Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Conversion—The Ultimate Reality Check
I often think that the ideal of our perfection that we set up, and often go through torture to achieve, may not be God's idea of how He wants us to be at all. That may be something quite different that we never would have thought of, and what seems like a failure to us may really be something bringing us closer to His will for us.
Monday, April 16, 2018
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Christ asks for a home in your soul, where he can be at rest with you, where he can talk easily to you, where you and he, alone together, can laugh and be silent and be delighted with one another.
Saturday, April 14, 2018
A Born Again Experience
I used to regard it as extremely difficult and demanding to do what God's mercy was suggesting to me. I myself was held in bonds by the innumerable errors of my previous life, from which I did not believe I could possibly be delivered, so I was disposed to acquiesce in my clinging vices and to indulge my sins .... But after that, by the help of the water of new birth, the stain of my former life was washed away, and a light from above, serene and pure, was infused into my reconciled heart ... a second birth restored me to a new man. Then, in a wondrous manner every doubt began to fade.... I clearly understood that what had first lived within me, enslaved by the vices of the flesh, was earthly and that what, instead, the Holy Spirit had wrought within me was divine and heavenly. (Ad Donatum 3-4)
Friday, April 13, 2018
Why Humility Is Important
Humility, which gives preference to others, is not very popular today principally because men have forgotten the Greatness of God. By expanding our puny little self to the Infinite, we have made the true Infinity of God seem trivial. The less knowledge we have of anything, the less significant it seems. Our hatred of a person often decreases as we learn to know him better. A boy graduating from high school is generally not as humble as when he graduates from medical school. At eighteen he thought he knew it all; at twenty-eight he feels himself ignorant in the face of the medical science he has yet to acquire. So it is with God. Because we do not pray or contemplate or love Him, we become vain and proud; but when we know Him better, we feel a deep sense of dependence which tempers our false independence. Pride is the child of ignorance, humility the offspring of knowledge.
Proud people think themselves to be better than they are, and when criticized always believe their neighbor is jealous or has a grudge against them. The humble know themselves as they really are, for they judge themselves as they judge time, by a standard outside themselves, namely, God and His Moral Law. The psychological reason for the modern fondness for news which deflates others or which brings out the evil in their lives, is to solace uneasy consciences which are already laden with guilt. By finding others who apparently are more evil than we, we falsely believe that we are somehow better "than the rest of men" (Luke 18:11). It used to be that the most popular biographies were stories about the lives of good men and women worthy of our imitation, rather than the recounting of scandals for the sake of making us believe we are more virtuous than we really are. The pagan Plutarch said: "The virtues of great men served me as a modern mirror in which I might adorn my own life."
Fulton Sheen Finding True Happiness pp. 35-36
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Living In The Light
“God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son …”
A true gift is given out of love with no strings attached. The receiver may either accept it with joy, hugging or kissing the giver, or disregard its value and reject it, perhaps ignoring the giver. Jesus compares himself to a gift given to humanity by his Father, who gives us his only-begotten Son so that we may have eternal life through him. The Father offers us his unconditional love. As a loving Father, he only wants the best for us, and he offers this great gift to all. Will we accept this offer and open our hearts to his love? Or will we refuse to accept him and turn away from his love? Will we live in the light or walk in darkness?
Jesus is the light of the world. It is easier and safer to travel during the day than at night, because street signs and landmarks are visible. But at night, even where there are streetlights, it’s easier to make a wrong turn or miss an exit on the highway. Dangers may lurk on lonely roads. In a similar way, we can live in spiritual light or spiritual darkness. If we choose darkness, we will see neither our slavery to sin nor our need for God’s merciful love. Or we can choose to travel on the path illumined by Christ, the Light of Life. We can choose light over darkness, life over death. We believe in Jesus because we see him as the Truth. We can accept his love and live in the truth, the truth that makes us free. By loving Jesus in return we live the truth. The more we live in Christ, the Light, the more our works “may be clearly seen as done in God.”
Jesus, my risen Savior, I thank you for proving your love by giving your life for me through your passion and death. I praise you for raising me up to new life, and giving me the promise of living eternally with you, through your resurrection. In the sacraments you continually give of yourself so that I may have the wisdom, strength, and desire to love you in return by offering my life for others. May I never reject your gift of love but always keep my heart open, so that your light may shine through me and my “works may be clearly seen as done in God.”
“Whoever lives the truth comes to the light …”
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2011). Easter Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 26–27). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
No One Is Beyond God's Mercy
In essence, Jesus told his dinner host, a Pharisee named Simon, that this woman’s act of love, gratitude, and devotion far surpassed his meager attempts at hospitality. So let’s look at her example to see what we can learn about the kind of devotion that both pleases the Lord and lifts us up to his presence.
First, we can say that prayer is for sinners. According to Simon, this woman was a hopelessly incurable sinner unworthy of God’s forgiveness. But she shows that those who see their sin and their need are the ones most likely to turn to the Lord for healing and forgiveness. They are also more likely to shower him with praise and worship in response to his mercy. In contrast, people like Simon, those who underestimate their need for mercy, also fail to recognize the value of the Savior.
