The L.O.V.E. approach to life

In today’s Old Testament reading, the story of King Saul and his servant David continues (Samuel 24:3–21). With three thousand men, Saul pursues David. But unexpectedly, David has an opportunity to save himself by killing King Saul, when Saul goes to relieve himself in the cave where David is hiding. David instead simply cut off a piece of Saul’s cloak. When Saul realizes what has happened, he weeps and says:

You are in the right rather than I; you have treated me generously, while I have done you harm. Great is the generosity you showed me today, when the LORD delivered me into your grasp and you did not kill me. For if a man meets his enemy, does he send him away unharmed? May the LORD reward you generously for what you have done this day.

May we help mothers and fathers to be courageous and choose life in the face of a difficult pregnancy. May we help them to see the humanity of their unborn child and to embrace the unknown, which may be inciting fear.

9 Days for Life – Day 2

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USCCB Novena Day 2

Intercession: For the end to abortion.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection 

More women and girls consider abortion than we may realize. They are our relatives and friends, people who work with us or for us, married or unmarried. Even if someone identifies as being pro-life, the shock of an unexpected pregnancy, the devastation of a difficult prenatal diagnosis, shame, pressures, or fears may influence her to consider abortion.

If someone shared with you she was pregnant and hadn’t ruled out having an abortion, would you know how to respond in a loving way that is life-affirming for both her and her baby?

Learn about the four steps of the L.O.V.E. Approach™*:
Listen and LearnOpen OptionsVision and Value, and Extend and Empower

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Go to an abortion clinic and pray, or set aside an hour today to pray for those who are struggling with a decision of life or death for their unborn child.
  • Read “What to Do When a Friend Is Considering Abortion,” and spend some time reflecting on it. Would someone in a difficult pregnancy situation know she could turn to you for loving support?
  • Donate needed items to a pregnancy care center, or volunteer an hour of your time at one. Find a center near you at www.heartbeatinternational.org/worldwide-directory. . . .

One Step Further

Find out other simple tips on how to provide loving, life-affirming support for a friend who is unexpectedly pregnant: 10 Ways to Support Her When She’s Unexpectedly Expecting.

9Days-beingprolife

*The L.O.V.E. Approach™ is trademarked by Heartbeat International, Inc. and may not be adapted or modified. The L.O.V.E. Approach™ is used in “What to Do When a Friend Is Considering Abortion” with permission from Heartbeat International, Inc. Copyright © 2017, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

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Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: January 18–25

Scripture Passage: Exodus 15:1–21

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name.

Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he cast into the sea; his picked officers were sunk in the Red Sea. The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone. Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power— your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty you overthrew your adversaries; you sent out your fury, it consumed them like stubble. At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up, the floods stood up in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them. I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.’ You blew with your wind, the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters.

Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendour, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand, the earth swallowed them.

In your steadfast love you led the people whom you redeemed; you guided them by your strength to your holy abode. The peoples heard, they trembled; pangs seized the inhabitants of Philistia. Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed; trembling seized the leaders of Moab; all the inhabitants of Canaan melted away. Terror and dread fell upon them; by the might of your arm, they became still as a stone until your people, O Lord, passed by, until the people whom you acquired passed by. You brought them in and planted them on the mountain of your own possession, the place, O Lord, that you made your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established. The Lord will reign for ever and ever”.

When the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his chariot drivers went into the sea, the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them; but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground.

Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea”.

Statement from the World Council of Churches

The Churches of the Caribbean were chosen to draft the material for the 2018 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The contemporary Caribbean is deeply marked by the dehumanizing project of colonial exploitation. Very regrettably, during five hundred years of colonialism and enslavement, Christian missionary activity in the region, with the exception of a few outstanding examples, was closely tied to this dehumanizing system and in many ways rationalized it and reinforced it. Whereas those who brought the Bible to this region used the scriptures to justify their subjugation of a people in bondage, in the hands of the enslaved, it became an inspiration, an assurance that God was on their side, and that God would lead them into freedom. Today Caribbean Christians of many different traditions see the hand of God active in the ending of enslavement. It is a uniting experience of the saving action of God which brings freedom. For this reason the choice of the song of Moses and Miriam (Ex 15:1-21), as the motif of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2018 was considered a most appropriate one.

Daily Reflection (International version from the Vatican)

Day 1:  You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt

Leviticus 19:33-34    You shall love the alien as yourself

Psalm 146                 The Lord watches over the strangers

Hebrews 13:1-3        Some have entertained angels without knowing it

Matthew 25:31-46    I was a stranger and you welcomed me

After becoming the first independent black republic, Haiti extended hospitality to other enslaved peoples in search of freedom. Recent times have brought severe economic hardship to Haitians, many of whom have left home, making perilous journeys in hope of a better life. In many instances they have been met with inhospitality and legal barriers. The Caribbean Council of Churches has been involved in advocacy to challenge those nations that are restricting or stripping Haitians of citizenship rights.

