Monday, March 5, 2018

The Sky was closed

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Alone but Not Lonely

Solitude is truthful and often delightful, even when painful. Loneliness is a hell made up of the illusion of separateness. In solitude we are capable of strong and deep relationships because in solitude we discover our uniqueness. If meditation is about getting free from attachments and going to the desert of solitude, it is also about the discovery of the communion with others we call community. Knowing that we are with fellow disciples in the presence of our teacher is, even when things are falling apart, a source of incomparable joy.

—from the book Sensing God: Learning to Meditate during Lent by Laurence Freeman, OSB
franciscan media


"We are Christians, and strangers on earth. Let none of us be frightened; our native land is not in this world."
— St. Augustine

"Many Christians regard Confession in the light of an unimportant act of piety, if not mere ceremony . . . many go even frequently to Confession, but so few amend, and consequently derive little or no benefit from the Sacrament. ... Be, then, most thoroughly convinced of the immense importance of this Sacrament, and be filled with an earnest desire of approaching it worthily, bestowing the utmost care and attention upon your preparation for this great duty, if you desire to obtain eternal salvation. Confession is one of the seven Sacraments instituted by Christ; it is called the Sacrament of Penance, and by its means alone can he who has committed mortal sin after Baptism hope to save his soul; therefore it is called by the holy Council of Trent: the second plank after shipwreck. In this Sacrament Jesus Christ has deposited His Precious Blood, that it may be to our souls as a salutary bath wherein they may be cleansed from all the stains of sin, their wounds closed, their maladies cured, their weakness strengthened, and grace unto salvation imported to them. This Divine Blood is dispensed to us by the priest in the holy absolution, and is abundantly poured forth upon all souls approaching the tribunal of confession with proper dispositions."
— Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Jesus, p. 284-5
The School of Jesus Crucified

"His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature."
2 Peter 1:3-4


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Saint John Joseph of the Cross

(August 15, 1654 – March 5, 1734)

Self-denial is never an end in itself but is only a help toward greater charity—as the life of Saint John Joseph shows.

John Joseph was very ascetic even as a young man. At 16, he joined the Franciscans in Naples; he was the first Italian to follow the reform movement of Saint Peter Alcantara. John Joseph's reputation for holiness prompted his superiors to put him in charge of establishing a new friary even before he was ordained.

Obedience moved John Joseph to accept appointments as novice master, guardian and, finally, provincial. His years of mortification enabled him to offer these services to the friars with great charity. As guardian he was not above working in the kitchen or carrying the wood and water needed by the friars.

When his term as provincial expired, John Joseph dedicated himself to hearing confessions and practicing mortification, two concerns contrary to the spirit of the dawning Age of Enlightenment. John Joseph of the Cross was canonized in 1839.

John Joseph's mortification allowed him to be the kind of forgiving superior intended by Saint Francis. Self-denial should lead us to charity—not to bitterness; it should help us clarify our priorities and make us more loving. John Joseph is living proof of Chesterton's observation: "It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one's own" (G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, page 101).


Monday of the Third Week of Lent

Reading 1 2 Kgs 5:1-15ab

Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram,
was highly esteemed and respected by his master,
for through him the LORD had brought victory to Aram.
But valiant as he was, the man was a leper.
Now the Arameans had captured in a raid on the land of Israel
a little girl, who became the servant of Naaman's wife.
"If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria,"
she said to her mistress, "he would cure him of his leprosy."
Naaman went and told his lord
just what the slave girl from the land of Israel had said.
"Go," said the king of Aram.
"I will send along a letter to the king of Israel."
So Naaman set out, taking along ten silver talents,
six thousand gold pieces, and ten festal garments.
To the king of Israel he brought the letter, which read:
"With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you,
that you may cure him of his leprosy."

When he read the letter,
the king of Israel tore his garments and exclaimed:
"Am I a god with power over life and death,
that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy?
Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!"
When Elisha, the man of God,
heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments,
he sent word to the king:
"Why have you torn your garments?
Let him come to me and find out
that there is a prophet in Israel."

Naaman came with his horses and chariots
and stopped at the door of Elisha's house.
The prophet sent him the message:
"Go and wash seven times in the Jordan,
and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean."
But Naaman went away angry, saying,
"I thought that he would surely come out and stand there
to invoke the LORD his God,
and would move his hand over the spot,
and thus cure the leprosy.
Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar,
better than all the waters of Israel?
Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?"
With this, he turned about in anger and left.

But his servants came up and reasoned with him.
"My father," they said,
"if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary,
would you not have done it?
All the more now, since he said to you,
'Wash and be clean,' should you do as he said."
So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times
at the word of the man of God.
His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God.
On his arrival he stood before him and said,
"Now I know that there is no God in all the earth,
except in Israel."

Responsorial Psalm PS 42:2, 3; 43:3, 4
R. (see 42:3) Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
As the hind longs for the running waters,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
Send forth your light and your fidelity;
they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling-place.
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
Then will I go in to the altar of God,
the God of my gladness and joy;
Then will I give you thanks upon the harp,
O God, my God!
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?

Verse Before the Gospel See Ps 130:5, 7
I hope in the LORD, I trust in his word;
with him there is kindness and plenteous redemption.

Gospel Lk 4:24-30

Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth:
"Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel
in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian."
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.


