|Total Solidarity |
Pain is the rent we pay for being human, it seems, but suffering is usually optional. The cross was Jesus's voluntary acceptance of undeserved suffering as an act of total solidarity with all of the pain of the world. Reflection on this mystery of love can change your whole life.
Blessed John Henry Newman
John Henry Newman, the 19th-century's most important English-speaking Roman Catholic theologian, spent the first half of his life as an Anglican and the second half as a Roman Catholic. He was a priest, popular preacher, writer, and eminent theologian in both Churches.
Born in London, England, he studied at Oxford's Trinity College, was a tutor at Oriel College and for 17 years was vicar of the university church, St. Mary the Virgin. He eventually published eight volumes of Parochial and Plain Sermons as well as two novels. His poem, "Dream of Gerontius," was set to music by Sir Edward Elgar.
After 1833, Newman was a prominent member of the Oxford Movement, which emphasized the Church's debt to the Church Fathers and challenged any tendency to consider truth as completely subjective.
Historical research made Newman suspect that the Roman Catholic Church was in closest continuity with the Church that Jesus established. In 1845, he was received into full communion as a Catholic. Two years later he was ordained a Catholic priest in Rome and joined the Congregation of the Oratory, founded three centuries earlier by St. Philip Neri. Returning to England, Newman founded Oratory houses in Birmingham and London and for seven years served as rector of the Catholic University of Ireland.
Before Newman, Catholic theology tended to ignore history, preferring instead to draw deductions from first principles—much as plane geometry does. After Newman, the lived experience of believers was recognized as a key part of theological reflection.
Newman eventually wrote 40 books and 21,000 letters that survive. Most famous are his book-length Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine, Apologia Pro Vita Sua (his spiritual autobiography up to 1864) and Essay on the Grammar of Assent. He accepted Vatican I's teaching on papal infallibility while noting its limits, which many people who favored that definition were reluctant to do.
When Newman was named a cardinal in 1879, he took as his motto "Cor ad cor loquitur" (Heart speaks to heart). He was buried in Rednal (near Birmingham) 11 years later. After his grave was exhumed in 2008, a new tomb was prepared at the Oratory church in Birmingham.
Three years after Newman died, a Newman Club for Catholic students began at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. In time, his name was linked to ministry centers at many public and private colleges and universities in the United States.
Pope Benedict XVI beatified Newman on September 19, 2010, at Crofton Park (near Birmingham). The pope noted Newman's emphasis on the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society but also praised his pastoral zeal for the sick, the poor, the bereaved and those in prison.
Newman composed this prayer: "God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another.
"I have a mission; I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons; He has not created me for naught.
"I shall do good—I shall do his work. I shall be an angel of peace while not intending it if I do but keep his commandments. Therefore, I will trust him."
Saint of the DayLives, Lessons and FeastBy Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
"Be still and know that I am God."
Lord, Your words lead us to the
calmness and greatness of your presence.
Everything has the potential to draw forth from me a fuller love and life.
Yet my desires are often fixed, caught, on illusions of fulfillment.
I ask that God, through my freedom may orchestrate
my desires in a vibrant loving melody rich in harmony.
In God's loving presence I unwind the past day,
starting from now and looking back, moment by moment.
I gather in all the goodness and light, in gratitude.
I attend to the shadows and what they say to me,
seeking healing, courage, forgiveness.
The Word of God
Brothers and sisters:
Realize that it is those who have faith
who are children of Abraham.
Scripture, which saw in advance that God
would justify the Gentiles by faith,
foretold the good news to Abraham, saying,
Through you shall all the nations be blessed.
Consequently, those who have faith are blessed
along with Abraham who had faith.
For all who depend on works of the law are under a curse;
for it is written, Cursed be everyone
who does not persevere in doing all the things
written in the book of the law.
And that no one is justified before God by the law is clear,
for the one who is righteous by faith will live.
But the law does not depend on faith;
rather, the one who does these things will live by them.
Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us,
for it is written, Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree,
that the blessing of Abraham might be extended
to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus,
so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
R. (5) The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
exquisite in all their delights.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
Majesty and glory are his work,
and his justice endures forever.
He has won renown for his wondrous deeds;
gracious and merciful is the LORD.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
He has given food to those who fear him;
he will forever be mindful of his covenant.
He has made known to his people the power of his works,
giving them the inheritance of the nations.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said:
"By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons,
he drives out demons."
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.
But he knew their thoughts and said to them,
"Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste
and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?
For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your own people drive them out?
Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
When a strong man fully armed guards his palace,
his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him,
he takes away the armor on which he relied
and distributes the spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
"When an unclean spirit goes out of someone,
it roams through arid regions searching for rest
but, finding none, it says,
'I shall return to my home from which I came.'
But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits
more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there,
and the last condition of that man is worse than the first."
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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.
27th Week in Ordinary Time
The last condition of that person is worse than the first. (Luke 11:26)
Imagine that you own an apartment, and its tenants are destructive and negligent. You decide to evict them. All of their belongings are removed, and you have the apartment cleaned so that all traces of the former occupants are gone. But there's a problem: you don't change the locks, and no new tenants move in. It's a situation similar to Jesus' parable of the demon returning to its original host with extra spirits. Appealing and vacant, the poor soul was fair game for a return by its previous occupant.
Although we may not have to deal with demonic possession, we do deal with repeated sin. So often, we confess the same sins time and again. We know that the Sacrament of Reconciliation gives us the grace to be set free. But once we're cleansed, we need to be filled with something. We can't go around vacant!
So what can we do to fortify our "house" against repeat occupation? How do we go beyond cleansing our souls and actually refurnish them?
