"Each of you knows that the foundation of our faith is charity. Without it, our religion would crumble. We will never be truly Catholic unless we conform our entire lives to the two commandments that are the essence of the Catholic faith: to love the Lord, our God, with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves." — Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Know, dearest daughter, how, by humble, continual, and faithful prayer, the soul aquires, with time and perseverance, every virtue. Wherefore should she persevere and never abandon prayer." — St. Catherine Of Siena, p. 92
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St. John Francis Regis
Born into a family of some wealth, John Francis was so impressed by his Jesuit educators that he himself wished to enter the Society of Jesus. He did so at age 18. Despite his rigorous academic schedule he spent many hours in chapel, often to the dismay of fellow seminarians who were concerned about his health. Following his ordination to the priesthood, he undertook missionary work in various French towns. While the formal sermons of the day tended toward the poetic, his discourses were plain. But they revealed the fervor within him and attracted people of all classes. Father Regis especially made himself available to the poor. Many mornings were spent in the confessional or at the altar celebrating Mass; afternoons were reserved for visits to prisons and hospitals.
The Bishop of Viviers, observing the success of Father Regis in communicating with people, sought to draw on his many gifts, especially needed during the prolonged civil and religious strife then rampant throughout France. With many prelates absent and priests negligent, the people had been deprived of the sacraments for 20 years or more. Various forms of Protestantism were thriving in some cases while a general indifference toward religion was evident in other instances. For three years Father Regis traveled throughout the diocese, conducting missions in advance of a visit by the bishop. He succeeded in converting many people and in bringing many others back to religious observances.
Though Father Regis longed to work as a missionary among the North American Indians in Canada, he was to live out his days working for the Lord in the wildest and most desolate part of his native France. There he encountered rigorous winters, snowdrifts and other deprivations. Meanwhile, he continued preaching missions and earned a reputation as a saint. One man, entering the town of Saint-Andé, came upon a large crowd in front of a church and was told that people were waiting for "the saint" who was coming to preach a mission.
The last four years of his life were spent preaching and in organizing social services, especially for prisoners, the sick and the poor. In the autumn of 1640, Father Regis sensed that his days were coming to a conclusion. He settled some of his affairs and prepared for the end by continuing to do what he did so well: speaking to the people about the God who loved them. On December 31, he spent most of the day with his eyes on the crucifix. That evening, he died. His final words were: "Into thy hands I commend my spirit."
He was canonized in 1737.
John longed to travel to the New World and become a missionary to the Native Americans, but he was called instead to work among his own compatriots. Unlike many famous preachers, he isn't remembered for golden-tongued oratory. What people who listened to him heard was his own fervent faith, and it had a powerful effect on them. We can recall homilists who impressed us for the same reason. More importantly for us, we can also remember ordinary people, neighbors and friends, whose faith and goodness touched us and brought us to deeper faith. That is the calling most of us must follow.
What is present to me is what has a hold on my becoming. I reflect on the Presence of God always there in love, amidst the many things that have a hold on me. I pause and pray that I may let God affect my becoming in this precise moment.
Lord, guide me always to do your holy will knowing that your strength will carry me through.
In the presence of my loving Creator, I look honestly at my feelings over the last day, the highs, the lows and the level ground. Can I see where the Lord has been present?
The Word of God
Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 Sir 48:1-14
Like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah whose words were as a flaming furnace. Their staff of bread he shattered, in his zeal he reduced them to straits; By the Lord's word he shut up the heavens and three times brought down fire. How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Whose glory is equal to yours? You brought a dead man back to life from the nether world, by the will of the LORD. You sent kings down to destruction, and easily broke their power into pieces. You brought down nobles, from their beds of sickness. You heard threats at Sinai, at Horeb avenging judgments. You anointed kings who should inflict vengeance, and a prophet as your successor. You were taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with fiery horses. You were destined, it is written, in time to come to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD, To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons, and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob. Blessed is he who shall have seen you And who falls asleep in your friendship. For we live only in our life, but after death our name will not be such. O Elijah, enveloped in the whirlwind!
