by Father Mark Goldasich
It’s probably a good thing that I’m not a liturgist. I’m sure that I’d spend way too much time renaming things. This past week is a great example. Officially known as the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time, I’d have called it “Crabby Week” instead.
Let’s take Sept. 27. The Gospel that day spoke about the apostles James and John who are so upset at the inhospitable attitude of a Samaritan village that they say to Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Not exactly the attitude of compassion that Jesus was teaching. It’s no mystery why these two apostles were known as “Boangerges,” which means “sons of thunder.” I’d guess that they weren’t the most patient or understanding men in the world.
That same day, we celebrated the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, who many people rightly know for his dedicated work with the poor. What many aren’t aware of is that he had a tendency to “harshness and anger” and is further described by author Woodeene KoenigBricker as a “grump.” Only because “of his intense prayer life and deep commitment to his faith” was he able to gain control of himself.
September 30 is the feast of St. Jerome, another individual known for his bad temper or “feisty personality,” as author Mary Ellen Hynes describes it. St. Jerome was responsible for translating the Bible from its original Hebrew and Greek into Latin. Despite his “hot temper,” he always had a special place in his heart for the poor and once said: “Today we must translate the words of Scripture into deeds, and instead of speaking saintly words, we must act them.”
I draw great comfort from these “crabby saints.” They give me hope and inspiration. Unfortunately, there are more days than I’d like to admit when I’m less than cheerful and optimistic. And I know that I’ve not cornered the market on crabbiness. Saints like Vincent de Paul and Jerome show us a cure for being terminally crabby: Take a daily dose (or two . . . or more, as needed) of prayer and Scripture. They’re good for what ails us.
But, if we’re already short on time during the day, when and how can we pray and meditate? Happily, there are fantastic resources out there — even for those glued to their smartphones or computers.
Here are a few of my online favorites:
• Start with The Leaven’s website at: www.theleaven.org. There, under the “Links” tab, you’ll find a drop-down menu for the U.S. Catholic bishops’ website — www.usccb.org — which is a treasure trove. Not only does it include a calendar with each day’s Scripture readings for Mass in their entirety, but there is also a tab called “Prayer and Worship,” containing prayers, blessings, and devotionals. Don’t have a Bible? No problem; there’s a complete one online at this site under the “Bible” tab.
• St. Anthony Messenger magazine has a wonderfully rich website as well at: www.americancatholic.org. It has a saint of the day button and a minute meditation that you can receive each day via email or Twitter. If you’re not computer literate or don’t have ready access to the Internet, don’t fret. Plenty is available the good old-fashioned way: in print form. Among my favorites are these two:
• “Living with Christ” is a monthly publication that is billed as “Our Daily Companion for Praying & Living the Eucharist.” The entire Mass is printed each day, complete with all of the prayers and readings. There are also several articles on spiritual topics each month. The booklet contains a short format for morning and evening prayer as well. At $25 a year for a subscription, it’s a bargain. You can get more information by calling 1 (800) 214- 3386.
• Similar to the booklet above is “Give Us This Day: Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic.” Modeled on the Liturgy of the Hours, it includes morning and evening prayer, the day’s Mass prayers and readings in their entirety, and various other reflections — both on the readings and the saints in general. A print subscription for this monthly publication is about $40 a year. Call 1 (800) 858-5450 for more information.
Personally, I prefer the daily resources because they’re a visual reminder for me to pray. They also make it easier for people who are not regular daily pray-ers or who are intimidated, perhaps, about how exactly to pray with the Scriptures to become more comfortable with it. (By the way, gift subscriptions for the print publications make great Christmas gifts.)
You know, when I started this column today, I felt kind of fretful and crabby. However, just writing about these prayer tools has made me feel much better.
Imagine what I’ll be like when I actually start using them!