Thursday, October 31, 2013

Solemnity of All Saints "Winning the Only Contest that Matters"

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you with a faith that never seeks to test you. I trust in you, hoping to learn to accept and follow your will, even when it does not make sense to the way that I see things. I love you, and I want to love you and those around me with a love similar to the love you have shown to me.

Petition: Lord, help me accept sacrifices and overcome difficulties in order to gain heaven.

1. The Beatitudes Don’t Make Sense: As we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints’ Day, the Church calls us to contemplate the promises Jesus makes to all those who follow him. At first, they don’t seem very attractive. Jesus lists a whole series of things that most people would probably avoid. They would see them as interfering with their wants and desires, Yet, Jesus says that we will be blessed if we have them in our lives. The word in the original Greek is “makarios”, which means “happy”. This doesn’t make sense. Am I supposed to be happy when I am poor, mourning, meek, lacking righteousness, merciful, clean-hearted, a peacemaker, persecuted and insulted? That’s not what I see on TV, in the movies, on the Internet. It’s not what many of the people I know would advise me. So what is Jesus’ big idea telling me this? Is he out to make me miserable?

2. Sacrificing for Worldly Glory: We can see that the whole picture isn’t gloomy. Jesus says that if we accept these difficult things, there will be rewards. And the rewards sound pretty good. In fact, they sound great: the Kingdom of Heaven, comfort, inheriting the land, satisfaction in seeing righteousness done, receiving mercy, seeing God, being a child of God, a great reward in heaven. Who wouldn’t want these things? Don’t people work a lot harder for a lot less? Don’t athletes train for years, giving up all kinds of pleasures, submitting themselves to intense suffering at times only for a brief moment of glory in some competition? Don’t businessmen work long hours, giving up pleasures and making immense sacrifices just to make a few more dollars? Isn’t what Jesus offers us much better than any of that? Better than a gold medal or even a million dollars?

3. But I Am Not Interested in Heavenly Things: Anything worth having is worth making sacrifices for, and the more it is worth, the greater sacrifices we should be willing to make for it. Perhaps a gold medal is worth the sacrifices the athlete makes to win it. Perhaps a million dollars are worth the sacrifices that a businessman makes to gain them. If heaven is really all it is supposed to be, isn’t it worth all the sacrifices Jesus mentions here – and more? If people are willing to make such great sacrifices to gain things they cannot keep, shouldn’t I be willing to make even greater sacrifices to gain the eternal happiness of heaven? Of course, many people with the talent to do great things in this world never do them because they just aren’t that interested or motivated. Is that why I don’t do more to gain heaven? Just not that interested? What will it take to motivate me to really desire what Jesus offers?

Conversation with Christ: Dear Jesus, I don’t do much to make the Beatitudes come to life in me.  Help me to give heaven its full value. Help me to desire it more each day. Help me to meditate on what heaven will be like so I will love it more and more and be willing to do anything – whatever it takes – to get there and help many others arrive as well.

Resolution: I will spend at least five minutes today imagining what heaven will be like. What would I like heaven to be like? Jesus is setting up a mansion there for me. He is going to put everything that he can in it to please me and make me happy. Spend some time imagining what he would put there to surprise and delight me. He will go far beyond my wildest imaginations, but by dedicating some time to this today, I will increase my desire for heaven and to make the  sacrifices necessary to get there.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time "God Desires to Draw Us to Himself"

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you." He said to them, "Go and tell that fox for me, ´Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ´Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord"

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you with a faith that never seeks to test you. I trust in you, hoping to learn to accept and follow your will, even when it does not make sense to the way that I see things. May my love for you and those around me be similar to the love you have shown to me.

Petition: Lord, I want to be convinced of your personal love for me.

1. Persevering in the Mission: Jesus encounters opposition on his journey to Jerusalem. Pharisees come to warn him of Herod. Jesus is undeterred. He knows that the Father’s will is for him to go to Jerusalem and surrender his life on the cross. He doesn’t hide or seek to escape from his Father’s will. He knows that the cross lies ahead of him, but he also knows that death and the cross are not the end. Beyond death is the Resurrection: “On the third day I finish my work.” Christ’s example should give us confidence to move forward in the face of our own difficulties and struggles. We should turn to him because he knows how to persevere in the mission. And since he wants to be involved in our life, he will accompany us on our journey. He is always with us ready to give us the help of his grace and the strength of his hand.

2. A Heart Open to Others: Jesus cried for Jerusalem. His heart was not closed to others. He was not absorbed in himself or his own problems. He freely offered his life for others.

Others rejected him, but he never rejected them. He was not bitter towards those who would make him suffer. He loved, and he never ceases to love. As a hen gathers her young under her wings, so does God long to draw all men and women tohimself. We need to let God draw us to himself.

3. Pray for Those Who Persecute You: Jesus sets an example for us to follow. Our hearts should not be closed. We need to be open to the needs of those around us, even those who may attack the Church and persecute us. Jesus loved his enemies. He prayed for those who persecuted him. He blessed those who cursed him. He sought only their good, and he sacrificed himself for them. He shows us the way to live an authentically Christian life. To be faithful to him, we need to reach out in love even to those people who don’t think and act like us.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to follow your inspirations always. Often there is good that I want to do, but I hesitate and draw back. Help me to keep giving even when I’m tired and worn out.  Teach me that you are always with me and that I am never alone.

