|Facing Darkness |
Sometimes when we truly face the darkness in ourselves and become aware of the things we have done wrong, feelings may rise up that could tend to scare us or lead us in the wrong direction. If we can face them squarely and say, "God is with me; God knows that these things are there," then we begin to know we are not alone in dealing with the darkness in our lives.
St. Sixtus II and Companions
Freedom to assemble has always been one of the first liberties that dictators deny to subjects (and one highly prized by our American forebears). The emperor Valerian published his first decree against Christians in 257 and forbade them to hold assemblies. Pope Sixtus had been pope for only one year when he was murdered while presiding at the Eucharist in one of the underground caverns used as cemeteries (catacombs). He and four deacons were seized and beheaded. Two other deacons were probably martyred the same day, and Saint Lawrence (August 10) four days later.
During his year in office, Sixtus had to deal with the controversy about the validity of baptism by heretics. He supported the positive view but was tolerant toward the practice of the Eastern Church, which rebaptized those who had received the sacrament from heretics. The negative view was shared by Saint Cyprian (September 16), to whom Sixtus sent messengers for discussion. Sixtus was asked to be patient with those in error, and contented himself with a strong recommendation of the truth. Other popes did the same, until the error was finally condemned.
"...aptism, of itself, is only a beginning, a point of departure, for it is wholly directed toward the acquiring of fullness of life in Christ. Baptism is thus oriented toward a complete profession of faith, a complete incorporation into the system of salvation such as Christ himself willed it to be, and finally, toward a complete participation in Eucharistic communion" (Vatican II's Decree on Ecumenism, 22).
Daily Prayer - 2015-08-07
"Come to me all you who are burdened
and I will give you rest"
Here I am, Lord.
I come to seek your presence.
I long for your healing power.
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.
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
Moses said to the people:
"Ask now of the days of old, before your time,
ever since God created man upon the earth;
ask from one end of the sky to the other:
Did anything so great ever happen before?
Was it ever heard of?
Did a people ever hear the voice of God
speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?
Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself
from the midst of another nation,
by testings, by signs and wonders, by war,
with his strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors,
all of which the LORD, your God,
did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
All this you were allowed to see
that you might know the LORD is God and there is no other.
Out of the heavens he let you hear his voice to discipline you;
on earth he let you see his great fire,
and you heard him speaking out of the fire.
For love of your fathers he chose their descendants
and personally led you out of Egypt by his great power,
driving out of your way nations greater and mightier than you,
so as to bring you in
and to make their land your heritage, as it is today.
This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart,
that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below,
and that there is no other.
You must keep his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you today,
that you and your children after you may prosper,
and that you may have long life on the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever."
R. (12a) I remember the deeds of the Lord.
I remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I remember your wonders of old.
And I meditate on your works;
your exploits I ponder.
R. I remember the deeds of the Lord.
O God, your way is holy;
what great god is there like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
among the peoples you have made known your power.
R. I remember the deeds of the Lord.
With your strong arm you redeemed your people,
the sons of Jacob and Joseph.
You led your people like a flock
under the care of Moses and Aaron.
R. I remember the deeds of the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus said to his disciples,- - -
"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory,
and then he will repay each according to his conduct.
Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here
who will not taste death
until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
- This passage brings us to the heart of the paradox of discipleship. To win, we must lose. To gain, we must give up. To live forever, we must die. We are not called on to go out looking for a cross, simply not to run from it when it comes.
- Mother Teresa's words may have some resonance for us: "It does not matter what you feel, but what He feels in you...you and I must let Him live in us and through us in the world."
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.
Meditation: Deuteronomy 4:32-40
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Saint Sixtus II, Pope, and Companions, Martyrs (Optional Memorial)
Ask now of the days of old ... (Deuteronomy 4:32)
One of the most amazing features God gave us is the gift of memory. A very practical gift, it helps us remember what we need to buy at the grocery store, where we last set down our reading glasses (Bible, car keys, phone, etc.), and where our children are and where they ought to be right now.
But as helpful as our memory is for everyday life, God has a much higher goal. Chiefly, he gave us the gift of memory to help us know him as fully as possible. We can recall what he has said to us and reflect on what he has done in our lives and throughout history—so that we can trust him and build a relationship with him. This is why Moses urges the Israelites to recall what they have done and remember what God has done. "Fix it in your hearts," he pleads. Why? So that reflecting on their ups and downs, they will see God's faithfulness, power, and compassion toward them—and believe in him more deeply.