Second, we can say that prayer is an act of humility. The woman knelt at Jesus’ feet and gave him a gift of precious ointment. She was humble enough to interrupt a formal dinner party so that she could worship Jesus. She knew she had received a tremendous gift, and she didn’t let her pride stand in the way of thanking Jesus for his love.
Third, prayer is primarily about Jesus, not us. The woman didn’t come with a list of her needs and petitions. She didn’t come ready to debate issues of theology or philosophy. She came just to be in Jesus’ presence and to offer him her worship. All she wanted to do was to spend time with Jesus—to pour her life out to him in worship and thanksgiving. She didn’t even care if Simon and his friends tried to throw her out. She was preoccupied with one thing—Jesus—and she would not be denied her chance to worship him.
May we all run to the Lord as this woman did!
“Jesus, you are worthy of my whole life. Here I am, Lord. I come before you to worship you and to pour myself out in praise and surrender to you.”
Daily Reflection from The Word Among Us — September 20, 2012 (www.wau.org)
Monday, April 9, 2018
The Annunciation & Christian SacrificeChristian sacrifice does not consist in a giving of what God would not have without us but in our becoming totally receptive and letting ourselves be completely taken over by him. Letting God act on us—that is Christian sacrifice.
Ratzinger, J. (2004). Introduction to Christianity (Revised Edition). (J. R. Foster, Trans.) (p. 283). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Sunday, April 8, 2018
Divine Mercy — Something Worth Talking About!
“My child, you are My delight, you are the comfort of My Heart. I grant you as many graces as you can hold. As often as you want to make Me happy, speak to the world about My great and unfathomable mercy.”
St. Faustina — Diary #164
Saturday, April 7, 2018
The Resurrection Challenges Us To Break Out!
To celebrate Easter is to believe once more that God constantly breaks into our personal histories, challenging our “conventions”, those fixed ways of thinking and acting that end up paralyzing us. To celebrate Easter is to allow Jesus to triumph over the craven fear that so often assails us and tries to bury every kind of hope.
The stone before the tomb shared in this, the women of the Gospel shared in this, and now the invitation is addressed once more to you and to me. An invitation to break out of our routines and to renew our lives, our decisions, and our existence. An invitation that must be directed to where we stand, what we are doing and what we are, with the “power ratio” that is ours. Do we want to share in this message of life or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before events as they happen?
He is not here... he is raised! And he awaits you in Galilee. He invites you to go back to the time and place of your first love and he says to you: Do not be afraid, follow me.
Pope Francis —excerpt from Homily of the Easter Vigil, March 31, 2018
Friday, April 6, 2018
Love Increases The More It Is Given
But then something remarkable happens. When the disciples return Jesus does not need their fish. He has already prepared breakfast, and now invites the disciples to eat it; he is the host who provides them with food. The gift is mysterious but nevertheless not hard to decipher. The bread is he himself: I am the bread of life. He is the grain of wheat that dies and now bears fruit a hundredfold and is abundant for everyone until the end of time. His cross on which he gave himself is the miraculous multiplication of loaves, the divine overcoming of the attempt by the devil to catch people with bread and dramatics. Only love can bring about the true multiplication of bread. Material gifts, what is quantitative, always diminish through being divided.
Love however increases the more it gives itself. Jesus is the bread, and he is also the fish that for our sake has gone down into the water of death to look for us there and to find us. This is the lesson of the breakfast to which Jesus invites his own on the borderline of time and eternity, the Eucharist. Come and eat, he says to us and thus enables us already to cross the boundary of time and death.
Pope Benedict XVI (from the Daily Reflection from the Magnificat)
Thursday, April 5, 2018
God's Amazing Love
Jesus loved me and gave himself up for me. This is the great truth that consoles us. Jesus shows his love by giving his life. He loves each of us as if each one were the sole object of his affections. We should meditate often on this truth: God loves me. This surpasses the most improbable expectations of the human heart. No one — without divine Revelation — would dare to guess at or acknowledge this sublime vocation to which each and every person is called: to be God's son or daughter, called to live a close relationship as a friend, to participate in the very Life of the three divine Persons. Considered with earthbound eyes, it seems a dream, or scarcely credible, but it is the truth, the great truth that should move us to correspond.
Jesus never stops loving us, helping us, protecting us, talking to us, not even in our moments of sheer ingratitude, or after we have committed the greatest disloyalty. Perhaps it was during such sad circumstances that our Lord has been most attentive to us, as today's parable suggests. Among the hundred sheep in the flock, only the one that was lost had the honour of resting on the good shepherd's shoulders. I will be with you always, in each situation, at every moment, our Lord tells us. And especially when we begin that final journey towards him.
Certain that our Lord is close to us, we should be moved to begin and begin again in the interior struggle, without being disheartened by the negative experience of our defects and sins. Every moment we live is unique, and therefore provides a good opportunity to begin again, because - as we read in the book of Deuteronomy - the Lord will go before you. He will be with you: He will not leave you or abandon you. Do not fear or be cowardly.
