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Pray for Revival

Prayer for the 2017 East of the River Revival

Almighty and loving Father, we humbly pray that You will bless our revival with the powerful assistance of your Sweet Spirit.

Grant that our parish may respond to this time of grace and mercy through “Where there is Light There is Hope”. Help us put aside all things that crowd our lives so that we can schedule these four days to come together as a praying and fasting Catholic community.We ask for the grace to learn to live the simplicity that Jesus taught in our complex world.

Bless our revival priest, Fr. Roy Lee, preacher and teacher.

Prepare his heart with the message you have for us. Fill him with your Sweet Spirit to help us to be transfigured in Christ. May Mary, Our Mother, our model and guide, obtain from her divine Son, all that we need to make this tin1e of spiritual renewal. This we ask of You, Father, Son, and Sweet Holy Spirit who lives and reigns forever and ever.

Amen!

Sell All That You Have

I’ve been meeting with a young man who desperately wants to experience the presence of God. He was raised as a Protestant, so he has had Christ in his life from the beginning. He converted to Catholicism in college, but has struggled with signs from the Lord. For his relatives, faith seems to come more easily and naturally (supernaturally?) than it does for him.

He and I talked months ago when he was going through a bit of a “dark night.” This means that his spiritual life was in darkness, and that God seemed hidden. He was still not seeing any signs. Then, we met about a month ago, and God had revealed Himself in dramatic ways to this young man. He was so happy!

So, when we got together for dinner last Tuesday, the first thing he said was that he was fasting. I asked why, and he said it was to help overcome his doubts about God and Heaven. Our waiter was not too happy!

Last Tuesday was a feast day in the Church: the feast of St. James the Apostle. Catholics don’t fast on feast days. It’s like when Jesus says, “as long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast” (Mk 2:19). We apply this to the feast days of certain saints who had the bridegroom with them in extraordinary and major ways. So, feast days are celebrations of God’s grace through particular persons.

I waited for a moment to tell this to the young man so as not to jump all over him for fasting. I figured he didn’t know about feast days. But, then again, he was telling me about how he had been going to pray at a Catholic church during his lunch break each day (he really wants to experience God), so maybe he had some “church” in him. I told him about the feast day and the meaning of it, and he responded very well. The next thing he said was, “Waiter, I will order after all.”

We reviewed the past month, and it turns out that he had received some signs from God. So, why had he returned to doubting God and Heaven again? Because he had been reading a book each day by a “humanist” (i.e., atheist). He is an avid reader and thinker, and he didn’t even realize the effect the book was having on him. It was about the time that he started the book that his doubts began. This led to many sleepless nights, and a lack of peace. And yet, God kept showing him signs, the biggest of which happened last Monday (the night before our dinner).

We discussed what happened that day – the sign that he received – and how he slept well Monday night. He vowed to put down the atheist’s book, and start reading Bishop Robert Barron or C.S. Lewis again. Smart move! Then, with the whole feast day thing – which really is evidence of God and Heaven – he walked away from our dinner totally at peace.

Do you and I long for the Kingdom of Heaven like this young man? Do we desire Christ so much that we will make chapel visits or fast in order to see or hear Him? These questions apply to today’s Gospel parables of the buried treasure and the pearl of great price.

Notice the desire of the person who finds the buried treasure and the merchant who finds the pearl: each of them “sells all that he has”. These two images represent the Kingdom of God, and specifically Jesus Christ. When we find Christ and His Kingdom, we desire Him above all things. We are so filled with joy – like the person and the merchant – that we will sell all that we have for Him.

My friend was like the merchant “searching for fine pearls.” He has been searching for Christ. He gave up his lunch break and some food in order to find Him and the treasure of heaven.

What are we willing to sell in order to receive the riches of the Kingdom? Do we have the joy of people who have found the pearl of great price which is Christ?

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

Ask Something of Me and I Will Give It to You

Genie
Wishes / desires
    “Ask and you will receive”
    Psalm 37
    Eph 3:20
    1st reading (1 Kings)
One wish – what would it be?
    For what are you praying?
    Pray for good—-> receive abundant goodness
    Want or need
    Yes, not right now, something better in mind
        2nd reading FOR GOOD
God gives in abundance
     Person / treasure
     Merchant / pearl of great price
     CHRIST / life in Christ

Come to Him for Rest

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”
-Mt 11:28

This popular saying of our Lord in today’s Gospel is one of our favorites! We love, love, love hearing about rest from Christ. Yes, we are tired from all the good work we try to do. Yes, we have many burdens from the stresses of life. But, just the idea of rest…true rest…ahhhh.

