Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Daily Thought For February 27, 2019

Do Not Prevent Him


Lectio

Mark 9:38–40

Meditatio

“Do not prevent him.”

Can we picture John being brought up short by this response from Jesus? In John’s mind, undoubtedly, he and his companions are Jesus’ chosen ones—the Master’s special inner circle. How can this other fellow, who has no connection with them, presume to cast out demons in Jesus’ name? It just isn’t right.…

But here is Jesus calmly saying, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” Does John swallow an unspoken “But …”?

Haven’t we all been in similar situations? We were the insiders, the rising stars, the generous staff members who worked day and night for the success of our organization. Whenever an “upstart” appeared, he or she was cordially resented.

Think back to some such situation in your life.… How did it work out? Did you learn anything from the way things developed? Would you have handled matters differently if you could live through that experience again?

I think each of us can admit that what we just recalled was a moment of jealousy and fear. We felt threatened. Perhaps we feared losing our job. Or perhaps something deeper disturbed us. We may have felt insecure at the very core of our being. What does one do about that? How does one acquire a true sense of self-worth?
Counselors tell us it’s helpful to recognize that we mean a lot to certain people. These others see something in us that we may not see in ourselves. When we feel loved by others, we can begin to recognize that God loves us too—with all our shortcomings. When we truly believe in God’s unconditional love, we feel secure, and the presumed threats disappear.

If we haven’t reached that point, it’s a wonderful grace to ask for.

Oratio

Lord Jesus, Saint Paul reminds me that when I was a sinner you died for me. You love me so much, but I love myself so little! Help me to comprehend the depths of your love for all your handiwork. Teach me to love myself and to love my friends, family, and colleagues as fellow pilgrims on the way to our eternal homeland. Help me return your love by living as your true disciple. Amen.

Contemplatio

To God, each of us is special.


Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 1–17: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. TrouvĂ©, Eds.) (pp. 118–119). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Daily Thought For February 26, 2019

Encouragement For Our Prayer Life

I do not want you to be too worried about your prayer made without words, as you put it to me, because it is good if at the end it leaves you with noble affections in your heart. Therefore, follow the path along which the Holy Spirit is calling you, without neglecting to prepare yourself for meditation. It is necessary to give yourself a sufficient preparation which mirrors your attitude; when God lifts us up to lofty heights, to Him alone be the glory! 

St. Francis de Sales (Letters 49; O. XIII, p. 334) 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Daily Thought For February 24, 2019

A Pope's Humor

When Timothy Cardinal Dolan was Archbishop of Milwaukee, he told Pope John Paul II in a papal audience, “Holy Father, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is growing and expanding!” To which JPII responded, “And so is its new archbishop!”


Saturday, February 23, 2019

Daily Thought For February 23, 2019

Growing In "Loving Our Neighbor"

Love of neighbor is thus shown to be possible in the way proclaimed by the Bible, by Jesus. It consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His friend is my friend. Going beyond exterior appearances, I perceive in others an interior desire for a sign of love, of concern. This I can offer them not only through the organizations intended for such purposes, accepting it perhaps as a political necessity. Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave. Here we see the necessary interplay between love of God and love of neighbor which the First Letter of John speaks of with such insistence. If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God. But if in my life I fail completely to heed others, solely out of a desire to be “devout” and to perform my “religious duties”, then my relationship with God will also grow arid. It becomes merely “proper”, but loveless. Only my readiness to encounter my neighbor and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well. Only if I serve my neighbor can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me. The saints—consider the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta—constantly renewed their capacity for love of neighbor from their encounter with the Eucharistic Lord, and conversely this encounter acquired its realism and depth in their service to others. Love of God and love of neighbor are thus inseparable, they form a single commandment. But both live from the love of God who has loved us first. No longer is it a question, then, of a “commandment” imposed from without and calling for the impossible, but rather of a freely-bestowed experience of love from within, a love which by its very nature must then be shared with others. Love grows through love. Love is “divine” because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this unifying process it makes us a “we” which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).


Benedict XVI. (2005). Deus Caritas Est. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. #18

Friday, February 22, 2019

Daily Thought For February 22, 2019

God's Amazing Agape Love

We have seen that God’s eros for man is also totally agape. This is not only because it is bestowed in a completely gratuitous manner, without any previous merit, but also because it is love which forgives. Hosea above all shows us that this agape dimension of God’s love for man goes far beyond the aspect of gratuity. Israel has committed “adultery” and has broken the covenant; God should judge and repudiate her. It is precisely at this point that God is revealed to be God and not man: “How can I give you up, O Ephraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel!… My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst” (Hos 11:8–9). God’s passionate love for his people—for humanity—is at the same time a forgiving love. It is so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his justice. Here Christians can see a dim prefigurement of the mystery of the Cross: so great is God’s love for man that by becoming man he follows him even into death, and so reconciles justice and love.