For many centuries the Church had placed on the lips of priests and faithful, at the beginning of the Mass, the words of the Psalm 42:4: "I will go to the altar of God, of God who gives joy to my youth." These words were repeated when the priests and people were young, and when they had long since passed the years of their maturity. They are the cry of the soul going straight to Christ, who knows he is loved and desires love.
God loves me. And John the apostle writes, 'Let us love God, then, since God loved us first'. As if this were not enough, Jesus comes to each one of us, in spite of our patent wretchedness, to ask us, as He asked Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others?'
This is the moment to reply: 'Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you!' adding, with humility, 'Help me to love you more. Increase my love!' These are aspirations that can serve us today. They will bring us closer to Christ. He awaits our correspondence with him.
from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez pp. 361-362
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Every genuine Christian cannot help but be transformed by the Easter event. All is changed: darkness to light, doubt to faith, selfishness to generosity, despair to hope, sin to grace, and death to eternal life.
Easter should have profound ramifications on our outlook and attitude, our disposition and demeanor. How can a person be both a Christian and frowning, grumpy, pessimistic, sour, disagreeable, or negative? They cannot! These features are like oil and water. They simply do not mix. Easter Christians are just the opposite: smiling, cheerful, optimistic, upbeat, happy, agreeable, and positive.
People can tell rather quickly whether someone is an Easter person or not. We all “give off vibes,” “send out signals.” Easter people radiate genuine positive energy, and in doing so, bear witness to the reality of the resurrection.
While Easter happens on one Sunday of the year, we are called to be Easter people all of the time: in Lent and Easter, Advent and Christmas, and Ordinary Time too. For Christians, every day is Easter! Every day is a day to be joyful! Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22), a trademark of the authentic Christian. Jesus said, “People will know that you are my disciples by your love” (Jn 13:35). Upon his rising Jesus could have easily also said, “People will know you are my disciples by your joy.”
Fr. Michael Van Sloun
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Monday, April 2, 2018
Easter Is All About Rekindling Enthusiasm!
“Say, ‘his disciples came by night and stole him.’ ”
The religious authorities didn’t know what to make of Jesus’ disappearance, and wanted to squelch any rumors at the outset. So they came up with a tale about theft. People would buy it, they thought.
And people did buy it. The story was still circulating when Matthew’s Gospel reached its final edit, several decades later. A deep gulf had been dredged between people who passionately believed in the resurrection of Jesus and others who emphatically did not. Our world today is both similar to that world and different from it. The gulf is present, but seldom mentioned. There is little evidence of passionate belief.
Why does the somber season of Lent come so naturally, while the joyous season of Easter seems so challenging? By way of an answer, how often do we think of Easter, once the feast itself has passed?
In some cultures, people used to (and may still do) greet one another during the Easter season with these words:
“Christ has risen!”
“He has risen indeed!”
This beautiful greeting was a reminder of the great mystery they had just celebrated. We can carry these words in our hearts and, after greeting others in our usual way, repeat them in the depths of our soul. May they echo within us throughout the day! In remembering and reflecting on the overwhelming love that God has shown us through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can become—as Saint Augustine expressed it—alleluias from head to foot.
Christ has risen—he has risen indeed!
Lord Jesus, I believe! But rekindle my enthusiasm. Don’t let the skepticism of our secular culture cloud my belief or dampen my joy. You are the Faithful One, living and true. You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. You are the Resurrection and the Life. You are the Savior of the world. Increase my Easter joy. Let the overwhelming reality of your resurrection illumine my path, guiding me through the obscurity of earthly life to the brightness of eternity.
I want to really live this Easter season!
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2011). Easter Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 8–9). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
Saturday, March 31, 2018
Getting Ready for Incredible Joy!
It was not enough to patch up the old things. In an ancient homily for Holy Saturday, Jesus is depicted as descending into hell to rescue Adam and Eve. He tells them, “The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you.” No mere touch-up job, Jesus took his new creation to a whole new level!
The very liturgy of the Easter Vigil ushers us into the mystery of this new creation. A new fire is kindled, and a new Paschal candle is lit. Then the Church moves from darkness to light as we light our individual candles from that one flame. New holy water is blessed, and with it new members are brought into the Church. Yes, Jesus is making all things new!
This newness extends to our lives. Jesus has re-created and restored a world that was disordered by sin—and he re-creates each one of us. He who spoke the universe into existence now speaks healing and wholeness into our lives. He doesn’t just patch us up; he gives us a whole new beginning.
So take some time today to pray about this new creation. On this day, when tabernacles are empty, join the whole Church as it waits in silence. Something new, something wonderful, something beautiful is about to burst forth. Its light will shine all over the world. Its power will rescue people from the darkness of sin. Yes, even you can be raised up in a new and exciting way. Jesus is about to rise from the dead. Let him draw you up to heaven with him.
