Tuesday, March 21, 2017

You Pay Back

Indebted to God God of life, we are grateful for the many gifts that you have given to us. May we become prudent stewards of your many gifts and not

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Indebted to God

God of life, we are grateful for the many gifts that you have given to us. May we become prudent stewards of your many gifts and not thoughtlessly waste water, food, and other resources. May we respond to your Son's cry of thirst with lives of peacemaking and just action. We make his prayer in your name. Amen.

-from The Last Words of Jesus


"If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion."
— St. Maximilian Kolbe

"When will the happy time come when the divine Mary will be established Mistress and Queen of all hearts, in order that she may subject them fully to the empire of her great and holy Jesus? When will souls breathe Mary as the body breathes air? When that time comes, wonderful things will happen in those lowly places where the Holy Ghost, finding His dear spouse, as it were, reproduced, in all souls, shall come in with abundance, and fill them to overflowing with His gifts, and particularly with the gift of wisdom, to work miracles of grace."
— St. Louis de Montfort, p.118-19
True Devotion to Mary

"Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you. Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call."
Psalm 102:1-2


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St. Nicholas of Flue (1417-1487) was born in Switzerland, a devout child of pious parents. At the age of 21 he joined the army and fought in local battles. In his mid-twenties, at the advice of his parents, he married a similarly pious woman and had five sons and five daughters. He served the public by holding various civil offices, and was esteemed by all for his moral integrity. After 25 years of marriage, upon discerning a special call from God, and with the consent of his wife, he went to live in a nearby valley as a hermit. He built a dwelling out of branches and left it only for daily Mass. He wore a tunic and kept his head and feet bare, spending his days in prayer and penance on behalf of the local people. With permission from the parish priest he abstained totally from food and drink, without any negative effect on his health, which was confirmed by the Church as a miracle. He lived in this manner for 20 years and became known as a visionary and a prophet. Distinguished persons from all over Europe came to him for counsel. The civil authorities built him a cell and chapel and assigned him a chaplain. The saint intervened as an arbiter when a civil war was imminent, resulting in the enduring union of the French and German-speaking parts of Switzerland. His hermitage became a place of pilgrimage after his death. St. Nicholas of Flue is the patron saint of Switzerland. His feast day is March 21st.


Sacred Space
Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Reading 1 Dn 3:25, 34-43

Azariah stood up in the fire and prayed aloud:

"For your name's sake, O Lord, do not deliver us up forever,
or make void your covenant.
Do not take away your mercy from us,
for the sake of Abraham, your beloved,
Isaac your servant, and Israel your holy one,
To whom you promised to multiply their offspring
like the stars of heaven,
or the sand on the shore of the sea.
For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation,
brought low everywhere in the world this day
because of our sins.
We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,
no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,
no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you.
But with contrite heart and humble spirit
let us be received;
As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks,
or thousands of fat lambs,
So let our sacrifice be in your presence today
as we follow you unreservedly;
for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.
And now we follow you with our whole heart,
we fear you and we pray to you.
Do not let us be put to shame,
but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.
Deliver us by your wonders,
and bring glory to your name, O Lord."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 25:4-5ab, 6 and 7bc, 8-9
R. (6a) Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
he teaches the humble his way.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Verse Before the Gospel Jl 2:12-13
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart;
for I am gracious and merciful.

Gospel Mt 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.
Instead, he had him put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."

Catholic Meditations
Meditation: Matthew 18:21-35

3rd Week of Lent

Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full. (Matthew 18:26)

A man struggling during hard economic times receives two envelopes in the mail. One contains an offer to consolidate his debt into lower monthly payments. The other contains notification that he has won ten million dollars in a lottery. He sighs, throws the lottery notification in the trash, and begins getting his paperwork ready for his loan modification.

Doesn't this sound absurd? But this is essentially what the unmerciful servant does in today's Gospel. When his master confronts him about the massive amount of money he owes, all he asks for is more time to pay back the debt. It doesn't even dawn on him to ask for anything else. His imagination is too limited: debts had to be paid. So it's no wonder that he would apply this strict standard to a fellow servant who owed him a small amount of money. Rules are rules, and they must be followed!

Here's some good news: We've won the lottery! In Christ, all of our sins are wiped away—completely. When we come to him in repentance, he doesn't just give us more time to make up for our sins. He doesn't give us a list of suggestions and one more chance to redeem ourselves. No, he casts our sins away from us, "as far as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12). He washes away our failures and puts us on the path of freedom and victory. And he promises to walk with us, helping us along the way.

Take some time today to ponder your heavenly Father's generosity. Let the Holy Spirit expand your imagination so that you can envision the possibility of complete forgive- ness, the hope of every spiritual debt being canceled with no questions asked. Let this promise soak into your heart and transform the way you think. The more you under- stand God's radical gift of mercy, the easier it will be for you to forgive the people around you. Don't make the same mistake that the unmerciful servant made! Look to your merciful Father, and you will become merciful yourself.

"Father, shower me with your mercy today! Let me absorb deeply the forgiveness you have given me, and help me to be just as merciful toward the people in my life."

Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Psalm 25:4-9


Bishop Barren says of today's Gospel:
"Friends, our Gospel today focuses on the forgiveness of others. Peter asked Jesus how often should we forgive our neighbor? Seven times? Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times." In other words, endlessly, constantly, without calculation.

This is precisely why the Gospel makes the link between God's forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of one another. The latter flows directly from the former. Note the correlation between the two modes of forgiveness in the Lord's prayer.

How do you become a better forgiver? Perhaps I can offer four practical suggestions. First, keep your own sins frequently before your mind's eye. Use the Confiteor and the Lord's prayer as points of reference. Second, go to confession more regularly. Third, forgive offenses quickly. Don't give them time to settle deeply into your psyche; seek reconciliation right away. Finally, forgive through a concrete act or a concrete sign. Write a note, make a phone call, give a gift, offer your own presence. Forgiveness is most effective when it becomes concrete."

When the men were burning in the fires, they blessed God. Praising in the storms is giving glory to God. It is not easy. It is easier to complain, to feel depressed, and to lose hope and faith, in the is easier to burn up and burn out. I've heard many times throughout the years "don't get too involved in too many ministries or you'll burn out". I'm still waiting to burn out years later. Could it be evil temptations to quit? I've heard some say "I'll only do this ministry, so long as I keep enjoying it". Claiming you do what you love. So, if this is true, you have no more love when you quit.

I've heard a sweet pious old lady say "I'm too mean, I think I should just quit". Not a soul ever said she was mean, and she did indeed leave. How is this happening? We have this heart, in our soul, this mindset that says something about forgiveness...where is it? How long will you endure the persecutions and the fire? You have to stand up in the fire. You have to praise, you have to forgive, you just HAVE TO. You have to do what the body does not want. You have to do what culture does not like. You have to. You have to if you want greater grace. You have to be sincere in your confession. You have to in order to receive. When you are forgiven, you are to forgive too. And we are forgiven. Want to feel absolution? Be absolutely sure you are forgiven in confession...BELIEVE. Greater grace awaits as we heard earlier. There is this guy I called to pray with over the phone yesterday, and I don't know if he hung up in the middle of prayer, I never got a call back, and I got an unusual text picture of some weird saying that made for an eery feeling. As if I am not forgiven (for who knows why they are mad!). So what do I do now? Forgive again. DOH! Start all over? But every time I forgive it gets easier to forgive, again and again, until...there is nothing to forgive.
Such is the immense mercy of God. Like a priest told me "your sins are at the bottom of the ocean" in confessional...and that ocean is mercy. For every time you doubt and despair, there is mercy.

We are miserable sinners, but we don't have to be terrible terrorists. We don't have to live threatening others. We don't have to live with murderous words. Your words can kill or be merciful. Many have died at the lips of death. Relentless, and mostly of time because of pride, the capital sin of mankind. It encompasses all other sins, so if you have any sin, it is probably associated with pride. Perhaps the unforgiving man in the gospel was thinking about the person who owed him "you caused me an embarrassment and almost my family" and wanted to choke the living day lights out of him. Why else was he so furious? Why wasn't he grateful? Why wasn't he merciful?

Eucharist means thanksgiving. For what? I will leave that in your heart