Saturday, March 30, 2019

Daily Thought For March 30, 2019

Leaving Fear Behind

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.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Daily Thought For March 29, 2019

Mother Teresa — A Life Ventured For Christ

 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

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Daily Thought For March 28, 2019

Still Working On This

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.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Daily Thought For March 27, 2019

The Beautiful Power Of A Simple "Yes"

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 Pentecost by Patti Gallagher Mansfield p.113

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Daily Thought For March 26, 2019

Prayer of Blessed John Henry Newman

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. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Daily Thought For March 25, 2019

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.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Daily Thought For March 24, 2019

Turn On Your Heartlight

God is in love with us and keeps using you and me to light the light of love in the world. 

Let His light of truth be in your life so that God can continue loving the world through you and me. Put your heart into being a bright light. 

St. Teresa of Calcutta

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Daily Thought For March 23, 2019


Great Insights On The Prodigal Son

Lectio

Luke 15:1–3, 11–32

Meditatio

“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.

Oratio

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.

Contemplatio

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.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Daily Thought For March 22, 2019

Her Favorite Child

      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

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Daily Thought For March 21, 2019

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.

St. John Paul II - Address October 11, 1985

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Daily Thought For March 20, 2019

The Amazing Grace of God's Mercy

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.

Pope Francis — Misericordiae Vultus #8

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Daily Thought For March 19, 2019


How To Deal With Difficult People

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. 

Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan from Offices 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Daily Thought For March 18, 2019

More Great Advice From The "SaintMaker"

     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 deathall those little houses will be useless; we shall have to go into our Father's house. 



St. Francis de Sales Golden Counsels pp.29-30

Friday, March 15, 2019

Daily Thought For March 16, 2019

Hope

     Hope is the opposite of fear. It is serious to feel separated from God; we grow timid and weak. As a ship is tossed about in a tempest, without sailor or pilot, heading for shipwreck wherever the wind carries it, so it is with our little boat that lacks hope. I would never want us to be without hope, but I would want us to weep when we lose sight of God. May Jesus come to bring help when we are overwhelmed with fear. 
     I hope that God will strengthen you more and more; and when you become afraid that your present attention and fervor may not last, respond once and for all to that thought, or rather to that temptation to sadness, that those who trust in God will never be confounded, and that in spiritual as well as physical and temporal matters, you have "cast your care upon the Lord and he will support you." 
     Let us serve God well today; he will provide for tomorrow. Each day has its own burden to bear; do not worry about tomorrow, for the same God who reigns today will reign tomorrow. And if in his goodness he had thought, or even known, that you needed more assistance than was readily available, he would have given it to you.

