"Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you." — St. Thomas Aquinas
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"All our perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ; and therefore the most perfect of all devotions is, without any doubt, that which the most perfectly conforms, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ. Now, Mary being the most conformed of all creatures to Jesus Christ, it follows that, of all devotions, that which most consecrates and conforms the soul to Our Lord is devotion to His holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more it is consecrated to Jesus." — St. Louis De Montfort, p. 65 AN EXCERPT FROM True Devotion to Mary
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by Fr. Don Miller, OFM
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions Saint of the Day for September 22 (1600 – September 29 or 30, 1637)
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions' Story
Lorenzo was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter.
His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that "he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him."
At that time, three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet, and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan.
They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, "I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there." In Japan, they were soon found out, arrested, and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution.
They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears.
The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions.
In Lorenzo's moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, "I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life." The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators.
The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded.
In 1987, Pope John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others, Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa, and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.
We ordinary Christians of today—how would we stand up in the circumstances these martyrs faced? We sympathize with the two who temporarily denied the faith. We understand Lorenzo's terrible moment of temptation. But we see also the courage—unexplainable in human terms—which surged from their store of faith. Martyrdom, like ordinary life, is a miracle of grace.
I remind myself that, as I sit here now, God is gazing on me with love and holding me in being. I pause for a moment and think of this.
Everything has the potential to draw forth from me a fuller love and life. Yet my desires are often fixed, caught, on illusions of fulfillment. I ask that God, through my freedom may orchestrate my desires in a vibrant loving melody rich in harmony.
Knowing that God loves me unconditionally, I look honestly over the last day, its events and my feelings. Do I have something to be grateful for? Then I give thanks. Is there something I am sorry for? Then I ask forgiveness.
Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun? One generation passes and another comes, but the world forever stays. The sun rises and the sun goes down; then it presses on to the place where it rises. Blowing now toward the south, then toward the north, the wind turns again and again, resuming its rounds. All rivers go to the sea, yet never does the sea become full. To the place where they go, the rivers keep on going. All speech is labored; there is nothing one can say. The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor is the ear satisfied with hearing.
What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun. Even the thing of which we say, "See, this is new!" has already existed in the ages that preceded us. There is no remembrance of the men of old; nor of those to come will there be any remembrance among those who come after them.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 and 17bc R. (1) In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge. You turn man back to dust, saying, "Return, O children of men." For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday, now that it is past, or as a watch of the night.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge. You make an end of them in their sleep; the next morning they are like the changing grass, Which at dawn springs up anew, but by evening wilts and fades.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants!
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge. Fill us at daybreak with your kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days. Prosper the work of our hands for us! Prosper the work of our hands!
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Alleluia Jn 14:6 R. Alleluia, alleluia. I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father except through me. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 9:7-9
Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, "John has been raised from the dead"; others were saying, "Elijah has appeared"; still others, "One of the ancient prophets has arisen." But Herod said, "John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?" And he kept trying to see him.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ It would be a good exercise to get a clear notion of the person and the role of the Herod family and to reflect on the relationship of the Romans and the Jewish leaders.
▪ How do you react to Herod's 'perplexity'? Let it stimulate you to ask the fundamental question, 'Who is Jesus for me?'
How has God's Word moved me? Has it left me cold? Has it consoled me or moved me to act in a new way? I imagine Jesus standing or sitting beside me, I turn and share my feelings with him.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Sixty years ago, the song "Que Sera, Sera" burst onto the scene: "Whatever will be, will be." It's the same note that the writer of Ecclesiastes originally sounded centuries ago as he contemplated the same old sameness of human existence.
Don't you sometimes feel that way too? Nothing new happens; it's the same old routine. We see new technologies and new discoveries all around us, but nothing changes. We may have the latest smartphone or the newest television, but it doesn't make a dent in who we are or how we relate to other people.
