Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on August 31, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two. But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my 99dd9b7e5a97ea908b72a9e1099d47a8_w600good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Being a follower of Jesus is not a passive activity: whatever God may initiate in our lives, we have to actively pursue the kingdom in the choices we make from day to day and moment to moment. Jesus says in this passage that Christian life is not just letting God happen to us: if we do nothing, we will reap nothing. The message of the first two servants’ experience is that we must live the kingdom’s values, and the account of their actions and what happened as a result of them is an assurance that living a kingdom life will lead to rewards. The experience of the third servant is perhaps the experience of the one who at the end of the Sermon on the Mount cries out, “Lord, Lord.” This third servant certainly believed in his Lord’s power, but he still did nothing, and his failure to live out the vocation his Master had given him–“to do the will of the Father,” as Jesus puts it in the Sermon on the Mount–ended in disaster for him. God does not demand that we succeed, but God does demand that we act.

Saint of the Day: The Servant of God Marcello Candia was the third of five brothers, born on July 27, 1916 near Naples, Italy in a rich family from Milan. Marcello’s father had many industrial factories in Naples, Pisa, and other cities. Marcello’s father was not a very devout believer. He was a very honest and hard-working man and loved his wife (a very devout Catholic) very tenderly. Marcello was very close to his mother. From her mother Marcello inherited a simple but staunch faith combined to a great love and solidarity for the needy and faithfulness to prayer. Marcello’s mother died in 1933, at the age of 42 when Marcello was 17.

marcello_candia_4Marcello was a very bright student at Pavia University, where at 23, he graduated in Chemistry. He continued his studies and got a degree in Pharmacy and Biology as well. In 1943, Marcello met the Franciscan Capuchins in Milan, who led him to social activities in support of the needy. In 1950, Marcello met two Italian missionaries from Brazil, who greatly influenced him: a Capuchin Father Beretta and a PIME Father Pirovano, the future bishop of Macapa, Brazil. These two missionaries opened Marcello’s eyes to the needs of the poor and sick in Brazil. Marcello decided to work with Fr. Pirovano. He started making his first contacts and made several trips to the Amazon region to have a first look at the candiaplace where he would live as a missionary. But that same year, Marcello’s father died and he was left with the heavy responsibility of conducting the huge family business. His missionary dream had to be postponed. On the night of August 22, 1955, another tragedy seemed to shatter definitely his dream. A huge fire destroyed his factory and caused immense damage to the adjacent area. Marcello had to deal with hundreds of legal implications and had to start all over again to rebuild the industry, make it running properly before he could leave for Macapa.

It was only in 1965 that Marcello could make the final decision of selling everything and going to Macapa (against the advice of most of his friends). Once on Brazilian soil, Marcello had to face many difficulties. marcello_candia_0His best friend and supporter, Bishop A. Pirovano was no longer in Brazil; he had been called back to Italy. Many missionaries did not understand Marcello’s plans. At 50, he found it very hard to learn Portuguese. Even some local government officials became suspicious of the intentions of this Italian business man. He was even accused of mishandling money. Among all sorts of misundarstandings, Marcello began putting all his energies, talents and wealth at creating his immense web of works of mercy: first a huge hospital at Macapa, then a Leprosy Center at Marituba, followed by 14 other centers and two Carmelite convents for contemplative prayer.

Marcello’s health deteriorated quickly. In 1967 suffered a first heart attack, followed by four more. Finally, Marcello Candia died, not of heart attack but of cancer, on August 31, 1983 in a hospital in Milano. His cause was introduced in 1990, and the formal investigation into his virtues was completed and turned over to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints in 1998.

Spiritual reading: God is a being beyond being. This is why Saint Augustine says that the most beautiful thing which a person can say about God consists in that person’s being silent from the wisdom of an inner wealth. So be silent and do not flap your gums about God. Nor should you want to know anything about God, for God is above all knowledge. (Meister Eckhart)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on August 30, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went 8ff7e95b7050fa83b0498d689425703c_w600off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: One of the greatest sources of unhappiness in the world is distraction. We are distracted from what we are doing, from the person we are with, from the present moment. The cure for distraction is attention. If I have a problem and go to my friend to seek advice, I tell my friend what is happening and ask my friend to give me attention. That’s the most important thing my friend can do for me in that moment. When people give us their attention in such circumstances, they give us the gift of self.

When we receive attention, we are receiving a loving gesture: the gift of self is a gift that is rich and rewarding for both the giver and the receiver. Attention is the essential quality of all human relationships. We pay attention to people whom we love. Five of the virgins in today’s gospel are distracted–they are not attuned to the Bridegroom; their distraction suggests that they have preferred something else to the Bridegroom, that they have fallen out of love with him. Attention means focus–being fixed on the work before us. When the five virgins pay attention to the arrival of the Bridegroom, they are loving him, and their love readies them to greet the Bridegroom upon his arrival.

