kelly wahlquist

Catholic Evangelist & Speaker

Kelly Wahlquist is a dynamic and inspiring Catholic speaker whose gift of weaving personal stories and Scripture together with practical advice allows her audience to enter more fully into what Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have called us into - to be witnesses of our faith and part of the New Evangelization.

Day 9: Novena to St. Mary Magdalene

Go and tell...

Reading
Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me because I have not yet ascended to my Father. But go and tell my disciples and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

 

Wondering
It seems a little of the story has been missed out... what might Mary's reaction have been that caused Jesus to tell her not to cling to him? What about when she is sent to the disciples? And what of their reaction?

 

Contemplating
Read the passage a few times and see what ideas or thoughts emerge. Look back over your journal or take a mental trip back over the last nine days. Read the whole story - reminding yourself of the thoughts that accompanied it....

Spend a few minutes building the scene in whatever way you have found has worked for you.  Allow the scene to play out in your mind. How do the feelings change?

 

Reflecting
We are people, like Mary, with a mission - to tell people what we have seen - what we have heard - what we believe...
Pray that we may live faithfully the command to go and tell...

 


Praying
Mary of Magdala,
woman of the resurrection.
Pray for us as we too go and tell what we know -
that Jesus is alive
and at work through us.
Guide us all through your story
teach us to live always in the light of the resurrection.

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be...

*The novena and reflections are taken from Wellsprings.org.uk and can be downloaded in full on their site.

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Day 8: Novena to St. Mary Magdalene

The moment of recognition...

Reading
Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away."

Jesus said to her, "Mary!"  

She turned and said to him, "Rabbouni!" (which means "Teacher).

 

Wondering
How did Jesus approach Mary? At what point did Mary recognise her Lord?

 

Contemplating
One of our longest pieces in the account of Mary on that first Easter morning... Read it through several times and allow any significant words or phrases to sink into your soul. Why are they important to you? Make a note of them and prepare to use them to feed into your mind and spirit.

or...

Spend a few minutes building the scene in whatever way you find most helpful.  If as a film director - enjoy the scene unfolding... if in imagination - simply enjoy!

 

Reflecting
Many people have moments of recognising something that holds promise and builds on the many good things that have been happening.
Pray for them - for the moment of grace which may affect the rest of their lives.

 


Prayer
Mary of Magdala,
your moment of recognition echoes down the centuries
as we learn to recognise our Lord in Word and Communion.
Pray for those experiencing such a moment of recognising
something founded on the rich legacy of faith
and love of countless millions of believers around the world.
Pray too for those who contributed to its development.
Guide us all through your story
to the hope of resurrection.

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be...

 

*The novena and reflections are taken from Wellsprings.org.uk and can be downloaded in full on their site.

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Day 7: Novena to St. Mary Magdalene

Not knowing what is to come...

Reading

They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
 
Wondering
Is Mary comforted by the words of the angels - or further confused? She turns and sees Jesus but does not yet recognise him... why not?
 
Contemplating
We are reaching the climax of the story - but are not there yet... Read the passage a few times and see what ideas or thoughts begin to emerge.
Make a note of your thoughts - jot them down – and, if you are using the Novena in a group, prepare to receive the insights of others.

or...

Spend a few minutes building the scene in whatever way you have found has worked for you. What fears might be within Mary at this point - and what hope against hope?
 
Reflecting
We who know the story know what's coming and have a feeling of anticipation - but Mary does not. We ourselves sometimes wonder: what will be asked of me? Will I like what I see and hear? 

Pray for a willingness to wait to see what God is to reveal... 
 

Prayer
Mary of Magdala,
still sorrowful,
even you could not at first recognise your Lord.
Guide us all through your story 
to the hope of resurrection.

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be...

 

*The novena and reflections are taken from Wellsprings.org.uk and can be downloaded in full on their site.

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Day 6: Novena to St. Mary Magdalene

Staying in the dark places...

Reading
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.
 
Wondering
What is Mary's state of mind now? What might her reaction have been to seeing the two angels?

Contemplating
As you ponder the reading, which words or phrases seem to be especially significant to you. What might God be saying to you - perhaps, for your own life and for your community. If you are using a spiritual journal, add any thoughts or insights - and perhaps look back to see if there are any links that are beginning to form. 

or...

