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Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 28, 2013

LazarusTahullGospel reading of the day:

Luke 16:19-31

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.

Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’ But icon_christ4Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Sometimes when I pray, I wonder that the God who is aware of a mote of dust hurdling through space in the furthest most distant galaxy is also paying attention to me. In the scale of things, at the least the way you and I measure things, why would a being who is so big be interested in a being who is so small–like me. Yet the whole tradition testifies to the intense interest God has in me and the intense interest God has in you. When Dame Juliana of Norwich described her mystical visions of God, she observed homeliness and courteousness characterized God’s dealings with her–and with us: God is intimate with us, and God is polite to us. People who have had near death experiences often report they reviewed their lives in the company of a being of light. One man who was clinically dead for nine minutes reported when he returned from an experience where he reviewed his life in the company of a “man made of light,” that, “If I’d suspected before that there was mirth in the Presence beside me, now I was sure of it: the brightness seemed to vibrate and shimmer with a kind of holy laughter – not at me and my silliness, not a mocking laughter, but a mirth that seemed to say that in spite of all error and tragedy, joy was more lasting still. And in the ecstasy of that laughter I realized that it was I who was judging the events around us so harshly.” When we come to the end of our days and enter the review of what we have done, God, who is so big that God is entirely willing to be courteous to us, will respect the great big decision we have made with our lives. And if the decision we have made day-to-day is a cry for mercy, mercy will be ours.

Saint of the day: Daniel Brottier spent most of his life in the trenches—one way or another. Born in France in 1876, Daniel was ordained in 1899 and began a teaching career. That didn’t satisfy him long. He wanted to use his zeal for the gospel far beyond the classroom. He joined the missionary Congregation of the Holy Spirit, which sent him to Senegal, West Africa. After eight years there, his health was suffering. He was forced to return to France, where he helped raise funds for the construction of a new cathedral in Senegal.

At the outbreak of World War I Daniel became a volunteer chaplain and spent four years at the front. He did not shrink from his duties. Indeed, he risked his life time and again in ministering to the suffering and dying. It was miraculous that he did not suffer a single wound during his 52 months in the heart of battle.

After the war he was invited to help establish a project for orphaned and abandoned children in a Paris suburb. He spent the final 13 years of his life there. He died in 1936.

Spiritual reading: God does not desire more of you than that you should go out from yourself, insofar as you are burdened with your nature, and let God be God in you. The slightest image you have of yourself is as big as God; it holds you away from your whole God. To the extent that such an image enters you, God must yield, and to the extent that this image goes out, God enters in. (Meister Eckhart)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 27, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 20:17-28

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: This gospel passage points to the difference between life lived for personal honor and life lived to magnify the kingdom. In the narrative, the mother of James and John comes to Jesus to ask that her sons sit on his either side. When the other 10 apostles hear about this request, they are indignant. All 13 of them, including James and John, their mother, and the other 10 apostles understand Jesus’ mission as a secular enterprise. In the world, leaders exert power over weaker individuals, using them as objects and manipulating them for their own ambitions. The 13 individuals in this passage who are not Jesus understand their mission as a way to control people for personal aggrandizement. This is not a kingdom understanding; as Augustine of Hippo observed of this attitude, “In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?”

Jesus is clear at this passage’s start, middle, and end, that his mission is about the sacrifice of self. As the author of The Cloud of Unknowing observed, “Make sure you let nothing but God enter your mind or work in your will,” because when “you are perfect in love . . . you’ll neglect yourself to serve the one you love.” Jesus’ call is to follow the example he sets, live justly, and put our entire lives at each others’ disposal so that every single person may realize the fullest possibilities of her or his life.

Saint of the day: Born in Italy in March 1838 into a large family and baptized Francis, St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows lost his mother when he was only four years old. He was educated by the Jesuits and, having been cured twice of serious illnesses, came to believe that God was calling him to the religious life. Young Francis wished to join the Jesuits but was turned down, probably because of his age, not yet 17. Following the death of a sister to cholera, his resolve to enter religious life became even stronger and he was accepted by the Passionists. Upon entering the novitiate he was given the name Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Ever popular and cheerful, Gabriel quickly was successful in his effort to be faithful in little things. His spirit of prayer, love for the poor, consideration of the feelings of others, exact observance of the Passionist Rule as well as his bodily penances—always subject to the will of his wise superiors— made a deep impression on everyone.

His superiors had great expectations of Gabriel as he prepared for the priesthood, but after only four years of religious life symptoms of tuberculosis appeared. Ever obedient, he patiently bore the painful effects of the disease and the restrictions it required, seeking no special notice. He died peacefully on February 27, 1862, at age 24, having been an example to both young and old. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows was canonized in 1920.

Spiritual reading: More than ever I find myself in the hands of God. This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth. But now there is a difference; the initiative is entirely with God. It is indeed a profound spiritual experience to know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands. (The Servant of God Pedro Arrupe, S.J.)

Homily March 3, 2013 Third Sunday Of Lent

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on February 26, 2013

Today, we meet Moses as he comes upon the burning bush which was not being consumed by the fire. We have heard many times of Moses’ mission to free the Israelites and bring them to a new land that would be theirs. Israel left Egypt and followed the cloud and passed through the sea and received food and water in the desert. Yet in spite of all God did, most of them did not complete the journey for they were not faithful and even grumbled against God in the desert. Paul tells us today, that this happened because we need to be reminded not to desire evil things or grumble about how God shapes our life. It is in feeling too much security that can sometimes lead to falling.