11205112_119790598046Saint of the day: Blessed Alfredo Ludovico Schuster was born on January 18, 1880 in Rome, Italy. He entered the Benedictine monastery of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls when he was 11 and was ordained a priest in 1904. He served his own community in various offices until he was elected abbot in 1918. He taught at several pontifical institutes, served as consultor to the Sacred Congregation of Rites, and held other high offices. He was appointed Archbishop of Milan in 1929 and subsequently became a Cardinal. Bishop Afredo gave priority to catechesis and promoted the role of the laity in the parish and in Catholic Action. He denounced Fascism and its racist ideology and refused to participate in a ceremony that involved Mussolini. He championed the cause of the poor during World War II, founded the Institute of Ambrosian Chant and Sacred Music and the Ambrosianeum and Didascaleion cultural centers. Above all, he proposed holiness as a goal for all, and the only means to human happiness. In 1954 he withdrew to Venegono Seminary, where he died on August 30, 1954 with an encouragement to become holy on his lips. He was beatified on May 12, 1996.

Spiritual reading: The spiritual life can only be lived in the present moment, in the now. All the great religious traditions insist upon this simple but difficult truth. When we go rushing ahead into the future or shrinking back into the past, we miss the hand of God, which can only touch us in the now. (Cynthia Bourgeault)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on August 29, 2013

8e095f02180d4c6b044fc3249d5af2f0_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 24:42-51

Jesus said to his disciples: “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: This reading from Jesus’ sermon about the last things suggests that the Lord is coming at a time we cannot know and that the wise policy is to live our lives in anticipation of the day and hour of the Lord’s return, a time that is hidden from us. There are different ways to learn from this passage. Of course, we can understand this reading in the context of the Lord’s second coming at the end of time, but isn’t one of the lessons of Christian life that the Lord is ever at hand. Living our lives in anticipation of Jesus’ return is not just living for the end. It is also living for the moment, for we know from our experience that the Lord is in our midst at every instant. Lives lived in courteousness, kindness, justice, and love are lives lived not to encounter the Lord at some remote hour but to open ourselves to find him right here, right now.

Saint of the day: Blessed Euphrasia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, C.M.C., was an east Indian Carmelite Religious Sister of the Syro-Malabar Church, one of the uniate churches. She was born Rosa Eluvathingal on October 7, 1877, in the village of Kattoor, near the city of Thrissur in Kerala, India. Her parents were Cherpukaran Antony and Kunjethy Eluvathingal, who were wealthy landowners. She was baptized on October 25, 1877 in the Mother of Carmel Church in Edathuruthy Her mother was a devout Catholic, who taught her to pray the rosary and to participate in the Mass. From the stories that her mother told her, especially about St. Rose of Lima, after whom she had been named, Rose grew up with a strong desire to practice a virtuous life, to suffer Blessed Euphrasia of the Sacred Heart of Jesusfor Jesus, and to be holy, and to do all this in a quiet, hidden manner. This all took deeper root when, at the age of nine, Rose experienced an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which led her to make a commitment never to marry, and to commit her entire life to God.

As she grew older, Rose desired to enter the Sisters of the Mother of Carmel, the first indigenous congregation of Religious Sisters in the Syro-Malabar Church, who follow the Rule of the Third Order of the Discalced Carmelites. She was opposed in this by her father, however, who wanted to arrange a marriage for her with the son of some of the other prosperous families in the region. She spent the next two years in prayer, fasting and acts of penance, to the degree that she was seriously ill for much of this period. Seeing her resolve, her father finally relented, and himself accompanied her to the convent.

Rose entered the Carmelites in 1888 at their convent in Koonammavu, at the age of ten. When she reached her maturity, she was received as a postulant in 1897, taking the name Sister Euphrasia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and was admitted to the novitiate of the congregation in January 1898. The constant ill health she experienced, however, threatened her life in the convent, as the Superiors considered dismissing her because of it. Sister Euphrasia soon had a vision of the Holy Family, at which point the illness she had long felt ceased. Sister Euphrasia made her solemn profession in May 1900. She was appointed as the Novice Mistress of the congregation in 1904 and served in this position until 1913, addressed as Mother Euphrasia. She was appointed Superior of the Sisters’ convent in Ollur in 1913, where she was to live the rest of her life, serving as Mother Superior until 1916. Despite these duties, she endeavored to lead a life of constant prayer and of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, constantly trying to atone for the sins committed against him, becoming known by many people as the “Praying Mother.” Mother Euphrasia spent much of her day in the convent chapel before the Blessed Sacrament, to which she had a strong devotion. She also nourished a great love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary, as a result of which, she would promote devotion to the Eucharist and to the Rosary to all those with whom she came into contact. Mother Euphrasia died on August 29, 1952 in Ollur, Thrissur, Kerala, India of natural causes. She was beatified in 2006.

