Saint Elizabeth is known as Isabel the Peacemaker, and it's no wonder. Her intervention led to the end of a feud between her brother, the king of Aragon, and her son-in-law, the king of Castile. Elizabeth also accepted her philandering husband, King Denis of Portugal, as he was, and she raised his children born to other women. When Denis and their son Alfonso were at war with each other, she was the one who convinced them to resolve the dispute. After Denis died, Elizabeth moved to a convent she had helped found.
It's difficult not to take sides in family disputes. It also can be difficult in our heart of hearts to accept children from a spouse's prior relationships in the same way we love the ones we bear. Elizabeth's example reminds us of God's counsel to love all, and leave the judging to him.
–from the book Sisterhood of Saints
✞ "Let us never forget that if we wish to die like the saints we must live like them." — St. Théodore Guérin
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "He that sacrifices to God his property by alms-deeds, his honor by bearing insults, or his body by mortifications, by fasts and penitential rigours, offers to Him a part of himself and of what belongs to him; but he that sacrifices to God his will, by obedience, gives to Him all that he has, and can say: Lord, having given you my will, I have nothing more to give you." — St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 191 AN EXCERPT FROM The Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguiori
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made." Romans 1:20a
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Saint Anthony Zaccaria
Saint of the Day for July 5
(1502 – July 5, 1539)
At the same time that Martin Luther was attacking abuses in the Church, a reformation within the Church was already being attempted. Among the early movers of the Counter-Reformation was Anthony Zaccaria. His mother became a widow at 18, and devoted herself to the spiritual education of her son. He received a medical doctorate at 22, and while working among the poor of his native Cremona in Italy, was attracted to the religious apostolate. He renounced his rights to any future inheritance, worked as a catechist, and was ordained a priest at the age of 26. Called to Milan in a few years, he laid the foundations of three religious congregations, one for men, one for women, and an association of married couples. Their aim was the reform of the decadent society of their day, beginning with the clergy, religious, and lay people.
Greatly inspired by Saint Paul–his congregation is named the Barnabites, after the companion of that saint–Anthony preached with great vigor in church and street, conducted popular missions, and was not ashamed of doing public penance.
He encouraged such innovations as the collaboration of the laity in the apostolate, frequent Communion, the Forty Hours devotion, and the ringing of church bells at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays. His holiness moved many to reform their lives, but as with all saints, it also moved many to oppose him. Twice his community had to undergo official religious investigation, and twice it was exonerated.
While on a mission of peace, he became seriously ill and was brought home for a visit to his mother. He died at Cremona at the age of 36.
The austerity of Anthony's spirituality and the Pauline ardor of his preaching would probably "turn off" many people today. When even some psychiatrists complain at the lack of a sense of sin, it may be time to tell ourselves that not all evil is explained by emotional disorder, subconscious and unconscious drives, parental influence, and so on. The old-time "hell and damnation" mission sermons have given way to positive, encouraging, biblical homilies. We do indeed need assurance of forgiveness, relief from existential anxiety, and future shock. But we still need prophets to stand up and tell us, "If we say 'We are without sin,' we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8).
Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 Gn 21:5, 8-20a
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Isaac grew, and on the day of the child's weaning Abraham held a great feast.
Sarah noticed the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham playing with her son Isaac; so she demanded of Abraham: "Drive out that slave and her son! No son of that slave is going to share the inheritance with my son Isaac!" Abraham was greatly distressed, especially on account of his son Ishmael. But God said to Abraham: "Do not be distressed about the boy or about your slave woman. Heed the demands of Sarah, no matter what she is asking of you; for it is through Isaac that descendants shall bear your name. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a great nation of him also, since he too is your offspring."
Early the next morning Abraham got some bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. Then, placing the child on her back, he sent her away. As she roamed aimlessly in the wilderness of Beer-sheba, the water in the skin was used up. So she put the child down under a shrub, and then went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away; for she said to herself, "Let me not watch to see the child die." As she sat opposite Ishmael, he began to cry. God heard the boy's cry, and God's messenger called to Hagar from heaven: "What is the matter, Hagar? Don't be afraid; God has heard the boy's cry in this plight of his. Arise, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand; for I will make of him a great nation." Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin with water, and then let the boy drink.
God was with the boy as he grew up.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 34:7-8, 10-11, 12-13 R. (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor. When the poor one called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Fear the LORD, you his holy ones, for nought is lacking to those who fear him. The great grow poor and hungry; but those who seek the LORD want for no good thing. R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Come, children, hear me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Which of you desires life, and takes delight in prosperous days? R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Alleluia Jas 1:18 R. Alleluia, alleluia. The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 8:28-34
When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. They cried out, "What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?" Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding. The demons pleaded with him, "If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine." And he said to them, "Go then!" They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned. The swineherds ran away, and when they came to the town they reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.
Catholic Meditations Meditation: Matthew 8:28-34
Saint Elizabeth of Portugal (Optional Memorial)
No one could travel by that road. (Matthew 8:28)
Can you imagine how frightening it must have been to live near the Gadarene region while these demoniacs were on the loose? Everyone must have been afraid they would be attacked. Travelers were probably warned to stay away. The two men's presence probably interrupted the flow of trade, made family visits difficult, and, as today's Gospel says, even kept people from visiting their relatives' graves.
