CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on October 31, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 14:12-14

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. He said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Reflection on the gospel: Jesus conducted an extensive ministry of meals. Many scholars see in this ministry a foretaste of the Eucharist. Indeed, there is evidence that when early Christians gathered to celebrate the Eucharist, they did it in the context of a full meal they shared together to commemorate Jesus’ table ministry. Seen in that light, Jesus’ teaching that we should invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind to share in a banquet suggests just how expansive our invitation to others to share the Eucharist needs to be. An expansive vision of participation in the Eucharist reflects our understanding of Jesus’ teaching on this matter; indeed, St. Paul in his chastisement of the Corinthians for their exclusion of the poor from the meal before the Eucharist includes an admonition that what makes one unworthy of receiving the Body of Christ is the exclusion of people from sharing in the meal. In an age when some communities of believers publish lists of people excluded from the Lord’s table, it is sobering to ponder what worthiness to receive the Lord might really mean in light of the New Testament’s teaching.

Saint of the day: The son of a butcher and born in Florence in about 1370, Thomas Bellaci led such a wild life for a time that parents warned their sons to stay away from him. A rich man in town befriended him and led him deeper into depravity. Accused of a serious crime that he had not committed, Thomas went to his friend for protection. The man would not even see him and told him to stay away. Crushed, Thomas wandered the streets until he met a priest who listened to his story and took Thomas into his home. Ultimately, he was able to get Thomas declared innocent of the crime.

Thomas broke off his former associations and began to lead a life of prayer and penance. Filled with grace, he asked to be admitted to a Franciscan friary as a lay brother. He went on to become a model friar, fasting, keeping vigils, disciplining himself. He wore the cast-off clothes of his brothers. He was frequently wrapped in ecstasy. Though he was never ordained a priest and remained content to serve as a lay brother, Thomas was appointed novice master. Many young men followed in his path of holiness.

Thomas founded numerous friaries in southern Italy. And Pope Martin V called upon him to preach against the Fraticelli, a branch of heretical Franciscans. He was also asked to go to the Orient to promote the reunion of the Eastern and Western Churches. There he was imprisoned and expected to receive the crown of martyrdom. But the pope ransomed him for a large sum of money. Thomas returned to Italy and died in 1447 on a journey to Rome, where he had hoped to receive permission to return to the Orient.

johnathenSpiritual reading: Praise ye and bless the Lord, and give thanks to Him and serve Him with great humility. (“The Canticle of the Sun” by St. Francis of Assisi)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The passage we read today from Matthew picks up the same theme we read in yesterday’s gospel from Luke: the need to make ourselves small in the eyes of the world. In this passage from Matthew, Jesus ties the failure to be thought of as of little consequence to a number of vices and then proposes corollary virtues to which we can strive. Jesus reflects in this narrative that there are among us people who are powerful and lay down rules that they enforce on people who are less powerful; even so, these same powerful people do not follow the rules they want others to follow: that is, they are hypocrites. There are people who make great shows about why they are special, but their outward signs of respectability do not match their interior realities: that is, they are inauthentic. There are people who want to occupy privileged places of honor and be held in special esteem: that is, they are haughty. Jesus rejects phoniness, guile, conceit. Instead, he called us to humility: a willingness to be counted as of little consequence, a deep honesty about all that is good and bad about ourselves, and a sense of right proportion about mughilour place among the hosts of people who surround us and of whom God is especially fond.

Spiritual reading: If you are very busy, you should make a choice and employ yourself in the more important occupations where there is greater service of God, greater spiritual advantage for the neighbor, and the more general or perfect good. (Letter to Father Fulvio Androzzi, July 18, 1556, by Ignatius of Loyola)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 14:1, 7-11

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.

He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: If we are to live a life in the spirit, one of the questions that we must address is the use of our power. The moral question at the center of this issue is the right use of power, power used to safeguard and increase the dignity of persons made in the image and likeness of God. In today’s gospel, we see Jesus commenting on jockeying for position. The commentary is about higher and lower positions at table, but it reflects many situations in life where people set themselves over others. Jesus witnesses to an order of relationships where we use our power to make ourselves small so that we may serve others. A life lived in Christ is a life that embraces a radical reversal of social position and the use of power to increase the stations of those less fortunate than ourselves. A life lived in Christ is a life where the greatest washes the feet of the least.

