In our society today, we are inundated with so many material things and desires. We are surrounded by so many voices coming at us from all forms of the media. Our five senses are bewildered. The mind finds its receptors jammed: where to go, what to do next or at all. To make it all worse, we have lost our moorings. We have lost the foundational principles of who we are, why we are and where we are going.
I want to offer you some reflections on a centuries-old custom in the Catholic Church – a novena. A novena is a series of prayers that are said for nine straight days, usually as a prayer of petition but sometimes as a prayer of thanksgiving. The nine days recall the nine days that the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary spent in prayer between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday.
Fill the hearts of your faithful. Enkindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth”
One of the most ancient prayers of the Church, Come Holy Spirit, is a beautiful sequence sung in the liturgy for Pentecost Sunday.
Before you read any further, go and get your Bible. First, read John 20: 1-29. If you don’t have a Bible, go out and buy one. It can be a small and inexpensive one. You need God’s word at hand all the time. You need access to it to learn to understand God’s mind and God’s perspective in all our daily personal relationships and activities. It is especially important during the time of major feasts because God wants us to be able to see how each feast we celebrate has a very particular message for us.
In this Year of Faith, let’s make Lent “count” in a particular way. Let me explain: A lot of things go in and out of our minds, almost 24/7. The daily “traffic” is enormous: books, magazines, Internet, radio, iPhones, videos, personal conversations, music, disagreements and arguments, banal sitcoms, negative humor, ridicule of people, lies, verbal attacks on ourselves and others. Do we exercise any control over this barrage? We can, you know.
Read carefully this Scripture passage from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians:
Yet even now,” says the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning; and rend your hearts, not your garments. Return to the Lord, your God for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…”
This month is the first full month of the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict. This month gives us at least two wonderful opportunities to grow in faith and to remember in prayer our departed sisters and brothers.
The first day of November is always celebrated as the Feast of All Saints. To read more about the beauty of this feast day, and how you can more fully emulate the sanctity of saints, please visit www.dioceseoflansing.org and click on the Spiritual Fitness column link.
Since Oct. 7 is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, I want to devote my column this month to offering a way of praying the rosary that can be very fruitful.