God, open our eyes to the truest meaning of bearing the name "Christ," so that we too may strive to love as you love, while embracing the suffering that such true love entails. We offer our gratitude for the community formed that day beside the cross: formed out of great love, formed amid great suffering.
Clement might be called the second founder of the Redemptorists, as it was he who carried the congregation of St. Alphonsus Liguori to the people north of the Alps.
John, the name given him at Baptism, was born in Moravia into a poor family, the ninth of 12 children. Although he longed to be a priest there was no money for studies, and he was apprenticed to a baker. But God guided the young man's fortunes. He found work in the bakery of a monastery where he was allowed to attend classes in its Latin school. After the abbot there died, John tried the life of a hermit but when Emperor Joseph II abolished hermitages, John again returned to Vienna and to baking. One day after serving Mass at the cathedral of St. Stephen, he called a carriage for two ladies waiting there in the rain. In their conversation they learned that he could not pursue his priestly studies because of a lack of funds. They generously offered to support both him and his friend, Thaddeus, in their seminary studies. The two went to Rome, where they were drawn to St. Alphonsus' vision of religious life and to the Redemptorists. The two young men were ordained together in 1785.
Newly professed at age 34, Clement Mary, as he was now called, and Thaddeus were sent back to Vienna. But the religious difficulties there caused them to leave and continue north to Warsaw, Poland. There they encountered numerous German-speaking Catholics who had been left priestless by the suppression of the Jesuits. At first they had to live in great poverty and preached outdoor sermons. They were given the church of St. Benno, and for the next nine years they preached five sermons a day, two in German and three in Polish, converting many to the faith. They were active in social work among the poor, founding an orphanage and then a school for boys.
Drawing candidates to the congregation, they were able to send missionaries to Poland, Germany and Switzerland. All of these foundations had eventually to be abandoned because of the political and religious tensions of the times. After 20 years of difficult work Clement himself was imprisoned and expelled from the country. Only after another arrest was he able to reach Vienna, where he was to live and work the final 12 years of his life. He quickly became "the apostle of Vienna," hearing the confessions of the rich and poor, visiting the sick, acting as a counselor to the powerful, sharing his holiness with all in the city. His crowning work was the establishment of a Catholic college in his beloved city.
Persecution followed him, and there were those in authority who were able for a while to stop him from preaching. An attempt was made at the highest levels to have him banished. But his holiness and fame protected him and the growth of the Redemptorists. Due to his efforts, the congregation, upon his death in 1820, was firmly established north of the Alps.
He was canonized in 1909.
Clement saw his life's work meet with disaster. Religious and political tensions forced him and his brothers to abandon their ministry in Germany, Poland and Switzerland. Clement himself was exiled from Poland and had to start all over again. Someone once pointed out that the followers of the crucified Jesus should see only new possibilities opening up whenever they meet failure. He encourages us to follow his example, trusting in the Lord to guide us.
Lord, help me to be fully alive to your holy presence. Enfold me in your love. Let my heart become one with yours.
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.
I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God. I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them. Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment. I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness. The Word of God
The Word of God
Reading 1 Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95
King Nebuchadnezzar said: "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you will not serve my god, or worship the golden statue that I set up? Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made, whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe, and all the other musical instruments; otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace; and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?" Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, "There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up."
King Nebuchadnezzar's face became livid with utter rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual and had some of the strongest men in his army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the white-hot furnace.
Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles, "Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?" "Assuredly, O king," they answered. "But," he replied, "I see four men unfettered and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God." Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God."
Responsorial Psalm Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever; And blessed is your holy and glorious name, praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages."
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever."
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you who look into the depths from your throne upon the cherubim; praiseworthy and exalted above all forever."
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven, praiseworthy and glorious forever."
R. Glory and praise for ever!
Verse Before the Gospel See Lk 8:15
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.
Gospel Jn 8:31-42
Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, 'You will become free'?" Jesus answered them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father's presence; then do what you have heard from the Father."
They answered and said to him, "Our father is Abraham." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!" So they said to him, "We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, God." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ "The truth will make you free". This is one of the most frequently quoted statements of Jesus. But what is the meaning of "truth" and what is the meaning of "free"? Jesus discusses these issues with his listeners. Such discussion continues to this day among believers, and even unbelievers. But does the statement make sense to you experientially? Can you point to a situation where being faced with the truth freed you from some unfreedom, addiction, obsession, inner darkness …..?
