Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Joy of Lent-Fasting and Almsgiving - Ash Wednesday


Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your almsgiving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, they neglect their appearance so that they may appear to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know how much I need you and depend on you. You know my weakness and my faults. I put all my confidence in your love and mercy in my daily actions. I hope to learn to trust more in your power, your promise, and your grace. Lord, I wish to start this season of Lent with a sincere desire to grow in love, preparing myself worthily to celebrate the mysteries of your passion, death and resurrection.

Petition: Lord, help me learn to change what needs to change in my life.

  1. Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving: As we begin the Lenten season, we are reminded of the need to make reparation for our sins and be reconciled with God. Any attempt to build a spiritual life that neglects the pillars of prayer, fasting and almsgiving is building on sand. Prayer purifies our intentions and relates all we do to God. Fasting detaches us from our comfort and from ourselves. Almsgiving reflects our brotherhood with the poor of Jesus’ family and reminds us that our true wealth is not in things, but in the love of God. We all need to do a reality check on our spiritual lives to make sure we are committed to prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
  1. Lose the Show: Jesus is severe in criticizing the hypocrites who parade their works before others to get attention. Such parades are of no use in pleasing God or making up for our sins; they only add to our sinfulness. He encourages us to pray in private, to fast and give alms in secret, without calling the attention of others to what we are doing. In this way we can be sure we are doing all for love of God and not for love of self. Those who make an outward show of piety or generosity “have already received their reward” in this world, and they store up no treasure in heaven. Let us work silently and discreetly, with no other intention but pleasing God alone.
  1. Joyful Sacrifice: Nothing brings us closer to Christ than walking alongside him and doing the things he did for love of God the Father. During Lent, God invites us to purify our hearts and minds and to turn our intentions back to him. Christ’s public ministry was lived each day in loving obedience to the Father’s will. Our Lenten program should reflect that same simple, yet demanding, obedience and love. What can I do for God today? What sacrifice can I offer that will be pleasing to him? Once I decide on it, I will carry it out with no one else knowing.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, give me the grace to begin this Lent with great enthusiasm and love. Help me live it with joy, knowing that I am living it in your presence to please you and you alone.

Resolution: I will make a Lenten program of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time - The Rewards of Self Denial

Peter began to say to Jesus, "We have given up everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first."

 

Introductory Prayer: Once again, Lord, I come to you to pray. Even though I cannot see you, I trust that you are present and want very much to instruct me in your teachings. In the same way that you demonstrate your love for me by spending this time with me, I want to express my love for you by dedicating this time to you with a spirit of faith, confidence and attention. Here I am, Lord, to listen to you and respond with love.

Petition: Lord, help me to have a pure intention in my acts of self-denial. 


  1. Peter’s Question: At first glance Peter seems to be selfish, as if he were saying, “We have given up everything, now what’s in it for us?” His question is not prompted by selfishness, but rather is a response to Jesus’ previous statement that it is very hard for a rich man to enter heaven. In light of the difficulty of riches, Peter wants to know what the chances of entering the kingdom of God will be for someone who has given up everything to follow Christ. How detached from material possessions must we be in order to be assured a place in heaven? Jesus does not give us a concrete answer to this question, but he does tell us that those who have given up everything will not only receive a reward of eternal life in the age to come, but also ample reward in this life.



  1. The Real Motivation: Reward is not given only to those who simply give things up, but rather to those who give things up for the sake of Christ and for love of the Gospel. Sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice — or for that matter, sacrifice for a selfish reason — is worth nothing in God’s eyes. Sacrifice has value only when it is done for the sake of Christ and his Gospel, for love. Our intention in self-denial must be to glorify Christ or to witness to the Gospel message. Is this the real motivation of my self-denial?



  1. Eternal Life: The reward for our self-denial begins in this life and has its culmination in the life to come. The difference between one and the other is that in this life there are also persecutions. In this life we enjoy both the love of Christ and suffering persecutions for his sake. This life is a life of purification of our love, purification of our intentions. By proving our love now, we will enjoy life with Christ for all eternity.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know how attached I am to myself, my possessions and my comforts. Help me to give up what I need to give up — out of love for you and your Gospel, not out of love for myself or what I might get out of it. Help me not to be afraid to deny myself for the sake of drawing nearer to you.

Resolution: I will give up something that keeps me from drawing closer to God.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time - The Price Is Right and the Choice Is Yours

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother." He replied and said to him, "Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth." Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!" The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, "Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God."

Introductory Prayer: Once again, Lord, I come to you to pray. Even though I cannot see you, I trust that you are present and want very much to instruct me in your teachings. In the same way you demonstrate your love for me by spending this time with me, I want to express my love for you by dedicating this time to you with a spirit of faith, confidence and attention. Here I am, Lord, to listen to you and respond with love. 

