Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Do Not Welcome

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Minute Meditations

Our Deepest Identity
Belovedness, our deepest identity, is made real in relationship. We cannot be loved and we cannot love if we are all alone. This makes belovedness quite fragile. We depend upon others to realize who we are. When our love for someone is not accepted, when we ourselves are rejected, we experience a terrible suffering.

— from Life's Great Questions
— from On a Mission

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002. It was the 45th canonization ceremony in Pope John Paul's pontificate. More than 300,000 people braved blistering heat as they filled St. Peter's Square and nearby streets. They heard the Holy Father praise the new saint for his prayer and charity. "This is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching," said the pope. He also stressed Padre Pio's witness to the power of suffering. If accepted with love, the Holy Father stressed, such suffering can lead to "a privileged path of sanctity."

Many people have turned to the Italian Capuchin Franciscan to intercede with God on their behalf; among them was the future Pope John Paul II. In 1962, when he was still an archbishop in Poland, he wrote to Padre Pio and asked him to pray for a Polish woman with throat cancer. Within two weeks, she had been cured of her life-threatening disease.

Born Francesco Forgione, Padre Pio grew up in a family of farmers in southern Italy. Twice (1898-1903 and 1910-17) his father worked in Jamaica, New York, to provide the family income.

At the age of 15, Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio. He was ordained in 1910 and was drafted during World War I. After he was discovered to have tuberculosis, he was discharged. In 1917 he was assigned to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, 75 miles from the city of Bari on the Adriatic.

On September 20, 1918, as he was making his thanksgiving after Mass, Padre Pio had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet and side.

Life became more complicated after that. Medical doctors, Church authorities and curiosity seekers came to see Padre Pio. In 1924 and again in 1931, the authenticity of the stigmata was questioned; Padre Pio was not permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to hear confessions. He did not complain of these decisions, which were soon reversed. However, he wrote no letters after 1924. His only other writing, a pamphlet on the agony of Jesus, was done before 1924.

Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but busloads of people soon began coming to see him. Each morning after a 5 a.m. Mass in a crowded church, he heard confessions until noon. He took a mid-morning break to bless the sick and all who came to see him. Every afternoon he also heard confessions. In time his confessional ministry would take 10 hours a day; penitents had to take a number so that the situation could be handled. Many of them have said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned.

Padre Pio saw Jesus in all the sick and suffering. At his urging, a fine hospital was built on nearby Mount Gargano. The idea arose in 1940; a committee began to collect money. Ground was broken in 1946. Building the hospital was a technical wonder because of the difficulty of getting water there and of hauling up the building supplies. This "House for the Alleviation of Suffering" has 350 beds.

A number of people have reported cures they believe were received through the intercession of Padre Pio. Those who assisted at his Masses came away edified; several curiosity seekers were deeply moved. Like St. Francis, Padre Pio sometimes had his habit torn or cut by souvenir hunters.

One of Padre Pio's sufferings was that unscrupulous people several times circulated prophecies that they claimed originated from him. He never made prophecies about world events and never gave an opinion on matters that he felt belonged to Church authorities to decide. He died on September 23, 1968, and was beatified in 1999.


At Padre Pio's canonization Mass in 2002, Saint John Paul II referred to that day's Gospel (Matthew 11:25-30) and said: "The Gospel image of 'yoke' evokes the many trials that the humble Capuchin of San Giovanni Rotondo endured. Today we contemplate in him how sweet is the 'yoke' of Christ and indeed how light the burdens are whenever someone carries these with faithful love. The life and mission of Padre Pio testify that difficulties and sorrows, if accepted with love, transform themselves into a privileged journey of holiness, which opens the person toward a greater good, known only to the Lord."


"The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self; there is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain" (saying of Padre Pio).

Daily Prayer - 2015-09-23


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.


Dear Lord, instil in my heart
the desire to know and love you more.
May I respond to your will for my life.


Where do I sense hope, encouragement, and growth areas in my life? By looking back over the last few months, I may be able to see which activities and occasions have produced rich fruit.  If I do notice such areas, I will determine to give those areas both time and space in the future.

The Word of God

Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest

Reading 1 Ezr 9:5-9

At the time of the evening sacrifice, I, Ezra, rose in my wretchedness,
and with cloak and mantle torn I fell on my knees,
stretching out my hands to the LORD, my God.

