Monday, July 21, 2014

Daily Thought For July 21, 2014

The Gift of Hope

Christian optimism is not a sugary optimism, nor is it a mere human confidence that everything will turn out all right. It is an optimism that sinks its roots into an awareness of our freedom, and the sure knowledge of the power of grace. It is an optimism that leads us to make demands on ourselves, to struggle to respond at every moment to God's call.

St. Josemaría Escrivá

**The next Daily Thought will be on August 2, 2014**

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Daily Thought For July 20, 2014

Thanksgiving In The Midst of Tribulations

Paul, by God’s will an apostle of Jesus Christ, and Timothy his brother, to the church of God that is at Corinth and to all the holy ones of the church who live in Achaia. Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praised be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all consolation! He comforts us in all our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation we have received from him. As we have shared much in the suffering of Christ, so through Christ do we share abundantly in his consolation. If we are afflicted it is for your encouragement and salvation, and when we are consoled it is for your consolation, so that you may endure patiently the same sufferings we endure. Our hope for you is firm because we know that just as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the consolation.

Brothers, we do not wish to leave you in the dark about the trouble we had in Asia; we were crushed beyond our strength, even to the point of despairing of life. We were left to feel like men condemned to death so that we might trust, not in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead. He rescued us from that danger of death and will continue to do so. We have put our hope in him who will never cease to deliver us. But you must help us with your prayers, so that on our behalf God may be thanked for the gift granted us through the prayers of so many.


Conscience gives testimony to the boast that in our behavior toward all and especially toward you we have always acted from God-given holiness and candor; this has been prompted, not by debased human wisdom, but by God’s goodness. We never write anything that you cannot read and understand. I hope that, just as you know us to a certain degree already, you will in time come to know us well, and will recognize that we shall be your boast, and you ours, on the day of our Lord Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:1-14

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Daily Thought For July 19, 2014

In His Name Is Hope

     Others may look for happiness from their riches or their talents; they may rely upon the innocence of their lives, the rigor of their penance, the number of their good works, or the fervor of their prayers; but for me, O Lord, my confidence shall be my confidence itself. For you have wonderfully established me in hope. 
     This confidence has never deceived anyone. No one has hoped in the Lord and been put to shame. I am sure that I shall be eternally happy, because I hope firmly to be so, and it is from you, O Lord, that I hope it. In you, O Lord, have I hoped; I shall not be confounded for ever. 
     I know that I am frail and changeable; I know the power of temptation against the most firmly based virtues: I have seen the stars of heaven and the pillars of the firmament fall; but not even this can make me fear. As long as I hope, I am safe from every evil, and I am sure of always hoping because I hope for this unchanging hope. For you, O Lord, have wonderfully established me in hope. 
     In fine, I am sure that I cannot hope too much in you; and that I cannot obtain less than I hope for from you. Thus I hope that you will uphold me in the greatest dangers, protect me in the most violent assaults, and make my weakness triumph over my most formidable enemies. I hope that you will love me always and that I also shall love you with unfailing love; and to carry my hope at once as far as it can go, I hope for you from yourself, my Creator, both in time and in eternity. 


SAINT CLAUDE DE LA COLOMBIERE 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Daily Thought For July 18, 2014

Jesus & The Gift of Friendship

Supernatural charity strengthens and enriches friendship. The love of Christ makes us more humane; it gives us a greater capacity to understand and it makes us more open to everybody. In Christ, the best of all friends, we learn to strengthen a relationship that perhaps was beginning to weaken, to remove some obstacle, to overcome the tendency to slide into a state of cosy isolation. When we are close to Jesus we learn to be better, to bring the people around us to holiness, because we can offer them our faith in him. Just think how many people down the centuries have journeyed along the path of friendship in Our Lord's company! 