▪ John will write much about love later in his gospel and in his letters. But his use of the word in this reading comes as a surprise, as if it is out of place. Had you noticed?
Begin to talk to Jesus about the piece of scripture you have just read. What part of it strikes a chord in you? Perhaps the words of a friend - or some story you have heard recently - will slowly rise to the surface of your consciousness. If so, does the story throw light on what the scripture passage may be trying to say to you?
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Victor Hugo's novel Les Miserables presents us with two very different characters, Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert. Valjean, who has spent nineteen years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread, is hunted throughout the story by Javert, who is committed to following "the letter of the law." But when Javert is captured by revolutionaries who tell Valjean to kill him, Valjean frees him instead. Javert's world is turned upside down by the thought that a criminal like Valjean could act with such mercy. It is so upsetting to the inspector that he ends up killing himself. Clearly, Valjean experienced the greater amount of freedom, even though he lived constantly on the run.
We might think of the Pharisees in today's Gospel as somewhat like Inspector Javert. They are focusing only on following the Law of Moses, and that narrow focus has bound them up. They are missing the Holy Spirit's voice and presence, which are at the heart of the Law. But Jesus wants them to know the freedom that comes from following him—the freedom that comes from being in a relationship with him.
We might think that we are not like these Pharisees at all. We know and love Jesus, after all. Still, we can point to areas in our lives where we could be freer, whether it is a long-standing pattern of sin or hurtful memories that keep us bound in fear or resentment.
Let this Lent be a time of freedom! Take your sins to Confession, and ask the Lord to loosen their hold over you. If you find yourself bound up by past memories, take a look at the article on pages 20-25 of this magazine. There you'll find a way of praying that can help bring you greater freedom and peace. Whatever may be dragging you down, know that Jesus can set you free. His mercy is ever present to you. Let him give you the peace he promises to everyone: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
"Holy Spirit, give me your grace, and help me to walk in true freedom. Lord, I surrender to you."
From that super long text message I receive daily and never requested but now I find myself very fond of LOL! Let me take excerpts and translate them for you: "We need to live the truth: Do we live in the truth of the Gospel? Are we talking about the truth or fake? Are we talking about the truth or falsehood camouflages our truth? Are we talking about the truth or is it spotted with deception and lies? Where springs our truth from? From what everyone says? From what is customary today and leads? Or is our truth from the Gospel read, pondered and ruminated in the heart? We need to live in freedom. The lie makes us slaves. Sin makes us slaves. Only the truth makes us free. Are we truly free when we live kidding? Are we?" That king in today's 1st Holy Scripture was willing to let these 3 men of God go "free" if they simply worshiped the gold (statue) he said to worship. "Just do this and you won't die". Nowadays, what takes the place of the statue? Think about it and I bet you won't answer the question easily. But let it unsettle you. LOL. I like those satellite commercials where the family called the "settlers" have settled in the past. It's funny, because while everyone else is modern, they are like the Amish, living with no electricity or TV or nothing. The reason I laugh is because we are like that in a funky way. We settle. We settle too easy in our sinful ways and lives, as if to had made a deal with the devil. "You don't pray with your family and I won't mess with you that much" says the devil, until the day he takes what is his end of the bargain and it is not pretty. "Why settle for less?" they ask. Exactly. If the truth is being offered, realize much is at stake, much more than burning at the stake...our lives wouldn't be affected had these 3 lives not offered themselves to God. The same with you and me, right now, and the Lord is with us. Another excerpt from the long text:
"OPENING DOORS WITHOUT FEAR In a land at war, there was a king who caused terror. The prisoners were not killed, rather, he took them to a room where there was a group of archers on one side and a huge iron gate on the other, on which recorded figures of blood covered skulls were visible. In this room he made them form a circle and told them: - You can choose to die by my archers' arrows, or go through that door ... behind that door, you will find ME waiting! All chose to be killed by the archers. After the war, a soldier who had long served the king, addressed the sovereign Lord may I ask a question? - 'Tell me soldier. ' Sir, what was behind the door? The king replied: -¡Go and look yourself! The soldier fearfully opened the door and, as he did, sunlight entered, light invaded the room and finally surprised, he discovered that ... the door opened on to a road leading to FREEDOM! The soldier, spellbound, looked at his king, who said to him -' I gave them the opportunity to make a choice, but out of fear they rather die than to risk opening the door.' How many doors are left un-open for fear of risking? How many times we lose freedom, the chance of happiness and die inside, only because we feel afraid to open the door of our dreams? "Where there is intelligence there is freedom." St. Thomas Aquinas ""
We pray in the Psalms "Glory and praise for ever!" Amen? Let me let you in on a little secret. Right now, in Heaven, there are trumpets blasting and there is dancing, and there is praise being offered to God. There are sinners converting, there they await. And so, whether you repent or not, there will be trumpets blasting forever, Glory And PRAISE to You Oh LORD FOREVER. AMEN? Take off your sunshades, let the sun illuminate the world the way the Lord intended, let the SON of God SHINE, for the glorious day of the resurrection awaits us...
