"The important thing is not to think much but to love much; and so do that which best stirs you to love." — St. Teresa of Avila
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"The human soul, by its very nature, is endowed with the faculty of knowing God and the capacity for loving Him. The intelligence of the soul, transporting itself above all that is created and finite, has power to raise itself even to the contemplation of that Being who alone is uncreated and infinite, who is the source of all good and all perfection; it is able to form of Him an idea that is clear and accurate and indelible. The will of the soul is made to love this sovereign Good, which the understanding presents to it. The desires of the soul, which no created object can ever satisfy and which reach far beyond the limits of this life, tend necessarily toward a Good that is supreme, eternal, and infinite, and which alone can content the soul and make it happy." — Fr. Jean Nicholas Grou, p. 3-4 AN EXCERPT FROM The Spiritual Life
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If he hadn't taken a trip with his bishop, Dominic would probably have remained within the structure of contemplative life; after the trip, he spent the rest of his life being a contemplative in active apostolic work.
Born in old Castile, Spain, he was trained for the priesthood by a priest-uncle, studied the arts and theology, and became a canon of the cathedral at Osma, where there was an attempt to revive the apostolic common life described in the Acts of the Apostles.
On a journey through France with his bishop, he came face to face with the then virulent Albigensian heresy at Languedoc. The Albigensians (Cathari, "the pure") held to two principles—one good, one evil—in the world. All matter is evil—hence they denied the Incarnation and sacraments. On the same principle, they abstained from procreation and took a minimum of food and drink. The inner circle led what some people regarded as a heroic life of purity and asceticism not shared by ordinary followers.
Dominic sensed the need for the Church to combat this heresy, and was commissioned to be part of the preaching crusade against it. He saw immediately why the preaching was not succeeding: the ordinary people admired and followed the ascetical heroes of the Albigenses. Understandably, they were not impressed by the Catholic preachers who traveled with horse and retinues, stayed at the best inns and had servants. Dominic therefore, with three Cistercians, began itinerant preaching according to the gospel ideal. He continued this work for 10 years, being successful with the ordinary people but not with the leaders.
His fellow preachers gradually became a community, and in 1215 he founded a religious house at Toulouse, the beginning of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).
His ideal, and that of his Order, was to link organically a life with God, study and prayer in all forms, with a ministry of salvation to people by the word of God. His ideal: contemplata tradere: "to pass on the fruits of contemplation" or "to speak only of God or with God."
Legend has it that Dominic saw the sinful world threatened by God's anger but saved by the intercession of Mary, who pointed out to her Son two figures: One was Dominic himself, the other a stranger. In church the next day he saw a ragged beggar enter—the man in the vision. He went up to him, embraced him and said, "You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us." The beggar was Francis of Assisi. The meeting of the two founders is commemorated twice a year, when on their respective feast days Dominicans and Franciscans celebrate Mass in each other's churches and afterward sit at the same table "to eat the bread which for seven centuries has never been wanting" (Butler's Lives of the Saints).
The Dominican ideal, like that of all religious communities, is for the imitation, not merely the admiration, of the rest of the Church. The effective combining of contemplation and activity is the vocation of truck driver Smith as well as theologian Aquinas. Acquired contemplation is the tranquil abiding in the presence of God, and is an integral part of any full human life. It must be the wellspring of all Christian activity.
Patron Saint of:
Astronomers Dominican Republic
Sacred Space (stop, slow down, breathe, we're about to receive the Word of God) Daily Prayer - 2016-08-08
Dear Lord, help me to be open to you for this time as I put aside the cares of this world. Fill my mind with your peace, Your Love.
"Leave me here freely all alone In cell where never sunlight shone should no one ever speak to me This golden silence makes me free." Part of a poem written by a prisoner at Dachau concentration camp
In God's loving presence I unwind the past day, starting from now and looking back, moment by moment. I gather in all the goodness and light, in gratitude. I attend to the shadows and what they say to me, seeking healing, courage, forgiveness.
On the fifth day of the fourth month of the fifth year, that is, of King Jehoiachin's exile, The word of the LORD came to the priest Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar.— There the hand of the LORD came upon me.
As I looked, a stormwind came from the North, a huge cloud with flashing fire enveloped in brightness, from the midst of which (the midst of the fire) something gleamed like electrum. Within it were figures resembling four living creatures that looked like this: their form was human.
Then I heard the sound of their wings, like the roaring of mighty waters, like the voice of the Almighty. When they moved, the sound of the tumult was like the din of an army. And when they stood still, they lowered their wings.
Above the firmament over their heads something like a throne could be seen, looking like sapphire. Upon it was seated, up above, one who had the appearance of a man. Upward from what resembled his waist I saw what gleamed like electrum; downward from what resembled his waist I saw what looked like fire; he was surrounded with splendor. Like the bow which appears in the clouds on a rainy day was the splendor that surrounded him. Such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 148:1-2, 11-12, 13, 14 R. Heaven and earth are filled with your glory. or: R. Alleluia. Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights; Praise him, all you his angels; praise him, all you his hosts.
R. Heaven and earth are filled with your glory. or: R. Alleluia. Let the kings of the earth and all peoples, the princes and all the judges of the earth, Young men too, and maidens, old men and boys,
R. Heaven and earth are filled with your glory. or: R. Alleluia. Praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; His majesty is above earth and heaven.
