Thursday, June 30, 2016

Friday of the Thirteenth "Where Mercy Reigns"


As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" He heard this and said, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ´I desire mercy, not sacrifice.´ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

 

Introductory Prayer: 


Lord, I come to you in this meditation ready to do whatever it is you ask. Left to myself I often take the easy and convenient path, yet I know the way of a Christian is through the narrow gate. In you I find the reason to abandon the easy path for a more perfect mission of love. I’m ready to learn the meaning of your command: “Follow me.”

 

Petition: 


Lord, grant me the grace of a humble and contrite heart.

 


  1. "Why Does Your Teacher Eat with Tax Collectors and Sinners?"


    The Pharisees want to keep their status secure. In their eyes, religion is not a quest for truth, but a way to tranquilize their conscience under the guise of a law which makes few demands on them. They are unwilling to break away from the “baby food” that is the old law and chew on the “steak” of real holiness. It is easy to return back to “baby food” and to remember the times when God was asking less, in order to keep a false sense of peace. Such a manner is never enough, though, for an honest man of God, who learns every day to face the brutal facts of who he really is before God – that God expects much from him, and that the Lord’s grace will empower him to deliver. I must seek out the areas of routine where I have justified myself in giving less than what Christ is really asking.


 


  1. “I Did Not Come to Call the Righteous but Sinners."


    How does God pick which souls to approach with his consoling presence? “Through the abundance of your mercy, O God our Savior, you appeared to sinners and tax collectors. Where else was your light to shine if not upon those who were sitting in darkness? Glory be to you!” (Iraeneus, Anthologion, 1:1390). Christ is attracted to those to whom his grace will mean something, those in whom there is fertile ground for a response to his invitation to holiness. No abundance of religious achievement or spiritual knowledge will catch his attention, but put in front of him a contrite soul ready to abandon himself to his grace, and there he is.


 


  1. “Those Who Are Well Do Not Need a Physician, But the Sick Do.”


    A posture of humility helps us to never take God’s mercy for granted. One day Brother Elias found St. Francis crying over how terrible a sinner he was. Surprised, Br. Elias asked how he could think such a thing. Francis therein recalled all the graces he had received, and reflected that if any other man had received them they would have been a far greater man than he (Crowley, A Day With the Lord, p.146). Such are the saints – whom are never satisfied with themselves, always in need of God and his mercy. All that Christ needs to make me a saint is that I have a heart ready to change and be ready to base myself on his grace. Less on my formulas for success.


 

Conversation with Christ: 


Lord, I ask you to receive me in all my weakness. That I may more confidently base my future growth on your grace and mercy. Let me enter heaven, as St. Theresa of the Child Jesus wished, “with my hands empty.” All glory and victory is yours alone. Thank you for choosing me, out of love for me.

 

Resolution: 


I will set a time and place for confession this week. I may honor God’s mercy and show with my fervor what it means for me to be his chosen one.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time "Fathoming Christ’s Mercy"


After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Courage, child, your sins are forgiven." At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming." Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, "Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ´Your sins are forgiven,´ or to say, ´Rise and walk´? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" -- he then said to the paralytic, "Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home." He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to men.

 

Introductory Prayer: 


Lord, I come to you in this meditation ready to do whatever it is you ask. Left to myself I often take the easy and convenient path, yet I know the way of a Christian is through the narrow gate. In you I find the reason to abandon the easy path for a more perfect mission of love. I’m ready to learn the meaning of your command: “Follow me.”

 

Petition: 


Lord, grant me a deeper experience of your mercy.

 


  1. Crippled by Control:


    For St. Jerome, physical paralysis is an image of man’s inability to return to God by his own efforts. It is man’s inability to create his own salvation, to set the terms by which he can say he has made peace with God. The paralysis is meant to speak more to the Pharisees about their souls than to the cripple who bears it. Christ saw stagnation in the Pharisees’ hearts. They wanted to put God in a box, where their relationship with him could neatly accommodate their status and comforts.

    We, like the Pharisees, like our routine. We like to coast in our spiritual life and dislike having to adjust to God’s asking for more faith, trust or charity. For saintly souls, Christ is ever new; they are always being asked for more, and new experiences of Christ fill them as a result. Their love never goes stale since they refuse to control what God can do with them.


