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Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 14, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

John 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus: “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus in this passage from the gospel makes reference to the narrative in Numbers 21:4-9. In that passage, the Israelites who have been stricken through the bites of serpents look upon a bronze serpent raised up on a post; through their gaze upon the image of the serpent, they are healed. In the same way as the bronze serpent, Jesus is lifted up on the cross. And we, stricken by the bites that are just the ordinary course of life, who look upon our Lord lifted on that cross are healed through our gaze upon the one fastened to its beams.

Saint of the day: The Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Cross traces its roots to c. 326 AD when the Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine, journeyed to Jerusalem to look for the real cross. An old Jew named Judah told her that the Cross was buried under the Temple of Venus that Hadrian had built on Golgatha. Helena ordered that the Temple of Venus be torn down and the ground under it excavated. Having done that, they found three crosses. John Chrysostom (4th Century) in Homily LXXXV on John 19 stated that they suspected which cross was the real one: first from its lying in the middle (John 19:18), and second from the title written by Pilate (John 19:19).

But they still needed to dispel all uncertainty as to which, if any, was the real one. At that moment a funeral procession was passing by; Patriarch Macarius of Jerusalem suggested that they place the crosses one by one on the dead man. When they placed the first two on him, nothing happened. When they placed the third on him, he was restored to life. After that, they placed it on a sick woman and she recovered. Patriarch Macarius then raised up the cross for everyone to see and all the people sang, “Lord have mercy” with tears and joy. Empress Helena then had a silver casing made to contain the Cross.

In the early 7th Century, the Persians conquered Jerusalem and carried off the Cross to Persia. Fourteen years later, the Greek Emperor Heraclius conquered Persia and brought the Cross back to Jerusalem and placed it in the Church of the Resurrection on Golgatha. September 14th, then, celebrates both the occasion of the finding of Christ1A2the Cross by Helena, and its return by Heraclius. The Eastern Church began celebrating the Exaltation of the Cross in the 4th Century. The Western Church eventually did so also after the 7th Century.

The Exaltation of the Cross is a feast day that is not celebrated much in the West today, however. Some Western Churches celebrate Holy Cross Sunday in mid September using the Gospel lesson for the Sunday before the Exaltation of the Cross and the Epistle for the feast day of the Exaltation. But this is not commonly done. Lutherans sometimes use the Epistle lesson for the Sunday after the Exaltation for Reformation Sunday in November. In both cases, the ideas are expressed that the Cross has become more than just a piece of wood that the Lord died on. However, the Word of the Cross is not emphasized in either case as it is in the Eastern Church. In the West, both Holy Cross Sunday and Reformation Sunday are one day events. In the East, the celebration of the Exaltation of the Cross takes in two Sundays (before and after) with a major feast day in between. In addition to the above, taking up one’s cross is also the theme of the 3rd Sunday in Lent (The Adoration of the Cross) and All Saints Sunday (the 1st Sunday after Pentecost.)

Spiritual reading: The study of the cross reveals horizons so clear that they are lost in infinity. (Rafael Arnaiz Baron)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 13, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 7:11-17

Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst,” and “God has visited his people.” This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Three times in the gospels, Jesus raises the dead. The most widely recognized account of this type of miracle is the raising of Lazarus, whose resurrection account in John’s gospel precedes Jesus’ own passion, death, and resurrection. The Gospel of John is the only gospel to report the raising of Lazarus. All three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, report the raising of Jairus’ daughter. Only Luke reports this narrative concerning the raising of the son of the widow of Nain.

This is an interesting account for several reasons. Chronologically in Jesus’ ministry, as the gospels recount it, this raising of someone from the dead is the first time Jesus performs this miracle. In this passage, when Jesus enters a town, he encounters a funeral and sees something which would be tragic in any time or place but is particularly tragic within his own culture. A widow’s only son has died, and she now grieves not only the death of her child but the prospect of life without either a husband or a son to care for her in a world that did not generally respect women. When Jesus happens on this situation, he feels compassion. No one asks Jesus to do anything; he acts completely as a response of his own heart to what he sees. Jesus immediately reacts with empathy to someone who is needy and has no one to look after her. In a way, just as the account of Lazarus’s raising precedes and anticipates Jesus’ death and resurrection, there is a parallel here in this passage with Jesus’ behavior on the cross where he commissions the beloved disciple to care for his mother.

