CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 31, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 4:21-30

Jesus began speaking in the synagogue, saying: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’” And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.

But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel passage we read today refers back to the gospel passage that we read last Sunday. In both gospel passages, Jesus is starting his ministry and has read aloud in the synagogue a passage from Isaiah the prophet that describes the mission of the messiah. Jesus says in today’s gospel that Isaiah’s word is fulfilled in in him. Israel has waited for its messiah, and the day of the messiah’s coming is now here in the Nazareans’ midst in the presence of Jesus who proclaims good news to the poor, liberty to captive, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppression and a year acceptable to the Lord.

At first, the crowd is very impressed with what Jesus is saying, but Jesus challenges them, saying that no prophet is accepted in his native place, effectively saying that they think they know him but they actually have no faith at all in who he really is. This challenge to the people of Nazareth is also a challenge to us: we may think we know Jesus, but Jesus is ever ready to become more and more for us, more surprising, deeper and richer than we have known him. Do we prepare ourselves, through prayer and through service to the poor, the captive, the blind, and the oppressed to come and know Jesus for the prophetic voice he can continue to be in our lives?

Spiritual reading: There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit. (The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses by C. S. Lewis)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 30, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 4:35-41

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Over and over in the gospel, as in today’s reading, Jesus tells us not to fear and asks us to trust. Our vocations as disciples of Jesus, women and men who follow his path, call on us to give our concerns and troubles to the Lord. Let us make no mistake about this passage from the gospel. It was an entirely reasonable emotional reaction to the situation where the apostles found themselves to be afraid of the storm. But Jesus already had shown the apostles his power, and his rebuke of them for their lack of faith also reflected evidence they had from their own lives.

When I imagine the future, it may be that I imagine disasters will engulf me and swallow me whole. In those moments of temptation, why is it with all the evidence of my life that God has followed me at each step that I should imagine a future that does not enjoy the presence of God? We may be buffeted by the strong winds that blow through our lives, and we may fear we will perish because of them, but our faith instructs us to live in the peaceful certainty that the God who cares for us today also will care for us tomorrow. When life roughs us up, let us make our way to the Lord to ask for help just as the apostles made their way to the Lord on the boat to seek his aid. God is faithful, so let us be, too: peace be to you; be not afraid.

Saint of the day: Louis Wiaux, the third of six children, was born in 1841 in a small village in French-speaking Belgium where almost everyone was a devout practicing Catholic. His father was a blacksmith, while his mother helped to run a small cafe in part of the family home, where no rough language was allowed and where the evening of Belgian beer and card playing always concluded with the recitation of the rosary. Louis proved neither physically nor emotionally suited to his father’s trade; he was convinced that the Lord was calling him to a different kind of forge. No sooner had he met the Brothers in a nearby school than he determined to enter the novitiate at Namur and took the name Mutien. After two years, teaching elementary classes, Brother Mutien was assigned to the boarding school at Malonne where he would spend the next fifty-eight years. He had difficulties at first coping with the demands of both teaching and prefecting. He was rescued by the Brother in charge of the courses in music and art, at the time an important feature of the curriculum. From then on Brother Mutien was not only an effective teacher of those subjects, a vigilant prefect in the school yard, and a catechist in the nearby parish, but a tremendous influence on the students by his patience and evident piety. He was known to spend whatever time he could before the tabernacle or at the grotto of Our Lady. Among the Brothers, it was said that he had never been seen violating even the smallest points in their Rule. After his death on January 30, 1917 at Malonne, his fame began to spread through Belgium, where many miracles were attributed to him

Spiritual reading: The struggle against injustice and the pursuit of truth cannot be separated nor can one work for one independent of the other. (Ignatio Ellacuría, S.J., murdered superior of Jesuit community in El Salvador)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 29, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the Kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”

He said, “To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Scripture scholars agree that the core of Jesus’ teaching was the proclamation of the kingdom of God. Here we have two parables that suggest to us how Jesus understood God’s kingdom arises among us. The first of the two parables talks about the growth of wheat stalks: we may not know how the process occurs, but we believe and behave like it will occur, and it does in fact occur just the way we expected. The second of the two parables describes how the arrival of the kingdom of God starts very small only subsequently to loom as very great. What shall we take away from these two parables? First, God is faithful, and God will act. We may not know how, but we can believe and behave like God will lead us, and God will not disappoint us. Second of all, we can trust that small things will lead to great things (not unlike Jesus’ own ministry to tiny backwater towns in a backwater region of the Roman Empire that has spread to the four corners of the earth.) The coming of the Kingdom of God in our lives, then, is mysterious, reliable to the point of predictability, and immensely productive. You can count on it.