In today’s gospel, Jesus is told of an incident where Pilot killed some Galileans and mixed their blood with the blood of their sacrifices. The mentality of the time was that bad things happened only to sinners, the worst things to the worst people. Jesus doesn’t accept that notion, all of us are sinners and need repentance. Bad things don’t happen to a person because he is better or worse than another. Evil is something which is punished at life’s end and not necessarily in the here and now. Our life, our call to life in Christ is constant and new every day. How we live, what we do is something that is individual and between us and our Lord. Comparison with others to say he or she is better or worse is self-serving and can even be self-defeating as we imagine ourself as better than another. Comfort and laxity can follow such examinations. The true Christian conscience maintains a certain uneasiness that it can in many ways fall short of all that it is called to do.

The final reminder today is the fig tree. Without fruit, it is taking up space and using the resources of the soil around it. As the tree must be worked on if it is to produce fruit, so must we work and prepare ourselves in the Christian life. Each day, each season, each year is a gift in life to be embraced and moved forward. Seize the day and the hour as we march to Easter.

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Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 26, 2013

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 jesus-answers-the-Pharisees-ENTRYmarketplaces, 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: We all fail–we all fail in different ways–but all of us fail. Jesus recognized the brokenness of the human condition: powerful people who lay down rules on the people which they themselves cannot follow; people who put a false face to the world to hide their own interior corruption; people who demand honors instead of being willing to take the lowest place. Jesus condemned phoniness, inauthenicity, conceit. He calls us instead to 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 our place among the hosts of people who surround us and of whom God is especially fond. On the day of reckoning, it is not our excuses which will save us but our recognition that we need God’s mercy.

Saint of the day: Paula of Saint Joseph of Calasanz was born in 1799 in Spain. A member of a large and pious family in a small seaside village, her father died when Paula was 10 years old. She worked as a seamstress and lace-maker and helped raise her siblings. She also helped in her parish with other children.

At age 30, still single and devoting herself privately to God, she and her friend Inez Busquets opened a school in Gerona to provide a good education mixed with spiritual guidance. The school was such a success that she was able to found a college in May 1842, and another school in 1846. To staff and manage the schools, she founded the Daughters of Mary (Pious School Sisters) in February 1847 and took the name Paula of Saint Joseph of Calasanz. Paula served as its leader. These schools have now spread to four continents. She died in February 1889 of natural causes.

Spiritual reading: These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy…walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, “Business as usual.” But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening. (Yann Martel)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 25, 2013

Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891 – 1959) Driven by the Spirit (2)Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 6:36-38

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In this gospel passage, Jesus explains true conversion by way of illustration. Jesus certainly encourages us to engage in acts of mercy, tolerance, acceptance, forgiveness, and generosity. But even more, he invites us to become merciful, tolerant, accepting, forgiving, and generous. Individual acts of goodness are important, but Jesus calls Christians to radiate these attributes from our very being: to become like birds lifted high on the gentle breezes of compassion, encouragement, love, grace, and hospitality or fish who swim in oceans of kindness, patience, pardon, cooperation, and good will.

Saint of the day: Venerable Felix Varela was born in Havana, Cuba in 1788, and died in the United States. The grandson of Spanish Lieutenant Bartolomé Morales, he studied to become a Roman Catholic Priest in San Carlos and San Ambrosio Seminary in Havana, the only seminary in Cuba. He also studied at the University of Havana. At the age of 23 he was ordained in the Cathedral of Havana.

Joining the seminary faculty within a year of his ordination, he taught philosophy, physics, and chemistry and became an acclaimed teacher of many important figures in Cuban history. Varela joined in a petition to the Spanish Crown for the independence of Latin America and also published an essay which argued for the abolition varelaof slavery in Cuba. For such ideas, the government sentenced him to death. Before the government could arrest him, however, he sought refuge in Gibraltar and later emigrated to the United States, where he spent the rest of his life.

Varela was the founder of the first Spanish-language newspaper in the U.S., publishing many articles about human rights, as well as multiple essays on religious tolerance, cooperation between the English and Spanish-speaking communities, and the importance of education. He published other newspapers in Spanish, including El Habanero and El Mensajero Semanal, and also published The Protestant’s Abridger and Annotator in New York.

In 1837, he was named Vicar General of the Diocese of New York, which then covered all of New York State and the northern half of New Jersey. In this post, he played a major role in the way the American Church dealt with the flood of Irish refugees, that was just beginning at the time. His desire to assist those in need coupled with his gift for languages allowed him to master the Irish language in order to communicate more efficiently with many of the recent Irish arrivals. He was later named a Doctor of Theology by St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland.

Nearly sixty years after his death in St. Augustine, Florida in 1853, his body was disinterred and returned to Cuba to be laid to rest in the University of Havana’s Aula Magna. If canonized, he would be the first Cuban-born person to be honored on the altars of the Catholic church.

The Cuban government has created an award bearing his name, entitled the Orden Félix Varela, which is given to those whom the government deems to have contributed to Cuban and worldwide culture.

