Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and doctor of the Church "Powerful Net"

Jesus said to his disciples: "The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. "Do you understand all these things?" They answered, "Yes." And he replied, "Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old." When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there. (Matthew 13: 47-53)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your power. I know that you are the Lord of all history. I trust that you are guiding my life. Thank you for showing me that you will triumph. Thank you for the triumph you have already achieved in my heart and in the hearts of so many people. I want to allow you to have total control over my life.

Petition: Lord, help me to have confidence in the triumph of your Kingdom.

 1. Nothing Escapes the Kingdom: Christ is reminding us that all souls and all human history are encompassed in the vision of the Father. Both the good and the bad will be brought before him. He is able to see what good and evil has been done. His power extends over all the failures and successes of human history. I should live with a confidence that God sees the good I do and will make my efforts to spread his love bear eternal fruit.

 2. Evil Does Not Have the Last Word: I should live with the confidence that evil does not have the last word. The mercy of God has imposed a limit on evil and the Lord will come one day to take away the power of evil. I should use my short time on earth – which I should use today – to sow all the good I can, aware that this is what will stand steady at the coming of the eternal kingdom. I should not be so impressed by evil that it paralyzes me from doing good.

 3. Already Home: The Eucharist is an anticipation of God’s triumph. There we learn to trust that God holds the strings of human history. There his “net of love” brings his children together to feed and strengthen them. When I participate in the Mass my confidence in the Lord’s providence should grow. I should strive to bring others to the Eucharist as well, so they can experience the peace and happiness of anticipating heaven here on earth.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know you are all powerful. I believe that your Kingdom will triumph. I believe that you will come to judge the living and the dead. Help me to do all I can to bring others into your Kingdom so they can experience the joy that comes from knowing you and from living ready for the coming of your Kingdom.

Resolution: I will invite someone who is struggling in their faith or who has fallen away from the sacraments to join me this Sunday at Mass.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, priest "The Treasure Hunt"

Jesus said to his disciples: "The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it." (Matthew 13: 44-46)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you have made me for yourself, and my heart is restless until I rest in you. I want to encounter you more deeply today so that you can be my treasure. Thank you for the gift of this new day. I know you love me. I wish to discover your love more deeply and give it to others.

Petition: Lord, help me to treasure the gift of your friendship.

1. In Search of a Treasure: The restlessness in our hearts can be compared to a hunt for treasure. In different ways we all experience the desire for unconditional love, true goodness, the answer to our deepest questions. In Christ, God has come to give himself to us. He is the one we truly long for; he is our greatest treasure. During this time of prayer let us deepen our awareness of the greatness of his gift of friendship, and let us strengthen this friendship by our openness to his love.

2. The Priceless Treasure: In Christ we have experienced the overwhelming faithfulness of God’s love for us. In his mercy we discover that our life has infinite value in the Father’s eyes. In his teachings we discover the wisdom to build our life on solid ground. In his grace we receive the strength to grow in love and holiness. This is where we can build a true future. This is where we can live up to our calling to greatness. But we must be willing to leave aside all other concerns to really possess this treasure. We must leave aside anything that tries to give us a false sense of security outside of God. Am I making my friendship with Christ the one value that guides my heart and my decisions?

3. The Unopened Treasure Chest: Unpacking this treasure is the work of our spiritual life. We need to cooperate with Christ’s grace in order to truly possess this treasure. The cultivation of faith, hope and charity helps us discover and live this treasure more fully each day. Our sacrifices and renunciations done to put on the new man help us dig this treasure out of the earthy make-up of our lives. Living generous charity helps us make this treasure truly last and enrich our lives. Am I sincerely allowing Christ’s treasure to transform me?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for the gift of your love. You are the treasure I truly long for. Help me to enter more deeply into your heart this day by doing things your way no matter what the cost. Help me to value the gift of your friendship above everything else.

Resolution: I will make a small sacrifice of my time to do something extra for someone who needs God’s love.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time "God’s Final Harvest"

Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." He said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear." (Matthew 13: 36-43)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for this new day. I believe that you are present in my heart. I believe that you want to give me your wisdom to live this life fruitfully. I trust that your mercy will protect me as I struggle against evil. I love you because you have overcome evil by your cross and resurrection. I want to live this moment of prayer as an intense moment to be transformed by you.

Petition: Lord, help me to look forward to your triumph with hope.

1. He is Watching Us: The difference between good and evil is not lost for God. He knows the struggles we have to live goodness in this world that is often so impregnated with evil. He assures us that he sees the good that is done and will give recompense for it. I should strive to live each day knowing that I am seen by God and consistently try to sow goodness in my life.

2. The Limit of Evil: When sometimes it seems like evil can triumph in the world, we need to recognize that God has the last say over evil. He mysteriously allows evil to exist so that good can become purified. There will be a moment when evil will be judged and will no longer have power over our lives. If we have sowed goodness with our lives and if we are living in God’s grace, he will free us from the domain of evil forever. Let us build up our confidence in the coming of his kingdom. Let us use the struggle against evil as a way to show the sincerity of our love.

3. We Reap What We Sow: The assurance of Christ that there will be a final judgment gives Christians both soberness and joy in living their lives. We know our efforts are not in vain. We realize that this life is the short opportunity the Father gives us to do good and prepare for our great destiny with him. When I am tempted to lose patience in the fight, I must remember that the struggles will soon be over, and God will more than recompense for the sacrifices I have made in following his will and promoting goodness in the world.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I believe that you are in charge of my life. I renew my trust in the triumph of your holiness in my life. When I feel the pull of evil in my heart, I will remember that this life is short and that my struggle is precious in your eyes. Help me to keep my eyes on the happiness you are preparing for me.

