If God seems slow in responding, it is because He is preparing a better gift. He will not deny us. God withholds what you are not yet ready for. He wants you to have a lively desire for His greatest gifts. All of which is to say, pray always and do not lose heart.
Don't sow your desires in someone else's garden; just cultivate your own as best you can; don't long to be other than what you are, but desire to be thoroughly what you are. Direct your thoughts to being very good at that and to bearing the crosses, little or great, that you will find there. Believe me, this is the most important and least understood point to the spiritual life. We all love according to what is our taste; few people like what is according to their duty or to God's liking. What is the use of building castles in Spain when we have to live in France?
Holy Spirit, the life that gives life: You are the cause of all movement. You are the breath of all creatures. You are the salve that purifies our souls. You are the ointment that heals our wounds. You are the fire that warms our hearts. You are the light that guides our feet. Let all the world praise you.
If then you are wise, you will show yourself rather as a reservoir than as a canal. For a canal spreads abroad water as it receives it, but a reservoir waits until it is filled before overflowing, and thus communicates, without loss to itself, its superabundant water. In the Church at the present day, we have many canals, few reservoirs.
They who pray with faith have fervour and fervour is the fire of prayer. This mysterious fire has the power of consuming all our faults and imperfections, and of giving to our actions, vitality, beauty and merit.
If we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well, we must manifest our joy in the service we render to Him and them. Let us open wide our hearts. It is joy which invites us. Press forward and fear nothing.
God of our life, there are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies gray and threatening; when our lives have no music in them, and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage. Flood the path with light, run our eyes to where the skies are full of promise; tune our hearts to brave music; give us the sense of comradeship with heroes and saints of every age; and so quicken our spirits that we may be able to encourage the souls of all who journey with us on the road of life, to your honor and glory.
Lord, help me to live this day, quietly, easily. To lean upon Thy great strength, trustfully, restfully. To wait for the unfolding of Thy will, patiently, serenely. To meet others, peacefully, joyously. To face tomorrow, confidently, courageously.
It is not those who commit the least faults who are the most holy, but those who have the greatest courage, the greatest generosity, the greatest love, who make the boldest efforts to overcome themselves, and are not immediately apprehensive about tripping.
Lectio Luke 14:1, 7–11 Meditatio “On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of the one of the leading Pharisees.…”
Jesus, why do you eat at the house of a Pharisee? What are you thinking? You have denounced the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and reproached the scribes and lawyers. They have been setting traps for you, hoping to get rid of you. They are clearly set against you. Why do you go to the house of a Pharisee to share the intimacy of a meal? I can’t fathom it. How do you act there? Did you plan what to say? Did you think of some great remarks that would outwit your host? Did you come up with backhanded complements or sarcastic remarks that would beat them at their own game? Why did you walk into the hornet’s nest? They are observing you. How can you eat under that scrutiny? I can’t understand, Jesus, because I wouldn’t have been able to do it. There are some people I don’t like—family members who don’t talk to me, colleagues I don’t get along with, difficult neighbors. I couldn’t just sit down to eat with them. I would feel such anger in my heart. My mind would be racing with things I would like to say to them. I would be rehearsing how to tell them off or defend myself. I would be stilted, uneasy, and maybe even unpleasant. I try to steer clear of anyone who upsets me. Some days just thinking of them gets my blood boiling. How do you do it? It seems so natural: you go to dine at the home of one of the Pharisees. I understand: Love is the answer. Even though they seek your life and make your life difficult, you love them. You have nothing to hide. You seek their well-being. You promote the possibility of their growth. You give them every chance possible to hear, to listen, to trust, to obey. Your word convicts me, Lord.
Oratio Jesus, this moment is decisive for the rest of my life. Today I begin to love my enemies, to love those I disagree with or who disagree with me. I start to love those who offend me or whom I don’t like. I will begin today to love the colleagues I don’t get along with and those who refuse to talk to me. I love those who report me and make my life miserable. And one day may I have the grace and the joy of sitting down with each of these persons at the eternal feast laid out in heaven for your children. Amen.
Contemplatio Today I gaze on the mystery of the way you loved.
Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 18–34: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 238–239). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
Christianity is not a new philosophy or new morality. We are Christians only if we encounter Christ... Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we really become Christians... Therefore, let us pray to the Lord to enlighten us, so that, in our world, he will grant us the encounter with his presence, and thus give us a lively faith, an open heart, and great charity for all, capable of renewing the world.
Don't get upset with your imperfections. It's a great mistake because it leads nowhere - to get angry because you are angry, upset at being upset, depressed at being depressed, disappointed because you are disappointed. So don't fool yourself. Simply surrender to the Power of God's Love, which is always greater than our weakness.
