Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

John 17:20-26

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus continues in today’s gospel his priestly prayer for the unity of his followers. This subject, of course, is a touchy one for those of us who share in modern times the one baptism of Jesus Christ. Various rifts over the course of the history of the Church have splintered us into different traditions. In light of this experience, we might despair and be tempted to believe that Jesus’ prayer has failed and failed badly at that.

But I, for my part, do not believe Jesus’ prayer has failed. The truth about God is very large indeed, and it seems impossible to me that any one narrative about God comprehends the truth about God. God has made all of us in God’s own image, and yet we all exhibit many differences. This fact suggests to me that the truth about God requires many different narratives to explain it. God needs God’s many churches to provide homes for the many narratives that attempt to explain the truth about God and appeal to the hearts of all of those of us who would believe. So I say, rejoice in our Christian plurality, for in it, we draw closer to the one true God.

Saint of the day: Ivan Ziatyk was born on the day after Christmas 1899, in the hamlet of Odrekhova in southeastern Poland. He was the younger of two sons born to Maria and Stefan Ziatyk; his older sibling was named Mykhailo. The family were Ukrainian Rite Catholics. Stefan Ziatyk died when Ivan was 14 years of age.

In his late teenage years, Ziatyk decided to follow his calling from God and prepare for the Catholic priesthood. He entered the Ukrainian Catholic seminary in Przemyśl where he spent time studying Christian spirituality, philosophy, theology together with the history and Liturgy of the Ukrainian Rite Catholic Church. He was ordained to the diaconate and then priesthood in 1923. In 1925, Father Ivan returned to the seminary where he lectured in dogmatic theology as well as serving as spiritual director for the next ten years.

For some time Father Ivan had desired to live a more austere life and, in 1935, made the decision to join the Redemptorists. As a priest, he spent a year in the novitiate located near Lviv in western Ukraine, making his first profession in August 1936. During his first year as a Redemptorist, Father Ivan lived in the monastery dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ivano-Frankivsk (then called Stanislaviv) before moving to another monastery in Lviv, where he was both assistant superior and treasurer. Then, in 1938, he was appointed to teach dogmatic theology at the newly-opened seminary in Holosko on the outskirts of present day Lviv. In 1941, Father Ivan was made superior of the monastery dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God in Ternopil where he served before taking up the same position at Zboiska in 1944. As well as being superior at Zboiska, he was engaged in the education of teenage boys interested in becoming Redemptorists.

After the Second World War the Soviet regime renewed its oppression of Christian denominations; as Ukraine was part of the U.S.S.R. its people also suffered but for a unique reason. The Soviets sought to abolish the Ukrainian Catholic Church by merging it with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which was considered easier to control since it was state-sanctioned and did not acknowledge the spiritual leadership of the Bishop of Rome. All the bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church (also known by some as the Greek Catholic Church) found themselves placed under arrest in early 1946. Members of the Redemptorist order were gathered at the monastery in Holosko and placed under virtual arrest for the next two years as their activities were constantly monitored by the secret police. The members of the community were also subjected to periodic interrogation. Father Ivan came under particular scrutiny as he had become responsible for the leadership of Ukrainian Catholics. When Archbishop Joseph Slipyj was arrested, he delegated the Belgian priest Joseph De Vocht to lead the Church. After De Vocht was expelled in 1948, Father Ivan took over.

Father Ivan was arrested in January 1950. At the end of his show trial (something not uncommon at that time) he was found guilty of “spreading the Catholic Faith among the nations of the whole world and of making all Catholics” and “cooperating with anti-Soviet nationalistic organizations and anti-Soviet propaganda.” He was sentenced to ten years hard labor. Ziatyk served time in prison, first at Zolochiv in western Ukraine and then at Ozernyi prison near Irkutsk in Siberia. Like many other priests and religious who were imprisoned by the Soviet regime, Father Ivan endured frequent interrogations, various deprivations, and torture to persuade him to renounce his faith in Christ or at least abandon his Catholicism and convert to the state-sanctioned Orthodox Church. He refused to comply.

On Good Friday 1952, Father Ivan was drenched in water and beaten unconscious before being left outside in the Siberian cold. As a result of his injuries, he died a few days later and was buried. Father Ivan Ziatyk was officially recognized as a martyr and beatified in 2001.

Spiritual reading: My apostolate must be one of goodness. I must make people say when they see me: “This man is so good that his religion must be good.” If someone asks me why I am gentle and good, I must reply, “Because I serve one which is much better than I am. If only you knew how much better my Master, Jesus, is.” I want to be so good that people will say, “If that is the servant, how, then, is the Master?” (Charles de Foucauld)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

John 17:11b-19

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely.

I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In today’s gospel, Jesus continues his prayer to the Father. He asks the Father that his apostles, and by extension, that we, may completely share Jesus’ joy. He does not ask that we be removed from the world; instead he ask that God will shelter us from its evil influences. In doing so, Jesus asks the Father that we be dedicated to the truth.

A word about truth perhaps is in order. As I see it, truth is like a diamond. It has many facets. When you hold it up to the light and turn it, the light glances off the diamond in different ways; it is ever the same diamond, but it is perceived in different ways according to the place where the one who perceives stands. So we should not be too certain of our own truths as being the fullness of revelation. None of us is large enough to see what God sees. So it is that we live in an age that is increasingly comfortable with diversity. We pray with Jesus that in the midst of our diversity of cultures, backgrounds, beliefs, and practices, we always may recognize and honor, as Paul says to us in Ephesians, that there is but one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. I profess that the truth is Jesus Christ, the Word of God spoken in our hearts: how that one truth plays out in individual lives is still unfolding as the mystery of all our lives unfold.

