Monday, February 16, 2015

Sign From Heaven

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Minute Meditations

Joy is Contagious Minute Meditations
Be joyful, and you will spread joy. Be joyful about your faith, and your Catholic faith will catch fire in the lives of those you evangelize.
— from Joyful Witness

St. Gilbert of Sempringham
(c. 1083-1189)

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Gilbert was born in Sempringham, England, into a wealthy family, but he followed a path quite different from that expected of him as the son of a Norman knight. Sent to France for his higher education, he decided to pursue seminary studies.

He returned to England not yet ordained a priest, and inherited several estates from his father. But Gilbert avoided the easy life he could have led under the circumstances. Instead he lived a simple life at a parish, sharing as much as possible with the poor. Following his ordination to the priesthood he served as parish priest at Sempringham.

Among the congregation were seven young women who had expressed to him their desire to live in religious life. In response, Gilbert had a house built for them adjacent to the Church. There they lived an austere life, but one which attracted ever more numbers; eventually lay sisters and lay brothers were added to work the land. The religious order formed eventually became known as the Gilbertines, though Gilbert had hoped the Cistercians or some other existing order would take on the responsibility of establishing a rule of life for the new order. The Gilbertines, the only religious order of English origin founded during the Middle Ages, continued to thrive. But the order came to an end when King Henry VIII suppressed all Catholic monasteries.

Over the years a special custom grew up in the houses of the order called "the plate of the Lord Jesus." The best portions of the dinner were put on a special plate and shared with the poor, reflecting Gilbert's lifelong concern for less fortunate people.

Throughout his life Gilbert lived simply, consumed little food and spent a good portion of many nights in prayer. Despite the rigors of such a life he died at well over age 100.


When he came into his father's wealth, Gilbert could have lived a life of luxury, as many of his fellow priests did at the time. Instead, he chose to share his wealth with the poor. The charming habit of filling "the plate of the Lord Jesus" in the monasteries he established reflected his concern. Today's Operation Rice Bowl echoes that habit: eating a simpler meal and letting the difference in the grocery bill help feed the hungry.

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


Lord, help me to be fully alive to your holy presence.
Enfold me in your love.
Let my heart become one with yours.


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.


I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God.
I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them.
Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment.
I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness.

The Word of God


Reading 1 Gn 4:1-15, 25

The man had relations with his wife Eve,
and she conceived and bore Cain, saying,
"I have produced a man with the help of the LORD."
Next she bore his brother Abel.
Abel became a keeper of flocks, and Cain a tiller of the soil.
In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the LORD
from the fruit of the soil,
while Abel, for his part,
brought one of the best firstlings of his flock.
The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering,
but on Cain and his offering he did not.
Cain greatly resented this and was crestfallen.
So the LORD said to Cain:
"Why are you so resentful and crestfallen.
If you do well, you can hold up your head;
but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door:
his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master."

Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out in the field."
When they were in the field,
Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the LORD asked Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"
He answered, "I do not know.
Am I my brother's keeper?"
The LORD then said: "What have you done!
Listen: your brother's blood cries out to me from the soil!
Therefore you shall be banned from the soil
that opened its mouth to receive
your brother's blood from your hand.
If you till the soil, it shall no longer give you its produce.
You shall become a restless wanderer on the earth."
Cain said to the LORD: "My punishment is too great to bear.
Since you have now banished me from the soil,
and I must avoid your presence
and become a restless wanderer on the earth,
anyone may kill me at sight."
"Not so!" the LORD said to him.
"If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged sevenfold."
So the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest anyone should kill him at sight.

Adam again had relations with his wife,
and she gave birth to a son whom she called Seth.
"God has granted me more offspring in place of Abel," she said,
"because Cain slew him."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 50:1 and 8, 16bc-17, 20-21

R. (14a) Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
God the LORD has spoken and summoned the earth,
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
"Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always."
R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
"Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?"
R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
"You sit speaking against your brother;
against your mother's son you spread rumors.
When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
Or do you think that I am like yourself?
I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes."
R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.

Alleluia Jn 14:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 8:11-13

The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus,
seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.
He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said,
"Why does this generation seek a sign?
Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation."
Then he left them, got into the boat again,
and went off to the other shore.

    Listen to audio of this reading

    Watch a video reflection


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.


Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Genesis 4:1-15, 25

View NAB Reading at

6th Week in Ordinary Time

Sin is a demon lurking at the door. (Genesis 4:7)

If you have children, the following scenario is probably familiar: one child receives a shiny new toy for her birthday and is completely absorbed with it. Meanwhile, another child decides to grab the toy for himself. You hear "Let me have it!" followed by "That's mine!" All because of a toy!

