Drove Mom & Dad to Cape Cod to spend a few days with Will & Teri (my younger brother and his wife) at their retirement house in Orleans MA
Of course we visited the shore
prayed noon prayer (Sext) with the monks
and enjoyed the view from the monastery
He provides a wonderful little examen:
Critical though it is, all the apologetics in the world, may founder if we cannot authentically and authoritatively answer the question “How do I know it’s true?” by saying, authentically,
“Look at me. ” In other words to be able to say, “This word, this teaching, is true, because in the laboratory of my own life, I have tested it, and found it to be true, and here’s how. And Jesus is real, because I have met him and here’s when, and here is how. And here is how I’m experiencing him today in my life. Yes, when I pray, I am heard. The Lord speaks in the depths of my heart, sometimes in wordless contemplation, at other times vividly through his proclaimed word, and in my mind, and in the experiences and interactions of my day. I see him, I know him, and I experience his presence, and this is changing my life.”
- Can you authentically speak like this?
- Have you met the Lord,?
- How, when?
- Do you know him?
- And how is your relationship with him changing your life?
- What has your walk with him done?
- Have you encountered him in his word, and in the sacraments celebrated?
- How, when, and what has this liturgical experience of the Lord done for you?
- How is it changing you?
- Mary’s faith unties the knot of sin
- Mary’s faith gave human flesh to Jesus
- Mary’s faith was a journey, a “pilgrimage of faith”
Read the entire teaching here.
Missed Confession at St Faustina’s this morning, so drove to St Mary’s in Wilkes Barre to receive the Sacrament. With tomorrow’s (Sunday) Gospel in mind — the thankful leper (Lk 17:11-19) — made sure to express praise and gratitude to our Lord (in my heart; not aloud and at the Lord’s feet like the cured leper) for purifying and restoring me. Later, went on a short fall foliage walk with my daughter, Cathy, at Moon Lake. It was about 70F, but felt warmer in the sun. An intermittent breeze; no bugs. The foliage is not very colorful. It has a dried-out appearance.
Gospel for 01-September-2013 (22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Luke 14:1, 7-14
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.
He told a parable to those who had been invited,
noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not recline at table in the place of honor.
A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,
and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
‘Give your place to this man,’
and then you would proceed with embarrassment
to take the lowest place.
Rather, when you are invited,
go and take the lowest place
so that when the host comes to you he may say,
‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’
Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.
For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Then he said to the host who invited him,
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Contemplate the Face of Christ:
The Face of Jesus listening and talking at a dinner with others
The Face of Jesus observing the actions of others
The Face of Jesus telling a parable
The Face of Jesus addressing the host of the dinner
In this Sunday’s Gospel (Lk 14: 1, 7-14), we find Jesus as a guest dining at the house of a Pharisee leader. Noting that the guests were choosing the best places at table, he recounted a parable in the setting of a marriage feast. “When you are invited by anyone to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come, and say to you, “Give place to this man’…. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place” (Lk 14: 8-10). The Lord does not intend to give a lesson on etiquette or on the hierarchy of the different authorities. Rather, he insists on a crucial point, that of humility: “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14: 11). A deeper meaning of this parable also makes us think of the position of the human being in relation to God. The “lowest place” can in fact represent the condition of humanity degraded by sin, a condition from which the Incarnation of the Only-Begotten Son alone can raise it. For this reason Christ himself “took the lowest place in the world the Cross and by this radical humility he redeemed us and constantly comes to our aid” (Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, n. 35).
At the end of the parable Jesus suggests to the Pharisee leader that he invite to his table not his friends, kinsmen or rich neighbors, but rather poorer and more marginalized people who can in no way reciprocate (cf. Lk 14: 13-14), so that the gift may be given freely. The true reward, in fact, will ultimately be given by God, “who governs the world…. We offer him our service only to the extent that we can, and for as long as he grants us the strength” (Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, n. 35). Once again, therefore, let us look to Christ as a model of humility and of giving freely: let us learn from him patience in temptation, meekness in offence, obedience to God in suffering, in the hope that the One who has invited us will say to us: “Friend, go up higher” (cf. Lk 14: 10). Indeed, the true good is being close to him. St Louis IX, King of France whose Memorial was last Wednesday put into practice what is written in the Book of Sirach: “The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself; so you will find favor in the sight of the Lord” (3: 18). This is what the King wrote in his “Spiritual Testament to his son”: “If the Lord grant you some prosperity, not only must you humbly thank him but take care not to become worse by boasting or in any other way, make sure, that is, that you do not come into conflict with God or offend him with his own gifts” (cf. Acta Sanctorum Augusti 5 , 546).
1. With the beginning of September, we resume the ordinary rhythm of our daily life. After our summer break, we begin again our various activities and a new school year, which starts very soon.
In this context a biblical expression found in the Book of Sirach, which we heard in the liturgy today, is particularly noteworthy: “My son, perform your tasks in meekness; then you will be loved by those whom God accepts. The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself so you will find favor in the sight of the Lord” (Sir 3,17-18).
