Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church "Costly Christ"


As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." And to another he said, "Follow me." But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God." And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." To him Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God."

Introductory Prayer: In you, Lord, I find all my joy and happiness. How could I offend you by chasing after fleeting success and lifeless trophies? I believe in you because you are truth itself. I hope in you because you are faithful to your promises. I love you because you have loved me first. I am a sinner; nevertheless, you have given me so many blessings. I humbly thank you.

Petition: Let me willingly accept the cost of following in your footsteps.

1. Hidden Expenses: A would-be disciple of Jesus´ boasts that he will follow Our Lord anywhere, whatever the sacrifice. Jesus´ response makes us wonder whether the fellow understood what he would be getting into. Following Christ is demanding — and not always glamorous. We might dream of doing great things for Christ, but then find the day-to-day struggle distasteful ("the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head"). Unglamorous challenges take many forms. A new wife might discover to her chagrin that her husband can´t handle finances. Or a parent with high hopes learns that a child has a learning disability that will limit her ability to excel. Or a husband takes a higher-paying job to support his family, only to find his new boss is a tyrant. Or a teen suffers ridicule at public school for her modest clothes. All these trials can be the cost of following Christ. What price am I willing to pay?

2. Family Ties: Christ tries to dissuade another would-be follower from "burying his father." The man was probably settling his father´s estate and getting too involved in family finances. Our Lord wanted him to cut with all that, immediately, and get on with the work of the Kingdom. Too often money matters distract us from doing what Christ wants. No wonder St. Paul warns, "The love of money is the root of all evils" (1 Timothy 6:10). Is money holding me back in my relationship with Christ? Am I working longer hours than I need to, just for the sake of money?

3. Long Good-bye: The moment of decision had arrived. But instead of joining Jesus´ camp, the would-be disciple felt the tug of family ties. As followers of Christ, we have to be willing to make a fundamental option for Christ — an option that by necessity excludes other paths. Does this sound hard? It should sound familiar. Think of the young woman who says yes to a proposal of marriage. She does so assuming that her beloved has long broken off other romantic relationships. Or take the student who decides to go out for the soccer team at school. He rules out spending hours of practice on the basketball court. By extension, if we want to follow Christ, why do we fritter away hours in activities that have nothing to do with our faith or the Church? Are there things I need to weed out of my life?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me focus my energies better on you and what you are asking of me. Let me not be distracted by activities or material possessions or even relationships that aren´t helping my spiritual life.

Resolution: I will weed out one thing from my life that doesn´t fit in with my state as a Christian. It could be a Web site, a subscription to a publication, an immodest piece of clothing, a relationship.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church "The Real Fight until the End"

When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.

Introductory Prayer: In you, Lord, I find all my joy and happiness. How could I offend you by chasing after fleeting success and lifeless trophies? I believe in you because you are truth itself. I hope in you because you are faithful to your promises. I love you because you have loved me first. I am a sinner; nevertheless, you have given me so many blessings. I humbly thank you.

Petition: Lord Jesus, make me meek and humble of heart.

1. An Unpopular Strategy: military term: “resolutely”. Nevertheless, even though he was engaged in fierce combat, Jesus didn’t show it in a way the world understood. Our Lord approached his battle in Jerusalem like a sheep being led to the slaughter. His strategy was humility. Humility was the atomic bomb that he would drop on Satan’s designs and plans. He thus undid the pride and arrogance of Lucifer.

2. A Lesson in Humility: St. John the Evangelist is an active participant in this passage. He himself knew that Jesus’ purpose was to wage war (see 1 John 3:8), and he and his brother dreamed of being well-decorated in Jesus’ battalion. They sought places at his right and left hand in the Kingdom (see Mark 10:35-37), and now they seek to use their rank as apostles to bring down revenge on their opponents. Jesus rebuked them, redefining for them the idea of kingship in his reign. They learned quickly that the weapons of attack were kindness, gentleness, charity and humility.

3. Mission Oriented: In military standards, a commander-in-chief might have considered the incident in Samaria a defeat. Christ was uprooted from their presence, so humanly speaking, he lost. This however, is not the case. Had Jesus complained or retaliated against the fanaticism of the Samaritans, that would have been a defeat. Instead, the Gospel tells us: “They journeyed to another village.” Simple as that! Christ won victory because he didn’t waste time on fickle, whimsical and capricious expectations; rather as a true soldier, he forgave, forgot and continued to the next town.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, allow me to understand the bumps and bruises of your “boot camp.” It is hard to understand why life is so taxing for my weak nature, but I know that we are at war with the forces of evil. Seeing you die for this war and winning it gives me greater courage to commit my bit to the war effort. Help me to prefer the virtue of humility over my pride.

Resolution: Today, I will be to the one who does an everyday chore in my house. I will make the coffee for all or wash the dishes to demonstrate to the Lord (and myself) that I can be humble. 


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Feast of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael, archangels "Angelic Company"

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him." Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this." And he said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I approach this time of prayer earnestly. I believe that you have called me to be faithful and loving in your service. I thank you along with Mary, the saints and the holy angels for the marvelous works of creation. I will humbly try to reflect your greatness to all I meet today by honestly fulfilling my duty.

Petition: Lord, help me be an instrument of your peace and love.

1. Honesty Is the Best Policy: Once as Jesus spent the whole night in prayer, he searched for apostles that would be honest and sincere. Jesus took a liking to Nathanael when he discovered an Israelite without guile in his heart. Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him. It seems that Jesus admired this angelic trait in men. As soon as he saw Philip bringing Nathanael forward to meet him, Jesus immediately noticed the virtue Nathanael lived. If I want to be highly thought of by Jesus, then I need to be sincere in mind and heart.

2. The Holy Angels: The Church venerates today the holy service of three of the archangels. They stand out for their honest love for God’s most holy will. With such fidelity, St. Gabriel faithfully delivered the most important messages of human history to Zacharias and Mary. St. Michael wrestled with Lucifer and cast him out of heaven. St. Raphael came to the aid of Tobias in the Old Testament. In these angels there isn’t any duplicity of heart. God asks them a favor and they truly fulfill it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to implement our talents and gifts toward a service of this nature? Wouldn’t it be great to be honest instruments of God’s infinite love like these three archangels?

