Friday, May 31, 2013

Saturday of the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time "From Heaven or Earth?"

Jesus and his disciples returned once more to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the Temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, "By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?" Jesus said to them, "I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me." They argued with one another, "If we say, ´From heaven,´ he will say, ´Why then did you not believe him?´ But shall we say, ´Of human origin´?” - they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things." (Mark 11:27-33)

Introductory Prayer:  Once again, Lord, I come to you to pray. Even though I cannot see you, I trust that you are present and want very much to instruct me in your teachings. In the same way you demonstrate your love for me by spending this time with me, I want to express my love for you by dedicating this time to you with a spirit of faith, confidence and attention. Here I am, Lord, to listen to you and respond with love.

Petition: Jesus grant me true sincerity and uprightness of life.

1. The Day After  It was the day after Jesus had caused an uproar in the Temple at Jerusalem, the like of which had not been seen for a long time. Jesus had overturned the moneychangers’ tables and driven out the animals. Anyone else would surely have landed in prison, but this was Christ, and his hour had not yet come. Still the chief priests and scribes are looking for an explanation –– or better an excuse –– to accuse Jesus. He shrewdly answers their inquiry with a question that they cannot answer for fear of revealing their insincerity before the crowds. How this insincerity on the part of the scribes and Pharisees offended Our Lord! He would not speak to them plainly because their purpose was to twist his words. Do I detest insincerity as well? Do I find traces of dishonesty in my own life? Am I more concerned about what others think or about what Christ thinks?

2. Why Did You Not Believe in Him?  Jesus did not say these words, but they knew he could have. Their troubled consciences were aware it would have been a fitting accusation. Why had they not believed in the precursor of the Lord? Was it not for the same reasons that they would not believe in the Lord himself? John the Baptist had called them on their insincerity. They went to receive his baptism of repentance, but they did not really mean to amend their lives. Would Jesus have to reproach me for any insincerity? Do I ever go to receive the sacrament of penance without a real desire to change my life? Or do I avoid confession altogether because I really don’t see anything in my behavior that needs to change? 

3. We Do Not Know  This is certainly not the first or the last time that ignorance is pleaded to avoid the consequences of the truth, but this kind of ignorance is clearly culpable. The speakers were not uneducated men, but rather the leaders of God’s people, responsible for guiding them along the way of God’s covenant. While it was generally accepted that John the Baptist had been a great prophet who stirred sinners to repentance with his preaching and example of austerity, the Jewish authorities were unwilling to accept that anyone besides themselves could claim any authority in God’s name. Truly they did know, but they were unwilling to accept the truth. Do I ever lean on ignorance in plowing forward with some action that I’m not sure is quite right?

Conversation with Christ:  Lord Jesus, at times I know what your will for me is, but it costs me greatly to put it into practice. Sometimes I am too worried about what others think and say, or I am afraid of the consequences. Grant me a spirit of sincerity and strength always to accept and follow your will.

Resolution:  I will arrive a little early to Mass tomorrow in order to spend a few quiet moments with Our Lord asking for the grace of always being sincere and upright in my actions.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary "Pentecost Anticipated"

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary´s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid´s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever." Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home. (Luke 1:39-56)

Introductory Prayer:Lord, I believe in your supreme goodness and love. I entrust my entire self to you with all of my hopes, fears and joys. Thank you for giving us the gift of yourself in the Eucharist. Thank you, too, for giving us your own mother to be our mother during our exile on this earth and journey home to you in heaven. Here I am, like her, to do your will.

Petition:Mary, help me to grow in humility.

1. Prompt and Joyful Charity: What has impelled Mary to undertake her perilous journey not only alone, but also in haste? An irresistible force was acting within Mary: the presence of the Holy Spirit overshadowed and filled her since the moment of the Annunciation. This same Holy Spirit has filled the heart of Elizabeth at Mary’s greeting and moved the infant within her womb. What is the first fruit of the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Joy. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI comments on the relationship of joy to the truth who is Christ himself: “Jesus Christ, who is the fullness of truth, attracts to himself the heart of every man, dilates it, and fills it with joy. Only the truth is capable of invading the mind and making it fully joyful. This joy expands the dimensions of the human spirit, raising it from the anxieties of egoism, making it capable of authentic love” (Discourse to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, February 10, 2005).

2. Elizabeth – The Unworthy Host: Elizabeth’s moving question reflects the one virtue necessary for a person to be invaded by the Holy Spirit: humility. Elizabeth is profoundly aware of her own lowliness in the face of a visit from the mother of her Lord. Mary herself echoes these sentiments of deep humility throughout her Magnificat. What is the reason her Creator has done great things for her, so much so that all generations will call her blessed? It is not due to any talent or quality she might possess of herself. There is no magnificent grandeur by which she has captivated the Almighty. God has simply “looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness.” Do I rejoice in my own littleness, knowing that it enables the Holy Spirit to make his dwelling within me and do great things for Christ with my life?

3. The Hymn of God’s Praise: Mary is so filled with the Holy Spirit that her whole being bursts forth in a hymn of joy and praise to the Almighty. Pope Emeritus Benedict reflects on Mary’s joy at the infant Lord’s presence within her womb: “This is the joy the heart feels when we kneel to adore Jesus in faith” (Discourse to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, February 10, 2005). The joy of Christ, the joy of the Holy Spirit, gratitude to God for the great things he has done in us, impels us to bring Our Lord to others, just as Mary brought him to Elizabeth even before his birth. As she sings her Magnificat, Mary does not remain closed within herself, but reflects on what God has done for her in light of his saving plan for all his people. May the joy of the Holy Spirit bring about a new Pentecost that radiates from our lives.

Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord! The great gift of your Holy Spirit fills our lives with the unspeakable joy of your own presence within us. Help me to respond with haste -- as Mary did -- to the impulses of charity from the Holy Spirit.

Resolution:I will look for occasions to speak about Christ with others and do acts of charity for them with joy and haste, just as Mary did in the Gospel.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thursday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time “Go!"

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10: 46-52)

Introductory Prayer:Once again, Lord, I come to you to pray. Even though I cannot see you, I trust that you are present and very much want to instruct me in your teachings. In the same way that you demonstrate your love for me by spending this time with me, I want to express my love for you, by dedicating this time to you with a spirit of faith, confidence and attention. Here I am, Lord, to listen to you and respond with love.

Petition:Lord, grant me to be a courageous witness of you and your Kingdom.

1. Listen: We need to hear Christ telling us in our hearts to go and preach with our lives. We spend so much time thinking about ourselves and not about Jesus and his Kingdom. Through baptism he has called us not just to know about our faith, but to act on it and share it with others. The blind beggar was attentive to Jesus passing by; this attentiveness was the first step to his cure.

2. Shout: Christ wants us to be as St. Paul was: bold in preaching and defending the truth. He wants us to overcome human respect. Many times we catch ourselves being influenced by what others think and say, and we are incapable of being ourselves. The world tries to intimidate us by laughing at us and making us look ridiculous. What they really want to do is just force us to live our faith in a private manner without bearing witness to Christ and the truth. At those times we should be like Bartimaeus—crying out even more loudly, standing up for what is right, and sticking by it at all times. It’s going to cost us, but then again, didn’t it cost Christ his life to stand up for the truth?

3. See: Blind Bartimaeus’ life would never again be the same. He was completely transformed by Christ interiorly—even his physical ailment was cured. He could see again. “To see” means to understand our life and all it entails from God’s perspective. “To see” means that we are happy fulfilling God’s will for us, no matter what God is asking of us.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I ask you to help me to see the great things you are doing in my life. Help me to see the moments of the cross as true opportunities to grow in my personal relationship with you.

Resolution:I will use Jesus Christ’s name and example in a conversation I have with someone today.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wednesday of the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time "On Sitting and Serving"

The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the Twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again." James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." And he said to them, "What is it you want me to do for you?" And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They replied, "We are able." Then Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared." When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many." (Mark 10:32-45)

Introductory Prayer:Once again, Lord, I come to you to pray. Even though I cannot see you, I trust that you are present and very much want to instruct me in your teachings. In the same way that you demonstrate your love for me by spending this time with me, I want to express my love for you by dedicating this time to you with a spirit of faith, confidence and attention. Here I am, Lord, to listen to you and respond with love.

Petition:Lord, help me imitate your example of loving service.

1. Jesus Sets His Face Toward Jerusalem: Jesus is walking ahead of his disciples, firm and determined. A few of those following him are growing uneasy, but James and John seem not to grasp the seriousness of the situation. Jesus is accompanied, but in a certain sense, he is alone. Again and again he has tried to explain to his followers that his mission will lead him to be rejected and mocked and eventually to suffer the cruelest of deaths. But they seem incapable of grasping the message; from their vantage point, none of this makes any sense. At times we, too, hear Christ’s words about taking up our cross daily and losing our life for his sake, and we are either terrified at the prospect or its meaning eludes us. Jesus, however, continues inviting us to follow in his footsteps and carry our daily crosses with our eyes fixed on our heavenly home, the New Jerusalem.

2. The Ambitions of James and John: James and John were hand-picked disciples of the Lord. Jesus had often allowed them to accompany him when he went off alone to pray. They both felt a deep affection for Our Lord, and so it is not surprising that they wished to be near him when he entered into his glory. Jesus doesn’t reproach them for their petition even though it comes at a moment when his heart is burdened with deeper concerns. Rather, Jesus invites them to reflect on the consequences of their request. To be on Jesus’ right and left in his glory means to pass through a similar trial as the one he must soon undergo –– they would have to be situated on his right and left on the day he is lifted up on the cross. Jesus also invites us to “seek the things above” and place our ambitions on heavenly sights and not earthly glory. If our love for Jesus is true, then it must withstand the test of trial and suffering.

3. The True Meaning of Authority: Most of us prefer to command than obey. Ambition quickly leads to rivalry and bitter feelings, as happened to the twelve apostles. Jesus quickly intervenes and gives us a valuable lesson on the meaning of authority, a lesson to be taken to heart. Authority of any kind has only one purpose: service. Do I view the authority that I have been given as a service? Am I more concerned about being obeyed –– immediately and exactly –– than about setting an example for others? How can I be more like Jesus in exercising my authority? Do I realize this is a specific way of picking up my cross and following after Jesus?

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, help me to be zealous for the things of above. Do not allow my heart to be ambitious but rather be meek and gentle like yours.

Resolution:I will seek to serve others no matter who they are.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time "The Rewards of Self Denial"

Peter began to say to Jesus, "We have given up everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first." (Mark 10:28-31)

Introductory Prayer: Once again, Lord, I come to you to pray. Even though I cannot see you, I trust that you are present and want very much to instruct me in your teachings. In the same way that you demonstrate your love for me by spending this time with me, I want to express my love for you by dedicating this time to you with a spirit of faith, confidence and attention. Here I am, Lord, to listen to you and respond with love.

Petition: Lord, help me to have a pure intention in my acts of self-denial.