Benedict XVI. (2005). Deus Caritas Est. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. #10

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Daily Thought For February 21, 2019

Charity Is The Remedy Against Rash Judgments

     “Judge not, and you shall not be judged,” says the Saviour of our souls; “condemn not, and you shall not be condemned” (Luke, 6:37). “No,” says the holy apostle, “judge not before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart” (2 Cor. 4:5). Oh, how displeasing are rash judgments to God! The judgments of the children of men are rash, because they are not the judges of one another, and therefore usurp to themselves the office of our Lord. They are rash, because the principal malice of sin depends on the intention of the heart, which is an impenetrable secret to us. They are not only rash, but also impertinent, because everyone has enough to do to judge himself, without taking upon him to judge his neighbour. In order that we may not be hereafter judged, it is equally necessary to refrain from judging others; and to be careful to judge ourselves. For, as our Lord forbids the one, so the apostle enjoins the other, saying, that “if we judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” But, O good God! we do quite the contrary; for by judging our neighbour on every occasion we do that which is forbidden; and by not judging ourselves, we neglect to put into practice that which we are strictly commanded to do.
     We must apply remedies against rash judgments, according to their different causes. There are some hearts naturally so sour, bitter, and harsh, as to make everything bitter and sour that comes into them: “turning judgment,” as the prophet Amos says, into wormwood, by never judging their neighbour but with rigour and harshness. Such have great need to fall into the hands of a good spiritual physician; for this bitterness of heart being natural to them, it is hard to overcome it, and though it be not in itself a sin, but an imperfection, yet it is dangerous, because it introduces and causes rash judgment and detraction to remain in the soul. Some judge rashly, not through harshness, but through pride, imagining that in the same proportion as they lower the honour of other men they raise their own. Arrogant and presumptuous spirits, who admire themselves so much and place themselves so high in their own esteem, look on all the rest of mankind as mean and abject. “I am not like the rest of men,” saith the foolish Pharisee (Luke, 18:11). Others, who have not altogether this manifest pride, feel a certain satisfaction in thinking over the evil qualities of other men, in contradistinction to the good qualities wherewith they think themselves endowed. Now, this self-complacency is so imperceptible as not to be discovered even by those who are tainted with it. Others, to excuse themselves to themselves and to assuage the remorse of their own conscience, very willingly judge others to be guilty of the same kind of vice to which they themselves are addicted, or some other as great; thinking that the multitude of offenders make the sin the less blamable. Many take the liberty to judge others rashly, merely for the pleasure of delivering their opinion and conjectures on their manners and humours, by way of exercising their wit; and if, unhappily, they sometimes happen not to err in their judgment, their rashness increases to so violent an excess as to render it, in a manner, impossible ever to effect their cure. Others judge through passion and prejudice, always thinking well of what they love, and ill of what they hate; excepting in one case only, not less wonderful than true, in which the excess of love incites them to pass an ill judgment on that which they love; and this is jealousy, through which, as everyone knows, one simple look, or the least smile may convict the beloved person of disloyalty or infidelity. In fine, fear, ambition, and other such weaknesses of the mind frequently contribute towards the forming of suspicions and rash judgments.
     But what is the remedy? As they who drink the juice of the herb of Ethiopia, called ophiusa, imagine that they everywhere behold serpents and other frightful objects; so they who have swallowed pride, envy, ambition, and hatred, think everything they see evil and blamable. The former, to be healed, must drink palm wine; and I say to the latter, drink as much as you can of the sacred wine of charity, and it will deliver you from those noxious humours that beget rash judgment. As charity fears to meet evil, so she never goes to seek after it; but whenever it falls in her way, she turns her face aside and takes no notice. At the first alarm of evil she shuts her eyes, and afterwards believes, with an honest simplicity, that it was not evil, but only its shadow or apparition; and if she cannot help sometimes acknowledging it to be really evil, she presently turns from it, and endeavours to forget even its shadow. Charity is the sovereign remedy against all evils, but especially this. All things appear yellow to the eyes of those who are afflicted with the jaundice; and it is said that to cure them of this evil they must wear celandine under the soles of their feet. The sin of rash judgment is, indeed, a spiritual jaundice, and makes all things appear evil to the eyes of such as are infected with it. He that desires to be cured of it must apply the remedies, not to his eyes, nor to his understanding, but to his affections, which are the feet of the soul. If your affections are mild, your judgment will be mild also; if your affections are charitable, your judgment will also be charitable. I shall here present you with three admirable examples: Isaac had said that Rebecca was his sister; Abimelech saw him playing with her, that is to say, caressing her in a tender manner (Gen. 26:8); and presently he judged she was his wife; a malicious eye would rather have judged her to have been his mistress. But Abimelech followed the most charitable opinion he could gather from such an action. We must always do the like, Philothea, ever judging, as much as possible, in favour of our neighbour; and if one action could bear a hundred faces, we should always look on that which is the fairest.


