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A ‘must-have’ read.

I purchased this book last year as a digital copy and then almost immediately purchased a hard copy because is is such a wonderful book to ‘have and to hold close’ (in your hands and in your heart!) This is a book I will be purchasing as gifts  for friends and family.

THE BETTER PART, buy Fr John Bartunek

image@http://live.regnumchristi.org/

image@http://live.regnumchristi.org/

is a’ Christ-centred resource for personal prayer.’ It is changing my relationship with Jesus and is helping me through the most difficult time of my Journey to Christ to date. My prayer life is becoming deeper and more meaningful. I feel prepared and eager for a meeting  with the Lord every day.

It’s the only book that has shared with me a 4 step structure to personal meditation, making my prayer life more intimate and meaningful for me.

Here are some titbits to whet your appetite:

  1. ‘ Jesus has made the appointment to meet  with you in prayer’ –  In other words it’s no accident that I am yearning to be closer to Jesus and that a deeply personal relationship is one that I want so much with Him, because he yearns for the same relationship with me. He is the one calling me to prayer.
  2. ‘ Among the most basic prayer commitments is one that can have more bearing on your life that any other, because is is more personalised: the daily meditation.’ – I do much spiritual reading to find out more about my Faith and my Lord and Saviour, I need to keep a daily meeting with my Lord for the sole purpose of getting to know Him better and to recommit myself to uncovering His will for my life. I realise that there is a difference between spiritual reading and meditation in that even the readings of the day can become spiritual reading, and not so much a meditative reading if I merely read them as part of a routine day in and day out. In order to get to know the Lord more intimately and to unwrap His will for my life, His messages for me alone, I need to excavate what’s in the Gospel with tenacity and purpose. This is done through meditation and prayer over the Gospels.
  3. ‘Prayer is similar to walking. To walk everyone has to follow the same principles of physics- friction, gravity, muscle propulsion, momentum. And yet, even though the principles are the same, everyone’s walk is a little bit different. When babies learn to walk, they start out clumsy and awkward, until they develop the rhythm and style proper to their body type, personality, and environment. Meditation follows a similar pattern: the same principles for all, activated uniquely by each. The Better Part can help you wherever you happen to be on the spectrum.’ 

images

If any one of you have read this amazing book please comment on how you have found it deepening your relationship with Jesus. I intend to post more on this book as I read on.

the Story of Mary and MArtha: Mary is doing 'the better part', listening to the Lord's teaching.

In the Story of Mary and Martha: Mary is doing ‘the better part’, listening to the Lord’s teaching.

Francisco’s teaching: feeding us food for thought, the heart the mind and soul.

 

(The Pope’s homily is copied from Vatican News. Emphasis mine)

download (1)

1. Jesus enters Jerusalem. The crowd of disciples accompanies him in festive mood, their garments are stretched out before him, there is talk of the miracles he has accomplished, and loud praises are heard: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Lk 19:38).

Crowds, celebrating, praise, blessing, peace: joy fills the air. Jesus has awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world. He understands human sufferings, he has shown the face of God’s mercy, he has bent down to heal body and soul. Now he enters the Holy City! This is Jesus.This is the heart that looks on all of us, watching our illnesses, our sins. The love of Jesus is great. He enters Jerusalem with this love and watches all of us. It is a beautiful scene, the light of the love of Jesus, that light of his heart, joy, celebration.

At the beginning of Mass, we repeated all this. We waved our palms, our olive branches, we sang “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord” (Antiphon); we too welcomed Jesus; we too expressed our joy at accompanying him, at knowing him to be close, present in us and among us as a friend, a brother, and also as a King: that is, a shining beacon for our lives. Jesus is God, but he humbled himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother. Here, he enlightens us on the journey. And so today we welcome Him And here the first word that comes to mind is “joy!” Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy that comes from having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus, from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them! It is at this time that the enemy comes, the devil comes, often disguised as an angel who insidiously tells us his word. Do not listen to him! We follow Jesus! download (3)

We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world of ours. Let us bring the joy of the faith to everyone! Let us not be robbed of hope! Let us not be robbed of hope! The hope that Jesus gives us!

2. A second word: why does Jesus enter Jerusalem? Or better: how does Jesus enter Jerusalem? The crowds acclaim him as King. And he does not deny it, he does not tell them to be silent (cf. Lk 19:39-40). But what kind of a King is Jesus? Let us take a look at him: he is riding on a donkey, he is not accompanied by a court, he is not surrounded by an army as a symbol of power. He is received by humble people, simple folk, who sense that there is more to Jesus, who have the sense of faith that says, “This is the Savior.” Jesus does not enter the Holy City to receive the honours reserved to earthly kings, to the powerful, to rulers; he enters to be scourged, insulted and abused, as Isaiah foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 50:6). He enters to receive a crown of thorns, a staff, a purple robe: his kingship becomes an object of derision. He enters to climb Calvary, carrying his burden of wood. And this brings us to the second word: Cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross. And it is here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross!

I think of what Benedict XVI said to the cardinals: “You are princes but of a Crucified King”that is Christ’s throne. Jesus takes it upon himself..why? Why the Cross? Jesus takes upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including our own sin, and he cleanses it, he cleanses it with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God. Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money, which no-one can bring with him.