3. The Lord’s Gaze: Jesus looks into the heart and doesn’t judge by appearances. Christ’s gaze penetrated Nathanael on this occasion. Jesus penetrates the motives of my heart even though they are kept hidden from the others. Jesus is the first one to know if I am true to the faith I have received. If I am faithful to the dictates of my conscience and obey God’s lead, in private or in public, then I have nothing to hide and nothing to lose. If on the other hand, I am dwindling in my surrender to Christ by boredom and monotony, then it is about time I sought renewal. Christ needs me! How many are dying and fading away because they lack Christ and his love? I, in turn, have been graced by many special spiritual favors! Jesus gazes into my eyes and dreams of my fidelity and love.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for the example of these three archangels and of the holy apostles. The holy apostles ended up shedding their blood for you and the holy angels aid us on our journey towards you. Lord, seeing so many lacking the faith, I resolve to be your tireless instrument, like them, so that many may come to praise you for all eternity.

Resolution: I will visit the Eucharist (if this is impossible, then kneel before the crucifix) and repeat confidently, Lord I wish to be your instrument – help me! 


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time "A New Mentality"

"What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ´Son, go and work in the vineyard today.´ He answered, ´I will not´; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ´I am on my way, sir´; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

Introductory Prayer: In you, Lord, I find all my joy and happiness. How could I offend you by chasing after fleeting success and lifeless trophies? I believe in you because you are truth itself. I hope in you because you are faithful to your promises. I love you because you have loved me first. I am a sinner; nevertheless, you have given me so many blessings. I humbly thank you.

Petition: Lord, help me to follow you, regardless of circumstances and times.

1. A Higher Authority: Jesus is in Jerusalem, exchanging words with the Pharisees. They have tried to trap our Lord by asking him from where he gets his authority. Our Lord, in his wit, turns it back to them. He asks them a question which brings them to accuse themselves of lacking fidelity to God. Jesus is looking for faith. Faith is the attitude that searches for an authority in life higher than one’s own. When God calls us to live his will, we should in faith accept it and live it. Even if it seems inconvenient or uncomfortable to us, we should not look for ways to live outside it. It is very important that we bypass inauthentic outlooks on life.

2. Christ’s Mentality: If we are to understand this Gospel passage, we must make an effort to rid ourselves of the “modern mentality”. In the modern mentality, we do whatever we please as long as we don’t step on anyone else’s toes. Jesus proposes a different mentality. Jesus suggests that we not only listen to, but also do the will of God in our lives. Neither son in this parable was perfectly in tune with Christ’s suggestion, but at least one of the sons came to his senses and repented for his stubbornness of heart.

3. An Apparent Defeat: Many of us reading through this scene would congratulate Jesus for putting down his enemies and winning the debate. We would toss confetti at the Lord for his wisdom and knowledge in getting out of this predicament. This, though, wasn’t the case. Jesus felt it as a loss. He did not care about appearing better than the others. He left this encounter saddened because he truly desired that the Pharisees believe him and accept his saving message. We ought not to try to shine over our foes. Instead we should work hard to help them see the light.

Conversation with Christ: With even a little of your charity, I could certainly be a son of two “yeses.” Help me to say “yes” when you ask me something and also to do it immediately – without hesitating for even a moment. Lord, may your will be done!

Resolution: This week, when the alarm goes off early to start my day, I will make an effort to be diligent and punctual for love of God’s will.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Saturday, 25th week, Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest OT "The Gift of Faith"

While they were all amazed at his every deed, Jesus said to his disciples, "Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men." But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the author of life and the giver of all that is good. You are the Prince of Peace and my mainstay. You are my healer and the cure itself. I need you, and I need to give you. I love you and commit myself to you entirely, knowing you could never let me down or deceive me. Thank you for giving me your very self.

Petition: Lord Jesus, strengthen my weak faith and guide me along your paths.

1. Blind Faith in Science There are so many everyday, day-to-day things that we take for granted. We have a certain “blind faith” in them: the electricity in our room, the engineering feat of the skyscraper we work in, etc. It  just comes naturally to us. We don’t put much thought into them. We trust that they will continue to work. Unfortunately, when our “faith” crosses the line of empirical knowledge – like electricity and engineering – into the realm of the spiritual, we can find obstacles to our believing.

2. Supernatural Faith Understanding of what Our Lord states about his passion and death in today’s Scriptures can only be obtained through a “supernatural faith.” This faith is a gift we must seek from God in all humility, so that it will shed light on the whole of our lives. It will bring a knowledge greater than just a purely human one. Trusting in Jesus, let us ask him for this faith.  

3. Afraid to Ask The disciples in today’s Gospel passage were afraid to question Jesus. Questioning something we do not understand is not necessarily bad; it is quite normal and reveals a childlike attitude. Christ always has an answer to our questions – an intelligible answer – even though our mind may not fully grasp its breadth. In fact, Christ does not want us to accept his teaching and values in a passive way. He wants us to accept freely, not so much because we understand fully, but rather because we trust and love the God who reveals himself to us.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, it is so easy for me to look at life from a purely human standpoint. Grant me the eyes of faith to see all things from your viewpoint. May my faith enlighten my path all the days of my life.

Resolution: In my prayer today I will beg in all humility for the gift of faith in Jesus Christ.



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time "The Mistaken Messiah"

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" They said in reply, "John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ´One of the ancient prophets has arisen.´" Then he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter said in reply, "The Messiah of God." But he gave them strict orders and charged them not to say this to anyone. He said, "The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the author of life and the giver of all that is good. You are the Prince of Peace and my mainstay. You are my healer and the cure itself. I need you, and I need to give you. I love you and commit myself to you entirely, knowing you could never let me down or deceive me. Thank you for giving me your very self.

Petition: Lord Jesus, grant me the courage to bear witness to you as the Messiah.

