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Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 30, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 10:13-16

Jesus said to them, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.’ Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel passage that we read today is a challenge to us who have heard God’s word and recognized God’s deeds in our lives. Despite what we have received, we often fail in our baptismal vocation to be men and women who live for others. Jesus in this passage reminds us that there are many in the world, who had that received the twin graces of knowledge of his word and recognition of his mighty deeds that we have received, would have embraced the gospel better than do we. The challenge we receive today is to carry the gospel with us, proclaiming it in what we do and how gently we treat one another.

Saint of the day: Jerome was born to a rich pagan family. As a student in Rome, he engaged in the superficial activities of students there, which he indulged in quite casually but suffered terrible bouts of repentance afterwards. Jerome became a lawyer. Although initially skeptical of Christianity, he was eventually converted and baptised in 365. Subsequently, he began his study of theology and had a true conversion. He adopted an acetical life and lived for years as a hermit in the Syrian deserts. Eventually, he was ordained a priest. Soon afterward, he went to Constantinople to pursue a study of Scripture under Gregory Nazianzen. He seems to have spent two years there; the next three (382-385) he was in Rome again, attached to Pope Damasus I and the leading Roman Christians. Invited originally for the synod of 382, held to end the schism of Antioch, he made himself indispensable to the pope, and took a prominent place in his councils. Among his other duties, he undertook a revision of the Latin Bible, to be based on the Greek New Testament. He also updated the Psalter then at use in Rome based on the Septuagint. Though he did not realize it yet, translating much of what became the Latin Vulgate Bible would take many years, and be his most important achievement. In Rome he was surrounded by a circle of well-born and well-educated women, including some from the noblest patrician families, such as the widows Lea, Marcella, and Paula, with their daughters Blaesilla and Eustochium. The resulting inclination of these women to the monastic life and his unsparing criticism of the secular clergy brought a growing hostility against him among the clergy and their supporters. Soon after the death of his patron Damasus in 384, Jerome was forced to leave his position at Rome after an inquiry by the Roman clergy into allegations that he had an improper relationship with the widow Paula. He lived his last 34 years in the Holy Land as a semi-recluse where he wrote translations of histories, biographies, the works of Origen, and much more. Jerome died near Bethlehem on September 30, 420. He has been named a Doctor of the Church and a Father of the Church. Since his own time, he has been associated in the popular mind with scrolls, writing, cataloging, translating, which led to those who work in such fields taking him as their patron.

Spiritual reading: O Lord, show your mercy to me and gladden my heart. I am like the man on the way to Jericho who was overtaken by robbers, wounded and left for dead. O Good Samaritan, come to my aid. I am like the sheep that went astray. O Good Shepherd, seek me out and bring me home in accord with your will. Let me dwell in Your house all the days of my life and praise you for ever and ever with those who are there. Amen. (St. Jerome)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 29, 2011

MemlingGospel reading of the day:

John 1:47-51

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: On this feast of Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, we have from the Church the reading from John’s gospel where Jesus mysteriously tells Nathaniel that he saw him under the fig tree and Nathaniel responds with a confession of faith that Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel. Jesus then tells him that he will see greater things and obliquely refers to Jacob’s dream where he saw the angels climbing up and down a ladder between God and humanity. In the image that Jesus presents to Nathaniel, the Lord is clearly the bridge that connects God and God’s people. May we cross that bridge today.

Saint of the day: We call the angels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael “saints” because they are holy. But they are different from the rest of the saints because they were not human. They protect human beings, and we know something about each of them from the Bible.

ArchangelsMichael’s name means “who is like God?” Three books of the Bible speak of St. Michael: Daniel, Revelation, and the Letter of Jude. In the book of Revelation or the Apocalypse, chapter 12:7-9, we read of a great war that went on in heaven. Michael and his angels battled with Satan. Michael became the champion of loyalty to God. We ask Michael to make us strong in our love of the Good News.

Gabriel’s name means “the power of God.” He, too, is mentioned in the book of Daniel. He has become familiar to us because Gabriel is an important person in Luke’s Gospel. This archangel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of our savior. Gabriel announced to Zechariah that he and St. Elizabeth would have a son and call him John. Gabriel is the announcer, the communicator of the Good News. We ask Gabriel to help us to proclaim the Good News.

Raphael’s name means “God has healed.” We read the story of Raphael’s role in Tobit. He brought protection and healing to the blind Tobit. At the very end of the journey, when all was completed, Raphael revealed his true identity. He called himself one of the seven who stands before God’s throne. We ask Raphael to protect us in our travels, even for short journeys, like going to the store or school.

morgan29Spiritual reading: The soul at its highest is found like God, but an angel gives a closer idea of Him. That is all an angel is: an idea of God. ~Meister Eckhart

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 28, 2011

qg_bar_0809_07Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:57-62

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Today’s gospel suggests that discipleship is costly, and it identifies three tolls exacted of the Lord’s followers. When Jesus says, “The Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head,” he suggests that being a minister of the gospel requires complete freedom from possessions. This does not mean that the disciple needs to be without possessions; it merely means that having things or not having them is not a paramount concern for the person who serves the gospel. Second, when Jesus says, “Leave the dead to bury the dead,” what he means is that availability to serve the gospel precedes every other obligation in life. Finally, when Jesus says not to “look to what was left behind,” he isn’t speaking literally about not saying goodbye to family. This last saying sums up all three sayings in today’s passage: when we respond to Jesus’ call, it must be absolute and without condition.

