"While the world changes, the cross stands firm." — St. Bruno
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"In this mortal life, our peace consists in the humble bearing of suffering and contradictions, not in being free of them, for we cannot live in this world without adversity. Those who can best suffer will enjoy the most peace, for such persons are masters of themselves, lords of the world, with Christ for their friend, and heaven as their reward." — Thomas á Kempis, p.73 AN EXCERPT FROM Imitation of Christ, p73
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St. Catherine of Siena
The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ. What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time.
She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful and intensely religious person. Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. Her father ordered her to be left in peace, and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation.
She entered the Dominican Third Order at 18 and spent the next three years in seclusion, prayer and austerity. Gradually a group of followers gathered around her—men and women, priests and religious. An active public apostolate grew out of her contemplative life. Her letters, mostly for spiritual instruction and encouragement of her followers, began to take more and more note of public affairs. Opposition and slander resulted from her mixing fearlessly with the world and speaking with the candor and authority of one completely committed to Christ. She was cleared of all charges at the Dominican General Chapter of 1374.
Her public influence reached great heights because of her evident holiness, her membership in the Dominican Third Order, and the deep impression she made on the pope. She worked tirelessly for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between Florence and the pope
In 1378, the Great Schism began, splitting the allegiance of Christendom between two, then three, popes and putting even saints on opposing sides. Catherine spent the last two years of her life in Rome, in prayer and pleading on behalf of the cause of Urban VI and the unity of the Church. She offered herself as a victim for the Church in its agony. She died surrounded by her "children" and was canonized in 1461.
Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church. In 1939, she and Francis of Assisi were declared co-patrons of Italy. Paul VI named her and Teresa of Avila doctors of the Church in 1970. Her spiritual testament is found in The Dialogue.
Though she lived her life in a faith experience and spirituality far different from that of our own time, Catherine of Siena stands as a companion with us on the Christian journey in her undivided effort to invite the Lord to take flesh in her own life. Events which might make us wince or chuckle or even yawn fill her biographies: a mystical experience at six, childhood betrothal to Christ, stories of harsh asceticism, her frequent ecstatic visions. Still, Catherine lived in an age which did not know the rapid change of 21st-century mobile America. The value of her life for us today lies in her recognition of holiness as a goal to be sought over the course of a lifetime.
Catherine's book Dialogue contains four treatises—her testament of faith to the spiritual world. She wrote: "No one should judge that he has greater perfection because he performs great penances and gives himself in excess to the staying of the body than he who does less, inasmuch as neither virtue nor merit consists therein; for otherwise he would be an evil case, who for some legitimate reason was unable to do actual penance. Merit consists in the virtue of love alone, flavored with the light of true discretion without which the soul is worth nothing."
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me, creating me in his image and likeness, making me his temple....
Lord, guide me always to do your holy will knowing that your strength will carry me through.
Help me Lord to be more conscious of your presence. Teach me to recognise your presence in others. Fill my heart with gratitude for the times Your love has been shown to me through the care of others.
The Word of God
Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Reading 1 Acts 15:22-31
The Apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole Church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. This is the letter delivered by them: "The Apostles and the presbyters, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: 'It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.'"
And so they were sent on their journey. Upon their arrival in Antioch they called the assembly together and delivered the letter. When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation.
Responsorial Psalm PS 57:8-9, 10 and 12 R. (10a) I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord. or: R. Alleluia. My heart is steadfast, O God; my heart is steadfast; I will sing and chant praise. Awake, O my soul; awake, lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn.
R. I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord. or: R. Alleluia. I will give thanks to you among the peoples, O LORD, I will chant your praise among the nations. For your mercy towers to the heavens, and your faithfulness to the skies. Be exalted above the heavens, O God; above all the earth be your glory!
R. I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Jn 15:15b R. Alleluia, alleluia. I call you my friends, says the Lord, for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 15:12-17
Jesus said to his disciples: "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ The more I become aware that I am infinitely loved, the more I am able to share that reservoir of love with people who need it. I must not wait for the other person to love me, just as God does not await my love but initiates the relationship.
▪ 'I call you friend!' I let the Lord breathe that precious word across the space between us. I let him say it over and over again until it penetrates the thick crust of my disbelief.
Do I notice myself reacting as I pray with the Word of God? Do I feel challenged, comforted, angry? Imagining Jesus sitting or standing by me, I speak out my feelings, as one trusted friend to another.
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.
Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)
I . . . chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain. (John 15:16)
Big or small? Eat-in or carryout? Cream and sugar? These are just a few of the many choices we make on a regular basis. They're largely insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but they do have an effect on us.
