Memorial of Saint Martha

July 29, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Martha

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Saint Martha’s Story

Martha, Mary, and their brother Lazarus were evidently close friends of Jesus. He came to their home simply as a welcomed guest, rather than as one celebrating the conversion of a sinner like Zacchaeus or one unceremoniously received by a suspicious Pharisee. The sisters feel free to call on Jesus at their brother’s death, even though a return to Judea at that time seems almost certain death.

No doubt Martha was an active sort of person. On one occasion, she prepares the meal for Jesus and possibly his fellow guests and forthrightly states the obvious: All hands should pitch in to help with the dinner.

Yet, as biblical scholar Father John McKenzie points out, she need not be rated as an “unrecollected activist.” The evangelist is emphasizing what our Lord said on several occasions about the primacy of the spiritual: “…[D]o not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear…. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:25b, 33a); “One does not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4b); “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6a).

Martha’s great glory is her simple and strong statement of faith in Jesus after her brother’s death. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27).


Reflection

Scripture commentators point out that in writing his account of the raising of Lazarus, Saint John intends that we should see Martha’s words to Mary before Lazarus was raised as a summons that every Christian must obey. In her saying “The teacher is here and is asking for you,” Jesus is calling every one of us to resurrection—now in baptismal faith, forever in sharing his victory over death. And all of us, as well as these three friends, are in our own unique way called to special friendship with him.

Source: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-martha/

 

Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene

July 22, 2020 – Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene

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I once came across a blog by Thomas Smith, focused on the feast of Mary Magdalene. It reiterates the fact that faith is personal, but not private. Below is an excerpt from the blog. To read the entire post, go to:

http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/mary-magdalene-gods-bride-church/

Mary Magdalene therefore not only models the courageous and faithful disciple who remained with Jesus through his passion, but she reveals the Church as a missionary Bride to us. Each member of the Body of Christ, must encounter the Lord, as she did.  We must embrace him with love (something we can do every time we receive a sacrament).  But, no faith, no matter how powerful and personal is ever private.  We cannot simply cling to Jesus for ourselves.  He sends us forth, the Good News of our Risen Lord is meant to be shared and lived out by loving others with his tender love.

The Spirit Helps in Our Weakness

July 19, 2020 – Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s second reading comes from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans:

The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will. (Romans 8:26-27)

The following reflection comes from BibleRef.com website:

This passage describes the difference between our future and our present as Christians. Our future in Christ, as God’s children and heirs of His kingdom, is everything for which we long. Our present, though, is a life of longing, patient waiting, living in the hope of reality that has not yet arrived. We continue to suffer along with the rest of creation, to groan for the life to come.

How do live in the meantime? A large part of the answer to that question has to do with the Holy Spirit, given to every Christian when he or she comes to faith in Christ. God gives us His own Spirit as a deposit or down payment on that future for which we long.

Through the Spirit, God provides for us in many different ways on this side of eternity. Generally, he helps us in our weakness. Paul is acknowledging here that, even as Christians, we remain weak. Physically, we remain creatures in fragile bodies with sometimes baffling emotions. Spiritually, we can become weak in our faith and/or in our resistance to sinful desires. As Paul will begin to make clear, however, God’s Spirit with us makes all the difference. He continually helps us in and even through our weakness. He steps in. He helps with the burden.

More specifically, Paul writes that we are so weak that at times we do not know what to pray for! We have been given access, in prayer, to our Father God. We feel the need, the longing, for Him, but what do we ask for? The Spirit steps in and carries those unsaid “groanings”—those thoughts and feelings we simply cannot express in human words—to God. He both creates the connection from ourselves to God and provides the content of our communication.

Source: https://www.bibleref.com/Romans/8/Romans-8-26.html

Memorial of Saint Camillus de Lellis

July 18, 2020 Memorial of Saint Camillus de Lellis

The following is information on not-well-known saint, Camillus:

Humanly speaking, Camillus was not a likely candidate for sainthood. His mother died when he was a child, his father neglected him, and he grew up with an excessive love for gambling. At 17, he was afflicted with a disease of his leg that remained with him for life. In Rome he entered the San Giacomo Hospital for Incurables as both patient and servant, but was dismissed for quarrelsomeness after nine months. He served in the Venetian army for three years.

Then in the winter of 1574, when he was 24, Camillus gambled away everything he had—savings, weapons, literally down to his shirt. He accepted work at the Capuchin friary at Manfredonia, and was one day so moved by a sermon of the superior that he began a conversion that changed his life. He entered the Capuchin novitiate, but was dismissed because of the apparently incurable sore on his leg. After another stint of service at San Giacomo, he came back to the Capuchins, only to be dismissed again, for the same reason. Continue reading

Communicating the Love of God

July 16, 2020

Your name and your title
are the desire of our souls.
My soul yearns for you in the night,
yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you; (Isaiah 26:7-9)

Here is a great example of showing God that He is “the desire of our souls.” You don’t need to speak Spanish to see the joy in the hearts of these nuns from Colombia.

The Eucharistic Communicators of the Heavenly Father are a community of nuns from Colombia who have a great passion for music and an intense desire to announce God through the gifts he has given them.

