Saturday, September 11, 2010

Gospel for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 15:1-32

Parable's of God's Mercy

[1] Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Him (Jesus). [2] And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."

The Lost Sheep
[3] So He told them this parable: [4] "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? [5] And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. [6] And when he comes home he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' [7] Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The Lost Coin
[8] "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she lost one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? [9] And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, `Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I has lost.' [10] Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

The Prodigal Son
[11] And He said, "There was a man who had two sons; [12] and the younger of them said to his father, `Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.' And he divided his living between them. [13] Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. [14] And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. [15] So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. [16] And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. [17] But when he came to himself he said, `How can many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! [18] I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you; [19] I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.'" [20] And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. [21] And the son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' [22] But the father said to his servants, `Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; [23] and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; [24] for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry.

[25] "Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. [26] And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. [27] And he said to him, `Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.' [28] But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, [29] but he answered his father, `Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. [30] But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!' [31] And he said to him, `Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. [32] It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'"

1-32. Jesus' actions manifest God's mercy: He receives sinners in order to convert them. The scribes and Pharisees, who despised sinners, just cannot understand why Jesus acts like this; they grumble about Him; and Jesus uses the opportunity to tell these Mercy parables. "The Gospel writer who particularly treats of these themes in Christ's teaching is Luke, whose Gospel has earned the title of `the Gospel of mercy'" (John Paul II, "Dives In Misericordia", 3).

In this chapter St. Luke reports three of these parables in which Jesus describes the infinite, fatherly mercy of God and His joy at the conversion of the sinner.

The Gospel teaches that no one is excluded from forgiveness and that sinners can become beloved children of God if they repent and are converted. So much does God desire the conversion of sinners that each of these parables ends with a refrain, as it were, telling of the great joy in Heaven over sinner who repents.

1-2. This is not the first time that publicans and sinners approach Jesus (cf. Matthew 9:10). They are attracted by the directness of the Lord's preaching and by His call to self-giving and love. The Pharisees in general were jealous of His influence over the people (cf. Matthew 26:2-5; John 11:47) a jealousy which can also beset Christians; a severity of outlook which does not accept that, no matter how great his sins may have been, a sinner can change and become a saint; a blindness which prevents a person from recognizing and rejoicing over the good done by others. Our Lord criticized this attitude when He replied to His disciples' complaints about others casting out devils in His name: "Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in My name will be able soon after to speak evil of Me" (Mark 9:39). And St. Paul rejoiced that others proclaimed Christ and even overlooked the fact they did so out of self-interest, provided Christ was preached (cf. Philippians 1:17-18).

5-6. Christian tradition, on the basis of this and other Gospel passages (cf. John 10:11), applies this parable to Christ, the Good Shepherd, who misses and then seeks out the lost sheep: the Word, by becoming man, seeks out mankind, which has strayed through sinning. Here is St. Gregory the Great's commentary: "He put the sheep on His shoulders because, on taking on human nature, He burdened Himself with our sins" ("In Evangelia Homiliae", II, 14).

The Second Vatican Council applies these verses of St. Luke to the way priests should approach their pastoral work: "They should be mindful that by their daily conduct and solicitude they display the reality of a truly priestly and pastoral ministry both to believers and unbelievers alike, to Catholics and non-Catholics; that they are bound to bear witness before all men of the truth and of the life, and as good shepherds seek after those too who, whilst having been baptized in the Catholic Church, have given up the practice of the Sacraments, or even fallen away from the faith" ("Lumen Gentium", 28). However, every member of the faithful should show this same kind of concern--expressed in a fraternal way--towards his brothers and sisters, towards everyone on the road to sanctification and salvation.

7. This does not mean that our Lord does not value the perseverance of the just: He is simply emphasizing the joy of God and the saints over the conversion of a sinner. This is clearly a call to repentance, to never doubt God's readiness to forgive. "Another fall, and what a fall!... Must you give up hope? No. Humble yourself and, through Mary, your Mother, have recourse to the merciful Love of Jesus. A "miserere", and lift up your heart! And now begin again" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 711).

8. This silver coin was a "drachma", of about the same value as a denarius, that is, approximately a day's wage for an agricultural worker (cf. Matthew 20:2).

11. This is one of Jesus' most beautiful parables, which teaches us once more that God is a kind and understanding Father (cf. Matthew 6:8; Romans 8:15; 2 Corinthians 1:3). The son who asks for his part of the inheritance is a symbol of the person who cuts himself off from God through sin. "Although the word `mercy' does not appear, this parable nevertheless expresses the essence of the divine mercy in a particularly clear way" (John Paul II, "Dives In Misericordia", 5).

12. "That son, who receives from the father the portion of the inheritance that is due him and leaves home to squander it in a far country `in loose living', in a certain sense is the man of every period, beginning with the one who was the first to lose the inheritance of grace and original justice. The analogy at this point is very wide-ranging. The parable indirectly touches upon every breach of the covenant of love, every loss of grace, every sin" ("Dives In Misericordia", 5).

14-15. At this point in the parable we are shown the unhappy effects of sin. The young man's hunger evokes the anxiety and emptiness a person feels when he is far from God. The prodigal son's predicament describes the enslavement which sin involves (cf. Romans 1:25; 6:6; Galatians 5:1): by sinning one loses the freedom of the children of God (cf. Romans 8:21; Galatians 4:31; 5:13) and hands oneself over the power of Satan.

17-21. His memory of home and his conviction that his father loves him cause the prodigal son to reflect and to decide to set out on the right road. "Human life is in some way a constant returning to our Father's house. We return through contrition, through the conversion of heart which means a desire to change, a firm decision to improve our life and which, therefore, is expressed in sacrifice and self-giving. We return to our Father's house by means of that sacrament of pardon in which, by confessing our sins, we put on Jesus Christ again and become His brothers, members of God's family" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 64).

20-24. God always hopes for the return of the sinner; He wants him to repent. When the young man arrives home his father does not greet him with reproaches but with immense compassion, which causes him to embrace his son and cover him with kisses.

