Thursday, February 15, 2018

Whoever Wishes To Save

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A Meditation on the Cross

Grasping the secret of the cross is not something we do once and for all. Sometimes we grasp it, and we are inside the circle of understanding; and sometimes we don't grasp it, and we are outside the circle of understanding.

For example, after Peter denies Jesus during the passion, the Gospels tell us that "Peter went outside." They are referring to much more than simply stepping outside through some courtyard door. Peter was stepping outside the circle of both true discipleship and of a true understanding of life. His denial of Jesus took him "outside." We too, in our following of Jesus, sometimes step "outside" when we give in to temptation or adversity. But then, if we repent, like Peter, we can step back "inside."

—from the book The Passion and the Cross by Ronald Rolheiser
franciscan media


"What was the first rule of our dear Savior's life? You know it was to do His Father's will. Well, then, the first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly to do it in the manner He wills; and thirdly, to do it because it is His will."
— St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

"Winnow not in every wind, and do not start off in every direction (Sirach 5:11). It is essential to discern what the Spirit wants when we are making important choices in our lives. Through prayer, fasting, spiritual reading, spiritual advice, discernment of signs, sorting out our hidden motivations, etc., we develop a sense of what God wants of us."
— Rev. Jude Winkler, O.F.M., p 13
Daily Meditations with the Holy Spirit

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
1 Peter 1:3-5


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St. Claude de la Colombiere (1641-1682) was born to a noble family in France and became a Jesuit priest. He was known for his solid and serious sermons and his dedication to observing the rule of his order with exactness. He became the rector of a Jesuit house next to the Monastery of the Visitation where St. Margaret Mary Alacoque lived, who was given special revelations from Jesus of His Sacred Heart. Claude became St. Margaret Mary's spiritual director, and, like her, became a zealous promoter of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1676 he was sent to England to attend the wife of the future King James II, serving at court as preacher and confessor. When anti-Catholic persecutions broke out, Claude was falsely accused of being involved in a 'papist plot' and was thrown into prison. While there his health suffered due to mistreatment. He was preserved from execution and instead banished from England by royal decree. He returned to his native France, where his fragile health continued to deteriorate until he died a few years later. The day after his death, St. Margaret Mary received supernatural assurance that he needed no prayers, as he was already in heaven. His feast day is February 15.
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Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Reading 1 Dt 30:15-20

Moses said to the people:
"Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin on you today,
loving him, and walking in his ways,
and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees,
you will live and grow numerous,
and the LORD, your God,
will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen,
but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,
I tell you now that you will certainly perish;
you will not have a long life
on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you,
a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore
he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6
R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Verse Before the Gospel MT 4:17

Repent, says the Lord;
the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Gospel Lk 9:22-25

Jesus said to his disciples:
"The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised."

Then he said to all,
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?"


Meditation: Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Moses had it right. We face choices every day. Every day gives us another opportunity to commit ourselves to the Lord and to find the life that he promises us. Many of us made Lenten resolutions yesterday, and the best way to keep them is by making these choices.

Moses' words can give us a framework for these daily choices. He tells us that we can choose life by "loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him" (Deuteronomy 30:20).

• Loving the Lord. This seems easy enough, but we might skip over this one because it can also feel vague. Let's make it more practical. You can decide to love God by spending time with him in prayer every day. Thank him for his mercy. Tell him that you love him. Ask him for his grace. You can also love God by loving your family. Choose to turn off the TV or to put down your phone so that you can spend time with your family.

• Heeding his voice. The Hebrew Scriptures don't have a word for "obey." Instead, they talk about "heeding" the Lord's voice. They talk about listening carefully to his word, internalizing it, and putting it into practice. How can you do that today? You might try slowly rereading today's Scripture passages and asking God to give you a personal message through them. Or you might feel him nudging you to contact an old friend or to help out a neighbor. Go ahead and follow through, and see how God blesses that choice.

• Holding fast to him. You might find yourself today feeling lonely or frustrated or wondering if God is with you. That's the time to cling to the Lord. Remind yourself of his promise to never abandon you. If you're struggling with temptation, decide to affirm your love for God and his love for you. Choose to stand firm in your commitment to him.

Every day this Lent, try to make a little headway in your choice to follow God. Don't be surprised, if you do, to find yourself feeling closer to the Lord. Don't be surprised to feel his life and his love more deeply in your heart.

"Lord, help me to see each choice as an opportunity to honor you. Help me to choose life!"

Psalm 1:1-4, 6
Luke 9:22-25


"I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.
Choose life". God tells us to choose Life, choose Him. But the option of death is there too. And it is enticing. An easy way. Enticing and tempting. Sin leads to death. An eternal death. You could be doing so many good things, and then mortally wound yourself, fooling yourself, saying "God knows all the good I've done". Not so. You can negate everything by one day choosing death, mortal sin. Mainstream Protestantism will not agree, but they do not hold the whole truth in the teachings of Christ. That is why in protestations they are now inline with death, abortions, and homosexuality all things against life. We hold the truth...Choose Life.

Let us pray: " Blessed are they who hope in the Lord. Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent, But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night." Blessed are they who....Choose Life. Now let us turn to Life and His Holy Words as He walked this earth.

"The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected....
Then he said to all,
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
The world teaches you that you do not have to suffer. Jesus said He must suffer. I do not know one soul that does not suffer. The world teaches you that you should not be rejected no matter what you believe...this is a hidden lie insinuating to accept evil. The world teaches that you should not "judge" and so wants you to hush, for evil to be accepted. The world exploits the innocent and puts on an altar...evil. Just look at what shows on the news and media, look at how gun-shootings are glorified and showed over and over, and homosexual agendas are glorified. LOOK!

But, take heart...we are not of this world.
You will not hear the words of Jesus on the media or news "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." No, and why? Because, that is bad news. Here, you will hear Good News. Jesus is leading us these 40 days. Jesus is with us on this journey of sacrifice. Ooops, said another anti-world word, self-sacrifice. I mentioned to you that prior to the prison retreat, we were being haunted, harassed by an ex-worker. After sending the reading, I noticed I did not say the ex-worker is actually in prison, calling from various cell phones and texting the boss with cries, threats, and non stop calling. And now, I was called to serve in a prison retreat? Do you think I was jumping up and down to do so? No. But, this is a cross. To let yourself be carried by our Father where you do not want to go, to do what you do not want to do. Deny yourself. You are denying yourself in fasting and abstinence, right? Sacrificing. But hold up. Sacrifice YOURSELF. Huh? Yeah, for lent, be a saint. Be made Holy. Reconcile and live a whole new life. Try this role for 40 days. See if you can love better than your neighbor. See if you can do what you normally can't or won't do. I read today in a spanish reflection "They tell of Saint Teresa of Calcutta that, on one occasion, someone, admiring her service to the least, told her: "I would not do it for all the money in the world", to which she replied: "and neither would I."
It is gratuitous, a gracious gift of self.
Some people think the burdens they suffer are their cross. Well, let's cleat the muddy waters: It is a cross if suffered for God, not for self. There's something wrong in the world that we replace God with ourselves. It is obvious, and was the fall of Lucifer, and brought the fall of Eve and Adam. To put yourself equal. To not have to obey. To not have to carry a cross. A burden of Love.

"...whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."
Why do I write daily? I'm losing myself, my life for Him. Daily. Yet, with that loss we gain Heaven. It costs something to gain something. Protestants despise this notion and have added to the bible one word "alone", faith 'alone" they wrote. Alone? No. It costs losing your life to gain. Jesus shows works, great acts of love. He fasted. We fast. He abstained, we abstain. He was slaughtered by the world and we.......

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