Saint of the day: Chiara “Luce” Badano was born in Italy in 1971, to devout parents who had waited 11 years to welcome their first and only child. From a young age, she was active in the Focolare Movement, and her joyful witness earned her the nickname “Luce” (Light).

As early as age 12, Chiara expressed a desire to give herself totally to Jesus, to take Him her spouse — and she set out to “give Him to others” in the ordinariness of her daily life. Full of zeal for God and souls, Chiara was eager to reach the heights of holiness — never guessing that her opportunity to be united to Christ would come much sooner than she expected.

At age 17, Chiara was diagnosed with bone cancer, and an unsuccessful surgery left her paralyzed from the waist down — but this did not dampen her spirits. Throughout her excruciating illness, Chiara remained cheerful and offered up her suffering for souls, even refusing morphine because she wished to remain alert and to offer her pain to Jesus. She often said, “It’s for you, Jesus; if you want it, I want it too.”

Chiara died in 1990 at age 19. Her last words to her family were, “Be happy, because I am happy!” Chiara’s parents were present at her beatification in September 2010.

Spiritual reading: Medicine has laid down its weapons. With interrupting the treatments, the pains in my back have increased. I can scarcely move. I feel so small and the road ahead is so hard….I often feel that the pain is suffocating me. It is the Bridegroom who is coming out to meet me, no? If I also repeat with you: ‘if you wish it, I also wish it’ … with you I am sure that together with him we will conquer the world! (Blessed Chiara Badano on her experience with terminal stages of bone cancer)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 6:12-16

Jesus went up 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.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus had many disciples, but he wished to entrust 12 of them with a special mission to carry the gospel into the world. We know from the gospels that Jesus was a person of prayer, and the gospels suggest that whenever he had a special decision to make, he consulted God in prayer before he made his decision. When Jesus selected the 12 apostles, he went up the mountain to pray and ask God to guide his decision. Jesus is the model and pattern of our lives: if we wish to follow Jesus, when we have decisions we need to make, we can turn prayerfully to the God who made and sustains us to seek God’s counsel and guidance.

Saint of the day: Today is the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, the apostles. Jude was the son of Cleophas, who died a martyr and Mary who stood at the foot of the Cross. Mary was one of the women who anointed Christ’s body after death. Brother of Saint James the Lesser; nephew of Mary and Joseph; blood relative of Jesus St.Simon_Jude_IconChrist, and reported to look a lot like him. He hay have been a fisherman. He was a writer of a canonical letter. He preached in Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia with Saint Simon. His patronage of lost or impossible causes traditionally derives from confusion by many early Christians between Jude and Judas; not understanding the difference between the names, they never sought through prayer Jude’s help, and devotion to him became something of a lost cause. Tradition says he was beaten to death with a club, then beheaded post-mortem in 1st century Persia. Simon was an Apostle who evangelized in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Several places claim to have been the site of his martyrdom. The Abbyssinians claim he was crucified in Samaria; Lipsius says he was sawn in half at Suanir, Persia; Moses of Chorene writes that he was martyred at Weriosphora in Iberia; many locations claim to have relics.

Spiritual reading: Blessed are those who give bread to the poor, seeing past their poverty to their divinity. (Proverbs 22:9)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on October 27, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 13:31-35

Some Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose. Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem.’

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling! Behold, your house will be abandoned. But I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The Pharisees in this narrative warn Jesus that he must flee since Herod seeks his life, but Jesus knows his life is a part of a greater plan, and he does not run. He remains confident that God’s plan will work out as God wills it. Jesus simply goes about his work, knowing that his life ultimately is in God’s hands. We too have a choice to be confident as we go about our lives in the triumph of God’s will and plan, assured that God will work out God’s plan for us and nothing can thwart God’s ultimate objectives.

holy hermitSaint of the day: Saint Abraham was a holy hermit, listed in some records as “the Poor” of “the Child.” Writings have survived that speak of his purity of heart and the simplicity of his lifestyle. He was born in Menuf or Minuf, Egypt, a site northwest of Cairo in the Delta region of the Nile, and became a disciple of St. Pachomius, the founder of cenobitic monasticism. Abraham spent almost two decades in a cave near Pachomius’ foundations in the Delta. Saint Abraham the Poor died 367.