My grandmother would say to us children, no shroud has pockets! Greed for money, power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation! And – each of us knows well – our personal sins: our failures in love and respect towards God, towards our neighbour and towards the whole of creation. Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Christ brings to all of us from the Cross, his throne. Christ’s Cross embraced with love does not lead to sadness, but to joy! The joy of being saved and doing a little bit what he did that day of his death.

3. Today in this Square, there are many young people: for 28 years Palm Sunday has been World Youth Day! This is our third word: youth!

Dear young people, I think of you celebrating around Jesus, waving your olive branches. I think of you crying out his name and expressing your joy at being with him! You have an important part in the celebration of faith! You bring us the joy of faith and you tell us that we must live the faith with a young heart, always, even at the age of seventy or eighty.! A young heart! With Christ, the heart never grows old! Yet all of us, all of you know very well that the King whom we follow and who accompanies us is very special: he is a King who loves even to the Cross and who teaches us to serve and to love. And you are not ashamed of his Cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in giving ourselves that we have true joy and that God has conquered evil through love.

You carry the pilgrim Cross through all the Continents, along the highways of the world! You carry it in response to Jesus’ call: “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), which is the theme of World Youth Day this year. You carry it so as to tell everyone that on the Cross Jesus knocked down the wall of enmity that divides people and nations, and he brought reconciliation and peace. download (2)

Dear friends, I too am setting out on a journey with you, from today, in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We are already close to the next stage of this great pilgrimage of Christ’s Cross. I look forward joyfully to next July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare well – prepare spiritually above all – in your communities, so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world. Young people need to tell the world: “It is good to follow Jesus, it is good to go with Jesus, the message of Jesus is good, it is good to come out of ourselves, from the edges of existence of the world and to bring Jesus to others!”

Three words: Joy, Cross and Youth.Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of meeting Christ, the love with which we must look to the foot of the Cross, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him during this Holy Week and throughout our lives.

Amen.

The Catholic Herald comments on the Holy Father’s first Palm Sunday  Mass.

 

The real question is what CHOICE do each of us make in meeting our spiritual challenges?

I found this quote here that spoke so clearly to me immediately:

I believe the Catholic Church provides many opportunities to focus on the Gospels. Actually being in the pew is the first step. An active Catholic participates, seeks out information, and is engaged in the many activities, including charitable causes.

If a person joins an organization by signing their name, seldom attends the meetings, never volunteers, and is not in sync with the group’s basic principles, would they be considered an active member?

The real question is what CHOICE do each of us make in meeting our spiritual challenges?

Are you one of the ‘Cafe Catholics’ who has not darkened the door of the church for some time or who has little knowledge about Christ at the centre of His Church? Has your knowledge of Faith stagnated and become fuzzy, so you just add little bits into your ‘faith’ because it feels more comfortable to do so, and fits into your understanding of a relationship of Jesus? Are you unsure about the truth of the Faith? Do you cringe and turn away from those who criticise the Church and end up agreeing with others’ statements about Jesus and what He teaches just to end a conversation? Do you have serious grievances against the Church which have never been heard? Do you generally go to church at Christmas and Easter but couldn’t be bothered to go to Confession or to receive Holy Communion? Do you feel uncomfortable about secular issues but can’t put you finger on why you feel this way?  Do you openly criticise the tenets of ‘church and faith’ as a catholic?

There are so many inactive Catholics who have signed up and call themselves catholic! So many who are missing out on an exciting Spiritual Journey of Discovery:- the discovery of our Loving God and who He is, and how He can change our hearts and minds and make us notice things we’ve never recognised about Him before.  Get active in your parish!… search for our Lord. He is to be found there…in our midst. Search for the answers to your Spiritual Challenges. Be prepared for changes that will most certainly come your way.

What better way is there to do this than by getting involved with a group or setting up a new group in your parish? I have had the pleasure of  meeting many interesting people with many interesting talents with so much LOVE for our Lord. So much love to give. His Love oozes from them and in turn we are moved by His actions in them. We meet Him in them. It is in this way that we broaden our continuously growing knowledge of Love and how we understand this Love more in our giving to others . This well of Knowledge is deep and unending. The breadth and scope of what always seems to remain undiscovered spreads out in vast plains before us the more we search and thirst for our loving Father.

The youth of the parish exude a love for life asking urgent, challenging questions. The elderly preserve precious Traditions of the Church and in so doing, help us to understand those Traditions and grow more in love with our Lord. Our contemporaries support us in our Journey with a shoulder to lean on, prayers and understanding.

Parishes are built up  and made stronger by those who volunteer their talents for the sake of others. It is there that we learn to understand the meaning of humility and tolerance for others that little bit more each and every time we’re involved. It is there that we have the opportunity to share our experiences of the Lord and our love of Him with others in a way that only He can do, and in so doing you can move someone into a deeper relationship with Him. It is there that we are accepted and loved for who we are without any prerequisites or judgement. It is there that we build up the Church on earth. We are the Body  of Christ on earth.images (1)Catholic parishes are full to the brim with a cross-section of cultures and life experiences  with the Lord Jesus. Surely these experiences only work to build links and open invitations to getting to know God in yet again in another way through them? It is only there that you are exposed to the love given and received by your parish priest in ways sometimes most unexpected. You become witness to the many roles that you priest takes on a daily basis. The most important being: bringing Christ to those he is in contact with. Yes, you see Him at Mass and listen to him share the Gospels on a Sunday and hopefully, teaching about the Truth of our Faith: Jesus himself. Have you really listened to the Gospels for a message  pointed straight at you? Have you chosen to listen to the Word of God?

