Let us be especially grateful to God for the gift of faith, a gift which is mainly instilled in us at Baptism. . . We must remember that faith is the greatest gift that God has made to man on this earth, because from earthly man he becomes a citizen of Heaven. But let us guard this great gift jealously. Woe to him who forgets himself, who forgets Heaven, whose faith grows weak, and worse still, may God preserve us all, who denies his faith. This is the greatest affront that man can make to God. Attention, then. Let us pray to God to preserve this gift in us as the most precious thing he has granted us.
– St. Pio of Pietrelcina
When for one reason or another, we contemplate the reality of death, it is not uncommon that we begin to think about the sin and failure in our past. And, for many, this thought can be a cause of great unhappiness and even despair. After all, the past is past, we are told; it can never be recovered; the chance of grace is gone. But when we pray the Hail Mary, there is contained in one small word an entirely different message, and one which can, in itself, completely transform our thinking and transform our lives. It is the word “now.” “Pray for us now.” What Mary discovered, deep in her being at the Annunciation, was that nothing was impossible to God. In a single moment, in an instant of grace, everything can be changed. And this, of course, is true, or can be true, for each one of us. . . In our lives, we can say that there are only two moments that are of supreme importance: the moment of our death, and this moment now, the present moment. Part of the greatness of the Hail Mary is that it contains, and contains together in one breath, as it were, both of these moments: Mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
– Father Paul Murray, O.P.
Dear Lord, free me from my dark past, into which I often find myself falling as if into a deep cistern. . .Keep showing me your light, and give me the strength to rise and follow you without ever looking back.
– Henri J. M. Nouwen
It is in time that I am able to do good to my neighbor, that I am able to love and help him…It is only along the path of my passing days that I am able to meet the suffering soul and to give a word of comfort and hope. Time is valuable, because it offers me the possibility to do good. Certainly upright Christian sentiment, knowledge, love and praise of God will continue in eternity, but they will be proportional to our knowledge, love and praise in time…Time is valuable because it offers me the possibility to prepare myself for eternity.
– Father Gerardo di Flumeri
In Scripture, death is called the “day of calamity” (Dt. 32:35). This is because, on the day we die, we shall lose all our earthly possessions – honors, riches, pleasures. Saint Ambrose says that we cannot take them into eternity. But our acts of virtue, the good things which we have done during life, will accompany us into eternity. Jesus asked what will it profit us if we gain the whole world only at death to lose all this and heaven too. How many people have remembered these words and have made them the primary guideline of their lives, and the reason for giving themselves entirely to God?…How really valuable, then, are the goods of this world? Or how deserving are they that we should put our faith and our trust in them? The prophet Hosea spoke of a trader “in whose hands are false balances” and who “loves to oppress” (Hosea 12:7). The world is such a merchant, and the goods of this world are fraudulent; they cannot satisfy our hearts. They are over too soon.
St. Alphonsus Liguori
Grant me the grace today, Jesus, to accept your word and to place my trust in you as your Blessed Mother did. Let her be a model for me as a person who was willing to devote her whole life to serving your Father. She accepted your word and became your Mother. I am not faced with such an awesome responsibility, yet I often fail, and fail miserably, even in small things. I am weak; I am afraid. I often find it hard to believe . . . Lord, help me today to remember the example of your Mother, to know amid the confusion of everyday life that you are truly with me, that your kingdom is at hand.
– Robert Meehan
For three days I have been meditating on the story of the prodigal son. It is a story about returning. I realize the importance of returning over and over again. My life drifts away from God. I have to return. My heart moves away from my first love. I have to return. My mind wanders to strange images. I have to return. Returning is a lifelong struggle. . .Even if we return because we could not make it on our own, God will receive us. God’s love does not require any explanations about why we are returning. God is glad to see us home and wants to give us all we desire, just for being home. . .So why delay? God is standing there with open arms, waiting to embrace me. He won’t ask any questions about my past. Just having me back is all he desires.
– Henri J.M. Nouwen
In all his dealings with us, the Lord teaches us how to live on this earth. There is not a person in this world who is not a voyager, even if not all are anxious to return to the Homeland. In the course of this voyage, the waves and the storms make us seasick. At least we are in the ship. Outside the ship, death would be inevitable. When one is swimming among the breakers, however energetic one’s arms are, sooner or later one is defeated by the size of the ocean and allows oneself to drown. To complete the crossing, therefore, it is essential to remain in the ship, to be supported by its planks. The plank that supports our weakness is the cross of Our Lord. He keeps us safe from the world that threatens to drown us. We suffer because we are tossed about by the waves, but the Lord himself supports us.
– St. Augustine
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God gave me the grace of knowing the world just enough to despise it and separate myself from it . . . I must admit this life had its charms for me . . . I consider it a great grace not to have remained in Alencon. The friends we had there were too worldly . . . They didn’t think about death enough, and yet death had paid its visit to a great number of those whom I knew, the young, the rich, the happy! I love to return in spirit to the enchanting places where they lived, wondering where these people are, what became of their houses and gardens where I saw them enjoy life’s luxuries. And I see that all is vanity and vexation of spirit under the sun, that the only good is to love God with all one’s heart and to be poor in spirit here on earth.
St. Therese of Lisieux
Three streams flow ceaselessly from Jesus’ divine heart. The first is a stream of mercy for sinners, giving them a spirit of contrition and repentance. The second is a stream of charity, which brings help to all in need, especially to those who seek perfection and need help overcoming difficulties. The third is a stream of love and light, which flows into those with whom our Lord wants to share his knowledge and commandments so that they, each in their own way, may devote themselves wholly to promoting his glory.
– St. Margaret Mary Alacoque