Pride measures prosperity not by her own advantages but by the disadvantages of others. She would not even wish to be a goddess unless there were some wretches left whom she could order about and lord it over, whose misery would make her happiness seem all the more extraordinary, whose poverty can be tormented and exacerbated by a display of her wealth. This infernal serpent, pervading the human heart, keeps men from reforming their lives, holding them back like a suckfish.
He is like a tree planted near running water. (Psalm 1:3) What a glorious promise—especially to the Jewish people who would have prayed this psalm! Remember, the Holy Land is a more arid region than where most of us live. The thought of lush vegetation growing along the banks of a babbling stream would have seemed almost exotic to them. So to say that the one who follows the Lord is like one of those trees is to say something powerful indeed! While it’s true that most of us live in more temperate climates, our spiritual environments can be far more arid. The world around us may not be as hospitable to our spiritual life, which means we should drink as deeply as we can when we are in the presence of Jesus’ living waters. And nowhere do these waters flow more abundantly than at Mass. What is one of the first things you do when you enter a church? You bless yourself with holy water. You recall your baptism, when you were first plunged into the water of life. Then, during the Penitential Rite, you “confess to almighty God” that you need his forgiveness and mercy. You acknowledge that you need him to wash you with the waters of forgiveness. Before the priest begins the Eucharistic Prayer, he adds drops of water to the wine. Why? Because it symbolizes Jesus humbling himself to take on our humanity, and it symbolizes our being joined to Christ. This small action tells us that we can be “mingled,” or mixed, with the Lord so fully that his life becomes our life. Finally, when you receive the Body and Blood of Christ, you are being joined to believers all across the world who are receiving the exact same thing. Together with these millions of brothers and sisters, you are drinking from the stream of eternal life. That stream is flowing in you and through you, and it connects you to the worldwide Church. You don’t need to dig a new well or find a new stream. The water is already there for you. So come and drink! Receive the stream that flows from the altar of the Lord, and let it fill you up.
“Thank you, Jesus, for planting me near running water! Help me to draw near to the life-giving stream of the Mass.”
Daily Thought From The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)
Pray daily as though your future were entirely dependent on God; and then proceed to work for your reasonable needs and intelligent desires as though their fulfillment depended entirely on you in proportion as you see your daily life as a partnership with God, you will find life’s inadequacies, insecurities, and anxieties less confusing to the mind, less oppressive to the body and less frustrating to the spirit. Your inadequacies will be counterbalanced by your supernatural faith in God's divine plan for you. (Matt 25:14-23) Your natural sense of insecurity will find strength in Christ’s sermon on His Father’s divine providence for His children (Matt. 6:25-34). Finally, your spontaneous anxieties will find solace and peace in the good news of your Redemption. (John 1:1-14) This large perspective will make anger and hostility less necessary to you, since your fulfillment will no longer be restricted to the narrow fulfillment of an hour, day or year. Rather, it will be viewed as a noble effort of your grace dignified human nature, for reasonable fulfillment on earth and a glorious fulfillment with God in eternity. from My Daily Life (Confraternity of The Precious Blood) p.89
As your perspective grows in breadth and depth, you will find yourself acquiring a keener awareness of God’s presence in your daily round of occupations. Your religious sense gradually becomes so intertwined with your natural interests and concerns, that nature and grace are seen as two hands of God embracing you and sustaining you. With perspective your passing earthly activities become steps not only toward your natural self-fulfillment in this life, but also toward your unending, all satisfying self-fulfillment with God in heaven. You will see your personal life on earth as your share in the evolution of God’s original act of creation. Whether your personal gifts and opportunities be great or small in the eyes of worldly men, you will see them as part of God’s overall plan to draw all things back to himself in due time. The more your balanced perspective develops, so much the more will you realize why true self-development is the work of a lifetime. It is not a negative self dismembering analysis, but a positive self discovering synthesis. The treasure found in the field of which Jesus spoke, is within you. God speaks to you not only through His supernatural grace, but also through the individual nature which He fashioned into the person you are today. He would have you make an intelligent, reasonable use of the gift that is “you.”
My Daily Life Devotional (Confraternity of the Precious Blood) pp.26-27.
Even in the life of a Christian, faith rises and falls like the tides of an invisible sea. It's there, even when he can't see it or feel it, if he wants it to be there. You realize, I think, that it is more valuable, more mysterious, altogether more immense than anything you can learn or decide upon It will keep you free - not free to do anything you please, but free to be formed by something larger than your own intellect or the intellects around you.
Listen to the sermon preached to you by the flowers, the trees, the shrubs, the sky, and the whole world. Notice how they preach to you a sermon full of love, of praise of God, and how they invite you to glorify the sublimity of that sovereign Artist who has given them being.