St. Francis de Sales Golden Counsels pp.27-28

Daily Thought For March 15, 2019

Everyone's Gone To The Moon 

The man of today looks toward the future. His slogan is “Progress”, not “Tradition”; “Hope”, not “Faith”. He is moved, it is true, by a certain romanticism about the past. He delights in surrounding himself with precious things of history, but all of this serves only to confirm that these times are past and that the empire of the man of today is tomorrow, the world he himself is going to build. For that to which he looks forward is not, as in the early Church, the kingdom of God, but the kingdom of man, not the return of the Son of Man, but the final victory of a rational, free, and brotherly order among men who have discovered themselves. The development through which we are living presents itself, not as a gift from on high, but as the product of hard work, of planned, calculated, and inventive activity. Thus, for the man of today hope no longer means looking for things over which we have no control, but action by our own power. Man expects redemption to come from himself, and he seems to be in a position to provide it. In this way the primacy of the future is linked with the primacy of practice, the primacy of human activity above all other attitudes. Theology, too, is becoming more and more invaded by this attitude. “Orthopractice” takes the place of orthodoxy, and “eschatopractice” becomes more important than eschatology. If in former days it was left to popular enlightenment to tell the peasants that chemical fertilizers were more efficacious than prayer, now—a decent interval having elapsed—we can read the same sort of thing in modern “religious” literature that is straining to be “with it”. There, too, we may find it argued that in certain circumstances prayer will have to be “remodeled”: it can scarcely any longer be regarded as an invocation of divine assistance, but must be regarded as recollection serving the practice of self-help. Belief in progress—often said to be dead—is taking on a new lease of life, and the optimism that preaches that man will at last really be able to build the city of man is finding a fresh following.
     The city of man, to many the symbol of all they desire, inspires in others only feelings of melancholy. For as hope arises, so does fear begin to spread. The anxiety that seemed to have been exorcized in the optimistic immediate postwar years once more awakes. When the first man set foot on the moon, no one was able to avoid feeling pride and joy and enthusiasm over man’s colossal achievement. The event was felt, not as a victory over a nation, but as a victory for mankind. But this moment of joy had its mixture of sadness, for no one could escape the thought that this same man, who is capable of such marvelous things, is unable to prevent millions of men dying of hunger every year, has to allow millions to live without human dignity, is unable to put a stop to war or to stem the rising tide of crime. The road to the moon is easier to find than the road to man himself. Technical “know-how” is not necessarily human “know-how”. Quite obviously knowledge of how to deal with himself lies on a totally different plane from technical accomplishment.
     We want to follow this line of thought farther. Technology creates new opportunities for humanity. This cannot be disputed. A Christian has no grounds for any kind of resentment of technology. Anyone who grew up in the pre-technical age is unlikely to be tempted to fall for the romanticism of nature. He knows how hard things were in those days, how much inhumanity there could be in the nontechnical world; he knows just how many things have become better and more beautiful and more human now. But this same technical skill which offers such opportunities to humanity offers also fresh opportunities to the one who is anti-humane. There is no need to speak of the ultimate horrors of atomic weapons and of biological and chemical warfare, although the store of terror they imply always lurks somewhere in our minds. We need only take a look at the “city of man”. Ever-increased planning means ever more regimentation of men. The eruptions that shatter our modern society are no doubt an unconscious rebellion against the complete planning of our existence, which creates a sense of suffocation, against which man wants to defend himself and finds that he cannot. Planning creates dependence and hence an impotence of the individual such as has never been known before. In addition we detect the ominous effects of our own activities: air, water, the earth—the very elements by which we live are threatened with destruction by the poisonous breath of our techniques; the energies upon which we depend seem, by their by-products, to be turning into the forces of our eventual annihilation. The city of man is beginning to strike terror into our hearts—it could become the tombstone of humanity.
     It would be far too simple to take out the sledgehammer of the theologian at this point and say: let us, then, be saved from technology, not by technology; let us find hope through faith and not against faith. Such a God would resemble all too closely the deus ex machina of Greek tragedy, who in Euripides had already become a joke at the expense of the gods and of faith. Euripides seems to be saying: The world is in such a state that only the sudden appearance of God can set it in order; but such a God exists only in our theaters. And so with Euripides, tragedy becomes more tragic than ever, for there is no way out, it seems, for reality remains without God and out of joint. The Christian God came, not as a deus ex machina to set everything externally in order, but as the Son of Man in order interiorly (emphasis mine) to share in the passion of mankind. And this, too, is precisely the task of the Christian: to share in the passion of mankind from within, to extend the sphere of human being so that it will find room for the presence of God.


Benedict XVI. (2009). Faith and the Future (pp. 92–97). San Francisco: Ignatius Press. (This book was a series of radio broadcasts from the Bavarian Rundfunk and Vatican Radio from 1969-1970. It ends with a timely prophecy I have shared in the past about the future of the Church. Cardinal Ratzinger's forecast for the future of the Church was spot on but ends with a very hopeful prediction saying, "And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already with Gobel, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death." I find this incredibly hopeful and encouraging. I believe the key to maintaining a joyful disposition amidst the challenges all around us is a deeper conversion to Christ and the grace of Baptism in the Holy Spirit. When people discover the grace of God and salvation as a gift, a radical change begins to take place within them. They become most concerned with their own ability to shine the light of Christ through their words and actions. The gift of faith is to be shared in love for God and others. This is the basic message of this book and the truth about evangelization. Many wish for a "magic wand" from God to set everything in its proper order. But God always respects our free will and invites us to cooperate with His plan of salvation. This "yes" of faith leads one into an amazing adventure with all kinds of twists and turns. But through it all, the faithfulness and love of God is experienced in profound ways — even in the midst of hardships and suffering! I hope you have found this to be true in your own life no matter what challenges you are currently experiencing.)