Resolution: I will be open to what a family member or colleague at work might need, and I will seek to offer my help.


Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time "God Desires to Draw Us to Himself"

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time "Up Against the Narrow Gate"

Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" He answered them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ´Lord, open the door for us He will say to you in reply, ´I do not know where you are from.´ And you will say, ´We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.´ Then he will say to you, ´I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."

Introductory Prayer:Lord, I believe in you with a faith that never seeks to test you. I trust in you, hoping to learn to accept and follow your will, even when it does not make sense to the way that I see things. May my love for you and those around me be similar to the love you have shown to me.

Petition:Lord, grant me the humility and sincerity to enter by the narrow gate.

1. A Scary Question: This is a scary question: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” Jesus doesn’t answer the question directly. Instead, he gives some advice. It almost looks like Jesus is avoiding the question, as if the answer is too discouraging. He tries to be encouraging instead, but at the same time underlines the difficulty of success. “Strive he says, “to enter by the narrow gate.” Strive is the key word, since apparently, many are going to try to enter and fail, because the gate is so narrow.

2. A Disturbing Reply: The words that many will try to enter and fail are troubling. What percentage? How many? Nowadays, we like exact statistics. Jesus doesn’t say, but we get the impression that it will be more than a few. The possibility of failure is very real. Who will fail?

Probably, people who don’t take him seriously; people who don’t try hard enough; people who love something more than they love Jesus. In other word, lots of people will fail…

3. My Christian Credentials May Not Be as Solid as I Think They Are: He goes on to say that many who think they are doing enough are going to be surprised to find they didn’t do enough. They think their Christian credentials are solid, but they will be found wanting. They will tell Jesus that they ate and drank with him, that they received communion every Sunday. They will witness to how many times they heard him preach in their streets, how much they contributed to the collection, but that will not be enough. Yet others who did not seem so good in life will be entering the Kingdom before them. Which group will I be in? Jesus is warning me that just because I feel I am doing enough for him doesn’t mean I am going to be in the group to be saved. I need to follow him with as much sincerity and honesty as I am capable of, doing his will and not my own.

Conversation with Christ: Dear Jesus, your words are troubling to me. I see how often I fail in what I know I should be doing for you. I see that I cannot reliably guide myself in this matter. Send your Holy Spirit to help me open my eyes to see if I am falling short before it is too late. Help me to enter by the narrow gate.

Resolution: Today I will examine my conscience very honestly to see if I am saying ‘no’ to Jesus in any aspect of my life and to see if I am letting myself get too comfortable in any aspect of my life, since comfort, especially in the spiritual life, is a sign that I am not “striving to enter by the narrow gate.”



Monday, October 28, 2013

Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time "The Kingdom of Heaven Infiltrates and Enriches Everything It Touches"

Jesus said, "What is the kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a person took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches." Again he said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened." (Luke 13:18-21)

Introductory Prayer:  Lord, I believe in you with a faith that never seeks to test you. I trust in you, hoping to learn to accept and follow your will, even when it does not make sense to the way that I see things. May my love for you and those around me be similar to the love you have shown to me.
   
Petition:  Lord, help me to value and seek the invisible strength of the Kingdom of Heaven.

1. The Kingdom Grows from Small Beginnings   Jesus tells us two parables to help us understand the Kingdom of Heaven. What does he want us to know about it? When he speaks about the mustard seed, he is emphasizing that something that seems inconsequential can grow to become something of great importance. Although the mustard seed is so small as to be nearly invisible, it grows into a small tree, big enough for birds to make a nest in. Its usefulness goes beyond its own needs. It can give shelter and support to others.

2. You Don’t Have to Understand Biology to Be a Baker  In the parable of the leaven, something similar happens. Leaven has a mysterious property. Although it seems to be nothing special itself, even a small amount of it, mixed with dough, causes the dough to rise. The Jews listening to Jesus didn’t know why. They didn’t know that the leaven contained yeast spores that under the right conditions of heat, moisture and nutrients, would begin to grow and produce carbon dioxide gas (which is what makes the dough rise). It was mysterious to them, what power the leaven contained, but they knew that just a little of it would transform a much larger quantity of dough, so that the resulting bread would not just be matzo, but a much larger quantity of light, airy bread that is much nicer to eat. In a similar way, grace transforms the ordinary acts of our day, making them much nicer in God’s eyes.

3. The Church Transforms Societies  Both these parables apply to the Kingdom of Heaven. As he spoke, Jesus had before him just a few apostles who still didn’t grasp his message very well. The Kingdom of Heaven was so small as to be invisible, like the mustard seed. But it was destined to have incredible growth, such that it would begin to help all humanity and not just those who belonged to it. When he speaks of the leaven, he refers not just to the growth that the Kingdom of Heaven would undergo throughout the centuries, but to the transformation it would accomplish in the societies it entered. We see this in the world today. The Church has not only grown, but it has also come to affect many who are not in the Church and to transform society. The apostles, who did not see the Kingdom very clearly, had a hard time accepting this. We have seen much more, and yet we still doubt and hesitate.

