Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Prayer - Fasting - Almsgiving

BEADS OF JOY 06-19-13
“Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18”
©2013 James Dacey, Jr. OFS

Today's Gospel:
(Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 / Prayer, Fasting & Almsgiving)

Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face -that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Reflection: My Friends,

Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving..
Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. Three very important elements to our faith, three traditionally very important parts of our Spiritual Journey. Let us look at what each of these mean to our faith:

This is the most wonderful special act of love, so many of us share every single day. In prayer we lift up our soul to God in love and praise and thanksgiving. Prayer builds up and empowers our faith, and faith comes from our hope, and our hope and desire for Him leads us to hunger, a hunger for Him and His word and the grace that leads us to God, which leads us to prayer. I just tried to lay that out all by myself. Was anyone able to follow that? lol. Prayer is an essential part of who we are in God, and in our walk following after Jesus. We must be a praying people, our communication with God is vital to our eternal life and the transition that we will go through at our death. I encourage you to please pick a devotion that is of interest to you, and then try to pray and speak to God every single day. Our conversation doesn't necessarily have to be written prayers only, we can speak plainly to Him also. We are in relationship to a person, Jesus. And in that relationship we can freely talk and share and open our hearts to Him.

Prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trail as well as joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.” ~St. Therese of Lisieux

Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness.” ~St. John Chrysostom

How often I failed in my duty to God, because I was not leaning on the strong pillar of prayer.” ~St. Teresa of Avila

This isn't easy for everybody. But this has a lot of spiritual value added to the experience. Fasting is about curbing down our desires in our appetite that appetite could be for anything. This in turn creates a hunger for God, which is key to living our lives in Jesus. If many of our pleasures are fulfilled with food, we will have much less desire for God. I will share with you something I told Fr. Mullally a while ago (actually many many years ago), as to how and why I fast. To me fasting is a spiritual experience. I fast as an offering to all those who hunger and starve around the world. I do that so that I feel the hunger pangs. I want to feel their pain and suffering, so that I can offer the reality of the pain of starvation. No I don't starve myself, but I have done very long fasts for that sole purpose. I have found that when you are "starving - very very hungry" you tend to draw so much closer to Jesus spiritually, that it can't really do justice trying to explain it in words. Don't do these things if your health requires medication and food intake. First consult your doctor and make sure it is safe. Please...

Penance without fasting is useless and vain; by fasting [we] satisfy God.” ~St Basil

Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself.” ~St. Peter Chrysologus

Fasting is a way of making room in your life for Jesus; replace your hunger pangs for food, with hunger pangs for Jesus, His Word and His Mother.” ~Jim Dacey Jr OFS

This evolves from our prayers and our fasting. Charity in all forms, your time, your talents, your treasures, whatever you can do to help further the spreading of the word and love of God. Most all of us belong to church communities, we should invest in them to help support them in whatever way you can. I tell you the following for the sole purpose to share ideas that maybe you can use; back in the past when I was in business, we as a family gave both our treasures and unlimited volunteer time. When we lived in town (Milford, PA) in the past, we pretty much were involved with everything at our parish. I strongly encourage you to try this. If you are anything like me and my family, once you do that, you will always be very involved in whatever capacity you can help. Obviously now, with me working nights, Chrissy’s illness and we are down to one car; these dreams for us, for now, are impossible. But I encourage all of you who can, to do so.

Let us also love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us have charity and humility. Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin. Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve.” ~St. Francis of Assisi

If you are attached to the things of this earth, you should give alms sufficient to enable you to punish your avarice by depriving yourself of all that is not absolutely necessary for life.” ~St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars

In the matter of piety, poverty serves us better than wealth, and work better than idleness, especially since wealth becomes an obstacle even for those who do not devote themselves to it. >>Yet, when we must put aside our wrath, quench our envy, soften our anger, offer our prayers, and show a disposition which is reasonable, mild, kindly, and loving, how could poverty stand in our way? For we accomplish these things not by spending money but by making the correct choice. >>Almsgiving above all else requires money, but even this shines with a brighter luster when the alms are given from our poverty. The widow who paid in the two mites was poorer than any human, but she outdid them all.” ~St. John Chrysostom

Pondering these thoughts today: How attentive are you to the needs of others who are not in your immediate family? How attentive are you to your needs and your family’s needs (blood relatives)? How appropriate is the difference between these different levels of attentiveness? Do you watch fellow family members struggle and suffer? How sad if you do, I pity the soul so selfish that they are incapable of helping those closest to them. With that attitude of thought taken to the next level, would you also watch a close friend or family member go hunger (literally), when you yourself have plenty and in-fact you even throw food away every night after dinner? Insightful, but a hard teaching when it comes to what you would really do to give to another.

The True Test of Character

Everything you have is God's gift to you. What you do with everything God has given you is your gift to Him. Is your life all about getting and taking and keeping and hoarding or rather is it all about giving?”

Your brother in Christ Jesus
And His Most Blessed Mother,
Jim (The Rosary Man) Dacey Jr OFS