Good physical workouts should strengthen the heart. Spiritual workouts should do that too. The Bible talks about "the heart" over a thousand times! But Scripture isn't talking about the physical organ that pumps blood in our chest. It is referring to our hidden center, the dwelling place where we live. One great way to strengthen our hearts is the prayer of thanksgiving and praise.
-from A 40-Day Spiritual Workout for Catholics
† "I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but rather, I believe in order that I may understand." — St. Anselm of Canterbury
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞ "So when we pray, we must stand in His presence, on His level. We must see His suffering in the same way that we see His greatness, and as we picture His compassion. But we must also remember that that suffering, that greatness and that compassion will one day judge us. We shall be weighed in the balance by them; and if we are found wanting in any way, we shall hear the words: 'Depart from me. . .' 'Go elsewhere; go to those who refused to be my friends.'" — Dom Augustin Guillerand, p. 53 AN EXCERPT FROM The Prayer of the Presence of God
Saint Anthony of Egypt (Saint Anthony the Abbot) (251 – 356) Saint Anthony of Egypt's Story
The life of Anthony will remind many people of St. Francis of Assisi. At 20, Anthony was so moved by the Gospel message, "Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor" (Mark 10:21b), that he actually did just that with his large inheritance. He is different from Francis in that most of Anthony's life was spent in solitude. He saw the world completely covered with snares, and gave the Church and the world the witness of solitary asceticism, great personal mortification and prayer. But no saint is antisocial, and Anthony drew many people to himself for spiritual healing and guidance.
At 54, he responded to many requests and founded a sort of monastery of scattered cells. Again like Francis, he had great fear of "stately buildings and well-laden tables."
At 60, he hoped to be a martyr in the renewed Roman persecution of 311, fearlessly exposing himself to danger while giving moral and material support to those in prison. At 88, he was fighting the Arian heresy, that massive trauma from which it took the Church centuries to recover. "The mule kicking over the altar" denied the divinity of Christ.
Anthony is associated in art with a T-shaped cross, a pig and a book. The pig and the cross are symbols of his valiant warfare with the devil—the cross his constant means of power over evil spirits, the pig a symbol of the devil himself. The book recalls his preference for "the book of nature" over the printed word. Anthony died in solitude at age 105. Reflection
In an age that smiles at the notion of devils and angels, a person known for having power over evil spirits must at least make us pause. And in a day when people speak of life as a "rat race," one who devotes a whole life to solitude and prayer points to an essential of the Christian life in all ages. Anthony's hermit life reminds us of the absoluteness of our break with sin and the totality of our commitment to Christ. Even in God's good world, there is another world whose false values constantly tempt us.
Lord, help me to be fully alive to your holy presence. Enfold me in your love. Let my heart become one with yours.
I ask for the grace to believe in what I could be and do if I only allowed God, my loving Creator, to continue to create me, guide me and shape me.
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.
Brothers and sisters: God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones. We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises.
When God made the promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, and said, I will indeed bless you and multiply you. And so, after patient waiting, Abraham obtained the promise. Now, men swear by someone greater than themselves; for them an oath serves as a guarantee and puts an end to all argument. So when God wanted to give the heirs of his promise an even clearer demonstration of the immutability of his purpose, he intervened with an oath, so that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil, where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 111:1-2, 4-5, 9 and 10c R. (5) The Lord will remember his covenant for ever. or: R. Alleluia. I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart in the company and assembly of the just. Great are the works of the LORD, exquisite in all their delights. R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever. or: R. Alleluia. He has won renown for his wondrous deeds; gracious and merciful is the LORD. He has given food to those who fear him; he will forever be mindful of his covenant. R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever. or: R. Alleluia. He has sent deliverance to his people; he has ratified his covenant forever; holy and awesome is his name. His praise endures forever. R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Eph 1:17-18 R. Alleluia, alleluia. May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 2:23-28
As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?" He said to them, "Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?" Then he said to them, "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ In this short extract from Mark's Gospel, Jesus is portrayed as one who sees life as a celebration, or as to be enjoyed.
▪ In your prayer with this Gospel story, be with its portrait of Jesus as a more easeful and joyful person than we have often portrayed him. After contemplating this portrait of Jesus, tell him how you feel about him being this way, the ways you relish and resist it.
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.
