Friday, August 26, 2016

Daily Thought For August 26, 2016

An Attitude Of Gratitude   

   For most of us, life is busy and complicated. We have countless responsibilities, some of which begin before sunrise and many of which end long after sunset. Amidst the rush and crush of the daily grind it is easy to lose sight of God and His blessings. But, when we forget to slow down and say “Thank You” to our Maker, we rob ourselves of His presence, His peace, and His joy.
    Our task, as believing Christians, is to praise God many times each day. Then, with gratitude in our hearts, we can face our daily duties with the perspective and power that only He can provide.
It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
     Lord, make me a person with a grateful heart. You have given me much; when I think of Your grace and goodness, I am humbled and thankful. Today, I will praise You with my words and my deeds . . . and may all the glory be Yours. Amen

from Man of Prayer - 365 Daily Devotions

**Please note the next Daily Thought will be August 31, 2016**

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Daily Thought For August 24, 2016

Christ's Love And Punctuation
 The continuing love of Christ does not allow our present way of life to come to a full stop. He always is changing punctuation marks: He changes periods into commas. "Bartimaeus was blind." "Lazarus was a beggar." "Magdalene was a sinner." "Naaman was a leper." What seemed so final and conclusive that a period should be placed at the end of each life, by His Mercy is now changed into comma. Bartimaeus was blind, but he saw, Naaman was a leper, but he was cured.
     Our present state is not so definitive that it cannot be changed. And when the period is changed into a comma by giving ourselves completely to Christ, then our lives end with an exclamation point! What? Jacob a saint"! What? Me a saint!!!

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Those Mysterious Priests p. 216

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Daily Thought For August 23, 2016

A Haven Of Rest
       A friend once sent me a snapshot that had been taken four decades ago, when we were in the novitiate together. The photo shows me as a seventeen-year old sitting on a park  bench talking with my father. . . . I was struck by how peaceful and contented I looked in the photo. I remember asking myself, “How in the world did this boy ever survive all these years? He looks so terribly vulnerable.”
     Survival at best―that has literally been my experience. But I have survived the swirling tides of life because I discovered a little harbor inside my soul―a haven that I didn’t build, a refuge that I didn’t set apart from the winds of life. Sometimes, in the midst of storms, I  couldn’t find this sanctuary, but I knew it was there anyway.
     Because he is the God of peace, the Father provides this inner haven for each of us, a shelter that allows us to survive during difficult times, a place where we can receive the light of grace. If we are trying desperately to hold onto him, God will allow us to find this precious place of peace. He will hold out his hand. 

from Quiet Moments with Benedict Groeschel #80

Monday, August 22, 2016

Daily Thought For August 22, 2016

Trusting Our Divine Guide When We Can’t See The Path Ahead
     If we are truly docile, we shall ask no questions about the road along which God is taking us. 
     When God becomes our guide he insists that we trust him without reservations and put aside all nervousness about his guidance. We are sent along the path he has chosen for us, but we cannot see it and nothing we have read is any help to us. Were we acting on our own we should have to rely on our experience. It would be too risky to do anything else. But it is very different when God acts with us. Divine action is always new and fresh, it never retraces its steps, but always finds new routes. When we are led by this action, we have no idea where we are going, for the paths we tread cannot be discovered from books or by any of our thoughts. But these paths are always opened in front of us and we are impelled along them. Imagine we are in a strange district at night and are crossing fields unmarked by any path, but we have a guide. He asks no advice nor tells us of his plans. So what can we do except trust him? It is no use trying to see where we are, look at maps, or question passers-by. That would not be tolerated by a guide who wants us to rely on him. He will get satisfaction from overcoming our fears and doubts, and will insist that we have complete trust in him. 
Jean-Pierre De Caussade

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Daily Thought For August 20, 2016