His name is currently associated with a project proposed by the Christian Liberation Movement in Cuba, named Proyecto Varela, which was announced to the Cuban people on government-owned TV and radio stations in Cuba by United States President Jimmy Carter. In 1997 the United States Postal Service honored Varela by issuing a 32-cent commemorative stamp. Because of his experiences, many in the Cuban American exile community identify with him. He was named Venerable in 2012.

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

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 24, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:28b-36

Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, 1530159they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.

Reflection on the gospel reading: On the second Sunday in Lent, we reflect on Luke’s account of the Transfiguration. Jesus takes his inner circle of disciples, Peter, James, and John, up the mountain and becomes transfigured physically before them. God reveals Godself on the mountain in a voice which they hear. In our ordinary life, this voice is always present to us, but it is also hidden. In day-to-day life, the God who is closer to our minds than our own thoughts, is not present to us because we live our lives in a lack of awareness of God’s presence.

Luke tells us the disciples were sleepy when they reached the mountain top and before the transfiguration. Sleep is the sweet balm that soothes and restores us after a long day of work and play, but it is also a state of deep unawareness. In the gospel passage, Peter, James, and John’s sleepiness suggest the lack of awareness of God’s presence which afflicts almost all of us at most moments of our lives.

I have had the experience of approaching a friend who is lost in thought, and only when I am almost on top of him, has the look of recognition stolen across his face. In such moments, the friend inevitably will tell me he had been lost in thought. We can become so preoccupied by the inconsequential that we ignore the real. Sometimes, an event of immense consequence, like a natural calamity, the death of a loved one, a disruption of a friendship, or the collapse of our physical health, will shake us awake, and we have to be present to God in a way that the rest of life does not demand of us.

In today’s gospel, the radiance of the glory of God breaks through to the disciples when they are drowsy and unaware. The account of the transfiguration is then at one level an invitation to shake off our preoccupations and illusions and attend to the presence of God which is always around us but which we often allow to be hidden as we sleepwalk through our lives. The practice of awareness of the presence of God will be our own transfiguration in the one great transfiguration of Jesus.

Spiritual reading: The beauty that emerges from woundedness is a beauty infused with feeling; a beauty different from the beauty of landscape and the cold perfect form. This is a beauty that has suffered its way through the ache of desolation until the words or music emerged to equal the hunger and desperation at its heart. It must also be said that not all woundedness succeeds in finding its way through to beauty of form. Most woundedness remains hidden, lost inside forgotten silence. Indeed, in every life there is some wound that continues to weep secretly, even after years of attempted healing. Where woundedness can be refined into beauty a wonderful transfiguration takes place. (John O’Donohue)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 23, 2013

Jesus_Icon1Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Perfection is not what we think it is. It is not making a set of rules and then perfectly and unerringly carrying out the letter of those rules. That is pharisaism, an attitude and outlook which Jesus condemns as the worst kind of imperfection.

Perfection consists in boundless, non-judgmental love made real in human affairs by our capacity to love those who do us harm or reject us. The question Jesus will ask us when we come to the end of our lives will not have anything to do with the laws of pious practice or rigid moralism but rather, with the law of love. Jesus will challenge us, not by righteous indignation but through his loving presence, how much have we loved with our lives? Have we loved others as Jesus loves us? Totally? Unconditionally? Have we loved dangerously–profligately, deeply, passionately. Have we loved with every ounce of our strength, tempting ruin and letting life breathe into our hearts of stone to make them hearts of flesh. In loving, have we risked climbing the highest tower and plumbing the depths of the most immense abyss. Have we tempted the terrible angels of annihilation to immolate us with the fires of Love.

If this is the final summative question, let us love dangerously–howling love, savage love, wild love, impetuous love. The more we live our lives as lavish, intemperate, and wasteful love, the more we will become perfect as the Father is perfect.

Saint of the day: Venerable Samuel Mazzuchelli was born in Milan, Italy on November 4, 1806. In 1828 he left Italy for the United States, spending a year in the Cincinnati area. There he was ordained a Dominican priest in 1830. After about five years serving the church in upper Michigan and northern Wisconsin, Mazzuchelli arrived in the Dubuque area. During his time, he faced a Samuel Mazzuchellinumber of challenges, such as hostility from other Christian denominations.

Mazzuchelli arrived in the mid-1830s to what would later become Dubuque, Iowa. While there, he reorganized the parish and named it Saint Raphael’s, which later became the Cathedral parish when the Dubuque Diocese was formed in 1837. He assisted Bishop Mathias Loras during the first few years after the founding of the Diocese and worked extensively in what would eventually become the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin. There he founded over 30 parishes and designed and built over 20 church buildings, along with a number of civic buildings. Three of those parishes were named after the three Archangels: Saint Raphael’s in Dubuque, St. Michael’s in Galena, Illinois, and Saint Gabriel’s in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. In 1848, he founded St. Clara Academy (now Dominican University of Illinois), a frontier school for young women. In 1847, he founded the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters.