Saint of the day: Lorenzo Ruiz was born in Manila in about 1600 of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter.

His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that “he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him.”

At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan.

They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, “I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there.” In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution.

They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears.

The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions.

In Lorenzo’s moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, “I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life.” The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators.

The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded.

Spiritual reading: Peace begins with a smile. (Mother Teresa)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, politics, religion by Mike on September 27, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:51-56

When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.

Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage marks the end in Luke’s gospel of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee and his turn toward the final period of his mission to humanity. While the other gospel writers suggest that Jesus goes up to Jerusalem several times to celebrate the holy days of his people, repeatedly making the trip apparently over the course of a number of years, Luke seems to suggest that Jesus goes to Jerusalem but once. With this literary license, the evangelist makes the point that Jerusalem and everything that happens there, including the Lord’s passion, death, resurrection, and ascension, is the meaning and object of Jesus’ entire ministry.

Saint of the day: Born at Pouy, Gascony, France, in 1580 into a peasant family, Vincent de Paul died at Paris, September 27, 1660. He made his humanities studies at Dax with the Cordeliers, and his theological studies, interrupted by a short stay at Saragossa, were made at Toulouse where he graduated in theology. Ordained in 1600, he remained at Toulouse or in its vicinity acting as tutor while continuing his own studies

saint-vincent-de-paulThe deathbed confession of a dying servant opened Vincent’s eyes to the crying spiritual needs of the peasantry of France. This seems to have been a crucial moment in the life of the man from a small farm in Gascony, France, who had become a priest with little more ambition than to have a comfortable life.

It was the Countess de Gondi (whose servant he had helped) who persuaded her husband to endow and support a group of able and zealous missionaries who would work among the poor, the vassals and tenants and the country people in general. Vincent was too humble to accept leadership at first, but after working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, he returned to be the leader of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians. These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages.

Later Vincent established confraternities of charity for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick of each parish. From these, with the help of St. Louise de Marillac, came the Daughters of Charity, “whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city.” He organized the rich women of Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects, founded several hospitals, collected relief funds for the victims of war and ransomed over 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa. He was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse and ignorance among them. He was a pioneer in clerical training and was instrumental in establishing seminaries.

Most remarkably, Vincent was by temperament a very irascible person—even his friends admitted it. He said that except for the grace of God he would have been “hard and repulsive, rough and cross.” But he became a tender and affectionate man, very sensitive to the needs of others.

5506132-lgSpiritual reading: What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it. (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 26, 2011

46498Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:46-50

An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John said in reply, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.” Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: We read Luke’s account of Jesus’ prediction of his passion and death on Saturday; this passage follows immediately afterward. Luke does something striking and unambiguous in his rendering of this event. In Mark’s account of this event, that evangelist interjects a discussion about Elijah and John, but Luke goes right to this argument among the apostles about who is the greatest. Luke is pointing out, by the way he constructs this plot, that while the apostles were totally at a loss about what to say about Jesus’ suffering and death, they were ready and eager to talk about who is the greatest. Luke emphasizes this point when he has Jesus take the child to make the point that Jesus has not chosen the apostle because they were something special: God could choose anyone to do the job he has given to the apostles, even a powerless child. The greatness of the apostles does not derive from who they are but from the mission they have been given.

And so it is with us. We may suffer the temptation to think we are something special. But whatever gifts we have, they are not ours but the Lord’s. Our focus should not be on what we have but what we do.

Saint of the day: Today is the memorial of Cosmas and Damian. These two martyrs were twin brothers from Syria who lived in the fourth century. They were very famous students of science and both became excellent doctors. Cosmas and Damian saw Cosmas and Damianin every patient a brother or sister in Christ. For this reason, they showed great charity to all and treated their patients to the best of their ability. Yet no matter how much care a patient required, neither Cosmas nor Damian ever accepted any money for their services. For this reason, they were called by a name in Greek which means “the penniless ones.”

Every chance they had, the two saints told their patients about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Because the people all loved these twin doctors, they listened to them willingly. Cosmas and Damian often brought health back to both the bodies and the souls of those who came to them for help.

When Diocletian’s persecution of Christians began in their city, the saints were arrested at once. They had never tried to hide their great love for their Christian faith. They were tortured, but nothing could make them give up their belief in Christ. They had lived for him and had brought so many people to his love. So at last, they were put to death in the year 303. These holy martyrs are named in the First Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass.

