Archive for Prayer

Friday after Ash Wednesday – On Fasting

Reading 1IS 58:1-9A

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my people their wickedness,
and the house of Jacob their sins.
They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask me to declare what is due them,
pleased to gain access to God.
“Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?”Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

GospelMT 9:14-15

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
“Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast.”

Prepare Yourself with the Stations of the Cross – The Third Sunday of Advent….The Retreat Continues

Reading 1 Is 35:1-6a, 10

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.

Gospel Mt 11:2-11

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”As they were going off,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,
“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.

Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine;

St. Padre Pio Novena Day 1

Join Msgr. John Esseff, as he offers this novena in honor of St. Pio

Day 1

From the writings of St. Pio:

Jesus Keeps nothing for Himself of what is done for love of Him, and He will repay us very lavishly, Don’t let us make our happiness depend on enjoying wonderful health, or else we should be just like those foolish worldly people to whom it is not given to know the secrets of heaven…. Continue to love Jesus, and make an effort to love Him more and more, without wanting to know anything else He alone will steer us to the haven of salvation.

St. Padre Pio Communion Prayer:

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have you present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life and without You I am without fervor.

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light and without You I am in darkness.

Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You.

Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You very much and alway be in Your company.

Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.

Stay with me, Lord, as poor as my soul is I want it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of Love.

Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close and life passes, death, judgment and eternity approach. It is necessary to renew my strenth, so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You. It is getting late and death approaches, I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows. O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile!

Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all its dangers, I need You.

Let me recognize You as Your disciples did at the breaking of the bread, so that the Eucharistic Communion be the Light which disperses the darkness, the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.

Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You, if not by Communion, at least by grace and love.

Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for, Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more.

With a firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity. Amen.

The novena is offered by Msgr. John Esseff with Kris McGregor

The entire novena can be found on the The St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) Discerning Hearts Page

The necessity of contemplation before action

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the dangers of doing “good work” without having the depth of the contemplative prayer that unites us to Christ in doing the will of the Father.  He offers insight primarily from the teachings found in the letter from St. James Chap 1:

 

Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:
to care for orphans and widows in their affliction
and to keep oneself unstained by the world.  – NAB

As well as the Gospel of Mark Chap 7:

He responded,
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.
You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”

He summoned the crowd again and said to them,
“Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.

“From within people, from their hearts,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.” – NAB

 

True Interior Conversion…What it looks like in the life of St. Augustine and in others

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the interior movement of St. Augustine that led to his conversion and witness.  He also shares a powerful story of a man in a prison and his conversion.  The story takes a poignant twist at the end, one that exemplifies the power of conversion and forgiveness.  When our hearts are united with the heart of Christ a death takes place…the old self dies so that Christ may live.

BKL#50 – On Prayer

Show 50 ” Building a Kingdom of Love” –   On Prayer

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and on how we pray:

Gospel       LK 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable
about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.
He said, “There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being.
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,
‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being,
because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her
lest she finally come and strike me.'”
The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones
who call out to him day and night?
Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

 

The Holy Trinity and Prayer


Reading 2
Rom 8:14-17
Brothers and sisters:
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a Spirit of adoption,
through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.
Alleluia

Gospel
Mt 28:16-20
The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

BKL#80 – Are you prepared for the Lord’s coming?

Msgr. Esseff asks the question, “Are you prepared for the Lord’s coming?”  He challenges us to take a good look at our prayer lives and to prepare for the coming of Jesus in your life today.

Gospel MK 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”

 

Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton.  He was ordained on May 30th 1953, by the late Bishop William J. Hafey, D.D. at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton, PA.  Msgr. Esseff served a retreat director and confessor to Blessed Mother Teresa.    He continues to offer direction and retreats for the sisters of the missionaries of charity around the world.  Msgr. Esseff encountered St.  Padre Pio,  who would become a spiritual father to him.  He has lived in areas around the world,  serving  in the Pontifical missions, a Catholic organization established by Bl. Pope John Paul II to bring the Good News to the world especially to the poor.  Msgr. Esseff assisted the founders of the Institute for Priestly Formation and continues to serve as a spiritual director for the Institute.  He continues to  serve as a retreat leader and director to bishops, priests and sisters and seminarians and other religious leaders around the world.   

