Tuesday, March 6, 2018

From your heart

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We Are Called to Love

The love of Jesus Christ that leads to his willing embrace of the crucified earthly destiny that appeared before him is both a model for how we are called to love and a revelation of God's self-offering of control out of love. This model for how you and I are to love is not an invitation to masochism or some sort of foolhardy and dangerous behavior. Instead, it is an example of our willingness to accept both the suffering and the joy that comes with love. This revelation of God's self-offering or sacrifice of control tells us a great deal about who Jesus Christ is and what God is like.

—from The Last Words of Jesus: A Meditation on Love and Suffering by Daniel P. Horan, OFM
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"Our true worth does not consist in what human beings think of us. What we really are consists in what God knows us to be."
— St. John Berchmans

"It is by endurance that you will secure possession of your souls (Luke 21:18). The possession of a soul means the undisturbed mastery of oneself, which is the secret of inner peace, as distinguished from a thousand agitations which make it fearful, unhappy, and disappointed. Only when a soul is possessed can anything else be enjoyed. Our Lord here meant patience in adversity, trial, and persecution. At the end of three hours on the Cross, He would so possess His soul that He would render it back to the Heavenly Father."
— Fulton J. Sheen, p. 322
Life of Christ

"I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:18-19


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St. Colette (1381-1447) was born in Picardy, France, the daughter of a poor carpenter who served the local Benedictine abbey. Her parents conceived her in their old age after praying to St. Nicholas for a child, naming her Colette after him. She became well known for her faith and spiritual wisdom from a young age. After the death of her parents she joined the Third Order of St. Francis and became a hermit. She led a life of asceticism and solitude until a dream revealed that God willed her to reform the Poor Clares. She obeyed and joined the Poor Clares in 1406. Her mission of reformation was sanctioned by Benedict III of Avignon (the anti-pope) who appointed her superior of each of the convents she reformed. Despite resistance from within the Poor Clares, she successfully reformed several existing convents and founded 17 new ones dedicated to a stricter observance of the Poor Clares, known as the Colettines. She experienced visions and ecstasies of Christ's Passion, and even prophesied her own death. Through her life's work, St. Colette's reformation breathed new life into the Poor Clares and created a lasting model of spirituality. St. Colette's feast day is March 6th.


Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Reading 1 Dn 3:25, 34-43

Azariah stood up in the fire and prayed aloud:

"For your name's sake, O Lord, do not deliver us up forever,
or make void your covenant.
Do not take away your mercy from us,
for the sake of Abraham, your beloved,
Isaac your servant, and Israel your holy one,
To whom you promised to multiply their offspring
like the stars of heaven,
or the sand on the shore of the sea.
For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation,
brought low everywhere in the world this day
because of our sins.
We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,
no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,
no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you.
But with contrite heart and humble spirit
let us be received;
As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks,
or thousands of fat lambs,
So let our sacrifice be in your presence today
as we follow you unreservedly;
for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.
And now we follow you with our whole heart,
we fear you and we pray to you.
Do not let us be put to shame,
but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.
Deliver us by your wonders,
and bring glory to your name, O Lord."

Responsorial Psalm PS 25:4-5ab, 6 and 7bc, 8-9
R. (6a) Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
he teaches the humble his way.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Verse Before the Gospel Jl 2:12-13
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart;
for I am gracious and merciful.

Gospel Mt 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.
Instead, he had him put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."


Meditation: Matthew 18:21-35

As many as seven times? (Matthew 18:21)

Peter thought he was being quite generous. Forgiving someone seven times sure does seem like a lot, doesn't it? The truth is, forgiving repeated offenses goes against our nature. Just look at Jesus' parable of the unmerciful servant. He had just been forgiven a debt he could never repay, and even in the afterglow of such generosity, he couldn't find it in himself to forgive a fellow servant a mere pittance.

Jesus knows our weakness. He is not surprised by all the times we forget what he has done for us and fail to show mercy to others. But he asks us to show mercy anyway.

The truth is, mercy doesn't come naturally to us. We have to work at it. Just as a small child has to be encouraged over and over again to turn off the light when he leaves a room, we have to keep trying again and again until forgiveness becomes a habit. We know Jesus has given us this commandment, and we even know why we should do it. But that doesn't make it any easier. All we can do is practice.

But here's the good news: practicing mercy will break us—in a good way. It will set us free from our habit of holding on to annoyances, hurts, and resentments. The good thing about practicing something is that we get better at it over time. So what if you don't feel that emotion of gratitude to the Lord that makes it easy to forgive? Don't let that stop you. Don't use it as an excuse for not forgiving. Maybe you're not there yet; maybe forgiving from the heart seems beyond your ability. Maybe all you can say is this: "Lord, I'm willing for you to make me willing." Keep trying, and you will make progress.

Today you will have many opportunities to practice forgiveness. Go ahead and do it. Make the decision to let go of all the reasons you feel you shouldn't have to forgive. With each step you take, forgiveness will heal both you and the person you forgive. Remember: practice makes perfect!

"Jesus, I know that I have far to go. Change my heart. Open my eyes to see each chance I have to practice forgiveness today."

Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Psalm 25:4-9



Our Lord said through the prophet's prayer: "But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; As though it were burnt offerings...". You know, I've been writing to you for years. And through the years, I have tried to explain an inexplicable phenomenon, actually various ones. Visions. Visions I will never forget, Lord willing. One of which, in deep prayer, I was as if taken by our Mother to a special place in Heaven, a feast place, a place where God was, but I did not see Him directly but I saw what was happening in a blurry vision as if behind a veil. It was beyond majestic and grandiose. From where I was, I could look down and see myriads, countless flows coming to God, as if offerings being brought to Him, and it was an innumerable offering. I soon was out of the vision, and back into deep prayer. But I can not forget what it was like. My question to myself this day is "what were those offerings?". Were they offerings from our souls? From angels? All I know, is what I sensed...these were sacrificial offerings...from the heart. It was then, the actual life of Holy Mass. Our offerings...and His. It was spectacular. And of my visions, one that makes life originate.

Let us pray: "Remember your mercies, O Lord. Good and upright is the LORD; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice,
he teaches the humble his way." For lent, I made a new text group to send inspirations, to some teenagers. Yesterday, I said that we push Jesus our Lord to the brow of the hill...and humility walks right by us...and pride remains. The Way passes as we make our own way. He teaches humility, to a willing soul.

In the Holy Gospel our Lord replies to Saint Peter: ""I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times." you must forgive. Some say that 7 is the perfect number, but theologians say it is the number of a Holy Covenant. Thus, in the Catholic Church we have 7 Sacraments. 10 is the perfect number theologians say. So Jesus says not to forgive only 7 times, but 70 times seven. 7 times 10. A Holy Covenant with the perfect number of times. This is not a mathematical equation to don't start counting how many times you forgave somebody! LOL but do start counting the blessings that become innumerable when you learn what true forgiveness can not put a price on it. I remember in a program by Renew International, which we are still doing and did last night, we get homework which is putting faith into practice. Some do it, some don't, and I was being hard on those who didn't do their homework last night...adults, people that "Have to " be at class. Years ago, a lady came back with her homework...her witness. She said she had decided to forgive a young man, the boyfriend of her daughter, which the daughter committed suicide because of her boyfriend. For a long time she held him in rejection and even hatred. She said she forgave him, and suddenly she felt this peace beyond words, for she had reached out to him. Indeed, forgiveness is good for you. And so, I invite you to mercy. Let me introduce you to my best friend...Jesus. I hang out with Him just about every day. He showed me how to forgive as He forgives me. A couple years ago, at a conference with theologians, a priest was confessing. I walked in, confessed and at the end he said "your sins are cast to the bottom of the ocean". In other words, never to be seen again, forgotten. There, they will be dismantled and nature will make good out of debris.

I was talking to a cousin, about our Lord a couple weeks ago, and in conversation, somehow I recalled a vague memory. It was about how horrible the day was before I was to live an encounter with Christ in my cursillo. It was to the point that my blood sister had called the cops on me and they came looking for me at my house, domestic dispute, and my wife was upset. Two things happened before the cops arrived. One, I was emphatically crying to our Lord walking to the house, in broad daylight my heart was in shambles "Please Lord HELP!". I get home and plead my wife for mercy. I don't even remember for what though, what the fight was about. What's funny, is that I had forgotten this horrible day in my life. But I do remember this: Mercy. My wife heard our Lord's plea for mercy. The cops came, made a report and left. The next day, my wife dropped me off at the cursillo. Now you tell me our Lord wasn't preparing me for something spectacular! I was locked up for 3 days with our Lord and I have not been the same ever since. What's more, is all my family was there to receive me when I was released. That was nice, hugs and all, but what mattered now only to me was....Jesus. Mercy. Love.
What I try to teach people now is "mercy on the fly". As soon as you are offended, forgive and offer it up. As soon as a grudge tries to settle, know it is an opportunity to be like Jesus...forgiving as they scourge you, whip you to death. And be gentle with our words and with our Lord. You can not put a price on mercy, but Judas thought you could. Even our Church failed to realize this with indulgences. And so it caused extreme devastations. Yet God makes good with junk. If only we'd approach Him, confident in only one thing...His love is greater than our sin and death. Love conquers. Love wins in the end of time. It is Good news. Good if you become the conqueror...that be one with our Lord Jesus. And there is no more intimate place than in the heart and His and united in Holy Common Union, Eucharist, a feast of thanksgiving. A place where your sacrifice is your heart....great acts of love, in the smallest of things, at every moment of our lives.
God loves you.
If it were not so, He would not have me writing to you saying these moving words. Mother Angelica said that it is our enemies that will afford us an opportunity for Heaven....that is....and opportunity to forgive. Jesus died for His enemies, even though He didn't hate them, they hated Him. That is an enemy then, a person to forgive and show the way to Heaven. What would it cost you to forgive?
Would you do it....if it meant everything?


Third Tuesday of Lent

"The Sacrament of Penance is a kind of baptism
of water and the Holy Spirit, of the spirit of
contrition and of the water of a tearful confession.
Those who have lost through mortal sin the grace
of their first Baptism can recover those treasures
by the power of this second baptism."

Anthony traveled with an entourage of confessors for the sake of people who repented after he
preached. His words often held up a mirror to their
lives, and then they realized that their pursuit of
freedom all too often led to a type of slavery. Pope
Francis reminded us during the 2016 Holy Year of
Mercy that the confessional should be an encounter with our merciful God.

Praying with Saint Anthony

"Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin
cleanse me" (Ps 51:4)

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