A Simple Guide to Lectio Divina

By Rhen

Among the oldest and richest forms of prayer in the Catholic faith is one that many Catholics are not familiar with.

It is called Lectio Divina, which is Latin for “Holy Reading.” It is a way of praying by reading scripture more as the Living Word of God than as a text to be studied and scrutinized.

This is a form of prayer that is quite personal – it is more difficult to do with a group of people (as opposed to prayer like the Rosary or the Liturgy of the Hours) and it is therefore more difficult to pass on to others.

History

Lectio Divina goes back to times in the early centuries when most people could not read. It was common in Monastic settings to have one monk read passages of scripture out loud to the rest of the monks for them to reflect upon.

The first formalized recording of Lectio Divina did not occur until the eleventh century when a monk of the Carthusian order described the prayer in a letter to a fellow religious. The letter described a four-rung ladder to Heaven. Each rung was a step in what would come to be known as Lectio Divina.

The four steps are reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation. In the setting of Lectio Divina the steps are often referred to by their Latin names: lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio.

The Prayer Process

In short, the practice of Lectio Divina is performed by:

  • Finding a quiet place to read and pray without interruption (sometimes this action is given the name “statio” for “position”)
  • Read a passage of scripture (Lectio)
  • Meditate on the pieces of scripture that stood out to you (Meditatio)
  • Pray to be changed by what you have meditated upon (Oratio)
  • Contemplate the goodness of God and His Word (Contemplatio)
  • If you are praying in a group setting, discuss what each of you have gained from the prayer (sometimes this step is called “collatio” for “discussion”)
  • Go out and live it (sometimes this step is called “actio” for “action”)

Let’s take a closer look at each step:

Statio (Position)

Find a place that is quiet and peaceful, without distractions. Relax in a position that will help you to pray.

Lectio (Reading)

First find a passage to read. A couple of paragraphs (about a dozen verses) is usually a good length.

New Testament readings are probably the best. The goal is to be able to read slowly and take a lot out of the reading while maintaining focus.

In Lectio Divina we do not try to quickly read through a great volume of scripture. You might read the day’s Gospel reading from Mass, or you might open to a random passage.

Read the passage. If possible, and if you are comfortable doing so, read the scripture out loud to yourself so that you can both see and hear the Word.

If anything about the scripture is confusing seek a good Catholic commentary to help understand it.

There may be footnotes in your Bible for this purpose, or you might look to a book such as this one.

Meditatio (Meditation)

Take a moment and reflect on the reading. Focus especially on any words or phrases that jumped out at you. Ask whether there is something that the Lord might be calling you to do by pointing out the segments of the passage to you, or if there is something that you are called to pray more deeply about.

It may even be worth reading through the passage again to see if there is any more that you can get out of it.

Oratio (Prayer)

Take time to talk to pray to the Holy Spirit that you might take what you have gained through this Holy Reading and apply it to your life so that you can grow closer to God and be more fully moved to do His will.

Contemplatio (Contemplation)

Now we rest in the presence of God and give Him thanks for His grace and His Word.

Collatio (Discussion)

If Lectio Divina is being done in a group setting this is the point at which we would discuss what we have learned, or what moved us, with the group.

Actio (Action)

Finally, we go out and live what we have learned through Lectio Divina and prayer.

Praying Lectio Divina with a Group

Although Lectio Divina is more often done as an individual prayer, it is certainly possible to pray it as a group.

The most recommended way to pray Lectio Divina as a group is very similar to the process above.

First the passage is read out loud by one member of the group, and then there is an extended period of silence for reflection.

If desired, the group can go around and each person can share a word or phrase from the passage that stood out to them. This is not the proper time to discuss the scripture, just to point out the pieces that caught the members’ attention.

Next, a different person from the group reads through the passage a second time. Another extended period of quiet reflection follows.

Now, if desired, a period of discussion about the passage can take place between the members of the group.

Finally, the group concludes with a prayer.

 


Do you have any experience with Lectio Divina? Share your tips or experiences in the comments below.

Preparing for Advent

By Rhen

Far too often I set an audacious goal, feel overwhelmed, and give up on it. A couple weeks later I often think back and realize that if I had just taken one small step each day, rather than trying to tackle the whole goal at once, I would have already accomplished the goal, and then some.

