United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Lord God, as the election approaches, we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our country, and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community.
We ask for eyes that are free from blindness so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters, one and equal in dignity, especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty. We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn and those abandoned, men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender. We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders who will bring us closer to your Kingdom.
We pray for discernment so that we may choose leaders who hear your Word, live your love, and keep in the ways of your truth as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace.
We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
St. Michael the Archangel
By: F. K. Bartels - www.catholic.org
GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) -- The whole of salvation history is the story of God reaching out to his people but for one purpose: the reception of divine love
. As we read in the Rite of Baptism of Children, "The God of power and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin and brought you to new life through water and the Holy Spirit" (62). That new, everlasting life is life in Christ, the light of men (Jn 1:4), who came to give life in abundance (Jn 10:10).
God the Father has given us his Son on the cross as the supreme example of sacrificial love; he has gathered us together as his holy people into the Church, the city of truth; and he has poured out his Spirit upon as the first fruits of glory. That should be enough. Yet it is not enough for God."He has given his angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways"
Today (September 29) we celebrate the Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael - Archangels. Sent from the hands of God, these powerful messengers bring promises of love and of hope. When the angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary, she was "greatly troubled" by his greeting. The angel Gabriel said, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God" (Lk 1:30).
Gabriel's words are for each and every one of us; they should resonate in the depths of our hearts: "Do not be afraid!" For God has gone to every end in order to communicate his life to us, draw us to himself, protect and nourish us into spiritual maturity, that we may live forever in the embrace of his superabundant, burning love as members of the divine family.
Given the numerous present dangers, the division and strife, the blatant perpetration of intrinsic moral evils which surround us, and the decline of American culture, we can be tempted to fall into despair. Yet there is no need to fear! Now is a time for that boldness, courage and hope that springs forth from God's fiery love. Let us remember: we are not alone. In order to guide and protect us on our often perilous journey, God has given each of us a guardian angel, a spiritual being whose power of intellect and will far exceeds that of any man, for the sake of seeing us to our predestined end of perfect happiness.
explains: "From infancy to death human life is surrounded by [the guardian angels'] watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God" (336).
"These words should fill you with respect, inspire devotion and instill confidence;" wrote St. Bernard, "respect for the presence of angels, devotion because of their loving service, and confidence because of their protection. And so the angels are here; they are at your side, they are with you, present on your behalf. They are here to protect you and to serve you. But even if it is God who has given them this charge, we must nonetheless be grateful to them for the great love with which they obey and come to help us in our great need."Who Are The Archangels?
St. Augustine wrote: "'Angel' is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is 'spirit'; if you seek the name of their office, it is 'angel': from what they are, 'spirit,' from what they do, 'angel.'"
The name Michael means "Who is like God." The Archangel Michael's will is focused, immovable, and entirely driven toward accomplishing goodness; he is the protector of souls, and wields his powerful sword of truth and love against the poisonous and vindictive aspirations of the Father of Lies.
Blessed John Paul II said during a visit to the Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel, "The battle against the devil . . . is the principal task of Saint Michael the archangel."
Scripture affirms the same: "Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. Although the dragon and his angels fought back, they were overpowered and lost their place in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent known as the devil or Satan, the seducer of the whole world, was driven out; he was hurled down to earth and his minions with him" (Rev 12:7-9).
Gabriel means "God is my strength." He was sent from God to Nazareth, "to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, . . . and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, 'Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you'" (Lk 1:27-28). Pope St. Gregory the Great wrote: "[Gabriel] came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God's strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle" (excerpt from Hom. 34, 8-9).
Raphael means, "God is my health." He is one of seven angels "who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord" (Tob 12:15). The meaning of Raphael's name reflects the fact that he touched Tobit's eyes and brought sight from blindness.More On The Angels
"As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness" (CCC, 330; Dan 10:9-12).
God created the angels, like man, with an intellect and will, yet these shared attributes cannot be exactly compared, for they differ greatly in strength and power. For instance, we might draw a comparison of the intellect and will of a child with those of an adult: the former is not nearly as strong as the latter. So it is with man and the angels.
