Shepherds of Christ  
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September 5, 2010

September 6th Holy Spirit Novena
Scripture selection is Day 9 Period II.

The Novena Rosary Mysteries  
for September 6th are Glorious.


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September 5, 2010 

                Today's Readings and Homily


23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 9: 13-18

'What human being indeed can know the intentions of God?
And who can comprehend the will of the Lord?
For the reasoning of mortals is inadequate,
our attitudes of mind unstable;
for a perishable body presses down the soul,
and this tent of clay weighs down the mind with its many cares. 
It is hard enough for us to work out what is on earth,
laborious to know what lies within our reach;
who, then, can discover what is in the heavens?
And who could ever have known your will, had you not given Wisdom
and sent your holy Spirit from above?
Thus have the paths of those on earth been straightened
and people have been taught what pleases you,
and have been saved, by Wisdom.'


Philemon 1: 9-10, 12-17

I am rather appealing to your love, being what I am, Paul, an old man, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus. I am appealing to you for a child of mine, whose father I became while wearing these chains: I mean Onesimus. I am sending him back to you -- that is to say, sending you my own heart. I should have liked to keep him with me; he could have been a substitute for you, to help me while I am in the chains that the gospel has brought me. I should have liked to keep him with me; he could have been a substitute for you, to help me while I am in the chains that the gospel has brought me. I should have liked to keep him with me; he could have been a substitute for you, to help me while I am in the chains that the gospel has brought me. However, I did not want to do anything without your consent; it would have been forcing your act of kindness, which should be spontaneous. I suppose you have been deprived of Onesimus for a time, merely so that you could have him back for ever, no longer as a slave, but something much better than a slave, a dear brother; especially dear to me, but how much more to you, both on the natural plane and in the Lord. So if you grant me any fellowship with yourself, welcome him as you would me;


Luke 14: 25-33

Great crowds accompanied him on his way and he turned and spoke to them. 'Anyone who comes to me without hating father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, cannot be my disciple. No one who does not carry his cross and come after me can be my disciple.

'And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, anyone who saw it would start making fun of him and saying, "Here is someone who started to build and was unable to finish." Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who was advancing against him with twenty thousand? If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple without giving up all that he owns.


September 9, 2007

INTRODUCTION: (Philemon: 9-10,12-17) When we think of slavery we think of the brutal situation of African slaves as it existed in our own country up until the middle of the 19th century. In the Roman Empire 20 centuries ago, where slavery was common, it was much different. Slaves came from nations and peoples that Rome had conquered. There were probably more white slaves than blacks. Many would have been educated or highly skilled and would have worked as musicians, scribes, craftsmen, teachers and even doctors. Slaves could be set free by their masters for good service or a slave could sometimes save up enough money to buy his or her own freedom. Today’s second reading is about a slave, Onesimus. He escaped from his master, Philemon. By law Onesimus could have been put to death for escaping. He knew Paul for Paul had converted his master, Philemon to Christ. So, in fear for his life he ran to St. Paul, who was in prison at the time, probably in Ephesus. In those days prisoners were just locked up and they were not given three square meals a day or gymnasiums to work out in or cable TV’s to entertain them. Unless a prisoner had someone to bring them food and take care of their needs, they probably would have starved to death. So, while Onesimus was with Paul, he took care of him and in the process Paul converted him to Christ. Paul thus sees himself as his spiritual father and refers to Onesimus as his own child. Paul felt an obligation to send him back to Philemon. He didn’t feel right benefiting from a gift that had not been given to him. Paul asked Philemon in the letter we hear in today’s second reading to receive Onesimus back, not as a piece of property, but as a brother in the Lord. Christianity transcends all other relationships as we hear in today’s gospel.

HOMILY: Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. St. Luke tells us he was traveling with great crowds. Jesus’ disciples and the people following him were expecting some major changes in their lives when Jesus would arrive in Jerusalem. They expected Jesus would spearhead a resistance against their Roman oppressors, drive the Roman army out of Israel and take control of their land and their lives. For almost 600 years they lived under the rule of foreign kings. Now they would have their land back and their own king. Not only would they be free but life would be really wonderful for God’s people for Jesus had unusual powers: he could heal the sick, feed the hungry, even raise the dead. No king in the history of the world would be so great! They anticipated Jesus would be their messiah and life would be fantastic. Jesus knew differently. He alone knew what was about to happen. So he told them, as he always spoke the truth, you can’t follow me unless you hate your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters and even your own life. You’ll have a cross to pick up if you want to be my disciple. Like a man building a tower or a king going into battle, are they prepared for what they would face, are they sure they have what it takes?

One wonders what happened to the great crowds following him. Did they begin to drift off? There’s one word in today’s gospel that really shocks us (as I’m sure it shocked those who heard him): the word “hate.” Certainly we know Jesus doesn’t want us to hate anyone. So how could Jesus tell us to “hate” even those closest to us? The oldest document we have that reports Jesus’ words is the Greek text of the gospels. Indeed, the Greek uses the verb “miseo” which means “hate.” It is from that word that we get such English words as: misanthrope and misogyny. Miseo, however, has a secondary meaning which is “to prefer or favor something or someone less.” And of course this is what Jesus means. St. Matthew helps us understand exactly what Jesus meant when he quoted Jesus in a parallel passage in his gospel, where Jesus said: “Whoever loves his father or mother, brother or sister, more than me is not worthy of me.” The only thing Jesus wants us to truly hate is sin. But Jesus statement is still very challenging in that he is telling us if we are going to follow him, he must be more important to us than everyone and everything in our lives. He must be more important to us than even our own physical life. And indeed many Christians have had to face that dilemma and have given up life in this world in order to hold on to their faith. We call them martyrs, not the kind of martyrs who are suicide bombers who want to maim and kill, but martyrs in the sense of witnesses, witnesses to love: love for Jesus and love for others. In brief, we must be willing to lose everything rather than lose Jesus, or we are not his disciple.

Jesus would make a very poor politician. He doesn’t tell us things we like to hear. He tells it like it is. He tells us it will not always be easy if we go with him. True, but I have seen over and over again, life is even harder if we try to live our lives without him. Only those who have made the decision to put Christ first know that they have really gained everything, for in Jesus is the fullness of life, the fullness of all that is good.

