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Carry the gospel with you

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

Giovanni MeschiniGospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:46-50

An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John said in reply, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.” Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus tells John not to prevent others from speaking truth even if they are not followers of Jesus. If God is God, God is everywhere, and God’s hand appears in unexpected places–in the work of religious and non-religious people, atheists, agnostics, and people who are simply apathetic about the possibility of more than we can sense. Certainly we Christians always hold our faith in Jesus close and do not compromise what we have received through the teachings entrusted us, but God is too big for anyone of us or our systems to comprehend. For this reason, we train our hearts to encounter the truth in new and surprising ways and in places we never anticipated we would find it.

Saint of the day: Alfred Pampalon was born on November 24, 1867, in the city of Levis, near Quebec City. Even at an early age, people recognized his virtue. As a student, Alfred radiated goodness, loved to laugh and joke, and excelled at sports, becoming a recognized athlete among his peers. He was a role model for his fellow students who, instead of feeling inferior, looked up to him and showed him great affection. Alfred desired to become a Redemptorist priest and after entering, traveled to Belgium to study for the priesthood.

Alfred_PampalonOn October 4, 1892, he was ordained a priest. He served the poor and the suffering, leading people to love God and find peace. He was both gentle and personable. He loved the Eucharist. He was nicknamed the “Lamb of God” because of his spirituality.

Still a very young man, Alfred manifested symptoms of tuberculosis. He suffered from tuberculosis for two years when on September 4, 1895, he left Belgium to return home to Canada. At the Basilica of Saint Anne de Beaupre, although his health was failing rapidly, Alfred was able to preach, hear confessions, baptize, act as a spiritual director, and give comfort to the poor for a few more months. By August 1896, dropsy affected his legs, his body, and even his face. In September, his body ached all over, and he could find no comfortable position to rest in. He still managed to show kindness to other sick Redemptorists with a few words and a smile. On the evening of September 29, 1896, the dying priest, remaining perfectly lucid, prayed continuously. Suddenly, he sat up straight, and in a strong healthy voice began to sing the Magnificat. A little before 8:00 on the morning of September 30, 1896, he opened his eyes and looked up smiling, dying at the age of 28. Alfred was declared venerable in 1991.

Spiritual reading: As we learn to live fluidly and generously, leaning into the wind of that divine abundance, we literally participate in making manifest the Mercy of God, which saturates our planet with meaning and draws all things together in a single dynamic web of belonging. (Cynthia Bourgeault)

Carry the gospel with you

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

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Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 16:19-31

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

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

Reflection on the gospel reading: It is unsettling, I think, for many Christians to read this parable, because a version of Christianity has taken root in America that is adverse to the implications of what Jesus is saying here. The rich man in today’s parable may have worked very hard for the things he had; he may have sacrificed much to obtain his position; he probably loved his wife and children; and perhaps he was a faithful participant in Sabbath prayers at the synagogue and rigorously devoted to adherence to the Law. Why should God not reward such a man? Why would God prefer the worthless homeless man who apparently never produced anything to benefit society–perhaps never lifted a hand to do a bit of work?

It may not seem fair to many people who work hard for what they have in life, but the scriptures are clear that God loves the poor–not because they’re good or productive, but simply because they’re poor. They have a leg up in the kingdom of God. As for the rich man, whatever merits arise from his faithfulness to his duties, he did not know what justice means. He did not know what love means. He did not know what a truly human society means. He did not know what religion means.

Jesus came to turn the world upside down, and it is indeed unsettling for us that many who are first now will be last, while many who are last will be first.

Spiritual reading: The human soul is to God is as the flower to the sun; it opens at its approach, and shuts when it withdraws. (Benjamin Whichcote)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:18-22

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, 775b9dc868b1a132ec3f27f88f1e171d_w600‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage begins with Jesus praying in solitude. In the stillness, as evidenced by the question Jesus poses to his disciples when he emerges from his meditation, the Lord sits with the issue of who he is. When we still all the interior voices and become empty in the presence of God, in a seamless embrace of I and Thou, we are stripped of all our fantasies and illusions, and naked before God, there is nothing in us but the one whom God sees completely, honestly, lovingly. In surrendering our identity to God, we discover our identity in God.

