A cheery fellow who lives next door to me will often remark on how lovely the weather is, and when someone replies, “I hear it’s going to rain tomorrow,” he shoots back, “True, but after the rain comes the sun!” When a curbstone philosopher tells him that health is the most important thing in life, his answer never varies: “Thank God for our health, but even more for the faith that sustains us through thick and thin and makes us happy in the hospital, as well as on the beach,” or words to that effect. This neighbor of mine sees a silver lining in every cloud, and perhaps he is overly optimistic. Some might call him a Pollyanna. One thing, though, is certain: He doesn’t suffer, as naysayers do, from tunnel vision. A story is told of an old farmer whose only horse ran away. In sympathy, his fellow villagers said, “What misfortune you have!” In reply, the farmer said, “There is no misfortune, only blessings in disguise!” A few days later, his horse returned with a dozen wild horses following along! The villagers said, “What good fortune you have!” The farmer replied, “There is no good fortune, only God’s will!” Shortly afterward, his only son was thrown from one of the wild horses and sprained his back. The villagers again cried, “What bad fortune you have!” Then, a few days later, his son was supposed to march into war but was excused because of his injury! The farmer declared, “If you trust in God, then there are only blessings or blessings in disguise!” Marks, F. W. (2012). The Gift of Pain (pp. 61–62). Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing.
Meditatio “Lord, save us!” Today’s Gospel paints a dramatic picture for us. Jesus and his disciples are sailing on the sea when suddenly a violent storm breaks out. The rough sea tosses the boat as waves crash over it and fill it with water. We can imagine the power of this storm. The disciples are terrified, afraid for their lives. When they turn to Jesus, however, he is sound asleep! How can he sleep at a time like this? Perhaps he is very tired. But perhaps it is because Jesus is not afraid. His dialogue with the frightened disciples indicates this may be the case, for he asks: “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” The disciples are afraid because they don’t have much faith. Jesus, instead, is not afraid because he trusts his Father. We too want to trust God in a similar way as we encounter storms in life. We know that faith is not a feeling, but a deep belief in all that God has revealed. Our deep beliefs give us the courage to be faithful and to continue on in all of the circumstances of our daily life. These beliefs lead us to trust in God’s merciful and powerful love for us. Just as Jesus intervenes in the storm in today’s Gospel, he also intervenes in our storms and in all that challenges us. Sometimes he does this in a dramatic way and at other times he walks along with us, listens to us, encourages us, strengthens us, and gives us the graces we need to be faithful to our commitments and choices. Jesus also brings unimaginable good out of whatever challenges and sufferings we encounter and endure. In the midst of the storm, the disciples turn to Jesus, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” This is the key: believing and trusting. We can confidently turn to Jesus for help, for he is faithful. Oratio Jesus, what an example you give me! Your trust in your Father gave you courage and kept you calm. How I want this! It would help me to reflect more often on your goodness, mercy, and unconditional love for me. If I would remember that you never abandon me and are able to bring good out of every circumstance, I would learn to trust you more. Please help me, Jesus. Deepen these beliefs in my heart. Obtain for me the gifts of a deeper faith and trust. During the day, remind me to turn to you in all of my needs.
Contemplatio I place my trust in your saving help.
Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 1–17: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 224–225). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
COME TO ME WHEN YOU ARE HURTING, AND I WILL SHARE YOUR PAIN. Come to Me when you are joyful, and I will share your Joy-multiplying it many times over. I invite you to come to Me just as you are—no matter what condition you're in. You don't have to clean up your act first, since I already know the worst about you. When you're hurting, you want to be with someone who understands you without condemning you. When you're happy, you delight in being with someone who loves you enough to celebrate with you. I understand you compassionately and love you exuberantly, so bring more and more of yourself to Me. Most people are selective about which parts of themselves they share with Me. Some hesitate to bring Me the traits they consider shameful. Others are so used to living with painful feelings—loneliness, fear, guilt—that it never occurs to them to ask for help in dealing with these things. Still others get so preoccupied with their struggles that they forget I'm even here.
