Faith requires perseverance. It often grows in stages. Sometimes we fall. Sometimes we walk away. So often, we must crawl. Whether we consciously admit to it or not, our faith—our life in Christ—has sustained us throughout the ups and downs of our lives. It has sustained us in moments of new life and in death, at times of sickness, and at those times when we struggle to give meaning to painful situations.
—from the book Meeting God in the Upper Room: Three Moments to Change Your Life
✞ "It is the duty of every man to uphold the dignity of every woman." — Pope St. John Paul II
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "We will be the happiest people in the world if we belong to God, if we place ourselves at his disposal, if we let him use us as he pleases. To be this happy, we must belong to Jesus fully without reservation. He alone is worthy of our love and our total surrender. Once we really belong to him then he is free to use us, to do with us whatever he pleases." — Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, p. 25 AN EXCERPT FROM Thirsting for God
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23-24
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Saint Joseph of Arimathea's and Nicodemus
The actions of these two influential Jewish leaders give insight into the charismatic power of Jesus and his teachings—and the risks that could be involved in following him.
Joseph was a respected, wealthy civic leader who had become a disciple of Jesus. Following the death of Jesus, Joseph obtained Jesus' body from Pilate, wrapped it in fine linen and buried it. For these reasons, Joseph is considered the patron saint of funeral directors and pallbearers. More important is the courage Joseph showed in asking Pilate for Jesus' body. Jesus was a condemned criminal who had been publicly executed. According to some legends, Joseph was punished and imprisoned for such a bold act.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and, like Joseph, an important first-century Jew. We know from John's Gospel that Nicodemus went to Jesus at night—secretly—to better understand his teachings about the kingdom. Later, he spoke up for Jesus at the time of his arrest and assisted in Jesus' burial. We know little else about Nicodemus.
Celebrating these two contemporaries of Jesus who played significant roles in Jesus' life, reminds us of the humanity of Jesus and how he related to his fellow men and women. His gentleness to these two and his acceptance of their help remind us that he treats us in the same gentle way.
Saint Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are the Patron Saints of:
Funeral Directors Pallbearers
Thursday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 1 Thes 3:7-13
We have been reassured about you, brothers and sisters, in our every distress and affliction, through your faith. For we now live, if you stand firm in the Lord.
What thanksgiving, then, can we render to God for you, for all the joy we feel on your account before our God? Night and day we pray beyond measure to see you in person and to remedy the deficiencies of your faith. Now may God himself, our Father, and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 90:3-5a, 12-13, 14 and 17 R. (14) Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy! 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. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy! 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. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy! Fill us at daybreak with your kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days. And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours; prosper the work of our hands for us! Prosper the work of our hands! R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
Alleluia Mt 24:42a, 44 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Stay awake! For you do not know when the Son of Man will come. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 24:42-51
Jesus said to his disciples: "Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
"Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is long delayed,' and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant's master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."
Meditation: 1 Thessalonians 3:7-13
We now live, if you stand firm in the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 3:8)
In today's first reading, Paul thanks his followers in Thessalonica for being faithful. He has been through a lot since he left them: he has been falsely accused, beaten, and thrown in jail. As he yearns to be released and return to his followers, he is comforted by their faith and their prayers for him. Even though his life sparked their faith in Christ, their faith in turn has helped sustain him.
In our daily lives, our faith may seem internal, personal, and hidden, so we don't readily see the effect that we have on the world around us. We may not directly see it or get letters from the people who rejoice in our faithfulness as Paul did, but our faith truly does have an impact on other people. Consider your presence in church during Mass. You may feel like one in a crowd, but you are lifting up your fellow churchgoers.
Pope Benedict XVI once said, "The renewal of the Church is also achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believers." This "witness" offered by our lives that Pope Benedict refers to doesn't necessarily mean that we have to openly evangelize people. You are a witness just by being yourself. Consider this: with the Holy Spirit guiding you and Christ in you, you probably already radiate the truth just by the way you are living right now. Your walk, your light, and your faith encourage and sustain the people who are around you just as the Thessalonians encouraged Paul.
Today, spend some time reflecting on the effect of your witness of faith on the world around you. Think about ways that your faith already affects those around you. Ask God to open your eyes so that you can see how your witness goes out. Most of all, recognize that you do indeed play a vital role in the renewal of the Church. Rejoice in this, and continue to renew the Church simply by being who you are in Christ and where Christ has put you.
"Lord, thank you for this faith that you have given me. Help me continue to live in a way that renews your Church."
Psalm 90:3-5, 12-14, 17 Matthew 24:42-51
Saint Paul says at the end of today's 1st Holy Scripture: "Now may God himself, our Father, and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.....so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones." Keep in mind, that when we are reading these Holy Scriptures, this is what is going through my mind....these words were written with blood. Saint Paul would die for these words written, and soon, we will hear from our Lord Jesus, whose words are written with blood, for He did not write anything with a pen.
First we pray " Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy! Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart." The end days are being talked about in Holy Scripture, and hopefully what is ending soon, is evil in our soul, so we can be blameless when presented to the Lord.
In comes the Lord, our Lord, King, and master, "Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time?" You are a servant, no?
