|Count Your Blessings |
|Writing a gratitude list leads to a sense of being cared for. When we list what we have to be grateful for—beginning with the things we take for granted—we get a sense of God's goodness operating in our lives.|
St. Angela of Foligno
Some saints show marks of holiness very early. Not Angela! Born of a leading family in Foligno, Italy, she became immersed in the quest for wealth and social position. As a wife and mother, she continued this life of distraction.
Around the age of 40 she recognized the emptiness of her life and sought God's help in the Sacrament of Penance. Her Franciscan confessor helped Angela to seek God's pardon for her previous life and to dedicate herself to prayer and the works of charity.
Shortly after her conversion, her husband and children died. Selling most of her possessions, she entered the Secular Franciscan Order. She was alternately absorbed by meditating on the crucified Christ and by serving the poor of Foligno as a nurse and beggar for their needs. Other women joined her in a religious community.
At her confessor's advice, Angela wrote her Book of Visions and Instructions. In it she recalls some of the temptations she suffered after her conversion; she also expresses her thanks to God for the Incarnation of Jesus. This book and her life earned for Angela the title "Teacher of Theologians." She was beatified in 1693, and canonized in 2013.
Pope John Paul II wrote: "Christ the Redeemer of the World is the one who penetrated in a unique, unrepeatable way into the mystery of the human person and entered our 'hearts.' Rightly therefore does the Second Vatican Council teach: 'The truth is that only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of the human person take on light.... Christ the New Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and his love, fully reveals human beings to themselves and brings to light their most high calling'" (Redemptor Hominis, 8).
Saint of the DayLives, Lessons and FeastBy Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
"Come to me all you who are burdened
and I will give you rest"
Here I am, Lord.
I come to seek Your presence.
I long for your healing power.
It is so easy to get caught up
with the trappings of wealth in this life.
Grant, O Lord, that I may be free
from greed and selfishness.
Remind me that the best things in life are free.
Love, laughter, caring and sharing.
How do I find myself today?
Where am I with God? With others?
Do I have something to be grateful for? Then I give thanks.
Is there something I am sorry for? Then I ask forgiveness.
The Word of God
Reading 1 1 Jn 4:19--5:4
Beloved, we love God because
he first loved us.
If anyone says, "I love God,"
but hates his brother, he is a liar;
for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen
cannot love God whom he has not seen.
This is the commandment we have from him:
Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
R. (see 11) Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king's son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
From fraud and violence he shall redeem them,
and precious shall their blood be in his sight.
May they be prayed for continually;
day by day shall they bless him.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor
and to proclaim liberty to captives.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region.
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.
He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
"Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
Listen to audio of this reading
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.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Meditation: Luke 4:14-22
View NAB Reading at USCCB.org
... the gracious words that came from his mouth. (Luke 4:22)
Words are often downplayed next to actions. Actions speak louder, as the saying goes. Even great saints are quoted as saying that words should only be a supplement to how we live our lives.
This may be true, but it doesn't mean that we should discount words entirely. In today's Gospel reading, Jesus shows the value and importance of words in his ministry. Even as he was loving people, healing them, and caring for them, he was speaking to them, proclaiming the good news to them.
Did Jesus speak words of bitterness or complaint? Can you imagine him angrily yelling at someone who cut him off with a donkey cart in Jerusalem traffic? No, his words were gracious! They were warm and inviting. Even when he spoke to his enemies, his voice probably cracked with emotions like sadness and frustration rather than fury and hatred. And because of the words he used and the way he spoke them, people flocked to his side.
If you ever doubt that your words—even your smallest comments—have great power, think about the effects that negative words have. Were you ever made fun of as a child? Did anyone ever make an offhand remark that still stings? How long have they stuck with you? These negative comments can fall so carelessly from our lips. We might be quick to criticize or judge, without remembering how deeply words can hurt and limit a person's potential. If negative speech can have such a profound impact, imagine how much more power your words of encouragement, appreciation, and affirmation can have!