Saint of the day: Bronislaw Markiewicz was the sixth of the eleven children of John Markiewicz, City Mayor, and Marianna Gryziecka, was born on the 13th of July 1842 in Pruchnik, Poland, in the present day Archdiocese of Przemys’l dei Latini. In his family home, he received a solid religious formation. Nonetheless, during his secondary studies in Przemys’l he experienced a certain wavering in the faith due, in large part, to the strong anti-religious atmosphere which dominated the school. However, he succeeded in overcoming this in a relatively short period, once again finding peace and serenity.

Feeling a call from God to the priesthood, the young Bronislao entered the major seminary of Przemys’l in 1863 after having received the Maturity diploma. Upon completion of the regular course of study he was ordained to the priesthood on September 15, 1867. Following six years of pastoral wok as a parochial vicar in the Parish of Harta and the Cathedral of Przemys’l, seeking to become better equipped to work with youth, he studied pedagogy, philosophy and history for two years in the Universities of Leopoli and Cracow. In 1875 he was named pastor at Gac and in 1877 pastor at Bazowa. In 1882 he was entrusted a teaching position in pastoral theology and the Major Seminary of Przemys’l.

Hearing a call to the religious life, he left for Italy in the month of November 1885 and joined the Salesians where he had the joy of meeting Saint John Bosco before whom he professed religious vows on March 25, 1887.

As a Salesian he carried out the various tasks assigned to him by his superiors, which he sought to accomplish with dedication and zeal. Due to the austerity of the lifestyle and the change of climate, Fr. Bronislao fell gravely ill with consumption in 1889, to the point of having been considered close to death. Having recovered from his illness, he convalesced in Italy until March 23, 1892 when, with the permission of his Superiors, he returned to Poland where he assumed the assignment of Pastor at Miejsce Piastowe, in Przemys’l his native Diocese.

In addition to his ordinary pastoral activity, Father dedicated himself, in the Spirit of St John Bosco, to the formation of poor and orphaned youth. He opened an institute in which he offered his students both material and spiritual support preparing them for life with a professional formation in the schools around the institute itself. To carry on his work, he decided in 1897 to found two new religious congregations based on the spirituality of St. John Bosco, adapting his rules to reflect their own Charism. Once again received among the clergy of the Diocese of Przemys’l, Father Markiewicz continued his work as Pastor and Director of the Society (erected in 1898) which he named Temperance and Work, seeking to obtain its approbation as a religious institute. The approbation was granted a few years after his death: in 1921 for the male branch and in 1928 for the female branch.

With the approval and blessing of his bishop Saint Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, Fr. Bronislao continued his activity forming youth and abandoned and orphaned children. He was assisted by collaborators to whose preparation and formation he himself always contributed. Already at Miejce Piastowe he had offered a home and formation to hundreds of children giving of himself totally for them. Always desiring to do more for them, in the month of August of 1903, Fr. Markiewicz opened a new house in Pawlikowice, near Cracow, where over 400 orphans found a house and the possibility for spiritual and professional formation.

His total dedication to children, his heroic self-denial and the enormous work he accomplished, quickly exhausted the strength of Fr. Markiewicz,. undermining his health, which was already greatly compromised from his illness in Italy. All of this led rather rapidly to the end of his earthly pilgrimage which came on January 29, 1912.

Spiritual reading:

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light.

(Saint Dallan Forghaill)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 28, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 4:21-25

Jesus said to his disciples, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light. Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.” He also told them, “Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus invites us to let the light of our lives illuminate the world we inhabit and let our love penetrate the dark corners of not only our existence but the the existences of those who surround us. As the song from “Godspell” suggests, we can accomplish this through our relationship with the Lord that liberates us from all the things that imprison us.

Saint of the day: Joseph Freinademetz was born in 1852, the fourth child of Giovanmattia and Anna Maria Freinademetz in Oies a section of the town of Badia in the southern Dolomites, which was then part of Austria and now part of Italy. He studied theology in the diocesan seminary of Brixen and was ordained priest on July 25, 1875. He was assigned to the community of San Martino di Badia, not far from his own home.