Blessed be the God who keeps us in our diversity in God’s own truth.

Saint of the day: Isidore the farmer was born in about 1070 in Madrid. He was a pious farmer who was married to Saint Mary de la Cabeza. Their son died young; and they became convinced it was the will of God that they not have children; they lived together chastely the rest of their lives engaged in good works. Accused by fellow workers of shirking his duties by attending Mass each day and taking time out for prayers, Isidore claimed he had no choice but to follow the highest Master. One tale says that when his master came in the morning to chastise him for skipping work for church, he found angels plowing the fields in place of Isidore. Miracles and cures reported at his grave, in which his body remains incorruptible. He died on May 15, 1130 of natural causes.

Spiritual reading: Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult–once we truly understand and accept it–then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters. (M. Scott Peck)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 14, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: We read this gospel yesterday, and through a coincidence of the Sunday and weekday readings, we read it again today. It gives me opportunity to say a little more about love.

I am now 53. When I was a young man in his early 20s, I hit a very rough patch in my life, and I often was tempted to despair. Frankly, I often succumbed to the temptation without putting up any fight. I had had quite a good education for someone my age, but everything I had learned to that point, all this history, philosophy, and classical languages, was nothing the world was much interested in paying to have from me. I was fairly destitute, and I lived in something of a hovel: in fact, I think the government might have condemned the house if officials had had a reason to seek it out. One Friday night, I lay in my bed in the shambles I called home, full of melancholy, utterly disheartened, indulging an immense self-pity.

In the dark of my room, I felt this incredible warmth which was love coming down towards me on my bed. It had a shape, a weight, a force, and a purpose. I knew this shape, this weight, this force, this purpose was God, but I resisted the approach with everything in me. I threw the whole weight of my discouragement at this love which pressed insistently at me. But I was powerless: there was nothing I could do to not be loved. Love’s approach to me was like a man who brushes dust from his jacket. There was no violence; I never lost my freedom; but I couldn’t resist. God’s approach against all the despair I could muster was effortless. What could I do but give up and let love enfold me.

God’s love for you.
God’s love for me.
God’s love for Jesus’ mother.
God’s love for the crack addict in the alley.
God’s love for the hermit in the desert.
God’s love for the male prostitute in the hustler’s bar.
God’s love for the martyr walking to the gallows.
God’s love for the murderer on death row.
God’s love for the baby in the crib.
It is all the same love.

It is profligate and unfailing and gentle and unyielding. God loves all of us exactly the same. God loves everyone, no exceptions. God loves each one as though each one was the only one. God can’t help it: God would not be God if it were not so.

So it must be with us, for as John of Cross wrote, In the evening of our lives, we will be judged on love alone. Love profligately. Love without fail. Love gently. Love without yielding.

Saint of the day: According to Acts 1:15-26, during the days after the Ascension, Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (about 120 of Jesus’ followers). Now that Judas had betrayed his ministry, it was necessary, Peter said, to fulfill the scriptural recommendation: “May another take his office.” “Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22). They nominated two men: Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias. They prayed and drew lots. The choice fell upon Matthias, who was added to the Eleven. Matthias is not mentioned by name anywhere else in the New Testament.

Spiritual reading: The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them. (Thomas Merton)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 13, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

John 16:29-33

The disciples said to Jesus, “Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now? Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus tells us that in this world, we will have trouble, but that we should have courage because he has conquered the world. But Jesus has promised us that a day will come when he will wipe away every tear. When sorrow surrounds us, and we despair for our troubles, let us still remember that he already has borne the cost and, in this time in between, this already but not yet, what we are watching is how God wins God’s victory. Jesus already has conquered the world, and our troubles are shadows in the bright glow of his ultimate triumph.

Saint of the day: Juliana of Norwich was born in England in about 1342. Almost nothing is known of her early life; we don’t even know if she was from Norwich or chose to move there. She was a recluse under the direction of Benedictine monks in Norwich, England. A mystic, visionary, and writer, she was illiterate and dictated to a scribe. Her book, Revelations of Divine Love, which contains sixteen revelations she received while in an ecstatic trance, is still in print. Juliana meditated, spoke, and wrote on the power of love of evil, Christ’s Passion, and the nature of the Trinity. In her early 60s she shut herself in complete seclusion at Conisford, Norwich, and never left again. She died in about 1423.

Spiritual reading: God, of your goodness give me yourself, for you are enough for me, and I can ask for nothing which is less which can pay you full worship. And if I ask anything which is less, always I am in want; but only in you do I have everything. (Revelations of Divine Love by Dame Juliana of Norwich)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 12, 2013

Ascension by DaliGospel reading of the day:

Luke 24:46-53

Jesus said to his disciples: “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.