Meditation: 2 Kings 5:1-15

Now I know that there is no God . . . except in Israel. (2 Kings 5:15)

Naaman came to Israel wanting only to be healed, but he left believing in God. His approach was purely pragmatic and intellectual: "I have a problem, and there is a prophet in Israel who can help me with it." What happened along the way that made the difference? The answer is at once both simple and profound: Naaman met God.

Naaman's story shows us that the process of conversion is ultimately the result of God's grace, not just our own logic and seeking. Naaman was looking for a dramatic healing from the prophet Elisha. Elisha told him to bathe in the Jordan River. Reason told Naaman that the waters of the Jordan were no different than the rivers in Damascus. Add to this that Elisha would not even come out to speak with him. What sort of wonder-worker was this fellow?

When Naaman stepped out of the river, however, something more than scales and sores fell off of him. Years of accumulated sin were washed away as well. Naaman came out a new man. He realized that there was only one true God and that this God was a force to be reckoned with.

Elisha's faith and wisdom in this story teach us another important lesson. Unlike the terrified king of Israel, Elisha wasn't worried about what he would say to Naaman or how Naaman would receive his words. He was more interested in getting Naaman into a position where he could be open to God's miraculous work.

This should give us hope as we try to share our faith with our friends and family members. We don't need to have a specific script or a perfect game plan that will win someone over to the Lord. We just need to love them, speak the truth to them as lovingly as we can, and pray for them. We just need to set the stage so that they can be open to God coming to meet them.

Just be faithful to doing your part, and let God do the rest.

"Lord, help me to guide people to you so that you can touch them with your love."

Psalm 42:2-3; 43:3-4
Luke 4:24-30



Naaman doubted. Was even angry. But he was convinced by servants...of the Lord. "'Wash and be clean,' should you do as he said." Naaman takes the plunge....of faith. Naaman realizes he's been cleansed from doom, and death. Naaman boldly proclaims and begins an evangelizing life with ""Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel." Be a living witness. First...take the plunge. Obey. The Word of God.

Let us pray: " Athirst is my soul for the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God? Athirst is my soul for God, the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God?" You know, as I write to you, I'm trying to educate, but not merely through theological insights, but with wisdom that comes only from experience. Testimony. If you will believe this, maybe you will progress and become a saint, and pray for me as I have been praying for you who read this. It can be said of so many countless we deep down see God. My Heaven will be seeing God. My heaven's journey will be that of my earth's journey, always seeking God's face. And diving into the Word...the Eucharist, basking in this flowing water of blood of salvation. Jesus was dying on the cross and said "I thirst". He thirsts for you and me. We thirst for Him.

In comes our Lord: ""Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place." Jesus said that no one accepted the Lord except a Syrian named Naaman. Jesus was rejected in Nazareth. Jesus of Nazareth was kicked out of Nazareth, or at least they tried. How can this be? Pretty easy question to answer. Once we believe who God is and have Him figured out, we have no more room for His Holy Presence. This is why there was no room for Him when He was about to be born. This is why to this day, much of the world is upside down. Mostly, it is out of ignorance, people going with the hell. They say ignorance is bliss. Ignoring the truth and eventually, despising the truth. Pretty harsh words, no? But this is why they chased Jesus our Lord to the edge of a cliff, to hurl Him Him. Why? Pride. You see, we don't need to read too much into words, but dive the truth. Jesus knew they would want His neck for sticking it out. But He would not let the truth be silent. Not if it meant saving the world. So, today, look deep into your heart. Is God trying to speak to you? What is He trying to say? Can you understand Him when He is talking?

Naaman had to have faith. Ultimately, God will not reveal Himself without your I can not convince an atheist with miracles. But God can convince the atheist with love.
Jesus had to have faith too. Strange notion, no? He experienced our world's temptations, and what faith would mean, and how hard it is to have faith. He understood it so well, that to this day, His unfathomable mercy and compassion are poured out immensely, completely disproportionate to our level of evilness and unkindness towards Him. It doesn't make sense, to me, how God is so merciful. But when it is my turn to share in His mercy, to ask for mercy, I completely love it and enjoy it, and am thankful for it.
So it could be said that...if it weren't for the bad, we'd never know what is good, or enjoy the good God, as we who repent,...often do.
Naaman experienced repentance, penance, and forgiveness, and this becomes healing.

What did Jesus do when He was rejected in Nazareth? He forgave, and kept going.

We must forgive, ask for forgiveness...and keep going.
This way, we will one day see the face of God. No longer blurred by the world, and no longer blurred by our tears. He will wipe away the blur, and we will see clearly what makes our hearts go. And you know what He will ask? He will say as He holds you in His arms..."Are You Ready For An Eternity?"



Third Monday of Lent

"Some people keep putting off confession for
a long time. How do you know if tomorrow
will dawn for you?"

When a washing machine is overloaded, it shuts
down automatically. People, however, can lie to
themselves about what is happening. They can
force themselves to keep going when they should
be paying attention to warning signals about their
choices. Confession offers us a unique opportunity
to reconsider the direction—or drift—of our life.

Praying with Saint Anthony

Loving God, you are more eager to forgive me than
I am to seek your forgiveness—or to forgive myself.
Help me to grow in the direction that leads to the
abundant life you wish to share with all people.

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