Forgiving and Being Forgiven

Forgiveness, if it is real, must affect everything about us.  It is something that we must ask for, give, receive, and give again.  Here are a few points for you to consider:

Can you honestly see your sin, experience sorrow for that sin, and say, “I’m sorry” to another?

When you are forgiven, what does that do to you?  Does it have the effect of making you more merciful toward others?

Can you in turn offer the same level of forgiveness and mercy that you hope to receive from God and others?

The Timing of God
God’s plan is so very different than human wisdom. His ways are far above our ways. And His
ways continue to be far above our ways!
What does this teach us? It teaches us lots of patience. And it teaches us surrender, trust and
hope. If we want to pray hard and pray well, we need to pray correctly. And the correct way to
pray is to continually pray that Thy will be done! Again, this is hard at first, but it becomes easy
when we understand and believe that God always has the perfect plan for our lives and for every
struggle and situation in which we find ourselves. We are to reflect, upon our patience and our
trust in the ways of the Lord. He has a perfect plan for us, and that plan is most likely different
than our plan. Surrender to Him and let His holy will guide you in all thing

DAY 1
MARY, VESSEL OF HONOR, PRAY THAT WE RECEIVE THE FRUIT OF MODESTY

GOD’S WORD
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'” (1 Samuel 16:7)

HEROES’ WORDS
“The dress of the body should not discredit the good of the soul.” St. Cyprian

“The purpose of clothing is to keep warm in winter and to cover your nakedness, not to serve your vanity.” St. Cyril of Jerusalem

MEDITATION
Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity. (CCC 2521)
Mary an Example and a Mother
This area has a beautiful name: Madre de Dios, Mother of God. How can we not speak of Mary, a young woman who lived in a remote, isolated village, also considered by many to be a “no man’s land”. There she received the greatest greeting and invitation imaginable: to be the Mother of God. There are joys that only little ones can hear (cf. Mt 11:25).
We have in Mary not only an example to whom we can look, but also a Mother. Wherever there is a mother, we don’t have that terrible feeling of belonging to no one, that takes hold when our sense of belonging to a family, to a people, to a land, to our God, begins to fade. Dear brothers and sisters, our Confraternity is not a land of orphans, but a land that has a Mother! And if it has a mother, it has sons and daughters, a family, a community. Where there is a mother, a family and a community, problems may not disappear, but we certainly find the strength to confront them differently.
Let us commend ourselves to Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother, and place ourselves under her protection. Please, don’t forget to pray for our Confraternity. I now invite you to pray together to the Mother of God
PRAYER:
Hail Mary…

DAY 2
HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, PRAY THAT WE RECEIVE THE VIRTUE OF FAITH!

GOD’S WORD

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
HEROES’ WORDS
“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” -Attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas

MEDITATION
By faith “man freely commits his entire self to God.” For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God’s will. “The righteous shall live by faith.” Living faith “work[s] through charity” (CCC 1814). “Our faith must be complete. We completely submit our intellect and will to God. Our faith therefore illuminates our daily life. Our fallen race inherits from its first parents a propensity to sin, but our constant objective must be to live as Holy Mother Church teaches. We seek to live by the theological and cardinal virtues. We consciously avoid the seven capital sins. We go to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass every day if possible, or every Sunday at minimum. We go to Confession every month if possible, or every year at minimum. We do all this because we have faith that the Catholic Church has Christ’s authority to teach us how to prepare for heaven.”
Mary Knows What Burdens Our Hearts
In this novena atmosphere, the Gospel shows us how Mary acts to make that joy continue. She is attentive to everything going on around her; like a good mother, she doesn’t sit still. So she notices, amid in the party and the shared joy, that something is about to happen that might “water it down”. She approaches her Son and tells him simply: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3).
In the same way, Mary passes through our towns, our streets, our squares, our homes and our hospitals. She notices all those problems that burden our hearts, then whispers into Jesus’ ear (see the way her head is tilted towards Jesus’ ear) and says: Look, “they have no wine”.
Mary does not stand still. She goes up to the servants and says to them: “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5). Mary, a woman of few but very pointed words, also comes up to each of us and says simply: “Do whatever He tells you”. In this way, she elicits the first miracle of Jesus: to make His friends feel that they too are part of the miracle. Because Christ “came to this world not to perform a task by Himself, but with all of us, so as to be the head of a great body, of which we are the living, free and active cells”.
PRAYER
May Mary, under her different titles in this blessed us, our Confraternity and continue to whisper in the ear of Jesus, her Son: “They have no wine”, and may her words continue to find a place in us: “Do whatever he tells you”.

