Saturday, December 10, 2016

Daily Thought For December 9, 2016

Advent & Saying "Yes" To God's Plan

Dear Brothers and Sisters, happy feast day! The Readings, of today’s Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, present two crucial passages in the history of relations between man and God: we could say that they lead us to the origin of good and evil. These two passages lead us to the origin of good and evil.

The Book of Genesis shows us the first No, the No of the origins, the human No, when man preferred to look at himself rather than at his Creator; he wanted to be his own head, he chose to suffice unto himself. However, in so doing, removing himself from communion with God, he in fact lost himself and began to have fear, hiding himself and accusing the one close to him (cf. Genesis 3:10.12). These are the symptoms: fear is always a symptom of a No to God; it indicates that I am saying No to God. To accuse others and not look at oneself indicates that I am distancing myself from God. This constitutes sin. However, the Lord did not leave man at the mercy of his evil; He sought him immediately and asked him a question full of apprehension: “Where are you?” (v. 9). As if He were saying: “Stop, think: where are you?” It is the question of a father or a mother who seeks a lost son: “Where are you? In what situation have you ended up?” And God does this with so much patience, until closing the distance created at the origins. This is one of the passages.

The second crucial passage, recounted today in the Gospel, is when God comes to dwell among us, He makes Himself man like us. And this was possible through a great Yes, that of sin was a No; this is a Yes, Mary’s is a great Yes at the moment of the Annunciation. Because of this Yes, Jesus began His journey on the ways of humanity; He began it in Mary, spending his first months of life in the womb of His Mother: He did not appear already as an adult and strong, but followed the whole course of a human being. He made Himself the same as us in everything, except one thing, that No, except sin. Therefore, He chose Mary, the only creature without sin, immaculate. With just one word in the Gospel, she is said to be “full of grace” (Luke 1:28), namely, brimming with grace. It means that in her, immediately full of grace, there was no room for sin. And, when we turn to her, we also recognize this beauty: we invoke her “full of grace,” without the shade of evil. 

Mary responds to God’s proposal saying: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” (v. 38). She does not say: “Huh, this time I will do God’s will, I’ll make myself available, then I’ll see …” No, hers is a full Yes, total, for the whole of life, without conditions. And as the No of the origins closed man’s passage to God, so Mary’s Yes opened the way to God among us. It is the most important Yes in history, the humble Yes that overturns the arrogant No of the origins, the faithful Yes that heals the disobedience; the willing Yes that overturns the egoism of sin.

For each of us, there is also a history of salvation made up of Yeses and Noes to God. Sometimes, however, we are experts in half Yeses: we are good at feigning that we do not understand what God would like and our conscience suggests to us. We are also crafty, and in order not to say a true and proper No to God, we say: “I’m sorry, I can’t,” “not today, but tomorrow”; “Tomorrow I’ll be better, tomorrow I’ll pray, I’ll do good, tomorrow.” And this craftiness distances us from the Yes, it distances us from God and leads us to the No, to the No of sin, to the No of mediocrity. The famous “Yes, but …”; “Yes, Lord, but …” But in doing so, we close the door to the good, and evil benefits from these wanting Yeses. Each one of us has a collection of these inside. Let us think about it and we will find so many missed Yeses. Instead, every full Yes to God gives origin to a new history: to say Yes to God is truly “original,” is origin, not sin, which makes us old inside. Have you thought of this? That sin makes us old inside? It makes us old quickly! Every Yes to God originates histories of salvation for us and for others – like Mary with her own Yes.

In this Advent journey, God wishes to visit us and He waits for our Yes. Let us think: I, today, what Yes must I say to God? Let us think about it, it will do us good. And we will find the voice of the Lord within God, who asks us something, a step forward. “I believe in You, I hope in You, I love You. May your good will be done in me.” This is a Yes. With generosity and trust, like Mary, let each one of us say today this personal ‘Yes’ to God.

Pope Francis - Angelus, December 8, 2016

Friday, December 9, 2016

Daily Thought For December 9, 2016

Don't Be Afraid of "Stumps"

A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. (Isaiah 11:1)

Picture a tree stump. It’s graying, dry, maybe even crumbling away. It seems impossible that a shoot—or any sign of life—could sprout from something so barren. But if you think about it, this kind of image lies at the heart of many of our favorite biblical stories.

For instance, you might think of the act of creation as the original sprouting stump. Out of a formless, shapeless chasm sprang an entire universe! Though they were elderly, Abraham and Sarah produced a bud that would eventually bloom into a whole nation. Mary wasn’t exactly lifeless, but new life came from her in an unexpected way. And then there’s Jesus. Think of how his life and ministry were cut down on the cross, only to shoot up from the grave three days later!

This image of life miraculously springing up from old stumps is deeply embedded in our faith. It has also taken root in you.

Take a few seconds to wander through the garden of your heart. Do you see any stumps poking out? We all have them. Maybe it’s a wounded relationship with a family member or lingering guilt over a sin you have already confessed. It could be anxiety over the future or a nagging feeling in the back of your mind that tells you God is displeased with you. Whatever it is, know that God can bring new life out of any situation, even something that seems as dead as an old tree stump. He can help you become more loving, more patient, and more compassionate.

Don’t let these stumps intimidate you. Any time you stumble upon one, or stumble over one, pray, “Father, I believe that you can bring new life here.” Statements of faith like this can go a long way in helping you experience God’s touch. They can remind you that the Lord is good and patient and loving. They can help you to keep moving forward with the Lord and not get stuck in worry or guilt.

There is so much more to your life than stumps! God has planted a forest full of seeds in you. Take a look around, and see how many of them are bearing wonderful fruit.

