We are entangled and bound up together, not as in a net in which we are trapped, but in a network through which we are nourished and find our health. It is humility that teaches us the good of this entanglement while pride tries to escape our embeddedness, mostly by ignoring it and sometimes by violently wrestling free.
–from the book: Wendell Berry and the Given Life
✞ "Let us stand fast in what is right, and prepare our souls for trial. Let us wait upon God's strengthening aid and say to him: 'O Lord, you have been our refuge in all generations.'" — St. Boniface
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Everything that exists is a gift from God. Yet oftentimes we look to the things and creatures created by God for a satisfaction and fulfillment that only God Himself can provide. When the soul wraps itself around the things and the people of this world, looking for satisfaction or fulfillment that only God can give, it produces a distortion in itself, and in others as well. Many spiritual writers call the process of unwinding this possessive, self-centered, clinging, and disordered seeking of things and persons 'detachment'. The goal of the process of detachment is not to stop loving the things and people of this world, but, quite to the contrary, to love them even more truly in God, under the reign of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Things and people become even more beautiful and delightful when we see them in this light. There are almost always painful dimensions to this process of 'letting go' in order to love more, but it's the pain of true healing and liberation. Christian detachment is an important part of the process by which we enter into a realm of great freedom and joy." — Ralph Martin, p.205 AN EXCERPT FROM The Fulfillment of All Desire
✞ "As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." Colossians 3:12-13
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Saint Pedro de San José Betancur
Saint of the Day for April 26
(March 19, 1626 – April 25, 1667)
Saint Pedro de San José Betancur's Story
Central America claimed its first saint with the canonization of Pedro de San José Betancur. Known as the "St. Francis of the Americas," Pedro de Betancur is the first saint to have worked and died in Guatemala.
Pedro very much wanted to become a priest, but God had other plans for the young man born into a poor family on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Pedro was a shepherd until age 24, when he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, he was out of money. After working there to earn more, he got to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived, he was so destitute that he joined the breadline that the Franciscans had established.
Soon, Pedro enrolled in the local Jesuit college in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material; he withdrew from school. In 1655, he joined the Secular Franciscan Order. Three years later, he opened a hospital for the convalescent poor; a shelter for the homeless, and a school for the poor soon followed. Not wanting to neglect the rich of Guatemala City, Pedro began walking through their part of town ringing a bell and inviting them to repent.
Other men came to share in Pedro's work. Out of this group came the Bethlehemite Congregation, which won papal approval after Pedro's death. A Bethlehemite sisters' community, similarly founded after Pedro's death, was inspired by his life of prayer and compassion.
He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve posadas procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night's lodging from their neighbors. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries.
Pedro died in 1667, and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in Guatemala City on July 30, 2002.
Calling the new saint an "outstanding example" of Christian mercy, the Holy Father noted that Saint Pedro practiced mercy "heroically with the lowliest and the most deprived." Speaking to the estimated 500,000 Guatemalans in attendance, the Holy Father spoke of the social ills that plague the country today and of the need for change.
"Let us think of the children and young people who are homeless or deprived of an education; of abandoned women with their many needs; of the hordes of social outcasts who live in the cities; of the victims of organized crime, of prostitution or of drugs; of the sick who are neglected and the elderly who live in loneliness," he said in his homily during the three-hour liturgy.
As humans, we often pride ourselves on our ability to reason. But as Pedro's life shows, other skills may be an even more crucial element of our humanity than a clever mind: compassion, imagination, love. Unable to master studies for the priesthood despite his efforts, Pedro responded to the needs of homeless and sick people; he provided education to the poor and salvation to the rich. He became holy—as fully human as any of us can ever be.
Feast of Saint Mark, evangelist Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter
Reading 1 Acts 5:17-26
The high priest rose up and all his companions, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and, filled with jealousy, laid hands upon the Apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said, "Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life." When they heard this, they went to the temple early in the morning and taught. When the high priest and his companions arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin, the full senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the jail to have them brought in. But the court officers who went did not find them in the prison, so they came back and reported, "We found the jail securely locked and the guards stationed outside the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside." When the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard this report, they were at a loss about them, as to what this would come to. Then someone came in and reported to them, "The men whom you put in prison are in the temple area and are teaching the people." Then the captain and the court officers went and brought them, but without force, because they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 R. (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor. or: R. Alleluia. I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad. R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor. or: R. Alleluia. Glorify the LORD with me, let us together extol his name. I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor. or: R. Alleluia. Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame. When the poor one called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him. R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor. or: R. Alleluia. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Taste and see how good the LORD is; blessed the man who takes refuge in him. R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Jn 3:16 R. Alleluia, alleluia. God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 3:16-21
God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Have you ever met someone who you just know has a relationship with the Lord? Something in the way they carry themselves or in the way they speak sets them apart and makes you think of the Lord.
Today's psalm gives us some insight into how this happens. The psalmist offers a three-step model: first, an attitude of praise permeates that person's heart. Then, he lets that praise issue forth from his mouth. And finally, it flows into his relationships and affects the people around him. Let's take a closer look at this model.
I will bless the Lord at all times. The psalmist starts out by making a promise to keep the Lord's goodness in his mind all the time and to praise God for it. This doesn't necessarily mean that he goes around singing worship songs and blessing the Lord all day long. Rather, he has made it a habit to honor the Lord in his thoughts and actions.
A similar attitude can blossom in us when we take time to meditate on who God is and what he has done in our lives. It can even help us find joy in the more difficult times of life.
His praise shall be ever in my mouth. The psalmist next moves on to focus on his words. When our hearts are praising, our speech follows suit. Complaining gives way to thanksgiving. Words of frustration give way to statements of hope. Anger and resentment give way to patience and words of blessing. All because we know that God is in charge, even if we can't always see it.
The lowly will hear me and be glad. Finally, the psalmist believes that his attitude and speech will inspire the people around him. They will rejoice that someone is honoring God, and they will begin to praise him too.
That's just the kind of impact we can have when we praise God.
Take today to focus on just the first step. Write the word "praise" on a sticky note, and put it where you will see it frequently. Every time you see it, praise the Lord for just one thing. Don't worry if you have to repeat the same thing a couple of times. Just practice praising the Lord, and watch to see the impact it has!
"Lord, pour your grace into my heart so that I may bless you at all times."
Acts 5:17-26 John 3:16-21
my2cents: The angel of the Lord said ""Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life." Why do you think we read these words? Do you think they are not for you? They are! There's a Catholic rap song by FoundNation called "empty pew" I heard a few days ago, and at one point it says "see what the Lord can do for you, but better yet, see what you can do for Him". That is key, what can you do for Him with your physical body, your presence alone speaks volumes. I remember people that would visit me, I didn't care what they had to say, I was in too much pain to be able to care, not that I didn't want to, but their presence spoke volumes of love. That's all I cared about. The same it is with our presence for God and letting His presence be known and shown in our daily lives. This presence speaks volumes...it is the Lord!
We prayed today "The Lord hears the cry of the poor. I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad." This morning at our safety meeting about Defensive Driving, I asked the men to give me ideas on how to stay awake, because fatigue is also a distraction in driving. Yesterday in a short trip to a nearby city, I saw a man swerving pretty bad, as I let him pass me on purpose so I could see why he almost struck me when swerving...I was expecting to see him surprised, and or I was expecting to see him on his cell phone, but no, he just looked dazed. So I kept an eye on him and the car ahead, and the car ahead was kind of swerving too, so when this guy passed the other, both almost struck each other. I honked so they'd wake up! LOL, I passed the car and the driver seemed really into his conversation on the phone. One asleep, the other distracted another way. I asked, how can we stay awake? One said "roll down your window. Another said, "you can sing". Weird, I don't feel like singing when I'm sleepy...hmm. At the end when everyone was grabbing donuts and burritos, one man said to me "what helps is eating sunflower seeds". I said "You're right! Why didn't you say that earlier?". Your presence must be made known, perhaps that could've seriously helped someone. We can not remain silent. Our presence is one thing and our voice is another. Sing! And who is to say Saint Peter was not singing in the jail cell, singing psalms of praise and worship? Saint Maximilian Kolbe was said to be have been singing when he was in a Nazi concentration camp. He would not die of starvation after a couple weeks and so they poisoned him in a lethal injection. Gave his life for a stranger, a father with a family, wife and kids, a "simple priest" as he called himself. Presence with words and singing.
And so Saint Peter is told by an angel to go and the Holy Gospel says "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him." Funny thing is, this whole Sonship is about a Kingdom. He left His body, blood, soul and divinity on earth, in the Holy Eucharist. It's not like He came and left. That's not how He operates, never has. People get disgusted with Him, the light, and try to shut out the lights. Just because we cover the sun with our hand doesn't mean it shuts off. It burns seemingly eternally, millions and billions of years. So when God sends His Son and His Son unites with us, we are one with the Son of God. He came to save, not to condemn. I want you to do me a favor. Don't go into stone bashing circles. You know the kind, when you are sitting with a friend or friends and stone throwings begin. Jesus didn't throw stones, why should we? Why do you sit there and gossip? That is stone throwing. Yes, you can mention a problem, but not sit there and talk about how bad that person is...you may be speaking about yourself! So the Gospel speaks volumes about salvation. "Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned..." These are terrifying words to a believing soul. How so? Because, either you make God the truth, or a liar with our actions, our words, our way of living. And living in sin says "I don't believe all that in God". Volumes of presence and singing or remaining mute.
You can't just say "I believe therefore I am saved" like some protestants say. No, belief is more than words. Believing in the truth means I live and die for the truth. And the truth is Jesus. It means I do not live in the dark. It means I am child of the light. And the light is shown with your presence and your singing.
I like that song "empty pew", not because it's awesome, but because the words mean more. I give them meaning and value. I give the Word of God all the value. Do I show up to church empty...ready for Him or not? Do I show up poor, or rich and just making a showing? God loves poor sinners...especially the kind that know it and are ready for a change...for HIM ! And that's the kind of people I'm involved with, a group of sinners just trying, and some trying their hearts out. And when we sing together...something mystical is in the air