As in loving, praying does not confine itself to one particular practice, way, or method, but is open to all and is defined by all to the extent that all serve as means to creating a space of deeper freedom leading the person to an evermore intimate and loving encounter between the lover and the beloved.
The ultimate goal of praying lies not in formulating one magical method, nor in searching for the correct acts and practices of devotion, nor in developing some perfect religious rituals and ceremonies, though all remain helpful and necessary. Ultimately, prayer orients, leads, and unites the individual person with the Divine.
–from the book Prayer in the Catholic Tradition
✞ Quote: "Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be, and becoming that person." — St. Therese of Lisieux
✞ Meditation: "However great our efforts, we cannot change ourselves. Only God can get to the bottom of our defects, and our limitations in the field of love; only he has sufficient mastery over our hearts for that. If we realize that we will save ourselves a great deal of discouragement and fruitless struggle. We do not have to become saints by our own power; we have to learn how to let God make us into saints. That does not mean, of course, that we don't have to make any effort . . . We should fight, not to attain holiness as a result of our own efforts, but to let God act in us without our putting up any resistance against him; we should fight to open ourselves as fully as possible to his grace, which sanctifies us." — Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 14-5 AN EXCERPT FROM In the School of the Holy Spirit
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY: "For who is God except the Lord? And who is a rock besides our God?— the God who girded me with strength, and made my way safe. He made my feet like the feet of a deer, and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand has supported me; your help has made me great." Psalm 18:31-35
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Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Saint of the Day for July 31
(October 23, 1491 – July 31, 1556)
The founder of the Jesuits was on his way to military fame and fortune when a cannon ball shattered his leg. Because there were no books of romance on hand during his convalescence, Ignatius whiled away the time reading a life of Christ and lives of the saints. His conscience was deeply touched, and a long, painful turning to Christ began. Having seen the Mother of God in a vision, he made a pilgrimage to her shrine at Montserrat near Barcelona. He remained for almost a year at nearby Manresa, sometimes with the Dominicans, sometimes in a pauper's hospice, often in a cave in the hills praying. After a period of great peace of mind, he went through a harrowing trial of scruples. There was no comfort in anything—prayer, fasting, sacraments, penance. At length, his peace of mind returned.
It was during this year of conversion that Ignatius began to write down material that later became his greatest work, the Spiritual Exercises.
He finally achieved his purpose of going to the Holy Land, but could not remain, as he planned, because of the hostility of the Turks. Ignatius spent the next 11 years in various European universities, studying with great difficulty, beginning almost as a child. Like many others, his orthodoxy was questioned; Ignatius was twice jailed for brief periods.
In 1534, at the age of 43, he and six others–one of whom was Saint Francis Xavier–vowed to live in poverty and chastity and to go to the Holy Land. If this became impossible, they vowed to offer themselves to the apostolic service of the pope. The latter became the only choice. Four years later Ignatius made the association permanent. The new Society of Jesus was approved by Pope Paul III, and Ignatius was elected to serve as the first general.
When companions were sent on various missions by the pope, Ignatius remained in Rome, consolidating the new venture, but still finding time to found homes for orphans, catechumens, and penitents. He founded the Roman College, intended to be the model of all other colleges of the Society.
Ignatius was a true mystic. He centered his spiritual life on the essential foundations of Christianity—the Trinity, Christ, the Eucharist. His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, Ad majorem Dei gloriam—"for the greater glory of God." In his concept, obedience was to be the prominent virtue, to assure the effectiveness and mobility of his men. All activity was to be guided by a true love of the Church and unconditional obedience to the Holy Father, for which reason all professed members took a fourth vow to go wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls.
