Monday, November 24, 2014

A Poor Widow

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Monday, November 24, 2014

A Poor Widow

Minute Meditations 

Defeating Sin Minute Meditations
To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.
— from Seven Saints for Seven Virtues 

St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions
19th century

Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. 

The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. 

Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. 

Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. 

The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. 

By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. 

During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.


It may help a people who associate Vietnam only with a 20th-century war to realize that the cross has long been a part of the lives of the people of that country. Even as some people ask again the unanswered questions about United States involvement and disengagement, the faith rooted in Vietnam's soil proves hardier than the forces that willed to destroy it.


"The Church in Vietnam is alive and vigorous, blessed with strong and faithful bishops, dedicated religious, and courageous and committed laypeople.... The Church in Vietnam is living out the gospel in a difficult and complex situation with remarkable persistence and strength" (statement of three U.S. archbishops returning from Vietnam in January 1989).

Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me, creating me in his image and likeness, making me his temple....

"In these days, God taught me
as a schoolteacher teaches a pupil" (Saint Ignatius).
I remind myself that there are things God has to teach me yet,
and ask for the grace to hear them and let them change me. 

In the presence of my loving Creator, I look honestly at my feelings over the last day, the highs, the lows and the level ground. Can I see where the Lord has been present?

The Word of God 
Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs

Reading 1 rv 14:1-3, 4b-5

I, John, looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion,
and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand
who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.
I heard a sound from heaven
like the sound of rushing water or a loud peal of thunder.
The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.
They were singing what seemed to be a new hymn before the throne,
before the four living creatures and the elders.
No one could learn this hymn except the hundred and forty-four thousand
who had been ransomed from the earth.
These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
They have been ransomed as the first fruits
of the human race for God and the Lamb.
On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished.

Responsorial Psalm ps 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD's are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Gospel lk 21:1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasury
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, "I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood."

audio    Listen to audio of this reading

video    Watch a video reflection 

Remembering that I am still in God's presence, I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting beside me, and say whatever is on my mind, whatever is in my heart, speaking as one 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: Luke 21:1-4

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Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs

This poor widow put in more than all the rest. (Luke 21:3)
Think about the money you put into the collection basket at Mass on Sundays. What does it amount to? A few cups of coffee? Maybe a meal at a nice restaurant or some other more expensive luxury? Now think about a contribution to the temple treasury in Jesus' time. Was it worth the price of a cow? A new cloak? Maybe a jug of wine? Everyone's gift means something different—as different as each giver.
The two coins that the widow in today's Gospel gave were insignificantly small compared to the larger gifts given by the successful merchants and wealthy farmers jostling past her. But Jesus could see how much the coins were worth to this woman, and her gift touched his heart.
What was so special about her offering? The answer gets at the very root of the reason why we are called to give to the Lord. Of course, the money that we give to the Church and to worthy charities is well used, and this is important. Many people are helped by the contributions we make. But God doesn't delight in an offering just because of what can be done with it. His concerns go far beyond a mere pragmatic accounting of dollars and cents. God is overjoyed when we give like this poor widow, because in doing so, we are giving our very lives to him.
This woman, donating more than she could afford, glorified God. Her sacrificial gift was an offering of worship. It's as if she said, I know it's not much, but it's all I have. Take it, Lord, because you are worth every penny. 
God wants more than our money. He wants our hearts. Everything for him! When we surrender ourselves to God by giving out of our substance, he rejoices in it, no matter how small we may think our contribution. Ask God today for the desire and the courage to surrender to him with the same selfless spirit as the widow who touched his heart.
"Lord, help me give my whole life to you today. I offer you my heart, and I trust that you will accept it and make use of it."

Revelation 14:1-5; Psalm 24:1-6


Open the doors to Christ!  In today's first Holy Scripture we read about the people marked on the foreheads, a number that symbolizes the multitudes of chosen disciples, the children of God.  It does not mean like Jehova's Witnesses believe "the number means they have already been chosen and you are living heaven on earth".  If this is Heaven, and evil exists then what kind of Heaven is this?  I killed a rattlesnake in a garage this weekend.  I cleaned up the garage, and the next day I found another rattlesnake in the same garage.  I found myself in sinful temptation, this weekend I went to confession, and I found myself in temptation again.  The point of all this is to tell you to be onguard constantly.  This is a call to bind one's soul to salvation, and it entails sacrifice, if it did not, we would not have read about today's martyrs, Christians dying for their faith, "They have been ransomed as the first fruits of the human race for God and the Lamb. On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished."  Then we read/prayed "Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face".  And our Lord gives the parable of a widow that gives more tithing than anyone else.  Before I conclude, allow me to share from James Chapter 1:
Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.m 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror.
 24He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. 25But the one who peers into the perfect law* of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does.n 
26* If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue* but deceives his heart, his religion is vain.o 
27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows* in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.p  

Again, unstained (Holy) doers.  I told my wife this weekend, "...I like to talk about how highly I think of Confession/Reconciliation, but I don't do it (as often as much as I regard it)".   Sure we think of God.  Sure we say we hold Him in high esteem, but we aren't doers.  And I can say this because I believe I act as a doer of God's word.  It's one thing to hear and a complete other thing to do.  Watch your tongue, it will blurt out what's in the heart, unbridled living a vain religion.  When a poor widow gives her two cents, her two only coins, it means she is giving 100% to God.  Giving 100% trust in God.  Giving 100% devotion to God.  Giving 100 % of her life to God.
Holy Mass was about to start and my brother in  law taps on my shoulder and whispers in my ear "I need to go to the ATM, I forgot my tithe".  I said "Mass is about to start it is too late".  They came with us in our van to Mass.  He had heard me  to be prepared for Mass, but did not prepare.  I am like Pablo, aren't we all? We hear but don't do.  True religion is to care, for orphans and widows, and to keep unstained by the world.  What does this mean?  
It means God wants you to be among the 144,000.  Many more than that have been slaughtered, martyrs for the faith.  What He wants is Holiness.  He wants it for us for our own Good.  After all, it is my loss if I do not gain Heaven, He is already there waiting...

Come To The Father Undefiled, and He undefiles...
Jesus is the Way

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