Minute Meditation – God Always Has Time for You

One of the most beautiful things that happens once spending time daily with the Lord becomes a habit is that your time together will often expand beyond what has been set aside. You will also come to recognize when your time together is concluded, which may even come before the clock runs out. Going away to a quiet place to pray is not about making time for God; it is about acknowledging and being grateful for the fact that God always has time for you. You do not undertake this time to prove God’s importance in your life, but rather because it is necessary for life itself.

—from the book Prayer Everywhere: The Spiritual Life Made Simple
by Fr. Gary Caster

//Franciscan Media//

Minute Meditation – Train Your Soul for Peace

A beloved and treasured prayer for a century, the Peace Prayer has been ascribed to Saint Francis of Assisi though, in fact, it was probably written seven centuries after his death. In fourteen simple verses, it captures the essence of soul training. Soul training is our response to the gratuity of grace that never expires and is never exhausted. The initial training can be tedious and difficult since we are born selfish and self-centered. The centripetal force of the ego makes us not only cling to personality props that we lean on for our self-worth but also promotes fears, attachments, control issues, and a sense of entitlement that hinder our surrender to grace. As we allow grace to shape us into instruments of God, we are challenged to practice the kenotic selflessness of Jesus by living lives of selfless surrender, self-denying sacrifice, and solicitous service. This selflessness is also expressed in practical ways by sowing faith, hope, love, forgiveness, and joy while consoling, understanding, and enriching the lives of others. These practices activate the centrifugal force of the Spirit that invites us to a daily death of letting go and surrendering as we walk in the footsteps of the Lord and Divine Master. As this first death becomes second nature, we prepare ourselves for the second death that leads to the imperishable crown of eternal life.

—from the book Soul Training with the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis
by Albert Haase, OFM

//Franciscan Media//

Where Is Your Treasure?

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” —Matthew 6:21

The Jewish Shema prayer is quoted by Jesus as the number-one commandment and first principle in fulfilling our reason for existing: Love God alone above all things, above everyone and everything. Put God first, and all else will fall into place. God’s personal love for you and me cannot stop or be shut off. Like the sun, it’s always beaming down on us. When I open up and choose a loving relationship with God, his love penetrates my heart, directs my mind to truth, and guides my every step securely. A renowned Jesuit priest, Pedro Arrupe, once wrote: “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, falling in love with God in a quite final and absolute way….What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what you will get out of bed for, what you do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekend, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.” Fall in love and stay in love with God, and it will decide everything. Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul—a very smart decision.

Help me, Lord, to love you with all my mind, all my soul, and all my strength. Amen.

—from the book Three Minutes with God: Reflections and Prayers to Encourage, Inspire, and Motivate
by Monsignor Frank Bognanno

The Best Remedy for Anxiety

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” —Deuteronomy 31:8

Most of the time our anxiety stems from a fear of something or someone in the future. The next time it happens to you, try the “Three Ps Remedy”:

Prepare—Do what you can now. Simply ponder, What can I do in a proactive way that makes sense? Usually one or two things will occur to you. Do them and watch your anxiety begin to shrink.

Present—Live in the present moment, not in the imagined future. Living in the now can help smother the fire of fear.

Pray—Know that God is in of control of the future. God has the power and the love to do what we cannot do. Our Father’s love can and does shape the future. Pray and experience the peace that will replace the anxiety, because the God who loves you unconditionally is in control now and in the days ahead.

Lord, show me how to prepare, to live in the present moment, and to pray when fear begins to creep in. Amen.

—from the book Three Minutes with God: Reflections and Prayers to Encourage, Inspire, and Motivate
by Monsignor Frank Bognanno

Every Drop Adds to the Ocean

“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food…”—Matthew 25:34–35

There is so much need for good today that it can be overwhelming. We think, What good is my small part? Do not sell yourself short on your effort, small as it may seem. That smile you gave your new neighbor may seem small to you, but it might have meant a whole lot to that neighbor. Maybe that kind word or smile released a flood of self-confidence, joy, peace, and affirmation that your neighbor needed at that moment. It may seem like just a drop in the ocean, but every ocean is fed with small streams. Mother Teresa, from her own experience, told others: “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” She had the eyes of faith to see the immeasurable dignity and value of each person. She could see the glory of God shining through people discarded by society. Her faith made each person the most important person in the world at that moment. Small thing? Look at the strength of character she developed over the years. What is that “small thing” in your life that God is calling you to be faithful to?

Prayer Lord, help me to always remember that all I have comes from you, and when I give to others, I am really giving back to you. Amen.