Luther nailed his theses to the church door at Wittenberg in 1517. Seventeen years later, Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society that was to play so prominent a part in the Catholic Reformation. He was an implacable foe of Protestantism. Yet the seeds of ecumenism may be found in his words: "Great care must be taken to show forth orthodox truth in such a way that if any heretics happen to be present they may have an example of charity and Christian moderation. No hard words should be used nor any sort of contempt for their errors be shown." One of the greatest ecumenists was the 20th-century German Jesuit, Cardinal Augustin Bea.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola is the Patron Saint of:
Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
Reading 1 Ex 32:15-24, 30-34
Moses turned and came down the mountain with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands, tablets that were written on both sides, front and back; tablets that were made by God, having inscriptions on them that were engraved by God himself. Now, when Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, "That sounds like a battle in the camp." But Moses answered, "It does not sound like cries of victory, nor does it sound like cries of defeat; the sounds that I hear are cries of revelry." As he drew near the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing. With that, Moses' wrath flared up, so that he threw the tablets down and broke them on the base of the mountain. Taking the calf they had made, he fused it in the fire and then ground it down to powder, which he scattered on the water and made the children of Israel drink.
Moses asked Aaron, "What did this people ever do to you that you should lead them into so grave a sin?" Aaron replied, "Let not my lord be angry. You know well enough how prone the people are to evil. They said to me, 'Make us a god to be our leader; as for the man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.' So I told them, 'Let anyone who has gold jewelry take it off.' They gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out."
On the next day Moses said to the people, "You have committed a grave sin. I will go up to the LORD, then; perhaps I may be able to make atonement for your sin." So Moses went back to the LORD and said, "Ah, this people has indeed committed a grave sin in making a god of gold for themselves! If you would only forgive their sin! If you will not, then strike me out of the book that you have written." The LORD answered, "Him only who has sinned against me will I strike out of my book. Now, go and lead the people to the place I have told you. My angel will go before you. When it is time for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin."
Responsorial Psalm Ps 106:19-20, 21-22, 23 R. (1a) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. Our fathers made a calf in Horeb and adored a molten image; They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock. R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. They forgot the God who had saved them, who had done great deeds in Egypt, Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham, terrible things at the Red Sea. R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. Then he spoke of exterminating them, but Moses, his chosen one, Withstood him in the breach to turn back his destructive wrath. R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Alleluia Jas 1:18 R. Alleluia, alleluia. The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 13:31-35
Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds. "The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches."
He spoke to them another parable. "The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened."
All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.
Meditation: Matthew 13:31-35 Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Memorial)
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. (Matthew 13:31)
Have you ever seen a mustard seed? It's a tiny sphere, slightly larger than the head of a pin. Yet it grows into a bush that can reach twenty feet high and thirty feet wide. Jesus uses this tiny seed to illustrate a vital spiritual principle: God can do great things with small beginnings.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, whose feast day it is today, dreamed of accomplishing great things—not for God, but for himself. His military exploits cut short by a cannonball that shattered his leg, Ignatius lay on his back longing for fame and fortune. But he noticed something different. Whenever he thought about worldly success, he would feel the same excitement he had always known, but it was short-lived. Then, when he pondered the lives of Jesus and the saints, he felt a deeper, longer-lasting joy. "What if I did what Francis or Dominic did?" he wondered.
These small movements within his heart were the beginnings of Ignatius' conversion: tiny mustard seeds that grew into a life of service to Christ and his Church. Over time, his religious order, the Jesuits, grew into an enormous bush that has borne fruit on every continent.
Do you ever think, "I'm not very useful to God"? It's not true! You are no less of a "mustard seed" than Ignatius was. The same Holy Spirit dwells in you, so you have as much capacity to change the world as the saints. Every saint probably felt like they never did enough, but look at all they have accomplished! Even if all you do is pray for people who are suffering, you can make a huge impact.
Like the tiny mustard seed, your daily choices to pray, to help a family member, or to forgive someone can grow. Jesus didn't overlook the mustard seed because it was small—and he won't pass over your faith or service either. He sees your generosity and delights in it. He sees its potential and helps it bear abundant fruit.
From Mary to Ignatius to Mother Teresa, God has been taking small seeds and turning them into magnificent displays of his grace. It's not just the saints either. Your parish priest, an inner-city teacher, even the person sitting in front of you at Mass—each is a precious "mustard seed" whom God is cultivating.