There are hurting parts of you that I desire to heal. However, some of them have been with you so long that you consider them part of your identity. You carry them with you wherever you go, with little awareness. On occasions when you have brought some damaged portion of yourself to Me, I have helped you walk in newfound freedom. However, you are so addicted to certain painful patterns that you cannot easily break free from them. Only repeatedly exposing them to My healing Presence will bring you long-term freedom. When that happens, you will be released to experience Joy in much fuller measure. I will share your Joy and multiply it many times over. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. — ROMANS 8:1 The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. —PSALM 126:3 In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. —PSALM ll8:5 "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." —JOHN 8:36
Moreover, the Greek work parakletos can be translated in yet another way: it also means “advocate”. A verse from the Book of Revelation might help us to understand it better: “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God’ ” (Rev 12:10). Someone who does not love God with all his heart does not love man, either. Those who deny God quickly become persons who destroy nature and accuse men, because accusing other men and nature enables them to justify their opposition to God: a God who has made this cannot be good! That is their logic. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, is not an accuser; he is an advocate and defender of mankind and creation. God himself takes the side of men and creatures. Within creation, God affirms and defends himself by coming to our defense. God is for us; we see that clearly throughout the earthly life of Jesus: he is the only one who takes our side, becomes one with us even unto death. Saint Paul’s awareness of this prompted an outburst of joy: If God is for us, who is against us?… Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?… For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:31–39) This God is for us a cause of joy, and we want to celebrate him. To know him and to acknowledge him is of great importance in our time. We are remembering the terrible days of the Second World War, happy that the dictator Hitler has disappeared along with all his atrocities and that Europe has been able to regain its freedom. But we cannot forget the fact that, even today, the world suffers from atrocious threats and cruelties. To corrupt and exploit the image of God is as dangerous as the denial of God that was part and parcel of the twentieth-century ideologies and of the totalitarian regimes that sprang from them, turning the world into an arid desert, outside and inside, to the very depths of the soul. Precisely at this historical moment, Europe and the world need the presence of God that was revealed in Jesus; they need God to stay close to mankind through the Holy Spirit. It is part of our responsibility as Christians to see to it that God remains in our world, that he is present to it as the one and only force capable of preserving mankind from self-destruction
Ratzinger, J. (2007). Europe Today and Tomorrow: Addressing the Fundamental Issues. (M. J. Miller, Trans.) (pp. 103–106). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Yes, we can rejoice that God exists, that he has revealed himself to mankind, and that he does not leave us alone. How consoling it is to know the telephone number of a friend, to know good people who love us, who are always available and never aloof: at any time we can call them and they can call us. This is precisely what the Incarnation of God in Christ says to us: God has written our names and phone numbers in his address book! He is always listening; we do not need money or technology to call him. Thanks to baptism and confirmation, we are privileged to belong to his family. He is always ready to welcome us: “Behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). But the Gospel reading for today adds a particularly important statement: Jesus promises the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:13), whom he calls, several times, the “Paraclete”. What does that mean? In Latin, the word is translated as Consolator, the Comforter. Etymologically, the Latin word means: the one who stays by us when we feel lonely. Thus our solitude ceases to be loneliness. For a human being, solitude is often a place of unhappiness; he needs love, and solitude makes the absence of it conspicuous. Loneliness indicates a lack of love; it is something that threatens our quality of life at the deepest level. Not being loved is at the core of human suffering and personal sadness. The word Consoler tells us precisely that we are not alone, that we can never feel abandoned by Love. By the gift of the Holy Spirit, God has entered into our loneliness and has shattered it. Indeed, this is genuine consolation; it does not consist merely of words but has the force of an active and effective reality. During the Middle Ages this definition of the Spirit as Consoler led to the Christian duty of entering into the solitude of those who suffer. The first hospices and hospitals were dedicated to the Holy Spirit: thus men undertook the mission of continuing the Spirit’s work; they dedicated themselves to being “consolers”, to entering into the solitude of the sick, the suffering, and the elderly, so as to bring them light.
