"If we but paused for a moment to consider attentively what takes place in this Sacrament of the Eucharist, I am sure that the thought of Christ's love for us would transform the coldness of our hearts into a fire of love and gratitude." — St. Angela of Foligno
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"Joseph, meanwhile, in the midst of his labors and his poverty esteemed himself superlatively rich, because in Mary he possessed the rarest and most precious treasure on earth. Her presence was paradise to him." — Edward Healy Thompson, p. 182 AN EXCERPT FROM The Life & Glories of St. Joseph
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St. Paulinus of Nola
Anyone who is praised in the letters of six or seven saints undoubtedly must be of extraordinary character. Such a person was Paulinus of Nola, correspondent and friend of Augustine, Jerome, Melania, Martin, Gregory the Great, and Ambrose.
Born near Bordeaux, he was the son of the Roman prefect of Gaul, who had extensive property in both Gaul and Italy. Paulinus became a distinguished lawyer, holding several public offices in the Roman Empire. With his Spanish wife, Therasia, he retired at an early age to a life of cultured leisure.
The two were baptized by the saintly bishop of Bordeaux and moved to Therasia's estate in Spain. After many childless years, they had a son who died a week after birth. This occasioned their beginning a life of great austerity and charity, giving away most of their Spanish property. Possibly as a result of this great example, Paulinus was rather unexpectedly ordained a priest at Christmas by the bishop of Barcelona.
He and his wife then moved to Nola, near Naples. He had a great love for St. Felix of Nola, and spent much effort in promoting devotion to this saint. Paulinus gave away most of his remaining property (to the consternation of his relatives) and continued his work for the poor. Supporting a host of debtors, the homeless and other needy people, he lived a monastic life in another part of his home. By popular demand he was made bishop of Nola and guided that diocese for 21 years.
His last years were saddened by the invasion of the Huns. Among his few writings is the earliest extant Christian wedding song.
Many of us are tempted to "retire" early in life, after an initial burst of energy. Devotion to Christ and his work is waiting to be done all around us. Paulinus's life had scarcely begun when he thought it was over, as he took his ease on that estate in Spain. "Man proposes, but God disposes."
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.
Dear Lord, instil in my heart the desire to know and love you more. May I respond to your will for my life.
My soul longs for your presence, Lord. When I turn my thoughts to you, I find peace and contentment.
The Word of God
Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 2 Kgs 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18
Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, occupied the whole land and attacked Samaria, which he besieged for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, king of Israel the king of Assyria took Samaria, and deported the children of Israel to Assyria, setting them in Halah, at the Habor, a river of Gozan, and the cities of the Medes.
This came about because the children of Israel sinned against the LORD, their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt, from under the domination of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and because they venerated other gods. They followed the rites of the nations whom the LORD had cleared out of the way of the children of Israel and the kings of Israel whom they set up.
And though the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and seer, "Give up your evil ways and keep my commandments and statutes, in accordance with the entire law which I enjoined on your fathers and which I sent you by my servants the prophets," they did not listen, but were as stiff-necked as their fathers, who had not believed in the LORD, their God. They rejected his statutes, the covenant which he had made with their fathers, and the warnings which he had given them, till, in his great anger against Israel, the LORD put them away out of his sight. Only the tribe of Judah was left.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 60:3, 4-5, 12-13 R. (7b) Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us. O God, you have rejected us and broken our defenses; you have been angry; rally us!
R. Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us. You have rocked the country and split it open; repair the cracks in it, for it is tottering. You have made your people feel hardships; you have given us stupefying wine.
R. Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us. Have not you, O God, rejected us, so that you go not forth, O God, with our armies? Give us aid against the foe, for worthless is the help of men.
R. Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us.