Reflection

The Israelites’ memory of being strangers in the land of Egypt lay behind the Law’s instruction that God’s people were to welcome the stranger in their midst. The memory of their own exile was expected to prompt empathy and solidarity with contemporary exiles and strangers. Like Israel, our common Christian experience of God’s saving action goes together with remembering both alienation and estrangement – in the sense of estrangement from God and from his kingdom. This kind of Christian remembering has ethical implications. God has restored our dignity in Christ, and made us citizens of his kingdom, not because of anything we did to deserve it but by his own free gift in love. We are called to do likewise, freely and motivated by love. Christian love is to love like the Father, that is to recognize dignity and to give dignity, and thereby to help bring healing to the broken human family.

Prayer

Eternal God,
You belong to no culture and land but are Lord of all,
you call us to welcome the stranger in our midst.
Help us by your Spirit,
to live as brothers and sisters,
welcoming all in your name,
and living in the justice of your kingdom.
This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

The right hand of God
is planting in our land,
planting seeds of freedom, hope and love;
in these many-peopled lands,
let his children all join hands,
and be one with the right hand of God.

All are precious

In today’s Old Testament reading (1 Samuel 18:5–9, 19:1–7), Johnathon intercedes for his friend David, with his father, Saul. King Saul wants to kill David out of envy. David has slain Goliath, and the women come out from all the towns singing that Saul has killed his thousands and David his tens of thousands. Saul feels threatened and begins to plot openly.

We are called to be Johnathons and intercede on behalf of the innocent whom others would unjustly kill, be they the unborn, the elderly, or the terminally ill.

Question of the Day

Why, then, should you become guilty of shedding innocent blood by killing David without cause? (Johnathon to his father, Saul)

9 Days for Life 2018 — Day 1

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What is 9 Days for Life?

9 Days for Life is an annual period of prayer and action focused on cherishing the gift of every person’s life. Surrounding the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, the overarching intention of the centerpiece novena is the end to abortion. The novena also highlights many other facets of respecting each other’s God-given dignity, especially by respecting human life at every stage and in every circumstance.

USCCB Novena Day 1

Intercession: May a culture of life grow ever stronger in our communities.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection 

From each tiny child waiting to be born, to people nearing death, all are precious and deserve our care and protection. Women and men suffering after abortion, individuals tempted to end their lives, expectant mothers facing challenging pregnancies, people pushed to the margins of society by a “throwaway culture,” and every other person—each “has a place in God’s heart from all eternity” (Amoris laetitia, 168).

As Pope Saint John Paul II reminds us in The Gospel of Life, we are asked not only to love and honor human life, but also “to work with perseverance and courage” to establish “a new culture of life, the fruit of the culture of truth and of love” (no 77).

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • “Unplug” for some time praying in silence with a short reflection on this year’s Respect Life theme, “Be Not Afraid.”
  • Use one of our Respect Life social media toolkits to build up a culture of life on social media.
  • Do you love your cup of tea or coffee? Fast from caffeine today, or try your coffee black.

One Step Further

Watching the news and reading the headlines, we may sometimes feel helpless seeing the heartbreaking lack of respect for human life. How do we respond to Pope Saint John Paul II’s invitation when our efforts to make a difference feel small? How to Build a Culture of Life briefly explains where to start.

Accept the call of God

Embrace your cross, race toward your goal

The world needs proud warriors, animated by their faith—warriors like St Paul and St Luke who risked their names, their reputations, to take their faith, their love for Jesus into the world. God is calling each one of us, each one of you to do great things. — Jim Caviezel to Student Leadership Summit 2018

God does not require that we be successful only that we be faithful. — Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Meditation After the Epiphany: Deo servire, regnare est
In Conversation With God, Vol. 1,
excerpts from 49.1, 49.2, 49.3

Jesus, model of obedience

The whole of Jesus’ life was an act of obedience to the Father What I do is always what pleases Him (John 8:29), he will tell us later; and on another occasion he said clearly to his disciples: My meat is to do the will of him who sent me; and to accomplish the task he gave me (John 4:34).

Food is what gives energy for life. And Jesus tells us that obedience to the will of God — manifested in so many different ways — should be what nourishes and gives meaning to our lives. Without obedience there is no growth in the interior life, nor true development of the human person. Obedience far from lowering the dignity of the human person leads it to maturity by extending the freedom of the sons of God (Second Vatican Council, Perfectae Caritatis, 14).

God is not indifferent to any situation in our life. He is waiting for a response from us at each moment; the response which coincides with his glory and our personal happiness. We are happy when we obey because we are doing what Our Lord wants for us, which is what is best, although at times it costs us effort.

God’s will is shown to us through his Commandments, through those of his Church, through things that happen, and, also, through those persons to whom we owe obedience.

fruits of obedience

The Apostles, in spite of their limitations, know how to obey. Because they trust in Our Lord they cast their net to the right of the boat (John 2:61) where Jesus had told them, and they make a great catch of fish, despite its not being the right time, and despite their earlier experience that day of there apparently not being a single fish in the lake. Obedience, and faith in Our Lord’s word, works miracles.

obedience and freedom

Obedience, which always involves subjection and self-giving, is not a lack of freedom or maturity. There are bonds which enslave and others which liberate. The rope which attaches a climber to his companions is not a bond which impedes, but a safety link which prevents him from falling into the abyss. And the ligaments which join the parts of the body are not bonds which hamper our movements, but a guarantee that they can be performed freely, harmoniously, and firmly.