“Lord, create me anew! Take me from death to life, from chaos to order, from darkness to light. Jesus, I believe in you!”
Daily Thought From The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)
Friday, March 30, 2018
The Cross of Jesus Frees Us To Love
This year we have also walked along the Way of the Cross, the Via Crucis, evoking again with faith the stages of Christ's Passion. Our eyes have seen again the sufferings and anguish that our Redeemer had to bear in the hour of great sorrow, which marked the climax of his earthly mission.
Jesus dies on the Cross and lies in the tomb. The day of Good Friday, so permeated by human sadness and religious silence, closes in the silence of meditation and prayer. In returning home, we too, like those who were present at the sacrifice of Jesus, "beat our breasts", recalling what happened (cf. Lk 23: 48). Is it possible to remain indifferent before the death of God? For us, for our salvation he became man and died on the Cross.
Brothers and sisters, our gaze is frequently distracted by scattered and passing earthly interests; let us direct our gaze today toward Christ. Let us pause to contemplate his Cross. The Cross is the source of immortal life, the school of justice and peace, the universal patrimony of pardon and mercy. It is permanent proof of an oblative and infinite love that brought God to become man, vulnerable like us, even to dying crucified. His nailed arms are open to each human being and they invite us to draw near to him, certain that he accepts us and clasps us in an embrace of infinite tenderness: "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (Jn 12: 32).
Through the sorrowful Way of the Cross, the men and women of all ages, reconciled and redeemed by Christ's Blood, have become friends of God, sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father. "Friend" is what Jesus calls Judas and he offers him the last and dramatic call to conversion. He calls each of us friend because he is the true friend of everyone. Unfortunately, we do not always manage to perceive the depth of this limitless love that God has for his creatures. For him there is no distinction of race or culture. Jesus Christ died to liberate the whole of humanity from ignorance of God, from the circle of hate and vengeance, from the slavery to sin. The Cross makes us brothers and sisters.
Let us ask ourselves: but what have we done with this gift? What have we done with the revelation of the Face of God in Christ, with the revelation of God's love that conquers hate. Many, in our age as well, do not know God and cannot find him in the crucified Christ. Many are in search of a love or a liberty that excludes God. Many believe they have no need of God. Dear friends: After having lived together Jesus' Passion, let us this evening allow his sacrifice on the Cross to question us. Let us permit him to put our human certainties in crisis. Let us open our hearts to him. Jesus is the truth that makes us free to love. Let us not be afraid: upon dying, the Lord saved sinners, that is, all of us. The Apostle Peter wrote: Jesus "himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed" (I Pt 2: 24). This is the truth of Good Friday: on the Cross, the Redeemer has restored to us the dignity that belongs to us, has made us adoptive sons and daughters of God whom he has created in his image and likeness. Let us remain, then, in adoration before the Cross. O Christ, crucified King, give us true knowledge of you, the joy for which we yearn, the love that fills our heart, thirsty for the infinite. This is our prayer for this evening, Jesus, Son of God, who died for us on the Cross and was raised up on the third day.
Message of Good Friday 2008 Pope Benedict XVI
Thursday, March 29, 2018
You Are Valuable
St. Francis de Sales
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
With A Strong Faith Even Difficult Events Can Benefit Us
The fundamental problem is that we employ too much of our own criteria as to what is and what is not good and we don't have enough confidence in the Wisdom and Power of God. We don't believe that He is capable of utilizing everything for our good and that never, under any circumstance, would He leave us lacking in the essentials - that is to say, lacking anything that would permit us to love more. Because, to grow or to enrich one's spiritual life is to learn to love. Many of the circumstances that I consider damaging could, in fact, be for me, if I had more faith, precious opportunities to love more: to be more patient, more humble, more gentle, more merciful and to abandon myself more in to the hands of God.
Let us then be convinced of this and it will be for us a source of immense strength: God may allow me to occasionally lack money, health, abilities and virtues, but He will never leave me in want of Himself, of His assistance and His mercy or of anything that would allow me to grow unceasingly ever closer to Him, to love Him more intensely, to better love my neighbor and to achieve holiness.
from Searching For And Maintaining Peace — A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Fr. Jacques Philippe pp. 44-45
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Some Helpful Tips on Forgiveness
Forgive those who have offended you or your loved ones. In fact, think of the person who has most hurt you or most annoys you. Spend several minutes each day thanking God for that person and asking God to bless him or her.
Just about everyone can recite the Lord's Prayer from memory. That's precisely the problem, though. We often rattle it off without really thinking about what we are saying.
"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Whenever we pray this line, we are asking God to forgive us in exactly the same way as we forgive those who hurt us. In other words, if we are harboring unforgiveness in our hearts as we say this prayer, we are calling a curse down upon ourselves.
