Tuesday, April 24, 2018

No One Can Take Them

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Winged Creatures

Bring to your attention all the insects—bees, dragonflies, lightning bugs, butterflies—all the little creatures that inhabit our planet. Think of all the services they provide us—they who help pollinate the flowers and plants, who help break down waste, who enrich the soil—all of them playing crucial roles in the interconnected mystery of life on our planet. Bring to mind the other winged creatures—sparrows, songbirds, bluebirds, great birds of prey. Bring them into your circle of awareness, all of God's creatures being breathed by life right now in this present moment. These creatures around us are, indeed, gifts from God.

—from Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth
franciscan media



"The last degree of love is when He gave Himself to us to be our Food; because He gave Himself to be united with us in every way."
— St. Bernardine of Siena

"Prayer brings our mind into the brightness of divine light, and exposes our will to the warmth of divine love. Nothing else can so purge our mind from its ignorance, and our will from its depraved affections. It is a blessed fountain which, as it flows, revives our good desires and causes them to bring forth fruit, washes away the stains of infirmity from our soul, and calms the passions of our hearts."
— St. Francis de Sales, p. 61
An Introduction to the Devout Life

"My child, if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; if you indeed cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding; if you seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures—then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God."
Proverbs 2:1-5


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Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen

(1577 – April 24, 1622)

If a poor man needed some clothing, Fidelis would often give the man the clothes right off his back. Complete generosity to others characterized this saint's life.

Born in 1577, Mark Rey became a lawyer who constantly upheld the causes of the poor and oppressed people. Nicknamed "the poor man's lawyer," Rey soon grew disgusted with the corruption and injustice he saw among his colleagues. He left his law career to become a priest, joining his brother George as a member of the Capuchin Order. Fidelis was his religious name. His wealth was divided between needy seminarians and the poor.

As a follower of Saint Francis of Assisi, Fidelis continued his devotion to the weak and needy. During a severe epidemic in a city where he was guardian of a friary, Fidelis cared for and cured many sick soldiers.

He was appointed head of a group of Capuchins sent to preach against the Calvinists and Zwinglians in Switzerland. Almost certain violence threatened. Those who observed the mission felt that success was more attributable to the prayer of Fidelis during the night than to his sermons and instructions.

He was accused of opposing the peasants' national aspirations for independence from Austria. While he was preaching at Seewis, to which he had gone against the advice of his friends, a gun was fired at him, but he escaped unharmed. A Protestant offered to shelter Fidelis, but he declined, saying his life was in God's hands. On the road back, he was set upon by a group of armed men and killed.

Fidelis was canonized in 1746. Fifteen years later he was recognized as a martyr.

Fidelis' constant prayer was that he be kept completely faithful to God and not give in to any lukewarmness or apathy. He was often heard to exclaim, "Woe to me if I should prove myself but a halfhearted soldier in the service of my thorn-crowned Captain." His prayer against apathy, and his concern for the poor and weak make him a saint whose example is valuable today. The modern Church is calling us to follow the example of "the poor man's lawyer" by sharing ourselves and our talents with those less fortunate and by working for justice in the world.


Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Reading 1 Acts 11:19-26

Those who had been scattered by the persecution
that arose because of Stephen
went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch,
preaching the word to no one but Jews.
There were some Cypriots and Cyrenians among them, however,
who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks as well,
proclaiming the Lord Jesus.
The hand of the Lord was with them
and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
The news about them reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem,
and they sent Barnabas to go to Antioch.
When he arrived and saw the grace of God,
he rejoiced and encouraged them all
to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart,
for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith.
And a large number of people was added to the Lord.
Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul,
and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch.
For a whole year they met with the Church
and taught a large number of people,
and it was in Antioch that the disciples
were first called Christians.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 87:1b-3, 4-5, 6-7
R. (117:1a) All you nations, praise the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
His foundation upon the holy mountains
the LORD loves:
The gates of Zion,
more than any dwelling of Jacob.
Glorious things are said of you,
O city of God!
R. All you nations, praise the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
I tell of Egypt and Babylon
among those who know the LORD;
Of Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia:
"This man was born there."
And of Zion they shall say:
"One and all were born in her;
And he who has established her
is the Most High LORD."
R. All you nations, praise the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
They shall note, when the peoples are enrolled:
"This man was born there."
And all shall sing, in their festive dance:
"My home is within you."
R. All you nations, praise the Lord.
R. Alleluia.