Petition: Lord, help me to be detached from the goods of this world so I can follow you more closely. 

1. God Is Good: The rich young man recognized Christ’s goodness. He kneels down before him knowing that Jesus possesses something that he does not have. What is it? The spirit of unconditional love. Christ leads us out of ourselves and asks us to trust him more. And so, Pope Emeritus Benedict encourages us, “I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life” (Homily, April 24, 2005). 

2. Looking at the Good Side of Things: It is easy to dwell on the cost of something. The young man’s face falls because he looks more at the cost than at the reward. The price is something that he would feel now, while the reward is something that will come later. How often in life do we experience this truth! The world we live in seeks instant gratification without wanting to pay the price. Rather than concentrating on the cost, we should focus on the benefits promised by God. We will discover that the cost is small and the benefits last forever. Do I have spiritual endurance? Am I am able to wait for the Lord and patiently invest in eternal goods now?

3. Detachment: Saint Paul tells us that nothing can outweigh the knowledge of Christ Jesus. But in this man’s case, he had allowed something else to outweigh Christ. Comfort, security and material things beat the invitation of Christ to be perfect. Attachments lead to sadness; there is no room for God in a heart that is already full of the things of this world. Only detachment leads to true joy. God gives himself to the one who seeks him without any strings attached.

Conversation with Christ:  Lord Jesus, help me to live a life of freedom. Help me to recognize your goodness. May my faith always see the good side of things, seeing all in my life as an opportunity to love you. I want to be attached to you and detached completely from my sinfulness.

Resolution:  I will pick one thing that I can detach myself from today.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Only One Master

Jesus said to his disciples: “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, as I begin this day, I trust in your unfailing providence. You are the deepest desire of my heart. In this moment of prayer I want to please you alone. Even though I might be tired or uninspired, even though I might only experience dryness, may this be my prayer: I offer you all I am and all I have.

Petition: Lord, help me to trust more deeply in the loving providence of our heavenly Father.

  1. Why Worry? What can be added to Christ’s beautiful images in the Gospel, urging us to trust in the loving providence of our heavenly Father? All that is necessary is to ponder how God feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field and to let the reality of his fatherly care for these ephemeral creatures sink deeply into our soul. How much more will he not care for us, the crowning work of his hand, his sons and daughters, for whom he is willing to send his only begotten Son to die on the Cross? Christ penetrates to the real cause of our worries and anxieties, our anxious concern that often overwhelms us in life: we have little faith. Little faith and even less trust in the goodness of our heavenly Father. Let us thank him for his patience and allow his fatherly goodness to penetrate to the depths of our spirit.
  1. Stay Focused: Our worries and concerns about the material needs of our daily life make us lose sight of the one thing that is truly necessary: striving for holiness, for the establishment of Christ’s kingdom in our own lives and the lives of those around us. If only we would allow Christ to set our hearts on fire with the consuming passion of zeal for souls, how our lives would change! We would become driven by the mission, constantly urged on by it — and all of our former worries and anxieties would fade into insignificance. Then we, too, could exclaim with Christ, “I have come to light a fire on the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already!” (Luke 12:49)
  1. Simplicity of Heart: One virtue that helps us trust God more and grow in apostolic zeal is simplicity of heart. When you grow in simplicity of heart, you will never demand of God that he explain your vocation or your sufferings. Thanks to simplicity of heart, you will always see God’s holy will in everything, and everything, even pain, becomes wells and rivers of peace and joy. Thanks to simplicity of heart, you will be able to understand people and their misery and give them a helping hand. Thanks to simplicity of heart, you will never harbor hate, an evil wish, a grudge, or an evil thought in your heart. Everything brings you to God.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me through this prayer to grow in simplicity of heart, to recognize everything in my life as coming from your loving hand.

Resolution: I will renew my spirit of faith to see everything that happens to me today as part of God’s loving providence.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Saturday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time - Children of the Kingdom


People were bringing little children to Jesus in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he became indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your love and care for me and for my family. I believe that you call me to help protect, guide and inspire innocence and holiness in others. I trust that you will show me how to do this better. I love you, Lord, for the purity of your love, and I wish to love you with the fullness and innocence of my baptismal faith.

Petition: Lord Jesus, restore my innocence so I can draw nearer to you.


  1. Two Visions: Again the poor disciples seem to miss the point, so Jesus sternly speaks to them: “Do not stop them!” Today many of us also fail to understand, and by our lack of understanding we prevent children from coming to Jesus. We think there are so many important activities for them to do—they need to keep up with the other kids, they need to compete, they need to do what they want—and the world heartily agrees. “Let the little children come to ‘me,’” it says with the raspy voice of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Only Jesus has the courage to insist, “Bring them to me, now.” Why is Jesus so anxious to touch, bless, teach and receive these children? Might it be that this is the critical age for them to know and love him as a friend? Do I do enough to let this happen, or do the customs of the world dwarf my efforts? To whom should my efforts belong?