RevMazzuchelliUnlike many white settlers, Mazzuchelli was a vocal defender of Indian rights. He visited Native families by canoe, on horseback, and on snowshoes and sleds, learning about their cultures and admiring their spirituality, their respect for the aged, and their love of children. He wrote letters to Congress and President Andrew Jackson protesting the treatment of Native Americans and began schools for Native children in which they were taught in their own language by their own people. He published a Winnebago prayer book in 1833 and a liturgical almanac in Chippewa the following year–the first book printed in what would become the state of Wisconsin. He served as the chaplain for the first Wisconsin Territorial lastsupper-eichenbergLegislature and was a civic, as well as religious, leader for the region.

Many remembered Father Mazzuchelli as a kind and gentlemanly priest. He was able to break down the cultural barriers that existed at the time and appeal to many different ethnic groups. The Irish he ministered to called him “Father Matthew Kelly”. He died on February 23, 1864 after contracting an illness from a sick parishioner.

Spiritual reading: We cannot love God unless we love each other. We know him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore. Heaven is a banquet, and life is a banquet too – even with a crust – where there is companionship. We have all known loneliness, and we have learned that the only solution is love, and that love comes with community. (Dorothy Day)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 22, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

woman-caught-in-adultery1“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

about-the-bible2Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus reminds us that we need to reflect continuously on the question of forgiveness as we walk the spiritual path. In today’s gospel, Jesus insists that we forgive, and later in Matthew, he implies we must forgive an unlimited number of times. In the Beatitudes, Jesus says the Father’s gift to us when we are merciful is mercy, and in the Lord’s prayer, the petition to forgive is linked with a petition for the ability to forgive.

We live in a world where unhinged young people are capable of murdering first graders, where war and the rumor of war is relentless, where the threat of terror always lies around the corner in many places on the earth. Sometimes, our relationships with associates, friends, and even family break down in ways which seem irreconcilable. Yet we cannot withhold forgiveness to anyone, no matter how great their crimes or devastating their slights–at least we cannot withhold forgiveness if we believe what Jesus taught. As his disciples, we are to always work to reconcile with one another, abandon obstacles to unity, and open our hearts to one another.

Saint of the day: Blessed Émilie d’Oultremont van der Linden d’Hooghvorst was born in 1818 in Wegimont, Lieges to a deeply religious noble family. From childhood the sacramental life, especially the Eucharist, was important to her, and she had a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to Mary. In 1837 Emilieshe married Victor van der Linden, Baron d’Hooghvorst, and they had four children. She looked to the Jesuit Fathers for spiritual guidance, especially during the long illness of her husband, who died in 1847. With great fortitude she lived through this trial and consecrated herself to God with the vow of chastity.

She chose the religious life despite her family’s opposition. In 1885 she was joined by some young women, but it was not until 1887, that the Congregation of Mary Reparatrix was officially founded, in Strasbourg. A year later they made their first vows. Mother Mary of Jesus rejoiced when her own two daughters entered the congregation (although she was later to be criticized for having influenced them). After their deaths, she devoted herself tirelessly to her mission. As her community’s model and inspiration, she proposed Mary as mother associated with the person and saving work of her Son. She sought to teach others about the name of Jesus, his mercy and love, and this inspiration moved her to courageous decisions.

In 1859 she responded to a call from the Jesuit Fathers in Madras, India. Other foundations followed in India and in the islands of Mauritius and La Reunion. In Europe she opened houses in France, Belgium, England, Italy, Ireland, and Spain. In Mother Mary’s last years, she experienced deaths in the family, worries about her sons, difficulties and separations within the institute, and spiritual trials where she felt God had abandoned her. Her health deteriorated, and she died on February 22, 1878 at the home of her son, Adrien, in Florence. She was beatified in 1997.

Spiritual reading: People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway. (Mother Teresa)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 21, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 7:7-12

Jesus said to his disciples: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: There is nothing in our lives which has as much capacity to bring forth good as prayer. In God’s very being is the anticipation of every request we shall make of God and God’s responses to those requests, responses which ultimately are of God’s being, love. Prayer can accomplish no evil deed: it is the power to do good–it is bread and fish to those who hunger. It gives life, protects the weak, generates health, eases troubled minds, frees prisoners, and restores justice. Prayer is the only path to forgiveness of our sins and the surest road to put away temptations which bedevil us. Tertullian observes that prayer “strengthens the weak-hearted, delights the high-minded, leads wanderers home, soothes the waves, confounds robbers, feeds the poor, governs the rich, lifts up the fallen, supports the unsteady, holds firm those who stand.” In the past I have observed that God is not a wish factory nor a dream machine: we don’t put our quarter in and get our prize out. But a life lived in prayer creates a relationship with God which conforms our minds to God’s, and as we grow in maturity in this relationship, the good we wish for ourselves becomes the good we wish for others. The more our hearts align with God’s, the readier we become to make prayers that conform our desires to God’s desires, and the ultimate outcome of this is a life lived with the unconditional love which characterizes God’s very self.

Saint of the day: Blessed Didace Pelletier, born Claude Pelletier, was the first child born at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, or at least the first child whose baptismal certificate is inscribed in the parish register; he was also the first Canadian-born lay brother of the first missionaries in New France, the Recollets (French Franciscans), and the first Canadian who left a famous reputation of holiness on Canadian soil after his death.

