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1. MAKE THE SIGN OF THE CROSS THEN SAY"May the Word of the Lord be on my mind, on my lips, and in my heart."

2. COMPOSITION OF PLACE—

"VISIO DIVINA" OR SEEING WITH HEART'S EYES (Optional)

Use this image of Joseph The Carpenter with child Jesus by Georges de La Tour. The experience of beholding a La Tour is like looking at the sunset; your eyes are glued to the dimming sun. Sit down and quietly gaze and marvel at this masterpiece by someone who went through a similar crisis. Ten years after painting this in 1652, Georges and his family perished in an epidemic in Lunéville France. GUIDED MEDITATION—1—Does it mirror or evoke any feeling of the darkness surrounding you these days? Focus on your breathing and feel your own heart beat; listen.—2—Move your attention towards the candle light. Feel in your eyes the warmth. Look at those dirty fingernails. Ask to be cleansed.—3—Notice too the straight flame unperturbed by Joseph's breath. Imagine the heart of God beating and aflame with divine love for you.—4—Join in! The light leads the way as you enter the scene. As you move closer towards Jesus' glowing face you likewise move away from the cast shadows. Look at that face with a bright smile. Thank him briefly.—5—Now, tell Jesus quietly your heart's desires. Imagine his gaze shifting on you. Jesus says "BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD" (Ps 46:10). Use this image as a screen saver.

†Spirit of Wonder and Awe in God's Presence

REFLECTION QUESTION FOR THE DEEPENING OF GIFT
The perfect model of humility before God and humility before one's neighbors is Jesus. How is my practice of humility like or unlike that of Jesus?
†PRAYER (Or Choose Your Own)
My God, I love thee! not because I hope for heaven thereby;
Nor yet because who love Thee not must burn eternally.
Thou, O my Jesus, thou didst me upon the cross embrace!
For me, didst bear the nails and spear, and manifold disgrace.
And griefs and torments numberless, and sweat of agony,
Yea, death itself–and all for one that was thine enemy.
Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ, should I not love thee well?
Not for the hope of winning heaven, nor of escaping hell;
Not with the hope of gaining aught, not seeking a reward;
But as thyself hast loved me, O everlasting Lord!
E'en so I love thee, and will love, and in thy praise will sing–
Solely because thou art my God, and my eternal King. Amen.

 
MY GOD, I LOVE THEE by St Francis Xavier (1506-1552) was one of the original companions of St Ignatius of Loyola (Trans. from the Latin by Edward Caswall) 
3. 'TODAY, IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS'—EVER IN SCRIPTURE, IT IS THE HEART THAT PRAYS. In today's featured Gospel reading, what word or phrase from God speaks to me?—PONDER—LISTEN—THANK—SURRENDER. I contemplate God's word and then end with the OUR FATHER...

Nota bene: Featured after 3:00 PM Philippine Time (PHT) +0800 UTC are the readings for tomorrow.
4. "FATHER, WE THANK YOU FOR SPEAKING TO US TODAY THROUGH YOUR HOLY WORD."
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).

†FINAL BLESSING

"MAY ALMIGHTY GOD BLESS US, IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AMEN." The sign of the cross strengthens us in temptations and difficulties (CCC 2157). Wherever you are be mindful of your interior silence. "If we do not understand silence, we do not understand God."

Optional/Alternative Prayer Exercise

THE EXAMEN PRAYER at the Center for Ignatian Spirituality Philippines [www.cisphil.org]

Lectio Divina: The three concentric circles of Divine Reading

I. The first outermost circle–the mind–which is the first place or vessel of the Word. It is said that "Empty vessels make the most sound" so feed your mind with the words of Scripture and let it reverberate–never straining to "study or solve." But, first, it might be good to empty your mind of other concerns. When ready, slowly read and pause to "listen" to the echoes by remembering a word or a phrase from what you read. Be reverent towards the Word of God that is expressed in human words and fashioned in the light of the same Spirit through whom it was written (cf. DV 12).

II. It is not just the mind that is fed by the Word of God. Move to the second inner circle–the mouth, the "door" to our enteric nervous system which is commonly called gut. When we were still in the womb of our mothers both our gut and our brain originated from the same clump of tissue called the neural crest. One section turned into the brain between our ears and another section turned into the "second brain" or one's gut where one half of all our nerve cells are located. One can "think" through the gut. Our capacity for feeling and expressing emotions depend primarily on it and, only secondarily, the brain. There is a Native American proverb which says, “Listen or your tongue will make you deaf.” Like the mind, the mouth needs quieting down too. They are like Siamese twins; when one is sick, the other may also be sick. The reason you do not hear others' feelings or even your own emotions is because your busy tongue has made you deaf.

III. Only after we have quieted down our two brains that we can move into the third innermost circle–the heart. The opening words of the Rule of St Benedict says, “Listen with the ear of the heart.” What does it mean to listen with the ear of the heart? Once, I got a feedback from one of my silent retreatants who thanked me for listening not only to words but to movements of the heart. It dawned on me that it does make a big difference to listen in this way. As always in the Scripture, it is the heart that prays. Deep in the heart, prayer happens. So allow the "ears of your heart"–to do their work. It is a difficult and challenging journey though to listen with the heart if it is not emptied, e.g., of one's own assumptions, prejudices and past hurts. However, this is the most privileged place to receive the Word of Scripture. This innermost place of prayer is what the desert fathers and mothers call “purity of heart” where we come face to face with God. "Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it all" (Ps 139:4). Although God knows already what you might have there in your heart, talk to Him and listen reverently to His words of consolation.