Monday, June 25, 2018

Why Do You Notice

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Nature's Beauty Sings God's Praise

Saint Junípero's reverence for the beauty of California resonates with the Canticle of the Creatures by St. Francis, which begins "Laudato si": Praise be to you, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through Brother Sun, who brings the day, and Sister Moon and all the stars. Serra's detailed observations about the trees and plants he found in California end with the same praise for their creator: "I have in front of me a cutting from a rose-tree with three roses in bloom, others opening out, and more than six unpetaled: blessed be He who created them!" Junipero Serra was a Franciscan who truly echoed the reverent and grateful spirit of Saint Francis. And surely the profound respect and spiritual power the Native Americans saw throughout the earth and the wondrous praise of God offered by the followers of Francis can together bring about a renewed world today.

–from Saint Junipero Serra's Camino: A Pilgrimage Guide to the California Missions


"The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."
— St. Thomas More

"When a person commits a fault, God certainly wishes him to humble himself, to be sorry for his sin, and to purpose never to fall into it again; but he does not wish him to be indignant with himself, and give way to trouble and agitation of mind; for, while the soul is agitated, a man is incapable of doing good."
— St. Alphonsus De Liguori, p. 259
The Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori

"Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful. Let Israel be glad in its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre. For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory."
Psalm 149: 1-4


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Blessed Jutta of Thuringia

(d. c. 1260)

Today's patroness of Prussia began her life amidst luxury and power but died the death of a simple servant of the poor.

In truth, virtue and piety were always of prime importance to Jutta and her husband, both of noble rank. The two were set to make a pilgrimage together to the holy places in Jerusalem, but her husband died on the way. The newly widowed Jutta, after taking care to provide for her children, resolved to live in a manner she felt was utterly pleasing to God. She disposed of the costly clothes, jewels, and furniture befitting one of her rank, and became a Secular Franciscan, taking on the simple garment of a religious.

From that point her life was utterly devoted to others: caring for the sick, particularly lepers; tending to the poor, whom she visited in their hovels; helping the crippled and blind with whom she shared her own home. Many of the townspeople of Thuringia laughed at how the once-distinguished lady now spent all her time. But Jutta saw the face of God in the poor and felt honored to render whatever services she could.

About the year 1260, not long before her death, Jutta lived near the non-Christians in eastern Germany. There she built a small hermitage and prayed unceasingly for their conversion. She has been venerated for centuries as the special patron of Prussia.

Jesus once said that a camel can pass through a needle's eye more easily than a rich person can enter God's realm. That's pretty scary news for us. We may not have great fortunes, but we who live in the West enjoy a share of the world's goods that people in the rest of the world cannot imagine. Much to the amusement of her neighbors, Jutta disposed of her wealth after her husband's death and devoted her life to caring for those who had no means. Should we follow her example, people will probably laugh at us, too. But God will smile.

Blessed Jutta of Thuringia is the Patron Saint of:


Reading 1 2 Kgs 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18

Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, occupied the whole land
and attacked Samaria, which he besieged for three years.
In the ninth year of Hoshea, king of Israel
the king of Assyria took Samaria,
and deported the children of Israel to Assyria,
setting them in Halah, at the Habor, a river of Gozan,
and the cities of the Medes.

This came about because the children of Israel sinned against the LORD,
their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt,
from under the domination of Pharaoh, king of Egypt,
and because they venerated other gods.
They followed the rites of the nations
whom the LORD had cleared out of the way of the children of Israel
and the kings of Israel whom they set up.

And though the LORD warned Israel and Judah
by every prophet and seer,
"Give up your evil ways and keep my commandments and statutes,
in accordance with the entire law which I enjoined on your fathers
and which I sent you by my servants the prophets,"
they did not listen, but were as stiff-necked as their fathers,
who had not believed in the LORD, their God.
They rejected his statutes,
the covenant which he had made with their fathers,
and the warnings which he had given them, till,
in his great anger against Israel,
the LORD put them away out of his sight.
Only the tribe of Judah was left.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 60:3, 4-5, 12-13
R. (7b) Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us.
O God, you have rejected us and broken our defenses;
you have been angry; rally us!
R. Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us.
You have rocked the country and split it open;
repair the cracks in it, for it is tottering.
You have made your people feel hardships;
you have given us stupefying wine.
R. Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us.
Have not you, O God, rejected us,
so that you go not forth, O God, with our armies?
Give us aid against the foe,
for worthless is the help of men.
R. Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us.

Alleluia Heb 4:12
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 7:1-5

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
For as you judge, so will you be judged,
and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother,
'Let me remove that splinter from your eye,'
while the wooden beam is in your eye?
You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter from your brother's eye."


12th Week in Ordinary Time

They did not listen, but were as stiff-necked as their fathers. (2 Kings 17:14)

King Hoshea of Israel was caught between a rock and a hard place. He had become a vassal to the king of Assyria. But that alliance made him uneasy, so he hedged his bets. He sent envoys to Egypt, the hostile power on the other side of Israel, hoping for a rival alliance to shield him against Assyria. Getting wind of this was all the excuse the king of Assyria needed to attack Israel and take Hoshea prisoner. Summing it up, the author of 2 Kings explains why Israel failed: the people relied on human help instead of divine power.

Does this assessment sound familiar? When we face a challenge, it's not unusual to muster all our human resources to find a solution. Perhaps it lies in medicine, preferably a miracle drug. Maybe a new political leader will offer a fresh start. Maybe counseling can help us sort out our perplexity, or perhaps a new investment strategy will help secure our future.

