Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Do Not Look Gloomy

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We Must Meet Christ to Follow Him

Christ has told us in his own words that he alone must be the rock foundation on which we build our lives. This can only happen if we have actually encountered him, as did the people that followed him in the Gospels. Once we have decided to leave everything to follow Christ, it becomes readily apparent that we need help in doing so. Thus, if we want to follow him, we must seek out and grab hold of those things that nourish and sustain us in doing so.

—from Prayer Everywhere: The Spiritual Life Made Simple


"If we but paused for a moment to consider attentively what takes place in this Sacrament of the Eucharist, I am sure that the thought of Christ's love for us would transform the coldness of our hearts into a fire of love and gratitude."
— St. Angela of Foligno

"Joseph, meanwhile, in the midst of his labors and his poverty esteemed himself superlatively rich, because in Mary he possessed the rarest and most precious treasure on earth. Her presence was paradise to him."
— Edward Healy Thompson, p. 182
The Life & Glories of St. Joseph

"Who can command and have it done, if the Lord has not ordained it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? Why should any who draw breath complain about the punishment of their sins? Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands to God in heaven."
Lamentations 3:37-41


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Bl. John Fenwick and Bl. John Gavan (d. 1679) were Englishmen and Jesuit priests who were martyred for their Catholic faith in England during the monarcy's persecution of the Catholic Church. John Fenwick's Protestant parents disowned him when he became a Catholic. The two priests, along with three other Jesuits, were falsely accused of involvement in the "Popish Plot," a fabricated conspiracy that mounted to anti-Catholic hysteria in England over the course of three years. The men were charged with complicity to assassinate King Charles II, and condemned on the charges of High Treason and subversion of the nation's Protestant religion. During their trial, John Gavan acted as the principal spokesman for the group; one historian called him one of the ablest priests of his generation. Both priests were condemned to be hung, drawn, and quartered. It is said that the King, knowing they were innocent yet unwilling to grant them pardon, permitted them to be hung only. After giving a rousing speech declaring their innocence, Bl. John Fenwick and Bl. John Gavan were martyred together on June 20th, 1679. They share a feast day on June 20th.


Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 2 Kgs 2:1, 6-14

When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind,
he and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.
Elijah said to Elisha, "Please stay here;
the LORD has sent me on to the Jordan."
"As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live,
I will not leave you," Elisha replied.
And so the two went on together.
Fifty of the guild prophets followed and
when the two stopped at the Jordan,
they stood facing them at a distance.
Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up
and struck the water, which divided,
and both crossed over on dry ground.

When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha,
"Ask for whatever I may do for you, before I am taken from you."
Elisha answered, "May I receive a double portion of your spirit."
"You have asked something that is not easy," Elijah replied.
"Still, if you see me taken up from you,
your wish will be granted; otherwise not."
As they walked on conversing,
a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them,
and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
When Elisha saw it happen he cried out,
"My father! my father! Israel's chariots and drivers!"
But when he could no longer see him,
Elisha gripped his own garment and tore it in two.

Then he picked up Elijah's mantle that had fallen from him,
and went back and stood at the bank of the Jordan.
Wielding the mantle that had fallen from Elijah,
Elisha struck the water in his turn and said,
"Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?"
When Elisha struck the water it divided and he crossed over.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 31:20, 21, 24
R. (25) Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.
How great is the goodness, O LORD,
which you have in store for those who fear you,
And which, toward those who take refuge in you,
you show in the sight of the children of men.
R. Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.
You hide them in the shelter of your presence
from the plottings of men;
You screen them within your abode
from the strife of tongues.
R. Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.
Love the LORD, all you his faithful ones!
The LORD keeps those who are constant,
but more than requites those who act proudly.
R. Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.

Alleluia Jn 14:23
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him
and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,
and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to others to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."


Meditation: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

When you fast . . .(Matthew 6:17)

The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once wrote, "There is no love sincerer than the love of food." This quote, while originally penned in humor, contains a kernel of truth. We love food! Not only does it satisfy our physical hunger, but it can bring us comfort and happiness as well. So for many of us, the idea of intentionally going without it—fasting—can make us feel uncomfortable.

Remember, though, that the culture Jesus addressed was more accustomed to fasting than ours. Almsgiving, prayer, and fasting were the three most important spiritual disciplines to a faithful Jew. Fasting, in particular, was seen as a powerful expression of turning to God in repentance. It wasn't necessarily repentance from a particular sin. Rather, fasting was seen as an effective way of turning to God.

It might help to think of a radio. In order to clear the static and find the station you're looking for, you have to turn the knob until the radio is in tune with the station's frequency. In a similar way, fasting was seen as a valuable method of finding the Lord and hearing his voice.

Fasting is just as valuable today as it was in Jesus' time. It gives us more time to turn to the Lord in prayer. The physical hunger we feel can help put us in touch with our spiritual hunger for Jesus. It confirms Jesus' teaching that we don't live on bread alone "but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Even better, tuning in to the Lord through fasting puts us more clearly in touch with his love, his desires, and his peace. These spiritual rewards far outweigh any temporary feelings of discomfort from hunger.