Let's face it, we are all in desperate need of the mercy of God. But time and time again, the Word of God makes clear that the greatest block to his mercy is resentment. In the Old Testament, Sirach 27:30-28:7 tells us how wrath and anger, cherished and held tight, are poisons that lead to spiritual death. Jesus thinks this is so important that he includes a reminder of this lesson in the central prayer that he teaches to his disciples. And to drive the point home, he tells us the parable of the merciless servant, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (see 18:21-35). As we listen to the story, we are incensed at the arrogance and hard-heartedness of someone who is forgiven a huge debt yet immediately throttles the neighbor who owes him a fraction of the amount he himself once owed. Incensed, that is, until we realize the story is about us. For all of us who have ever nurtured a grudge are guilty of exactly the same thing.
Bringing up this issue is rather uncomfortable, because we all have been hun by others. Many have been hurt deeply. Think, for example, of the Widows and orphans of September 11. Is it wrong to have feelings of outrage OVer such crimes? Does forgiveness mean that we excuse the culprits and leave ourselves wide open to further abuse?
Not at all. First of all, forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. I think it rather unlikely that the Lord Jesus, in his sacred yet still human heart, had tender feelings of affection for those mocking him as his blood was being drained out on the cross. But he made a decision, expressed in a prayer: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). In other words, there was no vindictiveness, no desire to retaliate and cause pain, suffering, and destruction to those who delighted in causing him pain. Such desire for destructive vengeance is the kind of anger mentioned as one of the seven deadly sins. Instead, Jesus prayed to the Father for their good even as they caused him harm.
Did Jesus ever experience anger against those who sought his life? Absolutely. Righteous anger is the appropriate response to injustice. It is intended to give us the emotional energy to confront that injustice and overcome it. Recall how livid Jesus was in the face of the Pharisees' hypocrisy, because it was blocking access to his life-giving truth. But notice as well that he overturned the moneychangers' tables, not their lives.
Forgiveness does not mean being a doormat. It does not mean sitting passively by while an alcoholic or abusive family member destroys not only your life but the lives of others. But taking severe, even legal action does not require resentment and vindictiveness. St. John Paul II did not request the release of the man who shot him. But he visited him in prison to offer him forgiveness and friendship. In so doing, he stunned not only his assailant but the whole world.
from 40 Days, 40 Ways A New Look at Lent by Marcellino D' Ambrosio pp. 45-46
Monday, March 26, 2018
Sunday, March 25, 2018
The Passion — Total Surrender
“This is my body.… This cup is the new covenant in my blood.…”
An interesting contemplative exercise would be to jot down in two separate columns the words said by Jesus and those said by everyone else in this Gospel passage.
The disciples and religious and civil leaders say things such as: “Who is the greatest?” “Lord, I am ready to go to death for you!” “Look, here are two swords. Shall we use them?” “If you are the Messiah, tell us.” “This man perverted our nation.” “Crucify him!” (cf. Lk 22:24–23:21).
Jesus says, “This is my body.… This is my blood, which will be shed for you.” “The leader is the one who serves. I am among you as the one who serves.” “You, Peter, will deny me.” “Pray not to enter into temptation.” “Judas, do you betray me with a kiss?” “If I tell you who I am you will not believe me.” “Father, forgive them” (cf. Lk 22:23–23:34).
The words of the disciples and leaders are characterized by self-protection. They are the words of people seeking to plan and control their lives from within their own framework or perspective. They are words of violence toward others. Their words reveal their desire to forfeit their identity for the safety of the rush of the mob. Jesus’ words, on the other hand, show that he has made himself vulnerable, that he will hand himself over for the sake of others. Jesus wasn’t trapped in his own fear of death, but knew himself to exist within a reality more spacious than his own fearful neediness, something ultimately good in which his life was held, beloved, even were he to die on the cross.
In a word, perhaps that was just it. The attitude of the disciples and leaders in the face of threat was one of non-acceptance and fear. Jesus’ attitude was one of acceptance despite his fear.
Jesus, when my plans, security, or future are threatened by the cross, I want to protect myself, like the disciples. I want to be first, successful, important, beautiful, happy. I think that if I plan things just right, everything will lead to success. I hold on to everything so tightly, and in grabbing things I crush them. It was only after your crucifixion and resurrection, when you forgave the apostles, that they realized that something greater was planned for their good, that the cross was not a threat and couldn’t ultimately destroy them. They were beloved and safe. They discovered that they could trust you. And so can I. And so will I.
I am beloved and safe.
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2008). Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 106–107). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
Saturday, March 24, 2018
Loving Our Neighbor
St. Catherine of Siena
Friday, March 23, 2018
Great Advice On Our Last Friday of Lent
He will provide the way and the means, such as you could never have imagined. Leave it all to Him, let go of yourself, lose yourself on the Cross, and you will find yourself entirely.
St. Catherine of Siena
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Necessary Care Of Oneself
THE VOICE OF CHRIST:
My CHILD, everyone must take a reasonable care of himself. In time of temptation arouse yourself, warn yourself, guard yourself and avoid idleness. No matter how much you do for others, do not neglect yourself altogether. Beware of too much talking. Whenever possible, try to be alone with Me. Take advantage of My presence. Every moment of your life is lived in My presence. You possess Him Whom the whole world cannot take from you. I am worth more than everything else put together.