Sister María Victoria de Jesús told CNA the mission of their apostolate “is to evangelize through as many means of communication as possible,” and added that the charism of the sisters “is to communicate the love of God the Father.”

Read more at: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/are-these-quite-possibly-the-worlds-happiest-nuns-11539/

 

Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

July 14, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

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On the feast day of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the Church offers the following collect prayer at Mass:

Lord God, You called the virgin Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, to shine among the American Indian people as an example of innocence of life. Through her intercession, may all peoples of every tribe, tongue and nation, having been gathered into Your Church, proclaim your greatness in one song of praise. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen

Powerful unifying words for a troubled nation and world…”proclaim your greatness in one song of praise.”

Source: Roman Missal, from the collect of the Mass in honor of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.

Prayer from Saint Benedict

July 11, 2020

Today is the Memorial of St. Benedict. The following is a beautiful prayer attributed to him:

Gracious and holy Father,
please give me:

intellect to understand you;
reason to discern you;
diligence to seek you;
wisdom to find you;
a spirit to know you;
a heart to meditate upon you;
ears to hear you;
eyes to see you;
a tongue to proclaim you;
a way of life pleasing to you;
patience to wait for you;
and perseverance to look for you.

Grant me:
a perfect end,
your holy presence.
A blessed resurrection,
And life everlasting.

Amen

Source: http://www.spck.org.uk/classic-prayers/st-benedict/

Pope Francis on Prophecy

July 2, 2020

On Monday, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Francis offered a thought-provoking homily focused on two key points: unity and prophecy. 

Yesterday, I shared the first half of that homily (unity). Today, I will share the second half, centered on prophecy.

Pope Francis’ homily (Part II):

The second word is prophecyUnity and prophecy. The Apostles were challenged by Jesus. Peter heard Jesus’ question: “Who do you say I am?” (cf. Mt 16:15). At that moment he realized that the Lord was not interested in what others thought, but in Peter’s personal decision to follow him. Paul’s life changed after a similar challenge from Jesus: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). The Lord shook Paul to the core: more than just knocking him to the ground on the road to Damascus, he shattered Paul’s illusion of being respectably religious. As a result, the proud Saul turned into Paul, a name that means “small”. These challenges and reversals are followed by prophecies: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church” (Mt 16:18); and, for Paul: “He is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Prophecy is born whenever we allow ourselves to be challenged by God, not when we are concerned to keep everything quiet and under control. Prophecy is not born from my thoughts, from my closed heart. It is born if we allow ourselves to be challenged by God. When the Gospel overturns certainties, prophecy arises. Only someone who is open to God’s surprises can become a prophet. And there they are: Peter and Paul, prophets who look to the future. Peter is the first to proclaim that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). Paul, who considers his impending death: “From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord will award to me” (2 Tim 4:8).

Today we need prophecy, but real prophecy: not fast talkers who promise the impossible, but testimonies that the Gospel is possible. What is needed are not miraculous shows. It makes me sad when I hear someone say, “We want a prophetic Church”. All right. But what are you doing, so that the Church can be prophetic? We need lives that show the miracle of God’s love. Not forcefulness, but forthrightness. Not palaver, but prayer. Not speeches, but service. Do you want a prophetic Church? Then start serving and be quiet. Not theory, but testimony. We are not to become rich, but rather to love the poor. We are not to save up for ourselves, but to spend ourselves for others. To seek not the approval of this world, of being comfortable with everyone – here we say: “being comfortable with God and the devil”, being comfortable with everyone -; no, this is not prophecy. We need the joy of the world to come. Not better pastoral plans that seem to have their own self-contained efficiency, as if they were sacraments; efficient pastoral plans, no. We need pastors who offer their lives: lovers of God. That is how Peter and Paul preached Jesus, as men in love with God. At his crucifixion, Peter did not think about himself but about his Lord, and, considering himself unworthy of dying like Jesus, asked to be crucified upside down. Before his beheading, Paul thought only of offering his life; he wrote that he wanted to be “poured out like a libation” (2 Tim 4:6). That was prophecy. Not words. That was prophecy, the prophecy that changed history.

Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus prophesied to Peter: “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church”. There is a similar prophecy for us too. It is found in the last book of the Bible, where Jesus promises his faithful witnesses “a white stone, on which a new name is written” (Rev 2:17). Just as the Lord turned Simon into Peter, so he is calling each one of us, in order to make us living stones with which to build a renewed Church and a renewed humanity. There are always those who destroy unity and stifle prophecy, yet the Lord believes in us and he asks you: “Do you want to be a builder of unity? Do you want to be a prophet of my heaven on earth?” Brothers and sisters, let us be challenged by Jesus, and find the courage to say to him: “Yes, I do!”

Source: http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2020/documents/papa-francesco_20200629_omelia-pallio.html

Pope Francis on Unity

July 1, 2020

On Monday, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Francis offered a thought-provoking homily focused on two key points: unity and prophecy. 

