Friday, March 9, 2018

Which is the first of all

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Love God, Love Others, Love Yourself

Jesus is clear in the Gospels: Love God, love others, love yourself. Jesus tells us this is the greatest commandment. If we do this, keeping the other commandments will fall into place with little effort. Sometimes Lent seems like a series of dif´Čücult tasks that we toil over to show our spiritual strength and endurance. Julian of Norwich and the other mystics remind us that it's not about what we do, it's about what God does. Our Lenten practices should make room in our lives to contemplate the great mystery of love. If we lose sight of that, then the fasting and prayers become empty gestures. Our almsgiving contributes money to a good cause but we lose sight of our own place in that good work.

—from the book The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek
franciscan media


"Realize it, my brethren; —every one who breathes, high and low, educated and ignorant, young and old, man and woman, has a mission, has a work. We are not sent into this world for nothing; we are not born at random; . . . God sees every one of us; He creates every soul, He lodges it in the body, one by one, for a purpose. He needs, He deigns to need, every one of us. He has an end for each of us; we are all equal in His sight, and we are placed in our different ranks and stations, not to get what we can out of them for ourselves, but to labor in them for Him. As Christ has His work, we too have ours; as He rejoiced to do His work, we must rejoice in ours also."
— Blessed John Henry Newman

"When one is given the Spirit of wisdom, one is able to perceive God's fingerprints upon the wonders of the world. One is able to see the pattern God has established in history (world history, faith history, and even our own personal history). This should leave us with a sense of comfort, for it means that life is not chaotic. God has a plan."
— Rev. Jude Winkler, OFM, p.62
Daily Meditations with the Holy Spirit

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever."
1 John 2:15-17


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Saint Frances of Rome

(1384 – March 9, 1440)

Frances' life combines aspects of secular and religious life. A devoted and loving wife, she longed for a lifestyle of prayer and service, so she organized a group of women to minister to the needs of Rome's poor.

Born of wealthy parents, Frances found herself attracted to the religious life during her youth. But her parents objected and a young nobleman was selected to be her husband.

As she became acquainted with her new relatives, Frances soon discovered that the wife of her husband's brother also wished to live a life of service and prayer. So the two, Frances and Vannozza, set out together—with their husbands' blessings—to help the poor.

Frances fell ill for a time, but this apparently only deepened her commitment to the suffering people she met. The years passed, and Frances gave birth to two sons and a daughter. With the new responsibilities of family life, the young mother turned her attention more to the needs of her own household.

The family flourished under Frances' care, but within a few years a great plague began to sweep across Italy. It struck Rome with devastating cruelty and left Frances' second son dead. In an effort to help alleviate some of the suffering, Frances used all her money and sold her possessions to buy whatever the sick might possibly need. When all the resources had been exhausted, Frances and Vannozza went door to door begging. Later, Frances' daughter died, and the saint opened a section of her house as a hospital.

Frances became more and more convinced that this way of life was so necessary for the world, and it was not long before she requested and was given permission to found a society of women bound by no vows. They simply offered themselves to God and to the service of the poor. Once the society was established, Frances chose not to live at the community residence, but rather at home with her husband. She did this for seven years, until her husband passed away, and then came to live the remainder of her life with the society—serving the poorest of the poor.

Looking at the exemplary life of fidelity to God and devotion to her fellow human beings which Frances of Rome was blessed to lead, one cannot help but be reminded of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, who loved Jesus Christ in prayer and also in the poor. The life of Frances of Rome calls each of us not only to look deeply for God in prayer, but also to carry our devotion to Jesus living in the suffering of our world. Frances shows us that this life need not be restricted to those bound by vows.

Saint Frances of Rome is the Patron Saint of:


Friday of the Third Week of Lent

Reading 1 Hos 14:2-10

Thus says the LORD:
Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God;
you have collapsed through your guilt.
Take with you words,
and return to the LORD;
Say to him, "Forgive all iniquity,
and receive what is good, that we may render
as offerings the bullocks from our stalls.
Assyria will not save us,
nor shall we have horses to mount;
We shall say no more, 'Our god,'
to the work of our hands;
for in you the orphan finds compassion."

