Tag Archives: Hosanna Prayer Group

Tolle Lege – thoughts about Advent reading by Bill Thornton

image_large[From parishioner, parish librarian, Hosanna prayer group member, lector, dedicated long time blog contributor and all around great person, Bill Thornton: In past years, I have written little sharings on the Mass readings for the day during Advent, and I probably will again as we progress into Advent. But today, I am taking a different approach by speaking of my one-person campaign to encourage spiritual reading during Advent.]

I am the self-appointed librarian at St. Edwards, and I am trying to encourage my fellow parishioners, i.e. you, to do a little “spiritual reading” during Advent to prepare in another way for the coming of Christmas. With all of the reading that we do for work, for home, and for a little relaxation, it would be hard to add a new reading stream of any length. What I am suggesting is maybe 15 minutes (or even 10 or 5) to put a little spiritual thought in your head (and your soul) that might come back to you over the course of the day to help you grow nearer to God.

45_tolleWhy should Catholics do spiritual reading? In his Confessions, St. Augustine tells of a vision or a dream in which a child speaks in a sing-song way , “Tolle, lege,” translated “Pick it up and read it.” So for Augustine, reading led to conversion of heart. In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul says, “Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” Rom 10:17. For Paul, then, reading meant the growth of faith. St. Peter wrote, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” 1 Pet. 3:15. And for him it meant an ability to evangelize people who ask you questions about your faith, but he adds, “but do it with gentleness and reverence.” And so on and so forth. There are many reasons for doing spiritual reading, and many testimonies of the saints. In today’s parlance, Continue reading

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Lenten Reflections – April 10, 2014

Today, parishioner Bill Thornton talks about where we are in Lent as seen through the Letter to Hebrews.

hebrews-12_1_4x6Many of the readings in the Liturgy of the Hours (The Holy Office) for this week are from the Letter to the Hebrews. Maybe this is just the luck of the draw, but I prefer to think that this shows an intent of the Church to remind us of the messages of Hebrews that are so consistent with where we are in Lent.

Hebrews is a unique book in the New Testament and an important one. We do not know its author (we used to think that it was an epistle of Paul, but today’s scholars don’t think so); we do not know the circumstances of its composition; we do not even know whether it started out as a letter or not. What does seem to be true is that it was written before the destruction of the Temple and that it was meant for Continue reading

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Lenten Reflections – March 27, 2014

409-10.zoom.aIn last Thursday’s Gospel reading in the story of Lazarus and the rich man, Abraham says to the rich man who tries to keep his five brothers out of “this place of torment,” “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.” Jesus is saying in the context of His story that we should read the Bible in order to stay on the right path to eternity. Many of my Catholic contemporaries say that the Church prevented them from reading the Bible. I understand the basis for the statement, but I do not agree with it. In its liturgical celebrations (principally the Mass and the Holy Office), the pre-Vatican II Church served up daily “bite-sized” readings from the Law, the Prophets, the Wisdom Books, the Psalms, the Gospels and the Epistles. Where some of our Protestant friends carried the Bible to church, we carried the St. Joseph Missal that contained selected Bible readings for Mass each day. Just as the Church did this pre-Vatican II, it continues to do today.

I thought that I would use the readings from the Holy Office (or Liturgy of the Hours) for today to further illustrate the point. Here are the so-called “short readings” for the various hours:

Morning Prayer (Lauds)

Lord, we are your people and your heritage. Be always watchful for the entreaty of your servant and of your people Israel, and listen to us whenever we call to you. For it was you who set us apart from all the peoples of the earth to be your own heritage. 1 Kings 8:51-53

Mid-Morning Prayer (Terce)

Seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near. Let the wicked man abandon his way, the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn back to the Lord who will take pity on him, to our God who is rich in forgiving. Isaiah 55:6-7

Midday Prayer (Sext)

If you return to the Lord your God, if you obey his voice with all your heart and soul in everything I enjoin on you today, you and your children, then the Lord your God will bring back your captives and will have pity on you. Deuteronomy 30:2-3

