Monday, August 31, 2009

Daily Offering Prayer

Sometimes people ask me: "What's the official Morning Offering Prayer?" They wonder if they are praying in union with the Apostleship of Prayer throughout the world if they don't use the traditional formula, or one of the Daily Offering Prayers on our web site or in our printed materials. The answer is that any Daily Offering Prayer is acceptable, including the one that you pray spontaneously, with your own words, from the heart.

I usually make the Morning Offering as soon as I wake up and before getting out of bed, but I know that often, in my pre-caffeinated state of mind, my offering is more a mindless routine than a fervent prayer. I trust God knows my intention of making every conscious and unconscious moment of my day an offering. And I can always renew my offering later when I am more alert. This is where other versions of the Daily Offering--the Trinitarian Prayer from our international office in Rome or the Morning Offering of St. Terese--can be helpful. Different prayers, including our own spontaneous ones, can help us to pray the offering and not just say it.

The following prayer was sent to me by a Jesuit of the Maryland Province whom I recently had on retreat. It was written by Fr. James Devereux, S.J. several years ago when he was provincial and it was sent to every member of the Province.

O Jesus, I come before you at the
beginning of this day.
I gaze at your face, I look upon
your side pierced by the lance.
Your wounded heart speaks to me of
God's love poured out for us.
Take, Lord, and receive my heart:
the words of faith that I speak,
the works of justice I would do,
my joys and sufferings.
When I come to the Eucharistic table,
gather my offerings to your own
for the life of the world.
At the end of the day, place me
with Mary, your mother,
and for her sake take me to
your Heart.

Monday, August 24, 2009

David Kauffman

For the next week and a half I'll be vacationing in Minnesota and as I drove up here yesterday I listened to some CD's that a Jesuit friend of mine loaned me. They're by a Catholic recording artist named David Kauffman ( He has some wonderful songs both for meditation and for worship. One song from his album "Be Still" especially caught my attention because it's all about making a daily offering of one's life. Here are the lyrics:

I Will Make This Day My Prayer

I will make this day my prayer

I will give you everything that I am and do today
I will give you all my cares, all my joys and sufferings
I will make this day my prayer

And when I work may my work usher in your reign
And as I go may I go with you
And when I speak may my lips sing your praise again
May my words be light and truth

And when I see my friends may they see you in me
And may I see your face in them
And may our conversation lead us to the freedom
That your presence beckons in

And when I ask forgiveness may my heart be true
And may I offer forgiveness too
And when we reconcile may we be one in you
May forgiveness make our hearts new

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Padre Alberto Hurtado

On this day in 1952 a holy Jesuit by the name of Alberto Hurtado died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 51. In his youth he wanted to be a lawyer in order to defend and help the poor of Chile, but after graduation he entered the Jesuits. Deeply devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, he shared God's love for the poor and abandoned, getting involved in the labor movement and founding shelters for street children. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1994 and Pope Benedict XVI canonized him in 2005.

Padre Alberto is a model for us as we strive to make an offering of every moment of our lives. This is what it means to "live the Eucharist." In the following excerpt from one of his writings entitled "The Eucharist as Sacrifice," he makes it clear that each one of us is called to join the sacrifices that are part of our daily lives to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. This will make the "immolation" of our lives a perfect offering.

The Eucharistic sacrifice is the renewal of the sacrifice of the cross. Just as in the cross, all are incorporated into Christ, in the same way all are immolated in Christ and with Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice.

This is actualized in two ways. The first is to offer to the heavenly Father as our own, the immolation of Jesus Christ, for it is ours as well. The second way is more practical, it consists in adding to the Eucharistic sacrifice our own personal immolations, sacrificing our works and difficulties, our evil inclinations, crucifying our old selves with Christ. In this way, in participating personally in the victimhood of Jesus Christ, we are transformed into the divine Victim. As the bread is truly transubstantiated into the body of Christ, in the same way all the faithful are transubstantiated spiritually with Jesus Christ, Victim. In this way, our personal immolations are elevated to become Eucharistic immolations of Jesus Christ, who as head, assumes and makes his own the immolations of his members.

What horizons are thus opened to the Christian life! The Mass would become the center of the day and of life itself. With our gaze on the Eucharistic sacrifice, we would always be hoarding sacrifices to be made and offered in the Mass .

My Mass is my life, and my life is a prolonged Mass!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Outreach to Jesuits

I'm in Wernersville, PA again, at the old Jesuit Novitiate which is now a Spiritual Center for retreats and a community for retired Jesuits. I'm preaching an eight day retreat to over 30 Jesuits, primarily from the Maryland Province but also including a couple Jesuit students from other countries, the mission superiors for Micronesia and for Lebanon, and a couple other Jesuits from the New York and New England Provinces. The retreat is called "A Heart-Centered Approach to the Spiritual Exercises."

I'm not the only director. Fr. Phil Hurley of the Maryland Province joined the Apostleship of Prayer's national office on July 1 as the director of youth and young adult ministry [see]. Though the youngest retreatant here is about 40 and half are over 70, it's important that we work with other Jesuits in reviving the Apostleship of Prayer. In fact, Fr. Hurley will focus a lot of his attention on Jesuit high schools and universities, working with them to introduce their students to the Eucharistic way of life that the Apostleship promotes. Our hope is also to create a "mission band" of young Jesuits who will give youth retreats during the summer and be available as much as possible for retreats, talks, parish missions, and conferences during the school year.

We're very hopeful. At the beginning of the month we sent out our monthly email newsletter and within two days Fr. Hurley received two invitations--one from Houston and another from Monterey, CA.

Giving a retreat to 30 Jesuits is an opportunity for us to share the good news of the Apostleship of Prayer's revival in the U.S. and to invite them to be part of that.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke

On Saturday I drove to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin (see Sister Christa Marie, whom I met in June when I gave a retreat to her order, the Franciscan Sisters of the Martyr St. George, had arranged for me to concelebrate Mass and to have lunch with Archbishop Raymond Burke. When he was Bishop of La Crosse, Archbiship Burke spearheaded the construction of this beautiful shrine. He is very devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and has promoted the consecration of families, homes, schools, and work places in every parish and diocese where he has served. When he was Archbishop of St. Louis he had a shrine to the Sacred Heart constructed in the cathedral. Currently he serves the Church in Rome where he is the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, which has been called the Supreme Court of the Catholic Church. I first met Archbishop Burke in 2003, shortly after I became the U.S. director of the Apostleship of Prayer, when we participated in a Men's Conference in Marshfield, Wisconsin. In various ways--through articles in his diocesan newspapers, by enclosing the annual leaflet with the Pope's monthly intentions in his Christmas cards, by his monetary gifts and personal encouragement--he has been a tremendous supporter of the Apostleship.

I shared with Archbishop Burke the new kid's booklet that we have published to introduce children to the Sacred Heart. He was very affirming of its catechesis and asked for extra copies for his younger relatives. We also talked about the growth of the Apostleship of Prayer in the U.S. and our efforts to reach out to youth and young people through a new Jesuit staff member, Fr. Phil Hurley.

On the three hour drive to La Crosse I'd wondered whether I should be going. Was such a trip worth it? On my drive back Saturday afternoon there was no doubt in my mind that it was Providence that had brought the two of us together once again to support one another in our efforts to spread the word about the love of God revealed in the Heart of Jesus.