As in loving, praying does not confine itself to one particular practice, way, or method, but is open to all and is defined by all to the extent that all serve as means to creating a space of deeper freedom leading the person to an evermore intimate and loving encounter between the lover and the beloved.
The ultimate goal of praying lies not in formulating one magical method, nor in searching for the correct acts and practices of devotion, nor in developing some perfect religious rituals and ceremonies, though all remain helpful and necessary. Ultimately, prayer orients, leads, and unites the individual person with the Divine.
–from the book Prayer in the Catholic Tradition
✞ Quote: "Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be, and becoming that person." — St. Therese of Lisieux
✞ Meditation: "However great our efforts, we cannot change ourselves. Only God can get to the bottom of our defects, and our limitations in the field of love; only he has sufficient mastery over our hearts for that. If we realize that we will save ourselves a great deal of discouragement and fruitless struggle. We do not have to become saints by our own power; we have to learn how to let God make us into saints. That does not mean, of course, that we don't have to make any effort . . . We should fight, not to attain holiness as a result of our own efforts, but to let God act in us without our putting up any resistance against him; we should fight to open ourselves as fully as possible to his grace, which sanctifies us." — Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 14-5 AN EXCERPT FROM In the School of the Holy Spirit
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY: "For who is God except the Lord? And who is a rock besides our God?— the God who girded me with strength, and made my way safe. He made my feet like the feet of a deer, and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand has supported me; your help has made me great." Psalm 18:31-35
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Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Saint of the Day for July 31
(October 23, 1491 – July 31, 1556)
The founder of the Jesuits was on his way to military fame and fortune when a cannon ball shattered his leg. Because there were no books of romance on hand during his convalescence, Ignatius whiled away the time reading a life of Christ and lives of the saints. His conscience was deeply touched, and a long, painful turning to Christ began. Having seen the Mother of God in a vision, he made a pilgrimage to her shrine at Montserrat near Barcelona. He remained for almost a year at nearby Manresa, sometimes with the Dominicans, sometimes in a pauper's hospice, often in a cave in the hills praying. After a period of great peace of mind, he went through a harrowing trial of scruples. There was no comfort in anything—prayer, fasting, sacraments, penance. At length, his peace of mind returned.
It was during this year of conversion that Ignatius began to write down material that later became his greatest work, the Spiritual Exercises.
He finally achieved his purpose of going to the Holy Land, but could not remain, as he planned, because of the hostility of the Turks. Ignatius spent the next 11 years in various European universities, studying with great difficulty, beginning almost as a child. Like many others, his orthodoxy was questioned; Ignatius was twice jailed for brief periods.
In 1534, at the age of 43, he and six others–one of whom was Saint Francis Xavier–vowed to live in poverty and chastity and to go to the Holy Land. If this became impossible, they vowed to offer themselves to the apostolic service of the pope. The latter became the only choice. Four years later Ignatius made the association permanent. The new Society of Jesus was approved by Pope Paul III, and Ignatius was elected to serve as the first general.
When companions were sent on various missions by the pope, Ignatius remained in Rome, consolidating the new venture, but still finding time to found homes for orphans, catechumens, and penitents. He founded the Roman College, intended to be the model of all other colleges of the Society.
Ignatius was a true mystic. He centered his spiritual life on the essential foundations of Christianity—the Trinity, Christ, the Eucharist. His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, Ad majorem Dei gloriam—"for the greater glory of God." In his concept, obedience was to be the prominent virtue, to assure the effectiveness and mobility of his men. All activity was to be guided by a true love of the Church and unconditional obedience to the Holy Father, for which reason all professed members took a fourth vow to go wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls.