  1. “To Such as These” We all struggle to “enter the Kingdom” every day. We tend to be impatient to grow up and be independent. But then, as adults, we wish we had the innocence and simple lives of children, so better to love God. What has become of our innocence? We now know good and evil, and evil makes its presence felt, like the ring carried by Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. Is innocence worth preserving? Is it possible to recover? Our Lord suggests “yes” to both questions. If I desire to fight for the Kingdom, my battle should start by defending innocence, the only door to the Kingdom. Do I fight for it at home, in the media, on the Internet, at school, in the neighborhood, at work?



  1. Receiving the Kingdom: “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child” applies to me each day of my life. Now, the grace of baptism does not disappear. It is renewed each time I pray, each time I offer God my life and day, and each time I prayerfully listen to his Word speak to me. So also, each time I gaze upon Jesus through the eyes of Mary with a rosary in hand, and each time I thank God for his many blessings. The more I experience Christ in the sacraments of the Eucharist and reconciliation, the more powerfully he renews this grace of receiving the Kingdom. The one common condition—that I trust like a little child—is the act of faith through which I enter in contact with the King. Innocence can be recovered and restored, but not without a childlike faith. How deliberately do I exercise this rejuvenating faith? Do I desire that Jesus take me up in his arms, lay his hands on me, and bless me each day?


Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, renew my relationship with you. Make it as simple and sincere as that of a child. Renew my innocence as I strive to love you without pride or vanity. Increase my faith, as total and pure as when I was a child, so that I can live my baptism to the full.

Resolution: I will commit to fight for innocence in a more practical way: control the use of Internet or TV at home, get my children involved in a faith/virtue program, pray with them at night, take my family to confession, study Pope Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, find a chastity program for young adolescents, etc.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time - One Flesh

Jesus came into the district of Judea and across the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them. Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe in your immeasurable love reflected in your gift of the Eucharist. I believe that you call me to share in this gift with my own gift of self. I trust that you will grant me the light and desire to sacrifice myself and purify my love for you and others. I love you, Lord, with this prayer. May it increase the authenticity of the love expressed in my daily life.

Petition: Lord, help me to penetrate the meaning of “loving in the flesh.”


  1. Docile or ‘Un-teachable’? Jesus taught those who gathered to learn from him that they should keep their hearts open and docile. The Pharisees gather not as learners, but as those who “know better.” They constantly look for problems and difficulties in Jesus’ teaching. Their aim is to test him, to find what is wrong, or to trap him in his words. This they never manage to do. From his teaching in the Temple at the age of 12 till the present, no one has spoken like him—with authority and truth. How do I approach the teaching of Jesus and his Church? Am I, with faith, open to learn and change my behavior, if necessary? Or do I, with a hardened heart, look for a way to affirm my own truth?



  1. Hardness of Heart: To divorce or not to divorce? This question is not right! The correct question is: “How does God want us to love?” The difference lies in the state of our heart. The one who is open and loves God seeks to know his will. The one who is closed-minded is usually a slave of sin and so lacks the freedom to seek or know the truth. Such a person’s only objective is to justify what he or she wants. Divorce can be justified—it was by Moses. Why? Because of our hardness of hearts, our not being ready to live the fullness of real love. Jesus speaks the truth and gives the grace to live it. Do I allow him to challenge me to live beyond the minimal, beyond the borders of “Thou shalt not,” and to desire what he desires? What do I do to free myself from the sin and imperfections that keep me ignorant of God’s true will in my life?



  1. The Flesh of God’s Plan: The “flesh” that God created was holy, a gift: a Temple of God and destined for eternal life. Jesus became flesh and then left us his flesh, because we had lost sight of its true value and sacredness. It may be only in the Eucharist that we can regain the truth of our flesh and of our vocation to love, to self-donation. Crucified-Christ shatters our fleshy tendency to self-gratification. It substitutes “one flesh,” one body, given for the life of others. The unity and indissolubility of marriage declare the key of love: We are no longer two but one flesh, one life, one interest, one vocation. Just as Jesus no longer can talk about “his own life” after giving us the Eucharist, so a married couple no longer can talk of “self,” but only of the gift of “what God has joined together.” What is my flesh for? The life of others?


Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, free my heart from all its attachment to sin and selfishness. Grant me a desire to know your will. Purify my respect, love and appreciation for the sacredness of my body and that of others, the sacred unity of marriage, and the sacred gift of your flesh in the Eucharist.