Spiritual reading: A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God. (Thomas Merton)

Homily September 1, 2013 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on August 29, 2013

As we look around us, we see all kinds of stores and shops and places to eat. If you think about it, we spend a lot of time and money and space in our concern about feeding and sustaining ourselves. All through history this has been evident, and it is a reality among every species. As human beings we have taken eating a meal to a very important act of living. So much we do is centered around eating whether it be an important decision-making meeting, or the interlude between business sessions, or a dinner or banquet for some stated occasion. Even in the family home,there are formularies followed by each family much in line with the schedules of the particular family. In fact, when all are present, a certain ritual develops in each household. Part of ritual or form would be the seating of all the participants. From the gospel, we see that this was certainly a concern in Jesus’ time. Meals and dining were a statement, a way of life, a way of asserting status. Everyone was invited for a reason, a benefit for the giver of the dinner in some way. Reciprocation was always a part of these reasons. The host would certainly be expressing his status in the community and his familiarity with the others he invited.
While Jesus accepted the invitation as he often did in his lifetime, we see today the little twist he puts on the occasion and offers his own prescription for remedy of the faults of the system. He points out that many rush for the prime seating, only to find that more distinguished guests are there than them. He points out that if we had the proper humility, we wouldn’t presume we were owed the places of honor and should simply be seated. It shouldn’t be a false humility, but the realization that in reality the places of honor are passing and not important in light of the fact that in reality we are all the same except for perhaps that moment. He even goes so far as to say that the poor, the hungry, the deprived, the lame and others without food should be invited. Repayment or reciprocation should not be our motive. The coming together and sharing will be rewarded in the time of resurrection.

One final thought of the reading of the banquet in today’s reading. When we come to Mass, I think sometimes we forget that originally Jesus was the host at a final meal. We forget that the disciples were gathered around eating and drinking when Jesus introduced a whole new meaning to eating and drinking. Anew food and drink, His own Body and Blood. At this table there is only one host and all share equally in the food and drink. This table excludes no one and should be inviting all to partake. We must realize that we can exalt ourselves by extending this invitation.

Carry the gospel with you

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

christ-1585.jpg!BlogGospel reading of the day:

Matthew 23:27-32

Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out!”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In excoriating the deceit of the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus notes that even as they plot to kill him they congratulate themselves that if they had lived in the days of the prophets for whom they erected elaborate burial places, they would not have participated in the prophets’ assassinations. Kingdom values are about honesty and integrity of life–saying yes when we mean yes and no when we mean no–recognizing and acknowledging our strengths and weaknesses alike.

Saint of the day: Teresa Bracco was born on February 24, 1924 in the village of Santa Giulia (Diocese of Acqui), Italy, to Giacomo Bracco and Anna Pera, two humble and devoutly Catholic farmers. From an early age she showed signs of great piety, particularly a love of the Eucharist and a tender devotion to the Virgin Mary. After a long day of tiring work, her father would lead the family in reciting the Rosary. TERESA BRACCOTeresa learned to pray by following her parents’ example. The formation she received at home was strengthened by the catechesis given by an exceptional parish priest, Fr Natale Olivieri, who gave her many religious books to read but, most importantly, inspired her by his holy life. At school, Teresa’s teachers marveled at her exemplary conduct. As a young girl and throughout her adolescence she was often found in church with her eyes fixed on the tabernacle, immobile and almost ecstatic in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. She spared no sacrifice to nourish her love for Christ in the Eucharist, rising early in the morning and walking over a kilometer to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion. She spent the rest of her day in work and prayer, fingering her rosary when her tasks allowed it. One of her most striking virtues, however, was her modesty in speech and dress. She instinctively fled from trivial conversations. One witness said: “She was different from the other girls”. At the age of nine, she saw a picture of the then Ven. Dominic Savio in the Bollettino Salesiano, with the caption: “Death rather than sin.” She exclaimed: “That goes for me!” She cut out the picture, pasted it on a card and hung it over her bed. It remained her favorite object of devotion for the rest of her life.

21258394In the autumn of 1943 guerrilla warfare intensified in the Acqui region. The mountains and woods afforded many hiding places for partisans and draft resisters. On 24 July 1944 a fierce clash occurred between partisan forces and German troops on the road between Cairo Montenotte and Cortemilia. The next day the Germans returned to collect their dead: they burned farms, looted homes and terrorized the people. They extended the round-up to the entire area and on August 28, 1944 reached Santa Giulia, which they thought was as a stronghold of the partisans, even though the latter had moved elsewhere. They seized three girls, one of whom was Teresa. A soldier, perhaps a non-commissioned officer, took her to a deserted place in the woods. Indomitable, Teresa tried to run from the thicket in the hope of getting help from a nearby family. But the soldier grabbed her and threw her to the ground. She resisted the savage aggression with all her might, but the enraged man throttled her until she choked. He shot her twice with his revolver and to vent his rage, crushed part of her skull with his boot. Teresa had fulfilled her intention: “I would rather be killed than give in.” She was beatified in 1998.