I have been privileged to meet some of the most inspirational priests, religious and lay people who are experts in their fields who can go a long way in answering those burning questions about Jesus that may have simmered for so long. The Journey is slow, gentle and welcoming. Just make the CHOICE to be active in your Faith. Active in your parish and in so doing in the wider the community. Make the CHOICE to get to know Jesus.

What better way to make up your mind about coming back into The Fold: Finding out about what’s new in the Church, how God is working in Her midst, finding Peace and restitution in God’s provision of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and then of course, Christ himself in the  Eucharist. Have you thought about making an appointment with your parish priest to ask questions, ask for guidance or ask your challenging Spiritual questions? I think you may be pleasantly surprised.

10-tips-for-happiness-904x1024

Fancy the idea of making a change for the better? Come back to Church!

A fitting Feast Day for the inauguration of Francis I

Image@cybermissionaryfacebook

Image@cybermissionaryfacebook

This is how St. Joseph is revered in the prayer of the Litany of St. Joseph.

St. Joseph,
Renowned offspring of David,
Light of Patriarchs,
Spouse of the Mother of God,
Chaste guardian of the Virgin,
Foster father of the Son of God,
Diligent protector of Christ,
Head of the Holy Family,
Joseph most just,
Joseph most chaste,
Joseph most prudent,
Joseph most strong,
Joseph most obedient,
Joseph most faithful,
Mirror of patience,
Lover of poverty,
Model of artisans,
Glory of home life,
Guardian of virgins,
Pillar of families,
Solace of the wretched,
Hope of the sick,
Patron of the dying,
Terror of demons,
Protector of Holy Church,

Read more:http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/litanies/joseph.htm#ixzz2Nxq5yN4S

 

from Wikipedia

Joseph (Hebrew יוֹסֵף, “Yosef”; Greek: Ἰωσήφ) is a figure in the Gospels, the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus and the guardian of Jesus. In Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Anglican Christian traditions he is regarded as Saint Joseph.

The Pauline epistles, generally considered the earliest extant Christian records, make no reference to Jesus’ father; nor does the Gospel of Mark, generally considered the first of the gospels.[2] The first appearance of Joseph is therefore in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Each contains a genealogy of Jesus tracing his ancestry back to King David, but the two are from different sons of David; Matthew follows the major royal line from Solomon, while Luke follows a minor line from Nathan, another son of David and Bathsheba. Consequently all the names between David and Joseph are different. According to Matthew “Jacob was the father of Joseph,” while according to Luke, Joseph, or possibly Jesus, is said to be “of Heli.” Some scholars reconcile the genealogies by viewing the Solomonic lineage in Matthew as Joseph’s major royal line, and the Nathanic lineage in Luke to be Mary’s minor line.[3][4]

Matthew and Luke are also the only gospels to include the infancy narratives, and again they differ. In Luke, Joseph lives in Nazareth and travels to Bethlehem in compliance with the requirements of a Roman census. Subsequently, Jesus was born there. In Matthew, Joseph was in Bethlehem, the city of David, where Jesus is born, and then moves to Nazareth with his family after the death of Herod. Matthew is the only Gospel to include the narrative of the Massacre of the Innocents and the Flight into Egypt: following the nativity, Joseph stays in Bethlehem for an unspecified period (perhaps two years) until forced by Herod to take refuge in Egypt; on the death of Herod he brings his family back to Judea, and settles in Nazareth. After this point there is no further mention of Joseph by name, although the story of Jesus in the Temple, in Jesus’ 12th year, includes a reference to “both his parents”. Christian tradition represents Mary as a widow during the adult ministry of her son. The gospels describe Joseph as a “tekton” (τέκτων); traditionally the word has been taken to mean “carpenter”,[5] though the Greek term evokes an artisan with wood in general, or an artisan in iron or stone.[6] Very little other information on Joseph is given in the gospels. He is never quoted. Matthew records four dreams in which Joseph is supernaturally instructed before, and after, the birth and early years of Jesus. In the first dream, an angel confirms to Joseph that Mary is with child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, that she will bear a son to be named Jesus, Who will save His people from their sins; and Joseph should, therefore, not be reluctant to marry her. In the second dream, an angel tells Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt (from Bethlehem) and remain until the angel instructs further, because Herod is seeking to kill Jesus. In Joseph’s third dream, an angel instructs Joseph to return his family to Israel, implying that Herod is dead. However, Joseph hears that Herod’s son Archelaus reigns over Judea, and he is afraid to continue the journey. In the fourth dream, God Himself warns Joseph to avoid returning to Judea (Bethlehem). Joseph then settles Mary and Jesus in the region of Galilee in Nazareth.

Joseph is venerated as a saint in the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran faiths[citation needed]. In Catholic and other traditions, Joseph is the patron saint of workers and has several feast days. He was also declared to be the patron saint and protector of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870, and is the patron of several countries and regions. With the growth ofMariology, the theological field of Josephology has also grown and since the 1950s centres for studying it have been formed.[7][8]

 

 

 

 

Laetare Sunday – Reconciliation at the heart of the Gospel

Laetare SundayLaetare or Rose Sunday. We are over half the way to Easter, and we get to relax and rejoice a little.