Resolution: I will spend one hour in adoration reflecting with Christ on the gifts of life, love, marriage and the Eucharist, all seen more clearly in “his flesh.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time - Price of the Kingdom


Jesus said to his disciples: “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose their reward. If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe in your presence in my life. I believe that you consider those around me your children and that you ardently desire to possess them with love for all eternity. I trust that you will help me treat others as your brothers and sisters. I love you now with my prayer. May this prayer increase my desire to honor and serve you with my life.

Petition: Jesus, help me to set a good example for others out of love.


  1. You Are Priceless: Jesus leaves us with no doubt: We are valuable. We all carry within us a God-given dignity. And this dignity is identified and enhanced when we bear his name. Every human being has an intrinsic dignity because every human being is created in God’s image. But this image of God is perfectly incarnated in Christ, God made man. So a baptized Christian—a Christ bearer—carries a more perfect image: Christ, in whom we are made children of God. It is little wonder, then, that Jesus assures a reward to anyone who serves us for his sake!



  1. Every Little One Is Priceless: To carry his image is also a responsibility. We must live up to this dignity and show to others a life worthy of the image we carry within. Others may be “little” due to their age, the newness and immaturity of their Christian life, or even their weakness and struggle. We put a stumbling block in their way, we scandalize them, when our behavior causes them to doubt or become discouraged about living the ideals of faith. A “millstone” suggests that anything would be better for us than this. How damaging then are my bad examples given to “little ones”! Damaging for them and for me! What can I do to avoid such scandal? On the other hand, what a great reward awaits those who do the contrary, giving these little ones good example! If I loved “these little ones” just half as much as Jesus does, would it not be much easier to avoid giving bad example?



  1. Better to Lose Anything Else: In today’s world, the value of something is measured in comparison to other items of the same kind: stocks, food, clothes, even music and films are judged against each other. Yet, there are some things that have absolute value: the value of a soul. Nothing compares! Jesus paints this total non-comparison in terms of cutting off whatever becomes an obstacle. You are so valuable that you must be ready to deny, subdue, silence and even sacrifice your own body, or any of its members, rather than risk losing your soul. Do I value my immortal soul, my vocation to eternal life? If so, do I show this by the self-denial I exert in controlling what makes me (and eventually others through me) stumble? How often do I prefer my “things” to the loved ones who depend on my example of Christ? How radical is my faith?


Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, open my eyes to understand a little more just how valuable I am to you, how priceless my eternal life is. Make me sensitive to value each and every person in my life. I know you want me to help save them. Never allow me to become a stumbling block for anyone. If I have, may my love and efforts of faith be used by you now to restore what was lost.

Resolution: I will repair a past act of “scandal” (outburst of anger, foul language, gossip or slander, dishonesty, etc.) with a period of quality time given to the “little ones” so as to rebuild the trust and Christ-like behavior they expect from me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle - The Most Important Question


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: Lord, you know how much I need you and depend on you for everything. You know my weakness and my faults. I put all my confidence in your love and mercy in my daily actions. I trust in your power, your promise and your grace.

 

Petition: Lord, let me acknowledge you with my words and actions.


  1. Opinion Polls and Private Certitudes: People give all sorts of answers to the question of who Jesus is. No figure in history has provoked more comment or more debate than Jesus Christ. And it is fair to say that in every case, how we answer the question of who Christ is determines how we live our lives: the values and moral convictions we will have, the hope we have for the life to come, the charity and service we live now in our daily lives. All of this is inspired by the stance we take on the person of Jesus. “Who do you say that I am?” is a question that necessarily involves a commitment on our part. The answer to this question requires a change in our attitudes and behavior.



  1. The Life-changing Moment: For Peter, this was a moment of true openness to the grace of the Holy Spirit. He grasped in a moment that Christ was no mere prophet or enlightened teacher of moral truths, but something much more. He was the Christ, that is, the Savior. And not only Messiah, he was the Son of the Living God—Jesus was equal to God in all things. This profession of faith would change Peter’s life from that moment on. In the Creed, we profess the same faith as Peter did. Every time we receive the Eucharist, we join our response to that of Peter: We believe you are the Son of God, and there is no salvation by any other name. What changes does this faith require of me? Can I continue to be the same as before?



  1. A New Name and a New Mission: Peter’s profession of faith was no simple intellectual response to a question. It was the taking of a position, a definitive stance before God and before the world. Peter embraced the truth about Christ, and in return, Christ entrusted him with the care of the Church. He would be “Rock,” the foundation of his Church, and Christ offered him the guarantee that the Church would persevere forever. When we profess our faith, Christ gives us a task also. We are made “apostles” and sent out as “ambassadors of Christ” to the world. Our stance before this truth has consequences: We must be consistent with our faith each day.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, teach me not only to acknowledge you with my mind, but to embrace the truth that you are the Son of the Living God with all my life, words, and actions. Let the conviction I have become a way of life, so that I can give witness to you before all men.