Conversation with Christ:  Dear Jesus I have seen so much of your Kingdom that I should believe without hesitation, yet I still worry about the final triumph of your Kingdom. Help me to have a greater faith, not only to believe what you said, but to help the spread of the Kingdom continue to come true in my society and culture.

Resolution:  I will try to be more optimistic about the Church in society, seeing how it has influenced so much of what is best in our society – love for the poor, love for enemies etc. Knowing that it is inspired by the Holy Spirit, I will accept that as it has happened so many times in the past, just when things look bleakest for the Church, God turns the tables, and it enters into another Golden Age. Didn’t John Paul II predict that we were just launching out into the New Age of Evangelization?


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saints Simon and Jude, apostles. Feast "Contemplative and Conquering"

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6: 12-16)

Introductory Prayer:Lord, I believe that my time spent in prayer with you can and will bear fruit in my life and the lives of those around me. Increase my faith so that I will never leave your side. I firmly trust in you, and I want to cling to you even when there is nothing else to grasp. I want to love you with the same love that you have shown me.

Petition:Lord, help me to realize that without you I can do nothing.

1. Sleepless Nights    Imagine yourself with Christ on the mountain, spending time talking with his Father. What did Christ speak to him about? What did the Father tell him? Before the greatest moments of his ministry, Christ always goes up a mountain to pray. Not only does he desire this time alone with God the Father, he also knows this time is fundamentally necessary for the fulfillment of his mission. It is from his Father that he receives the strength to go forward.

2. Contemplation Brings Us to Action    It is precisely this time in prayer that brings Jesus to action: The next morning he comes down from the mountain and chooses his disciples. Sometimes when we go to pray, we become pragmatic and think of all the good we could be doing if we were out doing apostolate rather than praying before Christ. This is backwards! Without filling ourselves up with God in prayer, what are we going to offer to those who come to us? “One cannot give what one does not have.” A natural fruit of our prayer will be renewed apostolic zeal to go and set the world on fire for Christ.

3. Action Brings Us Back to Prayer    Once we have been out speaking to others about God and bringing them closer to him, we will naturally feel the need to stop and return to prayer for strength and renewal. To be contemplative and then conquering may at first seem to be an oxymoron, yet Christ never lets one get in the way of the other – one naturally leads to the other. As Saint Augustine exhorts us, “Pray as if all depends on God, and work as if all depends on you.”

Conversation with Christ:Jesus, bring me up the mountain so that I may spend quality time speaking to you and learning from you. Please help my prayer drive me to apostolic action and, in turn, my apostolic action drive me back to prayer. Keep me close to you, and never let me be separated from you.

Resolution:As the activities of my day begin to pick up, I will take a small step back and say a quick prayer. I will ask for the grace to be filled with Christ’s love, so that in turn I may give this love of Christ to all those I meet today.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time "Humility in Prayer"

Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. "Two people went up to the Temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ´O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity -- greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.´ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ´O God, be merciful to me a sinner.´ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14)

Introductory Prayer:Lord, I believe in you. I believe that you have created me and redeemed me from sin. I believe that you have given me everything I have that is good: my existence, my faith, my education, what virtues I have. I come to you today in prayer to place my life before you. Help me to see clearly that you are the source of all goodness in me. Grant me a humble, contrite heart capable of true prayer. So often I wonder if I really know how to pray; I wonder how fruitful my prayer is. In the face of my misery I offer you the one thing I know I can offer: my humility before your majesty. 

Petition:Lord, help me to be humble when I approach you in prayer

1. The Pharisee’s Prayer. The Pharisee went up to the Temple to pray. We can assume that his intention was to talk with God. As he stood there in the Temple, he thought he was praying: he was in the right place, he was facing the right way, he seemed to be doing the right thing. But his prayer was contorted. In fact it was not prayer at all; it was a self-righteous discourse. If a friend were to ask him the next day if he had said his prayers, he would have said, “Yes.” Is my own prayer sometimes a false prayer like the Pharisee’s? Do I think I am praying, doing all of the right things, but in reality not praying at all and only justifying myself?

2. He Was a Good Pharisee. The poor Pharisee always gets painted as the “bad guy” in this parable. But in reality he is not an outwardly evil person. He does not commit grave sins. He is honest, faithful to his wife, generous in his giving. But his pride blinds him to a much deeper relationship with God. He lives his religion as the bare minimum of not committing grave sins. His prayer is sterile. I must examine myself to make sure I am not doing the same, thinking I am doing all the right things but in reality barely living my faith. 

3. Humility Is Essential to Prayer. The tax collector is justified not because he has done all of the right things but because he has the humility to recognize his own sinfulness. Perhaps he even heard what the Pharisee was saying and it moved him all the more to plead for God’s mercy. One of the most important characteristics of our prayer is that it be humble. When we go to pray we must approach God recognizing our sinfulness and weakness and the fact that we have received everything good we have from him. This is what makes our prayer fruitful. God loves a humble, contrite heart.

