Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I Helped You

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Cooperation With God Minute Meditations
Faith, hope, and love are always somehow a gift—a cooperation with Someone Else, a participation in Something larger than ourselves.
— from Yes, and... 

St. John Joseph of the Cross

Self-denial is never an end in itself but is only a help toward greater charity—as the life of St. John Joseph shows.

John Joseph was very ascetic even as a young man. At 16 he joined the Franciscans in Naples; he was the first Italian to follow the reform movement of St. Peter Alcantara. John Joseph's reputation for holiness prompted his superiors to put him in charge of establishing a new friary even before he was ordained.

Obedience moved John Joseph to accept appointments as novice master, guardian and, finally, provincial. His years of mortification enabled him to offer these services to the friars with great charity. As guardian he was not above working in the kitchen or carrying the wood and water needed by the friars.

When his term as provincial expired, John Joseph dedicated himself to hearing confessions and practicing mortification, two concerns contrary to the spirit of the dawning Age of Enlightenment. John Joseph was canonized in 1839.


John Joseph's mortification allowed him to be the kind of forgiving superior intended by St. Francis. Self-denial should lead us to charity—not to bitterness; it should help us clarify our priorities and make us more loving. John Joseph is living proof of Chesterton's observation: "It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one's own" (G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, page 101).


"And by this I wish to know if you love the Lord God and me, his servant and yours—if you have acted in this manner: that is, there should not be any brother in the world who has sinned, however much he may have possibly sinned, who, after he has looked into your eyes, would go away without having received your mercy, if he is looking for mercy. And if he were not to seek mercy, you should ask him if he wants mercy. And if he should sin thereafter a thousand times before your very eyes, love him more than me so that you may draw him back to the Lord. Always be merciful to such as these" (St. Francis, Letter to a Minister).

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


Dear Jesus, I come to you today
longing for your presence.
I desire to love you as You love me.
May nothing ever separate me from You.



Lord, may I never take the gift
of freedom for granted. You gave
me the great blessing of freedom of
spirit. Fill my spirit with Your peace and
Your joy.


I ask how I am within myself today? Am I particularly tired, stressed, or off-form? If any of these characteristics apply, can I try to let go of the concerns that disturb me?

The Word of God

Ash Wednesday

Lectionary: 219

If the blessing and distribution of ashes take place outside Mass, it is appropriate that the Liturgy of the Word precede it, using texts assigned to the Mass of Ash Wednesday.

Reading 1JL 2:12-18

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, "Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
'Where is their God?'"

Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.

Responsorial Psalm PS 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 12-13, 14 AND 17

R. (see 3a) Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
"Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight."
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Reading 2 2 COR 5:20-6:2

Brothers and sisters:
We are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, 
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Working together, then,
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:

In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Gospel MT 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."


How has God's Word moved me? Has it left me cold? Has it consoled me or moved me to act in a new way? I imagine Jesus standing or sitting beside me, I turn and share my feelings with him.


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: Joel 2:12-18

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Ash Wednesday

Return to me with your whole heart. (Joel 2:12)


Welcome to Lent! For the next forty days, we will be journeying through the "desert" of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving as we travel toward the celebration of Jesus' resurrection at Easter.

Now, we all know that a desert is uninhabitable, full of danger, and lacking in such necessities as food and water. Why would anyone want to go there? Only, it seems, out of obedience to God. Mark tells us that it was the Spirit who "drove" Jesus into the desert (Mark 1:12). The Spirit pressed him to enter this place of testing and temptation.

Where did Jesus find the strength to survive the desert's harsh conditions and resist temptation? In the word of God. He survived because he depended on God and all that he had promised.

As it happened to Jesus, so it now happens to us. Beginning today, the Holy Spirit wants to move us into the desert. He wants to separate us from the comforts of everyday life so that we can focus on overcoming the sin and moral weakness that separate us from God. But we don't go there alone. The Spirit will help us in our weakness (Romans 8:26). He will guide us and encourage us when we are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Of course, we have to play our part. We have to be willing to "compete well for the faith" (1 Timothy 6:12). So plan to fast this Lent. Make time for prayer every day, and immerse yourself in God's word. Be generous to those who are in need. Return to the Lord in these ways, and he will bless you.

Let's make this Lent a time of openness to God's favor. Let's ask him to fill us with his grace, love, wisdom, and strength so that we can pass every test that lies ahead. If we are open, we will not be disappointed!

"Lord, open my eyes to your presence here in the desert. Help me to overcome the sin that separates me from you so that I can rejoice with you on Easter Sunday."


Psalm 51:3-6, 12-14, 17; 2 Corinthians 5:20--6:2; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Today's 5minutos says (I will attempt to translate for you):
  "We start Lent, let us put into practice what will best help us to be more like Jesus and less like ourselves. "Practicing justice": The Justice: that you practice it and defend it.  It signifies respecting the dignity and rights of the others.  Includes tolerance, and solidarity.  It requires not to take advantage of the other, not rob the least of the other nor take advantage of the theft of others, not to do excessive spending.  The Fast:  It is a call to live austerity, and return to the poor what is left over.  Fasting of so many things that are left over.  It is of Justice.  The Mercy. That "you love mercy", that you be filled with mercy, and to live the mercy, that you live in the mercy, that the mercy give you capacity to love.  It is what mostly defines the Christian, because it it what most  identifies the God of Jesus Christ, mercy signifies comprehension, compassion, help, and forgiveness, closeness and solidarity, endearing love.  The Alms:  was considered one of the works of mercy, the most meaningful.  Who is merciful is generous.  But for alms giving to be merciful, it is precise that the gift hurt you, and that you give of yourself: your time, your qualities and capacities (talent) your services.  The Prayer is the means most powerful to walk with God, to live openly to Him, to feel His friendly presence; and the best means to know Him and recognize Him in every person, in every event, and to serve Him with humility and love.  Walk humbly with your God.  Live in His presence, gratefully, serving, trusting.  That you know Him and recognize Him, that you serve humbly, especially in the needy.  That "you live diligently to the service of God".  Let God be so, like the sun of your journey."
  It is fitting, lent for all, to be more like Christ, for all, to be more human for all.  Because all the humanity does not compare to the humanity of Christ in the world.  For the humanity, for the image of God, for the love of God, we will journey through lent to Easter, 40 days in the desert, leaving aside myself for Him, to find Him who is already waiting.  The lover, awaits, the love that gives complete and full joy to those who are empty.  "What are you giving up?" many ask during lent.  Many answers will come, this and that will be given up, but what about giving up what truly hurts?  It hurt me yesterday to say "sorry" to someone I apparently offended.  I just couldn't and wouldn't do it, but for the love of God I should've done it, for the love of Christ in them, for them to feel peace instead of what I claimed was justice, for "I had done no wrong". Because justice is the Love of God first that proves the love of neighbor.  So for lent, how about giving it up?  "What? Me?  You mean, my pride?" Yes, I must decrease and He must increase.  In today's 1st Holy Scripture we read "Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'".  I went to vote yesterday, and on the ballot they asked if I believed it is ok to have public prayer "Texans should be free to express their religious beliefs, including prayer, in public places. YES / NO"  Where is their God?  I will tell you where He is, He is among His people, "the Shepherd smells like sheep" says Pope Francis.  Pope Francis also said "Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one's life. Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God!".  We read today "do not be like those on street corners praying so that they may be seen", but I felt like saying "go out to street corners and pray for every single lost soul, and lead them to Christ!"  It is not about me, it is all about HIM!  As a matter of fact, there is a new wave of youth that are taking to the streets, handing out rosaries and offering prayer, yet the question on the ballot says "should we allow public prayer?" and these questions come from the devil, because it all began with such a question "do you really believe"?  And although it is a cunning question, it is also fuel for doubt for those that are beginning to leave the faith.  Do you believe we should be true Christ followers?  I know I've prayed on street corners, especially in front of an abortion clinic where many cursed at us, gave us the finger, threatened with police, but what you don't know is of the lives that were saved and even more importantly...perhaps even some souls.  And this is where it matters, and the heart of it all...Jesus.  So, are you going to give until it hurts?  Of your time (especially in service and prayer)? Of your talent (service and prayer)?  And treasure (your services you do and prayers!)?  This penitential season begins following the footsteps of Christ before the Passion began.  Here we are too, our first day, already we are called to fast and abstain and encouraged to take on ashes that has been tradition since the 900's.  What will we take on? Because already our souls have been starving and thirsting in a world that does not fill and fulfill...
And So It Begins