Considered valid complements to the Church's liturgical worship, the sacraments carry the faithful to the threshold of the sacred and help to mediate the process of conversion of mind and heart that is central to the Catholic faith and its ongoing call to discipleship.
-from Prayer in the Catholic Tradition
† "Humility, obedience, meekness, and love are the virtues that shine through the Cross and the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. O my Jesus, help me imitate you!" – St. Anthony Mary Claret
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞
"Worship is a spiritual weapon. When we worship God, we enter into His presence in a powerful way. Because demons tremble at His presence, they are reluctant to follow us there. No doubt the Devil is busy tempting us and trying to distract us even when we attend Mass. But if we give ourselves wholly to participating in the Mass, he has little room to operate. In fact, true worship focuses our attention on God: praising Him for who He is and thanking Him for what He has done. When our minds and hearts are centered on God, the Enemy's provocations and enticements lose their power. Frequent Mass attendance, then, is an effective weapon of our warfare." — Paul Thigpen, p. 38 AN EXCERPT FROM Manual of Spiritual Warfare
Saint Charles of Sezze
(October 19, 1613 – January 6, 1670)
Saint Charles of Sezze's Story
Charles thought that God was calling him to be a missionary in India, but he never got there. God had something better for this 17th-century successor to Brother Juniper.
Born in Sezze, southeast of Rome, Charles was inspired by the lives of Salvator Horta and Paschal Baylon to become a Franciscan; he did that in 1635. Charles tells us in his autobiography, "Our Lord put in my heart a determination to become a lay brother with a great desire to be poor and to beg alms for his love."
Charles served as cook, porter, sacristan, gardener and beggar at various friaries in Italy. In some ways, he was "an accident waiting to happen." He once started a huge fire in the kitchen when the oil in which he was frying onions burst into flames.
One story shows how thoroughly Charles adopted the spirit of Saint Francis. The superior ordered Charles—then porter—to give food only to traveling friars who came to the door. Charles obeyed this direction; simultaneously the alms to the friars decreased. Charles convinced the superior the two facts were related. When the friars resumed giving goods to all who asked at the door, alms to the friars increased also.
At the direction of his confessor, Charles wrote his autobiography, The Grandeurs of the Mercies of God. He also wrote several other spiritual books. He made good use of his various spiritual directors throughout the years; they helped him discern which of Charles' ideas or ambitions were from God. Charles himself was sought out for spiritual advice. The dying Pope Clement IX called Charles to his bedside for a blessing.
Charles had a firm sense of God's providence. Father Severino Gori has said, "By word and example he recalled in all the need of pursuing only that which is eternal" (Leonard Perotti, St. Charles of Sezze: An Autobiography, page 215).
He died at San Francesco a Ripa in Rome and was buried there. Pope John XXIII canonized him in 1959. Reflection
The drama in the lives of the saints is mostly interior. Charles' life was spectacular only in his cooperation with God's grace. He was captivated by God's majesty and great mercy to all of us.
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.
Guide me always to do your holy will knowing that your strength will carry me through.
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 Second Week in Ordinary Time audio link
Reading 1 Heb 7:1-3, 15-17
Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, met Abraham as he returned from his defeat of the kings and blessed him. And Abraham apportioned to him a tenth of everything. His name first means righteous king, and he was also "king of Salem," that is, king of peace. Without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life, thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.
It is even more obvious if another priest is raised up after the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become so, not by a law expressed in a commandment concerning physical descent but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. For it is testified:
You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 110:1, 2, 3, 4 R. (4b) You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek. The LORD said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool." R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek. The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion: "Rule in the midst of your enemies." R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek. "Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor; before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you." R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek. The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent: "You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek." R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
Alleluia Mt 4:23 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and cured every disease among the people. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 3:1-6
Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, "Come up here before us." Then he said to the Pharisees, "Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ We see in this Gospel story how Jesus had to deal with a lot of opposition to his plans to create a more caring and just environment for people to live in.
