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Aspirations

First Reading: James 3:13-18

Beloved:
Who among you is wise and understanding?
Let him show his works by a good life
in the humility that comes from wisdom.
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts,
do not boast and be false to the truth.
Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above
but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure,
then peaceable, gentle, compliant,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without inconstancy or insincerity.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace
for those who cultivate peace.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 15

R. (9a) The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

Gospel: Mark 9:14-29

As Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James, John
and approached the other disciples,
they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them.
Immediately on seeing him,
the whole crowd was utterly amazed.
They ran up to him and greeted him.
He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”
Someone from the crowd answered him,
“Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit.
Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down;
he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid.
I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so.”
He said to them in reply,
“O faithless generation, how long will I be with you?
How long will I endure you? Bring him to me.”
They brought the boy to him.
And when he saw him,
the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions.
As he fell to the ground, he began to roll around
and foam at the mouth.
Then he questioned his father,
“How long has this been happening to him?”
He replied, “Since childhood.
It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him.
But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus said to him,
“‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.”
Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!”
Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering,
rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it,
“Mute and deaf spirit, I command you:
come out of him and never enter him again!”
Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out.
He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, “He is dead!”
But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.
When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private,
“Why could we not drive the spirit out?”
He said to them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”

NAB

may 16

Catholic vocab lesson: an “aspiration” is a short prayer, a one liner that says it all without many words.

“I do believe, help my unbelief,” is one such aspiration. The father in today’s Gospel called it out to Jesus in desperation and, truthfully, it is one of my favorite lines of Scripture. I can relate to the sentiment strongly—a prayer asking God to fill in the gaps—and I pray it often, especially when I am struggling with Church teaching. “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

Aspirations are like carrying an arsenal of prayers with you at all times. Someone on Facebook has a prayer request? Your patience is running low? Something wonderful just happened? It’s a beautiful day? You’re worried? Aspirations are there to help you focus on God, give Him the glory, and integrate prayer into your life even more.

Examples include:

Lord, have mercy.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Glory to God in the highest.
Come, Lord Jesus.
My Lord and My God!
Jesus, I love You.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
Come, Holy Spirit.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the tender mercies of God, rest in peace.
Jesus, I trust in You.

If you don’t already pray aspirations I encourage you to pick one or two out and try using them throughout your day. They are a great way to fulfill the Psalm: Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Find one. Pray it. Sing it. Live it.

photo credit

Bonnie Engstrom is a writer, baker, speaker and homemaker. She lives with her husband and five children in central Illinois. You can find out more about her here.

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