This is a concept that plainly goes against the tide. In fact, the mentality of the world incites one to stand out, to get ahead, with cunning and a lack of scruples, asserting oneself and one’s own interests. In the Kingdom of God, however, it is the humble and the modest who are rewarded. On the contrary, in earthly affairs, often social climbing and arrogance win out; all can see the consequences: rivalries, abuse of power and frustration.
2. The Word of the Lord helps us to see things in the right way, which is that of eternity. In the Gospel this Sunday, Christ says, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14,11). He, himself, the Son of God made man, followed consistently the path of humility, spending the greater part of his earthly life in the hidden life of Nazareth, alongside the Virgin Mary and St Joseph, doing the work of a carpenter.
Jesus lived the exhortation of the ancient wise man: “Son, perform your tasks in meekness…. The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself” (Sir 3,17-18). In this way he has wished to say to everyone of every time that superficiality and social climbing, even if they obtain an immediate success, do not contribute to the real good of the human being and society. Indeed, the Kingdom of God is prepared effectively by people who do their work seriously and honestly, not aspiring to things that are too high, but turning to those that are lowly in daily faithfulness (cf. Rom 12,16).
3. To carry out his universal plan of salvation, God “looked upon his handmaid in her lowliness” (Lk 1,48), the Blessed Virgin Mary. While we prepare to celebrate in a few days the feast of the Nativity of Mary, let us confidently invoke her, so that every activity, professional or in the home, may be done in an atmosphere of genuine humanity, thanks to the humble and positive contribution of each one.
Jesus, my life on this earth is so short. Though I understand the brevity of life, still my ego constantly strives to have me appear better than I really am, to be noticed, liked and loved, to be first. Our culture teaches me to be assertive. It falsely posits that I need to look out for ‘Number One,’ because nobody else will. But you challenge me, Jesus, to make myself the littlest and lowest, and to have a special care for others who are littlest and lowest. You challenge me to disinteredness; to be agenda-free and avoid manipulating others in relationships. You challenge me to attain the most difficult attitude – to trust in you totally and completely; to trust that you will exalt me, that you will repay me. However, you not only challenge me. You provide the grace for me. You provide the grace which frees me to be able to trust totally and completely in you as I lower myself and as I generously reach out in self-giving love to those who can never repay me. You give me hope by yourself modeling for me that to which you challenge me; by making yourself low for me who could never repay you. But persevering, you did indeed receive your repayment and exaltation from Our Father. My difficulty is that I want to be repaid and exalted NOW, but that may not be your plan. I may never see my repayment and exaltation until after my earthly life. I need to live in the freedom you have purchased for me to live every remaining day of my earthly life – NOW – for you and for others, not for my repayment and exaltation. Your grace frees me from those tendencies to want to be first and rewarded. I need to humble myself, to trust completely in you for whatever recompense you will give me at whatever time you deem appropriate. Jesus, help me to overcome my divided heart, and to respond trustingly to your challenge.
Gospel for 25-August-2013 (21st Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”
Contemplate the Face of Christ:
The Face of Jesus as he walks
The Face of Jesus conversing with his Apostles as they travel
The Face of Jesus observing the different aspects of the areas he visits
The Face of Jesus frequently sleeping in a new place
The Face of Jesus meeting new people
The Face of Jesus teaching in different towns and villages
The Face of Jesus teaching in different synagogues
The Face of Jesus entertaining questions
The Face of Jesus answering questions as he teaches
The Face of Jesus striving to teach as clearly as possible
Today’s liturgy presents to us enlightening yet at the same time disconcerting words of Christ.
On his last journey to Jerusalem someone asked him: “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And Jesus answered: “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Lk 13: 23-24).
What does this “narrow door” mean? Why do many not succeed in entering through it? Is it a way reserved for only a few of the chosen?
Indeed, at close examination this way of reasoning by those who were conversing with Jesus is always timely: the temptation to interpret religious practice as a source of privileges or security is always lying in wait.
Actually, Christ’s message goes in exactly the opposite direction: everyone may enter life, but the door is “narrow” for all. We are not privileged. The passage to eternal life is open to all, but it is “narrow” because it is demanding: it requires commitment, self-denial and the mortification of one’s selfishness.
Once again, as on recent Sundays, the Gospel invites us to think about the future which awaits us and for which we must prepare during our earthly pilgrimage.
Salvation, which Jesus brought with his death and Resurrection, is universal. He is the One Redeemer and invites everyone to the banquet of immortal life; but on one and the same condition: that of striving to follow and imitate him, taking up one’s cross as he did, and devoting one’s life to serving the brethren. This condition for entering heavenly life is consequently one and universal.
In the Gospel, Jesus recalls further that it is not on the basis of presumed privileges that we will be judged but according to our actions. The “workers of iniquity” will find themselves shut out, whereas all who have done good and sought justice at the cost of sacrifices will be welcomed.
Thus, it will not suffice to declare that we are “friends” of Christ, boasting of false merits: “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets” (Lk 13: 26).
True friendship with Jesus is expressed in the way of life: it is expressed with goodness of heart, with humility, meekness and mercy, love for justice and truth, a sincere and honest commitment to peace and reconciliation.
We might say that this is the “identity card” that qualifies us as his real “friends”; this is the “passport” that will give us access to eternal life.
