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Posts tagged ‘Magnificat’

Whatsoever is Holy on Friday in the 30th Week of Ordinary Time

I didn’t think Catholics read the Bible. And then I became Catholic.

My mother memorized verses from Sacred Scripture as a child. It was a Bible camp competition. I think she could quote 300 verses. When I was in 3rd grade, my sister and I memorized the Books of the Bible in order. Every time we had a children’s event, memorizing scripture was part of the deal.

Good News Club.

Bible School.

Sunday School.

Church Camp.

I don’t know what I thought my Catholic friends were doing in their CCD classes. I didn’t know there was such a thing as daily Mass or a Missal. I didn’t know there was any Catholic that could find his/her way around the Bible.

But I knew the Books, could quote them in order, could rattle off a few verses of my own. I knew the stories of the Old Testament and the New.

And then I became Catholic. I learned that the Mass is almost completely one Bible verse after another – from one Sign of the Cross to another. I learned that the Sunday Mass readings follow a three-year cycle. The daily Mass readings are on a two-year cycle.

I was told that a Catholic will have encountered the entire Bible after three years, just by attending Mass three years straight.

I saw Catholics with their Word Among Us and Magnificat. I picked up the Missal in the pew and found the readings of the day right there.

I don’t know when it happened, but I realized that even a layperson could walk into the nearest Catholic bookstore and by a daily Missal. Last year, I worked one block away from the Pauline Bookstore in the Chicago Loop.

One day, I walked into the store and purchased a Missal. This may sound crazy, but if I had only one book in my possession and I was stranded on a desert island, the book I would want at my side would be my Missal.

It contains the Word of God, the Bible. I would have something to read each day from the Old Testament and the New. I would have a Psalm to sing. And I would have the great consolation of knowing that the Church throughout the world was reading and contemplating precisely the passages I was reading on an given day. I would feel part of that great spiritual family – even if I was all alone on a deserted island.

Because the Missal is the Bible (in a rearranged sort of way), I would have the Bible.img_0118

In today’s first reading, St. Paul writes, I give thanks to God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the Gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.

From Philippians 1

I remember the day I gave Jesus my life. I was in second grade — in that Kids Club where we memorized a verse or two of Sacred Scripture.

I remember the day I was baptized by my own father, a Presbyterian minister. I remember how he shook my hand and said, Welcome to this ministry of Jesus Christ.

I remember the day I was received into the 2,000 year-old Catholic Church and confirmed, how the Holy Spirit descended upon me and I felt it. I remember receiving my Savior in the Eucharist minutes later, and kneeling.

The saints are praying for us, at their every remembrance, because we are in partnership for the Gospel from those first days and even to this day. They continue to pray that He who began a good work in each of us will continue to complete it — until the day of Christ Jesus.

img_0061And today, the entire Catholic Church is contemplating this passage.

You may feel alone – as alone as a person on a deserted island. But if you have the Readings, if you pause for even a minute or two each day to read them, you realize you are not really alone.

The Lord is with you – and so are the Saints and the ones who are presently striving to become saints. We are in partnership for the Gospel.

Amen. And Amen.

March 2014 Catholic by Grace Column

I remember the day I discovered the joy of playing with a prism and the power generated by a magnifying glass. I was sitting on the windowsill of our fifth grade classroom and chatting with friends. We were looking at Mrs. Grace’s plants and goofing around with the magnifying glasses and prisms. I was fascinated by the rainbows appearing on our notebook paper when we held a prism just so between our fingers and thumb. What an amazing thing, this ray of sunlight! I studied the spectrum, trying to figure out just where one color ended and another began.

A friend was playing with the magnifying glass. She was fascinated by the pinpoint of bright light that she could generate by steadily holding the magnifying glass in one position and letting the sunlight pass through the glass. As we watched and laughed at the wonders of science, her paper began to smoke, and the little spot of bright light turned brown. The paper was on fire. There was one collective intake of breath, and then everyone was silent. We had heard about that sort of thing happening, and now we had witnessed it for ourselves.

If you’ve ever played with rays of sunlight, you understand how our lives can be a prism in the hand of God. Our works become a rainbow of colors for all to see. Beautiful. Drawing the eyes of others toward God, causing their souls to marvel and wonder.

Our souls can be a magnifying glass in the hand of God. We lift our hearts up, and Jesus Christ is magnified. Everyone in proximity holds his breath in wonder, in awe. Miracles happen. Lives are set ablaze.

The divine light reveals our unique gifts, like the colors in the rainbow. The divine light reveals God himself. Power. Majesty. The consuming fire of God.

That day, on a windowsill in a fifth-grade classroom, a group of children were stunned into silence for just a moment. We had been fascinated by the rainbows. But when we realized the power of the sun, and what we could do with a little magnifying glass, we made no sound at all. This was a power too great – something too important – to misuse.

We looked at each other with big eyes and open mouths. And we quietly put the magnifying glasses away in a box. We had uncovered a secret about the sun that demanded maturity, awe, respect. When we opened our science books, we now understood as children who had experienced it personally. Hands-on education. The kind of learning that sticks around long after the test and the last day of class. The kind of learning that even the most apathetic student will abide. Yes, he will keep coming back to discover more.

And so it is in matters of faith. Let the little ones  – the curious and the apathetic ones – gather around. Let them see the Son as he passes through your life, yielding the colors of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control. Watch, as he displays his power in the middle of human suffering. Or sorrow. Or death. Miracles happen right here. And everyone is stunned. They cannot help but ponder it all. And they will not forget.

It’s Mrs. Grace’s classroom all over again.

St. Catherine of Siena once said we will set the world ablaze if we become what we were meant to become. And what is that? A magnifying glass in the hand of God. Come, let us magnify the Lord, together.