Sunday, August 31, 2014

Monday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time ´´He Who Hears You, Hears Me´´

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, "Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, "Isn´t this the son of Joseph?" He said to them, "Surely you will quote me this proverb, ´Physician, cure yourself,´ and say, ´Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.´" And he said, "Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I love you and thank you for all that you have done for me. And yet, Lord, so many times I have plea-bargained with you and made my prayer conditional on receiving what I ask for. This time, Lord, I want to be completely open –– no strings attached. In this prayer I place myself completely at your disposal, confident of your good will and grace.

Petition: Lord, I welcome you into my soul. Help me to allow you to enter and rule over the house of my soul.

1. Speak Lord, Your Servant Is Listening: As curious as it seems, our openness to a message often depends quite heavily on our openness to its messenger. Have you ever rejected somebody’s advice outright only to later embrace it when it comes from a different person? Have you disregarded a light from God because he revealed it to you through a person you would not have chosen, or even imagined God would have chosen? This is the common, simple error of the Nazarenes that Christ felt he had to point out to them. What has Christ been trying to tell me recently? Through whom? Am I ready to listen to him and allow him to use whatever messenger he may choose?

2. Open My Heart to Your Message: Initially, the people of Nazareth in today’s Gospel seemed quite receptive to Christ’s message, his delivery, and his authority. What they couldn’t stomach was that they believed him just “one of them.” He would later prove himself “too much for them.” Surely they must have thought that he had forgotten his roots and that his Capernaum fame had gone to his head. But of course, the Nazarenes were neither the first nor the last to fall into the trap of focusing more on the messenger than on the message. This is precisely why Christ brought up the example of Naaman the Syrian, who was rewarded with a cure only after overcoming his rationalism and eating a bit of “humble pie.” (See his story in 2 Kings 5.) Has my hurt pride ever blinded me from listening to what Christ is desperately trying to tell me?

3. Lord, I Trust in You: At one point in his public ministry, Christ would tell his listeners, “If you don’t believe the words that I speak, at least believe the works that I do” (cf. John 14:10-11). Why wouldn’t he at least give his own people from Nazareth the same advice and opportunity? Are a few miracles too much to waste on Nazarene soil? We must remember that faith is a gift. It is given and not bargained for or merited. On Calvary some would taunt him with a similar deal, “If you come down from the cross, then we will believe in you” (Cf. Mark 15:32). We must wonder from whom came the harder blow: from his accusers, or from “his own.” A proud demand is especially ugly and hurtful when it comes from a friend or loved-one.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, I accept your invitation to come to the house of my soul. Help me to see the areas of my life in need of cleaning. Help me to see the areas of my life which prevent you from coming – those rooms that I close to you. Help me be humble enough to let your grace set to work in me.

Resolution: I will console Christ with a total and immediate trust in him and in his plan for my life today, whatever may come.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time. "On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!"

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you." But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things." Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone wants to become my follower, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For he who wants to save his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gain the whole world but forfeits his life? Or what will he give in return for his life? For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord God, I come from dust and to dust I shall return. You, however, existed before all time, and every creature takes its being from you. You formed me in my mother’s womb with infinite care, and you watch over me tenderly. I hope you will embrace my soul at my death to carry me home to heaven to be with you forever. Thank you for looking upon me and blessing me with your love. Take my love in return. I humbly offer you all that I am.

Petition: Lord, help me to become a saint by denying myself, taking up my cross and following you.

1. The Purgative Way: In today’s Gospel Christ presents three ways to Christian perfection: “If anyone wants to become my follower, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” The first step, self-denial, is called “the purgative way” by some spiritual mystics. Have you ever noticed that in order to advance, a time of purging is necessary? Champion football teams have to work hard during the hot August two-times-a-day practices. The same could be said for our striving for holiness; we must be purged and purified in many ways. It is essential that we hate sin and avoid it at all cost by fighting temptation. Our sentiments, passions, memory and imagination must be placed under the rule of our faith, intellect and will. Beginning a prayer life requires effort, fight and constancy. By embracing the cross of the purification process we can advance in holiness.

2. The Illuminative Way: A second step in the spiritual life can be summarized as “take up his cross.” A soul in this step has achieved a certain measure of self-control over the force of his passions, avoids any grave sins, and has deep convictions regarding the truths of our faith. Their present task is to progress in good, strengthening themselves especially in charity. They seek to adorn themselves with Christ’s virtues and to make Christ the center of their thoughts, affections and actions. These souls could be compared to an experienced mother who is raising the youngest of her children or an athlete who has the fundamentals down and is playing at peak performance. How happy and balanced our lives are when we arrive to this level in our spiritual life. Christ invites us to this level of friendship with him; all we have to do is say yes, work hard and trust in God’s grace.