20. "There is no doubt that in this simple but penetrating analogy to the figure of the father reveals to us God as Father. The conduct of the father in the parable and his whole behavior, which manifests his internal attitude, enables us to rediscover the individual threads of the Old Testament vision of mercy in a synthesis which is totally new, full of simplicity and depth. The father of the prodigal son is faithful to this fatherhood, faithful to the love that he had always lavished on his son. This fidelity is expressed in the parable not only by his immediate readiness to welcome him home when he returns after having squandered his inheritance; it is expressed even more fully by that joy, that merrymaking for the squanderer after his return, merrymaking which is so generous that it provokes the opposition and hatred of the elder brother, who had never gone far away from his father and had never abandoned the home.

"The father's fidelity to himself [...] is at the same time expressed in a manner particularly charged with affection. We read, in fact, that when the father saw the prodigal son returning home `he had COMPASSION, ran to meet him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.' He certainly does this under the influence of a deep affection, and this also explains his generosity towards his son, that generosity which so angers the elder son" ("Dives In Misericordia", 6).

"When God runs towards us, we cannot keep silent, but with St. Paul we exclaim, "ABBA PATER": `Father, my Father!' (Romans 8:15), for, though He is the creator of the universe, He doesn't mind our not using high-sounding titles, nor worry about our not acknowledging His greatness. He wants us to call Him Father; He wants us to savor that word, our souls filling with joy [...].

"God is waiting for us, like the father in the parable, with open arms, even though we don't deserve it. It doesn't matter how great our debt is. Just like the prodigal son, all we have to do is open our heart, to be homesick for our Father's house, to wonder at and rejoice in the gift which God makes us of being able to call ourselves His children, of really being His children, even though our response to Him has been so poor" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 64).

25-30. God's mercy is so great that man cannot grasp it: as we can see in the case of the elder son, who thinks his father loves the younger son excessively, his jealousy prevents him from understanding how his father can do so much to celebrate the recovery of the prodigal; it cuts him off from the joy that the whole family feels. "It's true that he was a sinner. But don't pass so final a judgment on him. Have pity in your heart, and don't forget that he may yet be an Augustine, while you remain just another mediocrity" ([St J. Escriva, "The Way", 675).

We should also consider that if God has compassion towards sinners, He must have much much more towards those who strive to be faithful to Him. St. Therese of Lisieux understood this very well: "What joy to remember that our Lord is just; that He makes allowances for all our shortcomings, and knows full well how weak we are. What have I to fear then? Surely the God of infinite justice who pardons the prodigal son with such mercy will be just with me `who am always with Him'?" ("The Story of a Soul", Chapter 8).

32. "Mercy, as Christ has presented it in the parable of the prodigal son, has THE INTERIOR FORM OF THE LOVE that in the New Testament is called AGAPE. This love is able to reach down to every prodigal son, to every human misery, and above all to every form of moral misery, to sin. When this happens, the person who is the object of mercy does not feel humiliated, but rather found again and `restored to value'. The father first and foremost expresses to him his joy, that he has been `found again' and that he has `returned to life'. This joy indicates a good that has remained intact: even if he is a prodigal, a son does not cease to be truly his father's son; it also indicates a good that has been found again, which in the case of the prodigal son was his return to the truth about himself" ("Dives In Misericordia", 6).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

An Easy Way to Become a Saint - September 11

Continued from yesterday...

Chapter 8. Reading

Another easy and effective way of arriving at an eminent degree of holiness is spiritual reading.

We have pointed out that the reason for so little sanctity in many souls is not weakness or malice, but ignorance. Spiritual reading dispels this ignorance and helps us to feel all the charm and consolation of God's blessed love.

Every Catholic should without fail make spiritual reading daily for ten or fifteen minutes. The neglect of this duty is disastrous.

To derive benefit from our reading, we must observe the following rules, which will not only secure satisfactory results but will make our reading attractive and a real pleasure.

Read books that appeal to you.

It is of elementary prudence to choose proper books, for not every good and excellent book suits all readers.

It must be our aim to find a book or books that make an appeal to us personally, that will grip our attention and act as a driving force, a stimulant to our energies.

Pray before reading.

Next, it is well to say a short prayer, one Hail Mary, before commencing our reading, asking Our Blessed Lady to help us to understand what we are reading and to put it into practice. St. Thomas Aquinas told his fellow Dominican, Father Reginald, that he got his great treasures of knowledge more by prayer than by study.

Read your book not once but many times.

It is a fatal mistake to read a book quickly or to read it only once. That produces very little good. We must not read a spiritual book as we read a romance. However well-written a book may be, the truths it presents are so great that our poor weak minds only succeed in grasping them little by little.

It may treat of the first of all truths, viz., the love of God. Nothing seems easier to understand than that, yet daily experience shows how very vaguely and insufficiently this wonderful doctrine is grasped and, as a consequence, how very little God is loved.

One book read slowly does us more good than a hundred read hurriedly....

[Continued tomorrow]
From An Easy Way to Become a Saint
by E. D. M. (1949)
The Catholic Printing Press
Lisbon, Portugal
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
13th June 1949

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gospel for Saturday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial: Our Lady's Saturday

From: Luke 6:43-49

Integrity (Continuation)
(Jesus said to his disciples,) [43] "For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; [44] for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. [45] The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

[46] "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you? [47] Every one who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: [48] he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. [49] But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great."

43-44. To distinguish the good tree from the bad tree we need to look at the fruit the tree produces (deeds) and not at its foliage (words). "For there is no lack of people here on earth who, on being approached, turn out to be nothing but large, shiny, glossy leaves. Foliage, just foliage and nothing more. Meanwhile, many souls are looking at us hoping to satisfy their hunger, which is a hunger for God. We must not forget that we have all the resources we need. We have sufficient doctrine and the grace of God, in spite of our wretchedness" ([St] J.Escriva, "Friends of God", 51).