1. Peter’s Question: At first glance Peter seems to be selfish, as if he were saying, “We have given up everything, now what’s in it for us?” His question is not prompted by selfishness, but rather is a response to Jesus’ previous statement that it is very hard for a rich man to enter heaven. In light of the difficulty of riches, Peter wants to know what the chances of entering the kingdom of God will be for someone who has given up everything to follow Christ. How detached from material possessions must we be in order to be assured a place in heaven? Jesus does not give us a concrete answer to this question, but he does tell us that those who have given up everything will not only receive a reward of eternal life in the age to come, but also ample reward in this life.

2. The Real Motivation: Reward is not given only to those who simply give things up, but rather to those who give things up for the sake of Christ and for love of the Gospel. Sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice — or for that matter, sacrifice for a selfish reason — is worth nothing in God’s eyes. Sacrifice has value only when it is done for the sake of Christ and his Gospel, for love. Our intention in self-denial must be to glorify Christ or to witness to the Gospel message. Is this the real motivation of my self-denial?

3. Eternal Life: The reward for our self-denial begins in this life and has its culmination in the life to come. The difference between one and the other is that in this life there are also persecutions. In this life we enjoy both the love of Christ and suffering persecutions for his sake. This life is a life of purification of our love, purification of our intentions. By proving our love now, we will enjoy life with Christ for all eternity.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know how attached I am to myself, my possessions and my comforts. Help me to give up what I need to give up — out of love for you and your Gospel, not out of love for myself or what I might get out of it. Help me not to be afraid to deny myself for the sake of drawing nearer to you.

Resolution: I will give up something that keeps me from drawing closer to God.



Sunday, May 26, 2013

Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time "The Price Is Right and the Choice Is Yours"

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother." He replied and said to him, "Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth." Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!" The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, "Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God." (Mark 10: 17-27)

Introductory Prayer:Once again, Lord, I come to you to pray. Even though I cannot see you, I trust that you are present and want very much to instruct me in your teachings. In the same way you demonstrate your love for me by spending this time with me, I want to express my love for you by dedicating this time to you with a spirit of faith, confidence and attention. Here I am, Lord, to listen to you and respond with love.

Petition:Lord, help me to be detached from the goods of this world so I can follow you more closely.

1. God Is Good: The rich young man recognized Christ’s goodness. He kneels down before him knowing that Jesus possesses something that he does not have. What is it? The spirit of unconditional love. Christ leads us out of ourselves and asks us to trust him more. And so, Pope Emeritus Benedict encourages us, “I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life” (Homily, April 24, 2005).

2. Looking at the Good Side of Things: It is easy to dwell on the cost of something. The young man’s face falls because he looks more at the cost than at the reward. The price is something that he would feel now, while the reward is something that will come later. How often in life do we experience this truth! The world we live in seeks instant gratification without wanting to pay the price. Rather than concentrating on the cost, we should focus on the benefits promised by God. We will discover that the cost is small and the benefits last forever. Do I have spiritual endurance? Am I am able to wait for the Lord and patiently invest in eternal goods now?

3. Detachment: Saint Paul tells us that nothing can outweigh the knowledge of Christ Jesus. But in this man’s case, he had allowed something else to outweigh Christ. Comfort, security and material things beat the invitation of Christ to be perfect. Attachments lead to sadness; there is no room for God in a heart that is already full of the things of this world. Only detachment leads to true joy. God gives himself to the one who seeks him without any strings attached.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me to live a life of freedom. Help me to recognize your goodness. May my faith always see the good side of things, seeing all in my life as an opportunity to love you. I want to be attached to you and detached completely from my sinfulness.

Resolution:I will pick one thing that I can detach myself from today.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity "The Mystery of Trinitarian Love "

Jesus said to his disciples: I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-15)


Introductory Prayer: Lord, help me to turn to you. Help me to keep this time holy and sacred. Let every thought of my mind and movement of my heart bepleasing to you. 

Petition: Lord, grant me the grace to live the truth, cost what it may. 

1. Living the Truth. Jesus continues to speak of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity. We see first of all his task of leading us to the truth. He guides our conscience to know Gods plan for our life, the good to be done. The Holy Spirit comes to guide us and help us. Life has a way of becoming complicated. It is not always easy to know what we should or shouldnt do. This is where we need to develop a friendship with the Holy Spirit. We need to exercise faith in his presence in our life and action in our soul. We need to listen to his voice and be prompt in obeying his call. 

2. Speaking the Truth. The Holy Spirit doesnt speakon his own. We see his humility. The Holy Spirit is a humble person. He doesnt speak on his own. He doesnt claim to know more than the Father or be more intelligent than the Son. He doesnt have a better or different plan. He doesnt seek first place, but seems to hide in the background. He is the perfect example of humility, seeking only the others good. He shows me the way: I too should speak the truth I learn from God. I need to faithfully transmit what God has revealed and entrusted to the Church, to submit my heart and mind to the Magisterium of the Church. 

3. Loving the Truth. Everything that the Father has belongs to the Son. They share everything. This is the mystery of their life. Everything of the Father is poured into the Son. Only being father remains to him. The Father generates a perfect image of himself, a divine son, the divine word that perfectly expresses the divine mind. They share everything. The love between them is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. Jesus reveals the mystery of Trinitarian life, a perfect communion of life and love. We are called to share in this communion of life and love, and to share it with others. 

Dialogue with Christ: Thank you Lord for the gift of your love. You give me what is most precious to you. You gave me your life on Calvary. You gave me your Mother Mary at the cross. You ascended into heaven to send me the Holy Spirit, and there you sit at the Fathers side interceding for me. Draw me to yourself. Let me never be parted from you.

