Friday, April 29, 2016

THE DOCTOR IS IN

Here are few excerpts from St Catherine of Siena

* Jesus to Catherine of Siena: "I give spiritual consolation in prayer, now in one way, now in another. But it is not my intention that the soul should receive this consolation foolishly, paying more attention to the gift than to me."  (when we receive the gift we should look more intently at the giver)



  • Love does not stay idle." Letter T82
  • "Reflect that God requires nothing else of us except that we show our neighbors the love we have for God." Letter T89
  • "Do not be satisfied with little things, because God wants great things!"  Letter T127
  • "Out of darkness is born the light." Letter T211
  • "To the servant of God, every place is the right place, and every time is the right time." Letter T328
  • "God is more ready to pardon that we have been to sin."  Letter T343
  • "Consider God's charity. Where else have we ever seen someone who has been offended voluntarily paying out his life for those who have offended him?"  Letter T345
  • "Hope comes from love, because people always trust in those they love."  Letter T352
  • "You must believe in truth that whatever God gives or permits is for your salvation."  Letter T354
  • "There is nothing we can desire or want that we do not find in God." Letter T360
  • "If you are what you should be, you will set all of Italy ablaze!" Letter T368 
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  • "Holy Spirit, come into my heart, and in your power draw it to you." Prayer 6
  • "It is only through shadows that one comes to know the light." Prayer 24
You are asking for something that would be harmful to your salvation if you had it--so by not getting what you've asked, you really are getting what you want." 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

FROM THE POPE ON LOVE

Dear young friends, at this stage in your lives you have a growing desire to demonstrate and receive affection. The Lord, if you let him teach you, will show you how to make tenderness and affection even more beautiful. He will guide your hearts to “love without being possessive”, to love others without trying to own them but letting them be free. Because love is free! There is no true love that is not free! The freedom that the Lord gives to us is his love for us. He is always close to each one of us. There is always a temptation to let our affections be tainted by an instinctive desire to “have to have” what we find pleasing; this is selfishness. Our consumerist culture reinforces this tendency. Yet when we hold on too tightly to something, it fades, it dies, and then we feel confused, empty inside. The Lord, if you listen to his voice, will reveal to you the secret of love. It is caring for others, respecting them, protecting them and waiting for them. This is putting tenderness and love into action. 

At this point in life you feel also a great longing for freedom. Many people will say to you that freedom means doing whatever you want. But here you have to be able to say no. If you do not know how to say “no”, you are not free. The person who is free is he or she who is able to say “yes” and who knows how to say “no”. Freedom is not the ability simply to do what I want. This makes us self-centred and aloof, and it prevents us from being open and sincere friends; it is not true to say “it is good enough if it serves me”. No, this is not true. Instead, freedom is the gift ofbeing able to choose the good: this is true freedom. The free person is the one who chooses what is good, what is pleasing to God, even if it requires effort, even if it is not easy. I believe that you young men and women are not afraid to make the effort, that you are indeed courageous! Only by courageous and firm decisions do we realize our greatest dreams, the dreams which it is worth spending our entire lives to pursue. Courageous and noble choices. Do not be content with mediocrity, with “simply going with the flow”, with being comfortable and laid back. Don’t believe those who would distract you from the real treasure, which you are, by telling you that life is beautiful only if you have many possessions. Be sceptical about people who want to make you believe that you are only important if you act tough like the heroes in films or if you wear the latest fashions. Your happiness has no price. It cannot be bought: it is not an app that you can download on your phones nor will the latest update bring you freedom and grandeur in love. True freedom is something else altogether. 

