Thursday, July 31, 2014

Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and doctor of the Church "Lack of Faith"


Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, "Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter´s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?" And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house." And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.

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, increase my faith in you.

1. Too Much Familiarity: The people of Nazareth thought they knew all about Jesus. He had grown up among them. Apparently they had not seen anything extraordinary about him before he started his public ministry. They thought he was just like everyone else. So when they hear that he is doing miracles and teaching with authority, they do not believe it. Sometimes I also run the danger of putting limits on Christ’s power in my life. I see the unimpressive circumstances of my life and the recurrence of the same old problems. I do not believe that Christ can do something supernatural in the midst of an ordinary situation. Today I am receiving an invitation to step beyond the routine and believe more deeply in the power of Christ.

2. An Unwelcome Prophet: The solution to their deepest problems was in their own backyard. Yet, the people of Nazareth felt that such a familiar figure could not bring anything extraordinary. When the Church sometimes challenges me with some of her teachings – on charity, on family life, on the need to be a courageous witness –, do I sometimes find excuses, like saying that my circumstances are too difficult, or the Church does not understand my situation? Do I sometimes let the prophetic voice of the Church die in my heart? When I feel challenged by the Gospel and by the Church I should be thankful. Christ is inviting me to discover the deepest meaning of my life. He is giving me a chance to allow his presence to make a deep change in my life. He is allowing me to discover him in faith and is taking me beyond my comfort zone to the level of the coming of his Kingdom.

3. A Miracle Worker in Waiting: What sort of miracles does Christ want to do in my life? Christ has a plan to make my life a luminous witness to the power of his grace. He wants to fill my life with his holiness and help me be a light for others. If I can shake off my superficiality and lack of faith, I will discover the powerful presence of the Savior who helps me live each moment with depth and love. He can do miracles in my life. He can help me live the virtues which are most costly for me. Am I willing to take a risk for Christ and trust him totally?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know you want to do great things in my life. Help me to see how you can transform the ordinary, seemingly unimportant circumstances of my day into moments when your grace triumphs. Enable me to be docile to your Holy Spirit, so he can do miracles in my life.

Resolution: I will increase my faith in Christ by taking a risk for him in some aspect of my spiritual or apostolic life.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, priest "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.

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 29, 2014

Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time "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."

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 28, 2014

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."

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. 



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time "Quiet But Steady Growth"

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds. "The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches." He spoke to them another parable. "The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened." All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.

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. Quietly Becoming Strong: The Kingdom of Christ is not a very visible and flashy organization in the world. It is above all a spiritual force. It works quietly yet powerfully in the hearts of those who receive it. By living faith, hope and charity, Christians discover that the generous response to the voice of Christ in their consciences builds a life that has strength and substance. Living the Christian faith makes a person strong in the midst of difficulties and even able to sustain others in their life’s journey. Am I allowing the Kingdom to grow in my heart in such a way that I can quietly sustain others by my values and my charity?

2. Hidden Expansion: As we allow Christ to reign in our hearts more each day, we find that his influence affects not only our internal attitudes but also the people around us. This world becomes more of a caring, compassionate place. Truth is sown. People are reminded of God’s presence and love. 
This world becomes more a place where others can find God. It is a quiet transformation of the world, but relentless, like the rising of the dough through the action of yeast. Am I constant in allowing the values of the Kingdom to transform the way I deal with others? Do I have confidence in the transforming power of the Gospel?

3. Revealing Secrets: By speaking in in parables Christ helps us understand that God’s kingdom is real and accessible. God has a plan to reign in our hearts, and the fulfillment of this plan is within our reach through his grace. The secret to fruitfulness in our lives lies in our openness and cooperation with God’s grace. It is within our grasp if we would exercise our faith. Christ has come to open our horizons to God’s grace. Are we showing our thankfulness by doing his will?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I believe in your kingdom. I know that it continues to grow by the power of your grace. Help me to work with confidence today, knowing that by sowing with faith, hope and love, I am allowing you to do great things in the world around me.

Resolution: Today I will speak of God’s goodness explicitly with someone whom I meet.



Some thoughts of the 11am homily "Praying for the Most Important Thing"

Our first reading today is taken from the Book of Kings.  We hear the young King Solomon pray, O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.  I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong

We can learn a great deal from this humble prayer of Solomon.  He didn’t ask for victory over his enemies, for more possessions, for more pleasure, or even for a long life.  King Solomon was someone who had many things already – he was a king.  But he understood that, without a proper relationship with God, he would not be a good steward of the goods and responsibilities given him.  He would not know what to do with the possessions he had.

