My hope is not that things will go as I planned, but that the Lord will make himself known, in the faces of my loved ones, in the unexpected joys of family life that pop up right in the middle of our messy chaos, in the ways he provides for me and shows me his tender care in the most detailed ways.
-from Who Does He Say You Are?
"This is the great work of man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath." — St. Anthony of the Desert
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞
"My daughter, love has brought Me here, and love keeps Me here. My daughter, if you knew what great merit and reward is earned by one act of pure love for Me, you would die of joy. I am saying this that you may constantly unite yourself with Me through love, for this is the goal of the life of your soul. This act is an act of the will. Know that a pure soul is humble. When you lower and empty yourself before My majesty, I then pursue you with My graces and make use of My omnipotence to exalt you." — St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, p.244 AN EXCERPT FROM The Diary of St. Faustina
VERSE OF THE DAY "Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. . . . Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone." Colossians 4:2-6
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Saint Maximilian's Story
We have an early, precious, almost unembellished account of the martyrdom of Saint Maximilian in modern-day Algeria.
Brought before the proconsul Dion, Maximilian refused enlistment in the Roman army saying, "I cannot serve, I cannot do evil. I am a Christian."
Dion replied: "You must serve or die."
Maximilian: "I will never serve. You can cut off my head, but I will not be a soldier of this world, for I am a soldier of Christ. My army is the army of God, and I cannot fight for this world. I tell you I am a Christian."
Dion: "There are Christian soldiers serving our rulers Diocletian and Maximian, Constantius and Galerius."
Maximilian: "That is their business. I also am a Christian, and I cannot serve."
Dion: "But what harm do soldiers do?"
Maximilian: "You know well enough."
Dion: "If you will not do your service I shall condemn you to death for contempt of the army."
Maximilian: "I shall not die. If I go from this earth, my soul will live with Christ my Lord."
Maximilian was 21 years old when he gladly offered his life to God. His father went home from the execution site joyful, thanking God that he had been able to offer heaven such a gift.
In this celebration we find one inspirational son and one incredible father. Both men were filled with strong faith and hope. Let's ask them to help us in our struggle to remain faithful.
Hear the word of the LORD, princes of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah!
Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow.
Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool. If you are willing, and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land; But if you refuse and resist, the sword shall consume you: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken!
Responsorial Psalm Ps 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23 R. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God. "Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you, for your burnt offerings are before me always. I take from your house no bullock, no goats out of your fold." R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God. "Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth, Though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?" R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God. "When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it? Or do you think that I am like yourself? I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes. He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me; and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God." R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
Verse Before the Gospel Ez 18:31 Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.
Gospel Mt 23:1-12
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.' As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.' You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: Matthew 23:1-12 2nd Week of Lent
Whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
The scribes and Pharisees play a major role in the Gospels, don't they? They are the "bad guys" that every good story needs. Yet the truth is that these scholars and religious leaders were ordinary people, much like the rest of us. They had their own strengths and weaknesses, just like us. Many were probably good family men and very dedicated to their work. And, like all of us, they faced temptations. The problem was that some of them gave in to these temptations—especially the sin of pride.
Who among us hasn't been tempted to be prideful—to want the place of honor, to exalt ourselves, to have our importance be noticed and felt by others? The good news is that we can learn to resist these temptations. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, we can strengthen our resolve to stay strong. And when we fall prey, we can repent and keep moving forward.
It may be hard to believe, but God has made it possible for us to live a humble life just as Jesus did two thousand years ago.
How? Part of the equation rests on our observations. We have to watch the places, people, and times that tend to get us into a prideful mind-set. This will help us know when we need to be on guard.
Another part of the equation rests on our time with God. He can do for us what we could never do for ourselves. Just a few minutes a day in prayer can go a long way in changing our hearts and minds.
The final part of the equation rests on the Holy Spirit. Day after day, hour after hour, he is sending us messages: "Don't forget that God loves you." "What you just did there was wrong; ask God to forgive you." "That person needs some compassion." "Be careful; you're starting to get prideful."
So your job today is threefold. Be on guard when necessary. Pray. And try to sense the Holy Spirit. Do that, and you'll make real progress!
"Holy Spirit, teach me how to be humble in every circumstance."
