Our Lady of Mount Carmel

From Christian Prayer:

Sacred Scripture celebrated the beauty of Carmel where the prophet Elijah defended the purity of Israel’s faith in the living God. In the twelfth century, hermits withdrew to that mountain and later founded the Order devoted to the contemplative life under the patronage of Mary, the holy Mother of God.

Antiphon for the Canticle of Zechariah in Morning Prayer:

I have openly sought wisdom in my prayers, and it has blossomed like early grapes.

Prayer from Morning Prayer:

Father,
may the prayer of the Virgin Mary protect us
and help us to reach Christ her Son
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

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Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor

From Christian Prayer:

Saint Bonaventure was born about the year 1218 at Bagnorea in Tuscany. He studied philosophy and theology at Paris and, having earned the title of Master, he taught his fellow members of the Order of Friars Minor with great success. He was elected Minister General of the Order, a position he filled with prudence and wisdom. After being made Cardinal-Bishop of Albano, he died at the Council of Lyons in 1274. His writings did much to illuminate the study of both theology and philosophy.

Prayer for the Memorial of Saint Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor:

All-powerful Father,
may we who celebrate the feast of Saint Bonaventure
always benefit from his wisdom
and follow the example of his love.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

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Camillus de Lellis, Priest

From Christian Prayer:

Saint Camillus de Lellis was born at Chieti in the Abruzzi in 1550. He first entered the military profession, but upon his conversion he devoted himself to the care of the sick. His studies completed, he was ordained to the priesthood and founded a society which established hospitals and cared for the sick. He died in Rome in 1614.

Prayer from Morning Prayer:

Father,
you gave Saint Cammillus a special love for the sick.
Through his prayers inspire us with your grace,
so that by serving you in our brothers and sisters
we may come safely to you at the end of our lives.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

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Henry

From Christian Prayer:

Saint Henry was born in Bavaria in 973. He succeeded his father in ruling over a duchy and was later elected Emperor. He was most remarkable for his work in Church reform and for fostering missionary activity. He died in 1024 and was enrolled among the saints by Pope Eugene III in 1146.

The Prayer from Morning Prayer:

Lord,
you filled Saint Henry with your love
and raised him from the cares of an earthly kingdom
to eternal happiness in heaven.
In the midst of the changes of this world,
may his prayers keep us free from sin.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

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Benedict, Abbot

From Christian Prayer:

Saint Benedict was born at Nursia in Umbria about the year 480. Educated in Rome, he began the eremitic life at Subiaco where he gathered disciples, and then departed for Monte Cassino. There is established the famous monastery and composed the Benedictine Rule. Because this rule was subsequently adopted throughout Europe, he received the title patriarch of Western monasticism. He died on March 21, 547, but since the end of the eighth century, his memory has been observed on this day.

The antiphon the Canticle of Mary:

He received the Lord’s blessing and the merciful saving power of God; such is the fortune of those who seek the Lord.

The prayer from Morning Prayer:

God our Father,
you made saint Benedict an outstanding guide
to teach men how to live in your service.
Grant that by preferring your love to everything else,
we may walk in the way of your commandments.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

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Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr

From Christian Prayer:

Saint Maria Goretti was born of a poor family at Corinaldi, Italy in 1890 Near Nettuno she spent a difficult childhood assisting her mother in domestic duties. She was of a pious nature and often at prayer. In 1902 she was stabbed to death, preferring to die rather than be raped.

Prayer from Morning Prayer:

Father,
source of innocence and lover of chastity,
you gave Saint Maria Goretti the privilege
of offering her life in witness to Christ.
As you gave her the crown of martyrdom,
let her prayers keep us faithful to your teaching,

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

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Anthony Zaccaria, Priest

From Christian Prayer:

Saint Anthony Zaccaria was born in Cremona in Lombardy in 1502. He studied medicine at Padua. After his ordination to the priesthood, he founded Society of Clerics of Saint Paul, also known as the Barnabites. The Society did much to reform the morals of the faithful. He died in 1539.

Prayer for Morning Prayer:

Lord,
enable us to grasp in the spirit of Saint Paul
the sublime wisdom of Jesus Christ,
the wisdom which inspired Saint Anthony Zaccaria
to preach the message of salvation in your Church.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

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Elizabeth of Portugal

From Christian Prayer:

Saint Elizabeth was born of the Aragonese royal family in 1271. As a young maiden she was given in marriage to the king of Portugal and bore him two children. She bravely endured afflictions and troubles through prayer and works of charity. When her husband died she distributed her property to the poor and received the habit of the Third Order of Saint Francis. After ending a serious dispute between her son-in-law, she died in 1336.

