All of Life Is Beautiful
It is a source of hope that Pope Francis has taken the name of the Christian saint most associated with concern for nonhuman animals. In addition to emphasizing the need to protect "all of God's creatures" in his very first homily, Francis once broke protocol by insisting that the canine helper of a sight-impaired journalist be allowed into the hall to greet him. The pope blessed not only the journalist, but gave a "special blessing for your dog, too."
John Paul II also built on the fact that nonhuman animals have "the breath of life" by claiming during one papal audience that nonhuman animals "have souls" and that we "love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren."
—from For Love of Animals: Christian Ethics, Consistent Action
"Since happiness is nothing other than the enjoyment of the highest good, and since the highest good is above, no one can be happy unless he rises above himself, not by an ascent of the body, but of the heart."
— St. Bonaventure
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"No one can fail to understand that the Divine Eucharist bestows upon the Christian people an incomparable dignity. Not only while the Sacrifice is offered and the Sacrament is received, but as long as the Eucharist is kept in our churches and oratories, Christ is truly Emmanuel, that is, 'God with us'. Day and night He is in our midst, He dwells with us, full of grace and truth. He restores morality, nourishes virtues, consoles the afflicted, strengthens the weak. He proposes His own example to those who come to Him that all may learn to be, like Himself, meek and humble of heart and to seek not their own interests but those of God. Anyone who approaches this august Sacrament with special devotion and endeavors to return generous love for Christ's own infinite love, will experience and fully understand—not without spiritual joy and fruit—how precious is the life hidden with Christ in God and how great is the value of converse with Christ, for there is nothing more consoling on earth, nothing more efficacious for advancing along the road of holiness."
— Bl. Pope Paul VI, p.52
AN EXCERPT FROM
Manual for Eucharistic Adoration
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY
"The way of the righteous is level; O Just One, you make smooth the path of the righteous. In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and your renown are the soul's desire. My soul yearns for you in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness."
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St. Mark the Evangelist (1st c.) was born to Jewish parents living in Libya in North Africa, later settling in Cana of Galilee not far from Jerusalem. Mark became one of the 70 disciples of Jesus and the author of the Gospel that bears his name. According to tradition, St. Peter the Apostle was married to a relative of St. Mark's father, and after Mark's father died, Peter looked after him like his own son. Being a close disciple of St. Peter, the first Bishop of Rome, Mark's Gospel is addressed to Gentile converts to the Christian faith living in Rome. Most of what we know about his life and missionary activity is recorded in the New Testament. He traveled to Egypt and founded the Church there, and was martyred c. 68 A.D. by being dragged through the streets of Alexandria until his body was torn to pieces. St. Mark is the patron of lawyers and prisoners. His feast day is April 25.
Feast of Saint Mark, evangelist
Reading 1 1 Pt 5:5b-14
Clothe yourselves with humility
in your dealings with one another, for:
God opposes the proud
but bestows favor on the humble.
So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,
that he may exalt you in due time.
Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.
Be sober and vigilant.
Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, steadfast in faith,
knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world
undergo the same sufferings.
The God of all grace
who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus
will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you
after you have suffered a little.
To him be dominion forever. Amen.
I write you this briefly through Silvanus,
whom I consider a faithful brother,
exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God.
Remain firm in it.
The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son.
Greet one another with a loving kiss.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17
R. (2) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The favors of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, "My kindness is established forever";
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The heavens proclaim your wonders, O LORD,
and your faithfulness, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies can rank with the LORD?
Who is like the LORD among the sons of God?
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day,
and through your justice they are exalted.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Alleluia 1 Cor 1:23a-24b
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We proclaim Christ crucified;
he is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 16:15-20
Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
"Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
Then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.
Meditation: 1 Peter 5:5-14
Saint Mark, Evangelist (Feast)
Mark, my son. (1 Peter 5:13)
When we see "Saint" in front of someone's name, we might think they got that way on their own. But St. Mark tells a different story. He might have faded into history if someone else hadn't believed in him.