Benedict XVI. (2009). Faith and the Future (p. 118). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.)

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Daily Thought For March 14, 2019

One Family's Journey Through Grief

     It was the kitchen table that hurt. It was the extra space in the house that hurt. It was the empty seat in the car. It was the driveway too wide as three, not four, children walked home after school. I asked David, "What's the hardest time?" He said, "Playtime. The other kids just don't play like Johnny did." People can say all they want about a brother in heaven. But that does not make playtime any better. Once, he prayed, "Dear Jesus, I thank you for John-Paul and I ask you to bless the man who hit him." After family prayer I asked him why he prayed for the driver. He said, "So he won't feel so bad." He continued, "Dad, I miss John-Paul." "How do you miss him?" "I just see his face everywhere. I see him everywhere." I know this feeling: seeing him everywhere and nowhere. Then his eyes welled up, and I knew that this child's heart was broken. Everything .. in me wished I could take his grief and pour out my own blood to strengthen him. But I could not. I could only trust that the God who loves him would not give him more than he could endure. So I held him and prayed that Christ's love would heal and console him. 
     This was our work, as father and mother: to help our children grieve and work through their feelings about Johnny's death; to create an environment where the children felt free to talk about anything on their minds, whether happy, sad, angry, humorous. The only way to help our children was by being their model, by letting them see us grieve. Contrary to what many people think, trying to shield children from grief and pain is one of the most destructive things a parent can do. Their grief is real. The choice is to express it or repress it. If they repress it now they will deal with it over and over again in later life. This is a psychological fact of life. A child who sees a parent grieve will know that it is okay to grieve. For the children to see us grieve had this advantage as well: They know how much we love Johnny. And by inference, they know how much we love them. They know we would miss them this much if they were gone. 

     They also needed to see us survive, because our example would assure them that they would survive. We needed to give them permission to survive and get better and grow through this experience—and thrive once again, however long it might take and however improbable it might feel at the moment. Watching us gave them permission and showed them how. They were watching us even as we watched over them. They were getting cues from us about faith, hope, love, endurance, sorrow, and so many other things besides. Of course we did not want to overwhelm them with our sorrow. But our great concern was their freedom to talk. So we kept talking about Johnny, but not canonizing. We did not want them competing in an impossible race with their brother the saint. 

from A Grief Unveiled —One Father's Journey Through The Death Of A Child by Gregory Floyd pp.63-64

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Daily Thought For March 13, 2019

The Peace That Surpasses Understanding

     We must try to keep our hearts continually, unshakably serene throughout the vicissitudes of life. Even though everything turns and changes around us, we must ever remain steady-always looking, striving, and aspiring toward God. No matter what course the ship takes, no matter whether it sails to the east, west, north, or south, no matter what winds drive it on, the mariner's needle never points in any direction except toward the polar star. Everything may be topsy-turvy, not only around us, but within us as well. But whether we are sad or happy, full of sweetness or bitterness, at peace or disturbed, filled with light or darkness, troubled or at rest, delighted or disgusted, experiencing aridity or consolation, scorched by the sun or refreshed by the dew-for all that, the fine point of our heart, our spirit, our higher will, which is our compass, must ever look and tend toward the love of God, its Creator, its Savior, its sole and sovereign good. 

     "Whether we live or whether we die," says the apostle, "if we belong to God, who shall separate us from the love and charity of God?" No, nothing shall ever separate us from this love, neither trials nor anguish, neither death nor life, neither present sorrow nor fear of future troubles, not the wiles of evil spirits, neither the height of consolation nor the depth of affliction, neither consolation nor dryness must ever separate us from that holy charity which is rooted in Jesus Christ. 

