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July 14, 2005 Edition

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Living the Scriptures
Faith Alive!
This week's readings
Pope's Prayer Intentions
Prayer on loss of St. Raphael Cathedral

Let us pray: God desires our presence

photo of Elizabeth Planton
Living the Scriptures 

with St. Paul University 
Catholic Center 

Elizabeth Planton 

The chaplain at Aquinas High School in La Crosse, the school I attended, summed it up pretty well when it comes to prayer.

"Every day I go into the chapel in the high school and pray," he told us."But sometimes I fall asleep," he continued, "and I'll wake up and see that I'm drooling and I'll be so embarrassed that I, the chaplain of the school, have fallen asleep in front of our Lord in the Tabernacle while I was supposed to be praying."

Needless to say, the good chaplain received many laughs from the students as he shared with us his own weaknesses, probably setting many of the young people at ease with his candor and honesty about his narcoleptic tendencies.

16th Sunday
in Ordinary Time
(July 17, 2005)
Wis 12:13, 16-19
Ps 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16
Rom 8:26-27
Mt 13:24-43 or 13:24-30

A priest falls asleep in front of the Tabernacle during his prayers and then recognizes his own human weaknesses enough to share them with high schoolers! Pretty refreshing, huh?

Throughout life, from our first to our last breaths on earth, we are taught to pray, to take to our knees in front of our Lord and petition for His divine grace to fuse in our hearts.

We approach Jesus with the best of intentions, desiring to enter into communion through our intimate conversations with Him. Yet sometimes our human nature fails us, just as the Aquinas chaplain's fatigue caused his eyelids to droop while he sat in front of the Tabernacle in the midst of his prayers to Christ.

God knows of these flaws, how could He not? Although our weaknesses interfere with our prayer, God assures us through the words of the apostle Paul that while "we do not know how to pray as we ought," we are not alone in our petitions to the Father.

St. Paul reminds us of the eternal Advocate, the Spirit who comes to help us in our prayers and who "intercedes with inexpressible groanings." So even if we don't get it just right, the Spirit is there, waiting in the wings to help us with our prayers!

It's almost as if God is whispering in our ear, "Hey, it's Me. I know you're going to do your best, and even if you mess up, I'll be here to help you along the way."

Our faithful Father did this at Pentecost. He's been doing this for 2,000 years, and He's doing it today with each one of us.

God desires our presence so badly that He disregards our flaws and our failures and looks upon us with the eyes of unconditional love. And every so often He asks us to be with Him as we enter into our prayer. Even though our weaknesses might fail us, He rejoices in the fact that we are simply "there" with Him.

The same chaplain from La Crosse who fell asleep before the Tabernacle said a friend of his had summarized his slumber before the Tabernacle perfectly. "He told me it was kind of like having a pet," the priest said. "You love when the dog is awake and playing with you, but there is a certain peace with the dog lying at your feet, just there with you and resting in your presence."

Reflection question

• What can I do to improve my prayer life and/or my relationship with God?

God desires this of us, too. While our Father delights in our praise and thanksgiving to Him, He also rejoices when we simply rest in His presence, succumbing to our human frailties but with Him nonetheless.

Elizabeth Planton is a freshman at UW-Madison majoring in political science and intends to enroll in law school. She is a lector at St. Paul University Catholic Center's liturgies and a member of the Catholic Student Union.

St. Paul's Web site is www.stpaulscc.org

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Faith Alive!

Faith Alive! logo

In a Nutshell

  • In affluent societies or groups, it is possible to live as if God doesn't exist, relying on specialists to solve our problems.

  • Human progress can make us more comfortable. But does it serve powerfully to bring us closer to one another?

  • St. Paul teaches that the power bringing us life will be a power we cannot control.

    Catholic News Service
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    Washington DC 20017
  •  Food for Thought
    Who first comes to mind when you think of power and those who exercise it? Do you think of God? Perhaps, instead, certain men or women first come to mind -- individuals whose accomplishments have been highly influential for better or worse.