Too many Christians think of their faith like some kind of insurance. As long as they pay their premiums they’re protected. And they try to figure out what is the minimum they can get by with to still be covered. For example, if the rule says go to Mass every Sunday, they figure well maybe once or twice a month will be just as good. If the rule says love your neighbor, well maybe I’ll still be covered if I don’t hurt anyone even if I never do anything to help anyone. I’m sure you can think of other examples of what one theologian called “cheap grace.” The story of the tower half built is an image of our spiritual lives when they are built on half-hearted efforts. Heaven is not going to be “pie in the sky.” Heaven is the happiness of surrendering ourselves to the greatest lover in the universe.


                R. God's wisdom is superior to
                    man's wisdom —

                What is a great misfortune, —
                    can be a great blessing —

                We must trust in God —
                Be open to him —

                Labor Day — people out of work —
                    Must have faith in God —

                Wider vision of God —
                Build a better society —
                Live in our little yard —
                Knowing only ourselves —

                We are to love all men —
                Reaching out —

                Jesus says to Trust My Way —
                Trust in God's wisdom

                Trust in God's wisdom
                Pray for greater faith —
                Recognize human dignity —
                Thank God for work —

                Sing: Summons
                Song: Servant Song
                Song: Healer of Our Every Ill
                Song: Take Lord Receive
                Song: Lord You Have Come
                Song: Here I Am Lord

                My God I trust in Thee —
                I put myself in Your care —
                I love You, my God —

                I am sorry for my sins
                    that blocked Your work —

                Heal all my memories —
                Help me to do Your will —

                All that is important to me
                    is to surrender and love
                    according to Your will —

                Today is promised to
                    no man —

                A blood vessel can burst
                    in our brain —
                We are vulnerable —

                Be focused on the things of
                    God —

                Love and be loved —

                Live every day as if it
                    is your last —

                Go out loving —

                Go out serving God and
                    loving and serving
                    others to build
                    God's Kingdom —

                Jesus said You want to be missed for more
                    than your money —
                    You want to make your mark of love —

                Love, Love, Love —

                Pray for forgiveness and forgive
                    others —

                Do not hold onto bad memories
                It blocks Our love union —
                Have a "Wake-Up-Call"


December 27, 1996


. . .

Isaiah 30:26:

Then moonlight will be
bright as sunlight
and sunlight itself will be
seven times brighter
-like the light of seven days in one-…

Isaiah 30:25:

On every lofty mountain,
on every high hill
there will be streams and water-courses,
on the day of the great slaughter
when the strongholds fall.

Truly His Heart is the fountain of divine life. It flows through the Church, through the hands of His holy priests. When priests are consecrated to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and celebrating the Mass, and administering the Sacraments, an immense amount of His grace will be outpoured on the earth.

A people in darkness have seen a great light. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, the Light of the World!

Our Father…thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We will all love as the Father intends, for now He looks to the earth and He sees it covered with darkness. As hearts are consecrated to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the earth will be covered with His light.

Revelations 12:1-12:

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, robed with the sun, standing on the moon, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant, and in labour, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth. Then a second sign appeared in the sky: there was a huge red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and each of the seven heads crowned with a coronet. Its tail swept a third of the stars from the sky and hurled them to the ground, and the dragon stopped in front of the woman as she was at the point of giving birth, so that it could eat the child as soon as it was born. The woman was delivered of a boy, the son who was to rule all the nations with an iron scepter, and the child was taken straight up to God and to his throne, while the woman escaped into the desert, where God had prepared a place for her to be looked after for twelve hundred and sixty days.

And now war broke out in heaven, when Michael with his angels attacked the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and driven out of heaven. The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan, who had led all the world astray, was hurled down to the earth and his angels were hurled down with him. Then I heard a voice shout from heaven, "Salvation and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ, now that the accuser, who accused our brothers day and night before our God, has been brought down. They have triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word to which they bore witness, because even in the face of death they did not cling to life. So let the heavens rejoice and all who live there; but for you, earth and sea, disaster is coming-because the devil has gone down to you in a rage, knowing that he has little time left."

We are in Mary's spiritual womb (heart). She is pregnant, bringing forth her children of light. As we go to her heart, she crushes the head of the serpent. Some of the brightest stars that will light up the earth are in the Shepherds of Christ Movement. We are the children of light. We are being sent forth as she brings us forth her children of light to stamp out the darkness. We must give ourselves to Mary.

end of December 27, 1996


October 13, 1995


. . . It is in realizing this constant, motherly love that I am set free from fear and can rest so tenderly in His Heart.

How do I write what I feel? Mary, my Mother, help me to know your constant presence with me and your constant motherly care and love for me! I know this is the secret to my resting deeply in His Heart.

It was through Mary that Christ came. He was in Mary's womb. The connection between Them is so deep in the rosary meditations. It is in meditating on Their lives that I see this deep union between Their two Hearts. It is in Mary that I will feel secure and know His love.

All these years I've missed my earthly mother who died when I was five years old. Now I know I have my heavenly Mother forever with me, leading me in deepest union with her Son! Her role as my spiritual Mother is to help me to unite more and more deeply in Him.



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Excerpt from Light, Happiness and Peace

The Awakening

People are hungry for God. People are hungry for love. Are you aware of that? Do you know that? Do you see that? Do you have eyes to see? Quite often we look but we don’t see. We are all passing through this world. We need to open our eyes and see.1    Mother Teresa

    When we open our eyes to the reality of God, then we can be said to have been awakened. There is a point in our life where we are faced with the reality that there is something which is beyond the self, something which transcends the limits of our being. This moment is a moment of choice. Do we seek to explore and enter into this mystery of that which is beyond the limits of the self or do we repress the experience? The choice made is the choice that will help govern our life.

What “voice” attracts someone to God?

    We are awakened and moved to follow the ways of grace by being enlightened to the presence of God.

1 Mother Teresa, One Heart Full of Love (Ann Arbor: Servant Publications, 1984), 11.



Excerpts of Prayers from Authenticity

by Fr. John J. Pasquini


Lord Grant Me Humility

Lord, grant me humility.
For with the proud and arrogant you are stern,
But with the humble you show your mercy and kindness.
Lord, grant me humility with a gentle and tender hand.


The Doorway

Lord Jesus, Author of Life, grant me the gift to enter through the
humble door, for it is this door that leads to true self
holiness, and happiness.

