Monday, June 4, 2018

Alliance of the Two Hearts

An Act of Consecration
to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
and the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary,
we consecrate ourselves and our whole family to You.
We consecrate to You:
our very being and our whole life...
All that we are...
All that we have...
and all that we love.

To You we give our body, our heart, and our soul.
To You  we dedicate our home and our country.
Mindful of this consecration,
we now promise You to live a Christian way of life
by the practice of virtues.

O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary,
accept this act of consecration,
which I make out of pure love for You.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Jesus, meek and humble of heart,
make our hearts like unto Your merciful heart!


For a deeper dive into the Alliance, check out this beautiful reflection
from the archives of Fr. John Hardon, SJ:
"Eucharist and the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary".

Monday, May 28, 2018

Trinity and Identity: New Implications for the Age-Old Question, "Who am I?"

"The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity
is the central mystery of Christian faith and life....
The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way
and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
reveals himself to men 'and reconciles and unites with himself
those who turn away from sin'."

(CCC, n. 234)

God's self-revelation is the only thing new under the sun.  The fact that "the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit," has spoken changes everything.  And the fact that the human person reflects this Trinitarian mystery calls for a deeper look at questions of personal identity.

Today's questions of identity seem stuck in a monolithic myth as old as the human race:  Who I am is simply a matter for me to decide.  As a totally unique individual, I become an authentic person only by exercising my free will as I see fit.  "I am who I am"--or, perhaps more accurately, "I am what I will"--and that's the end of the story.

In contrast, the deeper Trinitarian truth discloses that my distinctively unique "self" exists not an isolated individual, but always as a person in relationship.  Indeed, from the very beginning, I receive my life as a gift from Another.  Then, in response, I pour myself out as an offering in return, a sacrifice of praise.  I find myself not by willing my will, but by giving--by emptying myself at the service of the Giver of "all good giving and every perfect gift" (Jas 1:18).  

Of course, my identity here and now is always "already-but-not-yet":  During my earthly sojourn, I will remain incomplete and in need of reconciliation with the perfection of Love toward which I am being called for all eternity.  The all-knowing and all-merciful Communion of Persons knows that I have been wounded--both by original sin and by my own personal sin--and so unity with the Blessed Trinity will come as a healing remedy for my deepest longings.  

I am not perfect, and yet God's personal and communal grace makes me eminently perfectible.  I am an adopted child of God who is Love, and this reveals the deepest truth of who I am. 

To accept this gift opens me onto the Trinitarian Life which is eternally new, a Family which is always a single whole.  For now and forever.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Calling Forth "Spirit-Filled Evangelizers"

In this Pentecost week, the Church ponders anew her ongoing mission to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people.  Under the watchful care of "Blessed Mary, Mother of the Church" (the newest feast day on the liturgical calendar--now celebrated globally on the Monday after Pentecost), Catholics around the world must respond to the urgent call articulated by Pope Francis:

"Spirit-filled evangelizers means evangelizers
fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit....
Jesus wants evangelizers who proclaim the good news not only with words,
but above all by a life transfigured by God's presence."

(EG, n. 259)

Here are a few specific ways to consider contributing to this universal call to "go, make disciples of all nations":

  • The Pontifical Missions Society--Pope Francis's "Missio" projects provide opportunities to participate in various ways.
  • The Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA)--A papal agency for humanitarian and pastoral support.

  • Share the Journey--Pope Francis's two-year campaign supporting migrants and refugees.

    Finally, with the prayer which Pope Francis used to conclude The Joy of the Gospel (EG, n. 288), let us move forward confident of our Lady's maternal intercession:

  • Mary, Virgin and Mother,
    you who, moved by the Holy Spirit,
    welcomed the word of life
    in the depths of your humble faith:
    as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One,
    help us to say our own “yes”
    to the urgent call, as pressing as ever,
    to proclaim the good news of Jesus.

    Filled with Christ’s presence,
    you brought joy to John the Baptist,
    making him exult in the womb of his mother.
    Brimming over with joy,
    you sang of the great things done by God.
    Standing at the foot of the cross
    with unyielding faith,
    you received the joyful comfort of the resurrection,
    and joined the disciples in awaiting the Spirit
    so that the evangelizing Church might be born.

    Obtain for us now a new ardor born of the resurrection,
    that we may bring to all the Gospel of life
    which triumphs over death.
    Give us a holy courage to seek new paths,
    that the gift of unfading beauty
    may reach every man and woman.

    Virgin of listening and contemplation,
    Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast,
    pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are,
    that she may never be closed in on herself
    or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom.