In previous years I have approached Liturgical seasons such as Advent in the same way. I thought I would do something like pray the Liturgy of the Hours three times a day, AND pray a Rosary, AND spend an hour in Eucharistic adoration, AND read a book of the Bible each day.

Prior to Advent I would only do a small fraction of these things so the sudden onslaught of prayer became overwhelming to work into my day, and I gave up on most of it pretty early in the season.

Now I realize that doing something small each day, with consistency, does a lot more to enrich my spiritual life during Advent than big, audacious efforts.

There are 25 days in Advent. Do something small each day and you will get great spiritual preparation for the Christmas season without becoming overwhelmed!

Here are four simple ideas of what you can do to make Advent a fruitful season of prayer:

1. Give Up Something Small

We think of Lent as being the time for sacrifice, but it is a beneficial practice for Advent as well.

You could give up something specific for the duration of Advent, or you could make an effort to give up something that you would otherwise enjoy each day.

Perhaps it is the second cup of coffee in the morning, or the cookie after lunch, or watching a favorite tv show at night.

Denying yourself a small pleasure each day will help remind you of the hunger and anticipation for the coming of Christ at the end of Advent.

2. Read a Chapter of Luke each day

What better way to anticipate the celebration of the birth of Christ than to spend some time reflecting on the entirety of His life?

The Gospel of Luke has 24 chapters. Read one chapter each day. It will only take four or five minutes a day and it will walk you through everything from the angel telling Mary about the conception of Jesus through His death, resurrection, and ascension.

3. Learn Something

You do not have to read a theological masterpiece to learn more about the faith. Take a few minutes each day and watch a short video from a fantastic website like Fr. Robert Barron’s Word on Fire, or even watch videos of the pope’s activities for the day.

It does not have to be much. Either of these will get you more in touch with the Faith and with the daily life of the Church, and over the course of 25 days they will build up healthy, faithful habits

4. Join the 25 Days of Advent Inspiration

CatholicRetreats will be providing a series of daily e-mails during Advent to provide you with a bit of inspiration each day, including:

  • Unique prayers that you may not be familiar with
  • Short reflections for the Advent season
  • Maybe even a few surprises along the way!

If you would like to receive our daily Advent inspiration in your inbox simply click on the picture below:


What are you planning to do to get the most out of your Advent? Let us know in the comments below.

What Are the Daily Readings?

By Rhen

Each time you go to Mass you hear a series of Scripture readings. Some are read by a lector, some of it can be sung, and some is read by a priest or deacon.

The readings may seem arbitrary. Some Old Testament, some New Testament, a Psalm, some Gospel…the readings may not immediately seem to tie together.

The truth is that there is a structure to it – the readings are scheduled out on a multi-year rotation and each day’s assigned readings usually form around a specific theme.

If you are looking for a mini-retreat each day, a way to disconnect yourself from the busy world and sync up with the liturgical schedule of the Church while becoming more familiar with the Bible, the daily readings are the way to do it.

About The Cycle of the Daily Readings

If you were to go to Mass every day of the year for three years, or simply read the daily readings each of those days, you would essentially have heard or read the entire Bible.

There are two cycles to the daily readings: the Sunday cycle and the weekday cycle.

Sundays

The readings for Sundays go on a three year rotation. The year starts at the beginning of the new liturgical year, at the beginning of Advent, rather than starting on January 1. The years are labeled Year A, Year B, and Year C.

Each Sunday there is a reading from the Old Testament, a reading from the Psalms, a reading from the New Testament, and a reading from the Gospels.

The first reading, from the Old Testament, is usually a reflection on the theme of the Gospel reading. The second reading (from the New Testament) is a portion of one of the epistles, which are letters written to early church communities.

In general the readings flow continuously from week to week through an entire book of the Bible, although some sections of books are skipped for various reasons.

Each year of the cycle for Sundays focuses on the a different Gospel. Year A mostly takes its Gospel readings from the Gospel of Matthew, Year B is Mark, and Year C is Luke. The Gospel of John is read during the Easter season every year.

Weekdays

The readings for weekdays are actually on a two year rotation. The years are labeled Year I and Year II, with Year I occurring in odd-numbered years ( like 2015 and 2017) and Year II occurring in even-numbered years (such as 2014 and 2016).

On most weekdays there is a single reading, from either the Old or the New Testament, and a Psalm and a Gospel reading. The reading is taken more or less continuously from a single book in the Bible each weekday until that book is complete and another is started.