Dialogue with Christ: Dear Lord, grant me a humble, contrite heart. You know my misery. You know too well the many times I have offended you and turned my back on you. I do not want to pretend that I have never sinned because I know I have. I offer you the misery of my sinfulness so that you can purify it and do with it as you will. I do not want to live my life merely avoiding the big sins. I want to have a deep and intimate relationship with you founded on substantial humility.

Resolution: I will always make an act of humility at the beginning of my prayer.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Saturday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time "The Question of Evil"

At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them -- do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!" And he told them this parable: "There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ´For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil He said to him in reply, ´Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down"


Introductory Prayer: My Lord and my God! I believe that you came as my Savior. I know you wish to save me from everlasting harm. Thank you. I place all my trust in you. I love you, Lord, and I offer myself as an instrument for you to help others to know and love you, too.

Petition: Teach me, Lord, to repent, to turn to you and to spread your Good News.


1. Why is there Evil in the World? It can happen that people become scandalized or doubt God because of the evil and suffering they see in the world around them. Christ shows us that this attitude is mistaken because God says, “I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather in the wicked man´s conversion, that he may live. Turn, turn from your evil ways!” (Ezekiel 33:11). God does no evil. It is we, his creatures, who do evil, and God suffers the consequences twice: He suffers when we reject him through our sins, and he then takes our sins upon himself and suffers on the Cross so that we might be redeemed. If anyone has a right to complain about the evil in the world, it is God. However, it is through forgiveness that God shows his power and his love. We should not be scandalized by evil, but examine our souls and repent of our own sinful deeds.

 

2. The Return to the Father “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  I am that tree which so far has given little or no fruit. Jesus is the gardener who sticks up for me and pleas to “fertilize me” instead of cutting me down. The fertilizer is Christ’s Body and Blood, which he sacrificed so that I might have life to the fullest. He wishes to give me his very self and to fill me with grace and thus “reconstruct” my weak, worn heart and person. What does he ask of me? I need to turn to him with both contrition for my sins and confidence in his healing love. I need to open myself to his saving grace. Am I fully aware of my need for Christ, and do I turn to him hungrily? If not, why not?


3. Bearing Fruit “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). After three years of public ministry, we see in today’s Gospel that Jesus is ready to put his life on the line for me – but does the Son of Man find any faith or love in my heart? “God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). He will soon shed his blood under Pontius Pilate – for my sins. Will he find my tree barren and grant me this one last “year” of mercy? Or will he find my tree blooming with sweet-smelling fruits in good works performed out of love for him? He will hang from a dead tree on Good Friday, and his corpse, given out of love for me, will become real fruit, real moisture and fertilizer to my arid soul. Let him make of me a fruitful fig tree, so that others, too, may come to repentance on my account.


Conversation with Christ: Teach me, Lord, to repent, to turn to you, and to spread your Good News. I believe in your mission of saving souls, including mine. I hope in you because of the time of mercy that you grant me. I want to love by spreading the Good News of your salvation. Let me be a messenger of your love.


Resolution: I will serve others by voicing Christian hope in my conversations today.



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Friday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time "Spiritual Weather Reports"

Jesus said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain -- and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot -- and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time? Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."


Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are here with me. I have come to honor and adore you. Your love sustains me. I want to love you more in return.


Petition: Lord, allow me to comprehend your providence more deeply.


1. Seeing Signs: Jesus expresses some indignation with the spiritual obtuseness of his listeners; in other words, they don’t get it! When it comes to earthly matters, they can put two and two together in an almost infallible manner. A dim dullness, however, has the upper hand when the spiritual realm is broached. Why? Possibly because they were not bothering to ponder what the sign of Jesus’ presence, miracles and words really meant. They remained on the superficial level without plumbing the depths. Superficiality inhibits our own spiritual progress as well. Seeing signs isn’t so much a matter of being able to pick out the shape of a tabernacle or cross in a passing cloud, but of deep and prayerful consideration of the love of God in our lives.


2. God’s Presence: People who live a life of consistent prayer are much more in tune with God’s presence. Where others see coincidence, they see providence. This gives them a profound sense of peace. They know that God is in charge and that they don’t have to figure out everything for themselves. The world doesn’t rest on their shoulders, but on God’s. So instead of complaining or worrying, they live in an atmosphere of trust and acceptance.


3. Paying Attention: God’s providence guides all things. We know this through faith and sometimes he sends a sign to say, “Yes, I’m indeed here.” Once a Legionary priest was driving down the road in Virginia and his thoughts were taken up with a difficulty he was having with a particular person. “How should I handle this,” he asked himself. A car pulled out in front of him. Virginia is known for its high number of vanity license plates, and this one left him scratching his head. The license plate read “CARITAS”, which is Latin for “charity.” Was it just a coincidence? He couldn’t deny that this was the answer he was looking for. The signs that invite us to be more Christ-like are the ones to which we need to pay the most attention.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, the times I really don’t pick up on the signs you send me are when they challenge my resistance to your grace. Help me to overcome my spiritual superficiality and perceive your presence in my life.


Resolution: I will try to be prompt in following the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.





Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thursday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time "Jesus’ Fire Must Be My Own"

Jesus said to his disciples: "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."


Introductory Prayer: Father, I place myself in your presence. I firmly believe in you and love you with all my heart. I entrust myself completely to your merciful but demanding ways, knowing that you only seek to lead me home to heaven.


