Friday, January 19, 2018

They Came To Him....

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Union with God

By loving his children, the pilgrims, and all those who approached him, Padre Pio united himself more intimately with God. Those who were rehabilitated by Padre Pio's union with eternal love could not be amorphous creatures; they had to be dynamic. Padre Pio's spiritual children could be distinguished from other Catholics by their spirit of altruism, by their disposition to righteousness, by their public and private prayers, by their sacri´Čüces which were known only to God, by their professional honesty, by their serenity and wholesome joy.

—from the book Padre Pio: A Personal Portrait by Fr. Francesco Napolitano
franciscan media


"The life of the body is the soul; the life of the soul is God."
– St. Anthony of Padua

"Francis [de Sales] insists that true devotion must touch every area of our life. True devotion is not just a matter of spiritual practices but of bringing all our life under the lordship of Christ. Francis is known for his slogan: 'Live, Jesus! Live, Jesus!' What he means by this is an invitation to Jesus to 'live and reign in our hearts forever and ever' . . . In other words, for Francis, to live the devout life is to reach the point in our love for God and neighbor that we eagerly ('carefully, frequently, and promptly') desire to do His will in all the various ways in which it is communicated to us: in the duties of our state in life, in the objective teaching of God's Word, in opportunities and occasions presented to us, in response to our interior inspirations."
— Ralph Martin, p. 107
Fulfillment of All Desire

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
Micah 6:8


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Saint Fabian

(c. 200 – January 20, 250)

Fabian was a Roman layman who came into the city from his farm one day as clergy and people were preparing to elect a new pope. Eusebius, a Church historian, says a dove flew in and settled on the head of Fabian. This sign united the votes of clergy and laity, and he was chosen unanimously.

He led the Church for 14 years and died a martyr's death during the persecution of Decius in 250 A.D. Saint Cyprian wrote to his successor that Fabian was an "incomparable" man whose glory in death matched the holiness and purity of his life.

In the catacombs of Saint Callistus, the stone that covered Fabian's grave may still be seen, broken into four pieces, bearing the Greek words, "Fabian, bishop, martyr."

We can go confidently into the future and accept the change that growth demands only if we have firm roots in the past, in a living tradition. A few pieces of stone in Rome are a reminder to us that we are bearers of more than 20 centuries of a living tradition of faith and courage in living the life of Christ and showing it to the world. We have brothers and sisters who have "gone before us with the sign of faith," as the First Eucharistic Prayer puts it, to light the way for us.


Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 1 Sm 24:3-21

Saul took three thousand picked men from all Israel
and went in search of David and his men
in the direction of the wild goat crags.
When he came to the sheepfolds along the way, he found a cave,
which he entered to relieve himself.
David and his men were occupying the inmost recesses of the cave.

David's servants said to him,
"This is the day of which the LORD said to you,
'I will deliver your enemy into your grasp;
do with him as you see fit.'"
So David moved up and stealthily cut off an end of Saul's mantle.
Afterward, however, David regretted that he had cut off
an end of Saul's mantle.
He said to his men,
"The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master,
the LORD's anointed, as to lay a hand on him,
for he is the LORD's anointed."
With these words David restrained his men
and would not permit them to attack Saul.
Saul then left the cave and went on his way.
David also stepped out of the cave, calling to Saul,
"My lord the king!"
When Saul looked back, David bowed to the ground in homage and asked Saul:
"Why do you listen to those who say,
'David is trying to harm you'?
You see for yourself today that the LORD just now delivered you
into my grasp in the cave.
I had some thought of killing you, but I took pity on you instead.
I decided, 'I will not raise a hand against my lord,
for he is the LORD's anointed and a father to me.'
Look here at this end of your mantle which I hold.
Since I cut off an end of your mantle and did not kill you,
see and be convinced that I plan no harm and no rebellion.
I have done you no wrong,
though you are hunting me down to take my life.
The LORD will judge between me and you,
and the LORD will exact justice from you in my case.
I shall not touch you.
The old proverb says, 'From the wicked comes forth wickedness.'
So I will take no action against you.
Against whom are you on campaign, O king of Israel?
Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog, or a single flea!
The LORD will be the judge; he will decide between me and you.
May he see this, and take my part,
and grant me justice beyond your reach!"
When David finished saying these things to Saul, Saul answered,
"Is that your voice, my son David?"
And Saul wept aloud.
Saul then said to David: "You are in the right rather than I;
you have treated me generously, while I have done you harm.
Great is the generosity you showed me today,
when the LORD delivered me into your grasp
and you did not kill me.
For if a man meets his enemy, does he send him away unharmed?
May the LORD reward you generously for what you have done this day.
And now, I know that you shall surely be king
and that sovereignty over Israel shall come into your possession."