Alleluia Heb 4:12
R. Alleluia, alleluia. The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 7:1-5
Jesus said to his disciples: "Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove that splinter from your eye,' while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ 'Who am I to judge?' must rank as one the best known phrases of Pope Francis. Perhaps that is because it touches a very sensitive point in our pluralistic cultures. How can we ever judge the behaviour of others? This can sometimes degenerate into a passive, uncaring attitude towards others: I will not judge you, for you are responsible for your own choices; now do not expect me to help you in any way, for I am not responsible for you at all. Jesus is saying something quite different: be careful not to judge others more harshly than you judge yourself, try to be free of prejudice for this can cloud your judgement.
▪ 'First take the log out of your own eye'. I ask for light to be aware of my prejudices, and for strength to remove them. Most of all, I ask for compassion, towards myself and towards those whose opinions and behaviour I find difficult to accept.
Dear Lord, stay by my side always. Gain for me a trusting heart. Thank you for loving me.
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.
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: Matthew 7:1-5
12th Week in Ordinary Time
Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:5)
Think about what it feels like when an eyelash falls into your eye—or some dust or debris, or maybe even a gnat. It hurts, doesn't it? Even though you know you probably shouldn't, your first impulse is to squeeze your eye shut and rub it to try to clear out the offending particle.
Jesus compares this experience to sin and judging. It hurts when we have something in our eyes, and our vision is obscured. Similarly, our sins can make it hard to look at another person with compassion. But once the object is out of our own eye—once we have repented and been reconciled with God—we are able to see other people more clearly. We know the pain and suffering caused by our own sin, and the experience helps us be a little more compassionate. That's why Jesus admonishes us to stop judging and to look on each other with kindness.
This is the twofold benefit of doing spiritual "eye exams" every day. First, your own eyes will be clearer. You'll be more and more free from the pain and distorted vision that sin causes. And second, you'll become more compassionate toward the people in your life. Having received God's mercy in your weakness, you'll find yourself moved to share it with other people. You'll approach your brothers and sisters with kindness and love, understanding their struggles and offering them the mercy that you have received.
So don't forget to check your eyes today and every day. You can take time at the end of your day to examine your conscience. Review how your day went, both the good and the bad, and ask God's forgiveness for the ways you have hurt him or someone else. If something serious has happened, resolve to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation as soon as you can. Don't be afraid to go to God with your sins and struggles. Let his mercy bring forgiveness and healing to you so that you can pass it along.
"Lord, I want my eyes to be clear. I want to be able to look on my brothers and sisters with compassion. Remove any sin that might be blocking my vision, and inspire me with your mercy."
I was given permission by our Lord, granted and requested to serve Him, to be with Him this weekend, the Father's day weekend. And so I spent the weekend in a state prison in a cursillo for prisoners called St. Dismas (the good thief). I sat amongst criminals. Mostly about my age, late 30's, but they had spent the previous decade in prison, paying for things they done as teenagers. Things like assault, things like manslaughter, and things like murder. Things like, not really intending to kill, but their actions killed. And so they find themselves removed from liberty. I say this reflecting on today's first Holy Scripture, where the people of God were removed forcibly by wars, by other nations, other kings and all because they had let themselves be in darkness, by temptations, by an adulterous lifestyle, a fornication, an unfaithfulness to God. What is your unfaithfulness? It will lead you away from the Lord. Obedience is extremely key. These young men in jail, they did not obey, perhaps, they were not taught to obey, and who can teach them now? Better said, here in the free world, it starts. It begins with you showing the way of obedience, of a complete trust which is what true obedience should be, and you can't have complete trust if you do not have a full love, and we are speaking of a love of God above all. We prayed today "Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us." We need an extreme help, and this help is called mercy. Help us Lord means to plead for mercy, isn't it? "O God, you have rejected us and broken our defenses; you have been angry; rally us!" Imagine what hell is like. You are no longer free. Every day and night, you are locked in. But there is no day because it all seems