722857_2Brother Didace was born on June 28, 1657; his parents were Georges Pelletier and Catherine Vanier, from Dieppe, France. His life was not eventful in outward activities. As a little boy, he was sent to the apprentices’ school established by Bishop de Laval at Saint Joachim, not far from Sainte Anne de Beaupré. There he learned the carpenter’s trade, in which he excelled. After a childhood and youth spent in labor, prayer, and innocence, he entered the Recollets at Quebec City in the autumn of 1678, at the age of twenty-one. He was clothed with the Franciscan habit in 1679 and received the name Didace in honor of a Spanish Saint, the patron of Lay Brothers; he made his religious vows one year later, in 1680.

Brother Didace lived at Our Lady of the Angels mission in Quebec City for another three or four years. Because of his talent as a carpenter, he had a large part in the construction work which the Recollets of that time were undertaking. He was sent to Ile Percé and Ile Bonaventure in the Gaspesie, or eastern shore of the peninsula (1683-1689), to Plaisance, in Newfoundland (1689-1692), to Montreal (1692-1696), and finally to Three Rivers, Quebec (1696-1699). It was in this last city, while doing carpentry work at the Recollets’ church, that he contracted a fatal case of pleurisy.
Brother Didace was rushed to the Ursulines’ hospital; there he requested the last Sacraments, despite the opinion of a doctor who prayerdeclared him in no immediate danger. After participating in the prayers for the dying, he expired on the evening of February 21, 1699, a Saturday. He was forty-one years old; his last twenty years had been spent with the Recollets.

Spiritual reading: Pray regularly! Demand from yourself what you have for yourself as your obligation in prayer! Be lord over your emotions and moods! Pray regularly! (The Need and the Blessing of Prayer by Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J.)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 20, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 11:29-32

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she cranachcame from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In today’s gospel, Jesus implies that many of his listeners are not ready or willing to hear his call. Though they demand signs and Jesus has been giving them an abundance of signs through his teaching and healing work, they are not willing to accept the signs they receive. Jesus teaches that on the judgment day, many people who thought themselves the elect of God will be surprised to see people entering the kingdom of God whom they thought God had rejected. God sees things differently than we do, and openness to God’s presence will allow us to both see where God is at work and free us of the burden of our biases.

225887-pere-pierre-joseph-marie-chaumonotSaint of the day: Pierre-Joseph Chaumonot was a Jesuit missionary who worked in New York and Canada. Born near Châtillon-sur-Seine in France, 1611, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Rome at the age of 21 and arrived at Quebec on August 1, 1639. In September he was already at work on the missions of Lake Huron, where Saint Jean de Brebeuf was superior. He remained there until after the death of Brebeuf and his companions and the destruction of the missions.

He was commissioned to conduct 400 Hurons to Quebec, and he established them on a reservation on the Isle of Orléans opposite the city. After Le Moyne had arranged for a mission among the Onondagas of New York, Chaumonot and Dablon were sent to organize it. This mission lasted only two years; the priests and the fifty colonists who joined them subsequently being obliged to escape in the night to avoid a general massacre.

giotto_crucifix1Returning to Canada, he devoted himself for the rest of his life to his Huron converts. He established his famous Christian settlement, known as Lorette, which after shifting several times was located finally on the river St. Charles where it still exists, though it is called “Jeune Lorette” in contradistinction to the “Ancienne Lorette” established by Chaumonot, who died before the last migration. He was the founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family which figures extensively in early Canadian history. He died at Quebec on February 21, 1693, having labored in the missions for 54 years.

Spiritual reading: Those who are not prepared to take up the cross, those who are not prepared to give their life to suffering and rejection by others, lose community with Christ, and are not disciples. Discipleship is commitment to the suffering Christ. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Homily February 24, 2013 Second Sunday of Lent

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on February 19, 2013

Today’s readings bring us to meet three great men of the scriptures: Abram(Abraham), Paul. and Jesus. Abram is so fundamental that he is seen as a father of faith not only in the Jewish and Christian faiths, but is also found in the Quran, an Iman or leader of faith and fidelity to God in Islam. We see his faith and allegiance which brings him to be the father of a great nation and a leader of faith to many Peoples.

Paul today speaks to the integrity of the Philippians. He speaks of the dichotomy of what we are and what we are to become. He gives himself as an example of how to live and how to perfect their lives. The conflicts of time and place made life hard and the draw of the Roman empire could make life difficult for the Philippians, leading them away from the Christian life and possibly to another preacher or follower less authentic than Paul himself..

In the transfiguration narrative, Luke seems to be preparing us for the coming passion and death of Jesus and his transformation into resurrected life. Jesus’ appearance and change and Peter’s desire to celebrate the event would seem to be premature at this point as the gospel narrative is moving on to Jerusalem and Jesus’ final days. But clearly as we move along Jesus and His father are pointing him out as the beloved and as the Messiah. Peter and the others are there to listen and learn and prepare for their own passage into resurrected life.

So, we see three outstanding men, who each stood out from their peers, men of faith, men who led by that faith. Jesus above the others stood out for his life and death and resurrection achieved for humanity what no other act or person could do. He made it possible for humanity to once again be united to God uniquely as children are to their father. This act done once satisfied for all no matter the time or place they lived or live. His word carries on and like He was transfigured, so can we be transfigured today and come into union with God. This we must not forget, what He did was for us. and so God’s abundant love is always ready for us.

