In Christ, all of life has meaning now. We have the opportunity to participate in the redemption of the world by offering up our suffering in union with Christ, and there is a treasure trove of meaning for us to uncover!
-from When You Suffer
✞ "I urge you to remain steadfast in faith, so that at last we will all reach heaven and there rejoice together." — St. Andrew Kim Taegon
✞ "And let me make it quite clear that when Christians say the Christ-life is in them, they do not mean simply something mental or moral. When they speak of being 'in Christ' or of Christ being 'in them', this is not simply a way of saying that they are thinking about Christ or copying Him. They mean that Christ is actually operating through them; that the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts—that we are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His body. And perhaps that explains one or two things. It explains why this new life is spread not only by purely mental acts like belief, but by bodily acts like baptism and Holy Communion. It is not merely the spreading of an idea; it is more like evolution—a biological or superbiological fact. There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it." — C.S. Lewis, p. 64 AN EXCERPT FROM Mere Christianity
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "Guard your steps when you go to the house of God; to draw near to listen is better than the sacrifice offered by fools; for they do not know how to keep from doing evil. Never be rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be quick to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven, and you upon earth; therefore let your words be few." Ecclesiastes 5:1-2
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Saint Isidore of Seville
Saint of the Day for April 4
(c. 560 – April 4, 636)
The 76 years of Isidore's life were a time of conflict and growth for the Church in Spain. The Visigoths had invaded the land a century and a half earlier, and shortly before Isidore's birth they set up their own capital. They were Arians—Christians who said Christ was not God. Thus, Spain was split in two: One people (Catholic Romans) struggled with another (Arian Goths).
Isidore reunited Spain, making it a center of culture and learning. The country served as a teacher and guide for other European countries whose culture was also threatened by barbarian invaders.
Born in Cartagena of a family that included three other sibling saints–Leander, Fulgentius and Florentina–he was educated by his elder brother, whom he succeeded as bishop of Seville.
An amazingly learned man, he was sometimes called "The Schoolmaster of the Middle Ages" because the encyclopedia he wrote was used as a textbook for nine centuries. He required seminaries to be built in every diocese, wrote a Rule for religious orders, and founded schools that taught every branch of learning. Isidore wrote numerous books, including a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a history of Goths, and a history of the world—beginning with creation! He completed the Mozarabic liturgy, which is still in use in Toledo, Spain. For all these reasons, Isidore has been suggested as patron of the Internet. Several others–including Anthony of Padua–also have been suggested.
He continued his austerities even as he approached age 80. During the last six months of his life, he increased his charities so much that his house was crowded from morning till night with the poor of the countryside.
Our society can well use Isidore's spirit of combining learning and holiness. Loving, understanding and knowledge can heal and bring a broken people back together. We are not barbarians like the invaders of Isidore's Spain. But people who are swamped by riches and overwhelmed by scientific and technological advances can lose much of their understanding love for one another.
King Nebuchadnezzar said: "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you will not serve my god, or worship the golden statue that I set up? Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made, whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe, and all the other musical instruments; otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace; and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?" Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, "There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up."
King Nebuchadnezzar's face became livid with utter rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual and had some of the strongest men in his army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the white-hot furnace.
Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles, "Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?" "Assuredly, O king," they answered. "But," he replied, "I see four men unfettered and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God." Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God."
Responsorial Psalm Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56 R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever! "Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever; And blessed is your holy and glorious name, praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages." R. Glory and praise for ever! "Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever. R. Glory and praise for ever! "Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever." R. Glory and praise for ever! "Blessed are you who look into the depths from your throne upon the cherubim; praiseworthy and exalted above all forever." R. Glory and praise for ever! "Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven, praiseworthy and glorious forever." R. Glory and praise for ever!
Verse Before the Gospel See Lk 8:15 Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.
Gospel Jn 8:31-42
Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, 'You will become free'?" Jesus answered them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father's presence; then do what you have heard from the Father."
They answered and said to him, "Our father is Abraham." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!" So they said to him, "We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, God." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me."
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: John 8:31-42
Saint Vincent Ferrer, Priest (Optional Memorial)
Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. (John 8:34)
What should we do with such a black-and-white statement? Does it mean that we are all slaves of sin? Let's look at this.
First, we should understand that we are all called to holiness. But God doesn't call us to something he won't equip us to fulfill. So we shouldn't feel helpless or powerless in the face of our sin.