1. “According to the Latest Poll…”  Frequently we hear in the news opinion polls concerning certain topics, people or events. There is nothing novel about that. But when Christ himself polls popular opinion by asking, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”, he isn’t interested in his public rating. If this were his motive he would have become very discouraged, because the public opinion was so far from the truth. “What do you mean, John the Baptist?” –– there is quite a difference between the bridegroom and the best man at the wedding feast. Other’s opinions stray even farther. What matters in life is not what others think or say about us. The only opinion that matters is God’s: what he thinks about us and what we do. Lord, not everyone knows you. We live in a generation that seeks more signs. Send us your gift of faith so that we might truly believe and thus be saved.

2. Personal Convictions: Jesus had three short years to shed his blood for our redemption and found his Church. In founding the Church he had to transform some rough fishermen. He had to bring them to believe firmly his divinity and mission so that they would continue the work of salvation after his death. Jesus had just spent some time in prayer, and he knew from where the transformation would come. Just how much had his disciples managed to open their hearts to the Father’s work? “Who do you say that I am?” Peter rises to the occasion. He couldn’t have said it more concisely and exactly: “The Messiah of God.” How about me? Who is Jesus for me? Is he truly my Messiah and Redeemer? Do I preach this truth to others by the way I live and the words I speak? I want to be a more ardent apostle of your Kingdom, Lord. Give me convincing words and actions so that others might come to recognize you as the Messiah of God.

3. The Pharisees Got It Wrong: So that there would be no mistake as to the meaning of Peter’s confession of faith, Jesus decided to define the term. ‘Messiah’ means… “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised." The Pharisees misunderstood the figure of the Messiah. They thought the Messiah would deliver them from Roman occupation. They had not understood that slavery to Rome was nothing in comparison to the slavery to sin and to the “prince of this world.” If we are to conquer sin and Satan today, there is only one way: the cross. Jesus is the savior of the world. Through his passion and death he has become the solution to all of our problems. This is why he tells us: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I fear that cross with every fiber of my being, but let your will –– and not mine –– be done. I know that if you are with me, everything will work out in the end. I want to be a better apostle of your kingdom.

Resolution: Despite the opposition I may encounter, I will try to make every encounter with others today an occasion to share my faith with them and bring them closer to God.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thursday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time "Conversion of the Heart"

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, "John has been raised from the dead"; others were saying, "Elijah has appeared"; still others, "One of the ancient prophets has arisen.” But Herod said, "John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?" And he kept trying to see him.

Introductory Prayer: As I enter your presence today, Lord, I know that I am not worthy to be with you. “But you alone, Lord, have the words of eternal life and I believe; I have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” I kneel before you in contrition, adoration and hope in your mercy.

Petition: Help me, Lord, to be converted to you more fully.

1. Our Daily Conversion to God: Herod’s desire to see Jesus is not precisely based on faith or on motives of conversion.  During the entire time of his imprisonment, John the Baptist had constantly invited Herod to conversion. “Herod was in awe of John, knowing him to be a good and upright man, and gave him his protection. When he had heard him speak he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him” (Mark 6:20). Yet Herod continually postponed converting. We need to convert daily. It isn’t enough just to say that we have accepted Jesus as our personal lord and savior and have been “born again,” we have to start living that new life, renewing our option for Christ each day. Today I want to convert from my weaknesses and shortcomings. I want to draw closer to you, Lord.

2. What Is the Truth? There comes a moment in life when we have to look in the mirror and see ourselves as we truly are. It takes courage to look directly and ask, “Who are you really? What are you making of yourself and the talents God has given you? What is the truth?” Now, not everything in Herod’s life is relative; there is one truth he does accept: “John I beheaded.” This could have been the point of departure for true conversion and acceptance of God’s mercy in his life. He at least recognized he had made one mistake. All that he was hearing about Jesus made his conscience uneasy. He was afraid that his sin was coming back to haunt him. Conversion always begins with the acceptance of our failures and inclination to evil. It is said that St. Philip Neri used to look at himself in the mirror in the morning and say: “Lord, watch out for Philip today lest again he betray you.”

3. Blessed Are the Pure of Heart… Jesus himself taught us in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God.” Explaining this beatitude a little more in detail St. Gregory of Nyssa says: “The man who sees God possesses in this act of seeing all there is of the things that are good. By this we understand life without end, eternal incorruption and undying beatitude. With these we shall enjoy the everlasting kingdom of unceasing happiness; we shall see the true light and hear the sweet voice of the Spirit; we shall exult perpetually in all that is good in the inaccessible glory.” Seeing and possessing God is the result of our daily conversion. It is the promise of peace of heart, true happiness and everlasting life. It is the fullness of everything man can desire in this life and in the life to come. It is the very meaning of our existence. What more could we ask for?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I truly long to see your face. Do not hide your face from me. Help me to accept myself as I truly am and strive to overcome my weaknesses and my inclination to sin. Help me purify my heart so that I might see you in my everyday life and possess you forever in the life to come.

Resolution: I will seek true conversion today by reciting a sincere Act of Contrition and trying to attend Mass or at least make a visit to Christ in the Eucharist.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Wednesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time "Take It or Leave It"

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He said to them, "Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, nor let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them." Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the Good News and curing diseases everywhere.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the author of life and the giver of all that is good. You are the Prince of Peace and my mainstay. You are my healer and the cure itself. I need you, and I need to give you. I love you and commit myself to you entirely, knowing you could never let me down or deceive me. Thank you for giving me your very self.

Petition: Lord, help me to rely on your grace and not on worldly things.

1. The Mission: Christ sends out his apostles to preach the good news with inadequate supplies. They are charged to trust in Providence. Jesus shrinks their suitcases to practically nothing. How could they touch people? Like St. Paul they were able to understand that Jesus was guiding their steps from a discreet distance: “I consider all as loss for the surpassing knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). Jesus gave them restrictions to teach them that their strength in bearing fruit lies in their love for him rather than in their material possessions or management skills. Do I carry this same conviction in the home, in the office, or running the errands? Am I willing to go two miles if the local Church community presses me into service for one mile?

