Jesus said to St. Paul: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" not "Why do you persecute the Christians?" This clarifies that we serve Christ in the poorest of the poor: "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me."
-from Thirsting for God: Daily Meditations
"I will attempt day by day to break my will into pieces. I want to do God's Holy Will, not my own."
— St. Gabriel Possenti
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞
"God sees you in secret. Know that he sees into your very depths, infinitely farther than you do yourself. Make a simple, lively act of faith in his presence. Christian soul, place yourself entirely under his gaze. He is very near. He is present, for he gives being and motion to all things. Yet you must believe more; you must believe with a lively faith that he is present to you by giving you all of your good thoughts from within, as holding in his hand the source from which they come, and not only the good thoughts, but also whatever good desires, good resolutions, and every good act of the will, from its very first beginning and birth to its final perfection. Believe, too, that he is in the souls of the just, and that he makes his dwelling there within, according to these words of the Lord: 'We will come to him and make our home with him' (John 14:23). He is there in a stable and permanent way: he makes his home there. Desire that he should be in you in this way. Offer yourself to him as his dwelling and temple. Now come out, and with the same faith that enables you to see him within you, look upon him in Heaven, where he manifests himself to his beloved. It is there that he awaits you. Run. Fly. Break your chains; break all the bonds that tie you down to flesh and blood. O God, when shall I see you? When will I have that pure heart that enables you to be seen, in yourself, outside of yourself, everywhere? O Light that enlightens the world! O Life that gives life to all the living! O Truth that feeds us all! O Good that satisfies us all! O Love that binds all together! I praise you, my heavenly Father, who sees me in secret."
— Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, p.4-5
An Excerpt From
Way of the Cross
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Saint of the Day for February 23
(c. 69 – c. 155)
Saint Polycarp's Story
Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, disciple of Saint John the Apostle and friend of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, was a revered Christian leader during the first half of the second century.
Saint Ignatius, on his way to Rome to be martyred, visited Polycarp at Smyrna, and later at Troas wrote him a personal letter. The Asia Minor Churches recognized Polycarp's leadership by choosing him as a representative to discuss with Pope Anicetus the date of the Easter celebration in Rome—a major controversy in the early Church.
Only one of the many letters written by Polycarp has been preserved, the one he wrote to the Church of Philippi in Macedonia.
At 86, Polycarp was led into the crowded Smyrna stadium to be burned alive. The flames did not harm him and he was finally killed by a dagger. The centurion ordered the saint's body burned. The "Acts" of Polycarp's martyrdom are the earliest preserved, fully reliable account of a Christian martyr's death. He died in 155.
Polycarp was recognized as a Christian leader by all Asia Minor Christians—a strong fortress of faith and loyalty to Jesus Christ. His own strength emerged from his trust in God, even when events contradicted this trust. Living among pagans and under a government opposed to the new religion, he led and fed his flock. Like the Good Shepherd, he laid down his life for his sheep and kept them from more persecution in Smyrna. He summarized his trust in God just before he died: "Father… I bless Thee, for having made me worthy of the day and the hour…" (Acts of Martyrdom, Chapter 14).
Say not: "I have sinned, yet what has befallen me?"
for the Most High bides his time.
Of forgiveness be not overconfident,
adding sin upon sin.
Say not: "Great is his mercy;
my many sins he will forgive."
For mercy and anger alike are with him;
upon the wicked alights his wrath.
Delay not your conversion to the LORD,
put it not off from day to day.
For suddenly his wrath flames forth;
at the time of vengeance you will be destroyed.
Rely not upon deceitful wealth,
for it will be no help on the day of wrath.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6 R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers. R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes. R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Alleluia 1 Thes 2:13 R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Receive the word of God, not as the word of men,
but as it truly is, the word of God. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 9:41-50
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.
"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
"Everyone will be salted with fire.
Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid,
with what will you restore its flavor?
Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another."
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: Mark 9:41-50
Saint Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr (Memorial)
Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor? (Mark 9:50)
Did you know that every day, God calls you "very good" (Genesis 1:31)? Even with your sins, weaknesses, and wounds, he delights in you. He never tires of holding out his dreams and goals for your life. So if you find that you have lost some of the "flavor," vigor, and energy that God has endowed you with, know that you can restore it. It's never too late!