The angels' intellect, one of vast and far-reaching intelligence, is far superior to man's. Unlike man, whose intellect is but dim and fragmented in comparison, the angels have no need to labor for years on end, plowing through dozens or hundreds of books in order to gain merely a partial understanding of a handful of soon-forgotten subjects. They do not struggle over a lifetime, gathering and storing perceptions and insights into meaningful wholes which we call knowledge. On the contrary, God infused the angels' intellect, one of exacting precision and penetrating vision, with angelic knowledge at the very moment of their creation. Consequently, the angels have no need to engage in a process
of learning, but rather they simply know
. They know about humanity, science, music, culture and the arts; they know about not only the world but the farthest reaches of the universe as well.
As for their will, the good angels do not struggle with doubt, fickleness, and the tendency to fall into sin. They are not weakly moved one moment to accomplish a task which is easily abandoned the next. On the contrary, an angel's will is an unwavering and immovable force, unceasingly directed toward the Ultimate Good, powerfully focused upon the divine Other who is Life Itself: God. For that reason, it is of great advantage to implore our guardian angels' aid through intercessory prayer. If we ask our angel to pray for our entrance into everlasting life, he will not cease doing so; he will not give up on us; he will not one day ambivalently wonder if we are worth the effort.Cultivate a Relationship of Love With Your Guardian Angel
The angels belong to Christ, they are his
, created through him and for him, who "belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: 'Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?'" (CCC 331).
"Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham's hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples. Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself" (CCC 332).
"In the meantime, the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels" (CCC 334).
In the present, due to our darkened intellect and limited vision, we cannot entirely understand nor see the full extent of our angel guardians' help. However, we can be sure their expert, dedicated assistance has been given on numerous occasions. How often have they intervened, saving us from injury or death? How often do they come to our aid in time of terrifying peril and desperate need?
What we do know by the light of faith, is that these glorious, powerful and unfailingly trustworthy spiritual friends of ours, united as we are in Christ, share a profoundly intimate bond of love with us -- one which cannot be broken, since we this moment share in God's own supernatural life. They as spirit; we as body and
spirit. Yet we both nevertheless stand as brethren, sustained in the love of God, living in and through and with Christ, whose common purpose is but one: to love and serve God. In our case, we often find this most honorable and fulfilling calling, one which is defined by and founded on true love and freedom, difficult as we struggle along as pilgrims who have not yet reached our final end. Our guardian angels, however, have attained the goal of the Beatific Vision and see God face-to-face. Consequently, they are not plagued by weakness, fear, uncertainty and temptation, but rather are overflowing with the strength of God's glory.
Charged by God to supply our aid, the guardian angels are eager to help us as our spiritual allies in the earthly battle. They do not begrudgingly engage in this effort, merely as half-hearted servants, but rather pour themselves into it with the full force of their angelic intellect and will, directing their formidable powers toward our success in attaining the everlasting life of heaven. This precious aid is as close and available as our relationship with our guardian angels -- all we need do is ask for it. This moment they say to us: "Do not be afraid!" Let us love our angels, for they most certainly love us.
F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at www.joyintruth.com
With Labor Day weekend being one of the busiest and craziest travel weekends all year, here is a prayer for extra protection along the way!
O God, You called Abraham Your servant out of Ur and kept him safe and sound in all his wandering. We humbly ask you to protect us Your servants. Be for us a support when setting out, friendship along the way, a little shade from the sun, a safeguard in time of danger, and a haven in shipwreck. Bear us up in fatigue, and defend us under attack. Under Your protection, let us fulfill the purpose of our trip and return safe and sound to our home. Amen.
By: Aamer Madhani
- USA TODAY
President Obama paid tribute to the victims of today's Colorado shooting tragedy and asked for Americans to pray for the people of the Denver suburb where the shooting spree happened.
Obama's remarks came in Florida where he was scheduled to speak at a campaign event. But Obama spoke only briefly and centered his comments on the shooting tragedy.
"There are going to be other days for politics," Obama said. "This is a day for prayer and reflection."
Obama said after he was briefed about the shooting early Friday morning, he immediately thought of his two daughters, who like most young people enjoy going to the movies.
"If there is any take away from this, it's that life is fragile," Obama said "Our time here is limited and it's precious."