Spiritual reading: Late have I loved Thee, O Lord; and behold, Thou wast within and I without, and there I sought Thee. Thou wast with me when I was not with Thee. Thou didst call, and cry, and burst my deafness. Thou didst gleam, and glow, and dispel my blindness. Thou didst touch me, and I burned for Thy peace. For Thyself Thou hast made us, and restless our hearts until in Thee they find their ease. Late have I loved Thee, Thou Beauty ever old and ever new. Thou hast burst my bonds asunder; unto Thee will I offer up an offering of praise. (Augustine of Hipppo)

Carry the gospel with you

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

fbc8b7ca5712f24ea22daf41852763fd_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 23:23-26

Jesus said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. But these you should have done, without neglecting the others. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Spiritual practices can sometimes have the appearance of performance art. Jesus doesn’t hold back on his expression of disgust at scrupulous religion which is only skin deep. But Jesus in this gospel passage does not counsel abandonment of the exterior practices. I think it’s because Jesus understood that we are what we do. A spirituality which is disembodied, that is, a spirituality which does not include outward physical actions, is hard to maintain. There is no unmediated experience of the divine, and as embodied beings we need to cultivate an embodied spirituality. It is worth noting that Jesus does not condemn a heartfelt attention to the rigors of religious practice. But what he does ask of us is that whatever our external practices, we pay the greatest heed to the demands of justice, love, and integrity. Religious activities without interiority are lifeless, but spiritual intentions not realized in physical signs are phantasms.

Saint of the day: Son of an Argentine of German descent, Sara Altgelt Tornquist, and Alexander Shaw, of Scottish descent, the Servant of God Enrique Shaw was born in Paris on February 26, 1921. In 1923, his family returned to the country of origin. His mother died when Enrique was four, but her husband realized Sara’s wish for his religious upbringing. Enrique studied shaw5at the Colegio de La Salle in the city of Buenos Aires, where he was an outstanding student. In early 1936, he entered the Naval Academy despite initial opposition from her father, who wanted him to prepare to run the family business. He was among the best students in his the Academy and was Argentina’s youngest Academy graduate to become a Navy officer.

From a young age he began reading all kinds of books, especially in economics, politics, philosophy, history, and science. In late summer 1939 in the library of the Ocean of Mar del Plata, he found by chance a book by Cardinal Suhard on the role and responsibilities of Christian life. There he encountered for the first time the social doctrine of the Church and experienced a deep conviction about what should be his way of life. He always called it his “final conversion.”

He left the Navy with the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade and, back in Argentina, joined as executive of Rigolleau Cristalerías. In a short time he became Director General. During those years, he was forming a spirituality related to his vocation of Christian businessman. He joined the Catholic Action and the Christian Family Movement. He married Cecilia Bunge in 1943. In 1945 he was EnriqueShawsent by the Navy to the Chicago State University in the United States to study meteorology. But it was in that year, when his family was established and growing, he finally realized that God asked him for specific ministry; a priest, seeing his profile, persuaded him to carry the gospel to the businesses that belonged to his family.

In 1946 the bishops sought to create an active organization for entrepreneurs to grow in Christian commitment. In 1952, Enrique founded the Christian Association of Business Executives and served as its first president. An intense evangelization aimed at entrepreneurs in Argentina as the result of it ensured. In 1957, cancer was discovered. Thereafter, Enrique began to fight the disease, but this did not prevent him from giving conferences and lectures, editing publications, and preparing his diary and many manuscripts. In 1958, he helped create the Catholic University of Argentina and became a member of the first Board of Directors. He participated in the founding of Caritas and the Serra Club. He also became president of Catholic Action. His increasingly fragile health deteriorated in 1962, but he maintained to the end his work as a business leader. He died on August 27, 1962 at age 41. The investigation into whether his virtues were heroic commenced in 2001.

Spiritual reading: Jesus will say over and over again in his encounters with sinners and his disciples, “Today salvation has come to this house,” and the psalmist sings out, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it.” Today is this day, every day, any day.Today we can start. Today everything can start. There is only today with God. (Megan McKenna)

Carry the gospel with you

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

41272cc87a62bd86f0b77e6db9f28323_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 23:13-22

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’ Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’ You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus calls us to a religion of the heart that is authentic and transparent. He calls us to carry the good that is inside us into the world, not as some mere show or spectacle designed to gain the respect of other people but so that our light may shine before other that they may see our good works and give glory to our heavenly Father.

Saint of the day: Maria Troncatti was born in Cortegno Golgi (Brescia) on February 16, 1883. She grew up happy and hardworking in her numerous family, dividing her time between the farm and caring for her little brothers and sisters, in the warm and loving atmosphere created by her exemplary parents. She regularly attended catechism in her parish, where she developed a deep Christian spirit and opened her heart to the values of a religious vocation. She waited till she reached adulthood before asking to be admitted to the Institute of the Salesian Sisters. She made her first profession in 1908 at Nizza Monferrato.