No One Has Ever Hoped In The Lord And Been Confounded
Men may deprive me of property and honour; sickness may take away my strength and other means of serving You; I may even lose Your grace by sin; but never, never will I lose my hope in You. I will cherish it unto that dreadful moment when all hell will be unchained to snatch my soul away. "No one has hoped in the Lord and has been confounded."
If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend. And I clearly see that if we expect to please him and receive an abundance of his graces, God desires that these graces must come to us from the hands of Christ, through his most sacred humanity, in which God takes delight. Many, many times I have perceived this through experience. The Lord has told it to me. I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we wish his Sovereign Majesty to reveal to us great and hidden mysteries. A person should desire no other path, even if he is at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example. What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near. Let us consider the glorious Saint Paul: it seems that no other name fell from his lips than that of Jesus, because the name of Jesus was fixed and embedded in his heart. Once I had come to understand this truth, I carefully considered the lives of some of the saints, the great contemplatives, and found that they took no other path: Francis, Anthony of Padua, Bernard, Catherine of Siena. A person must walk along this path in freedom, placing himself in God’s hands. If God should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept this gladly.
Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favours, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort.
At the beginning…we are ready to make radical sacrifices. We would like to leave everything, give everything. But, very quickly, we discover that God always asks of us something that we had not thought of, sometimes even apparently insignificant things of which we are incapable of letting go.” We discover “all those secret attachments, those unconfessed refusals, those secret wounds. We would have liked to leave everything, we were aspiring to freedom, and here we discover, with a sort of disillusionment that can sometimes lead to despair or turn into cynicism, that we are caught in our own trap…following Jesus, leaving everything for him, is beyond our capacity. We then realize that, despite all our efforts and our good resolutions, in fact we have not yet really begun!” “But paradoxically, this realization of our resistance, our inability to respond to his call, is perhaps, in reality, the most precious fruit…For when we have consented to our own poverty, then God can finally begin to work within us.” (Dom Jean-Charles Nault, O.S.B., September Magnificat, p. 304-305.
There is much suffering in the world - physical, material, mental. The suffering of some can be blamed on the greed of others. The material and physical suffering is suffering from hunger, from homelessness, from all kinds of diseases. But the greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, having no one. I have come more and more to realize that it is being unwanted that is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience.
I knew that my heart and mind would always be tempted to feel anger--to find blame and hate. But I resolved that when the negative feelings came upon me, I wouldn't wait for them to grow or fester. I would always turn immediately to the Source of all true power: I would turn to God and let His love and forgiveness protect and save me.
Immaculee Ilibagiza (Author of Left To Tell - Discovering God Amidst The Rwandan Holocaust)
Faith brings into our lives such freedom, such love, such peace, and such joy that there are no words in any language that can explain it. You have to have it in order to know it. You have to experience it in order to understand it. Faith liberates. It liberates love and hope. If I am free to love and free to hope, what more do I want of life?
Space is still filled with the noise of destruction and annihilation, the shouts of self-assurance and arrogance, the weeping of despair and helplessness. But round about the horizon the eternal realities stand silent in their age-old longing. There shines on them already the first mild light of the radiant fulfillment to come. From afar sound the first notes as of pipes and voices, not yet discernable as a song or melody. It is all far off still, and only just announced and foretold. But it is happening, today.
The perfect family doesn't exist, nor is there a perfect husband or a perfect wife, and let's not talk about the perfect mother-in-law! It's just us sinners." A healthy family life requires frequent use of three phrases: "May I? Thank you, and I'm sorry" and "never, never, never end the day without making peace.
Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up. If we love each other enough, we will bear with each other's faults and burdens. If we love enough, we are going to light that fire in the hearts of others. And it is love that will burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden us. It is love that will make us want to do great things for each other. No sacrifice and no suffering will then seem too much. Yes, I see only too clearly how bad people are. I wish I did not see it so. It is my own sins that give me such clarity.
Do not pay any attention to the kind of work you do, but rather to the honor that it brings to God, even though it may seem quite trivial. Desire only to do the Divine Will, following Divine Providence, which is the disposition of Divine Wisdom. In a word, if your works are pleasing to God and recognized as such, that is all that matters. Work hard every day at increasing your purity of heart, which consists in appraising things and weighing them in the balance of God's will.
You see, only the humble man or woman can teach Christ, can give him and his love to others, because the proud man or woman just can’t really have Christ. The proud person is so filled with himself that there is no room for Christ. And I can’t in any way give what I do not have. I can’t give Christ if I don’t have him myself. The wonder of humility is that it teaches us that we are nothing: that we have nothing of ourselves to give to others; that no matter how brilliant or holy we are, all this is from God.
