Monday, March 30, 2015

Daily Thought For March 30, 2015

Looking At The Heart

Simon, the master of the house, the Pharisee, on the contrary, doesn’t manage to find the road of love. Everything is calculated, everything is thought out.... He stands firm on the threshold of formality. It is an unpleasant thing, formal love, he doesn’t understand. He is not capable of taking that next step forward to meet Jesus who will bring him salvation. Simon limits himself to inviting Jesus to lunch, but did not truly welcome him. In his thoughts Simon invokes only justice and in doing so he errs. His judgment of the woman distances him from the truth and prevents him from even understanding who his guest is. He stopped at the surface — at formality — incapable of seeing the heart. Before the parable of Jesus and the question of which servant would love more, the pharisee responds correctly: “The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more”. Jesus doesn’t fail to observe: “You have judged rightly” (Lk 7:43). When Simon’s judgment is turned to love, then is he in the right.

Jesus’ reminder urges each of us never to stop at the surface of things, especially when we have a person before us. We are called to look beyond, to focus on the heart in order to see how much generosity everyone is capable of. No one can be excluded from the mercy of God; everyone knows the way to access it and the Church is the house where everyone is welcomed and no one is rejected. Her doors remain wide open, so that those who are touched by grace may find the assurance of forgiveness. The greater the sin, the greater the love that must be shown by the Church to those who repent. With how much love Jesus looks at us! With how much love He heals our sinful heart! Our sins never scare Him. Let us consider the prodigal son who, when he decided to return to his father, considers making a speech, but the father doesn’t let him speak. He embraces him (cf. Lk 15:17-24). This is the way Jesus is with us. “Father, I have so many sins....” — “But He will be glad if you go: He will embrace you with such love! Don’t be afraid”.

Pope Francis Homily for Penance Service  March 13, 2015


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Daily Thought For March 29, 2015

A Prayer For Peace of Mind

FORTIFY me with the grace of Your Holy Spirit and give Your peace to my soul that I may be free from all needless anxiety, solicitude and worry. Help me to desire always that which is pleasing and acceptable to You so that Your will may be my will.

St. Francis Xavier Cabrini

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Daily Thought For March 28, 2015

God's Desire To Shelter Us

I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Ezekiel 37:26-27)

Think about the way a hen gathers her chicks. She will spread her wings out to provide a safe place for them if there is any danger. As the chicks burrow under their mother’s wings, you can’t even tell they are hiding there. Well, this is how God wants you to think of him.

The children of Israel had turned away from him and gone after false gods. They had turned away from their covenant with him, and now they were reaping the consequences of their sin: their Temple was destroyed, and they were sent away in shame to live as exiles in a foreign land. Still, even as they adjusted to their new status as refugees, God promised through the prophet Ezekiel that he would gather them back under his wings. He would forgive them and renew his covenant of peace with them. He would deliver them from exile.

What God promised for the Israelites he has also promised for us—and he has fulfilled that promise in a surprising, powerful way! When we were lost in the exile of sin, he sent his Son Jesus to bring us home. On the cross, Jesus gave up his life so that we could find shelter in our Father’s wings.

This is who your God is. He gathers and he protects. He heals and he delivers. He is very near to us, always ready to welcome us with open arms. Even if we feel unworthy or distant, that’s not how he sees us. He sees us as vulnerable children needing his protection and guidance—something he’s always ready to give.

So run to the shelter of God’s wings today. Place your trust in him. When you feel tempted to be angry or give into ungodly thoughts, when you feel downcast or worried, when you are unsure or confused, run to him. He will never refuse you!

“Thank you, Father, for your love and mercy! Thank you that I can run to you at any time to find your protection and comfort. You are my deliverer, my shelter, my hope. All I need is in you.”

Daily Reflection from The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)


Friday, March 27, 2015

Daily Thought For March 27, 2015

No Need To Be Mediocre

Do not be content to live a mediocre Christian life: walk with determination along the path of holiness.

Pope Francis

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Daily Thought For March 26, 2015

Overcoming A Critical Spirit

Those who correct others should watch for the Holy Spirit to go ahead of them and touch a person's heart. Learn to imitate Him who reproves gently. . . .

When you become outraged over a person's fault, it is generally not "righteous indignation" but your own impatient personality expressing itself. Here is the imperfect pointing a finger at the imperfect. The more you selfishly love yourself, the more critical you will be. Self-love cannot forgive the self-love it discovers in others. Nothing is so offensive to a haughty, conceited heart as the sight of another one.