Second, we should understand that God wants us to learn to rely on Jesus, the source of all holiness. St. Alphonsus Liguori once said, "Habitual sin and prayer cannot coexist. Either we will stop sinning or stop praying." We need to get in the habit of drawing strength from Jesus in all the ways that he comes to us: prayer, Scripture, the sacraments, spiritual direction, the beauty of nature, and Christian fellowship. To strive for holiness apart from Jesus will only leave us frustrated.
Third, we need to learn how to overcome our attractions to sin. St. Francis de Sales compares the person who indulges in "affection for sin" to the Israelites who left slavery in Egypt but longed for its comforts while journeying through the desert. The Israelites had to ask the same question we should ask: "Do I really want to return to a life of slavery for just a few moments of pleasure?"
Finally, we need to develop a plan. If you are prone to pride, dedicate yourself to humility. If you are prone to lust, pursue purity. Remember, you cannot think your way into being virtuous; you must act your way there.
At the start of each day, ask the Holy Spirit to give you the grace you need to make the right choices. Then, every few hours evaluate how you are doing, and ask the Lord again for his help. In the evening, take a few minutes to prayerfully review your day. Thank Jesus for every victory you have experienced, and ask his forgiveness for those times you have failed. Over time, you will find real and measurable progress. You really can become holy!
"Father, I want to hate sin. Give me the grace I need to say no to the temptations I face. I want to be holy, and I know I cannot do it on my own."
Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95 (Psalm) Daniel 3:52-56
my2cents: The king in the first Scripture said "Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made". Sounds mean. But these are the ultimatums we face and do to others, and this is exactly what happens to our Lord, in our relationship with Him and one another..."my way or the highway".
We pray today " Glory and praise for ever! "Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever"
In the Holy Gospel "Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me." In our world, we have too many buts, "I love you but", "I'm Catholic but"...."I believe but". Jesus says "If God were your Father YOU WOULD LOVE ME". There are not "buts" in this relationship of true love. Either you love or you don't. If you have buts put in, there is an excuse not to full-heartedly love. I've been writing reflections for years now, and like I told the adult faith group this weekend, "I equate faith with love....love is faith and faith is love...if you love, then you trust". The Jews had said "we don't got an estranged father" but they were lying. That is why Jesus said "IF GOD were your Father". So many times we make up a false god. And what happens here? You no longer do the Father's will. You no longer can listen because His words aren't heard, you are spiritually deaf. Your heart no longer has an attachment to Him. And so either you are God's slave or a slave of sin. It is black and white. Bishop Barren says today "In our tradition, sin is a kind of non-being, an illusion if you will. To live in sin is to live stubbornly in an unreal world. Our mind becomes confused, and our will disoriented. This helps explains why the devil is often referred to as the father of lies."
And because they were lost, they were trying to kill Him. Either you are in the light, or in the dark, and darkness chooses death.
How does this relate to me today?
I've been telling many this past week, that this strange God is who we are estranged from. It is our privilege on earth to get to know God, the more, the better. A thought hit me yesterday "if you got God figured out....you've become an atheist". Because He is an infinite being, and we are a finite being. Because He is all knowing, and I know very little. And so I invite everyone to come closer to God. To Know Him, we must know Jesus. To know Jesus, we must be led by His Holy Spirit and let the Spirit enter and lead our lives. I could give you endless examples of how my life is led by the Spirit of God. But I will not take more of your precious time. All I've to say about it is that it is clear. An invitation is laid out, and the spirit of your heart tugs. It is gentle, it does not drag you. Let yourself be free. Let the gentle tugs of God call you to His heart, where there is true freedom, true joy, and true happiness. All else is transitory. Learn about His giving and for giving. Partake and share of His gifts. Be not afraid. Lent is to repent of your sinful, selfish ways with your time, treasure, and talent. Depart, because our earthly departure is on the horizon. I believe in you. I believe in God. I believe therefore...in Love
How to Carry Your Cross - Ben Walther Thought for today: This is it! It's the final stretch of our increased fasting, prayer and almsgiving as we prepare for Easter Sunday! Instead of dreading the feelings of hunger and going without that little thing we've given up, let's see them as stepping stones to the Father's heart, who is very much with us today.
Action for today: Today look for someone (even a stranger) who seems to be struggling. Ask them about their struggle and promise to pray for them. IF you're bold enough, encourage them that God is close to them in their suffering.
Prayer for today: Heavenly Father, I joyfully take up every cross that You have asked me to carry. I pray for the faith to take up my future crosses. I know that Jesus is my companion, and that there is great light waiting for me at the end of this darkness!
Quote for today: "If you carry your cross joyfully, it will carry you." – Thomas A Kempis
Be a Hero today – #ShareJesus: Offer up your burdens today for someone (or a specific intention).