Archive for December, 2012

The Angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard.”  – Lk 1:13

Reflection.  The demons love to stir up our fears.  It’s all too human to be afraid, but we are not poor helpless creatures.  There is always grace.  Jesus gives us what we need to overcome our apprehensions.  He gives us Himself.

Prayer.  Loving God, with You at my side, I will not be afraid.  

Mary … gave birth to Jesus Who is called the Christ.  – Mt 1:16

Reflection.  The Gospel of Matthew opens with the human genealogy of Jesus.  It is a passage that tells of His human roots.  He is true God, but true Man as well.  He knows what it is to be human; He knows what pain is.  Look to Him for comfort in distressing moments, and trust that He will be at your side when you need Him.

Prayer.  Dear Jesus, help me to see You as my dearest friend.  

The Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he … sold everything he had and bought it.  – Mt 13:45-46

Reflection.  When a speck of sand gets into an oyster, it irritates the flesh around it.  To protect itself, the oyster coats it with an iridescent material, so that gradually the grain of sand turns into a beautiful pearl.  You are like a grain of sand.  Be patient; God is transforming you into a pearl of great price.

Prayer.  Thank You, Lord, for purifying me.  

Give joy to the soul of Your servant, for to you, I lift up my soul.  – Ps 86:4

Reflection.  The holiday season can be hectic.  Learn to pace yourself.  A bird needs its nest, a bee needs its hive, and every human soul needs some pillow talk with God.  St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You, O Lord.”  Resting in God’s love, without saying anything, is the purest form of prayer.

Prayer.  Holy Spirit, help me to enjoy the silence of Your presence.  

The Lord … answered me; He set me free from all my fears.  – Ps 34:5

Reflection.  The Supreme Law is: “Love God, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  This law can be reduced to three simple requirements:  cling to God, think of others, and don’t put yourself down.  Catch yourself when you begin putting yourself down, and try to become your own best friend.

Prayer.  Dear God, help me to be kind, above all to myself.  

Spirituality for Today
You Don’t Have to be Pretty to be Beautiful
By Father John Catoir

Everyone wants to be thought of as beautiful or handsome. The multi-billion dollar cosmetic industry, which services both men and women, attests to that fact. But what is true beauty?  The answer is both simple and profound. Bette Davis put it best when she said, “I think great beauty is a kind of beauty that has nothing to do with the face.”

We all know that there are women in the world with pretty faces, who manage to make themselves ugly by the way they treat others. Remember the TV show Bridezilla? All the cosmeticians in the world cannot transform a self-centered shrew into a beautiful woman.

On the other hand, many plain women are indeed beautiful because they have something called inner beauty. This light within transforms them into admirable and alluring women. Many of them do not realize how truly beautiful they are.

There is outer beauty and inner beauty. Outer beauty is only skin deep. It can be improved with some well-applied make-up, all of which will wash off, but make-up can never be a substitute for inner beauty. “Beauty is not in the face, beauty is a light in the heart.” Kahlil Gibran maintained that inner light is a spiritual matter. Those who aspire to radiate true beauty need to pay more attention to God’s presence within them. The Spirit of Love is eternal beauty.

I recently co-authored a book entitled, “You Don’t Have to be Pretty to be Beautiful.” It won’t be available until February of 2013. If you would like to preorder a copy, I promise delivery postpaid, as soon as it is off the press. Make your $10 check payable to: IBIS Publishing, PO Box 544, Cary, NC 27512.

The IBIS is a beautiful bird with a long nose. It is also an acronym for the words: Inner Beauty Is Serene. The importance of cultivating a deeper spirituality cannot be overestimated.

One of the most admired American women, during her lifetime and beyond, was Eleanor Roosevelt. Even after her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, died, the United Nations elevated her to head their highest humanitarian service. She left us these words to ponder, “No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.”

Maintaining a basic fidelity to the Golden Rule is something most people strive to do. Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade wrote, “The secret of sanctity and happiness rest in fidelity to the will of God as it is manifested in the duty of the present moment,” (Cf. his book “Abandonment to Divine Providence”).

One of Hollywood’s most beautiful actresses, Marilyn Monroe, took her own life because, among other things, she believed she was losing her looks. Never, not even for a second, allow such a depressing thought to enter your mind. You can never lose your beauty when it rests in God.

Try to imitate Audrey Hepburn, the beautiful British actress, who starred in My Fair Lady. She aged gracefully, and was a humanitarian right up until her death in 1993. She offered this uplifting thought for struggling women everywhere, “The beauty of a woman is not facial, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is in the caring that she lovingly gives to others.”

Rejoice always; … for this is the Will of God for you in Christ Jesus.  – 1 Thes 5:16

Reflection.  St. Paul said, “Rejoice always” (1 Thes 5:16).  William Shakespeare said, “A light heart lives long.”  Jesus explained it this way, “In this world you will have many problems, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).  Cheerfulness is the sunshine of the soul.

Prayer.  Dear God, help me to be more light-hearted and happy.  

I do not concern myself with great affairs or with things too sublime for me.  Rather, I have stilled and calmed my soul.  – Ps 131:1-2

Reflection.  The words “Do Not Be Afraid” are repeated 365 times throughout the Bible: first to Isaiah, “Take courage, do not be afraid” (Isa 7:4).  The Angel Gabriel said to Mary, “Do not be afraid” (Lk 1:30).  Jesus said, “Be not afraid, fear is useless; what you need is trust” (Lk 8:50).  Calm your soul, and be at peace.

Prayer.  Holy God, I give You all my fears; help me to calm my soul.  

Your words … became a source of joy to me and the delight of my heart.  – Jer 15:16

Reflection.  One of the worst things you can do is overestimate your ability to solve the problems of other people.  Meddling can lead to so much needless tension.  Putting your nose in other people’s business is not wise.  Back off, and wait until you’re asked for advice before you give it.

Prayer.  Lord, Jesus, help me to be wise.  

Our competence comes from God Who has empowered us to be the ministers of a new covenant.  – 2 Cor 3:5-6

Reflection.  Face it, without God you can do nothing.  So when you try to do too much on your own, don’t blame anyone else for your failures.  Be honest, make amends, and call on God for help.  Once you learn to do that, things will move along a lot smoother for you.

Prayer.  Lord, give me the grace to see that I am nothing, and You are everything.