Saint of the day: Born at Pouy, Gascony, France, in 1580 into a peasant family, Vincent de Paul died at Paris, September 27, 1660. He made his humanities studies at Dax with the Cordeliers, and his theological studies, interrupted by a short stay at Saragossa, were made at Toulouse where he graduated in theology. Ordained in 1600, he remained at Toulouse or in its vicinity acting as tutor while continuing his own studies

saint-vincent-de-paulThe deathbed confession of a dying servant opened Vincent’s eyes to the crying spiritual needs of the peasantry of France. This seems to have been a crucial moment in the life of the man from a small farm in Gascony, France, who had become a priest with little more ambition than to have a comfortable life.

It was the Countess de Gondi (whose servant he had helped) who persuaded her husband to endow and support a group of able and zealous missionaries who would work among the poor, the vassals and tenants and the country people in general. Vincent was too humble to accept leadership at first, but after working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, he returned to be the leader of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians. These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages.

Later Vincent established confraternities of charity for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick of each parish. From these, with the help of St. Louise de Marillac, came the Daughters of Charity, “whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city.” He organized the rich women of Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects, founded several hospitals, collected relief funds for the victims of war and ransomed over 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa. He was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse and ignorance among them. He was a pioneer in clerical training and was instrumental in establishing seminaries.

Most remarkably, Vincent was by temperament a very irascible person—even his friends admitted it. He said that except for the grace of God he would have been “hard and repulsive, rough and cross.” But he became a tender and affectionate man, very sensitive to the needs of others.

Spiritual reading: It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible. If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed to God as your prayer…. Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity. (Vincent de Paul)

Carry the gospel with you

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

LargeJesusGospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:7-9

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead”; others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”; still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.” But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him.

Reflection on the gospel reading: In the gospel, Herod has been hearing about Jesus and the wonders he works. Herod seeks an opportunity to see the Lord but he seeks the Lord with neither love nor faith in him. Saint Richard of Chichester prayed, “Day by day, dear Lord, of thee three things I pray: To see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day.” Trying to see Jesus in the complete gospel sense–in the sense that Richard prayed to have–calls us to faith, love, and discipleship. It is not in looking at Jesus as an amusement or distraction, but in patterning our lives on the Lord’s, that we come to see him.

Saint of the day: Adelė Dirsytė was born in April 1909 in Lithuania, the youngest child of the farmers Antanas Dirsė and Agota Kagaišytė. Her parents instilled the value of industriousness in their three daughters and three sons. Of the six siblings, only Adelė and her brother Jonas received higher studies. In 1928, Adelė became a philosophy major at the Vytautas Magnus University. She also became engaged in the activities of a Catholic federation and gave lectures in meetings of Catholic organizations. She left the university in 1932 without finishing her degree. The university’s faculty council, however, bestowed it on her in 1940. Once out of the university, Adelė became more actively involved in a variety of Catholic organizations.

When the Soviet occupation of Lithuania began in 1940, Adelė moved to Vilnius and worked as a teacher in a secondary school for young women. In the following years of German occupation during World War II, she worked as a ADELĖGerman teacher in a trade school and in an adult education school. She ministered to students and, together with a priest, organized relief for those who were in need. She assisted in hiding Jewish people from the Nazis. After the Soviets reoccupied Lithuania in 1944, an organized resistance struggled for Lithuanian independence. Adelė took part in the resistance as she worked to strengthen her people’s religious and national traditions. On March 6, 1946, she was arrested for hiding and abetting a person who had escaped from Soviet security arrest. She was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 10 years in a concentration camp and five years of restriction of her rights.

Adelė was moved from camp to camp. Despite the hardships and their effect on her health, Adelė organized her fellow inmates to have discussions, celebrate religious feasts, and recite the rosary. She even at one point smuggled the Eucharist she received from a priest to her fellow inmates and wrote Prayer Book of Girls Exiled in Siberia. It was a small handwritten book of forty pages, sewn together and bound with fabric covers decorated with ornaments. The prayers were rewritten and amended with new ones; eventually the book was smuggled to the United States where it was published.

When tortured by prison guards for her faith, she encouraged other prisoners who were concerned about her treatment to pray for the guards. In the late autumn of 1953 on her return from work, Adelė was taken to the punishment cell for a week and subsequently to a mysterious location for the duration of winter. Mentally broken, Adelė was brought back to her camp the following April. Toward the end of 1954, Adelė was moved to the section for the mentally ill in the camp hospital. A death certificate from the hospital claimed that she died on September 26, 1955. With the memory of the teacher’s martyrdom persisting even after the democratization of Lithuania, the archdiocese of Kaunas began in 2000 to work for Adelė Dirsytė’s beatification.