Petition: Lord, help me to ignite awareness of your love all around me.


1. The Spark That Must Become a Blaze: Jesus’ intensity and passion break out in radical expression in today’s Gospel. He yearns for a divine conflagration in the hearts of his disciples. Jesus endured a true baptism of immersion, steeped in the pain of Golgotha, precisely so that our own baptism would not be a mere ceremony. Rather he wanted our baptism to be a holy spark of divine life that, with care and formation, would become a growing flame of authentic Christian holiness. Indeed, let us fan that flame and never allow external pressures, or our own mediocrity, to extinguish it.


2. Peace, at Any Price? Jesus corrects a misperception in some of his listeners. Some no doubt expected him to usher in the messianic peace, when the lion would lie down with the lamb (see Isaiah 11:6-9). No, the time for that peace will be at history’s end, when God’s Kingdom is established in all its fullness. Till then, Christianity will often find itself in conflict with the powers of the world. We want to be considered nice people, yet our convictions will at times bring us conflict. May the spark of our soul be a strong-enough flame to accept those moments and avoid the cheap peace of acquiescing with the world.


3. Put Up Your Dukes? Should Catholics be people spoiling for a fight? Not if they want to be good Catholics! Those who love fighting and arguing may very well find themselves in divided households, but not for the reasons Jesus really means. Courtesy, gentleness, and the finer details of charity should characterize the person who wants to be like Christ. These kinds of people seek to unite, not divide. When they are dividers, it is because they have to be. They know when the point arrives that if they bend any further, they’ll break — where flexibility would degenerate into infidelity. There are tough, sad moments when being faithful to Christ means a head-on collision in a very important relationship, such as the ones Jesus mentions. But when it’s a question of where our first loyalty lies, there is no debate. Christ must come first.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, you are the center of my life. I thank you for my family and pray that I will never be a stumbling block for their faith. Give me the wisdom to know when to speak and when to remain silent. Help me, so that I will never compromise the Gospel, nor needlessly alienate those whom you have sent me to serve.


Resolution: I will strive to set a good spiritual example for my family and will invite someone who has strayed to consider coming back.

 



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wednesday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time "It’s So Hard to Get Good Help"

Jesus said to his disciples: "Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come." Then Peter said, "Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?" And the Lord replied, "Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, ´My master is delayed in coming,´ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant´s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master´s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master´s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more." (Luke 12:39-48)

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, my Creator and Redeemer, everything good comes from you. You are the one source of peace and happiness. Thank you for bringing me into existence and insuring I received the inestimable gift of the faith. Thank you for accompanying me in every moment. I am grateful for your mercy and love and wish to respond more generously to you in my life.

Petition: Lord, help me to be a faithful and prudent steward.

1. Wanted: Faithful and Prudent Stewards: Anyone who has had a management position knows that one of the riskiest parts of the job is hiring. Very often, it can seem like rolling dice, especially when there is a conflict between what’s read in the resume and what’s felt in the gut. Nevertheless, to make a good hire, you need to have a clear idea of what you want. The Lord has a simple job description for the stewards he is looking to bring on. They must be faithful and prudent. In being faithful, they don’t seek to impose their own vision or desires over his, but rather serve the Master who has given them their commission. Their will is such that they are confident in assimilating the desires of their master. They are able to perceive how to adjust and adapt to the multitude of circumstances that arises. These stewards are constantly applying the old wristband test, “WWJD,” i.e., What Would Jesus Do?

2. Tasting One’s Own Medicine: Having been “hired” by the master, it would be foolish not to expect to be held accountable for the trust that he bestows. Nevertheless, the irresponsible steward indulges his appetites and abuses his authority. The master’s “delay” gives him a false sense of security. Without the natural brake of his master’s watchful eye, his pride gets out of control. Yet the master is bound to return, and the servant eventually experiences the results of his own arrogance: the taste of his own medicine is bitter indeed. The Lord is inviting us to have a greater awareness of his constant presence. His absence and “delay” are only apparent. He is very much present to those who wish to live their God-given charge with integrity and responsibility. His grace is always available to those who live their lives in his presence.

3. Management Styles: The two types of stewards have very different management styles. One beats the servants; the other “distributes the food allowance at the proper time.” We all want to be counted among those faithful and prudent stewards who take good care of those entrusted to us. Yet at times, the responsibility we have seems more burdensome than desirable. While the bad steward indulges his passions, the good steward is in danger of giving into his fatigue and impatience. Frustration is a distinct possibility when it comes to forming others. If the Lord died such a cruel death for our salvation, who can measure the value of a single soul? By contemplating that example, we need to learn to put aside our petty annoyances and instead be faithful in caring for those entrusted to us.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you have given me such great responsibility. I am sorry for the times I have offended you, and for when I have not lived up to the trust you have bestowed on me. I promise you that I will strive to reflect your love for those to whom you have entrusted to my care.

Resolution: When my patience is tested, I will pause and ask myself, “How does the Lord want me to handle this situation?”