3. The Unitive Way: The third step in the spiritual life, the unitive way, can be described by Christ’s words: “Follow me.” Once we go through the purification of our own body and soul and are steeped in the practice of virtue, we are ready to be among the closest followers of Christ, the saints! In this level we are detached from created things, and our primary focus is on the presence of the Creator who dwells in our hearts. Love of God becomes the driving force in our life and we can say with our Lord, “I always do what pleases him” (John 8:29). Deep union with God in prayer, never resisting grace, and perfect mastery over ourselves bring us to see crosses and difficulties with great joy. So have many souls arrived to this state of heaven on earth: John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and the many unknown husbands and wives, students and scholars who have taken Christ’s call seriously and followed him above all else.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I ask you for the courage to continue to follow your call to holiness. Help me to know where it is you want me to become more like you, and give me the strength to form myself into the saint of which you have always dreamed. Mother Mary, I entrust my spiritual life into your maternal care.

Resolution: I will invite someone to go to Sunday Mass today.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Saturday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time "Accountability"


Jesus told his disciples this parable: "A man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one -- to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two. But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master´s money. After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ´Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.´ His master said to him, ´Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master´s joy.´ Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ´Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.´ His master said to him, ´Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master´s joy.´ Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ´Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.´ His master said to him in reply, ´You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.´"

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to you again in prayer. Even though I cannot see you, I know through faith that you are present in my life. I hope in your promise to be with me. I love you, and I know you love me. Accept this prayer as a token of my love.

Petition: Teach me, Lord, to take all that you have given me and make it produce fruit for your kingdom.

1. God’s Gifts: The Gospel tells us clearly that God distributes his gifts among us as he wills, and he entrusts each one of us with a mission. He gives us what we need to produce fruits for his kingdom, and he expects us to use those gifts responsibly and diligently. No two people are exactly alike, and God treats each one individually as a unique person made in his image. We need to live before God and respond to him sincerely by using to the maximum the talents he has given us. Are we making the best use of all that God has given us, or have we neglected some things and taken others for granted? Might we be committing a sin of omission with regards to some of our talents?

2. Life as a Mission: The servants who invest the talents and make a return on them have understood the purpose of their lives and the time they have at their disposal. These servants were generous with everything their master had given them, making it bear fruit, and they received from him the reward of greater intimacy and more responsibility. Each of us is also given a limited amount of time in life to use our various gifts to give glory to God and help save other souls. We too should work every day to hear those words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

3. The Useless Servant: How often we are paralyzed by fear or false prudence into doing nothing, into trying just to preserve ourselves! Sometimes we don’t take God’s gifts seriously or think we have been given very little, and we use that as a rationalization for making no effort or for producing little for God. We blame circumstances or others; but the fact is we are neglecting to produce the fruits God wants. The master didn’t expect a return of five talents from the servant to whom he gave only one. He would have been happy with a return of one more, but the lazy servant closed in on his egoism, self-love and laziness. We must resolve to use our God-given talents wisely so as to net him a big return.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, give me the grace and love to work for your kingdom with all the talents that you have given me. Let me return them all to you with real fruits for your kingdom.

Resolution: I will make a plan for evangelizing other souls and look for fruits of holiness in others.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist "Witness to the Truth"


Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother´s wife." Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias´s own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you." He even swore many things to her, "I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the Baptist." The girl hurried back to the king´s presence and made her request, "I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your wondrous shining glory, although this is hidden from my eyes. I hope in the peace and everlasting joy of the world to come, for this world is a valley of tears. I love you, even though I am not always able to discern the love in your intentions when you permit me to suffer. You are my God and my all.

Petition: Lord, let me never fear the consequences of speaking the truth.

1. Speaking Truth to Power: Although Herod was a cruel tyrant, John the Baptist did not hesitate to condemn his adulterous conduct and to denounce his sin publicly. John was moved by the Holy Spirit to give witness and teach the people that no one can legitimately violate God’s commandments, not even a king. John did not fear the consequences of his actions, because he knew that if he were faithful, God would be at his side and never let him down, even if he had to suffer on account of the truth. We, too, need to give courageous witness to our family, friends and to the society at large. When we do, God will be with us and we will have nothing to fear.

2. It Was Something That You Said: Mark tells us that Herod, although he resented what John said in accusing him of adultery, nonetheless “like[d] to listen to him,” and he was “much perplexed.” In his moral weakness, he persisted in his sin, yet the cries of the prophet to repent did reach his conscience. Herod was in confusion. Something was stirring in his conscience; the Holy Spirit was moving inside him to bring him to true repentance for his sin. God never abandons the sinner, but gives him grace to turn back to him. We should never lose hope for one who seems to be lost and wandering in sin. We should always continue to speak the truth with love and pray for a full conversion. God can change the heart of even the worst of sinners. He has forgiven us so much, and he can forgive others as well.

3. A Conversion Cut Short: The Gospel tells how Herod, in an imprudent promise to Herodias’ daughter, found himself compromised and, for fear of losing face, had to order the beheading of John the Baptist. Here his moral weakness overcame the first stirrings of the grace of conversion. He closed his heart to God’s action due to his lust and vanity, and he committed the terrible crime of murder of an innocent man. How sin can darken the conscience and extinguish God’s grace in the heart of a person given over only to satisfying their passions!

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I want to be faithful to your teachings and to be frank with those I love who need to hear your word. I know that takes prudence, courage and steadfastness. Help me to be true to you. Give me the grace of a good conscience always to speak the truth with rectitude and love for your law.