Spiritual reading: The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything. (Juliana of Norwich)

Homily September 29, 2013 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on September 25, 2013

luke_16_rich_man_and_lazarus1Today Luke comes to the end of his section dealing with wealth, the difference between the rich and the poor. In this story, we see the rich man in splendor and Lazarus as a wretched beggar with sores and starving at the rich man’s door. After they both die, there is a role reversal with the rich man in torment and Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom. What is interesting here is the fact that no actual reason is given for the man being in torment other than he was rich and led a rather comfortable life. However if we look closely we can see that the seeds of the problem are visible. The rich man calls out to Abraham to send Lazarus with water for relief, and later to send him back to life to warn his brothers. What happens here is that even in the next life the rich man never acknowledges Lazarus as a man but as some kind of messenger or servant to be used for his own purposes. What is different from when he lay at his doorstep in life? He is just there, something like furniture to be used when needed. His wealth, his comfort were all that were important to him. The past prophets like Amos had warned of the tantalizing effect of wealth and comfort. If our faith and belief doesn’t prepare us, what will. Jesus has always preached that it wasn’t appearances or how we looked but who we were as persons. Even Abraham in the middle of the desert sat at the entrance of his tent and beckoned all who passed by with his hospitality and invited them to rest. He never asked who they were or where they were from. Such welcome must have been refreshing in an environment so difficult for traveling.

In the early times after Christ and today, Christians celebrate the Eucharist with everyone being invited to share at one All-are-welcome-graphic-Copytable. Today we welcome all to Christ’s table with no turning back of anyone who accepts Christ’s forgiveness and believes in the receiving of His body and blood. Each person who enters is unique and another link in a life to our own journey to the next life. What we have and give and share will always make us a better person. With the times seemingly dividing the so-called haves and have-nots today, it is incumbent that we not be overly consumed by what we have and accumulate. As the world seems to shrink today, we must take to heart the lesson of the rich man. Jesus didn’t really leave anything out. The man didn’t “do” anything wrong but actually his fault was in what he did not do.

This I think is our lesson today. Look about, see the world, the beauty, and all there is, especially those we pass and encounter. Salvation comes to very few for one big magnanimous act, such as a martyr. Salvation is faith played out day-to-day, task to task person to person. It can really be a joyful thing if we are joyful.

Carry the gospel with you

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

4a49eaeea690a4ac231777711802894d_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:1-6

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Like the Twelve, we are called. We are called to loose every demon and proclaim liberty to captives–to set the addicted free of whatever enslaves them. We are called to heal and promote wholeness wherever sickness and woundedness abide. We are called to live simply and take no more than we need for our journey. We are called to trust that God will provide for our needs. We are called to carry the gospel with us in what we say and what we do.

Saint of the day: Born in 1818 to Sicilian nobility, Giuseppe Benedetto Dusmet was the son of Marquis Luigi Dusmet. Educated at the abbey of San Martino delle Scales from when he was five-years-old, he became a n38433999278_7697Benedictine monk who made his formal vows on August 13, 1840 at the abbey of Monte Cassino. He taught philosophy and theology in Benedictine houses. A priest Giuseppe was prior of the monastery of San Severino, Naples from 1850 and became prior of the monastery of San Flavio, Caltanissetta, Sicily in 1852. From 1858, he was abbot of the monastery of San Nicolo l’Arena, Catania, Sicily. The monastery was later confiscated by the state soon after the founding of the kingdom of Italy. In 1867, he came archbishop of Catania, Sicily and a cardinal in 1889. He was beatified in 1988.

Spiritual reading: He did not say, ‘You will not be tempted, you will not be troubled, you will not be uncomfortable;” rather, he said, ‘You will not be overcome.’” (Revelations of Divine Love by Dame Juliana of Norwich)

Carry the gospel with you

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

4e762d6ff73b78a7b12b6fd6f6fe521c_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 8:19-21

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.” He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus in this passage of the gospel is not criticizing his family. Whatever his sense of his other family members, we know that elsewhere in Luke’s gospel, the evangelist praises Mary’s yes to God’s reign. Jesus in this passage instead makes the point that the connections we share with one another through our fidelity to the word of God–how we live it out in our daily lives–are what makes us members of Jesus’ family.