45. Jesus is giving us two similes--that of the tree which, if it is not good, produces good fruit, and that of the man, who speaks of those things he has in his heart. "The treasure of the heart is the same as the root of the tree," St Bede explains. "A person who has a treasure of patience and of perfect charity in his heart yields excellent fruit; he loves his neighbor and has all the other qualities Jesus teaches; he loves his enemies, does good to him who hates him, blesses him who curses him, prays for him who calumniates him, does not react against him who attacks him or robs him; he gives to those who ask, does not claim what they have stolen from him, wishes not to judge and does not condemn, corrects patiently and affectionately those who err. But the person who has in his heart the treasure of evil does exactly the opposite: he hates his friends, speaks evil of him who loves him and does all the other things condemned by the Lord" ("In Lucae Evangelium Expositio", II, 6).

46. Jesus asks us to act in a way consistent with being Christians and not to make any separation between the faith we profess and the way we live: "What matters is not whether or not we wear a religious habit; it is whether we try to practice the virtues and surrender our will to God and order our lives as His Majesty ordains, and not want to do our will but his" (St Teresa of Avila, "Interior Castle", II, 6).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

An Easy Way to Become a Saint - September 10

Continued from yesterday...

Chapter 8. The Principal Duties of the Day

VI. The Problem of Life

Suffering is thought by many to be the great evil of life. Oh, if they could only avoid it!

If they did find a way of avoiding it, that would be the greatest evil of their lives.

All about suffering.

Our Lord has given us a most perfect redemption. He could have dispensed the law of suffering if He so willed. Why does God, being of infinite goodness and mercy, ask us to suffer?

For the simple reason that suffering is a very great grace.

Our suffering is a share, a small but most valuable share, in the Passion of Our Dear Lord.

It is priceless in value if we only accept it and offer it in union with Christ's Passion.

He has suffered unspeakable agonies for each one of us. Are we such arrant cowards as to refuse to suffer a little for Him?

How little gratitude we show for all that He has done for us! The easiest and best way of thanking Him is to offer our daily crosses and trials for love of Him.

The one big trouble about suffering is that we do not know how to suffer. We have no idea of its merits.

The secret is to suffer with patience and serenity. Then suffering loses all its sting, all its bitterness.

If we only remember that it is Our Sweet Lord Himself who asks us to bear these daily trials for love of Him, suffering loses its horrors.

God gives us abundant strength and grace to bear our crosses, if we ask Him.

Many good and pious Christians never think of asking God to help them to bear their crosses! Therefore, their crosses weigh heavily on them.

Our sufferings are the purest gold in our lives. Five minutes' suffering is of greater worth than twenty years of pleasure and happiness.

The Son of God suffered, His Immaculate Mother suffered, the Apostles, the Saints, all God's friends suffered. Suffering therefore must be a great grace.

One of the most lamentable evils in our human lives is that we lose the immense rewards which our sufferings ought to merit.

We fear suffering, we hate it, we revolt. It is not the suffering, but this revolt, that makes suffering unbearable and makes us cross, irritable, peevish. On the other hand, suffering borne patiently brings out all the beautiful traits of our character. It refines us as fire purifies and refines gold.

One fact well worth remembering is that our daily sufferings, the least as well as the greatest, if borne well, merit for us a crown of martyrdom.

A second is that the priceless graces and rewards which our sufferings should bring us are lost if suffering is borne badly.

Consequently, let us remember this about suffering:

1) That it is our share of the Passion of Jesus Christ; therefore, it has indescribable merit.

2) That, if borne with patience for the love of God, it loses all its sting and bitterness.

3) That if we ask God, He will most certainly give us abundant strength to bear the sufferings He sends us.

4) Our sufferings will save us from the fearful pains of Purgatory.

5) Suffering, well borne, makes us saints....

[Continued tomorrow]
From An Easy Way to Become a Saint
by E. D. M. (1949)
The Catholic Printing Press
Lisbon, Portugal
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
13th June 1949

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Gospel for Friday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 6:39-42

[39] He (Jesus) told them a parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? [40] A disciple is not above his teacher, but every one when he is fully taught will be like his teacher. [41] Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your eye? [42] Or how can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye."

[None for Luke 6:39-42. Below is a commentary on a similar theme from
Matthew 7:1-5:]

1. Jesus is condemning any rash judgments we make maliciously or carelessly about our brothers' behavior or feelings or motives. "Think badly and you will not be far wrong" is completely at odds with Jesus' teaching.

In speaking of Christian charity St. Paul lists its main features: "Love is patient and kind [...]. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5, 7). Therefore, "Never think badly of anyone, not even if the words or conduct of the person in question give you good grounds for doing so" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 442).

"Let us be slow to judge.--Each one sees things from his own point of view, as his mind, with all its limitations, tells him, and through eyes that are often dimmed and clouded by passion" ("ibid"., 451).

1-2. As elsewhere, the verbs in the passive voice ("you will be judged", "the measure you will be given") have God as their subject, even though He is not explicitly mentioned: "Do not judge OTHERS, that you be not judged BY GOD". Clearly the judgment referred to here is always a condemnatory judgment; therefore, if we do not want to be condemned by God, we should never condemn our neighbor. "God measures out according as we measure out and forgives as we forgive, and comes to our rescue with the same tenderness as He sees us having towards others" (Fray Luis de Leon, "Exposicion Del Libro De Job", Chapter 29).

3-5. A person whose sight is distorted sees things as deformed, even though in fact they are not deformed. St. Augustine gives this advice: "Try to acquire those virtues which you think your brothers lack, and you will no longer see their defects, because you will not have them yourselves" ("Enarrationes In Psalmos", 30, 2, 7). In this connection, the saying, "A thief thinks that everyone else is a thief" is in line with this teaching of Jesus.

Besides: "To criticize, to destroy, is not difficult; any unskilled laborer knows how to drive his pick into the noble and finely-hewn stone of a cathedral. To construct: that is what requires the skill of a master" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 456).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

An Easy Way to Become a Saint - September 9

Continued from yesterday...

Chapter 8. The Principal Duties of the Day

V. Sleeping

We devote 7 or 8 hours a day to sleep, that is a third part of our lives. Few Christians derive from their rest the merit they might easily obtain. These 7 or 8 hours of every day are for many lost hours, and in some cases the occasion of sins of slothfulness.