    We live in an age of great accomplishments. Today people everywhere are looking to science for an AIDS cure. We expect more and more of the Internet every day. We place considerable hope in governmental powers.

    People still do look to God when things go badly. But what about the rest of the time?

    Undoubtedly, God works powerfully through the world and its people. God isn't the opponent of those who exercise good power well.

    full story

    Human power and the God of the ages
    By Father John W. Crossin, OSFS

    Catholic News Service

    Appointments fill my calendar. On Monday morning I see the doctor. On Wednesday, it's the oral surgeon. On Friday I see the IT person to get help with my computer.

    Meetings with specialists fill my days. I rely on these specialists. I "put my faith" in their expertise. I have little understanding of how the nervous system or the cell phone works. When I have a problem, I look to my telephone or e-mail directory for the right name and address.

    full story 

    Relating God's power
    and the human genius
    for progress
    By Father Paul Campbell

    Catholic News Service

    My brother bought a calculator in the early 1970s that was portable, but it did not fit in his pocket. It was, however, filled with the latest technological advances and cost more than $100. I remember marveling at this latest display of human progress. Today you can buy the same calculator for about $2.

    Our nation's youngsters carry heavy backpacks filled with books so they might gain knowledge. We want the best education for them so they can get good jobs and be happy. However, we neglect to equip them with skills to cope when the job is terminated.

    full story 

    The kind of power that brings life
    By Father Dale Launderville, OSB

    Catholic News Service

    Our lives are limited, not only in length but also in terms of power. One day we will die, and we will not have accomplished all we had hoped in our more optimistic moments.

    Jesus addressed this struggle between the forces of life and death. Jesus made clear to his disciples that how they responded to the struggle between life and death would shape their self-understanding in a fundamental way.

    full story

    Faith Alive! logo
     Faith in the Marketplace
    This Week's Discussion Point:

    How do you define "human progress"? What is a contemporary sign of it?

      Selected Response From Readers:  
    Copyright © 2005 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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    This week's readings

    Week of July 17 - 23, 2005

    Sunday, July 17, 2005
    Reading I: Wis 12:13, 16-19
    Reading II: Rom 8:26-27
    Gospel: Mt 13:24-43 or 13:24-30

    Monday, July 18, 2005
    Reading I: Ex 14:5-18
    Gospel: Mt 12:38-42

    Tuesday, July 19, 2005
    Reading I: Ex 14:21--15:1
    Gospel: Mt 12:46-50

    Wednesday, July 20, 2005
    Reading I: Ex 16:1-5, 9-15
    Gospel: Mt 13:1-9

    Thursday, July 21, 2005
    Reading I: Ex 19:1-2, 9-11, 16-20b
    Gospel: Mt 13:10-17

    Friday, July 22, 2005
    Reading I: Ex 20:1-17
    Gospel: Jn 20:1-2, 11-18

    Saturday, July 23, 2005
    Reading I: Ex 24:3-8
    Gospel: Mt 13:24-30

    Pope's Prayer Intentions

    July General Intention

    Christian sensitivity. That Christians be sensitive to the needs of all, without ever hiding the radical requirements of the Gospel.

    July Mission Intention

    Transformation of society. That all the baptized be committed, each in their own state of life, to transforming society by permeating the mentality and structures of the world with the light of the Gospel.

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    Prayer on loss of St. Raphael Cathedral

    O God,
    whose word is like a fire,
    who spoke to your servant Moses in the burning bush and who led your people Israel out of bondage
    with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night:
    hear your people as we call upon you both in gratitude and sorrow.

    We thank you for the safety
    of the Cathedral staff and parishioners,
    for those who fought the fire
    and for all who live and work in nearby buildings.

    May this fire purify your Church in the Diocese of Madison
    so that our hearts may burn with the knowledge
    that your Church is built upon the bedrock of your Son, Jesus Christ.

    Through the intercession of Saint Raphael,
    your messenger of healing,
    may we find comfort in our affliction
    and the courage to continue proclaiming
    the Good News of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

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    Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
    Offices: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Road, Madison
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