St. Peter of Alcantara
Peter was a contemporary of well-known 16th-century Spanish saints, including Ignatius of Loyola and John of the Cross. He served as confessor to St. Teresa of Avila. Church reform was a major issue in Peter's day, and he directed most of his energies toward that end. His death came one year before the Council of Trent ended.
Born into a noble family (his father was the governor of Alcantara in Spain), Peter studied law at Salamanca University and, at 16, joined the so-called Observant Franciscans (also known as the discalced, or barefoot, friars). While he practiced many penances, he also demonstrated abilities which were soon recognized. He was named the superior of a new house even before his ordination as a priest; at the age of 39, he was elected provincial; he was a very successful preacher. Still, he was not above washing dishes and cutting wood for the friars. He did not seek attention; indeed, he preferred solitude.
Peter's penitential side was evident when it came to food and clothing. It is said that he slept only 90 minutes each night. While others talked about Church reform, Peter's reform began with himself. His patience was so great that a proverb arose: "To bear such an insult one must have the patience of Peter of Alcantara."
In 1554, Peter, having received permission, formed a group of Franciscans who followed the Rule of St. Francis with even greater rigor. These friars were known as Alcantarines. Some of the Spanish friars who came to North and South America in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were members of this group. At the end of the 19th century, the Alcantarines were joined with other Observant friars to form the Order of Friars Minor.
As spiritual director to St. Teresa, Peter encouraged her in promoting the Carmelite reform. His preaching brought many people to religious life, especially to the Secular Franciscan Order, the friars and the Poor Clares.
He was canonized in 1669.
Poverty was a means and not an end for Peter. The goal was following Christ in ever greater purity of heart. Whatever obstructed that path could be eliminated with no real loss.
The philosophy of our consumer age—you are worth what you own—may find Peter of Alcantara's approach severe. Ultimately his approach is life-giving while consumerism is deadly.
"I do not praise poverty for poverty's sake; I praise only that poverty which we patiently endure for the love of our crucified Redeemer and I consider this far more desirable than the poverty we undertake for the sake of poverty itself; for if I thought or believed otherwise, I would not seem to be firmly grounded in faith" (Letter of Peter to Teresa of Avila).
At any time of the day or night we can call on Jesus.
Dear Lord, instil in my heart
Knowing that God loves me unconditionally,
The Word of God
Reading 1 Rom 8:12-17
Brothers and sisters,
Responsorial Psalm PS 68:2 and 4, 6-7ab, 20-21
R. (21a) Our God is the God of salvation.
Alleluia Jn 17:17b, 17a
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 13:10-17
Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Remembering that I am still in God's presence,
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
30th Week in Ordinary Time
You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, "Abba, Father!" (Romans 8:15)
Hang on a second. The opposites of slavery and fear are freedom and courage; so shouldn't Paul be saying we receive those spirits instead of a "spirit of adoption"? He starts off today's reading talking about bondage to sin and goes on to warn against letting that take a hold of us and drag us into fear. What does adoption have to do with any of that?
Everything! Our freedom from slavery doesn't come from our hard work. The chains of sin are too strong for us to break on our own. Likewise, our courage doesn't come from an excess of grit and determination, as if we could banish fear simply by wishing it away. Both of these blessings come from our identity in the Lord. We know that we belong to him, and that knowledge sets us free and encourages us. So it's totally appropriate to contrast adoption with slavery and fear.
You have probably seen a child stumble or be startled by an intimidating new encounter with a stranger or a barking dog. Instinctively, that child will call out for his or her parents. This is the kind of instinct that the Holy Spirit places in our hearts. Paul talks about how the Spirit within us is the One who remembers that our Father will listen to us. So if you are attentive to the Spirit, you'll remember to call out to God for help whenever you feel threatened, weary, or scared.
With a Father who is the Creator of the universe, a brother who is the Savior of all people, and a spiritual family that is spread throughout the world, you are in a good place to face up to fear! Of course, knowing these things doesn't make fear instantly disappear. But the Holy Spirit is in you, reminding you of your status as God's son or daughter. Remember to tune in to the witness of the Spirit, so that every day you can become more deeply aware of your adoption—and more free and courageous as a result.
