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Jared Dees

“Let it be done for you according to your faith.”

When he entered the house the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they said to him.”

Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.”

Matthew 9:28-29

It’s hard not to read today’s daily Advent Gospel reading and think of the Angelus and our prayer to “Be it done unto me according to thy Word.”

By saying this prayer, we express our openness to God’s will in our lives. We stand with Mary as a handmaid seeking to serve the Lord and responding to his Word.

Sometimes, though, we seek out God’s pity. We reach out to the Lord in hopes that he will help us with some specific pain or suffering we are going through. Like the blind men, we can be in desperate need of God’s help.

Think about how the men could have acted. They could have been angry with God. They could have resented the Lord and criticized Jesus for their blindness. Often this is how people respond to suffering.

Instead, they humbly seek out his touch. They have lost everything and turn to him. They rely only on their faith in him.

God responds to our faith. He heals us and helps us because of our openness to his working in our lives. By praying the Angelus every day we express that openness. We prepare ourselves to respond, like the blind men, to Jesus response to our petitions: “Do you believe I can do this?”

Yes, Lord, we do.

Angel Songs and Decorations

“The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.”

Well, Thanksgiving has past and it seems like nearly every other radio station is playing Christmas music right now. Some songs are about Santa Clause others sing about the cold winter nights of December. Others, thankfully, echo the story of Christmas as it was told in the Gospels.

I have a hunch that after praying the Angelus each day during Advent, you will take special note of the Christmas music featuring angels. Each day as you pray the Angelus, you recall that appearance of an angel to Mary from the Gospel of Luke. Gabriel comes to announce some incredible news in his very first words.

He says, “Hail favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28)

Let’s make that our meditation for the day. We say it in the Hail Mary prayer in reference to the Virgin Mother of God. Certainly the Lord is with her. She is full of grace.

And us?

Yes, the Lord is with us too. This we proclaim each day we pray the Angelus:

“The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”

Back to the angels. Even though we may not get a visit from an actual angel during this Advent season, we will see angels in Christmas decorations everywhere. We will hear about them on the radio and in Christmas concerts in the next few weeks.

Those angels can be a reminder for us as we prepare for Christmas:

The Lord is with you.

God is with us right now in this very moment and in this very place.

What a comforting thought. We are not alone. The Lord, our God, is with us now and forever.

St. Gabriel, pray for us!

Mary, holy Mother of God, pray for us!

The First Sunday of Advent: At An Hour You Do Not Expect

“So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Matthew 24:44

One of the amazing things about the Angelus devotion is that the reminders at 6:00 a.m., noon, and 6:00 p.m. to pray are almost always unexpected.

You might be in the middle of doing something really important when all of the sudden you have to stop everything and pray.

Often you might feel unprepared and not quite ready to pray, yet this devotion forces you to stop everything and look for the Lord.

What a great way to “be prepared” as Jesus tells us to do today. Just as you do not expect the hour of the Lord to return, so to will you not expect that Angelus reminder to stop everything and pray.

As we begin this season of Advent, let us stay true to our commitment to pray when we least expect it because in just the same way, our Lord, the Son of Man, will return.

Read the entire Gospel here.

Have a wonderful first Sunday of Advent!


Angelus Address: A Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria

Pope Francis Peace in Syria

On Sunday, September 1, 2013, Pope Francis announced during his weekly Angelus address that Saturday, September 7, 2013 would be a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syrian and the Middle East. Saturday is the eve of the birth of Mary, who is called the “Queen of Peace.”

Here is the full text of Pope Francis’s Angelus Address (or read it here):

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Hello! Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to make add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.

There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming. I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.

With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously to follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict. With similar vigour I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people. May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries. May humanitarian workers, charged with the task of alleviating the sufferings of these people, be granted access so as to provide the necessary aid.  

What can we do to make peace in the world? As Pope John said, it pertains to each individual to establish new relationships in human society under the mastery and guidance of justice and love (cf. John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, [11 April 1963]: AAS 55, [1963], 301-302). All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace. I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs all of humanity! 

I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace. May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and be let themselves be led by the desire for peace. 

To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative. On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.  

Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace.  

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!