God's love, however, is full of consideration, patience, and tenderness. It leads people out of their weakness and sin one step at a time.

Monsignor François Fénelon

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Daily Thought For March 25, 2015

For Nothing Is Impossible For God

What is impossible for humans is possible for God: 'Caritas omnia sperat' - 'Love hopes for everything'. God loves and can do anything. God respects the freedom God gave to humankind but God does not hold back when freely giving graces. God's grace can be such that it overturns all obstacles and brings the calm after the storm. Let us know how to obtain powerful graces from the one who said: 'Ask and you shall receive' and 'When two or more of you are gathered in prayer, I am among you.'

Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Daily Thought For March 24, 2015

The Key To Happiness

You will never be happy if your happiness depends on getting solely what you want. Change the focus. Get a new center. Will what God wills, and your joy no man shall take from you. 

Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Daily Thought For March 23, 2015

Helpful Advice For Spiritual Aridity

We should resign ourselves to God's will in interior sufferings, temptations, doubts, darkness, aridity, and in all difficulties of the spiritual life. God ordinarily sends sweetness and comfort to those who begin to embrace. virtue; in order to draw them entirely from all affection for the world; but when they have grown stronger in virtue, He withdraws His sensible presence to test their love. St. Teresa says, "While we live here, we must not so much seek to enjoy God, but rather to do His will." And again: "Those who love Him, God proves with dryness and temptations." 

Hence, the soul should thank God when He caresses it with sweetness, but should not grow impatient or fret when left in desolation. Some persons, when deprived of sensible sweetness, imagine themselves abandoned by God. Then they neglect prayer and lose all that they have gained. There is no better time to exercise our resignation to God's will than the time of darkness and aridity. 

from Conformity to the Will of God by St. Alphonsus Liguori pp.49-50

Daily Thought For March 22, 2015

The Gospel Must Be Shared

We cannot keep to ourselves the words of eternal life given to us in our encounter with Jesus Christ: they are meant for everyone, for every man and woman. Everyone today, whether he or she knows it or not, needs this message. May the Lord himself, as in the time of the prophet Amos, raise up in our midst a new hunger and thirst for the word of God (cf. Am 8:11). It is our responsibility to pass on what, by God’s grace, we ourselves have received.

Pope Benedict XVI Verbum Domini #91

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Daily Thought For March 21, 2015

A Model For Our Times—Elisabeth Liseur


Recently, I was listening to a series of podcasts from a men’s conference in Detroit, where Father John Riccardo had been a speaker. I was shocked when I heard him report that only 30% of people who were raised Catholic still practice the Faith today. Not only that, but among that 30%, only 48% believe that the God of their Faith is a personal God, with whom they could have an actual relationship. I know it’s simple math, but let’s put numbers with those statistics just for shock value. Out of 100 people who were raised Catholic, only 30 of them still practice the Faith. And of those 30, fewer than 15 believe that they can have a personal relationship with God.

No wonder the Church is in such a crisis! If we don’t even believe we can have a relationship with God – if He is a remote Being, who remains an enigma to us, how can we recognize Him when He is right before our eyes in the Holy Eucharist? How could we possibly believe that His laws are applicable in the world we live in today, a world from which He has apparently removed Himself?

After hearing those statistics, Elisabeth’s prayer struck every chord in my body as I read it this week. I’ve read her diary several times, and, although I realize I’m getting a little ahead of myself, I had always envisioned “Saint” Elisabeth of Leseur, as a patron saint for wives like me; but today it hit me – she is not simply a model for married women. Elisabeth Leseur is a model for the entire Western world, as we suffer from this devastating Crisis of Faith.

Not only did God use her goodness as a catalyst for her husband’s conversion form atheist to Catholic priest; but after reading Elisabeth’s diary, it’s almost impossible for me to imagine that God is anything other than personal.  She had a more intimate relationship with Him than many individuals share with a spouse! Consequently, reading HER secret conversations with God inspires ME to want to get to know Him better.