In their training, new teachers are taught that for each criticism or correction they give, they should also give at least three positive comments. So try to put this into practice today. For every complaint that slips out, be sure to say three positive things. Encourage your spouse and children and co-workers and neighbors. Thank the cashier at the grocery store. Bless the person who cuts you off in traffic. Try to make all of your words gracious. You never know—you may give the only encouragement that someone receives all day!
"Lord, let my words be gracious like yours."
1 John 4:19--5:4
Psalm 72:1-2, 14-15, 17
Imagine what God our Father is asking of us today, because we heard about the love of God and one another, and His commandments. But the world does not believe, and that is the situation we find ourselves in. Last night in our co-worker bible study, we read about trembling before God in the Psalm and paying Him homage. I said that not many people in the world tremble in fear before the Lord, much less pay Him homage. Funerals are packed sometimes, paying homage to people, but not there for God, much less their own souls but their own ego. How can I say this? Don't take me wrong, I'm there for conversion of souls, but sometimes I wonder where our hearts are. I see many that fall into the worldly thoughts and ways, and the way of the Lord? Well, it's a burden, even though the Holy Scripture tells us it is NOT Burdensome. ANd the bible is Truth because the Bible is the Word of God, and Jesus is the Truth. We read that His yoke is easy. Jesus says come to Him all who are labored and burdened and He will give you rest, but people are deaf, blind, and mute. (that's where you and me come in) Why do I keep sounding mean like that? Because, I'll give you an example; yesterday I was talking to a man that is trying to work for us, seems desperate for work, and is kind of rubbing some the wrong way, so we can't trust him it seems, trying to push himself as a salesman. At one point in time I said to him "you know what I think? I think you are here away from home (11 hrs away) so we can pray for you". He sort of acknowledged, and said he hadn't been to church in years. I said I would pray for him and invited him to co-worker bible study, and he sounded like he was coming...although he did not come, even though we're giving him a place to stay and I gave him my space heater to stay warm. He wanted money, a loan, help with this and that, and he got whatever he wanted, but never came to co-worker bible study. Where are our priorities? Now, I can say the same about me, at home and at Church, I could put so much emphasis on kids homework, or chores but not on prayer. Or at Church, so much emphasis on following proper protocol and claim to love God in the Eucharist but once Church is over, I'm the same old person, even un-caring by word, and actions.
I am a firm believer in body language and even more in life language. I believe our bodies speak much more than we think, and the way we live, our life style choice speaks volumes of our worship and praise. The kids, they won't remember all the fun times we had as much as they will remember all the prayer life we had (our life's impact). I know it's the truth in my life. I remember the times in Church, retreats, and prayers at home, not all, but much more than the family fun times that seemed more a burden. Now we are leading to the Gospel, switch the Truth on, the love of God and the burden of the commandments come to fulfillment before our very eyes. Jesus read today with the Power of the Spirit, how He learned to read, an act of God, because He was poor, but amazing. And because He was poor, He was chosen for the poor, to lead the poor and break the poor (poor souls) from oppression. That is a liberator of burden, the truth is not lying in Scripture, the Truth is being revealed before our very eyes. Liberation, in my humble opinion, is sanctifying grace, the type that saves souls, the type that heals, the type that lasts, the type that is Jesus Himself. Yet, the devil fools you with lies, or should I say fills us with lies, saying this Christian stuff is a burden? It is not. There is one thing I have not sat down to pray for, perhaps I am afraid to, and that thing is Holiness, that which gives glory to God. I know not everyone will understand this, but if you've been keeping up for the last few years you may understand. If I have prayed for wisdom and passed through some of the worst tests in my life, I don't know what will happen if I ask God for Holiness which gives glory to God, it may strip me of everything I've ever had, or have been afraid to let go. Now I say this so that we all may think about how we supposedly love God.
Let me tell you this: God LOVES to Be LOVED.
You tell Him you love Him with a sincere heart and you feel the embrace of Heaven that will jerk tears out of your eyes and heart. You can not out-love Love, have you even tried?
How can you try? Well, in the case of the unseen God, you have to love God all around you, in every flower, every little thing you come across with a spark of life, especially your fellow humans, beginning at conception. That's how. The more you love, the more you love God, the more you will learn to tremble, because we have to learn to be what we already are...HOLY and Wholly HIS