 


  1. The Only Real Problem Is Sin:


    The paralytic and his companions arrive concerned only about his physical condition. This is not, however, what is first on Christ’s priority list. What is first, rather, is the man’s state of soul. For God the problem of life is not about problems. Problems are merely the pretexts he sends us to heal and develop our relationship with him: “Your sins are forgiven.” The problem of life is all about holiness and about removing the chief obstacle to holiness: sin. Deep down, the only things that can hurt us are the obstacles of sin and an egoistic lifestyle.


 

 


  1. Awaiting God’s Replies:


    The pause between “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven you” and the cure of the paralysis initially may have caused disappointment in those unfamiliar with Christ’s way of working. In that wait our response to God comes, and our part in the plan of salvation plays out. Instant gratification of a child’s wants spoils the meaning of his parents’ gift of loving support. To arrive to Christian maturity, we must form the virtues of faith and trust. To seek cures must be sought more as part of God’s will than as our own self-centered relief effort.

    This takes time. Yet even in that pause, in the dark night of faith, something is happening. While miracles are on the way, we are changing. The command to rise seems only to confirm or make visible something that has already occurred in the paralytic’s soul: through faith and trust, Christ reigns over his soul.


 

Conversation with Christ:


Lord, I know that in you alone I shall rise, because only you can conquer sin in me. For my part, like St. Paul, I have sought to fight the good fight, strengthened by your grace and mercy. Help me to accept every difficulty as a new chance to purify my heart and sanctify my soul.

 

Resolution: 


Today I will remember to avoid rash and judgmental thoughts of others. As I do so I will keep in my heart the merciful dispositions of Christ’s heart.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles "Rock of Peter"


When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

 

Introductory Prayer:


Jesus, I believe in you. I believe that you came into this world to suffer and die to give me a chance at eternal salvation. I want to draw close to you in this prayer. May this time I spend with you be an expression of my love.

 

Petition:


Help me, Lord, to enter into a deeper, personal relationship with you.

 


  1. Identity Crisis:


    Jesus isn´t interested in what "others" think of him. He wants to know what I think of him. The test of any relationship is how committed people are to each other. At some point a young woman will wonder, how serious is her boyfriend? After a few weeks of class, a professor wants to know, who are the serious students here? On the eve of battle a soldier might wonder, can I count on my buddies when the bullets start flying? Likewise, Our Lord wonders about us. What does Christ mean to me? Is he just a picture on a holy card? A dimly perceived do-gooder from the past? Or does he have a real place in my life? He is, after all, the Second Person of the Trinity who came into the world in order to save us. How does that truth affect my faith?


 


  1. Heavenly Revelation:


    Peter professes that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. And Jesus in turn tells him that this knowledge doesn´t come from the world. It comes from God the Father. Recognition of Jesus as the Christ involves an act of faith. Throughout history skeptics have tried to figure out Jesus, using just their reason and tools of research. But since when do we try to understand the totality of a person with reason? Learning about another person can often require personal contact, above all, listening to him or her. Do I try to listen to Jesus in prayer, in Scripture? Or do I simply try to "figure him out"?


 


  1. Binding and Loosing:


    Keys were a symbol of authority. Our Lord had all authority on earth (see Matthew 28:18 and Mark 2:10). Authority implies the ability to delegate it; hence, Jesus gave Peter, as the first pope, the power to bind and loose, that is, to make disciplinary rules within the Church. A child who disobeys a licit command from its mother is committing a sin. Why? Not because Mom is God, but because Mom has authority from God. Authority, in this case papal authority, is not an imposition but rather a service. The Pope´s unique authority gives us a sure guide on moral questions. The Pope doesn´t have the power to make morality but rather to define authoritatively on issues at hand. How well do I know papal teaching? Do I make an effort to learn why he teaches as he teaches? When a difficulty arises, do I consult Church teaching? "Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me" (Luke 10:16).


 

Conversation with Christ:


Lord, help me to love my faith as an expression of my personal relationship with you. Keep me from ever growing cold in my faith. Grant me a renewed appreciation for the gift of papal authority.

 

Resolution:


I will read a few paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for example, a few about the papacy (880-887, 895, 1559).

