Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Daily Thought For December 31, 2019

Redemptive Suffering And A Miracle

Some people call her the Mother Teresa of Mexico. Madre Ines Valdivia Gonzalez is in her late eighties but still runs an orphanage for children with mental and physical disabilities, Casa Hogar La Divina Providencia, near Mexico City. Despite the poverty and suffering within its walls, the Casa is a place of joy, laughter and peace. Among the many miracles that have taken place there is the following, which Madre Ines recounted to a missionary friend of mine who often visits the orphanage. 
     A man visited the Casa who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He shared with Madre that since he did not have much time left on earth, he realized he had better get, right with God. He decided to visit the orphanage as a way of doing a good deed. She gave him a tour of the facility, including the upper floor where the most severely handicapped children live. Madre Ines considers these her most precious charges, believing that their souls are already in some way in God's presence. Most of them simply lie on cots, drooling, incapable of movement or speech. 

     As the visitor walked through the room, the limp hand of one boy brushed against him, so he sat down and held the boy's hand for a few minutes as the child gazed intently into his eyes. He felt good reaching out to this profoundly disadvantaged person. After a few minutes he smiled and walked on. 
     The next day he woke up feeling better than he had in some time. The next day he felt even better, and the next day better still. He went back to his doctor, and after some tests was informed that his body was completely cancer-free. When he called Madre Ines to share the good news, she told him that shortly after his visit, the boy whose hand he had held had passed away. 

from Healing − Bringing the Gift of God's Mercy to the World by Mary Healy pp.125-126




Sunday, December 29, 2019

Daily Thought For December 29, 2019

 A Prayer For Families

Lord God, from You every family in Heaven and on earth takes its name.

Father, You are love and life. Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, born of woman, and through the Holy Spirit, the fountain of divine charity, grant that every family on earth may become for each successive generation a true shrine of life and love.
Grant that Your grace may guide the thoughts and actions of husbands and wives for the good of their families and of all the families in the world.

Grant that the young may find in the family solid support for their human dignity and for their growth in truth and love.
Grant that love, strengthened by the grace of the sacrament of marriage, may prove mightier than all the weaknesses and trials through which our families sometimes pass.

Through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that the Church may fruitfully carry out her worldwide mission in the family and through the family.


We ask this of You, Who is life, truth and love with the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

St. John Paul II

Friday, December 27, 2019

Daily Thought For December 27, 2019

Emmanuel - Bring Your Light!

May Emmanuel bring light to all the suffering members of our human family. May he soften our often stony and self-centred hearts, and make them channels of his love. May he bring his smile, through our poor faces, to all the children of the world: to those who are abandoned and those who suffer violence. Through our frail hands, may he clothe those who have nothing to wear, give bread to the hungry and heal the sick. Through our friendship, such as it is, may he draw close to the elderly and the lonely, to migrants and the marginalized. On this joyful Christmas Day, may he bring his tenderness to all and brighten the darkness of this world.

excerpt from 2019 Urbi et Orbi Message - Pope Francis

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Daily Thought For December 24, 2019

The Dawn From On High Has Broken Upon Us!


Lectio

Luke 1:67–79

Meditatio

  “… the daybreak from on high will visit us.…”

This promised daybreak is the One whose birth we celebrate tomorrow. More than two thousand years ago he came to shine on those who lived in darkness. He brought hope and healing and forgiveness of sins. He died out of love for us, and he destroyed the finality of death by his resurrection. He sent his followers to continue his mission, and he said he would be with them until the end of the world.

So … why do we still dwell “in the shadow of death”? Why are we not on the “way of peace,” but instead are on the way of war, confusion, and hatred? Why have we not yet been set free of all this?

Yes, the dawn has broken, but we do not yet enjoy the full light of day. The Incarnation ended the night, but the complete fulfillment of the promise will occur only when Jesus comes again at the end of the world. (The name of the liturgical season that ends today—Advent—means “coming.” It refers to both comings of Jesus—his first coming as a baby, and his final coming at the world’s end.)
In apostolic times, believers ardently looked forward to Jesus’ coming again. From them we have the acclamation, “Maranatha!,” which means, “Come, Lord!” They seem to have thought that the parousia, the second coming, would happen very soon, most likely within their lifetimes.

Over the centuries, as the parousia has not occurred, we have lost much of the expectation and longing the first Christians had. We certainly look askance at those who say they expect the coming of Jesus in their lifetime. But why? Maybe we need some reminders that this world is not all there is. Jesus will come again, and then he will establish endless day!

Oratio

Jesus, I wasn’t there for your first coming, and I have no idea when your final coming will be. But every day you come to me in so many ways. You speak to me in the Scriptures, in prayer, through the kindness of others, and in the opportunities for doing good that are your gift to me. You come to me in the sacrament of Reconciliation and in Holy Communion. Help me renew my expectation for these comings, so that I am always on the watch for you everywhere.