Spiritual reading: You must always reflect on what takes place within your own mind: not what other may do, whether they are good or bad, but what you make of their deeds – in other words, how you can use their deeds, both good and bad, and how much you can profit from them, whether by favoring and helping them, or by having compassion and correcting them. (Meditations by Guigo I)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from. And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: At the heart of the passage that we read today lies the question, “How many will be saved?” Jesus, as he so often did, did not answer the question directly. Instead, he addressed the underlying assumptions in the question.

When we read the gospels, we can never lose sight of the fact that Jesus lived in a time and place that had a particular viewpoint. In Jesus’ time and place, the assumption among the people with whom he lived was that they were God’s chosen people. They were a people set apart, a people who knew the rules, a people who had to do a certain set of activities that would guarantee them salvation. Everyone else was just plain out of luck.

Jesus, however, challenges this presupposition. He says that being a member of the “chosen people” does not of itself guarantee a place in the kingdom of God. Moreover, he says that many people who are not among the “chosen,” people who “come from the east and the west and from the north and the south,” will recline at the table of God.

It is easy for all of us to imagine that our membership in some group is the guarantee that we need to be “right,” which may include the implicit suggestion that other people are “wrong.” Jesus in today’s gospel essentially says, “This is not so.”

We too may be tempted to believe that something about us makes us “right” in a way that other people are not. If we are to hear what Jesus says in today’s gospel, we have to let go of this notion. God’s kingdom is not the exclusive property of one people over another people, of one group over another group. It is a place of inclusion, not of exclusion.

Before we speculate on the central question of the gospel passage, “How many will be saved?” we perhaps do well to ask the question, “What exactly does it mean to be saved?” Certainly, in the Catholic tradition, it has meant for a good period of time in Church history to “die in a state of grace” and without mortal sin. But these are cliches that border on meaningless for their overuse. What then does it mean to be saved? Does it not mean to live a life for others? A life that does not close down in and on itself, but instead, an expansive life that frees other people from the bondage of self? A life that so loves that it invites and allows other to love?

Ultimately, we cannot know how many people will be saved, but if the evidence of our lives provides any answer to the question, we perhaps should assume that the answer question is, “Many will be saved.” If our God is a God who will let recline at the table of the kingdom people from north, south, east, and west, perhaps the gospel does directly answer the question: the expansive and all embracing love of God will in the end conquer many hearts.

Saint of the day: Contardo Ferrini was the son of a teacher who went on to become a learned man himself, one acquainted with some dozen languages. Today he is known as the patron of universities.

Contardo FerriniBorn in Milan, he received a doctorate in law in Italy and then earned a scholarship that enabled him to study Roman-Byzantine law in Berlin. As a renowned legal expert, he taught in various schools of higher education until he joined the faculty of the University of Pavia, where he was considered an outstanding authority on Roman law.

Contardo was learned about the faith he lived and loved. “Our life,” he said, “must reach out toward the Infinite, and from that source we must draw whatever we can expect of merit and dignity.” As a scholar he studied the ancient biblical languages and read the Scriptures in them. His speeches and papers show his understanding of the relationship of faith and science. He attended daily Mass and became a lay Franciscan, faithfully observing the Third Order rule of life. He also served through membership in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

His death in 1902 at the age of 43 occasioned letters from his fellow professors that praised him as a saint; the people of Suna where he lived insisted that he be declared a saint.

praying handsSpiritual reading: The everyday itself must be prayed. But how is that supposed to happen? How will the everyday itself become a prayer? Through selflessness and prayer. (The Need and Blessing of Prayer by Karl Rahner, S.J.)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 13:18-21

Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what can I compare MustardSeed-main_Fullit? It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.”

Again he said, “To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.”