Resolution: I will examine my life and evaluate what sort of witness I give to my faith that Christ is the Son of the Living God.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tuesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time - The Journey Away from Self


Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise." But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all." Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me."

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe in you, present and interested in my life. I believe you await my prayer to guide my heart, my visits to the Eucharist to strengthen my will, and my challenges to help my surrender. I trust you will give your life to me in exchange for my self-denial. I love you and want to love you more by embracing and living out your will. Mother Mary, teach me to say with you, “Let it be done unto me.”

 

Petition: “Speak Lord, your servant is listening”


  1. Apostolic Training: This was one journey Jesus chose to do in secret. Why? Because he wanted to dedicate all his attention and efforts to teaching his apostles the deepest and most important secret of his life: He must die! All that they had lived so far was thus incomplete, merely a preparation for the final act of his mission: the consummation of his love, his total immolation on the cross. Would they understand the need for the seed to die before rising to new life? How hard it would be for them to listen! He was their Lord, the powerful, Messianic king coming to free them and establish his kingdom of truth and love. They still imagined scenarios of new victories, cures, defeat of demons, the silencing of their opposition…. How far their dreams were from Jesus’ message! We too have our own desires and needs. Can we detach ourselves from these dreams long enough to understand in prayer his will and his plan of salvation for us?



  1. Slow Learners: Not only did they “not understand the saying,” but “they were afraid to question him.” In other words, they did not want to know. How often our communication problem is not something intellectual, but rather something of the will! Our desire is more to “get our way,” “make our point” or “affirm ourselves.” Learning Christ’s way requires that we in some way unlearn our own ways. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). This explains why no one can be neutral before Christ; he challenges us to change our life. Jesus occasioned the fierce opposition of those who would ultimately put him to death. How open am I to his challenges? Do I listen in prayer in order to respond with a docile but firm “Amen”?



  1. The Hardest Lesson: Like little boys caught in the act, the apostles don’t dare admit that they have been arguing about who among them is greatest. Not only do they fail “to listen” to Jesus; to the contrary, they are busy asserting their will. What would it take to teach them this most difficult but vital truth? So Jesus, with a father’s love, holds a child before them and begins the lesson anew. This small child is the greatest! To be last, to serve, to give your life makes you great, since this is how God comes to us. Only the sight of Jesus crucified would burn this lesson more deeply on their hearts. Am I learning this lesson of sacrificial love to become the greatest I can become?


Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, open my heart to listen to your will for me. Free me from my own self-love, ideas and dreams. Teach me to die to myself as I enter into prayer and as I enter into work. Help me to work, pray and live so that you and your love can rise up in my life in place of the poverty of my own qualities and efforts.

Resolution: I will listen well before trying to offer my own thoughts or desires in prayer and in interacting with family and others, so better to hear the Lord.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time - Help My Unbelief

Jesus, Peter, James and John came down the mountain. When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them. Immediately on seeing Jesus, the whole crowd was utterly amazed. They ran up to him and greeted him. He asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?" Someone from the crowd answered him, "Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit. Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so." He said to them in reply, "O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him to me." They brought the boy to him. And when he saw him, the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions. As he fell to the ground, he began to roll around and foam at the mouth. Then he questioned his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" He replied, "Since childhood. It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." Jesus said to him, " ´If you can!´ Everything is possible to one who has faith." Then the boy´s father cried out, "I do believe, help my unbelief!" Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering, rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it, "Mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!" Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out. He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, "He is dead!" But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up. When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private, "Why could we not drive it out?" He said to them, "This kind can only come out through prayer."



Introductory Prayer:Lord, I find it so easy to repeat the words of the man in this Gospel passage: “I do believe, help my unbelief!” This is my life and my relationship with you–belief and unbelief scattered throughout the day. Help me tilt the scale towards more belief in you and your action in my life while ridding my life of unbelief.

Petition:Jesus Christ, give me a strong faith in you and your Church. Let me never doubt in your love for me.

1. What are you arguing about?The disciples could not help the boy. Instead of going out to find Christ for the solution to the problem they stood around and discussed the problem with others who could not help either. How do I react to difficult situations and problems in my life? Do I turn to prayer for solutions, or do I have more confidence in my own problem-solving abilities? Perhaps my track record with prayer is poor. I doubt that God really hears my prayers because I never see them answered. Christ asks for at least an implicit act of faith for all his miracles. If I do not believe in the power of prayer, how can I expect and demand a response? How fervent is my prayer?

2. How long will I endure you? Christ’s patience is infinite. We test his patience everyday so many times and in so many ways. Sometimes we do it in ways that we are not even aware of. This cry from his heart arises not because he is threatening to stop being patient. This cry comes forth because he wants us to trust more in him and his action in our lives and stop wasting time away from him. Life is short, very short and eternity is coming.