Lord, Example of Virtues, make me realize that humility has
nothing to do with low self
-esteem; rather it is about seeing
myself the way I truly and really am.

Lord, meek and humble of heart, your gift of humility helps me to
avoid unnecessary and unworthy praise, self
-seeking, the
impressing of others or boasting, and the pursuit of worldly
"things" such as fame. It promotes the awareness of the need for
growth through the recognition of my weaknesses and sins. It
acknowledges the need for compassion, assistance and strength.
It promotes a clear conscience and the strength to bear the cross.
It rejoices in being corrected and sees reproaches as kisses from
you, O Lord. It helps me to be a person for others and recognizes
that all things and activities are to be for your honor, and that all
of life is part of your providential plan.

Lord Jesus, Treasure of the Faithful, grant me the gift to enter
through the humble door, for it is the door that leads to true self knowledge,
to true holiness, to true happiness.

Lord, help me to see that to be humble is to see myself the way
you see me, which is to see myself genuinely.


Your Will

Do in me your will, O Lord.

Help me to bear what you are pleased to give me.

My human reason is limited and flawed.

My feelings and worldly desires and attitudes sway and cloud my
comprehension and make me susceptible to deception and

I see today, you see today and tomorrow.

I see failure; you see a step toward holiness.

I see suffering; you see purification.

Do in me your will, O Lord.

Help me to bear what you are pleased to give me.


O Lord Make Me Virtuous

Lord Jesus, make me holy, make me virtuous.
Grant me the gifts of the theological virtues of faith, hope and love
so that I may be enabled, animated, informed, and enlivened in
In faith I soar beyond the rational and natural boundaries into the
mysteries of God.
In hope I am emptied of unhealthy memories and worldly
In love my will and heart are unburdened from the fleeting things
of the world.
Lord Jesus, grant me the gifts of faith, hope, and love so that I may
be what I was created to be, fully, authentically and sincerely
human, a holy and virtuous person.

Lord Jesus, make me holy, make me virtuous.
Make me like you, with you, in you, and for you.
May I be created anew in the way you originally created mankind
to be.
May I grow through the gift of right reason in the natural virtues
and may your grace elevate these natural virtues to supernatural
Lord Jesus, may I grow fully in the acquired natural virtues and the
infused moral virtues.
May my life, O Lord Jesus, be in perfect imitation of you.


Justification and Salvation

O Lord, you have blessed me with the gift of justification.
You have offered me the remission of sins, the sanctification of
my being, and the detachment from my sins that so powerfully
enslave me.
You have offered me the desire to grow in continual conversion
and the assent of faith.
O Lord, may I always respond to your offer of salvation.


Seven Capital Sins and Their Vices

O Savior, protect me from the capital sins and their vices.
O Most Powerful Savior, protect me from envy, for envy brings a
life of hatred, slander, calumny, detraction, and joy in the
misfortune of others.
O Precious Savior, protect me from unjustified anger, for anger
leads to disputes, fits of passion, insults, blasphemy, rudeness,
haughtiness, and contempt.
O Zealous Savior, protect me from vanity, for vanity leads to
disobedience, boasting, hypocrisy, unholy rivalry, discord, and
O Shepherding Savior, protect me from sloth, for sloth gives rise
to malice, rancor, discouragement, cowardliness, spiritual apathy
or stagnation, forgetfulness of spiritual obligations and the
seeking after forbidden things.
O Savior of Great Counsel, protect me from avarice, for avarice
gives rise to disloyalty, treachery, fraud, deceit, perjury, harshness,
hardness of heart, and an excessive desire for acquiring things as
well as the resulting anxiety of trying to keep these things.
O Savior Most Pure, protect me from gluttony, for gluttony leads
one to engage in improper jokes, coarse loutish behavior,
impurity, foolish conversation, and stupidity.
O Savior Most Chaste, protect me from lust, for lust gives rise to
spiritual blindness, poor judgment, impetuous or rash decisions,
fickleness, instability, capriciousness, self-infatuation, and an
inordinate attachment to this present life.
O Savior and Lord, protect me from the capital sins and their


                Sing: By Name I Have Called You

                God, help us to live as if life is a treasure —


                Mary was a descendant of Adam —
                    but from the very moment
                        of conception Mary was
                        without original sin —

                This is the Immaculate Conception —
                This is a different doctrine than
                    the Virgin Birth of Christ —

                The devil works in memories —
                Memories need to be healed —

                When memories are not healed they
                    get in the way of images
                    we want in us
                    so we can focus on
                    the good experiences and memories
                    we had with God —

                The Blue Books, the Mass Book,
                    the Rosary books can open doors
                    to help us to have experiences of love of
                    God in our heart as we meditate
                    on the mysteries —
                    as we ponder the gift of the Eucharist —
                    Our love for Him
                    His love for us —

                    We need our imagination and
                our memories cleansed of impurities,
                healed from bad memories that
                interfere with our focusing purely
                on God and loving Him deeply —

                    Jesus used to tell me when I was
                going to Mass at Fr. Carter's — not to
                talk on the phone before Mass —
                Jesus would not let me talk to people
                before and after a 5th and 13th —

                    The devil wants to deceive one with
                whatever he can use to cram the
                mind before prayer, before Mass —

                Saying the Morning Offering

Morning Offering (For Shepherds of Christ Members)

My dear Father, I offer You this day all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings, my every breath, my every heartbeat, my every thought, all my actions, in union with Jesus in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in the Holy Spirit. I pray the Holy Spirit is with me every second today, enlightening me to do the will of the Father and filling me with the fire of God's love.

I ask Jesus and Mary to be one in me in all that I do and I unite with all the angels and saints and souls in purgatory to pray continually to the Father for these intercessions, in this prayer, for this day.

For myself, I pray for grace-abundant grace, to know and love God more and more and to follow the will of the Father. I pray to the Holy Spirit to transform me in the heart of Mary to be more and more like Jesus. I pray that I can forever dwell in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. I pray for conversion of all those I hold dear who need conversion. I pray for each member of my family that they will be filled with Your abundant grace to grow in their knowledge and love of God.

I pray for all my friends that they will receive abundant grace to carry out the great plan of the Father, that they will grow forever closer to Jesus' Heart through Mary's heart, that we will all be led by the Holy Spirit to do His work, that we will, together, carry out the plan of the Father as He intends us to, to spread the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary's heart to this world.

