Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Year of Grace - Part 2

In my previous blog, I touched on contemplating the face of Christ in the Eucharist as one of the surest ways of experiencing God’s grace in this Year of Grace. In today’s blog I thought that I would touch on another sure way of contemplating the face of Christ.
If you want to know anything about a man, the best source of information is his mother. This is no less true for the Greatest Man who ever walked this earth – the Man Christ Jesus. If you want to know Jesus, then go to His Mother.
The best thing that you can do to develop your devotion to Our Lord Present in the Most Blessed Sacrament is to develop a deeper devotion to Our Lady. This is because Mary always points us to Jesus. If you want to “contemplate the face of Jesus” then ask Mary. She will show you her Son. This has always been her mission – to lead us to Jesus and to instruct us to “do whatever He tells us” (Jn 2:5).
Mary is a sure way of obtaining God’s grace because she was Immaculately Conceived. By God’s grace, she was and continues to be “full of grace” (Lk 1:28). Do we want to be filled with God’s grace? Then let us learn from Mary what it means to be docile to the will of God. Let us learn, with Mary, to say “Let it be done unto me according to thy word” (Lk 1:38).
Finally, if we want to experience God’s grace, we should ask Mary to pray for us. She always intercedes for us because we are her children  – entrusted to her by Our Lord as His final act before declaring “It is finished!” (Jn 19:25-28). Not only does she pray for us to God that He would pour out His grace upon us; but she is also the channel by which God pours out His grace. Jesus is always the same (Heb 13:8); and if Jesus came to the world through Mary, then He will continue to come to us through Mary – and we must come to Him through Mary. The fact that God became Man, through Mary, was the greatest gift of His grace to us. This is one reason why the Church calls her the “Mediatrix of All Graces”.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. AMEN.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Year of Grace

This year, from Pentecost 2012 to Pentecost 2013, has been announced as a Year of Grace by the Bishops of Australia – as such, it is an opportunity for us as Catholics to fix our eyes afresh on Christ. The national prayer, formulated by the Australian Conference of Bishops for this Year of Grace runs as follows:

Gracious God,
You have blessed this ancient land with many gifts, especially its people.
We thank you for the Year of Grace, a time to start afresh from Christ.
You invite us to contemplate the face of Jesus your Son, that we may experience a new wave of grace, and that the light of Christ may burn more brightly in our lives.
Attune our hearts and minds to the presence of your Holy Spirit, that our Church may be transformed, our relationships be healed, and our nation grow in compassion and justice.
With the intercession of St Mary MacKillop, who showed us new ways of living the Gospel, we make our prayer through Christ our Lord. AMEN.

This prayer reminds us that in order “to start afresh from Christ”, we must “contemplate the face of Jesus”. There are many ways that we can do this. We can spend time “contemplating the face of Jesus” in the vast treasure of the Church’s Icons, including the Pantocrator (the oldest known icon, believed by many to be the true face of Jesus). Or like Blessed Mother Teresa, we can contemplate the face of Jesus in the poor, as we allow ourselves to be God’s channel of grace to them.
There are so many ways that we can accomplish “contemplating the face of Jesus”, but one of the primary ways that we can do so during this Year of Grace would be to spend time with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. This is a belief that was promulgated by the Blessed Pope John Paul II, who himself said:
“The Eucharist is a priceless treasure: by not only celebrating it but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace. A Christian community desirous of contemplating the face of Christ cannot fail also to develop this aspect of Eucharistic worship, which prolongs and increases the fruits of our communion in the body and blood of the Lord.” – Ecclessia de Eucharistia, 2003

So, one of the surest ways of obtaining the fullest benefit of this Year of Grace would be to develop our devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament. Many parishes have at least some time set aside for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, with other parishes honouring Christ in Perpetual Adoration (24 hours a day; 7 days a week).
In our own parish, we have been blessed enough to have a Chapel dedicated for the purpose of Eucharistic Adoration. So, why not make a special commitment to the Lord by dedicating an hour each week to adoring Him in the Blessed Sacrament? Try it and you will see that it will not be long before you start experiencing the grace of God at work in your life. Just as you can’t spend time in the sun without it having a visible effect on your skin; so too, you cannot spend time with the Son of God and not be changed. Persevere in Eucharistic Adoration, and it will change your life.