Spiritual reading: Unless you believe, you will not understand. (De Libero Arbitrio by Augustine of Hippo)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 25, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Earlier in the Gospel of Matthew, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount in Chapter 7, the evangelist records that Jesus says, Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven but only the one who does the will of my Father.” It is not sufficient to simply do pious devotions and study the scriptures and theology. The gospel demands mission: kind acts and generous deeds. It demands availability to the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill, and the prisoner. The gospel beckons us to be balm for the wounded world.

Spiritual reading: In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth. (Mahatma Ghandi)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 24, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:43b-45

While they were all amazed at his every deed, Jesus said to his disciples, “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus has revealed his identity to his disciples, but he has told them that he is something quite different than they imagined. Being the anointed one, the messiah, the king, is not a story of earthly prestige; it is a narrative about self-sacrifice and even pain. While the disciples dreamed of a future that held worldly honors, Jesus tells them his fate was one of betrayal and suffering. It is hard even for us, who know so well this story, to understand that suffering is an intrinsic component of the mission that Jesus lived and preached, but it is our call to embrace the suffering that life hands us. Certainly, we need not go and look for it; it will come and find us. But when it comes, we should not resist it. Everything is gift from the hands of God.

FranciscanTauSaint of the day: Born on March 1, 1653 at San Severino, Pacificus was the son of Antonio Divini and Mariangela Bruni, both of whom died when Pacificus was about three-years-old. They left him to be raised by an uncle. Pacificus joined the Franciscans in December 1670 and was ordained in 1678. A professor of philosophy, he taught novices and served as a parish missionary. His health failed and he spent his final 29 years lame, deaf, and blind, leading a contemplative life. Pacificus is said to have received ecstasies and been a miracle worker.

jpc_samaritanSpiritual reading: Justice will bring about peace; right will produce calm and security. (Isaiah the Prophet)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 23, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:18-22

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In today’s gospel, Jesus and his disciples are praying in solitude. In the midst of the prayer, the question of Jesus’ identity, mission, and fate arise. God has an idea for each of our lives and draws us to this idea through the various events of our lives. God calls us into communion with Godself to plug into a relationship which works out the nature of our calling through prayerful recognition of how God works in our lives. This passage from Luke reminds us that it is in prayer that we sort through the various facts and emotions of that divine idea for our lives and learn what it is that God created us to be and to do.

Saint of the day: Padre Pio was born on May 25, 1887 to a southern Italian farm family as Francesco Forgione as the son of Grazio, a shepherd. At age 15, he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars in Morcone, and joined the order at age 19. He suffered several health problems, and at one point, his family thought he had 417px-Padre_Piotuberculosis. He was ordained a priest at age 22 on 10 August 1910.

While praying before a cross, he received the stigmata on September 20, 1918, the first priest ever to be so blessed. As word spread, especially after American soldiers brought home stories of Padre Pio following World War II, the priest himself became a point of pilgrimage for both the pious and the curious. He would hear confessions by the hour, reportedly able to read the consciences of those who held back. He was said to be able to bilocate, levitate, and heal by touch. Founded the House for the Relief of Suffering in 1956, a hospital that serves 60,000 a year. In the 1920s, he started a series of prayer groups that continue today with over 400,000 members worldwide. He died on September 23, 1968 of natural causes.

His canonization miracle involved the cure of Matteo Pio Colella, age 7, the son of a doctor who works in the House for Relief of Suffering, the hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo founded by Padre Pio. On the night of June 20, 2000, Matteo was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital with meningitis. By morning, doctors had lost hope for him as nine of the boy´s internal organs had ceased to give signs of life. That night, during a prayer vigil attended by Matteo´s mother and some Capuchin friars of Padre Pio´s monastery, the child’s condition improved suddenly. When he awoke from the coma, Matteo said that he had seen an elderly man with a white beard and a long, brown habit, who said to him: “Don´t worry; you will soon be cured.”

Spiritual reading: He did not say, ‘You will not be tempted, you will not be troubled, you will not be uncomfortable;” rather, he said, ‘You will not be overcome.’” (Revelations of Divine Love by Dame Juliana of Norwich)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 22, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:7-9

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead”; others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”; still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.” But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him.

Reflection on the gospel reading: An English bishop of the 13th century, Richard of Wyche, wrote a prayer in which he asks Jesus, “May I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly and follow thee more nearly, day by day.” Like this prayer, the gospel passage that we read today suggests that there are different ways of seeing who Jesus is.

The Herod about whom we read today was the son of Herod the Great, about whom much has come down to us through sacred and secular histories as well as in the archeological record. Herod the Great, of course, is the king in Matthew’s gospel whom the magi visited and who, for fear of his throne, put to death all the boys of Bethlehem under the age of two. Herod the Great in his will provided that his kingdom be divided among his four sons, so Herod the Tetrarch who appears in today’s passage is a ruler of a fourth part of the kingdom of his father. “Tetrarch” actually means, “ruler of a fourth part.”