Maria TroncattiDuring the First World War (1915-18) Sr. Maria took a course in health care in Varazze and worked as a Red Cross nurse in the military hospital. This experience was to prove very valuable in the course of her long missionary life in the Amazon forests of Ecuador. She left for Ecuador in 1922 and was sent to work among the Shuar people where, together with two other Sisters, she began the difficult work of evangelization. They faced dangers of every kind, including those caused by the beasts of the forest and by fast flowing rivers that had to be waded through or crossed on fragile “bridges” made from creepers or on the shoulders of the Indians. Macas, Sevillia Don Bosco, Sucúa are some of the “miracles” of Sr. Maria Troncatti’s work that still flourish. She was nurse, surgeon, orthopedist, dentist, anesthetist. But, above all, she was catechist and evangelizer, rich in the wonderful resources of her faith, patience and fraternal love. Sr. Maria died in a tragic air crash at Sucúa on August 25, 1969. Her remains lie at Macas, in the Province of Morona (Ecuador). She was beatified in 2012.

Spiritual reading: One good thing that silence and waiting has taught me is that our lives are always usable by God. We need not always be effective, but only transparent and vulnerable. Then we are instruments, no matter what we do. (Richard Rohr)

A Message on Social Justice From the Presiding Bishop of CACINA

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on August 25, 2013

Bishop Anthony Santore, Presiding Bishop of CACINA and Pastor of Holy Trinity Parish, Herndon, Virginia

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Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from. And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob 92d19c83ea04046051490a025607455e_w600and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The question of what happens to us when we die occurs to all of us. The Christian answer has always been that we ultimately wind up in heaven or hell. There has been a certain reluctance in some Christian communities to speak of hell, and many very thoughtful believers have denied it exists. The question that makes an obstacle for most Christians who deny hell is how a loving God could condemn a soul to misery for eternity. I think I would be in this camp, except that the idea of hell is something that Jesus repeatedly mentions throughout the gospels. Jesus taught there is a hell and that people go there.

The great Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner, who died in 1983, proposed the idea that when we die, we sum up our existence before God. In the moment of death, we have decided who we are and what we are in relationship to God. Rahner taught that God does not judge and condemn us but rather, at the moment of death, invites us to come. It is we who decide whether or not to do that. If our lives have left us open to the invitation, we go to God; if our lives have been a series of rejections of intimacy with God, then God respects our freedom to not come. The gospel passage today starts with the question, “How many will be saved?” Because Jesus says people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south, perhaps his answer was essentially, “Many will be saved.”

Spiritual reading: If we want to be spiritual, then, let us first of all live our lives. Let us not fear the responsibilities and the inevitable distractions of the work appointed for us by the will of God. Let us embrace reality and thus find ourselves immersed in the life-giving will and wisdom of God which surrounds us everywhere. (Thomas Merton)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Matthew 22:34-40

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

Reflection on the gospel reading: We Christians believe that God is love, and for this reason, love is the creative force that forms and binds everything that exists. God asks us to live fearlessly this call to love. John of the Cross once wrote that in the evening of our lives, God will judge us on love alone. It is our prayer of the everyday that when we come to the evening of our lives, and we are judged on love alone, we will not be found wanting. As Joanna Macy once wrote, “The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.”

Saint of the day: Sr. Maria Alfonsa of the Child Jesus–Elena Bruno at birth–was born in Tarquinia, Italy, April 10th, 1937. She was a vivacious girl who grew up with her father, mother, and six siblings. She fell in love with a young man who her father thought was inappropriate and was sent to live with her aunt. During this period, she had a mystical experience 1355251900where she heard the Blessed Mother encourage her to enter religious life. When Elena announced to her family that she was entering religious life, their reaction was unanimous outrage. Her brother responded, “Better dead!” And her father refused her permission. Elena prayed fervently for her father to have a change of heart. One night, he had a dream of a huge, powerful man who told him, “Let her go. She does not belong to the world.” Her father then gave full consent to Elena’s call. On November 30th, 1956, Elena entered the community of the Handmaids of Reparation to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. When she pronounced her vows on December 30, 1957, she was given the name Sr. Maria Alfonsa of the Child Jesus.

In February 1960, she was sent to the United States as a missionary. In Steubenville, Ohio, Sr. Alfonsa helped with the humble chores around the house and in the pre-school run by the sisters. In 1961, Sr. Alfonsa began experiencing pain in the joints of her hands. Her health deteriorated to such an extent that in 1967 she was hospitalized and diagnosed with the serious chronic disease: rheumatoid arthritis. She and her sisters began a novena to the Founder of the Community, Monsignor Anthony Celona. On the ninth day of the novena, Monsignor Celona appeared to her over her bed. He told her, “You will be a saint.” Then he slowly waved his hand over her body. As he did so, a light began to radiate from her bones. She saw her own body as it would be in glory. Believing she had been cured, she fell asleep. However, the next morning she awoke in even more pain than before.