Today, I will share the first half of that homily – centered on unity. To allow time for self-reflection for all of us, I will wait until tomorrow to share the other half (prophecy) of the homily.

Pope Francis’ homily (Part I):

On the feast of the two Apostles of this City, I would like to share with you two key words: unity and prophecy.

Unity. We celebrate together two very different individuals: Peter, a fisherman who spent his days amid boats and nets, and Paul, a learned Pharisee who taught in synagogues. When they went forth on mission, Peter spoke to Jews, and Paul to pagans. And when their paths crossed, they could argue heatedly, as Paul is unashamed to admit in one of his letters (cf. Gal 2:11). In short, they were two very different people, yet they saw one another as brothers, as happens in close-knit families where there may be frequent arguments but unfailing love. Yet the closeness that joined Peter and Paul did not come from natural inclinations, but from the Lord. He did not command us to like one another, but to love one another. He is the one who unites us, without making us all alike. He unites us in our differences.

Today’s first reading brings us to the source of this unity. It relates how the newly born Church was experiencing a moment of crisis: Herod was furious, a violent persecution had broken out, and the Apostle James had been killed. And now Peter had been arrested. The community seemed headless, everyone fearing for his life. Yet at that tragic moment no one ran away, no one thought about saving his own skin, no one abandoned the others, but all joined in prayer. From prayer they drew strength, from prayer came a unity more powerful than any threat. The text says that, “while Peter was kept in prison, the Church prayed fervently to God for him” (Acts 12:5). Unity is the fruit of prayer, for prayer allows the Holy Spirit to intervene, opening our hearts to hope, shortening distances and holding us together at times of difficulty.

Let us notice something else: at that dramatic moment, no one complained about Herod’s evil and his persecution. No one abused Herod – and we are so accustomed to abuse those who are in charge. It is pointless, even tedious, for Christians to waste their time complaining about the world, about society, about everything that is not right. Complaints change nothing. Let us remember that complaining is the second door that closes us off from the Holy Spirit, as I said on Pentecost Sunday. The first is narcissism, the second discouragement, the third pessimism. Narcissism makes you look at yourself constantly in a mirror; discouragement leads to complaining and pessimism to thinking everything is dark and bleak. These three attitudes close the door to the Holy Spirit. Those Christians did not cast blame; rather, they prayed. In that community, no one said: “If Peter had been more careful, we would not be in this situation”. No one. Humanly speaking, there were reasons to criticize Peter, but no one criticized him. They did not complain about Peter; they prayed for him. They did not talk about Peter behind his back; they talked to God. We today can ask: “Are we protecting our unity, our unity in the Church, with prayer? Are we praying for one another?” What would happen if we prayed more and complained less, if we had a more tranquill tongue? The same thing that happened to Peter in prison: now as then, so many closed doors would be opened, so many chains that bind would be broken. We would be amazed, like the maid who saw Peter at the gate and did not open it, but ran inside, astonished by the joy of seeing Peter (cf. Acts 12:10-17). Let us ask for the grace to be able to pray for one another. Saint Paul urged Christians to pray for everyone, especially those who govern (cf. 1 Tim 2:1-3). “But this governor is…”, and there are many adjectives. I will not mention them, because this is neither the time nor the place to mention adjectives that we hear directed against those who govern. Let God judge them; let us pray for those who govern! Let us pray: for they need prayer. This is a task that the Lord has entrusted to us. Are we carrying it out? Or do we simply talk, abuse and do nothing? God expects that when we pray we will also be mindful of those who do not think as we do, those who have slammed the door in our face, those whom we find it hard to forgive. Only prayer unlocks chains, as it did for Peter; only prayer paves the way to unity.

Today we bless the pallia to be bestowed on the Dean of the College of Cardinals and the Metropolitan Archbishops named in the last year. The pallium is a sign of the unity between the sheep and the Shepherd who, like Jesus, carries the sheep on his shoulders, so as never to be separated from it. Today too, in accordance with a fine tradition, we are united in a particular way with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Peter and Andrew were brothers, and, whenever possible, we exchange fraternal visits on our respective feast days. We do so not only out of courtesy, but as a means of journeying together towards the goal that the Lord points out to us: that of full unity. We could not do so today because of the difficulty of travel due to the coronavirus, but when I went to venerate the remains of Peter, in my heart I felt my beloved brother Bartholomew. They are here, with us.

Source: http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2020/documents/papa-francesco_20200629_omelia-pallio.html

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

June 29, 2020 – Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

On June 29 the Church celebrates the feast day of Saints Peter & Paul. Together, the two saints are the founders of the See of Rome, through their preaching, ministry and martyrdom there.

Peter, who was named Simon, was a fisherman of Galilee and was introduced to the Lord Jesus by his brother Andrew, also a fisherman. Jesus gave him the name Cephas (Petrus in Latin), which means ‘Rock,’ because he was to become the rock upon which Christ would build His Church.

Peter was a bold follower of the Lord. He was the first to recognize that Jesus was “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” and eagerly pledged his fidelity until death. In his boldness, he also made many mistakes, however, such as losing faith when walking on water with Christ and betraying the Lord on the night of His passion. Continue reading