"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin." — Mother Teresa of Calcutta
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"[Mary] does not remain locked in her initial troubled state at the proximity of God in his angel, but she seeks to understand. So Mary appears as a fearless woman, one who remains composed even in the presence of something utterly unprecedented. At the same time she stands before us as a woman of great interiority, who holds heart and mind in harmony and seeks to understand the context, the overall significance of God's message. In this way, she becomes an image of the Church as she considers the word of God, tries to understand it in its entirety and guards in her memory the things that have been given to her." — Pope Benedict XVI, p. 33
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St. Aloysius Gonzaga
The Lord can make saints anywhere, even amid the brutality and license of Renaissance life. Florence was the "mother of piety" for Aloysius Gonzaga despite his exposure to a "society of fraud, dagger, poison and lust." As a son of a princely family, he grew up in royal courts and army camps. His father wanted Aloysius to be a military hero.
At age seven he experienced a profound spiritual quickening. His prayers included the Office of Mary, the psalms and other devotions. At age nine he came from his hometown of Castiglione to Florence to be educated; by age 11 he was teaching catechism to poor children, fasting three days a week and practicing great austerities. When he was 13 years old he traveled with his parents and the Empress of Austria to Spain and acted as a page in the court of Philip II. The more Aloysius saw of court life, the more disillusioned he became, seeking relief in learning about the lives of saints.
A book about the experience of Jesuit missionaries in India suggested to him the idea of entering the Society of Jesus, and in Spain his decision became final. Now began a four-year contest with his father. Eminent churchmen and laypeople were pressed into service to persuade him to remain in his "normal" vocation. Finally he prevailed, was allowed to renounce his right to succession and was received into the Jesuit novitiate.
Like other seminarians, Aloysius was faced with a new kind of penance—that of accepting different ideas about the exact nature of penance. He was obliged to eat more, to take recreation with the other students. He was forbidden to pray except at stated times. He spent four years in the study of philosophy and had St. Robert Bellarmine (September 17) as his spiritual adviser.
In 1591, a plague struck Rome. The Jesuits opened a hospital of their own. The general himself and many other Jesuits rendered personal service. Because he nursed patients, washing them and making their beds, Aloysius caught the disease himself. A fever persisted after his recovery and he was so weak he could scarcely rise from bed. Yet, he maintained his great discipline of prayer, knowing that he would die within the octave of Corpus Christi, three months later, at the age of 23.
As a saint who fasted, scourged himself, sought solitude and prayer and did not look on the faces of women, Aloysius seems an unlikely patron of youth in a society where asceticism is confined to training camps of football teams and boxers, and sexual permissiveness has little left to permit. Can an overweight and air-conditioned society deprive itself of anything? It will when it discovers a reason, as Aloysius did. The motivation for letting God purify us is the experience of God loving us, in prayer.
"When we stand praying, beloved brethren, we ought to be watchful and earnest with our whole heart, intent on our prayers. Let all carnal and worldly thoughts pass away, nor let the soul at that time think on anything except the object of its prayer" (St. Cyprian, On the Lord's Prayer, 31).
The more we call on the Lord the more we can feel his Presence. Day by day he draws us closer to his loving heart.
Lord, you granted me the great gift of freedom. In these times, O Lord, grant that I may be free From any form of racism or intolerance. Remind me, Lord, that we are all equal in your Loving eyes.
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
Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious
Reading 1 2 Kgs 19:9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36
Sennacherib, king of Assyria, sent envoys to Hezekiah with this message: "Thus shall you say to Hezekiah, king of Judah: 'Do not let your God on whom you rely deceive you by saying that Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria. You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all other countries: they doomed them! Will you, then, be saved?'"
Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; then he went up to the temple of the LORD, and spreading it out before him, he prayed in the LORD's presence: "O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned upon the cherubim! You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made the heavens and the earth. Incline your ear, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see! Hear the words of Sennacherib which he sent to taunt the living God. Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and cast their gods into the fire; they destroyed them because they were not gods, but the work of human hands, wood and stone. Therefore, O LORD, our God, save us from the power of this man, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God."
Then Isaiah, son of Amoz, sent this message to Hezekiah: "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, in answer to your prayer for help against Sennacherib, king of Assyria: I have listened! This is the word the LORD has spoken concerning him:
"'She despises you, laughs you to scorn, the virgin daughter Zion! Behind you she wags her head, daughter Jerusalem.
"'For out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant, and from Mount Zion, survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.'
"Therefore, thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: 'He shall not reach this city, nor shoot an arrow at it, nor come before it with a shield, nor cast up siege-works against it. He shall return by the same way he came, without entering the city, says the LORD. I will shield and save this city for my own sake, and for the sake of my servant David.'"
That night the angel of the LORD went forth and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. So Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, broke camp, and went back home to Nineveh.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 48:2-3ab, 3cd-4, 10-11 R. (see 9d) God upholds his city for ever. Great is the LORD and wholly to be praised in the city of our God. His holy mountain, fairest of heights, is the joy of all the earth.
R. God upholds his city for ever. Mount Zion, Athe recesses of the North," is the city of the great King. God is with her castles; renowned is he as a stronghold.
R. God upholds his city for ever. O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple. As your name, O God, so also your praise reaches to the ends of the earth. Of justice your right hand is full.
R. God upholds his city for ever.
Alleluia Jn 8:12 R. Alleluia, alleluia. I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 7:6, 12-14
Jesus said to his disciples: "Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.
"Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets.