St. Francis de Sales Golden Counsels pp.12-13

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Daily Thought For March 12, 2019

One Lesson of Lent: God Alone Is Enough

     Lenten seasons long ago, my parents taught us to recognize that many things we considered essential to daily life — especial
ly favorite foods and entertainments  were, in fact, secondary and that we could live without them with just a little effort. I often groaned in compliance with Lent's penances. But even though their full meaning escaped me in those days, they made a lasting impression. I knew Lent was important. I knew God was important. 
     I once had a parishioner who was not in the habit of going to Sunday Mass. His wife and I good-naturedly chided him about his Sunday obligation, but he knew we were serious. He makes special effort from time to time, but inevitably he slides off track again. One Lent, however, he resolved to start going to Mass every Sunday without fail. He sent me this email message: 
     "Bishop Sartain, as my Lenten resolution, I decided to start going to Mass every Sunday. But the other day, my wife told me that the Sundays of Lent are not days of penance. Does that mean I should not go to Mass?" 
     Nice try, I wrote him. An obligation is an obligation. My friend was kidding, of course, but his humor does offer insight into the purpose of Lenten sacrifices and resolutions. Why do we fast, abstain, and make sacrifices during Lent? There are a variety of reasons. 
     The first and most important reason is this: God alone is enough. This insight dawned on me only gradually as I grew older, started paying attention to my relationship with God, and realized that I literally would not survive without him. I learned that God is not a lifeline to be used as a last resort; he is, in fact, everything, whether things are going well or badly. One reason we fast and abstain and make sacrifices in Lent  in other words, one reason we "do without"  is so that we can focus on the One we cannot do without. 
        If we truly want to focus on God, it is helpful and even necessary to peel away layers of comfort and excess to arrive at the kernel of life. It is easy to delude ourselves into thinking that we need many things and forget that, as Jesus told Martha, "There is need of only one thing" (Lk 10:42). Lent's fasting, abstinence, and sacrifices remind us to place our focus there. 
      "Obligation" is a concept not always appreciated in our culture. We have an obligation to participate in Mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation, an obligation to receive holy Communion at least during the Easter season, and an obligation to confess our grave sins at least once each year. These are three of the Precepts of the Church. 
     Obligation is not a dirty word. In fact, these obligations ensure that we avail ourselves of the great blessings of the Church  the Eucharist and God's loving mercy. Why would one not want to fulfill such "obligations" when they point us in the direction of the one thing necessary, the direction of the One without whom we cannot live? 
     We owe God the fulfillment of religious obligations, in grateful response for what he has done for us. They are truly the least we could do. 
     There is another, more subtle benefit to the sacrifices and penances of Lent: They help us grow in trust. Perhaps that sounds strange. But when we take such tangible steps to say to ourselves, "I cannot live without God," we see unmistakably that he supplies all our needs and is worthy of our trust. It is good for us to expose the excesses we have come to regard as necessities, because doing so unveils the only One who is a necessity. We understand that it has not been creature comforts that have sustained us through life, but God. God alone. 
     The obligations to which we are subject as Catholics are not ends in themselves. The true objective is for the observing of them to become so natural in us that it would never occur to us not to observe them. When obligations "disappear" in that way, we begin to understand that the very air we breathe comes from God. 
     In the sixteenth century, St. Teresa of Avila once jotted some verses in her breviary, which were translated from the Spanish in the nineteenth century by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: 
Let nothing disturb thee, Nothing affright thee All things are passing; God never changeth; Patient endurance Attaineth to all things; Who God possesseth In nothing is wanting; Alone God sufficeth. 
     Thank God for Lent, for penance, for abstinence from meat, for fasting, for sacrifices, for obligations. Without them we might drown in the delusion that we need many things. Alone God sufficeth. 

from A Lenten Pilgrimage — Journeying with Jesus by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain pp.23-25



