Protect the Young
We need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected. And we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets. It was a frail child, in need of protection, who brought God's goodness, mercy and justice into the world. He resisted the dishonesty and corruption which are the legacy of sin, and he triumphed over them by the power of his cross.
—from The Blessing of Family: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis
"We must not wish anything other than what happens from moment to moment, all the while, however, exercising ourselves in goodness. And to refuse to exercise oneself in goodness, and to insist upon simply awaiting what God might send, would be simply to tempt God."
— St. Catherine of Genoa
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"When it comes to explaining the Blessed Virgin Mary, having a lot of love is more important than having a lot of answers. When we come up lacking, she'll make greater goods out of our deficiencies, as only a mother can do. Whenever we're humiliated and shown our weakness, we should get ready for something better than we could ever plan and prepare to accomplish. Evangelize with joy, then, and with confidence. Know from the start that you don't have all the answers—but your Savior does, and He loves His mother. He will give you everything you need, even if sometimes you need to fail."
— Scott Hahn, p.162
AN EXCERPT FROM
Hail, Holy Queen
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY
"But I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. ... Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you."
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(c. 296 – May 2, 373)
Athanasius led a tumultuous but dedicated life of service to the Church. He was the great champion of the faith against the widespread heresy of Arianism, the teaching by Arius that Jesus was not truly divine. The vigor of his writings earned him the title of doctor of the Church.
Born of a Christian family in Alexandria, Egypt, and given a classical education, Athanasius became secretary to Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, entered the priesthood and was eventually named bishop himself. His predecessor, Alexander, had been an outspoken critic of a new movement growing in the East—Arianism.
When Athanasius assumed his role as bishop of Alexandria, he continued the fight against Arianism. At first, it seemed that the battle would be easily won and that Arianism would be condemned. Such, however, did not prove to be the case. The Council of Tyre was called and for several reasons that are still unclear, the Emperor Constantine exiled Athanasius to northern Gaul. This was to be the first in a series of travels and exiles reminiscent of the life of Saint Paul.
After Constantine died, his son restored Athanasius as bishop. This lasted only a year, however, for he was deposed once again by a coalition of Arian bishops. Athanasius took his case to Rome, and Pope Julius I called a synod to review the case and other related matters.
Five times Athanasius was exiled for his defense of the doctrine of Christ's divinity. During one period of his life, he enjoyed 10 years of relative peace—reading, writing, and promoting the Christian life along the lines of the monastic ideal to which he was greatly devoted. His dogmatic and historical writings are almost all polemic, directed against every aspect of Arianism.
Among his ascetical writings, his Life of St. Anthony achieved astonishing popularity and contributed greatly to the establishment of monastic life throughout the Western Christian world.
Athanasius suffered many trials while he was bishop of Alexandria. He was given the grace to remain strong against what probably seemed at times to be insurmountable opposition. Athanasius lived his office as bishop completely. He defended the true faith for his flock, regardless of the cost to himself. In today's world we are experiencing this same call to remain true to our faith, no matter what.
Memorial of Saint Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Reading 1 Acts 15:1-6
Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers,
"Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice,
you cannot be saved."
Because there arose no little dissension and debate
by Paul and Barnabas with them,
it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others
should go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and presbyters
about this question.
They were sent on their journey by the Church,
and passed through Phoenicia and Samaria
telling of the conversion of the Gentiles,
and brought great joy to all the brethren.
When they arrived in Jerusalem,
they were welcomed by the Church,
as well as by the Apostles and the presbyters,
and they reported what God had done with them.
But some from the party of the Pharisees who had become believers
stood up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them
and direct them to observe the Mosaic law."
The Apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5
R. (see 1) Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me,
"We will go up to the house of the LORD."
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Alleluia JN 15:4A, 5B
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord;
whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 15:1-8
Jesus said to his disciples:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."
Meditation: Acts 15:1-6
Saint Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)
They reported what God had done with them. (Acts 15:4)
A recent survey polled 2,000 people who do not attend any church service. The survey gauged their agreement with this statement: "If a friend of mine really values their faith, I don't mind them talking about it." Would it surprise you to know that roughly 80 percent agreed with that statement? "If faith is important to you," the survey concluded, "then your friends will be interested in hearing about it."
This is good news: you can share your story; people really are interested when you talk about God's work in your life. They're interested in hearing about how he answered your prayers or how he helped you stay peaceful during a stormy season. We hear so many negative stories on the news; it's refreshing to hear a good report!
