Friday, February 16, 2018

Taken Away From Them

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God Speaks through Everything

How does God speak? Through everything there is. Every thing, every person, every situation, is ultimately the Word. It tells me something and challenges me to respond. Each moment, with all that it contains, spells out the great "yes" in a new and unique way. By making my response, moment by moment, word by word, I myself am becoming the Word that God speaks in me and to me and through me.
—from the book The Way of Silence by Brother David Steindl-Rast
franciscan media


"You must accept your cross; if you bear it courageously it will carry you to Heaven."
— St. John Vianney
"In truth, if the earth and all it contains must one day disappear by fire, the goods of this world are no more to be esteemed than wood and straw. What point is there, then, in making them the object of our desires and cares? Why seek to build and leave marks of our genius and power where we have no permanent abode, and where the form of this world will be removed, like a tent that has no travelers to shelter? It may be said that it will be a thousand years before this frightening cataclysm takes place; but Christ has said that a thousand years are but an instant compared with eternity, and when the moment comes—when, from the land of the future life, we are the witnesses and actors in that supreme drama—the whole span of humanity will seem to short to us that we shall scarcely consider it to have lasted a single day … Christ tells us to meditate upon these great teachings, for it is certain that we shall be taken by surprise, and that the time will come sooner than we think."
— Father Charles Arminjon, p. 28
The End of the Present World
"So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory."
Colossians 3:1-4


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Saint Gilbert of Sempringham

(c. 1083 – February 4, 1189)
Gilbert was born in Sempringham, England, into a wealthy family, but he followed a path quite different from that expected of him as the son of a Norman knight. Sent to France for his higher education, he decided to pursue seminary studies.
He returned to England not yet ordained a priest, and inherited several estates from his father. But Gilbert avoided the easy life he could have led under the circumstances. Instead he lived a simple life at a parish, sharing as much as possible with the poor. Following his ordination to the priesthood he served as parish priest at Sempringham.
Among the congregation were seven young women who had expressed to him their desire to live in religious life. In response, Gilbert had a house built for them adjacent to the Church. There they lived an austere life, but one which attracted ever more numbers; eventually lay sisters and lay brothers were added to work the land. The religious order formed eventually became known as the Gilbertines, though Gilbert had hoped the Cistercians or some other existing order would take on the responsibility of establishing a rule of life for the new order. The Gilbertines, the only religious order of English origin founded during the Middle Ages, continued to thrive. But the order came to an end when King Henry VIII suppressed all Catholic monasteries.
Over the years a special custom grew up in the houses of the order called "the plate of the Lord Jesus." The best portions of the dinner were put on a special plate and shared with the poor, reflecting Gilbert's lifelong concern for less fortunate people.
Throughout his life, Gilbert lived simply, consumed little food, and spent a good portion of many nights in prayer. Despite the rigors of such a life he died at well over age 100.
When he came into his father's wealth, Gilbert could have lived a life of luxury, as many of his fellow priests did at the time. Instead, he chose to share his wealth with the poor. The charming habit of filling "the plate of the Lord Jesus" in the monasteries he established reflected his concern. Today's Operation Rice Bowl echoes that habit: eating a simpler meal and letting the difference in the grocery bill help feed the hungry.




Friday after Ash Wednesday

Reading 1 Is 58:1-9a

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my people their wickedness,
and the house of Jacob their sins.
They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask me to declare what is due them,
pleased to gain access to God.
"Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?"
Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
Responsorial Psalm Ps 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 18-19
R. (19b) A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
"Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight."
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

Verse Before the Gospel See Am 5:14

Seek good and not evil so that you may live,
and the Lord will be with you.

Gospel Mt 9:14-15

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
"Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?"
Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast."


Meditation: Isaiah 58:1-
Friday after Ash Wednesday
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish. (Isaiah 58:6)
"What are you doing for Lent?" It's a question you've probably been asked more than once this week. Many of us will answer with something like, "I'm giving up desserts—or chocolate or alcohol—and going to Stations of the Cross on Fridays." And we should. Giving up things for Lent helps us refocus our attention on the Lord. But there's another side to fasting that has to do with the way we relate to the people around us. Today's first reading shows us what this can look like.
In the reading, Isaiah makes it clear that the fasting God wants is to see yokes untied, bread shared with the hungry, and the homeless sheltered. He doesn't want us to turn our back on anyone. How is this kind of social awareness linked to fasting? Because denying ourselves something simple like dessert can help us become less attached to our own comfort and pleasure. And that kind of detachment can open our eyes to the needs of other people. It can also bring us to the point where we can put aside our comfort for the sake of reaching out to our brothers and sisters in need.
But there's more to fasting than giving up sweets. We can also fast from what we want to do. We can fast from those things we think we have a right to, like our free time. That kind of fast can free us up to join a group that makes sandwiches and gives them out to the hungry in a local park. Or if we give up our right to keep extra clothing, we could clear out our closet and send some good clothes—not just the old or outgrown ones—to people devastated by a natural disaster.
God is inviting you to learn more of his ways during Lent. So yes, deny your normal appetites and press in to know him more. Go without some treat or spend more time in prayer. But also extend yourself toward other people. Let the Lord use your fasting to free you up to serve. Your Lenten fast will start to find its expression in concrete, everyday actions that touch people around you.
"Father, help me to fast the way you want me to. Help me to bring your love to the people around me."
Psalm 51:3-6, 18-19
Matthew 9:14-15