Jesus, I pray for myself so the Holy Spirit descends upon me and opens my heart to Your love so I will grow more and more deeply in union with You. I pray that I do not worry what other people think but try always to please the Father and do His will. I pray that I may help lead many to Your burning love.

I pray for the following people in particular that they will be filled with the Spirit and grow deeply in their union with You, that they will receive abundant graces to know, love and serve You more. (Include special friends by name...)

I pray for priests the world over, for the success of the Priestly Newsletter, the Chapters and for the finances needed for the Newsletter. I pray for the circulation of the Blue Book messages, rosary meditations and tapes. I pray for all those involved in the publication of these messages.

I pray that You will shower Your abundant graces onto the priests reading the Newsletter the people reading and hearing the Blue Book messages and Rosary Meditations and all of Fr. Carter's publications.

We pray for the intentions we hold deep within our hearts, for our families and friends, for those requesting our prayers. We pray for children the world over and for the souls in purgatory. We ask God to shower His abundant grace on us and the members of our Shepherds of Christ chapter so that we may grow more and more in our knowledge and love of God.

We consecrate ourselves to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. We pray for Father Carter, for Father Smith, for Rita Ring, and for John Weickert, for all leaders and helpers in the Shepherds of Christ Movement, for Shepherds of Christ Ministries, and Our Lady of Light Ministry. We pray for all those who are working in these ministries.

We bind ourselves and our children and our friends to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We place the precious blood of Jesus on ourselves, and all we touch, so that we will be protected from the evil one. We pray to St. Michael to cast the devil into hell.

We love You, God, we love You, we love You. We beg that we may receive the grace to love You more and more deeply. We adore You, we praise You, our beloved Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


                Saying the Prayer before the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass


A Prayer before the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

    Let me be a holy sacrifice and unite with God in the sacrament of His greatest love.

    I want to be one in Him in this act of love, where He gives Himself to me and I give myself as a sacrifice to Him. Let me be a holy sacrifice as I become one with Him in this my act of greatest love to Him.

    Let me unite with Him more, that I may more deeply love Him. May I help make reparation to His adorable Heart and the heart of His Mother, Mary. With greatest love, I offer myself to You and pray that You will accept my sacrifice of greatest love. I give myself to You and unite in Your gift of Yourself to me. Come and possess my soul.

    Cleanse me, strengthen me, heal me. Dear Holy Spirit act in the heart of Mary to make me more and more like Jesus.

    Father, I offer this my sacrifice, myself united to Jesus in the Holy Spirit to You. Help me to love God more deeply in this act of my greatest love.

    Give me the grace to grow in my knowledge, love and service of You and for this to be my greatest participation in the Mass. Give me the greatest graces to love You so deeply in this Mass, You who are so worthy of my love.

-Mass Book, December 27, 1995


                Saying the Say Daily Prayer


                Saying the Prayer for Intimacy with the Lamb

A Prayer for Intimacy with the Lamb, the Bridegroom of the Soul

     Oh Lamb of God, Who take away the sins of the world, come and act on my soul most intimately. I surrender myself, as I ask for the grace to let go, to just be as I exist in You and You act most intimately on my soul. You are the Initiator. I am the soul waiting Your favors as You act in me. I love You. I adore You. I worship You. Come and possess my soul with Your Divine Grace, as I experience You most intimately.


                Saying the Prayer for Union with Jesus

Prayer for Union with Jesus

Come to me, Lord, and possess my soul. Come into my heart and permeate my soul. Help me to sit in silence with You and let You work in my heart.

    I am Yours to possess. I am Yours to use. I want to be selfless and only exist in You. Help me to spoon out all that is me and be an empty vessel ready to be filled by You. Help me to die to myself and live only for You. Use me as You will. Let me never draw my attention back to myself. I only want to operate as You do, dwelling within me.

    I am Yours, Lord. I want to have my life in You. I want to do the will of the Father. Give me the strength to put aside the world and let You operate my very being. Help me to act as You desire. Strengthen me against the distractions of the devil to take me from Your work.

    When I worry, I have taken my focus off of You and placed it on myself. Help me not to give in to the promptings of others to change what in my heart You are making very clear to me. I worship You, I adore You and I love You. Come and dwell in me now.

-God's Blue Book, January 17, 1994


                Say the Holy Spirit Novena


Holy Spirit Novena


Opening Prayer

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dear Father, we come to You in the name of Jesus, in union with Him in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in the Holy Spirit. We come to You united to the Child Jesus of Good Health and the Infant of Prague. We come to You in the perfect, sinless heart of Our Mother Mary, asking her powerful intercession, uniting ourselves to her holy tears. We come to You united to all the angels and saints, and the souls in purgatory.

Prayer for Holy Spirit

We pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on us, to be baptized by the Holy Spirit, that He will descend mightily on us as He did on the Apostles at Pentecost. That the Holy Spirit will transform us from fear to fearlessness and that He will give us courage to do all the Father is asking of us to help bring about the Reign of the Sacred Heart and the triumph of Mary's Immaculate Heart. We pray for the Holy Spirit to descend mightily on the Jesuits and the Poor Clares on the Shepherds of Christ leaders and members and on the whole Body of Christ and the world.

Protection by the Blood of Jesus

We pray that the Blood of Jesus will be spread on us, everyone in our families, and the Shepherds of Christ Movement, that we will be able to move steadfastly ahead and be protected from the evil one.


We pray for healing in body, mind, and soul and generational healing in ourselves, in all members in our families, and in all members of the Shepherds of Christ Movement, the Jesuit Community, the Poor Clares, the Body of Christ, and the world.

Prayer for Strength and Light

We adore You, oh Holy Spirit. Give us strength, give us light, console us. We give ourselves entirely to You. Oh Spirit of light and grace, we want to only do the will of the Father. Enlighten us that we may live always in the Father's will.

Eternal Spirit fill us with Your Divine Wisdom that we may comprehend more fully insight into Your Divine Mysteries.

Give us lights, Oh Holy Spirit that we may know God. Work within the heart, the spiritual womb of the Virgin Mary, to form us more and more into the image of Jesus.

Prayer to Be One with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit

We long for You, Oh Spirit of Light, we long to know God, we want to be one with Him, our Divine God. We want to be one with the Father, know Him as a Person most intimately. We want to know the beloved One, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and live and dwell in Him at all times, every moment of our lives. We want to be one with You, Oh Spirit of Light, that You move in us in our every breath.

