Daily Devotional for February 27 – March 5
**Excerpts from Christ is Passing by from Catholic St. Josemaria Escriva
If the world has come from God, if he has created man in his image and likeness and given him a spark of divine light, the task of our intellect should be to uncover the divine meaning imbedded in all things by their nature, even if this can be attained only by dint of hard work. And with the light of faith, we also can perceive their supernatural purpose, resulting from the elevation of the natural order to the higher order of grace. We can never be afraid of developing human knowledge, because all intellectual effort, if it is serious, is aimed at truth. And Christ has said, “I am the truth.”
The Christian must have a hunger to know. Everything, from the most abstract knowledge to manual techniques, can and should lead to God. For there is no human undertaking which cannot be sanctified, which cannot be an opportunity to sanctify ourselves and to cooperate with God in the sanctification of the people with whom we work. The light of the followers of Jesus Christ should not be hidden in the depths of some valley, but should be placed on the mountain peak, so that “they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
To work in this way is to pray. To study thus is likewise prayer. Research done with this spirit is prayer too. We are always doing the same thing, for everything can be prayer, all activity can and should lead us to God, nourish our intimate dealings with him, from morning to night. Any honourable work can be prayer and all prayerful work is apostolate. In this way the soul develops a unity of life, which is both simple and strong.
Prayer: O my God I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; I believe that Thy Divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, who canst neither deceive nor be deceived. (Act of Faith)
We have considered the reality of our christian vocation: how our Lord has entrusted us with the mission of attracting other souls to sanctity, encouraging them to get close to him, to feel united to the Church, to extend the kingdom of God to all hearts. Jesus wants to see us dedicated, faithful, responsive. He wants us to love him. It is his desire that we be holy, very much his own.
You see within yourselves, on the one hand, pride, sensuality, boredom and selfishness; on the other, love, commitment, mercy, humility, sacrifice, joy. You have to choose. You have been called to a life of faith, hope and charity. You cannot seek lesser goals, condemning yourself to a life of mediocre isolation.
Some time ago I saw an eagle shut up in an iron cage. It was dirty, and half its feathers were missing. In its claws was a piece of carrion. I then thought what would happen to me were I to renounce my vocation from God. I felt sorry for that lonely, fettered bird, born to soar the heavens and gaze at the sun.
Prayer: Having risen from sleep I hasten to Thee, O Lord, Lover of men, and by Thy loving-kindness I strive to do Thy work, and I pray to Thee: help me at all times, in everything, and deliver me from every evil thing of the world and every attack of the devil, and lead me into Thine eternal Kingdom. For Thou art my Creator, the Giver and Provider of everything good, and all my hope is in Thee, and to Thee I send up glory, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
*Prayer for the next day’s morning
We too can scale the humble heights of love for God, of service to all men. However, in order to do this, we must make sure that our souls have no nooks or crannies into which the light of Jesus Christ cannot shine. And then Christ will be in your mind, on your lips, in your heart, stamped on your deeds. All of your life will be full of God — in its sentiments, its works, its thoughts and its words.
“Look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand,” we have just read in the Gospel. This time of Advent is a time for hope. These great horizons of our christian vocation, this unity of life built on the presence of God our Father, can and ought to be a daily reality.
Ask our Lady, along with me, to make it come true. Try to imagine how she spent these months, waiting for her Son to be born. And our Lady, Holy Mary, will make of you alter Christus, ipse Christus: another Christ, Christ himself!
Prayer: Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears! Turn, then, O most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
The Son of God became man, and he is perfectus Deus, perfectus homo: “perfect God and perfect man.” There is something in this mystery which should stir Christians. I was and am moved. I should like to go back to Loreto. I go there now in thought and desire, to relive those years of Jesus’ childhood and consider once more those words: “Here the Word was made flesh.”
Iesus Christus, Deus homo: Jesus Christ, God-man. This is one of “the mighty works of God,” which we should reflect upon and thank him for. He has come to bring “peace on earth to men of good Will,” to all men who want to unite their wills to the holy will of God — not just the rich, not just the poor, but everyone: all the brethren. We are all brothers in Jesus, children of God, brothers of Christ. His Mother is our mother.
Prayer: 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. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia. 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. Amen.
There is only one race in the world: the race of the children of God. We should all speak the same language, taught us by our Father in heaven — the language Jesus spoke with his Father. It is the language of heart and mind, which you are using now, in your prayer — the language of contemplation, used by men who are spiritual, because they realize they are children of God. This language is expressed in a thousand motions of our will, in the clear insights of our minds, in the affections of our heart, in our commitment to lead a virtuous life, in goodness, happiness and peace.
You must look at the Child in the manger. He is our Love. Look at him, realizing that the whole thing is a mystery. We need to accept this mystery on faith and use our faith to explore it very deeply. To do this, we must have the humble attitude of a christian soul. Let us not try to reduce the greatness of God to our own poor ideas and human explanations. Let us try to understand that this mystery, for all its darkness, is a light to guide men’s lives.
Prayer: The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary. And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.
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.
As St John Chrysostom said: “We see that Jesus has come from us, from our human substance, and has been born of a virgin mother; but we don’t know how this wonder came about. Let us not waste our energies trying to understand it; rather, accept humbly what God has revealed to us. Don’t try to probe what God has kept hidden.” If we have this reverence, we will be able to understand and to love. The mystery will be a splendid lesson for us, much more convincing than any human reasoning.
Whenever I preach beside the crib, I try to see Christ our Lord as a child wrapped in swaddling clothes lying on straw in a manger. Even though he is only a child, unable to speak, I see him as a master and a teacher. I need to look at him in this way, because I must learn from him. And to learn from him, you must try to know his life — reading the Gospel and meditating on the scenes of the new testament — in order to understand the divine meaning of his life on earth.
In our own life we must reproduce Christ’s life. We need to come to know him by reading and meditating on Scripture, and by praying, as we are doing now in front of the crib. We must learn the lessons which Jesus teaches us, even when he is just a newly born child, from the very moment he opens his eyes on this blessed land of men.
Prayer: 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.
The fact that Jesus grew up and lived just like us shows us that human existence and all the ordinary activity of men have a divine meaning. No matter how much we may have reflected on all this, we should always be surprised when we think of the thirty years of obscurity which made up the greater part of Jesus’ life among men. He lived in obscurity, but, for us, that period is full of light. It illuminates our days and fills them with meaning, for we are ordinary Christians who lead an ordinary life, just like millions of other people all over the world.
That was the way Jesus lived for thirty years, as “the son of the carpenter.” There followed three years of public life, spent among the crowds. People were surprised: “Who is this?” they asked. “Where has he learned these things?” For he was just like them: he had shared the life of ordinary people. He was “the carpenter, the son of Mary.” And he was God; he was achieving the redemption of mankind and “drawing all things to himself.”
Prayer: May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.