Monday, April 13, 2015

Everyone Who Is Born

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Minute Meditations

Listen to the Lord
We can ask Jesus for help and seek his guidance in our lives, and then we can listen for His wise and gentle voice. We're not supposed to do all the talking; we have to really listen for the still, small voice so we can discern what He might be asking of us.
— from Joyful Witness

St. Martin I
(d. 655)

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When Martin I became pope in 649, Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine empire and the patriarch of Constantinople was the most influential Church leader in the eastern Christian world. The struggles that existed within the Church at that time were magnified by the close cooperation of emperor and patriarch.

A teaching, strongly supported in the East, held that Christ had no human will. Twice emperors had officially favored this position, Heraclius by publishing a formula of faith and Constans II by silencing the issue of one or two wills in Christ.

Shortly after assuming the office of the papacy (which he did without first being confirmed by the emperor), Martin held a council at the Lateran in which the imperial documents were censured, and in which the patriarch of Constantinople and two of his predecessors were condemned. Constans II, in response, tried first to turn bishops and people against the pope.

Failing in this and in an attempt to kill the pope, the emperor sent troops to Rome to seize Martin and to bring him back to Constantinople. Already in poor health, Martin offered no resistance, returned with the exarch Calliopas and was then submitted to various imprisonments, tortures and hardships. Although condemned to death and with some of the torture imposed already carried out, Martin was saved from execution by the pleas of a repentant Paul, patriarch of Constantinople, who was himself gravely ill.

Martin died shortly thereafter, tortures and cruel treatment having taken their toll. He is the last of the early popes to be venerated as a martyr.


The real significance of the word martyr comes not from the dying but from the witnessing, which the word means in its derivation. People who are willing to give up everything, their most precious possessions, their very lives, put a supreme value on the cause or belief for which they sacrifice. Martyrdom, dying for the faith, is an incidental extreme to which some have had to go to manifest their belief in Christ. A living faith, a life that exemplifies Christ's teaching throughout, and that in spite of difficulties, is required of all Christians. Martin might have cut corners as a way of easing his lot, to  make some accommodations with the civil rulers.


The breviary of the Orthodox Church pays tribute to Martin: "Glorious definer of the Orthodox Faith...sacred chief of divine dogmas, unstained by error...true reprover of of bishops, pillar of the Orthodox faith, teacher of religion.... Thou didst adorn the divine see of Peter, and since from this divine Rock, thou didst immovably defend the Church, so now thou art glorified with him."


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.


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.


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

Reading 1 Acts 4:23-31

After their release Peter and John went back to their own people
and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them.
And when they heard it,
they raised their voices to God with one accord
and said, "Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth
and the sea and all that is in them,
you said by the Holy Spirit
through the mouth of our father David, your servant:

Why did the Gentiles rage
and the peoples entertain folly?
The kings of the earth took their stand
and the princes gathered together
against the Lord and against his anointed.

Indeed they gathered in this city
against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed,
Herod and Pontius Pilate,
together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
to do what your hand and your will
had long ago planned to take place.
And now, Lord, take note of their threats,
and enable your servants to speak your word
with all boldness, as you stretch forth your hand to heal,
and signs and wonders are done
through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook,
and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 2:1-3, 4-7a, 7b-9

R. (see 11d) Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Why do the nations rage
and the peoples utter folly?
The kings of the earth rise up,
and the princes conspire together
against the LORD and against his anointed:
"Let us break their fetters
and cast their bonds from us!"
R. Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
He who is throned in heaven laughs;
the LORD derides them.
Then in anger he speaks to them;
he terrifies them in his wrath:
"I myself have set up my king
on Zion, my holy mountain."
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD.
R. Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
The LORD said to me, "You are my Son;
this day I have begotten you.
Ask of me and I will give you
the nations for an inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.
You shall rule them with an iron rod;
you shall shatter them like an earthen dish."
R. Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia Col 3:1

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If then you were raise with Christ,
seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 3:1-8

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
He came to Jesus at night and said to him,
"Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God,
for no one can do these signs that you are doing
unless God is with him."
Jesus answered and said to him,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God."
Nicodemus said to him,
"How can a man once grown old be born again?
Surely he cannot reenter his mother's womb and be born again, can he?"
Jesus answered,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born of water and Spirit
he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
What is born of flesh is flesh
and what is born of spirit is spirit.
Do not be amazed that I told you,
'You must be born from above.'
The wind blows where it wills,
and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

    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.

Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Acts 4:23-31

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Saint Martin I, Pope and Martyr

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 4:31)

Imagine that you had just finished the best vacation of your life. You ate really well; you tried a few new activities; you thoroughly enjoyed being with your friends or family. It was perfect in every way. You came back refreshed, peaceful, and full of energy—ready to tackle whatever was waiting for you at home. You probably also began thinking and planning another refreshing vacation just like it!

In today's first reading, the disciples, who had been so excited and overjoyed on the day of Pentecost, are in need of some spiritual refreshment. They keep getting thrown in prison for sharing the gospel, and the threats seem to be increasing rather than decreasing. You can imagine how worn out they must have been feeling! So in need of God's help, they pray to the Spirit, who they know will show them how to move forward. And he answers their prayers powerfully! The place where they are gathered shakes, and they are filled with the Spirit once more.