I will heal their defection, says the LORD,
I will love them freely;
for my wrath is turned away from them.
I will be like the dew for Israel:
he shall blossom like the lily;
He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar,
and put forth his shoots.
His splendor shall be like the olive tree
and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.
Again they shall dwell in his shade
and raise grain;
They shall blossom like the vine,
and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols?
I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.
"I am like a verdant cypress tree"–
Because of me you bear fruit!

Let him who is wise understand these things;
let him who is prudent know them.
Straight are the paths of the LORD,
in them the just walk,
but sinners stumble in them.

Responsorial Psalm PS 81:6c-8a, 8bc-9, 10-11ab, 14 and 17
R. (see 11 and 9a) I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
An unfamiliar speech I hear:
"I relieved his shoulder of the burden;
his hands were freed from the basket.
In distress you called, and I rescued you."
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
"Unseen, I answered you in thunder;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.
Hear, my people, and I will admonish you;
O Israel, will you not hear me?"
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
"There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt."
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
"If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
I would feed them with the best of wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would fill them."
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.

Verse Before the Gospel Mt 4:17
Repent, says the Lord;
the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Gospel Mk 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
"Which is the first of all the commandments?"
Jesus replied, "The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these."
The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
"You are not far from the Kingdom of God."
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.


Meditation: Mark 12:28-34

Saint Frances of Rome, Religious (Optional Memorial)

You are not far from the Kingdom of God. (Mark 12:34)

Wouldn't it be wonderful to hear Jesus say these words to you? Imagine how heartening it would be to hear that, even as you stumble through life, God affirms his belief in you. Wouldn't you love hearing him tell you that you are on the right path?

An encouraging word can be so uplifting precisely because of our all too human tendency to focus on the negative. We may be painfully aware of our sins or discouraged by our mistakes. We may even doubt that God is pleased with us. The kingdom can seem so far out of our reach!

But that's not God's message to you! His love for you is perfect and constant. Your imperfections cannot change that. So instead of feeling discouraged in the face of your failures and missteps, try to be patient with yourself. Consider these words from St. Francis de Sales:

Have patience with all things—but first with yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You are a perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist. And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that.
When memories of past mistakes or current failures loom large, remember that you can draw near to Christ because he has drawn near to you and has never left your side. Let Jesus assure you that you're not far from his kingdom. Every step of obedience, faith, and trust brings you one step closer, in fact.

You are not far from the Kingdom of God. Jesus spoke these words to a scribe who had not yet chosen to follow him. But that didn't stop Jesus from commending the man's faith. He could tell that he was on the right track, and he needed a little more encouragement to keep him moving forward. How much more encouraging will Jesus be to you, who already believe in him? How much more will he say that he's pleased with you?

Jesus is infinitely patient with you. The least you can do is be just a little patient with yourself.

"Lord, thank you for always showing me mercy. Help me love myself the way that you love me."

Hosea 14:2-10
Psalm 81:6-11, 14, 17


Our Lord said "I will heal their defection, says the LORD, I will love them freely" How do you think these words came about into the world? A prophet spoke. God speaks. A prophecy is fulfilled. It is fulfilled in a willing body, mind, and spirit...a soul. Our Lord desires that His will be fulfilled in you.

" I am the Lord your God: hear my voice." God speaks. His voice though, is not a physical voice. If it were, everyone would've been able to hear His voice when Saul was knocked down by the light. But they saw light, and heard no voice. Is seeing enough now? To hear what God said to a prophet now named...Paul? Our Lord continues:
"If only my people would hear me, and Israel walk in my ways" Jesus came to show us God, the will of God and to be God among His lovers and to the future lovers of God. If so then " I would feed them with the best of wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would fill them." Jesus was the stone the architects rejected, He feeds, tells St. Peter our first Pope to feed us. And we are fed Christ His very self, to that tune, let us go, the Way.

