"Our Lord has created persons for all states in life, and in all of them we see people who achieved sanctity by fulfilling their obligations well."
— St. Anthony Mary Claret
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"Always give good heed to the Word of God, whether you hear or read it in private, or hearken to it when publicly preached: listen with attention and reverence; seek to profit by it, and do not let the precious words fall unheeded; receive them into your heart as a costly balsam; imitate the Blessed Virgin who 'kept all the sayings' concerning her Son, 'in her heart.' And remember that according as we hearken to and receive God's words, so will He hearken and receive our supplications." — St. Francis de Sales AN EXCERPT FROM An Introduction to the Devout Life, p99
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Blessed Caesar de Bus
Like so many of us, Caesar de Bus struggled with the decision about what to do with his life. After completing his Jesuit education he had difficulty settling between a military and a literary career. He wrote some plays but ultimately settled for life in the army and at court.
For a time life was going rather smoothly for the engaging, well-to-do young Frenchman. He was confident he had made the right choice. That was until he saw firsthand the realities of battle, including the St. Bartholomew's Day massacres of French Protestants in 1572.
He fell seriously ill and found himself reviewing his priorities, including his spiritual life. By the time he had recovered, Caesar had resolved to become a priest. Following his ordination in 1582, he undertook special pastoral work: teaching the catechism to ordinary people living in neglected, rural, out-of-the-way places. His efforts were badly needed and well received.
Working with his cousin, Caesar developed a program of family catechesis. The goal—to ward off heresy among the people—met the approval of local bishops. Out of these efforts grew a new religious congregation: the Fathers of Christian Doctrine.
One of Caesar's works, Instructions for the Family on the Four Parts of the Roman Catechism, was published 60 years after his death.
He was beatified in 1975.
"Family catechesis" is a familiar term in parish life today. Grounded in the certainty that children learn their faith first from their parents, programs that deepen parental involvement in religious education multiply everywhere. There were no such programs in Caesar's day until he saw a need and created them. Other needs abound in our parishes, and it's up to us to respond by finding ways to fill them or by joining in already established efforts.
Dear Lord, you have called me by my name. You have carved me in the palm of your hand. May I grow in trust and never give in to despair.
Lord, you created me to live in freedom. Mostly I take this gift for granted. Inspire me to live in the freedom you intended, with a heart untroubled and with complete trust in You.
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
Friday of the Third Week of Easter
Reading 1 Acts 9:1-20
Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" He said, "Who are you, sir?" The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do." The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.
There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." He answered, "Here I am, Lord." The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is there praying, and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, that he may regain his sight." But Ananias replied, "Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name." So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, "Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.
He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus, and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
Responsorial Psalm PS 117:1bc, 2 R. (Mark 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News. or: R. Alleluia. Praise the LORD, all you nations; glorify him, all you peoples!
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News. or: R. Alleluia. For steadfast is his kindness toward us, and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Jn 6:56 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood, remains in me and I in him, says the Lord. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 6:52-59
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever." These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Jesus, when you talk about us eating your flesh and drinking your blood, people can be shocked. But you are trying to convey something of what happens when a divine person is given over to a tiny human being like me. You use graphic images to hint at the fact that you are totally in love with me, that you are given over fully to me and that your friendship with me is infinitely deep. Help me to respond to your love, however inadequately. Lord, I love you and thank you! Help me to love you with heart and soul, body, strength and mind.
What feelings are rising in me as I pray and reflect on God's Word? I imagine Jesus himself sitting or standing near me and open my heart to him.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
In today's first reading, we see God asking Ananias to do something downright dangerous: to approach a man who was trying to hunt down Christians like himself and put them to death. Ananias had great faith and knew that God could have fully healed Saul alone, but he didn't doubt God's wisdom. So he courageously did as God asked.
But why did God do this? Why send Ananias to heal Saul? Because God knew how valuable that human connection could be. He knew that Saul needed to experience kindness from a believer as a way to help soften his heart. He also needed Ananias to be able to testify to the authenticity of Saul's conversion of heart so that he could assure the other believers that Saul was on their side.
Just as God had Ananias bring the gift of grace and healing to Saul, so he is asking us to bring healing to people in need, even those who may not like us. Of course we could just pray for them, but there are times when God wants us to offer healing hands in addition to prayers of intercession.