 

MASS READINGS for March 10, 2013 (Fourth Sunday of Lent – Laetare)

I. FIRST READING: Joshua 5:9a.10-12.

While the Israelites were encamped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth of the month.
On the day after the Passover they ate of the produce of the land in the form of unleavened cakes and parched grain. On that same day
after the Passover on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. No longer was there manna for the Israelites, who that year ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.
Copyright © Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, USCCB

II. PSALM: Psalms 34(33):2-3.4-5.6-7.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
The lowly will hear me and be glad.
Glorify the LORD with me,
Let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
And delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
And your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
And from all his distress he saved him.
Copyright © Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, USCCB

II. SECOND READING: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.

Brothers and sisters: Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
Copyright © Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, USCCB

III. Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 15:1-3.11-32.

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them he addressed this parable.
Then he said, “A man had two sons,
and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”‘
So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”

The Prodigal Son returns

The Prodigal Son returns

Reconciliation is also at the heart of the story Jesus tells in today’s Gospel. The story of the prodigal son is the story of Israel and of the human race. But it is also the story of every believer.

Scott Hahn

 

 

‘…all of us are called on to play our part…”

I came across this article in the latest FAITH magazine. It spoke so clearly to me and resounded with my personal sentiments.

(Bold type is my emphasis)

”An Invitation to Evangelise
FAITH Magazine January-February 2013 

Not all of us are called to preach publicly, but all of us are called on to play our part in spreading the Gospel – the “Good News” that Jesus Christ is God with us, that he died to reconcile us to the Father, and that he is risen from the dead and has poured out the Holy Spirit on his chosen ones.

There are many ways we can do this and many different words and examples we can use to get this message across to the world around us. First of all, as fellow believers we remind each other of the good news by talking about our faith together, by encouraging each other to grow in knowledge of our faith and by praying together. 

The Parable of The Sower.

The Parable of The Sower.


Sometimes we may need to explain some point of the Church’s teaching to a fellow Catholic or clear up a misunderstanding. This can happen in casual conversation through ordinary friendships or in a formal setting like a school governors group, and so on. To “counsel the doubtful” is one of the spiritual works of mercy. 

I had been bothered of late, by the lack of  basic knowledge of the Faith during open discussions with Catholics.  The Holy Father in his wisdom certainly understood the need for a Year of Faith. Honestly, when I attended the inauguration of the Year of Faith last year, I was taken aback by the thought (call it naiveté/ lack of awareness , at it’s best)  that Catholics need to be evangelised, brought back into the Fold. This was the catalyst that lit the fuse in me to do ‘my bit.’ 

During prayer groups and casual gatherings, I do not have all the answers, but when someone who is a ‘practising’ Catholic states that,’maybe the devil and God ‘both live in our souls’, I have had to dig deep in order not to blurt out ‘NO OF COURSE NOT!’, and to carefully formulate pertinent questions and statements that could otherwise be misconstrued as critique – in order to change a train of thought an hopefully get the train back on track. I have also noticed that sometimes this kind of speak is tolerated as a ‘person’s right to voice an opinion’. If we do not speak up for about the Faith and what the Church teaches, people are going to think it’s fine to talk gibberish because whatever is said  will be accepted as ‘opinion’. The Good News is not a relative issue. It’s factual and true. There is no room for emotion or feelings, and ‘I think… ‘

For someone who needs a little time to ponder over things in order to formulate a response, I sometimes feel frustrated at not being able to have a full, quick and pertinent retort on the spot. I do my best knowing that I could’ve probably answered more fully. My middle-aged grey matter is also to blame for this I might add. For this reason I’ve made an inquiry to join a workshop given by Catholic Voices , a group that was formed around the time the Holy Father visited England three years ago. Their website is most definitely worth a visit.)

Putting the Church's case in the public square

Putting the Church’s case in the public square

The article goes on to say…

We may be called on to catechise others in the Church, such as children and young people or adults seeking full communion with Christ. This is both an honour and a duty. We are co-workers of the apostles (bishops and priests) in this work, but as lay Catholics we are all equipped and commissioned to speak for Jesus Christ because of our baptism and confirmation.We should always be alert to situations where a Christian influence can be brought to bear on the world around us. (Like when someone makes casual remarks about the Mass, that may just be off the mark.) 

The Road to Emmaus. Do others recognise Jesus in us, walking alongside them in day to day life?

The Road to Emmaus. Do others recognise Jesus in us, walking alongside them in day to day life?

Of course it is best not to do this in a sanctimonious or “churchy” way. But if we have built genuine relationships of trust and respect, and offered honest friendship to those around us, then with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will find the right words to say when the opportunity arises.

It may be a matter of dropping a thought provoking comment into a conversation which helps people to see beyond the secular view. (In order to do this, we need to be up to date with the news around us.) Or it may be that we quietly invite someone to a spiritual event (It might be an invitation to come to Mass, to come back to Sacraments of the Church or to some other Catholic devotion, to talk with a priest or spiritual advisor, to read a book, to listen to a lecture, to assist in some ministry, to pray together or to attend a parish social event) or gathering introducing them to the Catholic community – and ultimately introducing them to Jesus Christ.

