The Bible constantly warns against a merely mercenary relationship with God - a friendship of convenience or self-interest. We should not love God simply because doing so will produce many consolations in our life. We must enter a true relationship, were we fall in love not with His benefits, but with Him.
Meditatio “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Imagine yourself as the leader of an association, business, or social group. If you wanted to brand your followers with a sign that would make them easy to recognize, what would you choose? Would they all wear the same clothes? Would they speak a particular language? Would they would be experts at a particular trade or manufacture a unique product? Jesus did something completely revolutionary. He “branded” his disciples with his very self, but left them free to make him visible by loving others. Saint John says that “God is love” (1 Jn 4:16). Love is the imprint of God’s very being upon us, within us. If the world is going to see God, it will only see him to the extent that you and I are willing to make him visible in our relationships with one another. How much do you and I want to make God visible? True, loving one another is a difficult task. It’s about living as Jesus did, continually giving our lives away. That’s what love does. It goes out of itself in search of the good of the other, so as to give the other life. But it’s also about openness to receiving the love God offers us through the other. And that has its challenges too. The possibilities for how to spend the years of our lives or even just the present moment are immense. Jesus invites us to a life of loving one another so that the world might believe, so that he might be made more visible, so that we might be identified as his disciples—branded with love. It’s not that we have to tattoo a heart on our arm, but it is as though love is what we wear. Love is what we speak. Love is what we are experts at. Love is what we produce. You can’t touch or feel it, but you know he is there. Oratio Jesus, you are my Master. I really do want to be recognized as your disciple. Loving others is the path I must walk. Left on my own, the task would be impossible. But you have given us everything we need to make that mutual loving possible. You have given me your Word and the Eucharist to daily nourish your love within me. Your Holy Spirit continually alerts me to the daily opportunities to show your love to others. Help me to be docile to the Spirit’s lead. Contemplatio Jesus, may all whom I meet today recognize a little bit more of you in me.
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2011). Easter Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 74–75). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
Meditatio “… whoever receives the one I send receives me …” I wonder how easy it was to receive the apostles or disciples, grimy with road dust, hot, tired, and hungry, bearing a message that sounded unbelievable. Was it easy to welcome them? Was it easy to accept their message? I find it amazing that people did come to believe—and in such numbers. In those first years following the resurrection, Christianity spread swiftly throughout the Roman Empire. Only one explanation seems possible: it was a miracle of grace. If we reflect, we see that our own lives are also marked by grace. We may have received the faith as children from parents and teachers. We may have received it as adults—through books, friends, a counselor or spouse—perhaps after much seeking and soul searching. In any case, how could the faith have come to us except by means of grace? So, what does the Scripture citation mean for me? I have faith already: who will Jesus send me today? Do I still need an apostle or disciple to show me the way? Well, I really may. I might want to give this some thought. It’s also possible, however, that Jesus will send someone for me to help—a needy person like those he searched out during his earthly life and ministry. He may want to continue that ministry through me today. He may want me to greet a lonely neighbor at my door, an annoying relative on the phone, a physically or mentally challenged stranger in the supermarket, a co-worker in the lunch room whose lifestyle I don’t agree with, an acquaintance on the bus whose accent I can hardly understand. He may want me to engage this person in conversation in order to communicate his mercy and unconditional love through me. He probably also wants to communicate to me through this other, even though the other might not measure up to my concept of a devout and knowledgeable Christian—or might not be a believer at all! So, am I ready?
Oratio Lord Jesus, our Teacher and Shepherd, you once said that whatever we do to the least ones we do to you (see Mt 25:40). Help me to remember this when I encounter someone in need. Help me not to be so wrapped up in my own needs, wants, and plans that I can’t greet, listen, converse, aid, and learn. Moment by moment, give me the light to see what I am called to say and do. Give me the courage to follow your inspirations. Help me to forget myself more often and focus on you and others instead. Amen.
Contemplatio Whom might Jesus send me today?
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2011). Easter Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 64–65). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
It is no longer in my power, To change, correct or add to the past; For neither sages nor prophets could do that. And so, what the past has embraced I must entrust to God. O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire, I desire to use you as best I can. And although I am weak and small, You grant me the grace of Your omnipotence. And so, trusting in Your mercy, I walk through life like a little child, Offering You each day this heart
Burning with love for Your greater glory.
St. Faustina Divine Mercy in My Soul Notebook 1 #1
Bless every mother and every grandmother with the finest of your spiritual blessings today. Confirm in her heart and spirit the work of her hands and the love that she has so freely given to those children under Your care. Validate her worth daily so she has no reason to doubt whether she is loved, valued, and cherished in the eyes of her Heavenly Father. Create in her a deep sense of your protection and trust, so that worry and fear will disappear as she places her loved ones into Your care. Let her know that every prayer she has prayed and every encouraging word she has spoken on behalf of her children/grandchildren has been transformed into sweet, fragrant offerings before Your throne. Whisper deep within her spirit the sweet words she longs to hear from You—that nothing can ever separate her from Your love. Help her to nestle daily into the promises of Your Word, standing with faith on the things You declare are true. Let her know that You reward faithfulness, but that true success doesn’t lie in her accomplishments or accolades. Let her rest in the knowledge that she has done all she can—and that she and those she loves—truly belong to you. Bless her with a servant spirit so she can teach her own the joy of hearing one day, “Well done!” Remove any guilt, false or real, and replace them with Your amazing grace and forgiveness. Help her see her children or grandchildren through Your eyes, knowing that in Your hands is the safest place they can ever be. Calm every doubt, and strengthen her confidence in the Only One who can bring good out of any situation. Teach her that she cannot meet every need of her child’s life, but that You can. Give her wisdom and guidance to train those precious children in Your path, and then to leave the results to You, Lord. Help her to love without limitations, to pray without ceasing, and to live without regrets. Bless her with such a sweet dependency on You that she will acknowledge her inadequacies, yet recognize and accept Your reward of praise—and Your sense of pleasure in having her as Your own beloved child. Where prayers may still seem unanswered, and dreams are not yet realized, open her eyes to see beyond this world to a Hope that never disappoints, and to a Father who will never leave or abandon her. Give her courage to persevere even in the most difficult moments of her life. Bless her with honesty, integrity, and a playfulness that shows her children she is human, yet unswerving in her desire know You. Let her joy be contagious; let her passion be pure; and let her life overflow with all the blessings she deserves—on special days, and on every day of her life. In Jesus’s name,
Certainly, every convert is a gift to the Church and represents a serious responsibility for her, not only because converts have to be prepared for Baptism through the catechumenate and then be guided by religious instruction, but also because—especially in the case of adults—such converts bring with them a kind of new energy, an enthusiasm for the faith, and a desire to see the Gospel lived out in the Church. They would be greatly disappointed if, having entered the ecclesial community, they were to find a life lacking fervor and without signs of renewal! We cannot preach conversion unless we ourselves are converted anew every day.
