Act of Spiritual Communion We all miss not being able to receive Holy Communion, but we know we can make an act of Spiritual Communion by which we express our strong desire to receive Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist. The practice of praying Spiritual Communion has been embraced by many saints throughout history and has been practiced by many faithful around the world where freedom of religion has been banned: My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
Prayer of Surrender Given to me by one of the Sisters of Life: Loving Father, I surrender to you today with all my heart and soul. Please come into my heart in a deeper way. I say “Yes” to you today. I open all the secret places of my heart to you and say, “Come on in.” Jesus, you are the Lord of my whole life. I believe in you and receive you as my Lord and Savior. I hold nothing back. Holy Spirit, bring me to a deeper conversion to the person of Jesus Christ. I surrender all to you: my health, my family, my resources, occupation, skills, relationships, time management, successes, and failures. I release it and let it go. I surrender my understanding of how things ought to be, my choice and my will. I surrender to you the promises I have kept and the promises I have failed to keep. I surrender my weaknesses and strengths to you. I surrender my emotions, my fears, my insecurities, my sexuality. I especially surrender ________, ________, ________. (Continue here to surrender other areas as the Holy Spirit reveals them to you.) Lord, I surrender my entire life to you, the past, the present, and the future. In sickness and in health, in life and in death, I belong to you. Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my intellect, and my will. You have given me all that I have and I return it all now to you. Dispose of me according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace, for with this I am rich enough and have no more to ask. Amen.
Lockdown A poem by Brother Richard Hendrick, a Capuchin Franciscan in Ireland, reflecting on the coronavirus crisis with hope.
Meditations for the Sorrowful Mysteries for the Ending of the COVID-19 Pandemic I was able to attend vigil Mass at my parish this past Saturday evening, right before the diocese canceled all public Masses. They passed out these pamphlets with meditations for the Sorrowful Mysteries that are very appropriate for these times:
The chaos in which we find our world these past few weeks is difficult to ignore: almost every state in our country declaring a “state of emergency,” grocery stores unable to keep paper products in stock, and, perhaps the most frightening of all, the suspension of Masses and other church services until further notice. With all this “mass” hysteria taking over our lives, it is almost impossible not to give in to it and let it cripple our spirits. It is so easy to allow the loud voices of the media to dictate the way we think. As the situation continues, the natural instinct is to let selfish tendencies take over. How do we combat this drive to focus on our own needs above those of others when the sanctuary of our Church and of Sunday’s holy rest has been denied to us?
The Lord is so subtle in His helpful reminders. It could be seen as an actual blessing that this chaos is happening during Lent since it is in this penitential season that we are called to fast and deprive ourselves. In addition, as we fast we are called to replace that from which we are fasting with practices that bring us closer to Jesus Christ. In the Gospel today, Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother and Jesus responds with the well-known answer: “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants” (Matthew 18: 22-23). Perhaps this is the time to heed God’s call to truly put our neighbors before ourselves. In the crazed setting of the depleted grocery store, take your time and allow others to go ahead of you as you shop, trusting the Lord will provide you with what you need. The Lord already has mercy on us—we should remember His mercy, and return His mercy to others. We are in a time where what we need most cannot be found in the bare essentials supermarkets stock, but in the true essentials of God’s love and His mercy.
“And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we pray to you. Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy. Deliver us by your wonders, and bring glory to your name, O Lord.” —Daniel 34–43
During this period of great uncertainty and unknown, we must remain devoted to the word of God and not fall away from His teachings. Fear has a powerful way of distracting us, but we must place our faith in Jesus and His promises for us, that He will always be with us.
I haven’t shared this with many people, but I’m willing to share this as a testimony of the miracle that happened to my family about two to three years ago.
It was the year 2017. My sister, Cathy, shared with the family about her pregnancy. Our family was full of joy. Cathy became sick, uncomfortable, and at the same time nervous. She’d had a miscarriage about a year earlier. She was afraid that she would be having a miscarriage again. I did all I could to reassure her that it wouldn’t happen again. We would go to different Catholic meetings and Masses, receive the sacraments, listen to Christian songs, and meditate on Scripture.
