Wednesday, February 12, 2014

From His Heart

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Respect All Life Minute Meditations
In giving human beings dominion over creation, God has charged each of us with protecting its many creatures—both human and nonhuman. How will we respond?
— from For Love of Animals 

St. Apollonia
(d. 249)

The persecution of Christians began in Alexandria during the reign of the Emperor Philip. The first victim of the pagan mob was an old man named Metrius, who was tortured and then stoned to death. The second person who refused to worship their false idols was a Christian woman named Quinta. Her words infuriated the mob and she was scourged and stoned.

While most of the Christians were fleeing the city, abandoning all their worldly possessions, an old deaconess, Apollonia, was seized. The crowds beat her, knocking out all of her teeth. Then they lit a large fire and threatened to throw her in it if she did not curse her God. She begged them to wait a moment, acting as if she was considering their requests. Instead, she jumped willingly into the flames and so suffered martyrdom.

There were many churches and altars dedicated to her. Apollonia is the patroness of dentists, and people suffering from toothache and other dental diseases often ask her intercession. She is pictured with a pair of pincers holding a tooth or with a golden tooth suspended from her necklace. St. Augustine explained her voluntary martyrdom as a special inspiration of the Holy Spirit, since no one is allowed to cause his or her own death.


The Church has quite a sense of humor! Apollonia is honored as the patron saint of dentists, but this woman who had her teeth extracted without anesthetic surely ought to be the patron of those who dread the chair. She might also be the patron of the aging, for she attained glory in her old age, standing firm before her persecutors even as her fellow Christians fled the city. However we choose to honor her, she remains a model of courage for us.

Patron Saint of:


Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M. 


I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me, creating me in his image and likeness, making me his temple....


Lord you gave me life and the gift of freedom.
Through Your love I exist in this world.
May I never take the gift of life for granted.
May I always respect the right to life of others.


Where do I sense hope, encouragement, and growth areas in my life? By looking back over the last few months, I may be able to see which activities and occasions have produced rich fruit.  If I do notice such areas, I will determine to give those areas both time and space in the future.

The Word of God

Reading 11 KGS 10:1-10

The queen of Sheba, having heard of Solomon's fame,
came to test him with subtle questions.
She arrived in Jerusalem with a very numerous retinue,
and with camels bearing spices,
a large amount of gold, and precious stones.
She came to Solomon and questioned him on every subject
in which she was interested.
King Solomon explained everything she asked about,
and there remained nothing hidden from him
that he could not explain to her.

When the queen of Sheba witnessed Solomon's great wisdom,
the palace he had built, the food at his table,
the seating of his ministers, the attendance and garb of his waiters,
his banquet service,
and the burnt offerings he offered in the temple of the LORD,
she was breathless.
"The report I heard in my country
about your deeds and your wisdom is true," she told the king.
"Though I did not believe the report until I came and saw with my own eyes,
I have discovered that they were not telling me the half.
Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report I heard.
Blessed are your men, blessed these servants of yours,
who stand before you always and listen to your wisdom.
Blessed be the LORD, your God,
whom it has pleased to place you on the throne of Israel.
In his enduring love for Israel,
the LORD has made you king to carry out judgment and justice."
Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty gold talents,
a very large quantity of spices, and precious stones.
Never again did anyone bring such an abundance of spices
as the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

Responsorial Psalm PS 37:5-6, 30-31, 39-40

R. (30a) The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.
Commit to the LORD your way;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will make justice dawn for you like the light;
bright as the noonday shall be your vindication.
R. The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.
The mouth of the just man tells of wisdom
and his tongue utters what is right.
The law of his God is in his heart,
and his steps do not falter.
R. The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.
The salvation of the just is from the LORD;
he is their refuge in time of distress.
And the LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
R. The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.

Gospel MK 7:14-23

Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them,
"Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile." 

When he got home away from the crowd
his disciples questioned him about the parable.
He said to them,
"Are even you likewise without understanding?
Do you not realize that everything
that goes into a person from outside cannot defile,
since it enters not the heart but the stomach
and passes out into the latrine?"
(Thus he declared all foods clean.)
"But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him.
From within the man, from his heart,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile."


I begin to talk to Jesus about the piece of scripture I have just read.What part of it strikes a chord in me?Perhaps the words of a friend - or some story I have heard recently- will slowly rise to the surface in my consciousness.If so, does the story throw light on what the scripture passage may be trying to say to 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: Mark 7:14-23

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5th Week in Ordinary Time

Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile. (Mark 7:15)


In no uncertain terms, Jesus made it clear that the most serious spiritual challenge we face is our own heart. Wounded by sin, clouded by temptation, we are our own worst enemy. Even the desire to blame other people or our environment for our failings is something that comes "from within"!

