Sunday, December 09, 2007

Priere du jour = Prayer of the Day!!!!

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Prayer and Devotions

True Conversion
by Father Jason Smith, LC

Resolution: Lives change when habits change. Make a firm amendment once and for all to overcome a bad habit. Replace it with a positive virtue.

December 9, 2007
Second Sunday of Advent

Matthew 3:1-12
John the Baptist appeared preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: "A voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths." John wore clothing made of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan, as they acknowledged their sins. When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mighter than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I place myself in your presence. I have set aside this moment for you so that you can speak to me and I can listen to your words. Speak to my heart! I believe that you are present, with all the graces I need right now in the current circumstances of my life. I hope in you, Lord, because I know I cannot place my hope in the things of the world. I love you, Lord, and I know how much you love me.

Petition: Create in me a heart ready to love, O Lord!

1. Kicking the Habit: Ever tried to stop smoking? True repentance can be just as hard. Just as an ex-smoker feels the craving for one more puff, so do we feel the urge to repeat sins of the past. It’s as if all those bad habits have become rooted in our very blood, brain, and being. How then can we overcome them and truly convert? Saint John the Baptist gives us a few pointers. First, take the ax to the trees that have not born fruit. Mercilessly chop those bad habits at the root! Second, clean up the threshing floor and cast the chaff into the fire. Make a clean sweep of those unhealthy choices, and put them behind you once and for all. Third, stop making excuses. If someone really wants to build new habits, he will. Lives change when habits change. What habits are you building right now?

2. Turning Around: I could be wrong, but I would guess that in every culture across the globe, turning one’s back on someone else is rude. The people of Saint John the Baptist’s time had rudely turned their backs on Yahweh. They had forgotten his marvelous deeds for them. They lived out the covenant in a cold, legalistic manner. No matter how insulting their actions were to Yahweh, no matter how often they turned their backs on him, he always gave them one more chance by sending his prophets to preach conversion. St. John the Baptist was the greatest of these prophets. He called for repentance, which means turning back to God. Do we need to turn around, too?

3. Conversion to Love: Ahh, true love! The phrase conjures up images of dancing in the moonlight or looking for that perfect wedding dress. Rarely do we link “true love” with repentance; but we should. When we truly love, we never want to separate ourselves from our beloved. We always seek to please the one we love. But when love becomes distracted or our heart starts to yearn for other things, then it’s time to remember the first moment of that love and pull our heart back to where it needs to be. Saint John’s cry out, “Repent, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” is precisely such a reminder. Advent is a time to look again at God’s love for you. Remember what he has done for you. Has your love for God become distracted or your heart moved to other things?

Conversation with Christ: “CHRIST: My child, you are not yet a valiant and wise lover. DISCIPLE: Why, Lord? CHRIST: Wise lovers do not consider the gift of the Lover as much as they do the love of the Giver. They look more at the love than at the value of the gift; for the beloved is far above His gifts” (Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, Book 3, Chapter 6, 2).

Resolution: I will make a firm amendment once and for all to overcome that bad habit with a positive virtue.

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