"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." - Attributed to Mark Twain
We are all fools on our own, especially when we try to manage our own lives. Those are the times when we open our mouths and quickly become gullible to displaying our own foolishness.
But when we pause, turn to the Lord, and seek his help and guidance, our works are in tandem with His. Our foolishness does not prevail.
Lord, let me turn to you to save me from myself. Amen.
“Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”
Some people may remember a song that was popular almost 50 years ago. In 1971, a group from Canada called the Five Man Electrical Band had a hit called "Signs". The song is about how signs are always telling us what to do, and the chorus says, “Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”
Almost five decades later, the question it poses — “Can’t you read the sign?” — is one we might ask ourselves today. We are going to be signed with ash in the sign of our Faith, the cross. “Can’t you read the sign?”
The cross of ashes means that we are making a commitment — that we are undertaking Lent as a season of prayer and penitence, of dying to ourselves. It also describes our human condition: it says that we are broken and need repair; that we are sinners and need redemption. Most importantly, it tells us that, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are to carry our crosses. It also reminds us that we are dust and ashes — mortal human beings carrying an immortal soul.
By receiving the ashes, we confess that we are sinners in need of the mercy of God, and we ask forgiveness for the various ways in which we have hurt our brothers and sisters. Lent is a time for forgiveness and reconciliation. Let us allow the spirit of forgiveness to work its healing influence in our parishes and families.
Merciful Jesus, lead me into this season of Lent with a heart enlarged for prayer and penitence. Help me to “read the sign” and re-commit to my commitment to You. Amen.
"Jesus answered [him], 'You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above.'" - John 19:11
We have heard a lot over the past weeks and months about an "abuse of power." While the power of government leaders throughout the world is worthy of wisdom and direction, our ultimate power is from above as Jesus tells those desiring to decide his fate.
May we commit to never abuse the power of God, and instead follow his wisdom and direction.
O King of Heaven and Earth, your almighty power is true. Amen.
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
--Alfred Lord Tennyson - 1809-1892
The Church has invoked the titles of Christ in the O Antiphons for at least 1,300 years. These seven ancient prayers have been prayed by over millions of Christians. The medieval monasteries used to ring their largest bell as the choirs of monks intoned Mary’s Magnificat and these Advent antiphons. They are invoking Christ in seven messianic titles.
They are seven heart cries for Jesus to come anew in our life. Each one of them is preparing us to invite the Christ child more completely in this blessed season.
Like a final crescendo, these O Antiphons are intoned during Evening Prayer on the seven days leading up to Christmas Eve, from December 17 to December 23. Each night they form luminous bookends around Our Lady’s Magnificat, like seven prayers she prayed during her week-long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. All seven are in the oracles of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, who gives us many memorable images of the Messiah. They are rich meditations on the One who is to come.
Although there are seven titles in the O Antiphons, only one has remained firmly in popular Christian culture, thanks to an Advent hymn: "O Come, O Come Emmanuel". This messianic title is the final of the O Antiphons. The seven titles prayed on each day are:
"... and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak, and as many as touched it were healed." - Matthew 14:36
Oh, how I wish I could touch the tassel on His cloak and be healed. To feel the power released by Him and enter into me would be so warming.
We all have issues and problems and worries and concerns. Just let me touch You so I can be healed.
Jesus, heal me. Amen.
"The prophet went on and waited for the king on the road, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes." - 1 Kings 20:38
It seemed like a good idea. In order to compensate for a sore toe, just ditch the tennis shoes and walk the treadmill in sandals. Well, now there's band-aids decorating my blistered soles!
Sometimes the choices we make aren't so smart. How often do we place bandages on our "blistered souls"? We try to cover up our mistakes, our hurtful actions, our transgressions, our ridicule. We don't want to expose our scorn to others.
Remove the bandage and free yourself in the Sacrament of Confession.
Divine Physician, let my soles walk openly toward your mercy. Unveil the goodness in my heart and heal my soul of all guilt and shame. Amen.
Take a break and reflect on some spiritual thoughts.
God sometimes takes us into troubled waters not to drown us but to cleanse us.
You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense.
The closer you walk with God, the less room for anything to come between.
Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.
In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.
Train yourself to find the blessing in everything.
Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash
Go in peace, God be with you.
Go in peace, be at rest with the saints and the angels.
Now you are free. Go in peace.
You may have heard the above verse during the Final Commendation at a Catholic funeral. The words are comforting, not just for the mourning but for all of us as well.
We would do well to repeat these words throughout our days. We can be at peace in our lives with the knowledge that God is with us. "Let go and let God" we often hear. With the Communion of Saints and our Guardian Angel, we ARE free and at peace ... if only we let ourselves be.
Song text copyright 2004, Sarah Hart and Dwight Liles
"Looking at little life moments with a spiritual eye."