What a pity to lose 8 hours every day!

Some sleep too little, some too much, some yield to excessive laziness in arising.

The following suggestions will enable us to transform these 8 hour's sleep into 8 hours of prayer and merit.

a) Our sleep is a sacred duty imposed on us by God, and its fulfillment ought to be an act of obedience to God.

b) We ought to say our night prayers slowly and devoutly, asking for a good night's rest.

c) Let us offer our sleep to Our Lord in union with His sleep during His life on Earth. Bear in mind that every action united to the acts of Our Lord has an indescribable value. Priests, before beginning their Office, unite it with the prayer of Jesus when on Earth.

d) Let us offer every breath we draw, every beating of our hearts during the night as so many acts of love for God. Thousands of acts of love every night!

e) Our dear Angel Guardian is with us all night, watching over us, just as a tender mother watches over her sick child. Say a few loving words to this dear Angel before closing your eyes.

f) Good Christians sprinkle holy water every night over their persons and bed as defense against the devil.

g) If we cannot sleep, let us offer this weariness in honor of the three hours Jesus Christ passed on the hard bed of the Cross. Let us go on repeating the Name of Jesus, and this will help us to get the desired rest.

h) Regarding rising, we ought to form the habit of getting up immediately when our clock strikes or when we are called. The habit of jumping up quickly makes rising more easy. Laziness or delay in getting up makes it more difficult. It is also a bad beginning for the day, a beginning claimed by the devil.

i) When dressing, we should accustom ourselves to repeat frequently the Holy Name of Jesus. These first moments of the day are most precious, and we should offer them to God. This habit will guarantee us the help and protection of God during all the day.

An amusing fact is told of a young woman who was rather lazy and slow in getting up. On being called one morning she turned over again and said, "I am tired this morning; I will sleep a bit longer." She heard a voice, as of one lying beside her, which said, "Do, do, and I will remain with you."

Recognizing the devil, she bounded from her bed and was never again inclined to sloth when arising.

We may well apply this fact to ourselves, for it is quite certain that if we are lazy and slothful, the devil is really beside us and snatches the first fruits of the day from God.

How many thousand Catholics could easily hear Holy Mass and receive its indescribable graces if they were less lazy in getting up!

Frequently, too, laziness in arising makes us hurry over our morning prayers or even neglect them entirely. This is a very grave fault and may cause disastrous consequences. No one should dare to omit or say hurriedly his morning prayers....

[Continued tomorrow]
From An Easy Way to Become a Saint
by E. D. M. (1949)
The Catholic Printing Press
Lisbon, Portugal
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
13th June 1949

News Updates, 9/9

Priest urges Christians to fight off Islam... having babies

Illegal immigrant indicted for murder in nun's death
The illegal immigrant accused of killing a Benedictine nun in a drunken driving crash in Prince William County has been indicted for murder.

No disruptions to papal events, protesters vow
Gay activist: 'Our protests will be peaceful and lawful'

Belgian cardinal admits sex abuse 'errors'
Daneels admits he failed to demand bishop's resignation

Sinn Fein met priest involved in '72 bombing
Leaders insists they never discussed the IRA attack

Man charged with duping Catholic school
Found guilty of obtaining money under false pretense

Hong Kong cardinal warns of China persecution
Criticizes Vatican for being out-of-touch with issues

Christian leaders denounce anti-Islamic actions
Joint statement calls for new era of cooperation

Pope welcomes Catholic university in Sweden
Public accreditation hailed as 'significant event'

Christians rip Beck over 'social justice' slam
Radio-TV host conflates concept with Nazism, communism

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Gospel for Thursday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 6:27-38

Love of Enemies

[27] "But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, [28] bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. [29] To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your cloak do not withhold your coat as well. [30] Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. [31] And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.

[32] "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. [33] And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. [34] And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. [35] But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. [36] Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

[37] "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; [38] give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back."

27. "In loving our enemies there shines forth in us some likeness to God our Father, who, by the death of His Son, ransomed from everlasting perdition and reconciled to Himself the human race, which previously was most unfriendly and hostile to Him" ("St. Pius V Catechism", IV, 14, 19). Following the example of God our Father, we must desire for everyone (even those who say they are our enemies) eternal life, in the first place; additionally, a Christian has a duty to respect and understand everyone without exception, because of his or her intrinsic dignity as a human person, made in the image and likeness of the Creator.

28. Jesus Christ teaches us by example that this is a real precept and not just a pious recommendation; even when nailed to the cross He prayed to His Father for those who had brought Him to such a pass: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Lk 23:34). In imitation of the Master, St Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, when he was being stoned, prayed to our Lord not to hold the sin against his persecutors (cf. Acts 7:60). In the liturgy of Good Friday the Church offers prayers and suffrages to God on behalf of those outside the Church, asking Him to give them the grace of faith; to release from their ignorance those who do not know Him; to give Jews the light to the truth; to bring non-Catholic Christians, linked by true charity, into full communion with our Mother the Church.

29. Our Lord gives us more examples to show us how we should act if we want to imitate the mercy of God. The first has to do with one of what are traditionally called the "spiritual works of mercy"--forgiving injuries and being patient with other people's defects. This is what He means in the first instance about turning the other cheek.

To understand what our Lord is saying here, St. Thomas comments that "Sacred Scripture needs to be understood in the light of the example of Christ and the saints. Christ did not offer the cheek to be struck in the house of Annas (Jn 18:22ff), nor did St. Paul when, as we are told in the Acts of the Apostles, he was beaten in Philippi (Acts 16:22f). Therefore, we should not take it that Christ literally meant that you should offer the other cheek to some to hit you; what He was referring to was your interior disposition; that is, if necessary we should be ready not to be intolerant of anyone who hurts us, and we should be ready to put up with this kind of treatment, or worse than that. That was how the Lord acted when He surrendered His body to death" ("Commentary on St John", 18, 37).

