Friday, June 1, 2018

When You Stand To Pray

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Fill Me with Your Life

Without prayer, we run the risk of forgetting who we have become and slowly we begin to feel as if God is distant and uninterested. Prayer also prevents us from hiding from God, for through it, we place ourselves before the only one that can perfect us and transform our lives. Every prayer, whether spoken or not, alone or with others, is truly an opportunity to say to Lord, "Fill me with your life. Change me into the person you know me to be."

—from Prayer Everywhere: The Spiritual Life Made Simple


"When you awake in the night, transport yourself quickly in spirit before the Tabernacle, saying: 'Behold, my God, I come to adore You, to praise, thank, and love you, and to keep you company with all the Angels.'"
— St. John Vianney

"My Lord, I offer you myself in turn as a sacrifice of thanksgiving. You have died for me, and I in turn make myself over to you. I am not my own. You have bought me; I will by my own act and deed complete the purchase. My wish is to be separated from everything of this world; to cleanse myself simply from sin; to put away from me even what is innocent, if used for its own sake, and not for yours. I put away reputation and honor, and influence, and power, for my praise and strength shall be in you. Enable me to carry out what I profess."
— Bl. John Henry Newman, p. 135
Everyday Meditations

"Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Save me, O Lord, from my enemies; I have fled to you for refuge. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path. For your name's sake, O Lord, preserve my life. In your righteousness bring me out of trouble. In your steadfast love cut off my enemies, and destroy all my adversaries, for I am your servant."
Psalm 143: 8-12


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Saint Justin Martyr

(c. 100 – 165)

Justin never ended his quest for religious truth even when he converted to Christianity after years of studying various pagan philosophies.

As a young man, he was principally attracted to the school of Plato. However, he found that the Christian religion answered the great questions about life and existence better than the philosophers.

Upon his conversion he continued to wear the philosopher's mantle, and became the first Christian philosopher. He combined the Christian religion with the best elements in Greek philosophy. In his view, philosophy was a pedagogue of Christ, an educator that was to lead one to Christ.

Justin is known as an apologist, one who defends in writing the Christian religion against the attacks and misunderstandings of the pagans. Two of his so-called apologies have come down to us; they are addressed to the Roman emperor and to the Senate.

For his staunch adherence to the Christian religion, Justin was beheaded in Rome in 165.

As patron of philosophers, Justin may inspire us to use our natural powers—especially our power to know and understand—in the service of Christ, and to build up the Christian life within us. Since we are prone to error, especially in reference to the deep questions concerning life and existence, we should also be willing to correct and check our natural thinking in light of religious truth. Thus we will be able to say with the learned saints of the Church: I believe in order to understand, and I understand in order to believe.


Memorial of Saint Justin, Martyr

Reading 1 1 Pt 4:7-13

The end of all things is at hand.
Therefore be serious and sober-minded
so that you will be able to pray.
Above all, let your love for one another be intense,
because love covers a multitude of sins.
Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another
as good stewards of God's varied grace.
Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God;
whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies,
so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ,
to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you,
as if something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ,
so that when his glory is revealed
you may also rejoice exultantly.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 96:10, 11-12, 13
R. (13b) The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.

Alleluia See Jn 15:16
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 11:11-26

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple area.
He looked around at everything and, since it was already late,
went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry.
Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf,
he went over to see if he could find anything on it.
When he reached it he found nothing but leaves;
it was not the time for figs.
And he said to it in reply, "May no one ever eat of your fruit again!"
And his disciples heard it.

They came to Jerusalem,
and on entering the temple area
he began to drive out those selling and buying there.
He overturned the tables of the money changers
and the seats of those who were selling doves.
He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area.
Then he taught them saying, "Is it not written:

My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples?
But you have made it a den of thieves."

The chief priests and the scribes came to hear of it
and were seeking a way to put him to death,
yet they feared him
because the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching.
When evening came, they went out of the city.

Early in the morning, as they were walking along,
they saw the fig tree withered to its roots.
Peter remembered and said to him, "Rabbi, look!
The fig tree that you cursed has withered."
Jesus said to them in reply, "Have faith in God.
Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain,
'Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,'
and does not doubt in his heart
but believes that what he says will happen,
it shall be done for him.
Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer,
believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.
When you stand to pray,
forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance,
so that your heavenly Father may in turn
forgive you your transgressions."


Meditation: Mark 11:11-26

Saint Justin, Martyr (Memorial)

He went over to see if he could find anything on it. (Mark 11:13)

Here's a riddle: What do fig trees and God's grace have in common? If you guessed, "They both bear fruit," you're right. It's in their natures to be fruitful. Perhaps this is why, in today's Gospel, Jesus was looking for figs even though it was out of season (Mark 11:13). It might not have made sense to the disciples at first, but over time they understood: if it's in your nature to be fruitful, you're going to bear fruit—at least when it comes to godliness.