The Mind’s Sense of Taste Teaches The Art Of Spiritual Discernment
     The light that true knowledge gives out is the ability to distinguish unerringly what is right from what is wrong. This being so, the path of uprightness – which leads the mind towards God, the radiant sun of righteousness – takes that same mind into an unbounded light of knowledge and then leads it on to seek trustingly for love.
     Those who are struggling in battle ought always to keep their souls free of the tumultuous waves of distraction. If they do this, the mind will be able to distinguish among the thoughts that come to it. The good thoughts, sent by God, they can store in the treasure-house of their memory. The evil thoughts, sent by the devil, they can throw out. In just the same way, when the sea is calm, the fisherman can see to the bottom of it and practically no fish can escape his gaze; but if it is stirred up by wind and storm, it becomes opaque when in calm times it was transparent – and when that happens, even the wiliest fisherman is wasting his time.
     Clearing and purifying the mind is the task of the Holy Spirit alone – just as when a house is being burgled, the spoils can only be recovered if a strong man bursts in and despoils the burglar. Therefore we ought to keep our souls at peace so that the Holy Spirit is welcome there, so that the lamp of knowledge will always be lit – for when it is, the dark and bitter impulses of the devil will be easy to see and they will be reduced to creeping helplessness as they are caught in that holy and glorious light.
     This is why St Paul says ‘Do not extinguish the Spirit’ – that is, do not sadden the Holy Spirit with evil acts and thoughts, or his light may cease to protect you. Of course the eternal and life-giving Spirit is not actually extinguished: rather, it is the sad turning away of the Spirit that leaves the mind wrapped in gloom and without the light of knowledge.
     The mind has a perfect sense of taste that is able to discern and distinguish. When we are healthy, our body’s sense of taste can unerringly distinguish good from bad, so that we desire only what is good for us. The same applies to our mind, as long as it is in perfect health and not disturbed by too many cares: it can very well perceive and desire the consolations that God offers. Through the action of love, it has an unfading memory of their taste, and so it can always seek what is best. As St Paul says: My prayer is that your love may increase and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception, so that you can always recognize what is best.

Diadochus of Photica, "On Spiritual Perfection" from The Office of Readings

Friday, August 19, 2016

Daily Thought For August 19, 2016

Be Renewed In The Gift Of Hope

Hope is the opposite of fear. It is serious to feel separated from God; we grow timid and weak. As a ship is tossed about in a tempest, without sailor or pilot, heading for shipwreck wherever the wind carries it, so it is with our little boat that lacks hope. I would never want us to be without hope, but I would want us to weep when we lose sight of God. May Jesus come to bring help when we are overwhelmed with fear. 

I hope that God will strengthen you more and more; and when you become afraid that your present attention and fervor may not last, respond once and for all to that thought, or rather to that temptation to sadness, that those who trust in God will never be confounded, and that in spiritual as well as physical and temporal matters, you have "cast your care upon the Lord and he will support you." 

Let us serve God well today; he will provide for tomorrow. Each day has its own burden to bear; do not worry about tomorrow, for the same God who reigns today will reign tomorrow. And if in his goodness he had thought, or even known, that you needed more assistance than was readily available, he would have given it to you. 

from The Golden Counsels of Saint Franics de Sales

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Daily Thought For August 18, 2016

Important Message As Summer Draws To An End

It is important to take a break now and then. Recreation relaxes both mind and body. Cassian tells us that a hunter found St. John cradling a living bird in his hand and gently petting its neck. The hunter asked him why he was wasting his time like that. John asked him why he didn’t keep his bow always taut.  “It would lose its spring if I did,” the Hunter answered. The apostle replied, “Then don’t be surprised if I relax sometimes. After a little recreation I can concentrate better.”
     It is a mistake to be so strict, driven, and austere that you can neither play a little yourself nor allow others a little diversion. Get out into the open air. Have some fun! Play the lute, sing, go hunting. Enjoy some innocent recreation. The only requirement is enough prudence to give it a proper time, place, and quantity.

Francis de Sales: Introduction To The Devout Life p.190

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Daily Thought For August 16, 2015

Little Things Mean A Lot

   Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently  trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible. 

C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity p. 117

Friday, August 12, 2016

Daily Thought For August 12, 2016

Valuing The Things That Really Matter

     “In the West we have a tendency to be profit-oriented, where everything is measured according to the results. In the East—especially in India—I find that people are more content to just be, to just sit around under a banyan tree for half a day chatting to each other. We Westerners would probably call that wasting time. But there is value to it. Being with someone, listening without a clock and without anticipation of results, teaches us about love. The success of love is in the loving—it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done. The more we can remove this priority for results the more we can learn about the contemplative element of love. There is the love expressed in the service and the love in the contemplation. It is the balance of both which we should be striving for. Love is the key to finding this balance. 

from A Simple Path by Mother Teresa, Compiled by Lucinda Vardey, p. 95

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Daily Thought For August 11, 2016

Avoiding Anxiety

Do not let anxiety sabotage your search for God.