36. The model of mercy which Christ sets before us is God Himself, of whom St. Paul says, 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions" (2 Cor 1:3-4). "The first quality of this virtue", Fray Luis de Granada explains, "is that it makes men like God and like the most glorious thing in Him, His mercy (Lk 6:36). For certainly the greatest perfection a creature can have is to be like his Creator, and the more like Him he is, the more perfect he is. Certainly one of the things which is most appropriate to God is mercy, which is what the Church means when it says that prayer: 'Lord God, to whom it is proper to be merciful and forgiving...'. It says that this is proper to God, because just as a creature, as creature, is characteristically poor and needy (and therefore characteristically receives and does not give), so, on the contrary, since God is infinitely rich and powerful, to Him alone does it belong to give and not to receive, and therefore it is appropriate for Him to be merciful and forgiving" ("Book of Prayer and Meditation", third part, third treatise).

This is the rule a Christian should apply: be compassionate towards other people's afflictions as if they were one's own, and try to remedy them. The Church spells out this rule by giving us a series of corporal works of mercy (visiting and caring for the sick, giving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty...) and spiritual works of mercy (teaching the ignorant, correcting the person who has erred, forgiving injuries...): cf. "St Pius X Catechism", 944f.

We should also show understanding towards people who are in error: "Love and courtesy of this kind should not, of course, make us indifferent to truth and goodness. Love, in fact, impels the followers of Christ to proclaim to all men the truth which saves. But we must distinguish between the error (which must always be rejected) and the person in error, who never loses his dignity as a person even though he flounders amid false or inadequate religious ideas. God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts; He forbids us to pass judgment on the inner guilt of others" (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 28).

38. We read in Sacred Scripture of the generosity of the widow of Zarephath, whom God asked to give food to Elijah the prophet even though she had very little left; He then rewarded her generosity by constantly renewing her supply of meal and oil (1 Kings 17:9ff). The same sort of thing happened when the boy supplied the five loaves and two fish which our Lord multiplied to feed a huge crowd of people (cf. Jn 6:9)--a vivid example of what God does when we give Him whatever we have, even if it does not amount to much.

God does not let Himself be outdone in generosity: "Go, generously and like a child ask Him, 'What can You mean to give me when You ask me for "this"?'" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 153). However much we give God in this life, He will give us more in life eternal.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

An Easy Way to Become a Saint - September 8

Continued from yesterday...

Chapter 8. The Principal Duties of the Day

Some additional hints

We are reminded by the bread we take and the meat we eat of the Heavenly Bread we have received so often in Holy Communion, and of the Flesh of Jesus Christ which we have eaten at the Sacred Table.

This thought is a beautiful Spiritual Communion.

Two little prayers

"O My God, I offer Thee this act in union with Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit and in praise of Thine Eternal Majesty."

This prayer, Our Lord assured St. Gertrude, gives indescribable value to any act we perform.

"O my God, I offer Thee the awful thirst Jesus Christ suffered in the Passion, His fast in the desert, His Divine moderation during His life on Earth."

This prayer obtains pardon for any want of abstemiousness and for any gluttony in eating and drinking we may be guilty of.

Let us be content with the food which is placed before us.

St. Paul's words must be before our minds:

"Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God." [1 Cor. 10:31]

We should not be unchristian in showing our dislike or discontent when our food is not just to our liking. If there is something very wrong with what is placed before us, then we may call attention to it courteously. We must eat as intelligent beings, not as animals....

[Continued tomorrow]
From An Easy Way to Become a Saint
by E. D. M. (1949)
The Catholic Printing Press
Lisbon, Portugal
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
13th June 1949

News Updates, 9/8

Vatican paper: 'No one burns the Qur'an'
Catholic bishops criticize planned protest of 9/11

Petraeus: Burning Qur'an puts Americans in Jeopardy
Fla. church threatens to burn copies of Muslim book

UK Catholic reform group: Church hates women
...oh, and the Church is homophobic and monarchical

Loyalist dissidents blamed for playground pipe bomb
Planted near Catholic school in Northern Ireland

Addition to 12th C. cathedral draws Muslim ire
Priest calls controversial gargoyle 'beautiful gesture'

Bishop says taxpayers should help fund Pope visit
Critics angry that £12m is to come from public purse

'Youth anthem' composed for UK papal visit
Sets Pope Benedict XVI's words to electro-dance music

Russian bishops seek collaboration with Orthodox
'Only then we'll be able to develop to the utmost'

Indian nuns protest tradition of child brides
'Girls under 18 should have adequate education'

Catholic College Rejects Homosexualist Group for Nonprofit Fair
A Catholic liberal arts college has rejected the application of a local homosexualist group to participate in a campus nonprofit internship fair, because the group's views directly conflicted with Catholic moral teaching. However, the school's own homosexual support group has said it is "investigating" the affair...

Catholic Church fires Mass woman for "marrying" her "female partner"
It's happening again. Cathedral High School in Springfield, Massachusetts has forced out the school's athletic director, Christine M. Judd, after she married her female partner in August. Judd, who is described on the school's website as 'one of the key members of the faculty and a positive role models for the students,' said was pressured to leave after marrying her female partner last month.
[A positive role model for students??? How sick is that?]

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Gospel for Sept 8, Feast: The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From: Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23

The Ancestry of Jesus Christ
[1] The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham.[2] Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, [3] and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, [4] and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahson, and Nahson the father of Salmon, [5] and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz due father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, [6] and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, [7] and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa, [8] and Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, [9] and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, [10] and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, [11] and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

[12] And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, [13] and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, [14] and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Aching and Achim the father of Eliud, [15] and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, [16] and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

The Virginal Conception of Jesus, and His Birth
[18] Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; [19] and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly. [20] But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; [21] she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." [22] All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: [23] "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and His name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means God with us).

1. This verse is a kind of title to St Matthew's entire Gospel. The promises God made to Abraham for the salvation of mankind (Gen 12:3) are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, as is Nathan's prophecy to King David of an everlasting kingdom (2 Sam 7:12-16).

The genealogy presented here by St Matthew shows Jesus' human ancestry and also indicates that salvation history has reached its climax with the birth of the Son of God through the working of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is the expected Messiah.

The genealogy is presented in a framework of three series, each consisting of fourteen links which show the progressive development of salvation history.