 

 

To obtain a copy of Msgr. Esseff’s book byvisiting here

 

Be sure to visit Msgr. Esseff’s website “Building a Kingdom of  Love

 

The Prayer of Persistence – a reflection by Msgr. John Esseff

Msgr. John Esseff

Msgr. Esseff discusses prayer and the importance of persistance in faith.  What should we be praying for?  How should we pray for it?  What if we don’t receive the answer we expected?

Gospel LK 11:5-13

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,’
and he says in reply from within,
‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit
to those who ask him?”

“Our Father” – How We Are To Pray

Msgr. Esseff breaks open the teachings on the “Our Father”, as well, reflects on the great prayer of the Eucharist

Gospel LK 11:1-4

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”

Our Lady’s Holy Rosary

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

ourladyoftherosary

 

BKL76 – The Need for Spiritual Direction

BKL 76 ” Building a Kingdom of Love” – The Need for Spiritual Direction

  Msgr. Esseff reflects on why we need spiritual direction on the spiritual journey.

Gospel MT 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
He said in reply, ‘I will not,’
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They answered, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine;

 

An Important Prayer Exercise for You….TODAY!!!!

Msgr. Esseff would like listeners/directees to engage in the prayer he is describing in this podcast…today!   He would also like to encourage you to share any questions and/or graces you have received in the comment section of this post, as an encouragement and help for your brothers and sisters in Christ.  He will respond to the questions asked in future podcasts.

Reading 1 IS 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8

When Hezekiah was mortally ill,
the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him:
“Thus says the LORD: Put your house in order,
for you are about to die; you shall not recover.”
Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD:“O LORD, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly
I conducted myself in your presence,
doing what was pleasing to you!”
And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: “Go, tell Hezekiah:
Thus says the LORD, the God of your father David:
I have heard your prayer and seen your tears.
I will heal you: in three days you shall go up to the LORD’s temple;
I will add fifteen years to your life.
I will rescue you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria;
I will be a shield to this city.”

Isaiah then ordered a poultice of figs to be taken
and applied to the boil, that he might recover.
Then Hezekiah asked,
“What is the sign that I shall go up to the temple of the LORD?”

Isaiah answered:
“This will be the sign for you from the LORD
that he will do what he has promised:
See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun
on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz
go back the ten steps it has advanced.”
So the sun came back the ten steps it had advanced.

Gospel MT 12:1-8

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath.
His disciples were hungry
and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him,
“See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.”
He said to the them, “Have you not read what David did
when he and his companions were hungry,
how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering,
which neither he nor his companions
but only the priests could lawfully eat?
Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath
the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath
and are innocent?
I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.
If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
you would not have condemned these innocent men.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”

The Gift of Wisdom

The Book of Wisdom Chapter 3 1-9

The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,a

and no torment shall touch them.

2They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;

and their passing away was thought an affliction

3and their going forth from us, utter destruction.

But they are in peace.b

4For if to others, indeed, they seem punished,

yet is their hope full of immortality;

5Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,

because God tried them

and found them worthy of himself.c

6As gold in the furnace, he proved them,

and as sacrificial offerings* he took them to himself.d

7In the time of their judgment* they shall shine

and dart about as sparks through stubble;e

8They shall judge nations and rule over peoples,

and the LORD shall be their King forever.f

9Those who trust in him shall understand truth,

and the faithful shall abide with him in love:

Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,g

and his care is with the elect.

The Gift of Counsel

ACTS 20:17-27

From Miletus Paul had the presbyters
of the Church at Ephesus summoned.
When they came to him, he addressed them,
“You know how I lived among you
the whole time from the day I first came to the province of Asia.
I served the Lord with all humility
and with the tears and trials that came to me
because of the plots of the Jews,
and I did not at all shrink from telling you
what was for your benefit,
or from teaching you in public or in your homes.
I earnestly bore witness for both Jews and Greeks
to repentance before God and to faith in our Lord Jesus.
But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem.
What will happen to me there I do not know,
except that in one city after another
the Holy Spirit has been warning me
that imprisonment and hardships await me.
Yet I consider life of no importance to me,
if only I may finish my course
and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus,
to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.

“But now I know that none of you
to whom I preached the kingdom during my travels
will ever see my face again.
And so I solemnly declare to you this day
that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you,
for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God.”