2. Detached from All Things: Christ warns us about hoarding possessions, not so much by what he says, but by what he does. He doesn’t send his friends out like sheep among wolves so he can retire to a comfortable sofa all weekend long. By giving them a good example first, Jesus has already demonstrated what is necessary for apostolic success. He was born in a musty cave. His first bed was an animal trough. His first apostolic success, at the age of twelve, was cut short by his parents who intimated to him that his timing was off. He sent Peter to pull coins out of a fish’s mouth because he had no money to pay the tax. He allowed simple things — a woman at a well, a funeral march in a village — to become moments remembered worldwide, for ages to come, by countless followers. Later, he would be laid in someone else’s grave. Material welfare alone cannot obtain what the Lord is sending us to accomplish!

3. A Free Choice: Jesus didn’t make the disciples go off to a survival camp. Nevertheless, the harder the conditions were, the more attraction they felt at being involved. These Galilean fishermen freely accepted an unknown trade. They had discovered a treasure that so filled them with enthusiasm they sold everything in order to get hold of it and share it. This treasure is Christ. The Gospel says, “Then they set out and went from village to village....” It didn’t take the apostles long to decide what they wanted to do, for within their vessels of clay they carried a treasure which needed to spread far and wide.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, as wonderful as material things are, they do not amount to anything compared to possessing you and teaching others about you. See the efforts I so intensely perform for your sake and bless them. Lord, help me, as you helped St. Paul, to continue fighting for a heavenly crown that doesn’t fade or rust.

Resolution: Today I will find a moment to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and pray earnestly for the missionary intentions of the Holy Father for this month.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest "We Too Wish to See Jesus"

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you." But he said to them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the author of life and the giver of all that is good. You are the Prince of Peace and my mainstay. You are my healer and the cure itself. I need you, and I need to give you. I love you and commit myself to you entirely, knowing you could never let me down or deceive me. Thank you for giving me your very self.

Petition: Lord, help me hear your word and do it.

1. “We Wish to See Jesus.” Today, as two thousand years ago, mankind longs to see the face of Jesus. Each one has his own reason: some are in need of healing –– like Bartimaeus, the blind man of Jericho who shouted after Jesus until he took pity and cured him (Mark 10:46-52); some out of curiosity –– like Zacchaeus, who climbed a tree to see Jesus because he was short in stature (Luke 19:2-10); some to hear his word –– like the crowd that pressed in on him to hear the word of God by the Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1-10); some out of love and to look after him – like the Blessed Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene (Mark 15:41).

2. Christ Is Not Easily Conquered: “They could not reach him because of the crowd.” Though we may seek Christ with the purest of intentions, it is not always easy to achieve our goal. There are bound to be obstacles along the way, and we have to be prepared for them. Satan always tries to separate us from God through sin, even putting the fear of confession in our hearts so we don’t receive God’s healing grace. The world also attempts to keep us as far from God as possible, offering a thousand distractions and amusements to lead us away from prayer, reflection and conversion. And of course sometimes we ourselves are so little inclined to piety, service to others and a virtuous life. Laziness and indolence can overcome even the best of us. We need to let him know we are seeking him.

3. Jesus Rejects His Closest Friends? What counts for Jesus are “those who listen to the word of God and do it.” He came to preach to and save everyone. And contrary to the first impression given by his words, this does not exclude his mother and his relatives. Christ doesn’t lower them but rather elevates us –– and them –– to a degree of intimacy greater than blood ties. This is the beauty of God’s love: He calls us to an ever greater dignity and intimacy with him.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I want to see your face in all the events and happenings of this day. Drive away all my enemies and spiritual tepidity. Cure my spiritual blindness, for you alone can help me. Without you I can do no good. Help me to live up to this dignity you have bestowed upon me.

Resolution: I will reserve five minutes this evening to do a thorough examination of conscience and perhaps prepare for confession. I will eliminate the obstacles I have to seeing God’s face and thank God for the graces he has given me.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Monday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time "A Just Settlement"

Jesus said to the crowd: "No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lamp stand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you dwell in brightness, truth and love. Nothing makes sense without your love. Without you, Lord, insipidity invades people, things and events. I believe that you are my refuge and the source of my happiness now and forever. I am convinced that your promises will be fulfilled sooner or later; this is why I prefer a single day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.

Petition: Lord, enlighten my mind and heart to follow your path that leads to the endless day.

1. Torch Bearers: There are advantages to carrying a torch in the dark. This common knowledge informed our Lord’s address and helped him propose it to his listeners. At night, a torchbearer sheds light so that all who are with him can walk confidently, without stumbling along a dark path. Time is not wasted stepping insecurely and hesitantly; rather, the whole group walks purposefully and goes quickly where it needs and wants to be. When a group has a torchbearer, all in it are relieved, including the torchbearer himself. This is the value of my faith to a highly secularized society. Do I nurture an appreciation for the gift of faith that I have received from God? Am I afraid to allow its light to shine?

2. Wisdom at its Best: Jesus affirmss, “For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.” When I am not praised and recognized by others, I might feel sad or forgotten. This is when I need to shine a lot of light to get out of that black hole. Do my good works seem to go unperceived? The Lord himself will expose them on the judgment day. The more they are hidden from others now, the more merits I will gain before God. All secrets will be cracked open in the future. My duty is not to crack them open now, but to keep them hidden and to be a torchbearer for the journey to that place of eternal reward.

3. A Rewarded Success: “To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.” Here Jesus plumbs deeper into what we have already reflected on.  “To anyone who has” obviously refers to the torchbearer who has successfully led his band of friends. He will be entrusted with more responsibility, or simply respected by the others. “…And from the one who has not”: The torchbearer who can’t keep his flame alive will be ousted. He will be taken away. Do I staunchly live the fire of the faith, or do I hesitate in witnessing to his love?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to be a wise torchbearer. Do not allow laziness and presumption to distract me from the basic task of keeping my lamp filled with oil at all times. Lord, give me a robust faith!

Resolution: In my conversations today, I will bear witness to the light by avoiding all slanderous talk, and I will elevate the topics of conversation by talking about things that could inspire others to praise God. 


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time "The Idle Apostle?"

