Thursday, August 20, 2015

Few are chosen...

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Minute Meditations

Sustainable Future

Only mutual apology, healing, and forgiveness offer a sustainable future for humanity. Otherwise we are controlled by the past, individually and corporately. We all need to apologize, and we all need to forgive or this human project will surely self-destruct. No wonder that almost two-thirds of Jesus' teaching is directly or indirectly about forgiveness.
— from Breathing Under Water

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Man of the century! Woman of the century! You see such terms applied to so many today—"golfer of the century," "composer of the century," "right tackle of the century"—that the line no longer has any punch. But Western Europe's "man of the twelfth century," without doubt or controversy, has to be Bernard of Clairvaux. Adviser of popes, preacher of the Second Crusade, defender of the faith, healer of a schism, reformer of a monastic Order, Scripture scholar, theologian and eloquent preacher: any one of these titles would distinguish an ordinary man. Yet Bernard was all of these—and he still retained a burning desire to return to the hidden monastic life of his younger days.

In the year 1111, at the age of 20, Bernard left his home to join the monastic community of Citeaux. His five brothers, two uncles and some 30 young friends followed him into the monastery. Within four years a dying community had recovered enough vitality to establish a new house in the nearby valley of Wormwoods, with Bernard as abbot. The zealous young man was quite demanding, though more on himself than others. A slight breakdown of health taught him to be more patient and understanding. The valley was soon renamed Clairvaux, the valley of light.

His ability as arbitrator and counselor became widely known. More and more he was lured away from the monastery to settle long-standing disputes. On several of these occasions he apparently stepped on some sensitive toes in Rome. Bernard was completely dedicated to the primacy of the Roman See. But to a letter of warning from Rome, he replied that the good fathers in Rome had enough to do to keep the Church in one piece. If any matters arose that warranted their interest, he would be the first to let them know.

Shortly thereafter it was Bernard who intervened in a full-blown schism and settled it in favor of the Roman pontiff against the antipope.

The Holy See prevailed on Bernard to preach the Second Crusade throughout Europe. His eloquence was so overwhelming that a great army was assembled and the success of the crusade seemed assured. The ideals of the men and their leaders, however, were not those of Abbot Bernard, and the project ended as a complete military and moral disaster.

Bernard felt responsible in some way for the degenerative effects of the crusade. This heavy burden possibly hastened his death, which came August 20, 1153.


Bernard's life in the Church was more active than we can imagine possible today. His efforts produced far-reaching results. But he knew that they would have availed little without the many hours of prayer and contemplation that brought him strength and heavenly direction. His life was characterized by a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. His sermons and books about Mary are still the standard of Marian theology.


"In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal" (St. Bernard).


Daily Prayer - 2015-08-20


I pause for a moment
and reflect on God's life-giving presence
in every part of my body, in everything around me,
in the whole of my life.


Lord grant me the grace
to have freedom of the spirit.
Cleanse my heart and soul
so I may live joyously in Your love.


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


Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church

Reading 1 Jgs 11:29-39a

The Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah.
He passed through Gilead and Manasseh,
and through Mizpah-Gilead as well,
and from there he went on to the Ammonites.
Jephthah made a vow to the LORD.
"If you deliver the Ammonites into my power," he said,
"whoever comes out of the doors of my house
to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites
shall belong to the LORD.
I shall offer him up as a burnt offering."

Jephthah then went on to the Ammonites to fight against them,
and the LORD delivered them into his power,
so that he inflicted a severe defeat on them,
from Aroer to the approach of Minnith (twenty cities in all)
and as far as Abel-keramim.
Thus were the Ammonites brought into subjection
by the children of Israel.
When Jephthah returned to his house in Mizpah,
it was his daughter who came forth,
playing the tambourines and dancing.
She was an only child: he had neither son nor daughter besides her.
When he saw her, he rent his garments and said,
"Alas, daughter, you have struck me down
and brought calamity upon me.
For I have made a vow to the LORD and I cannot retract."
She replied, "Father, you have made a vow to the LORD.
Do with me as you have vowed,
because the LORD has wrought vengeance for you
on your enemies the Ammonites."
Then she said to her father, "Let me have this favor.
Spare me for two months, that I may go off down the mountains
to mourn my virginity with my companions."
"Go," he replied, and sent her away for two months.
So she departed with her companions
and mourned her virginity on the mountains.
At the end of the two months she returned to her father,
who did to her as he had vowed.

Responsorial Psalm PS 40:5, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10

R. (8a and 9a) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Blessed the man who makes the LORD his trust;
who turns not to idolatry
or to those who stray after falsehood.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, "Behold I come."
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
"In the written scroll it is prescribed for me.
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!"
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Alleluia Ps 95:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people in parables
saying, "The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
'Tell those invited: "Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast."'
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then the king said to his servants, 'The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.'
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
He said to him, 'My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?'
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, 'Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'
Many are invited, but few are chosen."

Some thoughts on today's scripture

  • Is it possible that the relentless pace of daily life is blinding me to God's glorious invitation to be part of his kingdom?
  • The kingdom of God is open to 'both good and bad' and we are called to help build it. Am I dressed for the occasion -- am I ready to be part of this wonderful task?


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?


I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.

Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Matthew 22:1-14

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Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)

How is it that you came in here without a wedding garment? (Matthew 22:12)

Have you ever had a dream that you arrived somewhere in the wrong clothes? Maybe you showed up at school in your pajamas, or you went to a How is it that you came in here without a wedding garment? (Matthew 22:12) have a place in God's kingdom? Am I good enough?" But this parable reminds us that we are welcomed into God's feast because he has freely invited us, not because of what we have done. "Bad and good alike," we have all been gathered up and invited to the banquet hall (Matthew 22:10).

This has some big implications for us. First, it means we have no pride of place in God's kingdom. Even as we can sometimes doubt our own worth, we can just as quickly doubt other people's worth, especially if they are younger or newer followers of God. But Jesus tells us we are all equal in his kingdom. We belong only because of his gracious invitation.

Second, it means that we need to be dressed appropriately for this great feast. Our host knows where we are coming from, and he is ready to supply us with the proper wedding garments at his expense. But we need to wear these garments. We need to choose to clothe ourselves in Jesus Christ by adopting his way of life. It can be tempting to stick with our own "clothing" by choosing self-reliance over faith. But that would be like showing up to a posh dinner dressed in blue jeans and a wrinkled T-shirt!

Think for a minute about the magnitude of this invitation that you have received. Don't allow the busyness of life to distract you, as it did the invited guests in the parable. Tell God that you want to accept his gracious invitation, and ask him to build anticipation in your heart for his banquet. Then put on Jesus Christ as your wedding garment, and prepare to celebrate the wedding feast of the Lamb!

"Lord, clothe me in your wedding garment, and bring me to the feast!"


Judges 11:29-39
Psalm 40:5, 7-10



Jepthah made a vow, a promise, in today's 1st Holy Scripture...and how can you not keep you word against the Lord?  What is at stake? Your meager life?  Your little soul?  I'm sorry, but much more is at hand, at stake, that single beloved child had to outweigh all the rest, it was the worth of the Word.  Keep in mind, we are now speaking about the foreshadowing, what Jesus did for His people, what God did for His people.  The Word, turned into flesh, and it far outweighed everything and everyone else to come, such was the power of one person's life.  What this means then, is the weight of the word and the reality that it carries.  Because this, what is at stake, and is being offered on the altar as a sacrifice, it is still happening, and it is our Lord offering Himself at the altar, for the wedding, between God and man.  And the invitation should be, by now...clear.  Yesterday, we were about 500 miles from home up in the mountains, as we climbed the Mother Cabrini shrine, we saw the stations of the cross and started to stop at each one on the way up the mountain, and I'd give an explanation, and realized my oldest daughter was recording the whole journey.  Once we got up there, we prayed, and were about to leave the huge statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus atop the mount, when my boy approaches me as I was reading something on the shrine "I never knew Jesus did all that for me", and I replied "but we've read about it, watched the movies, and we've prayed the rosary about it", he said 'yeah, but I never thought about it like that".  It was an epiphany for him I guess, I could tell.  I want you now, to realize what this means, and it is going to be explained again...
The Psalms pray on " Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not; then said I, "Behold I come." and "Here I am Lord, I come to do your will".  I told my kids as we did the stations "every time you sin, you hurt Jesus" like when they nailed Him to the cross.  Wouldn't it be a lie, to say that sinning does not hurt Him?  And I'm having to take a gulp as I write, because it is true.  How can the infinite goodness be hurt by my little sin?  That little sin is taking you away.  That little thought is leading you astray.  That thought of temptation or doubt, that right there, that what pulls love away from the Divine Love, that pulls His child away from His heart.  Imagine, if you have children, when you look at them, how much you love them with your meager human love; now, imagine God, looking at them, how much more infinitely He loves that child.  Imagine that child going away from you, how it hurts your heart; now, imagine that pain thousands of times worse, because He knows the magnitude, the severity of the loss in terms of His Kingdom.  To say then, "I come to do your will" is to say "I want to love You Lord".
In comes Jesus in the Holy Gospel, giving a parable of a wedding, and the sacrificed meat is prepared for their nourishment.  Keep in mind, this is the wedding of the Lord and He is offering Himself, the only beloved Child of God.  And so, you can begin to imagine the weight, the importance of the feast, and we are speaking about the Holy Mass.  Every time you say "no" by not going to Mass on purpose, you are saying no to the invitation to God's sacrifice of Love.  And even more, every time you sin, you are saying "no" to His invitation to be prepared in wedding garments.  That is why we are supposed to go clean (white) and dressed appropriately for the feast.  So many times I see people dressed wrong for the feast.  Am I talking about the many times I see grown up men wearing shorts in Mass?  Am I talking about the short and revealing dresses women wear to Mass?  Am I talking about those kids that are dressed "wrong" for Mass?  I wish it were that easy.  I am talking about going filthy to Mass, with a heart going to save it's own rear and not really care about the rest.  Because like Jephtah, it wasn't about one was about millions.  Nowadays, murderers are going to take the Eucharist in Mass.  Those in position to make decisions for morality and life are against life, and against family, and are on the side for abortions and against natural marriage and pro-creation.  And you don't have to be in a certain position in politics to be this person, you can be just your filth or it will be your demise!  Did they not catch the un-dressed man and throw him out of the feast?  Your filth does not belong there.   Your sins do not belong there.  On another occasion, my oldest daughter recording asked if we could go back to the shrine next year.  I said "yeah, which part of the trip was the best?" We had been to carnival rides in the mountains, drove through a state park and saw wildlife, and visited the shrine, and she said "the shrine before all, because God is most important".  Now, we are starting to dress right to go to the feast offering of the only beloved Child of Love

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