Reflection on the gospel reading: We celebrate today the Feast of the Ascension. The name of the feast, and to a certain extent, the text that describes the event, seems to suggest to us that the Lord rose above his disciples like a person who climbed on-board a large helium balloon or a helicopter. In fact, this was not the case. The text says Jesus went to heaven. Heaven is not a place that exists in a directional relationship with physical reality. It is a state of being in the presence of God. The ascension was not a launching of Jesus into a physical realm but a translation of his being from immediacy in our world to assumption of his place at God’s right hand. The ascension is about Jesus taking his place with God. It is also about the joining of heaven and earth, because Jesus, being a thing of earth, rising to heaven, joins heaven and earth, a union made perfect as we remember next Sunday when heaven comes down to earth in the gift of the Holy Spirit. In all the accounts of the ascension, Jesus commissions the apostles to carry on his work, and by extension, he commissions the Church, that is, he commissions us. If we look at the texts from today’s gospel and the first reading in today’s Mass from the Acts of the Apostles, we learn that the Lord’s last instruction to us is that we are to witness. This means that we are to preach the Gospel, not just by what we say but also by who we are and what we do. We recollect today in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles that two angels appear to the apostles and challenge them, “Now you go and do as he did”; that is, you go and do all you can to join heaven and earth, just as Jesus did.

Spiritual reading: Christ is already in that place of peace, which is all in all. He is on the right hand of God. He is hidden in the brightness of the radiance which issues from the everlasting throne. He is in the very abyss of peace, where there is no voice of tumult or distress, but a deep stillness–stillness, that greatest and most awful of all goods which we can fancy; that most perfect of joys, the utter profound, ineffable tranquility of the Divine Essence. He has entered into His rest. That is our home; here we are on a pilgrimage, and Christ calls us to His many mansions which He has prepared. (Blessed John Henry Newman)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 11, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

John 16:23b-28

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

“I have told you this in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father. On that day you will ask in my name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promises, “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be open to you.” Here at the end of the Discourse at the Last Supper, Jesus makes the same promise, that if we ask, we will receive. And he ties it to a result, that having received, our joy will be complete. Many people have lost their faith through disappointment about what they perceive to be unfulfilled prayers, but God is not a vending machine, and our prayers are not quarters which we insert into a slot to get a gumball. Jesus invites us to enter through prayer into a relationship with the Father. What Jesus promises in this passage is that when we interact with God through constant and faithful prayer, our minds and hearts will conform to the Father’s. One of the saints once observed, “Pray, pray, pray, and surely you will be saved.” When Jesus invites us to enter a relationship with God through prayer, he is promising that all shall be well, and everything shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Saint of the day: Blessed Zefyrinus Namuncurá Burgos was born on August 26, 1886 in the province of Rio Negro in northern Patagonia, Argentina. The newborn baby was named for the saint of the day, Zefyrinus. He was baptized two years later in December 1888 by a Salesian priest.

Zefyrinus was the sixth of twelve sons of the 75-year-old Indian chief Manuel Namuncurá (1811-1907) and the 29-year-old Rosaria Burgos, a white Chilean woman who was a prisoner of the tribe. Zefyrinus was thus a descendent of both the indigenous peoples of South America and immigrants from Europe. His father was the last great chief for his tribe, the Araucana.

It is said that Zefyrinus in childhood fell in the river Rio Negro, and almost drowned. He grew up in the Indian village Chimpay, where he learned to handle boleadoras (a traditional weapon that was used to throw around the legs of cattle to stop them from running away), spears, and arrows. His father was preparing him to become his successor as the defender of the earth and of the few Indians who remained in the tribe.

When Zefyrinus was eleven years old, he asked his father to go to Buenos Aires to study and thus be of benefit to their people. In 1897, Zefyrinus left and attended two Salesian schools. He quickly adapted to the new lifestyle in a Salesian school in Buenos Aires, and after one year he received his first Communion in September 1898. Zefyrinus learned to read and write and developed a religious zeal and a strong love for Jesus and the Virgin.

He experienced some academic difficulties but persisted in his studies. In November 1899 he was confirmed and shortly afterward won first prize in a catechist competition. His catechism led to experience a call to the priesthood. He desired to become a missionary among his people.

Zefyrinus’s health was never robust and he suffered a bout of tuberculosis in 1901. When he recovered, efforts commenced to provide for his training for the priesthood. But in 1902, his 92-year-old father summoned him home to become his secretary and successor as chief of the tribe. Zefyrinus did not desire to go; his health deteriorated again, and he went with a group of aspirants for the Salesians to the oldest settlement in Patagonia where he entered the Salesians and commenced his studies for the priesthood. Zefyrinus traveled with an Argentine bishop to Italy and studied there. The young man was greatly admired there for his personal virtues.

On March 28, 1905, he was admitted to hospital at Fatebenefratelli Isola Tiberina in Rome, which was run by the Hospitaler Brothers of St. John of God. His holiness was evident in his lengthy illness. The nuns said that he never complained, never demanded anything, and that if all patients had been like him, the hospital would have been a paradise. Instead of complaining, he comforted the other patients and instilled those values. Zefyrinus told a physician on May 4 that he felt he would die within eight days. At six o’clock on the morning of May 11, 1905 Zefyrinus died a holy death at the age of only eighteen years and nine months. His remains were transferred to Argentina in 1924. By 1944, so many people were seeking Zefyrinus’s intercession that his cause for beatification was introduced. He received the title of Venerable in 1972 with the recognition that he had lived a life of heroic virtue. His popularity was so great in Argentina that a local bishop in 1976 had to issue a message that reminded the people Zefyrinus was not a canonized saint of the Church. But as the result of an Argentine woman’s cure of uterine cancer, Zefyrinus was beatified in 2007.