1855876296_305d907f74_oReflection on the gospel reading: These two sayings of Jesus remind us that projects which begin small can result in great things: a tiny mustard seed grows into an immense bush and a little yeast and flour rise to a batch of dough. God calls us to trust that our little projects, like a prayer for a suffering friend, a word of encouragement to a homeless person, or patience when a coworker makes a mistake, can bear great results when we trust that it is God who nurtures our little projects. The Kingdom of God is latent in every act of kindness, ready to bring forth prodigies.

Saint of the day: Peter de Geremia was born in 1381 at Palermo, Sicily. Educated at the University of Bologna, he was a brilliant law student. One night while he meditated on the worldly success he would have, he was visited by the spirit of a deceased relative, a man who had also been a lawyer, whose pride and perjury had lost him his chance at paradise. Shaken, Peter devoted himself to prayer, asking for his vocation. Soon he received a word that he should become a Dominican. In a rage, his father came to Bologna to stop him, but when he saw completely happy Peter was, the older man gave him his blessing.

Peter became one of the finest preachers in Sicily, always preaching in the open air because no church was large enough to hold the crowds. He became an abbey prior.

One day when there was no food for the community, Peter asked a fisherman for a donation; he was rudely refused. Getting into a boat, Peter rowed from the shore and made a sign to the fish; they broke the nets and followed him. The fisherman apologized, Peter made another sign to the fish, and they returned to the nets. The monastery was ever afterward supplied with fish.

Sent to establish regular observance in Sicilian monasteries. Called to Florence to help heal the Greek schism, he managed a brief union. Offered a bishopric, but refused.

Once when Peter was preaching at Catania, Mount Etna erupted and lava flowed toward the city. The people begged him to save them. He preached a brief sermon on repentance, went to the nearby shrine of Saint Agatha, removed the saint’s veil, and held it towards the lava flow. The eruption ceased, and the town was saved. He died March 3, 1452 in Sicily of natural causes.

Spiritual reading: Contemplation is also the response to a call: a call from Him Who has no voice, and yet Who speaks in everything that is, and Who, most of all, speaks in the depths of our own being: meant to respond to Him and signify Him. Contemplation is this echo. It is a deep resonance in the inmost center of our spirit in which our very life loses its separate voice and re-sounds with the majesty and the mercy of the Hidden and Living One . . . It is awakening, enlightenment, and the amazing intuitive grasp by which love gains certitude of God’s creative and dynamic intervention in our daily life. Hence contemplation does not simply “find” a clear idea of God and confine Him within the limits of that idea, and hold Him there as a prisoner to Whom it can always return. On the contrary, contemplation is carried away by Him into His own realm, His own mystery, and His own freedom. (New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton)

contemplation

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading:

Luke 13:10-17

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath. And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.” The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day from this bondage?” When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.

Reflection on today gospel reading: The Lord heals a woman on the sabbath and receives a rebuke from the leader of the synagogue for having violated the sabbath rest. Jesus takes him to task for his hypocrisy pointing out that the people of his day even on the sabbath would untie their beasts of burden to lead them to water. He points out that the value of a human being is much greater. How often do we become so bound by laws and regulations that we forget the basic human goods that trumps every other concern? Jesus calls us to a freedom of heart that is prepared to do good no matter the cost.

Saint of the day: Anthony Mary Claret was an archbishop and the founder of the Claretians. The son of a weaver, he was born in Salient in Catalonia, Spain in 1807. He took up weaving 098_StAntonioMarieClaretbut then studied for the priesthood, desiring to be a Jesuit. Ill health prevented his entering the order, and he served as a secular priest. In 1849, he founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, known today as the Claretians, and the Apostolic Training Institute of the Immaculate Conception, Claretian nuns. From 1850 to 1857, Anthony served as the archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. He returned to the court of Queen Isabella II as confessor and went into exile with her in 1868. In 1869 and 1870, Anthony participated in the First Vatican Council. He died in the Cistercian monastery of Fontfroide in southern France on October 24, 1870. Anthony Mary Claret had the gift of prophecy and performed many miracles. He was opposed by forces in Spain and Cuba and endured many trials.

