theROCK

A Prayer of Surrender

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Every day, I begin my day in prayer. The routine is very simple but well-rehearsed. It is the same prayer I have had for the last seven years. As part of my routine, I pray that I be the vessel by which the Lord fulfills His work. It is a prayer of surrender. I have lived my life in surrender to Jesus Christ since I was sixteen years old. When I get
that "feeling" it usually falls in line with a moment of change, a moment of conversion at the climax of surrender. We are meant to go through multiple conversions throughout a lifetime as we grow into a deeper relationship with Jesus by surrendering to His will. I recently had one of those moments that moved me deeper into conversion, resulting once again into surrendering. It is then that I started having that "feeling". I am now left waiting to see what the "feeling" is going to bring.

Many saints write about conversion and surrender as a pathway to holiness. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta would say, "We have to love until it hurts. It is not enough to say I love. We must put that love into a living action. And how do we do that? By giving until it hurts". This loving until it hurts is conversion. It is surrender because it is counter-cultural. St. Faustina brought us the depiction of surrender through the image of the Divine Mercy and the simple yet powerful prayer "Jesus, I trust in you!" Releasing oneself to the will of the Father is liberating yet terrifying.

May Crowning

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Did you ever wonder where the May Crowning tradition came from?

To recall a bit of Church history, monotheism, or the belief in one god, was rare in the ancient world. Abraham, according to our faith tradition, was the first to interact with God in order to establish a belief system rooted in the one true God. God establishes a covenant with us through Abraham that connects the faithful to Him throughout time.

A common practice of the polytheistic cultures, those who believed in more than one god, was the practice of making offerings on an altar to a particular god or group of gods in order to find favor with them. If you were found to be in favor with the gods, good things would happen. If you were not in favor with the gods, not so good things would happen. Abraham understood this polytheistic practice. Abraham did many things that demonstrated the application of polytheistic practice to a belief in the one true God. Abraham even made an offering on an altar after God spared Isaac's life because that is all ancient people knew what to do to honor the gods. Abraham applied what he knew to God. Altars were for sacrifice. Altars were for prayer. Offerings were often burned on altars so that the prayers would rise to the heavens in hopes that the gods would find favor.

Sound familiar?
Jesus's sacrifice is the Eucharist. The celebration of that sacrifice is done at the altar. Incense is burned to symbolize our prayers going to heaven. Many of our church rituals are rooted in these ancient ways. 

The May Crowning is no different because many polytheistic cultures honored spring by burning offerings to the goddesses in their belief systems. Whether it was Minerva, Hera, or Persephone, flowers were brought to an altar and burned as prayers were lifted for fertility, a good harvest, family, etc. As Christianity spread among the Roman Empire, they attached an old practice to a new belief; offerings to Mary as opposed to the goddesses. This would explain the procession of flowers and the burning of incense.

While some believers may come with intentions of fertility, harvest, and family, we all come to honor Mary as our Mother and our gratitude for her intercessory power that goes directly to the heart of her Son. We honor her. We celebrate her. We love her. We bring her gifts to demonstrate that love just like we do to our earthly mothers and those that are like mothers to us.

Fear

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We know that when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning and saw the stone removed from the tomb, that Jesus had risen from the dead. But at the time, the disciples were not quite sure what had occurred. In fact, they locked themselves in a room, afraid of what would happen if they appeared in public. For those many days, they lived in fear.

So, what does Jesus do to address these fears? He says four simple words: “Peace be with you.”

He wanted them to truly believe in the resurrection, to know that they had no need for fear, that he would be with them every moment of every day (especially when he gives them the power of the Holy Spirit).

Today, many of us have our own daily struggles. We worry about money, about health, about relationships. We lock ourselves in our own rooms, and we try to solve all of our problems alone.

We live in fear.

But just like the disciples, we soon discover that we can’t do it alone. That we need God every moment of every day to guide us and show us the way. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to fill our minds and hearts. That’s why the same words are just as effective today as they were 2000 years ago.

“Peace be with you.”

If we listen to these words, we will truly begin to understand the power of the resurrection.

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