Strive Ever Higher
The Gospel of St. Luke tells us that, in the family of Nazareth, Jesus "grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him" (Luke 2:40). Our Lady does just this for us, she helps us to grow as human beings and in the faith, to be strong and never to fall into the temptation of being human beings and Christians in a superficial way, but to live responsibly, to strive ever higher.
–from the book Mother Mary: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis
✞ "For all, regenerated in Christ, are made kings by the sign of the cross; they are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers in the office of the priesthood. For what is more king-like than to find yourself ruler over your body after having surrendered your soul to God? And what is more priestly than to promise the Lord a pure conscience and to offer him in love unblemished victims on the altar of one's heart?"
— St. Leo the Great
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"If, then, Heaven made Joseph the protector of Jesus and Mary, we may rest assured that he was at the same time made protector and patron of all men."
— Edward Healy Thompson, p. 401
AN EXCERPT FROM
Life & Glories of St. Joseph
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together."
click to read more
Blessed Franz Jaegerstaetter
Saint of the Day for June 7
( May 20, 1907 – August 9, 1943)
Called to serve his country as a Nazi solider, Franz eventually refused, and this husband and father of three daughters–Rosalie, Marie and Aloisia–was executed because of it.
Born in St. Radegund in Upper Austria, Franz lost his father during World War I and was adopted after Heinrich Jaegerstaetter married Rosalia Huber. As a young man, he loved to ride his motorcycle and was the natural leader of a gang whose members were arrested in 1934 for brawling. For three years he worked in the mines in another city and then returned to St. Radegund, where he became a farmer, married Franziska and lived his faith with quiet but intense conviction.
In 1938, he publicly opposed the German Anschluss, annexation, of Austria. The next year, he was drafted into the Austrian army, trained for seven months and then received a deferment. In 1940, Franz was called up again but allowed to return home at the request of the town's mayor. He was in active service between October 1940 and April 1941, but was again deferred. His pastor, other priests, and the bishop of Linz urged him not to refuse to serve if drafted.
In February 1943, Franz was called up again and reported to army officials in Enns, Austria. When he refused to take the oath of loyalty to Hitler, he was imprisoned in Linz. Later he volunteered to serve in the medical corps but was not assigned there.
During Holy Week Franz wrote to his wife: "Easter is coming and, if it should be God's will that we can never again in this world celebrate Easter together in our intimate family circle, we can still look ahead in the happy confidence that, when the eternal Easter morning dawns, no one in our family circle shall be missing–so we can then be permitted to rejoice together forever." He was transferred in May to a prison in Berlin.
Challenged by his attorney that other Catholics were serving in the army, Franz responded, "I can only act on my own conscience. I do not judge anyone. I can only judge myself." He continued, "I have considered my family. I have prayed and put myself and my family in God's hands. I know that, if I do what I think God wants me to do, he will take care of my family."
On August 8, 1943, Franz wrote to Fransizka: "Dear wife and mother, I thank you once more from my heart for everything that you have done for me in my lifetime, for all the sacrifices that you have borne for me. I beg you to forgive me if I have hurt or offended you, just as I have forgiven everything…My heartfelt greetings for my dear children. I will surely beg the dear God, if I am permitted to enter heaven soon, that he will set aside a little place in heaven for all of you."
Franz was beheaded and cremated the following day. In 1946, his ashes were reburied in St. Radegund near a memorial inscribed with his name and the names of almost 60 village men who died during their military service. He was beatified in Linz on Occtober 26, 2007. His "spiritual testament" is now in Rome's St. Bartholomew Church as part of a shrine to 20th-century martyrs for their faith.
Franz Jaegerstaetter followed his conscience and paid the highest price possible. In December 2008, his widow and three daughters were introduced to Pope Benedict XVI in connection with the presentation of a new biography, Christ or Hitler? The Life of Blessed Franz Jaegerstaetter. Many people first learned about him from Gordon Zahn's book In Solitary Witness: The Life and Death of Franz Jaegerstaetter.
The Liturgical Feast of Blessed Franz Jaegerstaetter is May 21.
Wednesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 Tb 3:1-11a, 16-17a
Grief-stricken in spirit, I, Tobit, groaned and wept aloud.