 

There may also be times when we are called on to speak up in public or private situations where misunderstandings or misconceptions about the Catholic faith are being repeated. (It can be a little trickier of course, when the comments are made within a group of strangers,but I think it’s can be even more so within a family setting. This is why I’m leaning toward some professional apologetics teaching, so that I may in future be confidently prepared to answer  questions of the day regarding Christianity and the Church.) We may have to bear witness to human moral principles, ( I do believe this to be the most important one of all. Our actions show what we’re all about.We can tell others how the Holy Spirit has worked in our lives. We can also share our faith through actions that demonstrate the ways in which we try to live authentically the Gospel Message.) which are being undermined in politics, writing to the press or lobbying parliament.

We have to use our skills and influence in the world to protect the common good and promote an authentic Christian society.”

I want to be a true disciples of Christ. Evangelisation today is needed more than ever!

Week of prayer for Christian unity: What does God require of us?

Week of prayer for Christian unity 2013

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2013 comes to us from an ecumenical group in South India. They have reflected upon their own context and offer to us a theme that calls us to respond to the obligations to act justly in the world. The text is taken from Micah 6.6-8.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed from the 18th to the 25th January – the octave of St. Peter and St. Paul. However, some areas observe it at Pentecost or some other time. To allow for local decision making, the material has only the year on it and the days are denoted by the numbers one to eight, so you can use it at any time of year.

An interesting document I found on the website for Churches together in Britain and Ireland. I’ve highlighted the themes decided upon for the Week of Prayer for Christian unity. I love the fact that decisions  about the themes and prayers etc, are made in so many different countries from all sides of the globe. This years resources have been collated in India.

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
www.ctbi.org.uk/weekofprayer 1

WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

THEMES 1968-2012: I find these inspirational to say the least, AND KEY DATES IN THE HISTORY OF THE WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY 

In 1968, materials jointly prepared by the WCC Faith and Order Commission and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity were first used.

1968 To the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1: 14)  Pour la louange de sa gloire

1969 Called to freedom (Galatians 5: 13)  Appelés à la liberté  (Preparatory meeting held in Rome, Italy)

1970 We are fellow workers for God (1 Corinthians 3: 9)  Nous sommes les coopérateurs de Dieu (Preparatory meeting held at the Monastery of Niederaltaich, Federal Republic of Germany)

1971 …and the communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13: 13)  et la communion du Saint-Esprit

1972  I give you a new commandment (John 13: 34)    (Preparatory meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland)

1973  Lord, teach us to pray (Luke 11: 1) (Preparatory meeting held at the Abbey of Montserrat, Spain)

1974 That every tongue confess: Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2: 1-13) (Preparatory meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland)

1975  God’s purpose: all things in Christ (Ephesians 1: 3-10)  (Material from an Australian group. Preparatory meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland)

1976  We shall be like him (1 John 3: 2) or, Called to become what we are Appelés a devenir ce que nous sommes (Material from Caribbean Conference of Churches. Preparatory meeting held in Rome, Italy)

1977 Enduring together in hope (Romans 5: 1-5)  (Material from Lebanon, in the midst of a civil war. Preparatory meeting held in Geneva)

1978  No longer strangers (Ephesians 2: 13-22) Vous n’êtes plus des étrangers  (Material from an ecumenical team in Manchester, England)  1979 Serve one another to the glory of God (l Peter 4: 7-11)  Soyez au service les uns des autres pour la gloire de Dieu  (Material from Argentina – preparatory meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland) Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Week of Prayer for Christian Unity  www.ctbi.org.uk/weekofprayer 2

1980 Your kingdom come (Matthew 6: 10) Que ton règne vienne! (Material from an ecumenical group in Berlin,

German Democratic Republic -preparatory meeting held in Milan)

1981 One Spirit – many gifts – one body (1 Corinthians 12: 3b-13)  Un seul esprit – des dons divers – un seul corps

(Material from Graymoor Fathers, USA – preparatory  meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland)

1982  May all find their home in you, O Lord (Psalm 84)  Que tous trouvent leur demeure en Toi, Seigneur  (Material from Kenya – preparatory meeting held in Milan, Italy)

1983  Jesus Christ – the Life of the World (1 John 1: 1-4)  Jesus Christ – La Vie du Monde  (Material from an ecumenical group in Ireland – preparatory meeting

held in Céligny (Bossey), Switzerland)

1984  Called to be one through the cross of our Lord (1 Cor 2: 2 and Col 1: 20)  Appelés à l’unité par la croix de notre Seigneur (Preparatory meeting held in Venice, Italy)

1985  From death to life with Christ (Ephesians 2: 4-7)
De la mort à la vie avec le Christ (Material from Jamaica – preparatory meeting held in Grandchamp, Switzerland)

1986  You shall be my witnesses (Acts 1: 6-8)  Vous serez mes témoins (Material from Yugoslavia (Slovenia), preparatory meeting held in Yugoslavia)

1987  United in Christ – a New Creation (2 Corinthians 5: 17-6: 4a)  Unis dans le Christ – une nouvelle création  (Material from England, preparatory meeting held in Taizé, France)

1988  The love of God casts out fear (1 John 4: 18)  L’Amour de Dieu bannit la Crainte  (Material from Italy – preparatory meeting held in Pinerolo, Italy)

1989 Building community: one body in Christ (Romans 12: 5-6a)  Bâtir la communauté: Un seul corps en Christ

(Material from Canada – preparatory meeting held in Whaley Bridge, England)

