St. Gregory Nazianzen
After his baptism at 30, Gregory gladly accepted his friend Basil's invitation to join him in a newly founded monastery. The solitude was broken when Gregory's father, a bishop, needed help in his diocese and estate. It seems that Gregory was ordained a priest practically by force, and only reluctantly accepted the responsibility. He skillfully avoided a schism that threatened when his own father made compromises with Arianism. At 41, Gregory was chosen suffragan bishop of Caesarea and at once came into conflict with Valens, the emperor, who supported the Arians. An unfortunate by-product of the battle was the cooling of the friendship of two saints. Basil, his archbishop, sent him to a miserable and unhealthy town on the border of unjustly created divisions in his diocese. Basil reproached Gregory for not going to his see.
When protection for Arianism ended with the death of Valens, Gregory was called to rebuild the faith in the great see of Constantinople, which had been under Arian teachers for three decades. Retiring and sensitive, he dreaded being drawn into the whirlpool of corruption and violence. He first stayed at a friend's home, which became the only orthodox church in the city. In such surroundings, he began giving the great sermons on the Trinity for which he is famous. In time, Gregory did rebuild the faith in the city, but at the cost of great suffering, slander, insults and even personal violence. An interloper even tried to take over his bishopric.
His last days were spent in solitude and austerity. He wrote religious poetry, some of it autobiographical, of great depth and beauty. He was acclaimed simply as "the Theologian."
It may be small comfort, but post-Vatican II turmoil in the Church is a mild storm compared to the devastation caused by the Arian heresy, a trauma the Church has never forgotten. Christ did not promise the kind of peace we would love to have—no problems, no opposition, no pain. In one way or another, holiness is always the way of the cross.
"God accepts our desires as though they were a great value. He longs ardently for us to desire and love him. He accepts our petitions for benefits as though we were doing him a favor. His joy in giving is greater than ours in receiving. So let us not be apathetic in our asking, nor set too narrow bounds to our requests; nor ask for frivolous things unworthy of God's greatness."
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me, creating me in his image and likeness, making me his temple....
"In these days, God taught me
At this moment Lord I turn my thoughts to You. I will leave aside my chores and preoccupations.
The Word of God
What is stirring in me as I pray? Am I consoled, troubled, left cold? I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting at my side and share my feelings with him.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
1st Week in Ordinary Time
May the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him. (1 Samuel 1:17)
Poor Elkanah! He cares deeply about his wife. He notices her sadness and tries to comfort her. He tries to assure her that his love should be enough for her. But in the end, nothing works. Hannah is childless, and it causes her deep suffering. No one but God can relieve her distress.
No matter how deeply we care for others, we often reach this point. There is nothing we can do to ease their suffering, lift their depression, or set their feet on the right path. When we come to the end of our sympathy and our help, all we can do is intercede for them.
But this is no small thing! It's the only thing that the priest Eli does. After learning of Hannah's distress, he prays for her, understanding that only God can fill her deep longing. He knows that God may not always answer the specific prayer, but he never withholds his love.
How does Eli's prayer help Hannah? It changes her heart. Even before she knows she will conceive a son, she is once again able to eat and drink with her husband (1 Samuel 1:18). Downhearted no longer, she has rediscovered her hope in the Lord.
This story tells us to turn to God first and not just wait until all our other attempts to help someone are exhausted. Scripture promises that when we intercede, lives change. "The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful" (James 5:16).
In his encyclical Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis tells us that God's response to difficult situations "is that of an accompanying presence. . . . In Christ, God himself wishes to share this path with us" (57). This is what we can pray for, above all else. Yes, we can pray for a good outcome, but nothing helps more than God's presence, no matter what happens!
So think of one person whose need is touching your heart today. Lift that person up to God. Picture him or her in God's loving arms. As often as this person comes to mind, send up another prayer. Persist. Trust. Believe.