Monday, June 27, 2016

Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and martyr "Letting Jesus Sleep"


As Jesus got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, you of little faith?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?"

Introductory Prayer


Lord, I come to you in this meditation ready to do whatever it is you ask. Left to myself I often take the easy and convenient path, yet I know the way of a Christian is through the narrow gate. In you I find the reason to abandon the easy path for a more perfect mission of love. I’m ready to learn the meaning of your command: “Follow me.”

 

Petition


Lord, grant me the grace of a mature faith.

 


  1. God’s Silence, Man’s Faith:


    We can imagine ourselves in the place of the apostles, in this poor boat tossed by the turbulent waves. The situation instantly speaks to our worst of fears; yet Jesus sleeps. Our temptation is to wake him…and too many souls do so through complaining incessantly, despairing attitudes, withdrawing from prayer, or unloading anger on others. When in a moment of trial we find life is no longer under our complete control, the option of meltdown is always at hand.

    But we mustn’t take that route; instead we must contemplate the power that emanates from the sleeping Christ. Trials are intended by God to draw us closer to him and increase our dependence on him. We have to live from faith; otherwise all that reigns is fear, insecurity and bitterness. The “Silence of Christ” is powerful. To pass over its meaning lightly is to abandon some of the deepest lessons of Christ’s heart. The “Silence of Christ” must teach us.


 


  1. The “Silence of Christ” Speaks to Our Faith:


    What is Christ’s sleep like? As a young mother, Mary watched Jesus sleep many times. Archbishop Martinez writes:

    “Jesus was exceedingly beautiful when he spoke the words of eternal life, accomplished wonders, looked with love, pardoned with mercy and caressed with tenderness. But I would like to have seen him while he was sleeping because I could have contemplated him to my heart’s content, without the fascination of his gaze distracting me, without the perfection of his beauty and the glory of his splendor dazzling my eyes and enrapturing my soul. The beauty of Jesus awake is far too great for my smallness. Who could support it? I felt it more suited to me veiled by sleep, as the glory of the sun is more adapted to my eyes when I look at it through a translucent lens” (When Jesus Sleeps, p.15).

    May I trust the power of Christ just as much when he chooses not to act as when he does.


 


  1. God’s Eternal Pedagogy:


    Water, a boat, the apostles and Christ… this scene repeats itself over and over again in the Gospel. Water is a symbol of the experiences of life taken on a human level; the boat is the experience of faith on a supernatural level -- it is our life with Christ. Christ’s message is that we can never let our experiences of life overwhelm our experience of faith.

    We have to live not from the surface level of impressions of the moment, but from the deep channel of faith that reveals the action of God, the wisdom of his Providence and the ultimate destiny of eternity. Faith is what reveals Christ’s presence in our boat; faith is what makes us believe that every wave and wind gust are blessed invitations to confide in the One who rules all. Faith is what permits God to console our hearts, calm our fears and preserve our joy in the midst of problems and difficulties that may take months or years to run their course.


 

Conversation with Christ:


Lord, I know belief makes me vulnerable. But I know that I will not know your love if I do not believe that you can make me happier than I can be by myself. If I do not face the enemies of my soul and my mission and abandon myself to your grace, I will not know your victory.

 

Resolution:


Today I will take a problem and, with complete trust and confidence in him, leave it totally in God’s hands.

Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time "Determined Discipleship"


When Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side. A scribe approached and said to him, "Teacher, 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." Another of his disciples said to him, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." But Jesus answered him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead."

 

Introductory Prayer


Lord, I come to you in this meditation ready to do whatever you ask. Left to myself I often take the easy and convenient path, yet I know the way of a Christian is through the narrow gate. In you I find the reason to abandon the easy path for a more perfect mission of love. I’m ready to learn the meaning of your command: “Follow me.”

 

Petition


Lord Jesus, help me to seek true holiness by following after you.
 

  1. Follow His Footsteps:


    The transition to becoming a disciple is not an easy one. While a disciple generously hands over his own will to the Lord unconditionally, the scribe in today’s passage still seeks his own will, as noble as it may be. A disciple is born from an invitation: “Follow me.” This scribe does not yet have the total freedom of heart that life with Christ demands. Where do I stand? One becomes identified with Christ not through a mere accumulation of doctrine, principles and techniques, but by living a common life with Christ born from union with the Master’s will. May I hear Christ’s voice setting the pace of holiness in my life and inviting me to leave behind my own will for the new life he presents.


