Everything that we are and have comes from God. Paul says, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor 4:7). Being grateful to God, the giver of all good things, makes you happy. The greatest prayer of thanks is the “Eucharist” (“thanksgiving” in Greek) of Jesus, in which he takes bread and wine so as to offer in them to God all of creation, transformed. Whenever Christians give thanks, they are joining in Jesus’ great prayer of thanksgiving. For we, too, are transformed and redeemed by Jesus, and so from the depths of our hearts we can be grateful and tell God this in a variety of ways.
Prayer is turning the heart toward God. When a person prays, he enters into a living relationship with God. Prayer is the great gate leading into faith. Someone who prays no longer lives on his own, for himself, and by his own strength. He knows there is a God to whom he can talk. People who pray entrust themselves more and more to God. Even now they seek union with the one whom they will encounter one day face to face. Therefore, the effort to pray daily is part of Christian life. Of course, one cannot learn to pray in the same way one learns a technique. As strange as it sounds, prayer is a gift one obtains through prayer.
We pray because we are full of an infinite longing and God has created us men for himself: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you” (St. Augustine). But we pray also because we need to; Mother Teresa says, “Because I cannot rely on myself, I rely on him, twenty-four hours a day.” Often we forget God, run away from him and hide. Whether we avoid thinking about God or deny that he is always there for us. He seeks us before we seek him; he yearns for us, he calls us. You speak with your conscience and suddenly notice that you are speaking with God. You feel lonely, have no one to talk with, and then sense that God is always available to talk. You are in danger and experience that a cry for help is answered by God. Praying is as human as breathing, eating, and loving. Praying purifies. Praying makes it possible to resist temptations. Praying strengthens us in our weakness. Praying removes fear, increases energy, and gives a second wind. Praying makes one happy.
“”Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” (St John Damascene, Defide orth) But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart (Ps 130:1)? He who humbles himself will be exalted (cf Lk 18:9-14); humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,” (Rom 8:26) are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God” (St Augustine, Sermo).” (CCC 2559)
Envy is sadness and annoyance at the sight of another’s well-being and the desire to acquire unjustly what others have. Anyone who wishes other people ill commits a serious sin. Envy decreases when we try to rejoice more and more in the accomplishments and gifts of others, when we believe in God’s benevolent providence for ourselves as well, and when we set our hearts on true wealth, which consists of the fact that we already participate in God’s life through the Holy Spirit.
Great is the dignity of the human soul, since each one of them has from the very outset of his life an Angel deputed to safeguard him. – St Jerome
Each person on earth has a guardian angel who watches over him and helps him to attain his salvation. Angelical guardianship begins at the moment of birth; prior to this, the child is protected by the mother’s guardian angel. This protection continues throughout our whole life and ceases only when our probation on earth ends, namely, at the moment of death. Our guardian angel accompanies our soul to purgatory or heaven, and becomes our coheir in the heavenly kingdom.
Angels are servants and messengers from God. “Angel” in Greek means messenger. In unseen ways the angels help us on our earthly pilgrimage by assisting us in work and study, helping us in temptation and protecting us from physical danger.
The idea that each soul has assigned to it a personal guardian angel has been long accepted by the Church and is a truth of our faith. From the Gospel of today’s liturgy we read: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father” (Matthew 18:10). The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “the existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls ‘angels’ is a truth of faith (328).” From our birth until our death, man is surrounded by the protection and intercession of angels, particularly our guardian angel: “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life (336).” The Church thanks God for our helpers, the angels, particularly on this feast day and September 29 which is the feast of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Raphael, archangels.
“The mass is long”, you say, and I add: “Because your love is short.” – St Josemaria, The Way
The holy Mass brings us face to face with one of the central mysteries of our faith, because it is the gift of the Blessed Trinity to the Church. It is because of this that we can consider Mass as the centre and the source of a Christian’s spiritual life.
It is the aim of all the sacrements (cf St thomas, St. Th. III, q.65 a.3). The life of grace, into which we are brought by baptism, and which is increased and strengthened by confirmation, grows to its fullness in the Mass. “When we participate in the Eucharist,” writes St Cyril of Jerusalem, “we are made spiritual by the divinizing action of the Holy Spirit, who not only makes us share in Christ’s life, as in baptism, but makes us entirely Christ-like, incorporating us into the fullness of Christ Jesus” (Catechisis, 22,3).
This pouring out of the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ and makes us acknowledge that we are children of God. The Paraclete, who is Love, teaches us to saturate our life with the virtue of charity. Thus consummati in unum: “made one with Christ” (John 17:23), we can be among men what the Eucharist is for us, in the words of St Augustine: “a sign of unity, a bond of love” (In Ioannis Evangelium tractatus, 26,13).
– St Josemaria, Christ is Passing
In priestly ordination the bishop calls down God’s power upon the candidates for ordination. It imprints upon the souls of these men an indelible seal that can never be lost. As a collaborator with his bishop, the priest will proclaim the Word of God, administer the sacraments, and, above all, celebrate the Holy eucharist.
During the celebration of a Holy Mass, the actual ordination of priests begins when the candidates are called by name. After the bishop’s homily, the future priest promises obedience to the bishop and his successors. The actual ordination takes place through the imposition of the bishop’s hands and his prayer.
In diaconal ordination the candidate is appointed to a special service within the sacrament of Holy Orders. For he represents Christ as the one who came, “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28). In the liturgy of ordination we read: “As a minister of the Word, of the altar, and of charity, [the deacon] will make himself a servant to all.” The original model of the deacon is the martyr St. Stephen. When the apostles in the original Church of Jerusalem saw that they were overwhelmed by their many charitable duties, they appointed seven men “to serve tables”, whom they then ordained. The first mentioned is Stephen: “full of grace and power”, he accomplished much for the new faith and for the poor in the Christian community. Over the centuries the diaconate became merely a degree of Holy Orders on the way to the presbyterate, but today it is once again an independent vocation for both celibates and married men. On the one hand, this is supposed to reemphasize service as a characteristic of the Church; on the other hand, it helps the priests, as in the early Church, by establishing an order of ministers who take on particular pastoral and social duties of the Church. Diaconal ordination, too, makes a lifelong, irrevocable mark on the ordained man.
Under normal circumstances, all serious sins that one remembers after making a thorough examination of conscience and that have not yet been confessed can be forgiven only in individual sacramental confession.
Of course there will be reluctance before making a confession. Overcoming it is the first step toward interior healing. Often it helps to think that even the Pope has to have the courage to confess his failings and weaknesses to another priest – and thereby to God. Only in life-or-death emergencies (for instance, during an airstrike in wartime or on other occasions when a group of people are in danger of death) can a priest administer “general absolution” to a group of people without the personal confession of sins beforehand. However, afterwards, one must confess serious sins in a personal confession at the first opportunity.
“According to the Church’s command, “after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year.” Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession. Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time.” (CCC 1457)