3. I do believe, help my unbelief! Our earthly life is a combination of a tremendous amount of grace from God and a little collaboration on our part. Is faith hard for you? Ask for more! Is doubt in some element of what the Church teaches tearing you apart? Take it to prayer. Christ is demanding, but always helping. Never will we be tested beyond the strength of his grace that is always available to us.

Dialogue with Christ: Lord, never let me sit back and glory in past victories. There is so much good you want me to do in my life. I do not have time to waste. I know you are gently urging me to do more for you. Sometimes I hear you; most of the time I do not. Please continue being patient with me, but never let me become too patient with myself.

Resolution: Today I will dedicate myself to dealing with a difficult issue or problem in my life that has seemed impossible to resolve. I will deal with it by taking it to Christ in prayer with a lot of confidence in his response.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time - A Step beyond Justice

Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I wish to open my heart and let your Gospel message penetrate me and change my life. I believe that you love me and that you died for me; yet when tested by the demands of the Gospel, my faith and generosity waver. Nevertheless, once more I confess my faith in you and my determination to work to please you alone.

Petition: Jesus, teach me true charity!

1. Revenge or Justice. “An eye for an eye…” - Revenge has a tantalizing attraction. Oh, how we enjoy those movies where the down-and-out hero suddenly gets the upper hand, pays back all of the evil the villain has been inflicting on others, and justice prevails. But is this really justice? Jesus speaks clearly: “But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.” Our virtue must go beyond that of the Scribes and the Pharisees.

2. Perfect Justice. Christ invites us to go beyond the “tit-for-tat” mentality: “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” Jesus is not trying to teach us passivism; rather, he is inviting us to discover that love is the perfection of justice. Humility and forgiveness are the pillars of this radically new mentality. Only in the light of these can we hope to build true and enduring peace in the world, amongst those around us and even within ourselves.

3. Self-giving Love: Fulfillment of this attitude is not merely to avoid direct retaliations but rather to form a generous and magnanimous heart which knows how to give itself without ever giving up. Jesus gave not only his tunic and cloak, but all of his clothes to those who were to crucify him (cf. John 19:23). Jesus walked the extra mile, which brought him to the top of Calvary (cf. John 19:17). Jesus promised salvation to the criminal who asked him to remember him (cf. Luke 23:42-43).

Conversation with Christ:  Lord Jesus, you are God. You came down from heaven to teach me how to love, but I have such a hard time loving those around me and even loving myself sometimes. By your almighty grace, help me to be more like you, to forgive and to give myself to others so that I can help make their lives just a bit happier.

Resolution:  I will perform one small act of charity today: thinking or speaking well of someone, or offering myself to help someone.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Saturday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time - Climbing with Christ

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!" Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. Then they asked him, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" He said to them, "Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him."

Introductory Prayer:Lord Jesus, I climb the mountain (meaning I am going to the place of encounter) to learn what real prayer is. Like the disciples who are humbled by how you pray, but are desirous to learn, I turn to you with trust. I want to set all things aside and seek only to please you during this time of prayer.

Petition: Lord, teach me to pray. 

1. Learning How to Be with Christ.   Imagine the time the three were to have alone with Christ, a time of sweeping consolation and light. First, it was a time to climb, to ascend with prayer, to make the arduous trip. Being changed by Christ does not come by just “hanging around” him, passively watching him work in the lives of others. We must fight to open doors for him to enter. Is our prayer a climb to reach God, or does it forever circle the base of the mountain, fearful of the effort, stuck in mediocre thoughts? Are we making deep acts of faith, hope and love to reach for the heights of union with him? Are we moving away from self-centeredness and earthly attachments towards a pure heart ready to receive the glory of God?

2. Getting That “Vision Thing.   What does a heart given to God receive from God? It receives a mysterious revelation of God’s glory, of the temporal caught up in the eternal, of God’s awesome view of things. At the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John are given the complete picture. Christ reveals for a moment the glory of the things to come in the key of the things that have gone before. The three disciples, too, are given the vision of their mission as it is taken up into his. What a consolation this is: to see so clearly what God sees, to take away all doubt before so much human weakness! If we could experience what God holds in his heart, we would know the glory and honor for which we struggle and fight. We would read the next chapter of salvation history that we, in our faithful service, are writing together with Christ. Without prayer, without the effort to delve into God’s thoughts, we will never see this.