You know well that when you search for something anxiously you can come upon it a hundred times without ever seeing it.

Anxiety masquerades as true spiritual energy, even as it wearies our mind, drains our enthusiasm, and deadens our soul.

It pretends to stir up our soul, but all it does is dampen our spirit. It pushes us until we stumble over our own feet.

We need to be on watch for this impostor that would have us believing that our spiritual life depends completely on our efforts, so that the more panicked we are, the more anxiously we search, the more likely we are to find God.

Let God do his part. Be patient.

Not even our best efforts can earn the blessings of God.

Our role is to be ready, to receive God's gifts with an open heart - carefully, humbly, and serenlely.

St. Francis De Sales

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Daily Thought For August 10, 2016

Have Confidence In God & Not Your Feelings

It is very good to mistrust ourselves, but what good will that do unless we place all our confidence in God and await his mercy? And even if we do not feel such confidence, we must not cease to make acts of confidence and say, "Even though I have no feeling of confidence in you, I know that you are my God, that I am totally yours and have no hope except in your goodness; therefore I abandon myself entirely into your hands." It is always in our power to make these acts, and even if we have difficulty in doing so, still, it is not an impossibility, and it is on these occasions and in these very difficulties that we give witness of our fidelity to God. 

A thousand times a day cast your whole heart, your soul, your anxiety on God with great confidence, and say with the psalmist: "I am yours, Lord; save me." 

Jesus sent the apostles here and there without money, without staff, without shoes, and clothed in a single garment. Afterwards, he said to them, "When I sent you away like this, did you lack anything?" They answered, "No." When you had troubles, even at those times when you had no confidence in God, did you perish in your affliction? You will answer me, "No." Why then should you lack the courage to overcome all other misfortunes? God has not abandoned you so far; why should he forsake you now, when, more than ever, you wish to belong to him? 

Do not fear future evil in this world, for perhaps it will never come. But in any event, if evil should come, God will strengthen you. If God commands you to walk upon the waves of adversity, do not doubt; do not be afraid. God is with you; have courage and you will be delivered. 

It is very fine to be aware of our misery and imperfection, but we must not stop there, nor fall into discouragement, but pick ourselves up by a holy confidence in God. The foundation of this rests in God and not in us because we change and God never changes. 

I often say that our misery is the throne of God's mercy. 

from The Golden Counsels of Saint Franics de Sales

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Daily Thought For August 7, 2016

Following Christ In Prayer

If you really wish to follow Christ, if you want your love for Him to grow and last, then you must be faithful to prayer. It is the key to the vitality of your life in Christ. Without prayer, your faith and love will die. If you are constant in daily prayer and in the Sunday celebration of Mass, your love for Jesus will increase. And your heart will know deep joy and peace.

Pope John Paul II Speech at New Orleans, September 12, 1987

Friday, August 5, 2016

Daily Thought For August 6, 2016

Using Our Influence For Christ

Those who have met Christ cannot shut themselves in their own little world: how sad such a limitation would be! They must open out like a fan in order to reach all souls. Each one has to create-and widen-a circle of friends, whom he can influence with his professional prestige, with his behavior, with his friendship, so that Christ may exercise his influence by means of that professional prestige, that behavior, that friendship.

St. Jose María Escrivá

Daily Thought For August 5, 2016

The Importance of Prayer

   Bring prayer to your family, bring it to your little children. Teach them to pray. For a child that prays is a happy child. A family that prays is a united family. We hear of so many broken families. And then we examine them: Why are they broken? I think because they never pray together. They are never in prayer before the Lord. 

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Daily Thought For August 6, 2016

Using Our Influence For Christ

Those who have met Christ cannot shut themselves in their own little world: how sad such a limitation would be! They must open out like a fan in order to reach all souls. Each one has to create-and widen-a circle of friends, whom he can influence with his professional prestige, with his behavior, with his friendship, so that Christ may exercise his influence by means of that professional prestige, that behavior, that friendship.

St. Jose María Escrivá

Daily Thought For August 6, 2016

Using Our Influence For Christ

Those who have met Christ cannot shut themselves in their own little world: how sad such a limitation would be! They must open out like a fan in order to reach all souls. Each one has to create-and widen-a circle of friends, whom he can influence with his professional prestige, with his behavior, with his friendship, so that Christ may exercise his influence by means of that professional prestige, that behavior, that friendship.