▪ If you wish to encounter this aspect of Jesus' life, you might listen to him express his care for you in an area of your life in which you experience yourself in conflict with others. Dwell with his sensitivity and compassion for you, rather than any advice he might offer you. You might let him say to you, "I know exactly how you feel for I have found myself in exactly the same situation as you are in". .
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.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians. (Mark 3:6)
The Pharisees and Herodians may have been political enemies, but they had one thing in common: a strong dislike of Jesus. Their shared resentment was so strong, in fact, that it caused them to work together to plot against him—an unlikely collaboration, but that's what common causes can do.
If Jesus' enemies could come together for a common purpose, how much more should his friends try to overcome their differences and work together for his purposes?
You might say that Jesus' purpose is reconciliation. By his death and resurrection, he has reconciled us to God and brought us together as one family, the Church. This is why divisions among his people—Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant—strike him so deeply in the heart.
Today begins the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year's observance is especially important because it marks the five hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. At the same time, however, this anniversary is taking place in an "ecumenical age" of remarkable progress toward unity.
For instance, Catholics and Lutherans have been in dialogue for fifty years, and that dialogue has borne encouraging fruit. Together, we have come to a common agreement on justification, one of the biggest points of doctrinal dispute.
Clearly, we have much to celebrate! And that's exactly what Pope Francis and other Church leaders are asking us to do: approach this anniversary highlighting all that we have in common rather than the issues that still divide us. If we can work together in friendship despite our theological differences, we can bear witness to the love of Jesus and break down walls of division.
As this special week begins, make it a point to focus on Jesus' love for every Christian. Imagine yourself joining members of all denominations at the foot of his cross. Together, you are gazing at him in love and awe. Together, you are thanking and praising him for dying for you. And together, you are hearing the constant cry of his heart: "that they may all be one . . . that the world may believe" (John 17:21).
"Holy Spirit, open my heart to my brothers and sisters. Unite us so that together we can witness to your love."
The Word of the Lord said "His name first means righteous king, and he was also "king of Salem," that is, king of peace." So if you're doing the math here, His name means righteous king, king of peace, righteous King of Peace, Holy King of a peace in the world offered not how we want, but how He desires, as a priest forever, and the Lord Jesus is the New Testament's High Priest, for all the priests to follow in His holy steps.
We prayed today "The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent: "You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek". The Lord has sworn. A Sacrament is a swearing with your heart, and at the heart is the matter. Take a good look inside. Do you do "take backs"? Where, you give to the Lord and promise, and then...take it back? When will it be a sincere heart then? When will it be a true and giving love?
In comes the Lord of our lives, and He, the High Priest, is found where He should be...in the Holy Temple, where God belongs, but do not forget too, that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. There, it just so happens that a man with a withered hand is found, as if to be found wanting, that is to say...lacking, fullness, in the body. The Lord spots Him and also spots the eyes waiting to pounce on Him as wolves in sheep's clothing. He asks, not a trick question, but asks for mercy, for a conversion...more of a commandment: ""Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" Is it OK to give a cup of water to a man dying of thirst? Is it OK to give bread to a woman dying of hunger? Because, apparently, it was OK to untie your animal so they could go eat and drink, but a human? No, not if they didn't meet certain criteria.
Then, the question is, who has made the rules and who has closed the Kingdom of Heaven? People do. You make up so many things in your mind and forget to do the simple...like obey, and obey to be humble. Because the High Priest said something SUPER POWERFUL: ""Stretch out your hand." STRETCH YOUR HAND OUT. Give a helping hand, give mercy, help them to recover, help them from their wretchedness, stop ousting them, stop accusing like the devil, stop being an obstacle to Heaven, stop being so mean, stop clinching your fists and open them up to reveal a hand of God at work and alive in this world! He wasn't just talking to the sick man, He was talking to everyone in that Temple, and the words have now reached your eyes, and your mind....now...what about your heart, and your soul???