Look upon Christ. You know well that He counts you among his close friends. We are the friends of the bridegroom, and he calls us to share his favor and his possessions. The words of the Book of Sirach about friendship — there is nothing so precious as a faithful friend — acquire their full meaning when applied to Christ: He showed his faithfulness by giving his life for each of us. Let us learn from him to be friends to our friends, and let us not cease to give them the best thing we have — our love for Jesus. 

from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez Volume Four p. 548


Daily Thought For July 17, 2014

The Pure of Heart & The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit begins his work in each of us by working on our fears. He does this because fear is so common that everyone experiences it. Aquinas says there are four types of fear. The first type is worldly fear. This fear results when we drift away from God to focus more readily on things of the world. This fear can concern even incidental things, such as fear of public speaking, fear of loss, fear of not knowing the answer, or even fear of being picked last for a team. Worldly fears from phobias to anxieties to worries can keep us in a state of unhealthy tension that makes us try to conform. 

Worldly fear is born of inordinate self-love and arises ultimately from sin. This fear is like a net. The more we struggle when caught within it, the tighter it becomes. We can allow it to become a way of life so it affects our education, politics, work, and recreation. It is the law of the jungle. Our efforts are laden with "jockeying for position, striving to get ourselves into a more influential and powerful place" so that we may competitively impress others. We want to have the last word, to interrupt others, and portray ourselves in the best light. God's mercy is far from our minds when we are under the sway of worldly fear. 

Fear is one of the seven steps of sin, and as such forms the central pivot of every evil. It counters and negates the gift at the center of our identity. Worldly fear is love for the world and trust in the world's tactics and schemes. The Holy Spirit passes into this pivot point and seeks to reverse the motion by restoring the gift. 

As the Holy Spirit begins to move within us as we are caught in worldly fear, the nature of the fear begins to shift. Still drawn to the worldly pursuit of status and achievement, we quietly feel a new sense emerging in our consciousness. We begin to experience small movements of Aquinas' second type of fear, servile fear: we fear punishment from God. This second level of fear is actually charity beginning to shift the way we live according to worldly fear. Self-love begins to diminish. Instead of worldly fear guiding our daily decisions, the fear of punishment begins to move us in a different way. This transition is rooted in the fear of evil and the knowledge that sin is punished because it is a disorder. The world does not bring what it promises. The gap between promise and experience leads us to consider God from the standpoint of his power rather than of his goodness. Still caught in selfish concerns stemming from worldly fear, we can at first see God's action only under the aspect of punishment. The fear of loss predominates in servile fear. We fear the loss of goods, health, objects, friends, and also heaven. Still, this level of fear is more mature and advanced than worldly fear. Servile fear admits there is more than the world. 

Servile fear remains caught in the world's residue and thus retains 
self-interest. But the self-interest has begun to look beyond the self. Another-the Holy Spirit-has intervened and shown that the world is not enough. The ways of the world are being revealed as limited. As the Holy Spirit begins to prove the world false, we experience the way of the world as flawed. Servile fear motivates us to avoid sin and is enough to make us ready for heaven. The danger is when servile fear is understood as the goal rather than a stage. If unduly cultivated, this fear can become a fixation and an encumbrance by which we seek to get others to heaven by scaring them. Something more is needed. 

The Holy Spirit seeks to move us beyond servile fear to Aquinas' 
third level, initial fear. We now experience a mixture of fear of punishment and the fear of committing a fault against God. While we continue to seek to avoid sin because of fear of punishment, we slowly begin to realize that besides fearing the punishment of God, we may also love God. We may vacillate between avoiding sin because we fear punishment and avoiding sin because we love God. This balancing act is common to initial fear. Charity has moved us to the beginning of filial fear. The Holy Spirit has helped us mature beyond the fear of punishment to sense that 

God's power is more than retribution. It is always a profound gift of love. As we realize this, we still sense the fear of hell, but the fear is due more to separation from love, and we move beyond our preoccupation with avoiding punishment. 

The Holy Spirit then gradually introduces us to an awareness of a relationship with God pervaded more and more by love. We do not want to separate from God by sin because we fear punishment, but because we are growing in the love of God. Far from being a mere mental construct, this love becomes evident in our actions through charity. We begin to see sin as banal and unattractive. The old ways of worldly fear are seen as a futile maze that leads to a dead end. We wonder how we could 'have navigated the paths of worldly fear for so long. 