Resolution: I will speak about the joy of receiving the sacrament of reconciliation with someone I meet today, planting in that person’s heart the seed of the desire to receive this sacrament.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Memorial of Saint Martha "Do You Believe?"

And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise." Martha said to him, "I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world." (John 11: 19-27)

Introductory Prayer: Heavenly Father, once again I renew my faith in your plan for my life. I trust in your loving providence, and I know that no one can snatch me from your hands. You know well that I love you. I wish to be more open and docile to your plan and action in my life. Take this time that I now set aside for prayer. Take my mind, will and heart; take my gifts and talents. I lay them at your feet through this prayer. Do with me today according to your holy and loving plan. Amen.

Petition: Lord Jesus, deepen my faith in your resurrection.

1. Do You Believe This? This is the fundamental question in our life of faith: do we, in fact, believe it all? Do we really believe that the human race was mysteriously subjected to the catastrophic consequences of our first parents’ disobedience to the divine will? Do we really believe what we say in the Creed every Sunday? Do we believe that Jesus of Nazareth died and rose from the dead to conquer sin, and now lives to draw all people to himself as their savior? The great challenge for the Christian in our thoroughly post-modern, post-Christian, technical age is to unabashedly say “Yes!”

2. Keeping Faith Simple: One of the greatest challenges in the Christian life is to keep our faith simple. Our tendency is toward sophistication and complication. While certainly the ability to think and reason well is a gift and has its place in the Christian life, we must be equally aware that the in-born tendency to rationalism can be a non-starter for a genuine life of faith. We cannot afford to fall into today’s error of trying to size God down according to our meager perceptions and self-centered attitudes. Christ is much more; God ways are far more sublime than what our limited vision can create. A simple faith is so pleasing to God because then he has leeway for his supernatural action. Then he can do something within us and through us.

3. Keeping Faith Robust: This simple faith can and must launch us upward and outward in the task of bringing Christ’s love to every soul. Our simple faith can rapidly ignite and convert us into relentless apostles of the Kingdom, like St. Paul. We need to make his words our own: “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? (…) No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, give me strength to bear the burden of drawing others closer to you. Let me feel, with St. Paul, the sting of “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” And when I do set out to give others reasons for my faith, accompany me with your Holy Spirit to give success to my poor efforts.

Resolution: For love of Jesus, I will renew, refresh and invigorate the act of faith with which I begin every day in my morning offering. 


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time "Longing to Be with the Father"

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test." And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ´Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,´ and he says in reply from within, ´Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.´ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. "And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?" (Luke 11: 1-13)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come into your presence seeking to know you better. I believe that you take the lead in seeking me. You want me to find you. I trust that in your mercy you will bring me to intimacy with you. I open my heart today to receive your friendship.

Petition: Lord, teach me to long for your Kingdom and your holiness.

1. Teach Us How to Pray: All of us carry a longing to know God and enter into a relationship with him. Those who live a deep relationship with God attract us by the peace and serenity of their lives. They know they are loved, and they can handle the difficulties of life with joy and serenity. The disciples see how deeply and spontaneously Christ talks with the Father, and they realize they are far from that; so they ask Christ to teach them to pray. We, too, learn from Christ how to enter into a relationship of love with the Father. He teaches us to put our trust totally in the Father’s love.

2. The Desire to Be like the Father: Jesus teaches us to ask that the Father’s Kingdom come in our hearts. He reveals to us that the Father’s kingdom is our home. When we pray the Our Father, we are expressing our desire to enter into the Father’s heart. We are expressing our desire to be like the Father in his goodness, holiness, and love. Praying the Our Father renews in us a continual conversion of heart and points us to our true home. It reminds us that this home is within our reach, because the Father is intimately close to our lives and wants to help us become more like him.

3. Asking for Holiness Persistently: Jesus invites us to persevere in imploring the Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings holiness to our lives if we are docile to his inspirations. Christ reminds us that the Father wants to bless us with this holiness. But we must expand our capacity to receive this gift by increasing our desire for it. Our perseverance in petitioning this gift expands our hearts. We must not tire of asking for the gift of the Holy Spirit. We must do so with great confidence in the Father’s love.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you for showing me the closeness that the Father wants to have with me. Help me to expand my heart and be like him. You are guiding my life, Lord. Help me to cooperate with the Father’s love.

Resolution: I will pray an Our Father today more calmly and attentively, letting the Holy Spirit inspire me to see what a small thing I can do today to help the Father’s Kingdom come.


5 Things You Should Know about the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel



Have you ever contemplated where the title of the Virgin Mary, “Our Lady of Mt Carmel” came from? Do you find it odd that some traditional Roman Catholics wear their Brown Scapular 24/7? Hopefully this list will help address some of the questions concerning devotion to the Brown Scapular.

“If I should say anything that is not in conformity with what is held by the Holy Roman Catholic Church, it will be through ignorance and not through malice.”
- St Teresa of Avila

A 1996 doctrinal statement approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments states that “Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is bound to the history and spiritual values of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and is expressed through the scapular. Thus, whoever receives the scapular becomes a member of the order and pledges him/herself to live according to its spirituality in accordance with the characteristics of his/her state in life.”

1. St Simon Stock

Saint Simon Stock was born in England and was a Prior General of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel who had their origins in Palenstine. Some of the brothers relocated to Europe in the early 13th century and became a mendicant order (mendicants live solely on alms). There are various controversies surrounding the vision of Our Lady that St. Simon had, one account goes as follows:

“St. Simon was an Englishman, a man of great holiness and devotion, who always in his prayers asked the Virgin to favour his Order with some singular privilege. The Virgin appeared to him holding the Scapular in her hand saying, ‘This is for you and yours a privilege; the one who dies in it will be saved.’”1

This goes without saying, the original context of this promise was for those who preserved in their vocation as Carmelites. In the 16th century, the Carmelites began distributing Brown Scapulars to the laity and became a very popular sacramental.