1990 That they all may be one…That the world may believe (John 17)  Que tous soient un…Afin que le monde croie (Material from Spain – preparatory meeting held in Madrid, Spain)

1991  Praise the Lord, all you nations! (Psalm 117 and Romans 15: 5-13) Nations, louez toutes le Seigneur (Material from Germany – preparatory meeting held in Rotenburg  an der Fulda, Federal Republic of Germany)

1992 I am with you always … Go, therefore (Matthew 28: 16-20) Je suis avec vous…allez donc  (Material from Belgium – preparatory meeting held in Bruges, Belgium)

1993 Bearing the fruit of the Spirit for Christian unity (Galatians 5: 22-23)  Pour l’unité: laisser mûrir en nous les fruits de l’Esprit Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Week of Prayer for Christian Unity  www.ctbi.org.uk/weekofprayer 3 (Material from Zaire – preparatory meeting held near Zurich, Switzerland)

1994 The household of God: called to be one in heart and mind (Acts 4: 23-37)  La maison de Dieu: Appelés à être un dans le coeur et dans l’esprit  (Material from Ireland – preparatory meeting held in Dublin, Republic of Ireland)

1995 Koinonia: communion in God and with one another (John 15: 1-17)  La koinonia: communion en Dieu et les uns avec les autres  (Material from Faith and Order, preparatory meeting held in Bristol, England)

1996 Behold, I stand at the door and knock (Revelation 3: 14-22) Je me tiens à la porte et je frappe  (Preparatory material from Portugal, meeting held in Lisbon, Portugal)

1997 We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5: 20)  Au nom du Christ, laissez-vous réconcilier avec Dieu  (Material from Nordic Ecumenical Council, preparatory meeting held in Stockholm, Sweden)

1998 The Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8: 14-27)  L’Esprit aussi vient en aide à notre faiblesse  (Preparatory material from France, meeting held in Paris, France)

1999  He will dwell with them as their God, they will be his peoples  (Revelation 21: 1-7)  Dieu demeurera avec eux. Ils seront ses peuples  et lui sera le Dieu qui est avec eux  (Preparatory material from Malaysia, meeting held in Monastery of Bose, Italy)

2000  Blessed be God who has blessed us in Christ (Ephesians 1: 3-14)  Béni soit Dieu, qui nous a bénis en Christ (Preparatory material from the Middle East Council of Churches, meeting  held La Verna, Italy)

2001 I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life (John 14: 1-6) Je suis le chemin, et la vérité et la vie  (Preparatory material from Romania and meeting held at Vulcan, Romania)

2002 For with you is the fountain of life (Psalm 36: 5-9)  Car chez toi est la fontaine de la vie (Psalm 35, 6-10)

(Preparatory material CEEC and CEC, meeting near Augsburg, Germany)

2003 We have this treasure in clay jars (2 Corinthians 4: 4-18)  Car nous avons ce trésor dans des vases d’argile

(Preparatory material churches in Argentina, meeting at Los Rubios, Spain)

2004 My peace I give to you (John 14: 23-31; John 14: 27)  Je vous donne ma paix

(Preparatory material from Aleppo, Syria – meeting in Palermo, Sicily)

2005 Christ, the one foundation of the church (1 Corinthians 3 1-23)  Le Christ, unique fondement de l’Eglise

(Preparatory material from Slovakia – meeting in Piestaňy, Slovakia)

2006  Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them  (Matthew 18: 18-20)  Là où deux ou trois se trouvent réunis en mon nom, je suis au milieu d’eux. (Preparatory material from Ireland – meeting held in Prosperous, Co. Kildare, Ireland) Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

http://www.ctbi.org.uk/weekofprayer 4

2007  He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak (Mark 7: 31-37) Il fait entendre les sourds et parler les muets  (Preparatory material from South Africa – meeting held in Faverges, France)

2008 Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5: (12a) 13b-18) Priez sans cesse  (Preparatory material from USA – meeting held in Graymoor, Garrison, USA) 

2009 That they may become one in your hand (Ezekiel 37: 15-28)  Ils seront unis dans ta main  (Preparatory material from Korea – meeting held in Marseilles, France)  

2010 You are witnesses of these things (Luke 24: 48)  de tout cela, c’est vous qui êtes les témoins  (Preparatory material from Scotland – meeting held in Glasgow, Scotland) 

2011 One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer (cf. Acts 2:42) Unis dans l’enseignement des apôtres, la communion fraternelle, la fraction du pain et la prière  (Preparatory material from Jerusalem – meeting held in Saydnaya, Syria) 

2012 We will all be Changed by the Victory of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor 15: 51-58) « Tous, nous serons transformés par la victoire de notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ  TITRE FRANÇAIS EN ATTENTE DE CONFIRMATION  (Preparatory material from Poland – meeting held in Warsaw, Poland)
KEY DATES IN THE HISTORY OF THE WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
c.1740 In Scotland a Pentecostal movement arose, with North American links, whose
revivalist message included prayers for and with all churches.

1820 The Rev. James Haldane Stewart publishes “Hints for the General Union of Christians for the Outpouring of the Spirit”.

1840 The Rev. Ignatius Spencer, a convert to Roman Catholicism, suggests a ‘Union of Prayer for Unity’.

1867 The First Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops emphasizes prayer for unity in the Preamble to its Resolutions. 