DAY 3
MARY, SPIRITUAL VESSEL, PRAY THAT WE RECEIVE THE FRUIT OF FAITHFULNESS

GOD’S WORD
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

“For by grace, you have been saved through faith. And this is not of yourselves, for it is a gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

“But the Lord said: ‘If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you may say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted, and be transplanted into the sea.” And it would obey you.'” (Luke 17:6)

HEROES’ WORDS
“For faith is the beginning and the end is love, and God is the two of them brought into unity. After these comes whatever else makes up a Christian gentleman.” -St. Ignatius of Antioch

“Faith means battles; if there are no contests, it is because there are none who desire to contend.” -St. Ambrose “Faith does not quench desire, but inflames it.” -St. Thomas Aquinas

“A faint faith is better than a strong heresy.” -St. Thomas More

MEDITATION
“Fruit of Faithfulness: Our faith is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. We have faith only if we believe in Christ’s entire public revelation. The Catholic faith is faith that Christ instituted a divine institution, a Church blessed with authority to infallibly teach his public revelation. If we accept only doctrines consistent with our own experience we are not accepting them on faith but rather on human analysis.”
Mary’s deep faith overcame all obstacles
If we wish to contemplate the depth of Mary’s faith, the Gospel account of the wedding feast at Cana is a great help. Faced with the lack of wine, Mary could have sought some human solution to the problem at hand, but she does not hesitate to turn immediately to Jesus: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3). She knows that Jesus has no wine available; it is therefore likely that she is asking for a miracle. And her request is all the more daring since until that moment Jesus has not worked any miracles. By acting in this way, she is doubtless obeying an inner inspiration, since, according to the divine plan, Mary’s faith must precede the first manifestation of Jesus’ messianic power, as it preceded his coming to earth. She already embodies the attitude that was to be praised by Jesus for true believers in every age: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29).
The faith to which Mary is called is not an easy one. Even before Cana, while meditating on the words and behaviour of the Son, she had to draw on a deep faith. The episode of the 12-year-old Jesus lost in the temple was symbolic, when she and Joseph, in distress, heard the answer: “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:49). But now, in Cana, Jesus’ response to his Mother’s request seems even clearer and far from encouraging: “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come” (Jn 2:4). Yet Mary does not withdraw her request, to the point of involving the servants in accomplishing the expected miracle: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). With her docility and the depth of her faith, she looks beyond the immediate sense of Jesus’ words. She intuits the unfathomable abyss and infinite resources of divine mercy and does not doubt her Son’s loving response. The miracle is an answer to the perseverence of her faith. Mary is thus presented as the model of a faith in Jesus that rises above all obstacles.
PRAYER
We fly to Your Patronage . . .

DAY 4
MARY, MYSTICAL ROSE, PRAY THAT WE RECEIVE THE FRUIT OF CHASTITY

GOD’S WORD
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

HEROES’ WORDS
“Do not say that you have chaste minds if you have unchaste eyes, because an unchaste eye is the messenger of an unchaste heart.” -St. Augustine

“Now, though the era of persecution is gone, yet our peace has its martyrdom, because though we bend not the neck to the sword, yet with a spiritual weapon we slay fleshly desires in our hearts.” -Pope St. Gregory I

MEDITATION
Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift. (CCC 2337)

The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. (CCC 2338)

Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery, which is training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. (CCC 2339)