2. If you neglect yourself, you can lose in a short time the spiritual strength which was acquired slowly and with great effort over a long period. Reflect often on the eternal purpose of your earthly life. You have to be a spiritual man to reach this goal. I tell you through My Church how to live this earthly life. There is no other way. Examine your progress each day. In a short time your present Iife will be over. If you have been faithful, you will never again know fear nor sorrow. For the little labor which you do on earth, you will gain a glorious reward and unending joy. I shall not fail those who have been faithful to My Will.
3. The man who has learned to pray and reflect, looks on self-perfection as his first and highest business. One who studies himself honestly, finds it easy to be silent about others. Learn to hold your tongue about the affairs of others unless your duty obliges you to speak. Fix your attention on your own faults and do something about them. If you are a true man of God, the doings of others will not make you worse than you, are. If you can remedy a bad situation, do so. Many times, however, you can do nothing but pray over the misdeeds of others. Do this as one sinner praying for another, not as a superior being, praying for inferiors. When you have learned to fix your attention on your own affairs, you will find great peace of soul.
As far as I can, I should strive to help others.
In many things however, I can help only by prayer, good example, and silence. Prayer gives grace to me and others. Good example reminds others of what they should be doing. Silence prevents the spreading of scandal and the flaring of tempers. Minding one's own business is a great virtue. My first task is to save my soul. As far as I can, I must also try to help others live a holier and happier life. Many things, however, are not in my power. After I have done what I can to help matters, I should leave them in God's hands.
Lord, give me the courage to look at myself, the honesty to admit my faults and limitations, the sincerity to try self-improvement, and the love for You that will keep me at it for the rest of my life. Let me not be concerned about matters that are beyond my control, except to petition Your help. For the rest, let me really live the words: "Thy will be done." Amen.
From My Daily Bread pp. 64-66
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
You can hear similarities to Shin’s story in what some Jewish leaders say to Jesus in today’s Gospel: “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone” (John 8:33). Jesus is trying to tell them that they really are slaves—to sin. But they can’t understand what he means. They are observing the Law to the best of their ability; what could possibly be wrong with that? Nothing at all. But Jesus wanted to give them something more.
Jesus wanted his listeners to remain free to obey the Law, but he also wanted them to know the freedom of the Holy Spirit. He wanted them to be free to hear the Spirit speak words of wisdom, love, and guidance; to be freed from self-centered concerns and anxieties; to be free to do the very things that Jesus was doing. In other words, he wanted to give them a freedom based on the power of God living and active in their lives.
As Easter draws near, consider what freedom looks like for you. You may find that, like Shin Dong-hyuk, you have been imprisoned for quite a while without even knowing it. God wants to give you the freedom to become the person you want to be—more patient, more considerate, and more open to the Holy Spirit. He wants to set you free from long-standing resentments and hurts. And he does this so that you can go out and build the kingdom of God with confidence and grace.
Let these truths settle deep into your heart. Then step into the freedom God has prepared for you this Lent.
“Lord, send me your light and your grace—the light to see where I need to change and the grace to make those changes.”
Daily Thought From The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
The Search For True Joy & Freedom
I don't know what the rules are exactly today, but they used to have a rule at the state university where I served as a chaplain that you're not allowed to have someone of the opposite sex in your room for more than three days. After three days, you've got to change rooms. (Not a good practice for morality.)
Here are all these young adults with their first taste of what they think is "freedom." They can do anything they want. No parents there to watch and impose rules. The kids are away from their families, away from everything else and they think, "I can do anything I want!" I can get drunk every night. I can get high every night. I can have sex every night. I can do anything I want!" FREEDOM, right? And a lot of these kids go ahead and do anything they want.
One night I was walking through the campus and literally passed more than 100 kids. (Yes, I counted them.) Not one of them had a smile on their face. Can you imagine? You mean if you can get drunk every night, if you can get high, if you can have sex with anyone you want, you are not going to be happy? Yeah, that is what I'm saying. Isn't it amazing that when you and I start doing things that are against the will of God, all it does is make us emptier?
Everyone of us has a hole inside of our heart and we are constantly trying to fill it up. We think if we try to fill it up with this or fill it up with that (you fill in the blanks) we're going to be happy. But everything in this world is temporary.