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Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 19, 2013

15-03-03/58Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 6:7-15

“In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

“If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus teaches us an attitude of prayer. When he invites us to not babble like the pagans, he asks us to learn the simplicity of prayer by forsaking rambling prayers that multiply words, as if somehow we need to get God’s attention with long and winding prayers that explain our needs in exacting detail. By invoking simplicity in prayer Jesus teaches us that we already have God’s our complete attention, and the task is not to beat God over the head with our needs but to enter a space where we can hear God. Prayer is the fruit an interior silence that creates room inside ourselves to listen to God when God speaks. The main task in prayer, then, is to let God reveal Godself.

Saint of the day: A native of Mianyang in Sichuan, China, Saint Lucy Yi Zhenmei was born on December 9, 1815, and was the youngest member in her family. Lucy was a very pious child who made a commitment to chastity at 12 years of age. As she matured she developed a love for reading and study. At 20 years of age, in imagesthe midst of her higher education she grew very ill. After her recovery Lucy took her spiritual life still more seriously. She devoted herself to the discipline of prayer with great devotion, assuming a way of life much like that of a religious while continuing to assist in the support her family. Her mother taught her how to spin, which also became part of her daily life.

After her father died, she lived with her brother and mother, using part of her leisure time to teach the faith to children nearby. The parish priest, who asked her to teach at the school in Mianyang, noticed her devotion and reliable knowledge of her faith. After four years, her brother went to Chongqing to practice medicine, and Lucy and her mother moved with him. In Chongquing, the priest also asked her to help teach the women in the parish. When she was offered money for her work, she refused to take it and offered her work to God.

A few years later, her brother moved back to Guiyang, during which time her mother died. Enthusiastic to spread the Gospel, she went on doing missionary work. However, for her own safety she decided to stay at the convent of lay virgins. Shortly after, her failing health forced her to move back home again. In 1861, Bishop Hu asked her to teach once more at the convent. In spite of opposition from relatives, she returned to work there.

In 1862, she went with Fr. Wen Nair to open a mission in Jiashanlong, but just then the administrator of Guizhou Province, Tian Xingshu, began to stir up hatred against Christians, which the local magistrate supported. As a result, Zhang TienShen, Wu ShueSheng, Chen XianHeng and Father Wen were all imprisoned and sentenced to death without a formal trial. On February 18, the day of their execution, they met Yi ZhenMei on the road. She was also jailed and put on trial that very day and sentenced to death because she refused to renounce her faith. The following day at noon, February 19, 1862, she was beheaded. Brave believers took the bodies of all five martyrs to the Liuchonnguan seminary grounds for burial. She and her companions were canonized in 2000.

Spiritual reading: Christianity has all too often meant withdrawal and the unwillingness to share the common suffering of humankind. But the world has rightly risen in protest against such piety… The care of another – even material, bodily care – is spiritual in essence. Bread for myself is a material question; bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one. (Jacques Maritain)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 18, 2013

Gospel reading for the day:

Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the mosaic_jesusgoats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Reflection on the gospel: Should we take Jesus at his word, that what separates those who go to heaven from those who go to hell is our service to the least ones? The hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the prisoner. When a homeless man tells me he is hungry, am I Jesus’ follower when I silently walk by with surging resentment that he doesn’t have a job? Would I buy him a cup of coffee on a cold day in winter, or give him a bottle of water on a sunny July morning? Do I really call myself a Christian and want to summarily deport all the undocumented aliens across the border and, while they remain in our midst, feel absolutely no responsibility for their health and well-being? Truly? Is it possible to be a Christian and not fight for the rights of the stranger? And what about the sick? Do they remind me too much that my own time here is short and that all of this will end? And the prisoner–do I really believe that I have no responsibility for overcrowded prisons and state-sanctioned murder of felons?

What would Jesus do, is something we hear a lot. What would he do indeed? Do we see him in our minds’ eyes walking past the homeless guy without a word of comfort? Do we see him in our minds’ eyes rounding up the undocumented farm workers, locking them up, and then transporting them across the border? Do we see him in our minds’ eyes filling the prisons? Can I draw a picture in my mind of him pulling the lever to electrocute a murderer?

The parable of the sheep and the goats is not just about a radical commitment to the other. It is a call to overthrow every convention of what is acceptable and what is not. It is a demand, on the threat of losing our very selves, to dispossess ourselves of self-seeking and serve, without condition, the needs of the wounded, the broken, and the marginalized. There is absolutely nothing convenient about this passage in scripture, and we all stand condemned in the measure it promises to exact of us.

All of that being said, each of us is a sinner and falls short, and each of us is dependent on the mercy of God. But it’s better to not deceive ourselves about what Jesus really asks of us.

Saint of the day: Born in Zamora, Michoacán, Mexico in 1864, Francisco Orozco y Jimenez was the son of José María Orozco Jimenez Cepeda and Mariana Quiroz. He was baptized by his uncle, a priest of the parish of La Luz de Guanajuato. He lost his mother when he was nine-years-old. He left for Rome at 12 to study for the priesthood. He received the highest grades in philosophy among his classmates at the Gregorian University. Ordained a priest in 1887, he taught in seminaries and received a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of Mexico in 1896. He knew Italian, Portuguese, French, Spanish, English, and two Native American languages, Tzotzil and Cachiquil.