Ratzinger, J. (2007). Europe Today and Tomorrow: Addressing the Fundamental Issues. (M. J. Miller, Trans.) (pp. 103–104). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Let your speech be meek, frank, open, and sincere, without the least mixture of equivocation, artifice, or dissimulation; for, although it may not be advisable to tell all that is true, yet it is never allowable to speak against the truth. Accustom yourself, therefore, never to tell a deliberate lie, either by way of excuse or otherwise; remembering always that God is the God of truth. Should you tell a lie unawares, fail not to correct it on the spot by some explanation or reparation: an honest excuse has always more grace and force to bear one harmless than a lie.
The soul enlightened by faith judges things in a very different way than those who, having only the standard of the senses by which to measure them, ignore the inestimable treasure they contain. The one who knows that a certain person in disguise is the king, behaves toward him very differently than another who, only perceiving him to be an ordinary man, treats him accordingly. In the same way, the soul that recognizes the will of God in the smallest event as well as in those that are the most distressing, receives all things with an equal joy, pleasure, and respect. Such a soul throws open its doors to receive with honor what others fear and flee from with horror. The outward appearance may be mean and contemptible, but beneath this abject garb the heart discovers and honors the majesty of the King. The deeper the abasement of his entry in such a guise and the more secret, the greater does the heart become filled with love. I cannot describe what the heart feels when it accepts the divine will in such humble, poor and lowly disguises. Ah! How the sight of God, poor and humble, lodged in a stable, lying on straw, weeping and trembling, pierced the loving heart of Mary! Ask the inhabitants of Bethlehem what they thought of the child. You know what answer they gave, and how they would have paid court to him had he been lodged in a palace surrounded by the state due to princes. Then ask Mary and Joseph, the magi, and the shepherds. They will tell you that they found in this extreme poverty an indescribable tenderness and an infinite dignity worthy of the majesty of God. Faith is strengthened, increased, and enriched by those things that escape the senses. The less there is to see, the more there is to believe. To adore Jesus on Tabor, to accept the will of God in extraordinary circumstances does not indicate a life animated by great faith as much as loving the will of God in ordinary things and adoring Jesus on the cross. For faith cannot be said to be a real, living faith until it is tried and has triumphed over every effort for its destruction. War with the senses enables faith to obtain a more glorious victory. To consider God equally good in things that are petty and ordinary as in those which are great and uncommon is to have a faith that is not common, but great and extraordinary. … Mary, when the apostles fled, remained steadfast at the foot of the cross. She owned Jesus as her son when he was disfigured with wounds and covered with mud and spittle. The wounds that disfigured him made him only more lovable and adorable in the eyes of this tender mother. The more awful were the blasphemies uttered against him, so much the deeper became her veneration and respect. The life of faith is nothing less than the continued pursuit of God through all that disguises, disfigures, destroys, and, as it were, destroys him. It is in very truth a reproduction of the life of Mary who, from the stable to the cross, remained unalterably united to that God who all the world misunderstood, abandoned, and persecuted. In like manner faithful souls endure a constant succession of trials. God hides beneath veils of darkness and illusive appearances which make his will difficult to recognize; but in spite of every obstacle these souls follow him and love him even to death on the cross. They know that, leaving the darkness they must run after the light of this divine sun which, from its rising to its setting, however dark and thick may be the clouds that obscure it, enlightens, warms, and inflames the faithful hearts that bless, praise, and contemplate it during the whole circle of its mysterious course. Pursue then without ceasing, you faithful souls, this beloved Spouse who with giant strides passes from one end of the heavens to the other. If you be content and untiring, nothing will have power to hide him from you. He moves above the smallest blades of grass as above the mighty cedar. The grains of sand are under his feet as well as the huge mountain. Wherever you may turn, there you will find his footprints, and in following them perseveringly you will find him wherever you may be. Oh! What delightful peace we enjoy when we have learned by faith to find God thus in all his creatures! Then is darkness luminous and bitterness sweet. Faith, while showing us things as they are, changes their ugliness into beauty and their malice into virtue. Faith is the mother of sweetness, confidence, and joy. It cannot help feeling tenderness and compassion for its enemies by whose means it is so immeasurably enriched. The greater the harshness and severity of the creature, the greater by the work of God is the advantage to the soul. While the human instrument strives to do harm, the Divine Workman in whose hands the soul is, makes use of the very malice to remove from the soul all that might be prejudicial to it. The will of God has nothing but sweetness, favors, and treasures for submissive souls; it is impossible to repose too much confidence in it, nor to abandon oneself to it too utterly. It always acts for and desires that which is most conducive to our perfection, provided we allow it to act. Faith does not doubt. The more unfaithful, uncertain, and rebellious are the senses, the louder faith cries: “All is well; it is the will of God.” There is nothing that the eye of faith does not penetrate, nothing that the power of faith does not overcome. It passes through the thick darkness and no matter what clouds may gather, it goes straight to the truth and, holding to it firmly, will never let it go.
