Friday, March 16, 2018

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Live Simply, Simply Live

Living in the second half of life, I no longer have to prove that I or my group is the best, that my ethnicity is superior, that my religion is the only one that God loves, or that my role and place in society deserve superior treatment. I am not preoccupied with collecting more goods and services; quite simply, my desire and effort—every day—is to pay back, to give back to the world a bit of what I have received. I now realize that I have been gratuitously given to—from the universe, from society, and from God. I try now, as Elizabeth Seton said, "to live simply so that others can simply live."

—from the book Yes, And...: Daily Meditations by Richard Rohr
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"My prayer is that the good God may establish His absolute reign in your heart and in the hearts of all."
— St. Julie Billiart

"Jesus will turn your sorrow into joy. One can only imagine the shock and bewilderment the Apostles felt when the Lord told them he must go away. Though they could not understand it at the time, his departure was for their benefit. The same is true of the unexpected setbacks and tragedies we experience in this life . . . When I consider the times when I have been confounded by events that seemed so contrary to what I thought God wanted for me, I should be mindful that they were permitted by the Lord's inscrutable providence for my own good, as difficult as that might be to fathom."
— Patrick Madrid, p. 251
A Year with the Bible

"The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it? I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings."
Jeremiah 17:9-10


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St. Abraham of Edessa (300-360 A.D.), also known as Abraham of Kidunaia, was a rich nobleman from Mesopotamia. He married according to his parents' wishes, despite his desire to give himself totally to God. After the wedding ceremony he fled to a cave and hid himself, leaving only a small window to receive food. He lived there as a hermit, and after the death of his parents gave his inheritance to the poor. The Bishop of Edessa ordained him as a priest and sent him to lead a notoriously sinful city. There Abraham was beaten and maligned for three years until his prayers prevailed and every citizen came to him for baptism. He then returned to his hermitage and lived there the rest of his life. After his brother's death his young niece was left to his care. He set her up to live as a religious in a cell next to his, which she did for twenty years until she succumbed to the seduction of a rogue hermit. She was so ashamed of her sin that she despaired of God's mercy and became a prostitute. St. Abraham prayed for his niece earnestly for two years; then, discovering her location, left his cell and came to her disguised as a suitor. When they were alone he revealed his identity to her, and, pleading with her throughout the night, prevailed upon her to return with him to her life of prayer and penance. She came back to her cell, which Abraham relocated directly behind his own for her protection, and became St. Mary of Edessa. St. Abraham's feast day is March 16th.


Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Reading 1 Wis 2:1a, 12-22

The wicked said among themselves,
thinking not aright:
"Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
Reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God
and styles himself a child of the LORD.
To us he is the censure of our thoughts;
merely to see him is a hardship for us,
Because his life is not like that of others,
and different are his ways.
He judges us debased;
he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.
He calls blest the destiny of the just
and boasts that God is his Father.
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.
For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
With revilement and torture let us put him to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him."
These were their thoughts, but they erred;
for their wickedness blinded them,
and they knew not the hidden counsels of God;
neither did they count on a recompense of holiness
nor discern the innocent souls' reward.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 34:17-18, 19-20, 21 and 23
R. (19a) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
R. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him.
R. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
He watches over all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.
The LORD redeems the lives of his servants;
no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him.
R. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.

Verse Before the Gospel Mt 4:4b
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

Gospel Jn 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

Jesus moved about within Galilee;
he did not wish to travel in Judea,
because the Jews were trying to kill him.
But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.

But when his brothers had gone up to the feast,
he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret.

Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said,
"Is he not the one they are trying to kill?
And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him.
Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ?
But we know where he is from.
When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from."
So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said,
"You know me and also know where I am from.
Yet I did not come on my own,
but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.
I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me."
So they tried to arrest him,
but no one laid a hand upon him,
because his hour had not yet come.


Meditation: Wisdom 2:1, 12-22

Merely to see him is a hardship for us. (Wisdom 2:14)

Do you know someone whose life seems so together that you can't bear being around him or her? Finances? In perfect order. Kids? All honor students with good manners. Appearance? Not a hair out of place and not a single pound overweight. Home? Tastefully decorated and always immaculate. Each bit of "perfection" seems to highlight your own shortcomings and makes you feel more inadequate.

That's one way to understand how the people in today's first reading responded to "the just one" in their midst (Wisdom 2:12). They couldn't measure up, and in their envy, they sought to rid themselves of the reminder of their failures.

We are coming near the end of Lent. In the next couple of weeks, we will see dark clouds gather around Jesus as he heads toward the cross. We will see him bear his fate heroically yet humbly. Perfect servant of the Lord that he is, he will meet his persecutors and "not cry out, nor shout, nor make his voice heard in the street" (Isaiah 42:2). It can be hard to look at Jesus in these readings, mostly because it's painful to see his suffering. But it can also be hard because we might feel our own shortcomings are exposed. Who among us could live in perfect peace and humility? Who could even come close to matching his generosity and patience? Surely we would fail at any test of faith that comes our way!

Thank God this isn't how Jesus looks at you. He came to save you, not to condemn you. He sees you as his brother or sister, a precious and valued member of his family. He sees the good that is already in you, as well as all the good that God still wants to do for you. Yes, we may need to be sifted so that old sins and pride can give way to his blessings. But the One who does the sifting is gentle and compassionate, not harsh and judgmental. And his sifting is meant to purify us, not break us.