John Paul II. (1990). Redemptoris Missio. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. #47
“I have consecrated my life to God; I have given myself to him with my whole heart; I have prayed fervently for those whom I love, for [my husband] whom I love more than all the others. Now I want to be no longer useless; I have seen my greatest obligations clearly, and I want to fulfill them. To do each day all the good that can be done humbly, so that only God may see it; always to seek out all the misery and grief surrounding me in order to relieve it, to cultivate a lively affection for everyone; and to do all this for God alone—that is the goal of all human life. My own life, which until now has often been so empty, will be transformed, I hope, by the strength of close union with God.
There are around me many that I love deeply, and I have a task to fulfill in relationship to them. Many of them do not know God or know him only imperfectly. It is not in arguing or lecturing that I can make them know who God is for us. But in struggling with myself, in becoming with his help more Christian and more courageous, I will witness to him whose disciple I am. By the serenity and strength that I intend to acquire I will show that Christian life is great and beautiful and full of joy. By cultivating the best qualities of my mind I will proclaim that God is the highest intelligence, and that those who serve him can draw without end from that blessed source of intellectual and moral light. In order to give, one must receive; to serve my brothers and sisters before God for one day, or for even a small part of one, I must first purify and strengthen myself for many days. (Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur, May 2019 Magnificat, p. 89-90.)
Meditatio “I am the bread of life.” Do you want to live forever? How much would you pay for eternal life? I did an Internet search for the words “how to live forever” and got almost 52 million hits! Some people are going to great lengths to try and live forever, from having their dead bodies frozen in liquid nitrogen in hopes of future revival, to developing gene therapy that short-circuits the aging process. Perhaps a better question is: where do you want to live forever? Do you want to live forever on an earth filled with suffering and sadness, or do you want eternal life with God in the perfect happiness of heaven? In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us: “This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.… Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” Jesus is telling us the secret of eternal life, the secret that so many desperate people are paying huge amounts of money to discover. It’s ironic and a little sad to see them go to such extraordinary lengths to get something that Jesus offers us freely. It would be like excavating a field to dig up a treasure that was sitting in plain sight. As Jesus tells us in this Gospel, faith is the key that unlocks the door to this treasure: “Whoever believes has eternal life.” It takes faith to believe that the bread Jesus gives us is actually his body, his “Flesh for the life of the world.” But when we receive the Eucharist with faith, Jesus gives us a pledge of eternal life. If we want to live forever, we don’t need to have our body frozen after death or to undergo gene therapy. We only need to turn to Jesus with faith, eat his Body and drink his Blood, and after death he will meet us with open arms.
Oratio Thank you, Lord, for giving us yourself in the Eucharist, our pledge of eternal life. I often get caught up in the mundane details of each day and don’t think much about eternal life. But as I live in this passing world, help me to keep my final destination in mind: eternal life with you forever in heaven. I believe in your promise. Lord, increase my faith.
Contemplatio Lord, you have the words of eternal life.
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2011). Easter Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 46–47). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
God loves with intensely tender love those of us who are happy enough to abandon tomorrow, ourselves entirely to his fatherly care, letting ourselves be governed by his divine providence without wasting time by considering if the effects of this providence will be useful, profitable, or harmful for us. We can be assured that from all that has been sent to us from his fatherly and lovable heart, God will draw goodness and value, provided that we have placed all our confidence in him and that we say willingly: "I place my spirit," — my soul, my body, and all that I am — "into your blessed hands" to do with as you wish. I recommend to you holy simplicity. Look straight in front of you and not at those dangers you see in the distance. As you say, to you they look like armies, but they are only willow branches; and while you are looking at them you may take a false step. Let us be firmly resolved to serve God with our whole heart and life. Beyond that, let us have no care about tomorrow. Let us think only of living today well, and when tomorrow comes, it also will be today and we can think about it then. In all this we must trust and be resigned to God's providence. We must make provision for enough manna for the day, and no more. Let us not doubt that God will provide more for us tomorrow, and the day after and all the days of our pilgrimage.
Let's not waste time in willing and wishing for things, but let God arrange them. We should "cast all our care upon him, since he cares for us," as the apostle Peter says. And note that he says: "all our care," that is, all our concern about what comes to us from the events of life as well as what comes to us from what we want or don't want. "He will take care" of the success of these things and he wishes for us whatever is best.
Meditatio “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.” Oratio 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.”
Contemplatio “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.
Every authentic vocation is a calling to live ever more fully. We should be wary of callings that may mask refusal to engage life, fear of love, flight from the body or feelings, or a lack of acceptance of human existence as it is. Accepting one’s calling should mean choosing a more intense, abundant way of life, not fear-driving flight, or a disguised choice of death, as can happen with some poorly discerned religious commitments.
Going on, one can therefore say that the love for the son the love that springs from the very essence of fatherhood, in a way obliges the father to be concerned about his son’s dignity. This concern is the measure of his love, the love of which Saint Paul was to write: “Love is patient and kind … love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful … but rejoices in the right … hopes all things, endures all things” and “love never ends.” Mercy—as Christ has presented it in the parable of the prodigal son—has the interior form of the love that in the New Testament is called agape. This love is able to reach down to every prodigal son, to every human misery, and above all to every form of moral misery, to sin. When this happens, the person who is the object of mercy does not feel humiliated, but rather found again and “restored to value.” The father first and foremost expresses to him his joy that he has been “found again” and that he has “returned to life. This joy indicates a good that has remained intact: even if he is a prodigal, a son does not cease to be truly his father’s son; it also indicates a good that has been found again, which in the case of the prodigal son was his return to the truth about himself. What took place in the relationship between the father and the son in Christ’s parable is not to be evaluated “from the outside.” Our prejudices about mercy are mostly the result of appraising them only from the outside. At times it happens that by following this method of evaluation we see in mercy above all a relationship of inequality between the one offering it and the one receiving it. And, in consequence, we are quick to deduce that mercy belittles the receiver, that it offends the dignity of man. The parable of the prodigal son shows that the reality is different: the relationship of mercy is based on the common experience of that good which is man, on the common experience of the dignity that is proper to him. This common experience makes the prodigal son begin to see himself and his actions in their full truth (this vision in truth is a genuine form of humility); on the other hand, for this very reason he becomes a particular good for his father: the father sees so clearly the good which has been achieved thanks to a mysterious radiation of truth and love, that he seems to forget all the evil which the son had committed. The parable of the prodigal son expresses in a simple but profound way the reality of conversion. Conversion is the most concrete expression of the working of love and of the presence of mercy in the human world. The true and proper meaning of mercy does not consist only in looking, however penetratingly and compassionately, at moral, physical or material evil: mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man. Understood in this way, mercy constitutes the fundamental content of the messianic message of Christ and the constitutive power of His mission. His disciples and followers understood and practiced mercy in the same way. Mercy never ceased to reveal itself, in their hearts and in their actions, as an especially creative proof of the love which does not allow itself to be “conquered by evil,” but overcomes “evil with good.” The genuine face of mercy has to be ever revealed anew. In spite of many prejudices, mercy seems particularly necessary for our times.