Contemplatio

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!


Daughters of Saint Paul. (2009). Advent Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 78–79). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Daily Thought For December 23, 2019

What Will This Child Be?


Lectio

Luke 1:57–66

Meditatio

“What, then, will this child be?”

As each of my nieces and nephews was born (and especially when I had a chance to see them soon after birth), a feeling of awe and wonder struck me. What a little bundle of potential a newborn baby is! Each child is a mystery. What will he become? What will she be like?

We can spot some clues—long feet and toes indicating future height, for example. We can surmise some likely possibilities—the prospect of inheriting gifts and inclinations from artistic, athletic, or musically gifted parents, for instance. But no one except God can know for sure anything about the future deeds, accomplishments, influence, or lifespan of the child. And only a foolish person would claim to know the future.

A child like John, the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, is the focus of wonder because each child is a gift from God to the world—a sign that God has not finished with us yet.

The extraordinary circumstances around John’s birth make people take notice. Obviously, God is involved because this baby would not even have been conceived in the normal way of things. But God is involved in each child’s life, and indeed each person’s, no matter at what stage of life, no matter what a person may have done or not done previously. Every human being has marvelous potential and is a mystery known only to God.

Sometimes we sell each other and ourselves short. We might look at a person or at ourselves and feel that our future paths are already laid out. That is not true. God always provides the grace needed to change. We can always change direction or focus, or deepen our commitment, or repent of our selfishness, and allow God to transform us. The Baby born in Bethlehem reminds us of this.

Oratio

God, my Father, thank you for the gift that every single child is to the world. Thank you for the renewal of wonder, awe, and hope that every baby brings. Is that why your Son came as a baby—to awaken in people a new hope in your grace at work in the world?
I am a mystery of your grace. Thank you for the gift of being able to begin again. Help me never to despair of the possibility of change, either in myself or those around me.

Contemplatio

What will you do in me today, Lord?


Daughters of Saint Paul. (2009). Advent Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 76–77). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Daily Thought For December 21, 2019

A Great Prayer In Preparation For Christmas

May each Christmas, as it comes, find us more and more like Him, who at this time became a little child for our sake, more simple-minded, more humble, more holy, more affectionate, more resigned, more happy, more full of God.

Saint John Henry Newman

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Daily Thought For December 19, 2019

Not To Us Lord Give The Glory

Sometimes we look to others, hoping for their esteem, or respect, or honor; at other times, we might look to God, expecting his favor or consolation in prayer.  In more or less hidden ways, we can come to expect such spiritual recompense.

Christ teaches us the principle that helps us to purify our intentions: without cost you are to give because without cost you have received.  And what have we received?  Grace, God’s own life within us, animating and elevating us to be his instruments, to serve as conduits, as it were, of that very same grace.  Of his own initiative and without cost, God offers us this greatest of gifts.  

When we do the Lord’s work as laborers for his harvest, it really is his harvest, because the fruit of our work results principally from his work in us, from his original gift (cf. Phil 2:13).  Without cost, the Master works in us and through us, enabling and ennobling us in this work; so let us imitate the Master and give to others also without cost.


Generous Father, you give yourself to me without reserve, without limit, and all of this without cost.  Help me to imitate your generosity, working for no reward apart from the joy of knowing and loving you. 

(Scott G. Hefelfinger, The Magnificat Advent Companion, Advent 2019, p. 25.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Daily Thought For December 18, 2019

Let It Be Done Unto Me!

We must, however, remember that Mary pronounced her fiat willingly and joyfully. How often do we repeat the word with poorly hidden resignation and, tight lipped, murmur, “If it can­not be avoided, well then, let your will be done!” Mary teaches us to say it in a different way. Knowing that God’s will is infinitely more beautiful and richer in promises than any of our own plans, and knowing that God is infinite love and nourishes “plans for welfare and not for evil for us” (see Jer 29:11), let us say, full of desire and almost impatiently, as Mary did: Let your will of love and peace be fulfilled in me, O God!


In this way the meaning of human life and its greatest dignity is fulfilled. To say yes, amen, to God does not decrease man’s dignity, as modern man often thinks; instead, it exalts it. And what is the alternative to this amen said to God? Modern phi­losophy itself, especially the existential stream, has clearly demon­strated man’s need to say amen, and if it is not said to God, who is love, it must be said to something else that is simply a cold and paralyzing necessity: to destiny or fate.

excerpt from Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa's 1st Advent Reflection (December 6, 2019) Click here for full text. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Daily Thought For December 17, 2019

God Has Pushed Through

Friends, today we read the opening lines of Matthew’s Gospel—the first words that one reads in the New Testament. They are a listing of the genealogy of Jesus, the forty-two generations that stretch from Abraham to Christ. If the Word truly dwelt among us, then he was part of a family that, like most, was fairly dysfunctional—a mix of the good and bad. And this is such good news for us.