It also makes me want to know just how Elisabeth became the person I’ve come to admire in her journal. Thankfully, her husband provides some helpful information. In the In Memoriam section, while Felix asserts that “she never argued with me and never spoke to me of the supernatural side of her life save by her example,” he shares that as a result of his constant attempts to “ruin” her faith,

…she devoted herself to her own religious instruction…To counterbalance my anti-Christian library, she gathered together one composed of the works of the great masters of Catholic thought: Fathers, Doctors, mystics, St. Jerome, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis de Sales, St. Teresa of Avila, and many more. Above all she read and reread the New Testament, the Gospels, The Acts, the Epistles; she never passed a day without meditating upon some passage from it. She thus acquired a reasoned and substantial faith” (p. xxiii).

Not only did she become knowledgeable in the Faith, but her faith was an intricate part of her day-to-day life.  And as we can see throughout her diary, she sought to live the Truth that was in her, through charity shown to everyone she met.

Interestingly enough, Pope Benedict XVI proposed a plan (which he called a path) – one that very much resembles the route taken by Elisabeth –  in his encyclical, Porta Fidei “The Door of Faith” (PF), wherein he announced this, The Year of Faith.

According to Lucas Pollice, M.T.S., in his article The Year of Faith: Pope Benedict’s Blueprint for the New Evangelization, Pope Benedict offers a three-pronged solution to this crisis of Faith:

1.  A Solid Understanding of Catholic Doctrine, particularly as revealed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as a renewed understanding of Vatican II that is guided by the Magisterium. An understanding “in which Vatican II is properly interpreted as a continuation of Tradition and a call to teach, live, and witness the Catholic faith that has been faithfully handed on in a renewed and dynamic way.”

2. Renewed Catholic Spirituality – It is not enough to know the Faith, but we must live it, making it an intricate part of our lives. We must seek God in the Sacraments and take advantage of the amazing examples we have in the Saints, who help us to live out our universal call to holiness. Further, we must renew our prayer lives, which will allow us to encounter Christ in a personal way.

3. Dialogue and Witness – In addition to providing the ability to “be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15), the above prongs will help us to live as Christ in the world. According to Pope Benedict:

Intent on gathering the signs of the times in the present of history, faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world. What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end (PF 15).

Elisabeth is a role model for the entire Church, particularly during this Year of Faith. On her own island of material desolation and caught in a world that did not recognize her Creator as God, Elisabeth adopted the above plan in its entirety, roughly a hundred years before it was written. The testimony of her Felix is witness to the fruit that this three-pronged plan can bear. Imagine a world in which each of us followed this path. Or better yet, imagine a world, in which, having ventured even further down the road, each of us was willing to sacrifice all, to give all, for God? Where each of us could vow, like Elisabeth, “Complete abandonment of myself to Thy Will, offering my heart and my life in Thy service for souls” (p. 118).

from Vicki Burbach—Catholic Spiritual Direction (www.spiritualdirection.com)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Daily Thought For March 20, 2015

Walking In Confidence

WAIT WITH ME FOR A WHILE. I have much to tell you. You are walking along the path I have chosen for you. It is both a privileged and a perilous way: experiencing My glorious Presence and heralding that reality to others. Sometimes you feel presumptuous to be carrying out such an assignment. 

Do not worry about what other people think of you. The work I am doing in you is hidden at first. But eventually blossoms will burst forth, and abundant fruit will be borne. Stay on the path of Life with Me. Trust Me wholeheartedly, letting My Spirit fill you with Joy and Peace. 

"O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below-you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way." -1 KINGS 8:23 


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. -GALATIANS 5: 22-23 


from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young p.243

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Daily Thought For march 19, 2015

Conformity To God's Will


     The foregoing example shows us that conformity to God's will makes us not only holy, but also perfectly happy. It fills us with the sweetest peace that can be tasted in this life, and makes of earth a paradise.
     Those who love God live in peace, because they find their whole pleasure in doing the will of God, even in things contrary to nature. 
     In truth, can a man experience greater satisfaction than to see all his wishes fulfilled? Now, if we desire only what God wills, nothing can befall us :but what we desire, for everything in the world comes to pass through the will of God, sin excepted. Our complete conformity to the will of God is so agreeable to the Divine Majesty that it often exerts a visible influence even in temporal matters. This is shown by the story of a farmer of whom the early Fathers of the desert make mention. His field always yielded more than those of his neighbors. When questioned as to the reason for this, he answered: "Do not wonder at the rich harvest of my sowing. I always have just such weather as I desire to ripen my crops." Astonished, they asked for an explanation. 
     "I never wish for any other weather than that which God sends," replied the good man, "and as I will only what pleases Him, He favors me with a harvest as abundant as I can desire." 
     As God can do all things of Himself, so in the same degree can he who is conformed to the will of God in all things, have all that he wants. “When souls,” says Salvian, “who have resigned themselves wholly to God, are humbled, they desire it. If they have to suffer poverty they wish to be poor. In a word, they desire whatever happens to them. Therefore they are happy even in this life. Cold and heat, wind and rain, are alike agreeable to the man conformed to the will of God, for he says, “I desire it to be cold or warm, windy or rainy, because God wills it thus.”