So what might happen when we share our stories?
Sharing our stories can inspire joy. In today's first reading, Paul and Barnabas were just sharing stories about how God was moving among them. The same goes for us. Our stories point to the goodness of God. They point to the encouraging truth that God is on our side. Sometimes we're encouraged by remembering our history with God—even if no one else is!
Sharing our stories can build faith. When you share what God has done for you, it can help other people accept the fact that God is still working today. They might find something that relates to their own life. Then, they may dare to believe, "God did it for them. Maybe he can do it for me too." In this way, telling our stories can be a tool to draw people closer to God.
Finally, sharing our stories can point people toward Jesus. Our goal in speaking about the Lord isn't to say, "Look at me!" Rather, it's to encourage, "Look at Jesus. He is so good." Sure, it takes a little courage. But God is right by your side, ready to help you.
Don't worry if you feel a little timid about sharing your faith. Most people do. Just remember: people are interested in your stories. What's more, the Holy Spirit is with you. Giving a good report encourages everyone—even you!
"Lord, help me find the courage to speak of your goodness with my friends and family."
The first Holy Scripture said "When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the Church". There was an existing church, with bishops, a leader, a pope, there was a group of them waiting for them, in Jerusalem, and this should speak volumes of those waiting in the new Jerusalem, what we need to think of is Heaven. Who is waiting for us to welcome us in Heaven?
Let us sing and pray: "I rejoiced because they said to me, "We will go up to the house of the LORD." And now we have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord." I am fascinated with Heaven. There are sounds unheard and music unheard, and colors unseen. We are limited in our range of colors and sounds, things seen and heard. There you can see what we can not. There you can hear what we can not. And this is meaningful...because God is involved and revealed in clarity that only holiness reveals, purity.
In the Holy Gospel, our Lord reveals Himself: ""I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower." And then He says these powerful little words "remain in me". And adds to them "as I remain in you". Be with Me as I Am with you. Be faithful to Me, as I Am faithful to you. If you leave, you will wither and you will die. Mortal sins kills souls. But God can restore life. It would be quite something if we could see someone spiritually dead, but we can't. We can't judge that can we? But, we can be remaining, always providing God's nourishment to souls. We can provide that cup of water. We can give without asking for nothing in return. That's how God provides. He just gives. Sure we give thanks, but to be thankful and living thankfulness, that is remaining with Him and in Him. The day you stop providing the Word, being Christ to the world, that day you will begin to shrivel, focused inward, in on yourself, all because you decided not to give anymore. But God can restore us then too, He can save a withering soul, by pruning. We can try to save a plant by pruning the diseased (sinfulness) branches.
Our Bishop came by this Sunday to confirm the youngsters. He said something my brother in Christ mentioned yesterday "he said we are to prune the dead branches and some live ones". That got many heads churning. You mean, like a living sacrifice? A martyr maybe? What "living" part should be pruned in us? When a grower prunes live branches in plants it is for a reason. It could be that he wants it to grow a certain way. It could be that other branches needed to benefit from this pruning. We don't know. Our job is to trust. Do not be overly concerned on those you can't convert, or you could die in the process. Harsh words for someone trying to save the whole world, right? But at what point are you going to be faithful to God...meaning, at what point are you going to have faith in Him? I spoke with another yesterday; he told me about his college son, came back home, dropped out of the university, failing grades, racked up parking tickets, lots of debt. It just seemed the son would/could not be responsible no matter what my friend said to him. I said "at some point, you'll have to push him out of the nest". Fly or die. Harsh words. Or is this a manner of pruning? He said to me "yeah, you may be right, I got a friend that said he graduated from college, his dad was waiting for him at the front door of his house the day after, expecting to move in with his dad, and the dad said "son I love you, but for your own good, you can't stay here". It was time to be a man. Not to go home in comfort, but time to be a man on his own, giving fruit. You see? No pain, no gain. It is like this in the spiritual workout world. No pain no gain. No sacrifice, no life. We want things easy, but it is not. It takes hard work to see gains and fruit. And the fruit is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The virtues God wants to see coming from our lives because of what He provides and we have accepted. And in this case, it is not mere water and nutrients, but blood and flesh, soul and divinity of Christ coursing through our souls. The kind of life pumping through us that lives on forever and ever.
I am fascinated by Heaven, where things are pruned and fruits are seen and heard, and just oozing through God's heart. Jesus loves us. He says today "I love you...love Me"