Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dense Cloud of Love

In today's First Reading (Ex. 19,1-2.9-11.16-20) God tells Moses, "I am coming to you in a dense cloud, so that when the people hear me speaking with you, they may always have faith in you also."

I sat at Mass this morning thinking about other signs of God's presence in our lives. I considered the lives of SS. Anne and Joachim, Mary's parents, whom we remember today. I thought about their loving household.

Love for others is the sure sign that we are in the presence of God. It is the singular way in which we ourselves and those around us can have faith that God exists and that He has spoken to and acted through men.

Anne and Joachim's family must have been enveloped in such a cloud of love. After all, they gave birth to Mary, the model of perfect Love and Faith.

Such nuclear families are ordained by God as the privileged place where we first learn what love is from parents and also learn how to show love to others. Anyone who has ever borne children or been a child knows in their own hearts that this is true. Love for a child takes many forms, changes, develops, matures, gets disappointed. But it never fails.

However, there are larger arenas here where love is at work and play.

In religious communities, parishes, and the workplace we are to be surrounded by a dense cloud of love. Here we also experience the love of God and in turn show our concern by loving service to others. The nuclear family is to be the birthplace of such love, but it dare not become its endpoint. That is why a stable family life is so important to our churches, our neighborhoods, our society.

Here is a novena prayer to Anne and Joachim. They are powerful intercessors to bring this kind of love into our lives, in the family and wherever we find ourselves.

The Novena Prayer:

Good parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
grandparents of our Savior, Jesus Christ,
When life seems barren,
help us to trust in God's mercy.
When we are confused,
help us to find the way to God.
When we are lost in the desert,
lead us to those whom God has called us to love.
When our marriage seems lifeless,
show us the eternal youth of the Lord.

When we are selfish,
teach us to cling only to that which lasts.
When we are afraid,
help us to trust in God.
When we are ashamed,
remind us that we are God's children.
When we sin,
lead us to do God's will.

You who know God's will for husband and wife,
help us to live chastely.
You who know God's will for the family,
keep all families close to you.
You who suffered without children,
intercede for all infertile couples.
You who trusted in God's will,
help us to respect God's gift of fertility.
You who gave birth to the Blessed Mother,
inspire couples to be co-creators with God.

You who taught the Mother of God,
teach us to nurture children in holy instruction.
You whose hearts trusted in God, hear our prayers for ...
(mention your requests here).

Pray with us for the ministry of Catholic family life.
Pray with us for the ministry of Natural Family Planning.
Pray with us for all who give their time, talent and treasure to this good work.

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

God of our fathers,
you gave Saints Anne and Joachim the privilege of being the parents of Mary,
the mother of your incarnate Son.
May their prayers help us to attain the salvation
you have promised to your people.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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