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Daily Archives: October 1, 2010
The Our Father
The Our Father or the Lord’s prayer has great value–above all because of its Author Who is neither a man nor an angel but the King of angels and men, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Saint Cyprian says that it was fitting that our Savior by Whom we were reborn into the life of grace should also be our heavenly Master and should teach us how to pray.
The beautiful order, the tender forcefulness and the clarity of this divine prayer pay tribute to our divine Master’s wisdom. It is a short prayer but can teach us so very much and it is well within the grasp of uneducated people, while scholars find it a continual source of meditation on the mysteries of our Faith.
The Our Father contains all the duties we owe to God, the acts of all the virtues and the petitions for all our spiritual and corporal needs. Tertullian says that the Our Father is a summary of the New Testament. Thomas ‘a Kempis says that it surpasses all the desires of all the saints; that it is a condensation of all the beautiful sayings of all the Psalms and Canticles; that in it we ask God for everything that we need; that by it we praise Him in the very best way; that by it we lift up our souls from earth to heaven and unite them with God.
Saint John Chrysostom says that we cannot be our Master’s disciples unless we pray as He did and in the way that He showed us. Moreover God the Father listens more willingly to the Prayer that we have learned from His Son rather than those of our own making which have all our human limitations.
We should say that Our Father with the certitude that the eternal Father will hear it because it is the prayer of His Son Whom He always hears and we are His members. God will surely grant our petitions made through the Lord’s Prayer because it is impossible to imagine that such a good Father could refuse a request couched in the language of so worthy a Son, reinforced by His merits, and made at His behest.
Saint Augustine says that whenever we say the Our Father devoutly our venial sins are forgiven. The just man falls seven times a day, but in the Lord’s Prayer he will find seven petitions which will both help him to avoid downfalls and will protect him from his spiritual enemies. Our Lord, knowing how weak and helpless we are, and how many difficulties we get into, made His Prayer short and easy to say, so that if we say it devoutly and often we can be sure that Almighty God will quickly come to our aid.
I have a word for you, devout souls, who pay little attention to the prayer that the Son of God gave us Himself and asked us all to say: It is high time for you to change your way of thinking. You only like prayers that men have written—as though anybody, even the most inspired man in the whole world, could possibly know more about how we ought to pray than Jesus Christ Himself! You look for prayers in books written by other men almost as though you were ashamed of saying the prayer that Our Lord told us to say.
You have managed to convince yourself that the prayers in these books are for scholars and for rich people of the upper classes and that the Rosary is only for women and children and the lower classes. As if the prayers and praises which you have been reading were more beautiful and more pleasing to God than those which are to be found in the Lord’s Prayer! It is a very dangerous temptation to lose interest in the prayer that Our Lord gave us and to take up prayers that men have written instead.
Not that I disapprove of prayers that the saints have written so as to encourage the faithful to praise God, but it is not to be endured that they should prefer the latter to the Prayer which was uttered by Wisdom Incarnate. If they ignore this Prayer it is just as though they pass up the spring to go after the brook and refusing the clear water, drink dirty water instead. Because the Rosary made up of the Lord’s Prayer and the Angelic Salutation, is this clear and ever flowing water which comes from the Fountain of Grace, whereas other prayers which they look for in books are nothing but tiny streams which spring from this fountain.
People who say Our Lord’s Prayer carefully, weighing every word and meditating upon it, may indeed call themselves blessed for they find therein everything that they need or can wish for.
When we say this wonderful prayer we touch God’s heart at the very outset by calling Him by the sweet name of Father—Our Father. He is the dearest of fathers: all-powerful in His creation, wonderful in the way He maintains the world, completely lovable in His Diving Providence,—always good and infinitely so in the Redemption. We have God for our Father so we are all brothers–and heaven is our homeland and our heritage. This should be more than enough to teach us to love God and our neighbor and to be detached from the things of this world.
So we ought to love our Heavenly Father and should say to Him over and over again:
- Thou Who dost fill heaven and earth
With the immensity of Thy Being,
Thou Who art present everywhere-
Thou Who art in the saints
By Thy glory,
In the damned
By Thy Justice,
In the good
By Thy grace–
And even in sinners
By the patience
With which Though dost tolerate them-
Grant we beseech Thee;
Grant that we may live
As Thy true children ought to live-
Grant that we may set our course
And never swerve-
Grant that we may use
Our every power,
Our hearts and souls and strength
To tend towards Thee
And Thee Alone.
Our Father Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name:
King David, the prophet, said that the name of the Lord is holy and awe-inspiring, and Isaias that heaven is always echoing with praises of the Seraphim who unceasingly praise the holiness of the Lord God of Hosts.