Saint of the day: Born in Buenos Aires in April 1867 of Italian immigrants from Genoa to Argentina, Victorina Rivara-Perazzo, received her religious education along with her sisters and brothers from their mother. Victorina had a desire to enter the convent, but various difficulties interfered, and in the end, she accepted these obstacles as signs that God intended for her a different vocation. She married the handsome young Rafael Perazzo in September 1887 when she was 20-years-old. Six years later she gave birth to her first son, Rafael; this birth was followed by the births of a son Rodolfo and a daughter Maria Angelica for a total of three children born to the couple. Victorina Rivara-PerazzoRafael was a good provider, and when Victorina’s husband died 38 years after he and Victorina married, he left her in a financially comfortable condition.

Victorina, for her part, was a good wife, but when her husband died she embraced a simpler lifestyle modeled on the pattern of Don Bosco. Having been educated by the Salesian Sisters, Victorina nurtured a great devotion by John Bosco. So with her daughter, Maria Angelica, she traveled to Europe in 1934 to participate in his canonization. Like Don Bosco, Victorina worked with the poor and especially with children using her wealth to establish schools for indigent children. She lived constantly anchored in God, receiving communion every morning, and practicing faith, hope, and love in her day-to-day life. Even though the good economic situation left to her by her husband might have prompted others to live a life of vanity, she displayed a sweet and humble disposition, speaking little. She died at the age of 90 on September 24, 1957. Her cause for beatification was opened in 1989.

Spiritual reading: This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you. (Hafiz)

Carry the gospel with you

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

0228f462a7428f34a78bb5f16e061b81_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 8:16-18

Jesus said to the crowd: “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus counsels us to pay attention to how we hear his word, because passivity in hearing is not the goal; what we hear must bear fruit in action, since the one the who has will get more, and the one who has not will have what he appeared to have taken away. For this reason, how we listen to Jesus has to be a hearing which understands, accepts, assimilates, and puts into practice. What we hear and assimilate, has to be passed on.

Saint of the day: The Servant of God Salvo D’Acquisto was born in October 1920 in Naples, Italy. He was the eldest of eight children, three of whom died in infancy and another sibling who died as a child. His father worked in a chemical factory. He left school at the age of 14, as was customary for working-class boys at the time. He volunteered to join the Carabinieri in 1939 and left for Libya the next year, a few months before the start of the Second World War. After being wounded in the leg, he remained with his division until he contracted malaria. He returned to Italy in 1942 to attend officer school. He graduated as a vice-sergeant and was assigned to an outpost in Torrimpietra, a little rural center on the Via Aurelia not far from Rome. In July 1943, Benito Mussolini was overthrown, and the new Italian government negotiated secretly with the Allies to switch sides. An armistice was officially announced on September 8, 1943.

410px-Salvo_D'AcquistoAround that date, a division of German SS troops camped near an old military installation previously used by the Guardia di Finanza, in the vicinity of Torre di Palidoro, which was in the territorial jurisdiction of the Torrimpietra station. On September 22, these German soldiers were inspecting boxes of abandoned munitions when there was an explosion. One died and two others were wounded. The commander of the German division blamed the death on “unnamed locals” and demanded the cooperation of the Carabinieri, at the moment under Salvo D’Acquisto’s temporary command. The next morning, D’Acquisto, having gathered some information, tried in vain to explain that the death was an accident, but the Germans insisted on their version of events and demanded reprisals.

On September 23, 1943, a Thursday, a day of special Eucharistic devotion, Salvo went to confession, mass, and communion. The same day Germans conducted searches and arrested 22 local residents. An armed squad took D’Acquisto by force from the station to Torre di Palidoro, where the prisoners were gathered. Under interrogation, all of the civilians said that they were innocent. When the Germans again demanded to know the names of the responsible persons, D’Acquisto replied that there were none: the explosion was accidental. The Germans ridiculed, insulted, and beat him, and tore his uniform. The Italian prisoners were ordered to dig a trench, some of them with their bare hands. The process of digging their own mass grave reduced many of them to tears.

Only Salvo kept calm and tried to reason with the SS, but it was in vain. It was only at 5:00 PM that he at last succeeded in persuading the SS to let their prisoners go. One of the prisoners stayed to see the outcome, while the others fled in gratitude. He was a 17-year-old boy, and the sole witness of Salvo’s death at the hands of the SS firing squad. For Salvo had convinced the Germans that he was responsible for the imaginary crime and saved the lives of the 22 hostages in so doing. “You live once, you die once,” he had told the boy while they had been digging the trench that afternoon. His cause for beatification as a martyr opened in 1983.