From the earliest centuries, the Church has understood that sin, or vice, has what are called opposing virtues: virtues that by their very nature counteract and weaken the influence of the sin in our lives. Following this tradition, St. Ignatius of Loyola recommended developing virtues that strike to the heart of our most troublesome sins.
It goes something like this: we examine our consciences carefully. We go to Confession and get "swept clean and put in order." Then we get to work refurnishing our house. We identify the virtue that will help us displace the sin. Chastity counteracts lust. Temperance uproots gluttony. Generosity counterbalances greed. Diligence displaces sloth. Forgiveness and meekness offset wrath or anger. Kindness replaces envy. And humility supplants pride. With each subsequent confession, the process continues on a deeper and deeper level until we find ourselves set free.
Experiment with the virtues that oppose your sins. It's true that only God's grace can help you progress in holiness, but you still have to decide to take those small steps each day to fill the gap left by the uprooted sin. So refurnish your house, and you'll find the Holy Spirit living there more comfortably—and more powerfully!
"Holy Spirit, fill me with virtue, which is the fruit of your life in me!"
Galatians 3:7-14; Psalm 111:1-6
Today's 1st holy Scripture ended with "...so that we might receive the promises of the Spirit through faith". Before so, it said "...blessed are those who have faith", soon followed by "cursed be everyone who does not persevere". The Psalm we prayed said "The Lord will remember His covenant forever". Jesus said today "Whoever is not with me is against me". So I will go ahead and divulge what disrupted our family dinner, but bear with me the Gospel. We were led by prayer by my wife. We sat down to a beautiful dinner she had prepared, beforehand my 4yr. old daughter Sienna was so excited about having family dinner "are we going to eat together?...we should do it every day!" We started eating, soon after, my 2 yr. old Bella Faith was not wanting to eat. That raised my eyebrow. Then, she wanted to leave. That made me angry. I told her to sit down. She began to gag on her food as she was trying to cry and eat. I told her to stop gagging and it got worse, so I took her outside told her "let's go outside in the dark with the dogs (they are afraid of a chihuahua dog that barks but don't bite of my in-laws living with us and I know a normal indoor timeout would not do the trick for a quick hush down on her part). Little did I know that this would cause an upheaval, Sienna was frantic, and the rest of the kids began to wimper and yell, like a domino effect. My wife came outside where me and Bella were barely going to have a talk, but my wife took her away back inside, which caused another trigger in me "what am I? Chopped liver? Can I not discipline my daughter? This was my time out with her!" Things escalated and then subsided after a dispute with my wife, we sat down, and I commanded all to pray a Hail Mary (i felt some wave of attack had passed through). And then I gave a rollo, a talk. I said "look, everybody, I feel as if you were all against me, nobody trusted me when I took my baby daughter Bella outside. As if I was really going to abandon her? Do you really think I would leave her alone outside in the dark? Do you not know that those dogs outside are really chickens? They wouldn't hurt a fly. But no, you all rised up against me..(and with tears and a lump in my throat) and that hurts..do you not trust me? I love you all very much, and I do this discipline so when you grow older, you will listen to your Father in Heaven and your mother too. I do it for the good of everyone, especially you, so you will not get hurt as you grow, but be well, and we are all one together as a family." The sentiment was relayed and the house was in silence for the remainder of the evening, broken only by my 6 yr. old son's sobbing to which I went to his side and held him tight with another baby, Adonai, in my arms. Yesterday my wife said Cristian had confessed as she tucked him in, said he was crying because "what daddy said was so nice". Now let's go back to the Gospel. Jesus said "whoever is not with me is against me". Jesus is the Father. We are the children. If someone is taken through darkness, are we to rise up against the Father in anxiety and dismay? "He is doing it by the power of the devil!" NO! We are to trust what He is doing with our very lives. What He is doing is always for the greater good. Would He actually make me suffer alone? NO! He is in the darkness outside with the dogs with you, and He sees those evil dogs as chickens, chihuahuas, all bark, no bite. And we are speaking of crossing this valley of death. We are in a pivotal moment in history, much death has ocurred, millions upon millions of babies have been lost through this "contraceptive" illusion and mentality which includes abortion and all the way to euthanasia or "mercy killings". These are the most killings of Christians anywhere in the world. Forget those few killings happening that the news media makes a big deal of. It's seriously a valley of living among the dead. We are journeying in times where we make ourselves King instead of the Father. Somewhere trust has been lost and with it faith. Oh yeah, we say we believe but we sure as heck don't trust. We don't trust what He commands. We don't obey. And by doing so, declare by acts that what is being freed is by the power of the devil. Do you know that, that is what Satanists believe? That this satan is their savior in a sense? Freed from "conservatives" and "tradition". Do we really want to stop eating of the bread of God and leave the table? Do we really want to abandon God's family? Not under my watch. In your neck of the woods, you will see many attempting to leave faith, leave Church. I even raise an eyebrow on those who leave Holy Mass early regularly. Every Sunday they leave early before the final blessing, the last part of the Father's Mass. Until one day, they simply leave and never come back. With my eyebrow raised, I pray. I pray that you will never leave early, but rather, will never want to leave. A most Holy Mass lived and sacrificed will serve as a Cursillo, and holy rosary, a mini-cursillo, where grace and mercy abound. With that said, the mother will have her 2 cents, like my wife. Our Mother Mary will see to it that you are helped to mercy, and the Father pours it out on the cross. It is Friday, and every Friday is 3 days till Sunday when Jesus our Father was put on that cross of shame. Will I be ashamed to see God in the middle of the public? Will I be afraid next time something "bad" happens? Because it will cost you something to get something. It will cost me giving up my anger to be meek and humble. In the end, it will be of little cost compared to the great reward of our Father that loves beyond what we care to give and trust. I divulge a secret so that you may grow. And we grow together to Heaven....