  1. Choosing the Better Way


    Christ does not coldly ignore the scribe, but seeks to attract him to a different way of life, a life of simple poverty. Our Lord’s own self-emptying poverty goes beyond the lot of the poorest of men. What Christ’s poverty shows, however, is not misery. Rather, it compels and attracts, for it is an infallible sign of the richness of God from whom Christ lives and moves. Christ’s living example empowers men to leave their world for something better, nobler and more worthy of the life they have been given. May my example also compel others to find a better way, a holier way.

  1. Shunning Shoddy Sophisms: ´
    There is an almost ruthless quality to Christ’s response to the sophisms and excuses offered to avoid following him. Detachment from all personal wants and desires is the way to simplicity of heart. Simplicity of heart requires us to be brutally honest with ourselves. What comes first in our life? What is really moving our heart to make the choices we make? Is it God’s will? God’s will for us is never complicated; perhaps it may be difficult, but it is never complicated. Sometimes, under the pretext of doing good, we rationalize not doing what is better. We do not need sophisticated analyses assessing how many obstacles there are to doing God’s will. All we need to clear the path to its perfect fulfillment is a generous heart.

Conversation with Christ

Lord, I know you have called me; I ask for your strength to respond with simplicity and fortitude. I have heard your voice and I now answer.

 

Resolution


Today I will live better my vocation in life and, in particular, fulfill some obligation that I normally put off.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time "Choosing Between Two Goods"


When the days for his being 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.

As they 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


Lord, I wish to put aside all distractions and to give you my total focus. I will do nothing more important today than to meditate prayerfully on your goodness and your active role in my life. Though I am unworthy to be in your presence, I trust in your mercy and love. Through this moment of prayer I want to draw closer to you and learn to live more like you.

 

Petition


Lord, may the enticements of the world pale in comparison with you.

 


  1. Only One Thing Is Necessary


    Temptation is a choice between good and evil. But sometimes what is harder than making the choice between these two opposites is choosing between two goods. Such is the situation in which the would-be disciples in today’s Gospel passage find themselves. In such cases, we could say that a good occasionally becomes the enemy of what is best. Sometimes we need to say no to a good option in order to embrace the one thing necessary. In today’s Gospel, as well as in tomorrow’s, we encounter people who might have become Christ’s close followers, who might have even been chosen to be one of his Apostles, but who were held back by other concerns or motives. Is my own heart open to Christ and his ways or do I lack detachment in some area of my life?


 


  1. Patriotism Must Come Second


    The first incident is the encounter between the messengers of Jesus and the Samaritan villagers. It is likely that the Samaritan villagers had heard of Jesus the miracle worker and were anxious to see a sign or to hear him preach. But the concern that holds them back and keeps them from following Jesus is their patriotism. The Samaritans and the Jews had been bitter enemies for centuries and systematically avoided all unnecessary contact with each another. When they learned that Jesus and his disciples were Jews and were headed for Jerusalem, their interest became opposition. We would have to agree that patriotism and devotion to the national cause are both good things in themselves. But when nationalism or ethnic sentiments become the eyes through which one sees all reality, including spiritual and eternal reality, one is in danger of losing the proper perspective.


 


  1. Once You Have Set Your Course, Don’t Look Back


    Let us consider the man who wants to follow Jesus, but wants toxxgo and say farewell to his family first. We cannot help but feel that we would have done the exact same thing as this would-be disciple. Didn’t our parents teach us when we were young to inform them about when we were leaving the house and when we would be back, and where we were going, and with whom? This man has high social and family values. One could only hope that all men could be this sensitive to let their families know their whereabouts. Yet, before the urgent call of the Kingdom of God, social and family concerns take a back seat. “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).


 

Conversation with Christ


Lord, I am distracted by so many things in life. Even though many of them are legitimate. I must learn to keep my eyes focused on you and trust in you. Half-way surrenders do not interest you. You want all of my heart. Help me to give it to you willingly and joyfully.