Most Blessed Are You Among Women!
What an honor it would be to have our Blessed Mother, the mother of Jesus, come to us for a visit. Elizabeth was keenly aware of this honor and, as a result, she cried out in an inspired way acknowledging that fact.
Though this was a unique gift given to Elizabeth, to have the mother of her Lord come to her, we must understand that we are all equally blessed by the opportunity to daily invite the presence of the Mother of God into our lives.
Mother Mary is the Queen of all Saints, but she is also the Queen of all sinners and Queen of those striving for holiness. She is the Mother of All the Living and the Mother of the Church. In God’s providence, she continues to carry out her unique role of visiting those in need on a daily basis. She does so in a way that is far more profound and transformative than in the case of Elizabeth. Mother Mary’s visits to us, her children, now takes place in the order of grace.

What does it mean when we say that our Blessed Mother visits us in the order of grace?
It means that our relationship with her is based on the divine will and plan of God.
It means we are able to have a relationship with her by which she communicates to us countless mercies from her Son.
It means that she becomes the most powerful mediatrix of grace for us that the world has ever known.
It means that the effect she has in our lives is deep, profound, transformative and intimately personal.

Reflect, today, upon your relationship with the Mother of God. She visited Elizabeth long ago and now desires to visit your soul so as to bring you the grace and mercy of her Son. Seek to establish this beautiful relationship with her in the order of grace. Invite her in, listen to her, be open to the grace she brings to you and rejoice with Elizabeth that the mother of your Lord would come to you.

PRAYER:
Dearest Mother Mary, I love you and consecrate my life to You, trusting in your motherly care and mediation. Help me, dear Mother, to be open to all that you desire to bring to me from your Son, Jesus. I am honored and humbled that you would care for me and desire to bring to me the mercy of the Heart of your Son Jesus. Mother Mary, pray for us.

DAY 5
MOTHER UNDEFILED, PRAY THAT WE RECEIVE THE GIFT OF WISDOM!

GOD’S WORD
“Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.” (Psalm 25:8-10).

HEROES’ WORDS
“Let your old age be childlike, and your childhood like old age; that is, so that neither may your wisdom be with pride, nor your humility without wisdom.” -St. Augustine

“God gives each one of us sufficient grace ever to know his holy will, and to do it fully.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola

MEDITATION
The Gift of Wisdom: The first and highest gift of the Holy Spirit. It makes the soul responsive to God in the contemplation of divine things. Where faith is a simple knowledge of the articles of Christian belief, wisdom goes on to a certain divine penetration of the truths themselves. Built into wisdom is the element of love, which inspires contemplative reflection on these divine mysteries, rejoices dwelling on them, and directs the mind to judge all things according to their principles. (Fr. John Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary)

Mary, Teacher of the Person of Christ
Mary is Mother of divine grace, because she is the Mother of the Author of grace. Entrust yourselves to her with complete confidence! You will be radiant with the beauty of Christ. Open up to the breath of the Spirit, and you will become courageous apostles, capable of spreading the fire of charity and the light of truth all around you. In Mary’s school, you will discover the specific commitment that Christ expects of you, and you will learn to put Christ first in your lives, and to direct your thoughts and actions to him.
Mary was given to you to help you enter into a more authentic and more personal relationship with Jesus. Through her example, Mary teaches you to gaze on him with love, for He has loved us first. Through her intercession, she forms in you a disciple’s heart able to listen to her Son, who reveals the face of his Father and the true dignity of the human person.
PRAYER
Hail Mary, white lily of the Glorious and always serene Trinity. Hail brilliant Rose of the Garden of heavenly delights. O you, by whom god wanted to be born and by whose milk the King of Heaven wanted to be nourished! Nourish our souls with effusions of divine grace, amen!

DAY 6
VIRGIN MOST VENERABLE, PRAY THAT WE RECEIVE THE FRUIT OF CHARITY!