Prayer to Be One in Jesus

Let us experience life in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so we can say as Saint Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ and yet I am alive; yet it is no longer I, but Christ living in me...." Let us live, united to the Mass, all through the day being one in Him. Let us be able to love and know in this elevated state of oneness with our God. We long for Thee, oh beauteous God, we love You, we love You, we love You. We praise You, worship You, honor You, adore You, and thank You, our beloved God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Prayer to Dwell in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary

We seek to be one in God, to live and dwell in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, our little heaven on earth, to experience life in the all perfect, pure, sinless heart of our Mother. We want the Holy Spirit to move in us and to be united to Jesus as the Bridegroom of our souls and be a most perfect sacrifice offered to the Father at every moment as we unite in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass around the world to help in the salvation of souls.

Prayer for the Holy Spirit and His Gifts

Come Holy Spirit, come, come into our hearts, inflame all people with the fire of Your love.

Leader: Send forth Your Spirit and all will be reborn.
All:  And You will renew the face of the earth.

We pray for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, we ask for perfection in our souls to make us holy, holy souls likened to God.

Dear Holy Spirit, we give ourselves to You soul and body. We ask You to give us the Spirit of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.

Prayer for the Word Alive in Our Hearts

We know, dear Holy Spirit, the Word in His human nature was brought forth within the womb of the woman. We pray that His word will be brought forth in our hearts as He lives and dwells in us. We want the incarnation to go on in our lives. Dear Holy Spirit, work in us.

Little Prayers to the Holy Spirit

Dear Holy Spirit, help us not to be ignorant or indifferent or weak, help us to be strong with the love of God.

Dear Holy Spirit, please pray for our needs for us.

Dear Holy Spirit, help us to respect God and to avoid sin. Help us to live in the Father's will.

Dear Holy Spirit, help us to keep Your commandments and to respect authority. Help us to love all things as You will us to love them. Help us to want to pray and always serve God with the greatest love. Help us to know the truth. Help us to have the gift of faith, hope, and love. Help us to know what is right and what is wrong.

A Prayer for Intimacy with the Lamb, the Bridegroom of the Soul

Oh Lamb of God, Who take away the sins of the world, come and act on my soul most intimately. I surrender myself, as I ask for the grace to let go, to just be as I exist in You and You act most intimately on my soul. You are the Initiator. I am the soul waiting Your favors as You act in me. I love You. I adore You. I worship You. Come and possess my soul with Your Divine Grace, as I experience You most intimately.


First Period
Meditations Nine Days

  1. 1. Romans 8:14-17

    All who are guided by the Spirit of God are sons of God; for what you received was not the spirit of slavery to bring you back into fear; you received the Spirit of adoption, enabling us to cry out, 'Abba, Father!' The Spirit himself joins with our spirit to bear witness that we are children of God. And if we are children, then we are heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, provided that we share his suffering, so as to share his glory.

  2. 2. Romans 8:5-9

    Those who are living by their natural inclinations have their minds on the things human nature desires; those who live in the Spirit have their minds on spiritual things. And human nature has nothing to look forward to but death, while the Spirit looks forward to life and peace, because the outlook of disordered human nature is opposed to God, since it does not submit to God's Law, and indeed it cannot, and those who live by their natural inclinations can never be pleasing to God. You, however, live not by your natural inclinations, but by the Spirit, since the Spirit of God has made a home in you. Indeed, anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

  3. 3. 1 John 4:12-16

    No one has ever seen God, but as long as we love one another God remains in us and his love comes to its perfection in us. This is the proof that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us a share in his Spirit. We ourselves have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as Saviour of the world. Anyone who acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. We have recognised for ourselves, and put our faith in, the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.

  4. 4. 1 John 4:17-21

    Love comes to its perfection in us when we can face the Day of Judgement fearlessly, because even in this world we have become as he is. In love there is no room for fear, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear implies punishment and no one who is afraid has come to perfection in love. Let us love, then, because he first loved us. Anyone who says 'I love God' and hates his brother, is a liar, since whoever does not love the brother whom he can see cannot love God whom he has not seen. Indeed this is the commandment we have received from him, that whoever loves God, must also love his brother.

  5. 5. 1 John 4:7-11

    My dear friends, let us love one another, since love is from God and everyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. Whoever fails to love does not know God, because God is love. This is the revelation of God's love for us, that God sent his only Son into the world that we might have life through him. Love consists in this: it is not we who loved God, but God loved us and sent his Son to expiate our sins. My dear friends, if God loved us so much, we too should love one another.

  6. 6. Acts of the Apostles 1:1-5

    In my earlier work, Theophilus, I dealt with everything Jesus had done and taught from the beginning until the day he gave his instructions to the apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. He had shown himself alive to them after his Passion by many demonstrations: for forty days he had continued to appear to them and tell them about the kingdom of God. While at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised. 'It is', he had said, 'what you have heard me speak about: John baptised with water but, not many days from now, you are going to be baptised with the Holy Spirit.'

  7. 7. Acts of the Apostles 1:6-9

    Now having met together, they asked him, 'Lord, has the time come for you to restore the kingdom to Israel?' He replied, 'It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit which will come on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to earth's remotest end.'

    As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight.

  8. 8. Acts of the Apostles 1:12-14

    So from the Mount of Olives, as it is called, they went back to Jerusalem, a short distance away, no more than a Sabbath walk; and when they reached the city they went to the upper room where they were staying; there were Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Jude son of James. With one heart all these joined constantly in prayer, together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

  9. 9. Acts of the Apostles 2:1-4

    When Pentecost day came round, they had all met together, when suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of a violent wind which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and there appeared to them tongues as of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak different languages as the Spirit gave them power to express themselves.


Second Period
Meditations Nine Days

  1. 1. John 14:21-31

    Whoever holds to my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me; and whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him.'

    Judas-not Judas Iscariot-said to him, 'Lord, what has happened, that you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?' Jesus replied:

    Anyone who loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make a home in him. Anyone who does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not my own: it is the word of the Father who sent me. I have said these things to you while still with you; but the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you. Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me say: I am going away and shall return. If you loved me you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you this now, before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe. I shall not talk to you much longer, because the prince of this world is on his way. He has no power over me, but the world must recognise that I love the Father and that I act just as the Father commanded. Come now, let us go.