It is a mistake easily made by every man, saint or scholar, Church leader or day laborer. Ultimately, we come to expect God to accept our understanding of what his will ought to be and to help us fulfill that, instead of learning to see and accept his will in the real situations in which he places us daily. The simple soul who each day makes a morning offering of "all the prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day" - and who then acts upon it by accepting unquestioningly and responding lovingly to all the situations of the day as truly sent by God - has perceived with an almost childlike faith the profound truth about the will of God. To predict what God's will is going to be, to rationalize about what his will must be, is at once a work of human folly and yet the subtlest of all temptations. The plain and simple truth is that his will is that he actually wills to send us each day, in the way of circumstances, places, people, and problems. The trick is to learn to see that - not just in theory, or not just occasionally in a flash of insight granted by God's grace, but every day.
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew. (Matthew 9:9) Matthew probably had a lot of things going through his mind when he saw Jesus pass by. Let’s imagine that internal conversation: “Oh no, he’s looking right at me. I’ve heard so much about this Jesus. People say he can heal any ailment and has even cast out demons. He doesn’t pull any punches but tells it like it is. He doesn’t seem to be cowed by anyone, neither religious leaders nor Roman occupation troops. In fact, I heard he even healed a centurion’s servant. “But I feel stuck in the middle. I must turn over enough taxes to the Romans so that they won’t give my job to someone else, but I have to collect enough to provide for myself, don’t I? And if I’m not aggressive enough, other tax collectors are going to ruin my livelihood. “Nobody likes to pay taxes. It’s the Romans’ fault, but I’m the one with my hand out, so my countrymen resent me. The religious leaders think I’m dirty because I work for the Romans and handle their money. It’s hard for me to have any self-respect. “I’ll admit I’m curious about Jesus, but I’m also very busy. And yet, I can’t seem to look down and go on with my calculations. His eyes! It’s like he’s looking right into all the turmoil in my mind and heart, as if he knows I’m weary and fed up with it all, yet too weak to strike out in a different direction. “When Jesus looks at me like that, all my pretenses drop away. I feel so hollow inside. This can’t be all there is to life! There must be something worth giving my whole life to. “He’s about to say something: ‘Follow me.’ He’s talking to me! His voice isn’t loud, but suddenly those two words are echoing in my heart. This is the answer I’ve been looking for. I’m going to leave my books and my takings behind and go with him. “There must be others who feel the same way I’ve been feeling. I want to invite some of the other tax collectors to dinner at my house. We’re not rivals anymore. I just want them to meet this man who can see right into my heart!” Perhaps you are sitting at your “customs post” today. Lift your head and let Jesus look into your heart. He knows your weariness and confusion. He is offering you a role in building a kingdom that lasts forever.
“St. Matthew, pray for us.”
Daily Thought from The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)
Jesus tells us that the seed which fell on the path or on the rocky ground or among the thorns bore no fruit. I believe that we can ask ourselves honestly: What kind of ground are we? What kind of ground do we want to be? Maybe sometimes we are like the path: we hear the Lord’s word but it changes nothing in our lives because we let ourselves be numbed by all the superficial voices competing for our attention. I ask you, but do not respond immediately; everyone respond in his or her own heart: am I a young person who is numb? Or perhaps we are like the rocky ground: we receive Jesus with enthusiasm, but we falter and, faced with difficulties, we don’t have the courage to swim against the tide. Everyone of us respond in his or her heart: am I courageous or am I a coward? Or maybe we are like the thorny ground: negativity, negative feelings choke the Lord’s word in us (cf. Mt 13:18-22). Do I have the habit of playing both sides in my heart: do I make a good impression for God or for the devil? Do I want to receive the seed from Jesus and at the same time water the thorns and the weeds that grow in my heart? But today I am sure that the seed is able to fall on good soil. We are listening to these witnesses, of how the seed has fallen on good soil. “No, Father, I am not good soil; I am a disaster, and I am full of stones, of thorns, of everything.” Yes, maybe this is so on the surface, but free a little piece, a small piece of good soil, and let the seed fall there and watch how it grows. I know that you want to be good soil, true Christians, authentic Christians, not part-time Christians: “starchy”, aloof and Christian in “apparence only”. I know that you don’t want to be duped by a false freedom, always at the beck and call of momentary fashions and fads. I know that you are aiming high, at long-lasting decisions which are meaningful. Is that true, or am I wrong? Am I right? Good; if it is true, let’s do this: in silence, let us all look into our hearts and each one of us tell Jesus that we want to receive the seed of his Word. Say to him: Jesus, look upon the stones, the thorns, and the weeds that I have, but look also upon this small piece of ground that I offer to you so that the seed may enter my heart. In silence, let us allow the seed of Jesus to enter our hearts. Remember this moment. Everyone knows the seed that has been received. Allow it to grow, and God will nurture it.