There is another interesting detail in this account. At this point for the first time, Luke refers to Jesus as “Lord,” a title reserved for God himself. In a sense, Jesus reveals himself as Lord, certainly in the power of what he does, but most particularly when love moves him to act. With us it is the same then: we are most like God when we encounter need, are moved to do something, and use the power we have to do something about it.

Saint of the day: John was called “Chrysostom” (“Golden Mouth”) because of his eloquence. Born in about 347, the son of an army officer at Antioch in Syria. His father died soon after his birth and he was brought up by his widowed mother. She saw that he was well educated in oratory and law. He eventually became a priest of Antioch and an outstanding preacher. (Audiences were warned not to carry large sums of money when they went to hear him speak, since pickpockets found it very easy to rob his hearers — they were too intent on his words to notice what was happening.) His sermons are mostly straightforward expositions of Holy Scripture (he has extensive commentaries on both Testaments, with special attention to the Epistles of Paul), and he emphasizes the literal meaning, whereas the style popular at Alexandria tended to read allegorical meanings into the text. He loved the city and people of Antioch, and they loved him. However, he became so famous that the Empress at Constantinople decided that she must have him for her court preacher, and she had him kidnapped and brought to Constantinople and there made bishop. This was a failure all around. His sermons against corruption in high places earned him powerful enemies (including the Empress), and he was sent into exile, where he died in 407. Along with Athanasius of Alexandria, Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nazianzus, he is counted as one of the Four Great Eastern (or Greek) Doctors of the Ancient Church. The Four Great Western (or Latin) Doctors are Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great.

Spiritual reading: Do you wish to honor the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: ‘This is my body’ is the same who said: ‘You saw me hungry and you gave me no food’, and ‘Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me’… What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well. (John Chrysostom)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 12, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 7:1-10

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

Reflection on the gospel reading: There is much that can be written about this narrative, but at its core, it is a healing story that witnesses to the power of the faith of a Gentile, a man who belongs to a nation that Jesus’ people generally hold in lowest esteem: so much so that they deem them to be “unclean.” Yet Jesus says plainly in this gospel passage that he has not found such faith as the centurion’s in all of Israel. The reading reminds us that God can reveal Godself in surprising ways; for this reason, we cannot reject anyone as unfit to manifest the life of God to us. This text teaches us that God can call any individual to show forth God’s life to others.

Saint of the day: Guy of Anderlecht was born in poverty about 950 in Anderlecht, Belgium. He was trained in religion by pious parents. For many years he embraced poverty as God’s will for him. He cared for the poor and sick in his teens. A tradition exists that when he worked the fields, an angel would sometimes man the plow so that Guy could pray without distraction. He hung around the local church so much the priest made him the sacristan; Guy lived in the church and often spent all night in prayer.

SaintguidonA merchant from Brussels either decided to give the boy a leg up in the world, or that Guy was a bumpkin who could be defrauded; versions of the story vary. Either way, he offered Guy a part share in a new project that could make him rich. In the first ocean-going expedition in the project, the ship sank; Guy took it as a sign that he was right to begin with and returned to his old life.

Guy walked to Rome as penance for his bout of greed, then to Jerusalem where he worked for a while as a guide to pilgrims, then back to Brussels. Though he never joined any order or house, he vowed chastity and devoted most of his time to prayer and his work as a sacristan.

After his death, many miracles were attributed to his intercession. An annual festival grew up in the area around his grave, with most of the activities involving horses and the people who work with them. Guy died in 1012 at Anderlecht, Belgium of natural causes.

Spiritual reading: Man must respond to this call to live in peace with all his brothers and sisters in the One Christ. (Fr. Thomas Merton)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 10, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 6:43-49

Jesus said to his disciples: “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built. But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: We come to the end of Luke’s account of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain. In today’s gospel passage, Jesus speaks to the dispositions that make a good disciple. Jesus calls for authenticity, that is, that our virtuous exteriors reflect good and gentle interiors. Jesus certainly asks of us faith (“Lord, Lord”), but if faith does not produce good deeds, it is just, as Paul tells us in First Corinthians, a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. Jesus desires that we be steadfast and singlehearted like a house built against the day of ruin. Authenticity, faith, good works, and perseverance then are the roots of discipleship, and to these ends, let us aspire.

Saint of the day: Nicholas of Tolentino’s middle-aged parents, Compagnonus de Guarutti and Amata de Guidiani, were childless until a prayerful visit to a shrine of the original Saint Nicholas at Bari, Italy. In gratitude, they named their son Nicholas. Nicholas was born 1245.