Jesus told his disciples this parable: "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o´clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ´You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.´ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o´clock, he did the same. And about five o´clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ´Why are you standing here idle all day?´ They said to him, ´Because no one has hired us.´ He said to them, ´You also go into the vineyard.´ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ´Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.´ When those hired about five o´clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ´These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.´ But he replied to one of them, ´Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?´ So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the author of life and the giver of all that is good. You are the Prince of Peace and my mainstay. You are my healer and the cure itself. I need you, and I need to give you. I love you and commit myself to you entirely, knowing you could never let me down or deceive me. Thank you for giving me your very self.

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to work in your vineyard alongside you.

1. The Call to Work in the Vineyard: The landowner needs workers for his vineyard. Going out to the marketplace, where there are all kinds of people, he invites all the workers he can find. We are all invited to be apostles in the Lord’s vineyard. Some might think they don’t have enough talent, others that they are just too young to be able to do anything for Christ, and still others that the task is just too much for them. But Christ doesn’t ask for excuses; he asks for workers, generosity and good will. He will take care of the rest. He doesn’t call the prepared; he prepares the called. He is the one who produces the fruits, not us. What a joy and privilege to be called by the Lord to be a worker in his vineyard, especially when we fulfill our task out of love.

2. Turning the Tables: We complain so easily about the problems we see around us: the lack of values, the violence, the evil people do…. Then in our prayer we say to God, “Look at the world. Why don’t you do something about it?” If we were to listen a little more closely to God in prayer, we would probably hear him reply, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” Perhaps we never knew there was something we could do. Perhaps we never had the courage to face the situation and address the matter seriously. Idleness is the one thing the Lord cannot understand. “You also go into the vineyard.” Some are called early; some are called later. It doesn’t matter when, what does matter is to respond the moment we are called.

3. The Surprising Salary: Go ahead and ask the question…. Peter did, in the passage just prior to this parable (Matthew 19:27-30): What can I expect from this? Christ is the best bargain in the marketplace. He promises us the full wage, even if we were called at the last hour. Whatever we “sacrifice” for him, he promises us 100% in this life plus eternal life. So really, the sky is the limit. We have to ask ourselves: What am I willing to give Christ? A few meager dollars, a few fleeting moments of my day, only my “leftover” time? Christ never obliges; he only invites. It is important never to forget that by helping God to save souls we save our own. This is the way to build up a treasure in heaven.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, today I hear your call more clearly than ever. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work in your vineyard. For you I am willing to do anything. I know there will be moments of difficulty and weakness. Give me your grace and strength, and then ask of me what you please. Make me your apostle.

Resolution: I will give as much of today as possible to God by living each moment and activity with intensity and purity of intention. I will offer it all to God out of love.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Memorial of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, and Paul Chŏng Has-ang, and Companions, Martyrs "Treat Me Like Dirt!"

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to him, he spoke in a parable. "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold." After saying this, he called out, "Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear." Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be. He answered, "Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that ´they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.´ This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved. Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of trial. As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit. But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for this precious time of meditation and dialogue with you. In meditating on the Parable of the Sower, help me to change so that I will not put any thorns, rocks or hardness of heart in the way of your plans for my life.

Petition: Lord, grant me docility to your will for me.

1. Hard Ground: We act like hard ground when we hear the inspirations of the Holy Spirit to do what is right, but let them pass as if it were no big deal. We let the devil take away the grace Jesus offers us, and it does not sink into our hearts. Many times superficiality and a lack of faith prevent us from reflecting and taking advantage of the lights that God gives us. We should pray to be more spiritual.

2. Rocky Ground: How many of us hear the Word of God with joy and follow Christ in the peaceful times, but fall away in the times of trial? We need to let our spiritual roots grow deeper; we need to let the roots of God’s word grow more profoundly into our hearts. The best way to do this is by reading and meditating on the Gospel and solidifying this faith through the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist.

3. Thorny Ground: The thorny ground represents those of us who are slowed down in our spiritual life by the anxieties, riches and pleasures of life. When the ground of our hearts is thorny, we fail to produce the mature fruit that Christ expects. And we live in the midst of so many thorns…. In order to let God’s grace grow in us, we have to sacrifice our own comfort and pleasure, because apart from the cross there is no growth in personal holiness.

Dialogue with Christ: Lord Jesus, treat me like dirt … but good dirt. I don’t want to place thorns or rocks or hardness of heart in the way of your word. I want to be fertile soil for your word so that you can use me as an instrument to save souls and glorify you.

Resolution: I promise to pray these words many times today: “Not my will, but yours be done.”


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Friday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time "Love Is Not Snobbish"

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod´s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that you came into this world to redeem sinners. I hope in you and in your power to transform my soul, by your grace, from sinfulness to holiness. Lord, I love you and offer you the longings of my heart to put you truly first in my life. I want to love you with all my mind, heart, soul and strength. 
Petition: Jesus, teach me to live universal charity.

1. “Accompanying Him Were the Twelve” In this rather commonplace phrase from the Gospel, we perceive Jesus’ universal charity. He chose his twelve apostles from many different backgrounds. Most of them probably would not have been friends were it not for Christ. Matthew was a tax collector; Peter, James and John, fisherman. Judas was more “sophisticated” than the rest. Yet, Jesus called them all to be his closest collaborators. As a result, they would come to cooperate with and appreciate each other. When Christ is at the center of any relationship, differences can not only be overcome, they can become points of strength as well.

2. Mary, Called Magdalene: Not only did he choose men to be his close collaborators, but as the Gospel says there were also “women who provided for him out of their resources.” Jesus assigned them different roles, but he saved and transformed their lives all the same. We think of Mary Magdalene as a close friend of Christ, but we should also remember that he transformed her, with the power of God’s grace, by expelling seven demons from her.

3. The Wife of Herod’s Steward: Another of the women following Jesus was “Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward.” It is amazing to realize that the Gospel took root even in the midst of the fiefdom of Herod, a man who had absolutely no esteem for our Lord. We, then, should never ‘write someone off.’ Prayer, sacrifice, and charity can be effective means for the worst sinner’s conversion. Jesus’ message was capable of inspiring followers in all societal conditions and groupings. Similarly, we are called to build the Kingdom at all levels of our secularized world.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus Christ, you give us the example of unconditional love for each and every person. You do not care what our background is or how many sins we have committed. Your mercy is infinite and everlasting! Thank you for your love. I beg you to teach me to love without limits.