It's this kind of jealousy that is at work in the story of Cain and Abel. Cain feels slighted because Abel is enjoying God's favor, while he is not. But is that really the case? We're not told that God is against Cain, only that his sacrifice was not accepted this time. On the contrary, God is very good to Cain. Not only does he warn him about the dangers of jealousy and resentment; he also treats him with great mercy after Abel's death (Genesis 4:15).

We all know what jealousy feels like. Even if we're not prone to it, we know it from the temptation that is common to all of us. In our competitive world, there are plenty of opportunities to get beat out at something. It could be something as major as getting hired for a job, or as minor as getting cut off in traffic. The size of the temptation is not as important as our response. We can choose to feel resentful, or we can relax, knowing that God will give us everything we need, even if it's not what we had in mind.

The best way to counter jealousy, or any kind of discontent, is to give thanks for what you already have: the love of Jesus. Nothing, no one, can take that away from you! If you spend just ten minutes each day praising and thanking God for his love and blessings, you'll find your outlook changing. And if you make thanksgiving your way of life, you'll be in even better shape. Setbacks and frustration won't find a home in you. For no matter what you have or don't have, you are a child of God, and in him, you have everything!

"Jesus, thank you for your love, which is the most valuable gift of all! Thank you for never failing me, even when I've failed you. Your grace is all that I will ever need."


Psalm 50:1, 8, 16-17, 20-21
Mark 8:11-13



We begin the week on Scripture, and the first begins with a sacrifice.  What kind of sacrifice will we bring to the Lord?  Because Abel brought a just sacrifice, and the other...not so much.  In the end, the other would kill the first.  This book of Genesis is steeped in prophecy.  Yes, it calls to mind the sacrifice of Jesus, the Son, and His just sacrifice and how the world treated Him and killed Him, but it should call to mind our life and what we are supposedly sacrificing.  Pretty fitting for Lent coming up on Ash Wednesday.  There was a time that our Lord said in the Gospel of Matthew: "You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,n 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.'*22* But I say to you, whoever is angry* with his brother will be liable to judgment,o and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna.23 Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, 24 leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift."  And so yes, we will offer as a sacrifice for 40 days beginning Ash Wednesday, but what? You are going to offer Him things of the earth like Cain did?  What about things on the land of the flock like Abel?  In other words, the materials and the spirits.  In the end, one will triumph and in the bible it is the Holy Spirit of God that is triumphant.  And so the Lord looks to the heart of things.   This lent try being a saint. This lent, try lifting up people with words, and deeds.  This lent, do not look down on any one (raqa) spitting in their face of their souls.  This lent, let's do what God wants, and that's what it's all about in the Sacrifice. 
The Psalms pray "Offer to God a sacrifice of PRAISE".    What is praise?  The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the following:
2642 The Revelation of "what must soon take place," the Apocalypse, is borne along by the songs of the heavenly liturgy127 but also by the intercession of the "witnesses" (martyrs).128 The prophets and the saints, all those who were slain on earth for their witness to Jesus, the vast throng of those who, having come through the great tribulation, have gone before us into the Kingdom, all sing the praise and glory of him who sits on the throne, and of the Lamb.129 In communion with them, the Church on earth also sings these songs with faith in the midst of trial. By means of petition and intercession, faith hopes against all hope and gives thanks to the "Father of lights," from whom "every perfect gift" comes down.130 Thus faith is pure praise. 2643 The Eucharist contains and expresses all forms of prayer: it is "the pure offering" of the whole Body of Christ to the glory of God's name131 and, according to the traditions of East and West, it is the "sacrifice of praise."
Then it is fitting to offer praise to God the way Abel did, and we are pointing to Jesus!  The Gospel today puts Jesus on the spot by the children of Cain (offering other sacrifice than an open heart).  The keepers of the vineyard (the kingomd of God) had become unruly.  They ask for proof of God.  I know in my life, it's almost like I have to prove why I believe in God.  The children of Cain are in full existence ready to kill the people who love the cross.  Yet, the pain of cain is Carried within.  Yesterday I was asked to cover for the choir, I said Ok and was there an hour before Mass preparing.  Yet the whole time I was slaving away, a little bitty voice said "be prepared because all things could change".  I prayed the rosary and as I was finishing right before Mass, a choir showed up.  I had to give up everything I had planned.  It wasn't a downer, or was it?  The next Mass I had been asked to be the Lector.  I showed up and they had someone else chosen.  So I had to sit out again.  Come time for the Holy Eucharist, I was praising God with Him in my mouth and digesting Him and all that had happened that morning, when I heard Him speak:  "why are you thinking all these things?  Have you not participated in the better part?".  It was an eye opener.  I was dweling on all I could've done, instead of what was really going on:  JESUS is offering Himself in this communal praise.   His sacrifice, and my supposed sacrifice.  As if anything else were more important than His...sign from Heaven


Sign From Heaven