John Paul II. (1980). Dives in Misericordia #6. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Lectio Luke 24:35–48 Meditatio “… still incredulous for joy.” Have you ever been “incredulous for joy”? Perhaps you received some good news—an invitation to a wonderful event, or a gift, or an award that you never imagined receiving. At first it seems too amazing, and you search for other possibilities. Is it a joke or a dream? What conditions are attached? The disciples in the upper room are incredulous for joy (after getting over their terror at seeing what they think is a ghost). They look more closely at Jesus, touch him, and realize that he is not a spirit. But they still can’t get over it. They still don’t believe that they’re seeing Jesus raised from the dead. There has to be another explanation. It is just too amazing. But Jesus has important things to say to them. He doesn’t want them to be distracted, still puzzling over how it could be true. So he asks them a simple, down-to-earth question, something so matter-of-fact that it brings them out of their daze. “Have you anything here to eat?” They find some leftover fish from dinner and give it to him. They watch as he eats it. They have eaten with him many times over the past few years. The simple act of eating brings them to accept the truth, and Jesus goes on to speak with them about the Scriptures and how they must be the witnesses for him. Jesus is alive. It’s true! He has conquered death. We are invited to live his life, to be made utterly new. We can’t waste time being incredulous. Haven’t we been touched by his love in so many ways? Haven’t we eaten with him? He has something to say to us. When we stop questioning, we will be able to hear what it is.
Oratio Jesus, sometimes the new life you offer me seems too good to be true. But I believe in you. I believe that you died and rose again. I believe that you speak to me through your word. Are you asking me to offer the hope of new beginnings to someone who thinks it’s too late to start again? Am I being called to witness in some other way? I want to listen carefully, to be open to what you want to say to me, to all the ways you are calling me to witness to you.
Contemplatio Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2011). Easter Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 14–15). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
It is impossible to graft an oak limb onto a pear tree. The two trees are much too different. Neither can anger or despair be grafted onto love without extreme difficulty. Can sadness be compatible with holy love? Joy is ranked among the fruits of the Holy Spirit, listed immediately after love itself. And yet Paul writes, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death" (2 Corinthians 7: 10). There is, then, a sorrow or sadness in harmony with the love of God. It belongs to penitent sinners, and it is a part of our compassion for others. There is also a sadness of this world. It is the result of fishing in troubled waters. There is a fish called the sea-devil that hides in the muddy water it stirs up around itself. It waits in ambush for its prey. When it spots a little fish swimming by it darts out and devours it. In the same way the devil makes his ambush in sadness. After troubling the soul with many sad thoughts stirred up here and there in the mind, he makes a charge upon the affections, weighting them down with distrust, jealousy, envy, too much worry about past sins, and a large number of wasteful, sour, and melancholy subtleties of the imagination. The soul abandons reason and rejects consolations. Sadness sometimes comes from one's natural disposition. There are melancholy souls. This is not vicious in itself, but our enemy makes great use of it to weave and set up a thousand temptations in our souls. As spiders prefer to spin their webs on cloudy days, this malign spirit finds it much more difficult to spread the nets of negative suggestions in sweet, kindly, and bright souls than in the gloomy and sad. These he easily disturbs with irritation, mistrust, hatred, grumbling, scorn, envy, idleness, and spiritual numbness. "Worldly sorrow brings death" (2 Corinthians 7: 10). Let's banish it, Theotimus. As much as possible, let's push it away with every contrasting attitude we can get together. Even if we are naturally disposed to be melancholy, we can still be gracious and kind. We can speak civil words gently. We may be excused for not being cheerful all the time. It is not possible to control this with an act of will, but there is no excuse for not being gracious, accommodating, and considerate of others. This is always within your grasp. from Living Love —A Modern Edition of Treatise on the Love of God by St. Francis de Sales pp. 116-117
A Broken Watch, Holy Communion, & Resting On His Heart
This morning I had an adventure. My watch had stopped, and I did not know when to get up, and I thought of what a misfortune it would be to miss Holy Communion. It was still dark, so I had no way of knowing whether it was time to get up. I dressed, made my meditation and went to the chapel, but everything was still locked, and silence reigned everywhere. I steeped myself in prayer, especially for the sick. I now see how much the sick have need of prayer. Finally, the chapel was opened. I found it difficult to pray because I was already feeling very exhausted, and immediately after Holy Communion I returned to my room. Then I saw the Lord, who said to me, Know, My daughter, that the ardor of your heart is pleasing to Me. And just as you desire ardently to become united with Me in Holy Communion, so too do I desire to give Myself wholly to you; and as a reward for your zeal, rest on My Heart. At that moment, my spirit was immersed in His Being, like a drop in a bottomless ocean. I drowned myself in Him as in my sole treasure. Thus I came to recognize that the Lord allows certain difficulties for His greater glory.
When I see that the burden is beyond my strength, I do not consider or analyze it or probe into it, but I run like a child to the Heart of Jesus and say only one word to Him: “You can do all things.” And then I keep silent, because I know that Jesus Himself will intervene in the matter, and as for me, instead of tormenting myself, I use that time to love Him.”
