Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

June 19, 2020 – Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Jesus to St. Margaret Mary: “I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.” 

sacredheart

Sixteenth century Calvinism and seventeenth century Jansenism preached a distorted Christianity that substituted for God’s love and sacrifice of His Son for all men the fearful idea that a whole section of humanity was inexorably damned.

The Church always countered this view with the infinite love of our Savior who died on the cross for all men. The institution of the feast of the Sacred Heart was soon to contribute to the creation among the faithful of a powerful current of devotion which since then has grown steadily stronger. The first Office and Mass of the Sacred Heart were composed by St. John Eudes, but the institution of the feast was a result of the appearances of our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1675. The celebration of the feast was extended to the general calendar of the Church by Pius IX in 1856.

Source: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2020-06-19

Do you have “one foot out the door”?

June 17, 2020

“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others…when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners, so that others may see them.” (Matthew 6:1-6)

Today’s Gospel addresses “half-hearted” believers. There were many who liked the idea of being members of the Jewish faith, and the privileges that came along with it, but so much of what they did was for show. Pope Francis once referred to this as “having one foot out the door.”

He said: “Those who insist others pray and believe exactly like they do, those who have alternatives to every Church teaching, and benefactors who use the Church as a cover for business connections may call themselves Catholics, but they have one foot out the door. For these people, the Church is not home.”

He finished by saying: “If one wants to belong to the Church, he must be motivated by love and enter with his whole heart.”

 

 

Words of JPII Still Ring True

June 2, 2020

These words from Saint John Paul II during his visit to the United States in 1987 ring just as true today and are well worth your time to read:

For this reason, America, your deepest identity and truest character as a nation is revealed in the position you take towards the human person. The ultimate test of your greatness in the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones.

The best traditions of your land presume respect for those who cannot defend themselves. If you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life! All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protect the human person:

– feeding the poor and welcoming refugees;
– reinforcing the social fabric of this nation;
– promoting the true advancement of women;
– securing the rights of minorities;
– pursuing disarmament, while guaranteeing legitimate defense; all this will succeed only if respect for life and its protection by the law is granted to every human being from conception until natural death.

Every human person – no matter how vulnerable or helpless, no matter how young or how old, no matter how healthy, handicapped or sick, no matter how useful or productive for society – is a being of inestimable worth created in the image and likeness of God. This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition for her survival-yes, the ultimate test of her greatness: to respect every human person, especially the weakest and most defenseless ones, those as yet unborn.

With these sentiments of love and hope for America, I now say goodbye in words that I spoke once before: “Today, therefore, my final prayer is this: that God will bless America, so that she may increasingly become – and truly be – and long remain one Nation, under God, indivisible. With liberty and justice for all”

To read his entire address, go to: http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/speeches/1987/september/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_19870919_congedo-stati-uniti.html

 

Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

June 1, 2020 – Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

This is the third year of a new feast, the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. Below is information regarding the feast. 

Pope Francis has decreed that Latin-rite Catholics around the world will mark the feast of “the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church” on the Monday after Pentecost each year.

The Gospel reading for the feast, which technically is called a “memorial,” is John 19:25-31, which recounts how from the cross Jesus entrusted Mary to his disciples as their mother and entrusted his disciples to Mary as her children.

The decree announcing the addition to the church calendar was released March 3 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

Francis approved the decree after “having attentively considered how greatly the promotion of this devotion might encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety,” the decree said.

Honoring Mary as mother of the church on the day after Pentecost also highlights for Catholics that Mary was present with the disciples on Pentecost, praying with them as the Holy Spirit descended. Sarah said that Mary, “from the awaiting of the Spirit at Pentecost, has never ceased to take motherly care of the pilgrim church on earth.”

Source:https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/pope-adds-feast-mary-mother-church-universal-calendar

Accept God’s Invitation to Dance

May 4, 2020

Yesterday was the National Day of Prayer for Vocations. I hope you found time to say a prayer for everyone discerning his or her vocation — whether that be priest, deacon, religious brother or sister, married life, or the sacred single life.

Whatever vocation God is calling you to, I encourage you to be open and listen with your heart.

Here is a beautiful vocational image offered by St. Catherine of Siena:

“I won’t take no for an answer,” God began to say to me when He opened His arms each night wanting us to dance.

 

Feast of St. Mark

April 25, 2020 – Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist

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On this feast of St. Mark, I offer information about the saint and a brief reflection.