Resolution: I will pray for the grace to witness to the truth, “in season and out of season,” no matter what the consequences.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Memorial of Saint Augustine, bishop and doctor of the Church "No Sleeping on the Job"

Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ´My master is long delayed,´ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the 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 hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to you again in prayer. Even though I cannot see you, I know through faith that you are present in my life. I hope in your promise to be with me. I love you, and I know you love me. Accept this prayer as a token of my love.

Petition: Lord, help me to remain alert, keeping the goal of heaven always in mind.

1. Days and Hours: None of us knows how long we have to live, nor did Jesus reveal how long human history would continue before he came again for the Final Judgment. This should make us realize we need to be always ready to meet Our Lord, to have our actions true, and our conscience always clear. We need to be living as if each day were our last, as if our eternal happiness depended on the choices and actions of this very day. Every moment is precious and important in God’s eyes, and the one necessary thing is working to attain our salvation. This is more important than anything else we can accomplish in life.

2. True Prudence: The servant who is constant and steady, who does what he is supposed to do at each moment, is the truly prudent person. God wants us to be faithful and follow his will every single day. This is the path to holiness and union with God; there is no other way we can be close to God except by doing his will, out of love and gratitude. How do my actions today reflect loving obedience to God’s will? Am I putting God at the center of my life, or do I have him and his will relegated to the margins, paying attention to what he wants of me only from time to time?

3. A Long Delay: Often it can seem that God is distant and not involved in our lives. It can seem that he is not coming back anytime soon, and this can lead us to become distracted with many other things. Every day we need to renew our spirit of faith in God and in his constant presence, living each day to please him, no matter how long the delay seems to be. We need to live in his presence through faith in him and his revelation, which guides us along the pathway to eternal life. We need to keep a lively, operative faith in God and in his presence every day.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, teach me to pray with real faith in you and in your word which gives life. Help me believe at every moment so that I can please you, do your will and grow in holiness.


Resolution: I will renew my faith each day, frequently making conscious and fervent acts of faith.




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Memorial of Saint Monica "To Be or Not to Be"

Jesus said, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men´s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ´If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets´ blood.´ Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out!"

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that you are “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). I humbly come before you today. I trust completely in you, and therefore I want my life to be an open book where you write the pages of my life story.

Petition: Lord Jesus, grant me a sincere and humble heart.

1. What You See Is Not What You Get! One of the sternest reprimands Jesus gave was against the hypocrisy of those charged with the grave task of leading God’s people. They were called to transmit the hope of God’s promise of deliverance: “I will be your God and you shall be my people” (Jeremiah 24:7). Yet their vain righteousness was nothing but self-indulgence that burdened the flock of Israel to the point of despair. Instead of helping the people of God to turn from sin to a life of fidelity to God’s love, they preyed upon the spiritual sensitivity of the people for their own sordid gain.

2. Guillotine of Saints or Saints to the Guillotine? Human respect is the “guillotine of saints.” It has a suicidal effect and a deadly capacity to cut short the action of a zealous heart. Human respect renders love of God and souls sterile because it is nothing but pride disguised as fear, doubt, or the sophism of not wanting to hurt others’ feelings. True charity, on the other hand, gives testimony to the truth, regardless of the consequences this may bring – even persecution or the sword (cf. Romans 8:35). Shunning human respect may lead us to the “guillotine” of ridicule or persecution, but then we are on our way to becoming saints.

3. Like Father, Like Son; Hypocrites All: The Pharisees’ ancestors killed the prophets for chastising the people in God’s name. Now, Jesus ironically urges the Pharisees to prove themselves worthy of their heritage. Jesus separated himself from the religious leaders of the time. Unlike the Pharisees and Temple priests, who had become like mercenaries for the flock of Israel, Jesus was the Good Shepherd. Jesus instituted a new priesthood, based on his own: that of the Suffering Servant, the Paschal Lamb, the Messiah, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. He made all things new and in truth set us free from sin.

Conversation with Christ: Oh Jesus, I thank you with all my heart for redeeming me. You let me hear your voice gently calling me. Strengthen me in faith, and fill me with your love so that I can one day join St Paul in saying, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Resolution: I will be an enemy of hypocrisy and insincerity in my dealings with others today.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Tuesday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time "First Things First"

Jesus said: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to you again in prayer. Even though I cannot see you, I know through faith that you are present in my life. I hope in your promise to be with me. I love you, and I know you love me. Accept this prayer as a token of my love.

 Petition: Lord, help me to dedicate my life to weightier matters rather than mere appearances.

 1. Tithed Up in Knots: When God originally commanded his people to tithe, it was so that they would acknowledge him as the source of all the gifts in their lives. It was to be the recognition on their part that all they had was from him, that he is Lord, and that his law is the way to salvation. Yet it became easy for the Israelites to fall into legalism and forget the true purpose of the tithe. They observed the letter of the law and forgot the meaning of the law: acknowledge the sovereignty of God. In the end, all we are and all we have belongs to God. We have to use our talents, wealth and possessions all for him and his kingdom. Is there some area in which I do not acknowledge his sovereignty in my life?

