Are you feeling restless? Do you thirst for God? Do you long to develop a deeper more meaningful relationship with Christ? Try looking into the faces of the people you meet each day. They are God's instruments, holy messengers of God's truth and compassion. They will teach you what it means to be a follower of Christ. Through them you will come to understand the beautiful relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
—from the book Created to Relate: God's Design for Peace and Joy by Kelly M. Wahlquist
"If a tiny spark of God's love already burns within you, do not expose it to the wind, for it may get blown out… Stay quiet with God. Do not spend your time in useless chatter… Do not give yourself to others so completely that you have nothing left for yourself."
— St. Charles Borromeo
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"A spiritual Communion acts on the soul as blowing does on a cinder-covered fire which was about to go out. Whenever you feel your love of God growing cold, quickly make a spiritual Communion.' 'Quickly!' There's a sense of urgency here. The saints are trying to tell us that we should not limit our union with Christ in the Eucharist to sacramental Communion once a week, or even once a day. We need Christ's living presence in our lives moment-by-moment to nourish us and protect us from sin, so we need to renew our union with Him regularly, especially any time we feel ourselves drifting away. Christ is not merely present in the Eucharist during Mass! The Eucharist is an ongoing fulfillment of Christ's Gospel promise to remain with us: 'Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age' (Mt. 28:20)."
— Vinny Flynn, p. 98-9
AN EXCERPT FROM
7 Secrets of the Eucharist
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY
"I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, so I shall be saved from my enemies."
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Saint Josephine Bakhita
(c. 1869 – February 8, 1947)
For many years, Josephine Bakhita was a slave but her spirit was always free and eventually that spirit prevailed.
Born in Olgossa in the Darfur region of southern Sudan, Josephine was kidnapped at the age of 7, sold into slavery and given the name Bakhita, which means fortunate. She was resold several times, finally in 1883 to Callisto Legnani, Italian consul in Khartoum, Sudan.
Two years later, he took Josephine to Italy and gave her to his friend Augusto Michieli. Bakhita became babysitter to Mimmina Michieli, whom she accompanied to Venice's Institute of the Catechumens, run by the Canossian Sisters. While Mimmina was being instructed, Josephine felt drawn to the Catholic Church. She was baptized and confirmed in 1890, taking the name Josephine.
When the Michielis returned from Africa and wanted to take Mimmina and Josephine back with them, the future saint refused to go. During the ensuing court case, the Canossian Sisters and the patriarch of Venice intervened on Josephine's behalf. The judge concluded that since slavery was illegal in Italy, she had actually been free since 1885.
Josephine entered the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa in 1893 and made her profession three years later. In 1902, she was transferred to the city of Schio (northeast of Verona), where she assisted her religious community through cooking, sewing, embroidery, and welcoming visitors at the door. She soon became well loved by the children attending the sisters' school and the local citizens. She once said, "Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him. What a great grace it is to know God!"
The first steps toward her beatification began in 1959. She was beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later.
Josephine's body was mutilated by those who enslaved her, but they could not touch her spirit. Her Baptism set her on an eventual path toward asserting her civic freedom and then service to God's people as a Canossian Sister.
She who worked under many "masters" was finally happy to address God as "master" and carry out everything that she believed to be God's will for her.
Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 1 Kgs 11:4-13
When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods,
and his heart was not entirely with the LORD, his God,
as the heart of his father David had been.
By adoring Astarte, the goddess of the Sidonians,
and Milcom, the idol of the Ammonites,
Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD;
he did not follow him unreservedly as his father David had done.
Solomon then built a high place to Chemosh, the idol of Moab,
and to Molech, the idol of the Ammonites,
on the hill opposite Jerusalem.
He did the same for all his foreign wives
who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.
The LORD, therefore, became angry with Solomon,
because his heart was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel,
who had appeared to him twice
(for though the LORD had forbidden him
this very act of following strange gods,
Solomon had not obeyed him).
So the LORD said to Solomon: "Since this is what you want,
and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes
which I enjoined on you,
I will deprive you of the kingdom and give it to your servant.
I will not do this during your lifetime, however,
for the sake of your father David;
it is your son whom I will deprive.
Nor will I take away the whole kingdom.
I will leave your son one tribe for the sake of my servant David
and of Jerusalem, which I have chosen."
Responsorial Psalm PS 106:3-4, 35-36, 37 and 40
R. (4a) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Blessed are they who observe what is right,
who do always what is just.
Remember us, O LORD, as you favor your people;
visit us with your saving help.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
But they mingled with the nations
and learned their works.
They served their idols,
which became a snare for them.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to demons.
And the LORD grew angry with his people,
and abhorred his inheritance.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Alleluia Jas 1:21bc
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 7:24-30
Jesus went to the district of Tyre.
He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it,
but he could not escape notice.
Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him.
She came and fell at his feet.
The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth,
and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter.
He said to her, "Let the children be fed first.
For it is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs."
She replied and said to him,
"Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children's scraps."
Then he said to her, "For saying this, you may go.
The demon has gone out of your daughter."
When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed
and the demon gone.
Meditation: Mark 7:24-30
Saint Jerome Emiliani (Optional Memorial)
She begged him. (Mark 7:26)
Some of the most emotionally powerful stories in the New Testament feature a parent begging Jesus to touch their child. From the little girl who was raised from the dead to the epileptic boy, these miracles all took place because parents pushed through the crowd on their child's behalf.
The Syrophoenician woman in today's Gospel reading is another example of a persistent parent who sought out Jesus, even when he seemed to want to be left alone. She pressed Jesus to heal her daughter. Even when he initially refused her request, she didn't give up. She asked again, until Jesus relented and restored the girl.