Spend a few minutes building the scene using whatever technique has helped you over recent days. Try to put yourself in Mary's shoes as the scene begins to move to its fulfilment. 
 
Reflecting
Mary is struggling to come to terms with what is happening... but still she stays in the place where things don't yet make sense. This is a feeling we can identify with ... sometimes we do need to walk away from something but on other occasions we realise we have to stay in a spiritual place until God deems it the right time to offer us the revelation that allows us to move on. 

Pray for those who find themselves "stuck" - whose faith feels empty and whose prayer seems dry.
 

Prayer
Mary of Magdala,
you still did not know what was to come -
but your love for the Lord held you by his tomb.
Pray for those who are in dark places -
who feel without hope 
and for whom the idea of a Pastoral Plan feels burdensome.
Guide us all through your story 
to the hope of resurrection.

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be...

 

*The novena and reflections are taken from Wellsprings.org.uk and can be downloaded in full on their site.

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Day 5: Novena to St. Mary Magdalene

Faith leading to understanding

jesus-12.jpg

Reading
As yet they did not understand the scripture that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
 
Wondering
What was the mood of the disciples as they turned back to go home? What were their expectations about what might happen next?
 
Contemplating
A very short piece but continue to read it through a few times, allowing the words to sink deep within you. Are there words or insights from the passage than seem important as we pass the halfway point in our Novena,

or...

Spend a few minutes building the scene in whatever way you find most helpful. How do the disciples take their leave of Mary? What is the "feel" of the scene at this point?
 
Reflecting
Faith often comes before understanding. We believe - but may have to reflect - read - contemplate - experience something differently before we move to understanding. Reflecting and learning how to make our faith yet more alive and active is for some people exciting - for others it is a challenge.


Pray for people who are excited - and those who are challenged.
 

Prayer
Mary of Magdala,
you did not understand but you believed.
Pray for as we seek to understand more fully
what God wills for us.
Pray for those for whom this is an exciting time
and for those for whom it is difficult and challenging. 
Guide us all through your story 
to the hope of resurrection.

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be...

 

*The novena and reflections are taken from Wellsprings.org.uk and can be downloaded in full on their site.

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Day 4: Novena to St. Mary Magdalene

Seeing and believing

St._John_and_St._Peter_at_Christ's_Tomb_LACMA_M.81.68.jpg

Reading
Peter saw the cloth that had been on Jesus' head (was) not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed.
 
Wondering
Why does John point out the detail about the cloth that had covered Jesus' face? How does seeing the grave clothes as they are lead him to believe - and what is he believing in at this moment - he has not yet seen the Lord?

Contemplating
Spend a few minutes reading and reflecting on the Scripture passage. What springs to mind as you ponder the words and phrases? How might these ideas feed into your own life? Jot down any thoughts in a spiritual journal. Are any threads beginning to emerge?

or...

Spend a few minutes building the scene. How might a film director film the scene? What would they focus on? What kind of atmosphere would they be trying to create? How do the participants in this drama feel at this point?
 
Reflecting
We cannot always say what leads us to believe... quite often it is a glimpse - a moment when we recognise that there is something beyond what we can see and touch. It is this faith that sustains us through the any changes that happen in our lives. 
Pray for a strengthening of faith for those who feel on the fringes or marginalised.
 

Prayer
Mary of Magdala,
woman of faith,
pray for those whose belief is tested -
who feel that they are not good enough -
who feel they do not belong.
Guide us all through your story 
to the hope of resurrection.

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be...

 

*The novena and reflections are taken from Wellsprings.org.uk and can be downloaded in full on their site.

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Day 3: Novena to St. Mary Magdalene

Waiting ... and acting ...

Reading
The disciple bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there.
 
Wondering
Why did the disciple Jesus loved wait even though he had seen the linen wrappings? What might have been going through his mind? What about Peter? What was his reaction to what he saw? What gave him the courage to go into the tomb of one who had been dead for two days
 
Contemplating
Spend a few minutes reading the Scripture passage and see if any words or phrases seem to be especially significant. Why might the word or phrase be important - in your own life? Make a mental note of any insights or jot down any thoughts in a spiritual journal.
or...
Spend a few minutes building the scene in whatever way is helpful - in the shoes of a film director - or sketching the scene. What insights do you get from the action in this part of the story? How are people reacting as it unfolds?  
 