from Conformity to the Will of God by St. Alphonsus Liguori pp.30-31

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Daily Thought For March 18, 2015

The Power of Prayer

By prayer the soul is cleansed from sin, replenished with charity, confirmed in faith, strengthened, and refreshed in spirit. Prayer establishes the inward man, pacifies the heart, knows the truth, conquers temptations, expels sorrow, renews the senses, stirs up languishing virtue, puts to flight tepidity, and scours the rust of vices. In prayer, the quick sparkles of celestial desires are incessantly sent forth, from the burning coals of divine love. The privileges of prayer are rare, the prerogatives admirable. Prayer unlocks the gates of heaven, manifests divine secrets, and always finds free access to the ears of God.


St. Peter of Alcantara (Spiritual Director of St. Teresa of Avila)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Daily Thought For March 16, 2015

The Light of A Soul

We have all met persons of this sort. They are rare, no doubt, but there flows from them such an intensity of inner life, such calm strength, such true beauty that merely to come into contact with them soothes and comforts us. After all, this is only natural. Our outer life is the reproduction of our inner life, and the visible part of us reflects what is unseen; we radiate our souls, so to say, and,when they are centers of light and warmth, other souls need only to be brought into contact with them in order to be warmed and enlightened. We give out, often unknown to ourselves, what we carry within us; let us strive to increase daily this reserve store of faith and quiet charity. – The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur, p. 246 (The Little Treatise on Peace, paragraph nine)

      Peace is often as elusive as a cloud; something we see, but cannot ever seem to capture within our own hearts – at least not for very long.
     Our greatest exposure to peace is often the recognition of its effects on others, which is why we are so drawn to certain individuals. Whether we have the privilege of knowing them for a lifetime or we meet them but for a moment, these rare individuals are bound to have a lifelong impact, because we experience the profound beauty of their souls, which both comfort and inspire us.
     Earlier today I had an entire post drafted about a young man that has touched the life of our son over the brief time he’s been in high school. But upon reading it, I realized that the particulars of how he touched our son wouldn’t matter very much to any of you. The indelible mark that one person’s soul leaves upon the soul of another is, for the most part, indescribable.
     Tragically, this 15-year-old, who left such an impression on our son – and on the sons of so many others in their small Catholic boys school – was killed in a car accident Friday evening. It was a horrific accident, involving a car attempting to cross four busy lanes of traffic at an intersection oddly devoid of a traffic light. Such a dangerous situation, no matter who the driver.  Sadly, the kids failed to see an oncoming vehicle, and the result cost the life of a beautiful young man, and has placed the lives of the driver and another friend in critical condition.
     Nate LaFave, a sophomore at Mount Michael, had a knack for making everyone feel special, while also being a great student and a talented athlete. Nate once called our son his “favorite freshman,” never failing to build him up whenever they talked.  As a result of Nate’s pure goodness, our son has told us more about him than any other friend since his first introduction to the school, when Nate served as his student ambassador. Over the weekend I heard someone say that Nate had been everybody’s “best friend.” I have no doubt about it.
     This young man, who exuded such great joy and kindness as a reflection of his interior strength,  had been an inspiration for many in life. But because of the nature of his life, in death he may become a force of inspiration that none of us can begin to comprehend. The spark that he ignited in life has already become a consuming flame, engulfing these boys in a fire of brotherhood and passion that could only be described as supernatural.
     To date, I wonder how many souls have been introduced to the Source of all light through the brightness that shone in Nate’s eyes? The warmth of his smile? How many hearts have been ignited by his kind words?  It seems the numbers are countless – and no doubt they will continue to grow.
     In her journal, Elisabeth credits Lacordaire, a Dominican preacher, with saying “sooner or later, one live[s] for nothing but souls.” Elisabeth, herself, tells us that only in eternity will we ever realize the effect our lives have had upon the souls of others.
     Like Nate, who seems to have accomplished so much in such a short time, may we all put into practice the wisdom of Elisabeth Leseur, who reminds us,
     Thus we shall accomplish what is here below the task of every Christian, before he possesses the living peace that is eternal. This task is to extend the kingdom of God, to bring Christ to the world at large and to the souls of individuals, and to sow in tears and with painful exertion the seed that will bring forth at last a supernatural harvest.

