"To convert somebody, go and take them by the hand and guide them." — St. Thomas Aquinas
MEDITATION OF THE DAY "We trust ourselves to a doctor because we suppose he knows his business. He orders an operation which involves cutting away part of our body and we accept it. We are grateful to him and pay him a large fee because we judge he would not act as he does unless the remedy were necessary, and we must rely on his skill. Yet we are unwilling to treat God in the same way! It looks as if we do not trust His wisdom and are afraid He cannot do His job properly. We allow ourselves to be operated on by a man who may easily make a mistake—a mistake which may cost us our life—and protest when God sets to work on us. If we could see all He sees we would unhesitatingly wish all He wishes." — Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, p. 90 AN EXCERPT FROM Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence
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St. Clare of Assisi
One of the more sugary movies made about Francis of Assisi pictures Clare as a golden-haired beauty floating through sun-drenched fields, a sort of one-woman counterpart to the new Franciscan Order.
The beginning of her religious life was indeed movie material. Having refused to marry at 15, she was moved by the dynamic preaching of Francis. He became her lifelong friend and spiritual guide.
At 18, she escaped one night from her father's home, was met on the road by friars carrying torches, and in the poor little chapel called the Portiuncula received a rough woolen habit, exchanged her jeweled belt for a common rope with knots in it, and sacrificed the long tresses to Francis' scissors. He placed her in a Benedictine convent, which her father and uncles immediately stormed in rage. She clung to the altar of the church, threw aside her veil to show her cropped hair and remained adamant.
End of movie material. Sixteen days later her sister Agnes joined her. Others came. They lived a simple life of great poverty, austerity and complete seclusion from the world, according to a Rule which Francis gave them as a Second Order (Poor Clares). Francis obliged her under obedience at age 21 to accept the office of abbess, one she exercised until her death.
The nuns went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat and observed almost complete silence. (Later Clare, like Francis, persuaded her sisters to moderate this rigor: "Our bodies are not made of brass.") The greatest emphasis, of course, was on gospel poverty. They possessed no property, even in common, subsisting on daily contributions. When even the pope tried to persuade her to mitigate this practice, she showed her characteristic firmness: "I need to be absolved from my sins, but I do not wish to be absolved from the obligation of following Jesus Christ."
Contemporary accounts glow with admiration of her life in the convent of San Damiano in Assisi. She served the sick, waited on table, washed the feet of the begging nuns. She came from prayer, it was said, with her face so shining it dazzled those about her. She suffered serious illness for the last 27 years of her life. Her influence was such that popes, cardinals and bishops often came to consult her—she never left the walls of San Damiano.
Francis always remained her great friend and inspiration. She was always obedient to his will and to the great ideal of gospel life which he was making real.
A well-known story concerns her prayer and trust. She had the Blessed Sacrament placed on the walls of the convent when it faced attack by invading Saracens. "Does it please you, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children I have nourished with your love? I beseech you, dear Lord, protect these whom I am now unable to protect." To her sisters she said, "Don't be afraid. Trust in Jesus." The Saracens fled.
On her deathbed, Clare was heard to say to herself: "Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for he who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be you, my God, for having created me."
The 41 years of Clare's religious life are poor movie material, but they are a scenario of sanctity: an indomitable resolve to lead the simple, literal gospel life as Francis taught her; courageous resistance to the ever-present pressure to dilute the ideal; a passion for poverty and humility; an ardent life of prayer; and a generous concern for her sisters.
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Sacred Space (stop, slow down, breathe, we're about to receive the Word of God) Daily Prayer - 2016-08-11
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.
Dear Lord, instil in my heart the desire to know and love you more. May I respond to your will for my life.
To be conscious about something is to be aware of it. Dear Lord help me to remember that You gave me life. Thank you for the gift of life. Teach me to slow down, to be still and enjoy the pleasures created for me. To be aware of the beauty that surrounds me. The marvel of mountains, the calmness of lakes, the fragility of a flower petal. I need to remember that all these things come from you.
The word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house; they have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious house. Now, son of man, during the day while they are looking on, prepare your baggage as though for exile, and again while they are looking on, migrate from where you live to another place; perhaps they will see that they are a rebellious house. You shall bring out your baggage like an exile in the daytime while they are looking on; in the evening, again while they are looking on, you shall go out like one of those driven into exile; while they look on, dig a hole in the wall and pass through it; while they look on, shoulder the burden and set out in the darkness; cover your face that you may not see the land, for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel.
I did as I was told. During the day I brought out my baggage as though it were that of an exile, and at evening I dug a hole through the wall with my hand and, while they looked on, set out in the darkness, shouldering my burden.
Then, in the morning, the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, did not the house of Israel, that rebellious house, ask you what you were doing? Tell them: Thus says the Lord GOD: This oracle concerns Jerusalem and the whole house of Israel within it. I am a sign for you: as I have done, so shall it be done to them; as captives they shall go into exile. The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden and set out in darkness, going through a hole he has dug out in the wall, and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 78:56-57, 58-59, 61-62
R. (see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord! They tempted and rebelled against God the Most High, and kept not his decrees. They turned back and were faithless like their fathers; they recoiled like a treacherous bow.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord! They angered him with their high places and with their idols roused his jealousy. God heard and was enraged and utterly rejected Israel.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord! And he surrendered his strength into captivity, his glory in the hands of the foe. He abandoned his people to the sword and was enraged against his inheritance.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
Alleluia Ps 119:135
R. Alleluia, alleluia. Let your countenance shine upon your servant and teach me your statutes. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 18:21–19:1
Peter approached Jesus and asked him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.' Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, 'Pay back what you owe.' Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused. Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?' Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart."
