Most High, Glorious God, in our times of suffering, may we follow the example of Jesus; but may we also serve as a source of comfort and consolation to others in their suffering. May we never let the fear of suffering stand in the way of our calling to love and work for justice. Amen.
-from The Last Words of Jesus
✞ "The devotion to the Eucharist is the most noble, because it has God as its object; it is the most profitable for salvation, because it gives us the Author of Grace; it is the sweetest, because the Lord is Sweetness Itself." — Pope St. Pius X
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "I've appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life [St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her]. I've done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome, but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory. And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him, because I've made My creatures strong, and I've given them strength of will, fortified in the Blood of My Son. Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control this free will, because it's yours, given to you by Me. By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please. It's a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil, it right away becomes a knife that he'll use to stab and kill you. On the other hand, if you don't place this knife that is your will into the hands of the Devil—that is, if you don't consent to his temptations and harassments—you will never be injured by the guilt of sin in any temptation. Instead, you'll actually be strengthened by the temptation, as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love, and to understand why I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having it proved. My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak. He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him. So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you. I want you to conquer, not to be conquered, and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me." — St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60 AN EXCERPT FROM Manual for Spiritual Warfare
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug." Isaiah 51:1
click to read more
Saint Stephen of Mar Saba
Saint of the Day for March 31
(725 – 794)
A "do not disturb" sign helped today's saint find holiness and peace.
Stephen of Mar Saba was the nephew of Saint John Damascene, who introduced the young boy to monastic life beginning at age 10. When he reached 24, Stephen served the community in a variety of ways, including guest master. After some time he asked permission to live a hermit's life. The answer from the abbot was yes and no: Stephen could follow his preferred lifestyle during the week, but on weekends he was to offer his skills as a counselor. Stephen placed a note on the door of his cell: "Forgive me, Fathers, in the name of the Lord, but please do not disturb me except on Saturdays and Sundays."
Despite his calling to prayer and quiet, Stephen displayed uncanny skills with people and was a valued spiritual guide.
His biographer and disciple wrote about Stephen: "Whatever help, spiritual or material, he was asked to give, he gave. He received and honored all with the same kindness. He possessed nothing and lacked nothing. In total poverty he possessed all things."
Stephen died in 794.
Saint Stephen of Mar Saba knew the value of solitude. Even though he was generous and served whoever came to him, he relished his time alone. Maybe we can learn from him the value of solitude and seek it out a little more in our lives
The wicked said among themselves, thinking not aright: "Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the LORD. To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us, Because his life is not like that of others, and different are his ways. He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure. He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is his Father. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him." These were their thoughts, but they erred; for their wickedness blinded them, and they knew not the hidden counsels of God; neither did they count on a recompense of holiness nor discern the innocent souls' reward.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 34:17-18, 19-20, 21 and 23 R. (19a) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. The LORD confronts the evildoers, to destroy remembrance of them from the earth. When the just cry out, the LORD hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them. R. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. Many are the troubles of the just man, but out of them all the LORD delivers him. R. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He watches over all his bones; not one of them shall be broken. The LORD redeems the lives of his servants; no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him. R. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
Verse Before the Gospel Mt 4:4b One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
Gospel Jn 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
Jesus moved about within Galilee; he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.
But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret.
Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, "Is he not the one they are trying to kill? And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him. Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ? But we know where he is from. When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from." So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, "You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me." So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.
This passage could easily be read as a prophecy about Jesus. He was indeed the "just one" who reproached the Jewish authorities for "transgressions of the law." He was tortured and put to a "shameful death" for calling God his Father (Wisdom 2:12, 20).
But when this passage was written, about 200 BC, its author was referring to Jews living in Egypt who were undergoing persecution. Actually, this passage paints a pretty realistic picture of what faithful people of any era might face.
Jesus said that a disciple who gives up everything to follow him will receive many blessings—along with "persecutions" (Mark 10:30). Darkness is never comfortable with the light. The holiest people, while beloved by many, are often targets of some of the worst hatred and slander. St. Agnes chose to remain a virgin and refused to marry a Roman noble, and she was mocked and killed for it. St. Benedict was almost poisoned by monks who didn't want to hear his fraternal correction. Even St. Teresa of Calcutta was ridiculed by some secular authors for her radical devotion to the poor!
