Paradise is not found on the beaches of a Caribbean island or in some mythic garden from the book of Genesis. Paradise is where God's will is done. It is the very reality of our existence with God without the gloss of our own selfish desires, without our own obsessive need for control. It is the location—not so much in time and space, but in experience—where, like God, we live more and more as women and men for others. As the Our Father says so clearly, as the second criminal says implicitly, God's kingdom—this paradise about which Jesus speaks—is found when his will is done.
—from The Last Words of Jesus: A Meditation on Love and Suffering by Daniel P. Horan, OFM
"The fast of Lent has no advantage to us unless it brings about our spiritual renewal. It is necessary while fasting to change our whole life and practice virtue. Turning away from all wickedness means keeping our tongue in check, restraining our anger, avoiding all gossip, lying and swearing. To abstain from these things— herein lies the true value of the fast."
— St. John Chrysostom
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"Wait a little while, my soul, await the promise of God, and you will have the fullness of all that is good in heaven. If you yearn inordinately for the good things of this life, you will lose those which are heavenly and eternal. Use temporal things properly, but always desire what is eternal. Temporal things can never fully satisfy you, for you were not created to enjoy them alone . . . for your blessedness and happiness lie only in God, who has made all things from nothing."
— Thomas a' Kempis, p. 133-34
AN EXCERPT FROM
The Imitation of Christ
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY
"Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'"
1 Peter 1:13-16
click to read more
Blessed Daniel Brottier
(September 7, 1876 – February 28, 1936)
Blessed Daniel Brottier's Story
Daniel spent most of his life in the trenches—one way or another.
Born in France in 1876, Daniel was ordained in 1899 and began a teaching career. That didn't satisfy him long. He wanted to use his zeal for the gospel far beyond the classroom. He joined the missionary Congregation of the Holy Spirit, which sent him to Senegal, West Africa. After eight years there, his health was suffering. He was forced to return to France, where he helped raise funds for the construction of a new cathedral in Senegal.
At the outbreak of World War I, Daniel became a volunteer chaplain and spent four years at the front. He did not shrink from his duties. Indeed, he risked his life time and again in ministering to the suffering and dying. It was miraculous that he did not suffer a single wound during his 52 months in the heart of battle.
After the war he was invited to help establish a project for orphaned and abandoned children in a Paris suburb. He spent the final 13 years of his life there. He died in 1936 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Paris only 48 years later.
Blessed Daniel might be called "Teflon Dan" since nothing seemed to harm him while in the midst of war. God intended to use him in some pretty wonderful ways for the good of the Church and he willingly served. He is a good example for all of us.
Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
Reading 1 Jer 18:18-20
The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem said,
"Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah.
It will not mean the loss of instruction from the priests,
nor of counsel from the wise, nor of messages from the prophets.
And so, let us destroy him by his own tongue;
let us carefully note his every word."
Heed me, O LORD,
and listen to what my adversaries say.
Must good be repaid with evil
that they should dig a pit to take my life?
Remember that I stood before you
to speak in their behalf,
to turn away your wrath from them.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 31:5-6, 14, 15-16
R. (17b) Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
You will free me from the snare they set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
I hear the whispers of the crowd, that frighten me from every side,
as they consult together against me, plotting to take my life.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
But my trust is in you, O LORD;
I say, "You are my God."
In your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
Verse Before the Gospel Jn 8:12
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
Gospel Mt 20:17-28
As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day."
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, "What do you wish?"
She answered him,
"Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom."
Jesus said in reply,
"You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?"
They said to him, "We can."
"My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Meditation: Jeremiah 18:18-20
Remember that I stood before you to speak in their behalf. (Jeremiah 18:20)
God sent Jeremiah to the people of Jerusalem who had turned away from his covenant. He called Jeremiah to urge the people to give up their worship of other gods and to remind them that they belonged to him alone. For his trouble, Jeremiah endured contempt and ridicule. He lost his family and friends. He even suffered attempts on his life.
Treachery, deceit, and betrayal are painful goads that can provoke us to self-pity or a desire for revenge. But rather than following these paths, Jeremiah entered into a series of intimate conversations with God. Sometimes he ranted. Sometimes he complained. But he stayed humble as he asked God for wisdom and strength. God didn't mind that Jeremiah was so blunt and open. He could tell that Jeremiah wasn't turning away from him—he just needed to have some answers (Jeremiah 12:1-17; 14:10-22; 17:12-18; 18:18-23; 20:7-18).
This was the kind of relationship with the Lord that Jeremiah urged the people of Judah to pursue. He wanted them to be just as open and honest with God as he was—and just as obedient. He wanted their relationship to be fluid, with thoughts, desires, and promises flowing back and forth between God and themselves. This kind of relationship could sustain them in difficulties, allow them to withstand temptation, and encourage them to stand firm.
