Monday, February 19, 2018

Did We See You.....

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Indebted to God

God of life, we are grateful for the many gifts that you have given to us. May we become prudent stewards of your many gifts and not thoughtlessly waste water, food, and other resources. May we respond to your Son's cry of thirst with lives of peacemaking and just action. We make his prayer in your name. Amen.

—from The Last Words of Jesus: A Meditation on Love and Suffering by Daniel P. Horan, OFM
franciscan media


"We shall steer safely through every storm, so long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God."
— St. Francis de Sales

"And so the idea of peace came down to do the work of peace: The Word was made flesh and even now dwells among us. It is by faith that he dwells in our hearts, in our memory, our intellect and penetrates even into our imagination. What concept could man have of God if he did not first fashion an image of him in his heart? By nature incomprehensible and inaccessible, he was invisible and unthinkable, but now he wished to be understood, to be seen and thought of. But how, you ask, was this done? He lay in a manger and rested on a virgin's breast, preached on a mountain, and spent the night in prayer. He hung on a cross, grew pale in death, and roamed free among the dead and ruled over those in hell. He rose again on the third day, and showed the apostles the wounds of the nails, the signs of victory; and finally in their presence he ascended to the sanctuary of heaven. How can we not contemplate this story in truth, piety and holiness?"
— St. Bernard, p. 186
Witness of the Saints

"Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me abide in your tent forever, find refuge under the shelter of your wings."
Psalm 61:1-4


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Saint Conrad of Piacenza

(c. 1290 – February 19, 1351)

Born of a noble family in northern Italy, Conrad as a young man married Euphrosyne, daughter of a nobleman.

One day while hunting he ordered attendants to set fire to some brush in order to flush out the game. The fire spread to nearby fields and to a large forest. Conrad fled. An innocent peasant was imprisoned, tortured to confess, and condemned to death. Conrad confessed his guilt, saved the man's life, and paid for the damaged property.

Soon after this event, Conrad and his wife agreed to separate: she to a Poor Clare monastery and he to a group of hermits following the Third Order Rule. His reputation for holiness, however, spread quickly. Since his many visitors destroyed his solitude, Conrad went to a more remote spot in Sicily where he lived 36 years as a hermit, praying for himself and for the rest of the world.

Prayer and penance were his answer to the temptations that beset him. Conrad died kneeling before a crucifix. He was canonized in 1625.

Francis of Assisi was drawn both to contemplation and to a life of preaching; periods of intense prayer nourished his preaching. Some of his early followers, however, felt called to a life of greater contemplation, and he accepted that. Though Conrad of Piacenza is not the norm in the Church, he and other contemplatives remind us of the greatness of God and of the joys of heaven.


Monday of the First Week of Lent

Reading 1 Lv 19:1-2, 11-18

The LORD said to Moses,
"Speak to the whole assembly of the children of Israel and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.

"You shall not steal.
You shall not lie or speak falsely to one another.
You shall not swear falsely by my name,
thus profaning the name of your God.
I am the LORD.

"You shall not defraud or rob your neighbor.
You shall not withhold overnight the wages of your day laborer.
You shall not curse the deaf,
or put a stumbling block in front of the blind,
but you shall fear your God.
I am the LORD.

"You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment.
Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty,
but judge your fellow men justly.
You shall not go about spreading slander among your kin;
nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor's life is at stake.
I am the LORD.

"You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove him,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 15
R. (John 6:63b) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart.
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Verse Before the Gospel 2 Cor 6:2b
Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Gospel Mt 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left,
'Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
Then they will answer and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?'
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.'
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life."


Meditation: Matthew 25:31-46

1st Week of Lent

Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:40)

Imagine seeing Jesus as he shivers in the cold. You have an extra coat in the car, so you pull over, step out of your car, and hand Jesus the coat. You help him put it on, and he looks back at you, smiles, and says, "Thank you." What an honor that would be!

It's not always that easy, however. Sometimes we struggle to care for people in need because they do not "look like" the Lord. Sometimes people don't respond to our efforts with gratitude. In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us that whether people look and act like Jesus or not, "these least brothers" are the very people God calls us to love (Matthew 25:40). In fact, Jesus identifies with them so closely that he promises eternal life to those who care for the sick, the hungry, and the prisoners. By using these extreme examples, Jesus proclaims the great dignity of every person and gives us the foundation for every act of justice.