We heard today about "...Sharing your bread with the hungry" in today's first Holy Scripture. Last night, I was talking with a friend in friendship group. It was just me and him. I explained to him that Jesus has to meet people where they are at. I can't be yelling from Church "get over here!" and they can't. They are stuck. They are in prison. They are disabled. They are so poor. They are...quite frankly un-able. This inability is a force to be reckoned with. How can I clothe the naked if I can not get myself to seeing them...naked.

How can I feed the hungry if I do not stop feeding myself first?
The prisoner will never come see you, or ask you to come see him.
Let us recall the words of GOD from Matthew:
…I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' And they too will reply, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' 45 Then the King will answer, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.'…
I was trying to explain to my wife the vision I had once of our Lord Jesus, it happened right before I awoke many years ago. I will not forget it. It is very hard to put into words. But his was out of this world. Every cell consisted of lights and strands of hair seem to be teaming with life flowing and seeing from far, now looking back, could seem like an edifice..Heaven?..God made of people. Indeed, Saul persecuted Christians, and Jesus appears asking Saul "why are you persecuting Me?"
Let us pray: "should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn." It is possible to do "good" deeds without love. All we do now for Lent then, must be with love and for love, because God is Love. And this is how love is...always waiting, always desiring, always hoping, and always calling. I can see God working in me in my attempt to be faithful. I call on people, text people, and I wait on people, I pray, and reach out, and more often than not, I am ignored...left alone, and abandoned, I lose friends in friendship group, lost to the world. The world I must compete with. The Blessed Sacrament is lonely, and my only consolation then is that I am one with our Lord in this desert. I cried a little bit to my brother "I prayed for a brother and you came into my life" and his reply was "me too". I have no blood brothers, but I am counting on my family in Heaven. And this brother is moving to another city within a year, and my heart trembles again....
In comes our Lord, the consoler, the provider: "The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast." For a prayer to be more loud, and heard better in Heaven, fasting is required. Your sufferings are heard more clearly. I like it when I heard that a moan, groan, in suffering is heard as prayer in Heaven. I remember most when I was in the hospital, I could barely think, with pills, with so much pain, I don't believe I felt like praying, I could barely think....but I Know God Heard. There was in prison this big rough looking fellow, like he had autism, and he took the microphone one time and said that he had a relative that had a baby that was born with leukemia, and because of it, they gave it up for adoption. He said his family took in the baby. At about age 6 or 7, the baby boy said to this prisoner "do you know what it is like to wake up every single day, to wake up to extreme pain all over, day after day?" The prisoner looked downcast and said "that is why in prison, I tell everyone my name is Alex, because that is the boy's name, I live my life as him...". In memory of him. These types of prayers are heard. Today, there are mournings, lamentations, innocent lives taken, they feel pain, their bodies are facing worse than animal cruelty. They are the unborn children. They are always on my mind and prayers. What's funny is how the news is making sensational (money) headlines with the shootings, but it is a wile of the devil. He has everyone looking over here, while over there it is getting away with murder. It is like when we used to hear of the most violent city in the world, Juarez a few years back. What, like 20 or 30 thousand people killed yearly? Out of violence? How about 2,500 thousand innocent PER DAY being killed in the U.S. alone? Oh yeah.
Fasting is needed. True sincere fasting for love of God's people. And Giving. Give to life centers, pregnancy centers, not abortion people. Give prayers, give of yourself, put yourself out there. It is all one really; praying, fasting, and giving, isn't it? Render to God what is God's.

Clothe the vulnerable with protection.
Feed the empty with Love.
Heal the world God created.
It is on you, and the time is now.
Take responsibility.
Praying with Saint Anthony
Jesus, you know how much we pride ourselves on
being "normal." Help us to see that the kingdom
of God you describe in the Scriptures is the only
real "normal."

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