In the Holy Gospel, the Word itself speaks: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart♥, with all your soul♥, with all your mind♥, and with all your strength♥. The second is this: You shall love♥ your neighbor♥ as yourself♥.
What would Heaven be like? Freedom to Love. In our country, there are thousands and thousands of laws. And we call it the "land of the free". In Heaven there is only these two laws, Love God and neighbor. And the world today hates these two laws, but not in such a hatred that is outright flamboyant, but passive aggressive. Snickering, jokes, and sly remarks. I meet strangers on vacation and they make remarks on how many kids we got. I prayed in front of an abortion clinic and was given the one finger salute. I marched for life and was yelled at. I ask a cousin to follow the Lord and he calls me "mr. holy roller". And today, these souls are suffering torments for their freedom to hate. You see, as I've heard/read the audio book "The Fulfillment of All Desire" by Ralph Martin, I've heard of saints and what they say, and one said that we could take up the cross of the devil or the cross of our Lord, and see where they lead. For sure, one leads to perdition and destruction of self, and the other leads to edifying, building and saving. What would be the best freedom? To me, freedom from sin, and tendency to sin would be the best freedom. And you know what? Heaven starts now.
Jesus said to the scribe ""You are not far from the Kingdom of God."

And this is Good News. Good news has reached your eyes, and your heart?
This morning, I shook guys hands and they were busy. One man walks by me later extending his hand to me "did I shake your hand?" I said "I shook yours but you didn't shake mine". He left chuckling and sped off, and I'm pretty sure he knows what I meant. He wasn't paying attention. That's how God can come into our lives...and we think He never came and He did, we just were too busy.
Listen up everyone, I've about had it with distractions. The adults are distracted, thus, the youth are distracted, and we are showing our children to be distracted. Let us focus primarily on our Lord, and neighbor, those we encounter. I will repeat my theory "Every single day it can be that God comes into our lives, hidden in some body". It could be that meany or that sweet person or that person that is easily ignored you walked by. It is easy to not see Him...just keep being distracted. One of the greatest distractions is distraction itself, work, sports, even family and especially, self. We get in our own way with our big ol' heads. The will. This is not mentioned by God, for He said Love with all your: heart, soul, mind, essence, your entire willing body...your will. Last night I was emphatically giving testimony at our Ultreya. I said "I strongly believe that where there is a will, there is a way". If this is the case, many souls do not have a will, a heart, mind, strength, and therefore, no soul for God. And so now what? Do not doubt. God's mercy is great. It is immense.

Yesterday the leader of our Ultreya called about an hour and a half before it would start, saying he was so busy at work, and was afraid he could not make it and was asking me to help cover in case. I didn't make it sound nice when I replied "ok I guess". I was questioning the guy's will. And so, when I got home, I was outside alone praying and I sincerely prayed with my heart to our Blessed Mother Mary "if brother really wants to go, I ask with my heart, make all the doors open up right away, all the people surrounding him let him go".

You should have seen brother at Ultreya, was so fired up, he was there early and leading like never before because of what had happened at work. God's WILL, will always be for good. Brother said strangely enough they asked him if he needed to go, and someone offered to cover for him. This is an act of two wills. One, brother's will. Two, my will. He wanted to go and I wanted him to want to go. What's funny is how we met. In daily Holy Mass a couple years ago. Our stories are the same: He had been praying for Godly friends and I had been praying for a friend for friendship group. And now we are. Friends in Christ our Lord and Savior. It was an ultreya to remember always. And the word ultreya means "onward". Persevere. Always love God first and neighbor, not any less, because God is in every soul. See to it that we do not lose a little one.
""This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day."
And Jesus Loves God and neighbor to the max...on the cross. We had not yet loved Him and He already died for love of us. And then we were born. And then we were baptized. And then we were fed. And then He awaits for us for so much more....



Third Friday of Lent
"When a crystal is touched or struck by the rays
of the sun, it gives forth brilliant sparks of light.
When people of faith are touched by the light of
God's grace, they also must give forth sparks
of light in their good words and deeds,
and so bring God's light to others."

At the Easter Vigil, the flame from the paschal
candle will be quickly and enthusiastically spread
among all those in attendance. You cannot imagine
anyone there hoarding the flame already received
from someone else.
We share God's grace especially through the
corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Crystals
show the rich colors contained in sunlight.

Praying with Saint Anthony

Lord, you light up our lives with your grace.

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