Spiritual reading: People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering. (St. Augustine)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 10, 2013

35ce153fc580ae8d5a4da17fda98f485_w600_h600_scaledGospel reading of the day:

John 16:20-23

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The psychiatrist and noted self-help author, M. Scott Peck, once wrote, “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.” In today’s gospel, Jesus says something of the same thing. He promises us that we will have to struggle: that we will weep, mourn, grieve, and feel anguish. But Jesus also says this is not the whole story. For though it may be one of the greatest truths that life is difficult, another of the greatest truths, and perhaps the greatest of truths, is that God will wipe away every tear and when we feel joy for the sight of the Beloved, no one will ever again take away our happiness.

Saint of the day: On May 10, 1986, another fighter of the people fell. Josimo Morais Tavares, known as Father Josimo, was murdered by regional landowners in Imperatriz, Maranhão. Born to a humble family in Marabá, Pará, Josimo was the son of a washerwoman, who gave birth to him at the bank of the river Araguaias in 1953. As a child, he moved with his family to the city Xambioá in Tocantins. At 11 years of age, he went to Tocantinôpolis where he studied at a school of theology. From there, he went to Brasília, later Aparecida do Norte (São Paulo), and Crédito: Douglas Mansur Pe. Ricardo e pe. Josimo Tavaresthen to Petrópolis (Rio de Janeiro) in order to study at a Franciscan school of theology. Being poor, black and the son of peasant farmers, Josimo was a target of discrimination. Upon finishing his studies in Petrópolis, he decided to return to Xambioá in order to dedicate his life to the cause of rural workers.

He became a priest in 1979, moving then to Wanderlândia (Tocantins), where he began his work with the poor, working in a secondary school and taking responsibility for the city’s Pastoral Youth. It was there that he realized how urgent the problem of unequal land distribution was among the region’s population. He also served in the Bico do Papagaio region, where he coordinated the Pastoral Youth of the diocese. The region was well-known for being witness to a number intense land disputes, and had years earlier been the site of the Araguaia guerrilla movement as well as the site of its subsequent defeat.

Throughout his life, he condemned illegal land grabs (grileiros de terra) and oppressive landowners. Father Josimo defended the rights of the people and strove to make them aware of their own strength. Because of his ideas and actions, he fomented the hatred of regional landowners, and began receiving threats to his life. In April 1986, an attempt was made on his life but the bullets missed their target. Aware of the risks of defending his ideals, he wrote a testament in which he reaffirmed his commitment to the Brazilian people. A month after the first attempt on his life, he was killed by two shots in the back while climbing the stairs of the CPT office building in Imperatriz.

Spiritual reading: I have to take a stand. I am committed to fighting for the cause of defenseless rural workers; a people oppressed by the grip of the powerful landlord. If I silence myself, who will defend them? Who will fight for them? I have nothing to lose. I have no wife, children, riches…. I regret only one thing: that my mother has only me and no one else. She is poor. A widow. But of you I ask only this: that you stay and care for her. Fear doesn’t stop me. It is time to take the stand. To die for a righteous cause. I want you to understand one thing: all that is happening is the logical consequence of my work in the fight and defense of the poor, in commitment to the Gospel, which has led me to take this fight to its very last consequences. My life is worthless in light of the deaths of so many rural workers; murdered, raped, evicted from their lands, forced to leave their women behind and their children abandoned, unloved, homeless and hungry. (Father Josimo Morais Tavares)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 9, 2013

christ-in-the-wilderness-awakingGospel reading of the day:

John 16:16-20

Jesus said to his disciples: “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What does this mean that he is saying to us, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” So they said, “What is this ‘little while’ of which he speaks? We do not know what he means.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing with one another what I said, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus, in his discourse at the Last Supper, warns the disciples that they are about to be disappointed. The disciples had clear expectations about what they thought the messiah would be, and Jesus was about to disappoint them as he endured his passion. Even so, Jesus promises his disciples that their sorrow will turn to joy. Jesus’ promise to his followers on the night before he died is his promise to us now. We shall taste tears: this is true. But Jesus promises us that our tears in the end will become joy. We simply must trust and wait on the Lord.

Saint of the day: Martha Maria de Jesus, was born in Mexico City on June 23, 1914. She was baptized on July 19 of that year and confirmed on February 20, 1916. The eldest of 11 children, her parents were Don Alfredo Christlieb Rapp and Ms. Paula Ibarrola Vértiz. In January 1922 she started school. Always inclined even at young age to a simple piety, she made her First Communion on June 15 of that year. In the last year of high school, she met Father Edmundo Iturbide, M.Sp.S., who became her spiritual director for most of the rest of her life.

alegria2She entered the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1938 to study pharmaceutical chemistry. During this period, she felt a strong desire to enter a religious order, but her father opposed her wish. She finished her degree, but she was determined to enter religious life whether or not her parents approved. She entered novitiate in 1942 and made her first vows on Christmas Day in 1943. She rapidly received positions of increasing responsibility, starting as a teacher, becoming a superior in 1946, director of novices in 1948, and becoming Vicar General in 1950. Disagreements in her congregation led Martha and others of the sisters to break off and found a new congregation, the Family of the Cross. In the first few months of 1952, the bishop of Veracruz invited the women to come to his diocese to serve there where the group took the name, Sisters of the True Cross, Daughters of the Church, with Mother Martha and her spiritual director, Father Iturbide as the co-founders. The congregation received formal approval in 1960, and Mother Martha became its first Superior General. She served in this position until her death.