GOD’S WORD
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)

HEROES’ WORDS
“The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.” -St. Augustine

“Charity is the form, mover, mother, and root of all virtues.” -St. Thomas Aquinas

MEDITATION
By this power of the Spirit, God’s children can bear much fruit. He who has grafted us onto the true vine will make us bear “the fruit of the Spirit: . . . love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” “We live by the Spirit”; the more we renounce ourselves, the more we “walk by the Spirit.” (CCC 736)

Mother of God, Mother of humanity
The angel Gabriel’s words in Nazareth: “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1, 28) also cast light on the scene at Calvary. The Annunciation comes at the beginning, the Cross signals the fulfilment. At the Annunciation, Mary gives human nature to the Son of God within her womb; at the foot of the Cross, she welcomes the whole of humanity within her heart in the person of John. She was Mother of God from the first moments of the Incarnation, and she became the Mother of humanity during the final moments of the life of her Son Jesus on earth. She, who was without sin, on Calvary “experienced” within her own being the suffering of sin that her Son had taken upon himself to save humankind. At the foot of the Cross on which was dying the One whom she had conceived at the moment of her “yes” at the Annunciation, Mary received, as it were, a “second annunciation”: “Woman, behold, your son!” (Jn 19,26).
PRAYER:
Hail Holy Queen . . .

DAY 7
MOTHER UNDEFILED, PRAY THAT WE RECEIVE THE GIFT OF WISDOM!

GOD’S WORD
“Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.” (Psalm 25:8-10).

HEROES’ WORDS
“God gives each one of us sufficient grace ever to know His holy will, and to do it fully.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola

“We are to love God for himself, because of a twofold reason; nothing is more reasonable, nothing more profitable.” -St. Bernard of Clairvaux

MEDITATION
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations. “Let your good spirit lead me on a level path” (Ps 143:10). “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God” (Rom 8:14). (CCC 1831)

The Gift of Wisdom: The first and highest gift of the Holy Spirit. It makes the soul responsive to God in the contemplation of divine things.

Put to the test, Mary remained firm in faith
In the drama of Calvary, Mary’s faith remains unwavering. For the disciples’ faith, this tragedy was overwhelming. Only through the effectiveness of Christ’s prayer was it possible for Peter and the others, who were also put to the test, to continue on the path of faith in order to become witnesses to the Resurrection.
In saying that Mary stood at the foot of the Cross, the Evangelist John (cf. 19:25) shows us that Mary remained full of courage at that critical moment. It was certainly the hardest stage in her “pilgrimage of faith” (cf. Lumen gentium, n. 58). But she could stand there because she had remained firm in her faith. Put to the test, Mary continued to believe that Jesus was the Son of God and that by his sacrifice he would transform the destiny of mankind. The Resurrection was the definitive confirmation of Mary’s faith. In her heart, more than in any other, faith in the risen Christ acquired its most complete and authentic aspect, that of joy.
PRAYER
The MEMORARE . . .

DAY 8
VIRGIN MOST POWERFUL, PRAY THAT WE RECEIVE THE FRUIT OF PEACE

GOD’S WORD
“The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11)

“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.” (Proverbs 3:1-2)

“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)

HEROES’ WORDS
“But above all preserve peace of heart. This is more valuable than any treasure. In order to preserve it there is nothing more useful than renouncing your own will and substituting for it the will of the divine heart. In this way his will can carry out for us whatever contributes to his glory, and we will be happy to be his subjects and to trust entirely in him.” -St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

“Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?” -St. Gerard Majella

MEDITATION
Fruit of Peace: the tranquility of order.
Peace is first of all the absence of conflict. But it is also the serenity experienced because there is no conflict. It is the calm that accompanies agreement of human wills, and is the foundation of every well-ordered society. (Fr. John Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary)

Take Mary into your lives
It says in the Gospel that “from that hour the disciple took her to his own home (Jn 19,27). This statement, the subject of many commentaries since early Christian times, does not simply point out the place where John lived. Beyond the material aspect, it evokes the spiritual dimension of this welcome and of the new bond established between Mary and John.
Today, it is you whom Jesus expressly asks to receive Mary “into your home” and to welcome her “as one of yours”; to learn from her the one who “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2,19) that inner disposition to listen and the attitude of humility and generosity that singled her out as God’s first collaborator in the work of salvation. She will discharge her ministry as a mother and train you and mould you until Christ is fully formed in you.
PRAYER:
My Queen, my Mother, I give myself entirely to you, and to show my devotion to you, I consecrate to you this day, my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my whole being without reserve. Wherefore, good Mother as I am Yours, keep me, guard me, as your property and possession, Amen.