That is because love is a free gift which calls for an open heart; love is a responsibility, but a noble responsibility which is life-long; it is a daily task for those who can achieve great dreams! Woe to your people who do not know how to dream, who do not dare to dream! If a person of your age is not able to dream, if they have already gone into retirement… this is not good.Love is nurtured by trust, respect and forgiveness. Love does not happen because we talk about it, but when we live it: it is not a sweet poem to study and memorize, but is a life choice to put into practice! How can we grow in love? The secret, once again, is the Lord: Jesus gives us himself in the Mass, he offers us forgives and peace in Confession. There we learn to receive his love, to make it ours and to give it to the world. And when loving seems hard, when it is difficult to say no to something wrong, look up at Jesus on the cross, embrace the cross and don’t ever let go of his hand. He will point you ever higher, and pick you up whenever you fall. Throughout life we will fall many times, because we are sinners, we are weak. But there is always the hand of God who picks us up, who raises us up. Jesus wants us to be up on our feet! Think of the beautiful word Jesus said to the paralytic: “Arise!”. God has created us to be on our feet. There is a lovely song that mountain climbers sing as they climb. It goes like this: “In climbing, the important thing is not to not fall, but to not remain fallen!. To have the courage to pick oneself up, to allow oneself to be raised up by Jesus. And his hand is often given through the hand of a friend, through the hand of one’s parents, through the hand of those who accompany us throughout life. Jesus himself is present in them. So arise! God wants us up on our feet, ever on our feet! 

I know that you are capable of acts of great friendship and goodness. With these you are called to build the future, togetherwith others and for others, but never against anyone! One never builds “against”; this is called “destruction”. You will do amazing things if you prepare well, starting now, by living your youth and all its gifts to the fullest and without fear of hard work. Be like sporting champions, who attain high goals by quiet daily effort and practice. Let your daily programme be the works of mercy. Enthusiastically practice them, so as to be champions in life, champions in love! In this way you will be recognized as disciples of Jesus. In this way, you will have the identification card of the Christian. And I promise you: your joy will be complete.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

UNDERGO TRIALS

Acts 14:21-27; Psalm 145 I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God; Revelation 21:1-5; John 13:31-33,34-35


What we don't get in today's first reading is really worth exploring.

Paul's words in today's first reading, "It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" have a greater impact if we read what precedes this conversation he is having with the church of Lystra and Iconic.

Paul has been here before. On his previous visit some jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and they "stoned paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead."

When Paul speaks about trials and undergoing hardships he isn't just whistling Dixie.  He is speaking with first hand experience.  In fact, as Paul is speaking to the disciples the wounds of being stoned to death are probably still very visible.  The cuts and bruises on his face are there for every one to see.  He is standing before them some what mangled from the beating he received, bloodied and bandaged with scars testifying to his own perseverance.

Talk about clout.

Persecution became for them their daily bread as disciples in the early church.

What about us?  It isn't persecution but complacency  that has become our daily bread as disciples.

How do we reawaken that missionary zeal and spirit that moved the disciples beyond complacency into willingness to embrace the sufferings and undergo the trials?

The disciples in the early church understood Jesus command and took it to heart: As i have loved you should also love.

Jesus was willing to make his life a total self-gift for the good of the other and the disciples in the early church understood that the proclamation of the good news was worth all the good that suffering could not deter them.







 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

CERTIFY

Acts 5:27-33; Ps 34 The Lord hears the cry of the poor; John 3:31-36

"Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy."

Do we certify that God is trustworthy?

What in our life gives that kind of witness to others?

We certainly see the apostles in the book of Acts doing their part.  They are standing in the fire of opposition and refusing to stand down and be silent.  They are loud and clear about what god has done not only in their life but int he life of others in the world.

Are we just as loud and clear in our witness before others?

Certification of God's trustworthiness means we let him lead.  It means we allow his words and actions to inform our words and actions.  It means that somethings are no longer options.  It means that Jesus is not just a Sunday fling but He is an everyday reality that empowers us and transforms us.  It means that every decision that we make now becomes filtered through Him, his love, his demands, his commands, his invitation.  Everything!

We can no longer just pick and choose when we want Jesus to take the helm.  He either is or isn't.  No piece meal.  No cafeteria style faith.

Do we certify that God is trustworthy?


Thursday, March 31, 2016

BLESS YOU

Acts 3:11-26; Psalm 8 O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!; Luke 24:35-48

Bless You!

We hear this all the time in our life, most notably when some one has sneezed and disrupted our daily routine with such commotion.  We say instinctually, Bless You.  It comes forth from our lips like the air we breathe.

But what does that mean?  Why do we say it?  What do we mean when we say it:Bless You.

