Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ask The Master

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Minute Meditations

Fresh Opportunities

God's job, I think, is to keep lovingly disrupting our lives, and our job is to see if there are fresh opportunities for faith hidden within those disruptions. As a result, God keeps finding fresh ways to shake up our complacencies and challenge us to resist the seductive temptation to play the victim.
— from Startled By God

St. Gregory Grassi and Companions
(d. 1900)

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Christian missionaries have often gotten caught in the crossfire of wars against their own countries. When the governments of Britain, Germany, Russia and France forced substantial territorial concessions from the Chinese in 1898, anti-foreign sentiment grew very strong among many Chinese people.
Gregory Grassi was born in Italy in 1833, ordained in 1856 and sent to China five years later. Gregory was later ordained Bishop of North Shanxi. With 14 other European missionaries and 14 Chinese religious, he was martyred during the short but bloody Boxer Uprising of 1900.

Twenty-six of these martyrs were arrested on the orders of Yu Hsien, the governor of Shanxi province. They were hacked to death on July 9, 1900. Five of them were Friars Minor; seven were Franciscan Missionaries of Mary — the first martyrs of their congregation. Seven were Chinese seminarians and Secular Franciscans; four martyrs were Chinese laymen and Secular Franciscans. The other three Chinese laymen killed in Shanxi simply worked for the Franciscans and were rounded up with all the others. Three Italian Franciscans were martyred that same week in the province of Hunan. All these martyrs were beatified in 1946 and were among the 120 martyrs canonized in 2000.


Martyrdom is the occupational hazard of missionaries. Throughout China during the Boxer Uprising, five bishops, 50 priests, two brothers, 15 sisters and 40,000 Chinese Christians were killed. The 146,575 Catholics served by the Franciscans in China in 1906 had grown to 303,760 by 1924 and were served by 282 Franciscans and 174 local priests. Great sacrifices often bring great results.


"Martyrdom is part of the Church's nature since it manifests Christian death in its pure form, as the death of unrestrained faith, which is otherwise hidden in the ambivalence of all human events. Through martyrdom the Church's holiness, instead of remaining purely subjective, achieves by God's grace the visible expression it needs. As early as the second century one who accepted death for the sake of Christian faith or Christian morals was looked on and revered as a 'martus' (witness). The term is scriptural in that Jesus Christ is the 'faithful witness' absolutely (Revelations 1:5; 3:14)" (Karl Rahner, Theological Dictionary, volume 2, pp. 108-09).
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.


Lord, you created me to live in freedom.
Mostly I take this gift for granted.
Inspire me to live in the freedom you intended,
with a heart untroubled and with complete trust in You.


At this moment Lord I turn my thoughts to you.
I will leave aside my chores and preoccuptions.
I will take rest and refreshment in your presence Lord.

The Word of God

Reading 1 hos 8:4-7, 11-13

Thus says the LORD:
They made kings in Israel, but not by my authority;
they established princes, but without my approval.
With their silver and gold they made
idols for themselves, to their own destruction.
Cast away your calf, O Samaria!
my wrath is kindled against them;
How long will they be unable to attain
innocence in Israel?
The work of an artisan,
no god at all,
Destined for the flames—
such is the calf of Samaria!

When they sow the wind,
they shall reap the whirlwind;
The stalk of grain that forms no ear
can yield no flour;
Even if it could,
strangers would swallow it.

When Ephraim made many altars to expiate sin,
his altars became occasions of sin.
Though I write for him my many ordinances,
they are considered as a stranger's.
Though they offer sacrifice,
immolate flesh and eat it,
the LORD is not pleased with them.
He shall still remember their guilt
and punish their sins;
they shall return to Egypt.

Responsorial Psalm ps 115:3-4, 5-6, 7ab-8, 9-10

R. (9a) The house of Israel trusts in the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Our God is in heaven;
whatever he wills, he does.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the handiwork of men.
R. The house of Israel trusts in the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
They have mouths but speak not;
they have eyes but see not;
They have ears but hear not;
they have noses but smell not.
R. The house of Israel trusts in the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
They have hands but feel not;
they have feet but walk not.
Their makers shall be like them,
everyone that trusts in them.
R. The house of Israel trusts in the Lord.
R. Alleluia.

Gospel mt 9:32-38

A demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus,
and when the demon was driven out the mute man spoke.
The crowds were amazed and said,
"Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel."
But the Pharisees said,
"He drives out demons by the prince of demons."

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages,
teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness.
At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest."


Jesus you speak to me through the words of the gospels. May I respond to your call today. Teach me to recognise your hand at work in my daily living.


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: Hosea 8:4-7, 11-13

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14th Week in Ordinary Time

They made idols for themselves. (Hosea 8:4)

Ornately carved dragons, stoic Buddhas, calves, bulls, even human forms with animal heads—the ancient world offered an extraordinary variety of idols. Today, we're more likely to treat athletes, rock stars, or luxury cars as idols. But in the end, an idol is anything that we allow to influence our thoughts, emotions, and actions more than it should. Perhaps the Pharisees who opposed Jesus idolized their own narrow observance of Judaism. So when Jesus came neither looking nor acting as they thought he should, they plotted against him.

Here's the thing about idols: they're tricky. They can have great sway over us, yet not appear as idols at all! But if something erodes your peace, causes your heart to tremble, or drives rational thoughts from your head, there's probably some kind of idolatry behind it.

That's not to say that we're all idolaters who willingly and greedily bow down to the modern world's false gods. It's hard to find someone who "worships" money or someone who is truly "obsessed" with gaining power. Still, if the everyday ups and downs of the stock market send you into a panic or if the slightest tickle in your throat brings on visions of a fatal illness, then something has a greater hold on you than it should.