Prayer for Morning Prayer:

Father of peace and love,
you gave Saint Elizabeth the gift of reconciling enemies.
By the help of her prayers
give us the courage to work for peace among men,
that we may be called the sons of God.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

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Thomas, Apostle

From Christian Prayer:

Saint Thomas is remembered for his incredulity concerning Christ’s resurrection from the dead. When confronted by the risen Lord, his disbelief gave way to belief and he proclaimed the Easter faith of the Church: “My Lord and my God!” Nothing certain is known of his life except for this evidence in the gospels. He is said to have subsequently preached the Gospel to the people of India. Since the fourth century the celebration of the transference of his body to Edessa has been commemorated on July 3.

The Prayer from Morning and Evening Prayer for the Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle:

Almighty Father,
as we honour Thomas the apostle,
let us always experience the help of his prayers.

May we have eternal life by believing in Jesus,
whom Thomas acknowledged as Lord,
for his lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

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Friday Week III, Office of the Readings

The first part of psalm 69 that is read in today during the Friday Week III of the Office of the Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours (using the Christian Prayer breviary) really jumped out at me today during my prayer. I would like to share the psalm extract with you here as well as some Lenten flavoured reflections.

Antiphon: I am worn out with crying, with longing for my God.

They offered me a mixture of wine and gall (Matthew 27:34)

Save me, O God,
for the waters have risen to my neck.

I have sunk into the mud of the deep
and there is no foothold.
I have entered the waters of the deep
and the waves overwhelm me.

I am wearied with all my crying,
my throat is parched.
My eyes are wasted away
from looking for my God.

More numerous than the hairs on my head
are those who hate me without cause.
Those who attack me with lies
are too much for my strength.

How can I restore
what I have never stolen?
O God, you know my sinful folly;
my sins you can see.

Let those who hope in your not be put to shame
through me, Lord of hosts;
let not those who seek you be dismayed
through me, God of Israel.

It is for you that I suffer taunts,
that shame covers my face,
that I have become a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my own mother’s sons.
I burn with zeal for your house
and taunts against you fall on me.

When I afflict my soul with fasting
they make it a taunt against me.
When I put on sackcloth in mourning
then they make a byword,
the gossip of men at the gates,
the subject of drunkards’ songs.

What an amazing psalm to read in the middle of the Lenten season! What an insightful and powerful Spirit guided the hand that ordered the Hours in such a way.

Part of my Lenten obligation for this season was a commitment to begin praying the Liturgy of the Hours more completely and in order to do that I reasoned that it was about time to get the prayers off of my phone and into my hands in physical book form. Last week, my Christian Prayer book came in and since that time I have been that busy Catholic with book tabs and prayer cards marking the various points of prayer through out the day. Having the large book and making a real attempt to pray the Hours entirely means that I have to lug the thing around with me wherever I go– including work. Right now the book sits on my desk with me and I have had some people ask about it. A few times I’ve walked around my work with it in my arms (usually headed toward a quiet spot to pray a particular hour) and I’ve heard some sneering. A big thick red book with gilded pages, coloured cloth book tabs and gold lettered “CHRISTIAN PRAYER” in the front, it becomes pretty obvious that I am carrying some sort of religious book around. The prayers themselves have caused me to “burn for zeal for [God’s] house” as we say in the psalm but they have also caused “taunts against [God] to fall on me.” This psalm speaks to me on such a deep level, it actually gave me a little shiver after I read it this morning.

Reflecting on the Way of the Cross this Lent (which is something I try and do each Wednesday after Low Mass in the evening), Jesus calls us to take up the cross and pick up the yoke. He assures us that “my burden is light” but the devil is literally in the details here, because the Evil One is the reason Christ has to remind us that the burden is light. Satan is always there to make things far worse, or rather seem far worse than they really are. But this psalm put that reluctance and that struggle into context and by context I mean it puts it right at the feet of Christ Himself. This is more than just a poem complaining about life, this is a person reaching up toward the Heavens and calling out to God, placing their burden and their own struggle at the feet of God. What a powerful and moving sentiment. What a perfect image for the middle of Lent when our obligations and our own temptations are beginning to mount.

During this Lenten season there is no doubt in my mind that when you fast you will be taunted. When you wear sackcloth and mourn and deny yourself certain pleasures in the face of those who take no issue indulging during the Lent season, you will be taunted and call out. You will be made to feel small and worthless and made to feel as if the waters are indeed rising all around you. Your throat will become red and raw from crying out to God but this is what we are meant to do, this is how we deal with struggle in our faith. We lift up, we reach up and we lay our struggles at the feet of the Lord.

I feel that it is appropriate to end this reflection with the prayer from Morning Prayer (Friday, Third Week of Lent), which also the prayer I used today to close out the Office of the Readings.

Merciful Father,
fill our hearts with your love
and keep us faithful to the gospel of Christ.
Give us the grace to rise above our human weakness.
Grant this thought our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.