The Contemplative Mind
The life of contemplation is a life of great simplicity and inner liberty. One is not seeking anything special or demanding any particular satisfaction. One is content with what is. One is not worried about the results of what is done. One is content to have good motives and not too anxious about making mistakes. In this way one can swim with the living stream of life and remain at every moment in contact with God, in the hiddenness and ordinariness of the present moment with its obvious task.
—from The Art of Thomas Merton: A Divine Passion in Word and Vision
"Therefore, my brother, scorned as you are by men, lashed as it were by God, do not despair. Do not be depressed. Do not let your weakness make you impatient. Instead, let the serenity of your spirit shine through your face. Let the joy of your mind burst forth. Let words of thanks break from your lips."
— St. Peter Damian
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a mortal man? Today he is, and tomorrow he appears no more. Fear God, and thou shalt have no need of being afraid of man. What can anyone do against thee by his words or injuries? He rather hurts himself than thee, nor can he escape the judgment of God whoever he be. See thou have God before thine eyes and do not contend with complaining words. And if at present thou seem to be overcome, and to suffer a confusion which thou has not deserved, do not repine at this and do not lessen thy crown by impatience."
— Thomas á Kempis, p.148
AN EXCERPT FROM
Imitation of Christ
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY
"Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God."
1 Corinthians 1:26-29
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Saint Magdalen of Canossa
(March 1, 1774 – April 10, 1835)
Wealth and privilege did nothing to prevent today's saint from following her calling to serve Christ in the poor. Nor did the protests of her relatives, concerned that such work was beneath her.
Born in northern Italy in 1774, Magdalen knew her mind—and spoke it. At age 15 she announced she wished to become a nun. After trying out her vocation with the cloistered Carmelites, she realized her desire was to serve the needy without restriction. For years she worked among the poor and sick in hospitals and in their homes, and also among delinquent and abandoned girls.
In her mid-20s, Magdalen began offering lodging to poor girls in her own home. In time she opened a school, which offered practical training and religious instruction. As other women joined her in the work, the new Congregation of the Canossian Daughters of Charity—or Canossian Sisters—emerged. Over time, houses were opened throughout Italy.
Members of the new religious congregation focused on the educational and spiritual needs of women. Magdalen also founded a smaller congregation for priests and brothers. Both groups continue to this day.
Magdalen died in 1835. Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1988.
Let us pray to Saint Magdalen for the many young women who are caught up in the sex trafficking epidemic of our day.
Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter
Reading 1 Acts 4:32-37
The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the Apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the Apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need.
Thus Joseph, also named by the Apostles Barnabas
(which is translated son of encouragement"),
a Levite, a Cypriot by birth,
sold a piece of property that he owned,
then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 93:1ab, 1cd-2, 5
R. (1a) The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
The LORD is king, in splendor robed;
robed is the LORD and girt about with strength.
R. The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
And he has made the world firm,
not to be moved.
Your throne stands firm from of old;
from everlasting you are, O LORD.
R. The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed:
holiness befits your house,
O LORD, for length of days.
R. The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
Alleluia Jn 3:14-15
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Son of Man must be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him
may have eternal life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 3:7b-15
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
"'You must be born from above.'
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Nicodemus answered and said to him,
'How can this happen?"
Jesus answered and said to him,
"You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?
Amen, amen, I say to you,
we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen,
but you people do not accept our testimony.
If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe,
how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."
Meditation: Acts 4:32-37
They had everything in common. (Acts 4:32)
Isn't it striking how the first Christians took care of one another? Moved by their love for the Lord and for each other, the wealthier members of their community—people like Barnabas—freely shared their resources with those who were less fortunate. They considered their bounty as a blessing from God and saw it as something that they should share with each other rather than hold onto for themselves (Acts 4:34-37).
Blessed Frederic Ozanam is a more contemporary example of someone who, like the early Christians, looked beyond himself to the needs of the people around him. When thousands died in a cholera epidemic in Paris in 1832, many more were left destitute. Ozanam, a young university student, was moved at the hopeless state of families who had lost the support of their breadwinners. Then he was stung by another student's remark: "In former times Christianity worked wonders, but what is it doing for mankind now? And you, who pride yourself on your Catholicity, what are you doing for the poor?"
In response, Ozanam gathered a few friends and began to do whatever he could to relieve the suffering he saw in the slums of the city. Eventually, a new organization, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, grew from Ozanam's work and spread. Today, through this society, volunteers serve millions of disadvantaged people around the globe. They provide home visits, job training, housing assistance, food pantries, and medicine for the elderly. They pray with people, care for their needs, and show the love of Christ in countless concrete ways.
Most of us don't live in as close-knit a community as the first Christians did, where everything was held in common. Nor would many of us be able, like Barnabas, to sell our property, donate it to our local parish, and still be able to care for ourselves and our families. Still, God asks us to bear witness to his Son through acts of generosity and loving service that are in line with our circumstances. So ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see the needs around you. Sharing even a little of your resources, even a little of your time and attention, can make a big difference!