Maybe today you will feel drawn to someone who looks sad or who seems to be struggling. Or maybe you will run into someone whom you don't think deserves any kindness from you. Pray for that person, of course, but also ask the Spirit to help you show him or her a glimmer of Christ's love. Especially in this Year of Mercy, God is asking us to return love for hatred or misunderstanding. He wants to give us the courage to forgive and the words of compassion that can bring healing grace to the encounter.
God wants us to be embodiments of his mercy, his love, and his healing. So many people are lonely and hurting—all they need is a gentle touch, a warm smile, and words of compassion. So imitate Ananias, and say, "Here I am, Lord!" Then step forward in faith.
"Lord, give me the wisdom, courage, and faith to reach out to the people around me who need to know your healing touch."
my2cents: In today's 1st Holy Scripture we heard " the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." He answered, "Here I am, Lord." That is the response always, as a slave, a servant, a lover of the Lord tending to His needs. Here I am to do your will. Next time someone asks you to do something for the Lord, it is the Lord asking. It isn't people on whims and fancies, it is the Lord. This isn't brain surgery, these aren't games. And when the task is finished you will know, you will not decide to drop it, not if your answer is Here I Am. I could tell my wife was a little nervous when asked last night to give a witness talk at our Cursillo Ultreya. When she sat I said "the bible says when you are asked to speak, do not worry, because the Holy Spirit will speak". I also told her that when I write in the mornings my2cents, many times I have absolutely no clue what I will say, all I do is pray, and ultimately say "Lord work through me". This is the faith Ananias had. This is the faith we are asked of, and the faith of St. Paul, to believe when you hear the call, and to answer accordingly with a disposition to receive God's command and blessing. This is the witness talk that I gave on Piety, we must be open to this gift, it's not something we do. We pray the Holy Psalms today "*Go out to all the world and tell the Good News. Alleluia. For steadfast is his kindness toward us, and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever." We sung this Psalm as a sending forth song as people make their way out. The message is clear Go and tell the world of the GOOD NEWS. What's the Good News? Stay tuned and find out. That is to say, keep staying in touch with the Lord and He will do these amazing things. And being amazed, like Piety, is a gift of God.
They say that when Jesus says Amen twice, it is very important, perhaps most important! And so in comes the Lord of our Lives in the Holy Gospel and says: 1.) ""Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. "
And He repeats it again: 2.) "Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. " And He repeats it a 3rd time 3.) "Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is 3 times in a row He declares to EAT and Drink of HIM. And for what? HE answers it again: "This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever." He offers Eternity. The greatest gift. Endless Mercy offered. Endless love offered. Endless joy. Do you understand this great gift? Piety I learned again, is a gift, it's not something we do or earn, it's something we are to be disposed to "Here I Am Lord". Grace is a gift. Forgiveness is a gift. And we shall receive if we give. At the moment of reception of the Body of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, we are receiving everything the Lord offers. This is why you can't go up with mortal sin to receive Him and this is why you must be in full communion, this nuptial consecration as consummation occurs. This is the moment He gives Himself to you, and this is the moment you give yourself to Him. Is it forced? Because the Lord doesn't force Himself on anyone. This is why our disposition should be "Here I Am", as a wife serves her husband, as a wife offers herself to her husband, as a faithful and loving wife tends to her Husband, and Jesus is the groom, our love and our lover. And for those of you who do not eat His flesh in the Holy Eucharist, there are many questions: Why not? Do you believe? What is keeping you? Can you, or do you will to overcome the obstacles? Adrian, what does it taste like? What's it like to receive God into your body and your soul? I've been consuming the Lord's body for nearly 30 years. What's it like? It is steadfast, and it is true. What does it taste like? It tastes better and better the more and more I desire Him. It tastes like an inner Love that can can not be touched by anything or anyone in the world. It tastes like a sweet cake that melts in your mouth, and the blood? It burns down to the heart. It dissolves the bread and prepares to mingle with your body and your blood. It serves as fortification for what is in your soul. How can I explain a cursillo? You can't, they say, it must be lived. A thousand times more is the Body and Blood of Christ, it must be lived. The only reason a fallen away Catholic ever returns is because they miss the Body of Christ. I want you to miss Him when you are not with Him in this most intimate way. Suddenly, you find yourself preparing yourself and planning the next intimate moment with Him, your lover, because you are in love. Your eyes flutter, your heart pounds, and your eyes get filled with tears when you speak about Him...and you give your life to HIM