Responsorial Psalm PS 57:2, 3-4, 6 and 11
R. (2a) Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.
Have mercy on me, O God; have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
In the shadow of your wings I take refuge,
till harm pass by.
R. Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.
I call to God the Most High,
to God, my benefactor.
May he send from heaven and save me;
may he make those a reproach who trample upon me;
may God send his mercy and his faithfulness.
R. Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
above all the earth be your glory!
For your mercy towers to the heavens,
and your faithfulness to the skies.
R. Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.

Alleluia 2 Cor 5:19
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 3:13-19

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted
and they came to him.
He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles,
that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach
and to have authority to drive out demons:
He appointed the Twelve:
Simon, whom he named Peter;
James, son of Zebedee,
and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges,
that is, sons of thunder;
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus;
Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean,
and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.


Meditation: Mark 3:13-19

. . . sons of thunder. (Mark 3:17)

Has anyone ever given you a nickname? Maybe your mother used to call you Sweetheart or Buddy. Maybe your speed and agility led teammates to call you Flash or Arrow. Nicknames like these can be descriptive and sometimes humorous. But they also show closeness and affection. When someone gives you a nickname, they are saying not only how well they know you but how much they like you as well.

Today we read that Jesus had a nickname for James and John: "Sons of Thunder" (Mark 3:17). He may have chosen this name to affirm their zeal for his kingdom or he may have been referring to their quick temper (Luke 9:54). Either way, we can see both in these verses and throughout the gospels that Jesus had a great deal of affection for these two brothers. He knew them well and loved them completely, warts and all.

Jesus knows us fully too. He sees our strengths and love for him along with our weaknesses and shortcomings. But he also sees how our checkered attributes might bear fruit for the kingdom of God. And above all else, he loves us. Unconditionally.

It's not always easy to see the big picture. Sometimes we overlook our flaws and emphasize our strengths, but more often, we focus on our weaknesses and feel inadequate. We allow our faults to obscure our potential. We miss the goodness that God has placed in us and dismiss our capacity for holiness.

What nickname do you think Jesus has for you? Maybe it's Smiley, because of your cheerful nature. Or maybe he calls you Steady Eddy, in honor of your faithfulness. Or maybe he calls you Pokey because of your tendency to overthink a situation before taking action. Let this nickname highlight what is good and holy in you, even as it speaks of God's affection for you. Ponder what strengths he has given you and how he might use them. And laugh a little when you realize that, like James and John, you still need some refining. Don't worry—the same God who worked patiently with the Sons of Thunder will work in you.

"Jesus, thank you for loving me. Use me to build your kingdom."

1 Samuel 24:3-21
Psalm 57:2-4, 6, 11


The King cried out: ""Is that your voice, my son David?" Is that the true son of God chosen to be King? Is to my ears, that you have plans for life, not death, plans to prosper and not wither away? Then you shall be King for being mercy.

Let's pray: "Have mercy on me, O God; have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. In the shadow of your wings I take refuge, till harm pass by." I want to receive mercy, therefore, I have to dish out mercy. Jesus gives mercy, dishes it out, serves it to whomever desires. The atrocity of our one desires mercy, or not as much as we should. Mercy is a transforming grace. Mercy is more abundant than we care to imagine. Mercy is on His elect, but also for those desiring table scraps of mercy, morsels of mercy.