Her superiors decided the best way to help her was to have her return to Messina, and on June 7th, 1968, Sr. Alfonsa left the United States and returned to Italy. She spent the rest of her live in a wheel chair offering up all her sufferings with a smile for her mission which she had left in Steubenville, for her community, and for the holiness of priests. She would spend all day before Brunothe Blessed Sacrament praying in the back corner of the church. She called herself the Secretary of the Eucharistic King. Visitors would come to her throughout the day and ask for her prayers and advice. Sr. Alfonsa was always available to anyone and everyone and never betrayed her own sufferings which were her constant companions. Each year her disease grew progressively worse. Yet Sr. Alfonsa remained faithful and joyful in her sufferings to the last moment of her life. Very few people could understand her pain and there was nothing that was really able to minimize the pain. Sr. Alfonsa died on August 23rd, 1994. On June 21st, 2002, the process for the beatification and canonization of Sr. Alfonsa was officially opened. After years of examination, the Servant of God, Sr. Maria Alfonsa’s life was declared heroic and virtuous.

Spiritual reading: Stop the words now. Open the window in the center of your chest, and let the spirits fly in and out. (Rumi)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people in parables saying, “The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. head-of-christ-1650.jpg!BlogThe king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.

Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: We are what we do. We may feel God’s tug, but if we don’t move our feet in response, the tug is in vain. Expecting that because we’ve heard God’s invitation and said, “Yes,” we’re entitled to the feast, is a delusion that we all fall prey to. The victory is not won, nor is the battle o’er, at least in our lives, till the day we breathe our last. Until then, the challenge for us is showing up for the gospel, carrying it with us as we make our way from day to day: making it real in the little acts that fill up our seconds and minutes. Living the Kingdom means putting one foot in front of the other. It means allowing ourselves to be inconvenienced if it advances the Good News. It means living our, “Yes,” even when everything inside of us may be shouting, “I don’t want to do this.” It’s about being there for others; it’s about how we behave when others aren’t looking. Living the gospel must be all yes not just in what we say but what we do.

Saint of the day: Blessed Symeon Lukach was born in the village of Starunya, Stanislaviv Region of the Ukraine on July 7, 1893. His parents were peasant farmers. He entered the seminary in 1913. His studies were interrupted for two years during World War I, and he didn’t finish his training until 1919. In that year he was ordained a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest by Symeon LukachBishop Hryhory Khomyshyn. Fr. Symeon taught moral theology at the seminary in Stanislaviv until April 1945 when Khomyshyn ordained him an undergound bishop.

He was first arrested on October 26, 1949 by the NKVD, the Russian Communist secret police, and deported to Siberia for ten years hard labor. After serving half his sentence, he was released on February 11, 1955. After this, he served as an underground member of the clergy. In July 1962 he was arrested for a second time. He appeared in court with Bishop Ivan Sleziuk who was also an underground bishop. He was sentenced to five more years of labor. While he was in prison, he developed tuberculosis. He was released back to his village where he died on August 22, 1964. He was declared a martyr of the Church in April 2001 and beatified about two months later on June 27, 2001.

Spiritual reading: Kindle in our hearts, O God, the flame of that love which never ceases, that it may burn in us, giving light to others. May we shine forever in Thy holy temple, set on fire with Thy eternal light, Even Thy son, Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Redeemer. (Columban of Iona)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ c04062a56b4cf1b12b9eae74de3b9f59_w600So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: One traditional interpretation of this parable has been that been that the Father is as generous with people who convert at the end of their lives as the Father is with people who have followed the precepts of the gospel throughout their lives. That no doubt is true. But other interpretations are also possible. Taken from a social and political framework, our Lord was calling for just workplaces where laborers exchange their work for a living wage. The owner of the vineyard showcases a model of employment that ensures workers receive generous compensation for their work. The vineyard owner tells all the workers, both the ones who came earlier and the ones who arrived late, that on his land, everyone is equal and all the workers will have what they need to live. The justice of the Kingdom of God must also embrace employers and the workplace.

BlVictoireRasoamanarivo21-8Saint of the day: Blessed Victoria Rasoamanarivo was born in 1848 in the capital city of Antananarivo, Madagascar. Antananarivo, located in the center of the island, is capital of the kindgom of the Merina people. From 1828 to 1861, this area in Madagascar was ruled by Ranavalona I, the widow of Radama I, an astute and powerful queen not unlike Elizabeth I of England. Her powerful prime minister was Rainiharo, the grandfather of Blessed Victoria. Her brother also served a prime minister for almost 30 years.

At the age of 15, Victoria was baptized a Catholic and got married at age 17. She remained a Catholic even, when under Protestant influence in a less ecumenical age, French Catholic missionaries were expelled. Victoria remained faithful to her understanding of Church. From her position as a relative of the royal family, she became the protector of the Catholics. She managed to keep open the Catholic schools and the churches; she encouraged Catholics in the countryside through messengers; and she appealed directly to the queen and the prime minister on their behalf. In 1886 the Catholic missionaries were allowed to return to a community of 21,000 Catholics that had survived because of Blessed Victoria. She spent six or seven hours daily in prayer and performed works of charity for the poor and abandoned, for prisoners, and for lepers. In 1894, she died at the age of 46.