In 1974, her health declined as the result of cancer. She underwent the prescribed treatment. When she returned to the convent at the end of the year, she learned as she left Mass that her beloved spiritual director from the time of her youth, Father Iturbide, had died. Mother Martha followed him a few months later when she died of cancer on May 9, 1975. The bishop of Orizaba opened an investigation into her life to study her virtues in January 2003.

Spiritual reading: Everyone of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. This is the person I want myself to be but who cannot exist because God does not know anything about that person. To be unknown of God is altogether too much privacy… The secret of my identity is hidden in the love and mercy of God. (Thomas Merton)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 8, 2013

trinity-1915.jpg!BlogGospel reading of the day:

John 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The truth is that everything is one. But we are too small to comprehend the totality of truth in one glance. We receive the truth piecemeal, bit by bit, as we become strong enough to take the next bit of nourishment. Even so, the revelation of the Father is the revelation of the Son, and the revelation of the Son is the revelation of the Spirit. There are not three different revelations but one revelation which we receive successively in different ways as we become prepared to receive a more complete understanding. Because the truth is so large, we must never be satisfied with what it is that we know now and in this place. Our project is to cultivate openness to the new manifestations which God gives us as we move through life and enlarge our capacity to know and comprehend more.

Saint of the day: Venerable Miriam Teresa Demjanovich was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, on March 26, 1901, the youngest of seven children. At an early age she ardently desired to dedicate her life to religion. Teresa completed her grammar school education at the age of eleven, she received her high school diploma in January 1917, from Bayonne High School (at that time located in the present day Robinson School). At this time she wished very much to become a Carmelite, but the lingering illness of her mother kept her at home as nurse and housekeeper.

demjanovichSisterMiriam-(6)After her mother’s death in November 1918, Teresa was strongly encouraged by her family to attend the College of Saint Elizabeth at Convent Station, New Jersey. She began her college career in September 1919. She received her college degree with highest honors in June, 1923. As always, she longed for the religious life, but various circumstances made her uncertain regarding which community she should enter. Meanwhile, she accepted a teaching position at the Academy of Saint Aloysius in Jersey City (now known as the Caritas Academy). Not until December 1924, was she certain that she should become a Sister of Charity, and with her decision she knew she had very special work to do in this community. Just what the nature of the work was to be she did not know until several months after her entrance in February 1925. Teresa’s spiritual director in religion, Father Benedict Bradley, a Benedictine (who died December 29, 1945), discerning her remarkable gifts, directed her, with the consent of the Mother Superior, to write a series of conferences which, published posthumously, form a volume titled Greater Perfection.

Teresa’s life in religion was short but filled with much work and suffering. Like Therese of Lisieux, she apparently lived a long time in a short space. She died May 8, 1927. Since her death Sister Miriam Teresa has made many friends all over the world. Favors and cures attributed to her intercession are continually being reported. On Thursday, May 10, 2012, the Servant of God Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, along with another American, the first Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette, Frederic Baraga, were proclaimed Venerable.

Spiritual reading: God does not love us because we are good. God love us because God is good. (Richard Rohr, OFM)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 7, 2013

c4d14128441ef6938aae364bf6890d4c_w600Gospel reading of the day:

John 16:5-11

Jesus said to his disciples: “Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: We sin, but our belief in Jesus repairs the wounds; our righteousness relies not on what we do but on our relationship with the one who is righteous and connected to the Father; and our hope of avoiding condemnation lies in our rejection of the ruler of this world, who is already condemned. The world is a broken place with many stories which end tragically and with lives which became unraveled along the way. Life is messy, and it’s easy to get lost. At the end of the day, it’s Jesus whom we trust to clean up the broken things we leave in our wake. It is Jesus, his cross, his resurrection, and his Spirit which make the frayed world whole.

Saint of the day: Francis Paleari was born in Pogliano Milanese in the Archdiocese of Milan on October 22, 1863; he was brought up in a truly Christian family peaceful, joyful, and well-disposed in nature. On January 8, 1877, he entered the Seminary of the Little House of Divine Providence in Turin, founded by St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo. This seminary, placed under the paleari1_1976280protection of St. Thomas Aquinas – hence its name, “Family of Tommasini,” – welcomed aspirants to the priesthood without financial resources.

Having completed his theological studies with great results, Father Francis was ordained a priest on September 18, 1886. He served in the Little House of Divine Providence as a teacher, confessor, and spiritual director of young seminarians. He showed himself inspired in all things by the same spirit of charity that moved the Holy Founder who loved to help the poor, materially and spiritually, with boundless trust in Divine Providence.

He carried out important tasks for the Archdiocese of Turin as Pro-Vicar General, Vicar for the Nuns, and Promoter of Justice. He joined the Third Order Franciscan in the early years of his priesthood, renewing his membership to it in both 1920 and 1927. The last three years of his life were marked by illness, which did not prevent him, nonetheless, from exercising his mission as a confessor. He died on May 7, 1939, in the Little House of Providence in Turin. He was beatified in 2011.