Reflecting
There is a time for waiting - and a time for finding the courage to act in ways we would not have thought possible. 
Pray for those for whom this is a time of waiting ... and for those for whom it is time to find the courage to do things they do not yet think they can.
 

Prayer
Mary of Magdala,
you waited at the foot of the cross -
but found courage to return to the tomb to anoint your Lord.
Pray for those who wait - 
and those finding the courage to act.
Guide us all through your story 
to the hope of resurrection.


Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be...

 

 

*The novena and reflections are taken from Wellsprings.org.uk and can be downloaded in full on their site.

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Day 2: Novena to St. Mary Magdalene

Going to see for themselves...

 

Reading

Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.

Wondering
What do the people watching the disciples make of seeing two grown men running through the streets? What might have been going through the disciples' minds as they ran?

Contemplating
Spend a few minutes reading the Scripture passage and see if any words or phrases seem to be especially significant to you. What might God be saying to you - perhaps, in your own life. If you are using a spiritual journal, add any thoughts or insights.

or...

Spend a few minutes building the scene. Use the film-director approach if that worked yesterday or allow the scene to build in your imagination. What new insights emerge as you contemplate this part of the story?

Reflecting
Often people will tell us something but we sense the need to go and see for ourselves. Many things go through our minds - all sorts of possibilities - we can get carried away by our imaginations.
Pray for those who may be caught up in "fearing the worst".


Prayer
Mary of Magdala,
as you ran back to the tomb you knew to be empty,
your heart and mind were in turmoil.
Pray for those who fear the worst -
who are troubled by what might be.
Guide us through your story
to the promise that all shall be well.

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be...

 

*The novena and reflections are taken from Wellsprings.org.uk and can be downloaded in full on their site.

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Day 1: Novena to St. Mary Magdalene

The darkest hour just before dawn....

 

Reading
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."

 

Wondering
What drew Mary back to the tomb? What went through her mind as she looked into the tomb? What was going through it as she ran back to Simon Peter and the disciple Jesus loved - probably John who recorded this account of the resurrection?

 

Contemplating
You might like to spend a few minutes reading the Scripture passage and see if any words or phrases seem to be especially significant. How might God be speaking to you? You might like to jot down any thoughts in a spiritual journal.

or...

Spend a few minutes building the scene. It can be helpful to put yourself in the shoes of a film director working to recapture the atmosphere of the scene. You could even sketch out the scene. What would the scenery be like? Where do the main characters appear from? How are they behaving? Are there any "extras" - and where are they - what are they doing? Then, try to put yourself into one of the characters to see how it might have seemed to them... how might they have been feeling?

Reflecting
Of all outcomes, this was the least expected - how could the empty tomb be explained? This was beyond their experience.


How might some of the feelings of those in the Gospel be echoed in your own experience?


Pray for those for whom this time is a period of confusion and fear.

 


Prayer
Mary of Magdala,
woman at the tomb.
You did not yet know what awaited you
but felt confusion - doubt and loss.
Pray for those whose feelings you so well understand.
Guide us through your story
to the hope of resurrection.

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be...

 

 

*The novena and reflections are taken from Wellsprings.org.uk and can be downloaded in full on their site.

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Powerful Novena Begins Tomorrow

I invite you to pray a novena to St. Mary Magdalene with me beginning tomorrow and ending on the solemnity of her Feast Day, July 22. This novena is one that I found on the Wellsprings website from the UK, and one that I have been praying for 3 years. Each year, I am amazed by the the incredible transformations that take place in my heart and in my life during these nine days. Therefore, it is no surprise to me that this year, the manuscript for my first book, which focuses on women living in their gift to share the Gospel, is due on the feast day of the one who first declared the Good News of the Risen Lord—the Apostle to the Apostles! (I think St. Mary Mag knew she was featured in Chapter 7 and pulled a few strings to ensure she wouldn't get edited out... ha ha)

Below is a little information from the Wellsprings site about the upcoming novena.

saintm11.jpg

 

Novena to St Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene accompanied Jesus through much of his ministry. We do not know how long, but her experience of being "freed from seven demons" turned her life around and she became a devoted follower. When most of the disciples fled into hiding, she was one of the few who followed Jesus to Calvary. She witnessed the horror of his death - the blood and water flowing from his side - and the burial and sealing of the tomb. She knew the reality of his death and burial.