On the contrary, true freedom is threatened by disordered sensuality, narrow-mindedness, originating in selfishness and the desire of doing one’s own will. These obstacles are overcome by obedience, which raises and broadens one’s personality.

Let loving hearts enthrone Him

12th Day of Christmas: The Epiphany of Our Lord

Their hearts were open to the horizon and they could see what the heavens were showing them, for they were guided by an inner restlessness. They were open to something new. …

The Magi were able to worship, because they had the courage to set out. And as they fell to their knees before the small, poor and vulnerable Infant, the unexpected and unknown Child of Bethlehem, they discovered the glory of God.

— Pope Francis homily for the Epiphany

We Three Kings

Their Souls Were Ready

“We have seen His star in the East and are come with gifts to adore Him.” They saw the star and immediately set out. They had no doubts: their unbounded faith was strong and sure. They did not hesitate at the prospect of trials of a long journey: they had generous hearts. They did not postpone the journey: their souls were ready.

A star often appears in the heaven of our souls; it is an inspiration from God, clear and intimate, urging us to greater generosity and calling us to a life of closer union with Him. Like the Magi, we too must always follow our star with faith, promptness, and selfless generosity. If we allow it to guide us, it will certainly lead us to God; it will bring us to the One whom we are seeking.

The Magi did not give up their quest, although the star—at one point—disappeared from their sight. We should follow their example and their perseverance, even when we are in interior darkness. This is a trial of faith which is overcome only by the exercise of pure, naked faith. I know that He wills it, I know that God is calling, and this suffices for me: Scio cui credidi et certus sum (2 Tim 1, 12); I know whom I have believed. No matter what happens, I shall trust Him.

— Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalene, Divine Intimacy

May the Glory of the Lord Shine Upon You

Old Testament Prophecy: Isaiah 60:1–6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm: 72

O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;
the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.
All kings shall pay him homage,
all nations shall serve him.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

New Testament Reading: Ephesians 3

Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace
that was given to me for your benefit,
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
It was not made known to people in other generations
as it has now been revealed
to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Gospel: Matthew 2:1–12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

Haste, Haste

The union of divinity and humanity

Christmas Season Meditations

The infinite distance between God and man, the impassable abyss, the breaking of every bond of friendship—all this was the tremendous consequence of sin. Then between God and man appeared the sweet Babe of Bethlehem; suddenly and completely the whole situation changes: distance is overcome and across the abyss a wonderful bridge erected which unites earth with heaven and reestablishes relations of intimacy between God and men.
— Divine Intimacy, Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalene

21
I told you that I have made a bridge of the Word, my only-begotten Son, and such is the truth. I want you to realize, my children, that by Adam’s sinful disobedience the road was so broken up that no one could reach everlasting life. Since they had no share in the good for which I created them, they did not give me the return of glory they owed me, and so my truth was not fulfilled. What is this truth: that I had created them in my image and likeness so that they might have eternal life, sharing in my being and enjoying my supreme eternal tenderness and goodness. But because of their sin they never reached this goal and never fulfilled my truth, for sin closed heaven and the door of my mercy.

22
… But first I want you to look at the bridge of my only begotten Son, and notice its greatness. Look! It stretches from heaven to earth, joining the earth of your humanity with the greatness of the Godhead. This is what I mean when I say it stretches from heaven to earth—through my union with humanity.

This was necessary if I wanted to remake the road that had been broken up, so that you might pass over the bitterness of the world and reach life.

…But my Son’s having made of himself a bridge for you could not bring you to life unless you make your way along that bridge.

— Dialogue, St Catherine of Siena

If we wish to be united to God, we have no other means than to attach ourselves to Jesus, to pass through Him, our Mediator, our Bridge, our Way.

— Divine Intimacy, Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalene

Whatever way I turn, I meet nothing but ineffable love. I cannot excuse myself for not loving You, because it is You alone, God and man, who loved me without any return of love on my part, because when I did not exist, You created me. In You I find all that I want to love. … If I want to love God, I have Your ineffable Deity, if I want to love man, You are man. … If I want to love the Lord, You paid my ransom with your blood, and lifted me up from the slavery of sin. You are our Lord, Father, and Brother by Your benignity and Your incommensurable charity. …

You are God, supreme Wisdom, I am only a poor ignorant creature.
You are sovereign, eternal goodness.
I am death, You are life;
I am darkness, You are light;
I am stupidity, You are Wisdom;
You are infinite, I am finite.
I am sick, You are the physician;
I am a weak sinner that  has never loved You;
You are purest beauty, and I am most vile creature.

In Your ineffable love, You have drawn me to You; You draw us all to You, that is, if our will does not rebel against Yours.

— St Catherine of Siena