A Prayer Upon Entering The Workplace

This prayer appears to be well-known, but I thought that I would share it nonetheless:


My heavenly father, as I enter this work place, I bring your presence with me.
Bring your peace, your grace, your mercy and your perfect order into my work. I commit to use them responsibly in your honor.

I acknowledge your power over all that will be done, spoken, thought and decided within these walls. Anoint my projects, ideas, and energy, so that even my smallest accomplishment may bring you glory.
Lord, when I am confused, guide me. When I am weary, energize me. Give me a fresh supply of strength to do my job. When I am burned out, infuse my mind with the light of the Holy Spirit.

May the work that I do and the way I do it bring faith, joy and a smile to all that I come in contact with today.

And oh Lord, when I leave this place, give me traveling mercy.

Bless my family as they go about their day and watch over my home so that it will be as I left it when I return and to always be a place of life and love.

Lord, I thank you for the gifts you have blessed me with.

Lord, I thank you for everything you’ve done, everything you are doing, and everything you are going to do.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I pray, with much love and thanksgiving,



The Duck Song And Catholic Theology

We at St. Francis Men of Emmaus are expert theologians. Theological conundra (we use big words too!) that stump lesser minds are child’s play for us. With that in mind, we offer you:


As of this writing, The Duck Song has been viewed more than 100,000,000 times (no typo!). What are the profound theological implications of “The Duck Song?” Does it presage the End of the World? Or merely the End of the World As We Know It (and I feel fine)? What does it say about the Nature of God? Love? Beauty? Truth? The other sublime mysteries of our faith?

Or…. is it a consolation from an infinitely living Father hidden in a cute, catchy tune and a quick laugh to brighten a moment or two? Is it a consolation when we adults show it to our kids and grand kids and their faces break into a smile and they begin laughing in spite of themselves?

Without further ado, here is THE DUCK SONG.

A Nighttime Prayer

A short bedtime prayer from Psalm 4:

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, LORD,
make me dwell in safety.

What a simple, child-like acknowledgment of God’s power and love.

Fidelity To God’s Will As The Way To Heaven

A true disciple of our Lord seeks to live in accordance with the Father’s will.  As our Lord says, ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  Mt. 7:21.

To this lay person, it sometimes seems that doing “the will of my Father who is in heaven” is much easier for the ordained or consecrated.  They have special rules for the conduct of their lives.  The Church makes it quite clear what is expected of each.  Although the level of intensity differs, the principle is the same — the Church provides a clear structure for those it has ordained or specially consecrated.

Lay people are different.  There appears to be no such structure.  I can pray when I please or not pray when I please.  When I pray, I can pray whatever I want.  I do not have to use the Liturgy of the Hours.  I simply pray.  I spend most of my time in the workplace, hardly an explicitly religious environment.  It must be much harder for me to do “the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Pondering this, I picked up Self Abandonment to Divine Providence by Fr. J. P. De Caussade.  Fr. Caussade died in 1751 so I expected a rip-roaring, hair-shirt wearing religiosity.  I did not find that.  Instead, I found an answer to my question.

After discussing the life of the Blessed Mother, Fr. Caussade defined holiness as “fidelity to the Order of God.”  By Order of God, he means God’s will.  Fidelity to the “Order of God” does not require extreme measures.  No hair shirt.  No monasteries.  No hermitage.  Indeed, as Fr. Caussade explains it, fidelity to God’s will can be entirely ordinary:

If the work of our sanctification presents, apparently, the most insurmountable difficulties, it is because we do not know how to form a just idea of it. In reality sanctity can be reduced to one single practice, fidelity to the duties appointed by God. Now this fidelity is equally within each one’s power whether in its active practice, or passive exercise.

The active practice of fidelity consists in accomplishing the duties which devolve upon us whether imposed by the general laws of God and of the Church, or by the particular state that we may have embraced. Its passive exercise consists in the loving acceptance of all that God sends us at each moment.

Book 1, § 3.  Using this touchstone, holiness becomes attainable for a lay person.  The duties imposed by the “general laws of God and of the Church” and the state of life in which I find myself are reasonable and certainly something that I can bear.  Although I do not execute them perfectly, discharging those duties is certainly within my current capability or within my reasonable ability to attain.  Active fidelity is within reach.

Passive fidelity is, too.  I can consciously monitor my emotions and then challenge and replace those that are not conducive to the ” loving acceptance of all that God sends us at each moment.”  Passive fidelity, I think, will take more practice, but it, too, is within reach.

Fr. Cassaude beautifully emphasizes this point even further:

Are either of these practices of sanctity above our strength? Certainly not the active fidelity, since the duties it imposes cease to be duties when we have no longer the power to fulfil them. If the state of your health does not permit you to go to Mass you are not obliged to go. The same rule holds good for all the precepts laid down; that is to say for all those which prescribe certain duties. Only those which forbid things evil in themselves are absolute, because it is never allowable to commit sin. Can there, then, be anything more reasonable? What excuse can be made? Yet this is all that God requires of the soul for the work of its sanctification.