Isaiah 1:10, 16-20 Psalm 50:8-9, 16-17, 21, 23
The Word of the Lord said to us "Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good." This is the deal of lent, to repent, to turn away from sin, and believe in the Gospel. And the Lord is asking us for something special in the Gospel today. But first...turn away from evil, learn, learn to do what is good, and God is good, learn to be God's body on earth...what an opportunity! We pray today "To the upright I will show the saving power of God. "When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it? Or do you think that I am like yourself? I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes. He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me; and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God." What's funny about this is how true it is. The reproach of God is bringing up our sins before us, so that we may amend, reconcile, to be one with Him again. A testimony, the point of writing my2cents: I remember for a while I was selling used cars to help me get through college, doing some flipping. I made myself a rule that I would never sell to anyone in payments because of how hard it is to keep track and actually get payments. When I graduated from college, I had one more car I needed to sell, since I didn't want to do that anymore. I get a call from a strange woman, said she really needed it for her and her kids and couldn't come up with all the money at once, so I offered to split up the car in payments because my heart was tugged to help in the name of the Lord. When I met up, I found out who it was, someone I had, in earlier years, had (I am embarrassed to say), I had thought of her as the slum of the world, embodying all things debauchery, even though I couldn't say I personally knew her. The Lord had brought her right before my eyes, like the Psalm says today. The Lord is not deaf, and He is not blind. He will correct you. And so, At that moment (when realizing who it was), I felt nothing else in my heart, but that this was my sister in the Lord and I was to help no matter the cost. She took the car, and I never received the final payment, LOL! I still have the title to the car but the debt had been forgiven years ago. I had learned a most valuable lesson worth more than anything, God's reproaches are good. They aim to reconcile us. And no longer do I consider someone any slum!
In comes our Lord into our lives: "The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted". This lent, it is about humbling oneself, isn't it? Less of me, more of Him. Since this is personal witness time, let me share another story of this "apprentice in Christianity" as Eduardo Bonin said he was on his tombstone, the founder of Cursillos in Christianity, a worldwide movement that sets up a metanoia, an encounter with Christ; it is of when I was on crutches for a few weeks. I had started to drive now even though I had to use crutches to walk, I could drive, thanks be to God. I was hungry, I went to the gas station for food. I get off, make my way with crutches to the heavy double doors, and I could see through the glass doors a long line of people to pay and I was kind of hoping one would help me hold the door open to make my with crutches. LOL, I usually wanted to do everything on my own but this time it would've been nice to have some help. And so, I prop the door open, hold it open with one crutch while I tried to quickly make my way in with the other. Nobody got out of line, I don't know if anyone noticed, but I think one or two did. So what's my point? The point is, how are we afraid to lose our place, for someone else? There was a saint Maximilian Kolbe who was in line at a Nazi concentration camp, and 10 were to be chosen and killed by starvation because one person had escaped. They chose the man in line in front of Max. Max knew this man had a wife and children and said "Let me take his place instead" and they asked "who are you?" Max said "I am just a poor Priest". They said OK, and the man was saved and the Priest was taken away and after weeks would not die of starvation, instead he sung hymns praising God with fellow mates, and they decided to inject him to kill him and they did. The priest takes the place of Christ on the Altar and in the Holy Sacraments, this is the main reason we call a priest a father, because he fathers children in baptism into the Kingdom of God and so on and so forth, in forgiveness, in absolution, in shepherding...in giving up their lives. Jesus took the place of our death up on that cross. He said "take mine instead". He only had one life to live. The greatest among you must be your servant, and this servant died for you and me. He did not exalt himself. He humbled himself to the ground. Too many of us are afraid to lose our place for God. Too many twist these words and give up. What you should give up is sin, all things pride that brings about animosity and disdain, sin is being apart from God. This should humble you to the ground. Or is your place here more important? Those standing in line in the convenience store are all around. They won't say hi, they won't acknowledge you, they wont offer their place. It is the same in Church, you walk in, and there are those who won't acknowledge you, won't move from "their spot". The Pharisees are still present. Take notice. And learn. Learn to do good. It is good to be at Church, it is a commandment, but a greater commandment is given....Love. It is an outpouring. Scoot over. God wants in...your LIFE!