Spiritual reading: Some without fulfilling the commandments think that they possess true faith. Others fulfil the commandments and then expect the Kingdom as a reward due to them. Both are mistaken. (Saint Mark the Ascetic)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 6, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

John 15:26—16:4a

Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. 734adf38ce3a6ce2f6232bd9ec0e3503_w600They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: God continuously communicates with every human heart. There are inner promptings which are the words which God speaks to us. The enemy of human nature, however, also makes suggestions to us. For this reason, we as spiritual beings must be attentive to the voices in our hearts to discern which impulses are from God and which are not. It is for this reason as well that Christians do well to share their journeys with a wise and spiritually-grounded companion who can help us to hear the testimony of the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father and testifies to Jesus.

Saint of the day: Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin was the son of Prince Dimitri Alexeievich Gallitzin, a Russian diplomat. He was born at The Hague in the Netherlands on December 22, 1770 and baptized Greek Orthodox. Almost from his infancy the young prince was subjected to rigid discipline, and his intellectual faculties, trained by the best masters of the age, Demetrius Augustine Gallitzinreached their fullest development. At the age of almost seventeen Demetrius became a sincere Catholic, and to please his mother, whose birth (1748), marriage (1768), and First Holy Communion (1786) occurred on 28 August, the feast of St. Augustine, assumed at confirmation that name, and thereafter wrote his name Demetrius Augustine.

Demetrius traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, leaving in August 1792 and arriving in October; he travelled under the name Augustine Smith. One of the first seminarians at Saint Mary’s in Baltimore, he was ordained in 1795; he was the first priest to receive all orders in the United States.

In 1799 Father Demetrius moved to McGuire’s Settlement in the Alleghenies, erecting a small log church where the town of Loretto, named by him, grew up and became the first English speaking Catholic settlement west of the Allegheny Front; he remained there 41 years. He received no salary, spending what he received of his inheritance to develop the colony spiritually and industrially. He was one of the first in the United States to defend the Church through his writings, and most are still available today. He served as Vicar-General of Western Pennsylvania in 1827 but refused to allow the proposal of his name for the sees of Bardstown, Cincinnati or Detroit. Gallitzin died at Loretto on May 6, 1840 and was buried near St. Michael’s church in Loretto. The Servant of God Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin had his cause for canonization introduced in 2005.

Spiritual reading: Above all, trust in the slow work of God. (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 5, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

John 14:23-29

“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

“I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus says something in today’s gospel which has become a central experience of the Church, that the Father would send a Helper, and this Helper would live in the community doing two things. The first of them was that the Holy Spirit would teach us new things, and the second of them was that the Holy Spirit would teach us these new things in the light of what Jesus had told us. And just so has it come to pass. The Holy Spirit abides now in the community of believers leading us to respond to Jesus’ message in ever new ways as we read the world and react as believers to the world. Let us be filled with confidence that though it seems to us sometimes that the Church is buffeted about on strange winds, the Creator, Redeemer, and Santifier of the world has not abandoned us but moves in the gentle breeze to continually renew and revive us.

Spiritual reading: We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are. (The Talmud)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 4, 2013

jesus-turin-web4Gospel reading of the day:

John 15:18-21

Jesus said to his disciples: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Choosing the Lord means casting our lot with him: Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians called us to put on the mind of Christ. Choosing Jesus means seeing as Jesus sees, hearing as Jesus hears, feeling as Jesus feels, thinking as Jesus thinks, acting as Jesus acts. It is throwing our lot in with his lot. It is being authentic as he is authentic. It is being open to the good and bad as he was open to the good and bad. It is the recognition that if Jesus suffered, we too must be willing to suffer. It is the recognition that if Jesus loves, we too must be willing to love–despite every cost.

Saint of the day: Blessed Ceferino Gimenez Malla, known as “El Pele” was born a Gypsy in Fraga, Huesca, Spain, probably on August 26, 1861, and a Gypsy he remained. He chose Teresa Gimenez Castro a Gypsy from Lerida as his wife and settled with her in Barbastro. In 1912 he regularized this Gypsy-style union and became a model Christian. He had no children but adopted one of pele1his wife’s nieces, whose descendants are still living. He was a flourishing horse dealer with a respectable position in society and ever ready to give generously to the poor. Unjustly accused of theft and imprisoned, he was finally declared innocent: the lawyer for his defense announced: “El Pele is not a thief, he is San Ceferino, patron of Gypsies.”

In his dealings, he never cheated anyone. Held in great esteem, El Pele was frequently sought by Gypsies to help them solve the conflicts which sometimes flared up between them. His reputation for charity and piety was widespread and although he was illiterate, educated people esteemed him for his honesty and his wisdom. He taught Christianity to both Romani and ethnic Spanish children. After his wife had died, Giménez Malla began a career as a catechist under the guidance of a priest-teacher, Don Nicholas Santos de Otto. Malla also resolved disputes between Romani and Spanish people. According to Romani tradition, he also used to feed poor children. In 1926, he became a member of the Franciscan Third order, and, five years later, he took part in “Night Adoration.”

At the start of the Spanish Civil war, at the end of July 1938, he was arrested for trying to defend a priest who was being dragged through the streets of Barbastro, and for keeping a rosary in his pocket. He was offered freedom if he would stop reciting the Rosary. He preferred to stay in prison and face martyrdom. He was shot at dawn on August 8, 1936, against the walls of Barbastro cemetery. He died clutching his Rosary and crying: “Long live Christ the King!” His body was never found. He was beatified on May 4, 1997, which is the day the church keeps his memorial.