The best opportunity for receiving the rest that can only come from Christ is in prayer. Prayer brings rest to our souls, spirits, and even bodies. If you are a prayer, then you know what I mean and have experienced this. Prayer calms us, and gives us a sense of the presence of the Lord. It is that presence that we experience when we come to Jesus. So, how can we come to Jesus to receive His rest?

In the world, daily prayer takes us to Christ. It can be hard to find a quiet, peaceful place to enter into the presence of Christ. Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to say it took the first twenty minutes of his daily holy hour to just calm down, be rid of the noise of the world, and be quiet with God. Daily Mass is the best opportunity for us to come to Christ and encounter His Real Presence in the Eucharist. Catholic devotions like the rosary help us to raise our hearts and minds to the things of Heaven which inherently bring (eternal) rest. Retreats are very effective in bringing rest to those who take a break from the labors and burdens of the world. In a way, daily prayer is like a mini-retreat every day. This has been my experience with my daily Holy Hour.

Here are some verses from the Psalms which speak of the Lord’s rest. Also, following the Psalms is a Christian poem about the true rest of Christ. When I write each week that I wish you to know the peace of Christ, I also wish that you know the rest of Christ. May you know the peace and rest of Christ this week.

Fr Greg

“ In the Lord I take refuge”.
Psalm 11

“Fear and trembling overwhelm me;
Shuddering sweeps over me.
I say, ‘If only I had wings like a dove
That I might fly away and find rest”.

Psalm 55

“ Return, my soul, to your rest;
The Lord has been good to you.
For my soul has been freed from death.
My eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling”.
Psalm 116

“Happy those whom you guide, Lord,
Whom you teach by your instruction.
You give them rest from evil days,
While a pit is being dug for the wicked”.
Psalm 94

Love (the Name of) God and Your Neighbor

Trinity Sunday – “Love (the name of) God and neighbor”
“Nicknames”

Name of God
Lord
Yahweh
Abba / Father
Father, Son, Holy Spirit

Keep name holy
Reverent
    Moses worshiped at name of God
Taking Lord’s name in vain?
Find new expressions
     Or turn into a prayer

Taking neighbor’s name in vain?

      Love God and love your neighbor
Consistent witness of devout Catholics

Lectio Divina Explained

Are you familiar with Lectio Divina? It is an old form of prayer that has become popular again in the Church. The phrase is Latin for ―divine reading, and it means to pray with Scripture. Here is a nice description from ignatianspiritualty.com:

When a person wants to use Lectio Divina as a prayer form today, the method is very simple. When one is a beginner, it is better to choose a passage from one of the Gospels or epistles, usually ten or fifteen verses. Some people who regularly engage in this method of prayer choose the epistle or the Gospel for the Mass of the day as suggested by the Catholic Church.

First, one goes to a quiet place and recalls that one is about to listen to the Word of God. Then one reads the scripture passage aloud to let oneself hear with his or her own ears the words. When one finishes reading, pause and recall if some word or phrase stood out or something touched one’s heart. If so, pause and savor the insight, feeling, or understanding. Then go back and read the passage again because it will have a fuller meaning. Pause again and note what happened. If one wants to dialogue with God or Jesus in response to the word, one should follow the prompting of one’s heart. This kind of reflective listening allows the Holy Spirit to deepen awareness of God’s taking the initiative to speak with us.

Lectio Divina can also be an effective form for group prayer. After a passage is read, there can be some extended silence for each person to savor what he or she has heard, particularly noting whether any word or phrase became a special focus of attention. Sometimes groups invite members, if they so desire, to share out loud the word or phrase that struck them. This is done without discussion. Then a different person from the group would read the passage again with a pause for silence. Different emphases might be suggested after each reading: What gift does this passage lead me to ask from the Lord? What does this passage call me to do? The prayer can be concluded with an Our Father.

Whether one prays individually or in a group, Lectio Divina is a flexible and easy way to pray. One first listens, notes what is given and responds in a way one is directed by the Holy Spirit.

Our Tuesday Bible study group at Assumption uses Lectio Divina and it’s been very helpful to open all of us to the Holy Spirit vis-à-vis the Sunday readings. Here are some examples of Lectio from theologians, saints, and Fathers of the Church in regards to today’s Gospel (Lk 24:11-35):

Jesus asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast (v. 17).