For the Jews (and for other Eastern peoples of nomadic origin) genealogical trees were of great importance because a person's identity was especially linked to family and tribe, with place of birth taking secondary importance. In the case of the Jewish people there was the added religious significance of belonging by blood to the chosen people.

In Christ's time each family still kept a careful record of its genealogical tree, since because of it people acquired rights and duties.

6. Four women are named in these genealogies--Tamar (cf. Gen 38; 1 Chron 2:4), Rahab (cf. Josh 2:6,17), Bathsheba (cf. 2 Sam 11:12, 24) and Ruth (cf. Book of Ruth). These four foreign women, who in one way or another are brought into the history of Israel, are one sign among many others of God's design to save all men.

By mentioning sinful people, God's ways are shown to be different from man's. God will sometimes carry out his plan of salvation by means of people whose conduct has not been just. God saves us, sanctifies us and chooses us to do good despite our sins and infidelities--and he chose to leave evidence of this at various stages in the history of our salvation.

11. The deportation to Babylon, described in 2 Kings 24-25, fulfilled the prophets' warning to the people of Israel and their kings that they would be punished for their infidelity to the commandments of the Law of God, especially the first commandment.

16. Jewish genealogies followed the male line. Joseph, being Mary's husband, was the legal father of Jesus. The legal father is on a par with the real father as regards rights and duties. This fact provides a sound basis for recognizing St Joseph as Patron of the whole Church, since he was chosen to play a very special role in God's plan for our salvation; with St Joseph as his legal father, Jesus the Messiah has David as his ancestor.

Since it was quite usual for people to marry within their clan, it can be concluded that Mary belonged to the house of David. Several early Fathers of the Church testify to this--for example, St Ignatius of Antioch, St Irenaeus, St Justin and Tertullian, who base their testimony on an unbroken oral tradition.

It should also be pointed out that when St Matthew comes to speak of the birth of Jesus, he uses an __expression which is completely different from that used for the other people in the genealogy. With these words the text positively teaches that Mary conceived Jesus while still a virgin, without the intervention of man.

18. St. Matthew relates here how Christ was conceived (cf. Luke 1:25-38): "We truly honor and venerate (Mary) as Mother of God, because she gave birth to a person who is at the same time both God and man" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 4, 7).

According to the provisions of the Law of Moses, engagement took place about one year before marriage and enjoyed almost the same legal validity. The marriage proper consisted, among other ceremonies, in the bride being brought solemnly and joyously to her husband's house (cf. Deuteronomy 20:7).

From the moment of engagement onwards, a certificate of divorce was needed in the event of a break in the relationship between the couple.

The entire account of Jesus' birth teaches, through the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 (which is expressly quoted in verses 22-23) that: 1) Jesus has David as His ancestor since Joseph is His legal father; 2) Mary is the Virgin who gives birth according to the prophecy; 3) the Child's conception without the intervention of man was miraculous.

19. "St. Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life. That is why Scripture praises Joseph as `a just man'. In Hebrew a just man means a good and faithful servant of God, someone who fulfills the divine will (cf. Genesis 7:1; 18:23-32; Ezekiel 18:5ff.; Proverbs 12:10), or who is honorable and charitable toward his neighbor (cf. Tobias 7:6; 9:6). So a just man is someone who loves God and proves his love by keeping God's commandments and directing his whole life towards the service of his brothers, his fellow men" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 40).

Joseph considered his spouse to be holy despite the signs that she was going to have a child. He was therefore faced with a situation he could not explain. Precisely because he was trying to do God's will, he felt obliged to put her away; but to shield her from public shame he decided to send her away quietly.

Mary's silence is admirable. Her perfect surrender to God even leads her to the extreme of not defending her honor or innocence. She prefers to suffer suspicion and shame rather than reveal the work of grace in her. Faced with a fact which was inexplicable in human terms she abandons herself confidently to the love and providence of God. God certainly submitted the holy souls of Joseph and Mary to a severe trial. We ought not to be surprised if we also undergo difficult trials in the course of our lives. We ought to trust in God during them, and remain faithful to Him, following the example they gave us.

20. God gives His light to those who act in an upright way and who trust in His power and wisdom when faced with situations which exceed human understanding. By calling him the son of David, the angel reminds Joseph that he is the providential link which joins Jesus with the family of David, according to Nathan's messianic prophecy (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12). As St. John Chrysostom says: "At the very start he straightaway reminds him of David, of whom the Christ was to spring, and he does not wish him to be worried from the moment he reminds him, through naming his most illustrious ancestor, of the promise made to all his lineage" ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 4).

"The same Jesus Christ, our only Lord, the Son of God, when He assumed human flesh for us in the womb of the Virgin, was not conceived like other men, from the seed of man, but in a manner transcending the order of nature, that is, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that the same person, remaining God as He was from eternity, became man, which He was not before" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 4, 1).

21. According to the Hebrew root, the name Jesus means "savior". After our Lady, St. Joseph is the first person to be told by God that salvation has begun.

"Jesus is the proper name of the God-man and signifies `Savior'--a name given Him not accidentally, or by the judgment or will of man, but by the counsel and command of God" [...]. All other names which prophecy gave to the Son of God--Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (cf. Isaiah 9:6)--are comprised in this one name Jesus; for while they partially signified the salvation which He was to bestow on us, this name included the force and meaning of all human salvation" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 3, 5 and 6).

23. "Emmanuel": the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, quoted in this verse, foretold about 700 years in advance that God's salvation would be marked by the extraordinary event of virgin giving birth to a son. The Gospel here, therefore, reveals two truths.

First, that Jesus is in fact the God-with-us foretold by the prophet. This is how Christian tradition has always understood it. Indeed the Church has officially condemned an interpretation denying the messianic sense of the Isaiah text (cf. Pius VI, Brief, "Divina", 1779). Christ is truly God-with-us, therefore, not only because of His God-given mission but because He is God made man (cf. John 1:14). This does not mean that Jesus should normally be called Emmanuel, for this name refers more directly to the mystery of His being the Incarnate Word. At the Annunciation the angel said that He should be called Jesus, that is, Savior. And that was the name St. Joseph gave Him.

