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"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20


The Original Novena

Laura DeMaria

FYI, friends: tomorrow, May 26th, marks the start of the original novena, aka the Pentecost Novena! You can join in here

I love this prayer, both because it is a prayer to our Advocate, the Holy Spirit, and also because I like imagining the scene of its original incarnation. The Pentecost Novena is also called the "original novena" because it took place over the nine days after Jesus's Resurrection while the apostles and His mother waited in the upper room, praying as He asked. They waited nine days - the length of all our novenas, now.

What would you ask the Holy Spirit for? Here are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, if you are developing your relationship with the Advocate, according to St. Paul, whose entire Christian life was a movement of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12):

The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all. To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing. To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others he gives the ability to prophesy. To others he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages. All the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit. He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides.

You can also always simply ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and use you for His will during this prayerful time. Here is a simple way to ask His guidance before embarking on these nine days:

"Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. 

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen."

5 Million Rosaries

Laura DeMaria

I have been a fan of Matthew Kelly, the founder of Dynamic Catholic, since reading Rediscover Catholicism as I went through RCIA (how appropriate!). For me, it was less about re-discovering and more about discovering, for the first time. I like how he discusses the "genius" of Catholicism as it relates to becoming the best version of yourself, as God created you. There is much to be said for that.

Anyway: I just learned that Dynamic Catholic is holding a 5 Million Rosaries prayer event for our nation. As the website says:

"The truth is, there’s no group of people in America in a better position to change things than Catholics. And one of the most effective ways we can change things is through prayer. If the 72 million Catholics in America came together and prayed, something incredible would happen.

That's why we are asking people all over the country to join us in praying 5 million Rosaries for America! The Rosary is an incredibly powerful prayer. It has the power to bring peace. The power to heal. The power to transform your life, the lives of your loved ones, your community, and our nation."

You know I am a.) all about prayer; and b.) all about Mary, so I really love this idea. The rosary is Our Lady's sword for fighting evil in this world, and is one of the most powerful prayers that can be prayed, period. I am envisioning 72 million Catholics praying together, for our nation: its leaders, the armed forces, school and churches, the sick and lonely and the families and individuals who love this country and call it home.

I am praying with the Dynamic Catholic team for our country. How about you?

God's Gift of the Present

Laura DeMaria

Hello all! My latest article went up last week, entitled "God's Gift of the Present." You can read the full article over at Catholic Stand!

What got me thinking on this topic is that I finally read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. There were many things I underlined and thought, "Ah! Yeah." The genius of the book is how well it calls out the weaknesses found in human nature, which somehow also highlights the beauty of what makes us human. We can be jealous, but we can also be loving. We are self-interested, and self-sacrificing. The devils find those latter traits utterly pointless and befuddling.

One of the many philosophical points that stood out to me was in the letter in which Uncle Screwtape instructs his nephew about the human concept of time. These devils are always looking for ways to, you know, bedevil us. Screwtape points out that humans are always seeking the future, as if getting there is not only guaranteed, but will be better than the present. When it isn't, we resent God. Further, he instructs that nothing is so least like eternity - that which we are destined for - than the unknowable, vague future on earth. It is a wonderful trick that we humans play on ourselves (or the devils play on us) and which serves no purpose but to upset us and make us angry at God for the mistake of our own blind anticipation.

This brought me back to one of the big things I learned during my Ignatian spirituality retreat "in daily life" earlier this year. There were a few days where the whole purpose of the prayer time was just to think about God in everything, outside of time, and very much in the present. By practicing this sort of groundedness, in that particular prayer and in general throughout the retreat, I felt a perspective shift. I hadn't realized how I neglected the present, the only real moment there is. It's an active practice, to appreciate this moment right now. No rushing to the next meeting, phone call or activity, but sitting in the acknowledgement of the current conversation, the sound of the rain falling, the value of something which takes more of your time than you'd like it to. 

I really do wonder, what is it about humans that makes us always reach for something else than what we have. It seems to be both critical to our human nature - that's what drives us to success, and I think you could say toward God - yet we also often experience this sense of "What's next?" solely through the lens of "When does it get better?" Is it hard for us to accept when things are good in the present, and show gratitude for that? I think that could be part of it. That's something I am keeping at the front of mind and practicing now: acknowledgement of, and gratitude for, the present moment, even when it isn't just exactly what I want or somehow expected. There is a lesson in every day God gives us, even if it's just to be able to learn to appreciate what you have, right now.