He became an Augustinian friar at age 18 and studied under Blessed Angelus de Scarpetti. He was a monk at Recanati and Macerata and saint-nicholas-of-tolentino-04was ordained at age 25. A canon of Saint Saviour’s, Nicholas had visions of angels reciting to the city of Tolentino; he took this as a sign to move to that city in 1274, where he lived the rest of his life.

He worked as a peacemaker in a city torn by civil war. He preached every day, worked wonders, and visited prisoners. He always told those he helped, “Say nothing of this.” He received visions, including images of Purgatory, which friends ascribed to his lengthy fasts. He had a great devotion to the recently dead, praying for the souls in Purgatory as he traveled around his parish, often late into the night.

Once, when severely ill, he had a vision of Mary, Augustine, and Monica. They told him to eat a certain type of roll that had been dipped in water. Cured, he began healing others by administering bread over which he recited Marian prayers. The rolls became known as Saint Nicholas Bread, and are still distributed at his shrine.

One account suggest Nicholas resurrected over one hundred dead children, including several who had drowned together. Legend says that the devil once beat Nicholas with a stick; the stick was displayed for years in the his church. A vegetarian, Nicholas was once served a roasted fowl; he made the sign of the cross over it, and it flew out a window. Nine passengers on ship going down at sea once asked Nicholas’ aid; he appeared in the sky, wearing the black Augustinian habit, radiating golden light, holding a lily in his left hand; with his right hand he quelled the storm. An apparition of the saint once saved the burning palace of the Doge of Venice by throwing a piece of blessed bread on the flames. He died September 10, 1305 at Tolentino, Italy following a long illness.

Spiritual reading: The Holy Spirit makes Christ present as the pivotal point of all our relationships. They become “celebrations” of the reality of Christ. Our friendships become a celebration of the evidence that the ultimate reality that constitutes our happiness exists, that it has become human flesh, that it is Jesus Christ, the event of Christ . . . . True friendship is expressed in the way friends help each other to celebrate the presence of Christ and accept the condition that makes it operate in us, the path of sacrificial love. There is no other way. We cannot do it alone. (Lorenzo Albacete)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 9, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 6:39-42

Jesus told his disciples a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel passage from Luke’s Sermon on the Plain counsels us to not mind the faults of our brothers when we ourselves have faults of our own. The gospel passage asks us to love even our enemies and to do good to even those who harm us. If we wish to model ourselves on the pattern of Jesus Christ, we must love even those who would wish us harm. This does not mean we should be naive or complacent, but it does forbid us to entertain certain frames of mind and contemplate certain courses of action. As Jesus says in today’s gospel, How can we say to our brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when we do not even notice the wooden beam in our own eye?

Saint of the day: St. Peter Claver was born in 1580 at Verdu, Catalonia, Spain, of impoverished parents descended from ancient and distinguished families. He studied at the Jesuit college of Barcelona, entered the Jesuit novitiate at Tarragona in 1602 and took his final vows on August 8th, 1604. While studying philosophy at Majorca, the young religious was influenced by St. Alphonsus Rodriguez to go to the Indies and save “millions of perishing souls.”

In 1610, he landed at Cartagena (modern Colombia), the principle slave market of the New World, where a thousand slaves were landed every month. After his ordination in 1616, he dedicated himself by special vow to the service of African slaves-a work that was to last for thirty-three years. He labored unceasingly for the salvation of the slaves and the abolition of the slave trade, and the love he lavished on them was something that transcended the natural order.

Boarding the slave ships as they entered the harbor, he would hurry to the revolting inferno of the hold, and offer whatever poor refreshments he could afford; he would care for the sick and dying, and instruct the slaves through Black catechists before administering the Sacraments. Through his efforts three hundred thousand souls entered the Church. Furthermore, he did not lose sight of his converts when they left the ships, but followed them to the plantations to which they were sent, encouraged them to live as Christians, and prevailed on their masters to treat them humanely. He died in 1654.

follow_jesusSpiritual reading: A believer in Christ is one who follows him as a leader toward the true life, much as the people of Israel followed Moses and entered the land of promise. (Saint Nicetas of Remesiana)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 8, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 1:18-23

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, mary16thcdecided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: We celebrate today the nativity of Mary, the mother of God. The Church always has held up Mary as the best model of Christian virtues, so perhaps it is useful to reflect a little on what she has to teach us. Soren Kierkegaard once described a saint as a person who is able to will the one thing. Mary willed just one thing, God. She possessed a powerful and disciplined energy that poured out her heart to find and fulfill God’s will. On her birthday, let us pray that we too may put away the many things to find this mystery of human life, that it is not in the diversity of our experience but in the singleheartedness of will that we fulfill our nature.