It doesn't have to be this way! Nothing has to rob you of your peace or your trust in the Lord. If you can get into the habit of guarding and examining your thoughts during the day, you'll find yourself more peaceful. Just try to be aware of the thoughts that grip your imagination, and see where they lead you. Don't engage in a witch hunt; just take a look at what goes on inside of you. If the thoughts are making you more agitated or more self-focused, try to redirect them.

For example, tell yourself, "God holds my life in his hand, and nothing can snatch me away." Or "God is a God of hope; I know he can satisfy the longings of my heart." Where you find fear or gridlock in your heart, take it to your heavenly Father. Remember that he sent his Son to give you freedom and peace!

"Jesus, you are the one true God! Teach me how to find my hope in you. Lord, I want to know the peace that comes from surrendering to you."


Psalm 115:3-10; Matthew 9:32-38

Not because it says it to me, but because it needs to be said, and thank the Lord for the truth; allow me to translate today's 5minutos from Sonora, Mexico:
  "The leper, the son of the centurion, Peter's mother in law, the demoniacs, the paralytic, the hemorraged, and the daughter of Jairo: it is all the "parade" of miracles!  Jesus goes anouncing the message of salvation everywhere, and only "these", are who follow Him, trying to live the beatitudes.  Men and women are liberated in their hearts and flesh, are "healed".  Precisely with "these" Jesus goes creating, forming His Church, a community that goes maturing, walking, trying to respond to its God.  All of "sick" represent exactly the reality of the Church, with its inumerable sinners forgiven.  Because before God, we are all sinners, we all suffer from some "sickness" that impedes our "walk" towards neighbor, "talk" of love and forgiveness of God to the rest with life, "listen" to His Word and let it take root and give fruit, to "see" the needs of our neighbor, but over all, see the very Jesus in them, "touch" the leper or wound of the brother or sister to heal it, "recognize" the power of God to expel out of our lives the "demons" that impede us to recognize Him as God and take us far from Him as truly "infected".  Yesterday, like today, Jesus continues to invite us to receive salvation, keeps hoping we recognize ourselves as needy of His "medicine" and of his forgiveness to make of us a new Church, the new community of those who have been cured through Him and goe through the world healing the others.  You received the invitation of Jesus from Baptism, what are you waiting for to respond to Him?  What "sickness" is impeding you"

To those with an unrighteous heart, today's first Holy Scripture would make out our Lord to be some unforgiving master that keeps tabs on all your sins and a punishing police to boot.  To the righteous, it is simply the Love of God that is direct and true and of justice.  For if we make up a god and a religion, then by our own demise we will fall.  Our own whims and fancies of "do what you think is right and that is right" brings about  false idols and the necessary justice of God when it leads to disorder which is sin. 
If you still do not understand, let me bring it down a notch with an example of a big dummy out there.  There was this guy when he was in college, used to work while going to school, and on the side would buy old motorcycles or cars and fix them and sell them.  As time went on and he knew he was graduating, and he had one last car to sell that just didn't seem to sell as fast.  One day a woman called explaining how bad she needed a car for her and her kids.  His heart softened as they spoke on the phone, never got her name, and he even broke his own rule of never selling a car in payments to anybody.  They agreed to meet to make the transaction.  When they met, he realized that woman was this person he had been talking about badly in the past.  Keep in mind this guy would go to church, and tried to be a good boy.  His sin was brought to his face, and he wanted her to have the car.  The deal was done, they shook hands and she took the car.  The young man never got the last payment on the car and had the title to prove it to anybody.  Yet as time went on, she kept the car, she was forgiven, and the title only serves as a reminder of a hardened heart turned soft because of the lesson learned.  That dummy was me.  And I say BIG dummy because those kind of nit-wit occasions still happen to me.  Just this morning I tried to "gripe" a worker for not showing up to work lately.  I could've sworn I seen him punching out and quiting.  Then I seen him again, apparently he's not gone.  Every little word that comes from our mouth counts for good or for evil or for nothing.  I say all this so you will learn about sin and God's justice.  For if I sinned in the past, sure I may have confessed and been forgiven, but all the damage that the sin caused has been set out in the world and hopefully not with a butterfly effect (which says the flap of a butterfly's wing can have an effect on a storm across the world).  If God's justice prevails it is for the good of the world...and then Jesus came.  To once and for all, forgive sins and teach us.  Mother Angelica said one time that the people that will grant us an opportunity for Heaven are our enemies, not our little buddies.  For the enemy will grant you an opportunity to forgive, to give mercy, to show humility and all the beatitudes of our Lord.  How soon we forget the blessings of suffering offered to Jesus.  How soon I smash my thumb and I curse the hammer and not the dummy doing the cursing as if possessed by a demon that was surprised with a jolt.  Because the curse brings it out and on to the world.  I leave you with a prayer we pray in Holy Hour adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in our church, let's learn it together and live it:


O Divine Jesus, lonely tonight in so many tabernacles, without visitor or worshipper, I offer You my poor but loving heart. May its every beat be a prayer of love for You.

You are ever watching under the sacramental veils; in Your love You never sleep and are never weary of Your vigil for sinners. O good Jesus, I love You; I am truly sorry for ever having offended You.

O lonely Jesus, may my heart be as a lamp, the light of which shall burn for You alone. Bless me, O Jesus, come spiritually into my soul and fill my heart with love for You. Make me completely Yours. Take this sinful heart of mine and guide it through this vale of tears.

Heart of Jesus, hear me.

When I draw my parting breath, when my eyes shall close in death; then sweet Jesus be near to me. Heart of Jesus, hear me.

Watch Sacramental Sentinel, watch for the weary world; for the erring soul and for your poor lonely child.



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JESUS, MASTER, Please send Laborers, the world really needs