Spiritual reading: A Jesus who constantly tells you that you are great and Those People are the real trouble is a false one. (Mark P. Shea)

Homily August 25, 2013 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted in christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on August 20, 2013

Several weeks ago, we heard the gospel of a neighbor knocking at his friend’s door seeking bread because of the late arrival of guests. His friend gave him what he wanted only because of his persistence and the fact that he would wake everybody up if he didn’t give it to him. Today, we hear of another after hours knock on the door, but this time the Master of the house refuses to open it because he doesn’t know the person knocking. The visitor protests that he knows him and ate and drank with him, that he knew him in the streets, but the Master says even so he doesn’t know him. He is just some casual acquaintance, someone just passing by in the way of life. This door or gate is Jesus and is what he calls narrow, so small that only one person at a time enters. Each person must truly put on Christ literally to fit that narrow door. This faith, this commitment is so necessary. Whatever else we may do there is no other way than accepting Christ’s gift of Himself. In accepting Him we are able to have the door opened for us. Christ loves everybody, but if we don’t accept it then we have not accepted Him. This gift is not something we earn or can bargain for. It is a call to a relationship to a table where his body and blood become our food and drink. Our life becomes something new and active within a community of believers.

Christ’s gift is not meant to be a one time hit or miss thing. To be a follower is more than just a passing meeting on the road or occasional prayer or reflection. How truly spiritual or religious can we be if we have not the substantial food for the journey. How much have we taken His gift to heart and what have we done with it to make it a part of us and ourselves a part of him. Ironically, What we are and not simply what we do is what makes us known to Jesus. Taking His gift of faith and making it the core of our life opens and widens that narrow space we all have to go through. Life’s journey is not easy, and never was. Jesus came to show us the way to live a life. Each and everyday is important as we go about what to us might be simple, yet in the scheme of our life everything is important. In this way Jesus knows us and will open the door and say enter, come and stay with me.

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 19:23-30

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For 41faaa7e4777c9ed982a835637ea1aa8_w600men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: There is a theory that is popular and pervasive in our culture that not only is wealth good but that people who do not enjoy prosperity are bad. Many people who get red in the face professing their belief in Jesus hold this notion and act it out in the public square. Jesus was ambiguous about many things, but about wealth, poverty, and the duty of people who have to the people who do not have, Jesus could not have been clearer. To have anything in excess while there are those who lack basic necessities is a sin. When we receive our baptism, we take on a commitment to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, care for the sick, and visit the prisoner. This extends from the coins we fail to give the homeless guy on the street, to cutting food stamp benefits, to not providing healthcare to the marginalized. Anyone who fails to care for the poor, or still worse, declares war on them, sets himself or herself against God.

Georg HäfnerSaint of the day: Georg Häfner came from humble origins – his father Valentin Haefner was a municipal worker. He was born in October 1900 in Würzburg, Germany and baptized in the cathedral parish. In 1918 he passed the exam for military school. However, his parents also allowed him to study theology and two years after beginning to do so, he joined the Third Order of Discalced Carmelites. On April 13, 1924, Georg Häfner was ordained a priest and celebrated his first mass at the Kloster Himmelspforten in Würzburg. This was followed by several terms as a chaplain, before he was appointed pastor of Oberschwarzach in Franconia in 1934.

Häfner refused to give the Nazi salute, which made him unpopular to the Nazi regime as chaplain of the Altglashuetten district of Wildflecken. From 1938 onwards he was banned from giving Georg Häfnerreligious education at the local school in Oberschwarzach, meaning he had to hold first communion and confirmation classes in secret. Due to critical remarks against the Nazi regime in his teaching and preaching–he is said to have referred to them, among other things, as “brown dung beetles”–he was frequently arrested and questioned by the Gestapo.

In August 1941 a seriously-ill member of the Nazi party asked Häfner to come to give him the last rites. Häfner came as requested, but left the party-member to sign a deathbed confession that the man had violated a certain discipline of the Church. After reading a statement in church the following Sunday that the man was to be buried in church, Häfner was denounced by a second party member and arrested by the Gestapo. He was initially held in the Gestapo prison in Würzburg. Although Vicar-General Franz Miltenberger interceded for him, Häfner was moved to the so-called ‘priest block’ at Dachau on December 12, 1941 without a court-order. His prisoner number was 28876. He died there on August 20, 1942 from the effects of abuse and malnutrition. He was buried in the priests’ section of Würzburg’s Hauptfriedhof cemetery on September 18, 1942. He was beatified in 2011.

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

Carry the gospel with you

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

rembrandt_jesusGospel reading of the day:

Matthew 19:16-22

A young man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Reflection on the gospel reading: The invitation to the rich young man to come follow me is the same invitation Jesus extended to his disciples. Peter, Andrew, James, and John all responded to Jesus’ call to follow him by abandoning their families, nets, and everything they owned, but the rich young man in today’s gospel passage couldn’t do the same. The young man trusts his wealth will protect him. It was not because he possessed wealth that he could not say yes to Jesus; it was because his wealth possessed him. The story of the rich young man, in his inability to say yes, instructs us in the kind of interior freedom that God requires of us if we are to say yes to Jesus’ invitation to us.