Francis de Sales, S. (1885). An Introduction to the Devout Life (pp. 177–180). Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Daily Thought For February 19, 2019

Compassion 

Unless you have suffered and wept, you really don't understand what compassion is, nor can you give comfort to someone who is suffering. If you haven't cried, you can't dry another's eyes. Unless you've walked in darkness, you can't help wanderers find the way. Unless you've looked into the eyes of menacing death and felt its hot breath, you can't help another rise from the dead and taste anew the joy of being alive.

Takashi Nagai 

Monday, February 18, 2019

Daily Thought For February 18, 2019

The Desert

Throughout history there have been many men and women who have chosen to imitate Jesus as he withdraws into the desert... To pass time in the desert means to create a little emptiness and silence around us, to rediscover the road to our heart, to remove ourselves from the noise and external distractions, to enter into contact with the deepest source of our being and our faith.

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Daily Thought For February 17, 2019

The Failure of Fear & Pride

     Roots provide strength for a tree-to help the tree stand firm against the fierce attack of stormy weather. Likewise, people live in fear and respond with pride in an attempt to withstand the weak soil of insecurity. However, these roots support a false sense of security. The storms of life expose the weakness of our faulty system. When one root fails to strengthen us, we turn to the other and redouble our efforts, entering into further bondage. 
     Fear is a universal human experience. Fear arrived hot on the heels of Adam and Eve's first sin of pride and rebellion and fear is a result of our pride as well as our independence. Now it is a good thing for a person to overcome their fears and not be subject to them. Often, someone who has a fear of flying will deliberately fly in an airplane to overcome that fear. Or one who is terrified of public speaking may take a course in speech or join Toastmasters. If someone comes to us for prayer, however, we want to get to the root of fear. Even though a particular expression of fear has been overcome, that does not mean the axe has been laid to the root. The taproot of a large tree is almost impossible to dig out; without the help of the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to rid ourselves of fear-we will simply swap one fear for another that we find more acceptable. So what root needs to be hacked apart and carted off? The root of pride. 
     I once ministered to a young woman who told me she grew up as the good child, the favorite. Her identity was found in being the one Mom approved of who did not get in trouble and who did the right thing. One day when her mom was beginning a relationship with a man (her parents were divorced), her mother unjustly accused her of stealing. This cut to her core. She had spent her whole life working to keep the rules and gain her mom's (and God's) approval. She was proud of her record and felt secure because of it. She would do anything to keep her good standing in the family. Her deep fear of rejection flared up. Later that day, she shoplifted for the first time. Since she was not experienced, she was caught. Now she had a criminal record-and she had added guilt, shame, and embarrassment to the fear of rejection that was now exposed and raw. I was able to tell her that at some point every perfectionist fails. No one can ever be good enough to overcome insecurity and fear of rejection. And it is not unusual for one who is driven to be perfect to dramatically crash and find themselves caught by something that is a total contradiction to the way they previously lived. 
     I helped her to see how pride and insecurity held her in bondage in conjunction with the other things she shared in the interview. For the first time, she understood that her struggle was not only with herself but also with a diabolical plan to destroy her. In her pride, she had traded the fear of rejection for the perfectionism and legalism, but as she named her enemies and broke their power in renunciations, victory came. Because she learned how to continue to face her enemies using the Five Keys, she can walk in freedom. 
     This young woman had attempted to cover her nakedness by being as perfect as she could be. Others try to hide by taking a superior position through judgments, criticism, and accusations. No matter how much we try to overcome our exposure as deeply flawed people, we will fail. If we medicate ourselves through drugs or pornography or other addictive behaviors (all attempts to save ourselves), we will fail. This failure will lead to deeper isolation and loneliness, for our efforts will never be good enough to overcome the God-sized hole in our hearts. Nothing we do will ever be good enough to take away our suspicion that there is something wrong with us. The effort to be perfect is too much. Someday we will give up, our unredeemed selves will be exposed, and we will see what a wretch we are apart from grace. Often others will see it too, as in the case of the young woman mentioned above. 
     Many people come to us because they have crashed and are overwhelmed by their failures. They are disillusioned and humiliated by failure and are now bombarded with negative thoughts: hopelessness, purposelessness, self-rejection, self-hatred, fear of the future or the past, fear of embarrassment or further rejection-all these and more can come on like a stampeding herd. 


