Thursday, March 2, 2017

Take up His cross

Wrestling with Temptation Let us remember this: at the moment of temptation, of our temptations, there is no arguing with Satan, our defense must alw

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Wrestling with Temptation

Let us remember this: at the moment of temptation, of our temptations, there is no arguing with Satan, our defense must always be the Word of God! And this will save us.

-from The Hope of Lent


"Act as if everything depended on you; trust as if everything depended on God."
— St. Ignatius of Loyola


"Our Blessed Lord, bound like a thief, is conducted through the public streets of Jerusalem accompanied by a large body of soldiers who indulge their rage and hatred by ill-treating Him in every possible way, and surrounded by a multitude of people who overwhelm Him with insults and maledictions, and rejoice over His misfortunes. Jesus advances, His feet bare, and His strength utterly exhausted by all His mental and bodily sufferings, offering up the ignominy and tortures He is now enduring, to His Eternal Father, for the salvation of my soul. The soldiers render His position still more painful, by inviting people to approach and see their renowned prisoner, while Jesus proceeds on His way in the midst of them, with a humble demeanor and with downcast eyes, to teach us what value we should set on the esteem and honor of the world, and the applause of men. But a few days previously Jesus had passed through these same streets, applauded and honored by the crowd as the Messiah, and now, abandoned even by His disciples, He is followed only by perfidious enemies who seek His death, and unite in deriding and insulting Him as a malefactor, and the last of men. Such is the duration of the honors and praises of the world! Learn hence to seek the good pleasure of God alone, to labor for the acquisition of a right to the immortal honors of Paradise, and to practice patience under humiliation, from the example of Jesus."
— Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Jesus, p. 79-80
The School of Christ Crucified


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Saint Agnes of Bohemia

Saint of the Day for March 2

(1205 – March 6, 1282)

Agnes had no children of her own but was certainly life-giving for all who knew her.

Agnes was the daughter of Queen Constance and King Ottokar I of Bohemia. She was betrothed to the Duke of Silesia, who died three years later. As she grew up, she decided she wanted to enter the religious life.

After declining marriages to King Henry VII of Germany and King Henry III of England, Agnes was faced with a proposal from Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor. She appealed to Pope Gregory IX for help. The pope was persuasive; Frederick magnanimously said that he could not be offended if Agnes preferred the King of Heaven to him.

After Agnes built a hospital for the poor and a residence for the friars, she financed the construction of a Poor Clare monastery in Prague. In 1236, she and seven other noblewomen entered this monastery. Saint Clare sent five sisters from San Damiano to join them, and wrote Agnes four letters advising her on the beauty of her vocation and her duties as abbess.

Agnes became known for prayer, obedience and mortification. Papal pressure forced her to accept her election as abbess, nevertheless, the title she preferred was "senior sister." Her position did not prevent her from cooking for the other sisters and mending the clothes of lepers. The sisters found her kind but very strict regarding the observance of poverty; she declined her royal brother's offer to set up an endowment for the monastery.

Devotion to Agnes arose soon after her death on March 6, 1282. She was canonized in 1989.


Agnes spent at least 45 years in a Poor Clare monastery. Such a life requires a great deal of patience and charity. The temptation to selfishness certainly didn't vanish when Agnes walked into the monastery. It is perhaps easy for us to think that cloistered nuns "have it made" regarding holiness. Their route is the same as ours: gradual exchange of our standards–inclinations to selfishness–for God's standard of generosity.


Sacred Space
Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Reading 1 Dt 30:15-20

Moses said to the people:
"Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin on you today,
loving him, and walking in his ways,
and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees,
you will live and grow numerous,
and the LORD, your God,
will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen,
but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,
I tell you now that you will certainly perish;
you will not have a long life
on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you,
a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore
he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6
R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Verse Before the Gospel Mt 4:17
Repent, says the Lord;
the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Gospel Lk 9:22-25

Jesus said to his disciples:
"The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised."

Then he said to all,
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?"

Meditation: Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

The Lord, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy. (Deuteronomy 30:16)

What is it to be alive? Here's how Welsh poet Waldo Williams answered this age-old question: to truly live is to find ourselves dwelling in "a spacious hall between narrow walls." Sometimes the walls of life are narrower than we might like. Perhaps we haven't had all the opportunities we wanted—to travel, to try something new, or to follow a certain career path. Maybe we are constrained by a lack of resources or time, or circumstances have gotten in the way.

