Monday, May 26, 2014

Have Not Known

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Minute Meditations

Think First

At the time of temptation think of the love that awaits you in heaven: foster the virtue of hope. —St. JosemarĂ­a Escrivá
— from A 40-Day Spiritual Workout for Catholics

St. Philip Neri
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Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise.
At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate.

As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip's appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome.

At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led "excursions" to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way.

Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip's followers, and composed music for the services.

The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.)

Philip's advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.


Many people wrongly feel that such an attractive and jocular personality as Philip's cannot be combined with an intense spirituality. Philip's life melts our rigid, narrow views of piety. His approach to sanctity was truly catholic, all-embracing and accompanied by a good laugh. Philip always wanted his followers to become not less but more human through their striving for holiness.


Philip Neri prayed, "Let me get through today, and I shall not fear tomorrow."

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


To be present is to arrive as one is and open up to the other.
At this instant, as I arrive here, God is present waiting for me.
God always arrives before me, desiring to connect with me
even more than my most intimate friend.
I take a moment and greet my loving God.


Lord, grant me the grace to be free from the excesses of this life.
Let me not get caught up with the desire for wealth.
Keep my heart and mind free to love and serve you.


Help me Lord to be more conscious of your presence. Teach me to recognise your presence in others.  Fill my heart with gratitude for the times Your love has been shown to me through the care of others.

The Word of God

Reading 1 Acts 16:11-15

We set sail from Troas, making a straight run for Samothrace,
and on the next day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi,
a leading city in that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony.
We spent some time in that city.
On the sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river
where we thought there would be a place of prayer.
We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there.
One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth,
from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened,
and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention
to what Paul was saying.
After she and her household had been baptized,
she offered us an invitation,
"If you consider me a believer in the Lord,
come and stay at my home," and she prevailed on us.

Responsorial Psalm ps 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

R. (see 4a) The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.

Gospel jn 15:26-16:4a

Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me from the beginning.

"I have told you this so that you may not fall away.
They will expel you from the synagogues;
in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you
will think he is offering worship to God.
They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.
I have told you this so that when their hour comes
you may remember that I told you."


Conversation requires talking and listening.  As I talk to Jesus may I also learn to be still and listen.  I picture the gentleness in His eyes and the smile full of love as he gazes on me.  I can be totally honest with Jesus as I tell Him of my worries and my cares.  I will open up my heart to Him as I tell Him of my fears and my doubts.  I will ask Him to help me to place myself fully in His care, to abandon myself to Him, knowing that He always wants what is best for me.


I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.

Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Acts 16:11-15

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Saint Philip Neri, Priest

One of them, a woman named Lydia, ... opened her heart. (Acts 16:14)

In today's reading, Paul journeys to Europe, where he meets a businesswoman named Lydia. And what had begun as a normal day by the river turns into a life-changing spiritual encounter for Lydia and her family. Lydia, a Gentile, was already a worshipper of the God of the Jews, but God had plans for her to know his Son, Jesus, as well. Luke tells us that God opened Lydia's heart to Paul's preaching, and she became his first European convert to Christianity (Acts 16:14). From this point on, Lydia's life would be characterized by a loving, life-giving relationship with Jesus.

This is the very nature of conversion: God touches our hearts and makes us aware of his love, our sinfulness, and our need for his mercy. Such an awareness moves us to turn toward him so that he can begin a process of teaching and empowering us to embrace his goodness and reject the glamour of evil.

While the story of Lydia in Acts is short, we can be sure that it didn't end where Luke leaves it. Lydia's conversion not only prompted her to accept baptism; it also moved her to welcome Paul and his companions into her home. Such an act of generosity shows that "conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures, and works of penance" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1430). It also shows that conversion is not just a one-time event but a lifelong process. It involves continually being open to God and bearing good fruit as we learn to cooperate with his Spirit.