535979_570689429609027_1040506460_nSpiritual reading: God leaves us free to be whatever we like. We can be ourselves or not, as we please. We are at liberty to be real or to be unreal. We may be true or false. The choice is ours. We may wear now one mask and then another, and never, if we so desire, appear with our own true face. But we cannot make these changes with impunity. Causes have effects, and if we lie to ourselves and others, then we cannot expect to find truth and reality whenever we happen to want them. If we have chosen the way of falsity, we must not be surprised that truth eludes us when we finally come to need it! (Thomas Merton)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 3, 2013

ee1e95e9e809e5d6bcec384003243e34_w600_h600_scaledGospel reading of the day:

John 15:12-17

Jesus said to his disciples: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Love lifts us all up. When we accept with joy the presence of another, whether or not that other is a close member of our family or a nameless homeless person in the street, we have fulfilled Jesus’ commandment to love. Jesus tells us in this passage that the ability to look beyond appearances and value the worth and dignity of another person without reservation regardless of their circumstances is liberating. It is our ability to love with abandon that liberates us so that we no are longer slaves. We who love Jesus may believe we have made a choice to love him, but Jesus assures us in this passage that we were chosen by him to love. Martin Luther once famously enunciated the principle, sola scriptura to suggest that it is by scripture alone that we are drawn to salvation and holiness. I disagree: it is love that saves us and makes us holy.

Saint of the day: A contemporary of Therese of Lisieux and Charles de Foucauld, Pauline Elisabeth Arrighi was born in Paris on October 16, 1866 to a wealthy bourgeois French family of Corsican descent. She had had hepatitis as a child, and it recurred throughout her life with attacks of varying severity. She met Félix Leseur (1861–1950), also from an affluent, Catholic family in 1887. Shortly before they married on July 31, 1889, Elisabeth discovered that Félix, who was a physician, was no longer a practicing Catholic. Félix soon became well known as un_portrait_d_elisabeth_leseur_largethe editor of an anti-clerical, atheistic newspaper in Paris. Félix and Elisabeth Leseur’s marriage was a happy one. Well-to-do by birth and marriage, Elisabeth Leseur was a part of a social group that was cultured, educated, and generally anti-religious.

When Elisabeth was able, she worked on charitable projects for poor families and funded other charitable activities. She was concerned about the poor and the least, but her deteriorating health restricted her ability to respond to this concern after 1907. In 1907 her health deteriorated to the extent that she was forced to lead a primarily sedentary life, receiving visitors and directing her household from a chaise lounge. In 1911 she had surgery and radiation for a malignant tumor, recovered, and then was bedridden by July of 1913. She died from generalized cancer in May of 1914.

Elisabeth Leseur underwent a religious conversion when she was 32 and already married. From the beginning, she organized her spiritual life around a disciplined pattern of prayer, meditation, reading, sacramental practice, and writing. Charity was the organizing principle of her asceticism. In her approach to mortification, she followed Francis de Sales who recommended moderation and ÉLISABETH AND FÉLIX LESEURinternal, hidden strategies instead of external practices. Understanding that faith was a gift that only God could give, she trusted in the power of prayer and had a profound sense of the communion of saints. Her correspondence with Soeur Marie Goby was a source of companionship and mutual spiritual support for both women. The letters were written between 1911 until shortly before Elizabeth’s death on May 3, 1914. Soeur Marie Goby was a nun of the Hospitaller Sisters who worked with the sick and injured.

Elisabeth Leseur’s husband, inconsolable in his grief, was converted by Elisabeth’s writings and an uncanny sense of her presence after her death. Félix subsequently published his wife’s journal, Journal et Pensees pour Chaque Jour; and due to its Felix Leseur, OPfavorable reception, a year later in 1918, published his wife’s letters to Soeur Goby under the title of Lettres sur la Souffrance. In the fall of 1919, Félix became a Dominican novice. He was ordained in 1923 and spent much of his remaining 27 years publicly speaking about his wife’s spiritual writings. He was instrumental in opening the cause for Elisabeth’s beatification as a saint. In the year 1924, Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, who would later become an archbishop and popular American television and radio figure, made a retreat under the direction of Fr. Leseur. During many hours of spiritual direction, Sheen learned of the life of Elisabeth and the conversion of Félix. Sheen subsequently repeated this conversion story in many of his presentations. The cause for the canonization of Elisabeth Leseur was started in 1934. She is currently called, Servant of God.

Spiritual reading: Providence has granted us . . . a sweet treat, and it is necessary to enjoy it immensely, to say than you, and to be transformed by the gift of self, devotion, generosity, and experienced joys. And it is also necessary when these joys are replaced by pain, to accept them with the same smile in one’s heart and be just as generous in serving another. (Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 2, 2013

Christ Pantocrator on tile WindowIntoHeaven Anna Edelman sGospel reading of the day:

John 15:9-11

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus gives a command and makes a promise in this gospel passage. He asks us here to remain in his love. If we love, take care of the less fortunate, live authentically, and seek the good for each other, Jesus promises us that a return of his love for us will accompany our commitment, just as a return of the Father’s love for Jesus has accompanied Jesus’ commitment to the Father’s commandment. The Kingdom is never just about me, but it always about me living authentically and generously in the company of others.