The second truth revealed to us by the sacred text is that Mary, in whom the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 is fulfilled, was a virgin before and during the birth itself. The miraculous sign given by God that salvation had arrived was precisely that a woman would be a virgin and a mother at the same time.

"Jesus Christ came forth from His mother's womb without injury to her maternal virginity. This immaculate and perpetual virginity forms, therefore, the just theme of our eulogy. Such was the work of the Holy Spirit, who at the conception and birth of the Son so favored the Virgin Mother as to impart fruitfulness to her while preserving inviolate her perpetual virginity" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 4, 8).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

An Easy Way to Become a Saint - September 7

Continued from yesterday...

Chapter 8. The Principal Duties of the Day

IV. Eating

This is another all-important duty of our lives, one too which ought to inspire us with gratitude to God for the abundant and good food He gives us. Alas, eating is a duty which for many is not only devoid of merit but the occasion of many sins!

We should commence our meals by saying the usual short grace: "Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord. Amen," asking God to bless us and the food and drink which we are about to consume. This blessing will certainly please God and give our food an additional nutritive value.

On one occasion wicked men sought to kill St. Benedict by offering him a glass of poisoned wine. The saint, as was his wont, made the Sign of the Cross over the wine before tasting it; whereupon, the glass was shattered into pieces and the malice of his false friends made manifest.

Doctors assure us that much illness is caused by eating too much, by eating too hastily, and by eating what is not good for us. Many commit these faults, which are injurious to both soul and body.

A safe rule to follow is to arise from table before being fully satisfied, but rather with an inclination to eat more.

Mr. Gladstone at the age of 80 declared that he attributed his great age and splendid health to the fact that he ate slowly, and carefully masticated his food.

Eminent doctors advise their patients to observe carefully what foods agree best with them and what are likely to do them harm, choosing the former and avoiding the latter. Those who follow this sage advice will enjoy good health and save themselves from many sins....

[Continued tomorrow]
From An Easy Way to Become a Saint
by E. D. M. (1949)
The Catholic Printing Press
Lisbon, Portugal
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
13th June 1949

Monday, September 06, 2010

Gospel for Tuesday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 6:12-19

The Calling of the Apostles

[12] In these days He (Jesus) went out into the hills to pray; and all night He continued in prayer to God. [13] And when it was day, He called His disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom He named Apostles: [14] Simon, whom He named Peter, and Andrew, his brother, and James and John, and Philip and Bartholomew, [15] and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, [16] and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

The Sermon on the Mount
[17] And He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; [18] and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. [19] And all the crowd sought to touch Him, for power came forth from Him and healed them all.

12-13. The evangelist writes with a certain formality when describing this important occasion on which Jesus chooses the Twelve, constituting them as the apostolic college: "The Lord Jesus, having prayed at length to the Father, called to Himself those whom He willed and appointed twelve to be with Him, whom He might send to preach the King dom of God (cf. Mark 2:13-19; Matthew 10:1-42). These Apostles (cf. Luke 6:13) He constituted in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which He placed Peter, chosen from among them (cf. John 21:15-17). He sent them first of all to the children of Israel and then to all peoples (cf. Romans 1:16), so that, sharing in His power, they might make all peoples His disciples and sanctify and govern them (cf. Matthew 28:16-20; and par.) and thus spread the Church and, administering it under the guidance of the Lord, shepherd it all days until the end of the world (cf. Matthew 28:20). They were fully confirmed in this mission on the day of Pentecost (cf. Act 2:1-26) [...]. Through their preaching the Gospel everywhere (cf. Mark 16:20), and through its being welcomed and received under the influence of the Holy Spirit by those who hear it, the Apostles gather together the universal Church, which the Lord founded upon the Apostles and built upon Blessed Peter their leader, the chief cornerstone being Christ Jesus Himself (cf. Revelation 21:14; Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20). That divine mission, which was committed by Christ to the Apostles, is destined to last until the end of the world (cf. Matthew 28:20), since the Gospel, which they were charged to hand on, is, for the Church, the principle of all its life for all time. For that very reason the Apostles were careful to appoint successors in this hierarchically constituted society" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 19-20).

Before establishing the apostolic college, Jesus spent the whole night in prayer. He often made special prayer for His Church (Luke 9:18; John 17:1ff), thereby preparing His Apostles to be its pillars (cf. Galatians 2:9). As His Passion approaches, He will pray to the Father for Simon Peter, the head of the Church, and solemnly tell Peter that He has done so: "But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail" (Luke 22:32). Following Christ's example, the Church stipulates that on many occasions liturgical prayer should be offered for the pastors of the Church (the Pope, the bishops in general, and priests) asking God to give them grace to fulfill their ministry faithfully.

Christ is continually teaching us that we need to pray always (Luke 18:1). Here He shows us by His example that we should pray with special intensity at important moments in our lives. "`Pernoctans in oratione Dei. He spent the whole night in prayer to God.' So St.Luke tells of our Lord. And you? How often have you persevered like that? Well, then...." ([Blessed] J. Escriva, "The Way", 104).

On the need for prayer and the qualities our prayer should have, see the notes on Matthew 6:5-6; 7:7-11; 14:22-23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; 11:1-4; 22:41-42.

12. Since Jesus is God, why does He pray? There were two wills in Christ, one divine and one human (cf. "St. Pius X Catechism", 91), and although by virtue of His divine will He was omnipotent, His human will was not omnipotent. When we pray, what we do is make our will known to God; therefore Christ, who is like us in all things but sin (Hebrews 4:15), also had to pray in a human way (cf. "Summa Theologiae", III, q. 21, a. 1). Reflecting on Jesus at prayer, St. Ambrose comments: "The Lord prays not to ask things for Himself, but to intercede on my behalf; for although the Father has put everything into the hands of the Son, still the Son, in order to behave in accordance with His condition as man, considers it appropriate to implore the Father for our sake, for He is our Advocate [...]. A Master of obedience, by His example He instructs us concerning the precepts of virtue: `We have an advocate with the Father' (1 John 2:1)" ("Expositio Evangelii sec. Lucam, in loc.").