Let me warn you, Theotimus, of a troublesome temptation that frequently comes to those who have a strong desire to do God's will: They fret over trifles. Should I accept this invitation to dinner? Should I wear gray or black clothes? Should I fast on Friday or Saturday? Should I play a game or not? This takes their time and energy. While trying to determine what is best, they miss opportunities to do something good. We don't weigh small change. Commerce would become very inefficient and cumbersome if we did. There is nothing to be gained by weighing every little action to know whether it may be of more value than some other action. Is it better to attend one church than another? Is it better to spin than to sew? It is poor service to a master to spend as much time considering what is to be done as actually doing it. Our attention is to be in proportion to the importance of what we are doing. Some things need serious consideration: the choice of a vocation, a significant business deal, a lengthy labor, a huge expense, moving to a new location, the choice of friends, and similar issues. But there is no reason to scrutinize every little thing we face on a daily basis. Even a mistake in these will not lead to any disastrous consequences. It wastes two people's time to ask advice regarding such things. Why should I torture myself wondering whether God would rather I say the Rosary or Our Lady's Office? What difference does it make? Should I visit the sick in the hospital or attend vespers? Should I attend one church or another? Ordinarily one such alternative is no better than the other. There is no need to deliberate at great length. We will not discover God's will through the power of examination and the subtlety of dialogue. Once we have prayed for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and listened to the counsel of our spiritual director and two or three others, we need to make a decision. Once it is made, don't look back. Devoutly, peacefully, and confidently get it done. You may be hindered by unexpected problems as you work at it. Don't let that stop you. Keep at it. Realize that if you had made another choice it could possibly be a hundred times more difficult. We don't know whether God's will is to be accomplished in comfort or in anguish, in peace or in war. Once we make a holy resolution, never doubt the holiness of it. Unless we fail, it cannot fail. To behave in any other way indicates selfishness, childishness, weakness, and silliness of spirit. from Living Love — A Modern Edition of Treatise On The Love of God by St. Francis de Sales pp. 81-22
Washing Feet & Overcoming The Poison of Resentment
When the Lord tells Peter that without the washing of the feet he would not be able to have any part in him, Peter immediately asks impetuously that his head and hands be washed. This is followed by Jesus' mysterious saying: "He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet" (Jn 13: 10). Jesus was alluding to a cleansing with which the disciples had already complied; for their participation in the banquet, only the washing of their feet was now required. But of course this conceals a more profound meaning. What was Jesus alluding to? We do not know for certain. In any case, let us bear in mind that the washing of the feet, in accordance with the meaning of the whole chapter, does not point to any single specific sacrament but the sacramentum Christi in its entirety - his service of salvation, his descent even to the Cross, his love to the end that purifies us and makes us capable of God. Yet here, with the distinction between bathing and the washing of the feet, an allusion to life in the community of the disciples also becomes perceptible, an allusion to the life of the Church. It then seems clear that the bathing that purifies us once and for all and must not be repeated is Baptism - being immersed in the death and Resurrection of Christ, a fact that profoundly changes our life, giving us as it were a new identity that lasts, if we do not reject it as Judas did. However, even in the permanence of this new identity, given by Baptism, for convivial communion with Jesus we need the "washing of the feet". What does this involve? It seems to me that the First Letter of St John gives us the key to understanding it. In it we read: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1: 8ff.). We are in need of the "washing of the feet", the cleansing of our daily sins, and for this reason we need to confess our sins as St John spoke of in this Letter. We have to recognize that we sin, even in our new identity as baptized persons. We need confession in the form it has taken in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In it the Lord washes our dirty feet ever anew and we can be seated at table with him. But in this way the word with which the Lord extends the sacramentum, making it the exemplum, a gift, a service for one's brother, also acquires new meaning: "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet" (Jn 13: 14). We must wash one another's feet in the mutual daily service of love. But we must also wash one another's feet in the sense that we must forgive one another ever anew. The debt for which the Lord has pardoned us is always infinitely greater than all the debts that others can owe us (cf. Mt 18: 21-35). Holy Thursday exhorts us to this: not to allow resentment toward others to become a poison in the depths of the soul. It urges us to purify our memory constantly, forgiving one another whole-heartedly, washing one another's feet, to be able to go to God's banquet together.
Holy Thursday is a day of gratitude and joy for the great gift of love to the end that the Lord has made to us. Let us pray to the Lord at this hour, so that gratitude and joy may become in us the power to love together with his love. Amen. Pope Benedict XVI —excerpt from Holy Thursday Homily, March 20, 2008
Hail, most merciful Heart of Jesus, Living Fountain of all graces, Our sole shelter, our only refuge; In You I have the light of hope. Hail, most compassionate Heart of my God, Unfathomable living Fount of Love From which gushes life for sinful man And the Spring of all sweetness. Hail, open Wound of the Most Sacred Heart, From which the rays of mercy issued forth And from which it was given us to draw life With the vessel of trust alone. Hail, God’s goodness, incomprehensible, Never to be measured or fathomed, Full of love and mercy, though always holy, Yet, like a good mother, ever bent o’er us. Hail, Throne of Mercy, Lamb of God, Who gave Your life in sacrifice for me, Before whom my soul humbles itself daily,
Living in faith profound.