We are no different.  When our relationship with God is skewed – unbalanced – distorted – we cannot have a clear understanding of what to do with the goods and possessions we have.  And in the end, those goods will come back to destroy us.  Like Solomon, we need to seek a proper relationship with God, above everything else.  It must be our one prayer – the most important thing.  All the wealth, prestige, success or fame weaccumulate in this world will mean nothing without this one thing.  

We see it all around us.  It’s on the front pages of the gossip magazines in the checkout lane.  It’s a story as old as time.  A young singer or actress or sports star has wild success – accumulates millions of dollars, fame that spreads around the globe, all the physical pleasures imaginable.  And we know the end of the story without even reading ahead.  The star burns out.  Their life spirals downward.  Why?  Precisely because they don’t have the wisdom to handle the ‘things’ in their life – the possessions and fame.  They lack a right relationship with God – the most important thing.  The thing that Solomon - the young star of his day – valued above all else and begged for in prayer.

God recognized the beauty and goodness of Solomon’s prayer, and responded: Because you have asked for this - not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right—I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.”

We can have great confidence that God will never refuse a prayer like Solomon’s.  A prayer for the Holy Spirit will always be answered.  It is always pleasing to God.  This is because, in the end, a prayer like Solomon’s is a prayer for a right relationship with God – and when we seek this relationship with Him, He will always answer.  

Thomas Aquinas was an extremely influential theologian, philosopher and Doctor of the Church.  He wrote many great works (Summa Theologica was his masterpiece, find more of his writings: http://dhspriory.org/thomas/).  And after all that he wrote, he was praying in a chapel in Italy one day and heard a voice saying to him, “Thomas, you have written well about me, what reward will you have?”  He could have asked for anything – just like Solomon.  But his reply was, “Lord, nothing but yourself.”  And this is the way we each should pray – asking for the most important thing – a right relationship with God.  

Today’s Gospel shows us just how important is the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price. This is how we should see our relationship with God.  It is the most important thing.  Something we seek above all else.  Something we would give everything to obtain.  And when we find that relationship with God that is right and true and all-encompassing, we will never want to let it go.  We’ll go to the ends of the earth to keep it.    

Later in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says“What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Matt 16:18)  If we chase after the things that don’t really matter, instead of the most important thing, we are in danger of loosing our soul.  But if we hang on to our soul by always seeking a right relationship with God, we will have life that is genuinely full.  Isn’t that what we all want?  A full life?  A  deeplyhappy life?  

Let’s learn to pray like Solomon then.  Let’s learn to pray for the most important thing – for a right relationship with God.  Let’s trust that God will always answer that prayer. Let’s pray togethernow:

Lord, you have made me to know you and to love you.  You have created me for Yourself.  But I am weak.  I am confused.  I don’t know what to do or how to do it.  I want to serve you in the souls you have entrusted to me.  Give me a heart like yours – wisdom like yours – so that I can know your will and have the strength to follow it.  Amen.



Saturday, July 26, 2014

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time "Christ´s Kingdom: the Path to Joy"


"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes." And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."

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, help me to strive for the for the Kingdom of heaven for myself and others.

1. The Treasure of the Kingdom: “From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). Christ’s heart overflows with irrepressible zeal for the Kingdom of heaven. He longs for everyone who hears him to fall in love with that Kingdom. “His descriptions of the Kingdom flow from his lips like water over a waterfall — his vision is so rich and vibrant that language itself can barely contain it” (Fr. John Bartunek, LC, The Better Part, 184). At times we stumble upon the Kingdom of heaven almost by accident, like the treasure in the field. But we know that treasure is worth more than all the earthly fields we can ever hope to possess. Other times we make a long and diligent search before encountering the Kingdom, like the pearl of great price. Its beauty captivates our hearts.

2. The Joy of the Kingdom: Though the Kingdom of heaven sparkles like a many-faceted gem, one feature always shines forth: Discovering it fills the heart with joy. Have we ever caught a glimpse of the Kingdom? It is there in the ardent vigor of thousands of young people acclaiming Pope-Emeritus Benedict at World Youth Day. It is there in the reverent silence of a lone adorer in a Eucharistic chapel. It is there in the enduring strength of present-day mothers such as Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, who give up their lives for their unborn children. The Kingdom of heaven is worth everything and demands everything. Have we sold all we possess in order to attain it? What still holds us back? What earthly plots do we still cling to, fearing to sell them for a treasure beyond what we dare hope for?