Resolution: I will dedicate ten minutes to daily study time for the next week using it to look over the catechism or Sacred Scripture.



Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time "One Flesh"

Jesus came into the district of Judea and across the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them. Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:1-12)

Introductory Prayer:Lord Jesus, I believe in your immeasurable love reflected in your gift of the Eucharist. I believe that you call me to share in this gift with my own gift of self. I trust that you will grant me the light and desire to sacrifice myself and purify my love for you and others. I love you, Lord, with this prayer. May it increase the authenticity of the love expressed in my daily life.

Petition:Lord, help me to penetrate the meaning of “loving in the flesh.”

1. Docile or ‘Un-teachable’? Jesus taught those who gathered to learn from him that they should keep their hearts open and docile. The Pharisees gather not as learners, but as those who “know better.” They constantly look for problems and difficulties in Jesus’ teaching. Their aim is to test him, to find what is wrong, or to trap him in his words. This they never manage to do. From his teaching in the Temple at the age of 12 till the present, no one has spoken like him—with authority and truth. How do I approach the teaching of Jesus and his Church? Am I, with faith, open to learn and change my behavior, if necessary? Or do I, with a hardened heart, look for a way to affirm my own truth?

2. Hardness of Heart: To divorce or not to divorce? This question is not right! The correct question is: “How does God want us to love?” The difference lies in the state of our heart. The one who is open and loves God seeks to know his will. The one who is closed-minded is usually a slave of sin and so lacks the freedom to seek or know the truth. Such a person’s only objective is to justify what he or she wants. Divorce can be justified—it was by Moses. Why? Because of our hardness of hearts, our not being ready to live the fullness of real love. Jesus speaks the truth and gives the grace to live it. Do I allow him to challenge me to live beyond the minimal, beyond the borders of “Thou shalt not,” and to desire what he desires? What do I do to free myself from the sin and imperfections that keep me ignorant of God’s true will in my life?

3. The Flesh of God’s Plan: The “flesh” that God created was holy, a gift: a Temple of God and destined for eternal life. Jesus became flesh and then left us his flesh, because we had lost sight of its true value and sacredness. It may be only in the Eucharist that we can regain the truth of our flesh and of our vocation to love, to self-donation. Crucified-Christ shatters our fleshy tendency to self-gratification. It substitutes “one flesh,” one body, given for the life of others. The unity and indissolubility of marriage declare the key of love: We are no longer two but one flesh, one life, one interest, one vocation. Just as Jesus no longer can talk about “his own life” after giving us the Eucharist, so a married couple no longer can talk of “self,” but only of the gift of “what God has joined together.” What is my flesh for? The life of others?

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, free my heart from all its attachment to sin and selfishness. Grant me a desire to know your will. Purify my respect, love and appreciation for the sacredness of my body and that of others, the sacred unity of marriage, and the sacred gift of your flesh in the Eucharist.

Resolution:I will spend one hour in adoration reflecting with Christ on the gifts of life, love, marriage and the Eucharist, all seen more clearly in “his flesh.”


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Saturday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time "Children of the Kingdom"

People were bringing little children to Jesus in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he became indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16)

Introductory Prayer:Lord, I believe in your love and care for me and for my family. I believe that you call me to help protect, guide and inspire innocence and holiness in others. I trust that you will show me how to do this better. I love you, Lord, for the purity of your love, and I wish to love you with the fullness and innocence of my baptismal faith.

Petition:Lord Jesus, restore my innocence so I can draw nearer to you.

1. Two Visions: Again the poor disciples seem to miss the point, so Jesus sternly speaks to them: “Do not stop them!” Today many of us also fail to understand, and by our lack of understanding we prevent children from coming to Jesus. We think there are so many important activities for them to do—they need to keep up with the other kids, they need to compete, they need to do what they want—and the world heartily agrees. “Let the little children come to ‘me,’” it says with the raspy voice of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Only Jesus has the courage to insist, “Bring them to me, now.” Why is Jesus so anxious to touch, bless, teach and receive these children? Might it be that this is the critical age for them to know and love him as a friend? Do I do enough to let this happen, or do the customs of the world dwarf my efforts? To whom should my efforts belong?

2. “To Such as These” We all struggle to “enter the Kingdom” every day. We tend to be impatient to grow up and be independent. But then, as adults, we wish we had the innocence and simple lives of children, so better to love God. What has become of our innocence? We now know good and evil, and evil makes its presence felt, like the ring carried by Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. Is innocence worth preserving? Is it possible to recover? Our Lord suggests “yes” to both questions. If I desire to fight for the Kingdom, my battle should start by defending innocence, the only door to the Kingdom. Do I fight for it at home, in the media, on the Internet, at school, in the neighborhood, at work?

3. Receiving the Kingdom: “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child” applies to me each day of my life. Now, the grace of baptism does not disappear. It is renewed each time I pray, each time I offer God my life and day, and each time I prayerfully listen to his Word speak to me. So also, each time I gaze upon Jesus through the eyes of Mary with a rosary in hand, and each time I thank God for his many blessings. The more I experience Christ in the sacraments of the Eucharist and reconciliation, the more powerfully he renews this grace of receiving the Kingdom. The one common condition—that I trust like a little child—is the act of faith through which I enter in contact with the King. Innocence can be recovered and restored, but not without a childlike faith. How deliberately do I exercise this rejuvenating faith? Do I desire that Jesus take me up in his arms, lay his hands on me, and bless me each day?

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, renew my relationship with you. Make it as simple and sincere as that of a child. Renew my innocence as I strive to love you without pride or vanity. Increase my faith, as total and pure as when I was a child, so that I can live my baptism to the full.

Resolution:I will commit to fight for innocence in a more practical way: control the use of Internet or TV at home, get my children involved in a faith/virtue program, pray with them at night, take my family to confession, study Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, find a chastity program for young adolescents, etc.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time "Price of the Kingdom"

Jesus said to his disciples: “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose their reward. If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mark 9:41-50)

Introductory Prayer:Lord Jesus, I believe in your presence in my life. I believe that you consider those around me your children and that you ardently desire to possess them with love for all eternity. I trust that you will help me treat others as your brothers and sisters. I love you now with my prayer. May this prayer increase my desire to honor and serve you with my life.

Petition:Jesus, help me to set a good example for others out of love.

1. You Are Priceless: Jesus leaves us with no doubt: We are valuable. We all carry within us a God-given dignity. And this dignity is identified and enhanced when we bear his name. Every human being has an intrinsic dignity because every human being is created in God’s image. But this image of God is perfectly incarnated in Christ, God made man. So a baptized Christian—a Christ bearer—carries a more perfect image: Christ, in whom we are made children of God. It is little wonder, then, that Jesus assures a reward to anyone who serves us for his sake!

2. Every Little One Is Priceless: To carry his image is also a responsibility. We must live up to this dignity and show to others a life worthy of the image we carry within. Others may be “little” due to their age, the newness and immaturity of their Christian life, or even their weakness and struggle. We put a stumbling block in their way, we scandalize them, when our behavior causes them to doubt or become discouraged about living the ideals of faith. A “millstone” suggests that anything would be better for us than this. How damaging then are my bad examples given to “little ones”! Damaging for them and for me! What can I do to avoid such scandal? On the other hand, what a great reward awaits those who do the contrary, giving these little ones good example! If I loved “these little ones” just half as much as Jesus does, would it not be much easier to avoid giving bad example?

3. Better to Lose Anything Else: In today’s world, the value of something is measured in comparison to other items of the same kind: stocks, food, clothes, even music and films are judged against each other. Yet, there are some things that have absolute value: the value of a soul. Nothing compares! Jesus paints this total non-comparison in terms of cutting off whatever becomes an obstacle. You are so valuable that you must be ready to deny, subdue, silence and even sacrifice your own body, or any of its members, rather than risk losing your soul. Do I value my immortal soul, my vocation to eternal life? If so, do I show this by the self-denial I exert in controlling what makes me (and eventually others through me) stumble? How often do I prefer my “things” to the loved ones who depend on my example of Christ? How radical is my faith?

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, open my eyes to understand a little more just how valuable I am to you, how priceless my eternal life is. Make me sensitive to value each and every person in my life. I know you want me to help save them. Never allow me to become a stumbling block for anyone. If I have, may my love and efforts of faith be used by you now to restore what was lost.

Resolution:I will repair a past act of “scandal” (outburst of anger, foul language, gossip or slander, dishonesty, etc.) with a period of quality time given to the “little ones” so as to rebuild the trust and Christ-like behavior they expect from me.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wednesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time "The Zeal of Charity"

John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:38-40)

Introductory Prayer:Lord Jesus, I believe in you and in all the expressions of your goodness and love in my life. I believe in your Eucharist, where you have made yourself my bread and a prisoner of love to teach me goodness of heart. I trust that you can train my heart to react more as you do, with forgiveness and blessing. I love you, Lord; I wish to love you with my prayer and increased charity. Mary, teach me to love with the heart of your son.

Petition:Make my heart more like yours, Lord.

1. A Son of Thunder: The young apostle says with uncontrolled fervor, “We tried to prevent him.” They obviously acted first and consulted Jesus only afterwards. What moved them? What so often moves us––a sense of righteous zeal! We know or think we know what is right. “Let no one step out of line, or we will let him know!” Moreover, this person “does not follow us,” so he should not be able to act in your name! What is this “Son of Thunder” missing? Is not the mightiest deed an act of charity? How often do I make rash judgments without really knowing the full picture and without consulting Jesus first?

2. Judgments of Gospel Charity: Jesus does not hesitate to offer a positive judgment. Mighty deeds in his name can be found only in one speaking well of him. Moreover, beyond logic, Jesus possesses a deeper insight. He reads all actions with a heart of charity. His judgments will always be colored by his looking to find the very best in each person. His every action will be interpreted by love. In such manner he interprets well the actions of the woman who wipes his feet with her tears and hair, of the paralytic lowered from the roof, of the tax collector who climbed a tree to see him. Do I judge others with a heart filled with gospel charity, or am I very quick to spot faults? Are my impulses modified by my experience of Christ’s love for me?

3. For or Against Him? Jesus presents a simple principle for judging. Unless a person shows himself to be against us, consider him for us. We should fight to help others be “for us.” “Believe all the good you hear and only believe the evil you see.” This supposition of goodness runs contrary to our tendency to judge and speak evil of others with a minimum of evidence while demanding disproportionate proofs to credit them for good. Is it my job to find deformities in a member of the Body of Christ? A good person sees with eyes of goodness. Why can I not find excuses for the weakness and failings I see in others? Why is it so easy to speak poorly of others, to point out their defects and to fall into slander or gossip? Would the answer be found in the narrow or stingy dimensions of my own heart?

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, grant me a heart overflowing with your love. Make charity my first reaction, my constant hope and my irresistible tendency. Open my eyes in faith to see you working in people of all backgrounds and faiths. Help me to dismiss all personal, unnecessary judgments with an assumption of charity. May I win souls with my goodness and never be without charity in my fight for your Kingdom.

Resolution:I will counter every thought against charity with two thoughts of charity. I will counter every word against charity with two words of sincere charity for the one maligned. 


Monday, May 20, 2013

Tuesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time "The Journey Away from Self"

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise." But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all." Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me."

Introductory Prayer:Lord Jesus, I believe in you, present and interested in my life. I believe you await my prayer to guide my heart, my visits to the Eucharist to strengthen my will, and my challenges to help my surrender. I trust you will give your life to me in exchange for my self-denial. I love you and want to love you more by embracing and living out your will. Mother Mary, teach me to say with you, “Let it be done unto me.”

Petition:“Speak Lord, your servant is listening”

1. Apostolic Training: This was one journey Jesus chose to do in secret. Why? Because he wanted to dedicate all his attention and efforts to teaching his apostles the deepest and most important secret of his life: He must die! All that they had lived so far was thus incomplete, merely a preparation for the final act of his mission: the consummation of his love, his total immolation on the cross. Would they understand the need for the seed to die before rising to new life? How hard it would be for them to listen! He was their Lord, the powerful, Messianic king coming to free them and establish his kingdom of truth and love. They still imagined scenarios of new victories, cures, defeat of demons, the silencing of their opposition…. How far their dreams were from Jesus’ message! We too have our own desires and needs. Can we detach ourselves from these dreams long enough to understand in prayer his will and his plan of salvation for us?

2. Slow Learners: Not only did they “not understand the saying,” but “they were afraid to question him.” In other words, they did not want to know. How often our communication problem is not something intellectual, but rather something of the will! Our desire is more to “get our way,” “make our point” or “affirm ourselves.” Learning Christ’s way requires that we in some way unlearn our own ways. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). This explains why no one can be neutral before Christ; he challenges us to change our life. Jesus occasioned the fierce opposition of those who would ultimately put him to death. How open am I to his challenges? Do I listen in prayer in order to respond with a docile but firm “Amen”?

3. The Hardest Lesson: Like little boys caught in the act, the apostles don’t dare admit that they have been arguing about who among them is greatest. Not only do they fail “to listen” to Jesus; to the contrary, they are busy asserting their will. What would it take to teach them this most difficult but vital truth? So Jesus, with a father’s love, holds a child before them and begins the lesson anew. This small child is the greatest! To be last, to serve, to give your life makes you great, since this is how God comes to us. Only the sight of Jesus crucified would burn this lesson more deeply on their hearts. Am I learning this lesson of sacrificial love to become the greatest I can become?

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, open my heart to listen to your will for me. Free me from my own self-love, ideas and dreams. Teach me to die to myself as I enter into prayer and as I enter into work. Help me to work, pray and live so that you and your love can rise up in my life in place of the poverty of my own qualities and efforts.

Resolution:I will listen well before trying to offer my own thoughts or desires in prayer and in interacting with family and others, so better to hear the Lord.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time "Help My Unbelief!"

As Jesus came down the mountain with Peter, James, and John and approaching the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them. Immediately on seeing him, the whole crowd was utterly amazed. They ran up to him and greeted him. He asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?" Someone from the crowd answered him, "Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit. Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so." He said to them in reply, "O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him to me." They brought the boy to him. And when he saw him, the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions. As he fell to the ground, he began to roll around and foam at the mouth. Then he questioned his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" He replied, "Since childhood. It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." Jesus said to him, “‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith." Then the boy´s father cried out, "I do believe, help my unbelief!" Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering, rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it, "Mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!" Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out. He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, "He is dead!" But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up. When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private, "Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, "This kind can only come out through prayer." (Mark 9:14-29)

Introductory Prayer:Lord Jesus, I believe in your presence in my life, family and work. I believe that you ask nothing of me that you do not give me the strength to do. I trust in the power of your grace and the care of your love. I love you, Lord, and I wish to love you with this prayer so that I may work according to your will and in your love.

Petition:I believe you can change me, Lord.

1. Working Without Faith: The artist Raphael depicts the poor apostles who, awaiting Our Lord’s return from Mount Tabor and the Transfiguration, are waving their arms in frustration and excusing themselves before the desperate father and his family. How often we try to do what clearly seems to be our work, but without including God in any real way. Our work seems “dead” until we let Jesus work with us to “raise it up.” Often we fail even to ask whether what we do is God’s will or not. When we exclude God from our work or family life, we lack faith. He is there—but we just don’t allow him room to work. The apostles exercise little faith, thinking this cure beyond their ability. The father and his family may as well have lacked faith in what these “apostles” could do. To them, and to us, Christ says, “O faithless generation!” When do I show a lack of faith in my work or family life?

2. Jesus’ Ultimate Intention: Instill Faith: When Jesus is out of sight, the people could only argue. Yet when he comes into view, the people are “utterly amazed.” Jesus immediately sees their lack of faith, so he uses every circumstance to inspire faith. What he did for the chosen three apostles through the Transfiguration, he does now for the nine at the foot of the mountain. He allows them to fail so as to teach them faith. He tests the poor father, too: “If you can!” And he instructs all the apostles on the need for prayer. What is Christ doing in my life to invite me to greater faith? Do I respond with that faith or do I simply argue, since Jesus does not appear present?

3. Our Struggle to Believe: The father’s heartfelt cry is all Jesus needs to drive out the unclean spirit. The man reaffirms his faith while admitting his weakness. How often do we assume that our faith is sufficient, all the while blaming God for what happens in our life? Believing is not easy. It requires a constant recognition of our limitations, our inability to understand the “why’s” of so many occurrences, the “how’s” of so many challenges. Jesus does not rebuke the struggle to believe but rather the lack of effort when we stop believing. What the apostles failed to do was done by the father with one intense but short prayer: “Help my unbelief!” This humble confession always comes to rest on the greatness of God’s power and the comprehensiveness of his love. Do I believe that everything is possible if I only believe?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, grant me an increase of faith! Help me to see you present and active in my everyday life. May I never undertake any work or responsibility without first determining your will and counting on your assistance. I believe that you can do all things in me, according to your own will. I believe your will is committed to what is best for me. Teach me to pray and work with great faith and trust in you.

Resolution:I will reject all worries that I can do nothing about, confidently acting upon those concerns of mine which I can change.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pentecost Sunday "The Power of the Spirit"

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." (John 20: 19-23)

Introductory Prayer:Today, Lord, we celebrate the gift of your Holy Spirit to the Church, which you won for us through your patient suffering on the cross. I believe and trust in his power to make me a better apostle of your Kingdom, to bring fervor where I have grown tepid, to instill detachment where I have become too indulgent, and to perfect the innocence of my baptism, which leaves my soul more pure and worthy to serve and honor you each day.

Petition:Come Holy Spirit, fill my heart with your grace and enkindle in me the fire of your love.

1. The Doors Were Locked: What is it that makes a disciple of Christ stop cold in the path of conversion and commitment? Cloaked underneath our spiritual inertia and lack of zeal are not so much our personal defects or our lack of human virtue as blindness to the dynamic power of the Crucified and Risen Lord. We can leave our self-made prisons only by opening our hearts to a faith in Christ that is total: total trust (in spite of the confusion of the present and uncertainty of the future), total hope (by breaking away from having to see the ideal in ourselves before we will act), and total divine confidence (in setting aside the sins of others and our personal failures that keep us stuck in myopic visions of life). Christ comes through bolted doors again today to ask us to unlock them with a real experience of the Risen Lord in the power of the Spirit.

2. Peace Be With You: It is vital to examine our “peace” and see if it truly speaks of the peace of the Upper Room. Substitute “satisfaction” for the word “peace,” and see where our hearts have tried to find consolation this past week. Then substitute the word “fulfillment.” This is the peace that Christ brings through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Some passing satisfactions are part of life, and we can be grateful for them. When we seek them for their own sake, however, we can easily drown out the life of the Spirit, who comes to bring us deep peace and fulfillment in life. Pentecost must convince us above all about prayer and the order of life that permit us to have constant contact with sources of grace and divine inspiration.

 

3. Receive the Holy Spirit: In the sacrament of penance, we are forgiven our sins through the action of the Holy Spirit, who makes the actions of Christ present through the priest. We believe that mercy founds hope and change in our soul. Why, then, do we not believe that this same grace from the Holy Spirit can make us heroic saints, victorious in trial, patient in difficult relationships and more effective as apostles? Christ assures us that his power will never leave us, so we have no reason to “slip into neutral” after a few bad incidents in our life. Rather, the Holy Spirit’s goal moves us from mercy to transformation into Christ, permitting us spiritually to carry and reveal his wounds to an unbelieving world.

Conversation with Christ: Oh, Jesus, I will trust more in the power of your Holy Spirit to change me than in my own efforts. I will depend on you in that face-to-face encounter I need to have with you every day. Let the sources of divine grace become my true food, and may I move away from feeding my soul on passing pleasures and vain ambitions.

Resolution:This week, I will write down daily all the lights and inspirations of the Holy Spirit I receive, and I will try to act on them with promptness, confidence and generosity.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Saturday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time "Children of the Kingdom"

People were bringing little children to Jesus in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he became indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Introductory Prayer:Lord, I believe in your love and care for me and for my family. I believe that you call me to help protect, guide and inspire innocence and holiness in others. I trust that you will show me how to do this better. I love you, Lord, for the purity of your love, and I wish to love you with the fullness and innocence of my baptismal faith.

Petition:Lord Jesus, restore my innocence so I can draw nearer to you.

1. Two Visions: Again the poor disciples seem to miss the point, so Jesus sternly speaks to them: “Do not stop them!” Today many of us also fail to understand, and by our lack of understanding we prevent children from coming to Jesus. We think there are so many important activities for them to do—they need to keep up with the other kids, they need to compete, they need to do what they want—and the world heartily agrees. “Let the little children come to ‘me,’” it says with the raspy voice of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Only Jesus has the courage to insist, “Bring them to me, now.” Why is Jesus so anxious to touch, bless, teach and receive these children? Might it be that this is the critical age for them to know and love him as a friend? Do I do enough to let this happen, or do the customs of the world dwarf my efforts? To whom should my efforts belong?

2. “To Such as These” We all struggle to “enter the Kingdom” every day. We tend to be impatient to grow up and be independent. But then, as adults, we wish we had the innocence and simple lives of children, so better to love God. What has become of our innocence? We now know good and evil, and evil makes its presence felt, like the ring carried by Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. Is innocence worth preserving? Is it possible to recover? Our Lord suggests “yes” to both questions. If I desire to fight for the Kingdom, my battle should start by defending innocence, the only door to the Kingdom. Do I fight for it at home, in the media, on the Internet, at school, in the neighborhood, at work?

3. Receiving the Kingdom: “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child” applies to me each day of my life. Now, the grace of baptism does not disappear. It is renewed each time I pray, each time I offer God my life and day, and each time I prayerfully listen to his Word speak to me. So also, each time I gaze upon Jesus through the eyes of Mary with a rosary in hand, and each time I thank God for his many blessings. The more I experience Christ in the sacraments of the Eucharist and reconciliation, the more powerfully he renews this grace of receiving the Kingdom. The one common condition—that I trust like a little child—is the act of faith through which I enter in contact with the King. Innocence can be recovered and restored, but not without a childlike faith. How deliberately do I exercise this rejuvenating faith? Do I desire that Jesus take me up in his arms, lay his hands on me, and bless me each day?

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, renew my relationship with you. Make it as simple and sincere as that of a child. Renew my innocence as I strive to love you without pride or vanity. Increase my faith, as total and pure as when I was a child, so that I can live my baptism to the full.

Resolution:I will commit to fight for innocence in a more practical way: control the use of Internet or TV at home, get my children involved in a faith/virtue program, pray with them at night, take my family to confession, study Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, find a chastity program for young adolescents, etc.




Thursday, May 16, 2013

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter "Love Demands a Loving Response"

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me." (John 21:15-19)

Introductory Prayer:Lord, I believe in you and all that you have revealed for our salvation. I hope in you because of your overflowing mercy. Every single act of yours on this earth demonstrated your love for us. Your ascent into heaven before the eyes of the Apostles inspires my hope of one day joining you there. I love you and wish you to be the center of my life.

Petition:Lord, help me to respond with love to your self-giving love.

1. “Do You Love Me?” The moment for which Christ has been preparing ever since his Resurrection has arrived. He is alone with Peter. Their last encounter before Jesus’ death was that sad occasion when Christ looked at Peter, forgiving him after his threefold denial. Now Christ takes Peter a little apart from the others and gives him the opportunity to affirm a threefold pledge of his love. The one, supreme condition for Christ to renew Peter’s commission to tend his sheep is Peter’s love for his Master. Love is the one, supreme condition for each of us who aspires to be an apostle. Peter’s love has been purified by his betrayal of Christ during the Passion: It has been chastened and humbled. Now Peter entrusts everything -- even his love -- into Christ’s hands: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Do my failures enable me to love Christ more, with greater trust?

2. “Can Love Be Commanded?” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI poses a provocative question in his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est(God is Love). How can Christ demand love from us in order for us to be his followers, his apostles? Pope Emeritus Benedict clarifies, “Love cannot be commanded; it is ultimately a feeling that is either there or not, nor can it be produced by the will” (no. 16). The response to this apparent quandary is twofold. In the first place, love can be commanded because it has first been given. “God does not demand of us a feeling which we ourselves are incapable of producing. He loves us, he makes us see and experience his love, and since he has ‘loved us first,’ love can also blossom as a response within us” (no. 17). In the second place, “it is clearly revealed that love is not merely a sentiment. Sentiments come and go. A sentiment can be a marvelous first spark, but it is not the fullness of love” (no. 17).

3. “Love in Its Most Radical Form” What, then, is the essence of love, that love which Christ first gave to us and which he in turn demands of us as his followers? “It is characteristic of a mature love that it calls into play all man’s potentialities; it engages the whole man, so to speak. Contact with the visible manifestations of God’s love can awaken within us a feeling of joy born of the experience of being loved. But this encounter also engages our will and our intellect. Acknowledgment of the living God is one path towards love, and the ‘yes’ of our will to his will unites our intellect, will and sentiments in the all-embracing act of love” (Deus Caritas Est, no. 17). As Pope John Paul the Great has phrased it so many times, true love is the gift of one’s entire self.

Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for helping me to see, through Pope John Paul the Great, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, the meaning of authentic love. Thank you for your limitless love for me. Your love is the standard to which my own poor love must rise.

Resolution:I will give myself to Christ today in acts of love that embrace my whole person: intellect, will and sentiments.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter "God’s Eternal Love"

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: "I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them." (John 17:20-26)

Introductory Prayer:Lord, I believe in you and all that you have revealed for our salvation. I hope in you because of your overflowing mercy. Every single act of yours on this earth demonstrated your love for us. Your ascent into heaven before the eyes of the Apostles inspires my hope of one day joining you there. I love you and wish you to be the center of my life.

Petition:Lord, increase my faith in your love.

1. Who is God? In his first epistle, John tells us that God is love. Before the foundation of the world, the Father loved the Son. Within the Trinity there is a perfect sharing of life and love. Even after the Incarnation, Jesus remained in his Father’s love. At Christ’s baptism, the Father spoke of his love for his Son. “This is my beloved son” (Matthew 3:17). At the Transfiguration he repeated this sign of love: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matthew 17:5). These moments manifest God’s inner life.

2. A Share in His Life: God created us to share in the loving relationship of the Trinity. The Father’s plan is to love us, to bring us into Trinitarian love. He wants to love us in his Son with a Father’s eternal love. If we could catch a mere glimpse of the reality of this love, it would transform our lives. God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son into the world (see John 3:16). Love is at the heart of the universe.

3. Sharing in God’s Love: God is love, and if he is in us, it is as love. God pours his love, himself, into our hearts. As he shares his life, he shares his love. This is the love that he wants us to give to others. Jesus gave his disciples the love he had received from his Father, and sent them forth to continue his work of sharing that love with all of humanity. Think of the people today who are lonely and lost, starving for love and attention. They have no clue that God loves them with an eternal love or that he has loved them intimately, deeply and perfectly from all eternity. They do not know that this love has given them life and maintains them in existence. People need to hear the good news of God’s love. This is our mission.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, help me to share your love with those around me. Don’t allow me to remain focused just on myself and the circumstances in my life. I need you. I need your love, as do so many others. I need to love in order to give myself to your work, but I also need your constant help and support.

Resolution:I will let someone know that God loves them.