from Vicki Burbach—Catholic Spiritual Direction (www.spiritualdirection.com)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Daily Thought For March 15, 2015

Spirit-Filled Evangelizers

Spirit-filled evangelizers means evangelizers fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost, the Spirit made the apostles go forth from themselves and turned them into heralds of God’s wondrous deeds, capable of speaking to each person in his or her own language. The Holy Spirit also grants the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness (parrhesía) in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition. Let us call upon him today, firmly rooted in prayer, for without prayer all our activity risks being fruitless and our message empty. Jesus wants evangelizers who proclaim the good news not only with words, but above all by a life transfigured by God’s presence.

Pope Francis Evangelii Gaudium #259

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Daily Thought For March 14, 2015

The Greatest Work of Charity Is Evangelization

In the Church, contemplation and action, symbolized in some way by the Gospel figures of Mary and Martha, have to coexist and complement each other (cf. Lk 10:38-42). The relationship with God must always be the priority, and any true sharing of goods, in the spirit of the Gospel, must be rooted in faith (cf. General Audience, 25 April 2012). Sometimes we tend, in fact, to reduce the term “charity” to solidarity or simply humanitarian aid. It is important, however, to remember that the greatest work of charity is evangelization, which is the “ministry of the word”. There is no action more beneficial – and therefore more charitable – towards one’s neighbor than to break the bread of the word of God, to share with him the Good News of the Gospel, to introduce him to a relationship with God: evangelization is the highest and the most integral promotion of the human person. As the Servant of God Pope Paul VI wrote in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio, the proclamation of Christ is the first and principal contributor to development (cf. n. 16). It is the primordial truth of the love of God for us, lived and proclaimed, that opens our lives to receive this love and makes possible the integral development of humanity and of every man (cf. Caritas in Veritate, 8).

Message for Lent 2013 —Pope Benedict XVI

Friday, March 13, 2015

Daily Thought For March 13, 2015

Great Reflection To Start Your Day

The Goal of our life is to live with God forever.
God, who loves us, gave us life.
Our own response of love allows God's life
to flow into us without limit.

All the things in this world are gifts from God,
Presented to us so that we can know God more easily
and make a return of love more readily.
As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God
Insofar as they help us to develop as loving persons.
But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,
They displace God
And so hinder our growth toward our goal.

In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance
Before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice
And are not bound by some obligation.
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,
Wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one.
For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
A deeper response to our life in God.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better leads

To God's deepening his life in me.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Daily Thought For March 12, 2015

Prayer Against Depression

O Christ Jesus
When all is darkness
And we feel our weakness and helplessness,
Give us the sense of Your Presence,
Your Love and Your Strength.
Help us to have perfect trust
In Your protecting love
And strengthening power,
So that nothing may frighten or worry us,
For, living close to You,
We shall see Your Hand,
Your Purpose, Your Will through all things.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Daily Thought For March 10, 2015

The Challenge of Forgiving People

Speaking in parables was one of Jesus’ most effective methods of teaching. A master storyteller, he had the ability to gain his listeners’ interest and involve them in the story’s drama. But Jesus’ parables weren’t simply engaging stories. They reveal to us the love of God and the values of his kingdom. They call us to deeper conversion.

To bring a lesson home forcefully, Jesus often used exaggeration—a common Semitic practice—or contrasted opposites like wisdom and foolishness, generosity and stinginess. Surely there’s no clearer instance of exaggeration than today’s Gospel reading about the unforgiving servant. A man who was forgiven an enormous debt, the equivalent of 150,000 years’ wages, refused to cancel another man’s debt that equaled a hundred days’ wages, a debt that was only 1/20,000 of 1 percent as great as his own. Although the servant acknowledged his need for mercy, he didn’t allow that mercy to soften his heart. And the consequence for him was devastating.