St. Faustina Kowalska Diary—Divine Mercy in My Soul #1321
Other inspirations are extraordinary, not only because they take the soul beyond the limits of ordinary activity, but also because they go against traditional laws, rules, and customs of the Church. These are easier to admire than to imitate. One of the best indicators of all inspirations in general, and extraordinary ones in particular, is the peace and tranquility that comes with them. While the Holy Spirit is powerful, his power is gentle. He arrives at the Upper Room "like the blowing of a violent wind" (Acts 2:2). But he does not knock the Apostles down. Their natural response of fear is quickly replaced with calm confidence. God's servants who had the highest and most awe-inspiring inspirations were also the mildest and most peaceful people. The evil spirit is unstable, rough, and upsetting. Those who get taken in by infernal suggestions, mistaking them for heavenly inspirations, are easy to spot. They are loud, obstinate, arrogant, and ready to meddle with everything, using the cloak of religious fervor to turn everything upside down. They are critical of others and find fault with everything. They will not listen to guidance or yield to any other point of view. They gratify the passions of self-love while claiming they are doing so out of jealousy for God's honor. from Living Love —A Modern Edition of Treatise On The Love of God by Francis de Sales p.79
What Regular Confession Taught a Wayward Son About His Father
I never used to rate confession highly on the to-do list. I was always too busy to go, always had a reason to do something else and that reason always made sense. I never really considered whether I liked confession or not. I wasn’t burdened with the prospect of reliving my own guilt and never had a problem with the teachings of the church on whether the sacrament was even all that necessary. I just didn’t go. That began to change during my marriage preparation. My wife put me back on the road to the Church when we were dating and I reluctantly agreed. I knew it was important to her (at the time, I didn’t give thought to whether God cared or not) and so I went. It was my first time in the confessional in years and it was different. The priest was there face to face. It was bright. He smiled. He listened. He consoled. He sent me to Scripture in front of the Blessed Sacrament after it was over. God forgave me. It was…tolerable and quite nice. A relief in many ways. No fire and brimstone and I let out some significant transgressions from parts of my life that I am glad are in my past. I emerged from the church that day refreshed and energized feeling much closer to the Lord. I sporadically went to confession in the following years but have only truly come to appreciate and love it in the past 5. I’ve had some very powerful moments during the sacrament. I have experienced such a relief of my burdens that I carry around. At times, I have physically felt my shoulders get lighter upon uttering my worst sins aloud. In my mind, I’ve seen the Lord standing beside me with his arm around me. As I continue to seek God and learn more about my faith and hone my desire to be close to the Lord, I learn more about what I should be doing, but I don’t always meet those standards. When I fall, I fall hard and the memory of those sins lingers. It is tempting to get spiritually “down.” Falling asleep at night is the worst. I experience an examination of conscience even without purposefully or willfully doing so. I beat myself up. I’ve told myself I’m worthless. I’ve told myself I should do better. I’ve told God that’d be easier if he spent his time on someone with a chance of reaching his standards of holiness. I’ve told him he should just give up on me. He doesn’t and I always end up hearing that voice during my self-torture telling me that I’m going to be ok. Sometimes it’s not right in that moment lying in bed, but having been to the sacrament of reconciliation enough now, I truly know that forgiveness will always come. What I am telling myself in these moments is not the same as what God is telling me. Frequency matters. Reconciliation once a year at Christmas or Easter (for those of us who even go that often) is like getting your teeth cleaned randomly. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, you never really own up to all of the sugar you consume, the dentist knows you’re keeping information back but does what he can and sends you on your way. You think you’ve gotten away with it and that your teeth are doing just fine, but the dentist knows better, and the problem never goes away and true reconciliation never really happens and you can’t be fully healed. Unlike a dentist who can’t put your teeth back to perfectly white, gleaming and fully restored to their original state, God does when you make a true confession. Hold nothing back. Let it go. Let the grace of God wash over you. In the Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis tells us it is us who grow tired of asking for forgiveness, it is never the Lord who grows tired of forgiving us. That statement has stuck with me. I know it, having experienced it. I’m a father, and no matter how bad my kids behave I have yet to reject their apology or withhold my love. As their father, I find it difficult to imagine ever being so cruel and harsh. My children know something I struggle to remember. When they do wrong, they own up. They say sorry and they receive my love and my forgiveness. Sometimes they make up for their wrongdoing by an act of service or repair. Sometimes they learn from me in that moment. Sometimes they don’t even need me to teach them anything, they just already know the lesson, move on and try harder next time, which is all that is being asked of us. To me, there is a very important aspect of saying my sins aloud. I own them. I am the one who committed them after all. They’re mine. I keep them inside and they weigh me down. Then I got to the sacrament of reconciliation and I open my lips and I let them go. They go far away from me and they don’t hurt me again. Their absence allows my Father to fill me with his love, his mercy and his peace. I leave the confession with a mission to never sin again. I haven’t fulfilled that mission yet, but I do my best every day and when I fall again, I know that my Father is waiting for me silently in the confessional. Ready to do the entire thing over again. When the prodigal son returns to his father hoping for some mercy, it is his father who runs to him and celebrates. He runs to him because he loves his son and rejoices that he has returned once more. “So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him” Luke 15:20 Don’t let the sins you withhold convince you that you shouldn’t go. Don’t let traffic, a head cold, football game or grocery list stop you. Lent is here. This is a great time to return and reconcile with the Lord in preparation for Easter. Find out when the sacrament of reconciliation is scheduled in your parish and go. You’ve got sins to lose and His grace to gain. by Damien Murtagh from Those Catholic Men website (https://thosecatholicmen.com)
In the footsteps of Mary, countless holy men and women have followed Jesus on the path of humility and obedience. Today, World Youth Day, I would like to mention all those young saints, especially the saints “next door” to us, known only to God; sometimes he likes to surprise us with them. Dear young people, do not be ashamed to show your enthusiasm for Jesus, to shout out that he is alive and that he is your life. Yet at the same time, do not be afraid to follow him on the way of the cross. When you hear that he is asking you to renounce yourselves, to let yourselves be stripped of every security, and to entrust yourselves completely to our Father in heaven, then rejoice and exult! You are on the path of the kingdom of God. Festive acclamations and brutal torture; the silence of Jesus throughout his Passion is profoundly impressive. He also overcomes the temptation to answer back, to act like a “superstar”. In moments of darkness and great tribulation, we need to keep silent, to find the courage not to speak, as long as our silence is meek and not full of anger. The meekness of silence will make us appear even weaker, more humble. Then the devil will take courage and come out into the open. We need to resist him in silence, “holding our position”, but with the same attitude as Jesus. He knows that the battle is between God and the prince of this world, and that what is important is not putting our hand to the sword but remaining firm in faith. It is God’s hour. At the hour that God comes forth to fight, we have to let him take over. Our place of safety will be beneath the mantle of the holy Mother of God. As we wait for the Lord to come and calm the storm (cf. Mt 4:37-41), by our silent witness in prayer we give ourselves and others “an accounting for the hope that is within [us]” (1 Pet 3:15). This will help us to live in the sacred tension between the memory of the promises made, the suffering present in the cross, and the hope of the resurrection. Pope Francis — excerpt Homily for Palm Sunday, April 14, 2019
God, merciful Father, in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have revealed your love and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, We entrust to you today the destiny of the world and of every man and woman. Bend down to us sinners, heal our weakness, conquer all evil, and grant that all the peoples of the earth may experience your mercy. In You, the Triune God, may they ever find the source of hope. Eternal Father, by the Passion and Resurrection of your Son, have mercy on us and upon the whole world!
Amen. St. John Paul II - excerpt from Homily for the Dedication of the Shrine of Divine Mercy Kraków-Łagiewniki, 17 August 2002 (We spent three nights here at the end of our pilgrimage to Poland. A grace-filled place!) The full homily can be viewed by clicking here.