But even this awareness quickly vanishes as we experience God more and more as a loving Father. The fourth level of fear, filial fear, is the love of a child before the father, but it is not a trembling worry of being overrun or overpowered. It is, rather, the fear of hurting the father because we love him. Filial fear realizes that we are the son or daughter, and so we move forward with a constancy that does not depend on the world. 

One of my earliest memories captures the image of filial fear. When I was very young, before I could even walk steadily, I used to sit at my father's feet. I have a picture of myself doing just this, wearing blue overalls and sucking on a pacifier. With one hand on my father's shoe, I was looking up at the camera, wondering what that mysterious flash was. My father was six feet, four inches tall. He routinely wore good black leather shoes with thin shoelaces. He also wore good businesslike pants with a perfect crease. One of my first, repeated memories of my father is sitting at his feet playing with those thin laces, wrapping them, tugging ~t them, and twisting them. After about five minutes of this I would get distracted, or my father would stand up because it was time for us to leave for home or to move to the yard. Because I was only starting to walk, it was easier for him to carry me. When he stood up and I looked up at him, my gaze would travel up the pant leg, along that perfect crease stretched along the better part of a six-foot, four-inch expanse. The same thought would always come into my mind, and I can feel it in my ribs to this day, one of my original thoughts: "He goes on forever." That is filial fear. My father goes on forever. It is "that healthy fear which prevents us from living for ourselves alone and compels us to pass on the hope we hold to 'others." It is only from this vantage point that we can have the hope necessary to say, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." 

The Holy Spirit wishes to accomplish something in our lives by changing our daily fears into a strong feature of the inner life of virtue. He does this as his gift of fear of the Lord infiltrates the tendency to fear and helps the believer to understand the nature of God's merciful power that fortifies our innermost places. 

from The Human Person According to John Paul II by J. Brian Bransfield pp. 214-217

Monday, July 14, 2014

Daily Thought For July 15, 2014

Pushing Back The Darkness


IN CLOSENESS TO ME, you are safe. In the intimacy of My Presence, you are energized. No matter where you are in the world, you know you belong when you sense My nearness. Ever since the Fall, man has experienced a gaping emptiness that only My Presence can fill. I designed you for close communication with your Creator. How I enjoyed walking in the garden with Adam and Eve, before the evil one deceived them! 

When you commune with Me in the garden of your heart, both you 
and I are blessed. This is My way of living in the world—through you! Together we will push back the darkness, for I am the Light of the world. 

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. —PSALM 32:7 

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" —GENESIS 3:8-9 


When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." —JOHN 8:12 

from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young p. 259

Daily Thought For July 14, 2014

God Always Offers A Helping Hand

Peter stayed on his feet - even when facing the greatest difficulties - as long as he acted with supernatural outlook, with faith, with confidence in the Lord. Later, in order to stay afloat, to receive God's help, he had to cooperate, because when our cooperation is lacking divine help also ceases. It was our Lord who helped him to go on. 

Peter recovered his faith and confidence in Jesus. He climbed aboard the boat with him, and at that moment the wind ceased and calm was restored to the seas and to the hearts of the disciples. They recognized Jesus as their Lord and God. Those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, Truly, you are the Son of God. 

The experience of our personal weakness will serve for us to find Jesus who puts out his hand and enters our heart, giving us great peace in the midst of any trial. We should learn never to be afraid of God, who presents himself in ordinary things, as well as in the physical or moral sufferings we may experience in our lives. Have confidence; it is I, do not fear. God never delays coming to our rescue, and never fails to remedy every need. He arrives — at times in a hidden and mysterious way — at the opportune time. And when, for whatever reason, we find ourselves in a difficult situation — with the wind against us — He comes close to us. He may pass as if to continue on so that we will call out to him, but He will not delay in coming to our side when we do. 