When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ "As Pope Francis puts it: we need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it."
▪ Jesus affirms that mercy is not only an action of the Father, it becomes a criterion for ascertaining who his true children are. In short, we are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us.
▪ "If you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart" ... isn't that the heart of it? So much has been forgiven us without our even knowing.
Anything, anybody come to mind?
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?
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
When we think of a prophet, we probably conjure up images of a man who is a little bit . . . out there. Maybe we picture John the Baptist, clothed in animal skins and eating locusts. Or we might picture someone who is very old and wise, like Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings. Whatever comes to mind, a prophet is really just someone whom God calls to carry a message to his people. In today's passage, Ezekiel is carrying God's message in an unusual way: he is acting it out.
Throughout the Old Testament, messengers were sent to the people of Israel to call them back to the Lord. Sometimes they used direct messages. Other times they made their point through stories. Still other times, however, the Lord called them to give the people a visual representation, so that the message would strike them more deeply.
As it was with prophets' words or stories, their actions met with mixed results; some people heeded them, while others ignored them. It was easy to discount them, after all. They could be easily seen as a quirky, overly dramatic minority.
But now, with the coming of Christ, things have changed. Instead of an occasional isolated message coming from one lone prophet, now there are millions of believers living out the prophetic message of God. There's a worldwide Church that is telling everyone about the Father's love and the promise of redemption.
Did you know that you are a prophet? It's true! You have the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, in you, and that Spirit is capable of making you into a messenger of the gospel. You don't have to do anything unusual. Just try your best to follow the Lord, and you'll stand out enough. Your kindness and compassion will strike a chord in people. Your decision to sacrifice time and energy to help someone, especially when it's easier to turn a blind eye, sends a message about God's constant care for his people. Your patience and forgiveness can melt someone's heart.
Don't ever think you don't matter. You are part of the Church; you are a prophetic presence in this world. You are a messenger for Christ.
"Lord, let me be your messenger today and always."
my2cents: Our Lord says today "I have made you a sign for the house of Israel." He is speaking to the prophet, and the prophets of this day, those baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, those baptized Catholics are baptized too, priest, prophet, and King. And so, the Lord has made you and me a prophet. The Lord says today "while they looked on, set out in the darkness, shouldering my burden." This is our daily cross, for if we are Christ followers, we must deny ourselves and pick up our cross daily, this obedience, this denial of the world and following of the Lord. " ...set out in darkness, going through a hole he has dug out in the wall, and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone." The hole is the breakthrough of the forces that take over. The hole often is begun by a small trickle of venial, little sins, that eventually lead to great disobedience. And out the hole goes the Lord to set out on a healing journey, the blood clots begin, the antibodies begin to fight, and this is what is right, the Lord within heals like the body, the soul. Do you believe? Do you believe the Lord desires healing? It must begin with you in this world. We prayed "Do not forget the works of the Lord!", "And he surrendered his strength into captivity, his glory in the hands of the foe. He abandoned his people to the sword and was enraged against his inheritance" If ever a moment of darkness occurs in my life, it is not because the Son has stopped lighting the way, but because I have turned away. Do not forget, says the Lord. And We celebrate His Life in the Holy Eucharist across the altars, across the world every day. Because He says DO THIS, in REMEMBERANCE of Me, until I return. And so we have the command of love and mercy at our hands. In comes the Lord of our lives. "So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart." Dr. Seuss in The Lorax said ""Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not." And the big word is the beginning, "Unless". Unless you care. And this is why I keep saying, it begins with you. Because if our Lord said to forgive " not seven times but seventy-seven times." He didn't just say forgive twice as much as your used to, but 10 times as much, and then start over when you fail to forgive again, and 7 is the perfect and infinite number, defining just who the Lord is, relentless in forgiveness. Why do we have to forgive like that? Because HE forgives like that. And so, if the Lord hides His face, it is to appear as the trespasser, "will you forgive me?". Will you forgive those that don't even ask for forgiveness? Will you forgive those who trespassed? Yesterday evening, I stopped at the church, and as I walked in, all I could think about was my guitar that was stolen from the church here a couple weeks ago. I say stolen because it was taken without my permission. So as far as I know it is stolen. I decided to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, our Lord in the Tabernacle, His Divine Presence. I prayed, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking about my stolen guitar. Granted, it was a spare guitar I kept there for whoever needed to use it for Mass, but still. I got up, I went to kind of look for it again. Now, see this: I have not apparently forgiven my trespasser, a stranger, an unknown face. It's not a big loss, but it is a loss in my heart. Someone took advantage of my trust, and I can't forgive apparently because I keep thinking about it, and sort of worrying about it, the security of the church, the people inside, the people outside. Over and over I have to forgive the trespasser. I keep saying its ok, no big deal, but I keep bringing it up, again, and again, in my mind and in conversations. What about you? What keeps being brought up? Why can't we forgive once and be done with it? The importance of forgiving over and over makes for a habit of mercy. It is to forgive yourself ultimately, for not being able to love as you ought, with a complete childlike trust in the Lord. If the Lord tells us to do something, it is for our own good, and the good of the whole world we live in. Do me a favor, tonight, instead of tuning into the news or some other show or leisure activity, devote that time to prayer, 30 minutes? Why? Because I'm asking you to tune into once again, to the GOOD NEWS. I would like to live in a world where we try to see who loves each other more. And definitely, our Lord has set the bar high above the earth....while on the earth, the very earth we walk on this day....