Friday, July 31, 2015

Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church "Heeding or Silencing the Conscience"

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, "This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him." Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus. 
  

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe you are looking for me. You stand ready to come to me in this moment of prayer. You want to help me see your love and where I can grow to be more like you. Thank you for your patience and goodness with me. I want to give myself totally to you. 
 

Petition: Lord, help me to hear your voice more clearly today. 

1. A Disturbing Voice: John the Baptist had been sent to prepare the way for Christ. He was a witness to the holiness of God. He tried to awaken the sense of sin and the need for repentance. He spoke clearly and was afraid of no one. Sometimes the voice of God in my conscience can be bothersome, like John’s voice was to Herod. Yet a clear reminder of what is right and wrong is an act of mercy from God. He is giving us a chance to awaken from our lethargy and realize that our immortal souls are at stake. I should thank God when my conscience reminds me of things I need to change in my life.

 

2. What’s Wrong With a Little Entertainment? There is nothing wrong with having celebrations in our life and moments of joy and relaxation. A Christian’s life is rich in moments of happiness. But, as was the case in Herod’s birthday party, there exists the danger of looking for entertainment and relaxation in activities or pastimes which can simply manipulate our passions, weaken our morals, and deeply offend God. If we are unable to choose our entertainment wisely we can end up throwing away the richness of our spiritual inheritance for cheap thrills. Herod ends up as a murderer rather than a good king. His unchecked passions of sensuality and human respect make him use his power to destroy rather than protect. I must remember that even in the moments of relaxation I have the responsibility to protect and foster my Christian identity. I should look for healthy pastimes where I can share the joy of Christian living with my friends and family.

 

3. The Proverbial Second Chance: When Herod hears of Jesus, his conscience pricks him. He knew he had killed a man of God. Somewhere in his heart he knew that God would have the last word. The presence of Christ is an additional grace that the Father offers Herod so that he may be converted. Unfortunately it is a grace that Herod will not take advantage of, just as he did not take advantage of the presence of John the Baptist. In my own life, how many times does the Father have to remind me of my call to holiness? Do I realize how much mercy the Lord has already shown me? What is it that I am still withholding from him? Today I will seek a deep conversion of heart in that area where I know I have still been withholding myself from God.

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for enlightening my conscience with your Gospel. Help me to see where I have become deaf or insensitive to the call of your teachings. I want your grace to triumph in my life. Help me to be brave to change what offends you and to live a life of Christian authenticity. 

 

Resolution: I will receive the sacrament of reconciliation today and also invite someone else to receive it.

 



Thursday, July 30, 2015

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest "Lack of Faith"

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

 

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

Petition: Lord, increase my faith in you. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Thursday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time "Powerful Net"

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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


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

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


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Memorial of Saint Martha "Do You Believe?"

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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



Monday, July 27, 2015

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time "A Miracle That Kept On Giving"

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, "Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?" He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, "Two hundred days´ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little bit." One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to hima, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?" Jesus said, "Have the people recline." Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, "Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted." So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, "This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world." Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone. 

 

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you, the Holy Trinity, dwell in my soul. Thank you for the joy of your friendship and love. I hope in you; I hope that you will guide me and my loved ones home to heaven, where we can delight in your presence forever. I love you and long to be a better instrument of your love. 

 

Petition: Lord, help me to achieve an unconditional trust in you. 

 

1. A Test to Get Us to Grow in Trust: It was clear that Jesus’ disciples did not have the means to help these people out of their predicament -- neither in ready available cash nor in locating a nearby market large enough to feed the overburdening crowd. Yet Scripture says, “He said this to test him.” Let this passage remind us that God can allow our problems to become so big and desperate as to show forth his power. God wants us to trust in him and to purify our intentions along our journey of faith. How great our Lord is in solving the unsolvable and making possible the impossible. He cures the incurable, raises people from the dead, and, most importantly, converts the erring sinner. “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:38). Do I easily give up hope when I don’t see a human solution to a situation? Blessed is he who believes that what the Lord promises will be fulfilled (Cf. Luke 1:46).

 

2. Our Lord Wants Us to Play a Part in His Miracle: God has the power of creating something out of nothing, but he asks for human collaboration, even if it is minimal. Here it is no different. The apostles are utterly poor: they can bring to Our Lord only five loaves and two fish from a boy they find in the crowd. Jesus asks us to contribute because he wants to teach us to be generous, even when we think we have nothing to give. Actually, it is when we give from our want that we most please Our Lord (Cf. Luke 21:1-4). Poverty is never an excuse for a lack of generosity in serving and working for Our Lord. This miracle proves to us that Our Lord can never be outdone in generosity.

 

3. Don’t Miss the Point: In this scene Our Lord slowly prepared his apostles and disciples for his teaching on the Real Presence in the Eucharist. He had to purify their hearts and prune out attachment to the things of this world in order for them to accept the difficult teaching about his self-giving love found in the Eucharist. Even so, when he saw that the people were about to miss the point of his miracle, Our Lord “withdrew again to the mountain alone” (John 6:15). Sometimes Our Lord withdraws the comfort and consolation of his presence in our lives because we wrongly interpret their meaning and purpose. Do I properly discern the spirit in my heart when I pray? Am I happy only for things that gives me comfort, or am I truly coming closer to Christ because I recognize who he is and return to him the same authentic love he gives me and wants from me?

 

Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for this meditation and the lessons I learned from it. Keep me generous so I may never lose my trust in you. When the situations of my life seem unsolvable, help me to trust that in your time, you will work your wonders in my life, bringing glory to your name. 

 

Resolution: I will make a visit to the Eucharist or a spiritual communion each day this week, offering this sacrifice of time for the conversion of the hearts of those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust, or do not love you, Lord, in the Eucharist.


Friday, July 24, 2015

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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



Thursday, July 23, 2015

Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time "Gardening with deligh"

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

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

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

 

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

 

Petition: Increase my faith, hope and love, Lord.  

 

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

 

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

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


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

 

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

 


 


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 



Monday, July 20, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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