|Heavenly Banquet |
Just as physical food nourishes the body, the spiritual food of the Holy Eucharist is a banquet given to us by God to nourish and strengthen our souls as we make our way homeward to heaven.
Sts. Nereus and Achilleus
Devotion to these two saints goes back to the fourth century, though almost nothing is known of their lives. They were praetorian soldiers of the Roman army, became Christians and were removed to the island of Terracina, where they were martyred. Their bodies were buried in a family vault, later known as the cemetery of Domitilla. Excavations by De Rossi in 1896 resulted in the discovery of their empty tomb in the underground church built by Pope Siricius in 390.
Two hundred years after their death, Pope Gregory the Great delivered his 28th homily on the occasion of their feast. "These saints, before whom we are assembled, despised the world and trampled it under their feet when peace, riches and health gave it charms."
Pope Damasus wrote an epitaph for Nereus and Achilleus in the fourth century. The text is known from travelers who read it while the slab was still entire, but the broken fragments found by De Rossi are sufficient to identify it: "The martyrs Nereus and Achilleus had enrolled themselves in the army and exercised the cruel office of carrying out the orders of the tyrant, being ever ready, through the constraint of fear, to obey his will. O miracle of faith! Suddenly they cease from their fury, they become converted, they fly from the camp of their wicked leader; they throw away their shields, their armor and their blood-stained javelins. Confessing the faith of Christ, they rejoice to bear testimony to its triumph. Learn now from the words of Damasus what great things the glory of Christ can accomplish."
Saint of the DayLives, Lessons and FeastBy Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
Daily Prayer - 2015-05-12
God is with me, but more, God is within me.
Let me dwell for a moment on God's life-giving presence
in my body, in my mind, in my heart,
as I sit here, right now.
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.
To be conscious about something is to be aware of it. Dear Lord help me to remember that You gave me life. Thank you for the gift of life. Teach me to slow down, to be still and enjoy the pleasures created for me.
To be aware of the beauty that surrounds me. The marvel of mountains, the calmness of lakes, the fragility of a flower petal. I need to remember that all these things come from you.
The Word of God
Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
The crowd in Philippi joined in the attack on Paul and Silas,
and the magistrates had them stripped
and ordered them to be beaten with rods.
After inflicting many blows on them,
they threw them into prison
and instructed the jailer to guard them securely.
When he received these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell
and secured their feet to a stake.
About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying
and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened,
there was suddenly such a severe earthquake
that the foundations of the jail shook;
all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose.
When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open,
he drew his sword and was about to kill himself,
thinking that the prisoners had escaped.
But Paul shouted out in a loud voice,
"Do no harm to yourself; we are all here."
He asked for a light and rushed in and,
trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas.
Then he brought them out and said,
"Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus
and you and your household will be saved."
So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house.
He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds;
then he and all his family were baptized at once.
He brought them up into his house and provided a meal
and with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God.
R. (7c) Your right hand saves me, O Lord.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple,
and give thanks to your name.
R. Your right hand saves me, O Lord.
Because of your kindness and your truth,
you have made great above all things
your name and your promise.
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.
R. Your right hand saves me, O Lord.
Your right hand saves me.
The LORD will complete what he has done for me;
your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands.
R. Your right hand saves me, O Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I will send to you the Spirit of truth, says the Lord;
he will guide you to all truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Now I am going to the one who sent me,
and not one of you asks me, 'Where are you going?'
But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts.
But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.
For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.
But if I go, I will send him to you.
And when he comes he will convict the world
in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation:
sin, because they do not believe in me;
righteousness, because I am going to the Father
and you will no longer see me;
condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned."
Listen to audio of this reading
Watch a video reflection
Some thoughts on today's scripture
- These words of Jesus at the Last Supper reflect some of the heavy sorrow of that meal, darkened by the disciples' awareness that they were losing Jesus. What he says to them applies to us also: Jesus remains with us through his spirit, the Paraclete dwelling in us and linking us to the Father as he linked Jesus to the Father.
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.
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.
Saints Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs
It is better for you that I go. (John 16:7)
Let's face it. The inclination to think "if only" arises more often than we like to admit. If only I could get the next best thing! A newer or more powerful or more economical car. The latest model phone. A hot or free or gourmet meal.
It's tempting to think "if only" about our faith, too. If only I could have had three years of daily contact with Jesus as the disciples did! If only he were here right now, I would be a better Catholic, evangelist, father, mother, student, co-worker ...
