"Reading the Holy Scriptures confers two benefits. It trains the mind to understand them; it turns man's attention from the follies of the world and leads him to the love of God." — St. Isidore of Seville
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"Man was created for a certain end. This end is to praise, to reverence and to serve the Lord his God and by this means to arrive at eternal salvation. All other beings and objects that surround us on the earth were created for the benefit of man and to be useful to him, as means to his final end; hence his obligation to use, or to abstain from the use of, these creatures, according as they bring him nearer to that end, or tend to separate him from it." — St. Ignatius of Loyola, p.18 AN EXCERPT FROM The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, 18
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St. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi
Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint."
She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there.
Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths.
As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, Admonitions, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious.
The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people.
It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.
Intimate union, God's gift to mystics, is a reminder to all of us of the eternal happiness of union he wishes to give us. The cause of mystical ecstasy in this life is the Holy Spirit, working through spiritual gifts. The ecstasy occurs because of the weakness of the body and its powers to withstand the divine illumination, but as the body is purified and strengthened, ecstasy no longer occurs. On various aspects of ecstasy, see Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Chapter 5, and John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul, 2:1-2.
There are many people today who see no purpose in suffering. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi discovered saving grace in suffering. When she entered religious life she was filled with a desire to suffer for Christ during the rest of her life. The more she suffered, the greater grew her desire for it. Her dying words to her fellow sisters were: "The last thing I ask of you—and I ask it in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—is that you love him alone, that you trust implicitly in him and that you encourage one another continually to suffer for the love of him."
Dear Jesus, today I call on you in a special way. Mostly I come asking for favours. Today I'd like just to be in Your presence. Let my heart respond to Your Love.
It is so easy to get caught up with the trappings of wealth in this life. Grant, O Lord, that I may be free from greed and selfishness. Remind me that the best things in life are free. Love, laughter, caring and sharing.
Knowing that God loves me unconditionally, I look honestly over the last day, its events and my feelings. Do I have something to be grateful for? Then I give thanks. Is there something I am sorry for? Then I ask forgiveness.
The Word of God
Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 1 Pt 1:10-16
Beloved: Concerning the salvation of your souls the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and investigated it investigating the time and circumstances that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the glories to follow them. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you with regard to the things that have now been announced to you by those who preached the Good News to you through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels longed to look.
Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, Be holy because I am holy.
Responsorial Psalm PS 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4 R. (2a) The Lord has made known his salvation. Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds; His right hand has won victory for him, his holy arm.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation. The LORD has made his salvation known: in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice. He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God. Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; break into song; sing praise.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.
Alleluia See Mt 11:25 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 10:28-31
Peter began to say to Jesus, "We have given up everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Jesus announces radical change in relationships. His followers are to be part of an immense family. This huge community will not be without its trials, but the reward will be joy in this world and everlasting life hereafter. The early Christians lived out this vision, in a community where everything was shared, and where all belonged.
▪ In the final sentence, all received wisdom is overturned. We are called to look upon the world with Jesus' eyes – not as a world of haves and have-nots, but a world of those who give and those who do not. Among which group do I find myself?
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.
Set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you. (1 Peter 1:13)
Do you know that there are two kinds of hope? The first is more like wishful thinking than anything else. When we say we hope it doesn't snow, or we hope we can find a parking space, we are saying that we want something to happen—but we are also quietly admitting that we have no control over it.
That's worlds away from the spiritual hope that Peter talks about in today's first reading. Unlike wishful thinking, this hope is not random or uncontrollable; it's solid as a rock, and it is more than capable of sustaining us. This kind of hope is the virtue by which we steadfastly trust in God's promises and look forward to their fulfillment.
First, we steadfastly trust. It's a decision. We choose to believe in what God has told us. We remind ourselves of what Jesus has done for us, especially when life's circumstances make us want to doubt his love. We were made for everlasting life, and Jesus has opened the gates of heaven for us!
Do you feel hurt by an unkind remark? Or struggle with the same temptation as yesterday? These are opportunities to exercise your hope. Proclaim that Jesus is still by your side. Believe that he loves you and wants you to be with him forever. Don't let circumstances cloud your trust. As St. Peter says, set your hopes on Christ.
Next, we look forward to fulfillment. Earthly hopes, by their very nature, may or may not come to pass. But we know that Jesus is completely trustworthy. We have seen so many ways that he has already worked in us, and that boosts our confidence.
Remember what Jesus has done in you, and start looking for ways that your hope is being fulfilled even today. Were you able to control your temper today when someone cut you off in traffic? Great! That's proof that your hope is firm! Did you remember to check in on a neighbor who was lonely? Wonderful! More proof that the Holy Spirit is renewing your mind. Let these types of "fulfillments" make you more confident and deepen your hope of the heavenly blessings yet to come!
"Heavenly Father, I hope in your faithfulness. I can't wait to see you!"
Live in hope, and Jesus is our hope. In the book of Hebrews we can read the following: "So when God wanted to give the heirs of his promise an even clearer demonstration of the immutability of his purpose, he intervened with an oath, so that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm,
which reaches into the interior behind the veil, where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." Saint Peter, our first Pope says to live this hope, to be obedient children as Jesus was to Our Father. I have a hope. You have a hope. We all must live in this hope, this promise, which is not a hope of the world, but a truth in which we live. To say we have hope (in worldly terms), is an understatement, compared to the real hope of our Lord in Heaven and among us on earth.
We prayed today "The LORD has made his salvation known:" The world knows about it, but do they realize it? Do we realize this salvation? It is a puzzle to one in darkness. And to the ones in light it is their delight. Hope gives a whole new meaning to suffering. "..in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice. He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel." and Israel means God's people. He is faithful...are you? I consider myself faithful, as you are to these readings, but what about faithfulness when nobody is around? Does your mind play tricks on you? I told the people as I led the funeral vigil, "I look to you and easily I can say by judging that you are like this and you are like that...and if we look deep inside...you are so much more than what I say you appear to be". And I was explaining this so we can't sit there and try to explain death with our pre-conceived notions and thoughts on death. God is so much more. Hope is so much more.
In comes the Lord of our lives, and I am as perplexed as ever when He speaks ""Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given...for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come." In the book of Matthew chapter 20 our Lord says "whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave." And today we heard Him say again "...many that are first will be last, and the last will be first." First comes first, LOL, and the first is the Lord who went beyond the "veil" as I shared earlier. First comes first. I told the people last night "First in our lives comes God, then family, then work and friends and so forth" So if God comes first, this means I must be His slave. Slaves take a beating, don't they? I mean, that's the stigma anyways, of abusive lords, right? Wrong. The world has it all wrong. The Lord loves His slaves so much, He came to die for them. He shows the way. If slaves take a beating it is the ruler of the world beating on them. I like to take a knee before the Lord, in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I like to bow to Him upon the altar, I like being subject to Him, and this is why I always have to remember to say "Your will be done". And it feels good. I even told them last night, "it is His will, this is our cross". Being strong and courageous sometimes means being humble and obedient. It is not about whooping someone into submission, that is how the world views strength. We are children of Hope. We are children of the greatest Hope in the world. And Hope has now been made available to every soul in the world. Be that Hope.