  2. 2. John 17:11-26

    I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us. While I was with them, I kept those you had given me true to your name. I have watched over them and not one is lost except one who was destined to be lost, and this was to fulfil the scriptures. But now I am coming to you and I say these things in the world to share my joy with them to the full. I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world. I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth. I pray not only for these but also for those who through their teaching will come to believe in me. May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me. I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one. With me in them and you in me, may they be so perfected in unity that the world will recognise that it was you who sent me and that you have loved them as you have loved me.

    Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they may always see my glory which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Father, Upright One, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me. I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them.

  3. 3. I Corinthians 15:20-28

    In fact, however, Christ has been raised from the dead, as the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. As it was by one man that death came, so through one man has come the resurrection of the dead. Just as all die in Adam, so in Christ all will be brought to life; but all of them in their proper order: Christ the first-fruits, and next, at his coming, those who belong to him. After that will come the end, when he will hand over the kingdom to God the Father, having abolished every principality, every ruling force and power. For he is to be king until he has made his enemies his footstool, and the last of the enemies to be done away with is death, for he has put all things under his feet. But when it is said everything is subjected, this obviously cannot include the One who subjected everything to him. When everything has been subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subjected to the One who has subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

  4. 4. Revelation 3:1-3,12,16-19

    'Write to the angel of the church in Sardis and say, "Here is the message of the one who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: I know about your behaviour: how you are reputed to be alive and yet are dead. Wake up; put some resolve into what little vigour you have left: it is dying fast. So far I have failed to notice anything in your behaviour that my God could possibly call perfect; remember how you first heard the message. Hold on to that. Repent! If you do not wake up, I shall come to you like a thief, and you will have no idea at what hour I shall come upon you.

    Anyone who proves victorious I will make into a pillar in the sanctuary of my God, and it will stay there for ever; I will inscribe on it the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which is coming down from my God in heaven, and my own new name as well.

    '...but since you are neither hot nor cold, but only lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth. You say to yourself: I am rich, I have made a fortune and have everything I want, never realising that you are wretchedly and pitiably poor, and blind and naked too. I warn you, buy from me the gold that has been tested in the fire to make you truly rich, and white robes to clothe you and hide your shameful nakedness, and ointment to put on your eyes to enable you to see. I reprove and train those whom I love: so repent in real earnest.'

  5. 5. Revelation 5:9-14

    They sang a new hymn: You are worthy to take the scroll and to break its seals, because you were sacrificed, and with your blood you bought people for God of every race, language, people and nation and made them a line of kings and priests for God, to rule the world.

    In my vision, I heard the sound of an immense number of angels gathered round the throne and the living creatures and the elders; there were ten thousand times ten thousand of them and thousands upon thousands, loudly chanting:

Worthy is the Lamb that was sacrificed to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing.

Then I heard all the living things in creation-everything that lives in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, crying:

To the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honour, glory and power, for ever and ever.

And the four living creatures said, 'Amen'; and the elders prostrated themselves to worship.

  1. 6. Revelation 7:14-17

    I answered him, 'You can tell me, sir.' Then he said, 'These are the people who have been through the great trial; they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb. That is why they are standing in front of God's throne and serving him day and night in his sanctuary; and the One who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will never hunger or thirst again; sun and scorching wind will never plague them, because the Lamb who is at the heart of the throne will be their shepherd and will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.'

  2. 7. Revelation 12:1-8

    Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, robed with the sun, standing on the moon, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant, and in labour, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth. Then a second sign appeared in the sky: there was a huge red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and each of the seven heads crowned with a coronet. Its tail swept a third of the stars from the sky and hurled them to the ground, and the dragon stopped in front of the woman as she was at the point of giving birth, so that it could eat the child as soon as it was born. The woman was delivered of a boy, the son who was to rule all the nations with an iron sceptre, and the child was taken straight up to God and to his throne, while the woman escaped into the desert, where God had prepared a place for her to be looked after for twelve hundred and sixty days.

    And now war broke out in heaven, when Michael with his angels attacked the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and driven out of heaven.

  3. 8. Revelation 14:1-7

    Next in my vision I saw Mount Zion, and standing on it the Lamb who had with him a hundred and forty-four thousand people, all with his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. I heard a sound coming out of heaven like the sound of the ocean or the roar of thunder; it was like the sound of harpists playing their harps. There before the throne they were singing a new hymn in the presence of the four living creatures and the elders, a hymn that could be learnt only by the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the world. These are the sons who have kept their virginity and not been defiled with women they follow the Lamb wherever he goes; they, out of all people, have been redeemed to be the first-fruits for God and for the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths and no fault can be found in them.

    Then I saw another angel, flying high overhead, sent to announce the gospel of eternity to all who live on the earth, every nation, race, language and tribe. He was calling, 'Fear God and glorify him, because the time has come for him to sit in judgement; worship the maker of heaven and earth and sea and the springs of water.'

    Revelation 19: 7-8

    let us be glad and joyful and give glory to God, because this is the time for the marriage of the Lamb. His bride is ready, and she has been able to dress herself in dazzling white linen, because her linen is made of the good deeds of the saints.'

  4. 9. Revelation 21:1-10

    Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride dressed for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne, 'Look, here God lives among human beings. He will make his home among them; they will be his people, and he will be their God, God-with-them. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness or pain. The world of the past has gone.'

    Then the One sitting on the throne spoke. 'Look, I am making the whole of creation new. Write this, "What I am saying is trustworthy and will come true."' Then he said to me, 'It has already happened. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water from the well of life free to anybody who is thirsty; anyone who proves victorious will inherit these things; and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the legacy for cowards, for those who break their word, or worship obscenities, for murderers and the sexually immoral, and for sorcerers, worshippers of false gods or any other sort of liars, is the second death in the burning lake of sulphur.'

    One of the seven angels that had the seven bowls full of the seven final plagues came to speak to me and said, 'Come here and I will show you the bride that the Lamb has married.' In the spirit, he carried me to the top of a very high mountain, and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down out of heaven from God.

    Revelation 22:20

    The one who attests these things says: I am indeed coming soon.

    Amen; come, Lord Jesus.