1894 Pope Leo XIII encourages the practice of a Prayer Octave for Unity in the context of Pentecost.

1908 First observance of the ‘Church Unity Octave’ initiated by the Rev. Paul Wattson.

1926 The Faith and Order movement begins publishing “Suggestions for an Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity”.

1935 Abbé Paul Couturier of France advocates the ‘Universal Week of Prayer for Christian Unity’ on the inclusive basis of prayer for “the unity Christ wills by the means he wills”.

1958 Unité Chrétienne (Lyons, France) and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches begin co-operative preparation of materials for the Week of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Week of Prayer for Christian Unity http://www.ctbi.org.uk/weekofprayer 5

1964 In Jerusalem, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I prayed together Jesus’ prayer “that they all may be one” (John 17).

1964 The Decree on Ecumenism of Vatican II emphasizes that prayer is the soul of the ecumenical movement and encourages observance of the Week of Prayer.

1966 The Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches and the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity [now known as the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity] begin official joint preparation of the Week of Prayer material.

1968 First official use of Week of Prayer material prepared jointly by Faith and Order and the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity [now known as the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity]

1975 First use of Week of Prayer material based on a draft text prepared by a local ecumenical group. An Australian group was the first to take up this plan in preparing the 1975 initial draft.

1988 Week of Prayer materials were used in the inaugural worship for The Christian Federation of Malaysia, which links the major Christian groupings in that country.

1994 International group preparing text for 1996 included representatives from YMCA and YWCA.

2004 Agreement reached that resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity be
jointly published and produced in the same format by Faith and Order (WCC) and
the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (Catholic Church).

2008 Commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. (Its predecessor, the Church Unity Octave, was first observed in 1908)

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us!

The Roman Catholic National Shrine, Walsingham.

The Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham was established in 1061. For detailed information look here.

image@http://www.walsingham.org.uk

image@http://www.walsingham.org.uk

Pray for England.

O Blessed Virgin Mary,

Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother,

look down in mercy upon England thy “Dowry” and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee.

By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world;

and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more.

Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross.

O sorrowful Mother! intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the supreme Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.

Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee, in our heavenly home. Amen.

statue_our_lady2

Image@http://www.walsingham.org.uk

 

TE DEUM(a solemn psalm of praise), in thanksgiving for the end of the year.

It’s a Catholic custom that deserves to be maintained, that of praying the Te Deum (a solemn psalm of praise) on New Year’s Eve in recognition of the grace bestowed on us throughout the year that is ending.

PopeBenedictXVI_2434479b

(Vatican Radio) Below, please find the full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s homily for Solemn First Vespers for the Feast of Mary the Mother of God (Monday, 31 Dec 2012): (emphasis mine)

Venerable brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood, Distinguished authorities, 

Dear brothers and sisters,

I thank all of you who have chosen to participate in this liturgy of the last hour of the year of the Lord 2012. This “hour” bears a particular intensity and becomes, in a sense, a synthesis of all the hours of the year that is about to come to an end. I cordially greet the Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful, and especially the many people from the ecclesial community of Rome. In a special way I greet the Authorities present, beginning with the Mayor of the City, and thank them for choosing to share with us this moment of prayer and thanksgiving to God.


The “Te Deum” that we raise to the Lord this evening, at the end of a calendar year, is a hymn of thanksgiving that opens with the praise – “We praise you, O God, we proclaim you to be the Lord” – and ends with a profession of faith – “You are our hope, we will not be confounded forever.” For all that came to pass over the course of the year, whether easy or difficult, barren or fruitful, we give thanks to God. The Te Deum, in fact, contains a profound wisdom, the wisdom that makes us say that, despite everything, there is good in the world, and this good is destined to triumph, thanks God, the God of Jesus Christ, who became incarnate, died, and rose again. Certainly, it is difficult, sometimes, to accept this profound reality, since evil makes more noise than the good: a brutal murder, the spread of violence, serious injustices make the news. Gestures of love and service, on the contrary, daily struggles endured with patience and fidelity are often left in the shadows. And this is why we cannot rely solely on the news if we want to understand the world and life. We must be able to remain in silence, in meditation, in calm and prolonged reflection; we must know how to stop and think. In this way, our mind can find healing from the inevitable wounds of daily life, can go deeper into the events that occur in our lives and in the world, and come to the knowledge that allows us to evaluate things with new eyes.
Especially in the recollection of conscience, where God speaks to us, we learn to look truthfully at our own actions, even at the evil within us and around us, to begin a journey of conversion that makes us wiser and better, more capable of creating solidarity and communion, of overcoming evil with good.

The Christian is a man of hope, even and especially in the face of the darkness that often exists in the world, not as a consequence of God’s plans, but because of the wrong choices of man, because the Christian knows that the power of faith can move mountains ( cf. Mt 17:20): the Lord can brighten even the deepest darkness.


The Year of Faith, which the Church is living, should arouse in the heart of each believer a greater awareness that the encounter with Christ is the source of true life and a solid hope. Faith in Jesus allows a constant renewal of goodness and of the ability to rise from the quicksand of sin and to begin anew. In the Word made flesh is possible, to rediscover the true identity of man, who finds himself destined for the infinite love of God and called to a personal communion with Him. This truth, that Jesus Christ came to reveal, is the certainty that drives us to face with confidence the year we are about to begin.