I said: "My God, I am too ashamed and confounded to raise my face to you,
O my God, for our wicked deeds are heaped up above our heads
and our guilt reaches up to heaven.
From the time of our fathers even to this day
great has been our guilt,
and for our wicked deeds we have been delivered up,
we and our kings and our priests,
to the will of the kings of foreign lands,
to the sword, to captivity, to pillage, and to disgrace,
as is the case today.

"And now, but a short time ago, mercy came to us from the LORD, our God,
who left us a remnant and gave us a stake in his holy place;
thus our God has brightened our eyes
and given us relief in our servitude.
For slaves we are, but in our servitude our God has not abandoned us;
rather, he has turned the good will
of the kings of Persia toward us.
Thus he has given us new life
to raise again the house of our God and restore its ruins,
and has granted us a fence in Judah and Jerusalem."

Responsorial Psalm Tobit 13:2, 3-4a, 4befghn, 7-8

R. (1b) Blessed be God, who lives for ever.
He scourges and then has mercy;
he casts down to the depths of the nether world,
and he brings up from the great abyss.
No one can escape his hand.
Blessed be God, who lives for ever.
Praise him, you children of Israel, before the Gentiles,
for though he has scattered you among them,
he has shown you his greatness even there.
Blessed be God, who lives for ever.
So now consider what he has done for you,
and praise him with full voice.
Bless the Lord of righteousness,
and exalt the King of ages.
Blessed be God, who lives for ever.
In the land of my exile I praise him
and show his power and majesty to a sinful nation.
Blessed be God, who lives for ever.
Bless the Lord, all you his chosen ones,
and may all of you praise his majesty.
Celebrate days of gladness, and give him praise.
Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

Alleluia Mk 1:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand;
repent and believe in the Gospel.
Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 9:1-6

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority
over all demons and to cure diseases,
and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God
and to heal the sick.
He said to them, "Take nothing for the journey,
neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money,
and let no one take a second tunic.
Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.
And as for those who do not welcome you,
when you leave that town,
shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them."
Then they set out and went from village to village
proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.


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: Luke 9:1-6

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Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest (Memorial)

Take nothing for the journey. (Luke 9:3)

Sunscreen. Diaper bag. Contingency plans. Hope. If you were to do a Google search on the phrase "Don't leave home without it," hundreds of millions of results will suggest what that "it" should be. And yet Jesus sent out his apostles with no money, food, or change of clothes. While that might strike us as reckless, he wanted them to learn something vital to the Christian life: God is enough. He is always enough. Nothing is inherently wrong with money, food, clothes, or other helps to life, but in the end, God is enough.

God is enough to bridge the gap between what he calls you to do and what you think you can do. His provision, as well as his love for you, rules out the objections that can whisper darkly in your thoughts: "You're not good enough or smart enough or young enough or old enough. You don't have enough time or freedom or compassion or skill to answer God's call." The apostles show that if you detect God's leading and respond in faith, he will make up for any lack you may see in yourself.

Relying on God is a joyous collaboration, not an excuse for sitting by and waiting for him to do all the work. As you take steps in faith and reach the limit of your resources, God will provide new ideas and energy. He will rekindle passion and stir creativity. He will open doors for his children—often by the hands of other children of his. More than any material blessing, though, he will provide faith, hope, and love. He will walk beside you along the way.

God loves you. We can't say it enough. He cares about you. He wants you to do well. He has created you for a unique purpose on this earth. So it stands to reason that he has a vested interest in helping you accomplish the very things he has created you for. He will help you grow in grace and understanding as you work with him. He will develop your gifts and talents, even as he empowers you with his own supernatural grace to serve him.

So rest assured, God is enough!

"Lord, free me from self-doubt and worry. Teach me that you are enough as I take up your call in my life."