Resolution: I promise to practice universal charity today by being kind to someone with whom I do not ordinarily associate.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time "The Healing Power of Love"

A Pharisee invited him to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee´s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner." Jesus said to him in reply, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. "Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days´ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?" Simon said in reply, "The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven." He said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The others at table said to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" But he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Introductory Prayer: Holy Trinity, I cannot see you, but you are with me. I cannot touch you, but I am in your hands. I cannot fully comprehend you, but I love you with all my heart.

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to be humble and open to interior growth.

1. Ostensible Openness and Spiritual Pride: Simon the Pharisee has an apparent openness to the Lord. He invites him to dine. He observes him. And he engages him in cordial dialogue. Nonetheless, we see that Simon interiorly judges the Lord, dismisses him as a farce, and ultimately rejects him. The Pharisaical attitude consists essentially in trying to force God into our own preconceived notions of how he should operate. The Pharisees had the correct view of moral precepts (both Simon and Jesus agree that this woman is a sinner). But they fail in recognizing their own sins, which are rooted in pride. This pride manifested itself in that unspoken attitude that God must adjust himself to our way of being and acting.

2. Redemption: The Pharisee thinks he is sinless and does not admit that he needs a savior. His prideful attitude of “assessing” the Lord proceeds from a deeper pride that blinds him to who he really is before God: a simple creature in need of divine help and grace. Simon wants God to conform to his preconceptions, and winds up rejecting Christ. This is the paradigm of pride. It distorts reality and forges its own self-centered world that Christ cannot penetrate. The woman knows she is a sinner and recognizes the path to her salvation in the words and example of Jesus. She painfully realizes who she is and keenly longs for salvation. The words and example of mercy of Christ resonate deeply in her heart and invite her to repentance. This is the paradigm of humility. Its strength lies in a knowledge and serene acceptance of the truth and makes redemption possible.

3. Christ’s Goodness: Our Lord’s loving treatment of both the woman and Simon displays a remarkable balance of kindness. He carefully avoids the opposite extremes of condemnation and indifference to others’ sins. The reason Our Lord is able to offer hope and consolation to the repentant sinner as well as to invite the proud with a gentle call to repentance is that Christ will die for both. In this we see Christ’s goodness. He comes to save us all, but we must choose to accept his goodness.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, help me to realize who I am and who you are. Teach me gratitude for your goodness and hope in your mercy. Help me to recognize my pride and strive to overcome it so that you can fill my life with your goodness.

Resolution: I will avoid judging others today.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wednesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time "Perpetually Dissatisfied"

"Then to what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another, ´We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.´ For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, ´He is possessed by a demon.´ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ´Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.´ But wisdom is vindicated by all her children."

Introductory Prayer: Eternal God, prayer is your gift to me. I believe that you give me complete and unlimited access to your power and mercy. I want to value this gift of prayer above all things. As I begin this meditation, I renew my faith, my hope and my love for you.

Petition: Lord, give me discernment and constancy in my efforts to follow you.

1. Endless Excuses: Some very good and religious people in Jesus’ day complained about John the Baptist, precursor of the Messiah, because of his austere lifestyle. “He must be crazy,” they said. They also complained about Jesus’ apparently excessive liberality with sinners and nonbelievers. The habit of constantly sifting reality through our own preconceptions can lead us to reject the things of God. This is the opposite of faith. It is even the opposite of the healthy exercise of reason and has become a limiting rationalism. Rather than seeking to place God neatly in our own self-created and prearranged world, we need to let ourselves be shaped by God’s criteria.

2. Fickleness: Spiritual fickleness inevitable leads us to reject God. The inability to follow through on a particular spiritual path necessarily leaves us midcourse, far from the goal. It does not matter whether we follow the austerity of the disciple John or the apparently liberality of the disciples of Jesus. What matters is that we follow through to completion whatever particular path God has given us. As long as we move, God can guide our steps. If we don’t move, there is nothing to guide. Waiting around for some mythical “perfect conditions” is in reality capriciousness and unwillingness to commit.

3. Wisdom: Wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit by which we are able to see and comprehend the divine and human realities from God’s perspective. Wisdom leads to equilibrium and balance in our judgments and assessments. We prepare for this gift by our effort to make good decisions and live by them. The supernatural gifts build upon the human virtues.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I am indebted to you for your teaching and for your example. Help me to learn from your life and your example, and keep me from ever dismissing them as irrelevant. Help me to be constant in my resolutions so that I will continue to grow closer to you and serve you better.

Resolution: I will avoid making excuses today.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Memorial of Saints Cornelius, Pope and Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs "Do Not Weep!"

Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, "Do not weep." He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, "Young man, I tell you, arise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, "A great prophet has arisen in our midst," and "God has visited his people." This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that my life is in your hands from the moment of my creation until my last day. Lord, I hope in you, because you have created me for a purpose. Lord, I love you, for the great love that you have for me. 
Petition: Lord, help me place all of my hope in you!

1. “Do Not Weep.” There are many ‘reasons’ to despair. So many difficulties in life have no human solution. Especially when it comes to life and death, I find myself so powerless to help others.  Jesus, however, offers a different perspective: “Do not weep.” His infinite power frees us from tragic human limitations. Furthermore, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). He acts, he intercedes, as Redeemer. “Do not weep,” bears the weight of a command. As apocalyptic as suffering and death might appear, ultimately Jesus reveals a life-giving love: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain” (Revelation 21:4). The widow of Nain is about to receive a grace inconceivable to her present sorrow. I, too, should hope in Christ’s kindness towards me and my loved-ones.