Aside from this, at the end of 2017 both of my parents announced that they had tumors. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I felt completely sad and lonely. I didn’t share it with anybody, but I talked and prayed to Jesus and Mother Mary.
One day, a friend of mine told me about the 54-Day Rosary Novena and how it worked miracles. I desperately needed one. I looked up the history behind this special, long novena to see what it was about. I’d never heard of it before nor the story behind it.
I decided to pray and do it. There were days that I was sick or tired or emotional, as well as days that I skipped, but I persevered. I also had a prayer partner, my mother.
In the middle of 2018, Cathy gave birth to Amada (named after one of the Sisters of Life). My parents’ surgeries for the removal of their tumors was a success.
Today, my mother and I are doing the 54-day novena again during this time of Lent. We are praying for those that have been infected with coronavirus for their healing and a cure.
I am sitting here in my apartment, about to do my morning prayers and at a loss because I can’t go to Mass. How is this possible? It always seemed like Mass was always there. Daily Mass. Sunday Mass. Bible study. Fellowship. And now? Where do we go?
This week has made me reflect on my first two months here in NYC. I moved here in November of 2008 to be an actor. There I was, someone who had to make a living and still have time to audition, and then be able to leave so I could go do said show that I would hopefully book. My anxiety creeped up and I was so overwhelmed. Luckily, I lived in Astoria at the time and there was a Catholic church right down the street from me. I went to daily Mass every day and suddenly I understood what I had heard all those years in Catholic school. God really does love me. He DOES have a plan. All I can do is listen to His plan in my heart and take the next right steps. This was a spiritual awakening that deepened my faith. It almost felt like another Confirmation for me. I was claiming my faith as my own, because I NEEDED it. My anxiety lessened and I have been able to take major strides in my career. All because I trusted in my Lord and listened.
I share this story because my faith is what is helping me through this crisis. It’s honestly a miracle that I’m not wrapped in plastic right now. Am I scared? FOR SURE! Am I overwhelmed? YOU BET. However, I am finding solace in my Lord. I’m talking to Him. Asking him to help me do the next right thing and to protect myself and everyone I love. That’s all I can do….because we know that God definitely can do more.
In light of all the uncertainty we are experiencing this week and looking ahead to the isolation many will experience in the weeks to come, we want to make a real effort as a community to use the reflections platform to reach out to one another, express our solidarity, and seek to strengthen our faith through these trials.
Down the road, many Frassati members who are able are hoping to go outward to serve those in need affected by this crisis, following in the steps of our patron Blessed Pier Giorgio. But right now, our primary focus is to form our hearts through prayer. We pray this will strengthen us to discern how God is calling us to respond to these events and to do so while grounded in the inner peace and joy that only the Lord can bring.
As many of us suddenly find ourselves with a lot of extra free time on our hands, I want to open a call for anyone in our community to share a word of reflection with us. This may take many forms: a full-length reflection on Scripture, a prayer you would like to pass along, an inspiring quote from one of the saints, a short letter to those who are feeling lonely and fearful, etc. The goal of these posts will be to help us to look outward at how we can be connected to one another in prayer and use this time fruitfully—instead of turning inward, seeing only our own fears and anxieties.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, we want to hear your voice. If anything, I hope that through these posts we would be reminded of how many other people are out there alongside us in spirit. I ask that you would prayerfully reflect on whether there is any word God is asking you to share with all of us—not just now, but during the weeks to come as well.
We will be editing any submissions as they come in and will figure out how often to schedule them as we assess how many we’re receiving. Also, we may decide to post some submissions via our social media platforms if they are best suited to that format. As we are still in the process of figuring out what this will look like, we can’t guarantee that every post will be shared, but we will do our best to respond to each one. Know that any word you have to share with us is greatly appreciated.
A few weeks ago, I was teaching a group of 7th graders about ownership. We talked about land and property: the homes they lived in, the clothing they wore, the cellphones they had. At the beginning of the discussion they had given me a list of a few items they each owned. As the conversation progressed they realized that none of the property they used was actually their own. It all belonged to their parents, but as their children, they are able to enjoy these possessions.
