Thursday, December 11, 2014

If You Are Willing

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Minute Meditations

Reaching Out
As we love others in spite of their imperfections, we are loving ourselves, too. Nourished by the love we receive, we can risk reaching out. A few kind words can go a long way. We're empowered to love others as Jesus loves us when we're united to the source of never-ending love.
— from St. Anthony Messenger

St. Damasus I
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To his secretary St. Jerome, Damasus was "an incomparable person, learned in the Scriptures, a virgin doctor of the virgin Church, who loved chastity and heard its praises with pleasure."

Damasus seldom heard such unrestrained praise. Internal political struggles, doctrinal heresies, uneasy relations with his fellow bishops and those of the Eastern Church marred the peace of his pontificate.

The son of a Roman priest, possibly of Spanish extraction, Damasus started as a deacon in his father's church, and served as a priest in what later became the basilica of San Lorenzo in Rome. He served Pope Liberius (352-366) and followed him into exile.

When Liberius died, Damasus was elected bishop of Rome; but a minority elected and consecrated another deacon, Ursinus, as pope. The controversy between Damasus and the antipope resulted in violent battles in two basilicas, scandalizing the bishops of Italy. At the synod Damasus called on the occasion of his birthday, he asked them to approve his actions. The bishops' reply was curt: "We assembled for a birthday, not to condemn a man unheard." Supporters of the antipope even managed to get Damasus accused of a grave crime—probably sexual—as late as A.D. 378. He had to clear himself before both a civil court and a Church synod.

As pope his lifestyle was simple in contrast to other ecclesiastics of Rome, and he was fierce in his denunciation of Arianism and other heresies. A misunderstanding of the Trinitarian terminology used by Rome threatened amicable relations with the Eastern Church, and Damasus was only moderately successful in dealing with that challenge.

During his pontificate Christianity was declared the official religion of the Roman state (380), and Latin became the principal liturgical language as part of the pope's reforms. His encouragement of St. Jerome's biblical studies led to the Vulgate, the Latin translation of Scripture which twelve centuries later the Council of Trent declared to be "authentic in public readings, disputations, preachings."


The history of the papacy and the Church is inextricably mixed with the personal biography of Damasus. In a troubled and pivotal period of Church history, he stands forth as a zealous defender of the faith who knew when to be progressive and when to entrench.

Damasus makes us aware of two qualities of good leadership: alertness to the promptings of the Spirit and service. His struggles are a reminder that Jesus never promised his Rock protection from hurricane winds nor his followers immunity from difficulties. His only guarantee is final victory.


"He who walking on the sea could calm the bitter waves, who gives life to the dying seeds of the earth; he who was able to loose the mortal chains of death, and after three days' darkness could bring again to the upper world the brother for his sister Martha: he, I believe, will make Damasus rise again from the dust" (epitaph Damasus wrote for himself).


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....


Lord, may I never take the gift
of freedom for granted. You gave
me the great blessing of freedom of
spirit. Fill my spirit with Your peace and
Your joy.


I ask how I am within myself today? Am I particularly tired, stressed, or off-form?
If any of these characteristics apply, can I try to let go of the concerns that disturb me?

The Word of God

Matthew 11:11-15


Reading 1 is 41:13-20

I am the LORD, your God,
who grasp your right hand;
It is I who say to you, "Fear not,
I will help you."
Fear not, O worm Jacob,
O maggot Israel;
I will help you, says the LORD;
your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
I will make of you a threshing sledge,
sharp, new, and double-edged,
To thresh the mountains and crush them,
to make the hills like chaff.
When you winnow them, the wind shall carry them off
and the storm shall scatter them.
But you shall rejoice in the LORD,
and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain,
their tongues are parched with thirst.
I, the LORD, will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will open up rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the broad valleys;
I will turn the desert into a marshland,
and the dry ground into springs of water.
I will plant in the desert the cedar,
acacia, myrtle, and olive;
I will set in the wasteland the cypress,
together with the plane tree and the pine,
That all may see and know,
observe and understand,
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Responsorial Psalm ps 145:1 and 9, 10-11, 12-13ab

R. (8) The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
I will extol you, O my God and King,
and I will bless your name forever and ever.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
Let them make known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.

Alleluia See Is 45:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let the clouds rain down the Just One,
and the earth bring forth a Savior.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel mt 11:11-15

Jesus said to the crowds:
"Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
From the days of John the Baptist until now,
the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence,
and the violent are taking it by force.
All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John.
And if you are willing to accept it,
he is Elijah, the one who is to come.
Whoever has ears ought to hear."



What feelings are rising in me as I pray and reflect on God's Word? I imagine Jesus himself sitting or standing near me and open my heart to 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.



Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Matthew 11:11-15

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Saint Damasus I, Pope

If you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. (Matthew 11:14)

If a world-famous violinist were performing in a train station, would you notice? This happened in January of 2007, when the internationally acclaimed virtuoso, Joshua Bell, dressed in everyday street clothes and played his $3.5 million violin in a subway station in Washington, DC. He played for forty-five minutes while hundreds of people walked past without even pausing. Only two people stopped to listen.

On that day, Joshua Bell, who usually commands a salary of more than a thousand dollars a minute, made a total of thirty-two dollars in tips.

Sometimes, people just can't see the importance of a "common" person or a miracle that is unfolding before their eyes. This is especially true in today's readings about Jesus and John the Baptist.

We know the Jews longed for Elijah to return and smite their enemies and usher in a new era. Yet Jesus told them that John the Baptist was the long-awaited Elijah, but they couldn't see it.

Yes, John was the new Elijah, and that poor, unassuming baby in the manger really was the Messiah. The problem was that neither one acted the way the people expected. They were too humble. They were too countercultural.

We can fall into a similar trap. Sometimes, especially during a season like Advent, we look for dramatic spiritual experiences that will overwhelm us and magically transform our lives. We look for a Hollywood moment to heal our family's disputes or show us the way through a tough situation. But when we do this, we forget that God is already with us, humbly working quiet miracles right before our eyes. We forget that he didn't come to make our lives easier but to make us holier.

Today's Gospel reading tells us that God probably won't appear to us in a flaming chariot. But rather than become disappointed, let's accept the other message in the reading: "Jesus is with me, playing the most intricate song of grace and love that I will ever hear." Stop, look, and listen for him. Let his music soften your heart today.

"Lord, help me to recognize those moments of grace and glory that you have in store for me."


Isaiah 41:13-20
Psalm 145:1, 9-13



Isaiah speaks a of spring in the desert, and this is hope for the world, in comes the Lord born from Heaven.  I read a quote today

"He who carries God in his heart bears heaven with him wherever he goes." — St. Ignatius of Loyola

And the first to bear within Christ is Mary.  We bear hope when we bear Christ.  We bear Heaven, the Kingdom is at hand.  His is there for the taking. 

The Psalms speak of this Lord that touched earth "The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness".  We bear hope when we bear mercy with the grace of God.  We bear peace in being slow to anger, and we bear kindness by doing such. 
I'm starting to like people that don't get bent out of shape when I throw words at them, it's almost as if proving grounds of faith.  And God proves His loved ones.  Going through tests?  God is testing you for His Kingdom, trying to make fruit come, how awesome is that?
And so our Lord speaks today in the Holy Gospel, none greater born of women than John The Baptist, yet he is the least in the Kingdom of Heaven, and then our Lord goes on to call John "Elijah".  WOW.  Elijah, the one that spent a life of fire, on fire for the Lord?  Elijah the one that was in the desert almost dying of thirst taking the last food from a widow, proving her as he was proved?  Elijah the one on fire and persecuted?  The voice in the desert?  The spring of hope?  Not of material water but yes, John the Baptist was Elijah.  And this from the northern Kingdom of Israel, split from southern Israel when the Kingdom was divided, Israel and Judah.  And our Lord comes from this Kingdom united in Him, the flame of fire of Elijah with the light of God, once met on the river Jordan.
What does all this mean to me?  It means that the joining of earth and Heaven has made a powerful and everlasting union.  It is the story of Christ and the story of every life ever after.
It is the unison that comes to us and we are called to join the fire that produces light.  Sometimes chased, but free.  Sometimes persecuted, but not abandoned.  Living on fire that can not be contained, and now we are speaking of the love of God.
Keep in mind that John leapt for joy in the womb.  That means there is life in the womb, and it can feel the presence of God.  It is not a coincidence that we are alive, it was destiny, destined to be a called child of God just because you are reading this and have been baptized into the Kingdom.
The life of fire for God was John, and joined with our Lord Jesus, a life of God for God, and they surrendered their body and soul to the Kingdom.  One was beheaded, the other brutally beaten and hung on a cross, and then stabbed as if suffocating to death wasn't enough.  All of this after having lived a beautiful life for the Lord in Heaven.  Glory wouldn't have it any other way.
And so, just because we can not understand this great love, doesn't mean we should set it aside for later, because the time has come, to prepare the way for not just my life but in doing so, everyone's life around me and you.
One asked me a few days ago "so are you getting ready for Christmas?", I said "yes, spiritually I am, but materially no with gifts and all".  I am anticipating the celebration of the birth of the light. 
That is why Christians placed the celebration on the pagan day that celebrated a light, a solcitice to bring the message across from pagan, to worship of deity that is truth and it is the light of Christ.
I am still putting up lights, and here was another