2. “Young Man, I Tell You, Arise!” Jesus does not console me simply by removing my emotion or by having me imagine that things are different than they really are. If I lose someone who is dear to me, I am truly sad. Instead, Christ comes to restore what was lost. He acts to remove the cause of pain and sorrow: “for I, the LORD, am your healer” (Exodus 15:26). When Jesus tells the widow of Nain, “Do not weep,” he does not accuse her of being an overly-emotional woman who takes things too seriously. Quite the contrary, Jesus is compassionate towards her because of the loss of her son. Therefore, with all my heart and soul I ought to be obedient to hope. My life is in God’s hands. The lives of my loved ones are in God’s hands. If I live, I live for Christ; if I die, I die for Christ (see Romans 14:8).

3. “God Has Visited His People.” Even at his birth, the Son of God who took on our human nature was named “Emmanuel”: “God-with-us.” Our Savior associates himself with us not only in life and grace, but also taking our sins upon himself and giving his very life in order to redeem us. “God has visited his people” even refers to sinners: those who suffer death as an ultimate consequence of original and personal sin. 
I can rejoice because God seeks me out wherever I am, heals me, and restores me for eternal life. If I have received such great love, I should repay love with love. I should bring the love of Christ to others just as I have experienced his visit to me.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I entrust my entire life and the lives of my loved ones to your care. Allow me to grow in your love so that I truly benefit from your grace, which leads to eternal life. Let me hope in your resurrection as I offer you my everyday burdens.

Resolution: In a conversation today, I will speak to someone about life as a journey meant to lead us and prepare us for heaven.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows "Taking Mary into My Home"


Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother´s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

Introductory Prayer: You are true goodness and life, Lord. Closeness to you brings peace and joy. You deserve all of my trust and my love. Thank you for the gift of life, my family and above all of my faith. Thank you as well for giving us your Mother at the foot of the cross.

Petition: Lord, help me to grow in my filial love for Mary, your Mother and mine.

1. Standing: Today is a Marian feast: “Our Lady of Sorrows”. Mary, like me, had no particular love of pain and sorrow. The first announcement of her vocation by the Archangel Gabriel mentioned nothing about it, being filled only with messianic promises. However, soon after Jesus’ birth, Simeon completed the dimensions that were to enlighten her vocation: “…and a sword will pierce your heart that the thoughts of many might be revealed”. Recognizing the fulfillment of her calling in the accompanying of her Son during his crucifixion, she does so with a desire to fulfill God’s mysterious plan, not reluctantly, but standing closely to Jesus with all the sorrow that this implied for her.

2. Last Will and Testament: The words Jesus speaks to his mother and his beloved disciple are equivalent to his last will and testament. He bequeaths what is most precious to him to a beloved person. To Mary, he gives the friend that he loves so much, who will also need her help in the difficulties he will face. To John, he gives his greatest human comfort, his mother who is his best disciple. He knows that she needs him, an adopted son, to comfort and accompany her.

3. Mary Makes My Home Sweet: John took his responsibility for Mary seriously, taking her into his own home. Home for John was nothing less than the Church that Jesus founded. Mary was to have the pride of place there, as Jesus’ mother, and as she who knew, loved and served him best. She also took her role seriously, so seriously that she immediately perceived that all those she encountered were her adoptive sons and daughters. In this house that is the Church, Mary is the sweetness of the traditional saying, “Home, sweet home”.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, I can’t thank you enough for entrusting your mother to me and me to her. I want to take care of her by being an attentive, faithful son who imitates you. That’s what will console her and make her heart rejoice. Mary, be always at my side and intercede for me before God, in order that I persevere in following your Son.

Resolution: I will make my devotion to Mary very personal, whether it be in spontaneous conversation with her or contemplating the mysteries of Christ’s life while praying the Rosary.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross "God So Loves Me"

Jesus said to Nicodemus: "No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

Introductory Prayer: Your word in the Gospel reveals to me the beauty of the mystery of the Cross. I open myself now to you with a believing heart. Your love for humanity is so present in what you say. You give me hope that the world can be changed by your message of love. I want to be more like you, a lover of the Father, a lover of my brothers and sisters to the point of giving my life for them.

Petition: Lord, exalt the cross in my mind and my heart, that I might see it as an instrument of love.

1. Jesus’ Identity: Nicodemus comes to Jesus to find out who this miracle worker is. Jesus tells him that he is the Son of Man and God’s Son. He has come down from heaven and will return there. Now that he has identified himself, he has gotten Nicodemus’ attention and mine. His answer to the first question does not satisfy us because it has brought up several other questions. How can he claim to be the Son of God when there is but one God? If he is truly God’s Son, why has he come down to earth? What does he want or expect from me?

2. A Savior Greater Than Moses: Moses had, at God’s command, led Israel out of slavery in Egypt. When the people rebelled in the desert, they were punished by fiery serpents that bit them with poisonous venom. Moses intervened on their behalf, making a bronze image of a serpent, placed on a post; those who looked at it were saved. Jesus saves humanity from its rebellion, not by a symbol raised on a stick, but by sacrificing himself as he was raised on a cross. He saves me not from temporal death, but from eternal death. He is indeed a Savior greater than Moses.

3. The Degree of God’s Love: How much does the Father love me? If we could measure love on a thermometer, God’s infinite love would send the mercury out the end. His love is boundless. What would he withhold from me if he has already given his son to save me? My sentiments upon contemplating the immensity of God’s love for me should be gratitude, praise and a reciprocating love towards him.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I am moved when I discover how much you love me. You came down from heaven, becoming the Son of Man so that I could know, love and imitate you. You loved me to the extreme of offering yourself up on the cross to save me from sin and death. I want to love you in return to the point of giving my life for you.

Resolution: I will contemplate the cross as a symbol of love, making it a symbol that says something to me whenever I see it. I will try to bear my cross today with love.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church "Know the Tree by Its Fruits"

Jesus said to his disciples: "A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. Why do you call me, ´Lord, Lord,´ but not do what I command? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built. But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, here I am again spending time in prayer. I am going to meditate on your word. I do not want to be one of those people who cries out “Lord, Lord” but never does what you say. You know too well how weak I am, how many times I have trusted in my own strength and left you to one side. I come to you today in humility to ask for your light and your grace.

Petition: Lord, help me to build my life on a firm foundation.