Spiritual reading: The love of Christ arouses us, urges us to run, and to fly. (Anthony Marie Claret)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: For Israel, of course, the Law is the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The Law in its strictest interpretation represents a way of life that influences behaviors in every part of life. When the Pharisees asked Jesus which of the laws in the Torah was the greatest, he essentially replies by citing two laws and making of them one law, that is a law of love for God and neighbor. Jesus is saying that there is no way to love God without love of neighbor and the opposite as well: they are like two sides of a coin. Jesus at the end of today’s gospel reading tells us that we shouldn’t sweat the little things. If we love God and neighbor, everything else pretty much will take care of itself.

Spiritual reading: The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of one who is naked. The shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor. The acts of charity you do not perform are so many injustices you commit. (Saint Basil the Great)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 13:1-9

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”

And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’”

Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage from Luke’s gospel shows Jesus as a person rooted in his contemporary situation, a person who knew the events of his day, and a person who reflected on the deeper meaning of current events. God likewise has called us to live in a certain time and be people immersed in a situation, people who probe the deepest meanings of the things that occur around us as we look for manifold signs of God’s hand.

Still, there is a caution: our every interpretation of an event is not necessarily correct. The passage demonstrates that Jesus recognized that the things which happened to a person do not reflect God’s judgment on an individual. Bad things do indeed happen to good people, and when they happen, we are left to stare into the face of God, face the reality that the immensity of our challenges fit meaningfully into the tapestry of the whole project God has undertaken in creating us in freedom, and make an act of faith in the dynamism of the ultimate good of God’s creation. It is not always easy, but belief in a loving God calls us to strive to see the bigger picture and take the long view.

Ultimately, as with the parable Jesus teaches us in this passage, we need to wait and test whether the insights we receive bear fruit. We need to remain vigilant and wait upon the Lord.

Saint of the day: Peter of Alcantara was a contemporary of well-known 16th-century Spanish saints, including Ignatius of Loyola and John of the Cross. He served as confessor to St. Teresa of Avila. Church reform was a major issue in Peter’s day, and he directed most of his energies toward that end. His death came one year before the Council of Trent ended.

103f. St Peter of Alcantara bestBorn into a noble family (his father was the governor of Alcantara in Spain), Peter studied law at Salamanca University and, at 16, joined the so-called Observant Franciscans (also known as the discalced, or barefoot, friars). While he practiced many penances, he also demonstrated abilities which were soon recognized. He was named the superior of a new house even before his ordination as a priest; at the age of 39, he was elected provincial; he was a very successful preacher. Still, he was not above washing dishes and cutting wood for the friars. He did not seek attention; indeed, he preferred solitude.

Peter’s penitential side was evident when it came to food and clothing. It is said that he slept only 90 minutes each night. While others talked about Church reform, Peter’s reform began with himself. His patience was so great that a proverb arose: “To bear such an insult one must have the patience of Peter of Alcantara.”

In 1554, Peter, having received permission, formed a group of Franciscans who followed the Rule of St. Francis with even greater rigor. These friars were known as Alcantarines. Some of the Spanish friars who came to North and South America in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were members of this group. At the end of the 19th century, the Alcantarines were joined with other Observant friars to form the Order of Friars Minor.

As spiritual director to St. Teresa, Peter encouraged her in promoting the Carmelite reform. His preaching brought many people to religious life, especially to the Secular Franciscan Order, the friars and the Poor Clares.

Spiritual reading: I think that there is no passage of the Gospel that has made a deeper impression on me or changed my life more than this one: “Whatever you do to one of these little ones, you do it to me.” If we think of it, that these are the words of Uncreated Truth, words from the mouth that said, “This is my body… this is my blood…” then how forcefully we are impelled to seek Jesus and love him in the “little ones.” (Charles de Foucauld)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 12:54-59

Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain–and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot–and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

“Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: All of us who love God seek God’s will; in fact, the spiritual life, in a sense, is a process of discernment of God’s will. Today’s reading counsels us to look at the signs of the times. Where do we look for the signs of God’s activities? We tend to think of things as inside of ourselves and outside of ourselves, but the fact of the matter is that our insides are a part of the whole, and what is inside is continuous with what is outside. What is God saying to us right here, right now? God is in the midst of our thoughts, feelings, and social interactions. God is present in all the facts of our existence, inside and outside of us: God is shouting at us in the midst of all the cacophony of our existence, if only we will attend.