If at times we realize that we are out of our depth, that we are sinking, we should repeat with Peter, Lord, save me! We should neither doubt his Love nor his merciful hand. We should not forget that God does not demand the impossible. Instead, when He makes a request, He asks that we do what we can do, that we ask for what we cannot do and for his help to carry it out.  

What certainty our Lord gives us! He has guaranteed his protection. I do not depend on my own strength. I have in my hands his written word. This is my strength, my certainty, my tranquil haven. Even if the entire world is shaken, I read the written word I carry with me, for it is my fortress, my defense. And what does this word tell me? 'I will be with you until the end of the world, ' it says. 

Christ is with me. What shall I fear? Let the waves of the sea and the fury of the powerful come upon me. That will not weigh me down any more than a spider's web. Let us not let go of his hand. He does not let go of ours. 


from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez Volume 4 pp. 337-338

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Daily Thought For July 12, 2014

The Importance of Christian Conduct

In a world where so many people habitually think little of a lie and indulge in pretenses, we, as Christians must be men and women of truth who always flee from even the smallest falsehood. This is how people should know us - as men and women who never tell lies even in matters of little importance, as men and women who shut out of their lives anything that smacks of dissimulation, hypocrisy and duplicity, and who know how to put matters right if they make a mistake. Then our lives will be filled with a great apostolic fruitfulness, for people always trust an upright person, one who knows how to speak the truth with charity and understanding towards all and without hurting people. 

from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez Volume 4 p. 115

Friday, July 11, 2014

Daily Thought For July 11, 2014

One Reason People May Not Go To Confession

The vision of the Christian life set forth in these images corresponds better with experience. To present the Christian life primarily as a matter of duty and obligation leaves little room for understanding how the Holy Spirit acts. Ordinarily, Catholics do not stop practicing their faith in a grinding halt. They may still identify with "being Catholic," but their commitment wanes due to a few factors. Frustration is high on the list. The secular culture has conditioned us to look for returns on our investment. The perfect storm, laid out in the first chapter, leads us to count and measure our buying and spending. If we practice faith, we think, then God should deliver. This is often the culprit behind the decline in receiving the sacrament of Penance. People still believe in sin and that God forgives sin. They can see little reason for confessing their sins to receive this forgiveness. Why? Because early on, they discovered that when they do confess their sins, they still sin. We think confession should be like disinfectant spray that not only kills germs, but also keeps them away. We often think that going to confession should not only bring forgiveness of our sins, but also keep any further sinful inclination completely away. We reason that if we take the trouble to confess our sins and take responsibility for them, then we should get a measurable return. But the bad moods, cursing, unruly appetites, and myriad other faults all come knocking soon after we receive absolution, stand up, and leave the confessional. 

The perfect storm of industry, pleasure, and technology, when absorbed by our psyches, translates into high expectations and a utilitarian standard: If we can't see immediate returns, then we abandon the effort and move on. God's sacramental actions are reduced to being automatic moments one step removed from magic. God rarely chooses to act in automatic ways, however, because love, while often immediate, is rarely automatic. The Christian life includes living within the tension that while we may be forgiven and live justly, the "lingering effects" of the "old self" still leave disordered appetites. The gifts of the Holy Spirit strengthen believers to cling steadfastly in faith to Christ so that virtue may preserve them from giving in to disordered passions.
The tradition demonstrates that God works in the way of love. The ordinary way of love is by way of the gift. God's gift to man is the Holy Spirit, who is often referred to as the Person-Gift: 

In his intimate life, God "is love," the essential love shared by the three divine Persons: personal love is the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of the Father and Son. Therefore he "searches even the depths of God," as uncreated Love-Gift. It can be said that in the Holy Spirit the intimate life of the Triune God becomes totally gift, an exchange of mutual love between the divine Persons, and that through the Holy Spirit God exists in the mode of gift. It is the Holy Spirit who is the personal expression of this self-giving, of this being-love. He is Person-Love. He is Person-Gift.