Her devotion took her back to the tomb in the company of other women. The Gospel accounts differ in the details but in John's, Mary's love for Jesus makes her unable to leave the tomb. Her Lord is dead - the loss of his body the ultimate catastrophe ... but through her, Jesus was going to tell the apostles and ultimately the whole world the great truth that he had conquered death and was risen to new life.

We invite her to walk with us - reflecting on the first Easter morning when death gave way to newness of life - despair was healed by hope - and the embryonic Church looked to new horizons which would take it to the ends of the earth and far into a future it could not have imagined...

We are part of that future and take our place in the great unfolding of the life of the Church, praying and discerning how we announce the Good News of Jesus' life, death and resurrection to the people of the twenty-first century and hand on the rich legacy of our faith into a future we cannot imagine.

The Novena – nine days of prayer – could fill the Easter Octave (and a little beyond!) – or the period from Ascension Thursday to Pentecost – the nine days leading to the Feast of Mary Magdalene (22 July) – or any time when a time of reflection and prayer about a decision might be helpful. It is suitable for personal use – but could profitably be used in a small group.

Each day for nine days, we will take two verses from John's account (20: 1-18) - use them for contemplation - and then ask for the intercession of Mary Magdalene who so obviously loved and was loved by Jesus to pray for the blessing of God and an outpouring of the gifts of the Spirit.

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Novena to St. Mary Magdalene begins July 13

On Holy Saturday, I posted a blog about one of my favorite saints, St. Mary Magdalene. The post was called "Go To Where You Know Jesus To Be" and focused on the fact that when Mary Magdalene faced her darkest hour—her Lord, her Hope, her Savior was dead and buried—she went to the tomb. She went to where she knew the Lord to be.

We can learn a great lesson from Mary Magdalene's actions in her time of great suffering, and we can also take great comfort in the fact that she will intercede on our behalf.

How cool is it to think that right now Mary Magdalene is before the Risen Lord? She is standing in the light of the Savior, and she will pray for us to have the same undying love, faith, courage, hope, and perseverance that she had in her time of need. We just need to ask her.

Beginning this Sunday, I invite you to join me in a beautiful novena to St. Mary Magdalene. I found this novena years ago on the Wellsprings website. I will post the novena reflection and prayer each day here on my blog with a link to their site, and together on July 22, we will celebrate St. Mary Magdalene's Feast Day.

Join me in praying to the Apostle to the Apostles, as we ask her to pray for us in our mission to share the Good News of the Risen Lord— just as she did on that first Easter Sunday!

 

 

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The Way of Beauty

TRINITY SARCOPHAGUS 

THEME: Healing of the blind man

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: Jesus responds to Bartimaeus' need for heeling—to be able to see. As we meditate, let us appreciate the personal love that Jesus has for all who seek God.

The healing of the blind man

Unknown Artist

AD 325-350

"We do not actually know the name of the blind man, for Bartimaeus means "son of Timaeus." In Jesus' time, all who were infirm in some way were not viewed as important. In an age where children contributed all they could to the family economy, this young man could do very little to help and was likely considered a burden. His blindness kept him on society's fringes, unable to contribute. He was at the world's mercy. Hope for any kind of meaningful existence was slim for this young man."

"On the roadside, at the entrance of the city of Jericho, we are introduced to Bartimaeus, who sits and cries out : Jesus, son of David, have pity on me. Was he waiting for the Lord to come? How did he know to call to Jesus? This resourceful young man did what he could to receive the Lord's touch. Desiring change, he called out to the streets."

"His attentiveness brought the healer's pending arrival."

"Though blind, Bartimaeus could see spiritually what the others could not. He called out to Jesus using the Messianic title, son of David. Stories of Jesus' signs and wonders let this outcast to be a spiritual insider."