Then Elisha, filled with the twofold portion of his spirit, wrought many marvels by his mere word. During his lifetime he feared no one, nor was any man able to intimidate his will. Nothing was beyond his power; beneath him flesh was brought back into life. In life he performed wonders, and after death, marvelous deeds.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 97:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7 R. (12a) Rejoice in the Lord, you just! The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice; let the many isles be glad. Clouds and darkness are round about him, justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just! Fire goes before him and consumes his foes round about. His lightnings illumine the world; the earth sees and trembles.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just! The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his justice, and all peoples see his glory.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just! All who worship graven things are put to shame, who glory in the things of nought; all gods are prostrate before him.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
Alleluia Rom 8:15bc R. Alleluia, alleluia. You have received a spirit of adoption as sons through which we cry: Abba! Father! R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 6:7-15
Jesus said to his disciples: "In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
"This is how you are to pray:
'Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'
"If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ The more I pray the Lord's Prayer, the more I realise how this is the expression of all Christian prayer, a real school of prayer. I say it slowly, dwelling gently on each phrase, without hurry, stopping where I find myself inspired or close to the Father.
▪ I praise God, I ask that his will be done and his kingdom come. I ask for my daily bread, trusting that he will never fail me, so that I do not need to accumulate reserves. I ask for the ability to forgive and accept forgiveness, and for help and protection in my difficulties.
▪ I pray for the grace that my prayer be that of a disciple of Jesus, a true son of the Father.
Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person Lord. I think I might say "Thank You Lord" for always being there for me. I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord. When it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Have you ever seen a toddler playing with a shape sorter? It's a common toy with blocks shaped like triangles, squares, or circles and corresponding holes for the blocks to pass through. It's a very simple idea, and yet, until the child has practiced and developed coordination, it can be difficult for him to align the shapes correctly to fit through the holes.
Sometimes prayer can feel like trying to fit the right block into the right hole. How am I supposed to pray? What should I pray for? What is successful prayer? Jesus, teaching his disciples about prayer, distilled it down to its essential elements: keep it simple. Practice. Align yourself correctly. The Lord's Prayer, so familiar, is not just a beautiful prayer; it models for us what prayer should be.
For example, more words don't always translate to better prayer. In fact, the less we speak, the more time we have to listen to God. Sometimes our words—even though well-intentioned and devout—can drown out the words that God wants to speak to us.
It's in quiet and simplicity that we will be able to line ourselves up with God's will and his thoughts. We can worship him ("hallowed be thy name") and submit ourselves to what he wants ("thy will be done"). Then we can trust him to provide for us as we pray each day ("give us this day our daily bread") and realign ourselves with him and others ("forgive us . . . as we forgive"). As we give the consistent effort in prayer to shift our wants and needs and viewpoint, our Father will give us a deeper sense of what is on his heart and what is in his mind.
That's the key to "successful" prayer! As we spend time with God, submit ourselves to him, and listen to him, he makes us more like him. Our worship gains more depth. Our intercession expresses a greater trust in him. Our repentance changes us. Like a child developing his skills, we find ourselves better able to fit the right block into the right hole—and growing closer to the Lord in the process!
"Lord Jesus, thank you for teaching me to pray without pretense. Help me follow your direction. I want to keep my prayer simple!"
Rejoice in the Lord...you just. Just being holy. We were made holy, every conceived child of God is holy, and why? Because we were made in His image. Powerful in deed. Such as Elijah, and even more granted to Elisha. Yet Elijah had to provide the faith, the backbone, just as Jesus had to for who would follow, Saint Peter, given the keys to the Church, and he was our first Pope. In the book of Sirach, a book taken out of protestant bibles, and rejected by Jews, what was said of Elijah emphasized the power he wrought on earth and after leaving earth, Elisha. I have personal testimony of this type of works, with saintly intercessions. As I read today's 5 minutos reflection, I was taken into the possibilities of Heaven; a place with many souls, enjoying Heaven yes, being one with the Lord yes...but with one backwards window of our lives...they can not help souls on earth as they were able to when they were alive. And the backwards fact is that, as we live on earth, we can not help a soul on earth, or do not seek a desire to do so. Now that we got this tremendous chance...we "can't" and we won't. If you are granted an opportunity, it is an opportunity from Heaven, direct from the Lord Himself.
