Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Greatest Among You

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Minute Meditations

Free Yourself Minute Meditations

Our task during these forty days is to examine our lives in light of God's Word and see where we've allowed darkness to creep in, where we've taken the bait of the diabolical fisher of men. It's time to use the sword of the Spirit to cut through his web of deception, to free ourselves from the net that holds us as prey.
— from 40 Days, 40 Ways

St. Katharine Drexel



If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that.

She was born in Philadelphia in 1858. She had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, she had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn.

She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson's A Century of Dishonor. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O'Connor. The pope replied, "Why don't you become a missionary?" His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities.

Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions.

She could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O'Connor, she wrote in 1889, "The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored." Newspaper headlines screamed "Gives Up Seven Million!"

After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored) opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states.

Two saints met when Katharine was advised by Mother Cabrini about the "politics" of getting her Order's Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans.

At 77, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000.


Saints have always said the same thing: Pray, be humble, accept the cross, love and forgive. But it is good to hear these things in the American idiom from one who, for instance, had her ears pierced as a teenager, who resolved to have "no cake, no preserves," who wore a watch, was interviewed by the press, traveled by train and could concern herself with the proper size of pipe for a new mission. These are obvious reminders that holiness can be lived in today's culture as well as in that of Jerusalem or Rome.


"The patient and humble endurance of the cross—whatever nature it may be—is the highest work we have to do." "Oh, how far I am at 84 years of age from being an image of Jesus in his sacred life on earth!" (St. Katharine Drexel)


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. 


Saint Ignatius thought that a thick and shapeless tree-trunk would never
believe that it could become a statue, admired as a miracle of sculpture, and would never submit itself to the chisel of the sculptor, who sees by her genius what she can make of it. 
I ask for the grace to let myself be shaped by my loving Creator. 


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 Is 1:10, 16-20

Hear the word of the LORD,
princes of Sodom!
Listen to the instruction of our God,
people of Gomorrah!

Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil; learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow.

Come now, let us set things right,
says the LORD:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be crimson red,
they may become white as wool.
If you are willing, and obey,
you shall eat the good things of the land;
But if you refuse and resist,
the sword shall consume you:
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken!

Responsorial Psalm PS 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23

R. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always.
I take from your house no bullock,
no goats out of your fold."
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?"
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"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.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God."
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Verse Before the Gospel Ez 18:31

Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD,
and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.

Gospel Mt 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
"The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people's shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.'
As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.'
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called 'Master';
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

    Listen to audio of this reading

    Watch a video reflection


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: Psalm 50:8-9, 16-17, 21, 23

View NAB Reading at

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Saint Katharine Drexel, Virgin

You hate discipline and cast my words behind you. (Psalm 50:17)

What do you do when you need to remember something very important? Perhaps you tape a reminder to your bathroom mirror. Perhaps you program an alarm into your computer or smart phone. Maybe you ask your spouse or a co-worker to remind you about it. What you probably don't do is cast it behind you, out of sight and out of mind.

Today God has a particular word for you. Of course there are big truths that apply to every one of his children every day, and it's good to keep those in mind: God loves us. Jesus died for our sins. Jesus will return to establish his kingdom. But if you take the time to quiet your heart and listen, you'll find that the Holy Spirit has a special "now" word just for you.

It may come in the form of a picture, like a garden or a desert. It may be a phrase that leaps out at you from Scripture or a line from a song that keeps singing itself in your head. It may be a directive: "Pray for him. Telephone her. Take a different route to the store. Go to confession." Or it may be a word of encouragement: "I am proud of the way you held your tongue in that conversation during lunch." Or it may be a word of challenge, as God draws you up short just as you are about to give in to a temptation or as he pricks your conscience just after you have fallen prey to it. The word may come during your prayer time, but it may also come at an unexpected moment.

How will you know if it's God speaking to you? If the sense you get fills you with hope, peace, or conviction, there's a good chance he is behind it. And even if he isn't, at the very least you will have done something good if you respond to it.