Pope Francis Prayer Vigil With Young People July 27, 2013 World Youth Day
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning! This Sunday’s evangelical passage (Cf. Matthew 18:21-35) gives us a teaching on forgiveness, which doesn’t deny the wrong suffered but recognizes that the human being, created in the image of God, is always greater than the evil he commits. Saint Peter asked Jesus: “how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (v. 21). To Peter it already seems the maximum to forgive the same person seven times; and perhaps for us it seems a lot to do so twice. But Jesus answers: “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (v. 22), that is, always: you must forgive always. And He confirms it recounting the parable of the merciful king and of the merciless servant, in which He shows the incoherence of him who was first forgiven and then refuses to forgive. The king of the parable is a generous man that, gripped by compassion, condones an enormous debt — “ten thousand talents”: enormous — to a servant that entreats him. However, that same servant, no sooner he meets another fellow servant who owes him one hundred denarii — that is, much less –, behaves mercilessly, having him thrown into prison. The incoherent attitude of this servant is also ours, when we refuse to forgive our brothers. While the king of the parable is the image of God, who loves us with a love so rich in mercy as to receive us, love us and forgive us continually. Since our Baptism God has forgiven us, condoning an insolvent debt: original sin. However, that is the first time. Then, with unbounded mercy, He forgives us all our faults no sooner we show even a small sign of repentance. God is thus: merciful. When we are tempted to close our heart to one who has offended us and apologizes, let us remember the words of the celestial Father to the merciless servant: “I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” (vv. 32-33). Whoever has experienced the joy, the peace and the interior freedom that comes from being forgiven, can open himself in turn to the possibility of forgiving. In the prayer of the Our Father, Jesus wished to insert the same teaching of this parable. He put in direct relation the forgiveness that we ask of God, with the forgiveness that we must grant our brothers: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). God’s forgiveness is the sign of His overflowing love for each one of us; it’s a love that leaves us free to go away, as the prodigal son, but waits every day for our return. It’s the enterprising love of the shepherd for the lost sheep; it’s the tenderness that receives every sinner that knocks at its door. The celestial Father — our Father — is full of love and wants to offer it to us, but He can’t do so if we close our heart to love for others.
May the Virgin Mary help us to be ever more aware of the gratuitousness and grandeur of the forgiveness received from God, to become merciful like Him, good Father, slow to anger and great in love.
Angelus Message of Pope Francis — September 17, 2017
God arranged the plan of salvation with a fundamental purpose: that no one would have any grounds for boasting in a self-glorifying way. Self-delusion and self-righteousness are characteristic of us fallen creatures; the very root of sin is pride. The only way to break pride and allow God's grace to triumph is to admit the awesome truth: we're all in desperate need of God, of His forgiveness, of His love, of His Holy Spirit, and all of us need to abandon our pride, admit our need, and come to the foot of the Cross to receive mercy and forgiveness. And we need to stay there.
Ralph Martin The Fulfillment of All Desire: A Guidebook to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints (p. 229).
Witnessing as I do, dearly beloved, your daily gathering here with such enthusiasm, I am filled with deep satisfaction, and I do not fail to praise the loving God for your progress. I mean, just as hunger is a sign of bodily health, so, too, interest in listening to the divine sayings would be taken by anyone as a sure pointer to spiritual wellbeing.
Accordingly, our Lord Jesus Christ, too, in the Beatitudes pronounced on the Mount, declared, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will have their fill. So who could adequately commend you, now that you have already received this blessing from the Lord of all, and are looking forward to so many more good things from him? Our Lord, you see, is like that: when he sees a soul seeking the things of the Spirit with great desire and earnest zeal, he bestows on it his graces in abundance.
Hence, with a view to your greater benefit, I,too, look forward to being the occasion of an instructive sermon that will lead to an increase in your love. I mean, for you and your improvement we undergo any effort so that you too may climb more rapidly to the heights of virtue and become teachers about life in God to all those who associate with you, and that we may feel comfortable in more forthright speech seeing that our effort was not in vain or to no purpose.
Saint John Chrysostom (died 407) was a famed preacher and commentator on Scripture.
Love is within reach of the child, of the invalid who has been confined to a hospital bed for a lengthy period, of the businessman, of the doctor who hardly has a minute to spare ... because sanctity is a matter of love, and of the effort we make to reach the Master with the help of grace. We have to give a new meaning to life, together with all its joys and exhilarations, its pains and woes. Sanctity requires a fight against conformity, against lukewarmness, against an easy-going worldly attitude. It demands heroism - not in extraordinary situations that we are unlikely to encounter, but in continual fidelity to our task in the unremarkable duties of each day.
from In Conversation with God Volume 3 Part 2 92.1 by Francis Fernandez
THERE IS A MIGHTY BATTLE going on for control of your mind. Heaven and earth intersect in your mind; the tugs of both spheres influence your thinking. I created you with the capacity to experience foretastes of heaven. When you shut out the world and focus on My Presence, you can enjoy sitting with Me in heavenly realms. This is an incredible privilege reserved for precious ones who belong to Me and seek My Face. Your greatest strength is your desire to spend time communing with Me. As you concentrate on Me, My Spirit fills your mind with Life and Peace.