Monday, October 21, 2013

Tuesday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time "Spiritual Readiness"

Jesus said to his disciples: "Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master´s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants." (Luke 12:35-38)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you watch my every action, know my every thought, and guide my every path. I love and trust in your will. Thank you for this time of prayer. From it may I receive the spiritual energy I need to keep my eyes firmly planted on you today and to remain confident that you are always at my side.

Petition: Lord, help me always to be alert to the needs of others.

1. Watch and Pray: Being blindsided is no fun. Those unexpected surprises are particularly annoying when we feel someone should have warned us. “Please make sure you tell me about this next time” is a familiar refrain. When it comes to the questions about the afterlife, if we are blindsided we will have no one to blame but ourselves. Christ has given us more than adequate warning. Neither death nor his coming in glory to judge humanity should catch us off guard. The key to preparedness lies in his admonition to his disciples: “Watch and pray” (Matthew 26:41).

2. Master or Servant: Imagine Jesus’ joy in welcoming one of his “good and faithful servants” into heaven. He said that he will sit us down and serve us dinner. That beautiful image reminds us that the hard work of being faithful will not lack its reward. More than anything, it points to Jesus’ gratitude: the Master becomes the servant for his loyal disciples. After all that the Lord has done for us, what else would we rather do than to give Christ the joy of our faithfulness?

3. The Long Haul: Jesus talks about the master of the house possibly arriving at the “second or third watch of the night.” Being faithful isn’t a fling or a flash in the pan. We know that there will be “ups and downs,” moments of two steps forward and one back. Through it all we are called to persevere. Going the distance is not easy, but how beautiful it is! Pope John Paul the II gave us an indelible example of perseverance. When we heard that he had passed away, all of us felt sadness until we considered the joy of imagining the embrace between him and the Lord he loved so much. May our own example bear witness to our desire to persevere — to stick with the commitment of fidelity until the Lord calls us home.

Conversation with Christ: Whether life is long or short, Lord, I have to be ready for whatever your providence brings. I want to persevere, but so often my love is undermined by my fears and frailty. Give me the strength I need.

Resolution: I will review my life choices to make sure that I am persevering in all that I have promised Christ.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Monday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time "Bigger Barns?"

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me." He replied to him, "Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?" Then he said to the crowd, "Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one´s life does not consist of possessions." Then he told them a parable. "There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ´What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?´ And he said, ´This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, "Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!" But God said to him, ´
You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?´ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God."

Introductory Prayer: O God, I come to you today with all my human frailty. You know me better than I know myself. I am in your presence to accompany and console you, not to seek consolation or a nice feeling for myself. Even if I get distracted during our time together, I offer myself to you completely. 
Petition: Lord, give me wisdom to understand what is truly important in this life.

1. The Scorecard of Life: Driving down the road, a bumper sticker is often seen: “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” This is a contemporary rendition of the mantra of Jesus’ rich fool: “Eat, drink and be merry.” Juggling credit cards and all kinds of financing schemes, many people live life like the rich fool in today’s Gospel. Is the drive for material pleasure, or security, impoverishing my soul?

2. A Bigger Barn vs. a Bigger Heart: What will truly make us happy? Glossy magazine ads are, for some, a source of inspiration on this point. Basically, they are about “bigger barns”: a hotter car, redder lipstick, spectacular vacations. The rich fool believes that by increasing his capacity for material pleasure, he will be happier. But it’s an illusion. Like the running wheel for a gerbil, it is lots of movement without getting anywhere. We invest energy and effort acquiring things, but the bigger barn brings us little joy. That’s because our hearts -- not our barns -- are what really need to be enlarged. Our heart longs for love. That Augustinian restlessness will never leave us in peace until we have encountered the Lord who loves us and discovered him in the relationships ordained by his providence.

3. When the Final Curtain Is Drawn: At the end of this parable, Jesus in essence says, “You can’t take it with you.” There’s a place in Rome in which this is graphically depicted. The Capuchin church of St Mary of the Immaculate Conception, on Via Veneto, is affectionately known as the “Bone Church.” Inside there is an amazingly designed and arranged display made completely out of the bones of four thousand Capuchin friars! While it may strike at modern sensitivities as somewhat morbid, like today’s Gospel it teaches an important lesson. All those bones look alike. Unless you are a forensic expert, you cannot tell who was fat or thin, smart or dull, handsome or homely. Death is the great leveler. Earthly advantages dissolve. Material goods stay in this world. We go to the Lord to render an account of our lives at death. As the little sign on the wall of the Capuchin ossarium says, “One day, we were like you. One day, you will be like us.”

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, so often I find my eyes looking on the good things of this world more as ends than means. I need to keep my priorities straight always: you first and then everything else, inasmuch as they lead me to you. Give me the wisdom to realize that life is short and it must be lived for you alone.

Resolution: I will live charity today as fervently as if I knew this day were my last.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time "Never Lose Heart"

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ´Grant me justice against my opponent.´ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ´Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.´" And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, my Creator and Redeemer, everything good comes from you. You are the one source of peace and happiness. Thank you for bringing me into existence and insuring I received the inestimable gift of the faith. Thank you for accompanying me in every moment. I am grateful for your mercy and love and wish to respond more generously to you in my life.

Petition: Lord, allow me never to tire in my life of prayer.