Jesus is our Master, no? You are then, put in charge of HIS household, no? You are then, called to distribute them their food, no? Food for children, scraps for dogs, what feeds and ails and nourishes. Right now, there are thousands of people helping the flood victims, they are distributing food and water and many other things, but really, what is happening, is they are distributing love. And you? You may have helped, or you may have sat there thinking about helping. You say you'll pray, but not lift a finger "ahh, they'll be alright". What kind of servant is that? One that chooses to relax, to hold off, to hold back. That's not the kind of love Jesus is teaching us, the kind that holds back. No, His is a relentless love, in mercy, in charity, unceasing, so why should I cease. For sure, we will cease to exist in this world, and God calls this to mind in the Holy Scriptures "the servant's master will come on an unexpected day". Most in the world will not know when they will die. Some have the fortunate day at hand. Like a prisoner on death row, or a saint having devoted themselves, Jesus reveals to them their day. Eduardo Bonnin went to visit a prisoner on death row and told him he was fortunate, to know the day of his death. After much conversation, the man repented of his sins, and converted, and behold the cross and atoned for his sins with what he could, the time he had. How lucky the man that could render accounts. But for us? We do not know. The prisoner, the moment before he was electrocuted, yelled for Eduardo to come to him, and when he approached, the man asked for the crucifix Eduardo wore, and he died holding it and kissing it. He loved Jesus and wanted to be with Jesus. But you? Do you love Jesus? Do you love the Master?
We live in a world of thousands upon thousands of Christian denominations. Demonics have cause denominations and deviations. Splits and spinters among a Christ belief. It is to the point that there seems to be a general consensus among denominations, saying that "everybody is going to heaven no matter what" but this is not true and it is not biblical. When our Lady appeared especially during the World Wars, she warns the world that millions and millions of souls are falling like snowflakes into hell because of the sin of impurity. Impure, the opposite of blameless.
Shame on me for being impure. Shame on you for being impure. Stop it. Stop the nonsense. It does not makes sense to shame the Lord. It does not make sense to be senseless. And then we wonder why there are senseless acts of violence. It is to open our eyes to the reality God wants us to see.
We live in a world that could be gone in a flash. In an accident, in a catastrophe or in a million other ways. But that life is taken, not given. It is greater then...to give. Life. Jesus shows us the way and asks us to open our hearts, our lives, to Him. Do not be afraid to step out on the water of baptism and walk toward Him and then with HIM
Do you have two and a half minutes in your day that you can give to God? This is the beauty of the rosary.
If I need a quick pause in my busy life—just a two-and-a-half-minute break—I can pull out my beads and pray a decade in order to regroup with the Lord and be nourished spiritually. That's all a decade takes: one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, and one Glory Be. I can do that easily, pausing for a moment in between emails, in the car, in my office, in between meetings, in between errands. I don't even have to stop some things I'm doing: I can pray a decade while cooking dinner, sweeping the floor, holding a baby, or walking to my next appointment.
—from the book Praying the Rosary Like Bever Before: Encounter the Wonder of Heaven and Earth
✞"Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul." — St. Teresa of Avila
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "I realize as never before that the Lord is gentle and merciful; He did not send me this heavy cross until I could bear it. If He had sent it before, I am certain that it would have discouraged me . . . I desire nothing at all now except to love until I die of love. I am free, I am not afraid of anything, not even of what I used to dread most of all . . . a long illness which would make me a burden to the community. I am perfectly content to go on suffering in body and soul for years, if that would please God. I am not in the least afraid of living for a long time; I am ready to go on fighting." — St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 122 AN EXCERPT FROM The Story of a Soul
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death." 1 Corinthians 15:21-26
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Saint Jeanne Jugan
(October 25, 1792 – August 29, 1879)
Born in northern France during the French Revolution—a time when congregations of women and men religious were being suppressed by the national government, Jeanne would eventually be highly praised in the French academy for her community's compassionate care of elderly poor people.
When Jeanne was three and a half years old, her father, a fisherman, was lost at sea. Her widowed mother was hard pressed to raise her eight children alone; four died young. At the age of 15 or 16, Jeanne became a kitchen maid for a family that not only cared for its own members, but also served poor, elderly people nearby. Ten years later, Jeanne became a nurse at the hospital in Le Rosais. Soon thereafter, she joined a third order group founded by Saint John Eudes.
After six years she became a servant and friend of a woman she met through the third order. They prayed, visited the poor, and taught catechism to children. After her friend's death, Jeanne and two other women continued a similar life in the city of Saint-Sevran. In 1839, they brought in their first permanent guest. They began an association, received more members, and more guests. Mère Marie of the Cross, as Jeanne was now known, founded six more houses for the elderly by the end of 1849, all staffed by members of her association—the Little Sisters of the Poor. By 1853, the association numbered 500 and had houses as far away as England.
Abbé Le Pailleur, a chaplain, had prevented Jeanne's reelection as superior in 1843; nine years later, he had her assigned to duties within the congregation, but would not allow her to be recognized as its founder. In 1890, the Holy See removed him from office.