Every person, no matter how weak or strong, poor or rich, has immeasurable value to God. Simply because we are created in God's image and likeness, we all possess the dignity and goodness of the One who made us. That's why whatever we do for each other, we do for him. And that's why we need to view everyone from God's point of view—one of value and esteem. He loves everyone, even people who don't look worthy or holy or resemble Jesus at all. Even they deserve love and respect. And that's very good news, because aren't we all the "least" worthy at times?

Today you will encounter many different people. You may find it easy to recognize the presence of Jesus in some. With others, perhaps with the "least" impressive, you may struggle to see their dignity. At times you may even doubt your own worth. But God always sees what is good in his children. He sees every one of us with the unflagging affection of a devoted parent. Even the "least" of us. Even you.

"Father, thank you for your love. Give me eyes to see your presence in all your children. Help me to treat them with the tenderness you show me."

Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18
Psalm 19:8-10, 15



Our Lord gives commandments today, right? And how did they start? "Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy." Wow. Why isn't it explicitly written when we read the 10 commandments? It is. Once accomplished, they are designed to keep you holy...wholly His. Saint Basil said this of the commandments we all think that we don't break: ""When someone steals another's clothes, we call them a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor." How is our holiness going to show if it doesn't? How is God going to see our sacrifice of love if there is none? We need to learn to give until it hurts. Discipline takes concerted effort. If you have no time to hit the gym, you have to make it happen, right? Same thing in the things of God. We should be DOERS of the Word.

Let us pray: "Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever". Fear of the Lord is a wonderful gift of God. Fear is being childlike, with huge eyes of amazement, and honor. The kind that follows the Father because He is the greatest of all people, of all things, because He is everything and everything. This kind of faith hangs on His every word and follows to a T. Adding nothing and taking nothing to His precepts, because "The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart.
The command of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eye."

In the Holy Gospel, our Lord speaks " 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.'" These are words affecting everlasting life. In Matthew 10:42, our Lord says ""And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." Whoa, whoa, wait, wait there just a minute; didn't He say earlier "I was thirsty and you gave me no drink"? What, so the disciples are Jesus now too? Uh...yeah. The body of Christ, especially His ordained priests, bishops, and deacons, all who are faithful in laity as well, meaning all of us in this Holiness, and guess who else? The forgotten. The deaf. The Blind. Who are these "deaf" and "Blind"? I don't know many deaf people, but I do know many who are hard of hearing. Not physically, but have a hard time hearing and understanding the Word of God. Yet, I hear very clearly. Shall I call them fools? For not understanding.....yet? And the blind? I know of only one physically blind man whom I try to visit weekly at the nursing home. But, that's not all God is talking about. Many around me do not see I do. They are spiritually blind, can't see, don't know where to go....and so they don't know the dangers their souls are in.

And so, in the same spiritual terms, many are imprisoned, locked up in themselves, some have shackles of addictions, and one of the worst in our world is pornography. Oh yeah, you won't hear this in the headlines. These shackles bind up all sorts of people. Addictions are horrible. Sadly, many are shackled to them, things that keep us from a holy life. Instead of sheep, we grow horns like goats. Deformed by sin. Goats are then roasted and not kept for their wool and warmth and gentleness.

Who else are the least? Let me you in on a secret, but you already read it from Mother Teresa; it is those nearest you. How many times a day does someone aggravate you? Or seem to bother you? Do you open the door for them? Or do you pretend you are not there? This could be said of a priest, a deacon, a mother, a businessman, a teacher, or student, anybody.
What if I told you that behind one of those doors is Jesus?
What if every single day He visits you? But you did not welcome Him in.
You did not clothe Him. You did not feed Him. You did not help Him.
You did not visit Him. Why? Simply because you are too into yourself.
Lent is a cause to repent...from this lifestyle of inward poorness. It is designed to help us be made holy, to give out. Think of our Lord on the cross. Think of how He asked for a cup of cold water to the sinner woman at the well. Think, if you only do this one thing He your life will be transformed by grace.

Now that you thought of it


your brother in flesh and spirit,

Praying with Saint Anthony
God, you love the human family and want only
what is best for each of us. Help us see our contri
tion as always drawing us to you.

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