In the book of Genesis, God creates everything into existence. He made light, the earth, the sky, vegetation, animals, and mankind. He made everything and everything was good. As God is the creator of all things, so, rightfully, He is the owner of all things. Everything belongs to God, and we have been gifted the opportunity to be His stewards, to use all of what He has created and bear fruit.
Today’s Gospel talks about ownership and stewardship. Jesus is telling the chief priests and elders of the people the parable of the tenants. A landowner planted a vineyard and leased it to tenants. When the landowner sent servants and even his own son to collect the produce from his land, the tenants killed them. Jesus asked, “What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
We are all tenants in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. Today’s society might not agree, and you may hear echoes of “this is my land,” “my body,” “I worked for this.” The truth is that the land we occupy was created by God, your body was created by God and in His image, and all your possessions have been delivered into your hands by God. It is right that we thank Him. Through His divine plan, we have been given different gifts and we must use those gifts for good: to bear fruit. If you find yourself in a position of power, use your platform for the common good. If you find that you’ve been granted material wealth, use it wisely and in consideration of those in need. If you’re a part of a ministry/group/organization in which they look towards you for leadership, be prudent in how you lead that you may lead others to the Kingdom of heaven.
As everything in our lives is a gift, it is also leased out to us—waiting for the rightful owner to come back and obtain the produce that was cultivated. Jesus warns us about being a tenant with empty hands: “the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” Whatever gift (big or small) you’ve been given from God, He wants you to use it and fully enjoy it, while at the same time producing fruits—that is, building up the Kingdom and bringing people closer to God.
“Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit” -Ezekiel 18:31
Here we are, a little more than a week into Lent. How are you feeling about your Lent thusfar? You may be feeling good in your Lenten commitments, having successfully passed on any chocolate or being off of social media. Maybe you have created time each day for intentional prayer. Or maybe you are feeling discouraged… maybe you haven’t kept up on Lenten commitments or you still haven’t quite decided what to “do” for Lent. Firstly, wherever you are right now, God sees and loves you. He is pleased with anything you have offered this Lent and He desires to draw your heart closer to His. Wherever you are, today’s Gospel verse Ezekiel 18:31 (see above), reminds us what lies at the heart of this season — a renewal of our hearts and spirits.
The Lord promises us a new heart and a new spirit when we seek His forgiveness. “Repent” is the first word of John the Baptist’s Gospel proclamation, and it’s always our first step in uniting to the Lord. No matter how many times we sin, whether it be a stumble or a big fall, the Lord receives us back when we repent and ask His forgiveness. In its original Greek, the word translated as repent is metanoia, which means to turn around and literally change direction. To repent is to turn ourselves around, away from our sin, to change direction and face Christ. He is already facing us, loving us even in the midst of our failings, but He asks us to turn away from those failings and the hurt they cause ourselves and others. He wants to transform us, to renew our hearts and spirits.
Lent is the liturgical time for us to dwell on this reality of the Gospel. I encourage you to read through today’s readings or listen closely to them if you are attending Mass. They guide us beautifully through a Lenten reflection far superior to anything I could write. Through these Sacred Scriptures, God speaks to us of His desire to forgive us and His desire for us to forgive others. Forgiveness brings freedom. God invites us into this freedom at every moment. Metanoia is the first step… repenting, changing direction from the darkness of our sin to the light of Christ. Through this action we take toward Him, God will give us a new heart and a new spirit. Our Lenten penances or practices are ways for us to live out our repentance. They are sacrifices and commitments that help foster in us a truly penitent spirit. And this contrite spirit is what God is seeking, for it leads us to Him, the One who is able to transform and renew our hearts and spirits by His all-consuming Love.
Lord, show each of us what we need to sacrifice or commit to this Lent to truly grow closer to you. You know each of us in our uniqueness and you know what we need. Guide us so that we may all emerge from the penitent spirit of Lent with a truly renewed heart and spirit this Easter.We all these things in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirt, Amen.