 2. What Really Counts: What are the weightier matters of the law? Jesus speaks of justice and mercy and faith. When we neglect these, we are distorting true religion, for true religion is not a question of formalisms and actions to appease God, but rather of turning our hearts to his word. We need to make our hearts more like his, in charity and mercy toward others. How many times do we miss the most important things and work only at side issues? How often do we try to please God in the wrong way, by supposing we are doing his will when really we are only doing our own will instead? How often do we forget the true essence of devotion to the law of God?

 3. Interior Cleaning: “First clean the inside of the cup…” We should tend to our soul and make sure the intentions behind our actions are holy motivations. We need to check our heart frequently so that we can work with purity of intention. Sometimes we work only to present an appearance to others, to appear virtuous and holy, but inside we are filled with negative judgments, such as lack of charity. Virtue comes from within the heart of a person, where the Spirit dwells and inspires as he wills. We need to be attentive to the Holy Spirit and follow his lead.

 Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know what is in my heart. Purify it and recast it in the image of your divine heart, so that I may love you and love others as you love them. Let me put aside all vanity and desire for appearances that does not give glory to you.

 Resolution: I will examine my conscience as to the motives of my actions each day, making sure I am inspired by mercy, justice and faith. 


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Monday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time "Am I My Brother’s Keeper?"

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of Heaven before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves. "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ´If one swears by the Temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the Temple, one is obligated.´ Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the Temple that made the gold sacred? And you say, ´If one swears by the altar, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.´ You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; one who swears by the Temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to you again in prayer. Even though I cannot see you, I know through faith that you are present in my life. I hope in your promise to be with me. I love you, and I know you love me. Accept this prayer as a token of my love.

Petition: Lord, help me to be a person of great integrity – the same inside and out.

1. No Hypocrites Need Apply: The scribes and Pharisees lacked the authenticity and rectitude of conscience needed to please God. We need to let our behavior, our word and our conscience be in harmony and open before God. Conscience is that secret sanctuary where we are alone with God and we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speak to us in the depths of our heart. To violate that conscience, that is, to go against what we know to be true, is to deny ourselves what is most important to our salvation. A good conscience is the greatest good thing we can possess in this life. It gives us peace, serenity and an assurance of our perseverance in good.

2. Misleading Others Has a Price: Christ is very harsh on those who lead others astray, especially those who have a responsibility to teach and guide others in the way of salvation. It is a great sin to give scandal and to lead others away from the path of truth. There are many examples of this: There are those entrusted to teach in the name of the Church but substitute their personal opinions, and those who give a testimony of disordered lifestyles, especially to the young and impressionable. The salvation of all of us is linked together; we need to build each other up and help each other on the way to Christ. Others have a right to our good example and to our speaking truth.

3. No Swearing Here! Jesus warns against idle words, exaggerations and swearing in the name of God or by his altar. He wants us to be sincere in all we say and do, so that the integrity of our lives may be apparent to all who see us. If we live with a clear conscience and act before God in all things, we can then simply give our word and have it mean all we have inside us. What a wonderful thing it is to deal with people who are simple and transparent, who can be taken at face value, because to be devious or calculating never occurs to them, or to be in any way false or insincere.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, give me the grace of real sincerity of heart in dealing with you and with others. Teach me to give my word and mean it with all my heart.


Resolution: I will review my examination of conscience to make sure I am going deep enough to know what God wants of me

Monday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time "Am I My Brother’s Keeper?"

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of Heaven before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves. "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ´If one swears by the Temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the Temple, one is obligated.´ Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the Temple that made the gold sacred? And you say, ´If one swears by the altar, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.´ You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; one who swears by the Temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to you again in prayer. Even though I cannot see you, I know through faith that you are present in my life. I hope in your promise to be with me. I love you, and I know you love me. Accept this prayer as a token of my love.

Petition: Lord, help me to be a person of great integrity – the same inside and out.

1. No Hypocrites Need Apply: The scribes and Pharisees lacked the authenticity and rectitude of conscience needed to please God. We need to let our behavior, our word and our conscience be in harmony and open before God. Conscience is that secret sanctuary where we are alone with God and we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speak to us in the depths of our heart. To violate that conscience, that is, to go against what we know to be true, is to deny ourselves what is most important to our salvation. A good conscience is the greatest good thing we can possess in this life. It gives us peace, serenity and an assurance of our perseverance in good.

2. Misleading Others Has a Price: Christ is very harsh on those who lead others astray, especially those who have a responsibility to teach and guide others in the way of salvation. It is a great sin to give scandal and to lead others away from the path of truth. There are many examples of this: There are those entrusted to teach in the name of the Church but substitute their personal opinions, and those who give a testimony of disordered lifestyles, especially to the young and impressionable. The salvation of all of us is linked together; we need to build each other up and help each other on the way to Christ. Others have a right to our good example and to our speaking truth.

3. No Swearing Here! Jesus warns against idle words, exaggerations and swearing in the name of God or by his altar. He wants us to be sincere in all we say and do, so that the integrity of our lives may be apparent to all who see us. If we live with a clear conscience and act before God in all things, we can then simply give our word and have it mean all we have inside us. What a wonderful thing it is to deal with people who are simple and transparent, who can be taken at face value, because to be devious or calculating never occurs to them, or to be in any way false or insincere.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, give me the grace of real sincerity of heart in dealing with you and with others. Teach me to give my word and mean it with all my heart.