Let me highlight just two figures from Jesus’ family. First, Ruth, who was not an Israelite but rather a Moabite, a foreigner. Some of you reading this feel like outsiders, not part of the “in” crowd, looked at askance by others. Well, the Messiah came forth from Ruth the foreigner and was pleased to be her relative.

Then there is Rahab, a prostitute living and working in Jericho. Are there people reading these words who feel like Rahab? Who think that their whole lives have been sunk in sin? Well, the Messiah came forth from Rahab the prostitute, and he was pleased to be her relative. 

The good news of Christmas is that God himself pushed into the dysfunctional and ambiguous family of man.


Reflect: How can you better reach out and embrace the Ruths and Rahabs in your own family?

Bishop Robert Baron Advent Reflections December 17, 2019

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Daily Thought For December 14, 2019

St. John of The Cross

Friends, today we celebrate the memorial of the great Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross.

We find ourselves, St. John of the Cross taught, in the midst of a good and beautiful world, but we are meant finally for union with God. Therefore, the soul has to become free from its attachments to finite things so as to be free for communion with God.

This purification first involves what John called “the night of the senses” (the letting go of physical and sensual pleasures), and it continues with “the night of the soul” (a detachment from the mental images that one can use as a substitute for God).

Like all purifications, this one is painful, especially if one’s attachment to these finite things is intense. It will often manifest itself, John of the Cross said, as dryness in prayer and a keen sense of the absence and even abandonment of God.

In this process, God is not toying with the soul; rather, he is performing a kind of surgery upon it, cutting certain things away so that its life might intensify.


Reflect: Have you ever experienced dryness in prayer or the sense of being abandoned by God? How does your faith carry you through these times?

Bishop Robert Baron Advent Reflections

Friday, December 13, 2019

Daily Thought For December 13, 2019

Jesus Is Mary's Joy!

And from this derives the third thing that Mary Immaculate tells us. She speaks of joy, that authentic joy which spreads in hearts freed from sin. Sin brings with it a negative sadness that leads to withdrawal into self. Grace brings true joy that does not depend on possessions but is rooted in the innermost self, in the depths of the person, and nothing and no one can remove it. Christianity is essentially an “evangelo”, “Good News”, whereas some think of it as an obstacle to joy because they see it as a collection of prohibitions and rules.

Christianity is actually the proclamation of the victory of Grace over sin, of life over death. And if it entails self-denial and discipline of the mind, of the heart and of behavior, it is precisely because in the human being there is a poisonous root of selfishness which does evil to oneself and to others. It is thus necessary to learn to say “no” to the voice of selfishness and “yes” to that of genuine love. Mary’s joy is complete, for in her heart there is not a shadow of sin. This joy coincides with the presence of Jesus in her life: Jesus conceived and carried in her womb, then as a child entrusted to her motherly care, as an adolescent, a young man and an adult; Jesus seen leaving home, followed at a distance with faith even to the Cross and to the Resurrection; Jesus is Mary’s joy and is the joy of the Church, of us all.

In this Season of Advent Mary Immaculate teaches us to listen to the voice of God who speaks in silence; to welcome his Grace that sets us free from sin and from all selfishness in order thereby to taste true joy. Mary, full of grace, pray for us!

excerpt from the Speech of Pope Benedict XVI December 8, 2012 (Address at the Spanish Steps in Veneration of The Blessed Virgin Mary click here for full message.


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Daily Thought For December 11, 2019

Focus

The soul that unites itself to God has one aspiration: LOVE

Blessed James Alberione

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Daily Thought For December 10, 2019

Remaining Hidden

“It's through the cross that we reach the resurrection. We should be absolutely sure of this truth, and we should keep this cross hidden and not place it on the shoulders of others. It is our cross we have to carry. It is the one God has given us to go through into His resurrection. This is the one we should keep hidden.

But there are crosses and crosses, some of our own making. These we should immediately discard. Some permitted by God for our sanctification. These we can share for they are also for the sanctification of others. True, we can help to carry other people's crosses and they can help to carry our crosses, but the operative word is "hidden."

The Lord said, "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men," and "When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Mt 6:16-18)


Our very hiddenness becomes a light if we do not complain, if we carry our cross manfully, ready to help in the carrying of other people's crosses. Then we become a light to our neighbor's feet because we become an icon of Christ—shining!” 

Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Sobornost: Experiencing Unity of Mind, Heart and Soul

Friday, December 6, 2019

Daily Thought For December 6, 2019

Does This Shock You?

