"Help me to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown. Give me the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You." — St. Brendan
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"Do not suppose that after advancing the soul to such a state God abandons it so easily that it is light work for the devil to regain it. When His Majesty sees it leaving Him, He feels the loss so keenly that He gives it in many a way a thousand secret warnings which reveal to it the hidden danger. In conclusion, let us strive to make constant progress: we ought to feel great alarm if we do not find ourselves advancing, for without doubt the evil one must be planning to injure us in some way; it is impossible for a soul that has come to this state not to go still farther, for love is never idle. Therefore it is a very bad sign when one comes to a standstill in virtue." — St. Teresa of Avila, p.99 AN EXCERPT FROM Interior Castle, p99
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St. Louis Mary Grignion de Montfort
Louis's life is inseparable from his efforts to promote genuine devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus and mother of the Church. Totus tuus (completely yours) was Louis's personal motto; Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II, October 22) chose it as his episcopal motto.
Born in the Breton village of Montfort, close to Rennes (France), as an adult Louis identified himself by the place of his Baptism instead of his family name, Grignion. After being educated by the Jesuits and the Sulpicians, he was ordained as a diocesan priest in 1700.
Soon he began preaching parish missions throughout western France. His years of ministering to the poor prompted him to travel and live very simply, sometimes getting him into trouble with Church authorities. In his preaching, which attracted thousands of people back to the faith, Father Louis recommended frequent, even daily, Holy Communion (not the custom then!) and imitation of the Virgin Mary's ongoing acceptance of God's will for her life.
Louis founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (for priests and brothers) and the Daughters of Wisdom, who cared especially for the sick. His book True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin has become a classic explanation of Marian devotion.
Louis died in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, where a basilica has been erected in his honor. He was canonized in 1947.
Like Mary, Louis experienced challenges in his efforts to follow Jesus. Opposed at times in his preaching and in his other ministries, Louis knew with St. Paul, "Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth" (1 Corinthians 3:7). Any attempt to succeed by worldly standards runs the risk of betraying the Good News of Jesus. Mary is "the first and most perfect disciple," as the late Raymond Brown, S.S., described her.
"Mary is the fruitful Virgin, and in all the souls in which she comes to dwell she causes to flourish purity of heart and body, rightness of intention and abundance of good works. Do not imagine that Mary, the most fruitful of creatures who gave birth to a God, remains barren in a faithful soul. It will be she who makes the soul live incessantly for Jesus Christ, and will make Jesus live in the soul" (True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin).
To be present is to arrive as one is and open up to the other. At this instant, as I arrive here, God is present waiting for me. God always arrives before me, desiring to connect with me even more than my most intimate friend. I take a moment and greet my loving God.
By God's grace I was born to live in freedom. Free to enjoy the pleasures He created for me. Dear Lord, grant that I may live as You intended, with complete confidence in Your Loving care.
Where do I sense hope, encouragement, and growth areas in my life? By looking back over the last few months, I may be able to see which activities and occasions have produced rich fruit. If I do notice such areas, I will determine to give those areas both time and space in the future.
The Word of God
Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Reading 1 Acts 15:1-6
Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, "Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved." Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and presbyters about this question. They were sent on their journey by the Church, and passed through Phoenicia and Samaria telling of the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brethren. When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the Church, as well as by the Apostles and the presbyters, and they reported what God had done with them. But some from the party of the Pharisees who had become believers stood up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them and direct them to observe the Mosaic law."
The Apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter.
Responsorial Psalm PS 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5 R. (see 1) Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia. I rejoiced because they said to me, "We will go up to the house of the LORD." And now we have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia. Jerusalem, built as a city with compact unity. To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia. According to the decree for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. In it are set up judgment seats, seats for the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Jn 15:4a, 5b R. Alleluia, alleluia. Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord; whoever remains in me will bear much fruit. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 15:1-8
Jesus said to his disciples: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Here is a new image of God. The vine-grower has a sharp knife, and a keen eye to the vine's health. If he cuts out, it is to make the plant more vigorous and fruitful.