Vice President Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama have also canceled their events today, said campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. Obama also spoke with Gov. John Hickenlooper and the mayor of Aurora, the Denver suburb where the shooting occurred.
"We do not believe at this point there was an apparent nexus to terrorism," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Psaki said that Obama campaign officials have asked affiliates to pull down advertising for the time being. The Mitt Romney campaign has also pulled advertising in the Colorado market, said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.
"It takes time for stations to be able to do this, but we are making every effort," Psaki said.
The Romney campaign said the likely GOP nominee will also address the Colorado incident today at a previously scheduled campaign event.
In a statement earlier today, Obama called the shooting "horrific and tragic" and said his administration stands ready to help the people of Aurora, Colo.
"We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded," Obama said. "As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come."
The President was notified of the shooting by his deputy national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism, John Brennan, at 5:26 a.m. EST, Carney said. He was also briefed a second time
Obama was in Florida on the second day of a two-day campaign trip.More: 14 dead in Colo. shootingLiveblog: Latest news on shootingVideo: Live coverage from KUSA-TVCampaign: Politics now on backburner
Romney called the violence "senseless."
"We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief," Romney said in a statement. "We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice."
A gunman opened fire early Friday at a suburban Denver movie theater on the opening night of the latest Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 people, AP reports. A suspect is in custody.
Obama said that the federal government stood ready to assist Aurora in the aftermath of the shooting.
"We're going to stand by our neighbors in Colorado at this extraordinarily difficult time," Obama said. "Even as we learn how this happened and who is responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this. Such violence, such evil, is senseless. It's beyond reason. While we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another. We do know what makes life worth living."
“Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” The question rang out in the silence of my first business course at the University of Illinois. I, along with twenty or thirty of my peers, stared absentmindedly at our professor as he eagerly awaited our non-forthcoming answers. After what seemed an eternity, one student, who had the look of someone who had heard this question before, had the gumption to raise her hand and thus invited all of our ears to listen to her as she painted what her life would be like in 10 years. Her answer covered it all. She knew the guy she wanted to marry (it was her current boyfriend), how many kids she wanted (2, a boy and a girl), how much money she wanted to be making ($150,000), what position she would have in the company (Managing Consultant), and even where she would be living (the North Shore of Chicago). After she gave us this plan, she proceeded to explain her contingency plan should her initial 10-year plan not pan out as she foresaw. Needless to say, I was impressed. Here was a young woman with the entire world about to open up to her and she had already planned the itinerary.
Our professor looked at her approvingly then turned his head back to the class with that dangerous “I am going to volunteer someone to talk if you don’t speak up” face. That is when I heard the words ring out, “Benjamin, how about you? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” My first thought was to feel sorry for that poor sap named Benjamin who had to follow the girl with “The Plan”. That feeling quickly turned into panic as it dawned upon me that I was the only “Benjamin” in class. Like a deer in the headlights I looked up at my professor and spurted out, “Uh…I guess I would like to have a job and a family. Honestly professor I have no idea where I am going to be in 10 years.” My professor looked upon me with pity as he turned to the class and said, “Well, there you have it class, a young woman who is ready to take on the world and a young man about to get crushed by it.” So began that day’s lecture about how important it is to have a detailed plan for your life. I would like to say that I paid close attention to that lecture but there was this great app that involved using pissed off birds to break things and it honestly seemed more interesting.
Ever since that wonderful first day of class I have been taught to plan for everything that you can think of. We live in a culture that glorifies planning and mitigating risk. If you don’t believe me, take a look around you. Have you ever stopped to notice that there is a sign to warn us of every trivial thing? There are even warnings on McDonald’s coffee cups that say “WARNING: The coffee is hot”. One would think we lived in a country of certified morons for all of the warning labels and liability waivers we have. In fact, our culture is so obsessed with taking the risk and excitement out of the unknown that we even found a way to take it out of love…it’s called birth control.
Now don’t get me wrong, planning ahead is NOT a bad thing per se. In fact, one of the reasons God gave us intellects was for that very purpose. However, there is a difference between planning ahead and planning for everything. The difference between these two methods is that one involves trusting in God and His providence while the other does not.