Resolution: I will review my examination of conscience to make sure I am going deep enough to know what God wants of me


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time "How Did Peter Know?"

Jesus went into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to you again in prayer. Even though I cannot see you, I know through faith that you are present in my life. I hope in your promise to be with me. I love you, and I know you love me. Accept this prayer as a token of my love.

Petition: Lord Jesus, grant me an experiential knowledge of you.

1. Many People Say Many Things: When Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” he receives many answers. Everyone has his own opinion. Perhaps they are satisfied that their opinions are correct and have stopped seeking; perhaps they are too lazy to pursue the truth any deeper. It is easy to say something, to toss out an answer, to draw a superficial conclusion. We must be careful not to come to a hurried conclusion or be satisfied with what might only apparently be true. Many people say many things about Christ. We must have the tenacity to pursue the profound truth about who he is.

2. How Did Peter Know? How did Peter know that Christ was the Messiah, the Son of the living God? Peter did not say, “The heavenly Father told me that you are the Messiah.” He was probably not even aware that the Father has been working in him. Peter has been traveling with Christ, hearing him speak and seeing him work miracles. He reflected on all this and began to perceive that Christ is much more than just a brilliant teacher. Peter began to see Christ for who he truly is. In the same way God works in our mind and heart, helping us to see clearly the truth of supernatural things. We may not even be aware that the heavenly Father is present, but when we sincerely strive to know Christ and are open to the action of God’s grace in our soul, we, too, come to know Christ for who he really is.

3. Responsibility: Peter’s openness to the action of God’s grace and his recognition of Christ as God bring with them a responsibility – Peter is given the keys of the Kingdom. He is given the task of shepherding and building up the Church. Like Peter, my recognition of Christ comes with a responsibility. God gives me the gift of faith and along with it the responsibility to spread his Gospel. I must take this responsibility seriously. I need to make sure that the good news of the kingdom is proclaimed to all mankind.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, please help me to delve deep into the truth about who you are and not to be satisfied with simply having some vague idea. I want to know you intimately, the same way St. Peter and many holy saints have known you. Grant me this grace not just for my sake, but also for all those souls with whom I will come into contact.

Resolution: I will make a special effort in prayer to come to know Christ better.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time "Be a Christian, Don’t Just Seem Like One"

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people´s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ´Rabbi.´ As for you, do not be called ´Rabbi.´ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ´Master´; you have but one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Introductory Prayer: Dear Lord, I believe in you because you became man in order to reveal the Father’s love and the way your followers should live. I hope in you because you have promised to be with us until the end of time. I love you because you died in order to give me life.

Petition: Lord, help me to grow in my Christian identity and commitment.

1. Practice What You Preach: The world needs witnesses more than it needs teachers. It’s easy to remind others how things should be done; it is much harder to give witness of an authentic Christian life. One thing is content, and the other is personal example. When someone tells us the truth, we should accept it – even if that person doesn’t live the truth he preaches. Our following the truth should not depend on whether or not others live it. And, if we find ourselves in a position in which we have the responsibility of preaching or teaching catechism, we should sincerely try to live up to the doctrine that we preach, which is not ours but God’s.

2. Being Christian: In his epistle to the Romans, St. Ignatius of Antioch stated the importance of truly being Christian, not just being called one: “Only request in my behalf both inward and outward strength, that I may not only speak, but truly will; and that I may not merely be called a Christian, but really found to be one. For if I be truly found a Christian, I may also be called one, and be deemed faithful.” Christianity does not consist in living our faith in an external or merely formal way, as the Pharisees lived their religion, but in loving God to the point of showing that love in our personal and public behavior. We should avoid in our behavior that which we deplore in others. To be truly Christian, it is necessary to strive to think, want, desire and love as Jesus did.

3. Being Humble: It’s all a matter of being humble. Once, St. Bernard of Clairvaux compared the proud man to the top of a snow-capped mountain at the beginning of spring and the humble man to the valley below. The melting snow, which is God’s grace, cannot flow upwards to the proud man: Through his attitude (he thinks he is at God’s level), he has put himself in a position in which he is incapable of receiving God’s grace. On the other hand, the humble man, since he is at the bottom of the mountain, fully receives the water of God’s grace, and therefore he can bear abundant fruit. Only the humble man can be truly in contact with God and let God’s grace work miracles in his life.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to value my Christian identity. I know that to live in a Christian way does not come naturally to anyone. It can come only with your light and grace. Give me the grace to contemplate you more deeply, so that you can be the standard for my actions and reactions.

Resolution: I will give true Christian witness at home, at school or at work.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary "Being Like God"

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them a scholar of the law tested him by asking, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."

Introductory Prayer: Dear Lord, I believe in you, because you have a plan for me that will bring me to be like you. I hope in you, because your example and your grace give me the strength to be able to identify my will with yours. I love you, because only by loving you can I be transformed into you and be holy.

Petition: Give me, Lord, the grace to practice charity faithfully.