So what is this "from within" that Jesus spoke about? To try to answer that, take a look at how you might respond to an unexpected event. What would you do if a friend suddenly started treating you harshly? What if your supervisor at work gave you a strong rebuke? Would you become defensive and cynical? Or would you try to make amends and seek reconciliation? How about trying to overcome a tendency to complain or criticize? Or maybe, as Pope Francis has urged, you might not just hand a poor person some food but look him in the eye and learn his name and a bit of his story.

There are many other examples, but the main point is to try to become more honest about the motives behind our actions, both bad and good. It can be tempting to shift the blame to external influences like the media, our often abrasive culture, or even "those people" who get on our nerves. But the reality is that everything we say or do arises from within our own heart. If our hearts change, it stands to reason that our actions will follow.

Spend some time with Jesus. Let him put his finger on just one trait he would like to work on with you. Is it kindness or humility? Patience or generosity? Gentleness or straightforwardness? Each of these is a manifestation of love. Each is a blessing that can "come out" of us more if we ask the Lord for help.

Jesus is eager to pour his grace into you so that you can become more like himself in this special corner of your heart. So open yourself to his love so that what comes "out from within" gives glory to him and helps build his kingdom on earth.

"Jesus, I offer you my heart. Let your love penetrate and transform its darkest corner."


 1 Kings 10:1-10; Psalm 37:5-6, 30-31, 39-40

Allow me to translate today's spanish reflection 5minutos:

  "When one sees  with the eyes of the heart the garden that God made for man, one asks where could've the disorder come from.  And when one sees the world we are in, with all its natural resources, with all its marvels and beauties, with all its diversity and the science that we have constructed as a human race, equally we can ask where did disorder come from; because the world is not how it could be.  Jesus invites us  to return the eyes to the proper heart.  The problem is not outside, nor in the incitements of the perverse men.  The problem is born from within; all the evil we will see in the world was first approved by some human heart.  It is there then where the conversion should be born; it is there where the alliance should be celebrated; it is there where God can encounter His new garden, and the man a new better paradise... A perverse person resolved to make present to a person for their anniversary, and ironically, sends a tray full of trash and waste.  In the presence of all, he sends in the present, that is received with great joy by the feasted one who gently appreciates and asks to wait a moment, that he could return the gentleness.  He throws the trash, washes the tray, and covers it with flowers, and returns it to the donor.  This one, with great intrigue asks them "I have sent you a tray of trash and you in return send me flowers?" To which the feasted one responds,-'That's how it is sir, everyone gives what they possess in their heart".  Free your heart the negative. "

Take into account today's Holy scriptures.  The Queen of Sheba came to prove King Solomon.  She was left breathless, just like the story of the guy who got flowers.  Astounded.  The Holy Gospel tells us that we too can be left breathless and leave others breathless.  Breathless is to be amazed.  Jesus said what comes into our mouth does not defile, but what comes out of the heart is what defiles.  Unfortunately many times what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and it stinks.  How can it be that a person that takes in Christ and walk out cursing?  It happens with the Eucharist, it is defiled when it had just cleansed.  Why does it happen?  Because of the heart.  Notice where our passions go...the heart goes, often into dark corners.  Our hearts should go to light, illuminating dark corners.  We were eating dinner last night, and my older boy asked me if Valentine's day was a "God day" thing.  Pretty interesting question for a 6 year old.  I thought about it and said, "I guess it is, because it is about love, and God is love".  I asked him why, what he thought about it and he said "oh, I thought it was a day you are to do what you are supposed to do".  I was left thinking, well, that is right.  We are supposed to show love that day and every single day.  How often has someone insulted and you and you return their bad words with loving words?  How often do I encounter the temptation of sin and choose God instead?  How often do I encounter a problem with someone and leave them unaided, not even a prayer?  Because we are good judges right?  Jesus said in Luke 11:31 "At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here."  She will condemn men of this generation?  Are we speaking of the end times?  The end of times has always been around.  Today's saint experienced the end as she was proved and proved with fire.  What came from her heart made for generations of devotion to God.  The same can happen with you.  Let His fire prove you.  Take His test.  Take His cross.  Take His Way.  Take what is rightly His and give freely...the love of God.  Spread it to every corner.  Because we can say we believe til our face is blue, and all the activity not mean a thing.  What then, we are speaking of is an authentic encounter with A Divine Love.  Not the soft goody tushu kind, but a true sincere love, the kind that requires you to dig deep inside for holiness, the kind of love that drives people to God, to true Life, because otherwise, even on Valentine's day, you would be loving to death.