And so are you.
"Here I am, Lord. Help me to bear fruit for you."
Exodus 32:15-24, 30-34 Psalm 106:19-23
my2cents: We heard in the first Holy Scripture: "Moses asked Aaron, "What did this people ever do to you that you should lead them into so grave a sin?" What a strange question, no? What did these people do to you? Well, it would seem they neutralized Aaron, with their inner beings pining for the false gods, that seek power in the world. The revelry yells, were rebellious yells. Yells that would be heard again...in hell. Because there is hell to pay when we come against the Lord, as heard in Numbers 26:10 "These are the Dathan and Abiram who were called by the congregation, who contended against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they contended against the LORD, 10and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up along with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured 250 men, so that they became a warning."
We prayed today "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. Then he spoke of exterminating them, but Moses, his chosen one, Withstood him in the breach to turn back his destructive wrath." Moses would intercede, as he attempts to lead his people to the promised land, much like our Lord intercedes and leads us to the promised land...heaven.
In comes our Lord into our lives today and we heard "Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds." He proposes to you. These are words of a lover getting on one knee, offering his entire life...isn't it? And He says "The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field." That seed has the power to become a tenacious plant that resembles a tree. It becomes shade for the heat, and becomes homes for birds, and in the end, can become wood for another use, all from one tiny seed. A person sows it and miraculously, it grows and grows. But some seeds don't grow and won't grow especially if not sown.
From Bishop Barren today: "...Attachments block us and break this flow. An attachment is anything you don't need but which you cannot live without. This idea is central to the spirituality of Ignatius of Loyola. What are the attachments that block the divine power from flowing through us? In most cases it is some form of wealth, pleasure, honor, or power.
Love what Jesus loved on the cross; and despise what he despised. This is the direction we get from St. Thomas Aquinas. Reorienting our priorities to align with Christ on the cross is the key to a spiritually successful life, and to the unleashing of divine power.
Yesterday, I had a thought that hit me "a plush soft pillow is one of the devil's favorite weapons...and for the Lord, the taking of the cross". It is two proposals, one for a pillow for your spiritual casket, and the other, the wood to be an offering for God. So, in a crowd of 1,000, one person says he or she will consider offering their life for the Lord. One seed. One yeast. And in doing so becomes salvation for the 999 that would not, or could not. This person leads the way. Shows the way to sacrifice. And something that keeps hitting me "what if the only people in Heaven are those weird ones that dress strict (modest) and talk funny (God always on the tips of their tongues) and walk funny (keep to themselves, not seeking attention), and are always tied up in church things?" Because, quite simply, they don't fit in. Too many times I try to be a "cool Christian", trying to be hip to try to talk in the people's language and fashions, but...that's how Aaron got neutralized. The "driven" Moses drove them out again, got the whips out like Jesus in the temple to disperse the evil that was pervading "His House", where God should reside only...your temple, our temple. Left to our own device leads to our own demise. When nobody is looking, that's when the rubber hits the road, that's when true Christianity hits home. I have to say this, as its been a while since I've said it, "I feel like a trainer, a coach that is teaching saints, even though I'm not fit like you, you will become a saint that will help me become a saint". You see, there are two ways to look at this, either I'm a sinner helping sinners or we are saints helping one another on our journey to Heaven. God designed us to be saints. Saints choose the 1 in 1,000 way of life...His cross. And they love it. And they cherish it. It is obedience. It is sacrifice. It is what gives growth in a seemingly impossible world. That is why the cross is positive. Put positive to work with the negative and things start moving, not laying on that soft pillow. Be motivated and propelled by the power of Christ, in the smallest of ways and smallest of wonders, He sees and He works. I pray all the time for you who read this. I want you to live in love with the one who has "proposed" to you today....Jesus. No other love shall enter your life...No Greater Love
Lord, I long to see you. With my own eyes, I want to see you myself, see you for who you really are. Not through another's eyes.