R. Heaven and earth are filled with your glory or: R. Alleluia. And he has lifted up the horn of his people. Be this his praise from all his faithful ones, from the children of Israel, the people close to him. Alleluia.
R. Heaven and earth are filled with your glory. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia See 2 Thes 2:14 R. Alleluia, alleluia. God has called you through the Gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 17:22-27
As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day." And they were overwhelmed with grief.
When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, "Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?" "Yes," he said. When he came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, "What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?" When he said, "From foreigners," Jesus said to him, "Then the subjects are exempt. But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Imagine touring the country with a group of followers who are "greatly distressed". It seems that the disciples are beginning to understand that this wandering mission is to end in failure and disgrace. If they have been "distressed" by his words then they are beginning to see that he is serious.
▪ His casual dealings with the revenue authorities can hardly have comforted Peter. Jesus appears to hold the system in contempt.
▪ Do you think Peter found the coin in the fish's mouth?
Begin to talk to Jesus about the piece of scripture you have just read. What part of it strikes a chord in you? Perhaps the words of a friend - or some story you have heard recently - will slowly rise to the surface of your consciousness. If so, does the story throw light on what the scripture passage may be trying to say to you?
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.
Have you ever had an experience so awe inspiring that you couldn't describe it afterwards? Maybe you were sitting on the beach and saw a magnificent sunset. Or perhaps you were camping in the mountains and looked up to see the sky blazing with millions of stars. It was as if you had encountered something divine.
In Ezekiel's case, the encounter really was divine. He saw a huge cloud "flashing fire," with four "living creatures" whose voices sounded like roaring waterfalls (Ezekiel 1:4, 5). He saw someone resembling a man seated on what looked like a throne, who was glowing like gold, burning like fire, and "surrounded with splendor" like a rainbow (1:27). Everything looked "like" something else because he couldn't find the right words. He could use only earthly terms to depict realities that have no earthly equivalent. In other words, he saw the glory of God, which can be comprehended only by those who have experienced it.
It's likely that none of us have ever had an experience like Ezekiel's. But it's important to remind ourselves that we can encounter the divine in a way that Ezekiel never could. Every Sunday—every day if we can make it—we can receive the Eucharist. In this sacrament, heaven comes down to earth, and earth is lifted up to heaven. Although he is veiled behind the very ordinary appearance of bread and wine, the Lord truly comes to us there.
Sometimes when you're attending Mass, you may not feel very spiritual. You may have just rushed to get there through heavy traffic, your children may be acting up, or any number of other things could be distracting you. But just take a moment to dwell on the reality of what's about to happen. You're about to meet the Lord Jesus. He's going to let you taste his glory, his majesty, and his mercy. Israel's prophets and holy men longed to have such a communion, and here it is, ready for you every day (Matthew 13:17). So give thanks for this awesome gift, and open your heart to be touched—and transformed—by God's presence.
"Lord, let me be astounded by the fact that you come to us in the Eucharist. Deepen my appreciation for this Sacrament. May I never take it for granted."
We heard the last verse of the first Holy Scripture today "Such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the LORD." Then we pray the Holy Psalms "Heaven and earth are filled with your glory." And we sing this in Holy Mass, followed by Hosanna in the highest. Praise be to God, and why? The answer should be innumerable.
In comes the Lord of our lives ""The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day." and that is when the rubber hit the road, that is when it struck hard, and perhaps that is when Judas knew he had to cash in and ship out. Because if a test hits, it is a moment of faithfulness. Like when the Lord told our first Pope Saint Peter to go get a fish out of the lake and open its mouth to get a coin out worth twice what they were asking. Peter obeyed...then they paid. Paying double means so much, because our Lord Jesus said to go the extra mile and He does, He did, and He will. And to say "He will" means, His will is set on obedience of God, of the tests of fire. To obey through thick and thin. To love God more. And such an odd Scripture, of a fish story paying the earthly temple, and that of the Lord having to die...to pay for our Heavenly temple. No wonder we pray "Heaven and Earth are filled with your Glory". This is the vision of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And His vision has included you today. Do you pay the temple tax? Do you give offerings? Don't you pay government mandated taxes? Then why don't you give more to God? Because, we are freely to give...we don't. Because we are forced to give, we do. That's not how God works.
Everything about Him is upside down. On earth, gold is a valuable stone. In Heaven, gold is like dirt, everywhere and not valuable. On earth, helping the stinky, the helpless, the hopeless is something nobody wants to do, and hardly does. In Heaven, they leave everything to do so, because it is worth more than anything. Heaven and Earth are filled with your Glory. And if Glory to God means an offering, a sacrifice, then Glory means blood, sweat, and tears. It is not the same as praising God, it is much more. No guts offered, no Glory offered. I am not writing to a typical Christian, I am writing to one already having offered their time to the Lord, now offer the treasure, now offer you talent, now offer...your body, and soul.
When the rubber hits the road, the truth hits, let it be like a cool splash of water of revelation, an opportunity to love God more and let faith take a big leap onto the waters, to walk towards the Lord, already standing there in all His Glory, having already glorified God before giving the earthly body....