Afternoon Prayer (None)

Continue to have confidence, since the reward is so great. You will need endurance to do God’s will and gain what he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36

Evening Prayer (Vespers)

Give in to God: resist the devil, and he will run away from you. The nearer you go to God, the nearer he will come to you. Clean your hands, you sinners, and clear your minds, you waverers. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up. James 4:7-8,10

Night Prayer (Compline)

May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23

* * * * *

Look at the variety in these readings all in one day. We have selections from the Law (Deuteronomy), The Prophets ( Isaiah), Historical Books (1 Kings), the Epistles (Paul: 1 Thessalonians: James and Hebrews). In addition, there are many Psalms, another reading from Deuteronomy and one from St. Matthew’s Gospel at Mass, a reading from Exodus in the Office of Readings, and some other small scriptures salted away in other places. But for present purposes, I am going to talk only about the short readings from the six hours quoted above. They all speak of relationship with God, first with the Jews and later with all of God’s people.

The reading for Morning Prayer from 1 Kings is the end of a long prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the first Temple. The whole prayer is well worth reading as it expresses the gratitude and reverence of the Jewish people to the Lord at the time when the chosen people was at its height in power, influence, and satisfaction. [When we go through and look at these “short readings,” there is nothing stopping us from looking at the context by reading a chapter or two before or after the selected reading.] The prayer reminds God that it was He who sought the relationship with the chosen people, that they claim the benefit of that relationship, and that they expect that God will listen to their prayers and answer them. You and I can make that same prayer.

The reading for the Mid-Morning prayer is from Isaiah. He writes at a time when Israel has suffered defeat and exile. Isaiah reminds us that we can restore the relationship with God if we can turn back to the Lord. The Deuteronomy reading for Midday prayer is to the same effect, promising that the Lord will bring you back if you obey the Law. Hebrews reminds us in the Afternoon Prayer that the road to God may not be easy, but if we persevere the reward will be great.

I love the reading from James in the Evening Prayer. Again, we are encouraged to return and submit to God. When James writes, “ The nearer you go to God, the nearer he will come to you.” I imagine two young lovers on a bench, and whenever the girl slides closer to the boy, he responds by sliding closer to her.

Finally, in the Night Prayer, Paul prays, just before we go off to bed, that our relationship with God will result in the Lord’s watching over us as we sleep.

This train of Bible readings teaches a unified lesson ideal for a day in Lent. It acknowledges the relationship between us was initiated by God out of love; it recognizes that we may turn our back on God from time to time; it reminds us that God is always waiting for us to return so that He can welcome us back and take care of us as His beloved child.

I intended in this piece to show how the Church puts the Bible before us in an easily accepted way to teach us the lessons of God’s love for us. You can use this approach to studying the Bible to supplement your practice of Bible reading or as your main or only Bible reading. You can use as much or as little as you choose, but to paraphrase St. James, “The nearer you go to the Bible, the nearer the Bible will bring you closer to God.”

[In terms of resources, there are many on-line sites, both Catholic and non-Catholic that can help you get more into the Bible. As in all other things on the web, there are certain pitfalls. There are some sites that proclaim that they are “Catholic,” but separate themselves from the Church by condemning Vatican II or claiming that the Latin Mass is the only valid Mass. There are non-Catholic sites that are in some way anti-Catholic. Two dependable sites that I recommend are the USCCB Daily Readings.  This is published by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Besides the full text of the New American Bible, Revised Edition (the translation used at Mass in the U.S.), it provides an easy way to locate the Mass readings for each day; and Universalis.  This is a site originating in the UK and the readings are from the New Jerusalem Bible which is the official translation used there. This site provides not only the Mass readings but also the full text of the Holy Office.]
-Bill Thornton

 

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Lenten Reflections – Thursday, March 13 – by Madeline Longacker

ask-seek-knock“Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find, knock,
and the door will be opened to you…” Matthew 7:7

This is one of my favorite scriptures. Jesus tells us of the Father’s profound love for us. Jesus encourages us to be part of a special parent-child relationship. The Father knows what we need, but He invites us to ask, seek, and knock revealing our deepest needs to Him. He wants us to draw on our knowledge of how a parent will want the best for his child. He, in the same way, wants the best for us. When I was a child I thought this scripture of asking and seeking meant that my prayers would be answered the way I wanted them and in the time I wanted them done. Even as an adult I struggle with the mystery of prayer.