2. Who is Our Lady of Mt Carmel?

Simply put, Our Lady of Mt Carmel is the Virgin Mary. It was a title bestowed upon Her because She is the patroness of the Carmelite order. The first Carmelites lived on Mt Carmel in the Holy Land and were hermits in the 12th century. They built a chapel in honour of The Virgin and entitled it: “Our Lady of the Place”.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, OCD, a revered authority on Carmelite spirituality, wrote that devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel means:

“Our Lady wants us to resemble her not only in our outward vesture but, far more, in heart and spirit. If we gaze into Mary’s soul, we shall see that grace in her has flowered into a spiritual life of incalcuable wealth: a life of recollection, prayer, uninterrupted oblation to God, continual contact, and intimate union with him. Mary’s soul is a sanctuary reserved for God alone, where no human creature has ever left its trace, where love and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind reign supreme. [...] Those who want to live their devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to the full must follow Mary into the depths of her interior life. Carmel is the symbol of the contemplative life, the life wholly dedicated to the quest for God, wholly orientated towards intimacy with God; and the one who has best realized this highest of ideals is Our Lady herself, ‘Queen and Splendor of Carmel’.”

3. Promises of wearing the Scapular

On July 16th 1251 the Blessed Mary made this promise to Saint Simon Stock: “Take this Scapular, it shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” She continues, “Wear the Scapular devoutly and perseveringly. It is my garment. To be clothed in it means you are continually thinking of me, and I in turn, am always thinking of you and helping you to secure eternal life.” Partial indulgence granted by Pope Benedict XV to those who devoutly kiss their scapular.

Amongst the myriad of miracles attributed to the Brown Scapular, there are a few more famous occurrences:

In May 1957, in Westenboden, Germany, an entire row of houses had caught fire. The inhabitants of one of the houses fixed a scapular to the front door of their home. Five hours later, 22 homes on the block had burnt to the ground. Yet amidst the destruction, the home with the scapular attached to it stood unharmed. This miracle was witnessed by hundreds of people.

Three holy men devoted to the scapular, Pope Bl. Gregory X, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and St. John Bosco, all died wearing the scapular. When their graves were opened years later, the bodies and vestments had decayed but their scapulars remained perfectly intact.

In November of 1955, a plane carrying 27 passengers crashed in Guatemala. All the passengers died except for one young girl. She related that when the plane was going down, she clutched her scapular and cried out to Our Lady for help. She was burnt and her clothes were tattered and burnt as well, but the girl was overall unharmed and her scapular free from any burns.2

4. The Rosary and the Scapular Are Inseparable

In order to obtain the graces and promises recieved from wearing the Scapular, one should wear it devoutly. In other words, under the usual conditions, i.e. state of grace (Go to Confession regularly!!), be properly invested/enrolled by a Catholic priest, pray either the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary or 5 decades of the Most Holy Rosary daily. Novenas to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel are optional but highly recommended to show the Mater Dei that we Her most lowly and undeserving servants have faith in Her most powerful protection and intercession.

5. Saintly Quotes on Brown Scapular

Pope Pius XII stated:
“Let it [the Brown Scapular] be your sign of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which We are particularly urging in these perilous times.”

Pope Pius XII went so far as to say:
“The Scapular is a practice of piety which by its very simplicity is suited to everyone, and has spread widely among the faithful of Christ to their spiritual profit.”

In our own times, Pope Paul VI said:
“Let the faithful hold in high esteem the practices and devotions to the Blessed Virgin … the Rosary and the Scapular of Carmel” and in another place referred to the Scapular as that which is “so highly recommended by our illustrious predecessors.”

St. Alphonsus tell us:
“Modern heretics make a mockery of wearing the Scapular, they decry it as so much trifling nonsense.”


Friday, July 26, 2013

Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time "Rolling Up the Sleeves and Gathering the Sheaves"

Jesus proposed another parable to them. "The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ´Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?´ He answered, ´An enemy has done this.´ His slaves said to him, ´Do you want us to go and pull them up?´ He replied, ´No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, "First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn."´ (Matthew 13: 24-30)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your Church. I believe that it is the sacrament of salvation, and that you have chosen to lead me to heaven. Lord, I hope in you. I hope in you because you have gone to prepare a place for me in heaven. Lord, I love you because you loved me first. I love you for giving yourself up for me on the cross.

Petition: Forgive me, Lord, for offending you, and help me to make reparation.

1. Verdant Farm or Barren Wasteland? Lord, you have given me the gift of Baptism and of being your child. “Baptism is God´s most beautiful and magnificent gift” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1216). This gift you have given me is something that I do not deserve. I was born with original sin, and yet, out of your infinite goodness and mercy, you have chosen to nourish my barren field and offer me the Kingdom of heaven. Through the life-giving waters of the sacrament of Baptism, you have taken my field that used to be wasteland and desert and have made it flourish. You have sown wheat in my field so that it may yield abundant fruit.

2. A Tainted Field? Lord, even though you have grafted me into your family through Baptism, there are times when I forget the goal of my life, which is heaven. I am weak, and because of my weakness, at times I taint my field with weeds. “Certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized, such as suffering, illness, death, and such frailties inherent in life as weaknesses of character, and so on, as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition calls concupiscence, or metaphorically, ‘the tinder for sin’ (fomes peccati); since concupiscence ‘is left for us to wrestle with, it cannot harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ.’ Indeed, ‘an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1264).