De Caussade, J.-P. (2011). Inner Peace: Wisdom from Jean-Pierre de Caussade. (K. Hermes, Ed.) (pp. 19–23). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
Meditatio “… who do you say that I am?” In the previous passage, Jesus has fed the multitudes with the five loaves and two fish (see Lk 9:10–17). It is easy to imagine the excitement of the event, as well as the exhaustion Jesus and the disciples probably felt afterward. In contrast, Luke tells us in today’s passage: “… Jesus was praying in solitude, and [only] the disciples were with him.…” I am struck by the intimacy of this passage. Luke sets the stage for something important to be communicated. In this context of solitude and prayer, Jesus wants to bring the disciples into deeper awareness of who he truly is for them. Curiously, Jesus first asks them what others think about him: “Who do the crowds say that I am?” Only after they have elaborated on the opinions circulating among the people does Jesus ask, “But who do you say that I am?” On my nightstand I have a framed picture of Jesus who looks directly at me, with bright eyes smiling. A line on the bottom reads (in Spanish): “and you, who do you say that I am?” Like the disciples, I too have heard Jesus ask me this question. Like the disciples, I am sometimes uncomfortable answering. In coming to a deeper truth about who Jesus is, I am called to conversion in the way in which I follow him. I confess that I know that Jesus is God, that he is the Christ, my Savior, and the Redeemer of the world. I also confess that I don’t always act as one who believes this completely. Like the disciples, and the crowds who were fed, I want a Messiah who will be victoriously triumphant at all times. Yes, Jesus has won the victory … but he invites you and me to follow him as the Christ who lived, worked, suffered, was rejected, was put to death, and also rose again on the third day. I hear Jesus inviting me, as he did Peter and the disciples, to deeper faith, a faith that accepts God’s revelation of himself as he truly is.
Oratio Jesus, I confess that you are the Christ, the Son of God. Lead me to deeper faith and trust in who you are. Help me to let go of my own expectations and open my heart to the revelation of who you are, at each moment. Jesus, give me courage to follow you in your paschal mystery, so that in daily dying and rising, I may open my life to you and let you live in me more and more. Amen. Contemplatio Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God!
Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 1–17: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 202–203). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
Complain as little as possible about the wrongs you suffer; the one who complains usually commits a sin. Self-love feels that injuries are worse than they really are. Above all, do not complain to irascible or fault-finding people. If you feel it necessary to complain to someone, do so to those who are even-tempered and who really love God. Otherwise you will find that those to whom you complain upset you still more, instead of calming you.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, After the testimonies we have heard, and in the light of the word of the Lord that gives meaning to our suffering, let us first ask Holy Spirit to come among us. May he enlighten our minds to find the right words capable of bringing comfort. May he open our hearts to the certainty that God is always present and never abandons us in times of trouble. The Lord Jesus promised his disciples that he would not leave them alone, but at all times in life he would remain close to them by sending his Spirit, the Comforter (cf. Jn 14:26) to help, sustain and console them. At times of sadness, suffering and sickness, amid the anguish of persecution and grief, everyone looks for a word of consolation. We sense a powerful need for someone to be close and feel compassion for us. We experience what it means to be disoriented, confused, more heartsick than we ever thought possible. We look around us with uncertainty, trying to see if we can find someone who really understands our pain. Our mind is full of questions but answers do not come. Reason by itself is not capable of making sense of our deepest feelings, appreciating the grief we experience and providing the answers we are looking for. At times like these, more than ever do we need the reasons of the heart, which alone can help us understand the mystery which embraces our loneliness. How much sadness we see in so many faces all around us! How many tears are shed every second in our world; each is different but together they form, as it were, an ocean of desolation that cries out for mercy, compassion and consolation. The bitterest tears are those caused by human evil: the tears of those who have seen a loved one violently torn from them; the tears of grandparents, mothers and fathers, children; eyes that keep staring at the sunset and find it hard to see the dawn of a new day. We need the mercy, the consolation that comes from the Lord. All of us need it. This is our poverty but also our grandeur: to plead for the consolation of God, who in his tenderness comes to wipe the tears from our eyes (cf. Is 25:8; Rev 7:17; 21:4). In our pain, we are not alone. Jesus, too, knows what it means to weep for the loss of a loved one. In one of the most moving pages of the Gospel, Jesus sees Mary weeping for the death of her brother Lazarus. Nor can he hold back tears. He was deeply moved and began to weep (cf. Jn 11:33-35). The evangelist John, in describing this, wanted to show how much Jesus shared in the sadness and grief of his friends. Jesus’ tears have unsettled many theologians over the centuries, but even more they have bathed so many souls and been a balm to so much hurt. Jesus also experienced in his own person the fear of suffering and death, disappointment and discouragement at the betrayal of Judas and Peter, and grief at the death of his friend Lazarus. Jesus “does not abandon those whom he loves” (Augustine, In Joh., 49, 5). If God could weep, then I too can weep, in the knowledge that he understands me. The tears of Jesus serve as an antidote to my indifference before the suffering of my brothers and sisters. His tears teach me to make my own the pain of others, to share in the discouragement and sufferings of those experiencing painful situations. They make me realize the sadness and desperation of those who have even seen the body of a dear one taken from them, and who no longer have a place in which to find consolation. Jesus’ tears cannot go without a response on the part of those who believe in him. As he consoles, so we too are called to console. In the moment of confusion, dismay and tears, Christ’s heart turned in prayer to the Father. Prayer is the true medicine for our suffering. In prayer, we too can feel God’s presence. The tenderness of his gaze comforts us; the power of his word supports us and gives us hope. Jesus, standing before the tomb of Lazarus, prayed, saying: “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me” (Jn 11:41-42). We too need the certainty that the Father hears us and comes to our aid. The love of God, poured into our hearts, allows us to say that when we love, nothing and no one will ever be able to separate us from those we have loved. The apostle Paul tells us this with words of great comfort: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or the sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:35, 37-39). The power of love turns suffering into the certainty of Christ’s victory, and our own victory in union with him, and into the hope that one day we will once more be together and will forever contemplate the face of the Trinity Blessed, the eternal wellspring of life and love.