Luther nailed his theses to the church door at Wittenberg in 1517. Seventeen years later, Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society that was to play so prominent a part in the Catholic Reformation. He was an implacable foe of Protestantism. Yet the seeds of ecumenism may be found in his words: "Great care must be taken to show forth orthodox truth in such a way that if any heretics happen to be present they may have an example of charity and Christian moderation. No hard words should be used nor any sort of contempt for their errors be shown." One of the greatest ecumenists was the 20th-century German Jesuit, Cardinal Augustin Bea.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola is the Patron Saint of:
Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
Reading 1 Ex 32:15-24, 30-34
Moses turned and came down the mountain with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands, tablets that were written on both sides, front and back; tablets that were made by God, having inscriptions on them that were engraved by God himself. Now, when Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, "That sounds like a battle in the camp." But Moses answered, "It does not sound like cries of victory, nor does it sound like cries of defeat; the sounds that I hear are cries of revelry." As he drew near the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing. With that, Moses' wrath flared up, so that he threw the tablets down and broke them on the base of the mountain. Taking the calf they had made, he fused it in the fire and then ground it down to powder, which he scattered on the water and made the children of Israel drink.
Moses asked Aaron, "What did this people ever do to you that you should lead them into so grave a sin?" Aaron replied, "Let not my lord be angry. You know well enough how prone the people are to evil. They said to me, 'Make us a god to be our leader; as for the man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.' So I told them, 'Let anyone who has gold jewelry take it off.' They gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out."
On the next day Moses said to the people, "You have committed a grave sin. I will go up to the LORD, then; perhaps I may be able to make atonement for your sin." So Moses went back to the LORD and said, "Ah, this people has indeed committed a grave sin in making a god of gold for themselves! If you would only forgive their sin! If you will not, then strike me out of the book that you have written." The LORD answered, "Him only who has sinned against me will I strike out of my book. Now, go and lead the people to the place I have told you. My angel will go before you. When it is time for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin."
Responsorial Psalm Ps 106:19-20, 21-22, 23 R. (1a) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. Our fathers made a calf in Horeb and adored a molten image; They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock. R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. They forgot the God who had saved them, who had done great deeds in Egypt, Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham, terrible things at the Red Sea. R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. Then he spoke of exterminating them, but Moses, his chosen one, Withstood him in the breach to turn back his destructive wrath. R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
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 13:31-35
Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds. "The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches."
He spoke to them another parable. "The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened."
All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.
Meditation: Matthew 13:31-35 Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Memorial)
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. (Matthew 13:31)
Have you ever seen a mustard seed? It's a tiny sphere, slightly larger than the head of a pin. Yet it grows into a bush that can reach twenty feet high and thirty feet wide. Jesus uses this tiny seed to illustrate a vital spiritual principle: God can do great things with small beginnings.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, whose feast day it is today, dreamed of accomplishing great things—not for God, but for himself. His military exploits cut short by a cannonball that shattered his leg, Ignatius lay on his back longing for fame and fortune. But he noticed something different. Whenever he thought about worldly success, he would feel the same excitement he had always known, but it was short-lived. Then, when he pondered the lives of Jesus and the saints, he felt a deeper, longer-lasting joy. "What if I did what Francis or Dominic did?" he wondered.
These small movements within his heart were the beginnings of Ignatius' conversion: tiny mustard seeds that grew into a life of service to Christ and his Church. Over time, his religious order, the Jesuits, grew into an enormous bush that has borne fruit on every continent.
Do you ever think, "I'm not very useful to God"? It's not true! You are no less of a "mustard seed" than Ignatius was. The same Holy Spirit dwells in you, so you have as much capacity to change the world as the saints. Every saint probably felt like they never did enough, but look at all they have accomplished! Even if all you do is pray for people who are suffering, you can make a huge impact.
Like the tiny mustard seed, your daily choices to pray, to help a family member, or to forgive someone can grow. Jesus didn't overlook the mustard seed because it was small—and he won't pass over your faith or service either. He sees your generosity and delights in it. He sees its potential and helps it bear abundant fruit.
From Mary to Ignatius to Mother Teresa, God has been taking small seeds and turning them into magnificent displays of his grace. It's not just the saints either. Your parish priest, an inner-city teacher, even the person sitting in front of you at Mass—each is a precious "mustard seed" whom God is cultivating.