Perhaps we are wishing God to bestow upon them health of mind and body.  Maybe we want God to bring them prosperity.

Often times this is what we associate with God's blessing: health, wealth, prosperity, goodness, a lack of trial or tribulation, lack of obstacles.

We should spend some time thinking about what we are saying when we ask God to Bless someone.

St Peter has a thought in mine for us in regard to saying "bless you" as we encounter in today's first reading as we continue to follow the Acts of the Apostles through this Easter Season.

Here are St Peter's words, "God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each of you from evil ways."

There we have it.

Blessing of God is meant to turn us from our evil ways.  In some respect it is meant to spur us on to be the best version of ourselves.

When we say Bless you to another we should think about this reality.  Or when some one tells it to us, again we should we should ponder what the grace of God wants from us in life.  We must know the end if we are going to fully engage in the process.

God Bless you…may we turn from evil ways, annoying habits, small vices and become the best version of our selves as God design us to be.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

EASTER TUESDAY

Acts 2:36-41; PS 33 The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord; John 20:11-18

"But go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

Jesus's first words after the resurrection to Mary Magadalene are quite striking.  Once He calls her by name and brings her forth from her grief and despair then he reveals the truth that is ultimately the source of all freedom: I am going to my father and your father, my God and your God.

John Paull II spoke these words to a group of youth was stated, "we are not the sum total of our failures and weakness, but the sum total of our Father's love for us and the real capacity to become the image of the son."

St Jose Maria Escriva added, "God is my Father! If we meditate on it, we will never let go of this consoling thought.  Jesus loves is a dear friend who loves us with all divine madness of his heart.  The Holy Spirit is my consoler, who guides my every step along the road.  Consider this often: you are God's and God yours."

I am going to My Father and your Father, My God and your God.

Beautiful reminder of what is the ground of all reality. 

We don't have to fret or work at it so hard, life that is.  If we keep this truth before our eyes and let it dwell in our heart and illuminate our mind, what joy and peace that should accompany us daily. 

My Father and your Father.  God not only concerns himself with each of us individually but all of us collectively.  My Father is your father is our father.  In his hands we find freedom to live and love and laugh and loiter in this world he has given to us.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE

Genesis 17:3-9; Ps 105 The Lord remembers his covenant for ever; John 8:51-59

I love todays dialogue we encounter in the gospel. 

The jews are not happy with Jesus.  In fact they get a little ticked off because of his comments and at one point they ask Jesus, "Who do you make yourself out to be?"

In other words they are saying, "Who do you think you are?"

I'm sure we have had those words pressed upon our lips and directed toward others we don't quite understand.


Then again in the same gospel the Jews find themselves not hearing correctly. 

Jesus says, "Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day" and the jews respond with, "you are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?"

These two sentences are not the same.  Jesus speaks of Abraham seeing Jesus' day while the jews speak of Jesus seeing Abraham's day.  They aren't the same. 

What we have here is a failure to communicate.   This is the case not only for the Jews but also for ourselves!

Why do we have selective hearing when it comes to Jesus in our life?  Why do we have selective hearing when it comes to being open to God's will or plan unfolding in our life?  How often do we hear  something Jesus isn't actually saying because our own agenda or fear keeps us from receiving it fully.

What is the remedy?

Jesus sums up the reality very clearly, "before Abraham came to be, I AM."

Jesus reminds his listeners that he is one with the Father.  He takes up on himself the name of God revealed to Moses, "I am who am" in Exodus chapter 3.

Jesus is beyond time and space and transcends it.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

This is the remedy to being a good listener.  We trust that God sees even if we don't.

This is why Abram in the first reading is essential.  We are told that Abram prostrated himself  and God spoke to him.

It is in this gesture of humility, setting aside our agendas and what we want to hear from God and what we think we are hearing and opening ourselves up completely that we lean in and incline our hearts more fully to his words and thus our ears are opened.

Prostration is important.  The humble heart is the one that is surprised by the word of God.  The jews were not humble.  They refused to prostrate themselves.  They trusted more in their thoughts about God then what God was speaking in Jesus.  This of course is a warning to all of us.

Prostration leads to an open heart and an attentive ear.