Mark was the son of Mary, a widow in whose house the early Christians gathered (Acts 12:12). Although not one of the twelve apostles, Mark may well have been one of Jesus' followers. He also accompanied his cousin Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey, but for some reason, he left them prematurely (13:13). When it was time for the next trip, Paul didn't want to take Mark along. In his eyes, Mark had deserted the cause and couldn't be trusted (15:38).
Fortunately, Barnabas didn't give up on him. While Paul went on to Syria with Silas, Barnabas took Mark to Cyprus (Acts 15:39-41). And that second chance was all he needed. Tradition tells us that Mark went on to Rome, became Peter's interpreter, and later wrote the first Gospel. Even Paul forgave Mark eventually. Later in life he commended Mark for his service and called his companionship a "comfort" (Colossians 4:11).
Now, what if Barnabas had rejected Mark as well? The young man might never have become Peter's "son" in the faith (1 Peter 5:13). What's worse, he might never have written his Gospel—which means that Matthew and Luke might not have written their Gospels either! If Barnabas hadn't shown Mark a little compassion, who knows what kind of Bible we would be reading today?
The story of Mark's life urges us not to give up on each other. God's love can cover not only "a multitude of sins," but desertions, weaknesses, failures, and individual quirks as well (1 Peter 4:8). Barnabas saw something in Mark that Paul couldn't see. Looking with the eyes of mercy and patience, he saw Mark's potential and stuck with him.
Everyone has the potential to become a saint. All they need is someone to show them patience and encouragement.
Is there a "St. Mark" in your life?
"Father, help me to emphasize the gifts in people instead of their shortcomings. Show me how to love, encourage, and inspire them."
Psalm 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17
"...So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." This humble thing is perhaps the hardest thing to do that God asks, or expects of His true followers. By no means am I a master of it, and as hard as I try, I keep failing at it. What does humility consist of then? Let's back track before the acquisition of this virtue, before even being bestowed this great honor and gift of God, let's go to step number one, where it all begins: prayer. The Catechism says of prayer "Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in his name. The "spiritual battle" of the Christian's new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer." In obstacles and objections to prayer it says "To overcome these obstacles, we must battle to gain humility, trust, and perseverance." And because it is important to note, let us continue on this note: "The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. It can affect words and their meaning in vocal prayer; it can concern, more profoundly, him to whom we are praying, in vocal prayer (liturgical or personal), meditation, and contemplative prayer. To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve" And lastly "Against our dullness and laziness, the battle of prayer is that of humble, trusting, and persevering love".
Let us pray: "The favors of the LORD I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord" How do we rejoice in the Lord? Simplify it, and live it like this: Live in the Lord. Does this make sense? A joy is a completeness. It is to have heaven living, a life of grace and abundance, and it comes by way of an emptiness, of self, and filled and fulfilled with Him whom desire to be our fulfillment of all our desires.
In comes the joy of our Lord and this at His ascension, and says "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature." Saint Francis did this literally, to every single creature, animals and humans alike. They said that once he was preaching to a flock of birds who were gathered around seemingly paying attention. And to a mad wolf. And the stories go on and on. Was this a mad man? Or was this man living Christ aloud? For sure, nobody can find a documentation where he was supposedly saying "go and preach and if necessary use words". This is not true. Saint Francis preached and when some of his Franciscans preached to Muslims and got their heads chopped off for not stopping the preaching, Saint Francis said ""Now I can truly say that I have five Friars Minor!" But the devil wants you silent. Silent in your prayer life. Silent about abortions. Silent about homosexual activity. Silent even about people living in affairs. Silent like Pontious Pilate washing his hands. Silent even in church, where instead of singing and praying with the congregation, you are there, like a statue...non living. That is not the living waters God wants you to be. You were baptized with water and fire. Water in Baptism and Fire in Confirmation. You were made to energize the Body of Christ. You have been given a voice, you are not deaf and mute. You can proclaim. You can pray. You can realize distractions and see what gods they reveal, and then focus more on Jesus, not focus on distractions which come in families, classrooms, work, and even in church. Focus. If there is one thing we learned on our Good Friday retreat was to focus on the objectives, the directives of Christ. Lose sight, and you may lose a life.
Focus then, on humility that brings joy.
CHRIST our LORD!