1. Wanting What God Wants: What is true love? Quoting the Roman historian, Sallust, Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI shows us what the authentic content of love is: “To want the same thing, and to reject the same thing was recognized by antiquity as the authentic content of love: the one becomes similar to the other, and this leads to community of will and thought” ( Deus Caritas Est , 17). This quote helps us understand that to love is to identify our will with God’s will. This leads us to be like God. This fact corrects the error of our first parents who disobeyed God.

2. Love Has Two Dimensions: True love has two dimensions: love for God and love for our neighbor. The first epistle of John, known as the “Magna Carta” of charity, expresses frequently and clearly the close relationship between them. One cannot exist without the other: “No one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God, nor anyone who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10); “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God” (1 John 4:7); “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another” (1 John 4:11); “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21).

3. Loving Others: Loving God requires loving others. This is not easy, especially in a world that highly esteems individualism and permits stepping on others to get ahead. If loving others according to the Old Testament requirement, “as you love yourself” is difficult, we can imagine how difficult it is to love others according to Christ’s requirement, “as I have loved you” (cf. John 13:34), which is a true Christian’s hallmark: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
How many times do we judge only from appearances or judge people only by their physical traits or defects? It’s so easy to comment on peoples’ defects, imperfections, and ways of acting; yet, it is so difficult to praise constantly what is positive in them. One of the best ways to love our neighbor is to seek charity in speech.

Conversation with Christ: Dear Jesus, give me the grace to love others with all my effort and good will. I want to contemplate you, Lord, so that I may learn from you how to love them to the point of giving my life for them.

Resolution: I will practice charity towards others in a very concrete way.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Memorial of Saint Pius X, pope "Wearing the Right Clothes"

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ´Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.´ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ´The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.´ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ´Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?´ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ´Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.´ For many are called, but few are chosen."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you because you have created me to be with you. I hope in you because you always give me what I need to be with you. I love you because you continue to invite me, in spite of my reticence and sinfulness.

Petition: Lord, grant me the grace to value heaven and to live in such a way that I can get there.

1. How Dare You Not Accept! God invites us to accept freely the gift of union with him to which he calls us. But, lo and behold, we can use our freedom badly and not accept the only thing that can truly make us happy. This occurs when we forget about God, no longer giving him the adoration and love he deserves as our Creator and Father, putting ourselves in first place, and becoming the sole criteria for our decisions and actions. This passage helps us to remember what type of freedom we have. We do not have absolute freedom. We can’t choose what our end should be. Only God is our end. Our freedom is limited and consists in being free to choose the means that most efficaciously help us to reach that end.

2. An Undeserved Invitation: Our possibility of getting to heaven is truly a gift from God. He invites us even though we are sinners, even though we don’t take his Son’s death and resurrection seriously, even though we continue to fall in spite of having all the grace and strength we need to overcome temptation. St. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, states how hard it is for a man to give his life for another person (see Romans 4:7). Maybe he would do it for a very good person. Christ didn’t give his life for good persons; he gave it for sinners. We should be moved to respond to this amazing manifestation of love for us: Total adherence to God is the only worthy response.

3. Dressing for the Occasion: God is good, but he is not na├»ve. He won’t let us in to full communion with him if we do not value it properly. The robe mentioned in the Gospel passage is an image of the soul. The soul that has been purified and is prepared to enter into heaven wears a wedding robe. The soul that is full of selfishness and sin is improperly dressed. It is not a matter of God not having mercy on us. It’s a matter of the use of our freedom. When we encounter something that has value and know that it will make us better, we have to appropriate that value through conscious effort. We have to live up to it. We can’t be indifferent or superficial regarding heaven. We shouldn’t regard it as just something possible; it should be an existential need.

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, so many times I give more importance to my own satisfaction than to centering my attention and efforts on achieving true communion with you. Help me to value your invitation to reach heaven through a truly Christian life that prefers virtue to sin, disinterested love to selfishness, humility to pride.

Resolution: Today I will try to work on a virtue that I need so as to respond to God’s love for me.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Memorial of Saint Bernard, abbot and doctor of the Church "Working for God"

Jesus told his disciples this parable: "The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o´clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ´You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.´ So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o´clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o´clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ´Why do you stand here idle all day?´ They answered, ´Because no one has hired us.´ He said to them, ´You too go into my vineyard.´ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ´Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.´ When those who had started about five o´clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ´These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day´s burden and the heat.´ He said to one of them in reply, ´My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?´ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe in you because you have revealed your plan of love to the Church. I hope in you because you are more interested in my happiness and salvation than I am. I love you because you have loved me without my deserving your love.

Petition: Lord, help me to appreciate and be grateful for your grace.

1. There Is Always an Opportunity: One of the worst experiences is to accept that you have lost the last opportunity to do something you have always wanted to do. This can occur in any human situation: job opportunities, university acceptances, etc. In the spiritual life, on the other hand, there is always the opportunity to live only for God, the opportunity to be redeemed. There is always the possibility to start again. Why is this? It is because God has granted us our time on earth to walk towards him. Therefore, even if we fall, he continues to give us the strength to get up. That is why the sacrament of reconciliation is so important. When we lose grace, our spiritual strength, we can regain it in the sacraments, especially in confession.

