Simon of Cyrene, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

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As a way to help our priests carry their cross this Lent, pray this novena as a Simon of Cyrene. It was written for the Knights of Columbus in 2019 by the sisters of The Handmaids of the Precious Blood. The link for the full novena is at the bottom..

My Lord and My God,

“…this Lent grant me the grace to accompany priests into the desert in preparation for the battle for souls, for my soul. May I be a watchman and guard to help prepare them for the conflicts ahead so they can lead their flocks, and me, through death into life. As another Simon of Cyrene, enable me to truly be with my priests on the march to Calvary. Like Simon, I may begin fearfully, but turn any reluctance into courage and
make me ever attentive to how I may assist my priests on this lifelong Way of the Cross.”

From A Lenten Novena for Our Priests, Handmaids of the Precious
Blood, New Market, Tennessee, 20190.

Image by erge from Pixabay .

The Passion Flower as Stations of the Cross

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The passion flower, Passiflora incarnata, is an amazing plant rich in symbolism. It is one of the few plants that can be traced back to pre-literary times as a teaching tool for religious practices. I’ve written before — in articles and my books* — about the symbolisms associated with this vine, that when we feel ourselves faltering in our faith, we can reflect on this flower and within its beauty, find  the greatest love story ever lived.

The passion flower meanings are:

  1. Ten petals representing the 10 of the 12 apostles who did not betray (Judas) Jesus or deny him (Peter).
  2. The three stigmas (the topmost part of the flower that receives the pollen) as attached to their styles (tiny little stems) recall the three nails that impaled our Lord to the cross.
  3. The five stamens that hold the pads of pollen (the anthers) together signify the five wounds of our Lord.
  4. The anthers alone represent the sponge used to moisten Jesus’ lips.
  5. The central column of the three stigmas and five anthers signifies both the post to which Jesus was scourged and also the cross on which he was hung.
  6. The 72 radial filaments are for the number of lashes Jesus received throughout his passion. They also represent the crown of thorns.
  7. The leaves of most species are shaped like a lance and represent the spear thrust into Jesus’ side.
  8. The red stain on the corona at the base of the central column and the red speckling on the style holding the three stigma is a reminder of the blood Jesus shed.
  9. The fruit of most passion flowers is round and signifies the world that Jesus came to save.
  10. The tendrils symbolize Jesus holding firmly to his purpose, and being supported by God’s love.
  11. The wonderful fragrance is said to represent the spices that the holy women brought with them on the day of the resurrection.
  12. The duration of the flower’s life is three days: the time elapsed before the resurrection of our Lord.

*A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac: Cultivating Your Faith throughout the Year. Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2015.

Image by PixelAnarchy from Pixabay .

Lenten Prayer for Sisters and Nuns

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Beloved Mother Mary, Mother of Sisters and Nuns, take to your heart your daughters who are close to you because of their higher calling and because of the power which they have received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs them so much.

In this holy season of Lent be their comfort, be their joy, and be their strength. Loving Mother help them to live and defend the ideals that your son suffered and died for so that we may have life eternal.

Amen.

Image by pics_kartub from Pixabay .

Saint Michael and Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

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The attack on our priests are happening more often and will likely increase. It is a dark time for out church. Please offer prayer daily for the good and holy men that they may withstand the attacks of the evil one.

Here, a small liberty on my part, to beg a focus from Saint Michael the Archangel:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend our priests in battle.
Be their protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the Divine Power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all evil spirits
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of our priest’s soul.

Amen

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay .

Starving and Eager to be Fed

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I was surprised this year by the return of migratory birds. It felt like the first week in February was too early with night temperatures still running near zero. With several inches of snow and ice on the ground there was very little food for the birds to forage or materials for building nests.

When I wrote this column, it was snowing…again…lightly…but still. Many of you know how much I love the snow, but this year the love affair is so over—I want a divorce! The weather had been hard on the song birds, too. There were days—and nights—of blizzard conditions where chickadees were under my awnings, fluffed out and holed-up.  A sweet but pitiful sight.

Red-winged blackbirds are usually the first to return to our area in the spring. They like open fields and are seen perched on teasel stalks. This week the only parts of the teasel showing were what was left broken and bent on the field of snow. There hasn’t been a sighting of the red-wings yet. These may be the wiser of the birds this year.

The bluebirds, the poor dears, have arrived.

Bluebirds are solitary birds and have territorial battles often. This week I saw them in a way as never seen before—in a flock.

While doing breakfast dishes, I looked out the kitchen window and was amazed to see 8-10 bluebirds in the crab apple tree. The whole flock of them each had a tiny apple and were pecking it frantically as if starved—which they probably were. The tiny apples looked like bells as they swung back and forth with the bluebirds rapid jabbing. The whole tree appeared to quiver.

A few crab apples had fallen on top of the snow and a couple of bluebirds were sharing in the meal, unmindful of each other. Not a single bird was disturbed nor gave up their fruitful dining when joined by an assertive red squirrel.

The territorial nature of the bluebirds was cast aside when they were desperate and their world harsh. The birds that first found food were a signal to the others who then followed. It is in times of hardship that they looked to one another for guidance and relief.

When things are tough we often come together, and by our actions point the way to what is good. When we act in community with what God has provided, all are fed.

Image by GeorgiaLens from Pixabay .