...The only thing that will fill up our emptiness is something that is eternal. The only thing that's eternal is God and His love. So when you try to fill up the emptiness with other things, you're going to stay empty. You are going to be a slave. However, when you fill it up with the love of God, you're going to have peace and freedom because now you're not concerned about yourself. You are whole and fulfilled. Now you can be more concerned about others. Now you can live a life of generosity. This is the exact opposite of what the world tells us, but it is the truth. Everything against the will of God only leaves us empty and makes the hole inside of us bigger. That's why you have to do it, whatever it is, again, and again, and again. Then what happens is that you become slaves to these things. You have to keep doing them again, and again, and again. But Jesus said, Listen, you're a slave, but I've come to set you free!
from Surrender! — The Life-Changing Power of Doing God's Will by Fr. Larry Richards
Monday, March 19, 2018
Practicing Works Of Mercy
Imitating Jesus in his merciful compassion for those in need can often mean giving support and company to the lonely, to the sick, to people who suffer a shameful or barefaced poverty. We try to share their pain and help them sanctify it, as well as trying to remedy their situation as far as we can. Think of how consoling it can be for such a person to have a spell of company, made possible perhaps by sacrificing a bit of free time we may have been looking forward to enjoying. Our simple and friendly conversation with some sick or old person, which should never lack a certain supernatural tone — some uplifting news about the apostolate, maybe — leaves them with a little more faith and confidence in God. Tactfully and helpfully, we can offer them some little service, making their bed perhaps, or reading them part of some agreeable or possibly even amusing spiritual book.
Every day it is getting more and more necessary to ask God to give us a merciful heart towards all, because as society becomes more dehumanized men's hearts are becoming harder and more insensitive. Justice is a fundamental virtue, it is true, but justice of itself is not enough: charity is needed too. No matter how much social legislation and working conditions improve, men will always need the warmth of a human heart, fraternal and friendly, which is able to identify with those situations that justice alone cannot remedy, because Christian charity cannot be limited to giving things or money to the needy. It seeks, above all, to respect and understand each person for what he is, in his intrinsic dignity as a man and a child of God.
Mercy should cause us to forgive promptly and from the heart, even though the other party isn't sorry for what has happened or rebuffs our attempts to make up. The Christian cannot harbor any resentment in his heart; he is not at loggerheads with anybody. We have to love also those who are unhappy through their own fault, or even through their own evil actions. The only question God asks us is if that person is unhappy, if he is suffering, because that is enough to make him worth your interest. Try, of course, to protect him from his evil passions, but the moment he suffers, be merciful. 'You shall love your neighbor, not when he deserves it, but because he is your neighbor.'
from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez Volume 4 pp. 522-524
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Surprises In Heaven
I have often thought that perhaps I owe all the graces with which I have been blessed to some little soul whom I shall know only in heaven.
Some time ago, I was watching the almost imperceptible flicker of a tiny night light. One of the sisters came up and, having lit her own candle in the dying flame, passed it round to light the candles of the others, and the thought came to me: Who dares glory in her own works?
Just one such faint spark can set the whole world on fire. We are so aware of the bright light of the saints set high on the church’s candlestick, and we think we are receiving from them grace and light. But from whence do they borrow their fire? Very possibly from the prayers of some devout and hidden soul whose inward light is not apparent to human eyes, some soul of unrecognized virtue, and in her own sight, of little worth—a dying flame!
What mysteries shall we one day see revealed! For it is God’s will that here below, we shall give to one another the heavenly treasures with which our Father has enriched us.
from Simply Surrender Based on the Little Way of Thérèse of Lisieux
Saturday, March 17, 2018
God Always Offers A Helping Hand
Peter stayed on his feet - even when facing the greatest difficulties - as long as he acted with supernatural outlook, with faith, with confidence in the Lord. Later, in order to stay afloat, to receive God's help, he had to cooperate, because when our cooperation is lacking divine help also ceases. It was our Lord who helped him to go on.
Peter recovered his faith and confidence in Jesus. He climbed aboard the boat with him, and at that moment the wind ceased and calm was restored to the seas and to the hearts of the disciples. They recognized Jesus as their Lord and God. Those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, Truly, you are the Son of God.
The experience of our personal weakness will serve for us to find Jesus who puts out his hand and enters our heart, giving us great peace in the midst of any trial. We should learn never to be afraid of God, who presents himself in ordinary things, as well as in the physical or moral sufferings we may experience in our lives. Have confidence; it is I, do not fear. God never delays coming to our rescue, and never fails to remedy every need. He arrives — at times in a hidden and mysterious way — at the opportune time. And when, for whatever reason, we find ourselves in a difficult situation — with the wind against us — He comes close to us. He may pass as if to continue on so that we will call out to him, but He will not delay in coming to our side when we do.
If at times we realize that we are out of our depth, that we are sinking, we should repeat with Peter, Lord, save me! We should neither doubt his Love nor his merciful hand. We should not forget that God does not demand the impossible. Instead, when He makes a request, He asks that we do what we can do, that we ask for what we cannot do and for his help to carry it out.
What certainty our Lord gives us! He has guaranteed his protection. I do not depend on my own strength. I have in my hands his written word. This is my strength, my certainty, my tranquil haven. Even if the entire world is shaken, I read the written word I carry with me, for it is my fortress, my defense. And what does this word tell me? 'I will be with you until the end of the world, ' it says.
Christ is with me. What shall I fear? Let the waves of the sea and the fury of the powerful come upon me. That will not weigh me down any more than a spider's web. Let us not let go of his hand. He does not let go of ours.
from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez Volume 4 pp. 337-338
Friday, March 16, 2018
Apply The Brakes! The Need For Holy Leisure
Taking breathers is not something we Americans are especially good at doing. Surveys reveal that we spend more time on the job than workers in almost every other nation. Our children's lives are typically overbooked as well, their days being filled with sports practices, music and dance lessons, club activities, and increasing amounts of homework.
