Monday, December 22, 2014

His Lowly Servant

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Minute Meditations

Immersed in Love
By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God's redemptive love.
— from The Little Way of Advent


Blessed Jacopone da Todi
(d. 1306)

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Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna.
His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life.

He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him.

After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular.

Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine's successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, Stabat Mater.

On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.


"Crazy Jim," his contemporaries called Jacopone. We might well echo their taunt, for what else can you say about a man who broke into song in the midst of all his troubles? We still sing Jacopone's saddest song, the Stabat Mater, but we Christians claim another song as our own, even when the daily headlines resound with discordant notes. Jacopone's whole life rang our song out: "Alleluia!" May he inspire us to keep singing.


Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.


My soul longs for your presence, Lord.
When I turn my thoughts to you,
I find peace and contentment.


 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.


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

Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Reading 1 1 sm 1:24-28

  In those days,
Hannah brought Samuel with her,
along with a three-year-old bull,
an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine,
and presented him at the temple of the LORD in Shiloh.
After the boy's father had sacrificed the young bull,
Hannah, his mother, approached Eli and said:
"Pardon, my lord!
As you live, my lord,
I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the LORD.
I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request.
Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD;
as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD."
She left Samuel there.

Responsorial Psalm 1 sm 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8abcd

R. (see 1a) My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
"My heart exults in the LORD,
my horn is exalted in my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies;
I rejoice in my victory."
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
"The bows of the mighty are broken,
while the tottering gird on strength.
The well-fed hire themselves out for bread,
while the hungry batten on spoil.
The barren wife bears seven sons,
while the mother of many languishes."
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
"The LORD puts to death and gives life;
he casts down to the nether world;
he raises up again.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich,
he humbles, he also exalts."
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
"He raises the needy from the dust;
from the dung heap he lifts up the poor,
To seat them with nobles
and make a glorious throne their heritage."
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.


R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church;
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel lk 1:46-56

Mary said:

"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever."

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months
and then returned to her home.

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I begin to talk to Jesus about the piece of scripture I have just read.What part of it strikes a chord in me?Perhaps the words of a friend - or some story I have heard recently- will slowly rise to the surface in my consciousness.  If so, does the story throw light on what the scripture passage may be trying to say to me?


I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.

Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Luke 1:46-56

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4th Week of Advent

The Almighty has done great things for me! (Luke 1:49)

The Mighty One indeed did great things for Mary! Thus, Mary's beautiful hymn of praise sprang from a heart filled with awe at God's greatness and at the greatness of his work in her. This humble daughter of Israel didn't confuse God's choice of her to be the mother of God's Son with any merit of her own. Rather, she recognized that God had "looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant" (Luke 1:48) and gave him all the credit. With all her heart and soul, Mary magnified and glorified the Lord by proclaiming his greatness (1:46). Marveling at the profound mystery being wrought within her, she rejoiced in her Savior (1:47).

In just a few days, we will celebrate the birth of the Word made flesh, the fulfillment of the word the angel spoke to Mary. What could better prepare us and open our hearts to receive this Savior than for us to follow Mary's example and spend these days magnifying the Lord and rejoicing in him?

Pondering God's goodness, reading Scripture to recall his promises to us, thinking about him often throughout the day—these are all ways to magnify the Lord, ways to make him bigger and bigger in our hearts and minds. We glorify him when we praise him, recount his blessings to us, and thank him for them. We glorify him when we testify to the work he has done in us and share about him with those around us. Just as the Incarnation of Christ in her womb led Mary to magnify the Lord and rejoice, so God's great works in our lives lead us to praise God and to delight in his goodness and mercy toward us.

Over the next four days, pray Mary's Magnificat. Make it your own as you call to mind the particular ways God has "looked with favor" on you and done wonderful things for you. As St. Ambrose, one of the Fathers of the Church, wrote, "Let Mary's soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each of you to rejoice in the Lord."

"How great you are, my mighty Savior and Lord! I join my heart and voice with Mary's to proclaim your praises and to rejoice in your goodness and kindness to me."


1 Samuel 1:24-28
(Psalm) 1 Samuel 2:1, 4-8


My job on earth is the same as the Blessed Mother, our Mother in Heaven, Mary.  As I read today's first Holy Scripture, it was touching for a mother to offer her only son, dedicated and consecrated to our Lord, to Holiness.  I was perplexed by the Responsorial Psalm, again from the book of Samuel. So I opened the book of Samuel to read it more in its entirety, and as I read 1Samuel 2:1-12, it sounded just like the Magnificat, the very Gospel we read today.  Very interesting.  The book of Samuel was of the prophet of nearly 1000 years before Christ was born. So Mary spoke the words that sounded like Hannah's nearly 1000 years ago in prophecy.  "From this day all generations will call me Blessed" and she is our Blessed Mother.  We are in the generation of the Blessed Mother.  
My job on earth is the same as our Blessed Mother.  Hers was a life of saintly obedience and love of God.  Today's 5minutos ended with the line "The heart of Advent is encountered with the closeness and the service to those who need it."  Can you begin to see how our life is to resemble that of our Blessed Mother?  This morning I asked a god-son if he took Christ in Holy Communion because I could not see the light glowing from him when he does.  This morning I asked an uncle if he'd gone to Mass because I didn't see him.  Such an awkward question asking people if they went to Mass, as if calling people up.  Why in the world do I do it?  Well, as I told an uncle after he asked why I'm asking him..."it's because I care, and if you don't go, I will pray for you".  All for what?  So we can glow.  So we can grow. Our Blessed Mother glowed with the light of Christ, Jesus in the soul.   And so, what happens if you don't carry the light of Christ?  That's what I asked myself about my god-son this morning, "what can happen if he doesn't have the light? What does this mean?"  It's not like I can answer my own question, I have to let the Holy Spirit teach.
My job on earth is the same as our Blessed Mother.  This morning I noticed someone unsubscribed from receiving my2cents.  This kind of thing used to bother me alot, because I would feel like a failure for God, "was it something I said that made them go away? where are they going?  did I turn them off from the faith?" Because my whole aim is to turn ON the faith, turn ON the light, that glow of the Lord, because we are children of the light.  But, I've noticed something strange happening now that I've been fasting for 40 days (gave up something) til Christmas, I'm not bothered by things. The night before last in the Posadas, I noticed someone had taken my coat, and I asked about it, and just let them have it.  No bother, no wrong done, because how can you wrong one that gives?  You didn't take it, you were given...forgiven.  This is a complex message of Grace, and we are leading to our Blessed Mother's life of grace. So things are not irking me.  Kids not being quiet as we read scriptures last night in Posadas, kids not singing at Posadas, just messing around, nothing bothers me, they are given...forgiven, this whole notion of Grace is an openess caused in Reconciliation.  There is great joy now.  And for this Christ came to the world. 
You see, there are way more ways to give to Christ than we care to stop and think about.  One of my to do lists for this holy roller is to go to a nursing home and give. Not a gift, but I've been noticing for weeks this old man with no family, his finger nails have been growing very, VERY long.  Has no one noticed?  I done bought a nail clipper to chomp away at those thick, kind of dirty nails, not so much for him or me, but for Christ.  I remember an elderly lady there one time we took a gift my wife made for her, she said to me and my little boy "thank you, you made Jesus very happy".  WHOA!  You better start giving folks, and you better start giving with your heart.  Because the light is coming, a gift for all who will receive...HIM