The Gospel reading for weekdays is the same for both years, working through Mark and then Matthew and then Luke, with John being read during the Easter season.

During liturgical seasons such as advent and lent the readings are chosen to be relevant to the season.

Special Days

There are designated options for the readings on special days such as saints’ feasts. There are also designated Mass readings for events such as weddings and funerals.

Translation

The only approved translation of the Bible that can be used for the readings in English-language Masses (at least in dioceses in the United States) is the New American Bible. If you are reflecting on the daily readings on your own outside of Mass, however, you are free to use any translation you like.

Where to Find the Daily Readings

Many websites, apps, and books offer a list of the readings for each day. My favorite website resources is the website for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which I simply set as the home page for my browser so that the daily readings are the first thing to open each day when I go online.

The USCCB website recently added the option to have the daily readings sent straight to your e-mail. This is a great option – who doesn’t check their email at least once a day?

You can subscribe for this service by filling out the box at the bottom of their page, which says “Get the daily readings sent to your email every morning.”

App

My favorite app for the daily readings is called “iBreviary.” This app is mostly known for providing the Liturgy of the Hours prayers each day, but it also has options for reading the daily readings and other prayers and readings.

Booklets

There is a variety of publications that will provide a list of the readings for each day. Often they will also offer a reflection on the readings. My favorite of these is called “Magnificat.”

This is a monthly booklet that you can subscribe to that includes the daily readings and a reflection on the Gospel. In addition it also includes information about saints, and prayers for morning and evening.

Audio of Readings/Homilies

I am on the go much of the day, walking or driving to work and other appointments. I like to have audio to listen to while I am walking or sitting in the car, so podcasts of the daily readings, and also podcasts of homilies to accompany the readings, are a great option.

The USCCB, in addition to providing the readings online and via e-mail, also provide a podcast of the readings. It only takes three or four minutes to listen through the readings for the day, and you can usually download the readings for the day up to a month ahead of time in case you will not have access to a computer for a few days.

The USCCB podcast feed can be found here:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings-audio.cfm

It can also be useful to listen to a daily homily that reflects on the readings, like the podcast version from Catholic News Agency. Your own parish may even offer daily homilies to download, so ask the parish to find out if this is the case.

The USCCB Daily Homily can be found here:

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/podcast/

Do you have a favorite tool for getting the daily readings? What is it?

 


Experience Holy Week: Good Friday Traditions

By Rhen

After a day of activities including the washing of feet and a late-night prayer vigil on Holy Thursday, the most solemn day of the year is upon us.

Good Friday is a day of quiet and contemplation, fasting and abstinence.

Remembering the Suffering of Christ

Many churches will offer the Stations of the Cross at some point on Friday, preparing the faithful for the remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion.

There is also a tradition of keeping three hours of silence and prayer during the hours that Christ suffered on the cross, from noon to 3:00 pm. During this time it is appropriate to turn off any music and television, even your phone, and focus on Christ’s suffering and death. Some churches even hold a period of prayer during this time.

Prayer Service

There is no Mass celebrated on this day, just a service that includes Communion that was consecrated on Holy Thursday. The service is often held at 3:00pm, the hour of Christ’s death.

This prayer service, called the “Mass of the Presanctified” even though it is not exactly a Mass, includes veneration of the cross by the faithful and intercessory prayers for the Church and the whole world.

There is no music at the service, or at any time from the Holy Thursday Mass until the Alleluia at the Easter Vigil Mass. There are also no bells rung in the church during this time, so the service is often begun with the sounding of a wooden clapper.

Divine Mercy Novena

Good Friday is the starting date for the Divine Mercy Novena, which is nine days of praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday. You can read more about the Divine Mercy Chaplet in our article Here.

Experience Holy Week: Holy Thursday Mass and Adoration

By Rhen

We entered into Holy Week with palm branches on Sunday, recalling Jesus entering Jerusalem. Now we enter into the “Holy Triduum,” the three days leading up to the resurrection on Easter, with a series of liturgies that take us right along with Jesus in His final days leading up to the Resurrection. These are the three holiest days of the year, and the Church does a marvelous job of helping us to experience the sacredness of the Triduum through the liturgy and prayer during these three days.

Holy Thursday brings us into the Triduum by recalling the last supper, the washing of feet, and the agony in the garden, among other things.

