Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Be Lifted Up

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Minute Meditations

Part of the Plan

God has a plan for us that we may not understand at the moment. As the day unfolds, however, we often come to see clearly His amazing grace. He tends to lead us on the paths we may never have journeyed on our own.
— from Visiting Mary

St. Catherine of Siena

The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ. What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time.

She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful and intensely religious person. Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. Her father ordered her to be left in peace, and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation.

She entered the Dominican Third Order at 18 and spent the next three years in seclusion, prayer and austerity. Gradually a group of followers gathered around her—men and women, priests and religious. An active public apostolate grew out of her contemplative life. Her letters, mostly for spiritual instruction and encouragement of her followers, began to take more and more note of public affairs. Opposition and slander resulted from her mixing fearlessly with the world and speaking with the candor and authority of one completely committed to Christ. She was cleared of all charges at the Dominican General Chapter of 1374.

Her public influence reached great heights because of her evident holiness, her membership in the Dominican Third Order, and the deep impression she made on the pope. She worked tirelessly for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between Florence and the pope

In 1378, the Great Schism began, splitting the allegiance of Christendom between two, then three, popes and putting even saints on opposing sides. Catherine spent the last two years of her life in Rome, in prayer and pleading on behalf of the cause of Urban VI and the unity of the Church. She offered herself as a victim for the Church in its agony. She died surrounded by her "children" and was canonized in 1461. 

Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church. In 1939, she and Francis of Assisi were declared co-patrons of Italy. Paul VI named her and Teresa of Avila doctors of the Church in 1970. Her spiritual testament is found in The Dialogue.


Though she lived her life in a faith experience and spirituality far different from that of our own time, Catherine of Siena stands as a companion with us on the Christian journey in her undivided effort to invite the Lord to take flesh in her own life. Events which might make us wince or chuckle or even yawn fill her biographies: a mystical experience at six, childhood betrothal to Christ, stories of harsh asceticism, her frequent ecstatic visions. Still, Catherine lived in an age which did not know the rapid change of 21st-century mobile America. The value of her life for us today lies in her recognition of holiness as a goal to be sought over the course of a lifetime.


Catherine's book Dialogue contains four treatises—her testament of faith to the spiritual world. She wrote: "No one should judge that he has greater perfection because he performs great penances and gives himself in excess to the staying of the body than he who does less, inasmuch as neither virtue nor merit consists therein; for otherwise he would be an evil case, who for some legitimate reason was unable to do actual penance. Merit consists in the virtue of love alone, flavored with the light of true discretion without which the soul is worth nothing."

Patron Saint of:


Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.


I remind myself that I am in your presence O Lord.
I will take refuge in your loving heart.
You are my strength in times of weakness.
You are my comforter in times of sorrow.


Lord you gave me life and the gift of freedom.
Through Your love I exist in this world.
May I never take the gift of life for granted.
May I always respect the right to life of others.


How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy-hearted? I may be very much at peace, happy to be here. Equally, I may be frustrated, worried or angry. I acknowledge how I really am.
It is the real me that the Lord loves.


The Word of God

Reading 1 acts 4:32-37

The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the Apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the Apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need.

Thus Joseph, also named by the Apostles Barnabas
(which is translated "son of encouragement"),
a Levite, a Cypriot by birth,
sold a piece of property that he owned,
then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles.

Responsorial Psalm ps 93:1ab, 1cd-2, 5

R. (1a) The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is king, in splendor robed;
robed is the LORD and girt about with strength.
R. The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
R. Alleluia.
And he has made the world firm,
not to be moved.
Your throne stands firm from of old;
from everlasting you are, O LORD.
R. The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
R. Alleluia.
Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed:
holiness befits your house,
O LORD, for length of days.
R. The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
R. Alleluia.

Gospel jn 3:7b-15

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
"'You must be born from above.'
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Nicodemus answered and said to him,
'How can this happen?"
Jesus answered and said to him,
"You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?
Amen, amen, I say to you,
we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen,
but you people do not accept our testimony.
If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe,
how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."


Remembering that I am still in God's presence, I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting beside me, and say whatever is on my mind, whatever is in my heart, speaking as one friend to another.


Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.

Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Acts 4:32-37

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Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

There was no needy person among them. (Acts 4:34)

Isn't it striking how the first Christians took care of one another? Moved by their love for the Lord and for each other, the wealthier members of their community—people like Barnabas—freely shared their resources with those who were less fortunate. They considered their bounty as a blessing from God, something that they should share with each other rather than hold onto for themselves (Acts 4:34-37).