I've heard so much about you. How much is opinion? How much is hearsay? How much is truth? I want to know for myself. I want to hear with my own ears. Please come near, Lord, as you pass by today.
I am out on a limb, waiting for you, out of my comfort zone. And as you come, overwhelm me with the wonder that it is not I who seek you, nearly so much as it is you who seeks me.
—from the book Ignite: Read the Bible Like Never Before
✞ "Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent." — St. John of the Cross ✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "When we fail to practice penance, very soon a love of luxury creeps into our hearts. We start to make excuses for ourselves and become less generous as the spirit of penance relaxes. Through penance, we expiate our faults, make the body more submissive to the will, and obtain abundant graces. The saints did many great penances. We are not called to the extraordinary ones but to the small daily ones that draw the soul to God and God to the soul." — Bl. Mother Theresa of Calcutta p. 104 AN EXCERPT FROM Thirsting for God
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:4-5
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STS. NAZARIUS AND CELSUS
St. Nazarius and St. Celsus (1st c.) were early Christian martyrs, but nothing else is known with certainty about their lives or the time they lived, other than that they were put to death for their Christian faith in Milan, Italy, perhaps during the persecution of the Emperor Nero. What we know about these saints came to us from St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. In 395 A.D. St. Ambrose discovered the body of St. Nazarius, with severed head, along with a vial of his blood still as fresh as the day it was spilled, in a garden outside the city gates. St. Ambrose carried the body in procession to bury in the city's Basilica of the Apostles. In the same garden he also discovered the body of St. Celsus, and likewise had the body taken to the same basilica. Miracles occurred in the church at the presence of the relics of these two holy martyrs. According to one account, St. Nazarius was the son of St. Perpetua, the child she bore just prior being executed for her faith. Celsus was a youth given to the care of St. Nazarius by the boy's mother, who desired for the saint to teach her son the Christian faith. The two traveled and preached the Gospel together zealously before being tortured and executed in Milan. They share a feast day on July 28th.
Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 Ex 20:1-17
In those days: God delivered all these commandments:
"I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers' wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.
"You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished him who takes his name in vain.
"Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
"Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you.
"You shall not kill.
"You shall not commit adultery.
"You shall not steal.
"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him."
Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11 R. (John 6:68c) Lord, you have the words of everlasting life. The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul; The decree of the LORD is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple. R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The command of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eye. R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; The ordinances of the LORD are true, all of them just. R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life. They are more precious than gold, than a heap of purest gold; Sweeter also than syrup or honey from the comb. R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
Alleluia See Lk 8:15 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 13:18-23
Jesus said to his disciples: "Hear the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold."
Meditation: Matthew 13:18-23 16th Week in Ordinary Time
The seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it. (Matthew 13:23)
For nearly a century, Sherlock Holmes has been renowned for his extraordinary powers of deduction. In the story "A Scandal in Bohemia," we see what sets him apart. At one point, Holmes asks Watson how many stairs there are on the way up to his flat. Watson can't tell him, though he has been up and down the staircase hundreds of times. Holmes replies, "You see, Watson, but you do not observe."
Jesus' parable of the sower teaches us a similar lesson. Just as there is a difference between seeing and observing, there is a difference between hearing and understanding. The parable makes it plain that God gives everyone the opportunity to hear his word, but not everyone hears it in the same way. Some people take it to heart, while others don't, and that makes a difference in the fruit the word bears in their lives. Those who listen can "understand" the word in their hearts, and those who merely "hear" remain confused and vulnerable.
That kind of understanding is not something we come by naturally, however. It comes to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So when you read a Scripture passage, ask the Holy Spirit to open it up for you. Don't breeze through it. Let it sink in—even if you have to spend several minutes on a single phrase. You might read it aloud a couple of times or visualize the scene. Then ask the Spirit what he wants to show you about the passage.
Then reflect for a few minutes. First, what part of the reading resonates with you the most? You may want to underline it or write it down in a journal. Second, what does that particular passage say to you? If you have a sense that God loves you or if you are filled with hope about a difficult situation, that may be the Holy Spirit!