Saint of the day: Laura Montoya Upegui was born in May 1874 in Jericó, Antioquia, Colombia, the second of three children to Juan de la Crux Montoya and Dolores Upegui. When Laura was only 2 years old, her father was killed defending his Country, and the family was left in extreme poverty after all their goods were confiscated. At such a time of deep misery and loss, Laura’s mother gave an example of Christian forgiveness and fortitude that would remain impressed in her young daughter’s mind and heart forever.

Following her father’s death, Laura was sent to live with her grandmother. She suffered greatly from misunderstandings and the lack of affection, feeling she had been left “orphaned”. However, she accepted with love the sacrifices and loneliness she experienced and sought refuge in God. As she grew older, she was especially sustained by meditation on Sacred Scripture and the strength she received from the Eucharist. When Laura was 16, her mother decided that her daughter needed to help the family in its financial difficulties and told her to apply to become a teacher. Although Laura was culturally and academically “ignorant,” having grown up without a formal education, she asked to enter the “Normale de Institutoras” of Medellín to receive training to become an elementary school teacher. She was accepted and stood out for her high marks among the students.

Laura began teaching in different parts of Antioquia. She did not limit herself to educating the students simply in academic knowledge, but sought to diffuse Gospel teaching and values. She also felt called to the religious life, her heart set on God alone, and dreamed of one day becoming a cloistered Carmelite nun; at the same time, though, she felt growing within her the desire to spread the Gospel to the farthest corners of the earth, to those who had never met Jesus Christ. She was ready to renounce her own “dream” of Carmel to be open to God’s project, if his will was otherwise.

At one time during her teaching career, Laura felt decidedly drawn to helping the Indian population in South America and wished to insert herself into their culture, to “become an Indian with the Indians to win them all for Christ.” Recognizing their dignity as human beings in an epoch when they were considered by many as “wild beasts,” Laura wanted to destroy this racial discrimination and to personally sacrifice herself in order to bring them Christ’s love and teaching.

On May 14, 1914, she left Medellín together with four other young women and headed to Dabeiba to live among the native Indians. This new religious family, assisted by the Bishop of Santa Fe de Antioquia and known as the “Missionaries of Mary Immaculate and St Catherine of Siena,” was thought by some to be nothing more than a family of “religious goats,” who were heading off into the wilderness to give the “beasts” a living Gospel catechism. Laura, however, cared little for public opinion, even if some of the comments made came right from within the Christian community itself.

Mother Laura composed for her “daughters” a directory and other writings (her Autobiography among them) to help them understand better their call to serve God among the Indians, and to live a balance between apostolic and contemplative life. She taught by example the “pedagogy of love” as the only way to teach the Indians, the way which allowed access into their heart and culture to bring them Jesus Christ.

Mother Laura died on October 21, 1949 in Medellín after a long and painful illness. The last nine years of her life were lived in a wheelchair, where she continued to teach by example, word and writing. Today her Missionary Sisters work in 19 countries throughout America, Africa and Europe. She was beatified in 2004.

Spiritual reading: I must write about prayer because it is as necessary to life as breathing. It is food and drink. (“On Pilgrimage – July/August 1973″ by Dorothy Day)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus speaks in today’s gospel about the radical nature of our commitment to the Good News. In my experience, the passage sometimes causes confusion. Jesus does not call for the division of families. Rather, he calls us to prefer the kingdom to every other commitment even if it means that our commitment to the Lord causes unease or even turmoil in our most important and intimate relationships. Jesus is Lord, and there is nothing, not even our natural affection for mother and father, that we should allow to stand in the way of our relationship to him.

Saint of the day: Maria Bertilla Boscardin knew rejection, ridicule, and disappointment. But such trials only brought her closer to God and more determined to serve God.

Born in Italy in 1888, the young girl lived in fear of her father, a violent man prone to jealousy and drunkenness. Her schooling was limited so that she could spend more time helping at home and working in the fields. She showed few talents and was often the butt of jokes.