The Church, which has received from her Lord the mission to evangelize, knows well that the Gospel is for all people, especially the younger generations, to quench that thirst for truth that everyone carries in his heart and that is often obscured by all those things that occupy life. This apostolic commitment is all the more necessary when the faith risks being obscured in cultural contexts which hinder its personal roots and its social presence. Rome, too, is a city where the Christian faith must be proclaimed again and again and witnessed in a credible manner. On the one hand, there is the growing number of believers of other religions, the difficulties parish communities have in attracting young people, the spread of lifestyles marked by individualism and moral relativism; on the other, the quest, in so many people, for a sense of their own existence and for a hope that will not disappoint, that cannot leave us indifferent. Like the Apostle Paul (cf. Rom 1:14-15) all the faithful of this city should consider themselves under obligation of the Gospel towards the other inhabitants!
For this reason, for several years now, our Diocese has been committed to highlighting the missionary dimension of ordinary pastoral care, so that the faithful, supported especially by the Sunday Eucharist, can become disciples and coherent witnesses of Jesus Christ. Christian parents, who are for their children the primary educators in the faith, are called in a special way to this coherence in their lives. The complexity of life in a great city like Rome and in a culture that often seems indifferent to God, demands that we not leave fathers and mothers alone in so crucial a task, but rather that we support and accompany them in their spiritual life. In this regard, I encourage those who work in family ministry to implement the pastoral activities that emerged from the last Diocesan Convention, dedicated to baptismal and post-baptismal pastoral care. It requires a generous commitment to develop the paths of spiritual formation that after the baptism of children will go with the parents in order to keep the flame of faith alive, offering concrete suggestions so that, from an early age, the Gospel of Jesus will be announced. The emergence of groups of families, in which the Word of God is heard and the experiences of Christian life are shared helps to strengthen the sense of belonging to the ecclesial community and to grow in friendship with the Lord. It is also important to build a relationship of cordial friendship with those of the faithful who, after having baptized their child, distracted by the demands of everyday life, do not show great interest in living this experience: they will be able to experience the love of the Church, as a caring mother, stands by them to promote their spiritual life.


In order to proclaim the Gospel and to allow those who still do not know Jesus, or have abandoned Him, to cross again the threshold of faith and live in communion with God, it is essential to know in depth the meaning of the truths contained in the Profession of Faith. The commitment to a systematic training of pastoral workers, which for some years now has taken place in the various prefectures of the Diocese of Rome, is a valuable tool that must be pursued with commitment in the future, in order to form lay people who know how to echo the Gospel in every house and in every room, even in those listening centres that have brought so much fruit since the time of the city Missions. In this respect, the “Dialogues in the Cathedral,” which have been held in the Basilica of St. John Lateran for some years, constitute a particularly appropriate experience to encounter the City and to dialogue with those who seek God and truth, and who are inquiring into the into the great questions of human existence.


As in the past, so today the Church of Rome is called to announce and to tirelessly witness to the riches of the Gospel of Christ. It must do so also by supporting the many people living in situations of poverty and marginalization, as well as families in need, especially when they have to assist sick and disabled people. I hope very much that the Institutions at various levels will not allow their activities to cease, so that all citizens might have access to what is essential to a dignified life.


Dear friends, on the last night of the year that is coming to an end, and at the threshold of the new, let us praise the Lord! Let us show to “He who is and who was and who is to come” (Rev. 1:8) repentance and asking for forgiveness for their offenses, as well as the sincere thanks for the countless benefits granted by the divine goodness. In particular, we give thanks for the grace and truth that have come to us through Jesus Christ. In Him the fullness of all human time is placed. The future of every human being is kept safe in him. In Him, the fulfilment of the hopes of the Church and of the world comes true. Amen.

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Prayer for the month of December: be prepared.

By the 16th December we’ll be well into Advent and I think this Novena will serve to enhance our Advent sentimentality,  our prayer-life and praise to God.

Novena For Advent

week-3-after-5

By the 16th December, we will have lit our third Advent candle!

O Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sake descended from the throne of glory to this world of pain and sorrow; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; Make our hearts a fit habitation for you. Beautify and fill us with all spiritual graces, and possess us wholly by your power. Give us grace to prepare for your coming with deep humility, to receive you with burning love, and to hold fast to you with a firm faith; that we may never leave nor forsake you. Who lives and reigns, world without end. Amen

Here say one of the antiphons below, according to the day.

Then say:

OUR FATHER

HAIL MARY

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

The Daily Antiphons

(note: these are also to be used as antiphons for the Magnificat at Evening Prayer.)

December 16

O SHEPHERD of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock: Come to guide and comfort us.

December 17

O WISDOM, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

December 18

O ADONAI, ruler of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come, and redeem us with outstretched arms.

December 19

O ROOT OF JESSE, that stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: Come, to deliver us, and tarry not.

December 20

O KEY OF DAVID, and Sceptre of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: Come, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.

December 21

O DAWN OF THE EAST, brightness of light eternal, and Sun of righteousness: Come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death

December 22

O KING OF THE GENTILES and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes all one: Come, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth.

December 23

O EMMANUEL, God with us, Our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Saviour: Come to save us, O Lord our God.

December 24

O THOU whose dominion is great, and whose kingdom shall have no end; the mighty God, the Governor, the Prince of Peace: Come show thy face, and we shall be saved.

(I found this Novena here.)