Then with sobs I began to pray:
"You are righteous, O Lord,
and all your deeds are just;
All your ways are mercy and truth;
you are the judge of the world.
And now, O Lord, may you be mindful of me,
and look with favor upon me.
Punish me not for my sins,
nor for my inadvertent offenses,
nor for those of my ancestors.
"We sinned against you,
and disobeyed your commandments.
So you handed us over to plundering, exile, and death,
till you made us the talk and reproach of all the nations
among whom you had dispersed us.
"Yes, your judgments are many and true
in dealing with me as my sins
and those of my ancestors deserve.
For we have not kept your commandments,
nor have we trodden the paths of truth before you.
"So now, deal with me as you please,
and command my life breath to be taken from me,
that I may go from the face of the earth into dust.
It is better for me to die than to live,
because I have heard insulting calumnies,
and I am overwhelmed with grief.
"Lord, command me to be delivered from such anguish;
let me go to the everlasting abode;
Lord, refuse me not.
For it is better for me to die
than to endure so much misery in life,
and to hear these insults!"
On the same day, at Ecbatana in Media,
it so happened that Raguel's daughter Sarah
also had to listen to abuse,
from one of her father's maids.
For she had been married to seven husbands,
but the wicked demon Asmodeus killed them off
before they could have intercourse with her,
as it is prescribed for wives.
So the maid said to her:
"You are the one who strangles your husbands!
Look at you!
You have already been married seven times,
but you have had no joy with any one of your husbands.
Why do you beat us? Is it on account of your seven husbands,
Because they are dead?
May we never see a son or daughter of yours!"
The girl was deeply saddened that day,
and she went into an upper chamber of her house,
where she planned to hang herself.
But she reconsidered, saying to herself:
"No! People would level this insult against my father:
'You had only one beloved daughter,
but she hanged herself because of ill fortune!'
And thus would I cause my father in his old age
to go down to the nether world laden with sorrow.
It is far better for me not to hang myself,
but to beg the Lord to have me die,
so that I need no longer live to hear such insults."
At that time, then, she spread out her hands,
and facing the window, poured out her prayer:
"Blessed are you, O Lord, merciful God,
and blessed is your holy and honorable name.
Blessed are you in all your works for ever!"
At that very time,
the prayer of these two suppliants
was heard in the glorious presence of Almighty God.
So Raphael was sent to heal them both:
to remove the cataracts from Tobit's eyes,
so that he might again see God's sunlight;
and to marry Raguel's daughter Sarah to Tobit's son Tobiah,
and then drive the wicked demon Asmodeus from her.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 25:2-3, 4-5ab, 6 and 7bc, 8-9
R. (1) To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
In you I trust; let me not be put to shame,
let not my enemies exult over me.
No one who waits for you shall be put to shame;
those shall be put to shame who heedlessly break faith.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
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. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
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. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
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. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Alleluia Jn 11:25a, 26
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord;
whoever believes in me will never die.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 12:18-27
Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection,
came to Jesus and put this question to him, saying,
"Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone's brother dies, leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.
Now there were seven brothers.
The first married a woman and died, leaving no descendants.
So the second brother married her and died, leaving no descendants,
and the third likewise.
And the seven left no descendants.
Last of all the woman also died.
At the resurrection when they arise whose wife will she be?
For all seven had been married to her."
Jesus said to them, "Are you not misled
because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?
When they rise from the dead,
they neither marry nor are given in marriage,
but they are like the angels in heaven.
As for the dead being raised,
have you not read in the Book of Moses,
in the passage about the bush, how God told him,
I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob?
He is not God of the dead but of the living.
You are greatly misled."
Meditation: Tobit 3:1-11, 16-17
9th Week in Ordinary Time
Sarah . . . poured out her prayer. (Tobit 3:11)
As she cried out to God, Sarah probably had no idea that Tobit, the man who would become her father-in-law, was doing the same thing. Two different people in two different cities were beseeching God about two very different struggles. Tobit suffered from blindness, and Sarah was harassed by an evil spirit. As we will see as we read the rest of their story this week, God answered their prayers by weaving their lives together in ways they would never have imagined—all because the Holy Spirit was in them, praying according to God's intention.
Did you know that this is how the Spirit works in you as well? We may not always be able to see the best way through a challenge. And that's when we need to pour out our hearts to God. That's when we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us. St. Paul explains it this way: "We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings" (Romans 8:26).
Tobit groaned and wept aloud; Sarah poured out her heart. Both of them were on the brink of seeing their prayers answered too. They just didn't know it yet. As we do sometimes, they probably felt as if there was no good way out of their predicaments. But that was because they hadn't grasped God's full intention for their lives. They were in a waiting phase, and that's not an easy place to be.
If you are in that uneasy place right now, remind yourself that God has indeed sent his Holy Spirit into your heart. He is the One who moves you to pray. He is the One who prays in you and with you, always according to God's intention.
Tobit and Sarah' prayers show us one more vital truth: the One who hears every prayer lifted up in the entire world, the One who sees how they all intersect, hears every cry of your heart. He loves you. He is with you, joining you in prayer every time you cry out to him.
"Father, I trust in you even when I can't see how my prayers will be answered. You are good. All the time."
Tobit cried in prayer "You are righteous, O Lord, and all your deeds are just; All your ways are mercy and truth; you are the judge of the world."
Sara cried in prayer ""Blessed are you, O Lord, merciful God, and blessed is your holy and honorable name. Blessed are you in all your works for ever!"
Listen to these prayers, listen to the common denominator, and what was it? In times of great difficulty, an inner turmoil, where they just wanted to die, they chose Life, they chose God, they chose to BLESS GOD rather than to curse Him and life, thus bringing it upon themselves. Lemons to lemonade with the sweetness of mercy and blessings upon the Lord.
We prayed today "To you, O Lord, I lift my soul...No one who waits for you shall be put to shame; those shall be put to shame who heedlessly break faith." No one who "waits" for You. In Spanish, wait is said "esperar" and it is the same word for hope. No one who "hopes" in You Lord, shall be put to shame. Hope meaning to believe in. Hope meaning to live in faith. Hope meaning putting all our trust in Him, meaning...our Love of Him.
Our Lord has to straighten up some misconceptions of men about life today "Are you not misled because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?" Quite simply, failure to rightly know Scripture, is rightly the failure to know God. We have now launched "Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible" with Jeff Cavins. It begins in the beginning, and then an overview, and without this insight, we can dive in and get lost, and then make things up, like the "end times" theories and all sorts of beliefs about the bible. And so, our Lord lets us know that He is Lord, not even death has a hold on Him, but turns it into something more. Can you possibly doubt the Almighty?
And I want you to consider your marriage, if you are married. Do you really believe you will be married after you die? Truth is, the bride is the Church, we the Body of Christ, to be united with Christ, the true marriage. Notice the procession at Holy Mass. Notice the feast of the Holy Mass. Notice the vows at the Holy Mass. Notice the groom...Jesus. Do you really believe it is just about the world we live in? No. He is so happy to receive His bride. And the spotless bride He loves dearly.
And do you really believe we die? My dad experienced death when electrocuted with 480 volts alongside his cousin. They both died. But both were unique deaths. My dad came back to life and said his body lying there wasn't him, "everyone is going to think that's me and it isn't!" And he prayed inside his heart, feeling sorrow for his mother and as all these thoughts pervaded, he suddenly was zapped back into life, to a world of pain, burned skin, hurting bones, and turning to find his cousin dead, one came back to life to tell the story.
I say this so you will realize, we do not die. Some will go off to be lost forever. Some will venture and find others as if in a holding room. And a few will find themselves very close to God's realms. This temporary life is the grounds for faith.
There is nothing more lovely than this great gift of faith.
If you are reading this, God has given you faith to read about what life is.
Life is Jesus.
Truth is Jesus.
Eternity is Jesus.
Do not be dismayed or misled. Choose life. Choose to love God above all. Choose to be thankful. Choose not the way of darkness. Choose light.
Believe in my prayers for you. As you are reading this, I have already prayed for you, and your faith to flourish, and like today's Saint, "I will continue to beg for you! And to pray that we unite again in Heaven!"