1. Good Fruit from a Good Tree: How will we know what lies deep down in our souls? We will know from the kind of fruit we produce. If our lives are examples of charity, faith, patience and honesty, we know that our soul is healthy and strong. If our lives are examples of anger, envy, lust, selfishness or laziness, then we know that there is a weak and sickly soul inside. If we want to change, we cannot simply try to change the appearances – to put on a nice face or pretend to be a good person. Sooner or later the mask will fall, because it is only hiding something rotten inside. We must change from within, go deep down to the root of our defects, heal our soul in the sacrament of penance, and work to build a life of virtue from the very foundation.

2. False Security: When the sun is shining and all is calm, a house built on a weak foundation seems very strong and sturdy. It is hard to believe that it will not withstand the force of rain, wind and floods. We sometimes have a false security in our lives when all is going well. When there are no big temptations, when the trials and difficulties of life are small and easily overcome, we can convince ourselves that we are on solid ground. We can be lulled into thinking that our spiritual life is strong and that we will never fall into sin as we have in the past. We must be careful and very objective because this may be a false security.

3. The Test: The true test of the foundation comes when the rain starts, the wind blows and the floodwaters rise. The test of our spiritual lives comes with temptations, difficulties, disappointments and trials. If we have built our spiritual lives on a firm foundation of virtue, self-denial and union with God, it does not matter how hard the floods come down against us: We will stand firm. We must keep in mind that in the moment of the flood we will not be able to go out to fix the foundation. It will be too late. We must work on building a strong foundation while the sun is shining so we will be ready for the test. We must act on the words of Christ now, in this moment, while there still is time.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, do not let me be lulled into a false sense of security just because my life is not so difficult in this moment. I want to be ready for the test. I want to be ready when the floods come. Help me to work today to strengthen the foundation of my spiritual life. Help me to grow in virtue.

Resolution: I will concentrate today on practicing one virtue that I know I need to work on.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Friday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time "Leading Others to Heaven"


He also told them a parable: "Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor´s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ´Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,´ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor´s eye.

Introductory Prayer: God the Father, thank you for the gift of creation, including my own life. God the Son, thank you for redeeming me at the price of your own Body and Blood. God the Holy Spirit, thank you for being the sweet guest of my soul, enlightening my mind, strengthening my spirit and kindling the fire of your love in my heart.

Petition: Lord, help me to grow in humility.

1. Blind Guides: Jesus poses a rhetorical question to the crowd: “Can a blind person guide a blind person?” It is obvious that a guide needs to see. If we are talking about guiding people to the kingdom of God, then Jesus is the way. He is the one who has come from his Father; he knows the way. First, we can reflect on his importance and centrality to our journey to heaven. Second, we can also think about ourselves as guides for others. There should be a certain hesitancy, which is not reluctance, when we consider the task of leading others to God. We should be humble and remain very close to the Church that Christ founded to continue his mission on earth.

2. Disciples: Christ’s next statement emphasizes that while the disciple is not above his teacher, he can learn as much as the teacher. The disciple of Jesus can learn from him the steps which lead to salvation and eternal life. Christ not only founded the Church to continue his teaching, but he also endowed her with the gift of his Spirit to preserve her from error. Our confidence in teaching others should derive from the knowledge that we are in union with the Church and seek to follow her teachings. Learning is a lifelong process, but religious instruction often ceases with First Communion or Confirmation, and many adults have only the religious formation of a child. What are we doing to become fully qualified in our knowledge of the faith?

3. Hypocrites: Evangelization begins with us. It does seem that we are much quicker to detect faults in others than to notice them in ourselves. We can even be really irritated by another person’s faults, even though we ourselves possess them in greater measure than does the person about whom we are complaining. The proud person complains loudly of the conceit and arrogance he sees in his neighbor, but he is blind to his own vice. We need to consider our own condition first – humbly –, and then we need to work on truly becoming more Christ-like. The more we allow God’s grace to transform our lives, the more we can help others.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I am very proud. I so easily get wrapped up in myself, my perspective, my needs and my wants. I put myself before others. Help me to see the faults in myself that you want me to start working on. Give me the courage to address them before I start looking at others.

Resolution: I will identify two or three practical things I can do this week to grow in the virtue of humility.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thursday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time "A Most High Ideal"

Jesus said to his disciples: "To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit (is) that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as (also) your Father is merciful. "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."

Introductory Prayer: God the Father, thank you for the gift of creation, including my own life. God the Son, thank you for redeeming me at the price of your own Body and Blood. God the Holy Spirit, thank you for being the sweet guest of my soul, enlightening my mind, strengthening my spirit and kindling the fire of your love in my heart.

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to actively seek the perfection you desire for me.

1. Revolution or Civil War? The values that Jesus proposes in his sermon on the mountain might be termed “revolutionary.” Never had the ideal of love been placed so high, demanding such heroism in practice. That’s why what Jesus asks provokes a struggle within me, between the “old man,” who resists this message, and the ideals my Lord places before me. This might be termed a “civil war” played out on the battlefield of my heart.

2. The Golden Rule: Jesus gives me what has been termed the “Golden Rule”: do to others as you would have them do to you. Since I naturally love myself to the point of desiring all good things and nothing bad to come my way, Jesus exhorts me to transfer that benevolence to others. This requires an effort for me, since I tend towards egoism. What can lift me up out of my smallness, my narrowness?

3. Becoming like God: God’s plan for me is marvelous. It exceeds my comprehension to hear Jesus tell me to be perfect, not according to a standard of human perfection, but according to divine perfection. My vocation is to become like God – for his divine life to increase in me and for my narrow, egoistic standards to diminish and disappear. I would not strive for such a high goal, if it were not commanded by my Lord. I must trust that he can do it in me. What I have to do is to collaborate with him, seeking him in prayer and discerning his will for me always.

Conversation with Christ: I thank you, Lord Jesus, for wanting to transform me into a greater likeness of God. Without you, this is impossible. With you, everything is possible, even in me with all my weaknesses and limitations. Your will be done!

Resolution: I will transform my way of judging from my point of view to God’s. Today I will strive to put into practice the “Golden Rule”.