During his studies and the three years in San Martino, Freinademetz continually felt a calling to be a missionary. He contacted Arnold Janssen, founder of the mission house Society of the Divine Word in Steyl, a village in the south-east of the Netherlands. With the permission of his parents and his bishop, he moved to Steyl in August 1878, where he received training as a missionary.

In March 1879 he and his confrere John Baptist Anzer boarded a ship to Hong Kong, where they arrived five weeks later. They stayed there for two years. Freinademetz was based in Sai Kung until 1880 and set up a chapel on the island of Yim Tin Tsai in 1879. In 1881 they moved to the province South Shantung that they were assigned to. At the time of their arrival, there were 12 million people living in this province, of which 158 had been baptized.

Freinademetz was very active in the education of Chinese laymen and priests. He wrote a catechetical manual in Chinese, which he considered a crucial part of their missionary effort. In 1898, he was sick with laryngitis and tuberculosis, so Anzer, who had become bishop, and other priests convinced him to go to Japan to recuperate. He returned but was not fully cured. When his bishop had to leave China for a journey to Europe in 1907, the administration of the diocese was assigned to Freinademetz.

There was an outbreak of typhus in this time, and he helped wherever he could, until he himself became infected. He returned to Taikia, South Shandong, where he died on January 28, 1908. He was buried in Taikia, at the twelfth station on the Way of the Cross.

Spiritual reading: Love is the only language everyone understands. (Joseph Freinademetz)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 27, 2010

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Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 4:1-20

On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, “Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.” Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no roots; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Several years ago, I wrote some rhythmic prose about the parable in today’s gospel. For what it’s worth, I thought I would share it with you:

In a field under azure skies beneath the great orb of the sun walks a sower. Light glistens in the air as it cascades down from the vault of heaven onto the field like the fall of waters into the great chasm of time. The sower walks, and as he walks, he swings his arm in a count of one, two: left, right; to, fro; here, there. As the seed drops to the ground, a soft lullaby resonates from the earth and mixes in the air with the smell of the seed and the soil. At the last as at the first, all of it fuses into one, and all love presses into the oneness of his being. The sower offers life to the field as he sows the seed to bring forth a harvest from the barrenness. The work of the field, the seed, the soil, the air, the light, the sound, and the smell, is the life of the sower. The sower’s life is love for the field, and love is the work of the field.

Saint of the day: Born in 1474 in Italy, Angela Merici has the double distinction of founding the first teaching congregation of women in the Church and what is now called a “secular institute” of religious women. As a young woman she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order), and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among poorer children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela’s charming manner and good looks complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving regular instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood.

She was invited to live with a family in Brescia (where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community). Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals. She eagerly took the opportunity for a trip to the Holy Land. When they had gotten as far as Crete, she was struck with blindness. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going through with the pilgrimage, and visited the sacred shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way back, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost.

At 57, she organized a group of 12 girls to help her in catechetical work. Four years later the group had increased to 28. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula (patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women) for the purpose of re-Christianizing family life through solid Christian education of future wives and mothers. The members continued to live at home, had no special habit and took no formal vows, though the early Rule prescribed the practice of virginity, poverty and obedience. The idea of a teaching congregation of women was new and took time to develop. The community thus existed as a “secular institute” until some years after Angela’s death.

Spiritual reading: Not the power to remember, but its very opposite, the power to forget, is a necessary condition for our existence. (Saint Basil)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 26, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 3:31-35

The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house. Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage from the gospel sometimes causes confusion when people read it. Jesus isn’t rejecting his family in this passage. We see over and over again throughout the gospels that Jesus uses the circumstances around him as teachable moments for his listeners. He always looks beyond the basic facts of situation, such as the physical arrival of his family, to make a deeper point that reflects the central truth of his mission. Here it is that all of us who strive to understand and do God’s will are the family of Jesus in a way that Jesus teaches is more basic to human existence than even the bonds among natural family members.

Saint of the day: Timothy (d. 97?): What we know from the New Testament of Timothy’s life makes it sound like that of a modern harried pastor. He had the honor of being a fellow apostle with Paul, both sharing the privilege of preaching the gospel and suffering for it.