Saint of the day: José María Rubio y Peralta was born on July 22, 1864 in Dalías, Spain. His parents were farmers and he was one of 12 children, six of whom died at a young age. In 1875 he began his secondary schooling in Almeria. Feeling a call to the priesthood, he transferred to the diocesan minor seminary in 1876 to continue his studies. In 1878 he moved to the major seminary of Granada, where he completed studies in philosophy, theology and canon law. On September 24, 1887, he was ordained a priest.

At this time, he also felt called to join the Society of Jesus (commonly known as the Jesuits) but because he was taking care of an elderly priest who needed to be looked after, he was not able to fulfill his wish for 19 years.

In the years following his ordination, Jose Maria was busy as a curate in Chinchón and then as parish priest in Estremera. In 1890, the bishop called him to Madrid, where he was given the responsibility of synodal examiner. He also taught metaphysics, Latin, and pastoral theology at the seminary in Madrid and was chaplain to the Sisters of St Bernard.

In 1905, he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and, in the following year, entered the Jesuit novitiate in Granada. On October 12, 1908 he made his first vows as a Jesuit.

Jose Maria was an outstanding pastor and nurtured by a deep spiritual life. The Bishop of Madrid called him “The Apostle of Madrid.” He was the city’s favorite confessor, spending long hours each day giving direction. He was known for his incisive, simple preaching that moved many to conversion. He also had particular devotion to the poor, always providing them with the material and spiritual assistance they needed. Through his preaching and spiritual direction, Jose Maria was also able to attract and guide many lay people who wanted to live a more authentic Christian life and to help him in his mission of helping the poor. Under his guidance, they opened tuition-free schools which offered academic formation as well as instruction in various trades. They also assisted the sick and disabled and tried to find work for the unemployed.

Although Jose Maria was the inspiration for all these works, he remained in the background, preferring to let his helpers take center stage. He gave them the main responsibility and taught them to live and act like true apostles of the Lord. Jose Maria also organized popular missions and spiritual exercises in the poorest areas of the city. He believed that the poor should be helped in all their needs – both spiritual and material and that they were to be encouraged and loved in a way that fully respected their human dignity.

The most important aspect of the apostolate for Jose Maria was prayer. Adoration of the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament was the center of his entire life. And it was the love of Christ that Jose Maria wanted to share with the poor. For him and his helpers, prayer came first, and it was through their prayer life that they received the strength to serve in the poorest and most abandoned areas of Madrid. Fr. José María Rubio died on 2 May 1929 in Aranjuez. He was canonized in 2003.

Spiritual reading: Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world… Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis. (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 1, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

John 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me true vinewill be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

Gospel reading of the day: Baptism into Jesus is a luminous thing which connects every believer not only to Jesus but also to every other baptized person. Our baptisms connect us not just to every living person who is baptized but also to every person who has ever been baptized and every person who will ever be baptized. We as members of the church are members of the same body, whether we are Catholic, Orthodox, or members of one or other of the Protestant denominations. I once was sitting at a table with other priests from my church. We were enjoying a supper with each other, and a gentleman came up to our table and started to share with us his own faith, rooted in an evangelical tradition. He seemed to not like Catholics. At a certain point, I tried to disengage in a fraternal way by pointing out that he and we alike shared Jesus. I quoted to him Paul’s insight from Ephesians, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all,” and extended my hand. He refused to shake it and walked away from us, apparently disgusted. It is true that the body of Christ now, as upon the cross, suffers from many wounds, but it is Christ who is at the core of all of it, so despite every apparent fissure, we are one body in one Lord.

Saint of the day: Jean-Louis Bonnard was the fifth of Gabriel Bonnard and Anne Bonnier’s six children. He was born on March 18, 1824. He was baptized that very day. Jean-Louis made his First Communion in 1836. After a collegiate course at Saint-Jodard, he entered the seminary of Lyon. He left at the age of 22, to complete his theological studies at the Seminary of the John-Louis BonnardForeign Missions in Paris. He became a priest of the Paris Society of Foreign Missions

From Nantes, where he was ordained in 1850, he sailed for the missions of Western Tongking (northern Vietnam) and reached there in May 1850. In 1851 he was put in charge of two parishes there. At the time, proselytisation was banned in Vietnam.

On March 1st, 1851, the emperor Tu Duc published an edict of persecution. While visiting the Christian community at Bôi-Xuyen in March 1852, Father Bonnard was arrested, having been denounced by a pagan mandarin, and was led to Nam-Dinh. The sentence of death was pronounced against him and was executed immediately upon receipt of its confirmation by Emperor Tự Đức on May 1, 1852. He was beheaded. His remains were thrown into the river, but recovered by Christians and sent by them to the Seminary of Foreign Missions. He was canonized as one of the martyrs of Vietnam in 1988.

Spiritual reading: Christians are usually sincere and well-intentioned people until you get to any real issues of ego, control power, money, pleasure, and security. Then they tend to be pretty much like everybody else. We often given a bogus version of the Gospel, some fast-food religion, without any deep transformation of the self; and the result has been the spiritual disaster of “Christian” countries that tend to be as consumer-oriented, proud, warlike, racist, class conscious, and addictive as everybody else-and often more so, I’m afraid. (Richard Rohr)