What a helpful road map for us as well! As we recall in our own prayer Jesus' sacrifice of love, that sacrifice can become more real to us. We can be caught up into his love in a deeper way as we "know and fix" his truths in our hearts. Recounting the story of our own ups and downs will help us see how God has always been by our side, offering us his grace, and those memories will help us find new strength to live the life he is calling us to.
Just think how much more powerful memory can be when we remember together, as a people, at Mass. Ancient words read from the Scriptures become immediate, as Christ himself speaks to us. The story of the Last Supper becomes a doorway to the real event as bread and wine are transformed and Jesus offers us his own Body and Blood.
So fix your mind on the Lord. Remember his goodness and faithfulness. Remember how he has worked in your heart. And most of all, remember that you belong to him.
"Jesus, help me to fix your words in my heart. Lord, I want to taste your goodness today!"
Psalm 77:12-16, 21
Our Lord said to us through the first Holy Scripture "Out of the heavens he let you hear his voice to discipline you;" and out of the Heavens came Jesus. To correct the errors that we took on...the sin that is taken on by thwarting things towards self and not God. If a parent loves their child, they will discipline them. If God has ever lay His hands on us it is to discipline, but take heart, this means He loves us. Ours then, is to remember these deeds. Ours then is to re-live these deeds in our lives...lest we become ungrateful, and suffer the consequences of ingratitude. In spanish, "ingrato" gives off a meaning, like being merciless. This then, ingratitude, means being unthankful, ruthless, and thinking of only one person...yourself. This then has become an implosion of love, a black hole, and not an explosion, like that which created life.
The Psalms pray "I remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I remember your wonders of old." and "O God, your way is holy;
what great god is there like our God?" Truth is, there is no god like our God, King of Kings. Now, people are wondering the land, lost souls. They say their is a god or could be a god. They've never experienced a real presence. And there are some that have experienced a miracle but fail to realize it was our Lord that provided. Or worse...fail to be thankful. The words "thank you" so often are said without meaning or feeling. Do you remember the deeds of the Lord? They are remembered in the Bible, and what of your book of life? What of your thankfulness to God?
In comes our Lord, from the Heavens, ""Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." This is the point of true thankfulness. For those seeking the Lord...they find a cross, the way to Heaven. All this wondering around, you see a cross and ignore it. All this enjoyment in the world, you see a cross and it means nothing. All this seeking and fail to see the clue. And the world says it is not the way to Heaven. Who will you listen to? "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." We try to avoid eating foods that are bad for us, or even cancer causing. We try to take medicines that will prolong our lives. We try to do everything to save our physical bodies...and our souls? Who is trying to avoid dangerous foods for the souls? Who is trying to take medicines to prolong the life of the soul? Because what our Lord is offering here is healing...and an eternity, a Kingdom that goes on forever. To begin this process of healing the soul and seeking eternity, we must begin to notice things. First, notice that God is calling. This calling is a calling to holiness. The cross is calling. And you will begin to hear it when you begin being silent, in prayer. Is this to say "I want you to suffer for me?" This scares people. But let me tell you how it is; we are afraid to suffer for Him. LOL. Just ask someone if they will get involved, committed in a long relationship in a ministry, and the answer is like "no way Jose!..I'd lose my job! or my family! my life!". So, people don't stick their necks out. They say "thank you" and it is not from the heart. "I'll give money to the church but don't ask me to give my heart!", or "I'll give time, but don't ask me to give one dollar, I already give enough and that is my payment!", or "I can't give in any way right now". And Jesus says "What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?" Gain the whole world and lose your soul. Gain that popularity, gain that position at work, gain that big house and car, and never having been grateful to the one who gave LIFE. The false profit is gained from the false prophet...the one in the world that lies. Am I preaching to the choir? Because, in this email list are people that have lied, cheated, and stolen, and had abortions, priests, deacons, lay people and people who will NEVER open this email. And all the while...it is the cross calling. When God told me this week two things he said "Open Your Eyes" and then said "I want you to love me in your life above all". Was this a message for me? Was it personal and does not apply to you? God is calling because I am sharing the news, the Good News, His Holy Word and it is the cross calling, open your eyes, He wants you to love Him above all!
DO YOU LOVE ME?