Timothy had a Greek father and a Jewish mother named Eunice. Being the product of a “mixed” marriage, he was considered illegitimate by the Jews. It was his grandmother, Lois, who first became Christian. Timothy was a convert of Paul around the year 47 and later joined him in his apostolic work. He was with Paul at the founding of the Church in Corinth. During the 15 years he worked with Paul, he became one of his most faithful and trusted friends. He was sent on difficult missions by Paul—often in the face of great disturbance in local Churches which Paul had founded.

Timothy was with Paul in Rome during the latter’s house arrest. At some period Timothy himself was in prison (Hebrews 13:23). Paul installed him as his representative at the Church of Ephesus.

Timothy was comparatively young for the work he was doing. (“Let no one have contempt for your youth,” Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4:12a.) Several references seem to indicate that he was timid. And one of Paul’s most frequently quoted lines was addressed to him: “Stop drinking only water, but have a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1 Timothy 5:23).

Titus (d. 94?): Titus has the distinction of being a close friend and disciple of Paul as well as a fellow missionary. He was Greek, apparently from Antioch. Even though Titus was a Gentile, Paul would not let him be forced to undergo circumcision at Jerusalem. Titus is seen as a peacemaker, administrator, great friend. Paul’s second letter to Corinth affords an insight into the depth of his friendship with Titus, and the great fellowship they had in preaching the gospel: “When I went to Troas…I had no relief in my spirit because I did not find my brother Titus. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia…. For even when we came into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted in every way—external conflicts, internal fears. But God, who encourages the downcast, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus…” (2 Corinthians 2:12a, 13; 7:5-6).

When Paul was having trouble with the community at Corinth, Titus was the bearer of Paul’s severe letter and was successful in smoothing things out. Paul writes he was strengthened not only by the arrival of Titus but also “by the encouragement with which he was encouraged in regard to you, as he told us of your yearning, your lament, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more…. And his heart goes out to you all the more, as he remembers the obedience of all of you, when you received him with fear and trembling” (2 Corinthians 7:7a, 15).

The Letter to Titus addresses him as the administrator of the Christian community on the island of Crete, charged with organizing it, correcting abuses and appointing ministers of the gospel.

Spiritual reading: It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching. (Francis of Assisi)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 25, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 16:15-18

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The passage from Mark’s gospel that we read today is one of the alternative endings to the gospel. Jesus, after his resurrection, appears to the apostles and commissions them to go out and teach the whole world about his coming and his way of life. If we read between the lines, it says to us that if we are willing to trust God, extraordinary things will come to pass in our lives and the lives of people whom we encounter.

Saint of the day: Today is the celebration of the call of Paul the Apostle. Paul likely was born on the early first century. The Acts of the Apostles records that he was a citizen of Tarsus, an important Roman city in what is now modern day Turkey. Part of the Jewish diaspora, Paul himself says that he was a Pharisee, and Acts suggests he studied the rabbinic law in Jerusalem. Both Acts and the Pauline letters suggest that Paul persecuted the sect of Jews who believed that Jesus was the messiah. Likely in the late 30s on the road to Damascus to preach against the new sect, Paul had a profound experience. Acts at three places describes the experience, and though the accounts conflict in their details, we know that Paul himself said that he was the last of the apostles to see the risen Jesus, and that it was on account of this that he called himself an apostle. Christians have termed the experience a conversion, but Paul never ceased seeing himself as a Jew, and conversion may overstate the case. The feast might be better styled, “the call of Paul,” for through it, Paul experienced the need to spread the Gospel to the very ends of the earth, and it is quite possible that his missionary efforts extended even to Spain. Paul likely died in Nero’s persecution, probably either in 63 or 67.