3. Christian Prayer Is about Fulfillment   Tabor teaches the disciple how to cultivate a living experience of Christ in prayer and to know what the fruits of proper prayer are. The first effect of fruitful prayer is the revelation of God’s glory, his true beauty. This speaks of the power from above that acts as a grace within. “Let us build three booths….” Those booths speak of the true longing for God which must be protected by habits of virtue and reflective prayer. The second effect is a revelation of God’s plan for us. God’s plan for humanity is so beautiful; our own vocation in life is also eminently beautiful. God’s plan may have its unexpected twists as we live it, but in as much as it is his plan and not our own, it is always beautiful. Third, fruitful prayer delivers a revelation of our destiny. Christ’s mission is only completely fulfilled in heaven. Our true home is in heaven, and under heaven’s power our heart’s desire is changed. This change transforms the present into a different type of faith experience. To have the wherewithal to win in this life, our ultimate victory must be set for heaven alone.

Conversation with Christ:Lord, without your influence acting in the depths of my interior life, my life will be forever empty. I make these words of the Veni Sancte Spiritus my own:
Light most blessed, shine with grace
in our heart’s most secret place,
fill your faithful through and through! 
Left without your presence here, 
life itself would disappear,
nothing thrives apart from you!

Resolution:I will fight in a special way any resistance to prayer, and I will strive to put into practice the resolutions that come from prayer.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Friday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time - The Transforming Power of the Cross

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. And he said to them, "Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power." 

Introductory Prayer: O Lord, this day you wish to take away from me any false ideas about what it means to be your friend. I believe that by attending to the sacred message of your cross,  I can learn authentic love of you and your Kingdom. In your cross is an example of every virtue I need and every goal I wish to attain. In the cross there is hope, an all-powerful hope that transcends every human disappointment. I wish to carry my cross with joy as a token of my love and gratitude to you. 

Petition: Lord, make the cross a singular place of friendship with you in my life. 

1. Becoming Through Suffering: Most people move through the day with self-preservation and self-interest influencing their decision-making. Choosing a harder road can still be a self-interested affair, if people seek their own advancement in life. Christ’s message is not simply about a work ethic—sweating, toiling and sacrificing to be successful. The self-denial that is asked of a Christian goes deeper than that. It must reach into that place where we try to preserve ourselves and our most cherished desires. Nothing teaches Christ’s lesson better than the crosses that have surprised us, the crosses that were not planned or wanted. Every step with these crosses on our backs is true following, true loving, true salvation without delusion or bitterness. 

2. Following or Leading? One day Mother Teresa saw one of her sisters headed out into the streets with a long face. She called her over and said, “What did Jesus say, to carry the cross in front of Him or to follow Him?” The sister responded, smiling, “To follow Him.” Mother then asked, “Why are you trying to go ahead of Him?” (Mother Teresa: Come be My Light, p.221) “The cross of Christ” is not just the rightful assumption of the weight of a holy life, it is also an attitude. The wrong attitude can crush our spirits and make us suffer like a pagan: alone. Humble faith reveals the One we follow, who shows us the way, who sustains our hope, and who leads us to profound Christian joy. 

3. Sacrificial Love and Life Are Inseparable: Seeing the Kingdom in power is a consequence for those who suffer for Christ. Our Lord guarantees this: Love will never be defeated in this life or the next. Although they might seem to have suffered in vain, many saints saw the glory of the Lord in special moments during their life and in abundance after they passed to heaven. The incorrupt, the documented miracles of intercession, the great movement of spirituality in the Church—all these attest that God will never let love for him be separated from the coming of his Kingdom in power. 

Conversation with Christ: Lord, bring my soul to the cross without fear, trusting in its mysterious power to change me and the world around me. I should not withdraw from life when it wounds me. May I resolve in every low moment, when Christ asks for more from me, to live the resolution of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta: “A hearty ‘Yes’ to God, and a big smile for all” (Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, p.217). 

Resolution: At night I will examine well my attitudes towards difficulties and ensure that they reflect the spirit of a true disciple.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Thursday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time - Can Christ Count on Me?

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, reveal to me the awesome mystery of your person. In you is hidden my beginning. In you is hidden the mission for my life. In you is hidden my future happiness. Let me not measure the future by what I think I can do for you, but rather by what your power can do with my generosity. May this prayer convince me of the necessity of welcoming you daily through prayer, contemplation, and a sacramental life of grace and conversion.

Petition: Lord, grant me an experience of you strong enough to overcome all spiritual laziness and tepidity. 

1. Who Has Christ Been for You?Our prayer must lead us to respond to Christ’s question, “Who do you say that I am?” This is the only test, the only examination question we need to pass in life. We must reflect and respond to the question from this perspective: “Who has Christ been for you?” This question does not so much define Christ, but the one who answers it. What experiences have we had of him? What have we been learning about Christ personally, through experiences that we cannot have known by solemn definitions, by routine external piety or by what others say? Christ’s history and our personal history must intertwine to become a single chapter which we both share.

