Monday, June 9, 2014

Because of Me

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Minute Meditations

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Next time you begin complaining about why your parish, neighborhood, or community isn't doing something about a problem, pray for guidance on how you can become part of the solution.
— from Sisterhood of Saints

St. Ephrem

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Poet, teacher, orator and defender of the faith, Ephrem is the only Syrian recognized as a doctor of the Church. He took upon himself the special task of opposing the many false doctrines rampant at his time, always remaining a true and forceful defender of the Catholic Church.
Born in Nisibis, Mesopotamia, he was baptized as a young man and became famous as a teacher in his native city. When the Christian emperor had to cede Nisibis to the Persians, Ephrem, along with many Christians, fled as a refugee to Edessa. He is credited with attracting great glory to the biblical school there. He was ordained a deacon but declined becoming a priest (and was said to have avoided episcopal consecration by feigning madness!).

He had a prolific pen, and his writings best illumine his holiness. Although he was not a man of great scholarship, his works reflect deep insight and knowledge of the Scriptures. In writing about the mysteries of humanity's redemption, Ephrem reveals a realistic and humanly sympathetic spirit and a great devotion to the humanity of Jesus. It is said that his poetic account of the Last Judgment inspired Dante.

It is surprising to read that he wrote hymns against the heretics of his day. He would take the popular songs of the heretical groups and, using their melodies, compose beautiful hymns embodying orthodox doctrine. Ephrem became one of the first to introduce song into the Church's public worship as a means of instruction for the faithful. His many hymns have earned him the title "Harp of the Holy Spirit."

He preferred a simple, austere life, living in a small cave overlooking the city of Edessa. It was here he died around 373.



Many Catholics still find singing in church a problem, probably because of the rather individualistic piety that they inherited. Yet singing has been a tradition of both the Old and the New Testament. It is an excellent way of expressing and creating a community spirit of unity as well as joy. Ephrem's hymns, an ancient historian testifies, "lent luster to the Christian assemblies." We need some modern Ephrems—and cooperating singers—to do the same for our Christian assemblies today.


Lay me not with sweet spices,
For this honor avails me not,
Nor yet use incense and perfumes,
For the honor befits me not.
Burn yet the incense in the holy place;
As for me, escort me only with your prayers,
Give ye your incense to God,
And over me send up hymns.
Instead of perfumes and spices,
Be mindful of me in your intercessions.
(From The Testament of St. Ephrem)
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.


At any time of the day or night we can call on Jesus.
He is always waiting, listening for our call.
What a wonderful blessing.
No phone needed, no e-mails, just a whisper.


God is not foreign to my freedom.
Instead the Spirit breathes life into my most intimate desires,
gently nudging me towards all that is good.
I ask for the grace to let myself be enfolded by the Spirit.


How do I find myself today?
Where am I with God? With others?
Do I have something to be grateful for?
Then I give thanks.
Is there something I am sorry for?
Then I ask forgiveness.

The Word of God
Matthew 5:1-12

Reading 1 1 kgs 17:1-6

Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab:
"As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve,
during these years there shall be no dew or rain except at my word."
The LORD then said to Elijah:
"Leave here, go east
and hide in the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan.
You shall drink of the stream,
and I have commanded ravens to feed you there."
So he left and did as the LORD had commanded.
He went and remained by the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan.
Ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning,
and bread and meat in the evening,
and he drank from the stream.

Responsorial Psalm ps 121:1bc-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

R. (see 2) Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
I lift up my eyes toward the mountains;
whence shall help come to me?
My help is from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
May he not suffer your foot to slip;
may he slumber not who guards you:
Indeed he neither slumbers nor sleeps,
the guardian of Israel.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
The LORD is your guardian; the LORD is your shade;
he is beside you at your right hand.
The sun shall not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
The LORD will guard you from all evil;
he will guard your life.
The LORD will guard your coming and your going,
both now and forever.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Gospel mt 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.
Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Do I notice myself reacting as I pray with the Word of God? Do I feel challenged, comforted, angry? Imagining Jesus sitting or standing by me, I speak out my feelings, as one trusted friend to another.