1-1Saint of the day: This feast is a commemoration of that happy and joyful day on which the Mother of God first saw the light of day. The Church accordingly sings on this day,

Thy nativity, virgin Mother of God, has brought joy to the whole world; for from thee has come forth the Sun of justice, Christ the Lord, Who putting away cursing bestowed blessing, and by overcoming death obtained for us life eternal.

In the Introit of the Mass the Church sings:

Hail, holy parent, who as a happy mother brought forth the King who rules heaven and earth from eternity to eternity. My heart hath uttered a good word; I speak my works to the King.

Spiritual reading: Love is not something in its own right, it is what people are and have become. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 7, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 6:20-26

Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.

“Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The passage we read today from Luke’s gospel commences the Sermon on the Plain. It is a shorter but roughly parallel list of sayings with material comparable to Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. Like the Sermon on the Mount, the Sermon on the Plain begins with the Beatitudes, but while Matthew offers us eight Beatitudes, Luke gives only four but complements these Beatitudes with four woes.

Luke’s gospel is the gospel of material poverty, and the Beatitudes in Luke reflect this. Jesus in Luke tells the poor to rejoice for their condition, not just because of the blessings that God gives to them because they are poor people but also because the rich have had their reward.

We Americans live in a country that has been immensely blessed. Those of us who live in the middle class may not feel rich, but if we have a little money in a bank account and a jar somewhere in our houses filled with coins, we actually have much more than most of the people of the earth. It is easy to dismiss what we read here in this passage and cling to the notion of spiritual poverty, but I think it should fill us with dread caution to remember how much we have been given and what is demanded of those who have been given much.

marekSaint of the day: Marek Krizin was a martyr of Hungary, sometimes called Mark Crisin. He was born into a famed Croat family and studied at the Germanicum in Rome. Ordained, he returned to Hungary and became a canon at Esztergom. He was assigned to missionary work near Kosice, Slovakia, with two Jesuits – Hungarian Stephen Pongracz and Melchior Grodecz, a Czech. In 1619 they were taken prisoner by invading Calvinist troops under George Racoczk. Tortured, Marek and his companions were martyred.

Spiritual reading: Our Lord sends neither angels nor ministers to assure us of his love; he comes in person. Love will have no go-between. (The Real Presence: Eucharistic Meditations by St. Peter Julian Eymard)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 6, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 6:12-19

Jesus departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground. A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured. Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all.

Reflection on the gospel reading: More than any of the other three gospels, Luke portrays Jesus in conscious contact with God through prayer. The prayer that Jesus taught to his disciples, the Our Father, begins with the hope that we will do God’s will, and we see throughout the gospels that Jesus sought to align his actions with God’s intentions. In today’s gospel, Jesus is about to make a critical decision in the selection of the 12 for participation in a particular way in his ministry. The gospel passage then proceeds to remind us that Jesus’ ministry was one of teaching and healing. In today’s reading then, we see a threefold movement: Jesus is in communion with the will of God and invites others to share his ministry. From here, he and those who accompany him reach out to teach and heal others. And so it is with us, that in communion with God through lives of prayer, we too wait to hear the Lord, that we may receive our own commissions of teaching and healing.

Saint of the day: Thomas Tsuji, S.J. (1570-1627) used many disguises to minister to Christians during the Great Persecution. He was born of a noble Japanese family near Omura, Japan, in 1570, and was educated by the Jesuits whom he joined in 1589. When the edict of 1614 ordered all Catholic priests be banished, Father Tsuji went to Macao and remained there for four years.

He returned to Japan disguised as a merchant and secretly resumed his ministry. Unlike the European Jesuits who could only do ministry in the night, Tsuji went about constantly, sometimes dressed like a gentleman, sometimes like an artisan. His favorite guise was a humble wood seller who could knock at the doors of Christian homes without arousing suspicion. As the persecution against Christians increased, Tsuji came to doubt that he could live up to the ideals of his brothers, and he asked to be released from his religious vows in 1619.

