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Friday, October 28, 2016

Daily Devotion for January 19, 2014

<i>The Apostles of the Lake</i> by Manuel Reanda, Atitlan, Guatemala, ca. 1998 | The Last Supper
The Apostles of the Lake by Manuel Reanda, Atitlan, Guatemala, ca. 1998.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


Prayer of Ambrose of Milan

O  Lord, who has mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of your Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore you, a heart to delight in you, to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ's sake.


Lord, Bless My Enemies

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Enemies have driven me into Thy embrace more than friends have.
Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.
Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world.
Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Thy tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.
They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.
They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.
They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself.
They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.
Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.
Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.
Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.
Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.
Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.
Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of Thy garment.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:
so that my fleeing to Thee may have no return;
so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;
so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;
so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins: arrogance and anger;
so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;
ah, so that I may for once be freed from self deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.
One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.
It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.
Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies.
A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand.
But a son blesses them, for he understands. For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life. Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.



Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let me think about these things. What I have learned and received, let me do; and the God of peace be with us all.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.

endless knot

Illusory Pleasures

Whatsoever we have over-loved, idolized, and leaned upon, God has from time to time broken it, and made us to see the vanity of it; so that we find the readiest course to be rid of our comforts is to set our hearts inordinately upon them.

~John Flavel

Blue Latin Cross

Romans 9:27-29 (ESV)

Accepting the World as It Is

And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” [Isaiah 10:22]

And as Isaiah predicted,

“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:9)

Notes on the Scripture

What are we to think when we look at Western society and the direction it is headed? It seems sometimes like God is losing the battle.

Church attendance is down; in many places, beautiful old church buildings have become little more than local recreation centers and wedding chapels. Governments sometimes seem to be actively promoting atheism, especially in schools. Celebrities and the media seem to espouse ever-increasing degrees of sexual promiscuity in the name of personal freedom.

Forty years ago, a shocking and controversial report showed that one out of four — 25% — of black children in the US were born out of wedlock. By 2007, the figure was 70%, and in 2013 the percentage of babies born out of wedlock, regardless of ethnicity, was 48%. (CPUS article, 2013.)

And Christian churches themselves are hardly perfect. Catholic bishops being indicted for conspiracy to commit child molestation will hurt for many years, and every week seems to bring another pastor or minister who has robbed the church bank account. Not even to mention the issue of hypocrisy.

As with so many problems, the solution to the pain, frustration, and helplessness we may feel about these issues is right in the Bible. Even before Christ, Isaiah prophesied that only a “remnant” of Israel — God's chosen nation — would be saved. Nothing in the Bible promises that we will live in a world that is good or just.

We must do what the Bible commands us to do, and we must be at peace with the result, for God is in charge, not us. We must accept the possibility that God knows, or even intends, that during this age societies and governments will be dominated by atheism and sin. Nowhere are we promised that every person, or a majority of people, or even a large number of people, are going to know God's grace. Total victory will not be ours until Christ comes again, and only God knows when that will occur.

The practical conclusion of today's Scripture is summarized wonderfully in “The Serenity Prayer”:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

* * *

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; . . .

Antique Catholic prayer card to St. Cecelia.
Antique Catholic prayer card to St. Cecelia. The scroll reads “Cantantibus organis Cecilia virgo decantabat dicens Fiat cor meum immaculatum” (see Page Two for more).

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     “Antiphon to St. Cecelia”

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

James 2:24, 26: You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. . . . For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

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