Three years ago my brother died from stomach cancer. It was a time of great sadness and pain for the whole family. In looking back, I see all the amazing ways God was with us in this ordeal. God encouraged many people to stand by Gerard. The Father gave us courage, strength, and kindness through the family and friends around us. When we couldn’t pray, others could. God remained faithful even when we were frightened or angry. Ultimately, Gerard was healed when the Father took him home to heaven. It took time to surrender to God’s plan.

Prayer is powerful. I’ve seen a friend have his hearing restored. I saw my mom freed from her grief. Prayer binds us to God and to each other. It transforms our lives. God becomes real. Most of my prayers are the asking, seeking and knocking kind. More and more time, however, is given to thanking, praising, loving and being still. In an old catechism, prayer was lifting your heart to God, but it begins with God‘s heart reaching out to us. Through Jesus we see how the Father is always asking us to follow Him, seeking us in the places where we are lost, and knocking on the door to our hearts.
-submitted by Madeline Longacker

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Lenten Reflections – Thursday, March 6, by Bill Thornton

(This post was supposed to go up on Thursday morning, but life interfered and here it is on Thursday night, and into Friday!)

A reflection from Bill Thornton. Bill is a frequent contributor to the blog, along with others from the Hosanna Praer group.

It was different in the old days.

I remember Lent of 1951. I was 12 and in the 7th grade. Poor Sister Marie Louise was already showing signs of losing contact with reality. (She was institutionalized at the end of the school year, but they did not have anybody else to teach 7th grade.) Sister decided that, besides giving up candy for Lent (as she thought we would), the whole class was going to attend daily Mass. Just so we are clear, this meant that we had to leave home unfed and without water, walk a half mile (I checked on Google maps. I would have guessed much farther.), attend Mass, receive Communion, return the same half mile home, eat breakfast, brush our teeth, and walk back to school by 8:30.

To demonstrate our devotion to the task, all of us (7th graders remember) had to wear “crowns” made of purple construction paper with seven purple crosses sticking up from the headband. For each day that we attended Mass (and checked in with Sister), we would get a paper rose that we paper-clipped to one of the crosses. Imagine our embarrassment when we walked around school wearing those paper crowns with or without roses.

The second thing that Sister decided that we should do for Lent was memorize each week the Sunday Gospel – in French since we were in a French-speaking Canadian parish. We did a lot of memorizing in those days, and this would have been only a minor annoyance, except that I was assigned an additional chore in this regard, namely to “help” Arthur to memorize the Gospel. Arthur had come over to parochial school from public school in 7th grade because the public school teachers gave up on him, and, on top of that, he knew no French. (By the way, the nuns gave up on him at the end of the term.) I do not recall what I did to be awarded this particular privilege, but it must have been quite something, since the sisters all thought that I would be the one to became a priest, and therefore could do no wrong. Anyway, it was my task to sit in the back of the classroom for hours on end trying to think of something to enable Arthur to utter something that sounded something like the French scriptures. If Arthur did not come close enough, I was – so to speak – French toast.

As I said, I remember Lent that year, and it was different.

So what did I learn from my 1951 Lenten experience? Well, for starters, attending daily Mass is a good thing to do during Lent; walking a couple of miles before school won’t kill you; neither will wearing a silly paper crown at school, although you may wish you were dead. Also, there is nothing wrong with really getting into the gospels during Lent or at any other time. I am pretty sure that I did not learn anything from my interaction with Arthur – except maybe some obedience.