The blunt ending of this story is a direct challenge for us to be just as forgiving toward people as God has been to us. It also underscores something Jesus told his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount: “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14-15). If we are not trying our best to be merciful, compassionate, and forgiving, we will find it very hard to pray or to know God’s love and mercy in our lives.

If this sounds intimidating, remember today’s parable! It is the experience of being forgiven that moves us to forgive. The extent to which we know God’s mercy in our lives is the extent to which we will treat each other mercifully.

So do you want to become more forgiving? Then run to Jesus and ask him for a greater outpouring of his love. Echo the psalmist’s prayer: “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me” (Psalm 25:4). Open yourself to his love, so that you can give it away!


“Thank you, Jesus, for the countless times you’ve forgiven my sins. By your grace, soften my heart. Let your own immeasurable mercy teach me to be merciful as well.”

Daily Reflection from The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Daily Thought For March 7, 2015

The Power of A Simple Invitation

Invite someone who doesn't regularly attend Mass to come to church with you sometime during Lent. It could be an inactive Catholic, a Christian from another church, someone from a non-Christian faith such as Islam, or an unchurched person with no religion. 

This Lent, we are being asked not just to deepen our faith but to share it. It is finally time to take seriously the call to the New Evangelization and make it a part of our Lenten journey. 
     There are many churchgoing Catholics who experience the practice of their faith more as a chore than a joy. There are an increasing number of Catholics who have been away for a long time. And there are many from other religious traditions and of no religious background at all who don't know that they have a loving Father. 
     Evangelization is not about pushing our ideas on people. It's about letting them know the Good News that they are loved and forgiven, that their life has more meaning and promise than they ever suspected. 
     Several years ago, I called a cab to take me to the airport. I decided to make conversation with the driver who was obviously from the Middle East. 
     "Where are you from?" I asked. 
     "Iran," he answered. 
     "Are there many Christians in Iran?" "I never met one," he replied. 
     "So why do you have a cross hanging from your mirror?" 
     Then he told his story. "I was an army officer when the Shah was overthrown and the Ayatollahs came to power. They preached a harsh religion of intolerance and hate, and it made me hate religion. I left Iran, and I vowed never to set foot in a mosque again. After years in the States, a neighbor invited me to his church. I decided to go, to find out if what I learned about Christianity was true. That Sunday, I heard about a God of love, a God of mercy, a God who tells us to call him 'Father' and who sent his son to die for 
us. This message moved me very deeply. So I kept going back, and I became a Christian." 
     This Lent let's lift our heads and look around—at the family, the neighborhood, the workplace. Who needs to experience the love of God? Pray and fast for them. Reach out to them. Listen to their story. Invite them to your home for a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or a meal. Invite them to your church home for Mass or a Lenten mission. If they are not Catholic, invite them to see what a Catholic church is like. No pressure. If they've been away, invite them to see what your parish is like. Next time you are going to confession, 
invite someone to come with you. 
     The Iranian cabdriver could have said no. But he had a right to know the truth about his heavenly Father. And his neighbor had a duty to introduce him. Thank God that his neighbor's love was greater than his fear of getting a "no," 
     Now there's a good thing to give up for Lent—the fear of rejection! 


from 40 Days 40 Ways — A New Look at Lent by Marcellino D'Ambrosio pp.56-57

Friday, March 6, 2015

Daily Thought For March 6, 2015

Some Helpful Tips on Forgiveness


Forgive those who have offended you or your loved ones. In fact, think of the person who has most hurt you or most annoys you. Spend several minutes each day thanking God for that person and asking God to bless him or her. 

Just about everyone can recite the Lord's Prayer from memory. That's precisely the problem, though. We often rattle it off without really thinking about what we are saying. 

"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Whenever we pray this line, we are asking God to forgive us in exactly the same way as we forgive those who hurt us. In other words, if we are harboring unforgiveness in our hearts as we say this prayer, we are calling a curse down upon ourselves. 