  • St Thomas Aquinas: ―Of all the passions, sadness causes the most injury to the soul.
  • St. Augustine: ―They were so shattered when they saw him hanging on a tree that they forgot his teaching. They did not expect him to rise, nor did they hold on to what he had promised.
  • Pope Francis: ―We need a Church unafraid of going forth into their night. We need a Church unafraid of going forth into their night. We need a Church capable of meeting them on their way. We need a Church capable of entering into their conversation. We need a Church able to dialogue with those disciples who, having left Jerusalem behind, are wandering aimlessly, alone, with their own disappointment, disillusioned by a Christianity now considered barren, fruitless soil, incapable of generating meaning.

Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures (v. 27).

  • St. Gregory the Great: ―The reader of the Bible must raise himself from the story to the mystery.

And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him… (Vs. 30-31).

  • A Lapide: ―See here the power and effect of the Eucharist. It opens and illumines the eyes of the mind to know Jesus and to enter into heavenly and divine mysteries.

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg

Go forth and be fishers of men

Will you heed the call?

Today we are asking you to sign up for prayer teams for our upcoming “street evangelization.” You’ve heard me mention this and even explain it in homilies in the past, but now it gets real. On two upcoming Saturdays (April 8 and 22), a couple of parishioners and I will set up a table with Catholic materials at Congress Heights metro station from 2-4 p.m. We will ask passersby if they’d like a miraculous medal or rosary as a way to start a conversation. The table will include these items as well as Catholic pamphlets. The goal is to engage people in a discussion about faith, spread the Good News mainly through personal witness, and invite them to visit Assumption. This is the basic premise of street evangelization.

Evangelization is necessary

As we have been saying here for over a year, evangelization is not just a good thing for our parish to do, it’s necessary. We all know that in order for our parish to survive and thrive in the future, we have to bring in more people now with the help of God. Hopefully, it will be young people and young families who will become the next generation of active, long-standing parishioners here. I drove through the neighborhood the other night and saw many young people and families on their porches and in their yards enjoying a warm, spring evening. They are around us!

Prayer teams are also critical

Other parishes in our area have had a similar approach when they have evangelized in the neighborhood. That is, they have teams of evangelizers as well as prayer teams. Those on the prayer teams want to be a part of the evangelization effort but don’t feel called to go out. It’s kind of like going into battle: you have those who fight on the front lines and those who are in the rear supporting them. Both are needed! In fact, in the Church, it is believed that the strongest element of the “Church militant” is the prayer contingent.

Ask God to open hearts and minds

So, if you sign up to be a prayer for street evangelization, please pray on that Saturday; if you signed up for the prayer teams, pray during the 2-3 p.m. or 3-4 p.m. hours. You are praying that God will bring people to our table with open hearts and minds. You are praying that we will be good, joyful, and inviting witnesses to the Catholic faith. And, you are praying that these conversations will be fruitful, and that the people will come to encounter the Lord here at Assumption. You have much to pray for! As the Lord says in the Gospel, “this can only come about through prayer“. In the future, we will hopefully have prayer teams come to the church for Adoration during the times of evangelization. Parishioners will literally bring their prayer requests for street evangelization (as stated above) to the Lord himself. For now, we ask you to do this in your home or preferred place of prayer. We have confidence that God will bless our team effort!

In the future, we will hopefully have prayer teams come to the church for Adoration during the times of evangelization. Parishioners will literally bring their prayer requests for street evangelization (as stated above) to the Lord himself. For now, we ask you to do this in your home or preferred place of prayer. We have confidence that God will bless our team effort!

All of us should be evangelizing regularly. All of us should be praying for more people to join our Assumption family. But, street evangelization is a particular and intentional way of going out. It has been fruitful in other places, and we trust that God has initiated this to do the same here.

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

Be Holy

7th Sunday
Be holy as God is holy
Mass
Be prayerful, respectful, reverent, silent, actively participating
    Dress to impress God
    Arrive early
    No bathroom breaks
    Respect the Eucharist!
    Prayer of thanksgiving
Be perfect as God is perfect
Love that stands out
“Unusual”
Pray for TrumpGrace

Too Legit to Quit

Christian prayer is…
    Legit
    Personal
    Bold
Our daily bread is
     Eucharist

Pray that Good Wins Over Evil in Our Nation

Homily from the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time