“Here I am, Lord. Let every part of me teem with your life and joy.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Daily Thought For November 15, 2016

Short But Great Advice
    The fool immediately shows his anger, but the shrewd man passes over an insult.
Proverbs 12:16

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Daily Thought For November 12, 2016

The Grace of Surrender

WHEN THINGS ARE NOT GOING YOUR WAY, refuse to get flustered. Stop what you're doing and take some deep breaths. Seek My Face-spend a few moments enjoying My Presence. Tell Me about the matters that are frustrating you. I will help you see things from My perspective and sort out what is really important. Moreover, I will open up the way before you as you press on in trusting dependence, remaining in communication with Me. 

Your desire to feel in control is often the culprit behind your frustration. You plan your day and expect others to behave in ways that expedite your plans. When that doesn't happen, you face a choice: to resent the situation or to trust Me. Remember that I am in control and My ways are higher than yours-as the heavens are higher than the earth. Instead of getting agitated about setbacks to your schedule, use them as reminders: I am your Savior-God, and you are My beloved follower. Relax in My sovereign control, trusting in My unfailing Love. 

Come,” says my heart, “seek his face”;  your face, LORD, do I seek! —Psalm 27:8

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts.—Isaiah 55:9

Why are you downcast, my soul? Why do you groan within me? 
Wait for God, for I shall again praise him, my savior and my God. —Psalm 43:5

from Jesus Always by Sarah Young p.17

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Daily Thought For November 8, 2016

God’s Providence 

I have an ever deeper and firmer belief that nothing is merely an accident when seen in the light of God, that my whole life down to the smallest details . . . has a completely coherent meaning in God’s all-seeing eyes. And so I am beginning to rejoice in the light of glory wherein this meaning will be unveiled to me.

St. Teresa Benedicta Of The Cross (Edith Stein)

Monday, November 7, 2016

Daily Thought For November 7, 2016

An Examination of Conscience Based on The Beatitudes
     The best way to take the Gospel beatitudes seriously is to use them as a mirror for an examination of conscience that is truly "evangelical." All of Scripture, says Saint James, is like a mirror into which the believer should gaze calmly and without haste in order to know what he or she is truly like (see James 1:23-25), but the beatitudes provide a unique mirror. 
     Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Am I poor in spirit, poor within, having abandoned everything to God? Am I free and detached from earthly goods? What does money mean to me? Do I seek to lead a sober and simple lifestyle that is fitting for someone who wants to bear witness to the gospel? Do I take to heart the problem of the terrible poverty that is not chosen but imposed on so many millions of my brothers and sisters? 
     Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Do I consider affliction a misfortune and a punishment, as some people in the world do, or as an opportunity to be like Christ? What are the reasons when I am sad: the same as God's or the same as the world's? Do I seek to console others or only to be consoled myself? Do I know how to keep an adversity a secret between God and me, not talking about it every chance I get? 
     Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Am I meek? There is a violence of action but also a violence of speech and thought. Do I control anger outside of and within me? Am I kind and friendly to those around me? 
     Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.Do I hunger and thirst for holiness? Do I strive for holiness, or am I at times satisfied with mediocrity and lukewarmness? Does the physical hunger of millions of people lead me to question my continual search for comfort, my middle-class lifestyle? Do I realize how much I and the world in which I live resemble the rich man who feasted daily? 
     Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Am I merciful? When a brother, a sister or a coworker demonstrates a fault, do I react with judgment or with mercy? Jesus felt compassion for the crowd; do I? Have I at times been the servant who was forgiven but does not forgive others? How many times have I casually asked for and received the mercy of God for my sins without taking into account the price that Christ paid for me to receive it? 
     Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Am I a peacemaker? Do I bring peace to different sides? How do I behave when there are conflicts of opinion or conflicts of interest? Do I strive always to report only good things, positive words, and strive to let evil things, gossip and whatever might sow dissension, fall on deaf ears? Is the peace of God in my heart, and if not, why not? 
     Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Am I ready to suffer in silence for the gospel? How do I react when facing a wrong or an injury I have received? Do I participate intimately in the suffering of brothers and sisters who truly suffer for their faith or for social justice and freedom? 
     Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Am I pure of heart? Are my intentions pure? Do I say yes and no as Jesus did? There is a purity of heart, a purity of lips, a purity of eyes, a purity of body: Do I seek to cultivate all these kinds of purity that are so necessary-especially to consecrated souls? The clearest opposite of purity of heart is hypocrisy. Whom do I seek to please by my actions: God or other people? 
     Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Am I a peacemaker? Do I bring peace to different sides? How do I behave when there are conflicts of opinion or conflicts of interest? Do I strive always to report only good things, positive words, and strive to let evil things, gossip and whatever might sow dissension, fall on deaf ears? Is the peace of God in my heart, and if not, why not? 
     Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Am I ready to suffer in silence for the gospel? How do I react when facing a wrong or an injury I have received? Do I participate intimately in the suffering of brothers and sisters who truly suffer for their faith or for social justice and freedom? 
Beatitudes - Eight Steps To Happiness by Fr. Raniero Cantalmessa

Friday, November 4, 2016

Daily Thought For November 4, 2016

True Security Rests In God Alone
      If you choose me as your companion you will not be alone; my love will always be with you.      You will never fear anyone or anything, for you will find your security in me. 
      With me as your companion you will live in the light of faith with hope and fortitude, with true patience and perseverance, all the days of your life. 
     I loved you before you existed, and knowing this you can place your trust in my love and set aside every fear. 
    Enjoy my love, live in me and take from me the light of my wisdom. 
    Confront the princes and tyrants of this world with my strength. 
    Take from me the fire of my Spirit and share with all my mercy and my burning love. 
    You are not alone.     You have me. 
St. Catherine of Siena - Set Aside Every Fear