3. “Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth”: The Kingdom of heaven is also like a net thrown into the sea. Not all that the net collects is worth keeping. So, too, not everyone enters into the Kingdom. What a sudden contrast to the joy of the Kingdom that pervades the first two images! Why does Christ include this third and final description of the Kingdom? He knows how easy it is for us to forget the most important truths of our lives: the reality of the last judgment, for which we should be preparing at every moment. Christ knows that the stakes are high, and we need to be reminded of them in order to have the courage to sell everything to reach the Kingdom. “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1035). Let us continue to pray and sacrifice, so that one day we and all the souls entrusted to us will arrive to the eternal joys of the Kingdom of heaven.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I want to be generous and give up everything for the sake of your Kingdom in my life and in the lives of those souls entrusted to me. You know that I cannot do so on my own. Help me with your grace to be generous.

Resolution: I will be open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit in responding to the opportunities to bring someone closer to Christ’s Kingdom today.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Memorial of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary "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."´

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 24, 2014

Feast of Saint James "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."

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 clichés, 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.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time "Fighting the Good Fight of Faith"


The disciples approached Jesus and said, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" He said to them in reply, "Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. Isaiah´s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You shall indeed hear but not understand you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them. "But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

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: Increase my faith, hope and love, Lord.

1. Faith, Hope and Love Remain: What does the Lord mean when he says that “to anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich” or that “from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away”? He is referring to spiritual goods rather than material ones. Grace, faith, hope and love are all spiritual goods. To anyone who has them, more will be given. When you exercise your faith, your hope and your love, they increase in your soul. The result? You grow rich in grace. When you do not exercise your faith, hope and love, you lose all because the material world is passing away. As St Paul teaches us, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption” (1 Corinthians 15:80). And in another passage: “So faith, hope and love remain” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

2. Seeing with New Eyes: “You shall indeed hear but not understand; you shall indeed look but never see.” We can view the world in a natural way or in a supernatural way. Faith, hope and love allow us to view the world supernaturally. A natural way of seeing things limits us in a thousand ways, because the natural universe is limited, passing and temporary. The supernatural world seen through faith is unlimited, coming to fulfillment and lasting forever. Without faith we will hear but not understand, look intently but never see.

3. A Fighting Heart: Only when we fight to imitate Christ do we truly understand these words: “Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.” This may be hard to understand, but it is so. To know Jesus, it is necessary to be like him. The moment we begin to fight for love of him we begin to be like him, and thus we begin to know him. To have a heart like Jesus’ it is necessary to fight and suffer – to fight and suffer without cowardice, without taking time out and without discouragement.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, grant me the grace to fight with a spirit of faith, hope and love. I want to increase in these virtues and begin to see the world with your eyes – the eyes of the new man or woman in Christ. With you my future is always brighter than my past, filled with more hope and greater promise.

Resolution: Today, I will strive to see persons, actions and events from the viewpoint of faith. 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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."

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 21, 2014

Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene "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.

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.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time "Jonah, Dodim & Ahabà"

Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you." He said to them in reply, "An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here. At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here."

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, let me love the way you love – with self-giving generosity.

1. Demanding the Impossible: “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” The relationship of the scribes and Pharisees with Jesus is unidirectional. They demand that he perform a sign if he wishes to be found worthy of their esteem, but they have closed their hearts to any possible openness toward him inadvance. Pride makes impossible demands on others and will not be satisfied until these impossible demands are met! Thus pride is never satisfied. It is the cause of division, resentment and bitterness in relationships. Rather than make demands on Christ, we need to make demands on ourselves. We need to make demands that we grow in humility, selflessness and authentic love in imitation of the Lord. 

2. Dodim and Ahabà: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI teaches us about self-giving love in his encyclical letter, Deus Caritas Est. Commenting on the Song of Songs, he writes: “The poems contained in this book were originally love-songs, perhaps intended for a Jewish wedding feast and meant to exalt conjugal love. In thiscontext it is highly instructive to note that in the course of the book two different Hebrew words are used to indicate ‘love.’ First there is the word dodim, a plural form suggesting a love that is still insecure, indeterminate and searching. This comes to be replaced by the word ahabà. By contrast with an indeterminate, ‘searching’ love, this word expresses the experience of a love which involves a real discovery of the other, moving beyond the selfish character that prevailed earlier. Love now becomes concern and care for the other. No longer is it self-seeking, a sinking in the intoxication of happiness; instead it seeks the good of the beloved, it becomes renunciation and it is ready, and even willing, for sacrifice” (no. 6).

3. Nineveh and Love: Jesus tells us that at the Judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with the generation of people surrounding him and condemn it. The reason is that the contemporaries of Jonah repented at his preaching. True self-giving love begins with repentance. When I repent I acknowledge the person of God who is worthy of all my love. I feel remorse for having loved him so little or for having offended him who is all love. Love-filled remorse implies a bending of my will affectionately toward the other. This is a form a self-giving love that we can all achieve at any moment of our lives.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I love you. I want to strengthen the habit of self-giving love within me. Presently my love is weak and short-lived. I can always practice loving sorrow for having offended you. Lord, grant me the grace of practicing contrition of heart throughout the day.

