"Put your heart at His feet. It is the gift He loves most." — St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
MEDITATION OF THE DAY "The Christians are right: it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. Other vices may sometimes bring people together: you may find good fellowship and jokes and friendliness among drunken people or unchaste people. But pride always means enmity—it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God." — C.S. Lewis, p.123 AN EXCERPT FROM Mere Christianity
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St. Ignatius of Laconi
Ignatius is another sainted begging brother.
He was the second of seven children of peasant parents in Sardinia. His path to the Franciscans was unusual. During a serious illness, Ignatius vowed to become a Capuchin if he recovered. He regained his health but ignored the promise. A riding accident prompted him to renew the pledge, which he acted on the second time; he was 20 then. Ignatius's reputation for self-denial and charity led to his appointment as the official beggar for the friars in Cagliari. He fulfilled that task for 40 years; he was blind the last two years.
While on his rounds, Ignatius would instruct the children, visit the sick and urge sinners to repent. The people of Cagliari were inspired by his kindness and his faithfulness to his work. He was canonized in 1951.
Why did the people of Cagliari support the friars? These followers of Francis worked hard but rarely at jobs that paid enough to live on. Under these conditions St. Francis allowed them to beg. The life of Ignatius reminds us that everything God considers worthwhile does not have a high-paying salary attached to it.
"And I used to work with my hands, and I [still] desire to work; and I firmly wish that all my brothers give themselves to honest work. Let those who do not know how [to work] learn, not from desire of receiving wages for their work but as an example and in order to avoid idleness. And when we are not paid for our work, let us have recourse to the table of the Lord, seeking alms from door to door" (St. Francis, Testament).
As I begin this prayer, God is here. Around me, in my sensations, in my thoughts and deep within me. I pause for a moment, and become aware of God's life-giving presence.
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.
I ask how I am within myself today? Am I particularly tired, stressed, or off-form? If any of these characteristics apply, can I try to let go of the concerns that disturb me?
The Word of God
Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Reading 1 Acts 20:28-38
At Miletus, Paul spoke to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus: "Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the Church of God that he acquired with his own Blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears. And now I commend you to God and to that gracious word of his that can build you up and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated. I have never wanted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. You know well that these very hands have served my needs and my companions. In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
When he had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all. They were all weeping loudly as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him, for they were deeply distressed that he had said that they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.
Responsorial Psalm PS 68:29-30, 33-35a, 35bc-36ab R. (33a) Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth. or: R. Alleluia. Show forth, O God, your power, the power, O God, with which you took our part; For your temple in Jerusalem let the kings bring you gifts.
R. Sing to God, O Kingdoms of the earth. or: R. Alleluia. You kingdoms of the earth, sing to God, chant praise to the Lord who rides on the heights of the ancient heavens. Behold, his voice resounds, the voice of power: "Confess the power of God!"
R. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth. or: R. Alleluia. Over Israel is his majesty; his power is in the skies. Awesome in his sanctuary is God, the God of Israel; he gives power and strength to his people.
R. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Jn 17:17b-17a R. Alleluia, alleluia. Your word, O Lord, is truth; consecrate us in the truth. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 17:11b-19
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying: "Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
The earth may belong to us, but we must not belong to it: we must not be possessed by worldly cares. With Pope Francis, we pray that Jesus "may free us from being Christians without hope, who live as if the Lord were not risen, as if our problems were the centre of our lives."
Jesus prays that we be protected from the "evil one." The Pope points out that the Spirit "does not remove evil with a magic wand"; instead "he pours into us the vitality of life, which is not the absence of problems, but the certainty of being loved and always forgiven by Christ, who for us has conquered sin, death and fear." The reality of the risen Christ is that, from now on, nothing and no one will ever be able to separate us from his love.
How has God's Word moved me? Has it left me cold? Has it consoled me or moved me to act in a new way? I imagine Jesus standing or sitting beside me, I turn and share my feelings with him.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Have you ever thought about all who read these meditations? The Word Among Us is read in more than one-hundred-twenty countries and ten languages. Just think: People all around the world are joining you in prayer right now! Diverse and scattered as we are, each of us is reading this meditation and drawing closer to the Lord. Talk about unity in the midst of diversity!