Wait a minute. Didn't the disciples already receive the Holy Spirit? Weren't they filled with the Spirit at Pentecost? Why do they need another filling?

Being filled with the Spirit is not the same thing as a glass being filled with water. We don't "contain" the Spirit. We can't control him or keep him locked up in our hearts. He is always flowing, always moving, always pouring out of us. And so, as life hands us challenges, we find times when we need our own spiritual "vacation," times when we need to be filled anew. Then, once we have been refreshed, we are able to go back out into the world with new energy, peace, and conviction.

It's possible to live from "strength to strength", but only as we keep asking the Spirit to fill us again and again. He is our one reliable source of strength, love, and encouragement (Psalm 84:8).

So make it a point to turn to the Spirit in every challenging situation, big or small, that you face. He doesn't mind filling you over and over again, as long as you keep pouring yourself out for the people around you. Remember, his goal is to make each of us into vessels for his grace.

"Holy Spirit, thank you for filling me every time I need refreshment!"


Psalm 2:1-9; John 3:1-8


The earth shook, indeed, the hell below shook with fear with what was about to happen, the people of God had just prayed for the power of the Holy Spirit to embolden them to speak!  This power is beautiful though.  It doesn't call for an obliteration, it calls out PERIOD.  It calls for repentance.  It calls on the Mercy of God.
The Psalms pray "Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord".   And some powerful words come ""I myself have set up my king
on Zion, my holy mountain...You shall rule them with an iron rod; you shall shatter them like an earthen dish."  Indeed, the plans of evil were shattered, sin and death.  And that's all the tools it has on you, but they got nothing on the power of the Lord!
And so the Gospel introduces Nicodemus believing in the good deeds and in the Lord, yet is finding it hard to believe that one has to be "reborn".  And our Lord explains to be born of water and spirit.  These are Sacraments in the Holy Catholic Church, Baptism, and Confirmation.  They allow you to see what you could not see before, unless you are blinded by sin.  Blinded by things of this world, even blinded to love and live mercy.  My 7 yr. old son asked me about the Eucharist and what it feeds and if it heals the body, and I said "sometimes it heals the body, but it always feeds the spirit, and so you have to be good so it makes you stronger in good, otherwise if you are bad and eat it, then you get stronger in the bad".  Then he asked why he couldn't confess already and I said "because you have to learn all about it before you do it". 
And so Nicodemus had to learn about it before he could do it.  You see, as we are learning the spiritual stages with Dr. Brant Pitre's Spiritual Theology course, we grow in the spiritual life, and if we don't grow, we become stinted, not just stagnant, but even dumb in every sense of the word, in our faith.  People only grow so big in their faith, thus if not fully grown are like dwarfs in the faith, they seem human, but not quite in the Spirit.  And it leaves you wondering after you hear it..."am I spiritually retarded?"  Well, the mere question is already propelling you to immerse into the next phase of spiritual growth.  So never stop learning!  Never stop being a better Christ follower!  It has to continuously flow, otherwise the waters become stagnant, non-flowing, and what happens?  In my backyard I have a little pond, and if the water pump ain't flowing and the heat of the sun keeps burning, algae starts forming and taking over.  The same with us all.  If we stop letting the Holy Spirit flow through us in prayer constantly, we will let algae grow that don't let the beautiful things grow that you want to see grow, and we are speaking of the fruit of the Spirit. 
This is what is going on in my head constantly, why do so many not see?  They are possessed.  Just a small example, this weekend out here in Texas, tons of cowboys are having roping events all weekend.  One of our workers lost a thumb (and I know many who have lost a thumb that gets caught in the ropes when roping off their horse).  Most lost, because not everybody wins.  And my zeal for the Lord on Divine Mercy Sunday said "many will lose much more...their souls".  Because the message of Divine Mercy Sunday in its fullness includes the message of hell.  I said "there is hell to pay for not going to Church this Sunday".  OUCH!  What a mean message huh?  But you don't know everything going on inside when I say that.  I'm asking God to call on all these souls.  Call them by name.  And my prayers where for them on Divine Mercy Sunday, the microcosm of the greater picture.  You see, I am up against not bad people but bad spirits.  Lies in the world.  "Oh you don't have to go to church, just do your best".  LIES!  Oh, oh yeah, you do all the other commandments like, not stealing or killing, or sleeping around, but fail to do one of the top commandments "HONOR THY FATHER, and KEEP HOLY THE SABBATH".  YIKES.  What happens when you don't show up?  Take for instance, the people with the keys to the air conditioners in our church.  No show.  The people were suffocating, the babies were getting restless.  The same is for you.  Your fire is fizzling.  That's why the devil divides so the fire gets extinguished.  That's why the devil cuts you off from the flow, so you become full of algae, stagnant, thinking "you can make it on your own".  There are too many in my world and your world that are stagnant puddles in need of our Lord. 
So when I say there is hell to pay, I mean the message is strong.  I am firing up for the Lord.  Let the earth shake below because God is going to embolden my speech.  Because Jesus paid the price of hell.  He paid for your soul.  The clutches of Satan will be loosened with the emboldend Holy Spirit in our soul.  Let yourself go full hearted like a fool into God's Love and Mercy. 
I am jealous for God, and I am zealous for your soul.  His thirst is quenched in the Spirit when we partake of His Divinity