3. God Never Gives Up On Me: Lord, even though I have let weeds grow in my field where there was once only wheat, you have given me time to let the good grain grow. You know that all is not lost. There is still hope, and there is still time. Even though I have offended you because of my sins, and even though I have not conquered myself and my tendency to sin, I still experience your love and your mercy. You have not given up on me, although it seems to me that I have often given up on myself. You have given me the gift of time for me to weed my field and to increase the good wheat that is within it, so that the harvest I bear may be fruitful and rich.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for the gift of your mercy. Thank you for being patient with me, for loving me for who I am, and for encouraging me to continue to grow as I should.

Resolution: I shall take some time to prepare to make a good confession.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Memorial of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary "Fighting the Good Fight of Faith"

Jesus said to his disciples: "Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirty fold." (Matthew 13:18-23)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your Incarnation. You became flesh for love of us. You were not forced to leave the bliss and glory of heaven. You chose to leave in order to save us. I believe in you. I hope in you. I love you. You took the first step of love toward me. I want to respond in kind.

Petition: Grant me the grace to follow you with conviction and willpower.  

1. Sheltering the Word in My Heart: Our Lord often speaks of the enemy of God, the devil, as a real being, who has real influence over our lives. When we hear the Word of God, good intentions grow within us. The Evil One attempts to “steal” these intentions away from our heart. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that the devil and demons made a radical and irrevocable free choice to reject God and his reign (no. 392). The devil tries to uproot our good resolutions with the same goal in mind. We must make a firm commitment to allow God’s word to take root and grow in our lives.

2. Convictions over Emotions: The seed sown on rocky ground represents those who receive the word with joy at first, in other words, those easily governed by emotions and sentiments. When they feel joy, they respond to God positively. When they receive comforts from Christ, they are ready to follow him. But when their moods are bad or gloomy, they leave aside their previous resolutions and abandon the Lord for the wide and spacious road of ease and comforts. They are not seeking Christ but rather their own consolation. Above all they want warm, cozy feelings. Christ shows us the way of true loyalty and love by his crucifixion and death on the cross for love of his Father and souls.

3. Oxygen for the Soul: One of the saddest categories of people in the Parable of the Sower are those who receive the word but allow “worldly anxiety and the lure of riches” to “choke the word” so that it “bears no fruit” in their lives. Materialism is an all-pervasive temptation in our world today. The only way to conquer this assault on our faith is to make the firm resolution to make time for God. We must make the proactive decision to insert moments for him in our day. Prayer, the sacraments (Mass, confession), spiritual reading and the Rosary are examples of ways to do this.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, in my mind you are my first priority. In reality, though, I allow other priorities to topple your rightful position in my life. I allow my feelings to govern my actions instead of my faith and convictions. Strengthen my resolve to make you the True King of my heart in my concrete choices and decisions.

Resolution: I will go over my daily and weekly schedule and, if necessary, make more quality time for the Lord. 


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Feast of Saint James, Apostle "Called to Be Servants"

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom." But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?´´ They said to him, "We are able." He said to them, "You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father." When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20: 20-28)

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, in spite of my many failures, I know you continue to call me. Your Spirit continues to guide me. I trust in you, love you and praise you for all your gifts to me. Amen.

Petition: Lord Jesus, grant me a renewed sensitivity to the deepest needs of others.

1. Called to Serve: In an era of Catholicism in which catch-phrases such as “called to serve” have been overused to the point of becoming clich├ęs, we risk forgetting how central service is to the Christian life. The minutes of our lives are consumed in an incessant cascade of apparently important and urgent things to do. Doesn’t it happen, however, that in the midst of all this we actually miss any number of opportunities to serve? Called to serve, yes, but we miss the call! And our service gets sidelined. If service to my brothers and sisters is not an ordinary element of my daily life as a Christian, I can be sure that I have succumbed to self-deception or taken a critically wrong turn somewhere.

2. A Continuation of Christ: We are called to give ourselves unreservedly to others as a continuation of Christ. “A continuation of Christ”: now, wouldn’t that make a wonderful epitaph?! For truly, if our Christian service is not a prolongation, an extension of Jesus’ love, if we are not giving him to others, if those whom we serve are not discovering him in us, then our service is simply not service. It might be philanthropy, it might be empathy, but it falls short of genuine Christian service if those whom we serve do not discover Christ in us. Like John the Baptist, we must become less so that Jesus can become more in us, so that our brothers and sisters are not cheated out of encountering that Christ whom they secretly long to discover in each of us.

3. What Service Means: Here it will be helpful simply to examine ourselves on some of the essentials of Christian service. Is my daily life characterized by a concern for the genuine good of others and by a readiness to do all the good I can for my brothers and sisters? Do I actually engage in daily acts of service, whether big or small? Do I examine myself frequently on the sin of omission? Do I strive, in carrying on the ordinary service required by my state in life, to do so with extraordinary deliberateness and full, conscious self-giving?

Conversation with Christ: Father, you call me to serve, and I know that service also means suffering at times. If suffering is to be a part of your plan for me, give me the grace to collaborate with Christ your son in the salvation of souls by offering that suffering generously to you. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Resolution: Out of love for Christ, present in the least of my brothers and sisters, I will examine myself on what genuine Christian service means to me in practice, and what place it usually has in my daily life.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time "A Hundred or Sixty or Thirty-Fold"

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty fold. Whoever has ears ought to hear." (Matthew 13:1-9)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, my prayer will “work” only if I have humility in your presence. So I am approaching you with meekness and humility of heart. I have an infinite need for you and your grace. Thinking about this helps me grow in humility. I trust in you and your grace. Thank you for the unfathomable gift of your love.

