Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Shine Like the...

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Reflecting on the Peace Prayer

Praying and reflecting upon the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis shine a light into the deep recesses of the soul. The prayer reveals how our pride sometimes hides behind the best of intentions and has wrapped its tentacles around our decisions, feelings, and relationships. It challenges us to break free from the mirror of "me" and focus our attention through the window of "thee," thus looking outward and responding to the voices of those who are angry, injured, confused and sad. The prayer also exposes how we defensively seek to be justified and understood, how self-pity insists upon consolation and love.

—from Instruments of Christ: Reflections on the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi


"Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be, and becoming that person."
— St. Therese of Lisieux

"However great our efforts, we cannot change ourselves. Only God can get to the bottom of our defects, and our limitations in the field of love; only he has sufficient mastery over our hearts for that. If we realize that we will save ourselves a great deal of discouragement and fruitless struggle. We do not have to become saints by our own power; we have to learn how to let God make us into saints. That does not mean, of course, that we don't have to make any effort . . . We should fight, not to attain holiness as a result of our own efforts, but to let God act in us without our putting up any resistance against him; we should fight to open ourselves as fully as possible to his grace, which sanctifies us."
— Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 14-5
In the School of the Holy Spirit

"For who is God except the Lord? And who is a rock besides our God?— the God who girded me with strength, and made my way safe. He made my feet like the feet of a deer, and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand has supported me; your help has made me great."
Psalm 18:31-35


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Saint Ignatius of Loyola

(October 23, 1491 – July 31, 1556)

The founder of the Jesuits was on his way to military fame and fortune when a cannon ball shattered his leg. Because there were no books of romance on hand during his convalescence, Ignatius whiled away the time reading a life of Christ and lives of the saints. His conscience was deeply touched, and a long, painful turning to Christ began. Having seen the Mother of God in a vision, he made a pilgrimage to her shrine at Montserrat near Barcelona. He remained for almost a year at nearby Manresa, sometimes with the Dominicans, sometimes in a pauper's hospice, often in a cave in the hills praying. After a period of great peace of mind, he went through a harrowing trial of scruples. There was no comfort in anything—prayer, fasting, sacraments, penance. At length, his peace of mind returned.

It was during this year of conversion that Ignatius began to write down material that later became his greatest work, the Spiritual Exercises.

He finally achieved his purpose of going to the Holy Land, but could not remain, as he planned, because of the hostility of the Turks. Ignatius spent the next 11 years in various European universities, studying with great difficulty, beginning almost as a child. Like many others, his orthodoxy was questioned; Ignatius was twice jailed for brief periods.

In 1534, at the age of 43, he and six others—one of whom was Saint Francis Xavier—vowed to live in poverty and chastity and to go to the Holy Land. If this became impossible, they vowed to offer themselves to the apostolic service of the pope. The latter became the only choice. Four years later Ignatius made the association permanent. The new Society of Jesus was approved by Pope Paul III, and Ignatius was elected to serve as the first general.

When companions were sent on various missions by the pope, Ignatius remained in Rome, consolidating the new venture, but still finding time to found homes for orphans, catechumens, and penitents. He founded the Roman College, intended to be the model of all other colleges of the Society.

Ignatius was a true mystic. He centered his spiritual life on the essential foundations of Christianity—the Trinity, Christ, the Eucharist. His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, Ad majorem Dei gloriam—"for the greater glory of God." In his concept, obedience was to be the prominent virtue, to assure the effectiveness and mobility of his men. All activity was to be guided by a true love of the Church and unconditional obedience to the Holy Father, for which reason all professed members took a fourth vow to go wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls.

Luther nailed his theses to the church door at Wittenberg in 1517. Seventeen years later, Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society that was to play so prominent a part in the Catholic Reformation. He was an implacable foe of Protestantism. Yet the seeds of ecumenism may be found in his words: "Great care must be taken to show forth orthodox truth in such a way that if any heretics happen to be present they may have an example of charity and Christian moderation. No hard words should be used nor any sort of contempt for their errors be shown." One of the greatest ecumenists was the 20th-century German Jesuit, Cardinal Augustin Bea.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola is the Patron Saint of:


Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

Reading 1 Jer 14:17-22

Let my eyes stream with tears
day and night, without rest,
Over the great destruction which overwhelms
the virgin daughter of my people,
over her incurable wound.
If I walk out into the field,
look! those slain by the sword;
If I enter the city,
look! those consumed by hunger.
Even the prophet and the priest
forage in a land they know not.