He soon asked to be readmitted but had to go through a period of probation which ended up lasting six years. Not long after he became a Jesuit again, soldiers burst into the house where he was staying just as he finished celebrating Mass. Tsuji admitted being a priest and was imprisoned in Omura. After 13 months he was finally sent to Nagasaki to be sentenced. Along with the two men who were at that final Mass, he was burned at the stake outside the city on the hill made holy by many martyrs.

Spiritual reading: There is a key word: solely, only or entirely. That is the key word—doing it only for God. This is the nishkam karma. On the day we are given the grace of doing action for the sake of action and nothing else, then our hearts will be aglow. The idea is doing action without desire for any fruit, and without any selfish intention at all. The action is done only for God’s glory. . . .

Finding God in all things presupposes a total death to the self. The death of the empirical self is the crowning glory of the Spiritual Exercises: that a person’s self-love, self-will, and self-interest have merged into the will and the interest and the love of Christ. As long as we can live this for a few moments, for a few hours, for a few days, we have become contemplatives in action. So it is really a mystical grace. We cannot produce it, but we can dispose ourselves for it by loving God. (Seeking God in All Thing by Anthony DeMello, S.J.)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 5, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 6:6-11

On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up and stand before us.” And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” Looking around at them all, he then said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel passage seems particularly appropriate for Labor Day, as it is here in the United States, because it talks about the ultimate dignity of work. This passage from Luke follows immediately after the passage that we read on Saturday that recorded the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees about the disciples’ plucking on the sabbath of grains in a field. Here, the scribes and Pharisees have set Jesus up to see whether he will heal on the sabbath and thus violate the prohibition against labor on the sabbath. The question in their minds is, “Is it a proper thing to violate the law?” Jesus, however, has a different question in his mind: Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it? The scribes and Pharisees can’t answer the question, because the answer is obvious. Jesus does what is good even if it might be a violation of the strictest interpretation of the law. The lesson Jesus teaches us here is unavoidable: doing good always trumps the law.

Saint of the day: Teresa of Calcutta was born August 26, 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia. She was the daughter of an Albanian businessman who died when she was nine years old. She became a nun, a missionary, and a teacher in Calcutta, India in 1928. In 1948, she left the convent to work alone with the poor and became an Indian citizen. She founded the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity in 1950.

In 1957, the Missionaries of Charity started their work with lepers and in disaster areas. She received the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971, the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1972, and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. The Missionaries consist of over 4,500 sisters and are active in 133 countries. Mother died September 5, 1997 in Calcutta, India of natural causes.

Spiritual reading: Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. (Mother Teresa)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 4, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church. If he refuses to listen even to the Church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage from Matthew’s gospel reflects on how we live as church. It focuses on the need for reconciliation among the people of God as we, who regularly stray, strive to be people attuned to the life of God. It is a three-pronged plan for healing the body of Christ when divisions occur among its members. When divisions arise because one individual wrongs another, the gospel proposes that we should seek to resolve the problem as individuals who go to one another and find a solution that remedies the issue. If this first stage doesn’t achieve the objective, the gospel counsels us to bring the matter to several witnesses who can constructively contribute to the dialogue. Failing this approach, we are advised to lay the matter before the whole community. If the individual refuses to listen to the wisdom of the entire church, the community has the power to separate that person from the rest of the body. But of course, we know from elsewhere in the gospels that even this dramatic step is open to remediation, because the body of Christ always is ready to forgive and reunite with its prodigals.

Spiritual reading: The choice of every lost soul can be expressed in the words, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in heaven.” There is always something they insist on keeping, even at the price of misery. There is always something they prefer to joy. . . . (The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 3, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 6:1-5

While Jesus was going through a field of grain on a sabbath, his disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Have you not read what David did when he and those who were with him were hungry? How he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering, which only the priests could lawfully eat, ate of it, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel passage we read yesterday concerning Jesus’ dispute with the pharisees about fasting precedes the passage that we read today about working on the sabbath. This passage speaks to the disciples’ plucking grain on the sabbath so they could feed themselves. Jesus cites for the pharisees a case where David violated to the law to feed his men. Jesus is making the point that action that affirms life is always above legalisms. We believers can get tripped up in legal niceties and forget the spirit that hovers over all legislation, that is, the dignity of human life. Jesus, in the passage we receive today, calls us to the freedom of the baptized. Let us then embrace the liberation the Lord affords us by a concern for human life that supersedes the temptation of law.