In 1904 she joined the Sisters of St. Dorothy and was assigned to work in the kitchen, bakery, and laundry. After some time Maria received nurses’ training and began working in a hospital with children suffering from diphtheria. There the young nun seemed to find her true vocation: nursing very ill and disturbed children. Later, when the hospital was taken over by the military in World War I, Sister Maria Bertilla fearlessly cared for patients amidst the threat of constant air raids and bombings.

She died in 1922 after suffering for many years from a painful tumor. Some of the patients she had nursed decades earlier were present at her canonization in 1961.

Spiritual reading: Above all, always see Jesus in every person, and consequently treat each one not only as an equal and as a brother or sister, but also with great humility, respect, and selfless generosity.
(Charles de Foucauld)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 12:39-48

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: This last statement of the Lord’s in today’s gospel, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more,” speaks to all of us who have received the gospel of Jesus Christ. Having been given much, God’s expects more from us. When we injure one another, ours is the greater guilt because we know more about what God asks from us.

Saint of the day: Born into a wealthy family in Orleans, France in 1607, Saint Isaac Jogues was enrolled by his parents in the Jesuit school there and became a priest of the Society of Jesus in 1636. Longing to work with the Huron Indians in the foreign missions, Isaac requested and received the assignment to go to Quebec, Canada almost immediately after ordination. The Jesuits had established missions there s the first missionaries in Canada and the upper United States after French explorer J. Cartier discovered this land in 1534. For six years he was very successful and effected many conversions among the Hurons traveling between Nova Scotia and Maryland. But in 1642 a band of Iroquois, who were the natural enemy of the Hurons, captured Isaac along with Rene Goupil and another group of Jesuits. Rene was martyred but Isaac and his companions allowed to live though they underwent hideous and inhumane torture which included mutilation. Isaac’s fingers were severed and he was left to die in the wilderness but the Dutch rescued him and he was able to return to France in 1644. However he longed to be a martyr and finally secured a transfer back to Quebec in 1646. Once they had arrived Isaac and new companion Saint Jean Brebeuf set out for Iroquois country for a peace treaty had been signed. But warmongers among the Mohawks intercepted the missionaries and cruelly tomahawked them and scalped them from the neck up at Auriesville, New York on October 18 and 19, 1646. Isaac died on the 18th and Jean the next day. Over the next three years five other missionaries would join Isaac, Rene, and Jean on the list of the eight Jesuit martyrs: Noel Chabanel, Anthony Daniel, Charles Garnier, John de Lalande, and Gabriel Lallemant. Exactly ten years after Isaac’s death a young Indian girl was born in the same village where Fr. Jogues was murdered: her name, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Isaac Jogues and his companions are known as the Martyrs of North America and patron saints of Canada.

Spiritual reading: My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to him, and not to spoil his work by our shortcomings. (Isaac Jogues)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 10:1-9

The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’”

Reflection on the gospel reading: When Jesus commissions the 72 disciples to go and prepare the towns where he was to visit, he offered a description of Christian mission. Jesus said that the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few; we tend to think this comment refers to the need for priests and ministers, and that is true to an extent, but Jesus is extending to all of us a call to reap the harvest he has sown. The call to prepare the way for Jesus’ coming is universal. Jesus says our vocations to minister will not always be easy. We are to travel light on this path and be flexible in accepting the hospitality that is offered to us. Our mission is to carry peace with us and to heal the sick, and when others reject what we bring them, we are to leave them to their own devices with the hope that they one day will recollect our counsel that the kingdom of God is at hand.

Saint of the day: Luke wrote the Gospel according to Luke, an account that addressed wealthy Gentile who converted to Christianity. Based on reference to a certain Luke in the Pauline letters and certain Pauline themes in the gospel, scholars have speculated that Luke’s gospel might depend upon the teachings and writings of Paul. Certainly, Luke’s own experiences, his love of the poor, his interest in the universality of Christ’s message, his respect for women, and his sense of compassion all color the account of Christ’s life that he wrote. Luke also wrote a second volume, the history of the early church recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. The gospel and Acts were intended to form a single work, and only through the interpolation of John’s gospel between the two accounts have Luke and Acts become thought of as separate books. Tradition suggests Luke was martyred for Christ. Luke’s Greek is excellent; in the New Testament, only the Letter to the Hebrews uses better Greek than Luke’s. The preponderance of evidence would suggest Luke was a Greek pagan who converted to Christianity. Paul refers to Luke the physician, and tradition has identified Paul’s Luke with the Luke who wrote the gospel. Legend has that he was also a painter. Luke may have traveled with Saint Paul and evangelized Greece and Rome with him, personally attending the shipwreck and other perils of the voyage to Rome.