But how can this happen? By grace.
Scripture tells us that Jesus came to live among us, "full of grace and truth," and that "from his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace" (John 1:14, 16). This means that, not only have you been saved by the grace of God, but his grace surrounds you constantly. Every time you breathe in, you can welcome it. And anything you've "lost," any enthusiasm that might have waned, can be restored with each breath.
This can be so hard to believe! How can I, sinner that I am, have such free and constant access to God's unfailing grace? But it's true. Jesus died in order to win this grace for you; how can he hold back now?
There's something else here too. If you "re-flavor" yourself by welcoming God's grace, you'll find yourself growing in peace with the people around you. Look at the stories from Mark's Gospel that come just before today's reading. A father whose faith is faltering receives the grace to believe (Mark 9:14-29). Glory-seeking disciples receive the grace to be humble (9:31-37). Those who sought to exclude people are urged to receive the grace to accept them (9:38-41). In each instance, life and peace were restored. God wants this for you as well! He wants you to have peace in yourself so that you can have peace with other people.
If there is an area of your life in which you feel you have lost some "saltiness," don't panic. Just sit quietly with the Lord. Praise him for his mercy. Thank him for his grace. And then just breathe—slowly, deeply, calmly. Let his Spirit fill you with his grace. Let his love, his word, and his promises soften your heart. Let him restore you.
"Thank you, Jesus, for all the grace you have ready for me today!"
Sirach 5:1-8 Psalm 1:1-4, 6
"Rely not on your strength" in following the desires of your heart" and "Delay not your conversion to the LORD, put it not off from day to day." The desires of the heart is where the Lord comes in.
But but first we pray: "Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, But delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law day and night." Delights in the light, the law of the LORD, and meditates on this light day and night.
In comes the Lord into our lives and oh what a glorious day when He reaches our soul ""Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor? Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another." I want salt. I want this salt God is talking about. He gives salt to us all, but what we do with it is what He talks about earlier, hands that destroy instead of reaching out to raise up God's children, feet that lead the wrong way and lead children the wrong way, teaching them to sin instead of teaching them to fear God, love God and His laws. Plucking your eye out, rather than sinning. Who wants to die before sinning ever again?
Lent is coming, and this dying will come into question. Will I pluck my eyes out, or will I pluck out what makes my eyes bring sin into my life? Will I rather throw away the TV or Computer than to hurt the Lord? Will I cut my hand off? Or will I keep pointing the finger and threaten others with my hands? Will I keep building my own kingdom...or will I give it all up to build His Kingdom up? Will I cut my foot off? Or will I keep walking my own ways, going my own way instead of following His? Jesus washes feet, He doesn't want you to cut it off, He wants you to follow His footsteps. But they lead to where most don't want...self sacrifice. This world teaches you never to suffer, never to give up, never to fast, never to give alms, never to give a cup of water, that refreshment to a soul that is withering away right before your eyes. And so, we put it off, and say "maybe tomorrow". A 7th grade teacher looked sternly at us and would always say "But tomorrow never comes". It is a dream in the sky. It is the day of conversion today and every day, just as we heard at the beginning.
Good intentions mean little without action. A Christian in action fulfills the intention of God's will: It is His outpouring of love and mercy. I remember last year, a cursillo brother that works in hospitals offered to come to our workplace with their hospital van to check the hearts of employees, with sonograms and testing and so forth. I was enticed, and I agreed we'd do it, my intentions were all there. Fast forward almost a year later, and a beloved worker/friend dies of a massive heart attack last week in the early hours of the morning at his home, devastating his young wife and children as well as all of us at work. Shocked and in disbelief, we can't fathom the thought, "how could this happen?". I want to blame myself, I could've done something, I should've done something, and I didn't. And this is how we live our spiritual lives. We have the best of intentions, and we do not move on them. Then, someone dies on your watch, they lose their faith or fall into mortal sin. You never said nothing, you never wanted to upset them. You never even sacrificed yourself for them. You decided not to follow the footsteps of Christ. You decided to hand them the noose to commit spiritual suicide. Your feet and your hands now give witness with your blind eyes. Spiritually blind. Am I speaking about myself? Yes, but we all go through this. Make this year special. Make your loved ones truly feel loved by bringing true Love into their lives....GOD Is it too much to ask?