. . . an anchor of the soul, sure and firm. (Hebrews 6:19)
The Letter to the Hebrews was addressed to Christians wavering in their faith. Persecution, including imprisonment and loss of property, was tempting some to give up their faith in Jesus and embrace the more customary, and therefore safer, traditions of Judaism. And so the author reminds them that they are anchored, surely and firmly, to the hope and promises found in Christ. He now is their "high priest" before God, the One who intercedes for them every day (Hebrews 6:20). Hold on to Jesus, the author urges. He is steadfast, and he will keep you safe in any storm.
Think about what an anchor does. It stops a boat's progress. The boat may still move a bit with the current, but the weighty anchor, dug into the bottom of the sea, will hold it fast. This is who Jesus is for you! He is your anchor who holds you fast to the mercy and presence of God. He is your source of stability, because his promises are sure, and his faithfulness is absolute. He can also help you remain faithful, as he reminds you of everything that he has said.
When a boat drifts far enough, the anchor is there to tug it back. Some days, you might feel that you have drifted away. Be assured, the anchor can hold you! You may feel its tug in a twinge of conscience, a hesitation to say or do something, a conviction that certain thoughts in your head are not godly, or even an inability to continue in the direction you were headed. This tug assures you that Jesus has not abandoned you. It assures you that you are still rooted and grounded in Christ.
Hebrews tells us that this anchor "reaches into the interior," right into the presence of God (Hebrews 6:19). That is where you are anchored—in heaven! So go ahead, and approach your heavenly Father today. Ask him for help, direction, and comfort, and be assured that he will hear you. Day after day, challenge after challenge, Jesus is with you, interceding for you and making your faith and hope and trust in him more firm.
"Thank you, Father, for the hope and confidence that your promises give me. Thank you for anchoring me to you!"
The Lord says "God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones." Do not sit there and think that your sin is greater than His mercy, or anybody's sin for that matter. His love is unexplainable because He is unexplainable. Who is He? How did He come into existence? Because, this God of ours loved us so much, He became one of us, and died for us, and did not merely go to death, but into eternity, so that we would follow. And this message is not for the greatest...but for the least.
We pray today "I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart in the company and assembly of the just." And also "He has given food to those who fear him; he will forever be mindful of his covenant. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever". For all those times we "forget" our promise, God doesn't. For all those times we "forget" to forgive and love....He doesn't. For all those times we forget to look up to Him, He lifts with one finger the chin of His child..."I Love You". Don't ever forget that. This propels a soul to fly, that is to not feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. I told a brother in Christ last night "what if you lost the love of your life?" So what? So long as we never lose GOD The LOVE of our LIFE, our number one Love.
Bishop Barren said at the beginning of his daily reflection today "Friends, in today's Gospel Jesus calls us to recognize him as Lord. Acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus means that your life has to change. For many this is liberating good news. But for others, it is a tremendous threat. If Jesus is Lord, my ego can't be Lord. My religion can't be Lord. My country, my convictions, and my culture cannot be Lord."
Our Lord is found today on the Sabbath, in the wheat fields, with His disciples picking wheat, I imagine wheat grains anyhow. To prepare a meal, to be fed, and the Lord is the one leading. They are questioned why they are breaking the rules of the Sabbath. He says at one point about King David and "How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?". Jesus is breaking open Heaven. He does it by defeating death, but already death was defeated as He spoke. He is breaking bread, and this bread would be forever His body, blood, soul, and Divinity. The Pharisees may have not understood what being fed meant, they weren't hungry...they were satiated, rich in themselves...full...of themselves. So we have the Lord feeding the hungry, the meek, the ones sacrificing, the ones putting Him above all. We heard the Word today "gracious and merciful is the LORD. He has given food to those who fear him". I don't know about you, but I'm hungry, at least, I want to be. I want His food, I will drive today nearly 40 miles one way to receive Him, in daily Holy Mass. But the whole of the journey will be for not, if I really don't want Him. If I really don't want Him to rule my life, to lead my life, and to be the love of my life. And I'm going with my wife on her birthday, and this means, the bride is going to meet her groom, we as the Holy Church meet Jesus on the Altar. There, the wheat, offered is meeting our offering of ourselves, God is transforming and leading into eternity. And I want you to think about eternity right now, because that is where we are heading...and in our purity and holiness given by God, we will meet Him in that Heavenly Banquet and that is what life will be all about...JESUS