It's important also to see that Jesus didn't say if you fast, but rather, when you fast. If you'd like to begin but aren't sure how, keep it simple at first. Give up just one meal, and spend that time focusing on the Lord in prayer or reading the Scriptures. Just try this once a week, and let it build from there. You'll be amazed at how quickly your spiritual frequency becomes more tuned in with the Lord's!

"Lord Jesus, I'm hungry for your words of life."

2 Kings 2:1, 6-14
Psalm 31:20-21, 24



"As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you," said Elisha to Elijah.
Elijah was leading Elisha. Elisha means in Hebrew ""my God is salvation". Did he take on the name or was it given since birth? It is, truly, a beautiful prayer. It could be all of ours, our prayer. It could be even...our name!

Let us pray: " Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord. Love the LORD, all you his faithful ones! The LORD keeps those who are constant,
but more than requites those who act proudly." And so there is conversation now, about humility, and the proud. The proud need to be humble, and the humble be constantly showing the way. But that eluding humility! We need the way, and Jesus shows us. Let us turn to Him.

"Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them"
What good is a boasting of a Christian deed? I have a hard time with this. Sometimes we meet for group after Cursillo. Friends, supposed to meet weekly to touch upon our Christian lives. Sometimes, I feel like I'm the only one that has alot of things to say on "holiness' or "study" or "action". At once, it feels like I'm preaching, standing on a corner on a soapbox, and on another, pride rears its head as some answer after me "I don't have much to say". Then I feel miserable. Did I present myself as a Holy Roller? Did I say too much? Was it vanity speaking? Christian vanity? Was it "I am holier than thou"? I have much to say it seems. Or, did pride take root of the quiet one? How? Maybe being proud didn't let you be holy, or study, or have apostolic action for Christ? On all fronts, we have to be ever watchful! Right? Humility must win.

"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites". Have you ever noticed a preacher, or someone talking about God, talking to God in public but in private, they are silent? What happens behind closed doors? What happens when you close the room to your home? The door to your room. The door to your restroom. The door to your office. Your car door. What happens when you close the door? Is it "me" time? Or is it time for prayer? Prayer is spiritual workout and fitness. Prayer puts lights up. Prayer is life with God. Prayer is not a show. This evening, I will be leading another funeral vigil rosary, this time for a 42 yr old woman that passed away in an auto accident. My job on the leading, will be leading everyone to prayer. Nothing else. I don't like to mention my name, I don't like to introduce myself (I'll just say my first name), I don't like to say things about me, unless it helps the testimony on faith. I will cease to exist on earth, just like everyone else. Therefore, what matters is the love of God. And if this matters most, then prayer matters most, our life with Him, always.

"When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites." Fasting, oh fasting. Who fasts? Most people don't look gloomy, and most don't look like they've ever missed a meal. LOL. Don't we? I mean, who fasts? Fasting is prayer. Did you know that? Not many pray. Much less will we fast. When we fast, we think of lent, right? I was in a nearby city yesterday morning and made it to Holy Mass there. The priest read the scriptures and then gave the fastest homily I've ever seen him give. And I wrote it down on my cell phone, a synopsis, are you ready? Here it goes: (I wrote): "Love Enemies. How?

Pray for them.
Fasting for them.
Offer Masses for them.
Do a sacrifice for them."

That was fast. And it was a quick slap in the face for me. I have a hard time praying for self or loved ones, hardly fasting, or offering Masses, but for an enemy? Say whaaaaaaat? LOL. OK, Lord, what are you trying to say here? You mean, like really REALLY loving them?

Ultimately, our Lord asks us to stop acting, as the root words of "hypocrite" mean in the old languages. Stop acting like you care. A brother in Cursillo team meeting said this past Saturday, that a homeless man called him early in the morning to chat, and he remembers one time the guy said "do you help because you feel sorry, or do you help because you really care?". He said the question afflicted him. What is your reason behind prayer? To Jesus it was the cause of life, always in prayer mode. Why? It is efficacious. For years I write to you. I fast before writing. I purposely will not eat or drink anything all morning until I read, pray, and write to you. As a matter of fact, the times I am most sentimental in prayer or in retreat or singing in praise, is when I am empty, empty stomach, hungry. I am more apt to receive. I am not "full". I am in need. I am wanting. I am hungry for anything, so I feed myself spiritually. It is a prayer offering. And if I eat the Eucharist, I am no longer hungry. The Eucharist is Jesus. I receive everything.
I know I say much, and I just can't help it! I've asked the Lord to speak here. I really have nothing planned out, I just invoke Him in prayer and the conversation begins.

And you know what He's been saying lately in my internal ongoing prayer life? He has been saying:
"I love the forgotten."
But how sad is it, when God IS the forgotten?
That is the state of the union.

And so, He reaches the unreachables, crossing all lines of race, religion, and culture. Through dreams, through preachers, through avid lovers all things Holy Spirit. Why?
Because He cares.
He truly TRULY cares. Not like our half-hearted cares and intentions of caring. His is a truly deep love. So deep that it goes into levels. Levels of Heaven, and we are experiencing one level on earth. Glimpses of Him, as in the Eucharist. And it is a door for so much more...all the unthinkable, all the unlovable, He is thought and love. Inside yourself He can see and reside. How close is He?
Closer than we care to acknowledge by our lives and loves!

I wish we could pray more and better as Jesus did.
Lord, Jesus, Father, Holy Spirit, show us the way!



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