Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year Daily Prayer

Happy New Year Everyone!!! Here is a prayer that I received today. Let's pray it everyday:

Give us the kindness to hear with compassion, to offer support, loving comfort, and care. Give us the courage to do what is needed, the wisdom to choose what is right and fair. Give us the vision to see what is possible. Give us the faith that will help pave the way for a present that is hopeful, a future that is peaceful— Give us a heart to bring joy to each day. Amen.

---St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The 2010 One Year Bible Challenge

So, for 2010 I am going to read the whole Bible in one year. Each day, I hope to be able to post reflections on certain verses, and I will post in advance the readings so that anyone interested can read along and post reflections too. I will also post some very interesting information on archaeological finds and other historical finds that may speak to the significance of and may enlighten certain stories in the Bible. As Christians we must read both the Old and the New Testament. Unfortunately, the Old Testament is often untouched. I have found that understanding Jewish law and history is absolutely essential to understanding Jesus' society, as is understanding the Egyptian, Persian, and Roman Empires. When put in its historical context, the Bible makes a lot more sense. So, come join with me as I take on this One Year Bible Challenge. I will start on January 1 with Genesis 1-3.

Unless otherwise noted: the version of the Bible I will be quoting from is the New International Version (NIV).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Kingdom of God

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 3:2). John the Baptist was right of course. When Jesus came into the world, he came to bring the Kingdom too. What we as Christians do in our lives must be done to bring the Kingdom to its fullness. The Church is an instrument for the Kingdom of God. We must help the poor and cure the sick just like Jesus did. We must do these things not to get more members into our churches but so that the Kingdom can be realized on Earth. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." We can't serve God's kingdom unless we tear ourselves away from our sins that prevent us from knowing fully the will of the Father. God wants to use us because we are His tools. Let's join together to accomplish the Father's will on Earth.

"When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'It's going to rain,' and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, 'It's going to be hot,' and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time?" (Luke 12:54-56)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Road to Assisi

I just finished reading an interesting biography on St. Francis of Assisi called The Road to Assisi that was written by Paul Sebatier, a French protestant. I really enjoyed this biography because it focused on the humanity of St. Francis while affirming his miracles. It is interesting to see how the Franciscans have evolved over time especially in relation to issues concerning poverty. St. Francis is my favorite saint. Often, St. Francis is portrayed as a mythical being rather than a human, and because of that, before reading about his ministry, I never was able to relate with him. He was not a saint I could try to live like because I felt that it was impossible to do so. After reading this biographical account I know deeply why I love this saint. Of course, St. Francis' miracle accounts are real, but I see in him the ideal Christian, the ideal Jesus-follower, the ideal disciple. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in St. Francis. And while I am talking about St. Francis, I think it will be a good idea to post two of his most famous prayers:

The Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

The Canticle of Brother Sun

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor,
and all blessing.

To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praise be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord,
through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord,
through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will
find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.


Friday, December 25, 2009

It's Christmas: Happy Birthday Jesus!!

So, today is Christmas Day. Happy Birthday Jesus! I am so excited that Jesus has come into the world as a little baby. The Christmas season that started with Advent allows for all Christians around the world to start over clean. Though we are able to do that everyday of our lives, this season reminds us more than ever that Jesus came into the world to save mankind from the bonds of sin. Jesus came because he loved us so much and then died in the worst possible way imaginable. Let us remember Jesus in all things that we do. One of Jesus’ parables outlines for me the wonderful relationship between Father, Son, and Humanity. “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ ”

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mary Magdalene: The Disciple

I was reading up on recent news and was angered to find that when Vatican City found out that most of the Anglican priests that wanted to join the Catholic Church were women, the bishops got really angry and of course prevented them from entering the Church. I wanted to understand why the Catholic Church does not allow women priests. They say that it's because Jesus only appointed male disciples (He could have appointed His mother but He didn't) and that He himself was a man, and since all priests are representatives of Jesus on Earth they must be men. But I think that Jesus did have women disciples that were not mentioned in the Gospels for obvious reasons: most notably Mary Magdalene. When Mary saw that Jesus had resurrected she went to the disciples' homes and told them. When Jesus was killed, all the disciples, it says in John, went into hiding and locked the doors in fear of persecution by the Romans and Jewish leaders. Mary Magdalene, though, not only knew where they all lived, but was able to give them this important message. In addition, she follows Jesus in Luke 8:2. Obviously, the disciples recognized her as one of Jesus' important followers (maybe even disciple) although the Gospel writers were too afraid to mention her involvement. Another woman disciple was the Samaritan woman at the well who, upon hearing Jesus' self-proclamation as the messiah, spread the Good News around Samaria.