Father, grant me the grace to take Jesus seriously and trust him to always be by my side and in my heart when I am beset by disturbing problems that threaten to destroy my peace of mind and spirit. I ask this grace in Jesus's name, Amen.
-from Stories of Jesus
"You must accept your cross; if you bear it courageously it will carry you to Heaven." — St. John Vianney
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞
"In truth, if the earth and all it contains must one day disappear by fire, the goods of this world are no more to be esteemed than wood and straw. What point is there, then, in making them the object of our desires and cares? Why seek to build and leave marks of our genius and power where we have no permanent abode, and where the form of this world will be removed, like a tent that has no travelers to shelter? It may be said that it will be a thousand years before this frightening cataclysm takes place; but Christ has said that a thousand years are but an instant compared with eternity, and when the moment comes—when, from the land of the future life, we are the witnesses and actors in that supreme drama—the whole span of humanity will seem to short to us that we shall scarcely consider it to have lasted a single day … Christ tells us to meditate upon these great teachings, for it is certain that we shall be taken by surprise, and that the time will come sooner than we think." — Father Charles Arminjon, p. 28 AN EXCERPT FROM The End of the Present World
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Saint Gilbert of Sempringham
Saint of the Day for February 16
(c. 1083 – February 4, 1189)
Gilbert was born in Sempringham, England, into a wealthy family, but he followed a path quite different from that expected of him as the son of a Norman knight. Sent to France for his higher education, he decided to pursue seminary studies.
He returned to England not yet ordained a priest, and inherited several estates from his father. But Gilbert avoided the easy life he could have led under the circumstances. Instead he lived a simple life at a parish, sharing as much as possible with the poor. Following his ordination to the priesthood he served as parish priest at Sempringham.
Among the congregation were seven young women who had expressed to him their desire to live in religious life. In response, Gilbert had a house built for them adjacent to the Church. There they lived an austere life, but one which attracted ever more numbers; eventually lay sisters and lay brothers were added to work the land. The religious order formed eventually became known as the Gilbertines, though Gilbert had hoped the Cistercians or some other existing order would take on the responsibility of establishing a rule of life for the new order. The Gilbertines, the only religious order of English origin founded during the Middle Ages, continued to thrive. But the order came to an end when King Henry VIII suppressed all Catholic monasteries.
Over the years a special custom grew up in the houses of the order called "the plate of the Lord Jesus." The best portions of the dinner were put on a special plate and shared with the poor, reflecting Gilbert's lifelong concern for less fortunate people.
Throughout his life, Gilbert lived simply, consumed little food, and spent a good portion of many nights in prayer. Despite the rigors of such a life he died at well over age 100.
When he came into his father's wealth, Gilbert could have lived a life of luxury, as many of his fellow priests did at the time. Instead, he chose to share his wealth with the poor. The charming habit of filling "the plate of the Lord Jesus" in the monasteries he established reflected his concern. Today's Operation Rice Bowl echoes that habit: eating a simpler meal and letting the difference in the grocery bill help feed the hungry.
God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them: "Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth. Dread fear of you shall come upon all the animals of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon all the creatures that move about on the ground and all the fishes of the sea; into your power they are delivered. Every creature that is alive shall be yours to eat; I give them all to you as I did the green plants. Only flesh with its lifeblood still in it you shall not eat. For your own lifeblood, too, I will demand an accounting: from every animal I will demand it, and from one man in regard to his fellow man I will demand an accounting for human life.
If anyone sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; For in the image of God has man been made.
Be fertile, then, and multiply; abound on earth and subdue it."
God said to Noah and to his sons with him: "See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark. I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth." God added: "This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth."
Responsorial Psalm Ps 102:16-18, 19-21, 29 and 22-23
R. (20b) From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth. The nations shall revere your name, O LORD, and all the kings of the earth your glory, When the LORD has rebuilt Zion and appeared in his glory; When he has regarded the prayer of the destitute, and not despised their prayer. R. From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth. Let this be written for the generation to come, and let his future creatures praise the LORD: "The LORD looked down from his holy height, from heaven he beheld the earth, To hear the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die." R. From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth. The children of your servants shall abide, and their posterity shall continue in your presence, That the name of the LORD may be declared in Zion, and his praise, in Jerusalem, When the peoples gather together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD. R. From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth.
Alleluia Jn 6:63c, 68c
R. Alleluia, alleluia. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life; you have the words of everlasting life. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 8:27-33
Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" They said in reply, "John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets." And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter said to him in reply, "You are the Christ." Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.
He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."
wau.org Meditation: Genesis 9:1-13 6th Week in Ordinary Time
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. (Genesis 9:13)
When Noah and his family left the ark, they confronted a scene of wholesale destruction—an earth that had been ravaged by a violent flood. Imagine how they must have felt when God gave them a colossal commission: "Be fertile, then, and multiply; abound on earth and subdue it" (Genesis 9:7). Seriously? This earth?