Have you cast Judah off completely?
Is Zion loathsome to you?
Why have you struck us a blow
that cannot be healed?
We wait for peace, to no avail;
for a time of healing, but terror comes instead.
We recognize, O LORD, our wickedness,
the guilt of our fathers;
that we have sinned against you.
For your name's sake spurn us not,
disgrace not the throne of your glory;
remember your covenant with us, and break it not.
Among the nations' idols is there any that gives rain?
Or can the mere heavens send showers?
Is it not you alone, O LORD,
our God, to whom we look?
You alone have done all these things.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 79:8, 9, 11 and 13
R. (9) For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name's sake.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Let the prisoners' sighing come before you;
with your great power free those doomed to death.
Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
through all generations we will declare your praise.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.

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: Jeremiah 14:17-22

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Memorial)

Let my eyes stream with tears. (Jeremiah 14:17)

It's always easier to hear a message of hope than a message of woe. That's why the people of Jerusalem found it hard to accept many of Jeremiah's prophecies. He warned them that unless they turned back to God, their land would suffer grievous consequences. Unfortunately, they ignored him, and everything Jeremiah said came to pass: drought, famine, an invasion, and finally, exile. What can possibly inspire us about this tragic tale?

If we look around, we can see at least as many problems today as existed in Jeremiah's time. In fact, if we think about it long enough, we may also be moved to tears. What of all the pain caused by abortion, drug addiction, and domestic violence? What of the poor who live in unimaginable squalor? As God's people, we must surely empathize with all of the sadness, loss, and suffering.

But our response doesn't have to end there. In fact, it would be unchristian to let it stay there. Many critics of religion point to suffering as a reason not to believe in God, but we can say exactly the opposite. God's will is not to cause suffering but to stop it. That's why he sent his Son! Jesus came to free us from sin and to give us the "ministry of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:18). He came to bring heaven down to earth, and he now calls all of us to build that kingdom here and now.

God doesn't want us to resign ourselves to tragedy and watch things get worse. We share in Jesus' office of priest, prophet, and king. Sometimes we're called to be like priests and minister his healing love to those who are hurting. At other times we can act as prophets as we speak the word of God to people who have lost hope or don't think God loves them. And we can exercise kingly gifts: providing food, shelter, and justice for the marginalized, the poor, and the neglected.

Yes, our eyes should stream with tears. But at the same time, our hands and feet should be just as busy as we bring hope and healing to all God's people.

"Lord, give me compassion for the wounded people you have placed in my path. Give me the courage to reach out to them and the wisdom to help them as best I can."

Psalm 79:8-9, 11, 13
Matthew 13:36-43



"Is it not you alone, O LORD, our God, to whom we look?" This is a prayer, isn't it? A conversation with our Lord. To hear His reply though, to discern His will though. I asked Him last night for this guidance, this reply, this discernment. "What do you desire"? I never heard any words. But the words entered "do His will". But that's the big question isn't it? Follow Him. But we put so many obstacles, so many things in between, barriers, fences, walls, doors, so many things between Him, and us. It easily becomes hard to not hear Him.

So we pray: "For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us. Let the prisoners' sighing come before you; with your great power free those doomed to death.
Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; through all generations we will declare your praise." Behind all these walls, fences, gates and doors lies a prisoner then. Unable to do God's will. Prisoners then of our own will, of our own doing, of our own retracting. Take a step back, another wall. Another obstacle, another fence. As if to say "don't come near me Lord". This is the digression, this is a backtracking that makes one walk backwards, and the danger of walking backwards is you do not see when you will fall off a cliff.

And so our Lord comes with easing words for His flock, His sheep, you and I: ""He who sows good seed is the Son of Man..." The Son of Man is our Lord. The Son of Man is the one who has come from God Himself, the creator of the universe. (It just so happens I read about this last night in the book Psalm Basics for Catholics by Bergsman). It was no small thing to call Himself Son of Man. And He does so repeatedly. It is to say "I Am God" the Son of God. The Son of Man sows the good seed. He sowed it. And be weary, be watchful of the weeds that grow among us and in our souls that can choke and kill the good wheat out of us, that what gives life. "The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil." Little devils abound. Wouldn't you like to know who these devils are? These are bad spirits. These are planted in people, and they linger, and they grow. Just right now I heard of a man that hung himself in our town. Something must've given him the idea that death was the only way out. Yes, he was divorcing, yes, perhaps he had health issues, but to opt for this way out? There are people trying to capitalize on this suicide thing too. They are coming up with fancy ways to do so. Even laws are being passed calling it "assisted suicide". They are inventing nicer ways to help you do it, like proposing certain places and capsules, who knows, maybe people are coming with farewell parties to boot. Its similar to homosexual weddings; Say goodbye to traditional marriage, and say goodbye to bearing children, and goodbye to mother and father, kicking out a mother, or kicking out the Father. How is it similar? Death is the common denominator. Spiritual death. Skulls around every corner. I saw a food vendor and his logo was a skull and crossbones. We shouldn't fool around with death. Evil spirits want this reward for all. The rewards for sin is death.

And so, our Lord shines some light in the darkness today: "The Son of Man will send his angels..." They will take care of the dirty work. And " the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father." And it can start here and now. God loves saints. Why? Because they shine. They stand out, and like a sore thumb, so much so that even the Church puts them in a corner at times until they are exonerated. Has your holiness caused you to be shunned? Ostracized? To become unpopular? To be left out? To be bullied? Nobody likes bullies. I think most people have at sometime been "bullied". But they are there for a purpose, true proving grounds is where we are located, the Church Militant. Tests are here and now. Will you be the Church Triumphant? This Church is in Heaven. They want you triumphant. Jesus is victorious. He does not meddle so much in our lives, for us to grow. The seeds He has planted must grow. The weeds must go.
Those sinful things in your life keep you from a tighter relationship with Him. Tear these weeds out and watch walls and fences disappear.
And suddenly, He appears closer and closer.
Stop being afraid.
Stop being defensive.
Stop being afraid to show the world how much you really want to love Him.
Stop being ashamed...of Him. He does not care so much about your sin as you let it go. Confess...regress, return. If you were created from nothing it was for were thought of in His mind, and the mindset of the Son of Man is calling.

"Enter into my Love"



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Monday, July 30, 2018

I will open my mouth

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Our Inner Landscapes

There are outer landscapes in which we all move and breathe and experience our being and inner landscapes to nurture and visit too! We pray in the inner landscape of our soul, but the outer world can bring us to prayer with utter gratitude, sorrow and thanksgiving. At times the world around us seems to rush in, and we are moved to prayer as effortless as breath. We are in communion with our inner and outer worlds. Focus becomes clear and the nonessentials of daily life fade away. We are awake in the present moment, more alive, more present than ever before.

—from Your Spiritual Garden: Tending to the Presence of God


"The accidents of life separate us from our dearest friends, but let us not despair. God is like a looking glass in which souls see each other. The more we are united to Him by love, the nearer we are to those who belong to Him."
— St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

"Yet such are the pity and compassion of this Lord of ours, so desirous is He that we should seek Him and enjoy His company, that in one way or another He never ceases calling us to Him . . . God here speaks to souls through words uttered by pious people, by sermons or good books, and in many other such ways. Sometimes He calls souls by means of sickness or troubles, or by some truth He teaches them during prayer, for tepid as they may be in seeking Him, yet God holds them very dear."
— St. Teresa of Avila, p.26
Interior Castle

Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
John 14:13-14


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Blessed Solanus Casey

(November 25, 1875 – July 31, 1957)

Barney Casey became one of Detroit's best-known priests even though he was not allowed to preach formally or to hear confessions!

Barney came from a large family in Oak Grove, Wisconsin. At the age of 21, and after he had worked as a logger, a hospital orderly, a streetcar operator, and a prison guard, he entered St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee—where he found the studies difficult. He left there, and in 1896, joined the Capuchins in Detroit, taking the name Solanus. His studies for the priesthood were again arduous.

On July 24, 1904, Solanus was ordained, but because his knowledge of theology was judged to be weak, he was not given permission to hear confessions or to preach. A Franciscan Capuchin who knew him well said this annoying restriction "brought forth in him a greatness and a holiness that might never have been realized in any other way."

During his 14 years as porter and sacristan in Yonkers, New York, the people there recognized Solanus as a fine speaker. James Derum, his biographer writes, "For, though he was forbidden to deliver doctrinal sermons, he could give inspirational talks, or feverinos, as the Capuchins termed them." His spiritual fire deeply impressed his listeners.

Father Solanus served at parishes in Manhattan and Harlem before returning to Detroit, where he was porter and sacristan for 20 years at St. Bonaventure Monastery. Every Wednesday afternoon he conducted well-attended services for the sick. A co-worker estimates that on the average day 150 to 200 people came to see Father Solanus in the front office. Most of them came to receive his blessing; 40 to 50 came for consultation. Many people considered him instrumental in cures and other blessings they received.

Father Solanus' sense of God's providence inspired many of his visitors. "Blessed be God in all his designs" was one of his favorite expressions.

The many friends of Father Solanus helped the Capuchins begin a soup kitchen during the Depression. Capuchins are still feeding the hungry there today.

In failing health, Solanus was transferred to the Capuchin novitiate in Huntington, Indiana, in 1946, where he lived for ten years until needing to be hospitalized in Detroit. Father Solanus died on July 31, 1957. An estimated 20,000 people passed by his coffin before his burial in St. Bonaventure Church in Detroit.

At the funeral Mass, the provincial Father Gerald said: "His was a life of service and love for people like me and you. When he was not himself sick, he nevertheless suffered with and for you that were sick. When he was not physically hungry, he hungered with people like you. He had a divine love for people. He loved people for what he could do for them—and for God, through them."

In 1960, a Father Solanus Guild was formed in Detroit to aid Capuchin seminarians. By 1967, the guild had 5,000 members—many of them grateful recipients of his practical advice and his comforting assurance that God would not abandon them in their trials. Solanus Casey was declared Venerable in 1995, and beatified on November 18, 2017.

His biographer James Patrick Derum writes that eventually Father Solanus was weary from bearing the burdens of the people who visited him. "Long since, he had come to know the Christ-taught truth that pure love of God and one's fellowmen as children of God are in the final event all that matter. Living this truth ardently and continuously had made him, spiritually, a free man—free from slavery to passions, from self-seeking, from self-indulgence, from self-pity—free to serve wholly both God and man" (The Porter of St. Bonaventure's, page 199).


Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Jer 13:1-11

The LORD said to me: Go buy yourself a linen loincloth;
wear it on your loins, but do not put it in water.
I bought the loincloth, as the LORD commanded, and put it on.
A second time the word of the LORD came to me thus:
Take the loincloth which you bought and are wearing,
and go now to the Parath;
there hide it in a cleft of the rock.
Obedient to the LORD's command, I went to the Parath
and buried the loincloth.
After a long interval, the LORD said to me:
Go now to the Parath and fetch the loincloth
which I told you to hide there.
Again I went to the Parath, sought out and took the loincloth
from the place where I had hid it.
But it was rotted, good for nothing!
Then the message came to me from the LORD:
Thus says the LORD:
So also I will allow the pride of Judah to rot,
the great pride of Jerusalem.
This wicked people who refuse to obey my words,
who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts,
and follow strange gods to serve and adore them,
shall be like this loincloth which is good for nothing.
For, as close as the loincloth clings to a man's loins,
so had I made the whole house of Israel
and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the LORD;
to be my people, my renown, my praise, my beauty.
But they did not listen.

Responsorial Psalm Deuteronomy 32:18-19, 20, 21
R. (see 18a) You have forgotten God who gave you birth.
You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you,
You forgot the God who gave you birth.
When the LORD saw this, he was filled with loathing
and anger toward his sons and daughters.
R. You have forgotten God who gave you birth.
"I will hide my face from them," he said,
"and see what will then become of them.
What a fickle race they are,
sons with no loyalty in them!"
R. You have forgotten God who gave you birth.
"Since they have provoked me with their 'no-god'
and angered me with their vain idols,
I will provoke them with a 'no-people';
with a foolish nation I will anger them."
R. You have forgotten God who gave you birth.

Alleluia Jas 1:18
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 13:31-35

Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds.
"The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'"

He spoke to them another parable.
"The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened."

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:

I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation
of the world.


Meditation: Matthew 13:31-35

Saint Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Optional Memorial)

The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. (Matthew 13:31)

The sesame seed on your bagel is about three times the size of a mustard seed. Yet from such a tiny seed springs a bush that can grow almost two stories high. The size of the seed doesn't determine its ultimate increase, and that is the point about the kingdom of God that Jesus wants us to understand today. It's God who makes his kingdom grow and increase. He is the One who causes it to spread and develop from his people's seeds of small acts of love and kindness. It's like the way Mother Teresa loved to talk about "doing small things with great love."

So where do we start? For most of us, those small seeds will be planted in our families first. Little acts of thoughtfulness, encouragement, and praise, sown and watered with kindness, can flourish in the soil of our closest relationships. Granted, it can be easy to focus on our family's faults or failures. It's much more challenging to see and highlight the positive. But ask any farmer, and he'll tell you that sowing good seeds can be hard work.

So dig in and do it! Praise your children, for even the smallest acts of obedience. Thank them even when they're just doing what you asked. Tell them the things God thinks about them: they are wonderful, creative, strong, talented, and lovable. Yield to your spouse's preference for something, even if it means eating tofu instead of T-bone steak. With heartfelt love, pick his socks or her towel up off the floor. Repent (quickly) for thoughtless words, and forgive even more quickly. These are all mustard seeds of the kingdom of God.

It's tempting to think we need to do grand and glorious things for the Lord. And maybe we will. But they probably will grow from the love and kindnesses, however small, you sow in your home. After all, words of praise and encouragement, thanks and kindness, are grand and glorious things in and of themselves!

So trust that God will give growth to all the mustard seeds you sow. Their fruit will become obvious in the ways your relationships open up and in the joy that begins to permeate the atmosphere of your home.

"Jesus, thank you for my family, where you've called me to sow seeds of the kingdom. Give me strength today to keep sowing."

Jeremiah 13:1-11
(Psalm) Deuteronomy 32:18-21



"... be my people, my renown, my praise, my beauty. But they did not listen." Imagine, God made us the crowning gift of creation, enough to say we are His children. Who is His child? The baptized? Certainly. The un-batpized? They are the unborn. We are to cherish them spiritually. We are to help them be born. It is God's desire. To be incorporated to Him. To be In His flock. Why? For the good. For the good of the world. The good of your soul. You are God's crowning creation. You are to live in His loving eyes. He has eyes always on you...your guardian angel. If you look to Heaven, your angel looks to Heaven. If you steep into sin, your angel turns away. Our Lord sees everything. And calls us always to Himself.

Let us pray: " You have forgotten God who gave you birth. "I will hide my face from them," he said, "and see what will then become of them. What a fickle race they are, sons with no loyalty in them!" It must've occurred, that when our Lord Jesus came and inscribed the new law in our hearts, that He also implemented a loyalty. If you apply yourself, love the commandments, our Lord, then loyalty is implemented more so than ever before. But we are still like sheep. I was reading a book I highly advise, "Pslams Basics for Catholics" by John Begsman. He said domestic sheep have to be shepherded. It's in their genes it seems. Otherwise, they will get stuck in weeds/bushes/thickets, holes, or get stuck on a side of a mountain even. They are good at following the shepherd. Loyalty is implanted in them, and for those that don't follow well, a shepherd might break their leg and feed it until it realizes that the shepherd provides, and it depends on the shepherd for live.

In the Holy Gospel, our Lord speaks in parables "The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed...". Big things come in small packages, right? That's why the saints Teresas of our century have said to do little things with great love. You don't know how far a small act of love goes and grows. God reveals this parable only to the humble who will understand what this means. Only the person who can appreciate the value of the mustard seed will understand. And the value, only because our Lord cared enough to bring it up. And it has been brought up before your very eyes, perhaps for you to eat.
""The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast..." continues our Lord. What is yeast? A quick lookup brings the definition: a microscopic fungus consisting of single oval cells that reproduce by budding, and are capable of converting sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. It is used to make bread inflate. In the bread used to be converted into the Holy Eucharist, there is no yeast. No fungus. No Bacteria. We provide that part. They say the human body has all sorts of bacteria. It makes a percentage of the human body: "The human body contains trillions of microorganisms — outnumbering human cells by 10 to 1. Because of their small size, however, microorganisms make up only about 1 to 3 percent of the body's mass (in a 200-pound adult, that's 2 to 6 pounds of bacteria), but play a vital role in human health. So God needs us. Yes your crazy, and sometimes sinful self. Bring yourself onboard. You'd be amazed to see what He can do with you. Instead of doing your own thing, do His thing. Try humility. Try being compassionate. Try being obedient. Try on saintly holiness. Try on self induced penance. Try fasting. Try on what He is asking for. A heart like His.

The Eucharist is His heart. We can make His will and love grow exponentially. It starts one by one, and then two by two. And then our Lord commands us to go out to the whole world and to all the nations.

Yeast and seed.
Bread of life.
For the good of the world and your soul



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