Monday, March 11, 2019

Daily Thought For March 11, 2019

Taming Our Distractions With Loving Desire

     Watching cable television news, I am amazed at the amount of information streaming across the screen - weather forecasts, sports scores, stock market quotes, headlines about a wide range of stories. Each stream distracts from the others, making it difficult to focus on any of them. Each network competes with the others using high-tech distractions. 
     Have we become so mesmerized by diversions and distractions that they have become the point? The sheer volume of news and entertainment available at the flip of a switch seems to say that it is better to be distracted than focused. 
     I can conjure up enough distractions on my own, without any help from the media. I am distracted in prayer, in work, in reading, in driving, in conversation. I am distracted by hunger, by worry, by noise, by snow, by fatigue. 
     Sometimes people think it would be easier to avoid distractions if one joined a monastery. Poor Clare nuns and Benedictine or Trappist monks would quickly tell us otherwise. Distractions follow us wherever we go. 
     Distractions are an inevitable part of every person's life, but they are not the point of life. They enticingly pose as something — anything — that promises what it cannot deliver: nourishment. In fact, if we constantly allow ourselves to bump from one distraction to another, we will never be at peace, and we will never find fulfillment. This is particularly true when we allow distractions to derail our relationship with God. The problem is that initially harmless distractions can attract our wills away from what is good and cause us to do what is evil. 
     The First Sunday of Lent turned our attention to Jesus' forty days' retreat into the desert, where he was tempted. Satan's goal was to exploit his hunger pangs in order to distract him from the Father, to trick him into going for the quick fix, to nudge him into claiming all the glory as his own. Though buffeted by Satan's empty promises, Jesus remained grounded in his relationship with the Father, which he preferred to everything the world could offer. 
     We live at a time when distractions and temptations within are compounded by those constantly aimed at us from without. Thus during Lent we deliberately go to the desert with Jesus - not to escape anything or anyone, but to seek the Father. We have allowed ourselves to be distracted by many things that have often kept us from our responsibilities and our spiritual lives. Some have led us to sin. We will never rid ourselves of all distractions and temptations, but we can deliberately shed some of them. Fasting, giving alms, and praying are steps in that direction.
     Fasting and abstaining from meat make us hungry, but in truth those disciplines are just a small glimpse of what our Savior sacrificed for us. Almsgiving calls us away from selfish preoccupations and spurs us to active love for those who are hungry not because they have chosen to fast, but because they have no food. Prayer is the bread that feeds us, because it comes from the hand of the Father. 
     The nagging hunger pangs we feel during Lent are a helpful tool, for the desire for food is a symbolic reminder of the most basic human hunger —- the hunger for a nourishing, intimate friendship with God. We hunger for it precisely because God extends his hand toward us. Distractions are the junk food we use as a substitute. Temptations are Satan's ploy to discourage us and damage that friendship through sin. 
     Is the point of Lent to focus on God by concentrating with furrowed brows, gritting our teeth, and clinching our fists in fierce determination not to be distracted or tempted? Definitely not! Most of us have found that such effort soon ends in frustration. Focusing on God is not so much a matter of concentration as it is of loving desire. When a sparse Lenten lunch makes us hungry at about 2:00 p.m., we can say, "Lord, thank you for reminding me that it is really for you that I am hungry:' When thoughts too numerous to count distract us, we can say, "Jesus, I love you:' and let them pass in and out of our minds, disarming them of their influence. When temptation threatens to draw our wills from friendship with God, we can say, "I worship and serve only you, my God:' 
     Lent gives us the opportunity and the means to focus on the "one thing" necessary (see Lk 10:38-42), even in the midst of all that churns within and around us. It is our forty-day retreat into the desert to be with the Father. Ironically, we get our bearings in the desert not by any map or skill of ours but by our helplessness and hunger. We will be distracted and tempted even there, but the Father is there, awaiting us. He is unfailingly present to us in spite of all that may be going through our minds and hearts. If he were not, we would cease to exist. 
     To whom else can we go? Our deepest hunger is for him. 

from A Lenten Pilgrimage — Journeying with Jesus by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain pp.17-19


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Daily Thought For March 10, 2019