Scriptural quotations are taken from The New Jerusalem Bible, Doubleday & Co.
granted by Cardinal Hume.

end of Holy Spirit Novena


                We need right reasoning —
                We want to build this love union
                    with God and others

                We use the Blue Books —
                We use the Mass Book —

                We control our thoughts —
                We want to build pretty dresses —
                We admit our sins promptly —

                We know we offend God with our
                    sins and deception — trying to
                    act as if we are perfect —

                We are humble


Excerpt from Response in Christ by Fr. Edward J. Carter, S.J.

Other Christian Virtues

    If humility is truth, and therefore allows for the proper recognition of my gifts, it also necessitates my admitting to the evil within me. This is also part of the truth. This truth also must be acted upon; for Christian humility not only allows me to admit that there is evil in me, but it also tells me that as a creature of God I should conform myself to His will and strive to eradicate and control the evil as far as this is possible. In summary, humility allows the Christian to evaluate properly both the good and evil in himself.


                Excerpt from Response in Christ by Fr. Edward J. Carter, S.J.

The Christian and Sin

                        1) The Nature of Sin

"What is the nature of sin? Contemporary theology emphasizes that sin is not primarily a violation of a law, but a disruption of personal relationships. Sin is a refusal to love. Serious sin is a radical refusal to love. Venial sin is a partial refusal to love. ... Sin, then, because it is a failure to love God, man and the world, is selfishness. ... Sin is primarily a refusal to love God, a refusal to be loved by Him, to be guided by Him."



Excerpt from Light, Happiness and Peace by Fr. John J. Pasquini, pp. 85-87


    A person cannot think without images in this early stage. An image always accompanies an idea. In the active purification of the imagination, the imagination is directed by reason illumined by faith. When the imagination is filled with impurities, the intellect is disrupted and damaged from functioning properly. If the imagination is cleansed from impurities, the imagination compliments the intellect in its proper functioning.139 The imagination is a faculty of great power in the spiritual journey. It is in need of constant purification, even in persons highly advanced in the spiritual life.140


    Concupiscence and personal sin cause us to retain dangerous memories, memories that hinder and stunt growth. As St. Maximus Confessor states, “the battle against memories is more difficult than the battle against deeds, as sinning in thought is easier than sinning in deed.”142 An ordered, healthy memory remembers the things of God, and a disordered memory forgets the good that God has done. For example, if we remember the wrongs that another person or persons has done to us, we can at times have trouble forgiving that person or persons. The pain of the memory can preoccupy us with hatred and miserable feelings, and therefore hinder our focus on God.

    When we do so we are prone to forget God (Cf. Jr 2:32; Ps 105:13, 21). We tend to focus on the here and now as opposed to eternity. We need to heal and order our memory to its proper functioning. The theological virtue of hope helps to heal our memory by assisting us to avoid focusing on useless and dangerous recollections. Our mind, directed by hope, turns to God.143


    The intellect can be wounded by concupiscence and personal sin. The wounded intellect leads to ignorance. It is kept from perceiving truth and from grasping higher realities. We become absorbed in earthly considerations. When our intellect is wounded we are apt to neglect the things of God and salvation. We are prone to intellectual and spiritual pride and sloth, indifference, rash judgments, and spiritual and intellectual blindness. When our intellect is wounded we are not willing to consult others, and are not willing to listen to opposing opinions. We think we know it all (Mt 23:16; 23f).144

    The infused virtue of faith is the cure for a wounded intellect.145 Faith is superior to reason and the senses. It enlightens reason, makes us adhere to truths and helps us judge according to these truths. Faith seeks understanding and the understanding that flows from this faith in turn nourishes the fruitfulness of faith.146


    The will is the faculty that tends toward the good known through the intellect. It has for its object the universal good that permits it to rise to the love of God. The will makes use of the other faculties, especially the intellect and the imagination, in guiding us to the good.147

    Concupiscence and personal sin cause defects in the will. Self-centeredness and egoism are the greatest wounds to the will. They lead us to forget the love of God and neighbor. They lead to thoughtlessness, agitation, discouragement, dissension, trouble, and anxiety. They lead to a battle wherein we try to control God. They make us flee from all that requires sacrifice.

    The cure for these wounds is found in the infused virtue of love.148 Love moves us from being self-centered and ego-centered to other-centered. We become, through authentic love, a person for others.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. You have given all to me; to you, O Lord, now I return it; all is yours. Dispose of me wholly according to your Will. Give me only your love and your grace, for this is enough for me.   St. Ignatius of Loyola


139 Cf. ST Ia, q. 78, a.4; q. 84, a.7.
Interior Castle, 5th mansion, Ch. 4; 6th mansion, Ch. 1.
Ascent, Bk. III, Chs. 1-15.
Maximus Confessor: Selected Writings, First Century, n. 63.
Ascent, Bk. II, Chs. 10, 11, 16, 22; Bk. III, Chs. 6f and 14.
144 ST Ia IIae, q. 85, a.3; IIa IIae, q. 15; q. 35, a.4, ad 3um; q. 138; q. 167, a.1.
145 ST IIa IIae, q. 7, a.2;
Ascent, Bk. III, 6f.
Ascent, Bk. II, Chs. 3, 9, 11.
147 Cf. ST Ia, q. 80, a.1f
Ascent, Bk. II, 6f.


                Sing: Take Lord Receive

3rd Sunday of Advent

Zephaniah 3: 14-18

Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, 
Israel, shout aloud! 
Rejoice, exult with all your heart, 
daughter of Jerusalem! 
Yahweh has repealed your sentence; 
he has turned your enemy away. 
Yahweh is king among you, Israel, 
you have nothing more to fear. 

When that Day comes, 
    the message for Jerusalem will be: 
Zion, have no fear, 
do not let your hands fall limp. 
Yahweh your God is there with you, 
the warrior–Saviour. 
He will rejoice over you with happy song, 
he will renew you by his love, 
he will dance with shouts of joy for you, 
as on a day of festival.


Isaiah 12: 2-6

And, that day, you will say:

'I praise you, Yahweh,
    you have been angry with me
but your anger is now appeased
    and you have comforted me.
Look, he is the God of my salvation:
I shall have faith and not be afraid,
for Yahweh is my strength and my song,
he has been my salvation.

Joyfully you will draw water
from the springs of salvation
and, that day, you will say,
'Praise Yahweh, invoke his name.
Proclaim his deeds to the people,
declare his name sublime.
Sing of Yahweh,
    for his works are majestic,
make them known throughout the world.
Cry and shout for joy,
    you who live in Zion,
For the Holy One of Israel
    is among you in his greatness.'


