Authentic Duty Speaking about God and bringing the message of God's love and salvation in Jesus Christ to men is the duty of all the baptized. And th
Speaking about God and bringing the message of God's love and salvation in Jesus Christ to men is the duty of all the baptized. And this duty involves, not only speaking with words, but in all one's actions and way of doing things. Our whole being should speak of God, even in the ordinary things. In this way witness is authentic, and thus shall it always be new and fresh in the power of the Holy Spirit.
-from The Spirit of Saint Francis
✞ "O Holy Mary! My Mother; into thy blessed trust and special custody, and into the bosom of thy mercy, I this day, and every day, and in the hour of my death, commend my soul and body. To thee I commit all my anxieties and sorrows, my life and the end of my life, that by thy most holy intercession, and by thy merits, all my actions may be directed and governed by thy will and that of thy Son."
— St. Aloysius Gonzaga
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"There is good reason to be astonished that men should sin so boldly in the sight of Heaven and earth and show so little fear of the most high God. Yet it is a much greater cause of astonishment that while we multiply our iniquities beyond the sands of the sea and have so great a need for God to be kind and indulgent, we are nevertheless so demanding ourselves. Such indignity and such injustice! We want God to suffer everything from us, and we are not able to suffer anything from anyone. We exaggerate beyond measure the faults committed against us; worms that we are, we take the slightest pressure exerted on us to be an enormous attack. Meanwhile, we count as nothing what we undertake proudly against the sovereign majesty of God and the rights of his empire! Blind and wretched mortals: will we always be so sensitive and delicate? Will we never open our eyes to the truth? Will we never understand that the one who does injury to us is always much more to be pitied than are we who receive the injury? . . . Since those who do evil to us are unhealthy in mind, why do we embitter them by our cruel vengeance? Why do we not rather seek to bring them back to reason by our patience and mildness? Yet we are far removed from these charitable dispositions. Far from making the effort at self-command that would enable us to endure an injury, we think that we are lowering ourselves if we do not take pride in being delicate in points of honor. We even think well of ourselves for our extreme sensitivity. And we carry our resentment beyond all measure . . . All of this must stop . . . We must take care of what we say and bridle our malicious anger and unruly tongues. For there is a God in Heaven who has told us that he will demand a reckoning of our 'careless words' (Matt. 12:36): what recompense shall he exact for those which are harmful and malicious? We ought, therefore, to revere his eyes and his presence. Let us ponder the fact that he will judge us as we have judged our neighbor."
— Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, p. 49-51
AN EXCERPT FROM
Meditations for Lent
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY
"God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights."
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Saint Isidore of Seville
Saint of the Day for April 4
(c. 560 – April 4, 636)
The 76 years of Isidore's life were a time of conflict and growth for the Church in Spain. The Visigoths had invaded the land a century and a half earlier, and shortly before Isidore's birth they set up their own capital. They were Arians—Christians who said Christ was not God. Thus, Spain was split in two: One people (Catholic Romans) struggled with another (Arian Goths).
Isidore reunited Spain, making it a center of culture and learning. The country served as a teacher and guide for other European countries whose culture was also threatened by barbarian invaders.
Born in Cartagena of a family that included three other sibling saints–Leander, Fulgentius and Florentina–he was educated by his elder brother, whom he succeeded as bishop of Seville.
An amazingly learned man, he was sometimes called "The Schoolmaster of the Middle Ages" because the encyclopedia he wrote was used as a textbook for nine centuries. He required seminaries to be built in every diocese, wrote a Rule for religious orders, and founded schools that taught every branch of learning. Isidore wrote numerous books, including a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a history of Goths, and a history of the world—beginning with creation! He completed the Mozarabic liturgy, which is still in use in Toledo, Spain. For all these reasons, Isidore has been suggested as patron of the Internet. Several others–including Anthony of Padua–also have been suggested.
He continued his austerities even as he approached age 80. During the last six months of his life, he increased his charities so much that his house was crowded from morning till night with the poor of the countryside.
Our society can well use Isidore's spirit of combining learning and holiness. Loving, understanding and knowledge can heal and bring a broken people back together. We are not barbarians like the invaders of Isidore's Spain. But people who are swamped by riches and overwhelmed by scientific and technological advances can lose much of their understanding love for one another.
Saint Isidore of Seville is the Patron Saint of:
Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Reading 1 Nm 21:4-9
From Mount Hor the children of Israel set out on the Red Sea road,
to bypass the land of Edom.
But with their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
"Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!"
In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,
which bit the people so that many of them died.
Then the people came to Moses and said,
"We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.
Pray the LORD to take the serpents away from us."
So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
"Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live."
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 102:2-3, 16-18, 19-21
R. (2) O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
O LORD, hear my prayer,
and let my cry come to you.
Hide not your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
in the day when I call, answer me speedily.
R. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
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. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
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. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
Verse Before the Gospel
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;
all who come to him will live for ever.
Gospel Jn 8:21-30
Jesus said to the Pharisees:
"I am going away and you will look for me,
but you will die in your sin.
Where I am going you cannot come."
So the Jews said,
"He is not going to kill himself, is he,
because he said, 'Where I am going you cannot come'?"
He said to them, "You belong to what is below,
I belong to what is above.
You belong to this world,
but I do not belong to this world.
That is why I told you that you will die in your sins.
For if you do not believe that I AM,
you will die in your sins."
So they said to him, "Who are you?"
Jesus said to them, "What I told you from the beginning.
I have much to say about you in condemnation.
But the one who sent me is true,
and what I heard from him I tell the world."
They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.
So Jesus said to them,
"When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will realize that I AM,
and that I do nothing on my own,
but I say only what the Father taught me.
The one who sent me is with me.
He has not left me alone,
because I always do what is pleasing to him."
Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.
Meditation: Numbers 21:4-9
Saint Isidore, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Optional Memorial)
Whoever looks at it after being bitten will live. (Numbers 21:8)
The story of the Israelites' grumbling and the punishment of the seraph serpents is just one of many in the Old Testament that recount how hard life in the desert must have been. The plagues that God used to convince Pharaoh to let his people go must have been dramatic—almost as dramatic as the parting of the Red Sea that had sealed their freedom from slavery. The Israelites were the beneficiaries of many displays of divine power, so you can understand their perplexity at the "plague" that God seemed to have unleashed on them. In Egypt, God had taken care of everything so that he could bring them unharmed into the Promised Land. But now things seemed radically different.
Throughout the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, we see that the journey to the Promised Land was very difficult—and not just because of the harshness of the desert. It was hard because it called for full cooperation with God. How challenging it must have been once the people realized that God was not going to take care of their every problem! It must have been shocking indeed to discover that they needed to put aside their grumblings, work together, and obey God's commandments.
Like the Israelites, we too face challenges and difficulties—trials that call for deep trust and cooperation with the Lord. How do we react to these trials? Do we lose hope, get impatient, maybe even grumble and complain? Or do we look to the cross and stand firm on our faith in the goodness of the Lord and the victory that he has won for us?
Whenever you find yourself challenged by life in this valley of tears, remember this reading. Lift high the cross of Christ, and believe in its power. Jesus wants to raise you up, no matter what you are experiencing right now, and fill you with the joy of his kingdom. He is the divine healer who wants you to receive the greatest healing of all: freedom from unbelief, so that you can trust in his goodness and his perfect plan.
"Jesus, I place my faith in the victory you have won for me on the cross. Help me to keep my eyes focused on you."
Psalm 102:2-3, 16-21
People complained, and then they cried, and then the Lord sent the sign of salvation ""Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live."
Their complaints and their cries were mounted in bronze, so it would not rot, so they would always have it in front of them, a reminder of what they did to themselves and to the Lord. When I went to a twisted retreat called "escuela de la cruz" they'd talk about a truly surrendered man, and they'd call him "cruzado" which means "crossed" in English. It meant afflicted and marked, and means given to, giving their lives, even for a priest if need be, and they had stories to back it up.
We pray today "O LORD, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you. Hide not your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; in the day when I call, answer me speedily."
The Lord comes into our lives and says some confounding things that caused some to believe in Him and some to want to kill Him. It is a two edged sword. You can't hang on the edge and you can't split in two, either you go one way or the other. These words He said clung to me so much that I sang about them in another song, and the words He said afflicted me, "I am going away". And I wanted to cry! Don't Go! To where will we go? You have words of everlasting life! "where I Am going you can not come!" WHAT? Is He talking to me for reals? Why can't I come? I hope it is reverse psychology. But He was speaking direct too. These people would die a wretched death...an eternal one. For not hearing Him, the voice of God. Now, fast forward to today. God is speaking. His voice is clear...to a faithful and crossed heart. There is no better life than that one surrendered, just look at a crucifix, and today, preferably, a bronze one. Jesus took on our evils. Look at what we DID to Him. I emphasize DID, because we still DO. Our sins do that to Him. It is a re-living of a crucifixion. Your sins DO that. As if time changes, or as if time ever ends. As if the moment He suffered bitterly for our souls went away. His is an eternal heart. And eternally He gave it to us. What a gift...the present.
I am not supposed to say what I am doing for lent, but I want to say it so you will too. Give. Call someone up that needs prayer, or you know they aren't going to Church. Call! It is a matter of salvation. Call today! It is the present. Let them see Christ, let them be saved! Because we have been bitten but there is salvation. Bitten because we doubted. Bitten because we tempted the Lord. Bitten because we lost humility. Bitten, because we no longer wanted to be His in His Way. This is an Apostolic Exhortation, go out and evangelize. There has been a great lie to many Catholics and beyond stating that Saint Francis said "go out preach and if necessary use words". That, says Dr. Scott Hahn, that is not found anywhere in the Franciscan orders he's ever met, and he works with them daily at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. It is a lie so you won't evangelize. It is a twisted truth, that has a grain and spec of goodness hidden. We have to knock down doors, keep banging on them until they open up. I told some brothers last night "it's like I'm making cold calls, like when I used to sell insurance", yet I'm calling people I know, asking if I could take some time to pray. There is this slight feeling of fear of rejection when I call, but I have to do it.
This is what Jesus does with a willing soul...the double edged sword is handed over.
I contacted a couple different people on Sunday "why didn't you go to Church". They replied with the same answer "I overslept". Same thing last weekend another couple I contacted "we overslept". WAKE UP. Your sleepiness is killing you. It will make you drift off into an eternal sleep... a death, a place where Christ is not!
A thought hit me on Sunday after receiving Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist: "I must be a living sign....that when people see me, they know they must go to Heaven, I will always point up". Jesus is the living sign. Therefore, I must be the living sign. After all, there really aren't many doing this. It is your turn to turn on the lights. Lent is to repent. Easter is to rise up. It is a completion and fruition of God's will. And it will be Glorious for God.
Another thought hit me being in the state of Grace "you can hate me, but that doesn't change my love for you".
God is waiting for a moment to come inside our lives, lie the sun pours itself out all over the earth.
And the Son of God did indeed pour Himself out all over the world...look at the humility of God. Look at what great love He has for us. Side with the side of mercy. Conquering is God's business, I invite you to join this life...
Hear the song "Going Away" https://soundcloud.com/going4th/sets/renuevame
Thought for today: How will you keep watch with Jesus these last days of Lent? The goal of Lent is to turn our heart and our life towards Jesus who is calling us closer to him.
Action for today: Make a plan for the remaining days of Lent. Set a schedule of prayer.
Prayer for today: Jesus, help me keep watch with you. I give you all of me: my heart, my mind, my body, and my soul. Help me be more honest and consistent in my relationship with you. I love you. Amen.
Quote for today: "Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God's heart. You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips, but with your heart. In fact on certain occasions you should only speak to Him with your heart." – Padre Pio
Be a Hero today – #ShareJesus: Do you know someone who is suffering? If you are suffering, offer your pain to God as a sacrifice for someone specific, or for those who don't yet know God. If someone else is suffering, come up with a way to show them compassion.