He opened their minds to understand the scriptures - Luke 27: 45
Imagine if I told you that God is going to speak to you today directly. Would you think it’s a crazy idea?
Let me rephrase: Jesus Christ is going to speak directly to you directly this Sunday during the Mass. When you participate in the Liturgy, and hear the Word of God proclaimed by a Lector, Psalmist or Ordained minister – it is Christ speaking through the proclaimer directly to you who listens. This is the teaching of all the documents about proclamation of the Word of God in the Liturgy and Sacramental celebrations.
When you hear the Word of God this Sunday, prepare yourself to hear Christ!
Additionally, Christ is going to speak a message to you at that moment which is unique from all other times you have heard these scriptures.
You will never again hear this word about the call of the first disciples in Mark’s gospel in the midst of pandemic (we pray!). You will never again hear this word having experienced months of being sheltered in place either alone, or with your family, or with roommates. The last time you heard this scripture at Mass was in 2018 – and now is a completely different time.
My point is this: God is going to speak to you anew, in this time, in this place, on this livestream, in your home, in front of your computer or on your TV, where you watch and participate in the Liturgy. God is going to speak a word to YOU.
What can you do to get ready to hear God’s voice? Many things!
One is the Lectio Divina reflection process in the tab below.
Another is clearing our hearts and minds of distractions and praying with the scriptures before Sunday.
Still another way to prepare is Active Listening.
And praying the Gospel Prayer each day this week from the Lectio Divina tab, below can help deepen your understanding of God’s message to you now.
These suggestions are part of your “tool box” to craft and hone your ability to hear God.
On this Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, we celebrate the Sunday of the Word of God, as instituted last year by Pope Francis. Stressing the importance of God’s Word in the Sacred Scripture, Francis declared, “The Bible is the book of the Lord’s people, who, in listening to it, move from dispersion and division towards unity.”
Mugs Cahill, one of our lector coordination team writes: “As St. Monica Lectors, we are given the privilege and responsibility of delivering God’s Word in the First and Second Readings, and in absence of a deacon, The Prayers of the Faithful. In doing so, we understand that “Lectors proclaim, not read,” and proclamation requires preparation.
So how do we prepare each week? Spiritually, scripturally, and practically. Aside from mastering difficult words, getting pronunciations correct and practicing the delivery of the text aloud, practical used to mean getting to Church early to locate the readings in the Lectionary, arranging the microphone and making sure that the sound system is on. But now, this COVID world requires setting up a camera for video, creating a suitable background environment and ensuring the sound is clear. And then once the Word is recorded, to check and make sure it’s viewable (e,g, no cats or children unknowingly walked in the camera frame!) before uploading to a computer site.
Aside from the practical aspects, the true preparation for each Lector is spiritual and scriptural. We pray over the text and reflect on its message to come to a deeper understanding of the Words to be proclaimed. Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter establishing this special Sunday “devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God” refers to Luke’s Gospel, “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” Ask any St. Monica Lector about the responsibility of being ministers of the Word and they will tell you that preparing each week is a necessity that they take to heart. We look to the Holy Spirit to guide us in the challenge to recognize ourselves in the Words so that we can more fully bring God’s message to others.
At St. Monica, our community strives to embrace the importance of Scripture in our lives. As St. Monica Lectors, we also recognize the importance of bringing the living Word of God to the liturgical assembly with dignity and with joy during every Mass.”
-Dale Sieverding, Director of Worship with Mugs Cahill, Lector Coordination Team
Archbishop John Carroll’s Prayer for Government
Composed for the Inauguration of George Washington
We pray you, O God of might, wisdom, and justice,
through whom authority is rightly administered,
laws are enacted, and judgment decreed,
assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude
the President of these United States,
that his administration may be conducted in righteousness,
and be eminently useful to your people, over whom he presides;
by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion;
by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy;
and by restraining vice and immorality.
Let the light of your divine wisdom direct
the deliberations of Congress,
and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws
framed for our rule and government,
so that they may tend to the preservation of peace,
the promotion of national happiness,
the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge;
and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.
We pray for the governor of this state,
for the members of the assembly,
for all judges, magistrates, and other officers
who are appointed to guard our political welfare,
that they may be enabled, by your powerful protection,
to discharge the duties of their respective stations
with honesty and ability.
We recommend likewise, to your unbounded mercy,
all our fellow citizens throughout the United States,
that we may be blessed in the knowledge
and sanctified in the observance of your most holy law;
that we may be preserved in union,
and in that peace which the world cannot give;
and after enjoying the blessings of this life,
be admitted to those which are eternal.
Grant this, we beseech you, O Lord of mercy,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
Prayer for Peace
On this day, we watch in fear, horror and confusion as we witness the images unfold in the assault on the U.S. Capitol Building, the very heart of our democratic republic.
On this day, the scenes we witness and the epiphanies we have had, frighten and shake us to the core.
On this day we pray for peace and reason to reign. And, so we pray.
God of mercy and peace,
source of life and author of all that is good:
Amid the clamor of our violence,
your Word of truth resounds;
upon a world made dark by sin,
We look for the light to chase away the darkness.
In the midst of the human conflict unfolding in the heart of our country,
you turn our minds to thoughts of peace.
And, on this day when brother has turned against brother,
and sister has turned upon sister,
We see that we have strayed far from where you are
and where you summon us to be.
But, loving God, here is where we need you now,
and need you the most.
Be with us.
In Torah, in Gospel, in Q’ran,
You speak these words again and again:
“Do not be afraid.”
When the message of the world goes against the grain of your Word,
may we always cling to the love you offer today
rather than the fears the world offers tomorrow.
Hear our cries of pain and anguish.