We ask here that all the world may learn to know and adore the attributes of our God Who is so great and so holy. We ask that He may be known, loved and adored by pagans, Turks, Jews, barbarians and by all infidels-that all men may serve and glorify Him by a living faith, a staunch hope, burning charity and by renouncing all erroneous beliefs. This all adds up to say that we pray that all men by be holy, because God Himself is all-holy.
- Do Thou reign in our souls
By Thy grace
So that after death
We may be found meet
To reign with Thee
In They Kingdom
In perfect and unending bliss.
Oh Lord we firmly believe
In this happiness to come;
We hope for and we expect it,
Because God the Father
Has promised it
In His great goodness;
It was purchased for us
By the merits of God the Son
And God the Holy Spirit
He who is the Light
Has made it known to us.
Thy Kingdom come:
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven:
As Tertulliaan says, this sentence does not in the least mean that we are afraid of people thwarting God’s designs because nothing whatsoever can happen without Diving Providence having foreseen it and having made it fit into His plans beforehand. No obstruction in the whole world can possibly prevent the will of God from being carried out.
Rather, when we say THY WILL BE DONE, we ask god to make us humbly resigned to all that He has seen fit to send us in this life. We also ask Him to help us to do, in all things and at all times, His Holy will, made known to us by the commandments, promptly, lovingly and faithfully as the saints and angels do it in heaven.
- Give us this day our daily bread:
Our Lord taught us to ask God for everything that we need whether in the spiritual or temporal order. By asking for our daily bread we humbly admit our own poverty and insufficiency and pay tribute to our God, knowing that all temporal good come from His Divine Providence.
When we say BREAD we ask for that which is just necessary to live; and of course, this does not include luxuries.
We ask for this bread today THIS DAY which means that we are concerned only for the present, leaving the morrow in the hands of Providence.
And when we ask for our DAILY BREAD we recognize that we need God’s help every day and that we are entirely dependent upon Him and for His help and protection.
- Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us:
Every sin, say Saint Augustine and Tertullian, is a debt which we contract towards Almighty God and His justice demands payment down to the very last farthing. Unfortunately we all have these sad debts.
No matter how many they may be we should go to God in all confidence and with true sorrow for our sins, saying “Our Father Who art in Heaven, forgive us our sins of thought and those of speech, forgive us our sins of commission and omission which make us infinitely guilty in the eyes of Thy Divine Justice.
“We dare to ask this because Thou art our loving and merciful Father and because we have forgotten those who have offended us, out of obedience to Thee and out of charity.
“Do not permit us, in spite of our infidelity to Thy graces, to give in to the temptations of the world, the devil and the flesh.”
- But deliver us from evil:
The evil of sin and also of temporal punishment and everlasting punishment which we know that we have rightly deserve. Amen (So be it).
This word at the end of Our Father is very consoling and Saint Jerome says that it is a sort of seal of approbation that Almighty God puts at the end of our petitions to assure us that He will grant our requests — very much as though He Himself were answering:
“Amen! May it be as you have asked, for verily you have obtained what you asked for.” This is what is meant by the word “Amen.”
Ever glorious and Blessed Mary,
Queen of Virgins, Mother of mercy,
hope and comfort of dejected and desolate souls,
through that sword of sorrow
which pierced thy Heart whilst thine only Son,
Jesus Christ, our Lord,
suffered death and ignominy on the Cross;
through that filial tenderness
and pure love through that filial tenderness
and pure love He had for thee, grieving in thy grief,
while from His Cross He recommended thee
to the care and protection of His beloved Disciple,
St. John, take pity, I beseech thee,
on my poverty and necessities;
have compassion on my anxieties and cares;
assist and comfort me in all my infirmities and miseries.
Thou art the Mother of mercy,
the sweet consolatrix and refuge
of the needy and the orphan,
of the desolate and the afflicted.
Look, therefore, with pity on a miserable,
forlorn child of Eve,
and hear my prayer;
for since, in just punishment of my sins,
I am encompassed with evils
and oppressed with anguish of spirit,
whither can I flee for more secure shelter,
O amiable Mother of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
than to thy maternal protection?
Attend, therefore, I beseech thee,
with pity and compassion to my humble and earnest
I ask it through the infinite mercy of thy dear Son,
– through that love and condescension wherewith
He embraced our nature, when,
in compliance with the divine Will,
thou gavest thy consent, and Whom,
after the expiration of nine months,
thou didst bring forth
from the chaste enclosure of thy womb,
to visit this world
and bless it with his presence.