1. The Widow, the Powerless: In ancient Israel, widows were often powerless. Back then, women did not earn money; that was the man’s obligation. So when a woman’s husband died, to whom could she turn for support? She depended either on her sons or on other Israelites to fulfill her needs. Christ uses the image of the widow because he has compassion on the person who is needy. Everyone is needy in his own way. Everyone has virtues he needs to acquire, and sins and vices that need to be cast out. It takes a humble person to realize his inability to acquire these virtues on his own and to resort to begging our Lord for his grace. Do I see my need for Christ in the battle for virtue, or do I work as if he played no role?

2. Cry to Him Day and Night: This reminds us to pray constantly. We can’t reduce our relationship with God to a one shot deal. It isn’t something we acquire once and for all and then move on to the next goal in life. We are to call out to him without ceasing, for our life is meant to be in continual dialogue with him. We were created to have a personal relationship with Christ, to seek his will, and then to put it into action. Everything we say, think and do should flow from our continual friendship with him.

3. The Judge, the Unjust: The judge was indifferent to the widow’s distress. This was an injustice. He had as much a duty to listen to her as he had to listen to anyone else. Have I ever been indifferent to a person I had the duty to serve? The judge finally heard what she was saying because she persisted. God wants us to be persistent. He is showing us that we must beg him for his grace. It is as if he treats us as a parent who says, “If my child really wants this from me, he will beg until I let him have it.” God wants us to realize we are completely dependent on him. He knows what we need before we ask. However, he waits until we turn to him in prayer and in this way increases our desire for what we request.

Conversation with Christ: Christ Jesus, you are the way, the truth, and the life. Allow me to live a life completely dependent on you. Turn my prayer into a union of hearts, where I beg you for your love.

Resolution: I will make an act of humility before our Lord in the Eucharist. 


Friday, October 18, 2013

Memorial of Saint John de Brébeuf and Saint Isaac Jogues, priests and martyrs, and their companions, martyrs "Fidelity to the Holy Spirit’s Inspirations"

Jesus said to his disciples: "I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are present here as I turn to you in prayer. I trust and have confidence in your desire to give me every grace I need to receive today. Thank you for your love, thank you for your immense generosity toward me. I give you my life and my love in return.

Petition: Grant me, Lord, the grace to stand up for my beliefs today.

1. Too Cowardly for Martyrdom: Sometimes it’s very difficult to acknowledge Jesus before others. We think of the possibility of martyrdom, and we all wonder if we would be able to be faithful to Jesus if it meant death. We may think that we witness to him pretty well in our everyday lives, but do we really? We listen to attacks on Jesus and his Church without objection. Sometimes we even kind of nod or smile as if to let on that we agree. We would never say such things ourselves, but we don’t really stand up for Jesus even when there is no possibility of martyrdom. How many of us have a terrible time just making the sign of the Cross in a public place? It’s a simple thing, something I do every time I come to the table to eat, but somehow, it can be incredibly difficult in a restaurant, where the only burden is that “people might think I’m a Catholic.”

2. Accepting the Truth: Christ’s teaching about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit may be worrisome because we may think that there exists some unforgivable sin. Yet, there is no unforgivable sin. God’s love and mercy is all-powerful against sin. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has been understood by the Church to mean final impenitence -- that the Holy Spirit is trying to convince us of our sins and we won’t accept them.

If we are finally convinced, there is no blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. However, if we die without having accepted his truth, then we will be guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Do I let the Holy Spirit convince me of my sinfulness? Are there things that the Church teaches as wrong that I don’t want to accept? Are there sins that I think aren’t too bad because I want to make them a part of my life? Sins cannot be forgiven if they are not accepted as sins.

3. Witnessing with My Life: Maybe we don’t worry too much about being hauled into court for our Christianity, but we still have to testify to it every day with our lives. No matter where we go or what we do, we are witnesses to our belief in Christ. The Greek word “martyr” means “witness.” I need to let the Holy Spirit speak through me when I am in front of others. People will be judging not just me, but all Christians by my actions, so I need to live charity as the mark of a genuine Christian. I need to foster the humility of a person who looks at the greatness and holiness of God the Father and yet recognizes his own pettiness and sinfulness. I need to live all the virtues in the concrete circumstances of my daily life. The only way I can do all these things is by letting the Holy Spirit speak through the actions of my life, so that my life is the testimony that others need it to be.

Conversation with Christ: Dear Jesus, I can hear your call to a deeper intimacy with you. I want to draw closer, yet at times, I also feel reluctance. Help my weak will. Inflame my heart with a greater love for you so that I can be a true “martyr”, a witness to your faithful love. Open my heart to your Holy Spirit so that I live as a true Christian.

Resolution: When I am in front of others, I will foster the awareness that I am a witness to the truth of Christ’s revelation and try to let the Holy Spirit speak through my actions.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Feast of Saint Luke, evangelist "Feast of Saint Luke, evangelist"

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ´Peace to this house!´ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ´The kingdom of God has come near to you.´"

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are present here as I turn to you in prayer. I trust and have confidence in your desire to give me every grace I need to receive today. Thank you for your love, thank you for your immense generosity toward me. I give you my life and my love in return.

Petition: Lord, increase my faith so that in any trial I will trust in you.