Many of us have one thing in our lives that we want to be absolutely perfect. It may be our relationship, our career, our family, our wedding day, or any myriad of things that we believe we have control over. It is often difficult when dealing with these aspects of our lives to concede that there comes a point where we must, as the popular adage goes, “Let go and let God”. This is a scary concept for many of us as it means we must do something that can be hard to do: trust in God. Why is that such a scary notion though? If the God of all creation, who knows each of us better than we can ever know ourselves, only wants what is ultimately best for us then why is it so hard to trust in Him? The answer is shockingly simple: we are scared that what God wants for us is not what we immediately want for ourselves.
Too often we get caught up in all of the planning and deceive ourselves into thinking that our way of doing it is the best way. We plan and plan until we feel confident that there is no way anything can go wrong. In trying so hard to make our plans God-proof, we often feel that the only way our carefully laid plan can go wrong is if God Himself makes it go wrong. That is why we get so angry with Him when our best-laid plans fall through. When we do not get that job after we rocked the interview, when we do not get the guy or girl even though we have spent so long planning the perfect date, when we take every precaution thinkable and our plan is still thrown in our face. We feel as if God did this to us because he does not love us or that He has a wicked sense of humor. In our anger, we have effectively blinded ourselves to God’s plan for us because we tried to erase His directions and fill the map in by ourselves.
On the other side of the fence there are those who have a misguided sense of what it means to have trust in God. A wonderful joke aptly portrays this type of personality. For those who have not heard it here it is in so many words: A flood rushes through a small town. To avoid the floodwaters a woman seeks refuge on the roof of her home. A man in a canoe paddles up to the home and tells her to come with him. She refuses saying, “Thank you, but I am waiting for God to save me.” Later, a man on a motorboat tells her to come with him. She refuses him in the same manner as she refused the man in the canoe. Finally, a woman piloting a helicopter flies overhead telling her to come with her if she wants to get to safety. Again, the woman replies, “Thank you, but I am waiting for God to save me.” As the hours passed by the woman grew impatient with the Lord and she began to pray saying, “Lord, I have waited patiently for you all these hours for you to save me. No offense but could you work a little bit faster.” The clouds then opened up and the woman heard the voice of God say, “Daughter, I sent you a canoe, a motorboat, and a helicopter…pardon me for asking but HOW did you want to be saved?!”
It is a lighthearted joke but its lesson can really aid us in understanding the healthy trust we should have in our Lord. Trust in God should not breed inaction. Our Lord works through the events, people, and places that come into our lives. Don’t get me wrong; we are dependent on our Lord for all. However, He gave us each a set of talents, an intellect, and a free will that He intended for us to use while trusting in His mercy and that He will not lead us into something that we cannot handle.
So what does a healthy trust in our Lord look like? How is it lived out? Well, it is going to be different for each and every one of us because our Lord comes to each of us personally. Our Father is not a God of standardization but of personalization.
Trust in our Lord ought to guide our planning process so that we do not become “itinerary” planners in every aspect of our lives. What follows is a completely bare bones list of tips to help us keep the bigger picture in mind in our daily lives.
1) GO TO PRAYER! Who better to help you understand the bigger, divine picture than our Lord Himself? When you feel like your “busy” day is closing in all around you, take some time to be with our Lord. This can be spending some time with the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel or can simply mean taking fifteen minutes, wherever we may be, to tell our Lord what is on our minds and asking for the courage to follow His will for us when it is presented. It is one of the most beautiful characteristics of prayer that we can pray to our Lord from anywhere at anytime of the day and not just in the chapel.
2) LISTEN! We busy ourselves with so many trivial things throughout the day that we rarely take the time to just have a quiet moment with our Lord and listen. These moments do not have to be planned, although that is one of the best ways of ensuring that it does happen.
3) DO NOT FREAK OUT! We tend to do just that when God’s plans for us do not seem to be in line with our plans for us. Although our lives may seem to be taking some odd turns, do not fret about silly things that in hindsight always show themselves to be trivial.
At the end of the day, the key to keeping on God’s path for us is trust. Without trust we will surely falter and begin to drown, similar to St. Peter, in the ocean of our “busy” lives. May we always trust in you Lord, so that we might always come to you when you call our name.
By: Chris Goulet
Protestants tend to have a lot of misconceptions about Catholics. The Hail Mary is one of the bigger misconceptions, so I’d like to clarify a little about Mary in addition to the Hail Mary prayer.