All sorts of negative consequences can arise from excessive activity. We become candidates for burnout and place' ourselves at risk for stress and the related problems of eating disorders, headaches, high blood pressure, depression, drug and alcohol abuse-even suicide! We rob ourselves of opportunities to daydream, reflect, and have fun. Parents don't spend time enjoying their children and passing along their values and adult wisdom. Friends and spouses don't communicate with one another as they should. And we deprive ourselves of the sleep we need, making us crabby, less productive on the job, vulnerable to illness, and dangerous behind the wheel. Giraffes may sleep only thirty minutes a day. We, however, need at least seven or eight hours of restful sleep.
Excessive activity can compromise our spiritual life as well, as Jesus himself cautions us. "Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy," he warned, "from ... the anxieties of daily life" (Lk 21:34). When he spoke these words, he was referring to his coming again in glory at the end of time. He didn't want his listeners to be so distracted and busy that they wouldn't be prepared to greet him when he came. But his words are intended for us too. He knows that frenzied activity can produce a flimsy faith, and he longs for us to recognize him when he comes into our lives today.
Jesus invites us to slow down, just as he encouraged his disciples to slow down. Once, the disciples had come back together after having been away on missionary journeys, and they surely must have been exhausted. We can also imagine that they wanted to swap tales and share their experiences with each other. Yet so many people were pressing in to speak with Jesus, and with them, that they couldn't find an opportunity to rest and reconnect. And so Jesus, recognizing the disciples' need, invited them to get away from the crowds and spend some time together in a deserted place (sec Mk 6:30-32).
The challenge for us is this: If Jesus thought it important to rest and spend quality time with those he loved, shouldn't we do the same? In other words, if as Christians we are to live in imitation of Jesus, then we need to make time for family, friends, and refreshment. The earliest Christians knew this. Their leaders, such as Saint Augustine, emphasized the need for Otium Sanctum, Latin for "holy leisure," which we might understand as slowing down by stepping back from work, not in order to waste time, but use it to nourish our relationships with God and others.
We need "holy leisure" because we all can benefit from a measure of balance in our lives. In fact, this is such an important topic that our Church has stressed, in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, that leisure is necessary to foster "familial, cultural, social, and religious life." Elsewhere, this same document hopes: "May this leisure be used properly to relax, to fortify the health of soul and body through spontaneous study and activity." Understood this way, leisure time is not wasted time, a conclusion sometimes made in our productivity-obsessed world. Instead, leisure allows us to fulfill our need to spend time with ourselves, spend time with each other, and spend time with the Lord.
For the health of our bodies and souls, let's find time for leisure time. Let's gather around our tables and share our stories with each other. Let's open a book or watch a movie that might stretch our minds or soften our hearts. Let's exercise and get the blood really flowing through our veins. Take a good hard look at your commitments and obligations and consider cutting out a few things. Reach out and touch that person you've been meaning to call for so long. Stare at the clouds and dream dreams. Rediscover an old hobby or take up a new one. Play with your kids. Take a mental health day. Take a nap. Say a prayer.
Scripture shares that God himself rested after having created the heavens and the earth (Gn 2:2). In the Ten Commandments, God actually insists that we rest like he did, on the Sabbath day, which for us is Sunday. If we truly honored that, we'd enjoy the equivalent of nearly seven weeks of vacation each year!
It's claimed that psychologist Carl Jung concluded that hurry isn't of the devil―it is the devil. So if it's the devil we're looking for, by all means, let's speed things up! But if it's God we're seeking, then for heaven's sake, let's slow things down.
from When Faith Feels Fragile―Help for the Wary, Weak, and Wandering by R. Scott Hurd pp.131-134
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Deliverance From A False Inferiority
God has given different gifts to different people. There is no basis for feeling inferior to another who has a different gift. Once it is realized that we shall be judged by the gift we have received, rather than the gift we have not, one is completely delivered from a false sense of inferiority.
Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
PRAYER OF GRATITUDE
Thank You, Lord, for all Your gifts of love, especially for those we often overlook.
Thank You for friends;
they increase our love for You.
Thank You for enemies;
they increase our tolerance.
Thank You for joys and happiness; they strengthen our faith in You.
Thank You for trials and tribulations;
they strengthen our trust and perseverance.
Thank You for times when all goes well; they teach us serenity.
Thank You for days when things are rough; they teach us patience.
Thank You for our successes; they increase our confidence.
Thank You for our failures; they increase our humility.
Thank You, Lord, for the "ups" and "downs" of life.
Thank You, Lord, for the precious gift of life itself.
Comfort us when we are disturbed;
disturb us when we become too comfortable.
Thank You, Lord, for being by our side. Amen.
from Our Lady of Fatima — Book of Prayers pp.222-223