5515391645_e6cb7af20dAt 38-years-old, Orozco was ordained a bishop at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1902 and became bishop of Chiapas. He oversaw the construction and restoration of churches and chapels in his diocese, rebuilt the local seminary, opened an orphanage and a hospital, and invited various religious orders to come and serve in the parishes of his diocese. He had substantial personal wealth which he inherited and made a large donation to the city of Chiapas to purchase electrical lights and provide public services. Throughout his life, he gave away so much money that he died a poor man.

Orozco became archbishop of Guadalajara in 1913. Religious persecution by the government of Mexico began in 1914 and led Orozco to flee to the United States and Rome. He secretly returned to Mexico in 1916 under an alias to continue working among his people. 5515977904_09c8aed9b1The government captured and exiled him in the summer of 1918., but he returned 15 month later. The government expelled him once again in 1924 but allowed him to return the following year. Shortly after President Calles promulgated his harsh anti-Catholic laws in February 1926, government workers broke into Orozco’s home and stole valuable possessions. By October, the government ordered his arrest, and the bishop had to flee and hide, suffering poverty, privations, and sickness. Still, the archbishop never ceased to minister to his people personally and by letters. At the end of the Cristero Rebellion in 1929, the archbishop came out of hiding only to have to flee the country when the government broke the treaty and slaughtered those who opposed the government. He visited Rome and preached and lectured widely in London and the U.S. He snuck back in Mexico in March 1930 but only ventured back to his diocese in August 1934 as he felt his life beginning to slip away. He remained in hiding as he moved from place to place to serve the people of the diocese. He suffered a heart attack on February 3, 1936 and died on February 18. The entire city of Guadalajara came to the cathedral to pay their respects.

Spiritual reading: A church that doesn’t provoke any crisis, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed – what gospel is that? (Oscar Romero)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 17, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 4:1-13

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, One does not live on bread alone.” Then he took Brooklyn_Museum_-_Jesus_Tempted_in_the_Wilderness_(Jésus_tenté_dans_le_désert)_-_James_Tissot_-_overallhim up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and: With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.

560140_547988505235524_273501069_nReflection on the gospel reading: On this first Sunday of Lent, we remember that if we are tempted, Jesus was tempted before us. In all four of the gospels and in various epistles, a strong and consistent narrative emerges that Jesus faced tests during his ministry.

The tests we read about today go to the heart of what it means for Jesus to be messiah. The devil presents to Jesus a vision of messiah very similar to the vision of messiah that Israel, in Jesus’ troubled day, held in its heart. They are tests about the use of power to change creation for Jesus’ own pleasure, set up an earthly government to control human beings through political and military force, and demand that God protect Jesus.

In the end, though, Jesus did not change stones into bread to feed himself but instead fed the multitudes with bread. He did not set up an earthly kingdom but trusted God to use his example of service to build up a heavenly kingdom. He did not succumb to the temptation to put his life on the line to see if God would save him but remained obedient to death, even death on cross.

In the end, Jesus rejected each of act of violence that the devil presented him and instead embraced the path of peace and fashion for Israel a messianism it had never imagined.

44c03a5fe7b9d1Spiritual reading: And in laying upon us the light cross of ashes, the Church desires to take off our shoulders all other heavy burdens–the crushing load of worry and guilt, the dead weight of our own self-love. We should not take upon ourselves a “burden” of penance and stagger into Lent as if we were Atlas, carrying the whole world on his shoulders.

Perhaps there is small likelihood of our doing so. But in any case, penance is conceived by the Church less as a burden than as a liberation. It is only a burden to those who take it up unwillingly. Love makes it light and happy. And that is another reason why Ash Wednesday is filled with the lightness of love. (Thomas Merton)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 16, 2013

christ-pantocratorGospel reading of the day:

Luke 5:27-32

Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: It has been said that the meaning of life is in the giving and receiving of love. Jesus gives love without condition: even tax collectors, reviled and rejected within their own culture, benefit from profligacy of his love–even so far as to receive a call to follow him: to walk with him, share his table, sleep together in the same field. Levi’s capacity to receive love is witnessed by his invitation to Jesus to share a great banquet with all of Levi’s friends. This exchange between Jesus and Levi is a gift giving where the gifts are Jesus for Levi, and Levi for Jesus. The gifts Jesus gives to Levi, joy and acceptance, transform Levi by awakening in him the capacity to give joy and acceptance to Jesus in return. It is this kind of transformation–the resurrection of Levi–which lies at the heart of the Easter mystery which Lent calls us to enter.

Saint of the day: The Servant of God Stephen Eckert, OFM Cap. was born on April 28, 1869 in Ontario, Canada into a family of emigrants from Bavaria. His family fostered and encouraged his incipient sympathy for religious life which took him first to St. Jerome’s (today Kitchener) College in Berlin, Ontario, run by the Resurrectionists and later run by the Capuchins. When he was 21 years old, Stephen asked to have a trial experience at the Capuchin Friary in Detroit, Michigan. He returned a year later to become a novice. He was eventually ordained a priest on July 2, 1896.