2. Expecting More Than You Deserve: Considered from a merely human point of view, this Gospel’s situation is an unjust one. Whoever works more should receive more than those who work less. We tend to forget, however, that in terms of the spiritual, everything is a gift. There is nothing in our nature that can demand grace. The demands of our faith are not “favors” we do for God, but existential obligations. That is why Christ reminds us, “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ´We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do´” (Luke 17:10).

3. The Generosity of God: God’s generosity is a manifestation of his love for us. He knows each and every person intimately and personally. He knows that the needs of some are bigger than those of others. To think that God loves some people more than others is an injustice to God. We owe love and respect to others because we are all human persons with the same dignity. We owe adoration and love to God because he is our creator and provident Father. But God owes nothing to his creatures. Everything he gives us is gratuitous and a fruit of his infinite love. It’s too easy to treat God in a human way, forgetting that he is God. The most beautiful gift he gives us is his grace.

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, I sometimes see things from a very human and selfish point of view. Sometimes I find myself getting angry because others may have more than I do. Help me understand that the most important thing to be truly happy in my life is to be aware of the need I have of your grace.

Resolution: I will thank Christ for his grace and love and will try to imitate him by being generous to others.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Tuesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time "Getting to the Top"

Jesus said to his disciples: "Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible." Then Peter said to him in reply, "We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know what is best for me, and that is why I believe in you. You are always faithful to your word and are more interested in my spiritual well-being than I am, and that is why I trust in you. In spite of my sins, you always give me your loving forgiveness, and that is why I love you, Lord.

Petition: Lord, grant me a profound desire to reach heaven as shown by my proper use of material things.

1. Entering the Kingdom: We know from the Gospels that Christ spends most of his public ministry preaching about the Kingdom of heaven. God wants to be the King of our hearts. This is impossible if we are attached to things. When Christ says that it will be hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven, he is speaking to every person. Christ is saying that to be attached to material things means not having room for God. It’s not a matter of riches. Just as a mountain climber doesn’t use heavy gear or take a weighty rucksack, in our spiritual climbing of the mountain (which is our intimate relationship with God), we need to be free of anything burdensome.

2. It Seems Impossible: The reaction of the disciples helps us to remember how easy it is for us to be attached to ourselves, to things, to pleasures and to desires. To leave all of these in order to get to heaven may seem impossible for us to do. In fact, it is. No one can overcome these attachments without the help of God’s grace. That is why Christ says, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” God will take us to heaven if we let him. An overloaded boat will sink not because it is incapable of floating, but because the weight is more than it can carry. We can reach God when we empty ourselves and allow his grace fill our hearts.

3. Having Nothing in Order to Have It All: We can usually give up something in order to receive something better. That is why the apostle Peter, not really sure of what “the prize” of his following Christ is, asks the Master, “What will there be for us?” The reward of our renunciation is to be with Christ, forever sharing in his glory. The awesome thing is that Christ tells us it’s not something we will receive in the future, but something we can already begin to receive here on earth. St. John of the Cross, who had a profound love for Christ, understood very well that “to come to the possession you have not, you must go by a way in which you possess not” (The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book 1, Chapter 13).

Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for reminding me about what is necessary for me to do in order to reach heaven. It’s so easy to get caught up with the things of this world and forget that they are worthless when compared to heaven.

Resolution: I will offer up a concrete sacrifice: I will detach myself from something I like and reflect on heaven while doing it.



Sunday, August 17, 2014

Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time "Money Changes Everything"



A young man approached Jesus and said, "Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?" He answered him, "Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." He asked him, "Which ones?" And Jesus replied, "You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to him, "All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Introductory Prayer: Dear Lord, I believe in you because you know what is best for me and what I must do in order to reach heaven. I hope in you because you have called me to detach myself from worldly things in order to possess you. I love you because you are greater than any of the things you have created.

Petition: Lord, grant me spiritual detachment from material things.

1. Are You Sure? Sometimes we ask for or desire something without really considering the conditions necessary to obtain it. We understand that most things cannot be obtained for free; nevertheless, in the spiritual life we easily forget this. What the rich young man asks for is the most valuable, the greatest possible achievement, but he thinks getting it will be easy. Maybe he was accustomed to being able to buy whatever he wanted with money. He probably didn’t even think that Christ might tell him to detach himself from his possessions. The fact that we could want something, but not want to do what is necessary to attain it, should raise a question: Do we really want it?

2. A First Step to Eternity: Christ takes the young man’s question seriously. He doesn’t want to waste the young man’s time allowing him to think things are easier than they really are. Sadly, in today’s society people are used to seeking what requires the least effort. This is not the way of a true Christian. To get to heaven – and everybody should really want to – one thing is totally necessary: “Keep the commandments.” That means to avoid sin. God’s love for us precedes the commandments. When we love someone, we do not treat that person in any old way, but rather in a way that reflects the love we have for that person. So, we keep the commandments not just to follow a moral code, but to show in a specific way our love for God. This step is very important, but it is only a first step to heaven.

