, even in the dark times. Over many years, I have received healing, grace, and unbounded hope and trust in the Lord. Yes, that trust and faith waivers at times, but it is the foundation of my life.

And, that is what this poor woman Laura needs. It is what every person needs. Until we rediscover our faith and begin a real and living relationship with Jesus Christ, we will never understand the real, amazing gift and value of life.

So I say again, YOU are precious, YOU have value, YOU matter. If you are struggling, get help. Talk to a priest (or other clergy if you aren’t Catholic). Get help from health professionals (preferably faith-based) who will guide you and help you into a better place. Because, things DO get better.

As always, know that I pray for you, my readers, and if you have a special intention never hesitate to contact me. I will add your name to my prayer list that I pray over almost every day.

———–

Tweetables:

YOU Are Precious, YOU are Unique, YOU Matter

Your Life is Precious and has Value

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today is one of my favorite feast days: the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We know that the heart represents love and so this feast is yet another reminder of God’s great love for us, of the love that Jesus has for all of us; a love which compelled Him to become man, to spend 33 years on earth, to suffer horribly and die for us and to rise for us!

So for this week’s 7 Quick Takes I’d like to share some links about the Sacred Heart for you to pray over and think about:

1. EWTN devotionals.

2. SacredHeart.com.

3. SacredHeartDevotion.com.

4. Women for Faith and Family. (Page about the Sacred Heart.)

5. New Advent. (Doctrinal explanation of the feast.)

6. About.com. (History of the feast.)

7. Wikipedia. (Not a terrible explanation of the feast. 🙂 )

A blessed Solemnity, everyone!

—————

Tweetables:

What do you know about the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Some links…

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

7QT: Devotion to the Sacred Heart

———-

7 Quick Takes Image

Catholic Linkup Blitz

How to “Get Something” out of Mass

Over the years people have told me (usually in explaining why they don’t bother with church anymore), “I don’t get anything out of the Mass.” I’ve been hearing it again recently by several different people. This is a sad statement. It tells me that the person saying this doesn’t understand what the Mass is all about and that’s a shame. It is a sorry testament of how little many of us, even many of us faithful Catholics, really know what our own faith.*

Eucharist

(photo credit: Lawrence OP via photopin cc)

The statement “I don’t get anything out of the Mass” also brings me to ask at least two questions. 1) “What are you looking to get out of Mass?” and 2) “What are you putting into the Mass?”

“What are you looking to get out of Mass?

If you are looking for good music, a great preacher and being filled with fluffy feelings, you aren’t always going to get it. That’s not what mass is about. Sure it helps if the music is beautiful and uplifting but that won’t always be the case. Sometimes the singing stinks. Sometimes there isn’t any music at all. Sometimes the priest is a good speaker that gets everyone fired up; however, the reality is that most priests do the best they can but they aren’t good speakers. Who hasn’t fallen asleep (or almost fallen asleep) listening to a priest who is monotone and uninspiring? And most times when you go to mass you aren’t going to have fluffy feelings. Sure, once in a while you’ll get an overwhelming emotional “something” when yo go to mass but more often you won’t. But here’s the thing, Mass isn’t about good music, good preaching or good feelings.

“What are you putting into the Mass?”

Do you show up for mass at the last second or late? Do you leave right after communion? Do you spend time talking with the Lord or chatting up the people around you? Do you let yourself get distracted or caught up in whatever is going through your mind? Is your heart and mind open to what the Lord wants to do or say to you during Mass? If so, how do you expect to get anything out of Mass if you aren’t willing to put any effort into it? I think it is safe to say that most of us know that the more we put ourselves into something the more we get out of it. This is true even with the Mass. Don’t get me wrong. We all have things that distract us. We all have crosses to bear and life can push its way into our minds, distracting us. But are you trying to make an effort? There are things we can do to prepare ourselves so that we can get more out of mass. I’ll talk about those things tomorrow.

What DO you get out of Mass?

JESUS! We get the honor and privilege of participating in the un-bloody sacrifice of the Lord. Jesus gives himself, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, completely to us in the Eucharist. He does this, not for Himself, but for us. God doesn’t need our worship, but we have a deep desire and need to worship HIM. We need to receive Him and be united to Him.

Another thing we get out of Mass is grace. We get God’s grace to help us and strengthen us in our daily lives, to help us avoid and overcome sin, and to live the life we have been called to live.

The secret to getting “something” out of Mass.

Want to know the secret to getting something out of Mass? Forget yourself. Just drop the idea that you are supposed to get something out of Mass. Refocus your attention to where it belongs – on Jesus. I promise you, if you shift your mindset and focus on Jesus, if you keep your heart and mind open, looking for Him to speak to you, He will.

Don’t get me wrong, if you have children, don’t ignore them if they need something or have to be settled down. If you have elderly parents, don’t pretend they aren’t there! What I’m saying here is do your best to focus on what is happening at the Altar, expecting God to touch you. Every time we receive the Eucharist Jesus comes to us. Let’s be ready to receive him. In tomorrow’s post I will offer some practical tips and ideas to help you do this.

———-

Click to Tweet –> “How to ‘Get Something’ Out of Mass.

A Little Link Love to Get You Thinking

There were a lot of great posts out in the blogosphere last week so I thought I’d share a few of the best ones with you. (Four of them, by the way, have come to my attention through the Sunday Snippets weekly blog carnival. Some terrific bloggers link up there!)

1. The parable of the Kosher Deli over at Suffering with Joy.

2. Reaching out to Jesus over at Thoughts on Grace.

3. Tell Me Why over at NFP and Me.

4. Faith over at From the Pulpit of My Life.

5. Why Seeing Planned Parenthood’s Booth Yesterday Made Me Feel Hopeful over at A Woman’s Place.