Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Good Tree

"For true hearts there is no separating ocean; or, rather, God is their ocean, in Whom they meet and are united; they love, and lose themselves in Him

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"For true hearts there is no separating ocean; or, rather, God is their ocean, in Whom they meet and are united; they love, and lose themselves in Him and in each other."
— St. Théodore Guérin


"[The] ultimate end of man we call beatitude. For a man's happiness or beatitude consists in the vision whereby he sees God in His essence. Of course, man is far below God in the perfection of his beatitude. For God has this beatitude by His very nature, whereas man attains beatitude by being admitted to a share in the divine light."
— St. Thomas Aquinas, p. 119
Aquinas's Shorter Summa


click to go there


St. Thomas More


His belief that no lay ruler has jurisdiction over the Church of Christ cost Thomas More his life.

Beheaded on Tower Hill, London, on July 6, 1535, he steadfastly refused to approve Henry VIII's divorce and remarriage and establishment of the Church of England.

Described as "a man for all seasons," More was a literary scholar, eminent lawyer, gentleman, father of four children and chancellor of England. An intensely spiritual man, he would not support the king's divorce from Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Nor would he acknowledge Henry as supreme head of the Church in England, breaking with Rome and denying the pope as head.

More was committed to the Tower of London to await trial for treason: not swearing to the Act of Succession and the Oath of Supremacy. Upon conviction, More declared he had all the councils of Christendom and not just the council of one realm to support him in the decision of his conscience.


When the executioner offered to blindfold him, More said that he would do this himself. But after he had stretched his head over the low block—it was merely a log of wood—he made a signal to the man to wait a moment. Then he made his last joke: His beard was lying on the block and he would like to remove it. At least that had committed no treason. The heavy axe went slowly up, hung a moment in the air and fell.


Four hundred years later in 1935, Thomas More was canonized a saint of God. Few saints are more relevant to our time. In the year 2000 in fact, Saint John Paul II named him patron of political leaders. The supreme diplomat and counselor, he did not compromise his own moral values in order to please the king, knowing that true allegiance to authority is not blind acceptance of everything that authority wants. King Henry himself realized this and tried desperately to win his chancellor to his side because he knew More was a man whose approval counted, a man whose personal integrity no one questioned. But when Thomas resigned as chancellor, unable to approve the two matters that meant most to Henry, the king had to get rid of Thomas More.

Patron Saint of:

Civil servants
Court clerks
Politicians, public servants


Sacred Space
Daily Prayer - 2016-06-22


Dear Lord, help me to be open to you
for this time as I put aside the cares of this world.
Fill my mind with your peace, Your Love.


Lord, I pray for your gift of freedom.
May your Holy Spirit
guide those in power to work for
equality for all your people.


I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord.
I will take refuge in His loving heart.
He is my strength in times of weakness.
He is my comforter in times of sorrow.

The Word of God

Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 2 Kgs 22:8-13; 23:1-3

The high priest Hilkiah informed the scribe Shaphan,
"I have found the book of the law in the temple of the LORD."
Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, who read it.
Then the scribe Shaphan went to the king and reported,
"Your servants have smelted down the metals available in the temple
and have consigned them to the master workmen
in the temple of the LORD."
The scribe Shaphan also informed the king
that the priest Hilkiah had given him a book,
and then read it aloud to the king.
When the king heard the contents of the book of the law,
he tore his garments and issued this command to Hilkiah the priest,
Ahikam, son of Shaphan,
Achbor, son of Micaiah, the scribe Shaphan,
and the king's servant Asaiah:
"Go, consult the LORD for me, for the people, for all Judah,
about the stipulations of this book that has been found,
for the anger of the LORD has been set furiously ablaze against us,
because our fathers did not obey the stipulations of this book,
nor fulfill our written obligations."

The king then had all the elders of Judah
and of Jerusalem summoned together before him.
The king went up to the temple of the LORD with all the men of Judah
and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem:
priests, prophets, and all the people, small and great.
He had the entire contents of the book of the covenant
that had been found in the temple of the LORD, read out to them.
Standing by the column, the king made a covenant before the LORD
that they would follow him
and observe his ordinances, statutes and decrees
with their whole hearts and souls,
thus reviving the terms of the covenant
which were written in this book.
And all the people stood as participants in the covenant.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 119:33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40

R. (33a) Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Instruct me, O LORD, in the way of your statutes,
that I may exactly observe them.

R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Give me discernment, that I may observe your law
and keep it with all my heart.

R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Lead me in the path of your commands,
for in it I delight.

R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Incline my heart to your decrees
and not to gain.

R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Turn away my eyes from seeing what is vain:
by your way give me life.

R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your justice give me life.

R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.

Alleluia Jn 15:4a, 5b
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord;
whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 7:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing,
but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit,
and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down
and thrown into the fire.
So by their fruits you will know them."

Some thoughts on today's scripture

Jesus warns us to beware of false prophets, and gives us a very concrete and practical guideline for our discernment: Knowing them by their fruits. Our world sometimes can be so confusing, making so many promises of happiness and well-being, yet so full of suffering and loneliness. We need to discern, to realise there are not only false prophets, who bear fruit that is not good, but also good prophets whose message is true because it produces good fruit. I pray for the grace of insight and wisdom.
In this series of passages, I might be struck by Jesus' words about a future judgement: the tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I too am called to bear good fruit, with a certain urgency.


What is stirring in me as I pray?
Am I consoled, troubled, left cold?
I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting at my side 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.

Catholic Meditations
Meditation: Matthew 7:15-20

Saints John Fisher, Bishop, and Thomas More, Martyrs (Optional Memorial)

By their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:20)

It makes sense. If you're looking for apples, you wouldn't search on a cherry tree. Or if you're looking for blueberries, you wouldn't go to a vineyard. But what does fruit have to do with the "false prophets" Jesus cautions against here?

A lot. When something is false, it is pretending to be something it's not. Like a wolf trying to look like a sheep, false prophets may seem harmless, but their messages are dangerous. Like a wolf, they separate the sheep from the guidance and protection of the shepherd.

We typically think of false prophets as people who preach something different from the gospel—and that is accurate. But what if we were to look at our own inner voices as well? Probably more than anything else, these interior false prophets give us wrong messages about God. They contradict what we know of how deeply God loves us by condemning us, burdening us, or robbing us of our peace. Whenever we believe them, we end up confused about who we are in Christ. And that makes us confused about the way we relate to the people around us.

So what can you do? Look at the fruit! Take note of what's going through your mind. If you find yourself feeling burdened, chase down that thought, and see where it's coming from. Maybe you've taken on too many responsibilities because you feel that God won't be satisfied with you. Remember that Jesus has made you a child of God, and you are precious to him. If you find yourself anxious, ask the Holy Spirit to help you get to the bottom of it. Maybe you're afraid that God won't take good enough care of you. Take a minute, and remind yourself of all the ways God has been close to you in the past.

There's a good chance that if you experience peace, it's coming from the Holy Spirit. And there's an even better chance that if you're feeling discouraged or beaten down, it's not coming from the Spirit. With practice, you'll get better at discerning these voices and dealing with any false prophet that comes to you in sheep's clothing.

"Holy Spirit, help me to recognize the fruit of my thoughts and plans. I trust you to help me discern when I'm close to you and when I need to adjust my focus."

2 Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3
Psalm 119:33-37, 40




I don't believe I've ever met a person that does not need prayer...our Lord. "Let us be compassionate. Let us be faithful, and love God above all." These last two things I said at a funeral vigil last night. In today's first Holy Scripture, a leader, a King had this book, and he believed, and led the flock to salvation. There are leaders today though, that will not lead to salvation. And stop thinking of world leaders, because you are a leader right where you are. Keep this in mind for today's Holy Gospel.
But first we prayed "Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord. Give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart." Teach me discernment, how to decipher, how to decide what is best, how to keep the law of the Lord above all, in my heart. Teach me Lord. I'm recalling a song in which I recorded it with a voice changer, and my voice was of a child that said "teach me, a rosary... teach me how to pray...when I die, where will I go?" And the response is from a parent in the song "with so much going on, from work to school, so many things to do" and prayer is left behind. I told the prisoners and I insinuated at the funeral vigil, we seem to leave Christ behind us and not in front of us.
In comes the Lord or our lives today ""Beware of false prophets". How many teachers and pastors and leaders have gone through your head when you read these words? How many fellow preachers or "christians" have you thought of as "false prophets"? If you've thought of one or a few, then do what I do in this case...pinpoint what disgusts you in them and then match it to your own heart. That is, find out what it is about them that bothers you and see if it isn't what's in your heart...falseness. This Gospel is of humility and obedience. It's not to put down others, but to reflect on the wolf in sheep's clothing. Because we are a flock, aren't we? If you notice flocks, where one goes, many times, some others follow. I'm speaking of your movements, I'm speaking of where your mind takes you, your heart. I read in Matthew 12 today and this made me shake in my boots when our Lord says:

"Either declare the tree good and its fruit is good, or declare the tree rotten and its fruit is rotten, for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 s You brood of vipers, how can you say good things when you are evil? For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good person brings forth good out of a store of goodness, but an evil person brings forth evil out of a store of evil. 36* t I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak. 37 By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."
And now I'm scared of saying careless things. Care-less, meaning not caring. Words that roll out like daggers, words that kill the spirit, words that we think are harmless but to the receiver they are an affliction. This is me, always on the watch on how I speak and always catching myself goofing up. This is not easy. This is why we are to realize, there is not a soul that does not need prayer, our Lord. For us reading this, much is being asked. Much humility. Only goodness should come from our mouths, our hearts. But how? Only allow good things of God in your heart, through your eyes, through your ears, don't watch worldly things, don't hear worldly music, don't act worldly, you are no longer allowed if you are a true child of God. This child must be set apart and holy. We are to be the light of Christ, not an undercover agent, not someone trying to be cool in disguise, flirting in the realms of the world. These are times in which truth must shine...the Lord must shine.