It is critical to the Christian life to accept the fact that whatever happens in your life is God's will. It's half the battle. The other half is learning to embrace suffering and uncomfortable situations as they arise. -from Faith, Hope & Clarity
"Let us love God, but with the strength of our arms, in the sweat of our brow." — St. Vincent de Paul
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞
"Yes, my heart's dear one, Jesus, is here with His cross. Since you are one of His favorites, he wants to make you into His likeness; why be afraid that you will not have the strength to carry this cross without a struggle? On the way to Calvary, Jesus did indeed fall three times and you, poor little child, would like to be different from your spouse, would rather not fall a hundred times if necessary to prove your love to Him by getting back up with even more strength than before your fall!" — St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 87 AN EXCERPT FROM Meditations with the Little Flower
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Saint Giles Mary of St. Joseph
Saint of the Day for February 13
(November 16, 1729 – February 7, 1812)
In the same year that a power-hungry Napoleon Bonaparte led his army into Russia, Giles Mary of Saint Joseph ended a life of humble service to his Franciscan community and to the citizens of Naples.
Francesco was born in Taranto to very poor parents. His father's death left the 18-year-old Francesco to care for the family. Having secured their future, he entered the Friars Minor at Galatone in 1754. For 53 years, he served at St. Paschal's Hospice in Naples in various roles, such as cook, porter, or most often as official beggar for that community.
"Love God, love God" was his characteristic phrase as he gathered food for the friars and shared some of his bounty with the poor—all the while consoling the troubled and urging everyone to repent. The charity which he reflected on the streets of Naples was born in prayer and nurtured in the common life of the friars. The people whom Giles met on his begging rounds nicknamed him the "Consoler of Naples." He was canonized in 1996.
People often become arrogant and power hungry when they forget their own sinfulness and ignore the gifts God has given to other people. Giles had a healthy sense of his own sinfulness—not paralyzing but not superficial either. He invited men and women to recognize their own gifts and to live out their dignity as people made in God's divine image. Knowing someone like Giles can help us on our own spiritual journey.
The man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have produced a man with the help of the LORD." Next she bore his brother Abel. Abel became a keeper of flocks, and Cain a tiller of the soil. In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the LORD from the fruit of the soil, while Abel, for his part, brought one of the best firstlings of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not. Cain greatly resented this and was crestfallen. So the LORD said to Cain: "Why are you so resentful and crestfallen. If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master."
Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out in the field." When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD asked Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" He answered, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" The LORD then said: "What have you done! Listen: your brother's blood cries out to me from the soil! Therefore you shall be banned from the soil that opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. If you till the soil, it shall no longer give you its produce. You shall become a restless wanderer on the earth." Cain said to the LORD: "My punishment is too great to bear. Since you have now banished me from the soil, and I must avoid your presence and become a restless wanderer on the earth, anyone may kill me at sight." "Not so!" the LORD said to him. "If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged sevenfold." So the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest anyone should kill him at sight.
Adam again had relations with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she called Seth. "God has granted me more offspring in place of Abel," she said, "because Cain slew him."
Responsorial Psalm Ps 50:1 and 8, 16bc-17, 20-21
R. (14a) Offer to God a sacrifice of praise. God the LORD has spoken and summoned the earth, from the rising of the sun to its setting. "Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you, for your burnt offerings are before me always." R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise. "Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth Though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?" R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise. "You sit speaking against your brother; against your mother's son you spread rumors. When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it? Or do you think that I am like yourself? I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes." R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
Alleluia Jn 14:6
R. Alleluia, alleluia. I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father except through me. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 8:11-13
The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, "Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation." Then he left them, got into the boat again, and went off to the other shore.
If you do well, you can hold up your head. (Genesis 4:7)
We don't know exactly why Abel and his offering were accepted, while Cain and his offering were not. Did Cain displease God in some way? Was God testing him? Or was Abel just an extraordinarily holy man? We may never know.
But one thing we do know. God loved Cain. Just listen to how he speaks to Cain: "Why are you so resentful and crestfallen? . . . Sin is a demon lurking at the door . . . yet you can be his master" (Genesis 4:6, 7).
These are not the words of an indifferent God looking down on Cain with contempt. They are the words of a God who is personally involved in Cain's life and who wants to see him succeed. They are the words of a devoted parent who is not put off by his child's gloominess, but sees the way ahead and gives him a reality check that urges him toward goodness and maturity.
Cain may have felt alienated, but God told him that he could choose what to do with those feelings. God wanted him to "do well," to put aside his dejection and master his envy and frustration. Even after Cain had killed his brother, God didn't condemn him. No, he protected him and kept an open door for Cain to make a fresh start.
God looks at you the same way. It may sound surprising, but he doesn't stop reaching out when you are caught in resentment, envy, or any other sin, even mortal sin. He points out where you could be, how you can grow if you take hold of his grace to overcome sin. Just as God gave Cain a second chance, he gives each of us countless opportunities to try again.
We all know the feeling of sin "lurking at the door." But how comforting it is to know that Christ lives in us. He is there to give you strength to resist sin. He is there to remind you that you can master any temptation.
So today thank the Lord for cheering you on and giving you another chance. By his grace, you can do the right thing. You can reject sin. And you can hold your head high.
"Father, thank you for your patience! Thank you for your faithfulness and commitment to me!"
Psalm 50:1, 8, 16-17, 20-21 Mark 8:11-13
The Lord said ""Why are you so resentful and crestfallen. If you do well, you can hold up your head;" Resentment sets in...when there is pride. They feel let down, less than, when they want to be better than the other. How many times do we let this evil into our lives? Pride casts out Lucifer from Heaven, and this was the iconic casting of Cain. Eventually this evil is ventured onto the life of our Lord when He is made to suffer bitterly. Why did Abel have to suffer? Why did Jesus have to suffer? Why do you and me have to suffer? Abel dies and Seth is born. Jesus dies and life comes into the world through His Apostles. The Apostles suffer, and the Church grows when they do. Why do we suffer? Because they are growing pains, let the love of God grow...and this is faith.
We pray today " Offer to God a sacrifice of praise. "Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth Though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?" It is one thing to say, and another to do. I've told some, that I felt the love of God when people saw me at the hospital. Those that thought well and meant well, I will never know, but I knew of those who made the journey to see me. It is Jesus.
In the Holy Gospel, they ask Jesus for a sign. They in a sense are demanding "do it, or else!" And He chooses else...that turning of His back and walking away...and Cain launches the attack. I read a spanish reflection today which I'll attempt to translate:
"They ask Jesus for a sign. He does not lend to this. Faith is not a spectacle. Christ turns around before those who challenge him, not as a arrogant act, but as an invitation to self-knowledge, to remain without the spectacular, and the Pharisees are left alone with their own realities of ethnocentrism, theocentrism, egocentrism And all the centrisms that destroy communion with God and with men. Are we willing to experience God from the power-less, just as Jesus did?"-Julio Corredor Sáenz, cmf. It is a tough question, when you are in a tough situation. I know I wanted my bones to be miraculously healed, and all my pains to vanish in prayer, a miracle from Heaven, and they didn't, they still haven't, but the pains are less and less each day, and the bones heal on their own. We want things now. We want things at our time and our convenience. We demand signs. Or else! Or else what? You launch against the Lord who created all things? Cain killed himself mortally when he mortally wounded Abel. That what you do unto others. Bishop Barren said Jesus got into a boat, like when He got onto Peter's boat and took over his life. It is a great reflection as to who you will let control your life.
Let go. Walk on water. Faith is not a myriad of spectacles, it is the little things we do in great love, in great trust, in total surrender, in total believing...