What the writer of Ecclesiastes couldn't yet see, and we sometimes fail to see, is that there really is something new "under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). All because of Jesus!
Because of his resurrection, we can start each day in hope. Matthew was collecting taxes, and Nathanael was lying under a tree when Jesus called them and changed their lives forever. As he did for them, so he does for you. He is calling you out of the dullness of a life that ends with death and inviting you into a new life with far wider horizons, a life that offers you greater and greater transformation into his image.
The resurrection changes everything. It's not just an article of our faith; it is a promise that can become the foundation of our hope and joy. It's also something we can begin to experience here and now as we ask the Holy Spirit to give us a taste of Jesus' love.
The author of Ecclesiastes looked out on a bleak landscape and saw nothing worth getting excited about. All he saw was a meaningless endless cycle of life and death, leading to nothing. That doesn't have to be your vision! Today may look like every other Thursday of your life, but in God's eyes, it is brimming with potential. Jesus has new things he wants to show you. He has new areas of your life in which you can experience his love and compassion, wisdom and joy.
Every day brings new opportunities—because every day brings new challenges. Every day, there absolutely is something new under the sun!
"Jesus, thank you for the resurrection. Help me find joy in knowing that I belong to you forever."
At any given point in the world we live in, the sun illuminates the earth, over 50% of the earth, about 50.23% or so. The earth, I'm speaking of the world in spirituality. If the Son of God illuminates the world in these terms, it means He has the final say. From today's first Holy Scripture "What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun?" What is to gain from all the hard work? Well, let's continue reading to find out!
We prayed today " In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart." This is going to be the key, praying for wisdom of heart...of love, of God. Our worldly wisdom does not do justice to God's wisdom, because ours is weak and tainted. But take heart, more light hits, and is constantly upon the world.
In the Holy Gospel we read today and heard evil Herod saying ""John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?" And he kept trying to see him." Today, the Herods exist, just like darkness exists. There is still that dark spirit that tries to silence the message of saint John the baptist, which says to repent, and prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. And the second coming of the Lord is true. He will come again. Such has been proclaimed, and it will be a terrible day...for darkness. And if darkness has got a hold of you, then it will be a terrible day for you. Herod thought he was able to silence the truth, and the truth will NEVER be silenced. This should shine light of hope in whatever you are struggling with. One of the new songs I wrote is about Saint John the Baptist. It is a spanish "corrido" a story song, and speaks of the voice in the desert, the lion roaring in the desert that was put in a cage and beheaded, but still, one can hear the voice at night in the desert. This voice is the Word of the Lord. If we travel in the desert, feel alone, feel deserted, feel dry, feel abandoned, feel disconnected, then take heart, because the Lord was there, and is there still, and so was Saint John The Baptist, put in a cage and slaughtered. How does that encourage one?
The answer comes in a revelation of God's divine love. In the Holy Sacraments, we are given 7 unique ways to experience God's love, through healing, through initiating, through a permanent relationship with Him and in Him. In Holy Baptism, we are "plunged" into the death and resurrection of the Lord. In Holy Confession, we are plunging ourselves into His arms of Mercy, the primary Greek word for "confess" is homologeo which basically means "to say the same thing" and then "agree, admit, acknowledge." Over and over we pray "Lord have mercy" in Mass, and over and over we are put into his sunlight after darkness. In Holy Communion, the Holy Eucharist, we are plunged into His death. And this is for those who desire to share in Him, the body and blood, soul and divinity He desires to share with us, "Do this in rememberance of Me", that is "Keep me alive in you". That is the voice that will never die, and this is the voice that perplexes the Herods of today. Who is to say Herod never converted on his death bed? And who is to say your faithfulness will not die? This then, this gratitude, this thanksgiving, which means confession, which means baptism, which means Eucharist, all Holy Sacraments like Matrimony between man and woman, are unifying and edifying. Yesterday evening I went to Mass, and when the Eucharist entered my mouth...I tasted Heaven