But that's not what Jesus said. Even though it grieved his disciples, he insisted, "It is better for you that I go" (John 16:7). They couldn't imagine anything better than Jesus walking with them, teaching them, healing them, and declaring the good news of the kingdom. But Jesus knew that his departure was better than his presence. Why? Because having returned to the Father, he would send the Spirit: the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, to dwell in their hearts.
It's hard to imagine that Jesus' absence is better than his presence, isn't it? But now, the Holy Spirit is present—and in the deepest part of your being. Yes, it would be exciting to watch Jesus perform awesome miracles or to hear him put the Pharisees in their place. But there's a difference between being excited and being changed. Only by speaking deeply to our consciences can the Spirit move us to repentance. Only by taking Jesus' words and writing them on our hearts can the Spirit fill us with consolation, peace, and joy. Only by pouring God's love into us can the Spirit soften our hearts and move us to treat each other with mercy and compassion.
So the next time you find yourself thinking "if only," remind yourself that you already have the "next best thing." In fact, you have the best thing ever! You have almighty God living in you. He is there to guide you, to offer his wisdom, and, best of all, to fill you with his life and love!
"Jesus, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit. Help me to sense the Spirit's presence today. Open my ears to hear his voice and my heart to follow his leading."
Acts 16:22-34; Psalm 138:1-3, 7-8
What causes St. Paul and Silas to sing in the middle of the night, to pray, while hurting from being beat up, there in the deepest darkest jail cell, bound with chains, still evangelizing to those that were listening? The cause is Jesus who had promised the Advocate would come, to dwell inside of us all, once turned to Him. The frightened jailer at the verge of suicide asked how to be saved, and St. Paul says "believe", and he believed, asking to be baptized, and let me pause right here and add that believing doesn't stop there with the first Sacrament with Christ, this is only the beginning, an initiation, a presentation of self to God's Kingdom. More is to come, with more of Jesus, more Holy Sacraments, one of them being a baptism with the fire that the Lord gives, and this is the Holy Spirit.
It will propel us to do as the Psalms pray the life of Christ, and today we read "I will worship at your holy temple, and give thanks to your name." and rightly so, the Eucharist means giving thanks. So there's more to worship, there's more to praise, there's this offering that is made, and what are we offering? Because if we are offering a dirty soul, it gets worse if the Eucharist is consumed, not worse the way you would think, but harder to confess, harder to let go of sins, because Jesus said "when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation...". His Spirit enters ours in Holy Communion, what is righteous is made one with Him, but if sin is lingering, it will begin to fester. There was an exerpt from an exorcism that I read that had the devil speaking imploring for unfaithful Catholics to receive Communion so they would get hardened in their sins. Indeed, I believe some of the hardest groups of people to convert are fallen away and or unfaithful Catholics. It is easier for me to convince an atheist of the truths of God than to evangelize a hardened fallen Catholic that God was with them.
Because Jesus left the earth, His covenant was sealed. When we put ourselves into a Sacrament, it is a covenant with Him, sealed. What kind of fine print am I sealing? Because the worst of times in the faith has been laid upon us. Fooled by the king of lies. Millions upon millions of unborn snatched from the womb, devoured and spit out by the starving devil, yet the lies remain. And of those that survive the holocaust another lie awaits, as if to say "marriage is whatever you make it out to be", just like moral relativism "believe what you want and that is the truth". This is an atrocity. Protestantism hits an all time high by calling the first Christians blasphemers and idolaters, and because of what? Because we worship the bread? Lies. The consecrated bread by Catholic Priests has always turned to the Body of Christ in all His Holy presence. Jesus didn't go away to stay away, He went away so He could come into any and every soul on earth. He seals His end of the deal. Our deal right now is, "do you believe"? Believing is not a one time thing. Like the times I hear older people say "Oh I used to do this and that for the Church" as if the faith was accomplished. No. The faith is in the now. The faith is not in the past, and not in tomorrow. Faith is now. And where the now is found, there Jesus can be found. The question was not "did you believe?". And the question was not "will you believe"?. The question IS DO YOU BELIEVE?
Laying your life for Him and your friend is believing in the now. I have a feeling that the believing jailer eventually paid for his beliefs the price of a true Christian...surrendering everything for the one thing that is important...salvation of our soul and all our loved ones, which leads to the following question, "who do you love?" and re-phrased it asks "who do you believe"?