like a night. Your everyday pleasures are taken away, your comfortable bed, your family you loved is gone, and the worst part about it? Feeling the rejection of God. And the real hell begins when you no longer have a life with God. Complete darkness. One of the times a lady in our volunteer team stood up and mentioned the shepherd, how it finds a lamb and breaks its leg, OUCH, and as it is broken, the shepherd then has to care for it and feed it, and carry it over his shoulders. The lamb learns to not go away, wander away, and stay, remaining, with an eye out, depend on the Shepherd. And our Lord speaks today about keeping the eye out for Him. Keeping it free from obstacles. Obstacles to a life of grace. The reason the prisoners are there, is because they were blinded, by evil. Are they still blind? Well, the question is for you, are you still blinded and trying to help others while being blinded? Can the blind lead the way? The question then begins to chip away at pride. Pride, of self indulgence, of self satisfaction, of self worth, of self esteem that is coined "respect". For many a crime is committed in the name of "respect". You want people to "respect" you, while you do not respect God. I wasn't supposed to speak at a moment our table got up for the guys to give a testimony. But I spoke and I said, "The laws of the land are not above the laws of God." I said this because a man thought he was married and could receive the Holy Eucharist, but wasn't married by the Church. I said personally to him, "talk to a priest about it, he may allow, since you are in jail and not living with that lady". Soon they cut me off, because we were running out of time as I was speaking about the oath, the extreme importance of our word in the Holy Sacraments.
I thank you for your prayers. If you want to know what it felt like to help for the first time in a weekend retreat with prisoners, it felt like the times I used to go help feed the homeless. They are poor. Poor in every sense of the word. Dejected, and rejected, and unable to help themselves. You go for a little while to help but you leave wishing you could do more. It is a great chasm it seems, a chasm that separates heaven and hell. It is a moment of salvation one awaits. But how can I help them if I myself need help? Because I am not different than our "brothers in white", the prisoners. I too find myself a holy roller when I am in great need of great help. But when I no longer need great help, I am a sloppy sinner, ungrateful at best. And so, the call to holiness is great. There is a vast ocean of people, and only a trickle makes it to true devotion. I felt afterwards, as if I could've said one more thing to my bro's in jail, I would've said something like "one out of two hundred of you will find yourself with the Lord". Why? Because it is true. 1 out of every 200 will find themselves in true devotion. And all the while, everyone else and their mommas will be trying to explain to you what God is and how to follow him.
What our Lord is asking is one thing...remaining true, being able to see Him. The lost lamb lost sight by focusing on only its feelings and just seeing what it wanted for itself, greener pastures. How much green will you want to see and not our Lord? Thank you for your prayers. The prisoners said they felt God's presence. They said they saw light. And I did too. I was moved to get tears in my eyes from the heart when not one, but many stood up in their testimony, to give thanks for sacrificing our weekend to be with them. But why the tears? Because, in my heart, it was the Lord speaking. I went to be with the Lord our Father on Father's day weekend, and He was grateful. I told them in my minute talk "I have seven kids at home, but I have many more children here" and it is true, because in many faces, I saw my children, I saw them really as I feel for my own children. If you want children, accept the Lord. If you want parents, accept the Lord. And you will have mothers, and children like never before. I'm sorry, I could write about it for a long time. It was humbling, because I saw humility. I know some there were not there for the right reasons, and would soon betray God again. Aren't you like that too? How quick we are to judge. So what is the solution? Christ is the Answer. The help of men is nothing compared to the help of God. Where is your strength?
I told one before leaving, "the only way I will see you in the free world is if you are devoted to the Holy Church....then I will see you there, or in the hereafter, the next life". Because there are hundreds of thousands of people in any given city, and the ones I will find with our Lord this moment in adoration I can count in one hand. Being free is dangerous. I told them "you are in controlled environment, out there freedom is waiting". Waiting so you can abandon God in your sinfulness. Waiting to devour you in your moment of weakness. Waiting with a beautiful lure to kill you.
We should be afraid of sin, the blinder. We should be afraid of sin, the distraction, that leaves you behind while the flock moves on without you. We should be afraid to lose sight of our Lord. We should be afraid...to lose sight...of GOD, Love.