Hear our cries of despair.
Hear our cries and prayers for peace and reason.
Hear our cries for forgiveness.
Quell the cries for vengeance and violence.
Quiet the rage that seeks to silence the voices of others.
Still every heart filled with vengeance and violence.
Calm those who live in fear.
Comfort those whose hearts are broken.
and filled with pain and terror.
Give us the strength and resolve
to end all violence in our hearts, minds,
communities, this beautiful and fragile world,
and especially on this day,
in this country we love and call home.
For it is only through your healing power
the love of peace quells violence,
mercy conquers hatred,
and vengeance yields to forgiveness.
Loving God, show us your face in one another;
teach us to recognize as your children,
even our enemies and persecutors,
and to love them without measure or discrimination.
Hasten the advent of that day,
when the sounds of war will be for ever stilled, the darkness of evil scattered,
and all your children gathered into one.
Hear this prayer as we send it along with those
of all peace loving people.
In your good name, we pray. Amen.
©copyright, John K. Flaherty, Feast of the Epiphany, 6 January 2021
John Flaherty is the Associate Director of Campus Ministry at Loyola Marymount University and the overall Director of Liturgy and Music for the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. He is a gifted director, but also a writer and poet. He has graciously allowed us to publish this prayer he wrote calling us to unity and peace. John is a close friend of St. Monica, having worked with many of our staff on various projects, including the development of LAMP SoCal, a mentorship program for high school students in liturgy and music. He is a frequent guest speaker at St. Monica, having participated in the Psalms Lecture series: Honest2God, An Evening of Poetry, Wine, cheese and chocolate, and Catholic Conversations.
Take some time with this tried and true way to reflect on Words of Sacred Scripture
Read Meditate Pray Contemplate
Lectio Divina is a prayerful reflection on a Scripture passage from any part of the Bible. Our process proposes reflecting on the Gospel of this coming Sunday, in order to prepare your mind, heart and soul to hear Christ speaking to you in the Liturgical proclamation of Scripture by Lector, Psalmist, Priest.
I see me in Simon and Andrew
me, with my sibling , or my friend
‘casting our nets’:
doing our job, making money, being reliable, supporting ourselves and others.
But your call is to something else:
using the same abilities but to a different end.
I see me in James and John
me, with my family, my dependents, my history
‘mending my nets’:
making things better, rejecting the questions, cooling the heat, ignoring the enquiries.
But your call is to something else:
wholeness and health, not making do and capitulation.
I want to abandon my nets,
to leave behind kinships which bind.
I want to follow you, to discover you as Lord.
I believe your Good News, God’s gospel.
I embrace this time of fulfilment,
the Kingdom of God at hand.
Show me, Lord, your way,
because if this weren’t possible, you wouldn’t have called me.
For an attempt at True Spiritual Growth: work through this process of Lectio Divina every day or several days this week. Pray the Gospel Prayer in conclusion each day.
Each time you listen to, study, pray with the Scriptures – it is a new experience, and you are hearing the Word of God anew – because TODAY, you are not the same person as you were LAST WEEK – because of your encounter with the moments you have lived in the past week.
Let us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, a book of reflections recently published by Pope Francis. This is a way to see the path through the pandemic, and how to grow from this journey. In three short chapters, A Time to See, A time to Choose, A time to Act, the Holy Father reflects and challenges us to think about how this pandemic crisis will change us. This is the book you have heard our priests mention the past few weeks in their homilies, and we recommend it as a good read. Available on Amazon or at Holy Grounds.
New American Bible, Revised Edition This translation of the Bible is used at the Liturgy.
It would be good investment in your faith development. Use it when your family or household reads the Bible together, and also for for your own study.
Available on Amazon in paperback, hardcover and leather bound editions.
The Word on Fire Bible: The Gospels: This edition of the Bible is being published in several volumes by the Bishop Robert Barron’s organization, The Word On Fire. The Translation is the Revised Standard Version – Catholic edition. The volume with the Four Gospels is the first to be published. It includes artwork illustrating Scriptural stories in all mediums: painting, stained glass, manuscript illuminations and more. It includes easy-to-read background stories of the Gospels and Jesus’ life, and is a unique entry into understanding more deeply the person and story of Jesus as told by the four evangelists.
Available through Amazon or directly from www.wordonfire.org
The Confessions of St. Augustine – I would be remiss if I didn’t offer you for your reading enjoyment, or re-reading if you’ve already read, the Confessions. St. Augustine’s self-indulgent Spiritual Auto-biography, which has inspired Christians who desire a deeper relationship with Christ to read and study the Confessions. This could be your next pandemic project!
Looking at monastic insights we might gain and learn from as a result of pandemic isolation:
What is Lectio Divina? - A Short video by Fr. James Martin, SJ
A resource put together as a gift to our Church for moments of prayer toward the end of life, especially useful for us as we accompany a loved one who may be in hospice, or near death when a priest cannot come to celebrate the Anointing of the sick.
This resource was prepared and sent to us for use by The Liturgical Press. It was prepared for use during this pandemic for times when a priest cannot come for anointing of the sick, or at the time of death, if a funeral is not able to be celebrated. I have sent it to a number of families, friends and neighbors upon hearing of illness or death, and it has been well received and offers a variety of prayer and home liturgy options for families and groups of friends. Check it out, share it if you know of a family or friend who could use it.
Sharing the Word of God at Home is a resource offered to give families ideas for reading the Bible together, listening to God’s Word at home in a family, household, or single person at home setting.
A Mother’s Reflection on Liturgy: Word, Sign, Symbol, Ritual was written a few years back, but is a great short two-page reflection on sharing the liturgy with young families and understanding the pieces of the liturgy.