Id. Sanctification requires only a good faith, reasonable attempt to discharge the duties of our state in life and the avoidance of intrinsically evil acts.  We must be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and to the workings of grace so that if God wants us to achieve a particular perfection, we will cooperate enthusiastically with the grace He provides.

The chief example of such holiness is, of course, the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, both of whom were laypersons.  We know that they simply lived the demands of their states in life. They fulfilled their religious duties.  They lived a daily, hidden life of unsurpassed (human) holiness.  They did not, for example, angle for the prime spot in Herod’s Court.  After his marriage, St. Joseph did nothing notable except look for the lost Christ along with the Blessed Mother.  After that, he disappears from Scripture.

But, as Fr. Cassaude makes the point quite eloquently:

There are remarkably few extraordinary characteristics in the outward events of the life of the most holy Virgin, at least there are none recorded in holy Scripture. Her exterior life is represented as very ordinary and simple. She did and suffered the same things that anyone in a similar state of life might do or suffer. She goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth as her other relatives did. She took shelter in a stable in consequence of her poverty. She returned to Nazareth from whence she had been driven by the persecution of Herod, and lived there with Jesus and Joseph, supporting themselves by the work of their hands. It was in this way that the holy family gained their daily bread. But what a divine nourishment Mary and Joseph received from this daily bread for the strengthening of their faith! It is like a sacrament to sanctify all their moments. What treasures of grace lie concealed in these moments filled, apparently, by the most ordinary events. That which is visible might happen to anyone, but the invisible, discerned by faith, is no less than God operating very great things. O Bread of Angels! heavenly manna! pearl of the Gospel! Sacrament of the present moment! thou givest God under as lowy a form as the manger, the hay, or the straw.

Book 1, § 2.  Little can be added.  Wouldn’t we do well to live like this, even for a moment? Properly approached, the ordinary nourishes and strengthens us.  Were Mary’s great gifts exercised through miracles, publicity, rumors (who is this special woman?), ambition, or anything other than the daily fulfillment of the duties of her station in life?  So far as we know, she stepped outside of them only once — at the behest of the Angel Gabriel and with special transforming grace bringing her soul to complete perfection.

While I may not be able to offer an infinity of little hours, neither did St. Joseph nor did the Blessed Mother.  They lived their lives simply, full of grace, and thereby showed lay persons — especially laypersons — that holiness is for us as well.

How Often Should Catholics Go To Confession?

Are You There When You Need To Be?

Are You There When You Need To Be?

Stories abound about how often some notably holy people went to confession.  Bl. John Paul II is said to have gone to confession every two weeks.  Bl. Mother Teresa is said to have gone to confession every day.  Does that mean we of lesser holiness ought to be going at least that often? If not, how often?

Here is some advice that I received from a friendly priest about this question:

+     We should always go to confession when we are aware of having committed a mortal sin or a serious venial sin.  We should go as soon as possible.  Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a priest if need be.

+     We may go to confession for regular venial sins, but should remember that the Church offers numerous ways to obtain forgiveness for those sins without full sacramental confession, such as the worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist.

+     We should be aware that any religious practice can become rote.  Going to confession for the sake of going to confession can becomes rote and is not a good practice.  We should go to confession when we are aware of sin, are truly sorry, and want God’s forgiveness.

+     Don’t be worried or discouraged if you seem to confess the same sins over and over again.  Just keep working on overcoming them with God’s grace.

+     We should pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten our consciences so that we can avoid sin in the first place, know when we need to go to confession, and make a good confession when we get there.

photo source (wikimedia, creative commons, Adam Smith)

A Prayer For Young People

Bl. John Paul II concluded his homily at the Solemn High Mass at World Youth Day 2002 with this prayer.  It expresses so well what I think most parents want for their children, especially as they mature and begin to face new challenges and questions about their faith.

O Lord Jesus Christ, keep these young people in your love. Let them hear your voice and believe what you say, for you alone have the words of life.

Teach them how to profess their faith, bestow their love, and impart their hope to others.

Make them convincing witnesses to your Gospel in a world so much in need of your saving grace.

Make them the new people of the Beatitudes, that they may be the salt of the earth and the light of the world at the beginning of the Third Christian Millennium!

Mary, Mother of the Church, protect and guide these young men and women of the Twenty-first Century. Keep us all close to your maternal heart. Amen

Novena To The Holy Spirit — Seventh Day

SEVENTH DAY(Thursday, 7th Week of Easter)

Heal our wounds–our strength renews; On our dryness pour Thy dew, Wash the stains of guilt away.

The Gift of Counsel

 The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants, and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. “Above all these things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth.”


Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Thy holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil, and direct me by the straight path of Thy commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long.

Our Father — Once

Hail Mary — Once

Glory Be To The Father — Seven Times

Act of Consecration To The Holy Spirit         

On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Your purity, the unerring keenness of Your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the Strength and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice, and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You, by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds, and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore You, Adorable Spirit, Helper of my infirmity, to keep me in Your grace that I may never sin against You. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Father and the Son to say to You always and everywhere, “Speak Lord for Your servant heareth.” Amen.

To be recited daily during the Novena


O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.