"Three things are necessary to everyone: truth of faith which brings understanding, love of Christ which brings compassion, and endurance of hope which brings perseverance." — St. Bonaventure
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"My Heart overflows with great mercy for souls, and especially for poor sinners. If only they could understand that I am the best of Fathers to them and that it is for them that the Blood and Water flowed from My Heart as from a fount overflowing with mercy. For them I dwell in the tabernacle as King of Mercy. I desire to bestow My graces upon souls, but they do not want to accept them. You, at least, come to Me as often as possible and take these graces they do not want to accept. In this way you will console My Heart. Oh, how indifferent are souls to so much goodness, to so many proofs of love! My Heart drinks only of the ingratitude and forgetfulness of souls living in the world. They have time for everything, but they have no time to come to Me for graces." — St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, p. 367 AN EXCERPT FROM Diary of St. Faustina
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Blessed Frédéric Ozanam
A man convinced of the inestimable worth of each human being, Frédéric served the poor of Paris well and drew others into serving the poor of the world. Through the St. Vincent de Paul Society, his work continues to the present day.
Frédéric was the fifth of Jean and Marie Ozanam's 14 children, one of only three to reach adulthood. As a teenager he began having doubts about his religion. Reading and prayer did not seem to help, but long walking discussions with Father Noirot of the Lyons College clarified matters a great deal.
Frédéric wanted to study literature, although his father, a doctor, wanted him to become a lawyer. Frédéric yielded to his father's wishes and in 1831 arrived in Paris to study law at the University of the Sorbonne. When certain professors there mocked Catholic teachings in their lectures, Frédéric defended the Church.
A discussion club which Frédéric organized sparked the turning point in his life. In this club Catholics, atheists and agnostics debated the issues of the day. Once, after Frédéric spoke about Christianity's role in civilization, a club member said: "Let us be frank, Mr. Ozanam; let us also be very particular. What do you do besides talk to prove the faith you claim is in you?"
Frédéric was stung by the question. He soon decided that his words needed a grounding in action. He and a friend began visiting Paris tenements and offering assistance as best they could. Soon a group dedicated to helping individuals in need under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul formed around Frédéric.
Feeling that the Catholic faith needed an excellent speaker to explain its teachings, Frédéric convinced the Archbishop of Paris to appoint Father Lacordaire, the greatest preacher then in France, to preach a Lenten series in Notre Dame Cathedral. It was well attended and became an annual tradition in Paris.
After Frédéric earned his law degree at the Sorbonne, he taught law at the University of Lyons. He also earned a doctorate in literature. Soon after marrying Amelie Soulacroix on June 23, 1841, he returned to the Sorbonne to teach literature. A well-respected lecturer, Frédéric worked to bring out the best in each student. Meanwhile, the St. Vincent de Paul Society was growing throughout Europe. Paris alone counted 25 conferences.
In 1846, Frédéric, Amelie and their daughter Marie went to Italy; there he hoped to restore his poor health. They returned the next year. The revolution of 1848 left many Parisians in need of the services of the St. Vincent de Paul conferences. The unemployed numbered 275,000. The government asked Frédéric and his co-workers to supervise the government aid to the poor. Vincentians throughout Europe came to the aid of Paris.
Frédéric then started a newspaper, The New Era, dedicated to securing justice for the poor and the working classes. Fellow Catholics were often unhappy with what Frédéric wrote. Referring to the poor man as "the nation's priest," Frédéric said that the hunger and sweat of the poor formed a sacrifice that could redeem the people's humanity
In 1852 poor health again forced Frédéric to return to Italy with his wife and daughter. He died on September 8, 1853. In his sermon at Frédéric's funeral, Lacordaire described his friend as "one of those privileged creatures who came direct from the hand of God in whom God joins tenderness to genius in order to enkindle the world."
Frédéric was beatified in 1997. Since Frédéric wrote an excellent book entitled Franciscan Poets of the Thirteenth Century and since Frederick's sense of the dignity of each poor person was so close to the thinking of St. Francis, it seemed appropriate to include him among Franciscan "greats."
Frédéric Ozanam always respected poor while offering whatever service he could. Each man, woman and child was too precious for that. Serving the poor taught Frédéric something about God that he could not have learned elsewhere.
In his homily at the beatification Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral, Saint John Paul II mentioned that before World War II he belonged to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He noted that Frédéric Ozanam "observed the real situation of the poor and sought to be more and more effective in helping them in their human development. He understood that charity must lead to efforts to remedy injustice. Charity and justice go together."
Lord, help me to be fully alive to your holy presence. Enfold me in your love. Let my heart become one with yours.
If God were trying to tell me something, would I know? If God were reassuring me or challenging me, would I notice? I ask for the grace to be free of my own preoccupations and open to what God may be saying to me.
Where do I sense hope, encouragement, and growth areas in my life? By looking back over the last few months, I may be able to see which activities and occasions have produced rich fruit. If I do notice such areas, I will determine to give those areas both time and space in the future.
The Word of God
Wednesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 1 Cor 7:25-31
Brothers and sisters: In regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. So this is what I think best because of the present distress: that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a separation. Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife. If you marry, however, you do not sin, nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries; but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life, and I would like to spare you that.
I tell you, brothers, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 45:11-12, 14-15, 16-17 R. (11) Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear. Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear, forget your people and your father's house. So shall the king desire your beauty; for he is your lord, and you must worship him.
R. Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear. All glorious is the king's daughter as she enters; her raiment is threaded with spun gold. In embroidered apparel she is borne in to the king; behind her the virgins of her train are brought to you.
R. Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear. They are borne in with gladness and joy; they enter the palace of the king. The place of your fathers your sons shall have; you shall make them princes through all the land. R. Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.
Alleluia Lk 6:23ab R. Alleluia, alleluia. Rejoice and leap for joy! Your reward will be great in heaven. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 6:20-26
Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said:
"Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.
But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Speak out to the Lord about my reaction to this passage. Does it mean that this world is no more than a waiting room for another and better one, and so it is desirable not to have the good things of time because they make it less likely that we will have the things that are eternal? What are the things that are of eternal value?
Remembering that I am still in God's presence, I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting beside me, and say whatever is on my mind, whatever is in my heart, speaking as one friend to another.
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: Luke 6:20-26
23rd Week in Ordinary Time
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! (Luke 6:23)
Have you ever heard of the Duchenne smile? It's that big broad grin that lights up your whole face and crinkles the lines around your eyes. Neurologists say that smiling like this—even if it is a forced smile that feels fake—can make a difference in your mood. They have found that this physical act is powerful enough to dispel gloominess and lift your spirits. What's more, its effects can rub off on everyone around you.
When Jesus gave his followers the beatitudes, most of his words promised future blessings: the weeping will laugh; the hungry will be satisfied. But he changed course with his final beatitude. We are already blessed, he said, when we face hardship, and that blessing should make us leap for joy.
How do we lay hold of this joy when we don't feel particularly happy? By adopting the Duchenne smile!
The truth is, our bodies matter. The things we do, big and little, have the potential to change our state of mind. When we meet someone new, we smile and extend a firm handshake as a way of making ourselves open and available. When we see a co-worker in the hallway, even one who has criticized us, we smile and wave as a means of extending friendship. It's not a hollow effort; it makes a difference.
This may sound like only a human psychological formula, but it has a spiritual dimension as well. When you smile, you are resisting some of the devil's favorite tools: discouragement, anger, and resentment.
So smile! Smile when your plans fall through or when things don't go your way. Smile when someone says something unkind. Smile when you are tired and don't feel like facing the day. Smile when your spouse gets home weary after a long day at work.
Don't worry if it feels fake. Don't worry if it makes you look like a hypocrite. Just believe that Jesus will deliver on his promises. Smile, and you'll start to recall all the reasons you have to rejoice. You'll start to tap into the blessedness Jesus promised. Then, watch your mood change and your heart soften.
"Lord Jesus, I choose to rejoice in the blessed life you promise me!"
"For the world in its present form is passing away." says Saint Paul today, the Word of God. "Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear, forget your people and your father's house. So shall the king desire your beauty; for he is your lord, and you must worship him" we prayed today. "Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied."-Jesus the King and Lord says. In our lives then, we should live hungry. If the piece of Eucharist you receive is a small piece of bread turned to His fullness of Divinity, then how could you desire anything else? I often tell my near ones, that when I go to morning daily Holy Mass, I often go physically very hungry, but I leave satisfied, normal, not hungry any more. Today's Word Among Us reflection said that you must force a smile, make the body do what the spirit wants, force your body, because the body is weak. I told a young brother in an ultreya, gathering of cursillistas, that you'll have to dance around and raise your arms, it feels awkward and embarrassing but we have to physically worship many times so our spirits will wake up and allow the Lord into our lives. Many people don't like this, and won't do it. You will not listen. Yesterday, I went home rather frustrated, guys at work won't do as I've asked, like say, simply use the time clock. What can I do? I've asked repeatedly over and over, in the safety meeting I asked a few days ago. Nope. They don't listen. And I go home, kids haven't listened, I want the rooms cleaned when I get home and nope, they don't listen (most do though). But for those few that make life hard, I get all flustered up, what can I do? An enforcement must come down, the law must be enforced, and it is not going to "feel" good. Because we live in a world where "feelings" come first. That's why when I tell people to dance for the Lord, they won't. I ask them to come to a bible study and they won't. Because they simply "don't feel like it" and therefore, have more important things to do. These people are "filled", they are "rich" they are satiated with what the world offers.
But if you are hungry for the Lord, a whole new life awaits you. If you are weeping right now, be happy. If you are married, St. Paul says, live as if you are not. What does this mean? Hate your spouse? NO!! It means live an austere and holy life! It means live a life of giving. When the Lord says hate everyone it means let there be a stark differentiation in love factors between Him and the world as you know it. This means an extreme love of God as He loves us extremely and each in a unique way. It is better to suffer because it brings you closer to God. This is why the Holy Church asks for a tithe. There again, most won't give, or do as they ask. Just like Natural Family Planning, a means of not using contraception, most don't know or won't do it, because it is too much to ask, but the Holy Church asks for it. Why? Why must we suffer? Because, it is good for us to be hungry for the Lord. You see, after much prayer in the afternoon yesterday, a rosary, two visits to the Blessed Sacrament, I was contemplating the Lord, and a thought hit, "He doesn't use reverse psychology as we think we are so smart in coining that phrase....He uses forward, backward, up and down and sideways psychology, terms we can not even begin to fathom". In other words, God is a mystery and it is good, just like suffering. It should bring us to our knees. It should make us jump, dance, and shout when we are in His Holy Presence like King David believed in the Presence of God in the Ark, the Tabernacle of our day today. Is it so much that the Lord asks for our entire being? Mind, Body, and Soul?