I highly recommend the reading of Jacopone da Todi, a Franciscan friar born in the 1230s. He was a poet–mystical, spiritual, theological. His Lauds, as they are called, are fascinating. At one level, they are enlightening. Yet, on another level, reading them–speaking the words aloud–prayerfully and reverently leads to song of the heart. It’s beautiful when the words of another become the words of the self that praise God. Jacopone’s Lauds surely evoke reflection and prayer. In this post, I want to go through one of his poems that I have recently spent some time reading. By no means do I intend to act as a scholar on Jacopone or what I will present. I hope that my commentary–inasmuch as it can be called that–simply provokes discussion, and by God’s grace, praise to Him, too!
The Laud examined is: “The Angels Ask the Reason for Christ’s Pilgrimage to This World”.
Reading this poem for the first time, I was struck with the underlying reason of God’s coming to the earth. It was because of love. In the Franciscan tradition, especially within the theology of Bonaventure, Christ came into the world not primarily due to the sin of man, but because in Christ is the fullest actualization of the created order. Now, obviously due to sin, the “form that the incarnation takes will be thoroughly shaped by that fact”; but, the point is that the “one cause of the incarnation…is the limitless love…of God” . Jacopone seems to agree.
In the letter to the Philippians, there is a beautiful passage, a hymn and prayer of the early Church that confesses faith in Jesus Christ:
[T]hough he [Christ] was in the form of God, [he] did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness…he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth. (cf. Phil 2:6-11)
“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.”
Pope John Paul II wrote those words almost 31 years ago, yet they still resonate with us today. But why? Why does love make the world go ‘round? Why do we sacrifice so much for even a glimmer of it? Why do we sell everything once we have found it? Why are we hard-wired for love?
It is not fear or lack of meaning that opens us out toward these ‘why’ questions. Love itself brings us to these questions, to this wonderment over our existence, what we are here for. It is only where “love is missing…[that] the question of meaning lacks the air it needs to catch fire.” Indeed, “the experience of love is the birthplace of wonder, the first step along a new journey toward the fullness of meaning…Wonder can be born only in the matrix of love. Even the amazement that fills us when we behold the marvels of creation makes sense only in light of the experience of love” (Called to Love).
Saint Claude la Colombiére is a 17th century Jesuit saint. It is unfortunate that there are not more of his writings in English translation, yet. However, of what we have, a small book of excerpts, there is a great deal of spiritual wisdom and depth to be found. In this post, I would like to highlight and briefly examine a few of the beautiful passages of such a reverent and intelligent servant.
In an excerpt of some retreat notes, the Saint writes on the power and beauty of prayer:
[Prayer] is the only means of purifying us, of uniting us to God, and of allowing God to unite himself to us and be glorified in us. We must pray to obtain the apostolic virtues; pray that we may use them to help others, and pray also that we may not lose them while serving others.
In the Second Reading of the Divine Office for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, the excerpt is from a homily on the Gospels by Pope Saint Gregory the Great. It is a beautiful passage about love, coming to know Jesus Christ, and eschatological joy. The aim of this post is to focus primarily on Gregory’s emphasis on love as read in this selection from the Liturgy of the Hours.
The primary Gospel message that Gregory is preaching on is Christ the Good Shepherd (Jn 10). He is speaking to encourage the flock to truly be flock, and by that he means true followers of the Heavenly Shepherd: “Ask yourselves whether you belong to his flock, whether you know him, whether the light of his truth shines in your minds. I assure you that it is not by faith that you will come to know him, but by love”. To be a sheep of the Good Shepherd is if to, not surprisingly, follow Him—and this requires love.
Caritas et Veritas is proud to announce that Apple has approved the very first Pro-Life iPhone app for distribution!
Life Rosary – Meditations and Prayers is a meditation and instructive aid for those praying the Rosary. It does NOT replace your Rosary beads, but rather helps you focus on the mysteries of the Rosary.
Fr. Frank Pavone from Priests for Life has shared additional prayers and meditations to compliment and focus your attention on life and human dignity. Each day of the week includes special prayers for mothers, the unborn, for forgiveness, governments, and the world.
Our Pro-Life Rosary app is priced at $1 to help raise money for pro-life causes. All of the proceeds go to support pro-life initiatives and organizations, including Priests for Life. Our first iPhone app is free and was downloaded 25,000 times in 6 months. With your help in promoting this latest app, we could raise $25,000 or more for pro-life initiatives this year!
Prayer is the foundation of all that we do in defense of human life. Our efforts—whether educational, pastoral, or legislative—will be less than fully fruitful if we do not change hearts and if we do not ourselves overcome our own spiritual blindness. Only with prayer—prayer that storms the heavens for justice and mercy, prayer that cleanses our hearts and our souls—will the culture of death that surrounds us today be replaced with a culture of life.1
I’d like to focus on three points in the pastoral plan that every one of us can take action.
Pray for life at every Mass
Parishes should include in the petitions at every Mass a prayer that ours will become a nation that respects and protects all human life, born and unborn, reflecting a true culture of life.2
As a new Catholic I was impressed by the prayers for life offered daily at Mass. If your parish does not participate in this request from the USCCB, please consider adding it to the book of petitions or speak with your pastor about including prayers for life at every Mass.
I want to take a moment to celebrate with you as our first iPhone application, “Mysteries of the Holy Rosary“, reached 25,000 downloads this week.
This free application is a meditation and instructive aid for those praying the Rosary. It does not replace your Rosary beads, but rather helps you focus on the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.
As a new Catholic, I had a difficult time remembering which mysteries matched each day. Although many other great iPhone Rosary apps allow you to ditch your physical Rosary, I wanted to experience the beauty of those venerable beads, as a tool to meditate on our Lord. So I built this app specifically to require zero input. Just open it and it will automatically select the mystery that matches today. If you’d like more you can switch to other mysteries, focus in on the beautiful artwork, or see simple instructions on how to pray the Rosary.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to look at the app for yourself, you can download it at the iTunes App Store.
If you like it please consider letting others know by rating and leaving a short review on iTunes. And a special thanks to the 350 of you who have already done so!