In comes the Lord of our lives: ""If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." There is a big word here and the Lord begins speaking with it "IF". If only. I've been working formulas on excel spreadsheets and some start with the word "IF". And so the action will happen if the desired effect is true. If only. It is pretty amazing what the formula will turn out, like I made a formula look only for letters or numbers and then count them if they are found. The same with the lord. IF. If only.
The Holy Word says in Hebrews 3 "We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end, for it is said: "Oh, that today you would hear his voice: 'Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion.'" Who were those who rebelled when they heard? Was it not all those who came out of Egypt under Moses? " Jesus meets these that came out of Egypt freed by the Lord Himself. And the Lord is speaking to them and they are rejecting Him. They hold fast to their belief. What if God asks you for more? More! Why have you settled? What's worse? You settle Him in place. Yesterday I heard on EWTN of a concerned mother and her boys living with their girlfriends. They'd be coming to visit soon and go to Mass and will take the Eucharist. She wanted to know how to approach them. I think it was Fr. Mitch Pacwa, said something like to ask the boys if they force themselves on their girlfriends. And if not, then why do they force themselves onto the Lord? Don't we do that? This is how the Lord encounters the people of Abraham and Moses, dumbfounded and dumb by saying "We have never been slaves", and dumb because it is a lie, but we are numb to the lies. They were slaves of the Egyptians for hundreds of years and here they were saying they weren't nobody's slaves. Sin had blinded them, to make them feel as if they were free. Many from Mexico seek freedom from poverty. They arrive after much struggle to the U.S. and then say "now we are in a golden cage". That is because, in Mexico, they live free, and here, live in slavery, in huge debt and can not get away. Sin is like that. You are free from the Lord but fall into a huge debt. Life in Mexico is not like life here. It's hard to explain, but the few years I lived there as a child, I could tell. Family life was alive, and over here, family life is not alive like there. Here, you are swamped with work, stress, sports, activities, and hobbies, and so little time for family, real family, and much less God. I say this because, let's not believe we are not like those Jesus encounters. Let's peel off the shades. Let's let the rest of Lent change our hearts, let God peel layers off of us we don't need. And be dressed in white in Easter with Him after all the shedding. I'll leave you with another excerpt from the long text message LOL, I told you it was long! Pray for me and anyone else who stands up for the Lord. Rejection is very common, but that's nothing compared to spiritual attacks. Pray for your priests, your choir, your leaders, your active Church goers, the ushers, the teachers, pray and pray. Why? For the revelation of truth. Let the truth live inside, and it is the Lord. Let Him act instead of you from here on out...and not merely act but live...
""WHAT WOOD ARE YOU MADE OF?
At that time, Jesus approached a group of students and said:
▪ Come with me. I need to bring the Gospel to all peoples.
Young people were surprised. One of them dared to say on behalf of all: - Lord, we are convinced that our life has meaning from the call you make us, but it is a bad date you propose, because we are in June and you know that we start exams . Jesus was grieved. After a brief silence, he told them a parable: - "In a small village of lumberjacks was a stocky, big and strong tree.
Everyone said that the quality of its wood was unbeatable. They had prepared it for years to reach a certain size. Soon it would remove large amount of wood exported to other places for a long time. This tree of excellent quality, would be the source of the prosperity of the village for years.
A stormy day, lightning struck the tree tough, splitting it in two. The impact caused a spark and the wood quickly began to burn, wasting away in an instant. However, the old tree that was next to which the people were allowing to die -for the wood was not "quality"- resisted the flames without difficulty. "
▪ Which do you think was the tree of better quality - Jesus asked.
Students answered immediately: 'The unburned.' Jesus added:
▪ Truly, truly, I say you know what wood one is made of, when the fire is close. And he went on his way.