The world exerts a downward pull on your thoughts. Media bombard you with greed, lust, and cynicism. When you face these things, pray for protection and discernment. Stay in continual communication with Me whenever you walk through the wastelands of this world. Refuse to worry, because this form of worldliness will weigh you down and block awareness of My Presence. Stay alert, recognizing the battle being waged against your mind. Look forward to an eternity of strife-free living, reserved for you in heaven.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. -EPHESIANS 2:6
The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. -ROMANS 8:6
Do not love the world or anything in the world .... The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. -1 JOHN 2:15, 17
Keep your eyes lifted up to God. Build up your courage in holy humility; strengthen it in sweetness; confirm it in steadiness. Always make your spirit lead your inclinations and whims. Don't let anxiety take control of your heart; each day will tell you what you are to do. You have already passed through a number of trials by the grace of God; the same grace will be there for you in all the occasions to come, and will free you from difficulties and rough paths one after the other even if God must send an angel to carry you over the more dangerous steps.
The accidents of life separate us from our dearest friends, but let us not despair. God is like a looking glass in which souls see each other. The more we are united to Him by love, the nearer we are to those who belong to Him.
You are children of the light and children of the day. (1 Thessalonians 5:5) Children of the day! How wonderful to be reassured that we have been rescued from the darkness of sin and can now enjoy the light of Christ! But Paul, ever the apostle, goes beyond the good feelings and immediately shifts our focus to what it means to live in the light. In the very next verse, he tells us, “Let us stay alert and sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6). There are so many ways we can stay alert, but let’s focus on one that Paul mentions at the end of today’s passage: by encouraging each other. Because we are “children of the day,” we are all uniquely qualified to bring daylight to the people around us (1 Thessalonians 5:5). In a world that has grown jaded, positive and encouraging people are deeply needed! “Build one another up,” Paul says (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Comment on the good things you see God doing in the lives of other people. Be positive, supportive, and appreciative. Make it a point to strengthen someone who seems weary, to encourage someone who is timid, and to empower someone who feels weak. When all you can see is a person’s faults, ask God to help you see with his eyes of compassion. Try to love that person as God loves them. Remember, God is always at work in every person’s life, even if you can’t see it. If nothing else, find a way to share your experience of the Lord with them; that may help them recognize God’s hand in their life, even as it softens your heart. While you’re at it, don’t restrict yourself only to “godly” topics. Complimenting others on a natural level—their looks, their talents, an act of kindness—can be just as inspiring. It may also open the door for further and deeper conversations. Over time, you will find more and more opportunities to talk about God’s life and goodness, and you will find people more accepting. God has made you a child of the light. So let that light shine today!
“Holy Spirit, give me words of affirmation so that I can encourage my loved ones. Show me how to bring your light into this world of shadows.” Daily Thought For September 5, 2017 from The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)
1. Pray every day. Each Catholic man must start his day with prayer. It is said, “Until you realize that prayer is the most important thing in life, you will never have time for prayer.” Without prayer, a man is like a soldier who lacks food, water, and ammunition. Set aside some time to speak with God first thing each morning. Pray the three prayers essential to the Catholic faith: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be. Pray also at every meal. Before food or drink touches your lips, make the Sign of the Cross, say the “Bless us, O Lord” prayer, and end with the Sign of the Cross. Do this no matter where you are, with whom or how much you are eating. Never be shy or ashamed about praying over meals. Never deny Christ the gratitude that is due to Him. Praying as a Catholic man before every meal is a simple but powerful way to keep strong and fill the breach. 2. Examine your conscience before going to sleep. Take a few moments to review the day, including both your blessings and sins. Give God thanks for blessings and ask forgiveness for sins. Say an Act of Contrition. 3. Go to Mass. Despite the fact that attending weekly Mass is a Precept of the Church, only about one in three Catholic men attend Sunday Mass. For large numbers of Catholic men, their neglect to attend Mass is a grave sin, a sin that puts them in mortal danger. The Mass is a refuge in the Spiritual Battle, where Catholic men meet their King, hear His commands, and become strengthened with the Bread of Life. Every Mass is a miracle where Jesus Christ is fully present, a miracle that is the high point not only of the week, but of our entire lives on Earth. In the Mass, a man gives thanks to God for his many blessings and hears Christ send him again into the world to build the Kingdom of God. Fathers who lead their children to Mass are helping in a very real way to ensure their eternal salvation. 