St. Mark’s story:

Most of what we know about Mark comes directly from the New Testament. He is usually identified with the Mark of Acts 12:12. When Saint Peter escaped from prison, he went to the home of Mark’s mother.

Paul and Barnabas took him along on the first missionary journey, but for some reason Mark returned alone to Jerusalem. It is evident, from Paul’s refusal to let Mark accompany him on the second journey despite Barnabas’s insistence, that Mark had displeased Paul. Because Paul later asks Mark to visit him in prison, we may assume the trouble did not last long.

The oldest and the shortest of the four Gospels, the Gospel of Mark emphasizes Jesus’s rejection by humanity while being God’s triumphant envoy. Probably written for gentile converts in Rome—after the death of Peter and Paul sometime between A.D. 60 and 70—Mark’s Gospel is the gradual manifestation of a “scandal”: a crucified Messiah.

Evidently a friend of Mark—calling him “my son”—Peter is only one of this Gospel’s sources, others being the Church in Jerusalem (Jewish roots), and the Church at Antioch (largely gentile).

Like another Gospel writer Luke, Mark was not one of the 12 apostles. We cannot be certain whether he knew Jesus personally. Some scholars feel that the evangelist is speaking of himself when describing the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane: “Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked” (Mark 14:51-52).

Others hold Mark to be the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. Venice, famous for the Piazza San Marco, claims Mark as its patron saint; the large basilica there is believed to contain his remains.

A winged lion is Mark’s symbol. The lion derives from Mark’s description of John the Baptist as a “voice of one crying out in the desert” (Mark 1:3), which artists compared to a roaring lion. The wings come from the application of Ezekiel’s vision of four winged creatures to the evangelists.

Reflection:

Mark fulfilled in his life what every Christian is called to do: proclaim to all people the Good News that is the source of salvation. In particular, Mark’s way was by writing. Others may proclaim the Good News by music, drama, poetry, or by teaching children around a family table.

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

We Must Be Changed by Him

April 7, 2020

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.
One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,
was reclining at Jesus’ side.
So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.
He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him,
“Master, who is it?”
Jesus answered,
“It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.”
So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas,
son of Simon the Iscariot.
After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.
So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” (John 13:21-25)

Meditation: Why did Judas betray his Master? Was his treachery motivated by greed, bitter disappointment with Jesus or hatred because of disillusionment?  It may be that Judas never intended for his Master to die.  Maybe he thought Jesus was proceeding too slowly and not acting aggressively enough in setting up his messianic kingdom.  Perhaps Judas wanted to force Jesus’ hand by compelling him to act.  Nonetheless, his tragedy was his refusal to accept Jesus as he was.  Aren’t we tempted to use God for our own purposes? It is not God who must change, but we must be changed by him.  Jesus knew beforehand what would befall him.

As Jesus ate the passover meal with his twelve apostles he put them under trial and suspicion (one of you will betray me) to teach them to examine themselves rightly, lest they be high-minded and think themselves more strong than they were. We, also must examine ourselves in the light of God’s truth and grace and ask him to strengthen us in faith, hope, and love that we may not fail him or forsake him when we are tempted. Do you pray with confidence in the words Jesus gave us to pray? Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil?

Source: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/matt2614.htm

Palm Sunday – Lead Us Not Into Temptation

April 5, 2020 – Palm Sunday

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him, `The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'” And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples; and as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me. The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man  if he had not been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Is it I, Master?” He said to him, “You have said so.” (Matthew 26:14-25)

Meditation: Why did Judas betray his Master? Was his treachery motivated by greed, bitter disappointment with Jesus or hatred because of disillusionment?  It may be that Judas never intended for his Master to die.  Maybe he thought Jesus was proceeding too slowly and not acting aggressively enough in setting up his messianic kingdom.  Perhaps Judas wanted to force Jesus’ hand by compelling him to act.  Nonetheless, his tragedy was his refusal to accept Jesus as he was.  Aren’t we tempted to use God for our own purposes? It is not God who must change, but we must be changed by him.  Jesus knew beforehand what would befall him.

As Jesus ate the passover meal with his twelve apostles he put them under trial and suspicion (one of you will betray me) to teach them to examine themselves rightly, lest they be high minded and think themselves more strong than they were. We also must examine ourselves in the light of God’s truth and grace and ask him to strengthen us in faith, hope, and love that we may not fail him or forsake him when we are tempted. Do you pray with confidence in the words Jesus gave us to pray? Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil?