Petition: Lord, may I always respond to your grace in my heart with fervor and active love.

1. Tears of a Sower: Imagine Jesus preaching to the crowds, hoping for a positive response, but instead witnessing many people turning a deaf ear to his message of salvation. One day he is thinking about this as he watches a farmer sowing seed. He sees birds come immediately and take some away. He sees previously sown seed scorched by the sun. He sees some sprouts strangled by weeds. He then remembers the faces and perhaps even the names of people who heard his message, but who chose not to respond or whose response was short-lived. We are reminded of another Gospel passage: “As he drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying ‘If this day you only knew what makes for peace -- but now it is hidden from your eyes’” (Luke 19:41).

2. Rebellion or Rest: The admonition to heed the word of God is frequent in Scripture. In the Book of Hebrews the author warns us to “harden not your hearts as at the rebellion in the day of testing in the desert.” The people of Israel responded in this unfortunate way after the exodus from Egypt. “They have always been of erring heart, and they do not know my ways. As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter into my rest’” (Cf. Hebrews 3: 7-11). This helps us foster a healthy fear of the Lord, encouraging us to work hard to conquer all hardness of heart and remain close to Christ so as to enter into his rest.

3. Fruits of Virtue: “But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty-fold.” The fruit that Our Lord wishes us to produce are virtues inspired by faith, hope and love. If we are growing in virtue each day in imitation of Christ and for love of him, we can be sure we are heeding his voice and are pleasing in his eyes. The greatest of all virtues is charity, a practical and effective love for our neighbor. We can contemplate the lives of the saints to see how these fruits are played out in a way truly pleasing to Christ.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know how easy it is for me to allow mediocrity to slip into my life. The cares and worries of life often push you and your kingdom to a secondary plane. Grant me the habit of carving out time for you in prayer each day, and carving out space for you in my life and the lives of those under my care.

Resolution: I will renew my effort with whatever prayer commitment I have allowed to waver or falter the most. 


Monday, July 22, 2013

Tuesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time "Scoring Goals in Life"

While Jesus was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, "Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you." But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." (Matthew 12: 46-50)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I begin my meditation aware of my need of your grace and your help. Without you, Lord, I can do nothing, but with you, Lord, I can do all things. I believe that you are truly present in the Eucharist. There, under the guise of bread, Lord, you remain to be with me. I trust in you, Lord, because you have given me a reason for living. I trust you because you are faithful to your promises. Lord, I love you because you have given me the treasure of my Catholic faith. You have given me this gift to enable me to follow the path to heaven and be with you forever.

Petition: Lord, grant me the grace to know your will and to follow it in my life.

1. What is the Goal of My Life? This is the fundamental question of our purpose in life. The Father made us so that we may come to know, love and serve him in this world, so as to be happy with him forever in the next. “Of all visible creatures only man is ‘able to know and love his creator’. He is "the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake", and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God´s own life. It was for this end that he was created” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 356). To aid us, God gave his Son for us to follow and to learn from, so that we might fulfill our purpose in life. This is why we follow him; this is why we listen to him; so that we may fulfill our purpose.

2. I’m On a Mission: Our mission in life is to fulfill our purpose. Thus the fulfillment of our mission is a fundamental concern for our conscience. The immediate norm for the right exercise of our conscience could put it like this: “Anything that helps me fulfill my mission is good for me; anything that comes between me and it is bad for me.” Or, using Christ´s words: “My food is to do the Will of Him who sent me and to complete his work” (John 4:34); "I do always what pleases Him" (John 8:29). The reason is obvious: Action follows being, so what we are determines what we do. Similarly, the apostolic mission flows from our Christian essence. What we are and what we do are two sides of the same coin.

3. Part of God’s Family: As Christ says in another passage of the Gospel, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother" (Mark 3: 35). The family of Christ is eternal. He welcomes those who do his will because we were made to do his will. If we are faithful to our vocation, and we fulfill our purpose in life, then we meet the hopes and dreams the Lord has for us. He wants us to be holy. He made us for himself. Nothing would please him more than to be able to say to us at the end of time: “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I want to be part of your family. I want to do your will, because I know that it will make me holy. Your will is sanctifying. I want to be sanctified. Grant me the grace to know your will, love it and fulfill it.

Resolution: I will review my day before I go to bed to examine how I have fulfilled God’s will today.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Saint Mary Magdalene. Memorial "Two Hearts Beat as One"

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ´I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.´" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her. (John 20: 1-2; 11-18)

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I come before you wanting to grow in my knowledge of you and wanting to grow in love for you. I want to show my love by truly loving others as you have loved me. My falls are many, yet I trust in your grace never to stay down and always to get up. I trust that your mercy will change my heart. So I stand before you, ready to listen to your words and ready to unite myself more perfectly to your most holy will.

Petition: Lord, grant me a love similar to Mary Magdalene’s passionate love for Christ.

1. The Lone Guard: How sad Mary Magdalene must have been as she sat and wept outside our Lord’s tomb! Our Lord had healed her soul; he had cast seven demons from her heart. She had stood at the foot of our Lord’s cross, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John. She had washed our Lord’s feet with her tears; now her tears flow down her face. She’s alone. Or rather she experienced an existential loneliness in the face of the bitter events of Good Friday. But she wasn’t alone. We are never alone in our suffering. Do I suffer alone, or do I open my heart to Our Lord in all my trials?