▪ Lord, when I feel your sharp touch, I may resent it; but I trust your love for me.
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.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Just one chapter before this story, Philip asked Jesus, "Show us the Father," and Jesus answered him, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:8, 9). Now comes a supplemental lesson in which Jesus teaches, not only who the Father is, but what he wants to do.
With just a little imaginative license, you can visualize the scene: Jesus and his disciples, having ended their Passover meal, are walking toward Gethsemane. As they pass through a vineyard, Jesus runs his fingers across the leafy branches and smooth grapes. With a flash of inspiration in his eyes, he turns to Philip and the others and describes his Father in a new way: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower" (John 15:1).
Philip isn't the only one who has had trouble "seeing" the Father. Each of us longs for a deeper relationship with him. We imagine that we'll discover greater life and peace if we could just rest in his embrace. And it's true—we can!
But we often need help seeing God. Yes, we know that Jesus and the Father are one. We might even have good earthly fathers to look up to as role models. But even the best ones aren't picture-perfect likenesses of our heavenly Father. So we may still feel that he is distant or content to remain behind the scenes.
Remember the vine grower! We're accustomed to Jesus being active and visible in our lives. But here, the Father is the active one as he goes about cultivating a garden. Remember too that when Jesus says that he and the Father are one, he means we can't separate the two. When Jesus came to live in you, so did his Father!
So whenever you see Jesus—in the Gospels, in prayer, or as you gaze on a crucifix—remember that you are also coming face-to-face with your Father. Wise farmer that he is, he knows exactly what to do to help you grow and thrive. He will water you with showers of his love. He will prune in you what needs to be pruned. And he will help you bear the richest of fruit.
"Jesus, show me the Father in a new way today. I want to 'see' how he loves me."
We read today and heard "They were sent on their journey by the Church... telling of the conversion of the Gentiles...and brought great joy to all the brethren." This is then going to be the set up, the focus on today's Holy Gospel, because our Lord will begin speaking about the entire point when He starts speaking about His Kingdom and us bearing fruit. Because we can miss the whole point very easy if we are unclear on what He is asking for here and what is being asked for is nothing less than transforming.
We prayed the Psalms today "I rejoiced because they said to me, "We will go up to the house of the LORD." This is a joyous Psalm to be sung. This is one of King David dancing in the streets "acting the fool" to the eyes of the one who knows not what is going on in the heart. And what is going on in the heart of the matter is nothing less than transforming.
In comes the Lord of our lives: "You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you." Imagine that, you are ALREADY pruned. That is, prepared to bring fruit to the world, the Good News to the world. When a mother and a father bear a child, they bear fruit, but when God and the mother of God bear fruit, oh man, things are getting impacting in the world, a soul is ready to save souls, remember the words we read today in an excerpt I pasted for you , "This is the fruit of genuine prayer: one loving soul sets another on fire." -Fr. Emmerich Vogt. REMAIN. Our Lord and King today said "Remain in me, as I remain in you." REMAIN. Remaining is transforming. Quedate en mi. Remain in Me. I am reminded of those remaining when I see them kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament and then receiving the Holy Eucharist. I am reminded of those remaining when they choose God above the world. I am reminded of those remaining when I see them together praying. This was the cause of great joy when St. Paul saw the gentiles converting to the very faith He once persecuted. It reminds me of a woman's testimony at an Ultreya "I used to sit there at home criticizing all those church goers and calling them hypocrites when in reality, I was the hypocrite". You see, branches need pruning...we need God. Let's imagine this for a moment: I don't know anything. God knows everything. Let's imagine us entrusting fully in Him. That is, remaining faithful to Him. That is, being plugged in and alive! Afterall, like the song by Casting Crowns says "WE WERE MADE TO THRIVE"