Rejoice in the Lord...you Just. That is what we pray in the Psalms. Rejoice because you can? Why do you feel like you can not? Evil has lied to you? Evil has ensnared your will? Rejoice in the Lord! Holy Ones you may! From the book "The Imitation of Christ":
CHRIST: My child, when you feel the desire for eternal happiness given to you from above, so that you wish to abandon this mortal body in order to behold clearly and without any shadow of brightness of My glory, open wide your heart, and with all the desire of your soul receive this holy inspiration. Give greatest thanks to the good God, Who deals so generously with you, mercifully visits you, fervently stirs you and powerfully raises you up, so that you do not revert back to the things of earth. It is not by your own thought or effort that you attain this, but only through the gift of grace and God's loving regard for you; so that you will grow in humility and virtue and prepare yourself for future conflicts, to labor with all the love of your heart to remain faithfully close to Me.
In comes the Lord of our Lives, a visit by the mere Word that we open to Hear His sweet thoughts and voice. And today, HE asks for sincerity. Do not babble. Have you ever heard someone's babbling prayers? Perhaps even your own? This is why the tower of Babylon was torn down, because their esteem was to reach such heights, always looking up, and never down. That is to say, all humility was lost...and you lose sight of God. This is why the rejection of the books lost sight of the truth before the leaders of the church. And it is said so that what comes your way, will not be rejected. If the Lord bothers you, then stop. Realize the Lord is the truth speaking. I say this on many fronts, because people bug you, but it is the Lord. What is possible is the impossible. What we have been asked today from the beginning, is charity. When the Lord teaches a prayer, His prayer, He teaches us something very important...that we are not of this world, that we belong to Him, that we are to imitate Him, be Him by being one with Him, in the breaking, in the sharing, in the giving, and in the asking, and asking of one important thing...being one with Him. As Catholics, this is a staple food of a prayer for us. We offer it daily, and the Jews have about 13 daily prayers, and this one prayer condenses them all into one simple prayer from the heart that encompasses all. Just like the Lord encompasses all the Old Testament, including Sirach! LOL, He becomes the Old Testament and delivers the new. The new you. The new that will always be in Heaven. When we pray "on earth as it is in Heaven". That is how we are to treat our days on earth. It is also the keys given binding earth and Heaven through the successors of Saint Peter our first Pope. What we bind here, is bound there, in the hereafter. You can't forgive someone? Neither can you be forgiven hereafter. Is it not fair, or is it just? Is it not fair or is it not holy? And that is to show us perhaps, like myself, the greatest obstacle to a life of grace...myself. And one has only to strive for grace, to reach for it, as a child reaches for daddy's arms, and The Lord can not resist in giving what is good to His child. Good for the child. Reaching for the impossible is what is possible.
If you can not forgive, then reach for forgiveness. If you can not feel you can be forgiven, then reach out to the possibility. If you feel like you do not have faith, then reach out for faith. If you feel sad, reach out to others who are sad, because two negatives make a positive, doesn't it? Reaching out to make an impact, a wave for the Lord. If you feel you can't make it financially, you've reached the end, instead of saving, how about spending, giving to the poor, then you'll realize how rich you are. If you feel you are not reaching any souls in your life, then start reaching. As they come close to you, pray for them. As they speak with you, love them. The body speaks much more than the blabbering mouth, and even more speaks the heart. God gives what is good, and this is all we should ask for. And the Lord gave us this prayer, and it begins with Our Father, and ends with deliver us from evil, and all in between it is filled with giving and sharing. It is a prayer of light. It is a prayer of deliverance. It is a prayer of thanksgiving. It is a prayer praising His glory. It is a prayer seeking oneness, that is, Holiness. It is offered to you and we offer it to Him...what else can we offer?