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: Matthew 5:1-12

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Saint Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church

He began to teach them. (Matthew 5:2)

For years, scholars and theologians have debated the structure and meaning of the Sermon on the Mount. Did Jesus really give this "sermon" in one sitting as Matthew presents it here? Many experts are not sure. Some point to the similarities with—and differences from—Luke's "sermon on the plain" (Luke 6:17-49) to show how flexible these sayings are.

Perhaps this sermon really is Matthew's unique compilation of a number of teachings that Jesus gave over the course of his ministry. Weaving them together as one long sermon that Jesus gives on a hillside, Matthew reminds the readers of Moses, who also brought God's law to the people on a mountainside. For Matthew, Jesus' teaching is a new law, just as Jesus is the fulfillment of Moses, the original lawgiver.

Looking at these issues, as well as similar issues raised by other Gospel passages, several things become evident. For one, it seems that the four men who wrote the Gospels were out to do more than just record history. They were prophetic theologians, not newspaper reporters. They were commissioned by God to paint portraits of Jesus that would endure until the end of time. The Spirit worked through these four men, empowering them to give a legacy to the whole Church that a simple biography never could do.

In their own way, these Evangelists took the gospel message to the ends of the earth. They weren't traveling preachers like Paul or Barnabas, but by putting down on paper all that the Spirit was showing them, they "brought" the story and the person of Jesus to millions upon millions of people. They made it possible for the Spirit to touch generation after generation with the truths of who Jesus is and what he has done for us.

Jesus wants to commission you as well. You may not become a world-traveling missionary, but you can take the gospel into your world and become an ambassador for Christ. Simply by letting the words of the Gospels sink into your heart, you are paving the way for the Spirit to touch everyone you encounter. After all, the more he lives in you, the more he can work through you!

"Jesus, I want to know you more and more. Open the eyes of my heart so that I can hear your voice and receive your wisdom."


1 Kings 17:1-6; Psalm 121:1-8


We should make it a point to not just "memorize" the Gospel of today, but to learn it, and live it.  This man gets sad when a ministry is taken from him.  This man though complained much.  This man did not let the beatitudes sink into the heart.  This man had forgotten that it is something to rejoice when you GET TO suffer for the Lord.  How soon some people suffer and they stop "feeling it", and abandon post.  The beatitudes the Lord gave today, are excatly that...attitudes to be.  Meek.  Humble.  Poor, hungry and thirsty for HIM.  Thus Peacemaker. Clean of heart.  Thus children of God.  Perscuted and insulted. Blessed.  God blesses in the most peculiar of ways.  Not by having an easy life all the time but a cross.  Live it, love it.  What is a cross?  That what is bore for God.  That what is offered and accepted.  That what God did for the world, life giving.  Manna was brought down from Heaven. The children of God were nourished.  Grateful at first, they became ungrateful.  Is that us?  Elijah was fed by birds, seemingly food, meat from the heavens. And given water for thirst when there was no water from the heavens.  The key here is to show that God provides.  And we are speaking about His grace.  His grace is enough.  I meant to take a picture yesterday during Holy Mass.  Someone put a banner that had the picture of the Holy Eucharist over the stained glass windows of an image of the resurrected body of Jesus our Lord.  The overlap was cool.  The round Eucharist image was (from my angle of sitting) superimposed over the heart (chest area) of Jesus.  To me it spoke volumes. To me, on Pentecost, the message was clear. His heart is given in the Eucharistic consecrated body the bread no more, but Himself. You see, when God provides He is offering Himself.  Suddenly being meek sounds like being like Jesus.  Suddenly being persecuted and insulted for God means being more like Jesus.  Not that we're looking for trouble but that we are causing trouble to a troubled world, peace where there is war.  Let us consider the life being asked in the attitudes.  Be His.  Lest what we do be more important than God.  Lest our ministry be more important than the people of God.  Lest what I say for God insults the people of God, His children.  Lest what I think become more important, like staying home instead of reaching out to the poor in spirit.  If you believe you need help, then go help somebody.  And if that somebody needed was Jesus