—from the book Three Minutes with God: Reflections and Prayers to Encourage, Inspire, and Motivate
by Monsignor Frank Bognanno

A Smile Is the First Step to Love

“A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance.” —Proverbs 15:13

Our world today seems to be a war zone. It seems as though peace has gone out the window. But we can bring it back. St. Teresa of Calcutta walked into contentious situations in various countries. She carried with her the first step to peace. It’s simple, and we can all do it. She said, “Peace begins with a smile.” That means peace begins with me and within me, and I want to share it with you. Most of the time I can be a joyful person. I can have that joy because I have hope. Occasionally I will feel some kind of “affliction.” But I am patient. It will pass. I can always have that small smile on my face, almost visible only to myself. The smile, Mother Teresa often said, is truly the first step in love. When someone smiles and says hello to me, down deep it seems to draw me out of myself. I feel noticed, valued, communicated with, acknowledged. Our world needs love and so do your family and friends. They need and want your love. Your smile must not only be the first step in love, but it could also be the next step as well. Take that next step for your family and friends. Take the first step with your smile. Share it with the next person you meet. They may need the love that’s behind that smile.

Lord, help me to always carry some joy in my heart and let it grow into a small smile. Amen.

—from the book Three Minutes with God: Reflections and Prayers to Encourage, Inspire, and Motivate
by Monsignor Frank Bognanno

Spread Love

“Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”—1 John 3:18

St. Teresa of Calcutta’s passion was to love, help, and care for the “poorest of the poor,” as she called them. She began by going into the slums of Calcutta and helping the lepers, the poor, the sick, and the dying. This tiny woman, less than five feet tall, had only prayer and love as the tools for her calling. She once said, “Spread love wherever you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” You and I can spread love by taking two simple steps: Step one is prayer, and step two is focus. Before you meet someone or are in contact with him or her, first pray for God’s love to shine through you. Then try to focus on that person’s situation, needs, and thoughts. They will sense your genuine concern and love for them. How to start? First, smile when you meet him or her; second, truly listen; and third, speak the truth with gentleness. That’s the way to create a friendship and bring others into the joy we have in our relationship with God. The result? No one will ever come to you without leaving happier.

Lord, help me to spread love today—your love in me and through me. Help me to truly love everyone I meet. Amen.

 —from the book Three Minutes with God: Reflections and Prayers to Encourage, Inspire, and Motivate
by Monsignor Frank Bognanno

Live with Love

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these, … you did it to me.”—Matthew 25:40

Mother Teresa of Calcutta was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and given the Medal of Freedom by President Reagan in 1985. She was canonized a saint in 2016. She spent her life loving the poorest of the poor. She never criticized people, governments, or individuals for faults that might have contributed to sickness or poverty. She once said: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” If I feel like criticizing someone, that person probably needs my help, my love, and maybe my prayer. Love helps; judging negatively doesn’t. Prayer helps—and prayer works! Instead of judging someone, take the time to love that person. That attitude of love will help that person— and help you as well.

Lord, open my eyes to see you in the very least of those I encounter. Give me the wisdom to love others instead of judging them. Amen.

—from the book Three Minutes with God: Reflections and Prayers to Encourage, Inspire, and Motivate
by Monsignor Frank Bognanno

Pray, Trust, and Don’t Worry

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”—Matthew 6:34

Occasionally someone will share with me their fears—about the economy, the direction of our moral standards, the aftermath of the pandemic. So many things seem out of our control. The apostles of Jesus were in a boat with him and panicked when a huge storm arose at sea threatening to sink them. They awakened Jesus, who immediately calmed the sea and wind and told them, “I am with you—I care—where is your faith and trust in me?” Their fear was gone. God was there and clearly in charge. The most repeated phrase in the Bible—over two thousand times—is “Fear not.” God’s messengers can confidently say, “Be not afraid” because they know that God is in charge of history; God is always present and loves us. Jesus said, “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust.” And I love the counsel of St. Padre Pio: “Pray, trust, and don’t worry!” When we are fearful, we need to trust in God’s loving presence and power to help. He cares!

Lord, help me to live in this present moment, for it is in the present that you reveal yourself to me. Let me have the wisdom to leave the past to your mercy and the future to your Divine Providence. Amen.

—from the book Three Minutes with God: Reflections and Prayers to Encourage, Inspire, and Motivate
by Monsignor Frank Bognanno

Accept Your Weakness

“Whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” —2 Corinthians 12:10

Jesus began his preaching by giving us the eight Beatitudes. The very first one is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? It simply means “Blessed are those who know their need for God.” They realize they are weak and finite, and they know that God’s love is the infinite source of strength for them each day. If you feel “poor in spirit,” your human soul probably feels empty; maybe that’s good. Maybe now there is room for a deeper relationship with God.

St. Francis of Assisi repeatedly prayed, “Who are you, God, and who am I?” If we make room for this prayer in our poverty of spirit, we make room for the great truth of life: God is love, and we are his beloved. Jesus clearly tells us that God loves us not in spite of our weakness, but because of our weakness. Being “poor in spirit,” we become blessed because our spiritual poverty opens us up to true riches, God’s riches. When you feel poor in spirit, thank God, for you are open at that moment to his mercy, grace, and joy. Yes, the kingdom of heaven is yours!

Lord, help me to realize that my weaknesses are open doors for you. Amen.

 —from the book Three Minutes with God: Reflections and Prayers to Encourage, Inspire, and Motivate
by Monsignor Frank Bognanno