In today’s narrative, Herod the Tetrarch has been hearing quite a bit about Jesus and the wonders he works. Herod is a superstitious man, and like his father before him, he fears Jesus. But Herod also is curious about him and wants to see him, perhaps so Jesus can perform some “magic” for him.

One moral to this gospel passage is that there are different ways to see Jesus. There is the wrong path, that is, the way that Herod wants: to perceive the Lord with neither faith nor hope and think about him much the way we might be amused by the tricks of a trained animal. And there is the way that Richard of Wyche: to look into life and each part of the world to see, love, and follow the Lord.

Saint of the day: Today the Church remembers the 233 martyrs of Valencia, Spain, referred to collectively as Jose Aparicio Sanz and 232 companions, beatified in 2001. Scholars believe that in the early months of 1936 more than 10,000 priests, brothers, nuns, and Catholic lay persons were killed in the Spanish Civil War, as combatants attempted to wipe out what they saw as the Catholic resistance. The Spanish Civil War (1936-39) pitted the government, supported by communists, anarchists, socialists, labor groups and other secular causes, against a Fascist movement, which endeavored to enforce an authoritarian Spanish society. Eventually, the Fascists prevailed. In the course of the horrible and bloody conflict, many Spanish Catholics died for the faith.

The martyrs were men and women of all ages and states: diocesan priests, men and women religious, the fathers and mothers of families, young lay people. They were killed for their faith in Christ and their active membership in the Church. The written material collected in support of the beatification ran more than 4,000 pages. Before dying, all of them, as stated in the canonical processes for their declaration as martyrs, forgave their executioners from their heart. For example, seminarians who were shot left behind a note scrawled on a chocolate wrapper: “We die forgiving those who are taking away our life and offering it for the Christian ordering of the world.”

Various anecdotes illustrate the courage and faithfulness of the martyrs of Valencia. Father Jose Aparicio Sanz served as archpriest in his native village of Enguera, Spain, in the archdiocese of Valencia. As the Spanish Civil War continued in the autumn of 1936, forces of the anti-Catholic Popular Front arrested Father Aparicio and imprisoned him together with fourteen other diocesan priests in a jail at Mislata. From October 5 through Christmas of that year, the incarcerated priests spent their time repeatedly praying the rosary and reciting other devotional prayers. On December 29, 1936, the forty-three-year-old Father Aparicio was brought to a location known as Picadero de Paterna to be executed along with approximately thirty other prisoners. Among the others put to death for the Catholic faith was the thirty-three-year-old curate of Father Aparicio’s parish of Enguera, Father Enrique Juan Requena. Another of the martyrs was Jose Perpina Nacher, a twenty-five-year-old married layman who had worked as a lawyer and a telegraph operator.

The elderly María Teresa Ferragud was arrested at the age of 83 along with her four daughters. These four daughters were nuns who had sought refuge in their mother’s home. On October 25, 1936, the feast of Christ the King, María Teresa asked to accompany her daughters to martyrdom. The executioners wanted to kill the mother first, but she told the militia, “I want to know what you are going to do to my daughters, and if you are going to kill them, shoot them first with me being the last one.” Then she said to her daughters, “My daughters, be faithful to your celestial Husband and do not believe in the flatteries of these men.” She also told them, “My daughters, do not be afraid. Death is only a question of time.” One by one, her daughters were killed. When the executioners came to her, they asked her, “Old woman, are you not afraid to die?” Maria Teresa told them, “All my life I wanted to do something for Jesus, and now I’m going to be left behind? Kill me for the same reason you killed my daughters. I am a Christian.” After killing her, the executioners said among themselves, “This is a true saint.”

The young Francisco Castelló y Aleu, 22 years old, a chemist by profession and a member of Catholic Action, realizing the gravity of the situation, did not want to hide but to offer himself as a sacrifice to God and his companions; he left three letters, written a few moments before his death, to his sisters, his spiritual director, and his fiancée. These letters testified to his strength, generosity, serenity, and happiness. A 23-year-old newly ordained priest, Germán Gozalbo, after many humiliations and abuses, was shot only two months after celebrating his first Mass.

Spiritual reading: Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits Thou hast given me, for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me. O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly and follow thee more nearly, day by day. (Richard, Bishop of Chichester)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 21, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 9:9-13

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

Reflection on the gospel reading: Tax collectors in the time and place that Jesus lived were Jews who worked for the Romans. Perceived as people who violated the Law of Moses, tax collectors were social outcasts. The passage that we read today describes Jesus’ call of a tax collector, Matthew, to follow him. The text demonstrates that Jesus did not allow the biases of people who surrounded him to influence his decisions about who would accompany him. Matthew leaves everything in an instant to follow the Lord, and in a meal that celebrates his welcome among the Lord’s disciples, the Pharisees and scribes accuse Jesus of keeping poor company. The Lord, however, says that he has come to heal the sick and implicitly accuses the Pharisees of scribes of legalisms and a lack of mercy. Here, then, as over and over again throughout the scriptures, the Lord counsels us to let go of rigid adherence to law in order that we might lavishly love one another.