Let's face it, we are all in desperate need of the mercy of God. But time and time again, the Word of God makes clear that the greatest block to his mercy is resentment. In the Old Testament, Sirach 27:30-28:7 tells us how wrath and anger, cherished and held tight, are poisons that lead to spiritual death. Jesus thinks this is so important that he includes a reminder of this lesson in the central prayer that he teaches to his disciples. And to drive the point home, he tells us the parable of the merciless servant, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (see 18:21-35). As we listen to the story, we are incensed at the arrogance and hard-heartedness of someone who is forgiven a huge debt yet immediately throttles the neighbor who owes him a fraction of the amount he himself once owed. Incensed, that is, until we realize the story is about us. For all of us who have ever nurtured a grudge are guilty of exactly the same thing. 

Bringing up this issue is rather uncomfortable, because we all have been hun by others. Many have been hurt deeply. Think, for example, of the Widows and orphans of September 11. Is it wrong to have feelings of outrage OVer such crimes? Does forgiveness mean that we excuse the culprits and leave ourselves wide open to further abuse? 
Not at all. First of all, forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. I think it rather unlikely that the Lord Jesus, in his sacred yet still human heart, had tender feelings of affection for those mocking him as his blood was being drained out on the cross. But he made a decision, expressed in a prayer: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). In other words, there was no vindictiveness, no desire to retaliate and cause pain, suffering, and destruction to those who delighted in causing him pain. Such desire for destructive vengeance is the kind of anger mentioned as one of the seven deadly sins. Instead, Jesus prayed to the Father for their good even as they caused him harm. 

Did Jesus ever experience anger against those who sought his life? Absolutely. Righteous anger is the appropriate response to injustice. It is intended to give us the emotional energy to confront that injustice and overcome it. Recall how livid Jesus was in the face of the Pharisees' hypocrisy, because it was blocking access to his life-giving truth. But notice as well that he overturned the moneychangers' tables, not their lives. 


Forgiveness does not mean being a doormat. It does not mean sitting passively by while an alcoholic or abusive family member destroys not only your life but the lives of others. But taking severe, even legal action does not require resentment and vindictiveness. St. John Paul II did not request the release of the man who shot him. But he visited him in prison to offer him forgiveness and friendship. In so doing, he stunned not only his assailant but the whole world. 

from 40 Days, 40 Ways A New Look at Lent by Marcellino D' Ambrosio pp. 45-46


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Daily Thought For March 5, 2015

Gratitude

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. 


Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.


Thomas Merton

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Daily Thought For March 4, 2015

The Divine Artisan

A rough and unshapen log has no idea that it can be made into a statue that will be considered a masterpiece, but the carver sees what can be done with it. So many seem to know scarcely anything of the Christian life and do not understand that God can mould them into saints, until they put themselves into the hands of that almighty Artisan.


St. Ignatius of Loyola

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Daily Thought For March 3, 2015

The Carnival Barker


"Step right up, Ladies and Gentlemen!" 

Can you picture the typical carnival barker with his straw hat, striped coat and cane? From his mouth flows an endless stream of words designed to lure you into' 'the greatest show on earth." We have a friend who worked as just such a barker for many years. Bernard Joseph Patrick Murray took the stage name "Ray Murray" when he went on the road with his magic show as a young man. 
Ray came from a humble background. He recounts that when he needed new pants, he got new patches for his knees instead. As a child he vowed that when he grew up, things would be different. He'd be somebody. 

After starting a family, Ray left show business and tried various jobs, until one day he discovered what's known as "sales motivation" or "positive thinking." Ray felt he had discovered the big dark secret to happiness, love and joy. His natural ability to persuade people led him into a career in sales where he prospered. With a passion Ray preached the philosophy of positive thinking. "We are our own power source," he told his salespeople. "We have within ourselves the key to success; it's all in our attitude. " 

By the world's standards Ray had it made ... Cadillac in the driveway, great family, home, big bank account. Of course, he had paid a price ... often working seven days a week, sixteen hours a day or more. Ray thought he was a pretty good Christian in those days too. He made his kids go to Catholic school and church, as long as somebody else took them. 

Then one day a business associate told Ray about a Catholic charismatic prayer group where they prayed for healing. Ray was unimpressed. After all, he had found all life's answers in positive thinking. He could sell anything to anyone. Why should he search for more? 

On April 22, 1983, his friend invited him to attend the opening session of the Southern Regional Catholic Charismatic Conference, and for some inexplicable reason, Ray agreed to go. There in 2,600 faces Ray saw the peace, joy and happiness he had been preaching for years. 

Hands, hearts and voices raised, these people were proclaiming that their power source was not in their own minds, but in a person - Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior! 