"Encountering Jesus makes everything change. Our lives take on new color, new meaning, new power. When the young blind man is led to Jesus' feet he hears the same words Jesus speaks to you today: What do you want me to do for you? Stay with your heart now, asking yourself: What do I need Jesus to do for me? What graces shall I beg from the Lord? Open your heart entirely, trusting Jesus with your desires. God longs to share the riches of the kingdom with you, providing for your needs and desires."

 

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

Mark 10:46-52

And they came to Jericho; and as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great multitude, Bartimae'us, a blind beggar, the son of Timae'us, was sitting by the roadside.

And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

And Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; rise, he is calling you."

And throwing off his mantle he sprang up and came to Jesus.

And Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" And the blind man said to him, "Master, let me receive my sight."

And Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"Bartimaeus was bold with his request to see. He cried out many times before Jesus called him to himself. What would you boldly ask of the Lord today? Spend time now to reflect upon your deep needs, asking Jesus for healing and new sight."

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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The Way of Beauty

THE CALLING OF THE FIRST APOSTLES

THEME: The three paths

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: Jesus has placed the grace-filled seed of his Gospel in our souls through the Word we have received, calling us to let it seep into the soil of our hearts so it may burst forth with the fruit of generous service. Let us consider our own personal gift, renewing our commitment to the Lord.

Ghirlandaio

Sistine Chapel

1481-1482

"Today's meditation offers us a different method. The fresco The Calling of the First Apostles illustrates the calling of Peter, Andrew, James, and John, but our Scripture passage focuses us on the parable of the sower. The Scripture passage was intentionally selected, even though it does not accompany our art selection. Why? Because our spiritual guide, St. Ignatius, offers this meditation to challenge our commitment to Jesus Christ. We have already meditated on Jesus' call to public ministry. But how will we answer our call to witness the Gospel? Like the seed that is sown and falls on different soil, our hearts are the ground. So let's reflect on Jesus' call to us and our response to him."

 

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

Matthew 13:3-9; 18-23

 "And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up.

Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil.

But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away.

Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  

Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  Let anyone with ears listen!”

“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path.

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away.

As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing.

 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"Spend time looking at The Call of the First Apostles." Jesus is also calling you today. Listen to the Lord. How will you respond to his calling?"

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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The Way of Beauty

MARTYRDOM OF ST. ERASMUS

THEME: Free will

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: There is a stark difference between the two kingdoms vying for our allegiance: the kingdom of light and that of darkness. Let us choose to live in the light of Christ.

The Martyrdom of St. Erasmus   1628 Ottawa.jpg

Nicolas Poussin

Vatican Museum' Pinacoteca

1628-1629

"This meditation comes at an important moment, then, for St. Ignatius invites us to choose Christ—the reign of God. According to the saint, it is essential to present the options before us to our mind and hearts, our whole being…. On one hand we can choose to fall into temptation by following the allures of Satan… By contrast, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Jesus calls each of us to discover God's promises of love, joy, and eternal riches."

"Ignatian spirituality calls this 'a meditation on the two standards (or flags).' We must choose our path. Do we stand with Jesus or will we be enticed by the world's riches and deceptions? The standards represent two kingdoms, two ideals, and two visions of humanity."

"Poussin's painting of the martyrdom of St. Eramus (also known as St. Elmo) brings this reality to light. Many early Christian martyrs died because they were unwilling to burn incense as a sign of their obedience to the Roman gods. Though they would give the state their allegiance and respect, they refused to give the gods what only belonged to the one true God—their praise and worship."

"The Martyrdom of St. Erasmus painting can give us a sense for the horrific persecution this martyr endured. In the painting we witness St. Elmo splayed out upon an altar in the lower foreground of the painting. His tormentor points up toward what we would call the 'two flags,' the choice of two kingdoms."

"Standing fast, St. Elmo endured unheard-of sufferings because his God was not of this world, but the one to come. Notice the interrogating faces of his fellow Romans as they lean over his body in anguish. Their mouths are hanging open in disbelief that the saintly bishop could withstand his tormentors, refusing to succumb to the pain that wracks his body. They plead with him to join their ranks and end the torture, an enticing invitation for one in distress. But St. Elmo is steadfast, anchored in Christ—he is a rock!"