The Holy Thursday Mass

The last supper and washing of feet are experienced during the Holy Thursday Mass. This Mass typically takes place in the evening, because Passover begins at sundown. It is worthwhile to make the time to attend this Mass because it really sets up the gravity of the Triduum and “sets the mood” leading into Good Friday. Fully partaking in the more solemn liturgies of Holy Thursday and Good Friday help to make the experience of the Easter Mass even more joyful.

Adoration After Mass and the Visiting of Seven Churches

After the Holy Thursday Mass the Blessed Sacrament is placed in a closed tabernacle on an altar of repose, often in a side chapel, where the faithful can take part in Eucharistic Adoration into the night. This is a great opportunity for prayer as we head into the most solemn of days, Good Friday, and parallels the disciples keeping watch with Jesus in the garden.

It is a custom in many areas, especially urban regions, to visit seven churches for adoration after Mass on Holy Thursday. This tradition dates back centuries and may originate from the faithful visiting the seven pilgrim churches of Rome on Holy Thursday.

If you live in an area with many churches nearby this is a great tradition to try. It takes some planning, as every church has a different end time for their period of adoration, but it is great to join in prayer with parish communities around your area. It helps one to recognize that the experience of such a holy week is shared with many, not isolated to your single parish.

If you are unsure about what to do in Eucharistic Adoration, do not be afraid. You can simply pray quietly and converse with Jesus, you can pray the Rosary or the Liturgy of the Hours, you can read the Bible, or you can pray in any other way that feels comfortable. Some churches might even schedule prayer for part of the time. Use the time to prepare for Good Friday and to look forward to the joy of the Resurrection on Easter.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy

By Rhen

Jump to a Section:
How to Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in English
How to Sing the Chaplet of Divine Mercy
Cómo Rezar La Coronilla De Divina Misericordia
The Divine Mercy Novena

What is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy?

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a devotion received in messages from Christ by Sister Faustina Kowalksa, now Saint Faustina. As a young Polish nun in the 1930’s she was told in revelations to spread the message of mercy throughout the world. She was given the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a set of prayers prayed using the structure of the Rosary.

Sister Faustina kept notes on her experience of Jesus, as instructed by her spiritual director. Her Diary is about 600 pages long and is considered a great spiritual work and a handbook to the devotion of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. As instructed in her revelations, Sister Faustina also had an image of the Divine Mercy painted in 1934 and it is one of the more common images of Christ seen today.

Divine Mercy Image, via divinemercysundayusa.com

Divine Mercy Image, via divinemercysundayusa.com

Sister Faustina’s Diary was published in 1984. In the year 2000 she was canonized and the second Sunday of Easter was declared Divine Mercy Sunday. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy spread quickly as a devotion, especially with the help of a Polish Pope, John Paul II. The Chaplet can be prayed at any time but there is a special emphasis placed on praying the Chaplet at 3:00 pm each day, the hour of Jesus’s death.


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How to Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in English

The Chaplet is prayed using a Rosary as guidance for the structure of the prayer. The chaplet is more simple and is a little faster to pray than the Rosary, though.

The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, via thedivinemercy.org

The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, via thedivinemercy.org

Beginning Prayers

1. Start with the Sign of the Cross

Optional Opening Prayer

2. “You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.”

(Repeat three times) 
“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!”

Standard Opening Prayers (prayed once each)

3. Our Father
“Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.”

4. Hail Mary
“Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.”

5. Apostle’s Creed
“I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.”

The Decades

6. The Eternal Father
On the larger separated beads where you would normally pray the “Our Father” during the Rosary:

“Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.”

7. On the 10 Small Beads in Each Decade
On the groups of 10 beads where you would normally pray the “Hail Mary’s” during the Rosary:

“For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

8. (Repeat this for all five decades.)

Closing Prayers

9. Concluding Prayer
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
(Repeat three times)

10. Optional Closing Prayer
“Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.”


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How to Sing the Chaplet of Divine Mercy

There are several sung renditions of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. The version which is perhaps the most popular can be heard in the video below.


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How to Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in Spanish

Cómo Rezar La Coronilla De Divina Misericordia

1. La Señal De La Cruz

Oraciones opcionales para comenzar

2. Expiraste, Jesús, pero Tu muerte hizo brotar un manantial de vida para las almas y el océano de Tu misericordia inundó todo el mundo. Oh, Fuente de Vida, insondable misericordia divina, anega el mundo entero derramando sobre nosotros hasta Tu última gota.