Whatever God says to you, don't cast his words behind you. Instead, linger with it for a time when you first hear it. Then recall it at times during the day. By all means, if it's some kind of direction, act on it. Don't be afraid of making a mistake. This is part of what Isaiah meant when he told the Israelites to "learn to do good" (Isaiah 1:17).

"Speak, Lord, your servant is listening."


Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
Matthew 23:1-12 


Greatest Among You

We are reading a large book with lots and lots of pictures, it is called "Son Of God" from the movie, and we are doing this as a Lenten thing with our kids at home in the evenings.  Last night we turned the page which we were going to leave for tomorrow but we read it anyway seeing as though we wanted to go on.  It was my turn to read, and it was the Sermon On The Mount.  At each line, I paused and asked the kids if they knew what certain words meant.  One one of the lines I read it said "Blessed are the meek,c for they will inherit the land" and then I asked them what meek means, and then I had to explain that it meant "humble" and then I had to explain the word "humble" LOL.   The best way I could explain it was by saying something like "its about listening" and I used more words but they got the gist, being meek means "being little" I said at another point. 
And so today's first Holy Scripture implores the people of the great cities Sodom and Gomorrah, the masses to listen to God's message of asking them to repent from their evil turn from their ways and turn to our Lord.   Repent.  Seems to be a recurring message for Lent, Repent.  Sodom and Gomorrah did not, and they were destroyed. 
The Psalms pray "To the Upright I will show the saving power of God".  ANd then they say "Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth, Though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?".  I know you already read this but when you read it, does it sink in?  Who professes His covenant?  God's promise is the covenant.  You profess to be of Him but hate his DISCIPLine and throw His words behind you?  Sounds like hypocrites right? 
In comes Jesus, the Savior, and His word is strong and righteous "do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example."  OHH, uh ohhh.  Hmm.  Sounds like I'm going to have to explain that "humble" and "meek" word again huh?  Because I notice a peculiar thing among people, they blame the Pope, the Bishop, and the Priest and then their own moms and dads for anything and everything, pointing the finger, and all the rest of the fingers point back at self.  I say this because this weekend a man in church said "this will be my last mass" as he announced to the congregation.  I talked to him about why he said that and as I listened, he wound up blaming the whole church for treating someone like him as a business instead of as a church member.  He's been "let go" of other parishes and now he's threatening to "quit" because he hasn't got a "raise" he's been asking for and promised somehow long ago and feels largely unappreciated.  Towards the end of our 24 minute conversation, I said "I have to disagree with you" and I mentioned "we have to give" and I said I noticed ministries like some choirs don't tithe.  He said "yeah, someone said I'm actually taking from the collection plate instead of putting in" (because we pay for him to join us in his singing ministry).  I said yes.  We have to give.  We have to basically be humble and listen, be meek.  I said "we've been through many priests here" and the common denominator is that we have to obey, unless they say something that contradicts teaching.  Yet, people of our parish call up the bishop for shenanigans, reporting false accusations of molestations in years past.  I remember even when I was an altar boy some would ask me if I was being molested.  It was an aggrevating moment in my life, to hear people basically doubting our "father" our priest.  And why do we Catholics say "father" to priests?  Jesus says today to call no one father except Him.  Because you don't know, you have to ask.  Don't just go by what others say.  Humble, meek.  I know priests become the hands of God in the Holy Sacraments, and for that reason alone, this is FATHER to me.  Because I know who OUR FATHER IS who art in Heaven, we all know.  He is the MASTER, the HIGH PRIEST, the Father of my life, creator of my life. 
  I digress.  Jesus ends today "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."  Can I really humble myself?  Yup.  Jesus wouldn't say it if it were not true.  How can I humble myself?  Well, here we go again, just like my kids last night...LOL, "you have to listen".  Obey.  Jesus could've reared up and not obeyed any Jewish laws, and bust away from the chains and whippings that were hurting Him, but nope, He listened and obeyed.  WOW.  We've got a ways to go on humility don't we?  Yet we are in the discipline, the root word being disciple, of Christ.  Listen and follow His way.  It may cost you a little something now, but in the big picture, it is a small price to pay for His Kingdom.  It costs me my surrender.  It costs me my faith.  It costs me saying OK, I will follow you through thick and thin, be Holy and not sin...
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