2. Who Have You Been for Christ?If I have little to say as far as my firsthand knowledge of Jesus, if my interior experiences have been eclipsed by a mundane and materialistic spirit, I must take Christ’s question to the next level: “Who have I been for Christ?” Who I have been for Christ will be determined largely by who I have been for him in prayer. The “inner Christ” is known only by those to whom it is revealed. It will not happen by a merely flesh-and-blood approach, nor by just going with the flow of human events. Peter’s interior life was fertile ground for the Father. His testimony was not luck, but was a divine intervention in his soul from which his faith drew its strength. “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). May I seek in a special way the grace of greater sensitivity to let my interior life of prayer define me and shape my character.

3. Can Christ Count on Me?Poor Peter! In one moment he is revealing the thoughts of the Father, in the next, Satan’s. Peter’s living experience of Christ is the target of Satan’s attempts to break his faith. Christ’s suffering will be the pledge that the faith of the apostle will not fail: “I have prayed for you….” (Luke 22:32). Ultimately Christ’s prayer would prevail: Peter is reborn on Pentecost, fearlessly accepting and launching the mission of the Church. A strong interior foundation in Christ ultimately leads to one last reality check of the spiritual life: Can Christ build on me because I am built on him? Christ’s fidelity will uphold me if I stay in the battle, if I hold firm and don’t let the reality of my falls keep me from advancing. Satan cannot break my faith if I keep fighting, and for this I always have to have new goals, to begin fresher, better and more generously than before.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, according to the riches of your glory, grant that I may be strengthened in my inner being with power through your Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. Being rooted and grounded in love, I pray that I may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that I may be filled with all the fullness of you (cf. Ephesians 3:16-20)

Resolution:I will spend some time before our Lord in the Eucharist today, asking that he deepen my experience of him.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Wednesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time - Jesus, His Way

When Jesus and his disciples arrived at Bethsaida, they brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on him and asked, "Do you see anything?" Looking up he replied, "I see people looking like trees and walking." Then he laid hands on his eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly. Then he sent him home and said, "Do not even go into the village."

Introductory Prayer:Lord, I believe you are leading me, but sometimes I sense insecurity creeping within me. So I renew my confidence in you once more. I know that you can desire only what is good for me. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. In return, take my love and my desire to please you in everything.
Petition: Deepen my humility and increase my trust in you, dear Jesus!

1. Jesus Leads: From the very get-go, we push ahead for self-sufficiency. Think of a little child who strives to walk by himself, without his parents helping him keep his balance. In the spiritual life, it’s the opposite: We need to reach out to Christ for guidance, support and strength. Admitting our faults can be a humbling, but fruitful experience. Pride prevents us from doing this gracefully, but––have faith––if we do, Jesus will unleash his power within our lives. “Holiness is not in one exercise or another, it consists in a disposition of the heart, which renders us humble and little in the hands of God, conscious of our weakness but confident, even daringly confident, in his fatherly goodness” (St. Therese of Lisieux).

2. Patience, God has a Plan: “I want it now” is a modern cliché. Our wanting it now, though, doesn’t always work with God. His plan is a plan for our greater good—even if it isn’t our plan. The blind man’s sight wasn’t healed instantly, but gradually. How we want to be holy now and never return to the valley of filth and pride! Yet we seem to fall again and again. Holiness is always a work in progress, but that doesn’t faze Jesus. He knows the power his grace can work in our lives. Simply turn your difficulties over to him and keep trying. Our failures teach us to be humble, and this can only bring us closer to God. “This I know very well: although I should have on my soul all the crimes that could be committed, I would lose none of my confidence; rather, I would hasten, with my heart broken into pieces by sorrow, to cast myself into the arms of my Savior. I know how greatly he loved the prodigal son; I have marked his words to Mary Magdalene, to the adulterous woman, to the Samaritan. No, no one could make me afraid, because I know to whom to cling by reason of his love and mercy. I know that all this multitude of offenses would disappear in the twinkling of an eye, as a drop in a roaring furnace” (St. Therese of Lisieux).

3. Humble Jesus: He tells the man not to go into the village. Is Jesus afraid or in a hurry? No, his humility simply beckons him to move on quietly without anyone knowing. Jesus is fascinated with humility and thus practices it. We, on the other hand, love to get the credit; we crave recognition. Simply enter a professional office and behold the recognition plaques lining the walls like wallpaper. Jesus had no plaques; he had only a reputation of doing good deeds. He teaches us the power of purity of intention, which shuns any type of self-aggrandizement.  

Conversation with Christ:  Jesus, help me to abandon myself to your care; I trust in you completely. Knowing that I am weak and you are my strength gives me confidence. Help me to keep in mind that I am little and you are great. You are the one who deserves the glory, and you ought to be the protagonist in my life. Help me to go about quietly doing good like you. 

Resolution:  I will make an act of charity, praying, “Jesus, I do this only because I want to prove my love for you.”