As God continues to help us open our hearts to him, we are transformed bit by bit. The most important changes we experience do not come as a result of big, spectacular events but from the ordinary events of our day. We leave behind the marks of our old life as selfishness gives way to service, wasted time becomes opportunities for prayer, and the approval of God eclipses human praise. So let us keep the doors of our hearts wide open to Jesus so that we can be molded into his beautiful image!

"Father, deepen the conversion of my heart, and let me experience greater intimacy with you. May my experience of your vast love inspire and strengthen me to love and serve people in the name of your only Son, Jesus."


Psalm 149:1-6, 9; John 15:26--16:4

Today's 5 minutos reflection ends with:
"...In 1905 the University of Bern declined a doctoral dissertation as too elaborate and irrevelant.  The young physics student that wrote that dissertation kept trying and came to develop one of his theories that is generally accepted.  His name was Albert Einstein.  When rejection shakes your resolution and obscures your goals, keep trying.  If you do not give up, one day you will be living your dreams!  The perseverance is essential in the Christian life.  Pray for it today."

Perhaps that is one of the gifts I always pray for, the gift of perseverance.  When asked to give a perseverance talk, I do not know what to say, because what can you say in a perseverance talk other than "do not give up".  Like Saint Philip Neri's quote. Lord, "Let me get through today, and I shall not fear tomorrow".  My brother in Christ, JEsse, (Lord rest his soul), we sat together alone in the church, tired of inviting people to join us and not coming, he said words of giving up, and this the man that had called us together, me and him.  I remember looking at him perplexed and said words he never forgot for the rest of his life "but Jesse, we're not allowed to give up".  We are soldiers of God.  We are not ex-marines, or ex-navy, or airforce, nor ex-any military.  We are either soldiers or we are not.  We are either for Christ or we are not.  You are either in the battle or you are not.  And so conversions you will know of are few, but they are more.  For this, your greater duty is that of greater holiness, and that comes with a wholeness in Christ.  This day we recall memorial day, for the fallen veterans that died for our rights.  What rights?  The rights to freedom and worship are some of the rights.  Yet, little by little, add a few laws and you chip away at this freedom.  Soon, God is taken out of schools, and the workplace, and the public.  Soon, you are confined to your home where you are bombarded with bad news and nasty things on air.  Yet, out of thin air is still the possiblity to breathe hope and that hope is the Holy Spirit of God.  Gasping for air, we can survive as has always been the case for those that live for the Lord.  God is coming.  Yet His way of coming is unique to every human soul.  That is why the last words of today's Holy Gospel perplex me.  Jesus speaks of those that do not know the Father or Jesus, and they kill as if worship to God.  What God?  And He says He tells us this so that we may know when their hour comes.  It almost seems as He is going to be merciful.  But how can God be merciful on a murderer?  I don't know.  How did Saint Pope John Paul II go visit the assassin that shot him in the 4 times with an assault rifle?   This act perplexed the family of the assassin.  It moved them to grieve the Pope when he was dying years later, and moved the assassin to visit the tomb later if he could not see the funeral while in prison.  We do not understand everything in the bible.  What we need to understand though is the message.  His will must be our will.  What needs to be considered is while we are free to worship, why don't we?  Use it or lose it they say.  It is very natural for evil to come in when nothing is going on for the Lord.  You relax from working out and the body becomes weak.  I say this because I tried to do some exercise in the morning and I was hurting.  But you have to hurt if you want to be strong.  And this is where Jesus comes in.  We can not understand the message of the cross.  He gave the ultimate testimony for love of God and His will. God obeying God, God loving God.  My pains though can not compare.  All I can do on this memorial day is give thanks.  I give thanks to God.  In His memory I live.  His eyes are watching.  His heart is feeling.  His arms are reaching.  His mercy is on His people.  Do I belong to the people?  To the people of God, yes.  We belong. We who are reading this are leaders, in our homes, work, and beyond.  Leaders?  Yes, in the faith yes.  Otherwise you would not read this today, where we read of saints, and conversions, and the Spirit acting on our behalf for the good of the world.  There is no greater love, and God loves you like this...