Spiritual reading: I assure you, brothers, the gospel I proclaimed to you is no mere human invention. I did not receive it from any man, not was I schooled in it. It came by revelation from Jesus Christ. You have heard, I know, the story of my former way of life in Judaism. You know that I went to extremes in persecuting the Church of God, and tried to destroy it. But the time came when he who had set me apart before I was born and called me by his favour chose to reveal his Son to me, that I might spread among the Gentiles the good tidings concerning him. Immediately, without seeking human advisers or even going to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me, I went off to Arabia; later I returned to Damascus. Three years after that I went up to Jerusalem to get to know Cephas, with whom I stayed fifteen days. I did not meet any other apostles except James, the brother of the Lord. The communities of Christ in Judea had no idea what I looked like; they had only heard that “he who was formerly persecuting us is now preaching the faith he tried to destroy,” and they gave glory to God on my account. (Paul in the Letter to the Galatians)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 24, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In today’s gospel reading, Jesus provides a concise description of his mission, that is, to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. At the core of our vocation as Christians is the imitation of the Lord. Just how do we follow his example? When the poor ask us for some change on the street, do we walk by as though we didn’t hear, or do we reach into our pockets to find something? When we encounter captives, do our hearts close them out or let them in? When we encounter spiritual blindness, do we say a kind word that invites understanding, or do we proffer a curt word that closes down dialogue? Do we seek to free the oppressed, whether their oppression is religious, political, or economic? In our cumulative actions, do we proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord, or do we live the way we always have lived and hope that mediocre is just good enough? Are we for each other the Christ, or are we for each other yet one more stumbling block?

Spiritual reading: If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love. (Juliana of Norwich)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 23, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 3:20-21

Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: All of us want to be understood. Most particularly, we want to be understood by the members of our families. But sometimes the work that we do is so important that it is worthwhile to risk not being understood. Pursuing our vision of God’s will for our lives strikes me as something sufficiently critical that we can risk not being understood. It strikes me that it is important enough to risk being considered mad. Jesus was willing to take that risk, and he suffered his family’s sense he had lost his mind, but he never gave up on what he sensed the Father called him to do.

Saint of the day: Nikolaus Gross was born on September 30, 1898 in Germany. A miner, he became the father of seven. A member of the Christian miners’ labor union at age 19, he became its secretary at 22. A member of the Zentrum Christian Party at age 20, he worked at age 22 on the West German Workers’ Newspaper, the newspaper of the Catholic Workers’ Movement and became its director at age 24.

A nonviolent opponent of Nazism from its beginnings, Nickolaus worked with distinguished Catholic intellectuals who opposed the regime. From Cologne, he exposed the lies and harmful effects of Nazi propaganda, and he worked for the revolt of consciences against Hitler. Declared an enemy of the state, his newspaper was shut down in 1938, but at great risk, he continued to publish an underground edition.

He tried to organize resistance among Catholic workers in preparation for the assassination attempt on July 20, 1944. Though neither he nor the members of his group were implicated in the assassination attempt, Nikolaus was arrested on August 12, 1944 for treason, and sentenced to death by a People’s Court on January 15, 1945. A martyr, he was executed January 23, 1945 at the Berlin-Plotzensee prison. His body was cremated and the ashes scattered.

Spiritual reading: The majority of great enterprises result from daily fulfillment of one’s duty in small, everyday things. What is valuable in the doing is our special love for the poor and the sick. (Nikolaus Gross)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 22, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 3:13-19

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: He appointed the Twelve: Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus’ appointment of 12 apostles suggests his conscious awareness of the ties between his ministry and the history of his people. At the time of the the Assyrian invasion of the northern Kingdom of Israel in the eighth century, 10 of the 12 tribes were scattered and lost, and the history of God’s chosen people was disrupted. The proclamation of the Kingdom of God, the central message of Jesus’ ministry, suggested to the Lord the need to symbolically reestablish the 12 tribes of Israel. The naming of the 12, therefore, partly testifies to the continuity of God’s action within the lives of his chosen ones. Through our baptism, God has chosen us. We can trust that just as Jesus’ ministry continued and fulfilled the history of Israel, God will continue to remain present in our lives. The same God who cares for us today will care for us tomorrow, so no matter what troubles lie before us, we can be confident that God either will render them harmless or give us the strength to sustain the trials God sends.

Saint of the day: On October 20, 1870 in Hungary, Ladislaus Batthyany-Strattmann was born into an ancient noble Hungarian family, the sixth of ten brothers. His family moved to Austria when he was six years old, and his mother died when he was 12. When of age, he studied agriculture, chemistry, physics, philosophy, literature, music, and medicine at the University of Vienna, graduating with a medical degree in 1900. On November 10, 1898, he married Countess Maria Teresa Coreth, a pious woman, and the couple had thirteen children; the whole family attended Mass and prayed the Rosary every day.