"Though the circumstances may be less dramatic, we are faced with similar choices to fight the good fight. Decide today whom you will serve. Everyday we are faced with a choice to follow Jesus or to choose our own way—the way of the world. Will you turn away from sin to follow Jesus?"

 

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

Joshua 24:14-25

“Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”

But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.  If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good.”

And the people said to Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord!”

Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.”

And they said, “We are witnesses.”

He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”

The people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and him we will obey.”

So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem.

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"What lures you away from the life offered in God? Ask God to renew a steadfast spirit in you, that your heart will be inflamed with divine love."

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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The Way of Beauty

CHRIST PERFORMING MIRACLES,

HEALING SCENES

THEME: The healing touch of Jesus

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: No need, weakness, or sin is too small for Jesus to want to help, heal, and forgive. The Lord is never too tired, busy, or important and will always extend his aid to all who ask or are in need. We embrace Jesus, admiring his loving care for us with gratitude and faith. Let us be open to the Lord's healing touch, the one who longs to mend our wounds and help us through affliction.

Unknown artist

Pio-Christian Museum in Vatican City

Circa third to fourth century

Inspired Christian artists sculpted sarcophagi with biblical stories in the third to fifth centuries. These box-like funeral receptacles were created for burial of a corpse, but due to expense were often purchased by more wealthy Christians of that time.

The Christ Performing Miracles, Healing Scenes sarcophagus is one that illustrates images of Jesus' miraculous touch in the lives of God's people.

Imagine yourself in the position of this woman's position (the woman with the unstoppable flow of blood.) For twelve long years, she had endured her ailment, a hemorrhage that could not be stopped. Slowly and constantly she was loosing her very life. And try as she might, she could not find any doctors to heal her. She must have submitted herself to all kinds of examinations, tests, and remedies, only to find herself poorer, sicker, and without hope for a solution. 

But then she hears the news about Jesus of Nazareth. Perhaps she's heard stories of his healing power.

Put yourself fully into the scene. Feel the crowd pushing in around you as you catch sight of Jesus ahead. Struggle to move forward, as the woman with the hemorrhage does by reaching out out to touch his cloak. You might be thinking as she likely did: How many times have I searched for solutions to my own problems outside of Christ? We try many solutions, but we fail because we do not submit our efforts to the Lord.

Reach out to Christ Jesus, the one who has healed so many others. Our blessed deliverer will overcome all obstacles and barriers for you, making a way where seemingly there is no hope. It does not matter that you have struggled for many years with this affliction. God always provides healing for the beloved who approach him humbly and with confident faith. Still not all healing is a see expect it to be. We have to be open to receiving the touch God wants us to receive as all things work for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28).

 

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

Luke 8:40-48

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house,  for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying.

As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians,[a] no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped.  

Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter[b] said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.”

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.”

When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed.

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"What was required of the woman in order to be healed of her affliction? What does Jesus require of you?"

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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The Way of Beauty

THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST

THEME: Baptism

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: Baptismal grace strengthens our will to want to do good, enlightening our minds to more easily see and accept the truth. In baptism, Christ graced us to become adopted sons and daughters of the Father. May we appreciate the grace of baptism resolving to follow the beautiful path God has carved out for us as new creations in Christ Jesus.

Pietro Vannucci (known as Perugino)

Sistine Chapel

Circa 1482

After departing his home, one of Jesus' first acts was to be baptized by John in the Jordan River, as our Gospel reading reveals. He walks decisively toward a life that will be very difficult exteriorly, but interiorly it will remain the same. Jesus always embraced the will of the Father out of love, and by his example he teaches us to do likewise.

The key (when meditating on Perugino's masterpiece) is to focus on each little scene as if it were the only one. In the upper left corner, the Baptist preaches his gospel of repentance and salvation. He challenges his listeners to break away from sin by turning toward the Lord Jesus, who is nearby.

On the opposite upper right corner, Jesus is seen preaching for the last time before entering his baptismal font, the waters of the Jordan. The fervent seeks gather around the Lord as he preaches in the midst of much activity. 

In our own lives, activity and bustle sometimes try to swallow us whole. There are so many noises and needs vying for our attention. Perhaps we long for the contemplative life accompanied by silence and serenity as a means to connect with God's presence and grace.