Source: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/matt2614.htm

“The least in the household of God”

April 2, 2020 – Optional Memorial of Saint Francis of Paola

Today the Church celebrates the life of Saint Francis of Paola. Most people are aware of Saint Francis of Assisi, but may not be aware of the other Saint Francis.

As I read more about this unfamiliar saint, his life seemed to offer an interesting perspective on how we might view our current state of required “social distancing.”

Here is a brief snapshot of his view on life:

The life of Francis of Paola speaks plainly to an overactive world. He was a contemplative man called to active ministry and must have felt keenly the tension between prayer and service. Yet, in Francis’s life it was a productive tension, for he clearly utilized the fruits of contemplation in his ministry. He responded so readily and so well to the call of the Church from a solid foundation in prayer and subduing his bodily desires. When he went out to the world, it was not he who worked but Christ working through him—“the least in the household of God.”

I was drawn to this saint’s ability to utilize the fruits of contemplation in his ministry. He used his time of isolation and separation (note that his was a chosen lifestyle rather than a forced “social distancing”) to consider how he could best serve others.

Bottom line for us? We have not chosen to distance ourselves from others. However, it is our current reality. Why not work on ourselves during this time? We can use the time to reflect on our lives in Christ: How much time do we spend in prayer, working on our personal relationship with God? In our daily lives, do we serve others or do we leave the work of caring for our fellow man to some one else? Finally, a difficult question, perhaps best asked while looking in a mirror – are we selfish? If so, what excuses do we use to justify that?

We may have had this time of isolation thrust upon us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put it to good use. Perhaps this time will allow us to put our lives in perspective. Perhaps by the time we are able to return to our “normal lives” we will view ourselves as Saint Francis of Paola did – as “the least in the household of God.”

Learn more about St. Francis of Paola at: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-francis-of-paola/

Social Distancing vs Social Isolation (3)

As I mentioned on Monday, over a 3-day period I have shared portions of an article written by Alex Ross for The Culture Project. Alex is the daughter of a good friend. Among other things, she encourages us to “rest in the presence of the Lord” and to “live in the light.” Today, I offer the final installment. To access her entire article, go to: https://thecultureproject.org/social-distancing-vs-social-isolation-your-field-guide-to-cultivating-communion/

Rest in the presence of the Lord!

What better time than this for retreat? The Lord makes Himself present to us at all times, and we can use our extra time and stillness to more deeply cultivate our relationship with his love, and to pray for all those who need our prayers. Invite Christ into your life in a renewed way. Ask the Lord new questions and listen for his voice. Make a home chapel or designated prayer space in your home. Learn more about your faith. Invite others into devotions such as the Rosary or into studying the Bible (these can be done on video chat)! Many organizations are live streaming devotions like these to cultivate a sense of greater community. Even with public masses being suspended, you can still hold fast to the Eucharist through participating in daily Mass online or by reading daily readings and reflections and making an act of spiritual communion. Starting off each day with prayer in my home community has been such a blessing for me so far. God deeply desires to be present to us during this time. Will we be present to Him?

Live in the LIGHT!

Firstly, turn on the lights! Studies have shown that any negative effects of isolation are much more pronounced if we don’t expose ourselves to daylight.1 Expose yourself to the sun outside! Open up the windows, and turn on the lights when you are not sleeping. This promotes healthy sleep-wake cycles, activity, and routine. 

Secondly, be the light! Turn on the light of your optimism. Ephesians 5:8 says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” Optimism does not mean ignoring hard realities, but being open to the positive possibilities around us. Optimism means remaining hopeful. It fosters creativity in the midst of our trials and always searches for meaning. In fact, those with a spirit of optimism are more likely to experience meaningful personal growth following adversity.2 That’s right, times of difficulty have the potential to leave us better people than before!

Stay rooted in TRUTH.

You may have heard the phrase, “No man is an island.” The phrase comes from the English poet John Donne and refers to our interconnectedness with each other and God. While no man is an island, we can be made to feel like we are. In fact, the word “isolate” stems from the Latin word meaning “island.” With physical separation, we should be aware that isolating lies may try to creep in. These might sound like, “I’m all alone in this” or “Nobody understands me”. Let’s root ourselves in the truth that we are not alone and don’t have to do it alone. Let’s root ourselves in verified news updates, and not fret about rumors. Finally, let’s root ourselves in the Word of God.