At the foot of every cross, the Mother of Jesus is always there. With her mantle, she wipes away our tears. With her outstretched hand, she helps us to rise up and she accompanies us along the path of hope. Pope Francis - "Prayer Vigil To Dry The Tears" May 5, 2016
Not all satisfactions have the same effect on us: some leave a positive after-taste, able to calm the soul and make us more active and generous. Others, however, after the initial delight, seem to disappoint the expectations that they had awakened and sometimes leave behind them a sense of bitterness, dissatisfaction or emptiness. Instilling in someone from a young age the taste for true joy, in every area of life—family, friendship, solidarity with those who suffer, self-renunciation for the sake of the other, love of knowledge, art, the beauty of nature—all this means exercising the inner taste and producing antibodies that can fight the trivialization and the dulling widespread today. Adults too need to rediscover this joy, to desire authenticity, to purify themselves of the mediocrity that might infest them. It will then become easier to drop or reject everything that although attractive proves to be, in fact, insipid, a source of indifference and not of freedom. And this will bring out that desire for God of which we are speaking. A second aspect that goes hand in hand with the preceding one is never to be content with what you have achieved. It is precisely the truest joy that unleashes in us the healthy restlessness that leads us to be more demanding—to want a higher good, a deeper good—and at the same time to perceive ever more clearly that no finite thing can fill our heart. In this way we will learn to strive, unarmed, for the good that we cannot build or attain by our own power; and we will learn to not be discouraged by the difficulty or the obstacles that come from our sin. In this regard, we must not forget that the dynamism of desire is always open to redemption. Even when it strays from the path, when it follows artificial paradises and seems to lose the capacity of yearning for the true good. Even in the abyss of sin, that ember is never fully extinguished in man. It allows him to recognize the true good, to savor it, and thus to start out again on a path of ascent; God, by the gift of his grace, never denies man his help. We all, moreover, need to set out on the path of purification and healing of desire. We are pilgrims, heading for the heavenly homeland, toward that full and eternal good that nothing will be able to take away from us. This is not, then, about suffocating the longing that dwells in the heart of man, but about freeing it, so that it can reach its true height. When in desire one opens the window to God, this is already a sign of the presence of faith in the soul, faith that is a grace of God. St Augustine always says: “so God, by deferring our hope, stretched our desire; by the desiring, stretches the mind; by stretching, makes it more capacious” (Commentary on the First Letter of John, 4, 6: PL 35, 2009). On this pilgrimage, let us feel like brothers and sisters of all men, traveling companions even of those who do not believe, of those who are seeking, of those who are sincerely wondering about the dynamism of their own aspiration for the true and the good. Let us pray, in this Year of Faith, that God may show his face to all those who seek him with a sincere heart. Thank you.
Benedict XVI. (2013). General Audiences of Benedict XVI (English). Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. (November 7, 2012)
The present life is given to us only to earn eternal life. If we forget this, we tend to concentrate all our affections on the things of this world, where we are but birds of passage. So it happens that when we have to leave this world we become frightened and upset. Believe me, if we want to live as happy pilgrims, we must always have in our hearts the hope of finally reaching that country where we will settle down forever. But at the same time we must believe, and believe with all our hearts (this is a most sacred truth!), that God keeps a loving eye on us as we walk toward Him, and never lets anything happen to us that is not for our greater good.
Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions, and therefore are cursed by the Lord, since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit but only leaves. It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law if he undermines its teaching by his actions.
Lectio Matthew 5:33–37 Meditatio “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ ” Jesus is asking his disciples, and he asks us, too, to live in the truth, so we will have no need for oaths. As a part of the Sermon on the Mount, this injunction of Jesus takes on added solemnity. If I were in the crowd on that day, I would probably notice the silence that seems to settle over the people as Jesus speaks these words. Who has not told a lie, little or big, seriously or jokingly? I look at our society today and see what it means to manipulate truth to one’s own advantage. Advertisements, contracts, tax laws, and even marriage oaths are sometimes written with loopholes one can use to wriggle loose from a commitment. One can slip through a loophole instead of upholding one’s word when that would mean sacrifice, inconvenience, or loss of money. So often the sad injustices of our world take off from the launch pad of untruth. Then I look within my heart to see if what I say or promise reflects what I think or intend. I have to bow my head in sorrow for the “social” lies, the little white lies, and the vague euphemisms that I, as a member of this society, may have committed, ignored, or condoned. The most vulnerable of our society, the children and the aged, seem to be the ones who suffer the most from untruth. I try to imagine what happiness and relief they would have if they could know for certain that they will be given what they are promised, and will receive what is their due.… An atmosphere of truth is the only place where real security and justice can flourish. It is important enough for Jesus to remind me with his immortal words that I must stand in the truth or not at all.
Oratio Good Master, you teach me the way to the kingdom. I see by your clear teaching that I have to work on my own failings before I can be free enough to walk with joy and love on that way. Redeemer, help me to understand my place in the world and to walk in it with humility and trust, confident that you will guide me when I waver and help me up when I fall. Contemplatio Lord, may my words always ring true.
Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 1–17: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 178–179). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord. (1 Kings 19:11) Elijah’s life was in danger. After defeating the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, he fled from Jezebel’s wrath, which thundered on the horizon like a threatening storm. Weary and discouraged, yet poised at a new chapter in his prophetic ministry, Elijah needed to hear God’s voice—and God’s messenger promised that he would. But it was only after Elijah had passed through the storm that he was able to hear God’s voice in a “tiny whispering sound” (1 Kings 19:12). Elijah’s story offers some encouraging insight into how we can hear God speak to us. In our natural desire to avoid stressful or challenging situations, we may think that the only way to hear God’s voice is in picturesque, quiet moments, when we are secluded and free to spend time with him in prayer or meditate on his word. Of course, those times are essential, but they are not the only way God speaks. And neither are they always the most effective way. In fact, God often uses the storms of life to help us find his presence and his wisdom. Life is not picture-perfect. We know what it’s like to feel buffeted by forces beyond our control and by situations that affect our work or health or our children and their future. Our foundation gets shaken by problems we can’t fix, and that can unnerve us. But there’s always a hidden blessing in these tough situations: they can bring us to our knees. It’s when we find ourselves nearing the end of our strength, as Elijah did, that we are more likely to listen for Jesus’ still small voice. We sense that we need him in the midst of whatever storm is swirling around us. The surprising thing about making it through storms is that we can look back and realize Jesus has been with us all along. He promised, “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age,” and he is true to his word (Matthew 28:20). So whenever you are facing a storm, try your best to cling to Jesus. Believe that even in the midst of the turmoil, you can still hear his voice and know his presence.
“Jesus, help me to cling to you through the storms so that I can learn to hear you.”
Daily Reflection from The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. Men crawl through their lives cursing the darkness, but all the while I am shining brightly. I desire each of My followers to be a Light-bearer. The Holy Spirit who lives in you can shine from your face, making Me visible to people around you. Ask My Spirit to live through you as you wend your way through this day. Hold My hand in joyful trust, for I never leave your side. The Light of My Presence is shining upon you. Brighten up the world by reflecting who I AM.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” —JOHN 8:12
You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. —MATTHEW 5:14-16;
All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit. —2 CORINTHIANS 3:18
God replied to Moses: I am who I am. Then he added: This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you. —EXODUS 3:14
WHAT FAITH BASICALLY MEANS is just that this shortfall that we all have in our love is made up by the surplus of Jesus Christ's love, acting on our behalf. He simply tells us that God himself has poured out among us a superabundance of his love and has thus made good in advance all our deficiency. Ultimately, faith means nothing other than admitting that we have this kind of shortfall; it means opening our hand and accepting a gift. In its simplest and innermost form, faith is nothing but reaching that point in love at which we recognize that we, too, need to be given something. Faith is thus that stage in love which really distinguishes it as love; it consists in overcoming the complacency and self-satisfaction of the person who says, "I have done everything, I don't need any further help." It is only in "faith" like this that selfishness, the real opposite of love, comes to an end. To that extent, faith is already present in and with true loving; it simply represents that impulse in love which leads to its finding its true self: the openness of someone who does not insist on his own capabilities, but is aware of receiving something as a gift and of standing in need of it.
OH GOD, give me the courage to call you Father. You know that I do not always give you the attention you deserve. You do not forget me, even though I so often live far from the light of your face. Come close, despite everything, despite my sin however great or small, secret or public, it may be. Give me inner peace, that which only you know how to give. Give me the strength to be true, sincere; tear away from my face the masks that obscure the awareness that I am worthy only because I am your son. Forgive me my faults and grant me the possibility to do good. Shorten my sleepless nights; grant me the grace of a conversion of heart. Remember, Father, those who are outside of here and still love me, that thinking of them, I remember that only love gives life, while hate destroys and resentment transforms into hell long and endless days. Remember me, oh God. Amen.