(Se repite 3 veces) Oh Sangre y Agua, que brotaron del Corazón de Jesús como una fuente de Misericordia para nosotros, en ustedes confío.

3. El Padre Nuestro
Padre nuestro, que estás en el cielo, Santificado sea tu nombre. Venga tu reino. Hágase tu voluntad en la tierra como en el cielo. Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada día. Perdona nuestras ofensas, como también nosotros perdonamos a los que nos ofenden. No nos dejes caer en tentación y líbranos del mal. Amén.

4. el Ave María 
Padre nuestro, que estás en el cielo. Santificado sea tu nombre. Venga tu reino. Hágase tu voluntad en la tierra como en el cielo. Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada día. Perdona nuestras ofensas, como también nosotros perdonamos a los que nos ofenden. No nos dejes caer en tentación y líbranos del mal. Amén.

5. el Credo de los Apóstoles
Creo en Dios, Padre Todopoderoso,
Creador del cielo y de la tierra.
Creo en Jesucristo su único Hijo Nuestro Señor,
que fue concebido por obra y gracia del Espíritu Santo.
Nació de Santa María Virgen,
padeció bajo el poder de Poncio Pilato,
fue crucificado, muerto y sepultado, descendió a los infiernos,
al tercer día resucitó de entre los muertos,
subió a los cielos y está sentado a la derecha de Dios Padre, todopoderoso.
Desde allí va a venir a juzgar a vivos y muertos.
Creo en el Espíritu Santo, la Santa Iglesia católica
la comunión de los santos, el perdón de los pecados,
la resurección de la carne y la vida eterna. Amén

6. En cada decena del rosario (en la cuenta de cada “Padre Nuestro” se reza) 
Padre Eterno, te ofrezco el Cuerpo, la Sangre, el Alma y la Divinidad de Tu Amadísimo Hijo, Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, para el perdón de nuestros pecados y los del mundo entero.

7. (En cada una de las 10 cuentas del “Ave María”, se reza)
Por Su dolorosa Pasión, ten misericordia de nosotros y del mundo entero.

8. Repite 6 y 7 en cada decena

9. Oración final (Se repite 3 veces)
Santo Dios, Santo Fuerte, Santo Inmortal, ten piedad de nosotros y del mundo entero.

10. Oraciones opcionales para concluir
Oh Dios Eterno, en quien la misericordia es infinita y el tesoro de compasión inagotable, vuelve a nosotros Tu mirada bondadosa y aumenta Tu misericordia en nosotros, para que en momentos difíciles no nos desesperemos ni nos desalentemos, sino que, con gran confianza, nos sometamos a Tu santa voluntad, que es el Amor y la Misericordia Mismos.


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The Divine Mercy Novena

One of the devotions of the Divine Mercy is the Divine Mercy Novena. A novena is a set of prayers most often prayed over the course of nine days. While the Divine Mercy Novena could be prayed at any time it is especially popular in the nine days leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday, begining with Good Friday.

Each day of the novena the Divine Mercy Chaplet is prayed, with a prayer for certain souls to go along with each day. From Saint Faustina’s Diary, the intentions for each day of the novena are as follows:

Day 1 (Good Friday)

Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners.

Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from it. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy for ever and ever. Amen.

Day 2 (Holy Saturday)

Today bring to Me the souls of priests and religious.

Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service, that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard–upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.

Day 3 (Easter Sunday)

Today bring to Me all devout and faithful souls.

Most Merciful Jesus, from the treasury of Your mercy You impart Your graces in great abundance to each and all. Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from it. We beg this of You by that most wondrous love for the heavenly Father with which Your Heart burns so fiercely.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon faithful souls, as upon the inheritance of Your Son. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, grant them Your blessing and surround them with Your constant protection. Thus may they never fail in love or lose the treasure of the holy faith, but rather, with all the hosts of Angels and Saints, may they glorify your boundless mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Day 4 (Easter Monday)

Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not yet know me.

Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Day 5 (Easter Tuesday)

Today bring to Me the souls of those who have separated themselves from My Church.

Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son’s Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Day 6 (Easter Wednesday)

Today bring to Me the meek and humble souls and the souls of little children.

Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, “Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart.” Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father’s favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Day 7 (Easter Thursday)

Today bring to Me the souls who especially venerate and glorify My mercy.

Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God: Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.

