Stay thankful Thanksgiving focuses on God's gifts. Our challenge is to take nothing for granted, but to appreciate every blessing. Thanksgiving is a
Thanksgiving focuses on God's gifts. Our challenge is to take nothing for granted, but to appreciate every blessing. Thanksgiving is a way of life. Indeed, the prayer of thanksgiving characterizes a eucharistic people. Our gratitude centers on the greatest gift of all—Jesus. This gift, and all the other gifts through God's providence, are expressions of God's love. How fitting and just it is that we always and everywhere express our gratitude to the Lord. —from the book Living Prayer: A Simple Guide to Everyday Enlightenment by Robert F. Mourneau
✞ "Crosses release us from this world and by doing so bind us to God." — Blessed Charles de Foucauld
MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Our freedom always has this marvelous power to make what is taken from us—by life, events, or other people—into something offered. Externally there is no visible difference, but internally everything is transfigured: fate into free choice, constraint into love, loss into fruitfulness. Human freedom is of absolutely unheard-of greatness. It does not confer the power to change everything, but it does empower us to give a meaning to everything, even meaningless things; and that is much better. We are not always masters of the unfolding of our lives, but we can always be masters of the meaning we give them. Our freedom can transform any event in our lives into an expression of love, abandonment, trust, hope, and offering." — Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 58 AN EXCERPT FROM Interior Freedom
VERSE OF THE DAY "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." James 4:7-10
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Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions
Saint of the Day for November 24
(1791 – December 21, 1839; Companions d. 1820 – 1862)
Andrew Dung-Lac, a Catholic convert ordained to the priesthood, was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of the companions group gave their lives for Christ in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and received beatification during four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized during the papacy of Saint John Paul II.
Christianity came to Vietnam through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan.
Severe persecutions were launched at least three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries.
In 1832, Emperor Minh-Mang banned all foreign missionaries, and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful.
Persecution broke out again in 1847, when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons.
The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution.
By 1954, there were over a million Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees.
During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now reunited, the entire country is under Communist rule.
It may help a people who associate Vietnam only with a 20th-century war to realize that the cross has long been a part of the lives of the people of that country. Even as some people ask again the unanswered questions about United States involvement and disengagement, the faith rooted in Vietnam's soil proves hardier than the forces that willed to destroy it.
Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs Lectionary: 501
Reading 1 1 MC 4:36-37, 52-59
Judas and his brothers said, "Now that our enemies have been crushed, let us go up to purify the sanctuary and rededicate it." So the whole army assembled, and went up to Mount Zion.
Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, that is, the month of Chislev, in the year one hundred and forty-eight, they arose and offered sacrifice according to the law on the new altar of burnt offerings that they had made. On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had defiled it, on that very day it was reconsecrated with songs, harps, flutes, and cymbals. All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven, who had given them success.
For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar and joyfully offered burnt offerings and sacrifices of deliverance and praise. They ornamented the facade of the temple with gold crowns and shields; they repaired the gates and the priests' chambers and furnished them with doors. There was great joy among the people now that the disgrace of the Gentiles was removed. Then Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness on the anniversary every year for eight days, from the twenty-fifth day of the month Chislev.
R. (13b) We praise your glorious name, O mighty God. "Blessed may you be, O LORD, God of Israel our father, from eternity to eternity." R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God. "Yours, O LORD, are grandeur and power, majesty, splendor, and glory. For all in heaven and on earth is yours." R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God. "Yours, O LORD, is the sovereignty; you are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor are from you." R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God. "You have dominion over all, In your hand are power and might; it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all." R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
Alleluia JN 10:27
R. Alleluia, alleluia. My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel LK 19:45-48
Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, "It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves." And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words.
Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs (Memorial)
All the people were hanging on his words. (Luke 19:48)
It's striking that the religious authorities don't immediately attack Jesus after he overturns the tables in the Temple. After all, Jesus had just caused a major disruption in the house of the Lord. So what stops them? Surprisingly, it is the people they regard as powerless.
Many of the Pharisees and Sadducees—the religious elites among the Jews—remain aloof and judgmental. But ordinary, everyday people, many of whom are poor, recognize God's presence and come flocking to Jesus. They don't seem to mind Jesus' display of passion. In fact, they are all the more attracted to him because of it. These are the people who make the chief priests pause.
After Jesus cleanses the Temple courtyard, there is plenty of room for the commoners to gather around Jesus and hang on his every word. He has turned a would-be marketplace back into a "house of prayer" (Luke 19:46). And by doing so, he shows us what our houses of worship should look like.
Of course the worship space in which we gather matters. It should be worthy of the Lord! We should try to make our churches and chapels as beautiful as possible, just as the people in today's first reading and responsorial psalm did. Judas Maccabeus' followers cleansed the Temple they had recaptured from their enemies and joyfully rededicated it to God's service. King David blessed God because the people had brought their finest offerings for the Temple that his son Solomon would build. Both readings show how happy people are to be in God's house.
Yet far more important than the building in which we worship God are the hearts we bring as we gather. It's not wrong to make our churches beautiful, but we should always remember this: joyful worship that pleases God is possible even if the church looks like a ruin or a storefront. Paintings and statues may make a difference, but the atmosphere is most powerfully charged when the people bring offerings of joyful, grateful, and loving praise. And we can all do that.
Let's contribute to the atmosphere in church. Let's gather around Jesus and hang on his every word.
"Lord, thank you for inviting us to gather around you. Help me come into your presence with a heart full of love."
my2cents: From today's first Holy Scripture: "On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had defiled it, on that very day it was reconsecrated with songs, harps, flutes, and cymbals. All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven, who had given them success."
The temple was being defiled....this time though, from within. Thats when our Lord steps in, and still does, for we are His temple now.
Bishop barren's reflection today says "Friends, in today's Gospel we see Jesus cleansing the Temple. What did it mean for a provincial prophet to come into the holy city of Jerusalem and make a ruckus in the Temple? Well, you can probably imagine. To make matters worse, as we heard yesterday, Jesus says something that is as shocking as his actions. He says, "I will destroy this temple and in three days rebuild it." No wonder that it was precisely this act that led to his crucifixion.
So what was he doing and why? First, in showing his lordship over even this most sacred symbol, he was announcing who he was. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus acts in the person of God. Secondly, he was instituting a new temple, the temple of his crucified and risen body. Jesus himself is the place where God dwells, and we, in the measure that we are grafted on to him, are temples of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is passing judgment on all of the inadequate, corrupt forms of human religion and is establishing the new and eternal covenant, the new temple, in his own person."
If God decided to make His home in you and me, we are precious. First in Mary our blessed mother, then in us today. A whole new creation has begun with Jesus our Lord. Why and how? It is the Lord's choosing, His desire. Today, how is the temple defiled? Sin. Sin says "i choose other things as more important than you Lord". Sin chooses self interest. Who was mostly affected in the cleansing of the temple? Chief priests, scribes, and leaders. It was now on the head of the snake to take on the troublemaker. To this day it happens. The snake points the finger and orders the slaughter of the innocent...especially the unborn. This last century has witnessed the murder of a million martyrs and millions of unborn. Growing labor pains. Our Lord is with us. In the torture chamber. In that lonely chair. The abandoned. Wouldn't it be nice if you'd turn to Him? Yes. It'd mean salvation. Or else....self damnation. I've heard one say "I know I'm going to hell" and live on accordingly a life without our God. Jesus turns the tables. Upside down and whipping out the animal. This place is for the human. And this human is for God. A whole new creation begun. And we are called to face the truth of our lives. Jesus. The Lord of the universe....and our life