Saint of the day: Ezekiel Moreno was born in the city of Alfaro, Spain, on April 9, 1848, of poor but committed Christian parents. His early years were seemingly ordinary and uneventful ones in which Ezekiel came to be remembered as an obedient son, a loving brother, a good companion to his friends, and a diligent student. Following the example of an older brother, he St. Ezekiel Morenoentered the Recollect Congregation of the Augustinian Order in Monteagudo in 1864. After studying theology and the profession of solemn vows, he and seventeen other young friars set sail for the Philippine Islands, landing in Manila in February 1870. In June 1871 he was ordained a priest and embarked upon an enthusiastic ministry among the island people which lasted for over fifteen years. In 1885 his superiors recalled him to Spain to become rector of the college and novitiate of Monteagudo, where he remained for three years.

In 1888 he volunteered once again for the missions, this time in Colombia, and was placed in charge of a new effort there to restore the ancient Recollect province of Candelaria with an appointment as prior provincial. Under his leadership the friars began mission work in the difficult Plains of Casanare. On May 1, 1894 Ezekiel was ordained bishop, becoming the first Vicar Ezekiel MorenoApostolic of Casanare, pleasing religious and civic authorities and the people, who all held him in great esteem. Less than two years later he was promoted to the Metropolitan See of Pasto. During his pastorate there, Colombia was plagued with war from 1899 until 1902, In this difficult situation Bishop Moreno proved himself to be a great defender of the Church and a voice of strength and clarity for his people.

Bishop Moreno was found to be suffering from cancer and was advised by physicians to return to Europe to receive proper treatment. Contrary to his own desire, but upon the insistence of the religious and clergy of the diocese, he departed Pasto in December 1905 and was operated on in Madrid the following February, and again in March. Recognizing that the end was drawing near he asked to spend his final days in Monteagudo, Spain, where he died on August 19, 1906 in the monastery where he entered the Augustinian Order and served as rector. He was canonized in 1992.

Spiritual reading: What could be meant by a peace which is not like the kind the world gives? . . . It is the peace of a soul that through love has come to dwell entirely in heaven and to share in heaven’s own peace, regardless of anything earthly that can happen to it. (Charles de Foucauld)

Carry the gospel with you

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

769934b027a51f3cac20be9d4a0238f9_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 19:13-15

Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

Reflection on the gospel reading: This story appears in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Though Mark and Luke recount that Jesus touches the children, only Matthew tells us he lays hands on them and prays over them. Matthew’s gloss is important, because the laying on of hands in prayer in both the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament is a sign of giving the Holy Spirit and dedicating people to mission. For example, Moses lays hands on Joshua, who is through this sign “filled with the spirit of wisdom;” in the Acts of the Apostle, Peter and John lay their hands on converts to give them the gift of the Spirit; and when the apostles choose seven deacons to serve the community, they lay hands on them to dedicate them to service.

When Jesus lays his hands on the children and prays over them, he is implicitly calling the Holy Spirit upon them and commissioning these little ones. Jesus elsewhere in the gospel tells us what their mission is: they are to witness to us. The children are the ones who sit in the marketplace and fearlessly and unselfconsciously tell us hard truths about our inability to live authentically: We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn. Because of children’s prophetic nature, Jesus tells his disciples that we are to become like them if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven. If we are to follow Jesus, we must become true in our lives and witness, for it is these truth tellers–these children–who behave as they say they believe and are the ones whom Jesus calls to himself.

Saint of the day: The Servant of God Vinicio Bonifacio Dalla Vecchia was born on February 23, 1924 in Perarolo di Vigonza, Padua, Italy. At the end of elementary school he attended a vocational school to study agriculture. During the period of his studies, Vinicio made a commitment to his parish and diocese, becoming in 1939 secretary of the youth of Catholic vinicioAction of Perarolo, and in 1941, the president of the Italian youth component of Catholic Action. He graduated in 1943 and sought to continue his studies in the field, but the war forced him to leave school. In September 1943, he attended a course of spiritual exercises, which deeply influenced his spiritual life. From that time forward, Vinicio committed himself to charitable activities, Christian mission, and spirituality.

Dalla_VecchiaIn 1944, he decided to abandon agriculture and pursue a career in medicine. In 1945 he enrolled in a school of medicine and surgery at the University of Padua, where he graduated in 1951. He continued his participation in Catholic Action even during his medical studies and sought to bring his vision of Christian commitment to even his political activities. As a physician he practiced first as an assistant at the Institute of Medical Pathology at the University of Padua between 1951 and 1952 and later at the Institute of Occupational Medicine, where in 1953, he became a specialist in diseases of the respiratory system. On August 17, 1954 he died, along with his cousin, a Salesian priest, falling in a mountain climbing accident. The Diocese of Padua opened an investigation into his virtues in 2000.

Spiritual reading: If something uncharitable is said in your presence, either speak in favor of the absent, or withdraw, or if possible, stop the conversation. (John Vianney)