Day 8 (Easter Friday)

Today bring to Me the souls who are detained in purgatory.

Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.

Day 9 (Easter Saturday)

Today bring to Me souls who have become lukewarm.

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love let these tepid souls, who like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

Great Lenten Hymns: God of Mercy and Compassion

By Rhen

There are some great hymns for Lent, and it can only benefit our Lenten season to reflect on and learn a little more about some of the really good ones.

It is fitting to start with a hymn that tells of God’s mercy to sinners. The words of the song were written by a Redemptorist priest named Edmund Vaughan who was born in 1827. He was one of the clergy at Our Lady of the Anunciation near Liverpool. He wrote a handful of other hymns, though none are as well known as “God of Mercy and Compassion.”

The music to “God of Mercy and Compassion” is a traditional French melody by 18th century Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, who was born in 1710. Pergolesi lived only until 1736. He was a well-known composer of both opera music and sacred music.

“God of Mercy and Compassion” is one of the most moving (yet unknown) hymns of the season of Lent.

Lyrics to ‘God of Mercy and Compassion’

God of mercy and compassion,
Look with pity upon me,
Father, let me call Thee Father,
‘Tis Thy child returns to Thee.

Refrain:
Jesus, Lord, I ask for mercy;
Let me not implore in vain;
All my sins, I now detest them,
Never will I sin again.

2. By my sins I have deserved
Death and endless misery,
Hell with all its pains and torments,
And for all eternity.
(Refrain)

3. By my sins I have abandoned
Right and claim to heav’n above.
Where the saints rejoice forever
In a boundless sea of love.
(Refrain)

4. See our Savior, bleeding, dying,
On the cross of Calvary;
To that cross my sins have nail’d Him,
Yet He bleeds and dies for me.
(Refrain)

 

The Pope Goes on Retreat Too

By Rhen

On Friday Pope Francis completed his week-long retreat with the curial officials (essentially, the Vatican administrators) at Casa Divin Maestro in Ariccia, about fifteen miles outside of Rome. The five-day retreat was based on the Spiritual Exercises, which is fitting given that the Pope is a Jesuit.

We have not gotten around to listing retreat centers in Italy on CatholicRetreats.net, but we were surprised to find that the retreat center had an English website option. If you want to take a closer look at where the Pope and the Vatican officials spent their week on retreat, the website is Here.

casadivinmaetro

 

All of the news stories about the retreat focus on Pope Francis riding the bus to the retreat with everybody else last Sunday evening, but the real significance that we should take from this is that the Pope set aside the time to leave for a week on retreat. Pope Francis is a VERY busy man, and he probably spends more time in prayer each day than most of us spend in a week. He still found it important to drop everything for a week and get away, outside of town, for a retreat. And he took all of the Vatican officials with him. This might not be good for productivity, but we certainly want our church leaders in a good spiritual condition.

And hey, if it is important enough for Pope Francis and the curia to drop everything for a week and get away on retreat, what does that mean for you and me?

7 Great Resources for Daily Lenten Reflections

By Rhen

It was not too long ago that you had to rely on the little booklet that your parish handed out each year if you wanted free reflections each day for the season of Lent.  Now we have so many great options readily available that it is almost too difficult to decide which ones to use. Here are seven great Lenten resources that we have been enjoying at CatholicRetreats:

1. The Fun Lent App

“Lentsanity” by FOCUS

Lentsanity via FOCUS.org

The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) has put together an app with some great resources for Lent, called “Lentsanity.” It includes a short reflection for each day of Lent, relevant Lenten blog posts, some entertaining videos about the “Meat Police” making sure you remember not to eat meat on Fridays, and push notifications on your phone before meals on Fridays reminding you not to eat meat.

You can follow Lentsanity online at focus.org/lentsanity or  you can download the app from the iTunes Store or Google Play.

 

2. Everybody’s Favorite Cardinal

Video Reflections by Cardinal Dolan

Cardinal Dolan’s Video Reflections via EWTN.com

Each day during Lent Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York will be posting a short (about 1 minute) video reflection to his website, CardinalDolan.org. You can also watch the video reflections using a free app from EWTN via Google Play (Apple version coming soon).

 

3. 40 Days with the Scriptures

EWTN’s Lenten Gospel Challenge

EWTN Lenten Gospel Challenge, via EWTN.com

This one does not involve any daily reflections, but EWTN has just added the Lenten Gospel Challenge to their app. The Challenge gives you a part of the Gospels to read each day during Lent, and if you keep up you will read all four Gospels by Easter.