The main focus of the fresco centers on the main event—the baptism of Jesus. The Lord approached John the Baptist, who was baptizing others. Notice it is Jesus who seeks out his cousin John.

Though Christ was not in need of purification and forgiveness, he nonetheless steps into the water to show us the way to God. It all begins with our baptism: We must follow Christ, the Way.

 

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

John 1:29-34

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’  I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”

And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"Jesus humbled himself so we might have life. Can you become little in order to help others find Jesus? Are you willing to love when it hurts to do so?"

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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The Way of Beauty

Today we get, not just a slice of the pie, but the whole thing! For today's  we are blessed to have the entire meditation as written in Fr. Haydu's book. I am captivated by this picture. In fact, this is the painting that drew me into a love of Visio Divina.

REST ON THE FLIGHT TO EGYPT

Federico Fiori (known as Barocci)

Vatican Museums' Pinacoteca

1570

The entire meditation for today can be found here: Rest on the Flight to Egypt Mediation 

To purchase the book so you can join us in the fullness of this prayer, visit Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. 


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Saint John Paul II… You Better Be Pray'n

A few years ago I made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Czetochowa and asked for the intercession of my hero, Pope John Paul II. I spent the day praying to him and to Our Lady and asking for a special intention for what I was doing to help spread the Gospel. I left the shrine inspired, and with my good friend, Patti Jannuzzi, and the official prayer of the Vatican, I put together a nine week Novena for the New Evangelization in preparation for the beatification of Pope John Paul II—a date that was not yet announced the week we began the novena.

The novena began two weeks past our intended start date, and much to our surprise this meant we would conclude the novena praying for all souls on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday. In theological terms, this was "cool." Thousands of people joined us in praying, and on completion of our first week, it was announced that Pope John Paul II would be beatified on Divine Mercy Sunday—super cool!

For nine weeks we prayed for a specific group and meditated on writings of the late pontiff that pertained to that group. Week one we prayed for the Holy Father and did a meditation throughout the week that was written by Pope John Paul II on the Petrine Ministry. Week two we prayed for our bishops. Week three was for priests and deacons, then religious & consecrated. Week five was for lay apostles & teachers, then married couples & families, then the youth. Week eight focused on the  sick & suffering and finally on week nine, we ended by praying for all souls and meditating on Pope John Paul II's writings on Divine Mercy. It was a powerful prayer and I felt on top of the world having spent almost 3 months praying for and being immersed in the writings of the late Holy Father. But that feeling drastically changed three days later when my world was turned upside-down.

After putting together a beautiful prayer for his beatification and spending nine weeks with him, Blessed John Paul II had let me down—or so I thought. On that day when my life flew into chaos, the litany of saints that I called on to pray for me at the conclusion of my Rosary changed a bit, and it instead of ending the way it always had with: "John Paul 2, pray for me," it now ended with my teeth clenched as I said, "John Paul 2, you better be pray'n!" I felt since he had put me into this mess, it was his responsibility to get me out!

A few weeks later I was blessed to travel to Rome with one of my daughters and we happened to be there at a time in which the newly "Blessed" John Paul II was being celebrated. One day, I knelt at his tomb, with tears in my eyes and asked, "Why?" Why had he turned my life upside-down when I was praying for him and trusting him to help me? Suddenly, a peace came over me and I saw his smile through my tears as his words echoed in my heart, "Be not afraid." It was surreal. I stayed in that spot, prayed my Rosary, and as had been my new custom, my litany ended with, "John Paul 2, you better be pray'n", but this time there was a smile on my face.

Since that time, the Holy Father and I have stayed in touch daily. He has showed me that my life needed a little flip, because God has a plan of sheer goodness and the course He has set for me these past few years are part of that plan. I asked for Pope John Paul II's intervention to help me share the Gospel, and he stepped in and helped. It may not have been the help I was thinking he would provide, but it was tremendous help indeed. 

I know that course is going to have a few more upside-down turns yet to come and for that reason, today my new ending to my daily Rosary as I call on my litany of saints to intercede for me is, "Saint John Paul II... You Better Be Pray'n!" … And be assured, there is a smile on my face as I utter those words!

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