3. Not So Sure: The rich young man had no trouble with living the commandments. Feeling confident, he asks for more, and Christ asks him to leave his possessions. He wasn’t expecting this. He went away sad, because he had many possessions. The problem is not having possessions, but that having many possessions makes us more preoccupied with material things than with “things of above,” as St. Paul would say (see Colossians 3:1). In the Gospel, Jesus says, “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, help me to love you above all things. I realize that I am attached to things that sometimes lead me to forget you. And yet, I can’t avoid hearing in the depths of my soul your words: “You cannot serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). Help me understand that it is not worthwhile to have many things, but not have you.

Resolution: I will examine myself to see what commandments I am not living fully and detach myself from some concrete thing that prevents me from doing so.



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time "Ask and You Shall Receive"


Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." He answered, "It is not fair to take the children´s food and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters´ table." Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly.

Introductory Prayer: I believe in you, my God. You called me into existence from nothingness and carefully watch over me. You have even numbered the hairs of my head. I trust in your infinite goodness, and I abandon into your loving hands my fears, my hopes, my needs, my desires, everything. I love you, Lord, and I wish to love you with all my mind, heart, soul and strength.

Petition: Lord, grant that these moments of conversation will build my trust in you.

1. Bold Prayer: We are often timid and bashful in asking others for what we need when we assume that we will be “putting them out” with our request. We put ourselves in their place and think, “I don’t want to be a bother to them.” But Christ wants us to be bold in prayer! What does it “cost” God to grant us his grace? More than what he has already freely given us — his Son? To think that we are “bothering” God when we ask him for things is to pray to a distant and unfamiliar God. Did not Christ guarantee us that if we asked the Father (“Abba”, “Daddy”) for anything in his name, it would be granted? The Canaanite woman’s loud pleas were not bothering Christ in the least. How different Christ’s reactions are to ours, which are so often like those of his disciples!

2. Prayer Unanswered? It is difficult to humble ourselves and admit that we need help, that we can’t completely take care of ourselves. Our pride and human respect often keep us from asking for what we need. The Canaanite woman didn’t seem to mind: she presented herself before Christ and others as a beggar. Now the Gospel text records, “But he did not answer her at all.” One might think Christ responded to her act of humility with a rather cold, even degrading reception. Was Christ being insensitive? Of course not! He knew how strong this woman’s faith was, and he put it to the test precisely so that others throughout the centuries could marvel at her simple faith. There are often many hidden reasons why Christ doesn’t readily answer our prayers. Let us return to Christ humbly, with faith and hope, when we feel slighted or ignored by him.

3. Efficacious Prayer: An efficacious prayer is a humble prayer. We are super-sensitive when we are hurt. This Canaanite woman was already very hurt by the condition of her daughter and the scolding of the disciples. Had she not had such simple faith and hope, Christ’s words to her could have been enough to send her “over the top.” When we are hurt, we easily jump to conclusions and become offended. Once our pride is injured, we are often blind to the good someone wishes us or performs for us. How many souls have spent long years away from Christ because they have clung to past hurts and been blinded to God’s often mysterious pedagogy?

Conversation with Christ: Dear Jesus, too often I have given up on prayer without really trying, convinced that you don’t listen to me. I am sorry for judging you. Help me persevere in asking you for the good things I need. Help me overcome any shame or human respect, so that I can increase my faith, hope and love for you.

Resolution: I will meditate on an “unanswered” prayer in my life, trying to understand how Christ could have answered it in an unexpected, yet superior way.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time "The Parental Vocation"

Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

Introductory Prayer: Lord God, I believe in your presence here with me as I begin this moment of prayer. I hope in you. I know that you will always take care of me. I want this time with you to be a sign of my love for you. I seek only to please you, without desiring any spiritual consolation for myself.

Petition: Lord, help me to be faithful in carrying out the commitments of my state of life.

1. Bringing the Children to Jesus: Being a parent is a lofty vocation. To be entrusted with the integral formation and eternal salvation of another human being is a task that is enough to make one dissolve into fear and trembling. Above all, parents have to show the good spiritual instincts of the people in today’s Gospel: They have to bring their children to Jesus. They need to teach them to pray, to go to Mass and above all, to learn that Jesus truly is their best friend with whom they can share everything. What a gift to give to children!

2. “Do Not Prevent Them”: There are many ways to hinder a child’s path to Christ. Our bad example is one of the main ones. Children pick up on the incoherence between our admonitions and our actual behavior. It’s particularly unnerving when a parent begins to see his own defects mirrored in his children. That can serve as a warning call that we need to be living the Christian life with more authenticity. Our example needs to be a catalyst towards the good.

3. The Kingdom of Heaven Belongs to Such as These: A good Catholic parent has only one true bottom-line aspiration for his kids: that they get to heaven! This is worth all the prayers, sacrifices and late nights. Precisely because the Kingdom is where they belong, parents should have immense confidence that the Lord will send them the graces they need to persevere and carry out their mission effectively. Christ is the parent’s biggest cheerleader! He wants nothing more than that happy reunion in heaven, where the parent will hear those wonderful words from his child, “Thanks for helping me to get here.”

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you for my parents, and all they did to help me grow in the faith. I am sorry for the times I judged them harshly. Grant them your abundant blessing.

Resolution: I will say a special prayer for my parents (especially if deceased) and give them a call to thank them.