Lectio John 10:31–42 Meditatio “[M]any there began to believe in him.” Today’s Gospel begins to prepare us for the momentous events of Good Friday, one week from today. It describes what happened when some people picked up rocks to stone Jesus. He pointed out that he had shown them many good works from his Father and asked, “For which of these are you trying to stone me?” They answered that it was because “you, a man, are making yourself God.” Although they had seen the signs he worked, they did not believe. The people whom John describes at the end of today’s reading, instead, “began to believe in him.” What a contrast: unbelief and belief! We have received the gift of faith, through which we believe all that God has revealed. How does our faith affect our daily living? For example, we know that Jesus redeemed us. Does our belief lead us to confidently ask for forgiveness whenever we sin? Does our belief that God loves us unconditionally enkindle our trust in his provident care for us and for those we love? Faith grows with use—and life presents us with many opportunities. When we wrestle with greater or lesser questions, suffering, or darkness, it is time to delve deeply into our faith, sometimes struggling to believe. We may even be tempted to stop praying, but this is precisely when we need to continue. In our Gospel today, Jesus tries to reason with those who want to stone him, to help them recognize the truth: to have faith. He is willing to do the same for us. Let us go to Jesus, asking him for the answers we need and for his help. He will not disappoint us. Although it may seem that solutions elude us, we will gradually recognize his hand at work. We will receive grace, strength, and eventually understanding. Little by little, our life will become ever more deeply founded on faith. Let us pray, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” Oratio As I reflect on today’s Gospel, Lord, I realize how shaky my faith sometimes is, yet I want to believe deeply. Perhaps part of the reason is that I don’t think about the truths that you have revealed until something goes wrong. It is true that I can zip—and sometimes drag—through life without a thought as to why I am living. I don’t even recognize your hand in my day. Lord, I do believe, but please help my unbelief. Increase my faith. Help me to believe more deeply and to live out of my beliefs today. Amen. Contemplatio Today I am called to believe.
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2008). Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 100–101). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
Sr Faustina Kowalska wrote in her Diary: "I feel tremendous pain when I see the sufferings of my neighbors. All my neighbors' sufferings reverberate in my own heart; I carry their anguish in my heart in such a way that it even physically destroys me. I would like all their sorrows to fall upon me, in order to relieve my neighbor" (Diary, p. 365). This is the degree of compassion to which love leads, when it takes the love of God as its measure! It is this love which must inspire humanity today, if it is to face the crisis of the meaning of life, the challenges of the most diverse needs and, especially, the duty to defend the dignity of every human person. Thus the message of divine mercy is also implicitly a message about the value of every human being. Each person is precious in God's eyes; Christ gave his life for each one; to everyone the Father gives his Spirit and offers intimacy. This consoling message is addressed above all to those who, afflicted by a particularly harsh trial or crushed by the weight of the sins they committed, have lost all confidence in life and are tempted to give in to despair. To them the gentle face of Christ is offered; those rays from his heart touch them and shine upon them, warm them, show them the way and fill them with hope. How many souls have been consoled by the prayer "Jesus, I trust in you", which Providence intimated through Sr Faustina! This simple act of abandonment to Jesus dispels the thickest clouds and lets a ray of light penetrate every life. Jezu, ufam tobie. Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo (Ps 88 : 2). Let us too, the pilgrim Church, join our voice to the voice of Mary most holy, "Mother of Mercy", to the voice of this new saint who sings of mercy with all God's friends in the heavenly Jerusalem.
And you, Faustina, a gift of God to our time, a gift from the land of Poland to the whole Church, obtain for us an awareness of the depth of divine mercy; help us to have a living experience of it and to bear witness to it among our brothers and sisters. May your message of light and hope spread throughout the world, spurring sinners to conversion, calming rivalries and hatred and opening individuals and nations to the practice of brotherhood. Today, fixing our gaze with you on the face of the risen Christ, let us make our own your prayer of trusting abandonment and say with firm hope: Christ Jesus, I trust in you! Jezu, ufam tobie! St. John Paul II — excerpt from the homily for the Mass of Canonization of Sr. Faustina Kowalska —April 30, 2000 **I am away on a pilgrimage to Poland. There will be no Daily Thoughts until April 12, 2019. You can follow us on our pilgrimage by clicking here.**
John Paul II began his pontificate with a charge to the faithful: “Be not afraid.” At the Mass marking the start of his pontificate, Benedict XVI issued the same charge: “Be not afraid of Christ. He takes away nothing and gives all.”
As a Church, as a body of believers, we must heed that charge. We must not be afraid to proclaim Christ, in all His mystery and majesty, to the world. We must not be afraid to proclaim Christ to our own, either. We must do our part regarding the things we can control, and trust that God will take care of the rest.
There is so much fear in our world today. There is so much fear in each of us: fear of failing, of being rejected, of making waves and ruffling feathers. There is fear of being unpopular, of being thought extreme. There is fear of losing parishioners and losing students, fear of the collection baskets coming back empty and capital campaign goals going unmet.
Those aren’t foolish fears. Of course we all want to be successful, we don’t want to drive people away, and we certainly want to keep the lights on. What is foolish is to think that compromising the truth in what we say and do will prevent those fears from becoming realities. For a few years or even decades it might seem like things are working, but in the end, compromise will cost us everything. It’s already costing us plenty, as pews empty and parishes close despite pastors’ best efforts to accommodate the Gospel to the culture’s demands.
If the new evangelization asks anything of us, it is to “be not afraid.” We must not be afraid of what will come of us when we step forward in faith. We must not be afraid of putting into practice all the wisdom the Church has given us about evangelization. We must not be afraid to give people the deepest desires of their heart, to give people a reason to live and to live fully, and to give them the very means by which they live. By which we all live.
As long as we pray, as long as we love, as long as we strive to do God’s will, grace will come and fruit will burst forth. If we move forward innocent as doves and wise as serpents, the faithful will grow stronger and bolder. The Church will be renewed and the culture healed.
Wehner, J. A. (2011). The Evangelization Equation: The Who, What, and How (pp. 121–122). Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing.