Philippians 4: 4-7

    Always be joyful, then, in the Lord; I repeat, be joyful. Let your good sense be obvious to everybody. The Lord is near. Never worry about anything; but tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and petition shot through with gratitude, and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.


Luke 3: 10-18

    When all the people asked him, 'What must we do, then?' he answered, 'Anyone who has two tunics must share with the one who has none, and anyone with something to eat must do the same.' There were tax collectors, too, who came for baptism, and these said to him, 'Master, what must we do?' He said to them, 'Exact no more than the appointed rate.' Some soldiers asked him in their turn, 'What about us? What must we do?' He said to them, 'No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!'

    A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to wonder whether John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, 'I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, who is more powerful than me, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.' And he proclaimed the good news to the people with many other exhortations too.


Third Sunday of Advent

December 13, 2009

INTRODUCTION: Our theme for today, as it often is, is summed up in the Psalm Refrain: “Cry out with joy and gladness, for among you is the great and holy one of Israel.” Our first reading from the prophet Zephaniah goes back about 700 years before Christ. The Assyrians were the dominant force in the Middle East and were an unusually warlike, brutal people. Their capital city was in northern Iraq near modern day Mosul. Our first reading comes from a time shortly after the Assyrians wiped out the northern part of Israel. They brought severe suffering upon the southern part of Israel too, the area around Jerusalem, but they did not conquer it. Jerusalem would still be around for another 130 years until the Babylonians conquered it. But the Assyrians did inflict a lot of pain on Jerusalem. Yet Jerusalem didn’t learn from what happened to them. Idolatry and immorality were rampant among the Jews. The king of Judah himself offered his own son as a human sacrifice to the pagan gods. Most of what is written in the Book of Zephaniah records his efforts to correct abuses among God’s people. His book ends on a note of hope, however, as he addresses those who are faithful to God.
He tells them to rejoice and assures them God will rejoice and sing too because of his love for them and for all the blessings that will be theirs. Can we imagine how beautiful it would be to hear God singing?

There is something we should be aware of when we hear the second reading too. St. Paul is sitting in prison somewhere when he wrote this, and prisons in those days were really bad. Today’s prisons would look like a luxury hotel by comparison. Yet Paul can be joyful and he is able to encourage the Philippians to have no anxiety and to rejoice always.

HOMILY: In the days when we had Mass in Latin, today was known as Gaudete Sunday. That means “Be Joyful.” The liturgy continues to communicate that theme of joy with rose colored vestments and readings telling us to rejoice. So on this Gaudete Sunday, I thought we should start off with a couple of laughs.

First is about a guy driving down a country road and hears a loud thud. He gets out of the car and there is not another car in sight. So he drives on home. The next day the sheriff shows up at his door and arrests him for a hit and run accident. He ran over a pig and didn’t stop and that was against the law. He protested it wasn’t him and asked the sheriff how he could possibly know he was guilty. The sheriff said: “the pig squealed.”

The local minister had to give a talk at a banquet and told a few funny stories. There was a news reporter there taking notes. The minister planned to give the same talk the next day at a meeting and asked the reporter not to print his jokes and stories in the newspaper the next day. So the well-meaning reporter ended his article with the following observation: “The minister told a few stories that cannot be published.”

It’s good to have a sense of humor and enjoy a few laughs but it’s even better to have a sense of joy in our hearts. Laughter may fade away, but joy stays with us. We heard the prophet Zephaniah in today’s first reading telling God's people, during an especially difficult time in their history, to “sing for joy.” They should sing for joy, not because things were wonderful, but because God was in their midst. We heard Paul, in prison, telling the Philippians to rejoice always. If we listen to the media, we get the impression that joy springs from having lots of things. The scriptures tell us our joy comes from knowing the Lord is in our midst. We have an advantage over the Jews of Zephaniah’s time (700 years before Christ) because we also know and believe we will enjoy being with God for all eternity. The Jews had no knowledge of heaven or hell at that time, so we have more reasons to rejoice than even holy prophets.

If we don’t have joy within us, perhaps some of these enemies of joy might be at work stealing it from us: * Feeling sorry for oneself. * Constantly putting other people down to make ourselves look smarter or better. * Putting ourselves down all the time. Because we’re human we all make mistakes or do wrong. There are healthy ways of dealing with guilt or shame. Incidentally, the sacrament of confession is one of those ways – and this week we have four priests to hear confession at our Penance Service. Constantly beating ourselves up, though, does not get rid of guilt and it does not help us experience joy. * Holding on to anger and resentment. It only eats us up inside and does not produce joy. We have to forgive. *Thinking that having more things is going to make us happy. It satisfies us only momentarily. * And then there’s fear and worry. Paul says have no anxiety at all. That might sound impossible, but there are ways we create anxiety for ourselves that we do not need. On the other hand there are many things that cause us anxiety, which we can do nothing about and we have to leave in God's hands.

If self pity, guilt, unforgiveness, anger, resentment, fear, and worry work against our having joy, then what will lead to joy? We must choose to be joyful. Paul tells the Philippians “rejoice” as if it is something for them to choose to do rather than it being something that just happens to them. I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Dr. Hans Selye, the scientist who developed and researched the concept of stress, would agree. He said: it’s generally not the things outside of us that create stress for us, but it’s the way we respond to these things. Next we need to be good and to do good. Otherwise we won’t feel good about ourselves. The people in today’s gospel ask the Baptist, “what should we do?” John gave them a few specific ideas. All we have to do is read the gospels or the 10 Commandments and we’ll get the idea that there’s more to a good life than just saying “I believe!” Lastly, I think gratitude is the final key to unlocking the way to joy. Again, being grateful is an intentional thing; it is an attitude we must develop. St. Paul said: “in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” A heart that is ungrateful is not happy. This is not all that could be said about joy, but it’s probably enough for us to think about today. My closing words for today are don’t make yourselves so anxious this season that you lose the joy that can be found only in knowing Jesus’ love. “The Lord, your God, is in your midst.”


        Prayer of St Ignatius

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Permit me not to be separated from Thee
From the wicked foe defend me
at the hour of my death call me
and bid me come to Thee
That with Thy saints I may praise Thee
For ever and ever. Amen.

                Song: God's Love




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