But God didn't leave Noah and his family to stumble along doing the best they could. He gave them the sign of a rainbow, an arch in the sky whose beginning and end cannot be pinpointed. By choosing this sign, God promised that his boundless strength would stretch over Noah and his descendants forever.
That assurance is for us too. God doesn't expect us to follow his commands solely according to our own strength and wit. We are children of the same covenant that God made through the sign of a rainbow. His strength is over our lives to protect us, guide us, and empower us as we go about our days.
So remember that when you feel weak, God can be strong for you. When you feel incapable of holding fast to your end of the covenant, he is there to guide you and give you the perseverance you need to live faithfully. When you feel distracted, beset by temptation, or paralyzed by worry, he can carry you with his strong and tireless arms. Noah and his small family carried out God's command to subdue the ravaged earth, not because they were determined and energetic, but because God's strength arched over their lives.
Think about how Noah might have felt at the first rainfall after he left the ark—nervous, apprehensive, and unsure. Now imagine how he felt when he saw the rainbow—relieved, encouraged, even elated.
Where do you need to experience God's strength today? Imagine a rainbow arching over you in that very situation, and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with his strength. The promise made to Noah is for you too, so don't let fear keep you from fulfilling God's commands. Instead, rejoice along with Noah that you have been called to bring God's peace to a hurting world.
"Father, help me to see your strength at work in the weakest areas of my life today."
Psalm 102:16-21, 29, 22-23 Mark 8:27-33
Today's first Holy Scripture ended with ""This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth." An ark brought them to this point...the covenant, the eternal promise of God.
We pray ""The LORD looked down from his holy height, from heaven he beheld the earth, To hear the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die." The promise of salvation is available, here and now. Grasp it for life. Gasp for life...Jesus.
In today's Holy Gospel, our Lord spells out what is going to happen; He is going to suffer greatly, and be killed, and He will rise after 3 days. The spirit lurks rebuking this plan of God. Jesus is pulled aside "please no need to suffer and die, com'on now!" Jesus turns to all and rebukes Satan ""Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." And suddenly, God's will is strange...again. This morning, like the last couple of weeks as I heal, I've been going to work late, and I sit by our kitchen/dining window, looking out into the dark before the sun rises, and this morning, I see ambulance lights across the pastures, and it looks like its where our fellow workers at work live at. I am curious, and I stare as the flashing lights hypnotize me, "I wish I had a scanner to listen to what's going on". I told my wife to see the blue and red lights and white lights flashing. A text comes a little later "Pray for Juan, he was found not breathing and they are trying to bring him back". Juan has worked with us for over 5 years, and just yesterday we were talking in my office about our injuries, he was suffering from sciatica and hadn't been able to work and was seeing doctors for his hurt nerve and we talked about my healing, and I told him that I wanted to pray with him and use healing oil with him, and people came in to the office and he excused himself...my thoughts were "I guess we'll pray tomorrow". That was the last I saw him, because just right now they texted "He did not make it". I had been praying for about 30 to 45 minutes for him to make it, asking for the suffering and death to not be on him. Jesus rebuked Peter and the disciples....my prayers were not granted. Strange.
The train of thought of the devil is that we should not suffer, nor die. Jesus comes...suffers, and dies. The train of thought of the devil is that there are too many people in the world, we should not be fertile, and not multiply, this is why abortions and homosexual marriages are the devil's favorite, directly opposed to being fertile and multiplying the way God intends and designs. Jesus commands before ascending that we go forth to the ends of the earth and multiply His life, among every human, and the more, the better. I am distraught right now. At work, we are basically family, seeing each other almost daily, talking frequently. Juan wasn't much older than me, and they just had a baby girl last year, making for a total of 3 daughters. The wife is said to be in shock right now. As we all are.
This proves that we know not when or how. When I was in the ICU and even when sent home, many dangers faced me, like blood clots, and so forth. I was always in my mind, on the verge of death, and I had trouble going to sleep without tremendous amounts of prayer. I'd awake, thankful and in pain. I awake to a world of suffering. I awake for Jesus. I ask prayers for our brother in Christ, Juan. I know they'd gone to church a few times, and I believe the daughters were going to CCD. I find it shocking. Like when my cousin my age was struck by a train, leaving behind many children. Perhaps this was the blessing left behind...children. Be fertile and multiply. Multiply then, the faith. We are temporarily on earth. We are housing the spirit of God and the soul He gave us. And on earth, there wages a spiritual war aiming at losing souls and saving souls. There is nothing more important on earth than the focus of winning the battle that is simply siding with life....JESUS
This is why I write to you, beloved children of God.
Our Father has made a promise, and it is going to happen His way, whether we like it or not. And there is only one way out and into Heaven...it is JESUS. It is the way of obedient love...