Mother Teresa hardly fits the portrait of a superhero. She had no special physical or psychic abilities or powers. She did not confront evil and overthrow it by a show of force. In fact, she was a short, slight, and unimposing person. And yet she displays in a marvelous way what the follower of Christ is to be. She came to know that real transformation and power is achieved by allowing Christ to dwell fully in her and to offer herself completely for Christ. In her case, this meant giving herself in a radical way to the poorest of the poor. Through her own example and through the religious order she founded, Mother Teresa became a source of inspiration to many. But if we look more deeply, we see something much more than someone doing good things for others. We now know that she suffered deeply in the life she chose to live-she knew the reality of the cross profoundly. In the deeply etched lines of her face, we can see the costly beauty of a life ventured for Christ. Through the offering of her life, she herself was transformed to be like Christ, and she served this transformation in the lives of so many others, especially of the poor. Mother Teresa models for us what it means to allow the "supernatural" power of Christ to invade our lives and make them new. from The Adventure of Discipleship by Daniel A. Keating p.86
Be slow to speak, and only after having first listened quietly, so that you may understand the meaning, leanings, and wishes of those who do speak. Thus you will better know when to speak and when to be silent.
Sometimes I've been asked how it feels to have been at Duquesne when a tiny handful of Catholics were baptized in the Spirit in 1967, and to witness today the spread of the Charismatic Renewal around the world. My answer may surprise you. I feel very humbled, and I feel very united to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. In some mysterious but very real way, I have been caught up in Mary's response to God. It's amazing to see what the ''yes'' of this one simple woman could do! Mary said ''yes''when the Holy Spirit overshadowed her and as a result Jesus, the Savior of the whole world, was born. Mankind's salvation hinged on the activity of the Holy Spirit and the response of a creature. Mary's ''yes''was essential for the unfolding of God's plan, and so is yours and mine. Each one of us who says "yes" to God when the Holy Spirit overshadows us becomes like Mary, another Mary, a dwelling place for Jesus. Our mission now is to bring forth Jesus to the world. My call, your call, is like Mary's call ... to embrace and welcome the action of the Holy Spirit, to offer him no resistance, so that Jesus Christ may be born in us and manifested to the world! To know that my "yes" to God has impacted other lives in some way is humbling, because I know how insignificant I am. Yes, "God who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name" (Lk. 1:49).
I close with these beautiful words of St. Paul: "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him, God has revealed to us through the Spirit" (1 Cor. 2:9-10). from As By A New Pentecostby Patti Gallagher Mansfield p.113
Dear Jesus, help us to spread Your fragrance everywhere we go. Flood our souls with Your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly that our lives may only be a radiance of Yours. Shine through us, and be so in us that every soul we come in contact with may feel Your presence in our souls. Let them look up and see no longer us, but only Jesus! Stay with us, and then we shall begin to shine as You shine; so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from You, none of it will be ours; it will be You shining on others through us. Let us thus praise You in the way You love best: by shining on others through us. Let us preach You without preaching, not by words but by our example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do, the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to You. Amen.
The Beautiful Grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation
First of all, it must be emphasized that nothing is more personal and intimate that this sacrament, in which the sinner stands alone before God with his sin, repentance and trust. No one can repent in his place or ask forgiveness in his name. There is a certain solitude of the sinner in his sin, and this can be seen dramatically represented in Cain with sin “crouching at his door,” as the Book of Genesis says so effectively, and with the distinctive mark on his forehead;(190) in David, admonished by the prophet Nathan;(191) or in the prodigal son when he realizes the condition to which he has reduced himself by staying away from his father and decides to return to him.(192) Everything takes place between the individual alone and God. But at the same time one cannot deny the social nature of this sacrament, in which the whole church-militant, suffering and glorious in heaven-comes to the aid of the penitent and welcomes him again into her bosom, especially as it was the whole church which had been offended and wounded by his sin. As the minister of penance, the priest by virtue of his sacred office appears as the witness and representative of this ecclesial nature of the sacrament. The individual nature and ecclesial nature are two complementary aspects of the sacrament which the progressive reform of the Rite of Penance, especially that contained in the Ordo Paenitentiae promulgated by Paul VI, has sought to emphasize and to make more meaningful in its celebration. V. Second, it must be emphasized that the most precious result of the forgiveness obtained in the sacrament of penance consists in reconciliation with God, which takes place in the inmost heart of the son who was lost and found again, which every penitent is. But it has to be added that this reconciliation with God leads, as it were, to other reconciliations which repair the breaches caused by sin. The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being, where he regains his own true identity. He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way attacked and wounded. He is reconciled with the church. He is reconciled with all creation. As a result of an awareness of this, at the end of the celebration there arises in the penitent a sense of gratitude to God for the gift of divine mercy received, and the church invites the penitent to have this sense of gratitude. Every confessional is a special and blessed place from which, with divisions wiped away, there is born new and uncontaminated a reconciled individual-a reconciled world!
John Paul II. (1984). Reconciliatio et Paenitentia #31. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
“While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him,
and was filled with compassion.”
Luke’s parable of the prodigal son moves me every time I hear it. It is too close to home. Who among us has not known the comparison and competition that makes us look at one another as rivals rather than brothers and sisters? We fear there will not be enough (of whatever), and we’d better protect our share. Who will look out for Number I, if I do not? Our loved ones look on in sorrow, but we take our share and off we go. The younger son wants his inheritance, and he wants it now.
Without question, the father grants his son’s request, gives him his portion of the estate, and lets him go. He knows his son, knows he does not yet have the maturity, the experience, or the wisdom to make all the “right” choices. How vulnerable he will be in this cold and dangerous world! The son has to make his own mistakes, perhaps many of them. And they will hurt. With sorrow the father lets him go, but I believe also with generous love and with trust. Trust that the goodness hidden in the depths of his son’s heart will win out, trust that God is at work in his son.
And the father’s love is not disappointed! His trust in his son is at last proven true—the son comes to his senses and returns home. “While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.” It seems the father was on the lookout for his son, certain that he would return, convinced that the love he had poured out on his son would yet bring him home. In fact, we have a Father who is never about keeping everything to himself—but one who deeply desires to share with us everything he has.
Father, are you also at work in me and in the people I love? Have you placed such goodness in me that you are convinced that I can and will return home to your mercy? Even when I am a long way off? Are you always on the lookout for me, always ready to welcome me back, to restore to me the wealth of grace and dignity that I sometimes squander? Help me trust in your love within me and within everyone else on this journey of life. And let me trust that you have love enough for all of us.
My heavenly Father knows what I need (cf. Mt 6:32).