- A prayer by an inmate named Stefan recited during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the Roman District Prison of Rebibbia, December 18, 2011
It is altogether impossible to enumerate the heavenly gifts which devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has poured out on the souls of the faithful, purifying them, offering them heavenly strength, rousing them to the attainment of all virtues. Therefore, recalling those wise words of the Apostle St. James, "Every best gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights,"(2) We are perfectly justified in seeing in this same devotion, which flourishes with increasing fervor throughout the world, a gift without price which our divine Savior the Incarnate Word, as the one Mediator of grace and truth between the heavenly Father and the human race imparted to the Church, His mystical Spouse, in recent centuries when she had to endure such trials and surmount so many difficulties.
Pope Pius XII -HAURIETIS AQUAS (On Devotion to The Sacred Heart) #2
Meditatio “You shall love …” In speaking English, we commonly use the one word “love” to express many different types of feelings and relationships: I love God, my family, the sisters in my religious community, my friends, and the people I serve through our mission. But I also love vanilla ice cream, walking in the park on a spring day, and watching a sunrise. Clearly, I have different levels of relationship with each of my “loves,” and they differ greatly in their importance to me. In today’s Gospel, Jesus goes to the heart of two of the most significant loves we can experience: love for God and for the people with whom we live. Jesus presents us with a strong command to love God and our neighbor. He is not just suggesting or recommending this. Instead, Jesus requires his followers to live in love of God and neighbor. Jesus’ command to love and the witness of his own life show us that love is much deeper than warm, fuzzy feelings. Love for God and neighbor means freely choosing to make a gift of ourselves even when it is difficult and calls us to make sacrifices. Jesus himself tells us, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13). Jesus inseparably unites the two commandments of love for God and neighbor, showing us that our love for God can never be separated from our love of neighbor. As a disciple of Jesus, each of us is called to communicate God’s love to our families, our communities, and our world. Sometimes it can feel easier for me to love God in the quiet moments of prayer, and more difficult to love my neighbor in the midst of the daily struggles of life. This Gospel is a powerful reminder to me that true love of God requires and flows into love of my neighbor.
Oratio Jesus Master, your example and words show me how to grow in authentic love of both God and my neighbor. You show me that real love involves sacrifice and deep faith in your love for me. Help me, in my daily life, to be open to the experiences of love that you give me. May I learn from you how to love without limits or conditions, as you have loved me. Contemplatio “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God …” (1 Jn 4:16).
Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 1–17: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 156–157). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
He saved us and called us to a holy life. (2 Timothy 1:9)
In this one sentence, St. Paul maps out the entire Christian life. Yes, Jesus has redeemed us, but he didn’t save us and then leave us to our own devices. He has also destined us to become holy—to become saints.
“Who? Me? I can’t do that! I have a hard enough time just staying out of trouble. I can’t become holy.”
Yes, you can. Jesus was so convinced of your potential that he gave himself up for you. He looked into your heart and saw your desires for purity and innocence. He saw your desire to do great things for him and to build his kingdom. He saw the love and humility that lie deep in your heart. He saw it all and decided you were worth saving. He decided that the “holy” version of you was worth dying for.
What does this “holy” you look like? In a 2014 audience, Pope Francis described it as “a visible sign of God’s love and his presence.” He went on to describe the way to holiness: “Are you consecrated? Be holy, living your gift and your ministry with joy. Are you married? Be holy, loving and taking care of your husband or wife, as Christ did with the Church. Are you a baptized person who is not married? Be holy, performing your work with honesty and competence and giving time to the service of others.” That doesn’t sound too hard!
“Where you work you can become a saint,” Francis said. “At home, on the streets, at work, at church, in the moment and with the state of life that you have, a door is opened on the road to sainthood.”
Today, believe that as you travel the road God has put you on, you can become holy—simply by being more fully the person God has intended you to be, the person that, deep down in your heart, you want to be.
“Jesus, I embrace your call to holiness. Shield me today from discouragement so that I can be a visible sign of your love and presence.”
Daily Reflection from The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)