4. Read the Bible. As St. Jerome so clearly tells us, “Ignorance of the Sacred Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” When we read God’s word, Jesus is present. Married men, read with your wife and your children. If a man’s children see him read the Scriptures, they are more likely to remain in the Faith. My brothers in Christ, this I can assure you: men who read the Bible grow in grace, wisdom, and peace. 5. Keep the Sabbath. From the creation of Adam and Eve, God the Father established a weekly cycle ending with the Sabbath. He gave us the Sabbath to ensure that one day out of seven we will give thanks to God, rest, and be refreshed. In the Ten Commandments, God asserts anew the importance of keeping the Sabbath. With today’s constant barrage of buying and selling and the cacophony of noisy media, the Sabbath is God’s respite from the storm. As Catholic men, you must begin, or deepen, keeping the holiness of the Sabbath. If you are married, you must lead your wives and children to do the same. Dedicate the day to rest and true recreation, and avoid work that is not necessary. Spend time with family, attend Mass, and enjoy the gift of the day. from INTO THE BREACH —An Apostolic Exhortation to Catholic Men, my Spiritual Sons in the Diocese of Phoenix Thomas J. Olmsted Bishop of Phoenix pp.11-12
Do you want to honor Christ’s body? Then do not scorn him in his nakedness, nor honor him here in the church with silken garments while neglecting him outside where he is cold and naked. For he who said: This is my body, and made it so by his words, also said: You saw me hungry and did not feed me, and inasmuch as you did not do it for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did not do it for me. What we do here in the church requires a pure heart, not special garments; what we do outside requires great dedication. Let us learn, therefore to be men of wisdom and to honor Christ as he desires. For a person being honored finds greatest pleasure in the honor he desires, not in the honor we think best. Peter thought he was honoring Christ when he refused to let him wash his feet; but what Peter wanted was not truly an honor, quite the opposite! Give him the honor prescribed in his law by giving your riches to the poor. For God does not want golden vessels but golden hearts. Now, in saying this I am not forbidding you to make such gifts; I am only demanding that along with such gifts and before them you give alms. He accepts the former, but he is much more pleased with the latter. In the former, only the giver profits; in the latter, the recipient does too. A gift to the Church may be taken as a form of ostentation, but an alms is pure kindness. Of what use is it to weigh down Christ’s table with golden cups, when he himself is dying of hunger? First, fill him when he is hungry; then use the means you have left to adorn his table. Will you have a golden cup made but not give a cup of water? What is the use of providing the table with cloths woven of gold thread, and not providing Christ himself with the clothes he needs? What profit is there in that? Tell me: If you were to see him lacking the necessary food but were to leave him in that state and merely surround his table with gold, would he be grateful to you or rather would he not be angry? What if you were to see him clad in worn-out rags and stiff from the cold, and were to forget about clothing him and instead were to set up golden columns for him, saying that you were doing it in his honor? Would he not think he was being mocked and greatly insulted?
Apply this also to Christ when he comes along the roads as a pilgrim, looking for shelter. You do not take him in as your guest, but you decorate floor and walls and the capitals of the pillars. You provide silver chains for the lamps, but you cannot bear even to look at him as he lies chained in prison. Once again, I am not forbidding you to supply these adornments; I am urging you to provide these other things as well, and indeed to provide them first. No one has ever been accused for not providing ornaments, but for those who neglect their neighbor a hell awaits with an inextinguishable fire and torment in the company of the demons. Do not, therefore, adorn the church and ignore your afflicted brother, for he is the most precious temple of all. From a homily on Matthew by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop (Hom. 50:3-4: PG 58, 508-509) From The Office of Readings For The Day
“God calls us through what happens during our day: through the suffering and happiness of the people we live with, through the human interests of our colleagues and the things that make up our family life.”
Rise Up People Of God - The Anointing Of The Holy Spirit Awaits Us!
The person who desires to become a sign must be dedicated to sacrifice, even as the aged Simeon prophesied of Jesus: "This child ... will be a sign of contradiction." The person who wants to be a sign will share in the destiny of the Virgin Mary: "And a sword will pierce your soul!" A sign must be steady and bold, luminous and watchful, indifferent to opinions, well rooted and unshakeable, capable of facing storms and long nights, trials and dangers. And if the Lord chooses you to become a sign in this present time, will you accept or refuse?