Alleliua Jn 10:27
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 10:22-30

The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem.
It was winter.
And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon.
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him,
"How long are you going to keep us in suspense?
If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."
Jesus answered them, "I told you and you do not believe.
The works I do in my Father's name testify to me.
But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.
My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father's hand.
The Father and I are one."


Meditation: John 10:22-30

Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr (Optional Memorial)

No one can take them out of my hand. (John 10:28)

What makes you feel vulnerable? Flying in an airplane? Being in a boat surrounded by large waves? Or is your fear most exposed in relationships, where you worry about being hurt or let down? Whatever triggers it for you, everyone has times of wondering if catastrophe is just around the corner.

Do you ever feel vulnerable in your relationship with God? It's easy to worry that if you do or say the wrong thing, you may alienate him, and he may give up on you. Maybe you won't even make it to heaven.

In today's Gospel passage, Jesus confronts these fears head-on. Speaking about those who believe, he says, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand" (John 10:28). What a comforting reminder of God's constant love!

It's easy to think that we are the primary actors in our spiritual lives. But here Jesus is, reminding us that he is the one pursuing us, and he will not allow anyone or anything to steal us away from him. He even goes so far as to say, "My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all" (John 10:29).

God doesn't want you to live in fear of rejection from him. He wants you to be more sure of his love for you than you are of anything else. That's because his love is the most sure thing in all the world. You can live in security, safe in the knowledge that God is on your side, ready to forgive and restore you. He will stop at nothing to keep you in the palm of his hand.

Today, try taking a look at the times you feel most deeply vulnerable. Invite the Lord into these areas. Ask him to show you that he will protect you. Ask him to tell you that he has already forgiven you and restored you to your heavenly Father. Dwell on his greatness and his mercy so that you can put your fears into perspective. You are a child of God; you are safe in your Father's hand!

"Jesus, I am in awe of the way you pursue me. I give my fears to you today; drive them out with your perfect love."

Acts 11:19-26
Psalm 87:1-7



"The hand of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed turned to the Lord." I asked a bible study group last night "have you seen the Lord?" and a man said "I did, yesterday, at the closing of a "Search" for youth". His son went, and was shy, but he got up and gave a witness talk at the end, and some young testimonies had several in tears. I continued "So you saw the Lord through all this?". Because we want to see the Lord. But the Lord is a movement, and this movement is called Love. He goes as the wind where He pleases and is invited into gatherings where He loves to appear.

We prayed in the Psalms today: "My home is within you." All you nations, praise the Lord". And we pray on "His foundation upon the holy mountains
the LORD loves: The gates of Zion, more than any dwelling of Jacob.
Glorious things are said of you, O city of God!" We are that city. The Heavens watch us and love the glory given to God, a mere witness and accepted testimony.

In comes our Lord with His testimony:
✞"I told you and you do not believe." Belief will be the key to unlocking these gates of Zion, the foundation of mountains He loves.

✞"The works I do in my Father's name testify to me." Some want to see signs, but not even a miracle is enough. If you do not believe the works, how can you believe in Him at all?

✞"But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep." This goes with what He once said in Mt12:30 "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.".

So now, the question is on you and me: "do you hear Him?" The brother did not literally see Him, but heard. You see the Lord moving. And...we follow. Follow to eternity. And be comforted, you follower of Jesus our Lord, because He said "No one can take them out of my hand." and the last words today from Him were "The Father and I are one."
And in Holy Communion, where our vows are renewed, He makes Himself one with us. One with God the Father, which means creator, which means Shepherd, which means One Who Loves, and therefore has sent the One Who Saves, to be the One Who is With Us.
He will not lose a single one that is His.
This is true love on the move...forever



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