So don't be afraid to take a good, long look at the cross today. Gaze at your Savior, and tell him that you want to receive his love.

"Jesus, teach me to see you with new eyes!"

Psalm 34:17-21, 23
John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30



They said of the Lord: "Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;he sets himself against our doings, Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the LORD." When did they say this? Already, centuries before Christ Jesus was born, in the Book of Wisdom. This book has been tossed out by protestants after the year 1500. Yet it is by the same tone, of rejection, by Protestantism, why? Because, you become some type of law-maker. You make up your own religion. When Jesus came, He set up a law, a religion in the heart that man should pay close attention to...the truth. So for all those who are anti-religion, guess what? God has laws, a set of laws, and it begins with God as love and our love of God in one another. No greater love than what Jesus said....laying one's life, putting it out there....unafraid, yet confident in the Lord....true faith and true love.

Let us pray: " The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. Many are the troubles of the just man, but out of them all the LORD delivers him." I love this Psalm today. I was just thinking this morning as I journeyed to work, on the purgation of souls. If someone dies suddenly without purgations, a purifying of heart, mind, and soul, what then? Just because you say you believe doesn't mean you believe. Saying and living are two different things. Faith and Love. True faith and true love. Blessed are the meek, brokenhearted, and crushed then...God will save, everyone who reaches out. Last night we had a visitor in group reunion. A powerful testimony. This guy was in jail for several years. He finally hit rock bottom in the cell. Said he had this deep realization, that he had lost everything, family, work, friends, freedom. He felt dejected, rejected and extremely alone, even though there were cellmates. Suicide now hit him as a possibility. He said it was so bad, that he finally prayed. He was so dejected, and in the darkness he said he had a vision...a hand appeared. Only a hand. As if reaching out. He said "I don't believe in visions." and turned away. He woke up and saw the hand still there. He looked at it, looked away and looked at it again. This time he stood up, and at that moment, everything changed. Life became different. As if that hand were with him until he finished his term....until meaning...still to this day. I asked him to consider living a life of gratefulness, to let go...of that beer bottle he held...holding onto, meaning, sin, sinfulness, ungratefulness lifestyle.

In comes our Lord, in the feast of tabernacles. You can't keep the Lord from these feasts of Him for Him. Where first-fruits are gathered. Where on the 25th, they celebrated. They acted as if they lived on a pilgrimage, like when on exile, freed from bondage, slavery. We are pilgrims on earth. It is an awesome feast of joy, of enjoying a meal, of being one with Him on our journey. I told the brothers, "the Lord is making His Way among us....all we've to do is to join Him...or look away". And so, the rejectors said "But we know where he is from." What does this mean? It means they had Him all figured out. Just like nowadays, people live their own lifestyles, they got God all figured out, so they live however they want, sometimes making for themselves a living hell, by simply ignoring the Lord. But what does this hell look like? It is direct opposite of church life. Bear with me. These words are going to sound strong.

I am gathered with my family to celebrate daily Holy Mass in the evening with only a couple other older ladies usually.
Across the street dozens upon dozens of families gather to play soccer or other things, cheer-leading etc.
We make a retreat, spend lots of money and invite everyone, perhaps 600 people were invited. We show up, only a dozen are there, half from out of town.
There is a dance in town, with hardly any personal invitations and hundreds show up.
We go to Sunday Mass, as a family, and go into a restaurant, and I see families eating that did not go to Mass. They are having their Sunday Meal, their own religions.
What's to be made of these 2 or 3 examples? On the one hand, you can see the rejection of some. On the other, I see a vast field of possibilities, bringing fruits to the Lord. We need more laborers. We need more to be faithful. We need more men and women and children to be what we were baptized to be: Faithful lovers of God. I always tell people, constantly, "it's different when you serve, rather than being served". If you want to make the Holy Church yours, then dive into it, and serve. And when you serve, please serve Love.
He is waiting to be served.
Mr. Love is a faithful patron. Patron in spanish means boss, and in english means client. Customer is always right, Patron is always right.
What God says in the Holy Church and Scripture is right. If you could only see the things I see now, the lies in the world, especially the lies about our faith. They are trying to pass laws in Florida to put "In God We Trust" and prayer back in schools. There are groups saying and chanting "prayer doesn't help". Devil songs. They want laws to help, not God. Can you see the ongoing rejection in our society? It is fueled by the Antichrist that lives on until judgement day.
For this, let us gather, flock together, because our Lord leads us to pastures of life...eternal.



Fourth Friday of Lent

"The world is like a field; bearing fruit there is
as difficult as it is praiseworthy. Christians bring
forth fruit where all too easily the twin sprouts
of grace—the spirit of a life of virtue and the
fragrance of a good name—wither and die."

Grains, fruits, and vegetables grow according
to the soil, rain, and sunlight to which they are
exposed. They do not choose to grow into their full potential—or not. People, however, are not equally determined by external forces. They can choose how to react to life, how to interpret the events of life. When people grow in God's ways, they see all creation differently, with deeper humility and reverence.

Praying with Saint Anthony

"Teach me the way I should go" (Ps 143:8).

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