Reality Novena

Father, consecrate us in the truth. Protect us from our propensities to subterfuge and close-mindedness. Free us from ourselves and the tendency we have to make up our own version of reality.

Now, if ever there were days to make a Novena…This is the week of the original Novena.

“Father, consecrate them in truth,” prayed the Lord Jesus. “Wait until you are clothed with power from on high,” He told His disciples.

ezekiel bonesCome, Holy Spirit of truth. Come and consecrate us with the greatest gift any human being can ever receive: a firm grip on reality.

I don’t know about you, but on Sunday something struck me like a ton of bricks, as if for the first time. The Savior came to the world, showed Himself the Savior, overcame death—and then He vanished.

He was here. At one time, Jesus wore shoes and a tunic of some kind, and dust collected on His garments, and He had to spend time cleaning His teeth every day.

But then He departed from the world. Peace out. To heaven. And—except by certain visionaries—He has not been seen with human eyes on the earth since.

This would seem to mean heartbreak and pain for His disciples. We read on Sunday, however, that they rejoiced and praised God when Jesus ascended and disappeared from their sight (Luke 24:52). The Master had triumphed altogether and returned to the unimaginable heaven from which He had come. Unlike the Christians of Miletus, who wept when St. Paul left them for good. In Jerusalem, after the Ascension of Christ, the disciples did not cry. Rather, joy filled their hearts as they prayed the first Novena.

el_greco-sinaiNow, we know that the Lord Jesus does not despise the world. He abides with us here still in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. And He promised one day to come again in the sight of every human eye. His sandals will touch the earth again. Then heaven and earth will come together. Where He disappeared to on Ascension Day, and where we are now, will be the same place.

And it’s not just a matter of our passively waiting for Him to come back in all His glory. We can hasten the re-union. By prayer and zealous works of justice and peace.

But this reality which the Holy Spirit helps us get a grip on… This truth…

The Holy Spirit, Who looks like…what exactly? Pentecost looks like: “power from on high.” I think the greatest artists will freely tell us: Not easy to depict this for human eyes. Actually, it’s altogether impossible.

For now—while we still make our pilgrim way—the true reality which the invisible Holy Spirit helps us grasp is itself a lot more invisible than it is visible. “Getting a grip”—really getting a grip on reality—means believing. We pray with joy that God will help us to get a firm grip on the ungraspable Truth that He Himself is.

Happy Days

God is good to me.

I say this not just because the Geogetown Hoyas are 5-0, having trounced the Mount last night, even more thoroughly than they did a year ago.

I say it not just because He makes the sun rise in the morning and the moon at night.

I say it not just because maybe some day I will be able to go to jail for refusing to let two grooms use our church hall for their “reception.”

(By the by, our old friend had the guts to vote against the madness today).

No. The reason I praise God is that He has brought together two events in my life in such a way that I could never have asked for something so wonderful.

For me, there are two kinds of days on the calendar. There is December 8, and then there are all the other days.

December 8 is the day when the Garden of Eden was restored to the earth, the day when the flower of mankind bloomed again.

I am the happy slave of the Lady conceived on December 8.

For me, the days leading up to December 8 are special holy days of prayer and closeness to the Immaculata.

It just so happens that during the Immaculate Conception Novena this year, Archbishop Wuerl is going to come to my church and renew my consecration as a priest, when he installs me as the parish pastor this Sunday.

I am unworthy of such good timing–to be able to give myself again to the priesthood during the days when I first gave myself to the Blessed Mother as a slave.

May our Lady make good use of me. She is a gentle mistress.

Immaculate Conception Novena

immac-concepOne of the best ways to start Advent is to honor our Lady’s Immaculate Conception.

On December 8, Mary was conceived immaculate in the womb of her mother, St. Ann. Our Lady’s birthday is nine months later, September 8.

The Blessed Virgin was preserved from sin because of the merits of her divine Son.

Our Lady’s perfect friendship with God made it possible for her to consent to the Archangel Gabriel when the time came for the eternal Son to become man.

The Annunciation took place on March 25, when Mary was thirteen or fourteen years old. The Lord Jesus was born nine months later, December 25.

So, by the plan of God, these two incredibly holy days–the day when our Lady was conceived in St. Ann’s womb and the day when the Lord Jesus was born–are in the same month, December.

Here is a link to the Immaculate Conception Novena prayers.