God wants all of us to produce fruit year-round, in season and out of season. The good news is that he's not just sitting back waiting for us to do so. He is constantly pouring his grace into us, healing our memories, and urging us to go out and do the work he has called us to do. Every gift of grace is like a seed waiting to sprout. Every act of healing and mercy is like gentle rain, softening that seed. Every bit of nourishment from the Bread of Life and the word of God provides even more energy to send us out. God never stops caring for us.

Think about all the ways that you are already bearing spiritual fruit. When you're patient with your kids, especially when they are pushing your buttons, that's fruit. When you use your talent in business to provide for your family, you're bearing fruit. Even something as simple as letting another driver merge in front of you can be the fruit of grace in your life.

Grace brings spiritual fruit. That's just what it does. You know that you've received grace from God, so you can reasonably expect to see something come of it. Keep your eyes open. God is at work, empowering you to bear fruit year-round, and he is eager to see what that fruit ends up looking like.

"Lord, thank you for giving me your grace. Help me to see all the ways this grace is helping me bear fruit for your kingdom."

1 Peter 4:7-13
Psalm 96:10-13


Saint Peter our first leader/Pope said "... be serious and sober-minded
so that you will be able to pray. Above all, let your love for one another be intense..". Intense love. That is what is what we are called to do. Love of Christ and one another. Intense, meaning to an extreme degree, more than normal. Be serious. Take your faith, your love of God serious. Be sober- minded. This one could be tough. Forget alcoholism or drugs, being sober-minded could very well mean clean-minded, right? How many of our minds are cluttered with junk? Bad thoughts, ugly thoughts, things that weigh us down and have us preoccupied, and so tied up forget to bear fruit of love for God!

Let us pray: "The Lord comes to judge the earth. Before the LORD, for he comes; for he comes to rule the earth. He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy." I'm reading "Bible Basics for Catholics" {click}. It's an easy and interesting read, I suggest you pick it up, it's by John Bergsman, an interesting theologian that used to be a protestant. I enjoy his teachings on the dead sea scrolls. Anyhoot, I read last night about how this magnificent temple was finally built for God, by King Solomon. Nobody had been able to, or was allowed to build it, and all culmination of Abraham, Moses, and David were brought together in this temple. All for what? Jesus. WHOA!!! WHAT?

In comes Jesus, our Holy God and Mighty one:
† "May no one ever eat of your fruit again!"

and then the next quote from Him in the Gospel today says:
†"Is it not written: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples?"

Soon after our Lord will say that this temple will now be destroyed. All the people of Israel had hoped and longed for, this temple, would now be destroyed...razed, for Him to be raised. You see, God has showed us by this one very clear thing: HE HAS ALWAYS WANTED YOUR HEART!
He externally had given us commandments.
Now, He would internally right them in our hearts.
Nobody can say they did not know. Everybody knows what's expected of the heart.
Love intensely. Watch what comes in your mind and heart and soul. Let it be Christ only. If a stranger walks by, it is Christ. If a priest blesses you, it is Christ. If a scenic overview takes your breath away, it is Christ amazing you.

On the same token, flipped, watch your mind, heart and soul, watch what comes out. If nastiness comes out, it's what's trying to take root in your heart, your life. Do not curse, do not even say someone is dum! This is a curse. You are cursing. What's so bad about it? YOU ARE CURSING YOURSELF! Jesus' last words today were:
†"When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn
forgive you your transgressions."

And right before He had said:
†"I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours." This has been twisted by prosperity gospel people, "name it and claim it" they teach. And many try do this to be well off financially and so forth. But Jesus whipped all this out of the temple, didn't He? Our temple should be cleansed of impurities, it should be a place of worship and adoration of God. Mass boring? Worship boring? It is what is in your heart. I go to daily Masses often. There is no great "worship services" going. Just rituals, just little things, like the Word of God, and the Flesh of God, and the sharing, and the caring...intensely. People there are there for one reason: they know He is there.
Just like today's first Friday devotion, adoration. There He is exposed in the monstrance. No fancy lights or shows or music. Just silence. That there He has said is His Body. That's all. So what's going on here? You go be with Him. Be one with Him. Love intensely. That's all. It's not about feelings. It's about being. God introduced Himself when asked for His name, He said "I AM". This means He is being. Jesus leaves and ascends the earth and says "I Am with you always". Faith. I write to you, to have faith, an intense faith, an intense love. This kind of faith moves mountains. This kind of faith gives fruit God wants all the time. Not just after summer, or during school year, or Lent, or at the cursillo. No. The time is now appropriate to be found giving to God intense love. And God can suddenly be in any soul He desires. An evaluation? No. He is among us. That's all. In beautiful ways, with the Son's rays.

He loves intensely so we may love too, love Him.

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