MarinusSaint of the day: Born in fifth century Albe, Dalmatia, Marinus was a stonemason who worked at Monte Titano in modern San Marino. A layman preacher who converted many, he ministered to Christians who had been sentenced to quarry work as punishment for their faith. Ordained by Saint Gaudentius. Bishop of Rimini, Marinus became a deacon. Though he belonged to no order that required it, he was a confirmed, life-long bachelor. Falsely accused by an insane woman of Rimini of being her estranged husband, he fled to a cave on Monte Titano, and lived there as a hermit. The country of San Marino is named for him.

all_shall_be_well_largeSpiritual reading: Because of the tender love our good Lord has for all those who shall be saved, he gives comfort readily and sweetly, assuring us, “It is true that sin is the cause of all pain, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” (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 2, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 5:33-39

The scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “The disciples of John the Baptist fast often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink.” Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” And he also told them a parable. “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The scribes and pharisees accuse Jesus’ disciples of a failure of personal austerity and ask the Lord why he allows his disciples to eat and drink while the disciples of the Baptist fasted. Jesus gives two answers. First, he notes that at a wedding feast, the guests eat and drink liberally to celebrate. Jesus says that he is the bridegroom, and his presence is a cause for gladness. Second, he observes that his teaching is something entirely new, and the old ways of doing things can’t hold what he is providing. Unless we present new skins, we will not be able to hold the new wine. We must have new hearts if we are to appreciate what Jesus wants to work in us.

Saint of the day: Born in Skänninge, Sweden, in the 13th century, Ingrid of Sweden lived under the spiritual direction of Peter of Dacia, a Dominican priest. She was the first Dominican nun in Sweden and in 1281 she founded the first Dominican cloister there, called St. Martin’s in Skänninge. She died in 1282 surrounded by an aura of sanctity.

BLB-St-Peter-perg-22-f33r-Death-NunMiracles obtained through her intercession followed and led to a popular cult of this saint. In 1405, a canonization process was begun and the Swedish Bishops introduced her cause at the Council of Constance. An inquest was held in Sweden in 1416-1417 and the results were inconclusive. In 1497, the cause was reactivated and in 1507 her relics were solemnly translated, and a Mass and Office were composed – but formal canonization seems never to have occurred. During the Reformation, her cult came to an end and her convent and relics were destroyed.

Spiritual reading: Jesus is going to do great things with you if you let him do it and if you don’t try to interfere with him. We interfere with God’s plans when we push in someone or something else not suitable for us . . . . . Be faithful in little things, for in them our strength lies. To the good God nothing is little . . . . Be faithful in little practices of love, in little fidelities which will build in you the life of holiness and make you Christlike. (From Jesus, the Word to Be Spoken by Mother Teresa of Calcutta)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 1, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 5:1-11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Simon Peter had spent the night working hard to catch the fish that provided him a livelihood. Failing at a catch, he had despaired of the project. But it is in those moments of deepest doubt that God reaches into our lives and challenges us to put out into the deep and trust that God will save us. It is in those moments that God proves that God is God and in those moments that we learn where God is leading us. In just such a moment, Simon Peter came to understand that God called him to a vocation he apparently had not considered previously, to be a fisher of human beings. It is in our moments of doubt that God changes everything.

Saint of the day: St. Giles is said to have been a seventh century Athenian of noble birth. Early in life, he devoted himself to spiritual thing. His piety and learning made him so conspicuous and an object of such admiration in his own country that, st-giles-1dreading praise and longing for a hidden life, he left his home and sailed for France. At first he took up his abode in a wilderness near the mouth of the Rhone river, afterward near the river Gard, but his reputation for sanctity again caused people to come to him, and he withdrew once again to the diocese of Nimes. His sole companion there was a hind.

He spend many years in solitude conversing only with God. The fame of his miracles became so great that his reputation spread throughout France. He was highly esteemed by the French king, but he could not be prevailed upon to forsake his solitude. He admitted several disciples, however, to share it with him. He founded a monastery, and established an excellent discipline therein. In succeeding ages it embraced the Rule of St. Benedict. St. Giles died probably in the beginning of the eighth century, about the year 724. His cult spread rapidly throughout Europe in the Middle Ages: numerous churches and monasteries were dedicated to him in France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, and the British Isles; many manuscripts in prose and verse commemorated his virtues and miracles; and pilgrims from all over Europe flocked to his shrine.

road-sky-grassSpiritual reading: I can testify that I may live without air and water, but not without God. You may pluck out my eye, but that cannot kill me. You may chop off my nose, but that cannot kill me. You blast my belief in God and then I am dead. (Mahatma Gandhi)