DAY 9
MOTHER OF DIVINE GRACE, PRAY THAT WE RECEIVE THE GIFT OF PRUDENCE!

GOD’S WORD
“The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.” (Proverbs 14:15)

HEROES’ WORDS
“The prudent man considers things afar off, in so far as they tend to be a help or a hindrance to that which has to be done at the present time.” -St. Thomas Aquinas

MEDITATION
Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good (CCC 1804). Four virtues play a pivotal role and accordingly are called “cardinal”. They are: prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. (CCC 1805).

Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; “the prudent man looks where he is going.” The prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid (CCC 1806).

PRAYER
Most holy Virgin Immaculate, my Mother Mary, to thee who art the Mother of my Lord, the queen of the universe, the advocate, the hope, the refuge of sinners, I who am the most miserable of all sinners, have recourse this day. I venerate thee, great queen, and I thank thee for the many graces thou has bestowed upon me even unto this day; in particular for having delivered me from the hell which I have so often deserved by my sins. I love thee, most dear Lady; and for the love I bear thee, I promise to serve thee willingly forever and to do what I can to make thee loved by others also. I place in thee all my hopes for salvation; accept me as thy servant and shelter me under thy mantle, thou who art the Mother of mercy. And since thou art so powerful with God, deliver me from all temptations, or at least obtain for me the strength to overcome them until death. From thee I implore a true love for Jesus Christ. Through thee I hope to die a holy death. My dear Mother, by the love thou bearest to Almighty God, I pray thee to assist me always, but most of all at the last moment of my life. Forsake me not then, until thou shalt see me safe in heaven, there to bless thee and sing of thy mercies through all eternity. Such is my hope. Amen.

Gerard Majella (1726-1755) is known popularly today as “The Mothers’ Saint.” It may seem odd that a male religious should be the saint for mothers, mothers-to-be and those wanting to become mothers. The origin comes from an incident that happened in the last months of his short life.

Once, as St. Gerard was leaving the home of his friends, the Pirofalo family, one of the daughters called after him because he had forgotten his handkerchief. In a moment of prophetic insight Gerard said: “Keep it. It will be useful to you some day.” The handkerchief was treasured as a precious souvenir of Gerard. Years later the girl to whom he had given it was in danger of death during childbirth. She remembered the words of Gerard, and called for the handkerchief. Almost immediately the danger passed and she delivered a healthy child.

This wonderful story was the beginning of devotion to and belief in the miraculous powers of St. Gerard in favor of women who are soon to become mothers, who long to be mothers or who already are mothers.

The Redemptorists were not the first to encourage devotion to St. Gerard. The popularity of this devotion is due, first of all, to all the Italian women and mothers who believed and promoted their confidence and trust in the intercession of St. Gerard. It was Italian mothers who spread this devotion throughout Italy and Italian immigrant women who took the devotion with them to many parts of the world.

Gerard Majella was born on April 6, 1726 in Muro, Italy. He was the son of a tailor who died when Gerard was 12, leaving the family in poverty. Gerard tried to join the Capuchin order but was denied because of his ill health. He was later accepted as a Redemptorist brother serving the Redemptorist congregation as gardener, tailor, fundraiser, peacemaker and spiritual adviser.

His intercession is requested for children (and unborn children in particular), childbirth, mothers (and expectant mothers in particular), motherhood, people falsely accused, good confessions and religious brothers.

He was a man of great depth and insight, prayer and kindness. He was a mystic and a reader of hearts, ever seeking to be perfectly obedient to the will of God. Unfortunately his health was never good. He died from tuberculosis on October 16, 1755 at 29 years of age. Gerard was beatified on January 29, 1893 by Pope Leo XIII, and canonized on December 11, 1904 by Pope Saint Pius X. His feast day is October 16th.