Saint of the day: The apostle Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. Though the Romans probably did not allow extremes of extortion, their main concern was their own purses. They were not 092_St.Matthewscrupulous about what the “tax-farmers” got for themselves. Hence the latter, known as “publicans,” were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with “sinners.” So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers.

Matthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house. The Gospel tells us that “many” tax collectors and “those known as sinners” came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. What business did the supposedly great teacher have associating with such immoral people? Jesus’ answer was, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:12b-13). Jesus is not setting aside ritual and worship; he is saying that loving others is even more important.

The traditional view is that the Gospel of Matthew was composed by Matthew, though modern Biblical scholars widely dismiss the possibility that the apostle Matthew wrote the gospel. Scholars have made several suggestions as to the identity of the author: a converted rabbi or scribe, a Hellenised Jew, a Gentile convert who was deeply knowledgeable about the Jewish faith, or a member of a “school” of scribes within a Jewish-Christian community. Most scholars hold that the author was a Jewish-Christian, rather than a Gentile.

Spiritual reading: Every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old. (Matthew 13:52)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 20, 2011

EADsupper withMMGospel reading of the day:

Luke 8:19-21

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.” He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Luke makes clear elsewhere in his gospel, particularly in the infancy narratives, that he greatly esteems the faithfulness of the mother of Jesus. We can imply from that fact that Jesus in today’s gospel does not critique the behavior of his mother or brothers. We are to draw another lesson from this text. The gospel passage does not criticize Jesus’ family, rather it calls upon us to make a complete commitment that creates ties among the baptized which are deeper than the bonds in a family. What Jesus says in this passage is that those who hear God’s word and act upon it are his truest family.

Saint of the day: This first native Korean priest, Andrew Kim Taegon, was the son of Korean converts. His father, Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839 and was beatified in 1925. After baptism at the age of fifteen, Andrew traveled thirteen hundred miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital. Paul Chong Hasang was a lay apostle and married man, aged forty-five. Christianity came to Korea during the Japanese invasion in 1592 when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers. Evangelization was difficult because Korea refused all contact with the outside world except for an annual journey to Beijing to pay taxes. On one of these occasions, around 1777, Christian literature obtained from Jesuits in China led educated Korean Christians to study. A home church began. When a Chinese priest managed to enter secretly a dozen years later, he found four thousand Catholics, none of whom had ever seen a priest. Seven years later there were ten thousand Catholics. Religious freedom came in 1883.

Andrew, Paul, ninety-eight other Koreans, and three French missionaries were martyred between 1839 and 1867; the universal church now celebrates their witness to Christ. Among them were bishops and priests, but for the most part they were lay persons: forty-seven women, forty-five men.

Among the martyrs in 1839 was Columba Kim, an unmarried woman of twenty-six. She was put in prison, pierced with hot awls, and seared with burning coals. She and her sister Agnes were disrobed and kept for two days in a cell with condemned criminals but were not molested. After Columba complained about the indignity, no more women were subjected to it. The two were beheaded. A boy of thirteen, Peter Ryou, had his flesh so badly torn that he could pull off pieces and throw them at the judges. He was killed by strangulation. Protase Chong, a forty-one-year-old noble, apostatized under torture and was freed. Later he came back, confessed his faith and was tortured to death.

Spiritual reading: The Church is a prayer; the Church is a song; the Church is the tears of all mankind; the Church is the smile of a child; the Church picks up the last look of the dying man or woman. (Catherine Doherty)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 19, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 8:16-18

Jesus said to the crowd: “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Being Christian is a great light in the world. One does not hide a light. Instead, one lets it shine forth so that it may brighten the way of the people who might benefit from that light. Today’s gospel passage called us to give what we receive. It is ironic that we find what it means to be Christian by giving it away: it doubles in being halved. If we hide it, we will lose it or risk never perhaps having had it at all.

Saint of the day: Saint Januarius was a martyred bishop about whom very little is known. According to legendary sources, he died in 305 during the Diocletian persecution of Christians. 200px-SaintJanuariusHe was imprisoned while visiting incarcerated deacons at the sulphur mines of Puteoli, the modern Pozzuoli. After many tortures, including being thrown to lions in Pozzuoli’s Flavian Amphitheater, he was beheaded at Solfatara, along with his companions, who were a deacon, a lector, and several friends.