14-16. Jesus chose for Apostles very ordinary people, most of them poor and uneducated; apparently only Matthew and the brothers James and John had social positions of any consequence. But all of them gave up whatever they had, little or much as it was, and all of them, bar Judas, put their faith in the Lord, overcame their shortcomings and eventually proved faithful to grace and became saints, veritable pillars of the Church. We should not feel uneasy when we realize that we too are low in human qualities; what matters is being faithful to the grace God gives us.

19. God became man to save us. The divine person of the Word acts through the human nature which He took on. The cures and casting out of devils which He performed during His life on earth are also proof that Christ actually brings redemption and not just hope of redemption. The crowds of people from Judea and other parts of Israel who flock to Him, seeking even to touch Him, anticipate, in a way, Christians' devotion to the holy Humanity of Christ.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

An Easy Way to Become a Saint - September 6

Continued from yesterday...

Chapter 8. The Principal Duties of the Day

III. Working

Most men work seven, eight, ten hours a day, and some even more. This goes on for fifty, sixty or even seventy years. All these countless hours are, for many, completely lost! Also, work for some is irksome, especially when it does not bring in the desired profits. Others enjoy their work but never think of doing it for God, and they too lose the immense merits of all these long hours.

Every one should bear in mind that work was expressly imposed on us by God as a penance for sin. "You shall eat your bread with the sweat of your brow." [Gen. 3:19]

If we work in this spirit, every moment of labor is a meritorious penance. And when our work is not successful, we have the great consolation of knowing that it brings us a still greater reward because of the mortification resulting from our failure.

In our morning offering we should be careful to emphasize the words, "I offer all the work, all the actions of this day for the intentions of the Sacred Heart."

Few Christians feel inclined to practice penance for their many sins. Consequently, their pains in Purgatory will be long and severe. If, however, we offer our life's work, the work of every day, its weariness, worries and disappointments, we are doing excellent penance, the holiest we can perform, because it has been imposed by God Himself and we are doing it every day of our lives.

Moreover, our work, our every action, if done for God, will receive abundant rewards because they are acts of love.

All these innumerable graces are utterly lost if we fail to do our work with the proper dispositions, viz., a) as acts of penance, b) as acts of love.

By making our Morning Offering with full deliberation, the countless acts of each day become acts of merit...

[Continued tomorrow]
From An Easy Way to Become a Saint
by E. D. M. (1949)
The Catholic Printing Press
Lisbon, Portugal
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
13th June 1949

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Gospel for Monday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 6:6-11

The Cure of a Man with a Withered Hand

[6] On another Sabbath, when He (Jesus) entered the synagogue and taught, a man was there whose right hand was withered. [7] And the scribes and the Pharisees watched Him, to see whether He would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against Him. [8] But He knew their thoughts, and He said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come and stand here." And he rose and stood there. [9] And Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?" [10] And He looked around on them all, and said to him, "Stretch out your hand." And he did so, and his hand was restored. [11] But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

10. The Fathers teach us how to discover a deep spiritual meaning in apparently casual things Jesus says. St. Ambrose, for example, commenting on the phrase "Stretch out your hand," says: "This form of medicine is common and general. Offer it often, in benefit of your neighbor; defend from injury anyone who seems to be suffering as a result of calumny; stretch your hand out also to the poor man who asks for your help; stretch it out also to the Lord asking Him to forgive your sins; that is how you should stretch your hand out, and that is the way to be cured" ("Expositio Evangelii sec. Lucam, in loc".).

11. The Pharisees do not want to reply to Jesus' question and do not know how to react to the miracle which He goes on to work. It should have converted them, but their hearts were in darkness and they were full of jealousy and anger. Later on, these people, who kept quiet in our Lord's presence, began to discuss Him among themselves, not with a view to approaching Him again but with the purpose of doing away with Him. In this connection St. Cyril comments: "O Pharisee, you see Him working wonders and healing the sick by using a higher power, yet out of envy you plot His death" ("Commentarium in Lucam, in loc.").
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

An Easy Way to Become a Saint - September 5

Continued from yesterday...

Chapter 8. The Principal Duties of the Day

Devotion to the Sacred Heart is a very certain way of becoming holy; our sweet Lord Himself gave it to us as His last, supreme effort to gain our love.

To practice this devotion we must:

a) Read from time to time the 12 wonderful Promises that Our Lord made to everyone who practices devotion to His Sacred Heart. These Promises reveal in the clearest possible way the immense personal and tender love Our Lord has for us. Therefore, we should read them, slowly and carefully, at least on the First Friday of every month. They will awaken in our hearts boundless confidence in Our Lord.

All the 12 Promises are most important, but we call attention very especially to the 11th Promise: "Those who spread this devotion will have their names written on My Sacred Heart, never to be effaced!"

We can spread the devotion by talking of it to friends, by distributing little pictures of the Sacred Heart with the Promises printed on them.

b) We must repeat frequently the ejaculation: "Sacred Heart of Jesus, I have confidence in Thee, boundless confidence for everything."

This ejaculation is so powerful and efficacious that it has been well called "The miraculous ejaculation."

c) We must wear a badge or medal of the Sacred Heart.

d) We ought to have a picture of the Sacred Heart, not only in our homes but in every room and on our writing table, just as we have the photograph of our dear mother. We can say from time to time, "Jesus, I love You."

No mother, no father, no brother or friend loves us so tenderly as Jesus does.

Those who practice devotion to the Sacred Heart in this simple and easy way have a guarantee of receiving the wonderful favors promised by Our Lord.

These daily prayers and devotions will make us saints.

They are:
The Morning Offering.
Morning Prayers.
Evening Prayers.
The Rosary.
The frequent repetition of the Holy Name.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart.
Daily Mass and Communion.
A visit to the Blessed Sacrament....
[Continued tomorrow]
From An Easy Way to Become a Saint
by E. D. M. (1949)
The Catholic Printing Press
Lisbon, Portugal
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
13th June 1949