The Spirit is so wise—much more so than Sherlock Holmes! Let him guide you through the word and help you to live it.
"Lord, help me to understand your word, not just with my head, but with my heart. And help me put it into practice."
Exodus 20:1-17 Psalm 19:8-11
The Lord says when launching the ten commandments: "I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God". He begins the first with ""I, the LORD, am your God". Then says not to make other gods of anything on earth. Yet...we do. This week I was watching a show on TV and one of the judges said "I feel like I am a goddess". And others make her a goddess and she believes she is the god of self. Looks like a bad picture right? It gets worse...many people thing this way. Pride thinks this way. The thought that People "don't respect me" is this way. LOL, "who died and made you King of the universe!?". We've only one God to worship and He came in the form of man...Jesus. God is jealous, and He is punishing. And even His punishments are GOOD. This is good then, to have one God that is GOOD. Because we are no good without HIM!! All the commandments follow suit, keeping Holy the Sabbath, meaning going to honor and worship Him at the very least on Sunday the new Sabbath, the new Holy day to honor and worship Jesus, the new last day to spend with Him! Honoring Him and keeping this day Holy makes our lives holy, then we can honor mother and father and not kill one another and not steal from one another, and not lie about one another or put one another down with false things that mostly happen in gossip. Then we can be a giving people, sharing, not wanting or desiring someone else's things. And notice how a woman is among the property listings! She is not to be treated as property...although sadly...woman are treated as property, as objects, this is the pornography of the day, a training of mind, the filth, the materialism, the opposite of holiness, and is most evident in how they are dressed and talked about, and her looks are her "power". This is the complete opposite of what God desires. Holiness in every single commandment, beginning with HIMSELF! We prayed today "Lord, you have the words of everlasting life. The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul; The decree of the LORD is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple"
In comes our Lord: ""Hear the parable of the sower." Did you hear? Have you heard? What is the Lord saying? Are you paying attention? Can you hear? Because that is what we got...the Word spoken. And that's all it takes for God to work wonders and marvels in the world we live in. Why is hearing important? Because....God is speaking. And if you don't understand Him...how can you do what He asks? How I wish my kids would understand me, so they wouldn't have to suffer. But they don't. And they have to suffer, as much as I try to hold their hand, I have to let them learn. Such is the gift of God in life. Freedom. It was such a thought that hit me earlier this week. God must really love us to give us such tremendous freedom.
That little dog of my son I spoke to you about "buddy": I'm watching him run around on my security cameras at my office as I write to you. He ran from our house several hundred feet away to get here and is now dodging so many bullets, his life is at risk. Already in one week, someone tried to steal him, took him home and asked later who's dog it was, then brought it back, miraculously. Every morning I try to take it home and trick it into staying home where my son is asleep and the older dog has learned it is safer there and now stays there. Sometimes it works, this morning it did not. He won't stay where it is safe, where the master will take care of its every need. A truck zooms by, and it is nearly ran over. Another worker came in asking a day later who's dog it is because he likes it (to take it home). It follows anybody and everybody around as if everybody is its master. (False gods). It has total freedom now that is saved from the pound (slavery, in Egypt, slavery in sin). I am afraid for its life (a human's soul, your soul). So what can I do? My son is not awake yet to come save him as he did yesterday. (The Son Jesus saving mankind). And so, I am ordering boundaries (the commandments.) I ordered a wireless boundary for buddy, our buddy. These will help keep him saved and enjoy being with my son. Yet, the boundary system is run on batteries, once they wear out, hopefully, the puppy will learn its boundaries and not need to be zapped or punished anymore, but will know better and just enjoy being where the master (God) wants him to be....with HIM ALWAYS
God is indeed GOOD. Loving, and Jealous because He can love more like no other. No false god we follow online, in politics, in sports, leisure and self indulgence, or in any sense of this world can love or save like our Lord in heaven.
Learn your boundaries and love them. They will keep us with God FOREVER!!!! AMEN??