Blessed Frederic Ozanam is a more contemporary example of someone who, like the early Christians, looked beyond himself to the needs of the people around him. When thousands died in a cholera epidemic in Paris in 1832, many more were left destitute. Ozanam, a young university student, was moved at the hopeless state of families who had lost the support of their breadwinners. Then he was stung by another student's remark: "In former times Christianity worked wonders, but what is it doing for mankind now? And you, who pride yourself on your Catholicity, what are you doing for the poor?"

In response, Ozanam gathered a few friends and began to do whatever he could to relieve the suffering he saw in the slums of the city. Eventually, a new organization, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, grew from Ozanam's work and spread. Through the society, volunteers serve millions of disadvantaged people around the globe. They provide home visits, job training, housing assistance, food pantries, and medicine for the elderly. They pray with people, care for their needs, and show the love of Christ in countless concrete ways.

Most of us don't live in so close-knit a community as the first Christians, where everything was held in common. Nor would many of us be able, like Barnabas, to sell our property, donate it to our local parish, and still be able to care for ourselves and our families. But God still calls us to bear witness to Jesus through acts of generosity and loving service that are in line with our circumstances. So ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see the needs around you. Sharing even a little of your resources, even a little of your time and attention, can make a big difference!

"Lord, show me how I can share the blessings you have given me."


Psalm 93:1-2, 5; John 3:7-15


The Spanish reflection says today:
  "All the teachings of Jesus, all their actions, are centered in the projection of His work to eternal life.  His death and passion are extremely valuable because through them He obtains forgiveness for the sins and life eternal.
  The interes of the possessions and temporal needs, even though they are necessary, Jesus does not propose them in the principal plan of His interests.  That is secondary.  ".... sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor....." Luke 18:22
  If all the riches and possessions have some sense, it is when they can serve to demonstrate the sincere love of God...helping with them the needy neighbor.
  "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" Mathew 6:25
  "Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.p 34For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be." Luke 12:33-34
  The riches which can trap the heart and impede the eternal goods, could be: a person, the honor, the pleasure, the popularity, the money, the drug, the possessions...own's own selfishness and pride.  A sparrow in the sky is worth more than a chained eagle. 
Do you have you heart chained to the things of the world? "

A person told me that they felt like a failure, and I asked him to point out all his failures, and answered loss of job, loss of house for family, loss of other things and I looked at him and said "I do not believe those are failures brother", in the course of the talk, I had realized the real failure, and pointed out to him the fact that he had a choice to go to Holy Mass and had chosen other things that supposedly were good still for the church, but still did not make an effort for that one hour of Sunday Mass.  Why do we get down and blinded?  Or as another brother said last night "we get blind in the mind", and uncle Hector said this morning we get confused in the world, and I said "yes, the devil makes things confusing" and it started with Eve.  The eve of the heart is where it's at.  That's what I told the brother that had missed Mass, "you can't expect to convert others when yourself has not the conversion".  We want everyone and their mommas to change but not us.  The message my child, it's for you and in you.  The message is that of the cross.  I told my brothers last night in friendship, "as I knelt before the Blessed Sacrament, I could not help but tell God that I am a worthless sinner in the world...I could never do what you did Lord on that cross, nor what Sister Anne Emerich did when taking on the sufferings of others".  As unworthy as I am, I come, sinful and sorrowful, here to live another day and fight another day, and love another day for what is good and what is eternal.  The greatest treasure in your heart is what?  Is who?  is when?  is how?  Is where?  The first Christians had no possessions.  The devil had not possessed them.  Today, we live in a world measured by possessions which the devil calls "blessings".  I know this couple that is rather poor, and yet come payday, they would "bless" other people with their money.  I told them "Blessings come in other forms than money".  I asked them to consider what true blessings are, for the very people they "blessed" were actually people that were able to work and were simply mooching, which meant instead of helping they were making them dependent on them, like a pimp or a drugee.  Since then, they stopped "blessing" this one man and the man is now actively working and staying out of drugs and trouble a little more.  I digress, what is important above all is God first.  Mass is a must.  The Body of Christ is offered and it is more important than anything else we will ever come across, because He offered it on a cross for our salvation, to be healed by the bite of the snakes in the world to bring us down in desperation, anxiety, and stress.  Our pains should be that of the Lord, and taking them on for one another.  Uncle Hector asked "what is the principle thing all Christians should do?"  I answered, "be Christ to the world".  That is what a priest is, a priest does, and every Christian should be if we are true lovers and followers of the Christ we proclaim.  You are either all in or not, you are either possessed or you are not.  Possessions can possess you, your family, your job, your pride, you tell me, I see it every day, and you know what else I see?  A world seeking God and they have a chance to see Him in you at every moment we breathe on earth for the eternal......


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