Dear brothers and sisters, if we too want to pass through the narrow door, we must work to be little, that is, humble of heart like Jesus, like Mary his Mother and our Mother. She was the first, following her Son, to take the way of the Cross and she was taken up to Heaven in glory, an event we commemorated a few days ago. The Christian people invoke her as Ianua Caeli, Gate of Heaven. Let us ask her to guide us in our daily decisions on the road that leads to the “gate of Heaven”.
Will I be “strong” enough, Lord Jesus, to get through that gate? Clearly you don’t want anyone to miss out on eternal life. If I could only grasp how deeply you desire my companionship for all eternity. And would that I could have the same level of desire for you. How easy it can be to look holy on the outside but still be filled with selfishness and arrogance and complacency on the inside. The Christian life is not meant to be easy and comfort-filled, yet so often that is what I yearn for. You see me as I really am, Jesus. I know I need to change, but I am such a sluggard at seeking the grace and making the effort. You don’t want me to simply be good; you want to KNOW me! Please don’t let me take my salvation for granted, otherwise I may end up hearing you say “I do not know where you are from.” I shudder at the thought of being “cast out” forever, of hearing you tell me to “depart from me…” I know that the strength to get through the narrow gate comes with the ability to deny myself and be self-giving in love, even in the most difficult situations. I also know that my time is limited, that for me, the door may soon be locked, after which it will be too late. Will I be strong enough, Lord Jesus? I hope so, because being able to get through that gate is all that matters.
Gospel for 18-August-2013 (20th Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
Contemplate the Face of Christ:
The Face of Jesus talking to his disciples
The Face of Jesus animated in exclamation
The Face of Jesus asking a rhetorical question
The Face of Jesus proclaiming truth
In this Sunday’s Gospel there is an expression of Jesus that always attracts our attention and needs to be properly understood.
While he is on his way to Jerusalem, where death on a cross awaits him, Christ asked his disciples: “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division”. And he adds: “[H]enceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Lk 12: 51-53).
Anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of Christ’s Gospel knows that it is a message of peace par excellence; as St Paul wrote, Jesus himself “is our peace” (Eph 2: 14), the One who died and rose in order to pull down the wall of enmity and inaugurate the Kingdom of God which is love, joy and peace.
So how can his words be explained? To what was the Lord referring when he said he had come – according to St Luke’s version – to bring “division” or – according to St Matthew’s – the “sword” (Mt 10: 34)?
Christ’s words mean that the peace he came to bring us is not synonymous with the mere absence of conflicts. On the contrary, Jesus’ peace is the result of a constant battle against evil. The fight that Jesus is determined to support is not against human beings or human powers, but against Satan, the enemy of God and man.
Anyone who desires to resist this enemy by remaining faithful to God and to good, must necessarily confront misunderstandings and sometimes real persecutions.
All, therefore, who intend to follow Jesus and to commit themselves without compromise to the truth, must know that they will encounter opposition and that in spite of themselves they will become a sign of division between people, even in their own families. In fact, love for one’s parents is a holy commandment, but to be lived authentically it can never take precedence over love for God and love for Christ.
Thus, following in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, in accordance with St Francis of Assisi’s famous words, Christians become “instruments of peace”; not of a peace that is inconsistent and only apparent but one that is real, pursued with courage and tenacity in the daily commitment to overcome evil with good (cf. Rom 12: 21) and paying in person the price that this entails.
The Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, shared until his martyrdom her Son Jesus’ fight with the Devil and continues to share in it to the end of time. Let us invoke her motherly intercession so that she may help us always to be witnesses of Christ’s peace and never to sink so low as to make compromises with evil.
I want to burn, Jesus. I don’t want to be satisfied with my spiritual mediocrity. I want to burn for you. I want to burn like you, like that inferno in the image of your Sacred Heart that represents your passionate love for me. I do burn, somewhat. But I am not yet fully ablaze. Please Jesus, teach me how I can change my slight burning for you into a true blaze, a blaze that will manifest itself in truly radical communion with you, a blaze that will incite me to be humble and merciful at every possible opportunity. Or have you already taught me, Jesus, and I am reluctant to learn because of the sacrifice that is required. Is the baptism of your Life, Passion and Death the lesson that I must learn, but don’t yet have the courage to embrace and to imitate? Is suffering the fuel that will change my simple burning into blazing? I want my love for you and my desire for you to undergird everything else in my life. You came to bring peace by teaching me to imitate your self-denying, self-giving love. But when that love collides with my self-centeredness and selfishness, the result is conflict and division. May my love for you become a holocaust that consumes my selfishness and frees me to accept your grace, to sense the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, and to make a complete gift of myself to you and to others, producing in me that peace which passes all understanding.
St Augustine speaks of the importance of the Church leading us to Christ in this quote used by Cdl Prosper Grech at the final exhortation of the 2013 papal conclave that elected Pope Francis:
“The apostles saw Christ and believed in the Church that they did not see; we see the Church and must believe in Christ whom we do not see. By holding fast to what we see, we will arrive at seeing the one whom now we do not see” (Sermo 328, 3)