Spiritual reading: What does it profit to give God one thing if He asks of you another? Consider what God wants and then do it. (John of the Cross)

Carry the gospel with you

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

d7d65fd7ca667cf83f73c66805295ac4_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 16:10-13

Jesus said to his disciples: “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus in today’s gospel discusses what has been given to us from God in trust for one another. We can love God and maintain an attitude of freedom toward our material possessions, or we can love our material possessions and be unavailable for God. Our possessions are for the building up of the kingdom; the gospel challenges us to consider what is most important to us.

Spiritual reading: May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency. May you know the urgency with which God longs for you. (John O’Donohue)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus is passing by, walking in the midst of what my grandmother might have called cases, people my contemporaries might call, real pieces of work, or what my nieces and nephews might call wild hot messes. Jesus is in the midst of the people of his day who in our day drive drunk and wreck cars, sell their bodies on the streets to smoke crack in alleys, fall in with the wrong crowd and get completely off track. And what does he say to these wild things as he passes among them? It isn’t, “You’re damned,” or, “You’re lost.” He doesn’t even say, “Repent and believe the good news.” He says simply, “Follow me.” He leads not by giving directions but by showing the way.

Saint of the day: The apostle Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. Though the Romans probably did not allow extremes of extortion, their main concern was their own purses. They were not scrupulous about what the “tax-farmers” got for themselves. Hence the latter, known as “publicans,” were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with “sinners.” So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers.

1237002_10153233813495587_918320951_nMatthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house. The Gospel tells us that “many” tax collectors and “those known as sinners” came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. What business did the supposedly great teacher have associating with such immoral people? Jesus’ answer was, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:12b-13). Jesus is not setting aside ritual and worship; he is saying that loving others is even more important.

The traditional view is that the Gospel of Matthew was composed by Matthew, though modern Biblical scholars widely dismiss the possibility that the apostle Matthew wrote the gospel. Scholars have made several suggestions as to the identity of the author: a converted rabbi or scribe, a Hellenised Jew, a Gentile convert who was deeply knowledgeable about the Jewish faith, or a member of a “school” of scribes within a Jewish-Christian community. Most scholars hold that the author was a Jewish-Christian, rather than a Gentile.

Spiritual reading: We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. (Anne Lamott)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 8:1-3

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, 79532b60187b7470062b17856c00b486_w600and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel reading says that the mission to carry the gospel and proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God is not just one set of gifts and activities. To be sure, one of the roles is that of the Twelve: to preach the gospel and establish the Kingdom through what we say and do. But there are other ways to support the work of proclaiming the good news. Some of women who accompanied Jesus, for example, seem to have had money and position. One of them was Joanna, the wife of King Herod’s steward. These women helped Jesus and his disciples with their material needs. The gospel calls each to give to the building up of the reign of God on earth from the store of their gifts.

Saint of the day: Former Abbot of the Heiligenkreuz Cistercian Abbey, the Servant Of God Karl Braunstorfer, O.Cist. was born as Heinrich Braunstorfer on May 3, 1895 in Katzelsdorf, Austria. Karl BraunstorferEntering the Abbey of Heiligenkreuz of the Cistercian Monks on August 22, 1914, he made his monastic profession on August 23, 1915, and took his solemn vows on September 8, 1918. Ordained to the Priesthood on February 24, 1919, on the following September 21, he was named Novice Master. Appointed prior and parish priest in Heiligenkreuz on December 23, 1933, Dom Karl also served as dean of the abbey between 1943 and 1945 and Superior of the Carmelite nuns in Mayerling.

At 50 years of age, he was elected abbot of Heiligenkreuz, receiving his abbatial blessing on the following day from Cardinal Theodor Innitzer. He served as abbot of his monastery until 1969. As the Abbot Præses of the Austrian Cistercian Congregation, he attended the Second Vatican Council. When he returned from the Council to Heiligenkreuz, he implemented the liturgical renewal that the Council inaugurated. After resigning as abbot due to the frailty of age, he dedicated his last years to the Latin Cistercian Office. Abbot Braunstorfer passed away on September 20, 1978 at age 83 and was interred in the Abbey’s Cemetery six days later. On Saturday, November 15, 2008, the beatification process was opened in the abbey church by the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, OP.

Spiritual reading: We all need friends with whom we can speak of our deepest concerns, and who do not fear to speak the truth in love to us. (Margaret Guenther )

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 7:36-50

A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.

1900a545ec82fe082fc429f6bc84516f_w600“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?”

Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Biographers in the ancient world had little interest in many of the things that preoccupy biographers in our own age. They were not much interested in their subjects’ physical characteristics, favorite food, or temperament. Luke’s account of Jesus’ visit to Simon the Pharisee’s home and the subsequent encounter with the woman who loved much is remarkable for many reasons–Simon’s failure to afford Jesus the customary forms of hospitality, Jesus’ ability to read Simon’s thoughts, the faith of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet, and Jesus’ forgiveness of the woman’s sins. But it also remarkable, because it gives us an insight into the Lord’s personality. Jesus shows throughout the episode composure, inner security, and interior freedom. He exhibits no signs of discomfort or embarrassment. When the woman, who is a public sinner, approaches him and then wipes and kisses his feet, he does not pull away or tell the woman to stop what she is doing. Simon and his other guests are shocked and probably embarrassed, but Jesus remains calm and at ease. The reason is that he knows what the woman is doing and is not worried about what others might think she is doing. Jesus models for us the ability to focus human need and not be self-conscious about what others think when he knows what he is doing reflects love.

Alessandro NottegarSaint of the day: The Servant of God Alessandro Nottegar was born in Verona, Italy on October 30, 1943. After the fifth grade, his family sent him to minor seminary, but after years of study and vocational discernment, Alessandro understood that his call was not to the priesthood but to family life; he desired to serve the Lord in marriage and share with others the gifts he received. He enrolled in a school of medicine. In 1971, he married Luisa a woman who shared his ideals; together they had three daughters. He graduated in 1977 and in 1978, with his family in tow, he went to Brazil where he lived four years, serving the poorest of the sick and the lepers. Returning to Italy after four years of mission, he found a job at the hospital of S. Bonifacio. Meanwhile, feeling the call to sell everything he has to follow the Lord with his family and start a new community, he sold Alessandro Nottegar 1lands inherited from his father and deposited the sum in a bank account in the name of Mary Queen of Peace. In an amazing way, the money in the account multiplied seven times, allowing the family to buy a big house in the hills of Verona. Here in August 1986, Nottegar Alexander founded the Queen of Peace Community. On September 15, 1986, Alessandro said to his daughters, “Girls, I do not bequeath lands, nor apartments, nor bank accounts. The legacy that I leave is the total commitment to the Gospel and the opportunity to study until graduation.” This was his last will and testament. A few days later, on September 19 1986, after returning from his job at the hospital, Alessandro died suddenly died of a heart attack. He was just 42-years-old. Luisa was alone with her ​​three daughters in the new community, which had begun only a little over a month before. The same evening a young couple, Mario and Rita Granuzzo, decided to move in with her. A diocesan inquiry opened his cause for beatification in 2007.

Spiritual reading: Every moment and every event of every person’s life on earth plants something in one’s soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of invisible and visible winged seeds, so the stream of time brings with it the germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of all. (Seeds of Contemplation by Fr. Thomas Merton)

Carry the gospel with you

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

7d1c80decca9fe78c137eb098eaab1fb_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 7:31-35

Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,

‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’

“For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus invites us to open our minds and hearts to listen to the truth wherever it appears. We cannot expect the message that God sends to us to always be congenial, spoken to us, if we are liberal, by only liberals, or if we are conservative, only by conservatives. We fall into a trap if we only expect to hear God’s word from saints and never from sinners, from only men or only women, from only the old and never a child. God’s reality suffuses all reality, so living our lives requires an attentive ear and the cultivation of awareness that God speaks to us through diverse people and circumstances.

Saint of the day: After a difficult pregnancy and an even more difficult cesarean delivery, the Servant of God Rossella Petrellese was born in Naples, Italy on Holy Saturday, April 1, 1972. She was baptized in her grandparents’ house on May 28 because she developed a serious asthmatic bronchial pneumonia, the first of many severe medical condition that recurred throughout her life. She unexpectedly recovered from the pneumonia, but as a toddler fell from a chair and went into a coma, requiring neurological care throughout her childhood. A frail and sickly child, she suffered scoliosis and severe heart failure. But alongside the calamitous clinical picture she suffered, she developed a precocious sensitivity, lively intelligence, and an rossella foto classicainnate artistic vocation that led her at five years of age to learn the piano and attend first grade. She made her first communion in Throughout her childhood and adolescence, she longed for a healthy and normal life only to be confronted with illness. In 1986, her family moved to a new city and shortly afterwards, Rossella developed gynecological problems. In the final year of her life, Rossella developed an eye problem that led to her blindness.