 

Resolution


I will recommit to living wholeheartedly for God today. Even though certain members of my family are likely to call me a “fanatic”. Or tell me that I’m “getting carried away.”

Friday, June 24, 2016

Saturday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time "Let it be Done for You"


When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The Centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven, but the children of the kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” And Jesus said to the Centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour his servant was healed. Jesus entered the house of Peter, and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand, the fever left her, and she rose and waited on him. When it was evening, they brought him many who were possessed by demons, and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick, to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet: He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.

Introductory Prayer: Lord I believe in you. I believe that you walk with me and accompany me with your power. I come before your holy throne, the throne of your heart. I know you want to bless me today with your friendship and to answer my prayers. Thank you for your faithful, generous love.

Petition: Lord, increase my faith.

1. Humility Moves God’s Heart: Not only does the Centurion have great faith; he has great humility. His humility is not feigned, for the circumstances are too grave for him to pretend to be humble, especially as Jesus has already agreed to come heal his servant. Nor is his humility the result of a low self-esteem, for there is tremendous confidence in his dealing with Jesus. His is the humility born of a faith that understands who Jesus is. It is the humility that the Church invites us to share every time we approach Our Lord during Communion at Mass: “Lord, you are far too great to come to me, but thank you for coming for I will die without you.”

2. When Jesus Heard This, He Was Amazed: Now this is amazing. Consider what it would take to amaze Jesus. Yet here we have the answer: Faith — faith in his person, his power, his plan for our lives. One day Jesus will rebuke Peter as Our Lord grasps his hand to save him from sinking: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). The import of the question might be better seen if stated differently: “What is there in me that would make you mistrust me?” The answer is: Nothing. Any deficiency is in us, and this must be sincerely resolved in prayer, especially by contemplating the major truths of the faith: Jesus’ incarnation, passion, death and resurrection; the sacraments, especially baptism, confession and the Eucharist. If Jesus is amazed by our faith, we can rightly deduce that he is hurt by our lack of faith and trust in him.

3. It Happens According to Our Faith: Christ’s comment is somewhat similar to what we pray in the “Our Father”: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Here we are saying, “Let my forgiveness of others be the standard by which I am forgiven.” By addressing the Centurion with these words, Jesus reveals that our degree of faith is the standard by which we possess what we ask for from God. In the First Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass we pray: “You know how firmly we believe in you and dedicate ourselves to you.” This is both consoling and alarming. It is consoling in that Christ knows the exact degree of our faith — he knows the sincerity of our heart. We do not have to explain ourselves to him. It is alarming in that we also know that our faith is not always as strong as it should be. Therefore, we want to repeat what a man once said to Jesus: “I do believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, you are worthy of all my faith. Like the Centurion and the great saints, help me to focus my gaze on you in faith, confident that what you ask of me is always for my best. Mother Most Pure, make my heart only for Jesus.

Resolution: Today I will take a few minutes to read and reflect upon Hebrews, Chapter 11.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist "What´s in a Name?"


When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, "No. He will be called John."

But they answered her, "There is no one among your relatives who has this name." So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name," and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.

Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, "What, then, will this child be?" For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.

Introductory Prayer:


Lord, I make this effort at prayer for the sake of my soul and the souls of my loved ones. I believe that you died for us and want us to be with you forever in heaven.

Petition:


Grant me new respect, Lord, for parents.

 

  1. Bundle of Joy:

    The arrival of a new baby has been a source of joy throughout the ages. Babies are God´s way of saying the world should go on. Each new child reflects a facet of the infinite beauty and mystery of God. And by teaching us patience and selflessness, the little ones help us grow in holiness. In their childlike simplicity they teach us to remain simple. Their neediness can, and should, soften our hearts. They don´t even have to be our own children; we can feel an obligation to help all kids, since their lives enrich all of us. What have I done lately to help the little ones, born and unborn? Is there a crisis-pregnancy center that could use help? Have I spoken well of parents who are open to large families?



  1. God´s Choice:

    For the ancient Jews a name captured, even defined, a person´s identity. So for Elizabeth to name her son "John" was significant. It showed her recognition of God´s great plan for the child. John was in the Almighty´s special care from the start. Even today, each and every child is loved by God and has a destiny in the heavenly Father´s plan. Each has a vocation, a calling, in the Church. Do I appreciate the role that little ones have in God´s plans? Do I respect their dignity? Or do I try to impose my prejudices on them? They are tomorrow´s adults. How will I want them to remember my example?