In the holy Gospel, our Lord chooses His disciples. 12 disciples as there are 12 months in the year. 12 including the traitor. Isn't that crazy that God even chose a traitor? He chose His mother. He chose who to heal. He chose a traitor. The all knowing, omniscient God of the universe, chose. Two of them He calls " sons of thunder ". These boisterous men one day asked the Lord "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" because they had been rejected by the people. The Lord rebuked them. He didn't choose perfect people, but these disciples were perfectly His. Who do you identify with today? Peter, the one who denied Christ...but repented? How about those wanting to kick others in the rear end for refusing God? How about the one who completely turns away like Judas? Or, how about the beloved Disciple, just so smothered as a little loved brother of God? This one remained firm til the end and God gave Him His mother..."Behold thy mother" from the cross. From that day forth he took her into his home...where the heart is. These 12, one replaced, stand as sentinels in the hereafter, pillars for the tests of time. All but one were said by tradition, to have been martyred. Most of the first Popes were martyred. Perfectly His. Today, the devil seeks another type of attack, and it is ever so soft and disguised in a false love. The love of this and that, and be so merciful that you do not correct one living in sin, and pass laws to admit sin to be the "way" of life. This is a direct contradiction, sin must not win. If Jesus came it was to open wide the doors to Heaven. The evil one sees to it that people do not see them wide open. Mercy.

I want you to realize one important fact: mercy pervades and prevails. Evil is relentless, from the moment you wake up it wants to disrupt and distract. It has been a scandal for the last few decades, a horrible distraction, begun with a revolution aimed to dissuade people from seeing the doors of mercy. I look to our youth, and I see them immensely distracted. What are they staring at on their phones? What is pulling at their hearts? What messages are they being fed? I try to shelter my children, and yet, suddenly I realize, they know...they know these worldly songs and dances, and lyrics that sing of worldly things. Last night, at prayer time, we discussed the 10 commandments. "What is adultery" they asked. Ahh. The world hadn't taught them that word. Interesting. I said: "Adultery is being unfaithful" firstly to God.
Someone told me "Adrian, I have been faithful now to my wife for about a year...and I'm happier now, more at peace, and even the doctor says I'm healthier". You see, unfaithfulness brings death, the wages of sin. I told him a secret I've not told a soul, not even in friendship group reunions "I once was praying the rosary with my blessed rosary that has a relic of dirt in the martyr's tombs, and I whipped my chest, because temptations were brewing inside. You have to whip this body, you have to train your body, because most of the time it wants to do what is not good....for the soul". It is easier to drop ministries. It is easier not to pray. It is easier to not go to Church. It is easier to say excuses. And I see loved ones fall left and right. And the temptation to fall like them hits me, "maybe giving up is just easier".

In our last ultreya (a gathering of group reunions of Cursillistas), very poorly attended, we were eating together, a few chosen, and my wife brings me a picture of an older brother named Jesse (Jesus) that I had lived my Cursillo with back in 2004. I knew exactly where that picture was from, a "cursillo on cursillos" with the National Director in Dallas a few years ago. He had a jovial smile and a boisterous character. In my head, whence laying my eyes on the picture I prayed "Jesse, pray for us". And I told everyone the story of Jesse and me; we were growing in group reunion numbers and even started an ultreya in our town. But the numbers dwindled, and suddenly it was just me and him, alone, sitting at the doors of the church, he shook his head, "I don't know what to do but to just give up". Perplexed, I looked at him, and he never let me forget the following words I said to him gazing into his eyes "But Jesse....We're Not Allowed To Give Up!". From that day forth, no matter where we went together, He would tell that story over and over. Until he died, in a rollover accident.

Today, you have been chosen to read these words of faithfulness. Perfection only comes in the next life that starts now, purity, purgation. Willing or not. Submissive or not. Surrendered or not. Better to be willing. Willing to say yes. Willing to be persistent in being a "mercy lover". Many eyes are looking away from their smartphones and tablets and computers for a glimpse of hope. Hope in truth, in tradition, and transformation. You can be that hope. You can lead us to that hope of mercy and salvation. You can when you lead a life of faithfulness. You have what it takes because God said so. Train yourself, deny yourself, whip yourself into submission for the Lord. The world tells you not to fast, not to starve, not to hurt yourself, but when it is for is not about you....but about the whole world. So that you may be mercy....that what you partake and adore and love and will be....



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