But with just one word from Jesus, the two men were delivered. Their demonic tormentors were gone, and their violent rampage ended. Not only were they set free, but everyone around them could travel again. Life returned to normal—even better than normal!
Now, let's apply this image to the way our minds work. Think about what happens when someone says something hurtful to you or does something that disappoints you. If you don't turn to God and ask him to help you, negative thoughts could arise and fester inside. Without grace from the Lord, the devil could start tempting you to get angry, resentful, guilty, or scared. It might get so bad that you aren't able to think of anything else. It's as if all the other "travelers" in your mind were held hostage to these thoughts.
The next time you find yourself harassed by negative thinking, try these three simple steps:
• Take a close look at the thought that is bothering you, and call it what it is: "This is a divisive thought. This is a bitter thought. If I hold onto it, it will hurt my relationship with my friend."
• Stop and pray. Ask Jesus to help you cast out the offending thought: "Lord, I know this thought doesn't please you. Please protect me so that it doesn't dominate my mind."
• Make a conscious effort to replace it with positive thoughts: "I want to get angry about what this person just said, but I choose to forgive instead. I choose to uphold the good in him and to find a way to move forward peacefully."
You don't have to be subject to negative thoughts. Jesus has the power to set you free!
"Lord, set me free from negative thinking. Let nothing block the path that leads to you!"
Genesis 21:5, 8-20 Psalm 34:7-8, 10-13
my2cents: The Lord said to Abraham: "Heed the demands of Sarah, no matter what she is asking of you;" And Abraham obeys. And obedience will be to a point that Abraham is asked to sacrifice his only son, his own blood to be shed on the altar. Who loves like that today? Who obeys?
We prayed today " The Lord hears the cry of the poor. When the poor one called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them."
In comes the deliverer, the Savior: ""Go then!" He tells the demoniacs, they had pleaded for some type of mercy, having recognized Jesus as the chosen one ""What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?" Torment? Before appointed time? The torment would mean deliverance of God's children. The torment meant purity would come. The torment was at hand, the Kingdom of God had come to claim what belonged to God. The torment to evil had come and they pleaded to be given a chance to go with the swine, like the Prodigal Son had found himself among...the pigs, the filthy, the wretched, the impure. Jesus saves. The Father had come to save.
And the story is of now and today. This is not a fancy exorcism of yesterday, but something of an ongoing miraculous transformation of a tormented soul, possessed. And how do people get possessed? Easy, open doors. Just hang out with pigs and you'll begin to smell like them. Hang out with pigs and you'll begin to track that filth around your life. Pigs and sinful spirits. The spirits of debauchery, disobedience to God's will.
It is like this: Stop asking God so many questions. Just listen and obey, and the truth will be conveyed. My children ask me so many times in everything I do "why are you doing that?" And I get tired of answering that same question and sometimes I just don't feel like answering why, and so I say just to obey, do what I say. The demons obeyed the Lord. Who am I not to obey? Who am I to question His way?
So many times I want what I want, whenever I want, and how I want. In that spirit of selfishness, I fail to see what is beyond me. Where is the spirit of sacrifice? Where is the spirit of charity? Where is the spirit of....purity?
Jesus reclaims what is God's. Souls. And today, He realizes something most don't want to believe in, the restoration of our life with our dead ones' lives. Perhaps this is venturing into deep theology, but to God, nothing is impossible. He avails a passageway to an eternity. Hiding in the evilness of the possessed lies a soul God wishes to save to transform and evangelize. This is why our tongues should not wag against others in gossip. "Stay away from crazy Jim! The guy is possessed!".
I had a run in with someone I felt an evil spirit in this past weekend. Made for the most awkward moment. My mom asked me at a wedding "go find ushers, Father wants ushers to collect" which is unusual, but....we obeyed. My mom says "go ask that guy" and so I went. I went, I asked, and I got the most awkward response, he mocked me for asking, then he mocked me for kind of laughing off his weird response, and copied my laugh. I asked him, "are you ok?" and he said "yeah I'm ok". So I left. Thinking everything was Ok, I playing around with him later (to test him I guess), tugged on his hair while walking passed him, and he turned around as if he was ready to throw a punch! LOL. That made for an eery feeling that would pervade. He is a family member, so I said deep inside, "I got to pray for this guy". Forget about me, this guy needs help!
Jesus did this. He said "forget about what people are about to say about Me! This is why I came across the sea for...and sure enough, after saving him, the tongues started wagging, asking him to just leave them and leave them alone! Who was really possessed in the story?
And who is really possessed in your life? It's only after doing God's will that the beauty of truth and life are revealed. Jesus is unwelcome for welcoming the wretched, for doing what they won't, reaching out to save a soul. Not only do we keep from saving others, but we keep God from saving others.
We too shall pray to be made pure. Purely His. Purely obedient. Purely in love. Blind to the world because we are blinded by love. Foolish in the world because we are fools in love with Christ our Lord. Purity means holiness. Purity means one with Him and all for Him. Help me, and let me help you to this Way