from Unbound Ministry Guidebook — Helping Others Find Freedom in Christ by Neal Lozano and Matthew Lozano pp.77-79.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Daily Thought For February 16, 2019

A Beautiful Reminder In Hardship

“Saint Catherine of Siena once received a visit from her heavenly spouse at a time when she was being assailed by a tide of temptations of the flesh.  ‘My Lord,’ she called out to him, ‘where were you when my heart was being tormented by so many temptations?’  And the Lord replied, ‘I was in your heart.’  And she said, ‘Saving always the truth of what you say, my Lord, and with all due respect for your majesty, how can I believe that you were living in my heart, when it was full of unclean and devilish thoughts?’  And the Lord answered: ‘Those thoughts and temptations: did they gladden your heart, or sadden it?  Did they bring you pleasure, or displeasure?’  And she replied: ‘Great pain, and great displeasure.’  And the Lord answered: ‘Who was it who made you feel displeasure, if not I who was hiding in the center of your heart?’  

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., February Magnificat, p. 144

Friday, February 15, 2019

Daily Thought For February 15, 2019

Weighing All Things In The Balance of God's Will

Do not pay any attention to the kind of work you do, but rather to the honor that it brings to God, even though it may seem quite trivial. Desire only to do the Divine Will, following Divine Providence, which is the disposition of Divine Wisdom. In a word, if your works are pleasing to God and recognized as such, that is all that matters. Work hard every day at increasing your purity of heart, which consists in appraising things and weighing them in the balance of God's will. 

St. Francis de Sales — Letters 280; O. XIII, p. 53

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Daily Thought For February 13, 2019

G.K Chesterton On "Success"

I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.

G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Daily Thought For February 12, 2019

A Perpetual Pentecost

     A few months ago I was attending Mass at a college seminary nearby. As I watched the young seminarians receive Communion I began to pray that they might be filled with the Holy Spirit. "Lord," I prayed, "please show me what more I can do to help men like these receive the Baptism of the Spirit. I believe this grace is meant for the whole Church." Immediately after Mass one of the seminarians invited Al and me to come back in a few weeks to speak to them about the Charismatic Renewal. What a quick answer to prayer! I was thrilled. 
    As we considered what to tell these seminarians about the modern day movement of the Spirit, we decided to start with Blessed Sr. Elena Guerra. Have you ever heard of her? Until recently I didn't realize how deeply indebted we all are to this remarkable Italian nun who lived at the turn of the century. This is what we told our young seminary friends. 
     The Lord revealed to Elena Guerra the importance of continually invoking the Holy Spirit. He gave her a holy boldness to write twelve letters to Pope Leo XIII urging him to renew the Church by fostering a greater devotion to the Holy Spirit. Sensing God's voice speaking through Sr. Elena, the Holy Father asked all the bishops to conduct a solemn novena to the Spirit prior to Pentecost. He wanted this novena held annually, so that the Church might become a "praying Cenacle." 
     To further emphasize his point, Pope Leo XIII wrote an encyclical on the Holy Spirit. At Sr. Elena's suggestion, in the first moments of January 1, 1901, he dedicated the 20th century to the Holy Spirit and solemnly chanted the Veni Creator Spiritus (Come Holy Spirit) in the name of the whole Church. His action, prompted by Sr. Elena, was prophetic, for indeed this century has been marked by a sovereign outpouring of the Spirit of God. 
     At the time, however, Sr. Elena was deeply disappointed that there was such a poor response among Catholics to the Pope's plea for prayer to the Spirit. Unbeknown to her, on the evening of December 31, 1900 another group of Christians were ready and willing to seek more of the Holy Spirit in their lives. In Topeka, Kansas, a young woman named Agnes Ozman asked Reverend Charles Parham to pray for her to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. This occasion is generally accepted as the beginning of the pentecostal movement. It was only years later that Catholics in large numbers began to experience the grace of the Baptism of the Spirit. Interestingly enough, on that very site in Topeka, Kansas today stands a Catholic Church, Most Pure Heart of Mary, where a Catholic charismatic prayer group now meets! 
     More than half a century after Elena Guerra's inspiration, Pope John XXIII echoed her desire for more of the Holy Spirit when he had the entire Church pray for the success of the Vatican Council. "Renew your wonders in this our day as by a new Pentecost."
     The sovereign outpouring of the Spirit that began in 1967 among Catholics in the Charismatic Renewal was an answer to the prayer called for by Sr. Elena Guerra in the beginning of this century. Thank you, Blessed Elena Guerra, for helping us to experience this new Pentecost! 
     Every member of the Church has need for more of the Holy Spirit. At Medjugorje our Lady is reported to have said, "Many people pray in the wrong way, they ask for graces, but few ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit. But it is those who receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who have already received everything. First of all, ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit." Mary is the great teacher of prayer and of response to God. "Seek the grace of the Holy Spirit continually," is her message to us. 
     After sharing these things with the seminarians, we gave testimony about how the Baptism of the Spirit has helped us love Jesus and the Church more deeply. We know that the release of the power of the Holy Spirit and His gifts is meant for everyone in the Church. God desires to give far more than we desire to receive. 
     After we spoke almost everyone of the seminarians came forward to receive prayer for more of the Holy Spirit in his life. Surely these young men will need an ongoing Pentecost to be effective priests. What joy to see their hunger for God! 
     As we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost once again, I want to cry out to the whole Church with Blessed Sr. Elena Guerra, "Invoke the Holy Spirit! Love the Holy Spirit! Foster the work of the Holy Spirit! There is no greater gift!" 