St. Jose María Escrivá

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Daily Thought For August 4, 2016

St. John Vianney On The Joy Of Prayer

Consider, children, a Christian’s treasure is not on earth, it is in heaven. Well then, our thoughts should turn to where our treasure is.
  Man has a noble task: that of prayer and love. To pray and to love, that is the happiness of man on earth.
  Prayer is nothing else than union with God. When the heart is pure and united with God it is consoled and filled with sweetness; it is dazzled by a marvelous light. In this intimate union God and the soul are like two pieces of wax moulded into one; they cannot any more be separated. It is a very wonderful thing, this union of God with his insignificant creature, a happiness passing all understanding.
  We had deserved to be left incapable of praying; but God in his goodness has permitted us to speak to him. Our prayer is an incense that is delightful to God.
  My children, your hearts are small, but prayer enlarges them and renders them capable of loving God. Prayer is a foretaste of heaven, an overflowing of heaven. It never leaves us without sweetness; it is like honey, it descends into the soul and sweetens everything. In a prayer well made, troubles vanish like snow under the rays of the sun.
  Prayer makes time seem to pass quickly, and so pleasantly that one fails to notice how long it is. When I was parish priest of Bresse, once almost all my colleagues were ill, and as I made long journeys I used to pray to God, and, I assure you, the time did not seem long to me. There are those who lose themselves in prayer, like a fish in water, because they are absorbed in God. There is no division in their hearts. How I love those noble souls! Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Colette saw our Lord and spoke to him as we speak to one another.
  As for ourselves, how often do we come to church without thinking what we are going to do or for what we are going to ask.
  And yet, when we go to call upon someone, we have no difficulty in remembering why it was we came. Some appear as if they were about to say to God: ‘I am just going to say a couple of words, so I can get away quickly.’ I often think that when we come to adore our Lord we should get all we ask if we asked for it with a lively faith and a pure heart.

St. John Vianney Catechism on Prayer (from the Office of Readings)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Daily Thought For August 3, 2016

The Human Heart & The Need For Compassion   
The human heart is endowed with an enormous coefficient of expansion. When it loves, it opens out in a crescendo of affection that overcomes all barriers. 
If you love Our Lord, there will not be a single creature that does not find a place in your heart.
In our modern world, one cannot help but notice that there are a growing number of people who require the assistance of Christians: the elderly, the sick, the depressed, the homeless. . .There are many people who suffer in their own homes with difficulties of sickness or the disgrace of poverty, though there may be fewer of these people than there once were. Today we have many nursing homes and residences for old people. There are many organizations and programs dedicated to people in need. Yet despite the best of intentions, these institutions  often harbor multitudes of lonely individuals who live in great spiritual want. Deprived of the affection of friends and relatives, these sorry people may find themselves completely abandoned. When we provide companionship to those who suffer in this way, we bring upon ourselves the mercy of the Lord. This is something which we need as much as anyone else.  
from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez p.86

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Daily Thought For August 2, 2016

Rediscovering the Value of Rest & Reflection

The apostles return from their first mission, full of what they have experienced and achieved. They are totally preoccupied with recounting their successes; in fact, it has become a whole business operation, and things have gone so far that, with all the coming and going, they no longer have time to eat. Perhaps they are expecting to be congratulated on their zeal; but instead, Jesus summons them to go with him to a solitary place where they can be alone and rest. I believe it is good that we should discern the humanity of Jesus in an event like this; he is not always uttering sublime words only, nor is he constantly wearing himself out in order to deal with everything that forces itself upon him. I can just imagine his face as he says these words; whereas the apostles are positively beside themselves and, full of zeal and self-importance, neglect their meals, Jesus brings them down from the clouds: Have a rest for awhile! One can sense his quiet humor, his friendly irony as he brings them down to earth. It is precisely in this humanity of Jesus that his divinity becomes visible; here we see visibly what God is like. Any kind of hectic activity, even in religious affairs, is utterly alien to the New Testament picture of man. We always overestimate ourselves when we imagine we are completely indispensable and that the world or the Church depends on our frantic activity. Often it will be an act of real humility and creaturely honesty to stop what we are doing, to acknowledge our limits, to take time to draw breath and rest—as the creature, man, is designed to do. I am not suggesting that sloth is a good thing, but I do want to suggest that we revise our catalogue of virtues, as it has developed in the Western world, where activity alone is regarded as valid and where the attitudes of beholding, wonder, recollection, and quiet are of no account, or at least are felt to need some justification. This causes the atrophying of certain essential human faculties.

Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 254–255). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Daily Thought For August 1, 2016

Zacchaeus & Three Obstacles That Must Be Overcome

Dear young people, you have come to Krakow to meet Jesus. Today’s Gospel speaks to us of just such a meeting between Jesus and a man named Zacchaeus, in Jericho (cf. Lk 19:1-10). There Jesus does not simply preach or greet people; as the Evangelist tells us, he passed through the city (v. 1). In other words, Jesus wants to draw near to us personally, to accompany our journey to its end, so that his life and our life can truly meet.

An amazing encounter then takes place, with Zacchaeus, the chief “publican” or tax collector. Zacchaeus was thus a wealthy collaborator of the hated Roman occupiers, someone who exploited his own people, someone who, because of his ill repute, could not even approach the Master. His encounter with Jesus changed his life, just as it has changed, and can daily still change, each of our lives. But Zacchaeus had to face a number of obstacles in order to meet Jesus. At least three of these can also say something to us.

The first obstacle is smallness of stature. Zacchaeus couldn’t see the Master because he was little. Even today we can risk not getting close to Jesus because we don’t feel big enough, because we don’t think ourselves worthy. This is a great temptation; it has to do not only with self-esteem, but with faith itself. For faith tells us that we are “children of God… that is what we are” (1 Jn 3:1). We have been created in God’s own image; Jesus has taken upon himself our humanity and his heart will never be separated from us; the Holy Spirit wants to dwell within us. We have been called to be happy for ever with God!

That is our real “stature”, our spiritual identity: we are God’s beloved children, always. So you can see that not to accept ourselves, to live glumly, to be negative, means not to recognize our deepest identity. It is like walking away when God wants to look at me, trying to spoil his dream for me. God loves us the way we are, and no sin, fault or mistake of ours makes him change his mind. As far as Jesus is concerned – as the Gospel shows – no one is unworthy of, or far from, his thoughts. No one is insignificant. He loves all of us with a special love; for him all of us are important: you are important! God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess. In his eyes the clothes you wear or the kind of cell phone you use are of absolutely no concern. He doesn’t care whether you are stylish or not; he cares about you! In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable.

At times in our lives, we aim lower rather than higher. At those times, it is good to realize that God remains faithful, even obstinate, in his love for us. The fact is, he loves us even more than we love ourselves. He believes in us even more than we believe in ourselves. He is always “cheering us on”; he is our biggest fan. He is there for us, waiting with patience and hope, even when we turn in on ourselves and brood over our troubles and past injuries. But such brooding is unworthy of our spiritual stature! It is a kind of virus infecting and blocking everything; it closes doors and prevents us from getting up and starting over. God, on the other hand, is hopelessly hopeful! He believes that we can always get up, and he hates to see us glum and gloomy. Because we are always his beloved sons and daughters. Let us be mindful of this at the dawn of each new day. It will do us good to pray every morning: “Lord, I thank you for loving me; help me to be in love with my own life!” Not with my faults, that need to be corrected, but with life itself, which is a great gift, for it is a time to love and to be loved.

Zacchaeus faced a second obstacle in meeting Jesus: the paralysis of shame. We can imagine what was going on in his heart before he climbed that sycamore. It must have been quite a struggle – on one hand, a healthy curiosity and desire to know Jesus; on the other, the risk of appearing completely ridiculous. Zacchaeus was public figure, a man of power. He knew that, in trying to climb that tree, he would have become a laughingstock to all. Yet he mastered his shame, because the attraction of Jesus was more powerful. You know what happens when someone is so attractive that we fall in love with them: we end up ready to do things we would never have even thought of doing. Something similar took place in the heart of Zacchaeus, when he realized that Jesus was so important that he would do anything for him, since Jesus alone could pull him out of the mire of sin and discontent. The paralysis of shame did not have the upper hand. The Gospel tells us that Zacchaeus “ran ahead”, “climbed” the tree, and then, when Jesus called him, he “hurried down” (vv. 4, 6). He took a risk, he put his life on the line. For us too, this is the secret of joy: not to stifle a healthy curiosity, but to take a risk, because life is not meant to be tucked away. When it comes to Jesus, we cannot sit around waiting with arms folded; he offers us life – we can’t respond by thinking about it or “texting” a few words!

Pope Francis - excerpt from Closing Mass 2016 World Youth Day