"Heavenly Father, you alone can work wonders. And so I ask, 'Lord, hear my prayer for my friend.' "
(Psalm) 1 Samuel 1:9-20; Mark 1:21-28
Hannah made a fool of herself, they thought she was a drunkard, but looks can be deceiving, especially when we are speaking of the spirit realms. I myself have been fooled, and I speak from experience. Our eyes can only see what our brains are capable of computing, but there is in reality, much more. What's more, our sight is focused on only a small percentage in vision, while the rest is a blur. The same applies to the spirit realms. And so, to lose focus, loses all. Jesus too was called a drunkard. Yet, He too was righteous. Looks deceive you and you call people what your mouth blabbers. Several times I have said that there is power in purity and holiness. Then, the opposite is true, that there is weakness in unholy and unpure souls, and we are called to help the poor that can not help themselves. Today's 5minutos says of the Holy Gospel today:
"He finds Himself in front of an individual who is not who he is, who is disintegrated, abusively occupied by another. A common enemy of God and of man. In that poor man, Jesus reads the sign of the presence of the adversary, of the one who divides, or be it, the one who impedes the plan of God and destroys man, that one who appropriates of a possessed of God, of a property of God, of a creature of God. To this adversary, the gospel calls "unclean spirit", that is to say, it signifies everything that is not apt for the most minimal relationship with God, that is "pure" and "holy". It is the symbol that of all of that in all of us, it is in radical opposition with God. We are "possessed" of forces that destroy us from the marrow to the bones. All the days we hear them say to us: "I want to, but I can't; I would like to...but something holds me." We are "possessed" from childhood by values, attitudes, criterion, behaviors, all types of education, and advice. We have been instilled every which way by these common criterion of society in which we live: who ever can do more, is worth more; whoever is worth more, succeeds more; whoever succeeds more, has more; whoever has has more, can do more. This way, we are possessed by ambition, the desire to have, the aggressiveness, the disregard of others, the exclusive attention to one's own problems. It is said: "Save me and save yourselves!" And another "Save me, even though the others drown!" This is possession, damaging spirit- it does not let live-and tortures the others, impedes living. We are seized, penetrated and bound very well. Jesus discovers this possessed situation and confronts it with an authority and frees us from it...who ever wants! Do you want? "
Last night in friendship group, we discussed being freed from whatever it was that was a possession in our lives. For some, it may be sin, for others drugs, or alcohol, but in reality, we are possessed, and we expressed how we had been freed. One bro said "who would've expected a white guy to be sitting with other color guys spilling his guts out like we are right now". That too is a freedom from a possession that separates, evil. Evil will take over to attempt to divide. That is why I write to you, for there to be unity among all, because we are all children of God. I said "for those that do not have our Lord, an experience to be freed from say drugs, it could take years and years of psychologists and psychiatrists and thousands and thousands of dollars in treatments, whereas our Lord can free you at the snap of a finger". It is possible to live without God, but it is alot harder, and for some, quite a living hell. That is where you and me come in. We are to help those who can not help themselves. Those who can and indeed do pray. Those who are righteous have power in prayer, like Hanah, like our Lord, like so many we witness in our day to day lives that are faithful. The man yelled at Jesus and Jesus saw beyond the man, saw the evil and He prayed for him and released the devil inside. The world is in high demand of holiness, and why? Because there is little of it. It is the laws of supply and demand. And it is not only a demand but a command to be holy and perfect as our Lord is holy and perfect. The reason the man is freed from a demon in the middle of church is because Jesus wills it. Do you? At least the possessed hypocrite was in church! It is far worse for those that can not and do not go present themselves to be made clean and offer themselves and livelihood to the Lord our God!
I say this because I helped at a funeral yesterday and the priest brought it up. Father Michael said we are an imperfect church. Yet at the same time I say, we are being made perfect when we present ourselves to the Lord. Present your babies to be baptized, present your family to the Lord, Present your souls to the Lord, afterall, we want the best for them, they get shots for diseases, medicines for healings, but the Spirit? The Spirit is more, it is the life within us. I write so that we learn to be made free, and the truth sets us free...Jesus. The Rabbi spoke with authority, and you too will do so when you are Holy and Righteous, with the power from on high to speak against evil, and the atrocities we face in our generation, of which to name a few is the degeneration, this onslaught on families and human life. Marriages? HA! A joke nowadays. An old priest said "these young people nowadays, they don't get married". A thing of the past. Kids? Throw them in the trash (abortions). You see, I'm speaking of a demonic possession that fools you into living a lie. A fake marriage, a fake "disposable" thing in the trash. What gives me the right to say what I just said? I don't know, but I do know this, I have commended myself to the Spirit of God to speak to you, as I do every day. What God wants, we won't give. What He wants, our flesh is too weak. It takes a supernatural power to be able to dedicate yourself to the Master, the Rabbi. You see, I was revealed this last night. When I gather in prayer meetings or week after week with a faith friendship group for Cursillo or whatever, I am actually following a discipline. I am not a monk, but I can follow a discipline. And as another priest said "the root word of discipline is Disciple". That is why we say Master. Eduardo Bonnin, one of the founders of Cursillos put on his tombstone after his name "an apprentice of a Christian". That is what we are, we are not the Master, but we follow Him as disciples do. Take courage, because those who are with Him, He is also with them...
ONWARD DE COLORES!