In 1992, she met a bishop at a diocesan convention who was to confirm her the following her. She also met a priest who she later asked to celebrate her funeral mass. During this period, from 1993 onward, she began to grow spiritually. She made a pilgrimage to Lourdes and decided to dedicate her suffering to God on behalf of others who suffer. She worked with a spiritual director who encouraged her to enter more deeply into the life of God. Her ailments continued and increased, and eventually she traveled to Minnesota in the United States to seek medical care at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She had surgery on her spine at the Mayo Clinic on September 8, 1994. The surgery was successful, but she had to remain in the hospital to recover. On September 17, she received Holy Communion, and the next day, she suddenly died at the age of only 22 years in Rochester, Minnesota. An investigation into her virtues as a first step in the process of beatification commenced in 2006. Her remains were at first buried in a family plot in the Italian town where she and her family lived and then re-interred in the city’s cathedral in May 2010.

Spiritual reading: We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest. (Archbishop Oscar Romero)

Homily September 22, 2013 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, ethics, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on September 17, 2013

It is interesting that after many centuries of stories and the history of the Jewish religious experience with Yahweh, God didn’t send a ruler, or some book or codex of laws or a book of legalisms or exactitude or minute directions for daily living. Instead He sent a man, a person who was real flesh and blood, who was a simple man, but not so simple that he didn’t equal the measure of anyone He met. He started a whole new way, a different way, the way, the truth, the light. This way, the church,was different. Christ set it up with His teaching and preaching. His charter was go and baptise. His rules and laws were his parables. All he required were some how in these. His necessities were his parables. His family and his relatives were those who believed.

If we move forward to the 21st century and take a look around us, we might say what happened? Every country, every tribe has codes of laws and rules and ways to maintain order. The simple church Jesus left has itself as humanity always legalizes and encodes rules of law and procedure and has built itself fine buildings and structures and honors.The study of the simple carpenter of Nazareth and the evolving church would probably befuddle the man himself. He constantly spoke out about our relationship to God, to Him, to each other. His only command was really twofold, Love God and our Neighbor as ourselves. That was what summed it all up for Him.
shrewd manager
So, we come to today’s parable on greed and wealth. It continues on from the “lost” parables of last week. It deals with a dishonest servant who has squandered his master’s wealth and gets fired. In a time of no unemployment compensation, he makes his own future compensation. He wheels and deals and makes friends and leaves others beholden to him. At the same time, it seems he has put the master on the spot where he can’t easily reverse what he the servant did. Curiously the master praises the cunning of his servant and commends him for his trickery and his prudence. He ends saying that worldly sinful people are seemingly more prudent in regards to wealth in this life. He tells us to make friends with it in the present so we can find out that true wealth is eternal life. If we are trustworthy with wealth and we see it for what it is, a means for life, a way to share and relate to others. If wealth or money is our only goal in life then we all ready have what we want and need so what else should we seek?

Sharing doesn’t mean stripping ourselves of all that is worldly. Only a few people are called to go out and create gigantic tent cityfoundations and food banks and all the other things we might encounter in a world reaching out to far corners. Christ said the poor you will always have with you and really they are not far from us. Many need more than just food, whether it be clothing, housing, treatment, physical or mental, or maybe just the acceptance of a friendly presence. Jesus if we recall, acted with those around him. He always tried to establish faith in Him for what he did. Even for us an act of love can beget an act of faith. So, I think the lesson for today is to slow down and look around and share the faith and love we have. How often do we pass someone in need or hurting? Love and sharing is best when it is personal and caring. It should not be like the servant’s future compensation but the way to our future, eternal life.

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 7:11-17

Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” 13fadf7a7290d350dbaee8010fe8927f_w600The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst,” and “God has visited his people.” This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.

Reflection on the gospel reading: In Jesus’ day, the welfare of a woman before she married was her family’s responsibility. After she wed, the responsibility for her well-being fell to her husband and her husband’s family. If her husband died, neither her family of birth nor her family by marriage had any legal responsibility to care for her. In a society where woman’s work was of meager monetary value, the lot of the widow was difficult. A woman who had sons to care for her fared better; a woman who had no sons faced a life of utter destitution. It is within this context that Jesus comes upon the funeral march of the Widow of Nain, carrying her only son to be buried.

Jesus three times in the gospels raises the dead to life. The most famous account is the raising of Lazarus, found only in the gospel of John; the other incident, the raising of Jairus’s daughter, is in Matthew, Mark, and Luke but not in John. This account, the raising of the son of the Widow of Nain, is found only in Luke’s gospel, sometimes called the gospel of compassion. Jesus in both the account of the raising of Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus, responds to requests he receives–in Lazarus’s case, a request from Mary and Martha, and in the daughter of Jairus’s case, an entreaty from the girl’s father. In this gospel passage, no one asks Jesus to intervene. Jesus acts on the impulse of love.