Resolution: Today I will practice contrition in order to grow in effective love.

 


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time "Thy Kingdom Come!"

He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ´Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?´ He answered, ´An enemy has done this.´ The slaves said to him, ´Then do you want us to go and gather them?´ But he replied, ´No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.´" He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened." Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: "I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world." Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field." He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the 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 causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!"

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I come before you wanting to grow in my knowledge of you and in my 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, and I always want to get back up. I trust that your mercy will change my heart, so that over time I will stand more than fall. I stand before you, ready to listen to your words and ready to unite myself more perfectly to your most holy will.

Petition: Lord Jesus, open my heart to your word.

1. Uproot the Weeds: Jesus pours his grace upon each one of us; even a drop is enough to transform our lives. Why, then, are there so many weeds in our gardens? That little ugly guy we call the devil cannot plant weeds without our permission. How are we going to identify the weeds? How are we going to uproot them? First, we need to ask these questions: Do we want to find those nasty weeds? Do we want to do the work necessary to uproot them? Jesus wants to know.

2. Our Hearts Were Made for God: After Jesus talks with us about the weeds, he moves the discussion to a new plane. He wants us to try to penetrate the mystery of his Kingdom, which he wants to plant in our hearts. Our lives need to be constructive more than anything else, meaning we need to be focused more on what Christ is sowing in our hearts than on the weeds we’re striving to uproot (though that is important). A garden is for growing plants, not weeds. Jesus wants us to appreciate that since he is God, he is infinite, and that even though we are finite, we are blessed with immortal souls that are equipped to grasp, desire, identify with and surrender to God and his will. His word is a living, saving word that refashions us in his likeness. Am I hungry for his word and receptive to Him, who is the Word of God?

3. The Birds of the Air Make Nests in its Branches: Christ intends the seed he has planted in our hearts to grow into a tall, healthy tree, where birds of the air find shelter. He wants us to be sowers of his heavenly seed. He wants us to be the means for his word to spread to others. Christ sent his apostles into a hostile world — a world that believed in many gods, a world that had just crucified Christ. Still, the apostles sowed the Gospel message far and wide, and it took root in the hearts of many. The Kingdom of God grew. Now it is our turn. Jesus calls us to be apostles, to sow his Gospel far and wide. We form part of an unbreakable chain of faith. Let’s live our lives as true and fearless apostles. Lord Jesus, how can I be your ever faithful and courageous apostle?

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, pluck out the weeds in my heart and plant your mission within me. Fill me with your thirst for the salvation of souls, and move me to quench your thirst with my every breath.

Resolution: Today I will talk with someone about how we need to build and extend the Kingdom of God.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Saturday of the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time "The Quiet Healer"

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."

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. Thank you for your unconditional love. I offer you my love in return, knowing you welcome it as a parent does a small child.

Petition: Jesus, make my heart more like yours, attentive to the needs of others.

1. He Withdrew: There is a great lesson for us here: It is not yet his "hour," so Jesus does not force the issue. Jesus was not one to shrink from a challenge. On several occasions he had already stood up to the same Pharisees who now wanted to put him to death. Yet Jesus knows that on this occasion he cannot engage with them; their hearts are closed and they are unwilling to listen. At times we may 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 all are more open to listen.

2. The Master Physician: 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 Glimmer of Faith: All Jesus needs is a small slightest spark of faith to reignite and change a person´s life. He will never force a person to love him or to trust him, for he respects the 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 is lit and can become a blazing fire. Carelessly exposed to the winds and waves of unbridled selfishness, secularism, skepticism and systematic doubt the flame can be extinguished. However, Jesus waits patiently, looking for the small glimmer of faith which will allow the fire to blaze up anew.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you see and know what I am to 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.


July 18, 2014. 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."

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. Eating on the Go? 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/Service on Sunday: 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 16, 2014

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 yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light."

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. 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 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). One who is a slave of passion, vanity, selfishness or any other vice is subject to that vice as something more powerful than oneself. Yet in his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul invites us to take on another “yoke”, not that of slavery to sin but rather that of total submission to Christ in love, becoming "slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart" (Eph 6:5). To take on the yoke 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 in Me: in Christ we find true “rest”. Notice that Jesus does not promise to take away the burdens, the trials and the sufferings of life. However, if we take his yoke upon ourselves, if we submit to his plan, his will and his love, he promises that we will experience joy, profound happiness and peace of soul. 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. If I have never experienced it, then I can begin today by giving him whatever I know in my heart he is asking of me. Although it may hurt at first, it will be accompanied by 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.