Our Father's Kingdom

     We have an old family photo of my brother pouting from behind a garbage can at the old Palisades Amusement Park. It was time to go home, but he wanted to stay. An amusement park, after all, is heaven for a little boy. 
     Now imagine if, when he peered out from his hiding place, my five-year-old brother had not seen our parents? Would he have gone alone on any rides or played any games or bought any cotton candy? Or would he have desperately sought his mommy and daddy? When a child finds himself lost in an amusement park, what had been heaven immediately becomes hell. Don't our hearts ache and even fear when we hear the PA announcement that a child is separated from his parents? 
     When the devil offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, his one condition is that Jesus not worship the Father. Jesus, the Eternal Beloved Son, knows that any·aspect of reality loses all of its consistency, all of its worth, all of its goodness, if it is perceived and grasped outside of the Loving Origin of the Father. 
     As we begin Lent, let us pray to see every aspect of our lives through the cross of Christ, that most revelatory, sacrificial, and salvific expression of Fatherly love at the very foundation of our existence. 

Reflection based on Luke 4:1-13 Fr. Richard Veras (from The Magnificat Lenten Companion p.17)

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Daily Thought For March 9, 2019

This Is So True!

Whenever the Spirit intervenes, he leaves people astonished. He brings about events of amazing newness; he radically changes persons and history.

St. John Paul II — Meeting with Ecclesial Movements & New Communities (May 30, 1998)

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Daily Thought For March 8, 2019

Help Us Be Merciful


Holy Spirit, Spirit of Counsel, who can teach each of us to surrender our burdens of hurt and anger, help us to be merciful. Instruct us on how to read the hearts of those who need our help, our compassion, our understanding. Give us ears to hear the unspoken cry for mercy that comes from so many we meet every day. Help us to know where and when mercy is required of us as we make our way on the journey toward you. Teach, us, above all, the freeing quality of mercy, the grace to be delivered from the prison of our wounded and self-absorbed egos. Grant that we may be merciful and that, at the end of our days, we may obtain that mercy which we so much desire and which we so much need. 

from Quiet Moments with Benedict Groeschel 120 Daily Readings #78

Daily Thought For March 7, 2019

Lent — A Time Of Spiritual Harvest

Lent is the autumn of the spiritual life during which we gather fruit to keep us going for the rest of the year. Enrich yourselves with these treasures, which nobody can take away from you and which cannot be destroyed. I am accustomed to say that we will not spend Lent well unless we are determined to make the most of it. Let us, therefore, spend this Lent as if it were our last, and we will make it well. Listen to the sermons, because holy words are pearls; they are ships of infinite mercy - the true ocean of the East. 

St. Francis de Sales — Letters 329; O. XIII, p. 144

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Daily Thought For March 6, 2019

Praying For A Fruitful Lent

Dear brothers and sisters, the “lenten” period of forty days spent by the Son of God in the desert of creation had the goal of making it once more that garden of communion with God that it was before original sin (cf. Mk 1:12-13; Is 51:3). May our Lent this year be a journey along that same path, bringing the hope of Christ also to creation, so that it may be “set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:21). Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain! Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion. Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch. Let us stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them. In this way, by concretely welcoming Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives, we will also radiate its transforming power to all of creation.

Pope Francis - Message For Lent 2019 (excerpt) 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Daily Thought For March 5, 2019

