Going Beyond History
Much of the history of medieval towns like Assisi and Gubbio remains impenetrable because of the destruction of documents and monuments due to wars and fires and the plague and other vicissitudes of ancient cities. But that is a part of their allure, part of the joy of continuing research and speculation, part of the joy of discovering, the joy of a possible epiphany, a sudden realization of why and how things happened beyond the wardrobe of time present.
—from Enter Assisi: An Invitation to Franciscan Spirituality
"What does Jesus Christ do in the Eucharist? It is God who, as our Savior, offers himself each day for us to his Father's justice. If you are in difficulties and sorrows, he will comfort and relieve you. If you are sick, he will either cure you or give you strength to suffer so as to merit Heaven. If the devil, the world, and the flesh are making war upon you, he will give you the weapons with which to fight, to resist, and to win victory. If you are poor, he will enrich you with all sorts of riches for time and eternity. Let us open the door of his sacred and adorable Heart, and be wrapped about for an instant by the flames of his love, and we shall see what a God who loves us can do. O my God, who shall be able to comprehend?"
— St. John Vianney
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"If we do not die to ourselves, and if our holiest devotions do not incline us to this necessary and useful death, we shall bring forth no fruit worth anything, and our devotions will become useless. All our good works will be stained by self-love and our own will . . . We must choose therefore, among all the devotions to the Blessed Virgin, the one which draws us most toward this death to ourselves, inasmuch as it will be the best and the most sanctifying. For we must not think that all that shines is gold, that all that tastes sweet is honey, or that all that is easy to do and is done by the greatest number is the most sanctifying."
— St. Louis De Montfort, p.40
AN EXCERPT FROM
True Devotion to Mary
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY
"The Lord exists forever; your word is firmly fixed in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand today, for all things are your servants."
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(c. 480 – c. 547)
It is unfortunate that no contemporary biography was written of a man who has exercised the greatest influence on monasticism in the West. Benedict is well recognized in the later Dialogues of Saint Gregory, but these are sketches to illustrate miraculous elements of his career.
Benedict was born into a distinguished family in central Italy, studied at Rome, and early in life was drawn to monasticism. At first he became a hermit, leaving a depressing world—pagan armies on the march, the Church torn by schism, people suffering from war, morality at a low ebb.
He soon realized that he could not live a hidden life in a small town any better than in a large city, so he withdrew to a cave high in the mountains for three years. Some monks chose Benedict as their leader for a while, but found his strictness not to their taste. Still the shift from hermit to community life had begun for him. He had an idea of gathering various families of monks into one "Grand Monastery" to give them the benefit of unity, fraternity, and permanent worship in one house. Finally he began to build what was to become one of the most famous monasteries in the world—Monte Cassino, commanding three narrow valleys running toward the mountains north of Naples.
The Rule that gradually developed prescribed a life of liturgical prayer, study, manual labor, and living together in community under a common abbot. Benedictine asceticism is known for its moderation, and Benedictine charity has always shown concern for the people in the surrounding countryside. In the course of the Middle Ages, all monasticism in the West was gradually brought under the Rule of St. Benedict.
Today the Benedictine family is represented by two branches: the Benedictine Federation encompassing the men and women of the Order of St. Benedict, and the Cistercians, men and women of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance.
The Church has been blessed through Benedictine devotion to the liturgy, not only in its actual celebration with rich and proper ceremony in the great abbeys, but also through the scholarly studies of many of its members. Liturgy is sometimes confused with guitars or choirs, Latin or Bach. We should be grateful to those who both preserve and adapt the genuine tradition of worship in the Church.
Saint Benedict is the Patron Saint of:
Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbot
Reading 1 Hos 10:1-3, 7-8, 12
Israel is a luxuriant vine
whose fruit matches its growth.
The more abundant his fruit,
the more altars he built;
The more productive his land,
the more sacred pillars he set up.
Their heart is false,
now they pay for their guilt;
God shall break down their altars
and destroy their sacred pillars.