If you already have the EWTN app this will be added on as an update, but if you do not have it you can find the app in the iTunes store, on Google Play, or even on the Kindle App Store.

 

4. The Priest Leading the New Evangelization Online

Fr. Robert Barron’s Daily Reflections

Fr. Barron via LentReflections.com

Fr. Barron via LentReflections.com

You can get daily reflections from the creator of the “Catholicism” video series, Fr. Robert Barron, if you go to LentReflections.com. You can subscribe on the site to receive daily e-mails with the reflections and exclusive videos from Fr. Barron.

 

5. Daily Reflections for Lent, and the Rest of the Year

Daily Reflections from Flocknote

Matthew Warner, founder of Flocknote, is bringing daily reflections via email featuring writings from The Diary of St. Faustina and meditations from priests of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. You can sign up for these reflections at Flocknote.com/Lent.

By the way, you can also sign up to receive daily emails from Flocknote to Read the Catechism in a Year and Read the Gospels in a Year.

6. The Classic Prayer and Reflections

The Liturgy of the Hours

The Liturgy of the Hours - Set of 4 Volumes [Black Leather]

The Liturgy of the Hours is the “prayer of the Church,” and has been prayed by priests and religious several times every day for centuries. It includes readings and prayers for different hours of the day, and one of those is called the “Office of Readings.” The Office of Readings includes some psalms, a scripture reading, and a reading that is a reflection relevant to the day by agreat spiritual writer such as a saint, a bishop of antiquity, or a pope. If you pray the Office of Readings each day you will get a built-in Lenten meditation in addition to the psalms and readings, and you will be praying in unison with millions of others around the world.

You can find the Office of Readings in the Four Volume set of physical books of the Liturgy of the Hours, or you can download an app such as iBreviary (for free) from the iTunes Store or Google Play (don’t worry, the screenshots are in Italian but you can use the app in English). You can even come back to CatholicRetreats.net each day and pray the Liturgy of the Hours using the handy app on the right toolbar. If you are not familiar with the Liturgy of the Hours and how it is prayed you can learn more in our article “The Liturgy of the Hours.”

 

7. The Ultimate Lent Resource

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

The USCCB has put together an amazing set of resources for Lent. There is a Calendar to take you through things to reflect on and pray for each day of Lent, there are Lenten Audio Retreats, there is information about Fasting and Abstinence, and just so much more. Check out the USCCB Lent Page to see all of the resources.

What resources have you found helpful for Lent? Let us know in the comments below!

What is The Angelus?

By Rhen

A Short History of the Angelus

The Angelus dates back to at least the 1100’s and comes from the practice of reciting the “angelic greeting” (the Hail Mary) three times in the evening. It was recommended by St. Anthony of Padua, who died in 1231, and also by St. Bonaventure who recommended ringing bells before praying it each evening so that all would know it was time to pray. Over the next couple of centuries it became custom to pray the Angelus at morning, midday, and evening. The Angelus as we currently know it was probably first put into print in the 1560’s or 1570’s in the Little Office of the Virgin Mary.

 The Angelus Today

Today it is common to pray the Angelus at 6:00 am, noon, and 6:00 pm. Traditionally many church bells ring at these times to call the faithful to prayer. During the Easter season (between Easter Sunday and the Saturday before Pentecost) the Regina Caeli prayer is recited in place of the Angelus.

The Pope’s Sunday Angelus

Each Sunday that the Pope is in Rome he appears at his window at noon and prays the Angelus with the crowds in St. Peter’s Square. He usually accompanies this with a short message and greetings for the people in several languages.

The Pope’s Angelus message can be found on the Vatican Website or you can listen to the audio of them via podcast through Vatican Radio.

The Angelus Prayer

The Angelus prayer is simply three Hail Mary’s with short introductory verses before each and a concluding prayer:

V. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary;
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death. Amen.

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
R. Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death. Amen.

V. And the Word was made flesh:
R. And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death. Amen.

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His passion and cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

The Regina Caeli Prayer

During the Easter season the following prayer is recited in place of the Angelus:

Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia:
For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia,
Has risen as He said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.

V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. Because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray:
O God, who by the Resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, granted joy to the whole world: grant we beg Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may lay hold of the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.