  2. Loosened Lips:

    Zechariah had doubted God and was struck mute. He regains his speech only after publicly accepting God´s plan and allowing his newborn son to take the name John. We, too, might have a bit of Zechariah in us. We resist God, only to hit a dead end. Bad friendships, habits of serious sin, rising despair – all of these can eat away at us. Yet, repentance is slow to come. Why? "We think that evil is basically good," said Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI (December 8, 2005). "We think that we need it, at least a little, in order to experience the fullness of being. … If we look, however, at the world that surrounds us we can see that this is not so; in other words, that evil is always poisonous, does not uplift human beings, but degrades and humiliates them." Am I resisting God´s plans?


Conversation with Christ:


Lord, you have put family members and other loved ones in my life for a reason. I´m to help them get to heaven, and they are to help me do the same. Remind me of this truth, and help me in a special way not to interfere with the plans you have for the children in my life.

Resolution:


I will pray a decade of the rosary that all my family members reach heaven.

Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time "Built Wisely"


Jesus said to his disciples: Not everyone who says to me, ´Lord, Lord,´ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ´Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?´ Then I will declare to them, ´I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.´

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell -- and great was its fall!" Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

Introductory Prayer:


Lord, before I can produce anything lasting in my life, I need to be united to you in prayer. Aware of my weakness and inclination to sin, I trust all the more in your forgiveness and mercy. I believe in your presence in the Eucharist. It gives me the assurances that you really are with your Church until the end of time. 

Petition:


Lord, help me to improve one point of my life that has been neglected.

 


  1. Lord, Lord:


    "Faith without works is useless" (James 2:20). Witnessing to our faith through our works is crucial. It´s not enough to go to Mass on Sunday, to have the Bible on the shelf, to hang a rosary on the rearview mirror.

    Faith in Christ means daily conversion, changing our lives in conformity to his will. "Not everyone who says to me, ´Lord, Lord,´ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). Doing the will of the Father means works of charity, of patience, of disinterested service. Real expressions of our faith demand that we give of ourselves. Real faith doesn´t leave us feeling smug.

    Do I ever feel self-righteous because "I´m with the Pope"? Because I "never got caught" doing something wrong? Does my faith in Christ leave me complacent? Or does it drive me to works of charity?




  1. Rock Solid:


    Listening to and following Christ means living as we should. There is a truth about our being human that demands a response. To know, love and serve God in this world, and to be happy with him forever in the next, sums up the purpose of our lives (see Catechism, No. 1). When we sin, we break not only with Christ but with ourselves. We feel divided interiorly by our passions, our anger, our vanity, our greed. Christ invites us to "come home," to be what we were meant to be. That is the surest foundation we can have when a crisis strikes. Where am I "building on sand"? Is my prayer life weak? Am I stingy with my possessions? Hardhearted toward a family member?




  1. Façade:


    We can surmise that the house built on sand looked sturdy -- that is why no one thought to test its strength before the big storm arrived. Our lives can be the same way. In a time of calm everything seems OK. No cares, no fears. Everything looks good on the outside, like those old Hollywood movie sets: all façade, but no depth. Beneath the surface, however, there might lie decay, chronic problems, issues that aren´t resolved, emptiness -- all because Christ isn´t the center of our lives. Are there areas of my life where I´m living superficially? Am I just putting up appearances for the neighbors? My parents? My spouse? My sweetheart? My pastor? What problems do I need to weed out of my life?


Conversation with Christ:


Lord, you love me too much to stand by and let me live my life on the surface. You know it is difficult for me to give up my mask, because it is never easy for me to face my weaknesses. Give me the strength to confront what I need to change in my life.

Resolution:


I will note one area where I´m not living up to the public image I present. Then I will offer up a decade of the rosary to overcome that vice or weakness.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time "Rerun of Little Red Riding-Hood"


Jesus said to his disciples: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep´s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, before I can produce anything lasting in my life, I need to be united to you in prayer. Aware of my weakness and inclination to sin, I trust all the more in your forgiveness and mercy. I believe in your presence in the Eucharist. It gives me the assurances that you really are with your Church until the end of time. 