Jesus' first disciples were also a diverse group. But what did they have in common? Like us, the one thing that bound them together was their desire to follow Jesus. Despite their different professions, their different approaches to life, their different temperaments, they stayed together because of their love for the Lord and their love for one another. Not to mention, they had Jesus teaching them and helping them rise above their differences. But would their unity last after he left?
That's why, in the upper room, he prayed "that they may be one" (John 17:11). Jesus saw that the disciples' unity would face serious threats. He knew that his arrest would cause them to scatter, but that his appearing to them on Easter Sunday would bring them together again. He knew that the Holy Spirit would fall on them and move them to band together as the Church, but he also knew that disputes would occasionally break out amongst them and that they would need to work hard to preserve their unity. It wouldn't be easy, so he prayed for them.
But Jesus' prayer wasn't just for the disciples; it was for the whole body of Christ—for his first disciples, for us in the present, and for all those yet to come.
In the Church today, much of our oneness has remained intact. As Pope John XXIII said, there is far more that unites us than divides us. Still, there is disunity, and we need to keep working to overcome it.
How can we advance the cause of healing and unity within the body of Christ? By making Jesus' prayer our prayer. Let's take the Church into our hearts today by praying for one another—even those who are very different from us. May we all pursue unity in our diversity!
"Father, pour out your Holy Spirit on us; make us one."
The Word of the Lord speaks today "Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock... I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak". St. Paul is exhorting a powerful truth here and it culminates when He says "'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" When you find yourself in a deep hole, a hole of darkness, the only way to get out is by giving. Find the needy, because the needy don't have a ride to go to your place. Because the needy don't have a voice to call for help (think of the unborn) and think of the elderly. Because the needy don't know how to ask for help, (think of the proud). Because the needy don't know how to give. Giving makes for a joyful life. This is why consecrating ourselves to Jesus means completeness in Joy, and He is consecrated always on the altars across the whole world...for you, for you to be consecrated to Him, for you to be Him, one with Him. We prayed the Holy Psalms today "Awesome in his sanctuary is God, the God of Israel; he gives power and strength to his people." He gives to those who need. Tell me what do you need that is not temporal or material goods? For St. Paul exhorted "I have never wanted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. You know well that these very hands have served my needs and my companions." Today's saint exemplifies, the survivor for Christ depends on Christ. We who are left will be caught up in the clouds with Him. Those alive still, and to be alive is to be one with Christ. In comes Christ our Lord into our lives ""Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one." Last night we discussed in RCIA (classes to become Catholic), we learned through the Lord's prayer what an intercession is, an intercessory prayer, one in which we intercede, and the intentions should be prayers for others, for their joy, peace, and love and more. We pray for one another, I ask you for prayers, and I also ask angels and saints and the saintly angel Mother of God for intercessions, to intercede and be that intercessory prayer for us here on earth, this world which we do not belong to. So I have, as a Catholic ,more prayers available, because the celestial courts are available, and if I persevere, it is because of their continuous prayers along with yours. And so our Lord prays to our Father, for our unity, and our consecration to Him. When a priest or one is turning their lives to Christ, they are consecrated. Priests are asked to lay down their lives in front of the altar...at the feet of Jesus on the cross, at the feet of Jesus in the tomb, on the slab of stone, and at the feet of the ascended and resurrected Lord of life, all at once, and then life becomes a life of giving, and giving until it hurts and then more. They show the way. Pray for your priests, love them and show them what holiness is because they too desire consecration from the Lord as the Lord desires you to be consecrated to Him. We are wrapping ourselves to light, and the soul belongs to light, and this light is not of this world. Life is too short not to be loving. Life is too short to say no to the Lord. Our Lord prays for us to the Father of the Universe, our Father "I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One." As if our Lord ever desired anything not good for you. But we are in the world, even though we are not of the world. Jesus our Lord says to the Father "They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world." And He asks that we join Him in this consecration. And your consecration must be true, because it is to be united with Truth. Sin is not true. So when you renew your commitment to Him in the Holy Sacraments, realize this is a consecration to Truth, a oneness with Him. This sincerity brings us to be the light we already belong to. The world does not like the light, but it is good to give life to the world. So much confusion is being put into the world by the king of lies. Do not be confused any more. You have a Father in Heaven, the creator of the entire world which is more than the universe. The Father is simply asking for you to return to Him, if you so desire. And His desire for you is good, and all things spiritually good. What is your desire?