    Star of the new evangelization,
    help us to bear radiant witness to communion,
    service, ardent and generous faith,
    justice and love of the poor,
    that the joy of the Gospel
    may reach to the ends of the earth,
    illuminating even the fringes of our world.

    Mother of the living Gospel,
    wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones,
    pray for us.
    Amen. Alleluia!

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Waiting...

That rocking musical bard, Tom Petty, famously proclaimed that the waiting is "the hardest part."

For disciples of Jesus living in the breach between the astonishing Ascension and the promised Pentecost, it may not have been "the hardest part."  After all, the three days that Christ was in the tomb must have been unbearable. 

Moreover, they had just spent forty days encountering the Risen Lord, so they knew that he could and would deliver on anything.  But it still must have felt like a long wait.  Uncertainties must have abounded.  Indeed, who or what was this Advocate--this powerful Paraclete, this consoling Comforter--whom Jesus guaranteed would soon arrive?


From our perspective, time always seems to slow down when we have to play the waiting game.  From our Lord's perspective, however, the waiting is always just "a little while" (Jn 16:16)!

The only way for us to close the gap and to get a glimpse of this "little while" is through prayer.  It is a matter of asking for the wisdom to see things from the Lord's perspective.  It is a moment-by-moment return to any one of these mantras which can transform a good, deep breath into a silent prayer:
  • Father, thy will be done...
  • Jesus, I trust in you...
  • Come, Holy Spirit... 
In addition, as the Apostles instinctively knew, the perfect person to invite into our waiting is the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She knows best how to say "Yes" in anticipation of mysteries which are already-but-not-yet made manifest.  She also knows how to reassure us with words of wisdom such as, "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5).


After prayerful waiting, even if only for a little while, the time always comes for Jesus to send his disciples on mission.  The Lord promises, "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8).  Both the call and the power to fulfill the mission are gifts from on high.

And this waiting-turned-sending is the sweetest part!

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful...

Monday, May 7, 2018

What it Looks Like to be a "John 15" Catholic

"This I command you: love one another."
(Jn 15:19)

It all seems simple enough: God who is Love creates out of love--for the sake of love--and enters into history to call all of creation to love.

There are no conditions or qualifiers, no "ifs, ands or buts," to this existential imperative.  Indeed, to make the command even more blunt, the Lord adds these pointed prepositional phrases:

  • "As the Father loves me..."
    (Jn 15:9)
  • "This is my commandment:
    love one another As I love you."

    (Jn 15:12)

Catholic Christians dare to live the fullness of the faith handed down through the Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium of the Church by striving to live this "As."  Love-in-the-flesh, our crucified and risen Lord, continues to command that we love neither as the world loves, nor as we might feel like loving, but as the Father and the Son love.

"John 15" Catholics embrace this fairly straightforward equation for Christian love-- 
"As" = Remain + Keep + Bear :
  1. Remain.  Jesus uses the word at least ten times throughout John 15. It is an internal connection, an abiding within, an indwelling.  It is an assurance that "laying down one's life for one's friends" (Jn 15:13) does not happen by our own power.  It is a promise of grace which overflows--a promise that we can help personally transmit the power which sustains the whole cosmos--if only we accept the gift.
  2. Keep.  How do we know whether we are actually accepting this gift?  We must check the purity of our intentions and master our motivations by simple obedience.  We must never trivialize or sentimentalize Jesus' preaching on love, since the Lord states that this command is is directly related to the fact that "I have kept my Father's commandments" (Jn 15:10).  Willing the Will of the Father is Jesus' life story, and he wants to draw us into this eternal exchange.
  3. Bear.  "Bear much fruit" (Jn 15:5); "bear fruit that will remain" (Jn 15:16).  Loving as Jesus love--a self-giving, self-sacrificing, self-emptying love--ensures that our lives will be fruitful.  Like the grain of wheat that goes into the ground, the death to self brings abundant new productivity in Christ.

    Such a life of love will necessarily include bearing many hardships, as Jesus promises (Jn 15:18-25).  Yet, he also assures us an Advocate, "the spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father" (Jn 15:26).

    Lest there be any question why the Lord of Love would speak such a challenging command, he assures us that our remaining, our keeping and our bearing will add up as he intends:
"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete."
(Jn 15:11)

Come, Holy Spirit!

P.S.  Click here for an opportunity to subscribe to read Pope Francis's new Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, one-week-at-a-time: The paragraphs will arrive daily, but each Sunday's post will offer a week in review.