As with so many other Old Testament stories, Jeremiah's story speaks to us today as well. It describes the kind of relationship that God wants to have with us: open, honest, fluid, and intimate. He wants us to feel comfortable telling him everything—just as we should be willing to hear everything he has to say to us.
So don't be afraid to be yourself with God. Share your ups and downs, your victories and your defeats, your praise and your doubts, your gratitude and your complaints with him. He won't be offended. Just be sure that you are open to hearing his answers. Your Father cares about every detail of your life. Even now, he is waiting to talk with you about everything and anything.
"Father, I want to talk to you as Jeremiah did. Let me hear your voice and experience your presence today."
Psalm 31:5-6, 14-16
In the first Holy Scriptures we heard this line ".... let us destroy him by his own tongue; let us carefully note his every word." Sounds like evil plotting, right? I told a brother that if you pay attention, (and if living in grace) you can actually here evil speaking. I brought up the time that Jesus told Peter ""Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." I implore you, live in grace, fully immersed in God's love, so you can see and hear when a snake are in the midst. Do you think Jesus saw the devil in the desert...or heard? He faced temptations like we do...so subtle, so soft of whisper, so tempting to the eyes, ears, and heart. But Jesus became the new Adam, the new creation of hearts and souls. And thank God we live now and today.
Let us pray: "Save me, O Lord, in your kindness. You will free me from the snare they set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God." Today's saint is on a horse, in a picture, in the midst of battle a World War, tending to the dying and wounded. That's what a priest does for we are always encountering a battle. What do I like about the picture of our saint, or the movie "For Greater Glory" (Cristeros in Spanish)? They valiantly wear the cross for the world to see who they are, but the medal cross is nothing, because their lives are living the message of Christ, everything. Today, I see Deacons and Cursillistas wearing a cross, and it makes for a valiant message "I am not afraid". Many songs the dying woman wants me to sing say that "I am not afraid anymore".
Let us go to our Lord, and how? A mother of two Apostles asks for the sons to be on high positions. What heart this woman has, interesting. What was the purpose of asking for these positions? Good or bad? Was it an offering of her sons to give their lives to God in complete service, or was it to simply be regarded as higher than the rest? I was telling my friendship group last night, that when Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son to God, this was not too far fetched as in some cults/religions they believed in it being the ultimate sacrifice...the best for the gods. Sadly nowadays, children, unborn, are sacrificed for gods of selves, selfish reasons, "I can't afford" I can't raise IT", like as if "it" was pet, or a thing. Then God said "NO". You will no longer offer your children. I will offer Mine, and no more after that. No more altar offerings of dead animals, but I will bring the dead to life! WOW. Thank God we live today. I am not afraid anymore.
Lent is leading us to spring, indeed it means the springing of new life. These 40 days are to bring about a new you, for the new evangelization. Hopefully, your wasteful bad habits will go away, and new good habits will be the new you. Hopefully virtues start growing in the fields of your life. What are the virtues? From EWTN: "A virtue is a good habit that perfects a specific dimension of one's soul. Virtues perfect our souls so that our human actions will radiate moral beauty and truth. The basic human virtues are called the cardinal virtues: prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice." It goes on "The theological virtues, faith, hope, and charity, are the form that the Holy Spirit takes in us. We call faith, hope, and charity the theological virtues because they unite us to the Triune God." We are asked to be united to the Holy Trinity in lent. Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. 3 things. Faith, Hope, and Love. All things hinging on trust, faith, love.
I hope you are experiencing this beautiful thing that happens when we repent...this marvelous thing that we were created to enjoy...God's mercy. If sin abounds, mercy abounds all the more.
Lap it up, soak it up, and spread it...and come back for more. The world is a dry parched land in need of the waters of our baptismal grace. It needs love in action. Not love as thoughts, or intentions, sitting on couches. It needs hands and feet. It needs bodies to act through. Love is brought about through mercy. You can destroy many walls with mercy and righteousness. People have not liked me, and I keep loving them. They say ridiculous things about me behind my back, and I keep forgiving. I can see beyond human misery when I can see with God's eyes...and ears, and Love. Perhaps it is because of so many funerals I help at, or so many ministries I help at...or, maybe...just maybe because I eat this daily bread, in daily Mass, this where very few go witness/partake, a transfiguration of transubstantiation. God sprinkles the earth with manna from Heaven, turning hearts of flesh to hearts of true heavenly love.
Second Wednesday of Lent
"Where charity and mutual love are found, there
is the community of the saints of God."
If someone who didn't belong in heaven were
able to sneak in, would he or she be happy there?
Certainly not, for the gate crasher's sense of normal would constantly clash with what the people
already there, the communion of saints, consider
People with different political, religious, or
social views will not get an eternity in heaven to
try to win other people over to their side. There
God's values will finally prevail.
Praying with Saint Anthony
Loving God, you invite us to share life with you as
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Show us how to prepare now to enjoy your eternal banquet.