Without Fear or Expectation
There is a life force flowing through the universe, and everything exists in a single moment, forever unfolding. I open myself to the stream. I want to be emptied and purified so that the past is no longer my lens—so that it no longer colors what I see. What will it be like to look without fear or expectation, to see things with nothing in the way? Who will I be if I am not afraid, but alive? There is everything to experience, and the portal beyond the darkness to know.
—from the book Stars at Night: When Darkness Unfolds as Light
✞ "The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God. If the revelation of God through creation already brings life to all living beings on the earth, how much more will the manifestation of the Father by the Word bring life to those who see God."
— St. Irenaeus
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"I will first, dearest daughter, speak to thee of the dignity of priests, having placed them where they are through My goodness, over and above the general love which I have had to My creatures, creating you in My image and likeness and re-creating you all to the life of grace in the Blood of My Only-begotten Son, whence you have arrived at such excellence, through the union which I made of My Deity with human nature; so that in this you have greater dignity and excellence than the angels, for I took your human nature and not that of the angels. Wherefore, as I have said to you, I, God, have become man, and man has become God by the union of My Divine Nature with your human nature. This greatness is given in general to all rational creatures, but, among these I have especially chosen My ministers for the sake of your salvation, so that, through them, the Blood of the humble and immaculate Lamb, My Only-begotten Son, may be administered to you."
— St. Catherine Of Siena, p. 137-8
AN EXCERPT FROM
Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY
"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
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Saint Mary Mackillop
Saint of the Day for July 19
(January 15, 1842 – August 8, 1909)
If Saint Mary MacKillop were alive today, she would be a household name. It's not that she sought the limelight. On the contrary, she simply wanted to serve the poor wherever she found them in her native Australia. But along the way, she managed to arouse the ire of some rather powerful churchmen. One even excommunicated her for a time.
Born in Melbourne in 1842, to parents who had emigrated from Scotland, Mary grew up in a family that faced constant financial struggles. As a young woman she was drawn to religious life but could not find an existing order of Sisters that met her needs. In 1860, she met Father Julian Woods, who became her spiritual director. Together they founded a new community of women—the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, also known as the Josephite Sisters. Its members were to staff schools especially for poor children, as well as orphanages, and do other works of charity.
As the congregation grew, so did Mary MacKillop's problems. Her priest-friend proved unreliable in many ways and his responsibilities for direction of the Sisters were removed. Meanwhile, Mary had the support of some local bishops as she and her Sisters went about their work. But the bishop in South Australia, aging and relying on others for advice, briefly excommunicated Mary—charging her with disobedience—and dispensed 50 of her Sisters from their vows. In truth, the bishop's quarrel was about power and who had authority over whom. He ultimately rescinded his order of excommunication.
Mary insisted that her congregation should be governed by an elected mother general answerable to Rome, not to the local bishop. There also were disputes about whether or not the congregation could own property. In the end, Rome proved to be Mary's best source of support. After a long wait official approval of the congregation—and how it was to be governed—came from Pope Leo XIII.
Despite her struggles with Church authorities, Mary MacKillop and her Sisters were able to offer social services that few, if any, government agencies in Australia could. They served Protestants and Catholics alike. They worked among the aborigines. They taught in schools and orphanages and served unmarried mothers.
Money, actually the lack of it, was a constant worry. But the Sisters who begged from door to door, were bolstered by faith and by the conviction that their struggles were opportunities to grow closer to God.
By the time Mary was approaching the end of her life, the congregation was thriving. She died in 1909 at the age of 67. Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1995. In 2010, when Pope Benedict XVI canonized her, she became Australia's first saint.
The story of many foundresses of religious communities and the tales of the early days of those communities can make for fascinating reading. Those women were dedicated and tough and fought for those they served. Let's thank the Lord for raising up such wonderful examples of faith.
Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 Ex 3:1-6, 9-12
Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian.
Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb,
the mountain of God.
There an angel of the LORD appeared to him in fire
flaming out of a bush.
As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush,
though on fire, was not consumed.
So Moses decided,
"I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,
and see why the bush is not burned."
When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely,
God called out to him from the bush, "Moses! Moses!"
He answered, "Here I am."
God said, "Come no nearer!
Remove the sandals from your feet,
for the place where you stand is holy ground.
I am the God of your father," he continued,
"the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.
The cry of the children of Israel has reached me,
and I have truly noted that the Egyptians are oppressing them.
Come, now! I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people,
the children of Israel, out of Egypt."
But Moses said to God,
"Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh
and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?"
He answered, "I will be with you;
and this shall be your proof that it is I who have sent you:
when you bring my people out of Egypt,
you will worship God on this very mountain."
Responsorial Psalm Ps 103:1b-2, 3-4, 6-7
R. (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
The LORD secures justice
and the rights of all the oppressed.
He has made known his ways to Moses,
and his deeds to the children of Israel.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Alleluia See Mt 11:25
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 11:25-27
At that time Jesus exclaimed:
"I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."
Meditation: Exodus 3:1-6, 9-12
15th Week in Ordinary Time
I must go over to look at this remarkable sight. (Exodus 3:3)
Surprised that a bush that was on fire was not being consumed, Moses decided to take a closer look. Certainly he didn't expect that this was God's way of starting a conversation with him. But that's exactly what it was.
Notice how patiently God reached out to Moses. He first gave him time to prepare. This is "holy ground," he said, and he had Moses remove his sandals (Exodus 3:5). He wanted Moses to approach with care and attentiveness, but not with fear. The same is true for us: God wants us to come close to him, to investigate the mystery of his life in us with reverence as well as curiosity.
Sometimes drawing near to God can seem intimidating. So we may feel comfortable just watching "from a distance" at first. We may feel unsure when we sense that God is calling us in a new direction or asking us to share our faith with someone. Maybe, like Moses, we don't think we have what it takes to do what God is asking. But just as he said to Moses, God says to us, "I will be with you" (Exodus 3:12). And that makes all the difference.
You may not see a burning bush, but God is reaching out to you. He is helping you get past your fears and hesitations. Many times a day, he is inviting you to come closer to him. These invitations may come in many ways: an impulse of love, an awareness of beauty, a hunger for meaning, or a comment from a friend. It's up to you to take a closer look—to listen for his voice and move in his direction.
How can we approach God with care as Moses did? We can start by removing our distractions, preoccupations, and low expectations. Choosing a quiet, device-free location can help minimize these distractions. We can set our concerns firmly aside for just this short time of prayer so that our hearts are freer to speak with God and hear his voice. And above all, we can believe that we are approaching the God of all creation who loves us and wants to be with us.
"Lord, I open myself to you. Help me to come close to you, safe in the knowledge that I have nothing to fear from such a good and loving God."
Psalm 103:1-4, 6-7
We heard today of God's angel appearing upon a plant, a bush, like a tree, this living thing, and it would not be spent, or consumed, at recalls the scripture from Hebrews 12:"
28Therefore, since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us be filled with gratitude, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. 29For our God is a consuming fire."
The Lord says to Moses in this encounter: "I am the God of your father,", notice how Moses answered God's call though, first, "Here I am" God said to remove his sandals before coming any closer, for "the place where you stand is holy ground". Ooops. Moses didn't know, but God declared it to be...and so it was. His Word becomes what He declares. The very act, the very blessing from Him is everything. Moses had been led to the desert, to be taught to shepherd, because soon, he would become God's shepherd of His flock, His people, His children of light. Today, that Shepherd is Jesus. Let us go to Him who leads us.
We pray today "The Lord is kind and merciful. He pardons all your iniquities, he heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, he crowns you with kindness and compassion". Let the healing begin with God. Be reunited with Our Father who is in Heaven.
In comes the Lord of our Life: "... you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will...." To the childlike He is revealed? Not to the smarty pants and know-it-alls? I learned something the other day from my 9 year old boy that was turning 10. I asked him a couple weeks before his birthday, "so, tell me, what do you want for your birthday then, a new playstation system? (he doesn't have any fancy gaming system), do you want a new bike? (his is very small and the wheels are bent and it is rusted now) Or do you want a dog still?". he said without a second thought, "I want a dog from the pound". Ok. I said "alright we'll get a dog" (even though me and my wife new the seriousness of adding this responsibility would involve all of us). The week of his birthday I took him to a nearby city to a pound and looked at the caged dogs. Most were big dogs, no puppies as we kind of hoped for. Some growled at us and some wanted to go crazy barking trying to jump out of their cages as savages trying to get to us. We didn't see the fitting dog we looked for, a "cow dog", younger. A bearded worker asked if he could help and I said "we're looking for a younger pup, a cow dog of sorts for my boy here". He said "I got another kennel that I can take a picture of some younger dogs and show you". OK. He came back, we saw one we liked and he went and grabbed it. My boy was so excited and nervous. Well, the dog was not as small as it looked on the worker's smartphone. But we still looked at it, in a little room he let the dog loose with us and in his excitement it ran crazy excited, ready to play, but my boy was frozen in fear, crying almost, afraid of the dog. "WHAT!? Why are you crying boy! That's what 100% of puppies do! They go wild ready to play! Calm down!" He saw how the 4 month shepherd mix pup would fetch a toy the worker handed him and he saw he was somewhat harmless, LOL. "Well, what do you think boy?" He said "I want him dad". Even though he wouldn't hardly pet him. So we went to do the adoption paperwork. At the end of the paperwork they attendant said that "city ordinance said the dog must be neutered before leaving the pound". So because of its age, we'd have to come back in two weeks for the puppy when it was old enough. My boy was saddened. I said "but we don't live in your city, I don't want him neutered (I am pro life!!) do those ordinances still apply in my hometown?" She said she'd find out. She came back a few minutes later "we will neuter him by tomorrow because he is heavy enough, you can pick him up the day after". I wasn't too happy, and seemed I didn't have a say, nor a choice in the matter. (Kind of like the "Charlie baby" in the news that the parents want to save but government won't help). So, with the birthday approaching and the boy wanting the dog...I said alright. We came back two days later with a new leash and flea medicine. I loaded the dog inside my truck, the dog clawed the leather seats, scratching jumping, nervous, excited, my kids freaked out, one almost opened the door to jump out as I was about to put the truck in drive. "SETTLE DOWN!" and everyone, even the dog listened to me. We drove off quietly, oddly, the puppy was on the middle console next to me, leaning on me, until I told it to sit in the back with the boy and neither was happy about it at first but by the time we got home him and the new dog he named "Buddy" were actually buddies. The next day, I had the boy with me alone on a work trip, "so you like your new dog?" "Yeah, I like him, I especially am happy because we were able to save its life."
That's when I became quiet and learned a big lesson...the whole time, my boy's heart was all about saving a life, not on material things, as if to say nothing is more important.
Jesus reveals in the child-like, like Him.
I want us to look at a couple of things about Moses and our Lord:
God called Him, Moses was led to Him. God calls to save through Moses. Moses obliged, obeyed the command and will of God the Father. Jesus says He will reveal the Father to whomever He wishes.
I asked a young man living in sin (living with his girlfriend) last night "when are you going to stop living in sin and get married? Tell me now, who is your father?" He said his dad's name, but looking back this day, the real question is "who is your REAL Father?" Who do you follow and obey? Who are you led by? And where are you going?
Jesus leads the way to salvation, a joy of living in Him with Him and in the meanwhile He lives in the willing soul. His fire consumes me. And I am not spent. His grace burns eternally to give light. Get you some of that. Holiness, your standing on the ground He created....