Fr. John Bertolucci was preaching on "Jesus, the Power and Wisdom of God." Ray says, "Even with earmuffs on, I could have heard his voice and it blew my mind. He was telling me things I didn't want to hear, things that made me uncomfortable. I didn't plan on coming back, but I did." 

The next night Ray heard the testimony of businessman Charlie Osburn. "You gotta give it ALL to Jesus," Charlie proclaimed. Even though Ray was moved, he wouldn't commit to coming back Sunday morning. "I like golf," he told his friend, "but I don't even play golf at 9 a.m.!" 

However, once he got home that night Ray couldn't shake a restless feeling. There he was, flipping the TV channels, pacing the floor, surrounded by his library full of self-help books. Ray says, "I knew something was happening to me but I couldn't figure it out. Moments later I knew that I could not make it in this world without Jesus Christ!" The same man who wasn't going back to the conference at 9 a.m. woke his wife up at 4 a.m. Sunday morning. "Honey, do you think we can go now? I can't wait." 

Ray attended the Life in the Spirit Seminar at our prayer group, full of questions, yet eager to learn. I'll never forget the first time I met him. He's so outgoing and friendly, he's easy to like. Yet, he scared me a little because his mind had been so strongly influenced by a self-help philosophy. 

Slowly but surely Ray's mind has been renewed by the truth of God's word. He began to identify the idols in his life, like his obsession with work and success. As he surrendered himself to Jesus, a new peace and security replaced old fears. His family life was restored. Ray now claims that God's word contains the best positive thinking in the world. "I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4: 13). How's that for a victorious truth? "I was in a battle with Satan and didn't have a chance before," Ray says. Now, with the Lord, Ray's winning. 

As I've watched Ray grow spiritually, I've been impressed by his humility. His gifts have been laid at the foot of the Cross and now Jesus is able to use him as a salesman for the gospel. His conversion gives me hope for the future. Jesus can and will transform lives! 

Before Ray's conversion his sales force presented him with a birthday present. They hired Habeba, a belly dancer, who came to his office, danced, fed him grapes and he loved it. One year later they wanted to please him for his birthday. This time they bought him a Bible! From Habeba to a Bible ... now that's transformation! 


If you could hear our barker friend today, Ray would say, "Step right up, Ladies and Gentlemen - better known as brothers and sisters in Christ these past several years - it is no secret what God can do! What He's done for me and for others, He'll do for you!" 

from More of God — by Patti Gallagher Mansfield pp.145-148

Monday, March 2, 2015

Daily Thought For March 2, 2015

The Joy of Divine Providence


     My DEAR SISTER,—I am touched by your sympathy in my trials, but I am glad to be able to reassure you. It is true that at first I suffered acutely on seeing myself burdened with a quantity of business and anxieties contrary to my liking for solitude and silence, but see how divine Providence has come to my aid. God gives me the grace to remain unattached to all these affairs, so that my spirit remains always free. I leave their successful issue to his paternal care, so that nothing distresses me. Often things go all right and I give thanks to God; sometimes everything goes wrong, I again bless his holy name and offer him the sacrifice of my efforts. Once this sacrifice has been made, God arranges everything. 

Already our good Master has prepared several of these agreeable surprises for me. As for leisure, I have more than anywhere else. At the moment visits are rare, because I only pay them out of duty and pure necessity. Our Fathers themselves, who know my tastes, soon finish their business with me and as they are convinced that I do not act as I do out of pride or misanthropy no one disapproves of my behavior and several are edified by it. 

Moreover, I am not as dead as you think; but God gives me the grace not to bother about disapproval when I am following the path on which he calls me. Our concern is to please him only; ifhe is content, that is enough for us, all the rest is a mere nothing. In a few days we shall make our appearance before this great God, this sovereign Master, this infinite Being. Of what use then (and for all eternity) will anything be that was not done for his sake and animated by his grace and Spirit? 


If these simple truths were a little more familiar to us, what peace of heart and mind should we not enjoy already in our present life! From how many vain fears, desires and anxieties, both for this life and the next, should we not be delivered! I will confess to you that since my return to France I begin to envisage more closely than ever the end of this sad life of ours, and I do so with much peace and tranquillity. How could I feel anything but joy, when I see the end of my exile approaching? 

Fr. J.P. de Caussade, S.J. Self-Abandonment To Divine Providence pp.114-15