Today, let's focus on one very important choice that Jesus has made and the effect this choice has had on us: his choice for you.
Yes, Jesus chose you, specifically and especially you. You are "precious" and "honored" in his sight (Isaiah 43:4). You belong to him, just as a bride belongs to her husband or brothers and sisters belong to each other in a close family.
Jesus' love for you isn't static; it's dynamic! It inspired him to create the world and give it to you as a gift. It brought you into existence and moved him to become a man for your sake. It compelled him to live like you in all things but sin and to die and to rise. He did it all for you.
What does this say about you? Much indeed! First and foremost, it says that you have been marked by divine love. You have been filled with the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. And yes, it shows that you have been chosen—handpicked—by almighty God to "go and bear fruit that will remain" (John 15:16).
Look around: Jesus has placed you in a mission field. Think about your family. He wants you to express your love to them every day—in your speech, in your thoughts, and in your actions. Think about your work. Jesus has placed you there, whatever your daily labor entails, so that you can bring him glory. What about your neighbors, friends, and even strangers? Pray for them, and serve them—and watch with delight as good fruit comes to them as a result.
All around us, there are countless opportunities to bear good and lasting fruit. Why? Because we have been chosen—we have been hand picked and commissioned and empowered—by Jesus himself.
"Lord, thank you for your love for me. Help me, like you, to and go and bear fruit that will last."
In today's 1st Holy Scripture, we read these few words "The ones chosen were...". The chosen ones were sent to deliver a message. Is your message being delivered loud and clear? Because the one doing the appointing is the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is God and God is our Father. And the Holy Spirit inspired people of God received the message with great joy. Last night, we had kicked off our Ultreya (gathering of Cursillistas) to welcome new cursillistas, and then a little busload (literally they came in a little bus) arrives and the leader came in dancing, hootin' and hollering De Colores! It was a fire to the fire that would make a greater fire. This is how the news today reached the people in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. Because the Holy Spirit was very evident in their lives, speaking very loudly, very strongly, very clear that the Lord is at work and will always be, so long as there is a soul breathing, and then...forever. God's name is love and love is an action, not an adjective. Keep that in mind as we hear the Holy Gospel.
First the Holy Psalms " I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord." The Holy Eucharist upon the Altar consecrated by priestly hands that were consecrated from the Apostles, consecrated by Jesus Himself, the Eucharist means to give thanks. This is true love at work, true friendship. Therefore, rightly we prayed today "My heart is steadfast, O God; my heart is steadfast; I will sing and chant praise." My anti-catholic brother in law, now divorcing with my sister once told me about my faith "you know what I like about you? You are constant (in your faith)". My heart is steadfast. What makes it beat is the Lord. Therefore, thoughts going in and out are immersed with Him, by the blood I drink from the Altar. I need Him, probably more than most typical people, for if I appear strong, I am weak, and if I appear weak, it is when I am strong, and the sufferings for friendships are proven. "Awake, O my soul; wake, lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn." The sun breaks the night and makes it disappear. The Son of God makes darkness disappear, make evil go away, so long as we tend to the Friend, the BFF, best friend forever, and if He is your bestest friend, then in Him you will trust, and believe, and follow and spend your time with constantly...steadfast.
In comes your best friend (so He calls you). ""This is my commandment: love one another as I love you." It is not a suggestion, it is the New Covenant, making the renewed commandment, to love God and love one another. This command shall cover the earth and a multitude of sins (1Peter4:8) "Above all, keep loving one another EARNESTLY, since love covers a multitude of sins". If you lack in love, then give love. If you don't feel loved, then go love somebody. If you feel like dying then go die for somebody by giving life to them. Last night a new cursillista said she felt like dying, even taking her life in depression, and it seemed it was because she had broken away from her family at a young age, got pregnant, her boyfriend abandoned her and she felt she couldn't go back home. Last night was the prodigal daughter being embraced by the Father. A cursillo team person said on the microphone "take care of her, she is so tender and has had such a beautiful experience with the Lord". This is why God says today "love one another as I love you". Just because we stray doesn't mean He goes away. Her 6.5 ft. tall 300 lb. father was sitting next to me with tears in his eyes, he had been to a cursillo, and this was the last of his 3 daughters to go to a cursillo, now, they were reunited in Love and God is Love, the glue in life that holds everything together. All because we said yes to our Friend our Father, and all because He showed the way, teaching a life of obedience and self surrender, just like His Mom and Dad. "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." If you are going to die (and you will) then what or whom would you have died for?