|Preaching By Example |
Dear God, let us preach You without preaching, not by words but by example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do, the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear for You. Amen.
St. Conrad of Piacenza
Born of a noble family in northern Italy, Conrad as a young man married Euphrosyne, daughter of a nobleman.
One day while hunting he ordered attendants to set fire to some brush in order to flush out the game. The fire spread to nearby fields and to a large forest. Conrad fled. An innocent peasant was imprisoned, tortured to confess and condemned to death. Conrad confessed his guilt, saved the man's life and paid for the damaged property.
Soon after this event, Conrad and his wife agreed to separate: she to a Poor Clare monastery and he to a group of hermits following the Third Order Rule. His reputation for holiness, however, spread quickly. Since his many visitors destroyed his solitude, Conrad went to a more remote spot in Sicily where he lived 36 years as a hermit, praying for himself and for the rest of the world.
Prayer and penance were his answer to the temptations that beset him. Conrad died kneeling before a crucifix. He was canonized in 1625.
Pope Paul VI's 1969 Instruction on the Contemplative Life includes this passage: "To withdraw into the desert is for Christians tantamount to associating themselves more intimately with Christ's passion, and it enables them, in a very special way, to share in the paschal mystery and in the passage of Our Lord from this world to the heavenly homeland" (#1).
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
As I sit here, the beating of my heart,
the ebb and flow of my breathing, the movements of my mind
are all signs of God's ongoing creation of me.
I pause for a moment, and become aware
of this presence of God within me.
Lord, you granted me the great gift of freedom.
In these times, O Lord, grant that I may be free
From any form of racism or intolerance.
Remind me, Lord, that we are all equal
in your Loving eyes.
Help me Lord to be more conscious of your presence. Teach me to recognise your presence in others. Fill my heart with gratitude for the times Your love has been shown to me through the care of others.
The Word of God
Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Moses said to the people:
"Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin on you today,
loving him, and walking in his ways,
and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees,
you will live and grow numerous,
and the LORD, your God,
will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen,
but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,
I tell you now that you will certainly perish;
you will not have a long life
on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you,
a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore
he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."
R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Verse Before the Gospel Mt 4:17
Repent, says the Lord;
the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Jesus said to his disciples:
"The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised."
Then he said to all,
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?"
Listen to audio of this reading
Watch a video reflection
Begin to talk to Jesus about the piece of scripture you have just read. What part of it strikes a chord in you? Perhaps the words of a friend - or some story you have heard recently - will slowly rise to the surface of your consciousness. If so, does the story throw light on what the scripture passage may be trying to say to you?
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.
Meditation: Luke 9:22-25
Thursday after Ash Wednesday
... and on the third day be raised. (Luke 9:22)
Have you ever received a party invitation with only vague information about the location? You have the date and time and even the reason for the party, but you aren't sure how to get there. That's probably how the apostles felt when Jesus first called them. All he said was, "Follow me." But in today's passage, Jesus gives the destination as well: "Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it" (Luke 9:24).
Don't you sometimes feel like the disciples when Jesus first called them, focusing mostly on the call to deny yourself and losing sight of the goal? That's usually not a great motivator. When we "give up" something for Lent, it's supposed to be so that we can make more room for Jesus, not just make our lives more challenging! It's only as we keep our eyes on the goal that we get a more hopeful, inspiring perspective.
So what is the goal? For the disciples, it was the hope of the resurrection. It was the promise that those who follow Jesus will be raised to new life—not just in some far-off heaven but right here, right now. It was the promise of freedom from the burdens of guilt and sin. It was the promise of an ever deepening experience of God's love and power in their lives. It was the promise of belonging to a community of believers who treat one another with the love and mercy of God.
These promises apply to us just as much as they did to Peter, John, Martha, and all of Jesus' original followers. Jesus is inviting us to follow him along the road to discipleship this Lent. He is asking us to deny ourselves and take up our crosses, not because he wants to make our lives miserable but because he wants to set us free.
So what are you focusing on? The sacrifices you have decided to make? Or the destination you hope to reach on Easter Sunday? Take a look at your Lenten resolutions today, and ask yourself where they are leading you. If the goal is not too clear, think about readjusting them. Let Jesus set you free this Lent so that you can rejoice with him on Easter!
"Thank you, Lord, for the promise of the resurrection!"
Psalm 1:1-4, 6
audio of my2cents
The 5 minutos says today:
"This is the story of a man who never found time for God: 1) When he was a little boy they wanted to teach him to pray but someone objected : "It's too early for him to think of God. He still doesn't understand anything."