     Together, brothers and sisters, may we become a "praying cenacle" - always expecting, always receiving, a perpetual Pentecost! 

from More of God —Inspirational Selections from the Notebook Column by Patti Gallagher Mansfield pp. 85-88

Monday, February 11, 2019

Daily Thought For February 11, 2019

Armando

Armando is an amazing eight-year-old boy. . . .

Armando cannot walk or talk and is very small for his age. He came to us from an orphanage where he had been abandoned. He no longer wanted to eat because he no longer wanted to live cast off from his mother. He was desperately thin and was dying of lack of food. After a while in our community where he found people who held him, loved him, and wanted him to live, he gradually began to eat again and to develop in a remarkable way. He still cannot walk or talk or eat by himself, his body is twisted and broken, and he has a severe mental disability, but when you pick him up, his eyes and his whole body quiver with joy and excitement and say: “I love you.” He has a deep therapeutic influence on people. . . .

What [many people] do not always know is that they have a well deep inside of them. If that well is tapped, springs of life and of tenderness flow forth. It has to be revealed to each person that these waters are there and that they can rise up from each one of us and flow over people, giving them life and a new hope.

That is the power of Armando. In some mysterious way, in all his brokenness, he reveals to us our own brokenness, our difficulties in loving, our barriers and hardness of heart. If he is so broken and so hurt and yet is still such a source of life, then I too am allowed to look at my own brokenness and to trust that I too can give life to others. I do not have to pretend that I am better than others and that I have to win in all the competitions. It’s O.K. to be myself, just as I am, in my uniqueness. That, of course, is a very healing and liberating experience. I am allowed to be myself, with all my psychological and physical wounds, with all my limitations but with all my gifts too. And I can trust that I am loved just as I am, and that I too can love and grow.


Jean Vanier - Jean Vanier is the founder of l’Arche, an international network of communities for the mentally disabled. (From The Magnificat, February 10, 2014)

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Daily Thought For February 9, 2019

The Prayer Room

     About this time every year our prayer group is involved in hosting the Southern Regional Conference for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. I have come to love this yearly gathering. It's a privilege to come together with several thousand Catholic charismatics to praise and worship, to be taught, and to see the Lord act with power. 
     No matter how outstanding the message of the conference is, there is always something else that manages to touch me. It is the generosity and commitment of the volunteers who work at the conference. Hundreds of people each year pledge their time and talents to serve. 
     One of my children asked me recently what these workers get paid for their service. He was shocked to find out there is no monetary reward for the countless hours of work they do. Instead they find their joy in being like their Master who said, "I am among you as one who serves" (Mt 20:28). In the words of one of the men who constructs the stage, "I'd rather do this job for the Lord than make a million dollars!" 
     Several years ago I was particularly struck by the beauty of one of the conference volunteers named Ethel. She had been recommended to serve in the Word Gift Unit. This group is comprised of brothers and sisters from various prayer groups who have tested gifts of prophecy, exhortation and revelation. They come together in prayer before each conference session. Then they are seated on stage to minister through the operation of the word gifts. It is a great responsibility to serve in such a way, and it is also a real honor. 
     When Ethel was invited to be part of this group she set about seeking God's will. Although she was willing to serve in the Word Gift Unit, she wanted to be sure this was exactly where the Lord wanted her during the conference. After a time of prayer Ethel discerned that she should be part of the Prayer Room team instead.      During meal breaks at the conference people with special needs come to the prayer room to receive ministry. There, hidden away in a corner of the prayer room, the Lord used Ethel to manifest His glory in a dramatic way. 
     Many people came to Ethel for prayer. According to the light God gave, Ethel prayed for each one's needs. Finally, a tiny Vietnamese woman approached her. As she came forward the Holy Spirit prompted Ethel to remove her shoes with the sense that she was standing on holy ground. The little lady stood before Ethel with her hands joined in prayer and bowed low from the waist. In the next few moments it was clear that the Vietnamese woman could neither speak nor understand English. Ethel knew no Vietnamese. 
     Because of the circumstances Ethel relied on the gift of tongues in her intercession for this sister's needs. As Ethel prayed she soon realized that she was no longer praying in the tongue she usually prayed with. Instead, the Holy Spirit gave her a new language - one that sounded like Vietnamese! Ethel soon became convinced that she was indeed praying in Vietnamese when the tiny lady began to converse with her in the same language. You can imagine the sense of awe that came upon them in those moments! 
     When they finished praying, the Vietnamese woman bowed low to Ethel, and Ethel returned this beautiful, reverent gesture. The little lady walked away having received ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. God had reached down and touched her, despite the language barrier. 
     Ethel was thrilled! How grateful she was to be in the prayer room at that moment so that God could use her. Had she accepted the invitation to serve in the Word Gift Unit, her service would have been more visible. But the Lord was calling her to be hidden in humble service where she could be His instrument in this special way. 
     I have seen this same spirit of humility and obedience in countless others whose hearts are set on serving the Lord. They have no concern for their own glory. They desire the glory of their Master. As I look forward to our next conference I thank God for men and women like these who listen to and obey His voice. May the Lord Himself reward them for their humble service! 

from More of God — Inspirational Selections from the Notebook Column by Patti Gallagher Mansfield pp. 47-49



Friday, February 8, 2019

Daily Thought For February 8, 2019

From Our Saint of the Day

Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself, 'Who could be the Master of these beautiful things?' I felt a great desire to see him, to know him and to pay him homage.

St. Josephine Bakhita

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Daily Thought For February 7, 2019


TWO—EDGED SWORD 
Indeed, God's word is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates and divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the reflections and thoughts of the heart. Nothing is concealed from Him. All lies bare and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must render an account (Heb 4:12-13). 
     God's word is alive! That fact is a source of great joy and consolation, but it is also a source of constant challenge and conviction as we follow Jesus. I was amazed after receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to find out how alive God's word could be. The words of Scripture seemed to leap off the page to speak to my heart. In Psalm 119 we read that a young person can keep his life pure by guarding it according to God's word. God's word needs to be stored up in our hearts that we might not sin against the Lord. As the Holy Spirit teaches us, He often uses the Scripture which we have read and meditated upon to shed light on the circumstances of our everyday life. 
     I had a powerful experience years ago of this "two-edged sword" of God's word piercing my thoughts. I was visiting my family, and as I unpacked I noticed that my brother was using a cheaper brand of contact lens solution than the one which I brought home. This meant very little until the next morning when I noticed my bottle of solution left open on the sink. Obviously my brother had tried it out. I used the solution myself and put it on the shelf. 
The next morning once again, I found the bottle open on the sink. I was a little irritated but I used the solution and returned it to the shelf. When on the third day I found my contact lens solution had been used, I was upset! There it was, left open day after day, evaporating into thin air! I took the bottle and hid it in my room. After all, I had invested in a better brand of contact lens solution and I should benefit from it, right? 
    Later that day at Mass, during the Offertory, I said to the Lord, "I offer you everything I am and everything I have." There immediately came to mind a vivid picture of my bottle of contact lens solution with a Scripture passage underneath. The passage, from Luke's Gospel, concerns someone who wants Jesus to settle a dispute over an inheritance. Jesus says, "Avoid greed in all its forms, for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Lk-12:15). 
     God's living word had penetrated my thoughts and revealed my actions for what they were: selfishness. I knew I could not honestly offer myself to the Lord without giving Him this "precious" bottle of contact lens solution. I became determined to remove it from hiding so my brother could use it again. Perhaps this seems like a small incident, but many relationships and families have been destroyed because of greed that started small and grew big. 
     Sharper than any two-edged sword? Yes, indeed! And God's word will hurt when it cuts us because it judges the reflections and thoughts of our hearts. Let's continue to store up God's word within us, for as it wounds, so will it heal if we are willing to change and so share in His holiness.

from More of God — Inspirational Selections from the Notebook Column by Patti Gallagher Mansfield pp. 171-172.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Daily Thought For February 6, 2019

Spiritual Conditioning

Isn’t it awe inspiring to watch Olympic weight lifters heft hundreds of pounds? Of course, you know that none of them began by hoisting barbell-bending weights. They started with the barbell itself and slowly increased the weight as they grew stronger.

So it is in our struggle against sin. None of us start out as Olympic weight lifters. We have to start out gradually and build ourselves up over time. Now, you may already be nearing Olympics caliber when it comes to battling sin, or you may be just starting out. Regardless of where you are, it’s always helpful to review some of the basics.

First, start your training by getting into the practice of examining your conscience each evening. “Where have I fallen short today? In what areas am I committing the same sins over and over? Who may I have hurt today by my words or actions?” Then ask God—and any person you may have offended—for forgiveness. Don’t forget to make sacramental Confession a regular practice. It will give you that extra burst of grace you need the next time you encounter a strong temptation.

Remember that sometimes you have to put something down in order to grip the barbell in front of you. That might mean separating yourself from the things that weaken you. It could be that Internet site that sucks you in for hours. It could be that extra glass of wine or that bowl of ice cream in the evening or the gossip you trade with your coworker each morning.

Sometimes there’s already sufficient weight on the barbell, and you need only to increase the number of times you lift it. That might mean spending a few extra minutes praying or reading Scripture, attending daily Mass once or twice a week, or occasionally substituting a saint’s biography for the current best seller.

Lifting weights is hard work, and so is battling sin. But you’re not doing it alone. God knows how you are made. He knows the things that weaken you and the things that strengthen you. So think of Jesus as your coach. He is standing right beside you. Let him show you what to lift up and what to put down. He is always ready to help you with his love and grace.


“Lord, I want to be strong enough to resist sin. Show me today how I can grow stronger.”


Daily Thought From The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Daily Thought For February 5, 2019

A Feast of Grace

Enrich your soul in the great goodness of God: The Father is your table, the Son is your food, and the Holy Spirit waits on you and then makes His dwelling in you.

St. Catherine of Siena

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Daily Thought For February 2, 2019

The Presentation —The Dreams of Our Elders And Docility To The Spirit of the Living God

When the parents of Jesus brought the Child in fulfilment of the prescriptions of the law, Simeon, “guided by the Spirit” (Lk 2:27), took the Child in his arms and broke out in a hymn of blessing and praise. “My eyes”, he said, “have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Lk 2:30-32). Simeon not only saw, but was privileged to hold in his arms the long-awaited hope, which filled him with exultation. His heart rejoiced because God had come to dwell among his people; he felt his presence in the flesh.

Today’s liturgy tells us that in that rite, the Lord, forty days after his birth, “outwardly was fulfilling the Law, but in reality he was coming to meet his believing people” (Roman Missal, 2 February, Introduction to the Entrance Procession). This encounter of God with his people brings joy and renews hope.

Simeon’s canticle is the hymn of the believer, who at the end of his days can exclaim: “It is true, hope in God never disappoints” (cf. Rm 5:5). God never deceives us. Simeon and Anna, in their old age, were capable of a new fruitfulness, and they testify to this in song. Life is worth living in hope, because the Lord keeps his promise. Jesus himself will later explain this promise in the synagogue of Nazareth: the sick, prisoners, those who are alone, the poor, the elderly and sinners, all are invited to take up this same hymn of hope. Jesus is with them, Jesus is with us (cf. Lk 4:18-19).

We have inherited this hymn of hope from our elders. They made us part of this process. In their faces, in their lives, in their daily sacrifice we were able to see how this praise was embodied. We are heirs to the dreams of our elders, heirs to the hope that did not disappoint our founding mothers and fathers, our older brothers and sisters. We are heirs to those who have gone before us and had the courage to dream. Like them, we too want to sing, “God does not deceive; hope in him does not disappoint”. God comes to meet his people. And we want to sing by taking up the prophecy of Joel and making it our own: “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions” (2:28).

We do well to take up the dreams of our elders, so that we can prophesy in our day and once more encounter what originally set our hearts afire. Dreams and prophecies together. The remembrance of how our elders, our fathers and mothers, dreamed, and the courage prophetically to carry on those dreams.

This attitude will make our consecrated life more fruitful. Most importantly, it will protect us from a temptation that can make our consecrated life barren: the temptation of survival. An evil that can gradually take root within us and within our communities. The mentality of survival makes us reactionaries, fearful, slowly and silently shutting ourselves up in our houses and in our own preconceived notions. It makes us look back, to the glory days – days that are past – and rather than rekindling the prophetic creativity born of our founders’ dreams, it looks for shortcuts in order to evade the challenges knocking on our doors today. A survival mentality robs our charisms of power, because it leads us to “domesticate” them, to make them “user-friendly”, robbing them of their original creative force. It makes us want to protect spaces, buildings and structures, rather than to encourage new initiatives. The temptation of survival makes us forget grace; it turns us into professionals of the sacred but not fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters of that hope to which we are called to bear prophetic witness. An environment of survival withers the hearts of our elderly, taking away their ability to dream. In this way, it cripples the prophecy that our young are called to proclaim and work to achieve. In a word, the temptation of survival turns what the Lord presents as an opportunity for mission into something dangerous, threatening, potentially disastrous. This attitude is not limited to the consecrated life, but we in particular are urged not to fall into it.

Let us go back to the Gospel passage and once more contemplate that scene. Surely, the song of Simeon and Anna was not the fruit of self-absorption or an analysis and review of their personal situation. It did not ring out because they were caught up in themselves and were worried that something bad might happen to them. Their song was born of hope, the hope that sustained them in their old age. That hope was rewarded when they encountered Jesus. When Mary let Simeon take the Son of the Promise into his arms, the old man began to sing – celebrating a true “liturgy” – he sings his dreams. Whenever she puts Jesus in the midst of his people, they encounter joy. For this alone will bring back our joy and hope, this alone will save us from living in a survival mentality. Only this will make our lives fruitful and keep our hearts alive: putting Jesus where he belongs, in the midst of his people.

All of us are aware of the multicultural transformation we are experiencing; no one doubts this. Hence, it is all the more important for consecrated men and women to be one with Jesus, in their lives and in the midst of these great changes. Our mission – in accordance with each particular charism – reminds us that we are called to be a leaven in this dough. Perhaps there are better brands of flour, but the Lord has called us to be leaven here and now, with the challenges we face. Not on the defensive or motivated by fear, but with our hands on the plough, helping the wheat to grow, even though it has frequently been sown among weeds. Putting Jesus in the midst of his people means having a contemplative heart, one capable of discerning how God is walking through the streets of our cities, our towns and our neighbourhoods. Putting Jesus in the midst of his people means taking up and carrying the crosses of our brothers and sisters. It means wanting to touch the wounds of Jesus in the wounds of a world in pain, which longs and cries out for healing.

To put ourselves with Jesus in the midst of his people! Not as religious “activists”, but as men and women who are constantly forgiven, men and women anointed in baptism and sent to share that anointing and the consolation of God with everyone.

To put ourselves with Jesus in the midst of his people. For this reason, “we sense the challenge of finding and sharing a ‘mystique’ of living together, of mingling and encounter, of embracing and supporting one another, of stepping into this flood tide which, while chaotic, can [with the Lord] become a genuine experience of fraternity, a caravan of solidarity, a sacred pilgrimage… If we were able to take this route, it would be so good, so soothing, so liberating and hope-filled! To go out of ourselves and to join others” (Evangelii Gaudium, 87) is not only good for us; it also turns our lives and hopes into a hymn of praise. But we will only be able to do this if we take up the dreams of our elders and turn them into prophecy.


Let us accompany Jesus as he goes forth to meet his people, to be in the midst of his people. Let us go forth, not with the complaining or anxiety of those who have forgotten how to prophesy because they failed to take up the dreams of their elders, but with serenity and songs of praise. Not with apprehension but with the patience of those who trust in the Spirit, the Lord of dreams and prophecy. In this way, let us share what is truly our own: the hymn that is born of hope.

Pope Francis Message For World Day of Consecrated Life (February 2, 2017)