In 1902, Ladislaus opened a private 25-bed hospital in Kittsee, Austria. He worked there as a general practitioner, and later when he had more staff, specialized as a surgeon and eye doctor. During World War I, the flood of injured soldiers required him to expand the hospital to 120 beds.

In 1915, Ladislaus inherited the castle of Körmend, Hungary, and with it the family name Strattman and the title of Prince. In 1920, he moved his family to the castle and turned one wing into a hospital specializing in eye diseases. Ladislaus’ skills led him to become an internationally known specialist in opthamology.

Dr Ladislaus never turned away a patient because they could not pay, and provided funds to the destitute. He treated all, kept them in hospital as long as necessary, gave away medications, accepted what patients would pay when they would, but never asked a fee from anyone except that they pray an Our Father for him. He prayed over each patient before working on them, knew that his skills were simply God working through his hands, and saw his family fortune as a way to help the poor. He was considered a saint in life by his family, his patients, and fellow healers. He died January 22, 1931 at Vienna, Austria of bladder cancer and was buried in the family tomb in Güssing, Hungary.

Spiritual reading: What is a faithful man to do in the chaos of events which seem to swallow him up? He must sustain himself calmly by Faith. Faith will make him adore the eternal plan of God. Faith will assure him that to those who love God all things work together for good. (William Joseph Chaminade)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 21, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 3:7-12

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea. Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” He warned them sternly not to make him known.

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospels over and over again suggest the profound impression that Jesus left on the people who were around him. People so desperately wanted to be near him and even to touch him that Jesus had to take precautions for his physical safety lest the crowds were to “crush him.” We live in the presence of the risen Lord, and the more we permit ourselves to be conscious of his presence, the greater our need to be with him will become. Let us strive today to draw near him, to be available to the profound impression he may leave for us. We certainly do this through prayer, but we also do this in the ways that we minister to one another and make ourselves available to the sufferings of others. If we live lives that strive to imitate Christ, Jesus will reciprocate. As the Letter from James says, “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.”

Saint of the day: Born in about 1580 in England, Alban Bartholomew Roe converted to Catholicism. He studied at the English College at Douai, France, but was dismissed for an infraction of discipline. A Benedictine priest in 1612 at Dieulouard, France, he became a missionary to England. He was arrested and exiled in 1615 for his work. Returning to England in 1618, he was arrested again. He sat in prison until 1623 when the Spanish ambassador obtained his release on condition that Alban leave England. Soon after, Alban returned to his homeland and continued his covert ministry. Arrested again in 1625, he lay in prison for 17 years before being tried and condemned to death for the crime of priesthood. One of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, he died with Blessed Thomas Reynolds. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered on January 21, 1642 at Tyburn, England.

Spiritual reading: Christ made my soul beautiful with the jewels of grace and virtue. I belong to Him whom the angels serve. (Saint Agnes, Martyr)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 20, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

Reflection on the gospel reading: The passage from the gospel we read today suggests that Jesus inspired sufficient opposition even early in his ministry that the threat of death was never far from him. Mark in this passage clearly links the opposition of the Pharisees and the Herodians to Jesus’ interpretation of the law and his willingness to challenge conventional interpretations of religious duties. If we are to imitate Christ, we should never fear pursuing what we perceive to be the right course and the best action even if the face of the opposition of authority.

Saint of the day: Iwene Tansi was born in Aguleri near Onitsha, Nigeria, in 1903. He was baptised when he was 9 years old with the Christian name, Michael. His baptism affected him deeply even at such a young age and he shocked his non-Christian parents by daring to destroy his own personal idol, traditionally given to every male child at birth.

At the age of 22, after several years of working as catechist and school teacher, he entered the seminary and was ordained a priest for the Onitsha diocese in 1937, when he was 34. As parish priest he worked zealously in Eastern Nigeria for 13 years, selflessly serving the religious and material needs of his people.

He had to travel on foot to visit his widely scattered parishes, would spend whole days hearing confessions and was always available to the people in their needs, day and night. He was particularly eager to give young people a good preparation for marriage and to counteract the tradition of “trial marriages” which prevailed among the pagans at that time. The large Christian populations of many Igbo villages are a present witness to his zeal.