Moral theology must recapture and convey the manner in which the Holy Spirit, who is Person-Gift, works through his seven gifts in the life of the believer. God does not simply set out a series of laws that we must obey, and then measure us with a stopwatch and chart from the sidelines. The Holy Spirit has often been too easily forgotten. Saint Gregory the Great, in his teaching on moral theology, repeatedly emphasizes that God acts in the world through the Holy Spirit. In turn, the Holy Spirit acts only in seven distinct ways: the seven gifts.  

from The Human Person: According to John Paul II by J. Brian Bransfield pp. 208-209

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Daily Thought For July 10, 2014

The Need For Divine Mercy

 Once He had risen, Jesus gave His followers a new unity, stronger than the kind they had before, invincible, because it was founded not on human resources, but on The Divine Mercy, which made them feel they were all loved and forgiven by Him. It is therefore the merciful love of God that firmly unites the Church, today as yesterday, and makes humanity a single family; the divine love, which through Jesus crucified and risen, forgives our sins and renews us from within.


Pope Benedict XVI, in his reflection before the Regina Caeli on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Daily Thought For July 9, 2014

Take A Step of Faith Today


MAKE ME THE FOCAL POINT of your search for security. In your private thoughts, you are still trying to order your world so that it is predictable and feels safe. Not only is this an impossible goal, but it is also counterproductive to spiritual growth. When your private world feels unsteady and you grip My hand for support, you are living in conscious dependence on Me. 

Instead of yearning for a problem-free life, rejoice that trouble can highlight your awareness of My Presence. In the darkness of adversity, you are able to see more clearly the radiance of My Face. Accept the value of problems in this life, considering them pure joy. Remember that you have an eternity of trouble-free living awaiting you in heaven. 

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." —ISAIAH 41:10

Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. PSALM 139:10 


Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. -JAMES 1:2 

from Jesus Calling  by Sarah Young p.360

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Daily Thought For July 8, 2014

Salvation Depends On Christ

We must pray without tiring, for the salvation of mankind does not depend on material success; nor on sciences that cloud the intellect. Neither does it depend on arms and human industries, but on Jesus alone.

St. Francis de Sales

Monday, July 7, 2014

Daily Thought For July 7, 2014

Trusting That God Is At Work

Your faith has saved you. (Matthew 9:22)

You’ve probably watched Olympic figure skating before, but you may not know how complicated the judging is. The judges use instant replay to decide on a technical score for each element of a skater’s routine such as jumps or spins. Then they use a component score for factors such as skating skills, choreography, and transitions. For each segment of a routine, the technical score is added to the component score, and a computer selects scores from the judges to get a total score. That’s a lot of scoring and calculating, isn’t it?

Some of us may think that Jesus is like one of these judges. We imagine that he was keeping score of the official with the sick daughter and the woman with the hemorrhage. He must have looked at how much faith they had and decided to give them a passing grade—to hear their prayers and intervene in their lives.

But look at the way Matthew tells the story. He doesn’t give any indication that these two had any more faith than anyone else. Of course, they believed that he would help them. But so did many in the crowd. What was different about these two people was their determination to get right in front of—or behind—Jesus. The official interrupted Jesus while he was speaking to a crowd. And the woman pushed through all those people to touch Jesus’ cloak. Notice too that when they got to him, Jesus didn’t subject them to any scrutiny. He responded with love, just as he responds to anyone who comes to him with even a mustard seed of faith.

Isn’t this great news? What counts with Jesus is that we come to him. It’s true that we must believe that he can and will reward those who seek him. But it’s okay if you are feeling lost, scared, broken, or not in the right frame of mind. Simply trust Jesus and push through your doubt so that you can encounter him. He may not give you a spectacular healing, but he will give himself to you—his faith, his compassion, his mercy. And that’s more than enough to see you through any challenge!

“Lord, I’m not asking for perfect faith—just faith! Help me to find the courage to come to you. Today I will trust you in everything, known and unknown!” 


