Monday, August 14, 2017

Open its mouth

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Because It's Hard

I was in a monastery the other day and got to talking to a monk who, when I asked him why he was a monk, why he volunteered for a job liable to loneliness, a commitment to an idea no one can ever prove or document, a task that entails years of labor in the belief that somehow washing dishes and cutting grass and listening to pain and chanting in chapel matters in the long scheme of things, said, because it's hard.

—from the book Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace


"To put into practice the teachings of our holy faith, it is not enough to convince ourselves that they are true; we must love them. Love united to faith makes us practise our religion."
— St. Alphonsus Liguori

"I do not wish the soul to consider her sins, either in general or in particular, without also remembering the Blood and the broadness of My mercy, for fear that otherwise she should be brought to confusion. And together with confusion would come the Devil, who has caused it, under colour of contrition and displeasure of sin, and so she would arrive at eternal damnation, not only on account of her confusion, but also through the despair which would come to her, because she did not seize the arm of My mercy. This is one of the subtle devices with which the Devil deludes My servants, and, in order to escape from his deceit, and to be pleasing to Me, you must enlarge your hearts and affections in My boundless mercy, with true humility. Thou knowest that the pride of the devil cannot resist the humble mind, nor can any confusion of spirit be greater than the broadness of My good mercy, if the soul will only truly hope therein."
— St. Catherine Of Siena, p. 94
Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Acts 1:8


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St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894–1941) was born in Poland to a devout Christian family. As a boy he had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She showed him two crowns, one white for virginity and one red for martyrdom, and asked him which he would be willing to accept. He replied that he would accept both. He later joined the Franciscans. While studying for the priesthood in Rome, he organized a group of friars and founded the Militia of the Immaculata in 1917 to crusade for consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to oppose the evil of Freemasonry. From it came the Knights of the Immaculate magazine that reached a circulation of 750,000, as well as a radio show, both of which became a resource for strengthening faith across Poland. He also established a monastery which grew to 800 friars, the largest in the world at the time. In 1930 he traveled to the Far East and founded another monastery in Nagasaki, Japan. He returned to Poland in 1936. During World War II, St. Maximilian Kolbe housed over 3,000 Polish refugees at his monastery. He was eventually imprisoned because of his effective work, and was sent to Auschwitz in 1941. There he endured special cruelty because he was a Catholic priest. St. Maximilian ministered to the prisoners, and offered his life in place of a father who was condemned to death by firing squad. After being starved for two weeks and still found alive, he was killed by lethal injection on August 14, 1941. St. Maximilian Kolbe is the patron of families, drug addicts, prisoners, journalists, and the pro-life movement. His feast day is August 14th.


Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr

Reading 1 Dt 10:12-22

Moses said to the people:
"And now, Israel, what does the LORD, your God, ask of you
but to fear the LORD, your God, and follow his ways exactly,
to love and serve the LORD, your God,
with all your heart and all your soul,
to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD
which I enjoin on you today for your own good?
Think! The heavens, even the highest heavens,
belong to the LORD, your God,
as well as the earth and everything on it.
Yet in his love for your fathers the LORD was so attached to them
as to choose you, their descendants,
in preference to all other peoples, as indeed he has now done.
Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and be no longer stiff-necked.
For the LORD, your God, is the God of gods,
the LORD of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome,
who has no favorites, accepts no bribes;
who executes justice for the orphan and the widow,
and befriends the alien, feeding and clothing him.
So you too must befriend the alien,
for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.
The LORD, your God, shall you fear, and him shall you serve;
hold fast to him and swear by his name.
He is your glory, he, your God,
who has done for you those great and terrible things
which your own eyes have seen.
Your ancestors went down to Egypt seventy strong,
and now the LORD, your God,
has made you as numerous as the stars of the sky."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20

R. (12a) Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
He has granted peace in your borders;
with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

Alleluia See 2 Thes 2:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God has called you through the Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 17:22-27

As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee,
Jesus said to them,
"The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day."
And they were overwhelmed with grief.

When they came to Capernaum,
the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said,
"Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?"
"Yes," he said.
When he came into the house, before he had time to speak,
Jesus asked him, "What is your opinion, Simon?
From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax?
From their subjects or from foreigners?"
When he said, "From foreigners," Jesus said to him,
"Then the subjects are exempt.
But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook,
and take the first fish that comes up.
Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax.
Give that to them for me and for you."


Catholic Meditations
Meditation: Matthew 17:22-27

Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr (Memorial)

Does not your teacher pay the temple tax? (Matthew 17:24)

When the Temple tax collectors cornered Peter, Jesus didn't take the time to dispute with them. By all rights, Jesus could have refused to pay the tax, but he didn't want to get pulled into their petty drama. His mission as well as the focus of all his attention was his upcoming passion, death, and resurrection. So instead of taking the time to prove himself right in the matter, Jesus sent Peter to catch a fish, retrieve a coin, and pay the tax. He had bigger fish to fry!

We can all think of examples of petty disputes: a married couple's relationship sours because of a decades-old spat; two members of the parish council can't agree on the right shade of purple for the new Lenten banners; a father becomes disappointed with his daughter's career choice. Was one opinion better than the other? Maybe. But refusing to bend caused everyone to lose the bigger picture, and the result was division and bitterness. And that made it harder for the love of God to shine.

Sometimes it's best to keep the bigger picture in view. Sometimes we just have to let things go, even if we're "right." Are you loving God with your whole heart? Are you loving your neighbor as yourself? Is the other person trying to do the same? In the end, those are the only questions worth asking.

Imagine how God deals with us. He can see every one of our faults and failings, but he doesn't bring every detail to our attention all at once. Instead, he focuses on one area at a time, slowly polishing our rough edges. He'll get to everything in his own time, starting with the most important. You never know; maybe those Temple tax collectors ended up embracing the gospel because Jesus refused to be baited into an argument.

So stay focused on what's most important. Focus on love, even when you disagree. Pray for those who contradict you. Let God smooth the rough edges. He knows how to sort things out!

"Jesus, thank you for your patience with me. Help me to be patient with other people. Teach me to focus on loving them instead of correcting them. I trust you to work out the details."

Deuteronomy 10:12-22
Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20



"The LORD, your God, shall you fear, and him shall you serve". Fear means to stand in your place before God, a servant in love and in awe. This will naturally compel you to serve Love and I hope we serve Love with love.

We pray today "Praise the Lord, Jerusalem. He has granted peace in your borders; with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!" There is no peace in your life until Jesus is in your life and the more He is, the more peace that comes with true joy.

In comes the Prince of peace "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day."
And that is the Lamb if God speaking. Not only will His own temple not recognize Him [charging Him tax] but in its rejection it will have Him murdered. Thus us the atrocity of reject fail to recognize who He is before you. The murder by the blind is true and avoidable. Daily we must choose peace...Jesus. We must choose the Way the Truth and His Life.

I will leave you with Bishop Barren's reflection;

Friends, today we celebrate the memorial of Maximilian Kolbe, the great saint of Auschwitz. A prisoner from Fr. Kolbe's barracks escaped, and in retaliation, the Nazi guards picked out ten other prisoners at random for execution. When one of those chosen broke down in tears, protesting that he was the father of a family, Kolbe stepped forward and said "I am a Catholic priest; take me and spare this man."

Priests are called "father," because they are life-givers in the spiritual order. Spiritual fathers protect their children; they teach them; they are there for them. At the limit, they even give their lives for them, and that's what we see in today's great saint.

Jesus gathered around himself a band of apostles whom he shaped according to his own mind and heart and whom he subsequently sent on mission. Priests, down through the centuries—from Augustine and Aquinas, to Francis Xavier and John Henry Newman, to John Paul II and your own pastor—are the descendants of those first friends and apprentices of the Lord. They have been needed in every age, and they are needed today, for the Kingdom of Heaven must be proclaimed, the poor must be served, God must be worshipped, and the sacraments must be administered.


Bless God

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