However, in spite of all he was doing, he felt the call to serve God in a more direct way in a life of contemplation and prayer and, if possible to bring the contemplative monastic life to Nigeria. In 1950 his Bishop was able to free him to try his vocation at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, near Nottingham, England, and to be trained in view of founding a contemplative monastery in the diocese of Onitsha. His new name in the monastery was Father Cyprian. The complete change of lifestyle, particularly living under obedience when he had been a leader of people, the change of climate, food and most of all the culture shock were severe tests, but he was convinced that this is where God wanted him to be. Father Mark Ulogu, who later became Abbot of Bamenda, joined him a year later.

In 1962 Mount Saint Bernard decided to make the foundation in Africa, but for various reasons it was made in the neighboring country of Cameroon, near Bamenda, rather than in Nigeria. Although he was appointed as Novice Master of the foundation, Father Cyprian was too sick to go. He died on January 20, 1964, a few months after the departure of the founders.

Spiritual reading: As for what concerns our relations with our fellow men, the anguish in our neighbor’s soul must break all precept. All that we do is a means to an end, but love is an end in itself, because God is love. (Edith Stein, Martyr)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 19, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: When we have a “how to” guide to shape our behavior, we don’t have to give it a lot of thought. The less we have to think about it, the less significance we give to it, and the less our behavior is the product of our relationship to the situation where we find ourselves. Our behavior becomes rote and devoid of any deep meaning. When Jesus says that that the human person is not made for the sabbath but the sabbath for the human person, he reassures us that rules are meant to be broken, and our lives are meant to be creative responses to the realities that surround us. We are called to be little less than gods! Divinity is creativity: let us live our lives creatively that we be images of the creative God.

Saint of the day: Born on January 17, 1842 in Korczyna, Poland, from childhood Saint Joseph Sebastian Pelczar was surrounded by a deep religious atmosphere. He was ordained a priest in 1864, and after post graduate studies in Rome, whereby he obtain doctorates in both theology and canon law, Father Pelczar taught in the diocesan seminary in Przemysl, and, later, served as rector and professor for 22 years at Jagellonian University in Krakow.

In his concern for the most needy and the spreading of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Father Pelczar founded the Congregation of the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1894. He himself formed the first members according to the needs of that time. In the spirituality of the Congregation, his own desires and concerns were reflected: the glory of God in the Mystery of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, love of Mary, the Immaculate Virgin and Queen of Poland, charity towards the sick and abandoned, concern for servant girls in need of financial and moral help, and the religious training of children and youth.

In 1899, he became an auxiliary bishop and, in 1900, local Ordinary of the Diocese of Przemysl. He was beatified in 1991 and canonized in 2003. The relics of Saint Joseph Sebastian rest in the chapel of the Cathedral Church in Przemysl. In Krakow, St. Joseph Sebastian is venerated in a special way in the church of the Sacred Heart Sisters where there is a chapel dedicated to him.

Spiritual reading: I do not fear Satan half so much as I fear those who fear him. (Teresa of Avila)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 18, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 2:18-22

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to Jesus and objected, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: We have lived through times where people have sought reassurance in old answers to the enduring questions and sometimes have made idols of culturally-conditioned solutions to problems that existed in earlier ages. There are many examples across a wide spectrum of concerns, such as systematic theology, ethics, and scripture study, but let’s just attend to an intimate experience for all of us in the Catholic tradition, how we worship as a community. The Tridentine Mass, the Mass universal in Roman Catholicism until the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, was a 16th century convention that unified breathtakingly diverse Catholic liturgical practices that varied from province to province and even town to town in the Middle Ages. The unity that Mass of Trent imposed reflected the Church’s response to the Reformation and the capacity of the printing press to disseminate a standard set of practices made such unity possible. Scholarship has revealed that that Mass bore only the outline of the Eucharist that the early Church celebrated, and it certainly was not the Eucharistic practice Jesus “modeled” for the disciples. Jesus’ own experience, and the experience of Christians across the centuries, was the adaptability of the Gospel to the cultural conditions prevalent in different communities at different times. This is what the Lord meant by pouring wine into new wine skins. We are not to make idols of outward forms, such as a particular liturgical practice. We live in news times with immense new scholarship and new philosophical understandings. The message cannot stand still. We ever must explore how to make the enduring gospel relevant to the age in which we live, comprehensible in the language of the day, and alive in the ears of our hearers.