1. Amazing Graces: Luke, whose feast we celebrate in today’s liturgy, is the only gentile author in the New Testament. It was part of God’s design that he be chosen by God to be the author of one of the Gospels and the Book of Acts. “Who am I to receive such a grace?” Luke might easily have said to himself, marveling at the gratuitousness with which he received his role within the Church. An honest look at the great grace we have received in being called to be part of God’s Church should bring us to say the same thing: Who are we to receive such an incredible blessing?! Why did we receive this grace and our next-door neighbor did not? Why have so many souls in the history of the world never had the opportunity to know about Christ, but we have? Only one answer comes close. God wants it, and it is part of his plan of love for all mankind.

2. More Hands on Deck: Here is a true situation at a parish on the West Coast: After five draining hours in the confessional, the priest climbs out to verify that no one else is in line. This is the normal Sunday morning routine there. During those hours the priest was witness to several powerful conversions, souls finding peace after years of struggle, other saintly souls whose delicate consciences were cause for admiration, and still others moving along with a “more-or-less” attitude in their response to God, but who were helped by the grace of reconciliation. Many more confessions could be heard, but there simply aren’t enough priests to meet the need. The more confession is offered, the more the faithful take advantage of the opportunity, and the more the Church grows in holiness. Do we pray that God send more laborers to the harvest?

3. A Lamb without Sandals: Christ’s comparison almost seems cruel: “I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals….” If he considers the apostles to be like lambs, why on earth would he send them among wolves? As always, Christ wants to stretch the faith of the apostles. “My Father’s providence will take care of you and protect you” is the message he wants them to accept and live. Later he tells them to take these items with them (cf. Luke 22:36), but he also reminds them, “‘When I sent you out with no purse or bag or sandals, did you lack anything?’ They said, ‘Nothing.’” He wants us to rely on him, not on our own skills or talents. While we always need to apply all our God-given human intelligence and prudence, we still need to rely on God to bless our work and fill in for what is lacking.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, so much of what I’m faced with each day seems to be beyond my capabilities, yet I see clearly that you want me to continue pushing forward, trusting in your providence. This isn’t easy! Help be to have confidence in you.

Resolution: If faced with an obstacle today, I will pray for God’s assistance rather than rely only on myself. 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr "History Need Not Repeat Itself"

The Lord said: "Woe to you! You build the memorials of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ´I will send to them prophets and apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute´ in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter." When he left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say. (Luke 11: 47-54)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are present here as I turn to you in prayer. I trust and have confidence in your desire to give me every grace I need to receive today. Thank you for your love, thank you for your immense generosity toward me. I give you my life and my love in return.

Petition: Lord Jesus Christ, help me to follow your example and set a good example for others.

1. History Will Teach Us Something: Israel’s response to God’s love, as seen in the Old Testament, is pocked and pitted with infidelity, abuse, and ingratitude. At times the people outright reject God and whomever he sends to guide them back to his loving care. These falls from God’s grace are instructive for us today. We see the grandeur of what God did for the people of Israel and marvel at it. We should be aghast at how a people who received so much could respond so little. But more than this, we need to use this history of Israel as a mirror in which to regard our own lives: to recognize the same patterns of failure and lack of fidelity in our own lives and use this self-reflection to inspire us to return to the Lord. If we fail to admit our weaknesses and failures, however, we will be like the Pharisees to whom Christ spoke, who brought the blood of the prophets upon their own heads because of their stubbornness and hardness of heart.

2. History Repeats Itself: On one occasion Christ warns the disciples that if this is the way he is treated, they should expect no less themselves (cf. John 15:20). Do we honestly expect not to have to face some difficulty as disciples of the Lord? Of course not. But what if that difficulty comes from within? This is from where the most serious menaces to our discipleship come. Our pride, our vanity, our love of comfort: these are the battlegrounds and the martyrs’ fields where first and foremost we need to suffer for being a disciple of the Lord. The prophets and martyrs who suffered for their zeal for the Lord did so even up to the cost of their lives. He might not need us to lay our lives on the line in quite the same way, but an interior sacrifice is what Christ does ask of everyone whom he calls.

3. Stoppage Time: One of the key moments in Edith Stein’s conversion happened when she went into a Catholic Church to see what it was like, and as she sat there in silence, an older woman came in to spend a few moments with Christ in the Eucharist. She had groceries in her hand and was obviously on her way home to prepare dinner. For young Edith, still struggling with belief in God, it was an example of just how grounded in day-to-day reality the Catholic faith is. There is little chance that woman ever knew the importance her example played in helping form this future saint and patroness of Europe, but the woman’s authentic faith was just what Edith needed to see. Our living witness is critical for those around us, whether or not we ever see or hear of the consequence. We can serve as an occasion of grace, or we can be a stumbling block on the path that delays someone from arriving at the place God wants to lead them.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know that I am an integral part in your plan to save souls. You have the confidence to use me as a channel of your grace for those around me, particularly those closest to me. I offer you my life today. Use me as a channel of grace and a testimony to your love.

Resolution: I will offer to God today the sacrifice necessary to change something in my behavior that might be an obstacle for someone else coming to know Christ better.