I ask it through the sores of His virginal Flesh,
caused by the cords and whips
wherewith He was bound and scourged
when stripped of His seamless garment,
for which His executioners afterwards cast lots.
I ask it through the scoffs and ignominies
by which He was insulted,
the false accusations and unjust sentence
by which He was condemned to death,
and which He bore with heavenly patience.
I ask it through His bitter tears and bloody sweat;
His silence and resignation;
His sadness and grief of heart.
I ask it through the Blood
which trickled from His royal and sacred Head,
when struck with His sceptre of a reed,
and pierced with the crown of thorns.
I ask it through the excruciating torments He suffered,
when His hands and feet were fastened
with huge nails to the tree of the cross.
I ask it through His vehement thirst,
and bitter potion of vinegar and gall.
I ask it through His dereliction on the cross,
when He exclaimed:
“My God! my God! why hast Thou forsaken me?”
I ask it through His mercy extended to the good thief,
and through His recommending His precious Soul and Spirit
into the hands of His Eternal Father before He expired.
I ask it through the Blood mixed with water,
which issued from His sacred Side,
when pierced with a lance,
and whence a flood of grace and mercy has flowed to us.
I ask it through His immaculate life,
and ignominious death on the cross,
at which nature itself was thrown into convulsions,
by the bursting of rocks,
rending of the veil of the temple,
and the darkness of the sun and the moon.
I ask it through His descent into hell,
where He comforted the Saints of the Old Law with His
and led captivity captive.
I ask it through His glorious victory over death,
when He arose again to life on the third day,
and through the joy
which His appearance for forty days after gave thee,
His blessed Mother,
and His Disciples,
when, in thine and their presence,
He miraculously ascended into heaven.
I ask it through the grace of the Holy Ghost,
infused into the hearts of the Disciples,
when He descended upon them in the form of fiery tongues,
and which they were inspired with zeal
for the conversion of the world
when they went forth to preach the Gospel.
I ask it through the awful appearance of thy Son,
at the last dreadful day,
when He shall come to judge the living and the dead,
and the world by fire.
I ask it through the compassion He bore thee in this life,
and the ineffable joy thou didst feel
at Thine Assumption into heaven,
where thou art eternally absorbed
in the sweet contemplation of His divine perfections.
O glorious and ever-blessed Virgin,
comfort the heart of thy suppliant,
by obtaining for me the graces and the favours
which I now most earnestly solicit.
(Here mention your requests)
And as I am persuaded my Divine Saviour honour Thee
as His beloved Mother, to whom He can refuse nothing,
so let me speedily experience
the efficacy of thy powerful intercession,
according to the tenderness of thy maternal affection,
and His filial,
who mercifully grants the requests and complies
with the desires of those that love and fear Him.
Wherefore, O Most Blessed Virgin,
beside the object of my present petition,
and whatever else I may stand in need of,
obtain for me also of thy dear Son,
our Lord and our God,
a lively faith,
the contrition of heart,
unfeigned tears of compunction,
abstinence from sin,
love of God and of my neighbour,
contempt of the world,
patience to suffer affronts and ignominies,
nay, even, if necessary,
an opprobrious death itself,
for the love of thy Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Obtain likewise for me,
O Holy Mother of God,
perseverance in good works,
performance of good resolutions,
mortification of self-will,
a pious conversation through life,
and at my last moment,
strong and sincere repentance
accompanied by such a lively
and attentive presence of mind,
as may enable me to receive
the last Sacraments of the Church worthily,
and to die in thy friendship and favour.
Lastly, obtain, I beseech Thee,
for the souls of my parents,
and benefactors both living and dead,
There is an enormous difference by the test of fairyland; which is the test of the imagination. You cannot imagine two and one not making three. But you can easily imagine trees not growing fruit; you can imagine them growing golden candlesticks or tigers hanging on by the tail. These men in spectacles spoke much of a man named Newton, who was hit by an apple, and who discovered a law. But they could not be got to see the distinction between a true law, a law of reason, and the mere fact of apples falling. If the apple hit Newton’s nose, Newton’s nose hit the apple. That is a true necessity: because we cannot conceive the one occurring without the other. But we can quite well conceive the apple not falling on his nose; we can fancy it flying ardently through the air to hit some other nose, of which it had a more definite dislike. We have always in our fairy tales kept this sharp distinction between the science of mental relations, in which there really are laws, and the science of physical facts, in which there are no laws, but only weird repetitions. We believe in bodily miracles, but not in mental impossibilities. We believe that a Bean-stalk climbed up to Heaven; but that does not at all confuse our convictions on the philosophical question of how many beans make five.