"Lord, show me how I can share the blessings you have given me."
Psalm 93:1-2, 5
"The community of believers was of one heart and mind..." this was heaven on earth. They shared everything. They owned nothing. This is heaven on earth. Selfless all in one and all for one. No self interests. Right? Do you see this anymore? It exists. It is the faithful. This group of people are not only devoting their lives to God, but they are in love with God. This group of people, although, small in number, they are important, especially in God's eyes. These faithful are not in the kingdom out of self interest, but only interested in "our Father's Business".
We pray: "The LORD is king, in splendor robed; robed is the LORD and girt about with strength." The King of poverty. That's who we claim, us faithful. The King who owned nothing, even His tunic was taken from Him, yet He freely gave it, even though it had sentimental value, He let strangers, enemies have it, and they cast lots for it, like savages, after they had about whipped Him to death. Sentimental value because His mother had made it for Him, and it was made with love, and it kept Him warm. Yet, even that, the King of Poverty said "you can have it all". I get upset with some poor people I deal with. I have to keep helping them. I try to teach them to take care of themselves, to save money, to stop "wasting" their money. One day I gave one of them $20 because she was broke on side of the road and while on the side of the road she had asked for it. I said "better yet, I'll go tank up your tank full of gas". We went. She reluctantly took the additional $20 on top of the gas. (Go the extra mile, give them your tunic). Follow Jesus. So why am I upset with them? They keep giving away everything I give them. Now that I'm writing...it seems they are giving my money to others in need. DOH! Boy we've got a lot to learn from the poor. Don't we? A couple days ago, they asked for my older vehicle I use to go to town. Theirs was having engine trouble. I am reluctant for one reason: I want them to fend for themselves to learn how to fish! But, of course I let them use my "humble vehicle" the one I seemingly want to use, instead of the poor. But I heard God talking to me throughout, "give without cost". I gave without no grief. Like before: My vehicle is gone for weeks. But last night they knocked at my door. They brought me the keys to the "jeepy" an old Tracker see pics). I was surprised. They said they had fixed their car overnight. I was happy for them. Why do I bother you with this story? Because, there are two things to always give to God no matter what the situation, give: Thanks, and Praise.
In the Holy Gospel our Lord says "You must be born from above". YOU! Not your neighbor, not anyone you want to be "saved" or "christianized". No. And what does being born again mean? Everything. It means living in this community of the "faithful". Here, we are supposed to give without measure. Born from above means born from love. Love of the Father, our Father. To be sure, on earth, as it is in Heaven above. It is a complete honor to serve our Lord on earth, because that is how we serve Heaven. "If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?" There is merit for good deeds but your deeds alone won't save you. The greatest merit is God's grace, received, with a clean disposition in our hearts to receive. Poor. Empty. Jesus our Lord said "And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." What does Jesus show us from the cross? Something spectacular. He is emptying Himself even of His own blood, and body, and soul, and divinity. Last night, I was watching Jim Caviezel, the actor who was Christ in the Passion, and Raymond on EWTN asked him "would you do that again", meaning, all the suffering he endured, for portraying Christ, and Jim said yes. Even though it caused separated shoulder, hypothermia, bruises, bleeding, and heart failure, causing heart surgery after the movie, Jim said something that caught my attention "Something calls me back to that cross, something so special". This is what happened to me on our Good Friday retreat. That night of the retreat I told the brothers around the campfire, "all during our Friday service, not Mass, I kept wanting to rewind the day to the part where we carried the cross". A special grace must be appointed. Indeed, Sister Anne Emerich said that our Mother Mary was so devoted to the "way of the cross" that she did it often and with great passion. Perhaps she had received the supreme grace of knowing what this means for....the world. And soon the Apostles did it too, even to the point of real life, giving their lives to God. The poor community. It suffers. Man does it suffer. Yet, they provide so much for the world. You know, in the last century, it has turned dark spiritually, losing sight of the love of God, more martyrs than ever. But a reversal can soon occur. It will begin with the poor. The poor that are despised. The poor that the founder of Planned Parenthood called "weeds of the world". Just for being poor. And there, among the poorest of the poor is Christ our Lord, and our Savior
From our Holy Hour Prayers:
The following may be sung as a hymn or recited as a prayer.
JESUS, MY LORD, MY GOD
Jesus, my Lord, my God, my All,
How can I love You as I ought?
And how revere this wondrous gift,
So far surpassing hope and thought.
Sweet Sacrament we Thee adore,
O make us love Thee more and more,
O make us love Thee more and more.
Had I but Mary's sinless Heart,
To love You with, my dearest King.
O with what bursts of fervent praise,
Your goodness Jesus, would I sing.