These are all good approaches, but they can take us only so far. They can help resolve individual challenges and problems, but none of them can offer us a vision for our lives that will sustain us and guide us no matter what comes our way. Only God can do that! Hoshea failed because instead of seeking guidance from the Lord through his prophets, he immediately chose a deceptive political strategy. Perhaps it was already too late for Israel, but he never even gave the Lord a chance to help him out. That's the tragedy.

Hoshea's story urges us to turn to the Lord first rather than as the last resort. It tells us to face every challenge with the proclamation "My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:2). This is the foundational truth of our human situation, and it is the foundation for our life of faith. We depend on God from beginning to end.

Never forget that God is always committed to working out his great and glorious purposes in your life. Never forget that he wants to bring only good to those who love him and seek his direction (Romans 8:28).

"Lord of heaven and earth, you are my only hope. I place all my trust in you."

Psalm 60:3-5, 12-13
Matthew 7:1-5



""Give up your evil ways and keep my commandments and statutes..." but they did not listen. The people of God would not listen. And they were kicked out of their homes. Their lands. The place they had at once worshiped our Lord and then other things...and it is a real thing that happens today. The most obvious one, I see, is people from Mexico, migrate to make a life in the dream land of the world. They strive hard to get here and when they get here, they work hard, and thank God because there is a real shortage of workers (maybe the 60 million abortions in our country has left us shorthanded). But I notice things in dealing with them. After many years, they leave their faith. They have become so busy. Their love fades and the ways of the world begin to take root. They turn to enjoyments and relaxations, recreations and things to get their minds off things. And the whole "God" thing takes 2nd place, then 3rd, and then last. Will they get kicked out of the country? It doesn't matter. What God does now is in the spirit realms: You will not inherit the Kingdom of God if you turn from Him. And we have to watch for lies in the world saying that everyone is His child and that everyone is going to Heaven. We can help each other get there, and that is a call of a true child.

Let us pray: "Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us.O God, you have rejected us and broken our defenses; you have been angry; rally us!
Give us aid against the foe, for worthless is the help of men. ". That last verse is a kicker. Worthless is the help of men. When someone dies, who can help then? We like to pray for them, as Catholics. But in Protestantism, they don't believe in praying for the dead. Even with our Catholic prayers, it is still ultimately in God's hands. For the strongest of armies in the world, a message is clear, God's will shall prevail. And this is a terrible thought. We like to think that by our own strength we can accomplish things. And then, as the immigrant gets cold in faith, we realize, we have lost our soul to falsehoods the world offers, all things temporary. For some reason I keep thinking of a powerhouse of a deacon, Deacon Guajardo. He recalls as a young freshly ordained deacon, kneeling before God in front of the Blessed Sacrament, in tears, "God, you called me to follow you, I have left everything, but we are homeless, we need a house" he had been looking and he had run across a good deal but didn't have money. Just then a stranger walked in, gave him an envelope and walked away. It was the down payment amount he needed to get the house! Exactly the thousands needed. He was astounded and couldn't cry enough in one day, so he's spent decades being thankful. It is a beautiful story, of faith, and providence, isn't it? But to a non-believer, he would say, it was man that provided. But to a believer? A coincidence like this is a "God incident' and they happen, over, and over again. God uses man. Worthless is the help of man alone! Amen?

In comes our Heavenly Lord our Father: " you judge, so will you be judged...". Indeed, our Lord's prayer teaches us "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us". It is a most pivotal prayer. It brings mercy or condemnation. The devil loves to twist scriptures, like today's and pulls out his favorite line "STOP JUDGING". It is used by every hardened sinner there is. But there is a truth to this. Don't condemn a soul to hell. But bring them out of the murk of death, and into the life of light. Stop bashing people. Stop ridiculing them. Help them instead. If you were in their shoes, wouldn't you like someone to help you out of the hell hole they are in? Who are then, God's true soldiers? There are many who like to think of knights and crusaders standing valiantly and defending their faith. But this is an illusion. Jesus shows us the way to defend the faith. Help the poor. Be the voice of truth, of justice, and of charity. If all you do is put people down, how will they ever come to you in confidence? It can't happen. They'd just be afraid of you. And unfortunately, many see our Lord as a condemning person, because that's how many believers are. They lock the doors of heaven to other souls, thus locking themselves out too. So, how do we open them? Firstly, open our hearts to God. Truly. If you accept this chalice, an outpouring of mercy, then, self takes 2nd place.

This sounds nice doesn't it? But it is so hard to save a soul lost in sin, in addictions, in self destruction. Isn't it? Worthless is the help of man. God can intervene. He needs you to help by way of not only advice and physical help, which are the first steps, but by prayer. Sometimes the help of man is actually a hindrance, or helps fuel the weakness of the fellow man.

Purity helps better.
Holiness helps forever.
There is a charitable organization that helped a poor man in a 3rd world country. The poor man had a wife and children. They got him going, to work for himself, he became rather prosperous, and he spent all the money he made on booze and women, on affairs, prostitutes, while his wife and children remained poor, abandoned, and forgotten. If I give money to my drug addict family member, I'm just giving them drugs. A God intervention is needed. True love. True purity. Worthless is the help of man...without God, without true LOVE.
"You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly..." then you can help another. What right do I have to tell others to act right and do right? We all do, right? When a hypocrite yells at me and points out my flaw, it hurts, and I try to straighten up. Do as they say, not as they do. God's word is righteous. It is right. The law has been written in our heart. Whence we realize we are nothing without Him, aside from Him, we begin a true journey of holiness. Without Him, I'm a fish out of water. We need Holy souls, these are true people, with no duplicity, with no two faces, with no thing that can separate them from God's side.
I need to see it in you. As you need to see it in me.
I need to forgive you, as God forgives me.
I need to love you, as tremendously God, has loved me.
I need to repay to you, what I need to repay to God.

And All I Got Is This Heart



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