There is little known of the life of Januarius but local Neapolitan tradition says he was born in Benevento to a rich patrician family that traced its descent to the Caudini tribe of the Samnites. At a young age of 15, he became local priest of his parish in Benevento, which at the time was relatively pagan. When Januarius was 20, he became Bishop of Naples and befriended Juliana of Nicomedia and St.Sossius whom he met during his priestly studies as young boys. As Bishop of Naples, he performed many miracles. During the persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian, he hid his fellow Christians and prevented them from being caught. Unfortunately, while visiting Sossius in jail, he too was arrested. He was placed in a furnace to be cooked alive, he came out unscathed. He was pushed into the Flavian Amphitheater at Pozzuoli to be eaten by wild bears, who had not eaten in days. Yet the animals refused to eat them, instead licking their toes. Januarius was beheaded along with Sossius and his companions at Solfatara.

image_phpSlfFzKDespite very limited information about his life and works, he is famous for the reputed miracle of the annual liquefaction of his blood, first reported in 1389. The dried blood is safely stored in small capsules in a reliquary. When these capsules are brought into the vicinity of his body on three occasions in the year, the dried blood supposedly liquefies.

Thousands of people assemble to witness this event in the cathedral of Naples. The archbishop, at the high altar amid prayers and invocations, holds up a glass phial that is said to contain the dried blood of the city’s patron saint. When the liquefaction has taken place, the archbishop holds up the phial again and demonstrates that liquefaction has taken place. The announcement of the liquefaction is greeted with a 21-gun salute at the 13th-century Castel Nuovo.

orpheusSpiritual reading: The great malady of the twentieth century, implicated in all of our troubles and affecting us individually and socially, is “loss of soul.” When soul is neglected, it doesn’t just go away; it appears symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, violence, and loss of meaning. Our temptation is to isolate these symptoms or to try to eradicate them one by one; but the root problem is that we have lost our wisdom about the soul, even our interests in it. (Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 18, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 20:1-16a

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o’clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, the landowner found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In our own day, I think this gospel passage may tell a story that seems to us unjust. In the way that we think, people who work longer hours deserve more money; to us, it may seem as though the master of the vineyard has exploited labor by paying people who work an hour the same as people who work 12 hours.

But scripture elsewhere tells us that God’s ways are not our ways, and we know from our study of the gospels that the entire point of Jesus’ teaching is the necessity of that we act justly. With this background, we perhaps can start to examine this parable from a different paradigm than our usual perspective. The gospel challenges us to understand the nature of God’s justice. It is true that God is just, but we know that God is merciful, compassionate, and benevolent. God is one and indivisible, so we can assume, particularly in light of this gospel passage, that our justice and God’s justice are not the same. God’s justice looks a whole deal more like mercy and compassion than our justice does. The gospel passage isn’t a story about workers who have worked all days not getting what is their due; it is instead a story about people who come into the field late in the day being lavished with God’s love. All of us need God’s love in exactly the same measure: those of who spend our lives from our earliest days on the kingdom require God’s mercy in just the same degree as those of us who arrive late.

Spiritual reading: There are many different ways of bringing people into His kingdom. I have therefore learned to be cautious in my judgement. (C.S. Lewis)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 17, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 8:4-15

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable. “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.” After saying this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be. He answered, “Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.

“This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved. Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation. As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit. But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage comes in Luke’s gospel immediately after Luke’s observation, which was in the gospel passage we read yesterday, that Jesus went about with his companions preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. When Luke presents the parable of the sower, he provides an example of the kind of teaching that Jesus gave to illustrate the nature of the kingdom.

Luke records the parable of the sower of the seed in much the same way that Mark and Matthew relate it, but there is a difference in nuance. While Matthew emphasizes understanding, Luke emphasizes faith and perseverance. In Luke’s account of the parable, everyone hears the word, but Luke is aware that it is possible to lose what one has received. For Luke, our faith in Jesus and the kingdom must not disappear when the Devil comes to test us or when it is choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life; instead, Luke encourages us to nurture our faith and let it bear fruit through perseverance. Membership in God’s kingdom, then, according to Luke’s rendition of the parable, consists of faith and perseverance in faith. The Church ever has taught that we should always pray to persevere to the end, so let us pray for one another.

Saint of the day: Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a remarkable woman, a “first” in many fields. At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard, known as “Sybil of the Rhine,” produced major works of theology and visionary writings. When few women were accorded respect, she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and stones. She is the first composer whose biography is known. She founded a vibrant convent, where her musical plays were performed. Although not yet canonized, Hildegard has been beatified, and is frequently referred to as St. Hildegard. Revival of interest in this extraordinary woman of the middle ages was initiated by musicologists and historians of science and religion.

Hildegard was born the tenth child to a noble family. As was customary with the tenth child, which the family could not count on feeding, she was dedicated at birth to the church. The girl started to have visions of luminous objects at the age of tree, but soon realized she was unique in this ability and hid this gift for many years.