Stephen Eckert, OFM CapHe served as a priest in New York, Cornwall Heights, and Fond du Lac, catechizing children and assisting the sick. One Sister who knew him wrote: “He was a man of prayer who tirelessly recommended the importance and need for prayer.”

Although he was prepared to work with everyone and for everyone, Fr. Stephen felt a special attraction to minister to African Americans. He asked his superior in 1903 to go to the south to work among them. Eight years later, he was sent to St. Benedict the Moor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to work in an African American community there. Within two months, Fr. Stephen made contact with 450 people, going from house to house. He opened a school, which immediately drew 40 children. He organized a shoe repair shop for the boys and a sewing school for the girls, opened a nursery school to help working mothers, set up an employment agency, and made a hall available for meetings.

Fr. Stephen was unable to resign himself to the idea, broadly held in his day, that African Americans be considered inferior or be excluded from specific responsibilities due to poverty or lack of education. He said so from the pulpit, at conferences, in the pages of journals and he wrote it to his Bishop. He also created study circles and committees to work for the improvement of relationships between African Americans and White people.

Pneumonia, which he contracted after a demanding preaching session, forced him to stop his apostolate. He refused to be hospitalized as the doctor suggested and returned to Milwaukee, to the people he served, and whom he wished to greet one by one. Eventually, he was obliged to be admitted to the hospital, where he died on February 16, 1923, mourned by all the faithful of St. Benedict the Moor. The Diocese of Milwaukee initiated a process of canonization. The diocesan process concluded in 1959 and went to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in 1977.

Spiritual reading: The meaning of life is in giving and receiving love. (Blessed Karol Wojtyla)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 15, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 6:14-29

King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Others were saying, “He is Elijah”; still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.” But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.” Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. His own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”

The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Reflection on the gospel: Jesus said that no greater man than John the Baptist had been born of woman, and John said he was not worthy to untie Jesus’ sandal. Just as John’s life prefigures Jesus’, Jesus’ life reflects John’s. An angel announces Jesus’ birth, and an angel announces John’s. While the Lord is mysteriously born to a virgin, John is mysteriously born to an older woman. Jesus’ ministry to announce the inbreaking of the kingdom of God mirrors John’s ministry to call Israel to repent. And John’s unjust murder prefigures the Lord’s unjust murder. Many of the paths we walk in our lives do not fit the contours of the roads that Jesus and John took, but we can choose to live as they lived, close to the Father’s call, just as they lived their lives in fidelity to the word they had received.

Saint of the day: Saint Claude de la Colombière, S.J., who was born in Grenoble, France on February 2, 1641, was the confessor of Saint Margaret-Marie Alacoque. His feast day is the day of his death, February 15. He was a missionary and ascetical writer, born of noble parentage.

He entered the Society of Jesus in 1659. After fifteen years of religious life in the Jesuits, he made a vow, as a means of attaining the utmost possible perfection, to observe faithfully the Rule and Constitutions of his order under penalty of sin. Those who lived with him attested that this vow was kept with great exactitude.

In 1674 Claude was made superior at the Jesuit house at Paray-le-Monial, where he became the spiritual director of Saint Margaret-Marie Alacoque and was thereafter a zealous apostle of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1676 he was sent to England as preacher to Mary of Modena, Duchess of York, afterwards Queen of Great Britain. He lived the life of a Religious even in the Court of St. James and was as active a missionary in England as he had been in France. Although encountering many difficulties, he was able to guide Saint Margaret Mary by letter.

His zeal soon weakened his vitality and a throat and lung trouble seemed to threaten his work as a preacher. While awaiting his recall to France he was suddenly arrested and thrown into prison, denounced as a conspirator. Thanks to his title of preacher to the Duchess of York and to the protection of the King of France, Louis XIV, whose subject Claude was, he escaped death but was condemned to exile in 1679. The last two years of his life were spent at Lyon where he was spiritual director to the young Jesuits, and at Paray-le-Monial, where he repaired for his health. He died February 15, 1682 in France of natural causes. He was beatified in 1929 and canonized in 1992.

Spiritual reading: Let me show you a good way to ask for happiness, even in this world. It is a way that will oblige God to listen to you. Say to Him earnestly: either give me so much money that my heart will be satisfied, or inspire me with such contempt for it that I no longer want it. Either free me from poverty, or make it so pleasant for me that I would not exchange it for all the wealth in the world. Either take away my suffering, or – which would be to Your greater glory – change it into delight for me, and instead of causing me affliction, let it become a source of joy. You can take away the burden of my cross, or You can leave it with me without my feeling its weight. You can extinguish the fire that burns me, or You can let it burn in such a way that it refreshes me as it did the three youths in the fiery furnace. I ask for either one thing or the other. What does it matter in what way I am happy? If I am happy through the possession of worldly goods, it is You I have to thank. If I am happy when deprived of them, it gives You greater glory and my thanks are all the greater.

This is the kind of prayer worthy of being offered to God by a true Christian. When you pray in this way, do you know what the effect of your prayers will be? First, you will be satisfied, whatever happens; and what else do those who most desire this world’s goods want except to be satisfied? Secondly, you will not only obtain without fail, one of the two things you have asked for, but, as a rule, you will obtain both of them. (Claude de la Colombiere, S.J.)