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2008). Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 48–49). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
Some of the best homilies I've heard were preached by a priest in campus ministry. He drew skillfully from his experiences of growing up in a large Irish Catholic family to both entertain and instruct us. We were captivated when he spoke because his stories always revealed something of God and the nature of His love. Even now I vividly remember the story he told us about his mother. Having had nine children, she knew well the joys and challenges of motherhood. One day while she was ironing, a neighbor dropped in for a cup of tea. As usual, the conversation turned to the children. "I don't know how you manage with such a large family and so many demands on you," commented her neighbor. Then lowering her voice the neighbor asked, "Come on, you can tell me. Which child is your favorite? There must be one who is easier than the rest. Surely there is one you love more than the others." Listening from another room, the priest said he was anxious to hear his mother's answer. Certainly every child cherishes a secret hope that he or she is the favorite. At first his mother shook her head, refusing to answer. Then she protested that she had no favorites. She loved them all. But her friend was persistent. Finally she put down the iron and began her confession. "Yes it's true. I do have a favorite. It's my oldest son looking for a job; he's my favorite. It's my daughter without a date for the prom; she's my favorite. And it's my son who's failing math; he's my favorite. It's my ten year old baseball player who didn't make the team; he's my favorite. It's my little one with the broken arm; she's my favorite. And on and on, his mother named each of her nine children with the particular reason why he or she was her favorite. Instead of enumerating the talents and good qualities of each child, she spoke of their needs and suffering which called forth from her a special care and concern. With the tenderness and compassion of her mother's heart she embraced each and everyone of the nine as her "favorite child. " God's love for us is like that mother's love for her children. Should it surprise us that it's not our gifts, our talents or our successes that endear us to our God? But rather, it is our weakness, our need, our brokenness that makes each one of us His favorite. The more we need His mercy and His compassion, the more He gives Himself to us. With what confidence can we approach a God whose love for us is greater than that of any earthly parent. St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, tells us that "the good God is more tender than a mother." And God's word assures that this is true. The Lord says, "Can a mother forget her infant; be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even if she should forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name" (Is 49:15-16). The Lord knows us. He loves us. He will never forget us. We are precious to Him. Our names are carved into the palms of His nail-pierced hands. He died and rose that we might live forever in heaven. That's really Good News!
As we celebrate Mother's Day this month, we rejoice in the compassionate and tender love which mothers bear toward their children in need. Let's also rejoice in the source of that compassionate, tender love - the heart of God! from More of God — Inspirational Selections from the Notebook Column by Patti Gallagher Mansfield pp. 77-79
Pray For The Lord To Send More Workers Into The Vineyard
Heralds of the Gospel are needed, who are experts in humanity, who know the depths of the heart of man in today’s world, who share his joys and hopes, his concern and his sadness, and who at the same time are contemplatives, people in love with God. For this, new saints are needed. We must beg God to increase the spirit of sanctity in the Church and to send us saints to evangelize today’s world.
With our eyes fixed on Jesus and his merciful gaze, we experience the love of the Most Holy Trinity. The mission Jesus received from the Father was that of revealing the mystery of divine love in its fullness. "God is love" (1 Jn 4:8,16), John affirms for the first and only time in all of Holy Scripture. This love has now been made visible and tangible in Jesus' entire life. His person is nothing but love, a love given gratuitously. The relationships he forms with the people who approach him manifest something entirely unique and unrepeatable. The signs he works, especially in the face of sinners, the poor, the marginalized, the sick, and the suffering, are all meant to teach mercy. Everything in him speaks of mercy. Nothing in him is devoid of compassion.
To avoid dissensions we should be ever on our guard, more especially with those who drive us to argue with them, with those who vex and irritate us, and who say things likely to excite us to anger. When we find ourselves in company with quarrelsome, eccentric individuals, people who openly and unblushingly say the most shocking things, difficult to put up with, we should take refuge in silence, and the wisest plan is not to reply to people whose behavior is so preposterous.
Those who insult us and treat us contumeliously are anxious for a spiteful and sarcastic reply: the silence we then affect disheartens them, and they cannot avoid showing their vexation; they do all they can to provoke us and to elicit a reply, but the best way to baffle them is to say nothing, refuse to argue with them, and to leave them to chew the cud of their hasty anger. This method of bringing down their pride disarms them, and shows them plainly that we slight and despise them.
We should invoke God often during the day and say, like St. Paul when he was converted: "Lord, what do you want me to do? Do you want me to serve you in the lowliest tasks of your house? I would consider it a privilege! Provided that I serve you, I don't care what I do." And when we come upon something specific that we find difficult to do, we should say: "Do you want me to do such and such a thing? Lord, I am not worthy to do even that, but I will do it very gladly." Thus we will practice humility. O my God, what treasure we will acquire — greater, without doubt, than we can possibly imagine. Rivers that flow gently through the plains carry along large boats and rich merchandise, and rains that fall gently on open fields make them fruitful in grass and grain. But just as torrents and rivers that flood over the land ruin the neighboring countryside and are useless for commerce, so in like manner heavy, tempestuous rains ruin the fields and prairies. A job done too eagerly and hurriedly is never done well. We must make haste slowly according to the proverb: "Whoever is hasty runs the risk of stumbling and hurting a foot." We perform actions quickly enough when we do them well. Drones make more noise and work more hurriedly than bees, but they make only wax, not honey. So also, persons who hurry about with anxious concern and bustle never accomplish much nor do they do anything well. Flies do not bother us by what they are doing, but by their numbers; likewise matters of importance do not give us as much trouble as do many trifles. Accept peacefully whatever you have to do and try to get things done in order, one after the other. If you attempt to do everything all at once or without order, your mind will be frustrated and grow weary and you are likely to be overwhelmed by the pressure and accomplish nothing. Soon we shall be in eternity and then we shall see how insignificant our worldly preoccupations were and how little it mattered whether some things got done or not; however, right now we rush about as if they were all-important. When we were little children, how eagerly we used to gather pieces of broken tile, little sticks, and mud with which to build houses and other tiny buildings; and if someone knocked them over, how heartbroken we were and how we cried! But now we understand that these things really didn't amount to much. One day it will be like this for us in heaven when we shall see that some of the things we clung to here on earth were only childish attachments. I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't care about these little games and trifling details of life, for God wants us to practice on them in this world; but I would like to see us not so strained and frantic in our concern about them. Let's play our childish games since we are children; but at the same time, let's not take them too seriously. And if someone wrecks our little houses or projects, let's not get too upset, because when night falls and we have to go indoors—I'm speaking of our death—all those little houses will be useless; we shall have to go into our Father's house.