What I learned from remembering the experience is one of the lessons that the Ash Wednesday Gospel taught us: You can’t learn anything about a person’s Lent by watching from the outside. Some people might want you to judge them that way – they look like they are fasting and they like to be seen praying and giving alms. But Jesus says, that’s not what you should do. Whatever you choose to do, it should be something that God alone can see and judge.

In his 2014 Lenten message, Pope Francis quotes from 2 Cor 8:9 : “For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” Developing this statement, the Pope says that we will not convert the world with our own physical resources, but, just as Christ did, with our poverty. We are spiritually rich because of Christ’s poverty, but if we want to help others to be spiritually rich, we can only do it if we are poor in spirit even as Christ was. There is no contradiction between being spiritually rich and being poor in spirit. When God gifts us with his grace, we become spiritually rich, but when we try or at least aspire to pass the riches along, we must understand that the gifts never belonged to us and never will. The gifts always belong to God and we only hold them “in earthen vessels” for the benefit of others. Perhaps we should use this Lent to increase our understanding that everything we have is gift and to pray for guidance from God as to how we ought to become poor as we approach the world to share these gifts.

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Advent Reflections – Thursday, December 12, 2013 – Our Lady of Guadalupe

our_lady_of_guadalupe“Hear favored one the Lord is with you.”Luke 1:28

The Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is such a gift to come in Advent. Advent is a time when we remember the dark times of the world’s suffering and our suffering.  We remember how much we need a savior who enters into that darkness and brings light.  In the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mary reveals her love and her Son’s love to a suffering and oppressed people. She reminds the powerless of God’s love through the miracle of forming her image on a peasant’s tilma. She has a church built so that ordinary people know that all are welcomed to come to her. She will be a loving mother bringing all needs to Jesus.  I am particularly touched by the words that she spoke to Juan Diego.

‘Hear, and let it penetrate into your heart-let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you. Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Also, do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need?
-Madeline Longacker

On most Thursdays, our reflections are offered by members of the Hosanna Prayer Group, who have generously shared them with us during Advent and Lent for many years. We are most grateful! The group meets at our parish on Thursday nights at 7:30pm, for music and prayer. All are welcome!

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Advent Reflection – December 4, 2013 – My Cup Overfloweth

mycuprunnethoverwater

My Cup Overfloweth

Reflection on the readings for Dec. 4
Isaiah 25:6-10; Psalm 23:1-6; Matthew 15:29-37

An Advent reflection from parishioner Charles Burre

In Saturday’s blog, Fran spoke of the transition from Thanksgiving to the waiting season of Advent, yet today’s readings are overflowing with reasons to continue to give thanks. Isaiah tells us that the Lord will provide “for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines.” Not only will He supply our material needs, He will remove those things the threaten or confuse us (“the web that is woven over all nations”) and those things that cause us sadness or grief. And finally, the ultimate reason to rejoice, that to which Advent is pointing, “let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us.

Psalm 23 is frequently invoked in times of turmoil or grief, yet it too is mostly about thanksgiving. Our cups overflow with all that we need: green pastures, still waters, right paths, comfort, protection, and an abundance goodness and mercy throughout our lives. The Psalm also ends with the assurance that we will remain in the Lord’s presence forever.

Thanksgiving has never been far from my thoughts at this time in my life. We had a joyful Thanksgiving with two of our children, their spouses, and two beautiful granddaughters. The month of November began with the birth of our sixth grandchild and first grandson. Over the years the material needs of our family have been taken care of, often in unanticipated ways. God has guided us to good doctors and nurses when healing was needed. This was especially true for me this past year. Most importantly, He has led me on the right paths, which brought me to St. Edward’s, and surrounded me with many Christian friends.

In Matthew’s gospel we see in Jesus what is foretold in the first two readings as He feeds and heals all those who come to Him. The salvation story will unfold as we journey through the gospel and the liturgical year. It is the fulfillment of this ultimate promise that gives Advent and Christmas the joy that is proclaimed in so many beautiful ways at this time of year. Let us not forget the reason for this joy. May we continue to live our lives with joyful hearts that are overflowing with thanksgiving.

-Charles Burre

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