Chronologically among the three raising narratives, this one comes earliest, so perhaps no one even knew Jesus could do such a thing and simply didn’t ask him because the idea never entered their heads. Jesus sees the hardship that confronts the Widow of Nain, both in her dead child and the hopelessness of her social condition, and his heart is moved with pity for her. Jesus says to both the woman and to us, “Do not weep,” for Jesus remains the Lord of life and death–of both the living and the dead–and assures us that if we mourn, we shall be comforted for his heart will be moved with pity for us.

Sr. Leonella con bambinoSaint of the day: Sister Leonella Sgorbati was born with the given name of Rosa Maria on December 9, 1940 in Gazzola near Piacenza, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. From adolescence, she wished to become a missionary nun, but her mother did not approve the choice and asked her to wait until she turned 20. When finally Rosa Maria reached 20, she joined the Consolata Missionary Sisters in San Fre, Cuneo in May 1963 and took her perpetual vows in November 1972. Her name in religion was Leonella.

She undertook a course in nursing in England between 1966 and 1968, and in September 1970 she was sent to Kenya. From then until 1983 she served alternately at Consolata Hospital Mathari, Nyeri, and Nazareth Hospital in Kiambu on the outskirts of Nairobi. In mid-1983, Sister Leonella started her advanced studies in nursing and in 1985 became the principal tutor at the school of nursing attached to Nkubu Hospital, Meru, Kenya. In November 1993, she was elected regional superior of the Consolata Missionary Sisters in Kenya, a duty she performed for six years. After a sabbatical year, in 2001 she spent several months in Mogadishu, Somalia looking at the possibility of setting up a nursing school in the hospital run by the SOS Children’s Village organization. The Hermann Gmeiner School of Registered Community Nursing opened in 2002 with Sister Leonella in charge. The first 34 nurses graduated from the school that year, awarded certificates and diplomas by the World Health Organization because Somalia has had no government since 1991.

sister-leonellaSister Leonella was keen to train tutors for the nursing school. She returned to Kenya with three of her newly graduated nurses, to register them for further training at a medical training college. She faced difficulties in obtaining her own re-entry visa to Mogadishu, due to the new rules of the Islamic courts that had come to control the city and its environs. She managed to return to Mogadishu on September 13, 2006. Four days later she was gunned down outside her children’s hospital. Her bodyguard was also killed. Several humanitarian workers and Christian volunteers had previously been murdered by Islamic gunmen in Somalia in the recent years, including Italian bishop Salvatore Colombo shot dead while celebrating mass in Mogadishu in 1989. On September 17, 2006, two gunmen emerged from behind nearby taxis and kiosks and shot sister Leonella Sgarbati in her back after about 30 years of aid work in Africa. She was rushed to the SOS Hospital and died shortly thereafter. Her last words apparently were Italian for, “I forgive; I forgive.” A diocesan investigation into her cause for beatification as a martyr commenced on September 25, 2012.

fbdda25dcf89cd40738ba2ac978f72b7_w600Spiritual reading: Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (see Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last ‘trick’, whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school. ‘But how?’ we ask. Then the voice says, ‘They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ There they are. There *we* are – the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to faith. My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace. (Brennan Manning)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 7:1-10

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

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

stcyprianSaint of the day: Born in 190 in Carthage, North Africa to wealthy pagan parents, Cyprian of Carthage grew up to teach rhetoric and literature. An adult convert in 246, he was ordained in 247 and became Bishop of Carthage in 249. During the persecution of Decius, beginning in 250, Cyprian lived in hiding, covertly ministering to his flock; his enemies condemned him for being a coward and not standing up for his faith. Writer second only in importance to Tertullian as a Latin Father of the Church, he was exiled during the persecutions of Valerian. A friend of Saint Pontius, he was involved in the great argument over whether apostates should be readmitted to the Church; Cyprian believed they should, but under stringent conditions. His position, of course, was not sustained ultimately. In the persecutions of Valerian, he was exiled to Curubis in 257, then brought back Carthage and martyred by beheading on September 14, 258 in Carthage.

Spiritual reading: God is near us, but we are far from Him, God is within, we are without, God is at home, we are in the far country. (Sermons by Meister Eckhart)