At age 8, the family sent this strange girl to an anchoress named Jutta to receive a religious education. Jutta was born into a wealthy and prominent family, and by all accounts was a young woman of great beauty. She spurned all worldly temptations and decided to dedicate her life to God. Instead of entering a convent, Jutta followed a harsher route and became an anchoress. Anchors of both sexes, though from most accounts they seem to be largely women, led an ascetic life, shut off from the world inside a small room, usually built adjacent to a church so that they could follow the services, with only a small window acting as their link to the rest of humanity. Food would be passed through this window and refuse taken out. Most of the time would be spent in prayer, contemplation, or solitary handworking activities, like stitching and embroidering. Because they would become essentially dead to the world, anchors would receive their last rights from the bishop before their confinement in the anchorage. This macabre ceremony was a complete burial ceremony with the anchor laid out on a bier.

Jutta’s cell was such an anchorage, except that there was a door through which Hildegard entered, as well as about a dozen of girls from noble families who were attracted there by Jutta’s fame in later years. What kind of education did Hildegard receive from Jutta? It was of the most rudimentary form, and Hildegard could never escape the feelings of inadequacy and lack of education. She learned to read the Psalter in Latin. Though her grasp of the grammatical intricacies of the language was never complete – she always had secretaries to help her write down her visions – she had a good intuitive feel for the intrintricacies of the language itself, constructing complicated sentences fraught with meanings on many levels, that are still a challenge to students of her writings. The proximity of the anchorage to the church of the Benedictine monastery at Disibodenberg (it was attached physically to the church) undoubtedly exposed young Hildegard to musical religious services and were the basis for her own musical compositions. After Jutta’s death, when Hildegard was 38 years of age, she was elected the head of the budding convent living within cramped walls of the anchorage.

During all these years Hildegard confided of her visions only to Jutta and another monk, named Volmar, who was to become her lifelong secretary. However, in 1141, Hildegard had a vision that changed the course of her life. A vision of God gave her instant understanding of the meaning of the religious texts and commanded her to write down everything she would observe in her visions.

And it came to pass … when I was 42 years and 7 months old, that the heavens were opened and a blinding light of exceptional brilliance flowed through my entire brain. And so it kindled my whole heart and breast like a flame, not burning but warming… and suddenly I understood of the meaning of expositions of the books…

Yet Hildegard was also overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy and hesitated to act.

But although I heard and saw these things, because of doubt and low opinion of myself and because of diverse sayings of men, I refused for a long time a call to write, not out of stubbornness but out of humility, until weighed down by a scourge of god, I fell onto a bed of sickness.

The 12th century was a time of religious foment, when someone preaching any outlandish doctrine could instantly attract a large following. Hildegard was critical of such perspectives. She wanted her visions to be sanctioned, approved by the Catholic Church, though she herself never doubted the divine origins to her luminous visions. She wrote to St. Bernard, seeking his blessings. Though his answer to her was rather perfunctory, he did bring it to the attention of Pope Eugenius (1145-53), a rather enlightened individual who exhorted Hildegard to finish her writings. With papal imprimatur, Hildegard was able to finish her first visionary work Scivias (“Know the Ways of the Lord”) and her fame began to spread through Germany and beyond.

Around 1150 Hildegard moved her growing convent from Disibodenberg, where the nuns lived alongside the monks, to Bingen about 30 km north, on the banks of the Rhine. She later founded another convent, Eibingen, across the river from Bingen. Her remaining years were very productive. She wrote music and texts to her songs, mostly liturgical plainchant honoring saints and Virgin Mary for the holidays and feast days, and antiphons. There is some evidence that her music and moral play Ordo Virtutum (“Play of Virtues”) were performed in her own convent. In addition to Scivias she wrote two other major works of visionary writing Liber vitae meritorum (1150-63) (Book of Life’s Merits) and Liber divinorum operum (1163) (“Book of Divine Works”), in which she further expounded on her theology of microcosm and macrocosm-man being the peak of God’s creation, man as a mirror through which the splendor of the macrocosm was reflected. Hildegard also authored Physica and Causae et Curae (1150), both works on natural history and curative powers of various natural objects, which are together known as Liber subtilatum (“The book of subtleties of the Diverse Nature of Things”). These works were uncharacteristic of Hildegard’s writings, including her correspondences, in that they were not presented in a visionary form and don’t contain any references to divine source or revelation. However, like her religious writings they reflected her religious philosophy: that humanity is the peak of God’s creation and everything was put in the world for human beings to use. Her scientific views were derived from the ancient Greek cosmology of the four elements (fire, air, water, and earth) with their complementary qualities of heat, dryness, moisture, and cold, and the corresponding four humors in the body-choler (yellow bile), blood, phlegm, and melancholy (black bile).

Music was extremely important to Hildegard. She describes it as the means of recapturing the original joy and beauty of paradise. Hildegard wrote hymns and sequences in honor of saints, virgins, and Mary. She wrote in the plainchant tradition of a single vocal melodic line, a tradition common in liturgical singing of her time. Her music is undergoing a revival and enjoying huge public success.