2. “Mary!” - How Mary Magdalene must have endeared herself to our Lord. The other followers were locked up in their rooms. Yet here was this simple, humble woman, trying to accompany our Lord in the only way she knew. We have much to learn from this beautiful soul. How she moved the heart of Jesus! She’s the first one he appears to after his resurrection. What a gift. What a gift to have the Risen Lord say your name. Despite her anguish she wishes to honor her Lord who she is about to discover is God. In moments of trial and pain, do I remember to honor God with my thoughts, desires, intentions and actions? Does he remain number one for me no matter what I’m going through?

3. The Ultimate Message: As Mary Magdalene touched our Lord’s heart, he would now touch hers, and she would become the apostle to the apostles. She’s the first one to announce to the world that our Lord has risen from the dead. Jesus is the Lord of life. What was moving through her heart as she hurried towards the apostles? Let’s ask Christ for that gift – to have the same zeal as Mary Magdalene did as she went to proclaim that she had met the Risen Lord! Am I a witness to the saving message of Our Lord including, or especially, in the midst of great personal suffering?

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, I want to endear myself to you just as Mary Magdalene did at your tomb. Then, fill me with the joy you instilled in her heart on that first Easter morning.

Resolution: Today I will see how I can help at my parish, in imitation of Mary Magdalene’s assistance to our Church 2,000 years ago.


Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time “Only Jesus, Only Jesus"

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her." (Luke 10: 38-42)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are my God and my all. You created me, and you made me to be happy with you. Lord, I hope in you, because I trust that you will not lead me astray. I love you, Lord, because you are the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through you, Lord, and I love you for being the mediator before the Father.

Petition: Lord, be the center, standard, and example of my life.

1. “You Are Anxious About Many Things” - It seems that things are moving faster all the time and that more and more things vie for my time. I serve as a chauffeur for the household, I spend a large part of my time accompanying the children for extracurricular activities, and people left and right want to talk to me. There is so much going on. Our culture almost demands that I do all these things. What is more, it seems at times like no one understands my dilemma. I am trying to do what is right, I am trying to be responsible, and it seems like no one else is. I identify myself with Martha, Lord, in a world which is so active and at times seems to fly by. Help me to make the right choices and to fulfill your will.

2. “There Is Need of Only One Thing” - Love Christ. Live for him. As life progresses and eternity draws near, only the love of Christ remains. Everything else turns into smoke, mist, nothing. Christ´s love is the treasure for which I should sell everything else, even egotism, pride and vanity. Lord, you are all I need. What else will matter when I finish my life? Who else can fill my soul with satisfaction and peace? Who else brings meaning to my life but you? Remind me of this, because many times it is so easy for me to lose my focus and direction in the world. It seems so easy for me to put other things first.

3. “Choose the Better Part” - Lord, your words to Martha strike a chord in my heart. I can let the noise and distractions around me nick at my heart and misdirect me, but all that will do is bring about more confusion and uneasiness. However, if I choose you, what great confidence it will bring me to know that you will not be taken from me. Everyone wants to be happy. Everyone wants to be fulfilled. Why should I fool myself looking for happiness in the things of this world when you supply it, Lord? Why should I settle for something less than the better part which you want to give me? Shouldn’t I be excited to be able to sit at your feet and spend time with you when you want to teach me what it means to be the best I can be; to be holy?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, give me the confidence of knowing that you are all I need. I do not want to distract myself with anything else. I want to sit at your feet. I want to listen to what you want to tell me. I want very much to learn from you.

Resolution: After Mass I will make a visit to Christ in thanksgiving for having received him in the Eucharist, and I will take a moment to listen to what he has to tell me.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

History and Promise of The Brown Scapular


This picture of Our Lady of Mount Carmel above commemorates a famous event in Church history. She is shown here as she appeared in a vision to St. Simon Stock, General of the Carmelite Order (at right) on July 16, 1251 at Aylesford, England.

After giving St. Simon a scapular, she promised him and all the Carmelites that whoever died wearing that religious garment would be saved and would not suffer eternal fire. The prayer to our Lady of Mount Carmel below calls the scapular “thy venerable livery.”

O all-blessed, immaculate Virgin, ornament and glory of Mount Carmel, thou who dost look with most gracious countenance on those who have been clothed with thy venerable livery, look kindly also on me and take me under the mantle of thy maternal protection. Strengthen my weakness with thy might; enlighten the darkness of my heart with thy wisdom; increase in me faith, hope and charity. So adorn my souls with graces and virtues that it may always be dear to thy divine Son and thee. Assist me during life, comfort me in death with thy most sweet presence, and present me as thy child and faithful servant to the most Holy Trinity, that I may be enabled to praise and extol thee in heaven forever. Amen.
(This prayer is followed by the Hail Mary (3 times) and the Glory Be.)

The Carmelite order began in Mount Carmel in Palestine in the 12th century. It moved to Europe in response to persecution from Muslims in that region. Although the Carmelites soon flourished in England and Europe, in part under St. Simon’s leadership, the order still faced internal dissension as well as opposition from the secular clergy.

St. Simon prayerfully appealed to our Lady of Mount Carmel for help. In response she gave him the scapular promise mentioned above and instructed him to seek papal assistance for the order. Pope Innocent IV issued a letter of protection for the Carmelites from the Holy See in January 1252.

The Carmelites continued to spread their good work throughout such cities as Paris, Bologna, Cambridge and Oxford, building monasteries and teaching in universities. The order has continued to thrive in devotion to our Lady and our Lord up to this present day, as discussed in their website. Famous Carmelites include St. Theresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, and Saint John of the Cross.

In 1322, Pope John XXII issued a document known as a Papal bull in which he included a promise from Our Lady of Mount Carmel he received in an apparition to release worthy souls from purgatory on the Saturday after their death.

The church has since summed up what we now call the Sabbatine Privilege, based on this revelation. Those who follow these three conditions will be released from Purgatory by Our Lady’s intercession soon after their death, especially on a Saturday. You need to:

1) Wear the brown scapular devoutly, once you’ve been enrolled in the Scapular Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel. 
2) Observe chastity according to your state in life.
3) Recite daily the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As this is a very long although quite beautiful prayer, with permission of a priest you can substitute either a) five decades of the rosary, b) abstinence from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays or c) some other good work.
This all is not as formidable as it sounds! You’re enrolled or “invested” as they say once your scapular has been blessed and certain prayers have been said by a priest. (All priests have the authority to do this.) You do not need to have any further scapulars you may later wear blessed.

It is also important to note here that once enrolled, you share in the daily prayers and other spiritual benefits of the Carmelite Order. Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s scapular promise of salvation to St. Simon and the Carmelites can now apply to you as well!

Scapulars have been traditionally worn, as in St. Simon’s time, as a sleeveless outer garment covering the shoulders and one’s front and back as well. The scapular we use for this devotion, however, is much smaller, as in the example shown below.

It consists of two small pieces of cloth, traditionally wool, a couple of inches in length and width. These are connected by two strings so that the scapular can be worn over your head and under your clothes, with one square hanging on your chest and the other on your back.


We call the scapular a sacramental, that is to say a sacred sign (such as a blessing) or object (like the rosary or holy water) given us by the Church. Sacramentals “prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC1670). It is important to note, however, that we play an important part in their effectiveness in our lives.

Many popes and other religious figures over the centuries have extolled the virtues of the brown scapular devotion. Still, they caution that, although our Lady of Mount Carmel promised that the scapular would protect us from eternal fire, wearing it in itself doesn’t guarantee our salvation.

The Most Rev. Kilian Lynch, a former prior general of the Carmelite Order, warned that the scapular was not “endowed with some kind of supernatural power which will save us no matter what we do or how much we sin.” As he put it, “Fidelity to the commandments is required by those seeking 'the special love and protection of Our Lady'".

The scapular is not to be worn as a substitute for leading a devout life of love and obedience to our Lord. This piece of cloth is not to be used as a kind of divine rabbit’s foot that will guarantee you Eternal Life no matter what you’ve done. If we abuse Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s scapular promise, we can’t count on her protection.

The good news, however, is that she, like her Son will help us with the graces we need for our salvation if we ask for her assistance with a sincere and contrite heart.

In 1917 during the apparitions at Fatima, Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to Sister Lucia holding the brown scapular. According to the famous visionary, who herself became a Carmelite nun, Our Lady wished everyone to wear it “because it is our sign of consecration to her Immaculate Heart.”

Along these lines, Pope Pius XII wrote in 1950 that the scapular should be “your sign of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which we are particularly urging in these perilous times."

Thus, in wearing the brown scapular devoutly, in living in love and obedience to God, we join our hearts to Mary’s and thus, to her divine Son’s Sacred Heart as well!

click this link for more info: 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Saturday of the Fifteenth Week "An Unquenchable Fire"

The Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. When Jesus realized this, he withdrew from that place. Many people followed him, and he cured them all, but he warned them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight; I shall place my spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not contend or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope." (
Matthew 12: 14-21
)

Introductory Prayer:God our Father, you gave us your Son to make us your children. I believe and I am hoping to be raised to full maturity in him through the school of the Gospel. I ask for this through Christ our Lord.

Petition:Jesus, I want to love as you love.

1. When Jesus Realized This, He Withdrew from That Place:There is a great lesson for us here: It is not yet his "hour," so Jesus does not force the issue. Jesus does not taunt the Pharisees or provoke an unnecessary clash. Whenever Jesus challenges a person it is in order to lead that person to a deeper self-reflection and ultimately to a conversion of heart and of life. He did this on several occasions with the same Scribes and Pharisees. Yet this is not the time to engage them intellectually; their hearts are closed and they are unwilling to listen. Since it is not Jesus´ hour, they really could not touch him, yet he prudently and humbly removes himself from the situation. When at times we find ourselves in a disagreement (perhaps even with a loved one), once the emotions are roused and it becomes clear that one or both parties are not ready for the truth, the prudent, loving and humble thing to do is withdraw from the situation until the moment our hearts are more open to listening.

2. A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break: Matthew´s comment in this section of the Gospel is quite revealing: "Many people followed him, and he cured them all." We must not imagine that all of the healings were physical. So "meek and humble" is Jesus that every person felt he could approach him. If a bruised reed comes to Jesus – a person battered by life, trials and his own sin – his first and only inclination is to heal that soul. Even to this very day Jesus continually takes what is broken and makes it whole. He is the master physician who binds up wounds so that the person may be healed. In light of this attitude we recognize the contrast between the Pharisees who seek to kill and Jesus who continues to give life to all who come to him.

3. A Smoldering Wick He Will Not Quench: All Jesus needs is the slightest ember of faith and hope to change a person´s life. For instance, we cannot force a person to love us or to trust us. Likewise, God himself respects the very freedom he entrusted to us. Nonetheless, our Lord does give the human person a searching mind and heart. That is why we can say that the human person is religious by nature from the beginning. Atheists are not born; they are made by their choices. Within the human soul God already provides us with the kindling for faith, hope and love. Once we are baptized, that kindling can become an unquenchable fire. Yet it can also be extinguished if we carelessly expose it to the winds and waves of unbridled selfishness, secularism, skepticism and systematic doubt . No matter how far we think we may have drifted, if we will simply turn to Jesus, we will find that he is already looking at us.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you see and know what I am to fully become if I will keep close to you in faith, hope and love. Deepen within me the desire to remain united to you in prayer so as to imitate you in love. Help me become with you what I can never become without you. Mother Most Pure, make my heart only for Jesus.

Resolution: Today I will contact someone who needs to be encouraged and listened to.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Friday of the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time "Condemning the Innocent"

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the Sabbath." He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the Sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, ´I desire mercy, not sacrifice,´ you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." (Matthew 12: 1-8)

Introductory Prayer: Almighty and ever-living God, I seek new strength from the courage of Christ our shepherd. I believe in you, I hope in you, and I seek to love you with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength. I want to be led one day to join the saints in heaven, where your Son Jesus Christ lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

Petition: Help me to make every Sunday a special day for me and my family.

1. Fasting on Sunday? It was the Sabbath, a day of rest. The disciples had had a difficult and busy week, and they were hungry. Jesus allowed them to look for food in the fields. This could have discouraged them, not having a meal waiting for them. But they were accustomed to hardship. They were busy and had much to do. There was little free time. Christ was busy on weekends; his mission didn’t stop. The disciples were united with Jesus, participating in his mission. This made all their sacrifices worthwhile and easier to cope with. When we trust in and unite ourselves with Christ, we can be patient and at peace in the midst of trials.

2. The Confrontation: The Sabbath was established in order for the Jewish people to remember and reflect on their special covenant relationship with God. He had delivered them from slavery and given them rest. The Pharisees, however, focused on “what you can’t do” and failed to see “what you should do.” On Sundays, we should focus more on what we should do in order to worthily receive Christ. Then secondary things will not distract us from what is essential. God has a special relationship with us. He has delivered us from slavery. He continues to love us and asks that we love him and others with all our heart. On Sundays, do I recall my covenant relationship with Our Lord? Am I mindful and grateful for all the good things he has done and continues to do for me? Does God take first place for me on Sundays?

3. Sunday Service: Christ instructed his disciples about his mission. They grew to understand, appreciate and live it. He taught them to participate at the Sabbath service with fervor, but also to be open to any needs others might have, even on the Sabbath. It is lawful to do good any day of the week, especially the Lord’s Day. Christ cured the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath, fed his disciples on the Sabbath, and cured another woman with a bent back on the Sabbath. Charity will inspire us to do good to others even on a Sunday. “Sunday service” and “Service-on-Sunday” go together. Do I ever dedicate my Sundays, or part of them, to bring rest to those who are most in need? What can I do to help the poor and marginalized on that day? How can I instill this spirit of service in my children?

Conversation with Christ: You long to share your Word and Body with me at Sunday Mass and at every Mass I can attend during the week. May I always have a hunger for this encounter with your love and friendship. May I serve others with the same charity and love as you serve me. May Sunday be the most important day of the week for me and my family.

Resolution: I will organize this coming Sunday to be a day of worship and rest. I will try to do good to someone this Sunday, and I will help someone come back to Sunday Mass attendance. 


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time "Weary of Heart"

Jesus said: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light." (Matthew 11: 28-30)

Introductory Prayer: Almighty and ever-living God, I seek new strength from the courage of Christ our shepherd. I believe in you, I hope in you, and I seek to love you with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength. I want to be led one day to join the saints in heaven, where your Son Jesus Christ lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

Petition: Lord Jesus, meek and humble of heart, help me to take on your yoke.

1. Come to Me: If you struggle daily to do what is morally right even when those around you take shortcuts, then come to Jesus. If the life of selfish pleasure and illicit gain seems exceedingly attractive, then come to Jesus. If you are burdened with your patterns of sin and weaknesses of character that affect your vocation as a spouse, a parent, a friend, a consecrated soul, a Christian…, then come to Jesus. If life seems unfair and God seems distant at best, then come to Jesus. He calls us not to a set of principles and noble ideals, but to his very person. We do not follow rules for the sake of rules; we follow Jesus. Only when we have first come to him will we understand the need for the rules which simply help protect the dignity of this relationship.

2. Learn from Me: St. Paul admonishes the Galatians to live in the freedom of Christ: "For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1). Yet in his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul invites us to be "slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart" (6:5). To be a slave means that I submit to the will of another or am subordinated (unwillingly) to one stronger than I in some way. One who is a slave of passion, vanity, selfishness or any other vice is subject to that vice as something more powerful than oneself. But Jesus calls us friends and not slaves (cf. John 15:14-15). So to be a "slave" of Christ means to entrust my life to him freely with the intention of following where he leads. Experience shows that he always guides us down the path that leads to our happiness and fulfillment, even when it entails the cross.

3. Rest for Yourselves: These words mean “rest,” not in the sense of cessation from work and struggle, but in the sense of peace of soul, joy and profound happiness. This is the rest that we all long for, the rest that will one day be uninterrupted in the bliss of heaven. We have each met individuals who experience this peace and joy despite their circumstances. Notice that Jesus does not promise to take away the burdens, the trials, the sufferings. But if we take his yoke upon ourselves, if we submit to his plan, his will, his love, he guarantees the joy. If you have never experienced it, then begin today; give him what you know in your heart he is asking of you. Although it may hurt at first, as does every yoke, this one brings the lightness of peace and the ease of joy.

Conversation with Christ: Blessed Lord, you lead me towards everlasting peace if I will simply follow, but following does not always seem simple. Give me the very things you ask of me: faith, generosity, courage, trust, love. With these gifts and your grace I will have the strength necessary for the journey.

Resolution: Today I will pray an extra decade of the rosary for the persons who are farthest away from Jesus.