By the time Pope Leo XIII gave her final approval to the community's constitutions in 1879, there were 2,400 Little Sisters of the Poor. Jeanne died later that same year, on August 30. Her cause was introduced in Rome in 1970. She was beatified in 1982, and canonized in 2009.
Jeanne Jugan saw Christ in what Saint Teresa of Calcutta would describe as his "distressing disguises." With great confidence in God's providence and the intercession of Saint Joseph, she begged willingly for the many homes that she opened, relying on the good example of the Sisters and the generosity of benefactors who knew the good that the Sisters were doing. They now work in 30 countries. "With the eye of faith, we must see Jesus in our old people—for they are God's mouthpiece," Jeanne once said. No matter what the difficulties, she was always able to praise God and move ahead.
Wednesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 1 Thes 2:9-13
You recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery. Working night and day in order not to burden any of you, we proclaimed to you the Gospel of God. You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers. As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his Kingdom and glory.
And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that, in receiving the word of God from hearing us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you who believe.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 139:7-8, 9-10, 11-12ab R. (1) You have searched me and you know me, Lord. Where can I go from your spirit? From your presence where can I flee? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I sink to the nether world, you are present there. R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea, Even there your hand shall guide me, and your right hand hold me fast. R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light"– For you darkness itself is not dark, and night shines as the day. R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
Alleluia 1 Jn 2:5 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Whoever keeps the word of Christ, the love of God is truly perfected in him. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 23:27-32
Jesus said, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets' blood.' Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out!"
Meditation: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
We too give thanks to God unceasingly. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
There's no arguing that we all have good days and bad days. Sometimes we are filled with thanksgiving and joy, and other times, we find life a struggle. Some days we may feel as if we're on top of the world, and other days may find us struggling through a difficult situation. In these challenging times, when it is difficult to be thankful, it can be helpful to remember that other people are thankful for us.
In today's first reading, St. Paul expresses his gratitude for the Thessalonians' faithfulness to Christ amid pressure to abandon their faith. He knows they are struggling, but the fact that they haven't given up fills him with joy.
If St. Paul were talking to you today, he would probably be giving thanks for you as well. He would be telling you how proud he is of the way you are pursuing the Lord. He would remind you that the mere fact that you are meditating on God's word is a sign that you are holding fast to your faith. He might even encourage you to rejoice—even if just a little bit—in God's ability to keep you on the right path.
Paul is not the only one who is thankful for you, either. All of the believers who have gone before you are grateful that you are holding on to the gospel. The saints and martyrs are seeing the fruit of their sacrifice in your faith. They are delighted that you are still following Jesus.
As if that's not enough, there's even more! Your spouse and your family, the people around you at Mass, your pastor, and your fellow believers—they are all grateful for your perseverance. Maybe they don't always say it, but you are a support to them. Just seeing how you try to do your best is an encouragement.
Take today to think about the many people who are grateful for you. It is not prideful to consider how much you matter in the body of Christ. You are precious to the Lord and vital to his Church. You are indispensable to the believers around you. As you pursue the Lord step by step, your life is touching someone else's. So keep on keeping on!
"Lord, thank you for all the people who have gone before me and all those around me. Thank you for their support and their prayers."
Psalm 139:7-12 Matthew 23:27-32
The first Holy Scripture said "You are witnesses, and so is God...". Witnesses to what? What are you witnessing? What can you testify to? What life is your life witnessing? You can give spirit to things, why not to God? I am a living witness, a living testimony. If people see God at work in me, it is because I am witnessing. I am living proof that God exists. Witness then, goes beyond faith. It goes deep into the heart of the matter of reality. A heart transplant has occured when God is allowed to be the donor and I am the patient in great need....of His heart, His love, and His life...
We prayed today " You have searched me and you know me, Lord" and at night in Heaven it is as bright as the day, nowhere to hide, and everything is in the open, in the truth, in the sun of the Son, the light from light, God from God, consubstantial, all in one in the same. And this truth is what Jesus desires, this unity of us with Him, holiness with holiness, a child with its father and not separated, a common union which we call a Holy Communion.
In comes the Lord of life " You ... appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and every kind of filth." What good is it to look good if inside you are disgusting? Most ugliness is from the inside. A proud cynic, that models for the world is as good as a mannequin, to be put on display with nothing inside....dead. This is what angers Jesus, that you prefer to be dead inside...dead to Him. Oh sure, you've probably thought of a few bad leaders and pastors that say one thing and do another, won't even lift a finger to help others...right? Sad. Sad because you should not think of them right now, but look inside of yourself. Jesus is asking each one of us, not just someone else, He is asking each of us to be beautiful on the inside. And how? Get that heart transplant. But how can you if you still have your old heart? Donate it. Be a donor. And Jesus has millions of hearts, so keep giving life to others, breathe life, breathe love, and do not be afraid. What this means is reach out and touch somebody. Jesus spent His life reaching out and touching, and healing, and preaching and being a prophet and we are all baptized priest, prophet, and King, heirs and one with Him and in Him through the Holy Sacraments.
The Gospel is a message of New, Good New, and it's about Him and You, and You and me. If nothing else, get on your knees and pray, and pray with your whole heart. He deserves it.