St. Angela Merici
Angela has the double distinction of founding the first teaching congregation of women in the Church and what is now called a "secular institute" of religious women.
As a young woman she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order), and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among poorer children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela's charming manner and good looks complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving regular instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood.
She was invited to live with a family in Brescia (where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community). Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals.
She eagerly took the opportunity for a trip to the Holy Land. When they had gotten as far as Crete, she was struck with blindness. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going through with the pilgrimage, and visited the sacred shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way back, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost.
At 57, she organized a group of 12 girls to help her in catechetical work. Four years later the group had increased to 28. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula (patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women) for the purpose of re-Christianizing family life through solid Christian education of future wives and mothers. The members continued to live at home, had no special habit and took no formal vows, though the early Rule prescribed the practice of virginity, poverty and obedience. The idea of a teaching congregation of women was new and took time to develop. The community thus existed as a "secular institute" until some years after Angela's death.
As with so many saints, history is mostly concerned with their activities. But we must always presume deep Christian faith and love in one whose courage lasts a lifetime, and who can take bold new steps when human need demands.
In a time when change is problematic to many, it may be helpful to recall a statement this great leader made to her sisters: "If according to times and needs you should be obliged to make fresh rules and change certain things, do it with prudence and good advice."
Daily Prayer - 2016-01-27
"I stand at the door and knock," says the Lord.
It is so easy to get caught up
Knowing that God loves me unconditionally,
The Word of God
Reading 1 2 Sm 7:4-17
That night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
Responsorial Psalm PS 89:4-5, 27-28, 29-30
R. (29a) For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 4:1-20
On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Jesus you speak to me through the words of the gospels.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Saint Angela Merici, Virgin (Optional Memorial)
Hear this! (Mark 4:3)
When a naval commander issues urgent or serious information, he barks out, "Now hear this!" It means stop what you're doing, and listen carefully to what follows.
Jesus uses strikingly similar words in today's Gospel reading. He wants everyone listening to pay careful attention to what he is about to say: "A sower went out to sow ..." (Mark 4:3).
Perhaps you've wondered which group you belong in: the footpath, rocky ground, thorny soil, or rich soil. But Jesus wasn't establishing a hierarchy of spirituality. All three of the first types of soil proved equally unhealthy to the seed. No, Jesus wanted to tell his hearers that in the kingdom of God, everyone's life can be rich soil. Those outside the kingdom receive everything "in parables," God's gentle nudges intended to move them toward the kingdom (Mark 4:2). But those who have entered the kingdom have the capacity to receive insights about God that remain hidden from those who have yet to embrace the Lord.
Your life is rich soil! It has been prepared—by your training in the faith, your reception of the sacraments, and your prayer life—to receive the "seed" that falls on it, and to produce fruit. Do you hear the word of God? Well, accept it wholeheartedly the best you can, and allow the Holy Spirit to make it bear fruit in your life. When you become aware of how you may fall short, declare: "My life is rich soil." Then ask the Holy Spirit to fertilize that area of your life so that it begins to bear fruit.
Ask the Lord to sow seeds of patience, gentleness, or peace in you. Ask him to provide you with whatever will cause these seeds to grow. Moments of kindness, flashes of wisdom or understanding, impulses to show hospitality—these are not random events. They are evidence that your life is good soil.
So when any Scripture passage resonates in you or stirs your heart, hear this. Heed it and dwell on it. You are more than capable of bearing rich fruit!
"Jesus, help me to hear your word and accept it with all my heart so that I will bear fruit for you."
2 Samuel 7:4-17
Hear The Word
King David was worried about himself, and about God "I need to build Him a temple!" He thought. The Lord asks for more than that, as if we could house Him in a little building on the earth He created. The Lord fights for us and with us. He makes paths straight and leads the way through storms. He keeps on keeping on and the world? Your nation? Your city? Your community? Your house? Your....temple? Where is the Lord? Shall you build Him His own temple and you have yours? LOL. NOPE! He comes and can reside anywhere and is asking to reside inside ours today. This is a love opportunity that has nothing to do with looks, nothing to do with powers, nothing to do with anything but what God is offering. Let us proceed.
The Psalms we pray today say "Forever I will maintain my love for him; my covenant with him stands firm." LIsten to this. Who is speaking? Is it the Lord speaking words of love? Or am I reading this to my love...the Lord? The Lord makes a covenant, a pact, a promise, a swearing, an oath, an allegiance even with His people. The seed is there, His part...His heart. His part stands firm and forever? The other part is our heart.
In comes the Lord our God our Father, the Holy Spirit Jesus speaking from a boat, as the best ampitheatre the world can offer, with the winds carrying His voice to the people, the mist, the waters He is standing on and He proclaims the mystery of Heaven to every single soul present. Many heard, several took it to heart, and a few actually made a difference. Because if the Word, His seed, comes into my life, with how much distraction have I received it? I know as I was reading the Gospel, the phones were ringing off the hook, people piled up around my desk and all this while I tried to read about the Gospel, where it speaks of the seed being scattered and how it falls on the path and it can be choked by distractions...other loves. You see, this covenant of love then, it aims to focus our attention. I told the guys at the safety meeting, "look, when you're at work, you leave your family problems and other problems at home, and you focus on the task at hand, for your own good (safety)". And in life, our spirit, our souls, if we don't watch it, we'll wind up like the cooked frog analogy which I used at the meeting this morning at 6 a.m. as well; "if you get complacent, if you start relaxing your fear, then that's the day you'll probably get cooked like the frog placed in a cool pot of water that was slowly put on fire, hotter and hotter until it died". Same with us. If we don't watch it, if we don't get on our toes of our spirituality, we will slowly get distracted more and more, fall off the path to the Lord and lose our lives on the journey. You see, you don't die when you're body dies, it happens way before in our souls. And mortal sin is death to God. If you have a doubt about your mortality, better go see a doctor of spirits and souls, a Holy Catholic Priest. How hard is it to go see a priest? I'm an avid Catholic, and I'm supposed to have spiritual direction for my life, and I don't. A saint once said that a person without a spiritual director has a fool for a spiritual director, oneself. What kind of soul receives God's grace? Because He sows all over the world, to everyone. That's what is important. "But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold." First, be open to receive, and then accept. This acceptance is a large part if not all. Accepting the truth. What's it going to take? Miracles you ignore. Advise you don't listen. I keep talking and you keep deflecting the message as if it is for someone else and applies to others but not self. What's it going to take? Rich soil means prepared soil. Rich soil means fertilizer, mixed with manure even, and He dares to offer Himself to this wretched soul? The soil is there under the hard surface. Let yourself be ripped to shreds and expose your fertilized soul. Fertilization has occured at conception. You have been watered by baptism and He stands over the waters to bring on the new dynasty you will leave...your love of the Father.
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