Saint of the day: Jaime Hilario Barbal was born on January 2,1898 at Enviny in northern Spain as Manuel Barbal. Raised in a pious and hardworking family near the Pyrenees mountains, he entered the seminary at age 12, but when his hearing began to fail in his teens, he was sent home. He joined the Brothers of the Christian Schools at age 19, entering the noviciate on February 24, 1917 at Irun, Spain, taking the name Jaime Hilario. An exceptional teacher and catechist, he believed strongly in the value of universal education, especially for the poor. However, his hearing problems grew worse, and in the early 1930s, he was forced to retire from teaching and began to work in the garden at the LaSalle house at San Jose, Tarragona, Spain.

He was imprisoned in July 1936 at Mollerosa, Spain when the Spanish Civil War broke out and religious were swept from the street. Transferred to Tarragona in December, then confined on a prison ship with some other religious. He was convicted on January 15, 1937 of being a Christian brother. Two rounds of volley fire from a firing squad did not kill him, possibly because some of soldiers intentionally shot wide; their commander then murdered Jaime on January 18, 1937 with five shots at close range. First of the 97 LaSalle Brothers killed in Catalunia, Spain during the Spanish Civil War to be recognized as a martyr.

Spiritual reading: Jesus was either a Liar, a Lunatic, or Lord. (C.S. Lewis)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 17, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

John 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from — although the servers who had drawn the water knew —, the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Since Christmas, we have seen time and again how God reveals Godself to us: through the birth of the babe, the coming of the wise men, and the revelation of God’s presence in Jesus at his baptism. Today, we receive more evidence of God’s glory in our reflection on the events at the wedding feast in Cana.

Over and again throughout the gospels, we receive intimations how generous God is. In the parable of the Sower of the Seeds, the seed that falls on the good ground leads to an incredible harvest that yields far more than anything even modern agricultural methods could produce. In the miracle of the feeding of the multitudes, Jesus takes just a few loaves of breads and several fishes, and the disciples after the meal when they collect the scraps, fill many baskets with the remains of the meal. Here, in the first sign given in John’s gospel, Jesus turns six vessels of water, each containing between 20 and 30 gallons, into wine, providing the wedding with a bounty hardly to be matched by the wealthy little lone a wedding in a small village. When God manifests God’s glory, God acts with lavish displays.

Spiritual reading: Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 16, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 2:13-17

Jesus went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them. As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed Jesus. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus heard this and said to them, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus’ co-religionists did not believe that tax collectors were good Jews. The scandal that Jesus causes them is not that Jesus tried to induce in them a new way of life; if he in fact had converted tax collectors to strict observation of the law, the scribes would have celebrated him as a national hero. In their minds, Jesus’ scandal was that he would associate with tax collectors without calling them to conversion. Indeed, there is no evidence anywhere in the gospels that other than Levi (Matthew), any tax collectors abandoned their profession because of their association with Jesus. What Jesus teaches us here is unconditional love. Jesus teaches us simply to “be with” the other, to commune with them, to stand in the presence of the other. Jesus teaches us both to love and tolerate the other. It is a radical message, unconditional love, that is all to easy to ignore. But it is the lesson that the Master teaches by his example in today’s gospel.

Saint of the day: Preaching the gospel is often dangerous work. Leaving one’s homeland and adjusting to new cultures, governments and languages is difficult enough; but martyrdom sometimes caps all the other sacrifices.

In 1219 with the blessing of St. Francis, Berard left Italy with Peter, Adjute, Accurs, Odo and Vitalis to preach in Morocco. En route in Spain Vitalis became sick and commanded the other friars to continue their mission without him.

They tried preaching in Seville, then in Muslim hands, but made no converts. They went on to Morocco where they preached in the marketplace. The friars were immediately apprehended and ordered to leave the country; they refused. When they began preaching again, an exasperated sultan ordered them executed. After enduring severe beatings and declining various bribes to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ, the friars were beheaded by the sultan himself on January 16, 1220.

These were the first Franciscan martyrs. When Francis heard of their deaths, he exclaimed, “Now I can truly say that I have five Friars Minor!” Their relics were brought to Portugal where they prompted a young Augustinian canon to join the Franciscans and set off for Morocco the next year. That young man was Anthony of Padua. These five martyrs were canonized in 1481.

Spiritual reading: There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. (Albert Einstein)