Petition: Lord, help me to see more easily the goodness in people around me.

  1. Wolves in Sheepskins:

    Today we abound with information, but are short on guidance. The media tell us that abortion is OK, that stem-cell research on human embryos is compassionate, that same-sex marriage equals tolerance. Wayward faithful ignore or insult papal teachings. "The time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4). How do I judge what I hear day by day? How do I gauge what the media tell me? Do I absorb everything I hear like a sponge? Or do I try to find out what the Church says on issues? Am I aware of how much the media can steal my interior peace? That it can leave me thinking in a very worldly way?
  1. See The Fruits:

    Our Lord gives us a good criterion for gauging the work of other people: We are to look at what they produce. The people we see daily on television -- do their lives seem peaceful and happy? Are their families stable? Often, the most stable among us are those who live low-key lives. God often chooses to work outside of the spotlight. He works in those families that quietly raise their children in the faith. What lasting fruits am I producing for God? If married, have I been open to new life? If single, do I dedicate a fair amount of time to serving others? Do I help my friends learn about Christ? Do I help worthwhile charities?
  1. Misjudging:

    The problem of judging can go the other direction. We might think that someone isn´t a good person, or that he isn´t very talented. Yet we are surprised, sometimes years later, to find that same person living in a near-perfect marriage, raising a happy family, or producing a thriving work of charity. Was our initial judgment faulty? If so, why? Do we recognize and appreciate virtue in others? Or are we fixated on the externals: Their looks? Their wealth? Their bubbly personality? What does that say about my hierarchy of values?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I am surrounded by views of the world -- so many opinions, so much information. I sometimes feel overwhelmed. Let me see in your vicar on earth, the Pope, the safe and sure path to follow in the midst of confusion.

Resolution: I will compliment someone for the hidden, but lasting, work they are doing for the Kingdom.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious "The Difficult Road"


Jesus said to his disciples: "Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces. Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets. Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few."

Introductory Prayer:


I believe in the power of prayer, Lord. This time spent with you is the most important time of my day. Let me be confident of your presence and your love, in order to take full advantage of these privileged moments.

Petition:


Lord, help me appreciate better the beauty of the Christian faith.


  1. Our True Values:


    We take great care to guard what is most valuable to us, right? The truth is, we often take great risks with what is most precious. We say we value life and limb, but think nothing of speeding in heavy traffic. We say we want to get to heaven, but we dabble in sin, even serious sin, almost daily. We surf racy Web sites. We cut down people in office gossip. We close our hearts to the needy. We habitually vote for politicians who defend abortion. We take sin oh-so-lightly. Likewise, we might let the holy things of our faith languish. We might neglect the sacrament of reconciliation. We receive Communion unworthily. We stay silent when a relative brags about using contraception. We do nothing when a child withdraws into the world of Internet for five hours a day. Is there something about which I should be speaking up?




  1. Do unto Others:


    To decide what to do in any given situation, we can ask ourselves how we would like to be treated. "For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you" (Luke 6:38). The respect we have for ourselves is often reflected in the respect we show others. Rudeness, indifference and irritability toward others bespeak a problem in us. The Golden Rule isn´t just for others; it is also to guard our own dignity. Are there people toward whom I am routinely uncharitable? Do I realize that this lack of charity can hurt my character more than it hurts their feelings?




  1. The Broad Road and the Narrow Gate:


    Modernity is like a 24/7 convenience store. We can get anything, anytime. We can end up thinking that everything about life should be easy, be it marriage, self-discipline or even our salvation. The illusion of ease shouldn´t fool us. Working toward our salvation is hard work. Original sin left a deep mark on all of us. Struggling toward salvation takes prayer, sacrifice and constant vigilance. Do I sense that the living of my faith in today´s world is easy? If so, I´m probably not living it well. Where have I avoided the narrow road of holiness? Am I too attached to food, clothes or the opinions of others?


Conversation with Christ:


Help me to see, Lord, that my real dignity lies in treating others well, and in renouncing my disordered passions. Let me shake off mediocrity in my spiritual life and make the most of the time you give me.

Resolution:


Today, I will make a special sacrifice for a loved one.