If they would say,
"We have no king"—
Since they do not fear the LORD,
what can the king do for them?
The king of Samaria shall disappear,
like foam upon the waters.
The high places of Aven shall be destroyed,
the sin of Israel;
thorns and thistles shall overgrow their altars.
Then they shall cry out to the mountains, "Cover us!"
and to the hills, "Fall upon us!"
"Sow for yourselves justice,
reap the fruit of piety;
break up for yourselves a new field,
for it is time to seek the LORD,
till he come and rain down justice upon you."
Responsorial Psalm pS105:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
R. (4b) Seek always the face of the Lord.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
R. Seek always the face of the Lord.
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought,
his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.
R. Seek always the face of the Lord.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. Seek always the face of the Lord.
Alleluia Mk 1:15
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand:
repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 10:1-7
Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out
and to cure every disease and every illness.
The names of the Twelve Apostles are these:
first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew;
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John;
Philip and Bartholomew,
Thomas and Matthew the tax collector;
James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus;
Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot
who betrayed Jesus.
Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus,
"Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.
Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: 'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"
Meditation: Matthew 9:32-38
14th Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus went around to all the towns and villages. (Matthew 9:35)
What an amazing thought: even Jesus had to evangelize! Why didn't he supernaturally infuse the knowledge of God into everyone's mind? As divine Creator, he easily could have compelled people to believe. They would have known instantaneously that he was God and that he could redeem them from their sins.
But it wasn't Jesus' goal simply to pass out information. And it wasn't his goal to overwhelm his people with works of power. He wanted a relationship with them. He wanted them to love him for who he was and not for what he said or for what he could give them. That's why he chose ordinary human ways to reach out to them. As Matthew tells us, Jesus visited "all the towns and villages" (9:35). He walked the dusty roads. He went into the synagogues, one at a time. He talked to the villagers and got to know their stories. And he healed them.
That's a great example to follow. We might think we need a complex plan to bring the good news to our friends or family members or even strangers. Or we might just wish God would infuse them with knowledge of the gospel. But Jesus shows us the right place to start: through relationships.
How? Make yourself present to people, as Jesus did. Listen to them. Show them some kindness. So many people just want to be heard; they just want someone to treat them with a little kindness. As you start doing that, you will see trusting relationships beginning to form.
It's in the context of a relationship that you are able to speak honestly about who God is in your life. It's when a friend asks, "Why do you even go to church?" that you can share how the Eucharist gives you strength. It's when he comments on the Bible you keep in your car that you can talk about how you hear God speaking to you through Scripture.
Relationships. That's where it all starts. But it doesn't end there. With every friendship you make and every encounter you have, you can be sowing seeds that lead someone closer to the Lord.
"Jesus, help me to reach out to people with kindness and attention. Open my heart and theirs to receive your good news!"
Hosea 8:4-7, 11-13
"Their heart is false, now they pay for their guilt..." says our Lord in the first Holy Scripture. Paying for guilt is not easy. I don't know of anyone that can afford this. It is a hefty price tag...that of abandoning our Lord and His ways. For many, there is hell to pay. But how do you pay for a mortal, even, eternal sin? Sadly, many don't think their sins cost much. A few years ago, I was upset with our finances at home. I asked my wife where all our income tax had gone. It was thousands of dollars missing at the end of the year. She couldn't tell me. I thought she wasn't telling me the whole truth, I wanted to know where all our money had gone. So, I did my own investigation. I looked at every single month's income statement, our bank statement, and analyzed every single expenditure and cash withdrawal. I made a spreadsheet and charts. I am a computer geek, sorry. Anyhow, the results came in. I found out, to my shock, that it wasn't the cash withdrawals I had suspected or even suspicious checks written. No. We had holes in our bucket. All the water it was supposed to hold had leaked out. All our savings was gone. How? Just going by us going out to eat. Ordering here, order there, every day, every week even at times. It added it up to thousands, and POOF! It was gone. Why do I bring this up? Little sins. Little here, little there, every day, every week, and POOF! Suddenly, you are way WAY gone from our Lord. We have let a loved one be an alcoholic. Every day he drinks, every week. Years, and years. Now,as of this week, I need more prayers, as if my previous fastings and prayers were nothing, he is now thinking of things like other women, and abandoning his wife and children. I don't know that we care enough to make a true intervention, and...is it too late? For the faithless, those who have nothing in the bucket...it is. Oil in the lamps. Gone. Be ready.