And so are you.
"Here I am, Lord. Help me to bear fruit for you."
Exodus 32:15-24, 30-34 Psalm 106:19-23
my2cents: We heard in the first Holy Scripture: "Moses asked Aaron, "What did this people ever do to you that you should lead them into so grave a sin?" What a strange question, no? What did these people do to you? Well, it would seem they neutralized Aaron, with their inner beings pining for the false gods, that seek power in the world. The revelry yells, were rebellious yells. Yells that would be heard again...in hell. Because there is hell to pay when we come against the Lord, as heard in Numbers 26:10 "These are the Dathan and Abiram who were called by the congregation, who contended against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they contended against the LORD, 10and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up along with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured 250 men, so that they became a warning."
We prayed today "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. Then he spoke of exterminating them, but Moses, his chosen one, Withstood him in the breach to turn back his destructive wrath." Moses would intercede, as he attempts to lead his people to the promised land, much like our Lord intercedes and leads us to the promised land...heaven.
In comes our Lord into our lives today and we heard "Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds." He proposes to you. These are words of a lover getting on one knee, offering his entire life...isn't it? And He says "The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field." That seed has the power to become a tenacious plant that resembles a tree. It becomes shade for the heat, and becomes homes for birds, and in the end, can become wood for another use, all from one tiny seed. A person sows it and miraculously, it grows and grows. But some seeds don't grow and won't grow especially if not sown.
From Bishop Barren today: "...Attachments block us and break this flow. An attachment is anything you don't need but which you cannot live without. This idea is central to the spirituality of Ignatius of Loyola. What are the attachments that block the divine power from flowing through us? In most cases it is some form of wealth, pleasure, honor, or power.
Love what Jesus loved on the cross; and despise what he despised. This is the direction we get from St. Thomas Aquinas. Reorienting our priorities to align with Christ on the cross is the key to a spiritually successful life, and to the unleashing of divine power.
Yesterday, I had a thought that hit me "a plush soft pillow is one of the devil's favorite weapons...and for the Lord, the taking of the cross". It is two proposals, one for a pillow for your spiritual casket, and the other, the wood to be an offering for God. So, in a crowd of 1,000, one person says he or she will consider offering their life for the Lord. One seed. One yeast. And in doing so becomes salvation for the 999 that would not, or could not. This person leads the way. Shows the way to sacrifice. And something that keeps hitting me "what if the only people in Heaven are those weird ones that dress strict (modest) and talk funny (God always on the tips of their tongues) and walk funny (keep to themselves, not seeking attention), and are always tied up in church things?" Because, quite simply, they don't fit in. Too many times I try to be a "cool Christian", trying to be hip to try to talk in the people's language and fashions, but...that's how Aaron got neutralized. The "driven" Moses drove them out again, got the whips out like Jesus in the temple to disperse the evil that was pervading "His House", where God should reside only...your temple, our temple. Left to our own device leads to our own demise. When nobody is looking, that's when the rubber hits the road, that's when true Christianity hits home. I have to say this, as its been a while since I've said it, "I feel like a trainer, a coach that is teaching saints, even though I'm not fit like you, you will become a saint that will help me become a saint". You see, there are two ways to look at this, either I'm a sinner helping sinners or we are saints helping one another on our journey to Heaven. God designed us to be saints. Saints choose the 1 in 1,000 way of life...His cross. And they love it. And they cherish it. It is obedience. It is sacrifice. It is what gives growth in a seemingly impossible world. That is why the cross is positive. Put positive to work with the negative and things start moving, not laying on that soft pillow. Be motivated and propelled by the power of Christ, in the smallest of ways and smallest of wonders, He sees and He works. I pray all the time for you who read this. I want you to live in love with the one who has "proposed" to you today....Jesus. No other love shall enter your life...No Greater Love