Ezra 9:5-9
(Psalm) Tobit 13:2-4, 7-8

When I proposed to my wife, I made sure the song "Keeper of the Stars" was playing.  The song goes "it was no accident, me finding you, someone had to hand it in, long before we ever knew".  Later the song says "I've got all I'll ever need, thanks to the keeper of the stars".  Such a beautiful song, on our anniversary several years ago, we went to a karaoke place and asked if I could sing it to her, and the DJ shot me down saying it was too slow and would kill the mood or something, LOL!  I think just for trying I got some points with the wife, so just as good?  It wouldn't be a story if we didn't go through rough parts at times.  Ezra today exclaims "My God, I am too ashamed and confounded to raise my face to you...".  Too ashamed to pray even?  We can not be so ashamed that we are afraid to make a story, and write the future, especially for our Lord!  I told the RCIA class last night something like "I hope you don't ever stop going to church because of the way you think you look....then you would be possessed by vanity and pride, much of the same when you are keeping yourself from going to confession".  We don't need all the extra stuff to keep us from entering the Kingdom of God, that's why Jesus said it is easier for a camel to pass through the needle of an eye than for one who has possessions (and perhaps is possessed by the possessions).
The Psalms pray on "Blessed be God who lives forever" and "Bless the Lord, all you his chosen ones, and may all of you praise his majesty. Celebrate days of gladness, and give him praise."  That is why the Mass is called a celebration.  It is the equivalent of a wedding, only the groom we anticipate is Jesus.  The question came up in our study last night, something like "what does the way you dress say about the event you are attending?".  Why do you have to dress nice for Church?  We agreed we have to wear our Sunday best.  I told them about my little boy that I said "go to your closet and get the best you have to wear to Mass".  He came out wearing just some jeans and a T-shirt.  I said "that's not the best you got!".  But as I pondered as I said that, a thought hit me, "what if he doesn't know what my term of best means?"  What if that nifty T-shirt he really thought was better than all the button up shirts he had?  So I taught him what appropriate means, but in his innocence (like that of many that go undressed to Church) he was doing his best.  Sometimes you'll see grown men in shorts, or women not covered up appropriately, yet, perhaps that was what they thought is best?  Thus their level of faith, just beginning is something to emerge?  Suddenly, Jesus saying to take nothing with us, also means leaving behind all the prejudices, trying to judge people just by superficial factors.
Jesus our Lord and Savior speaks today, "Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money..".  He was saying the mission was more important than what we believe is important.  This my friend, this is the cross.  Jesus couldn't carry anything else but his tattered clothes up mount Calvary.  No sack to collect things, no food to eat, no money.  He came with nothing and He left with nothing.  That is the story of our lives and He shows the way to freedom.  Total freedom. Weightless.  You can experience weightlessness after a full hearty confession.  You can experience weightlessness in a life of grace.  This is what He wants you to experience so you will be lifted up.  So many of our problems are caused because of everything we carry for ourselves.  That is why Padre Pio said today ""The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self; there is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain".  Take it from one that knew what it meant to battle.  He said another time ""Love Our Lady and make her loved; always recite the Rosary and recite it as often as possible." He knew what it meant to battle.  He knew what it meant to suffer.  He was said to have walked through doors.  He was said to have appeared in the sky to one that thought he was going to die.  He was said to have had bruises after the devil let him have it one night.  After getting beat up he asked his guardian angel why he wasn't there for him, and the angel said "because God said for me to step back".  The words were more like "O soul entrusted to my care by Jesus, how Jesus treats you. Do you think that I would be as happy, if I did not see you so thrashed? I, who in holy charity desire greatly your advantage, delight to see you ever more in such a state. Jesus permits these assaults of the devil, because His (Divine) pity endears you to Himself, and He wants to make you like unto Himself in the anguish of the desert, of the Garden and of the Cross.

Defend yourself, always distance yourself from, and despise the malign insinuations of the devils; and where your strength does not arrive, do not be afflicted, beloved of my heart, for I am near to you.'

What condescension, dear father! What have I ever done to merit such exquisite affection from my dear angel? In fact, I do not worry myself about this at all; is not our Lord the Master Who can give His graces to whom and however He wishes?"

God gives what we need however He wishes.  Who am I to complain?  All I can do is shake the dust off my feet and go on when I am rejected, not accepted.  Such was the trajectory for me last night.  After two meetings back to back at church still bombarded with the family festival I am coordinating coming up in October, I was scolded, to the point that I was even tempted by the devil "wouldn't it be better to just take a bullet to the head?".  Can you imagine?  I was thinking at the time "wow, doesn't the devil ever take a break?"  Because it seems we are hounded.  How can you defeat the devil?  Here's how: just pray.  Bow your head, (be humble)  take a moment to just begin praying in the name of Jesus.   That's why Padre Pio wants us all in constant prayer like he was, even praying 9,000 hail Marys in one day like He did.  He was a busy man, and so we believe we are busy.  But Jesus said to the disciples to do what He said above all, and don't worry about your temporal needs, for your spiritual needs are being filled and that is enough, His grace is enough.  That's why I love that song so much "I've got all I'll ever need, thanks to the Keeper of the Stars!"
THank you Jesus!