Mary is the Mother of God. This is because Jesus is God and Mary is His mother, as is evident from scripture. Mary is a human just like the rest of us, but by Catholic tradition and theology, she was immaculately conceived (without original sin -> a common explanation for this is that Mary had to be pure, sinless, to be worthy to bear Jesus by the Holy Spirit) and was sinless throughout her life, by the grace of God. It makes sense that Mary has a very important role the more that you learn about Judaism and the Old Testament. In the OT, the Mother of the king had a very important role and was actually more powerful than the King’s wife. In addition, there’s the 5th commandment, to honor your father and mother. The last piece to the puzzle for now is the obvious intercessory power Mary exhibited at the Wedding at Cana, in John 2. Though Jesus didn’t plan on performing His first miracle there, He did it anyways because of His mother’s request, since Mary was looking after the people with compassion.
Intercession or prayer?
This is probably the most important difference that Protestants must not be aware of with this issue. Do Catholics pray to Mary? No. Do we pray to saints? No. We only pray to God. So then how do you explain the Hail Mary? Let’s take a look at the actual prayer. We will see that it isn’t “praying” to Mary as much as it is asking for her intercession.
The Hail Mary:
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
The first line as I wrote it is the greeting of the angel Gabriel to Mary in Luke 1:28-35. It is quite literal, with Gabriel saying to Mary, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” in verse 28. The next line as I wrote it is (quite literally again) the cry of Elizabeth as she greeted Mary, her cousin, in Luke 1:42 “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” So far so good, the prayer is completely scripture. Now for the last part. This is the part where after greeting Mary and honoring her, we ask for her intercession, just like how she helped the groom and bride at the Wedding at Cana. We ask that she pray for us, just the same as how we would ask a friend to pray for us.
Chris writes at Thoughts From a Catholic
Blessed Anthony, our intercessor in times of need, you gave yourself as a tireless worker in the vineyard of the Lord. By our labor we produce the things needed for human life. So our work is honorable and holy and makes perfect the work of God's creation.
Pray that I may find work which enhances my human dignity, draws me closer to God, and makes my life, as was yours, a real service to my fellow men. Provide for me while I am in this trial of unemployment. I need your help, blessed friend. Come to my aid. Amen.
By: Kristin DeSutter
Perhaps in a garden we are closer to our creator. We certainly are closer to His creation. My prayer is that this painted garden will be a meeting place for many that would speak to their God in the silence of morning. — Thomas Kinkade
Okay, so isn't exactly springtime yet, and I definitely can't afford to get one of Thomas Kinkade's breathtaking masterpieces, but I can pretend I am in such a lovely garden when I am praying! And when I do pray and imagine myself in such a peaceful, beautiful setting... I feel even closer to our glorious Lord :-)
By: Kristin DeSutter
When I was in high school, my prayers to God were pretty much like this: "Dear God, thank you for giving me such a nice family, a healthy body, and letting me be born in America. Please help my brother to stay out of trouble, for there to be world peace, for all those who are sick, for [name of certain boy] to like me, and please help me to get into the University of Illinois. Thank you. Amen." I often felt like a robot, awkwardly attempting to speak to someone thousands of miles away. I didn't feel close to my Father at all.
But when I moved to St. John's Newman Center my freshman year [and yes, God helped me get into Illinois :-] the layers of my iciness began chipping away. I really don't believe my prayer style would have EVER changed except for being involved with a fantastic, faithful network of Catholic college students. But upon arriving, I immediately noticed my prayers were a bit shorter than everyone else's ;-) Haha. I wondered how they could take sooo long!
However, it is important to remember Matthew 6:6 and the reward of prayer in the quiet of one's own room. It is also important to remember Saint Louis Marie Grignion De Montfort's wisdom: "A single Hail Mary said properly is worth more than a hundred and fifty said badly." But most of all, it was by prayerfully asking, attending college retreats, and seeking advice from close friends that I have become friends with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Every day, I share my joys and complaints, fears and worries, and hopes and dreams with our Lord. Through prayer, I feel as if I am talking to one of my best friends, and my Father speaks back to me by speaking to my heart.