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Magnificat is a spiritual guide to help you develop your prayer life, grow in your spiritual life, find a way to a more profound love for Christ, and participate in the holy Mass with greater fervor.
Magnificat is a monthly publication designed for daily use, to encourage both liturgical and personal prayer. It can be used to follow daily Mass and can also be read at home or wherever you find yourself for personal or family prayer.
Every day, in a convenient, pocket-sized format, Magnificat offers beautiful prayers for both morning and evening drawn from the treasures of the Liturgy of the Hours, the official texts of daily Mass, meditations written by spiritual giants of the Church and more contemporary authors, essays on the lives of the saints of today and yesterday, and articles giving valuable spiritual insight into masterpieces of sacred art.
The Grace of Spiritual Childhood
by Pierre-Marie Dumont
Penitent Mary Magdalene (c. 1576–1580)
by El Greco (1541–1614)
The editorial of the month
by Father Sebastian White, o.p.
About this time last year I told the story of what I thought was my fifteen minutes of fame as a kid: when I won a statewide essay contest for sixth-graders on “What the American Flag Means to Me.” But I must have had a hot hand in 1993, as that was also the year I won a drawing hosted by our local car dealership. The grand prize? No fewer than twelve tickets and a limo ride to a Harlem Globetrotters basketball game in Augusta, Maine’s capital city.
As if that weren’t enough, the jackpot included the right to sit on the bench with the team during the game and the freedom to hang out with the team in the locker room before and after. I even got my own official Globetrotters uniform—conveniently made to pipsqueak scale, as I couldn’t have weighed more than eighty pounds soaking wet. With my oversized eyeglasses and pale, skinny limbs protruding from the classic blue tank top and red-and-white striped shorts, I was a rather improbable Globetrotter jogging into the arena behind the dozen or so tall black men who constituted the team. If I’m honest with you, though, in my mind it was all a sign that there was something to my childhood dream after all: that I was actually really good at basketball and might one day have a shot at going pro.
One thing that sticks out in my mind after all these years—and the main reason I have dragged you down such a whimsical portion of memory lane—is the sense of a moral responsibility that came upon me after winning. For I would have to decide whom to give the other eleven tickets to.
The first three were easy: Mom, Dad, and my eighth-grade sister Emily. Another, I thought, ought to go to Emily’s boyfriend, the pastor’s kid (we were in a Protestant church then), so she would have someone besides our parents to talk to. I offered two more to sports-nut uncles and one to my cousin Matt, about my age. Then, as I thought about the schoolmates I might win favor with and impress with the remaining tickets, my parents, as I recall, encouraged me to think in a different way: Who would be truly touched to be invited? In particular, my mother suggested that I invite one young boy—we’ll call him Ben—who was from a poor family and was not one of the popular kids.
Looking back on it, this was just one of the “life lessons” my parents consistently impressed upon me: don’t be governed by the desire to be accepted and popular. Even though I did not always live up to it, that lesson came in handy in my high school years.
I don’t know what Ben is up to now; we’ve long since lost touch. He has, I bet, forgotten about the game, and in any event I certainly would not have wanted him to feel that he was being pitied or that inviting him was some extraordinary act of virtue. I just hope he enjoyed himself that evening and felt the sense of belonging and camaraderie any young boy desires.
Giving what has been given
On July 7 we will hear in the Gospel at Mass the commissioning of the apostles: As you go, Jesus says, make this proclamation: “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” They are told to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.
What the apostles have received and what they must give are not this world’s goods but the very love of Jesus. In fact, Jesus sends them out materially empty-handed, lacking not only luxuries but basic provisions—“a condition of complete simplicity/ costing not less than everything,” to quote T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. Neither will the apostles seek worldly acceptance or recognition. Sustained by his grace, they will persevere in their mission even when it means great personal sacrifice, rejection, and persecution.
Most of us today do not face the same degree of opposition and mortal danger the apostles and early Christians did. Even still, within the circumstances of our own life and vocation each of us is called to remain faithful to Jesus and the Church without counting the cost. For my part, I am blessed to know another Dominican priest who has given me a lot of wise counsel over the years. Often enough, after I have shared some challenging pastoral experience he has reminded me: “Well, Jesus never said they’re all gonna like you!” There is a detectable note of levity in his voice, but I am always grateful for the reality check.
Formed by the Word
There is one final memory I’d like to share from that magical evening I spent as a Globetrotter, watching the rest of my “teammates” crush the Washington Generals for the thousandth time. I was able to meet Meadowlark Lemon—probably their most legendary player of all time—who was nearing the end of his career. I had heard that he was a Christian and when I first saw him in the locker room before the game, he was, true to form, in a room off to the side reading the Bible. He did not want to interrupt his pre-game prayer and meditation, but said he’d make time to speak after the game. When we finally did speak, I told him that I, too, was a Christian and read my Bible regularly. (I then asked for his autograph.)
This month, may we all have a renewed gratitude and love for sacred Scripture as it is read at Mass: for it continues to reveal that the kingdom of heaven is at hand—and that admission is free and does not depend on the luck of the draw.(Read More)