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ 'In everything do to others as you would have them do to you'. The golden rule is so challenging because it is so simple; in fact, 'this is the law and the prophets'. We never seem able to live it fully, even though it is so eminently reasonable. Yet it is not a juridical standard, but one of true love: a little earlier in Matthew's Gospel Jesus calls us to love others as we love ourselves.
▪ It is the road that leads to life, yet we need to pass through the narrow door of denying ourselves and carrying our cross every day. I pray for the grace to do this gladly, with inner peace, following in the footsteps of Jesus my brother.
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.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: Matthew 7:6, 12-14
Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Memorial)
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. (Matthew 7:14)
Have you ever hiked down a big, broad hillside path? One designed so that a lot of people could amble along it in a carefree manner? Hiking on a narrow footpath in a dense forest is a completely different experience, isn't it? It takes your full attention. You have to be careful where you place your feet, but you also have to keep your eyes on your compass so that you don't get lost.
Here's another aspect to the narrow path: because it's nestled deep in the heart of the woods, you brush up against large majestic trees whose colorful canopy of leaves keeps you cool and shaded. You are surrounded by so many magnificent sights, smells, and sounds that you feel as if you could bathe in the beauty.
Doesn't that sound like the life of a Christian? Walking in the world as a Christian certainly requires that we stay focused on the path, all while keeping our eyes on God for his guidance and help. But at the same time, we are in awe of the fact that our heavenly Father is surrounding us with the beauty of his inspiration and his grace. It's as if he is rewarding us for choosing the challenging path!
Another part of the beauty of this path is the fact that we don't have to walk it alone. Yes, there are fewer people on the path, but that's all the more reason for us to stick together. We can rely on each other's strengths and talents to help us in our own weaknesses and failings. At certain points along the way, people may need to go before you so that you can catch them if they fall backwards. And at other points, you will find yourself grateful for the people who are there to support you.
Today is a good day to be glad that God has called you onto this path. It may be narrow. It may even be treacherous at times. But at every step, you are surrounded by such beauty and glory—and by faithful brothers and sisters to help you along. May we all enjoy the journey!
"Lord, thank you for showing me your path to life. Thank you also for giving me so many faithful traveling companions."
my2cents: In today's 1st Holy Scripture, a King of Assyria sends a letter to the King of Judah. And what does the King of Judah do? He falls to his knees before the King of Kings and pleads "...Hear the words of Sennacherib which he sent to taunt the living God." and later prays "save us from the power of this man". That night like 180,000 Assyrians were struck dead. What we have to learn is very important...faithfulness to God and not faithfulness to feelings. Because we are tempted by the enemy to be afraid. This was a tactic used by the Assyrian, "I'm coming to get you and destroy you!" much like the words that Goliath used against David. But an unshakable faith moves mountains, the giants we face.
Today we prayed "God upholds his city for ever". There are times we sing in Holy Mass "let us build the city of God" (City of God by Dan Schutte), and the lyrics are uplifting, they go: Let us build the city of God. May our tears be turned into dancing! For the Lord, our light and our love, has turned the night into day! The One who has loved us has brightened our way. The Lord of all kindness has called us to be a light for his people to set their hearts free.
Our Lord enters our lives and gives us what people call the "golden rule" when He says ""Do to others whatever you would have them do to you." Dish out mercy as you would like mercy. Dish out compassion, as you would like compassion. Dish out love, as you would like to be loved. And it sounds like the Lord is asking us to give. He says "Do to Others". Find those in misery to be compassionate. I told an insurance guy yesterday about my visit to the prison. He said he felt called to go to prisons to teach men english. I said it is a calling that he should answer, because it is needed. Imagine, you are locked up, no family, no leg up in the world, and someone comes and offers their time to help you learn the language, and when free you are more understanding, and more understood? Imagine the world of a difference that would make? Now we are speaking the language of love, God's love. Yesterday I kept saying 1 out of 200 will be faithfully devoted. That's a pretty low number. You'd think 1 out of 10 was bad, but 1 out of 200? Why do I say that? Well, what if it's true? Because today our Lord says very few will make it to this way, and through this narrow gate. The other gate is wide. All the fattened in life will only fit through that gate of an eternal abyss of darkness. When I was in my cursillo, Padre Andres said we can't be like fat cows that just keep putting in and taking in and taking more and more and never exerting out any effort. He said this to apply our Piety and Study and put it into Action. I pray that we understand the importance. Realize we are fastly living out life without fasting for the right reasons if fasting at all. Realize that life is precious, yes from conception, but even more because of a soul that is looking to God and looking for Him even though on the outside it may not seem like it. Because I seen many wandering faces in prison, and I even got on to them "I hope you're not here on vacation, getting a break and coming for good food...I hope you're here to open your heart to God". And this same goes for all of us out here now. I hope you're not looking to "get away" but here to "open your heart" to our Lord. I'm at that point right now myself, where I would like to "get away" and "run away", but running away in this realm would mean to turn away from the narrow path that leads up the mountain, Mount Zion, where the Lord awaits in His Glory. If it is difficult to believe and live the faith, then good, it is a clear sign that you are on your way. Because it is difficult to succeed. It takes a tremendous amount of work. You have to become a workoholic. You have to become immersed totally and consumed completely, and if it is like so for the earthly life, then so much more for the spiritual. Let this be your encouragement. Pick up your cross. This we heard on Sunday. The Lord never said you'd never suffer. The Lord said "I WILL BE WITH YOU UNTil the end...