Not many of us have to worry about being openly mocked for our faith. Nor should we go seeking out such persecution. However, we can try to have the attitude of these saints. They didn't worry about what people were thinking because they were too busy trying to please God—even when pleasing the Lord brought them into conflict with the prevailing philosophies of the world.
Sometimes being virtuous means speaking out when we see something wrong. Sometimes it means holding our tongues and praying silently. But most of all, it means bringing God's presence into every situation as best we can, even into places where we might face hostility. The Holy Spirit will help us decide how loudly or softly we should witness to Christ. If we do our best to live in a way that honors the Lord and upholds the dignity of the people around us, we'll know God's blessing, no matter how we are received.
"Lord, help me to bring your love and peace into the stress and strife around me."
Psalm 34:17-21, 23 John 7:1-2,10, 25-30
my2cents: In the book of Wisdom we heard today "He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the LORD". This book has been thrown out of protestant bibles. Yet it speaks. Even if you throw out the truth of your life, the wisdom of Life, the truth...it will still be spoken. What we don't want to hear, is still being heard. We what don't want others to hear is being heard. What we want hushed or kept secret is till being broadcast. There is no hiding from the Lord, the Truth, and this is good. It is the prophecies of an unknown person. And people want to know the unknown, but some discredit the unknown. So, how will you get to know the unknown? Certainly not by rejecting Him!
We pray today "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted". An afflicted heart is in preparation for good. During this Lent, I've been called a hypocrite by 3 different people. It does cause an immediate pain and weight. And I look deep into myself, "am I really what they are accusing me of?". Am I a two face liar? Am I one person here and another there? Am I not really sincere? Am I not genuine? I pray. And most often, I come out of it loving the person accusing more. We all need prayer. I've never met a person that does not need prayer. Not even the Abbot we are going to see tomorrow in a family retreat I have organized. We are loading our bus we bought together and going to spend the day in the Monastery. I ask for your prayers, and I love you for your prayers. It will be a time of reflection. A retreat is not meant to see what we can get out of it, but a time to spend with God, more intimately. It is setting aside, and that is what Holy means. When God chose Israel, His people, they were to be set aside. And this being set aside is being sharpened, and it happened when Christ entered the world...our world.
In comes the Lord ""You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me." So really, we can not know where He is from, to fulfill the scriptures they were dictating to Him "When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from." They didn't know really where He was coming from. They only knew where He was mortally born, physically. They had become spiritually blind. Do you know where I'm coming from? Because right now, the Lord is speaking to you. I did not come on my own. It was the Lord's will and desire. You do not know Him, but Jesus does. Get to know ME. I'm afraid the worst misunderstandings are from not knowing where they are coming from. If you did not know the person, you would not know why they did what they did. I once wrote a song that said these things, inspired by a talk give by Dr. Brant Pitre, a theologian and professor at a University. The song is called Prodigal Paradox in a CD called Renuevame (renew me) click to listen. The song says "I...know you don't know, and what you see is wrong....what you don't know is what's really going on" and it gives examples of a thief, trying to fill in their lives a hole they can not fill, the same with one in adultery, and the person not going to Church, they don't have a soul praying for them. Is it their fault? Or is it mine? You see, God didn't come in the person of Jesus for anything else than to empty Himself to fill our deep void in our lives. He is the eternal font. Need more? Come get your fill, and then come back for more: Mercy, Love, and Compassion. If there is a broken bond, there is an opportunity for a greater bond. My wife went to a women's retreat a couple months back and I like a story she relayed she heard the speaker say: Our relationship with God can be likened to a string. When we sin, we cut the string, our line connected to God. But when we return and reconcile, God ties a knot, these tow strings tied together are now closer than they were before because when tied it brings them together. I encourage you, this is the time, this day of life is a present, to be more intimately united with our Lord.
from redeemedonline.com : Thought for today: Even In the face of great tragedy, Mary and Martha had complete faith and trust in Jesus. What stands between you and that kind of radical trust? Do you have the courage to surrender even those things to Him today?
Action for today: When you wake up in the morning , remember that the same God that raised Lazarus from the dead, gives you every breath. Ask for the eyes to see Him in your life today.
Prayer for today: Lord, you are the source of all life. Open my eyes to find you and give me the desire to follow you, wherever that leads me. Amen
Quote for today: "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even though they die.'" – John 11:25
Be a Hero today – #ShareJesus: Come up with some ideas to "breathe new life" into someone. Maybe bring someone flowers. Invite a friend out for a meal, your treat! Pray for the souls of those who have died today