Pray: "Seek always the face of the Lord. Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly. Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought,
his portents, and the judgments he has uttered" I had one comment made to me by my anti-catholic brother in law who divorced my sister and now wishes to come back. He once said to me "you know what I like about you? you are constant, your faith". There is reward for constancy. Think of a drip of water, how it cuts through rock. Think of a leak in a concrete support, give it time and that drip will cause the support to fracture and make the structure fall. Constancy pays. Reap rewards of great faithfulness.
In the Holy Gospel, our Lord sends forth a command to the whole world, to all those who have ears. "The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" This He tells the 12 disciples who are now apostles to go out and proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven, and to help, he'd give 2 things He " gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness." To this day and from here on out, the Holy Catholic Church has authority to wipe out evil spirits and to drive them out. This is why the Catholic Church is always under attack and great scrutiny. Always has, always will be. But what's funny is that, this is the cure. It is the only one with true authority in exorcisms. Confessions are like exorcisms, and many times the cure. The cure, the healing. Because also, every disease and every illness is curable. But, very VERY few come for true healing...deliverance. Last night, we loaded up 2 vans, probly about 20 or so of us went from our parish to another, to support a multi-parish Ultreya a gathering of cursillistas. Boy, it was a challenge to go. But we made it. There, the first witness was powerful. The testimony was that of a man, a father of little children, became nauseus, dizzy, and doctors said if after 3 weeks of treatment didn't work, they'd have to do a delicate surgery on his head. 3 weeks flew by. He still could not stand. To stand meant he'd fall, to eat meant he'd throw up, a living nightmare. Couldn't do nothing but lay down and watch life go by. Anxiety came over him, thinking his young family would have to go on without him. "Pray!" The loved one would say over the phone throughout the ordeal. He was losing all hope. Especially after the 3 weeks. The loved one had raised prayers and one day told him over the phone (because the sick one was in Mexico), you should go to a healing Mass. The sick one looked around and found one an hour away. They helped him limp along, carrying him to the place. He said they put him in front. He said he noticed the priest looking intently in his eyes. He said the priest put a Eucharist in a monstrance. He said the monstrance pointed at him directly. He said the priest walked over to him and it seemed that his approach pressed in on his heart. He said a great light and sense of peace came over him. His first experience with prayer was a little peace. Now there was a great peace that overcame him. He said he stood up and was no longer dizzy. He said he walked outside, and looked at his wife and said "I want to drive now".
Now, the story is open ended, right? Will he live a life of thanksgiving? Eucharist means thanksgiving. Will he now be eternally grateful? Will he dedicate his every living breath to God for such a gift of peace?
The other side, the cursillista, had done his part in faith sharing. Pray! Go to Mass! A cursillista (one who lives a cursillo) is one who is always studying and working on holiness and moving in action. There are not that many faithful cursillistas. 1 of 2 things happens, either, they get too hot, or too cold. The ones too hot become deacons, priests, or burning lay people. Or they get too cold, little by little, they step away...further and further away, the drops leak out of the bucket. Until one day, sin. Sin in spanish means without. Without God. You find yourself without God. And this is hell. Who can help you get out now?
As we live, it is possible. As we live with God, the opportunity exists. God chose disciples, and disciples made disciples. My wife wears a shirt that says "raising tiny disciples". Little by little filling up the bucket. But let me tell you, it takes considerable effort, and sometimes super-human effort. The kind where only grace can take you to the next place.
The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand