Monday, January 8, 2018

Mightier Than I

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Our Mother Mary

As our mother, Mary cares about every aspect of our lives, past, present, and future. She cares about our joys and sorrows, successes and failures, dreams and desires. She cares about where we have been and where we are going. She cares about who we are and who we would like to become. She cares about the seemingly insignificant details of our daily routines and the huge life events. She cares about all that is important to us and even about what is not so important. She cares about everything.

—from the book Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace by Marge Steinhage Fenelon
Franciscan Media Online


✞ Holy Say:
"Trials, tribulation, anguish, anxiety are permitted by the very One Who gives peace."
— Archbishop Fulton Sheen

"Our Lord never intended that we should merely learn by heart the Our Father and recite it day and night. No doubt it is very beautiful and very simple, and can be meant quite easily by anyone who cares to use it. But that is not the purpose (although it is one purpose) of His gift of it to us. He evidently desires that we should take it to pieces, study its composition, and make it the model of our conversation with Him and the Father. … I must study it carefully, petition by petition, noting the distinct meaning of the words, the arrangement of the order, and the gradual development of the ideas of fatherhood, and so forth. ... Indeed, this prayer is little else than a series of remarks made by a child to his Father. The very want of connection between each petition, the staccato notes that mark off phrase from phrase, seem to suggest that it should be said very slowly, pausing after each group of notes to let their meaning and harmony echo to the base of the soul."
— Fr. Bede Jarrett, p. 300
Classic Catholic Meditations


The Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord is closely connected with the Solemnity of the Epiphany; both are biblical manifestations of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. On the occasion of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan river at the hands of St. John the Baptist, the voice of God was audibly heard to declare to the gathered crowd, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." At his baptism Jesus sanctified the earth's waters, giving water the power to beget sons of God through the Sacrament of Baptism. Through the cleansing waters of baptism Jesus heals our sinful nature and clothes us with his own Divine life, bringing us into the Kingdom of God. It is by imitating Our Lord in his Baptism that a person becomes a Christian, the first sacrament of initiation into the Church. The feast of the Baptism of the Lord marks the end of the Christmas season on the new liturgical calendar.

"When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me."
Psalm 63:6-8


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Saint Angela of Foligno

(1248 – January 4, 1309)

Some saints show marks of holiness very early. Not Angela! Born of a leading family in Foligno, Italy, she became immersed in the quest for wealth and social position. As a wife and mother, she continued this life of distraction.

Around the age of 40, she recognized the emptiness of her life and sought God's help in the Sacrament of Penance. Her Franciscan confessor helped Angela to seek God's pardon for her previous life and to dedicate herself to prayer and the works of charity.

Shortly after her conversion, her husband and children died. Selling most of her possessions, she entered the Secular Franciscan Order. She was alternately absorbed by meditating on the crucified Christ and by serving the poor of Foligno as a nurse and beggar for their needs. Other women joined her in a religious community.

At her confessor's advice, Angela wrote her Book of Visions and Instructions. In it she recalls some of the temptations she suffered after her conversion; she also expresses her thanks to God for the Incarnation of Jesus. This book and her life earned for Angela the title "Teacher of Theologians." She was beatified in 1693, and canonized in 2013.

People who live in the United States today can understand Saint Angela's temptation to increase her sense of self-worth by accumulating money, fame or power. Striving to possess more and more, she became more and more self-centered. When she realized she was priceless because she was created and loved by God, she became very penitential and very charitable to the poor. What had seemed foolish early in her life now became very important. The path of self-emptying she followed is the path all holy men and women must follow.

The Liturgical Feast of Saint Angela of Foligno is January 7.


The Baptism of the Lord

Reading 1 Is 42:1-4, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Is 55:1-11
Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.
As I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of nations,
so shall you summon a nation you knew not,
and nations that knew you not shall run to you,
because of the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked man his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

For just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Acts 10:34-38
Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered
in the house of Cornelius, saying:
"In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.
You know the word that he sent to the Israelites
as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all,
what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him."

1 Jn 5:1-9
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one who testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.
So there are three that testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the blood,
and the three are of one accord.
If we accept human testimony,
the testimony of God is surely greater.
Now the testimony of God is this,
that he has testified on behalf of his Son.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
R. (11b) The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, "Glory!"
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Is 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6
R. (3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.R/ You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Alleluia Cf. Jn 1:29
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
John saw Jesus approaching him, and said:
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 1:7-11

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
"One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
"You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."


Meditation: 1 John 3:11-21

Saint John Neumann, Bishop (Memorial)

We should love one another. (1 John 3:11)

Nobody said following Christ would be easy. Thoughts of self-denial, of carrying the cross, even of martyrdom come to mind. Such grand sacrifices, though, begin with the commission John gives in today's first reading: love one another. Love the people around you. Hold them dear, even when they push you away. Be devoted to their welfare, even if they seem indifferent to yours. Hope and pray for their healing, just as you do for your own.

Not so easy, is it? Christian author C. S. Lewis likens it to beginning the study of mathematics with basic addition and not calculus. Start by forgiving your spouse, parents, or children for something they have said or done in the last week: for dishes left unwashed in the sink (again) perhaps or the car's gas tank left on empty, for phone calls unmade or unreturned, or for being left having to walk the dog in the rain.

Everyday life offers us many opportunities to love one another in small, concrete ways, "in deed and truth," as John wrote (1 John 3:18). To love and not resent, to serve and not crave revenge—this kind of loving requires the death of something inside ourselves. "The feeling of resentment, the desire for payback, must be simply killed," says Lewis. "It is hard work, but the attempt is not impossible."

Feelings can be stubborn, but God will help you. He will give you everything you need to love your family as he has loved you. When anger or bitterness rises up within you, stop and do your best to halt those thoughts. Ask Jesus for the grace to think thoughts of love for that person, and then take one small step to treat them with kindness. You may discover, over time, that you actually are becoming more loving. You may find yourself hoping for "good" and even praying for those thoughtless coworkers, rude drivers, and ungodly "others" whom you find insufferable. It doesn't happen all at once, but it does happen. Gradually. Unnoticed. Deep down in your heart. Resolve today to give no place to negativity, and God's grace will abound.

"Holy Spirit, give me the gift of fortitude today so that I can fight the good fight of faith. Give me grace to love other people as Jesus loved me."

Psalm 100:1-5
John 1:43-51


The Holy Word spoke today: "This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood."
In the Divine Mercy Image of Our Lord Jesus, two rays of light are bursting forth from His Sacred Heart, one for blood and one for water. We must be born of blood and water...of His Sacred Heart. What is the water? The baptism for sure, what is the blood? Jesus spoke of a baptism of death, a glorifying with an outpouring of His Heart's Blood all over the earth.

Let us pray: "The Lord will bless his people with peace. The voice of the LORD is over the waters, the LORD, over vast waters." This voice spoke over the waters when time began and it came to be. What came to be? What He said, came to be. I was with my wife in Holy Adoration on the First Friday that just passed. I put my head down as we prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet in Holy Hour. Soon I felt a tear as I was immersed. Water. I was taken to a vast, enormously vast place as if outer space, how it feels so huge it is unexplained , it was very moving but I can't explain why. I tried to explain to my wife why when we parked at home before we got off the car. She had shaken me awake during my being swept away and I opened my eyes only to realize they were drenched in tears. I said "the vast void was the vastness He desired to fill". Do you understand?

In the Holy Gospel we heard: "I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." First water...then blood. From Bishop Barren today:
"Friends, on this feast of the Baptism of the Lord, let us meditate on John the Baptist. Young John, the son of the priest Zechariah, grew up in and around the Temple, acquainted with its rituals. And he sensed that the true Messiah was on the horizon. And so he went away from the old Temple, but he continued to act as a priest of a new Temple.

He was baptizing people. Why this ritual? Well, in the Jerusalem Temple, a pilgrim would cleanse himself in a mikvah, a ritual bath, before he entered to make sacrifice. John was acting as a priest, and the River Jordan was his mikvah. But what—or, better, who—was the new Temple? Jesus who came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John. The heavens were torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descended on him.

This is Temple talk. When the high priest entered into the holy of holies, he was entering into the heavenly realm. The holy of holies was the place where the "heavens were torn open" and a humble human being could enter. So the point is that Jesus is himself the new holy of holies."

The book of Revelation says "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea." and it lead me to read from Ezra3 on Temple Restoration: "They sang, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, saying, "For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever." And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 12Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.…"

The Heavens rejoiced to see this day when the Spirit of Elijah, the spirit of repentance and restoration came to earth once and for all, all in the spirit of Baptism...His baptism and yours. Now we must take on the Spiritual Baptism into the blood of glorifying God's baptism. Giving glory is giving sacrifice, because John the Baptist said "Behold the Lamb of God" who takes away the sins of the world. These words we hear at every Holy Mass. Jesus takes away sin. If want it taken away...just ask. I remember struggling very much with a dreaded sin in my life, I would say caused from my early childhood. I prayed all the time, sure, but not ...not really I guess. Until one point it got so bad, that I took it to the Lord. I knelt before the Blessed Sacrament, and I told the Lord "look, I am going to do this sin, I am so sorry" and I sobbed and I left. God knew how torn I was. And believe it or not, something happened. God heard my prayers of torn anguish, lamentations, and from that day forward, the sin disappeared from my life.

What's the point? The power of baptism is the point. Everything resolves around this point. Baptism has enabled a poor sinner to repent and to approach God. This is why the HEAVENS have rejoiced. So happy to see this day of life enter...the life of Heavens. The life where true love enters a body, a temple, a soul.

I know one thing is true my child, and this life is a testimony, you are reading things that will enable you to reach sanctity and sainthood. You have taken the time to engulf yourself with these rays of light from His Precious Heart. That's where everything has begun and will continue to fill the vastness of our hearts......



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