2) When he became an adolescent, they thought it'd be good for him to be sent to catechism. But soon someone said their opinion: "He is too young to think in God".
3) When he was young, he got an invitation to an encounter with youth. He was entertained with his girlfriend. Others answered for him: "Too in love to think of God".
4) When he was an adult man, already married, his wife asked him to go to Mass with her on Sundays, but he would answer: "I'm too busy to think about God".
5) In his town there was a holy mission. They wanted to wake him up in the early morning to participate in an act of penance, but his friends answered: "Leave him alone, he's too tired to think of God".
6) In one occasion, absorbed by his businesses, they invited him to a paschal confession. But he answered: "I'm too preoccupied to think in God"
7) When, now elderly, they wanted to take a priest to visit him at his house, the grandchildren objected: "He is too old to think in God".
8) When they were taking him to the cemetary, the devil jumped laughing in his face saying: "Too late to think in God!"
Today let's decide for life or not. ""
I made a decal with a sticker machine at my work. It is two words in a quote and the scripture verse abbreviation and number, and it is today's 1st Holy Scripture's words "CHOOSE LIFE". The devil sets out an array of distractions in our lives so we don't choose life. Every day. For example, the day we couldn't sit together and hold hands and pray as a family, that day we chose death because of the distractions. This is why lent is good, to force us into good habits. When a nun takes vows, she wears a "habit" because that is their new life. I'm not going to sugar coat things here. I chose death for my family too many times. Too busy, too distracted, too tired, too "not feeling like it". And remember what I said previously on another email, we can't depend on our worldly feelings because they are bound to concupiscence (tendency to sin). So Moses proposes, and he is a prophet. Speaking for God, he asks us to make a decision in our lives that will forever alter our lives. Those that chose to not follow him to the promised land would die, and we are talking about them falling into temptation of worshipping idols. We make idols of things of the world. Lent attempts to pull as away from all those idols that make us not "think in God".
The Psalms pray "Blessed are those who hope in the Lord". Those who choose life are blessed. Are you choosing life now? Now that you know that you have chosen death before, will you now choose the blessing of life? Because ultimately, what's going to be asked for is a hope in the cross. Jesus says in today's Holy Gospel some very powerful words that I think some of us intentionally blur or blot out of our lives: ""If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross DAILY and follow me." You must DENY yourself. Some people think it is foolish to fast or sacrifice, yet God is asking us to do just that! DENY Yourself, deny the temptation to not take up the cross of sacrificial love. "Oh sure yes, God can sacrifice Himself for me, that's just great, but don't you dare ask me to sacrifice anything or deny myself anything". WHOA. Uh oh. Who is feeding these lies? Who is blurring and twisting the truth? If an alcoholic was told to stop drinking (choose life) yet can't deny himself another drink, then this denial we are denying is killing us. "Oh well let them be happy and die happy" is a worldly line from the devil's mouth, the darkness and death. Because let me tell you a severe truth: Being dead to God is hell. I didn't say we are dead to Him as we breathe on this earth. I said hell is having no God available. Yet, we are available to Him as we breathe, and our hearts are beating. Moses is still asking us to choose life. Jesus is asking us to choose life (by taking up our daily cross). To deny the world the pleasure of keeping me silent about my faith. To deny my family the right to go to sleep without us praying together. To deny myself a morsel to eat without giving first thanks to God. To deny myself the pleasure of sleeping in on Sundays. Choose life. Lose this life for a life in the promised land, and we are talking of Heaven. So don't despair if the world seems mundane. Some hurtful words to God where of the so called "faithful" that complained of the same old food from Heaven, the Mana that represents the body of Christ. Some people leave the Catholic faith stating they are "not being fed". You see, things aren't that different, and the prophecy hasn't faded a bit. God is asking us if we want to choose life, then there is a way, and it is the way of the cross and of Jesus. If I deny myself the needle drugs into my veins that will kill me, then I have chosen life, but this needle of drugs is called sin. Sadly, we deny the wrong things in life. WE deny forgiveness and mercy to others. We deny our love to those who need it most. A priest said "i couldn't help but notice this man with a childish disposition in Mass, just standing there with his hands in his pockets". I said "pobrecito" (poor man). What do I mean? I mean he is poor and needs great love, and this is why he came to church. You see, this is a place for imperfect people to meet with perfection. You want a church full of perfect people? Not in this life. All you'll get is a church full of God's children who are learning to deny the world to one day enter the promised land....
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