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.”