Since New Testament times, parental guidance and prayers have made all the difference in the lives of countless saints. St. Monica spent years praying for her wayward son, Augustine, before she finally saw her prayers answered in his conversion. He went on to become one of the great early church fathers. More recently, Louis and Zelie Martin prayed constantly that all of their children would become saints. Several of their children joined religious life, and their youngest is one of our most beloved saints: Thérèse of Lisieux.
Many of us have been influenced by the prayers of our parents. And even if you never knew your parents or if your relationship is not what it could be, you can be sure that you have spiritual parents and brothers and sisters praying for you along the way. Not only do you have your guardian angel, but you also have saints who can relate to your challenges and who are praying for you. Like the Syrophoenician woman, they are wonderfully persistent in their intercession. It's almost as if they won't take no for an answer, even if the answer came in an unexpected way
Let's thank the Lord for our biological and spiritual family members who have prayed for us and mentored us over the years. You may not know everything about them, and you may not even know who they are, but they have made a difference in your life. Thank the Lord for these prayer warriors. Their persistent prayers have made you the person you are today.
"Lord, thank you for giving us people who persistently pray for us."
1 Kings 11:4-13
Psalm 106:3-4, 35-37, 40
From the first Holy Scripture we read, and hopefully understand what it means when "...Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods,
and his heart was not entirely with the LORD, his God...". As I was reading the Holy Scripture, I wondered, what if those gods had a good intent, and so it was easy to deviate, and so I looked up one, "Molech". The name itself is a mixture of things, and not entirely clear, but, it seems as though this was a huge god, like Baal, a big deal, one people paid tribute to, and went to as a sign and sacrifice for what they wanted. It is said that the name could be interpreted in one way as ""the personified ruler of shameful sacrifice. Ashtoreth was his consort, and ritual prostitution was considered an important form of worship." (Fornication/Adultery). But that's not all, the people sacrificed their first born to this god. And the structure of the idol/god was of a giant with the head of a bull, and the baby was placed on its hand or whole in the belly and would be passed through fire. And what would the family supposedly get in return? "They believed that Moloch would ensure financial prosperity for the family and future children." I would like to declare that Molech still exists, and this day it is called Planned Parenthood. Here babies are burned with chemicals. They are dismembered, torn to pieces and thrown away or sold as slaves were. For what? People can't "afford" another baby. So the same reason as thousands of years ago. One's own interest. It is a shameful sacrifice. And the Lord saw this, and the wisest of kings in the world was now the folly, fooled by the world and its lures. But let's not look at them with disdain. We too can be offering a "shameful sacrifice" this day to the Lord. It is called infidelity, with our spouse who is Holy Jesus, if the bride is to be the Holy Church.
Let us pray: "Blessed are they who observe what is right, who do always what is just. Remember us, O LORD, as you favor your people; visit us with your saving help." To do what is just is right, and pleasing to God. Just means then, purity, and holiness. Not justice as we see, but JUST, as He desires. What if that is what God derives from us...the fruit of JUST. Can we provide this to Him? A just sacrifice?
In the Holy Gospel, our Lord tries to take a break from being noticed, but God can not hide in the world, it is not easy. He is so bright, so good, that he can be tracked easily, His footsteps leave behind bright lights, holy souls. So she wants this. The mother of the daughter possessed with a demon at home. The daughter perhaps can't get out of bed, the demon won't let her. She, therefore, can not get out of her home. She is snared. Snares happen when sin happens. So the mother runs to save her daughter. To save her, she leaves her. She seeks the light of salvation. A demon has taken her and wants to kill her, her daughter. How many of us have wayward children and run from them and seek salvation? I dare say, not too many. Why do I say this ? Because, wayward children are snared and stay at home in bed instead of going to church. It is the biggest challenge of a catechist, to have children come to church class, and to send them home to a place that don't care. Sending them home to traps. Traps of souls. It is heart-breaking. "Tell your mommy to bring you to church on Sunday" I would tell my little students. One little boy would walk to church because his parents would not, due to laziness or work or both. So admirable, to see a little boy cross the streets to get to church. Yesterday his dad quit at the job we gave him at work, found a better paying job. Good for him. And I worried "I hope the job does not interfere with faith", because his little one looks up to him for a sign of faith...light.
Can you see demonic forces at work? They say the government is corrupt in Mexico. Everyone says it and sees it, they say. And I say it is the same in our country, except it is not easily seen, people serving their own interests. Why do I say this? The bible is not a history book. It is a theological book of our relationship with God, where we came from and where we are going, our souls, and bodies to boot! Take a look at a picture of today's saint "Bakhita". Today, her body is incorrupt. Her face says "I am awaiting my prince, my love, my salvation, and I am so happy in love". She said in life "I have given everything to my Master: He will take care of me… " And she gave her whole life. It is a testament of the Word in deed. Back to governments over the last several decades; I say this because in the old testament, you could see (like Mexico) the obvious corruption, false gods and idols. In the New Testament, you can not see the false gods and idols, but they are here. Demons at work.
I want you to be able to see these evil spirits at work. It comes by grace, that you can see. Therefore, if today's lady praying for her daughter, was asking for anything for her daughter, it was saving grace, the grace of God, and as beautiful Benedict Groeschel (Lord rest his soul) he said "grace is derived from the word "free". It is a free gift to those disposed to it.
My family, grace is availed in the Holy Sacraments in our Holy Catholic faith. Grace will allow you to see evil spirits keeping us away, divorced from God.
Grace is enough to propel the world. It was poured out on the cross. Love dripped from God's heart.
"If you only knew...."