Spiritual reading: In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken, after giving instructions through the holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.” (The Acts of the Apostles by Luke the Evangelist)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, angoissedrink, be merry!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel passage the Church gives to us today is about our relationship to money. Many of us in America in this age spend a great amount of time concerned about our finances, and in a time of economic distress, money may cause us even more anxiety than at other times. The heart of this teaching, however, is that money does not endure: God calls the rich man a fool for having spent his life on material comfort and not on what matters ultimately to God. As Saint Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians, three things endure, faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these things is love.

Saint of the day: Ignatius of Antioch (also known as Theophorus) (ca. 35 or 50-between 98 and 117) was among the Apostolic Fathers, the third Bishop and Patriarch of Antioch, and possibly a student of John the Apostle. En route to his ignatius_of_antiochmartyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of very early Christian theology. Important topics addressed in these letters include ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops.

St. Ignatius was Bishop of Antioch after Saint Peter and St. Evodius (who died around AD 67). Eusebius records that St. Ignatius succeeded St. Evodius. Making his apostolic succession even more immediate, Theodoret reported that Peter himself appointed Ignatius to the see of Antioch.

Besides his Latin name, Ignatius, he also called himself Theophorus (“God Bearer”), and tradition says he was one of the children Jesus took in His arms and blessed. St. Ignatius may have been a disciple of the Apostle John.

St. Ignatius is one of the Apostolic Fathers (the earliest authoritative group of the Church Fathers.) He based his authority on being a bishop of the Church, living his life in the imitation of Christ.

Epistles attributed to St. Ignatius report his arrest by the authorities and travel to Rome:

From Syria even to Rome I fight with wild beasts, by land and sea, by night and by day, being bound amidst ten leopards, even a company of soldiers, who only grow worse when they are kindly treated. —Ignatius to the Romans.

Along the route he wrote six letters to the churches in the region and one to a fellow bishop. He was sentenced to die in the Colosseum, to be eaten by lions. In his Chronicle, Eusebius gives the date of his death as AA 2124 (2124 years after Adam), which would amount to the 11th year of Trajan, i.e., 108 AD. His body lies entombed under St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Spiritual reading: I am writing to all the churches to let it be known that I will gladly die for God if only you do not stand in my way. I plead with you: show me no untimely kindness. Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God’s wheat and bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God. (Letter to the Romans by Ignatius of Antioch)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 22:15-21

The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

Reflection on the gospel reading:Today’s gospel passage points to a preoccupation of Jesus, his concern with hearts that are true. A consistent theme in the gospels tells us that Jesus sees the hypocrisy of the people around him. There are lots of things that the gospel could have told us interested Jesus: whether people wore nice clothes, were attractive, were tall or short. None of these things apparently concerned Jesus. What concerned him was whether people meant what they said and said what they meant, whether they said, “Yes,” when they meant, “Yes,” and, “No,” when they meant, “No.” There are other lessens we can draw from this passage, like Jesus’ position on our relationship to government or Jesus’ sharp and probing intelligence, but what preoccupied our Lord in the exchange was his questioners’ fidelity to their hearts, that their outsides and insides matched in some way. If we wish to make a home for Jesus in our hearts, let them be true and sharp places that reflect on our faces and in our words the good that we nurture inside us.

Spiritual reading: Everything about us, all that we are, should ‘proclaim the Gospel from the housetops.’ All that we do and our whole lives should be an example of what the Gospel way of life means in practice, and should make it unmistakably clear that we belong to Jesus. Our entire being should be a living witness, a reflection of Jesus. (Charles de Foucauld)