Tips For Growth In Charity

     Do not start thinking, "I would like to be a hermit. I would commit fewer sins against charity." On the contrary, profit from life in common with others to become better - to become holy. We are, without intending it, excellent instruments of humiliation and mortification for each other. Love others, not in spite of that, but because of it. 
     In the same way as strength is made perfect in weakness, charity is made perfect in temptations against charity. The occasion does not make the man; it shows what he is. It would be easy to be patient if there were no occasion for impatience. 
     I have spoken to you at length about abandonment. It rests above all on obedience. It must go further; it must go to the point of accepting, with a smile on your lips, the pinpricks, the thorns, and the contradictions which come to you every day, and very often during the day, from those near you. You have there a goldmine to exploit with many sacrifices. 
    You have good qualities — great qualities. Are you not a marvel of creation, made in the image of God? You are a masterpiece of His love, wounded, disfigured by sin, but remade by the Redeemer, more beautiful than before — and at what a price! You are loved with a great love of predilection. 
     Elevate your thoughts to that level when you look at your brothers and sisters. Think of their souls and see especially their good qualities. Ask in your prayers to see the beauty of the souls which surround you. A soul in a state of grace is the dwelling place of the Father and of Jesus, the temple of the Holy Spirit. It participates in the intimate life of the three Divine Persons. If I could see the splendor of such a soul, I would die from the vision. Lord, increase my faith, so that, not stopping at externals but penetrating beyond them, I may know how to contemplate these divine realities. 
    "Lord, that I may see."
     I do not love my neighbor only for the love of God, as is sometimes said. I love him for himself and have an immense respect for him. We have a tendency to become obsessed by the faults of those around us. That is understandable: it is their faults which make us suffer, and this suffering, in tum, reminds us of them continually. Yet do not I, myself, have even worse faults? We always come back to the case of the mote and the beam! Faults are ugly. Why not look at the virtues which are beautiful? I told you that you must apply yourselves to seeing things with the eyes of Jesus, as He sees them, to loving what He loves. 
     What does our Lord see in our actions? The intention which motivates us. It is that which gives value to our actions. But the good intentions of others so often escape our notice. Do not judge intentions. I assure you, it has happened to me that, having ascribed a bad intention to someone, I have later had the proof, neat and clear, that I was wrong, that he had something completely different in mind than what I thought. What a lesson! As much as you can, ascribe good intentions to your neighbor. (I say "as much as you can," because at times, of course, the contrary is as plain as daylight.) Do not put final labels on others, as if no correction were possible. Shun definitive labels, especially with children. If you are tempted to prefer yourself to others, you can always think, "If So-and-so had received the graces I have received, would he not be much better than I am?" 

from "I Believe In Love — A personal retreat based on the teaching of St. Thérèse of Liseiux" by Fr. Jean C. J. D'Elbée pp.143-145

Monday, March 4, 2019

Daily Thought For March 4, 2019

Live Life Well!


Lectio

Mark 10:17–27

Meditatio

“Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said.…”

I don’t think Jesus liked flattery. When the rich man runs up, falls to his knees, and hails Jesus as “Good Teacher,” the Master objects at once. Their dialogue doesn’t have a happy beginning. But Jesus does reply to the man’s question. He summarizes some of the commandments, including deference to parents—which suggests that the man is young.

Jesus’ questioner replies eagerly that he has kept all the commandments since early adolescence.

Now the dialogue reaches its high point. Jesus looks at the rich young man with love and invites him to take the further step of selling his property and becoming an itinerant disciple. The man’s face falls, and he leaves in sadness.

What had he expected? Perhaps he had wanted to be a disciple part time, without having to sell his possessions and give away the proceeds. It seems that the rich young man wanted the best of two worlds.

This makes me reflect: how important it is to pray for the men and women whom God is calling! So many other appeals come at them from all sides! Even if we don’t know anyone by name, we can pray for all those unknown vocations, that “the world, the flesh, and the devil” won’t lure those men and women elsewhere.

It has been pointed out that one of the best ways to foster religious vocations is to live one’s own vocation well. May all of us—religious, priests, married couples, and single laypeople—live our own state in life well and enthusiastically! Let’s do so while praying that the Lord may shower many graces on the young (and not-so-young) people whom he is calling to the priesthood and religious life.

Oratio

Jesus, Divine Master, our world is filled with much more noise than the bleating of horns, the babble of voices, the blaring of music, and the cacophony of ring tones. There are siren songs that may smother your still, small voice speaking to the hearts of men and women whom you wish to follow you more closely. How can they hear you in the midst of all this din? Please break through their “deafness,” as you did with Saint Augustine. I offer you my resolution to live my own vocation with dedication and joy. Please accept my life as a continuous prayer for the men and women you want to follow you in the ordained and consecrated life.

Contemplatio

Live life well!


Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 1–17: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 132–133). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Daily Thought For March 1, 2019

Remember This When Life Gets Tough

The most holy and important practice in the spiritual life is the presence of God - that is, every moment to take great pleasure that God is with you. 

Brother Lawrence