     "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day; For my flesh is true food, 
and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father 
sent me and 1 have life because of the Father, so also the one, who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever." These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. 
     Then many of his disciples who were listening said; "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you?" 

- John 6:53-61, NAB 

     Jesus is obedience incarnate. He is nothing other and nothing less than everything the Father gives to him. To consume his 
words, his works, his example, and, in the end, to consume his very life - his body and blood - is to receive his uninterrupted obedience to the Father. Those who eat his flesh and drink his blood receive this direct gift through him, "that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I am in you" (In 17:21, NAB). 
    Does it shock you that this gift would be so simple? Does it shock you that he gives what he receives and holds nothing back? Does it shock you that we who receive him receive everything? Does it shock you that his gift calms our jittery hearts and tames our wandering desires? Does it shock you that his life becomes our life, a life we are to share in common and give freely to others? 
     To receive Jesus can never be reduced to an intellectual exercise or an affair of the affections. He who receives everything from the Father and offers everything 'back to the Father gives everything of himself to us. To live means to receive from him and be transformed through his gift to give of our very selves in his company. 
     This saying is hard, indeed; who could accept it? Who could accept such a gift from anyone else, let alone from the one who is the Father's own love? Who could give themselves so completely in response to such a complete gift? I understand the disciples' murmurings. 
     Murmuring is what we do when we are dissatisfied, afraid, skeptical, or even outright cynical. Maybe it is right to assume that the disciples were scared by the apparent physicality of what 
Jesus says. But what is even scarier is standing before a gift so absolute, so full, that no partial reception will suffice. They are being drawn into total intimacy. 
     We shudder at all kinds of intimacy, when someone bares their soul to us and asks us to receive them, wholly and completely as they are. This happens rarely, but it is shocking every time. It is an invitation to receive this person. We are often inclined to hesitate, to stammer, to murmur. What a shocking gift. We fear intimacy; intimacy demands that we strip ourselves of our defenses, our guile, our lingering distrust. 
     The two in the garden of Eden were naked without shame, but the serpent was full of guile, the shrewdest of all creatures (cf. Gn 2:25-3:1). We have become accustomed to that guile, and we have forgotten how to stand before each other transparently; we prefer to hide ourselves from each other and from God. But in God there is no guile, only intimacy. Jesus gives himself in this kind of intimacy, in response to the intimacy of the Father's gift to him (and this intimacy is the Holy Spirit). And so Jesus speaks of baring himself to those who will receive him. To receive him will be to receive the one who sent him' (cf In 13:20). It means being drawn into that sacred intimacy. 
     The intimacy of Christ's gift strips us of our defenses, if only we will receive him, open to that intimacy. He will be our food, our drink, our communion within the eternal communion. 


Prayer 

Lord help me to receive what I lack. 

from A God Who Questions by Leonard J. DeLorenzo pp. 79-81


Thursday, December 5, 2019

Daily Thought For December 5, 2019

Transformation Into Christ

O, my Jesus, 
May our feet journey together. May our hands gather in unity. 
May our hearts beat to the same rhythm. May our soul be in harmony. 
May our thoughts be in unison. 
May our ears listen to the silence together. May our glances melt in one another. 
May our lips beg the heavenly Father together to obtain mercy on souls. 

So that it is no longer I who live, but You Christ, who lives in me. Amen. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Daily Thought For December 3, 2019

Tears of Joy!

I am in a country where all the niceties of life are lacking.
But I am filled with many inner consolations. Indeed, I run the risk of crying my eyes out because of my tears of joy!

St. Francis Xavier

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Daily Thought For December 1, 2019

Advent ⏤ The Celebration of an "Overwhelming Reality"

 As we all know, “advent” means “coming”, “presence”, and in ancient times it meant, precisely, the arrival of the king or emperor in a specific province. For Christians the word means a marvelous and overwhelming reality: God himself has crossed the threshold of his heaven and has lowered himself to man; he has made a covenant with him, entering the history of a people; he is a king who came down to this poor province which is the earth, and made a gift to us of his visit, taking our flesh and becoming a man like us. Advent invites us to retrace the journey of this presence and reminds us over and over again that God did not take himself away from the world, he is not absent, he has not left us to ourselves, but comes to meet our needs in various ways that we must learn to discern. And we too, with our faith, our hope and our charity, are called every day to perceive this presence and to witness to it in the world that is often superficial and distracted, and to make the light that illuminated the Grotto of Bethlehem shine out.


Excerpt from The General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI December 12, 2012

Daily Thought For April 2, 2020

Be Still THANK ME for the conditions that are requiring you to be still. Do not spoil these quiet hours by wishing them away, waiting imp...