Invited to the Divine Dance
Prayer does not end but continues progressing toward greater integration and deeper intimacy with the divine. Like dancing, the more frequently prayer is practiced, the more graceful and integrated its movement and rhythm become.
The intimacy and the love shared between the lover and the beloved, radiating from each and every moment of the dance, illuminate the relationship in its beauty. Such a beauty in turn inspires, attracts, and draws others to join in the dance. Therefore, prayer proceeding from the individual naturally flows out to touch and to enliven the community.
–from the book Prayer in the Catholic Tradition
✞ "Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious."
— St. Thomas Aquinas
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but without effect for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The flames which were burning them do not touch me at all. My Guardian Angel did not leave me for an instant. I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God . . . [I heard an interior voice] which said, My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it."
— St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, p. 35
AN EXCERPT FROM
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY
Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
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Saint Alphonsus Liguori
(September 27, 1696 – August 1, 1787)
Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.
In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.
At the University of Naples, Alphonsus received a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, at the age of 16, but he soon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest, and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular parish missions, hearing confessions, and forming Christian groups.
He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted after a while by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over.
Alphonsus' great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples preaching popular missions.
He was made bishop at age 66 after trying to reject the honor, and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese.
His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, a royal official changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united.
At 71, Alphonsus was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck. Until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of "dark night" scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent.
Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His Glories of Mary is one of the great works on that subject, and his book Visits to the Blessed Sacrament went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.
Saint Alphonsus was known above all as a practical man who dealt in the concrete rather than the abstract. His life is indeed a practical model for the everyday Christian who has difficulty recognizing the dignity of Christian life amid the swirl of problems, pain, misunderstanding and failure. Alphonsus suffered all these things. He is a saint because he was able to maintain an intimate sense of the presence of the suffering Christ through it all.
Saint Alphonsus Liguori is the Patron Saint of:
Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Reading 1 Ex 33:7-11; 34:5b-9, 28
The tent, which was called the meeting tent,
Moses used to pitch at some distance away, outside the camp.
Anyone who wished to consult the LORD
would go to this meeting tent outside the camp.
Whenever Moses went out to the tent, the people would all rise
and stand at the entrance of their own tents,
watching Moses until he entered the tent.
As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down
and stand at its entrance while the LORD spoke with Moses.
On seeing the column of cloud stand at the entrance of the tent,
all the people would rise and worship
at the entrance of their own tents.
The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face,
as one man speaks to another.
Moses would then return to the camp,
but his young assistant, Joshua, son of Nun,
would not move out of the tent.
Moses stood there with the LORD and proclaimed his name, "LORD."
Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out,
"The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God,
slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity,
continuing his kindness for a thousand generations,
and forgiving wickedness and crime and sin;
yet not declaring the guilty guiltless,
but punishing children and grandchildren
to the third and fourth generation for their fathers' wickedness!"
Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.
Then he said, "If I find favor with you, O LORD,
do come along in our company.
This is indeed a stiff-necked people;
yet pardon our wickedness and sins,
and receive us as your own."
So Moses stayed there with the LORD for forty days and forty nights,
without eating any food or drinking any water,
and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant,
the ten commandments.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 103:6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13
R. (8a) 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.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;
All who come to him will live for ever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 13:36-43
Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
"Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field."
He said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the Evil One,
and the enemy who sows them is the Devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his Kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the Kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear."
Meditation: Matthew 13:36-43
Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)
The field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. (Matthew 13:38)
Sometimes gardeners deliberately plant different kinds of vegetables very close together. Peppers with carrots. Or beans with tomatoes. They call it companion planting. Conventional wisdom suggests that these plants might compete for space and resources like sunlight and water. But companion plants actually help each other grow. One might keep pests away, while the other offers shade from the heat.
In today's Gospel, we learn that God's children are sown in close proximity as well—and not always next to saints! Conventional wisdom might recommend separating the plants—but God knows better. That would cause more damage than good. Instead, God's plan is that in scattering the seeds of his kingdom, he is spreading his gospel throughout the world.
God has sown your life too as a seed of the kingdom. Where has he planted you? Well, we've all been "bedded in" with family. Maybe you've also been sown into relationships within the corporate world. Or into Little League baseball. Wherever it is, God has given you many personal connections in which you're meant to be a vehicle for the gospel. You just need to be available to be used by him.
This "relational" evangelism is all about friendship: opening yourself up to people so that they can see how God has changed your life. That starts with spending time with people—even people who are different from you! As they watch you withstand life's seasons—rain, shine, or even monsoon—they observe God's grace at work within you.
People really do notice when you carry yourself with joy and kindness. Your words are more powerful than you might think. God can speak through you to help others grow closer to him. The more you open your life, the greater impact you can have.
Don't forget—God will also use others to help you grow. He might reveal something about the kingdom that you haven't seen yet. He might even use an unexpected voice to speak to you!
"Lord, use my life as a seed of your kingdom."
Exodus 33:7-11; 34:5-9, 28
We heard the Word today: "The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one man speaks to another." In a spanish reflection (5 minutos) the scripture said "The Lord used to speak with Moses face to face, like a man speaking with a friend". And the reflection went on about our prayer life, "wasting time" with the Lord. Its funny that while we live, we pray about all sorts of things...except what's important...a real spiritual life, of holy surrender and devotion. Sure we pray a little bit, and that little bit of prayer is spent on this and that...but what about our true relationship with...Our Father?
We prayed today "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...
Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger and abounding in kindness." We are the continuation of the children of Israel...the children of God, what is to be the good seed. And as children of God, we are to be like God...slow to anger and abounding in kindness. The Holy Church is like that, the Catholic Church. It is slow to react, and the world hates it. It forgives, and the world hates it. The world teaches tolerance and neutrality, but when it comes to the Catholic faith? Intolerable. And so, the Church persists until the end of the world, holding the keys of Saint Peter our first Pope, the keys to the light, and we are to be of the light in the darkness in the world.
In comes the Lord of light and salvation: "The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father."
For those who don't believe in hell, like Archbishop Fulton Sheen said "you'll believe it when you get there". Let's stop the pretty fluffy talk for a moment and pretend we are not perfect and great saints. Let me take you out of your comfort zone. Let me propose to you this scenario: You are facing on the other side a torturous world of pain. You are facing hell. Just like we've only a drive to the store away and face the dangers of death on the road, we are facing that danger of hell, one false step into doom and damnation. One mortal sin away, one more ugly sin to break the boundary. And then, I say to you, "You are going to hell" as of this moment, and not just you, but all of your loved ones. For you have taught them not according to His ways. You have led them to this point. You secretly keep darkness and darkness is sowed into their souls and that darkness grows and causes a great calamity in the world. You are not facing purgatory, where people wait endlessly for venial sins to be cleansed, you are not facing death of non-existence, you are facing the fury of God. The devils face that lured you into hell now vomits in your face, the pains of the fire are burning and incurable, the thirst is parching, there is no love, only a desire to die and you can't. People pray and prayers are not answered. Prayers in purgatory go unheard as well. Nothing helps, God's salvation you knew existed has vanished. And this...is the worst part...no hope.
Now, let's snap back into the world we live in. You have peeked into a world of non-existence of God. It is unimaginable...yet it exists. If hell doesn't scare you into being a saint, to seize the day every day for holiness, and if His mercy doesn't entice and make you fall in love...then we are as good as dead. There is no flavor like salt, and there is no shining of light. Weeds have choked our breath and our breathing is our prayer with our God, our speaking with Him and He is available as long we are alive today.
If you experience true love and mercy, you too will go about like the repented tax collector forgiving everyone their debt, and you too would be living a joyful life...with the Lord.
Yet, we are at war my brother, my sister, my mother, my father, we are at an awful war for souls. Where Christ shows us how to battle, on our knees, with our hearts, not standing with no hearts, no life. It is a question of who loves more...and God loves more and we strive to live and love like that man that died on the cross, that man that was God Himself and now pours out His spirit over us. Death has no hold on the one who created it. Sin has no hold on the one who thought of it. I'm in dire need of a saint, and if I can not see one...then I will have to be Christ for the world to see.
And then, when seen, that person too will be the Christ needed in their world, this vast world of dirt fashioned to the likeness of Him who created it. What did God look like, I wondered as we read about Moses. A revelation hit me, that I shared with friends yesterday "we hear stories about Heaven, Jesus speaks about many rooms and a mansion, and often about a banquet, a feast and you hear much about people gathered, and so we wonder what God looks like and if He is seen....and I can't help but believe He is among all the people...as today...He has not one face, but the face of a billion because we are of Him and with Him and in Him" and so today I've realized one exacting truth...God is among us, and the experience of Heaven is a Holy Mass. For those who have eyes and ears, they will see and hear