God, you are my strength and my song. You are the reason for my joy. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, and drive away the forces of discouragement and despair. Jesus, I trust in you! St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!
-from Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta
"Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading." — St. Isidore of Seville
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞
"This God of all goodness has made those things easy which are common and necessary in the order of nature, such as breathing, eating, and sleeping. No less necessary in the supernatural order are love and fidelity, therefore it must needs be that the difficulty of acquiring them is by no means so great as is generally represented. Review your life. Is it not composed of innumerable actions of very little importance? Well, God is quite satisfied with these. They are the share that the soul must take in the work of its perfection." — Jean-Pierre de Caussade, p.7 AN EXCERPT FROM
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Saint Katharine Drexel
(November 26, 1858 -March 3, 1955 )
If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that.
Born in Philadelphia in 1858, she had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, Katharine also had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn.
Katharine had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson's A Century of Dishonor. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O'Connor. The pope replied, "Why don't you become a missionary?" His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities.
Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions.
Katharine Drexel could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O'Connor, she wrote in 1889, "The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored." Newspaper headlines screamed "Gives Up Seven Million!"
After three and a half years of training, Mother Drexel and her first band of nuns–Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored–opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942, she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states.
Two saints met when Mother Drexel was advised by Mother Cabrini about the "politics" of getting her order's Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans.
At 77, Mother Drexel suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000.
Saints have always said the same thing: Pray, be humble, accept the cross, love and forgive. But it is good to hear these things in the American idiom from one who, for instance, had her ears pierced as a teenager, who resolved to have "no cake, no preserves," who wore a watch, was interviewed by the press, traveled by train, and could concern herself with the proper size of pipe for a new mission. These are obvious reminders that holiness can be lived in today's culture as well as in that of Jerusalem or Rome.
Thus says the Lord GOD: Cry out full-throated and unsparingly, lift up your voice like a trumpet blast; Tell my people their wickedness, and the house of Jacob their sins. They seek me day after day, and desire to know my ways, Like a nation that has done what is just and not abandoned the law of their God; They ask me to declare what is due them, pleased to gain access to God. "Why do we fast, and you do not see it? afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?"
Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers. Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw. Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high! Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
Responsorial Psalm Ps 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 18-19 R. (19b) A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always: "Against you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight." R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. For you are not pleased with sacrifices; should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it. My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
Alleluia} see am 5:14 Seek good and not evil so that you may live, and the Lord will be with you.
Gospel mt 9:14-15
The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?" Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast."
Saint Katharine Drexel, Virgin (Optional Memorial)
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish . . . (Isaiah 58:6)
Fat-burning diets, raw food diets, low carb diets. Name the problem, and there's a specialized diet for it. Sometimes the diets offer conflicting advice, making it hard to decide which one is best. But despite their differences, they all have one goal in common: to make you a slimmer, healthier version of yourself.
The people of Israel had a goal for their "dieting" as well: they wanted God to hear and answer their prayers. But fasting is not like dieting, where we simply reduce our food intake to get the results we are looking for. Fasting is an invitation to strip off distractions and make more room for God.
It may not sound appealing at first, but fasting is one of the greatest blessings God gives to us during Lent. Our distractions are too numerous to count. When we eliminate one or more of them—snacks or TV time or gossip—we open up time and space for God. We move beyond the thing we are giving up and embrace the gift that God has for us. Perhaps it's a word of encouragement from Scripture or an insight about someone we love or a softer heart toward a difficult neighbor. Fasting can open the door to these gifts simply because we are more able to recognize them in our lives.
There's another blessing to fasting, one that we don't often think about. That same time and space that we give to God is also a sacred gift that we give to ourselves. When we set aside this time and space, we are asking the Lord to be more present to us. We are asking him to give us a deeper taste of his love and a deeper sense of his comfort and healing.
So pray about what types of things might be good for you to fast from. Remember, this is a season of grace, and God is more than willing to shower his blessings on you as you seek him.
"Father, through my fasting and prayer this Lent, help me to glimpse the glory you have promised."
Psalm 51:3-6, 18-19 Matthew 9:14-15
The prophet proclaims the Word of God: "This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly...Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own." What good is it to fast without the point of the fast? The point is to open up: open your heart, open your wallet, open your calendar, open your desire for God, open up your daily routine, open up your mind, if you have garments to tear, tear them up now, show you are broken...and ready, for it is better to lose this life and save it by His grace, than to try to save ourselves and lose life eternal.
We pray "A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me." Had you a pile of ashes, would you pour them over your head and be one with what they are? They are dead leaves, one in the death to self of yesterday, and today, it is the offering to God our Lord.
Our Lord speaks: "The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast." The Pharisees were wondering why in the world He wasn't fasting, why wasn't He like them, why wasn't He doing what they do? He is the very reason for fasting! How can you fast when He is around? It'd be like having thanksgiving, getting together, and having no reason to gather. Jesus is the reason for thanksgiving, and thanksgiving means Eucharist. Last night at our family prayer, everyone prayed, even our newly turned 3 year old. When everyone was doing praying, I noticed it was mostly prayers of petition, asking for something, and not really prayers of thanksgiving, thanking God for something. I asked everyone to give thanks for something...the kids seemed drowsy, and stumped, and quiet. What is the reason for prayer then? Lent is to teach us this. Spend more time in prayer, but not in rattling off words, or fasting with a mean heart. Fast of your mean heart. Give that up. Give up being mean. Give up cussing and cursing. Give up what God wants you to give up. This is not the time to go on a diet, abstaining from meat today should simply remind us of staying away from the flesh, that what will let us look up to Heaven. Eat fish, and be reminded that we are to be fishers, of men (mankind), gaining souls for heaven. Give up yesterday, offer it up, this death we will experience is to be offered up, and how Holy could it have been? Ask today's saint, she gave up millions and gained more souls for the Lord that way. Would I give up hundreds? Thousands? What are we giving? Lent is the time to give to what is important. And I hope what is important is our Lord and Savior...Jesus Christ