So within the limits of these "narrow walls" each of us has been given, how can we still live in a "spacious hall"? Williams the poet and Moses the prophet agree: it's not about overcoming restrictions to find material prosperity or success or even fulfillment. It's about being grateful, humble, and faithful. It's about finding contentment in small blessings.

Think of the choice Moses places before the Israelites. The Promised Land, which they are about to enter, is clearly defined; they cannot extend its borders to make it a richer, more powerful country. But if they choose to love God and follow his commands, they will experience their new land as a blessed place. On the other hand, should they cross the Jordan dreaming of what other gods could offer them, ingratitude will gnaw away at their satisfaction with what God has given them.

For the next six weeks, you will "inhabit" the land of Lent. You may find the walls narrow as you give up some of your time and preferences. So reflect on your expectations. How confident are you that you will be blessed here? In the weeks to come, when your initial enthusiasm turns to weariness or hunger, how will you ensure that you recognize God's gentle hand protecting you, guiding you, and cultivating your growth?

You might consider keeping a written list each day of reasons to be thankful. Or agree to meet a friend regularly to share your gratitude. Paying attention to God's goodness will ignite your appreciation and love for him.

"Lord, help me pay less attention to the narrow walls around me, and more attention to how you will enlarge the hall of my life and fill it with blessing!"

Psalm 1:1-4, 6
Luke 9:22-25


Moses said to His people, as God speaks to his children "I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life...". I got these two words on a sticker on the tailgate of my truck with today's first Holy Scripture referenced, "Choose Life" Dt:30:19. Choose life means so much more than earthly life and saving the unborn. God is asking us to choose eternity...with HIM!

We pray today "Blessed are they who hope in the Lord. Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked". Someone told me yesterday at work that they kept inviting a co-worker to church until the worker said "my kids don't need to go to any church, they are innocent". Wow. That is the very reason they should go, do they mean church is bad? Another worker had responded to the man's invitation "church goers are those who do not have a good conscious, and are uncomfortable with it". Wow. In other words, all the guilty people are church goers and he is not guilty of anything...except being ignorant of God's Word! So what we have is the phenomenon of our modern day culture living out an age old heresy they call new...."make up your own god, your own truth and that is right". Never looking into the truth that Jesus lays out on the cross, of surrendering all to God, of loving one another to death, of obedience, of charity, and of ultimate MERCY.

In comes the Lord into our lives today "The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected..." and so He suffered, and so He was rejected, brutally, from one day to the next the sun was eclipsed, his life was all cheers and people following, and the next, total abandonment, and desired to kill him. Such is the life of following Christ. It is not all flowers and daisies, but a true grinding like the flour for cooking. These are the tests, and these are the moments Christ is united with us. The Lord saw my physical sufferings, and I got to see His in a whole new light. For the first time in my life, I prayed in a way I never prayed...I prayed that the moment Jesus was being brutally tortured and hung on a cross, I prayed for those pains to be assisted and alleviated, as if I were His beloved. Some people can not fathom suffering as good, but if it brings the greater good? God knows this. And so Jesus says today "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". Sometimes I suffer physically, sometimes spiritually, and sometimes mentally, those moments of anguish of distress and sometimes of being lost "what do I do?". That is the question and here is the answer: Love God with all your heart, mind and soul.

Looking back at the accident, I realized something, a huge chasm was opened before me, all this much more space with which to be filled for the love of God. I didn't ask for it, God said "I want you to love me more". And this is what Lent is supposed to do. Bring us closer to God. Daily cross. Cross the Jordan with Moses, and cross into eternity with Jesus. Daily cross. Cross out the goal of love, and say at the end of the day, a whole new life of a day, and be able to say "I loved". And do not go to bed at night saying "I should've chosen love", choose life. Daily cross: I gave my life to God today. Daily cross: I carry the burden with much love. Daily cross: I am obeying and it feels good, because it is joy. Daily cross: I forgave on the cross. Daily cross: I gave all my love, my mother. Daily cross: Behold your mother. Daily cross: I will not utter a word when being tortured. Daily cross: I might cry to God with my heart clamoring for life "Daddy, where are you?". Daily cross: And when it is all finished before nightfall, "Lord I give you my life".