Monday, February 3, 2014

Done For You

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A Beautiful Soul Minute Meditations
Christ made my soul beautiful with the jewels of grace and virtue. I belong to him whom the angels serve. -St. Agnes of Rome
— from Sisterhood of Saints 

St. Blaise
(d. 316)

We know more about the devotion to St. Blaise by Christians around the world than we know about the saint himself. His feast is observed as a holy day in some Eastern Churches. The Council of Oxford, in 1222, prohibited servile labor in England on Blaise's feast day. The Germans and Slavs hold him in special honor and for decades many United States Catholics have sought the annual St. Blaise blessing for their throats

We know that Bishop Blaise was martyred in his episcopal city of Sebastea, Armenia, in 316. The legendary Acts of St. Blaise were written 400 years later. According to them Blaise was a good bishop, working hard to encourage the spiritual and physical health of his people. Although the Edict of Toleration (311), granting freedom of worship in the Roman Empire, was already five years old, persecution still raged in Armenia. Blaise was apparently forced to flee to the back country. There he lived as a hermit in solitude and prayer, but he made friends with the wild animals. One day a group of hunters seeking wild animals for the amphitheater stumbled upon Blaise's cave. They were first surprised and then frightened. The bishop was kneeling in prayer surrounded by patiently waiting wolves, lions and bears.

As the hunters hauled Blaise off to prison, the legend has it, a mother came with her young son who had a fish bone lodged in his throat. At Blaise's command the child was able to cough up the bone.

Agricolaus, governor of Cappadocia, tried to persuade Blaise to sacrifice to pagan idols. The first time Blaise refused, he was beaten. The next time he was suspended from a tree and his flesh torn with iron combs or rakes. (English wool combers, who used similar iron combs, took Blaise as their patron. They could easily appreciate the agony the saint underwent.) Finally, he was beheaded.


Four centuries give ample opportunity for fiction to creep in with fact. Who can be sure how accurate Blaise's biographer was? But biographical details are not essential. Blaise is seen as one more example of the power those have who give themselves entirely to Jesus. As Jesus told his apostles at the Last Supper, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you" (John 15:7). With faith we can follow the lead of the Church in asking for Blaise's protection.


"Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Blessing of St. Blaise).
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M. 


"Come to me all you who are burdened 
and I will give you rest"
Here I am, Lord.
I come to seek your presence.
I long for your healing power.


By God's grace I was born to live in freedom.
Free to enjoy the pleasures He created for me.
Dear Lord, grant that I may live as You intended,
with complete confidence in Your Loving care.


I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God. I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them. Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment.I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness.

The Word of God

Reading 12 SM 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13

An informant came to David with the report,
"The children of Israel have transferred their loyalty to Absalom."
At this, David said to all his servants
who were with him in Jerusalem:
"Up! Let us take flight, or none of us will escape from Absalom.
Leave quickly, lest he hurry and overtake us,
then visit disaster upon us and put the city to the sword."

As David went up the Mount of Olives, he wept without ceasing.
His head was covered, and he was walking barefoot.
All those who were with him also had their heads covered
and were weeping as they went.

As David was approaching Bahurim,
a man named Shimei, the son of Gera
of the same clan as Saul's family,
was coming out of the place, cursing as he came.
He threw stones at David and at all the king's officers,
even though all the soldiers, including the royal guard,
were on David's right and on his left.
Shimei was saying as he cursed:
"Away, away, you murderous and wicked man!
The LORD has requited you for all the bloodshed in the family of Saul,
in whose stead you became king,
and the LORD has given over the kingdom to your son Absalom.
And now you suffer ruin because you are a murderer."
Abishai, son of Zeruiah, said to the king:
"Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king?
Let me go over, please, and lop off his head."
But the king replied: "What business is it of mine or of yours,
sons of Zeruiah, that he curses?
Suppose the LORD has told him to curse David;
who then will dare to say, 'Why are you doing this?'"
Then the king said to Abishai and to all his servants:
"If my own son, who came forth from my loins, is seeking my life,
how much more might this Benjaminite do so?
Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to.
Perhaps the LORD will look upon my affliction
and make it up to me with benefits
for the curses he is uttering this day."
David and his men continued on the road,
while Shimei kept abreast of them on the hillside,
all the while cursing and throwing stones and dirt as he went.

Responsorial Psalm PS 3:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (8a) Lord, rise up and save me.
O LORD, how many are my adversaries!
Many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
"There is no salvation for him in God."
R. Lord, rise up and save me.
But you, O LORD, are my shield;
my glory, you lift up my head!
When I call out to the LORD,
he answers me from his holy mountain.
R. Lord, rise up and save me.
When I lie down in sleep,
I wake again, for the LORD sustains me.
I fear not the myriads of people
arrayed against me on every side.
R. Lord, rise up and save me.

Gospel MK 5:1-20

Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea,
to the territory of the Gerasenes.
When he got out of the boat,
at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him.
The man had been dwelling among the tombs,
and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.
In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains,
but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed,
and no one was strong enough to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides
he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.
Catching sight of Jesus from a distance,
he ran up and prostrated himself before him,
crying out in a loud voice,
"What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I adjure you by God, do not torment me!"
(He had been saying to him, "Unclean spirit, come out of the man!")
He asked him, "What is your name?"
He replied, "Legion is my name. There are many of us."
And he pleaded earnestly with him
not to drive them away from that territory.

Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside.
And they pleaded with him,
"Send us into the swine. Let us enter them."
And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine.
The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea,
where they were drowned.
The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town
and throughout the countryside.
And people came out to see what had happened.
As they approached Jesus,
they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion,
sitting there clothed and in his right mind.
And they were seized with fear.
Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened
to the possessed man and to the swine.
Then they began to beg him to leave their district.
As he was getting into the boat,
the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.
But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead,
"Go home to your family and announce to them
all that the Lord in his pity has done for you."
Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis
what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.


Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you. To live in the knowledge that you will never abandon me.


Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.

Catholic Meditations

Meditation: 2 Samuel 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13

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Saint Blaise, Bishop and Martyr

Perhaps the Lord will look upon my affliction. (2 Samuel 16:12)


How easy it is to think that when someone sins, it means he or she doesn't love God! How easy to assume that this person has a permanently hardened heart or has completely turned against the Lord! But King David is the perfect example that this is far from the truth. David pleased God, warts and all, because he continued to pursue a relationship with him, despite his sins. So pleasing was David's desire for holiness that God chose to have Jesus born through his line.

David remained faithful to God—not through never sinning but through repentance and humility. Shimei cursed David and threw stones at him, and when David's nephew, Abishai, offered to "lop off" Shimei's head, David rebuked him. "Suppose the Lord has told him to curse David," he said

(2 Samuel 16:10). David knew he was a sinner, so Shimei's curses came as no surprise. But at the same time, he surrendered himself to God, trusting that the Lord would be gracious to him. Such humility and faithfulness must have pleased God very deeply.

Guess what? You please God! We have all sinned. Maybe our faults are not as grave as murder, and maybe they are. Whatever our sins may be, we all have our own list of offenses against God that deserve strong judgment. Like David, we know these offenses, just as God does. But what God wants, rather than to curse us, is to see us face our sins in the same way that David did. He wants us to acknowledge them, turn from them, and earnestly seek his forgiveness and healing.

Even when David was suffering the consequences of his faults, he trusted that God is good and that he can do nothing but good. No matter what we do, God is ready to sweep away our sin and strengthen us against temptation. Fix this truth firmly in your mind. And when your feelings tell you that God doesn't love you, remember David. Remember God's mercy. Remember: he is pleased with you!

"Father, remind me today of your unshakable love. Help me find joy in your mercy and redemption."



Psalm 3:2-7; Mark 5:1-20

Our Lord came up to a hillside, of the Gerasenes, and earlier we read that David was on a hillside, being yelled at by the son of Gera.  There is a connection here, one of evil, one of an accuser, and we know well that the accuser is Satan.  Here the temptation hit David "shall we lop off his head?" was the temptation, another murder to silence another murder.  But David sought God's forgiveness, realizing the sin, and trying to come to terms with the Lord.  In the case of our Lord, Jesus was being yelled at and all the while was praying for the possessed man.  The man was surely cursing every nasty utterance imaginable, "what the heck do you want with us?" evil wants you to shut up, "don't touche me!" and "I don't want you near me", and "leave us alone, don't say anything to me or about me!", yet Jesus prays, and prays, delivering one evil spirit after another, because a legion in the early Roman times was comprised of a thousand men, and in this case perhaps over 1000 demons.  How can a person be possessed by thousands of demons?  Perhaps through thousands of temptations.  Because we are in a battle that is not going to end until the end of the world..."for our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places" (Ephesians 6:12).  (From But the influence of the demon, as we know from Scripture and the history of the Church, goes further still. He may attack man's body from without (obsession), or assume control of it from within (possession).  Now we know what Legion means, and temptations mean, but the very word legion (from Latin legio "military levy, conscription", from legere "to choose") gives choice.  David chose mercy, tormented by past sins, he chose God's mercy instead of being merciless...again.  We are not merciless when we sin.  The sins we will pay for are those against our God and He is in every soul.  Jesus saw this in the chained man.  He knew He came to deliver and save, even though the man would yell "leave me the heck alone" Jesus was persistent, and that is how His mercy works.  It is our choice to prostrate ourselves before God.  We the sinners prostrate ourselves before God in Holy Mass.  We beg for mercy throughout the Mass, and what does God do?  Offers Himself as the bread of life, the flesh for the life of the world.  The visiting priest said "if you are capable, you should make every effort to always be at Mass, a little snow, a little cough, nothing should keep you away" (i'm paraphrasing of course).  But the truth is there and the truth is to be had and shared, because we are speaking of Jesus.  I can testify how sin haunts you like it haunted David and begs Jesus to go away.  You stay away because something is keeping you away.  Yet it is our choice in the end.  Our Lord gives enough will, enough power to pull ourselves out of where we are, and if we are too weak, we have each other to deliver each other from bondage, to salvation.  All were amazed at the saved man, who was told to proclaim to his family what the Lord had done in his pity for him.  St. Paul became amazing after an encounter with the Lord.  We too we can become amazing once we encounter our Lord.  And this is the encounter we need.  But even an encounter calls for one to move as the other moves towards  you.  Funny thing is...He already moved towards, once and for all...