It is now generally agreed that Hildegard suffered from migraine, and that her visions were a result of this condition. The way she describes her visions, the precursors, to visions, to debilitating aftereffects, point to classic symptoms of migraine sufferers. Although a number of visual hallucinations may occur, the more common ones described are the “scotomata” which often follow perceptions of phosphenes in the visual field. Scintillating scotomata are also associated with areas of total blindness in the visual field, something Hildegard might have been describing when she spoke of points of intense light, and also the “extinguished stars.” Migraine attacks are usually followed by sickness, paralysis, blindness-all reported by Hildegard, and when they pass, by a period of rebound and feeling better than before, a euphoria also described by her. It is a tribute to the remarkable spirit and the intellectual powers of this woman that she was able to turn a debilitating illness into the word of God, and create so much with it.

feather on the breath of GodSpiritual reading: Underneath all the texts, all the sacred psalms and canticles, these watery varieties of sounds and silences, terrifying, mysterious, whirling and sometimes gestating and gentle must somehow be felt in the pulse, ebb, and flow of the music that sings in me. My new song must float like a feather on the breath of God. (Hildegard of Bingen)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 16, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 8:1-3

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

Reflection on the gospel reading: There is in this passage from the gospel of Luke a sort of joyful vision of the pilgrim Church as Jesus makes his way with his companions. We are the Body of Jesus made manifest in the world, and we go about through the various missions we receive from God proclaiming the good news of the coming of the Kingdom of God. There is here in this passage the companionship of the Twelve, who symbolize the ministries of service, teaching, and sacrament. There is here the ministry of witness by those whom Jesus has healed. There is here the ministry of those people to whom God has entrusted wealth, such as Joanna the wife of Herod’s steward, who support the Church’s work with their material gifts. There also is here the journey of all the men and women who make the Body of Christ traveling together life’s dusty paths. Jesus in today’s gospel is unafraid as he goes on his way, joyful for the companionship the Father bestowed on him, bold in his proclamation of the word that the Father has entrusted to him. Let us as Church be the same: where Jesus goes we go together.

Saint of the day: Born in 190 in Carthage, North Africa to wealthy pagan parents, Cyprian of Carthage grew up to teach rhetoric and literature. An adult convert in 246, he was ordained in 247 and became Bishop of Carthage in 249. During stcyprianthe persecution of Decius, beginning in 250, Cyprian lived in hiding, covertly ministering to his flock; his enemies condemned him for being a coward and not standing up for his faith. Writer second only in importance to Tertullian as a Latin Father of the Church, he was exiled during the persecutions of Valerian. A friend of Saint Pontius, he was involved in the great argument over whether apostates should be readmitted to the Church; Cyprian believed they should, but under stringent conditions. His position, of course, was not sustained ultimately. In the persecutions of Valerian, he was exiled to Curubis in 257, then brought back Carthage and martyred by beheading on September 14, 258 in Carthage.

Spiritual reading: Every moment and every event of every person’s life on earth plants something in one’s soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of invisible and visible winged seeds, so the stream of time brings with it the germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of all. (Seeds of Contemplation by Fr. Thomas Merton)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 15, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 2:33-35

Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Luke in this gospel passage presents to us the paradigm of the Old Testament prophet in Simeon, a holy man who spent his days in the Jerusalem Temple and who had received from the Holy Spirit a promise that he would not die before he had seen the messiah. Simeon recognizes the baby Jesus as the Christ when Mary and Joseph present him in the Temple according to the Law of Moses. Simeon prophesies to Mary that Jesus will be the cause of the rise and fall of many in Israel and Jesus’ life will be the source of sorrows for Mary. In other words, Simeon already seems to understand that the messiah he sees in the child is not the messiah for whom Israel hopes, that is, that the nature of this messiah is someone who challenges Israel and suffers on behalf of it.

Today, we celebrate the feast of Mary’s sorrows. But this is more than a feast of sorrows; it also is a feast of the price of love. We recollect today that for Mary, as for each one of us, love often bears a price. In our identification with the one whom we love, we share both the triumphs and failures of the beloved other, and our hearts rise and fall in that identification. Mary loved her son so well that she could feel all of his joys and sorrows, and this bond between Mary and Jesus is what we recognize and celebrate today as we pray and work for openness, sensitivity, and compassion in our own selves to experience each others’ happiness and sadness.

Saint of the day: On the day that follows the Exaltation of the Cross, the church remembers the pains Mary suffered as a mother. This devotion began in the thirteenth century. The seven sorrows include:

DirectressThe Prophecy–Simeon tells Mary that a sword shall pierce her heart too.

The Flight–Mary is forced to flee into Egypt to save her beloved Son from the death decreed by Herod.

The Loss–Mary is separated From Jesus for three long days while he is lost in Jerusalem.

The Meeting–Mary meets Jesus on the road to Calvary and sees Him fall under the cruel weight of the cross.

Jesus Dies–Mary watches as Jesus dies on the Cross.

Mary Receives Jesus–Mary receives the dead body of Jesus in her arms.

The Burial–Mary sees Jesus placed in the tomb.

Spiritual reading: The one thing she did is the one thing that we all have to do, namely, to bear Christ into the world. (The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander)