Wednesday, April 9, 2014

If You Remain

Untitled document


We can hardly think of Jesus without remembering the times he miraculously fed the crowds who followed him. Not everyone can expect miracles, though, and we should always be mindful of those who do not have enough.
— from Table of Plenty 

St. Casilda
(17th Century)

Some saints' names are far more familiar to us than others, but even the lives of obscure holy persons teach us something.

And so it is with St. Casilda, the daughter of a Muslim leader in Toledo, Spain, in the 10th century. Casilda was herself raised as a Muslim and showed special kindness to Christian prisoners. She became ill as a young woman but was not convinced that any of the local Arab doctors could cure her. So, she made a pilgrimage to the shrine of San Vicenzo in northern Spain. Like so many other people who made their way there—many of them suffering from hemorrhages—Casilda sought the healing waters of the shrine. We're uncertain what brought her to the shrine, but we do know that she left it relieved of illness.

In response, she became a Christian and lived a life of solitude and penance not far from the miraculous spring. It's said that she lived to be 100 years old. Her death likely occurred around the year 1050.

Tensions between Muslims and Christians have often existed throughout history, sometimes resulting in bloody conflict. Through her quiet, simple life Casilda served her Creator—first in one faith, then another

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

Reading 1DN 3:14-20, 91-92, 95

King Nebuchadnezzar said:

"Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,

that you will not serve my god,

or worship the golden statue that I set up?

Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made,

whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,

flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe,

and all the other musical instruments;

otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace;

and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?"

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar,

"There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you

in this matter.

If our God, whom we serve,

can save us from the white-hot furnace

and from your hands, O king, may he save us!

But even if he will not, know, O king,

that we will not serve your god

or worship the golden statue that you set up."

King Nebuchadnezzar's face became livid with utter rage

against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual

and had some of the strongest men in his army

bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

and cast them into the white-hot furnace.

Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles,

"Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?"

"Assuredly, O king," they answered.

"But," he replied, "I see four men unfettered and unhurt,

walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God." 

Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed,

"Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,

who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him;

they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies

rather than serve or worship any god

except their own God."

Responsorial Psalm DN 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever!

"Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;

And blessed is your holy and glorious name,

praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages."

R. Glory and praise for ever!

"Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.

R. Glory and praise for ever!

"Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever."

R. Glory and praise for ever!

"Blessed are you who look into the depths

from your throne upon the cherubim;

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever."

R. Glory and praise for ever!

"Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,

praiseworthy and glorious forever."

R. Glory and praise for ever!

Gospel JN 8:31-42

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him,

"If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,

and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham

and have never been enslaved to anyone. 

How can you say, 'You will become free'?"

Jesus answered them, "Amen, amen, I say to you,

everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.

A slave does not remain in a household forever,

but a son always remains. 

So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.

I know that you are descendants of Abraham.

But you are trying to kill me,

because my word has no room among you. 

I tell you what I have seen in the Father's presence;

then do what you have heard from the Father."

They answered and said to him, "Our father is Abraham." 

Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children,

you would be doing the works of Abraham. 

But now you are trying to kill me,

a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God;

Abraham did not do this.

You are doing the works of your father!"

So they said to him, "We were not born of fornication. 

We have one Father, God." 

Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me,

for I came from God and am here;

I did not come on my own, but he sent me."

Catholic Meditations


View NAB Reading at 

5th Week of Lent

The truth will set you free. (John 8:32)

Shin Dong-hyuk was a prisoner in a North Korean prison camp for twenty-three years before he escaped. But for most of that time, he thought that his life was normal. You see, he was born there. "I just thought that those people who carry guns were born to carry guns," he said. It took him so long to entertain the thought of escaping because he thought that everyone lived in a camp like his. During his incarceration, if you had asked him the meaning of the word "freedom," he wouldn't have known how to answer!

You can hear similarities to Shin's story in what Jewish leaders say to Jesus in today's Gospel: "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone" (John 8:33). Jesus is trying to tell them that they are slaves—slaves to sin. But they can't understand what he means. They are observing the Law to the best of their ability; what could possibly be wrong with that? Nothing at all. But Jesus wanted to give them something more.

Jesus wanted his listeners to remain free to obey the Law, but he also wanted them to know the freedom of the Holy Spirit: the freedom to hear the Spirit speak words of wisdom, love, and guidance; the freedom from self-centered concerns and anxieties; the freedom to do the very things that Jesus was doing—a freedom based on the power of God living and active in their hearts.

Freedom in Christ is something we never stop needing, even if we've been walking with the Lord for a long time. As Easter draws near, consider what freedom looks like for you. You may find that, like Shin Dong-hyuk, you have been imprisoned for quite a while without even knowing it. Do you need the freedom to become the person you want to be—more patient, more considerate, more open to the Holy Spirit? The freedom to go out and build the kingdom of God with confidence and grace? Freedom from a longstanding resentment or past hurt? Jesus wants to set you free. So let his truth settle deep into your heart so that you can step into the freedom he has prepared for you this Lent.

"Lord, send me your light and your grace—the light to see where I need to change and the grace to make those changes! Jesus, I want to be set free!"

Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; (Psalm) Daniel 3:52-56

It is possible that the devil will try to take you by force, but many times you are enslaved willingly.  You give into temptation, become slaves, and then the slavery continues to your children, and your children's children, and then, like the above reflection says, it seems normal, sin seems normal, accepted as a way of life.  And so when you have someone ask you to turn your life to Jesus, it is an absurdity, crazy talk, and the fight begins.  People have become zombies, living dead people, not all, but many.   Last night I was fueling up after lector practice and practicing the role of Jesus Christ in the passion readings for Palm Sunday.  I don't know if I got the role because of my beard or the Holy Spirit LOL, but I digress, as I was approaching the gas station door, an older man got out of his brand new stingray corvette with chrome rims, walked in the front door and did not do the customary holding of the door for the next person behind you (which was me), so as it closed I reached to open it.  I guess he hadn't noticed me as he was flipping through all his lottery tickets and was rushing into the cash them ,(had he closed the door to Jesus?), a small act of kindness gone by the wayside.  As I went to pay for some chocoloate milk for my kids waiting in the car, the clerk (for who knows what reason) said to me about that old man in the fancy car "that is our million dar scratch off winner".  Apparently he hit it big and was still after winning some more, having left right before me to cash $100 lottery ticket to buy more tickets.  I say this because the government sells tickets.  A chance to strike it rich, in exchange for millions of others that won't get a dime.  I say this because many times in our lives we can get caught up in a lifestyle, or addictions that consumes you and by this I mean enslaves you...willingly.  And you don't have to be an addict to just drugs to be a slave, I notice many are slaves of slander, putting others down at the expense of their dignity and for a cheap laugh.  I say this because for the majority of us "normal" so called "christians" our slavery is more leaned towards anger, or lust, or disordered desires.  All you have to do is feed it a little bit, that jealousy, that pride, and boy oh boy, you are hooked!  You have just allowed the devil in the soul where he won't want to leave, unless burned out.  When the people in the first Holy Scripture were burned alive, the devil had not been successful in burning them from the inside so it tried to burn them from the outside, but when you got God first, nothing can touch you.  Be STRONG my child!  Be like Jesus.  One of the worst dangers is to say you believe in God and not allow Him to tell you what to do or how to be.  Yet we say we supposedly "trust Him" right?  We cry when He takes something or someone away, but the beauty is when we say after those tears "Ok God, you can have them".  That makes the heart of God well up with even more love than you thought possible.  That's what Jesus did, He sweated blood and probably shed some tears to know He couldn't stay longer on earth although He wanted to, but said "Ok Father, I'll do what you want", and then allowed the devil to scourge Him to death with whips, spitting, and hitting, the devil working through people like you and me of course.  That's how nasty sin is, the devil allowed to work through us, to blind us and bind us from being one with the Father, so we do not remain in Him and Him in us.  The devil's aim is to separate, split, conquer, and divide.  One of the toughest ministries I've ever been a part of is the Cursillo Ultreyas.  I can do friendship group, even though that is super tough, even worse is trying to get familes and cursillistas together.  Nope, the devil has put up a hell of a fight for the last nearly 10 years of working at it, and to show for it?  No growth in numbers, just replaced faces, and someone still trying.  Yet Mother Teresa reminds us that "we are not called to be successful, just faithful".  That tenacity has to endure the tests of fire that don't stop.  I want you to consider what is being asked of you next time you are tempted to drop something for the Church.  Fires burn and they are hot, and they hurt.  But our hearts are steadfast in Him.  Jesus our MASTER says later in the Gospel of John, and I'll leave you with this from chapter 15;  "If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love"

Subscribe to the Going4th mailing list.