Daily Reflection from The Word Among Us

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Daily Thought For July 6, 2014

Grace of The Eucharist

More frequent communion since circumstances now make it possible. The Holy Eucharist is indeed food for the soul; to say so is a commonplace, but how true! Apart from the conscious joy it sometimes brings, even without that joy, the inner self becomes stronger and more alive; the Eucharist transforms it, although one may not be aware of this mysterious process. This incorporation into us of the divine substance, this assimilation of [God] into our being, this eternal life penetrating our lives, this close contact with the most holy and loving person of all ... works within us and, if our will belongs to God, deeply renews us. 

Anyone who has received communion for many months or years without being changed inwardly and outwardly has not brought to the holy table the openness and childlike simplicity that is blessed by our Savior. This renewal is independent of all conscious consolation and exterior joy; the loving sense of Jesus Christ's Real Presence is a grace sometimes given to us, but it does not necessarily contribute to our spiritual progress. It is one thing to love God and another thing actually to feel the joy of his presence. 

Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur



Saturday, July 5, 2014

Daily Thought For July 5, 2014

New Wineskins & Grace

The Holy Spirit constantly brings to the soul new wine — sanctifying grace — which has to grow more and more. This new wine does not grow old, but the wineskins can grow old. Once they tear they are thrown into the rubbish bin and the wine is lost. This is why it is necessary to constantly restore the soul, to rejuvenate it; there are times when we fail to love, perhaps through venial sins, that render the soul unfit to receive more grace and cause it to grow old. In this life we will always be aware of the scars left by sin  character defects that we are unable to overcome, invitations of grace we do not respond to generously, impatience, routine in our life of piety, failure to show understanding for people. . . 

It is contrition that disposes us to receive new graces, that increases our hope and enables us to avoid routine. It makes a Christian forget himself and turn to God once again with a still deeper act of love. Contrition brings with it an aversion from sin and conversion to Christ. This heart-felt sorrow is not the same as the state of mind brought about by the unpleasant effects of having sinned — the breakdown of family harmony, the end of a friendship. 

It is not even the same as wishing that we had not done a particular thing. . . It is the definite condemnation of an action, the conversion towards what is good, towards God's holiness which is manifested for us in Christ. It is the irruption of a new life into the soul, a life filled with love when it finds itself once more with God. This is why a person does not know how to repent, cannot be moved to contrition, if he does not relate his sins, be they large or small, to God. 

Before Jesus, all our actions take on their true dimension. If we were simply to stop at our faults, without any reference to the person who has been offended, we would probably seek to justify our faults and sins and give little importance to them. On the other hand we might find ourselves filled with discouragement and despair in the face of so much error and omission. God teaches us to acknowledge the truth of our lives, and in spite of all our wretchedness and defects, He fills us with peace and the desire to improve and to start again. 

The humble soul feels the need to ask God for forgiveness many times each day. Each time she separates herself from what God has expected of her, she sees the need to return, like the prodigal son, with true sorrow: 


Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants. And Our Lord, who is close to those of contrite heart will hear our prayer. With this spirit of contrition the soul is constantly prepared to receive the new wine of grace. 

from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez Volume 4 pp.55-56

Friday, July 4, 2014

Daily Thought For July 4, 2014

A Prayer For The 4th of July

Dear Lord,

There is no greater feeling of liberation than to experience this freedom from sin and death that you have provided for me through Jesus Christ. Today my heart and my soul are free to praise you. For this I am very thankful.

On this Independence Day I am reminded of all those who have sacrificed for my freedom, following the example of your Son, Jesus Christ. Let me not take my freedom, both physical and spiritual, for granted. May I always remember that my freedom was purchases with a very high price. My freedom cost others their very lives.

Lord, today, bless those who have served and continue to give their lives for my freedom. With favor and bounty meet their needs and watch over their families.

Help me to live my life in a way that glorifies you, Lord. Give me the strength to be a blessing in someone else's life today, and grant me the opportunity to lead others into the freedom that can be found in knowing Christ.


Amen

Author Unknown