Moses and Elijah wanted to escape, but God's grace came upon them and these powerful men had to submit, for the Spirit of God was working in them.
from Prayers of Hope — Words of Courage by Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan p. 27
The "Doctor of Grace" reflects on the Goodness & Consolation of God
Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance the innermost places of my being; but only because you had become my helper was I able to do so. I entered, then, and with the vision of my spirit, such as it was, I saw the incommutable light far above my spiritual ken and transcending my mind: not this common light which every carnal eye can see, nor any light of the same order; but greater, as though this common light were shining much more powerfully, far more brightly, and so extensively as to fill the universe. The light I saw was not the common light at all, but something different, utterly different, from all those things. Nor was it higher than my mind in the sense that oil floats on water or the sky is above the earth; it was exalted because this very light made me, and I was below it because by it I was made. Anyone who knows truth knows this light. O eternal Truth, true Love, and beloved Eternity, you are my God, and for you I sigh day and night. As I first began to know you, you lifted me up and showed me that, while that which I might see exists indeed, I was not yet capable of seeing it. Your rays beamed intensely on me, beating back my feeble gaze, and I trembled with love and dread. I knew myself to be far away from you in a region of unlikeness, and I seemed to hear your voice from on high: “I am the food of the mature: grow, then, and you shall eat me. You will not change me into yourself like bodily food; but you will be changed into me”. Accordingly I looked for a way to gain the strength I needed to enjoy you, but I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who is also God, supreme over all things and blessed for ever. He called out, proclaiming I am the Way and Truth and the Life, nor had I known him as the food which, though I was not yet strong enough to eat it, he had mingled with our flesh, for the Word became flesh so that your Wisdom, through whom you created all things, might become for us the milk adapted to our infancy. Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved you! Lo, you were within, but I outside, seeking there for you, and upon the shapely things you have made I rushed headlong – I, misshapen. You were with me, but I was not with you. They held me back far from you, those things which would have no being, were they not in you. You called, shouted, broke through my deafness; you flared, blazed, banished my blindness; you lavished your fragrance, I gasped; and now I pant for you; I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst;
you touched me, and I burned for your peace. from The Liturgy of The Hours for August 28, 2017 Memorial of St. Augustine (from his Confessions)
We Are All "Living" Stones Precious In God's Sight
Also with us today, Jesus wishes to continue to build His Church, this house with solid foundation but where cracks aren’t lacking, and which has continuous need of being repaired, always. The Church is always in need of being reformed, repaired. We certainly don’t feel like rocks, but only like small stones. However, no small stone is useless, rather, in Jesus’ hands it becomes precious, because He gathers it, looks at it with great tenderness, works on it with His Spirit, and puts it in the right place, which He has always thought of and where it can be more useful to the entire edifice. Each one of us is a small stone, but in Jesus’ hands we participate in the building of the Church. And all of us, in as much as small, have been made “living stones, ” because when Jesus takes the stone in His hand, He makes it His, He makes it alive, full of life, full of life by the Holy Spirit, full of life from His love, and thus we have a place and a mission in the Church: she is a community of life, made up of very many stones, all different, which form one edifice in the sign of fraternity and communion.
excerpt from the Angelus Message of Pope Francis - August 27, 2017
Our souls may lose their peace and even disturb other people's, if we are always criticizing trivial actions - which often are not real defects at all, but we construe them wrongly through our ignorance of their motives.
Lectio Matthew 14:22–33 Meditatio “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
As I pray with this Gospel account, I contemplate each part of it, entering into the story as if I too were with Peter and the other disciples in their boat. As they set off, the wind begins to rise, rocking their boat. In the heart of the night, as the wind tosses the disciples’ boat, Jesus comes “toward them walking on the sea.” I sense the fear that comes upon Peter and the disciples, but Jesus comforts and strengthens them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Jesus does not scold Peter for his fear, but simply calls to him, “Come,” thus inviting him to a deeper trust in Jesus and in his word. Peter leaves the security of his boat to follow Jesus. But when Peter takes his gaze off Jesus and looks around at the waves, seeing how strong the wind is, he starts to sink. But even in the midst of his panic and fear, Peter again turns his attention to Jesus, the only one who can save him. As soon as Peter cries out to Jesus, the Gospel tells us that “immediately” and without hesitation, “Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter.” This encounter allows Peter and the other disciples on the boat to more clearly recognize Jesus as the Son of God. But what about me? Just like Peter, how often I want proof: Is it really you, Jesus? Are you really with me? Jesus invites me also to deepen my faith in him, in whom we meet a God who loves us so much that he became one of us. He continues to come to me and to each of us today, in the midst of the darkest storms of life. Oratio Jesus, you know about all the storms in my life, all the uncertainties, trials, and suffering that I and those I love are going through. You know about all the fears and doubts I hold within, and how small and hopeless I am before them all. When I feel overwhelmed and afraid, and when I struggle to believe you are with me, help me to take courage from the knowledge that you are always with me. May I behold the greatness of your love that works with more power and beauty than I can imagine.
Contemplatio “Be still and confess that I am God!” (Ps 46:11)
Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 18–34: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 24–25). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.