"Holy Spirit, thank you for calling me a child of God! Remind me today to live with the confidence and freedom of one adopted into his family."
Psalm 68:2, 4, 6-7, 20-21
The Lord speaks in the first Scripture "if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." I was talking to one this weekend as he helped me clean a trailer we used in the festival. We talked about when he and his wife used to live with us, he started to ween off his "meds". Doctor prescribed medicines to keep him dosed. I could tell there was the real person in him, and the person I talked to wasn't for real. I told him to consider that not all these millions of people need to be on anti-depressants, and he believed. Now he is going on 3 years without them. What happened? What replaced them? It was the Lord. For we talked about the Lord...alot! That is the ultimate anti-depressant. I was talking with another man that was helping me move tables at church, and we were chit chatting. We talked about this person they brought to church, as I inquired about the person he said "they have many personal problems at home" and I said "they need the Lord" and if I remember correctly he said something like "it's gonna take something else than that". That's when I was shut up, for my mind's wires got zapped "how in the world could something more than the Lord help?" Let this be the foundation for what is to come.
The Psalms pray today "Our God is the God of Salvation". And listen to this as we lead to the Gospel "God gives a home to the forsaken; he leads forth prisoners to prosperity." I heard Fr. Larry Richards on the radio late last week, and in his talk he brought the time a priest visited a murderer in prison. The prisoner was like a wild animal, lashing out for the priest to leave. It's like a demonic possession isn't it? When you don't want the father to come near you? Perhaps not a possession, but for sure an evil act that intends to possess. Consider that...for we are rightly called children of God. Our struggles are never against people, it is evil acting out. Father was persistent, he saw something in that prisoner...the real person. Soon, the prisoner tamed, surrendered to God, became a model prisoner, and his time was calculated and he was released. The murderer of a woman and an unborn child...now free. He became a monk and is devoted to God. Keep this in mind as we read the Gospel that is coming.
Our Lord speaks today to us, oh what a glorious day! Jesus our King and Loving Father says "Woman, you are set free of your infirmity." That's it!? If you've ever experienced truly God's mercy, you'd be experiencing thankfulness right here and right now in your life. The degree of thankfulness is the degree of holiness. The leader in the synagogue was mad. Like a wild animal, "you're not supposed to do that, not here, not now". Like the people silencing the blind man in yesterday's Gospel. But it takes a thousand years of effort and still it is not enough to silence a faithful person's prayer. God's ears can hear the faint whisper. My wife said she was trying to say the name of Jesus in her state of sleep last night, I could hear her talking in her sleep. As she told me as I was leaving for work, a faint thought hit me that I did not say aloud "just the intent alone is the prayer we need", in other words, God hears the heart and that is the power of a thousand years of an effort by an evil to try to silence that will be broken. Break the silence. That is why pro-life women who've had abortions join the "Silent No More" group. They will speak up. They will arise. They will be strong. They will be saved. They will have mercy, just like the monk that was freed, being phsyically freed was only after being spritually freed. This is the freedom I want you to experience, Jesus in every second you breathe. All day ponder and meditate on His word. And if you "Get To" partake of the Eucharist, then let His Body soak into your soul. There is healing to be had on the Sabbath, because only His Word and you can be set free, this is why we pray before we partake of the Eucharist "Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed". Then, we sang a song with a little girl singing the last verse on her own after the Eucharist "Jesus you're the one I love, you're the one I know, you're the one who makes me strong, Spirit in my soul".
Remember those words from the song Bread, Blessed, and Broken. Remember, Jesus heals on the Sabbath. This is why many are challenged to be with the Lord on Sunday (Saturday evening too). Why challenged? Because, freedom is being obtained, and the evil force at work among families does not want freedom but slavery to division, debaucher, and devious lives. I want you to be strong. Jesus makes you strong. The Holy Sacraments make you strong. How? Because they unite us more and more to Christ. May the God of this beautiful power and might of love and mercy keep you as we journey closer and closer to Him...His amazing Love!
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