Tuesday, July 31, 2018

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Reflecting on the Peace Prayer

Praying and reflecting upon the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis shine a light into the deep recesses of the soul. The prayer reveals how our pride sometimes hides behind the best of intentions and has wrapped its tentacles around our decisions, feelings, and relationships. It challenges us to break free from the mirror of "me" and focus our attention through the window of "thee," thus looking outward and responding to the voices of those who are angry, injured, confused and sad. The prayer also exposes how we defensively seek to be justified and understood, how self-pity insists upon consolation and love.

—from Instruments of Christ: Reflections on the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi


"Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be, and becoming that person."
— St. Therese of Lisieux

"However great our efforts, we cannot change ourselves. Only God can get to the bottom of our defects, and our limitations in the field of love; only he has sufficient mastery over our hearts for that. If we realize that we will save ourselves a great deal of discouragement and fruitless struggle. We do not have to become saints by our own power; we have to learn how to let God make us into saints. That does not mean, of course, that we don't have to make any effort . . . We should fight, not to attain holiness as a result of our own efforts, but to let God act in us without our putting up any resistance against him; we should fight to open ourselves as fully as possible to his grace, which sanctifies us."
— Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 14-5
In the School of the Holy Spirit

"For who is God except the Lord? And who is a rock besides our God?— the God who girded me with strength, and made my way safe. He made my feet like the feet of a deer, and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand has supported me; your help has made me great."
Psalm 18:31-35


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Saint Ignatius of Loyola

(October 23, 1491 – July 31, 1556)

The founder of the Jesuits was on his way to military fame and fortune when a cannon ball shattered his leg. Because there were no books of romance on hand during his convalescence, Ignatius whiled away the time reading a life of Christ and lives of the saints. His conscience was deeply touched, and a long, painful turning to Christ began. Having seen the Mother of God in a vision, he made a pilgrimage to her shrine at Montserrat near Barcelona. He remained for almost a year at nearby Manresa, sometimes with the Dominicans, sometimes in a pauper's hospice, often in a cave in the hills praying. After a period of great peace of mind, he went through a harrowing trial of scruples. There was no comfort in anything—prayer, fasting, sacraments, penance. At length, his peace of mind returned.

It was during this year of conversion that Ignatius began to write down material that later became his greatest work, the Spiritual Exercises.

He finally achieved his purpose of going to the Holy Land, but could not remain, as he planned, because of the hostility of the Turks. Ignatius spent the next 11 years in various European universities, studying with great difficulty, beginning almost as a child. Like many others, his orthodoxy was questioned; Ignatius was twice jailed for brief periods.

In 1534, at the age of 43, he and six others—one of whom was Saint Francis Xavier—vowed to live in poverty and chastity and to go to the Holy Land. If this became impossible, they vowed to offer themselves to the apostolic service of the pope. The latter became the only choice. Four years later Ignatius made the association permanent. The new Society of Jesus was approved by Pope Paul III, and Ignatius was elected to serve as the first general.

When companions were sent on various missions by the pope, Ignatius remained in Rome, consolidating the new venture, but still finding time to found homes for orphans, catechumens, and penitents. He founded the Roman College, intended to be the model of all other colleges of the Society.

Ignatius was a true mystic. He centered his spiritual life on the essential foundations of Christianity—the Trinity, Christ, the Eucharist. His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, Ad majorem Dei gloriam—"for the greater glory of God." In his concept, obedience was to be the prominent virtue, to assure the effectiveness and mobility of his men. All activity was to be guided by a true love of the Church and unconditional obedience to the Holy Father, for which reason all professed members took a fourth vow to go wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls.

Luther nailed his theses to the church door at Wittenberg in 1517. Seventeen years later, Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society that was to play so prominent a part in the Catholic Reformation. He was an implacable foe of Protestantism. Yet the seeds of ecumenism may be found in his words: "Great care must be taken to show forth orthodox truth in such a way that if any heretics happen to be present they may have an example of charity and Christian moderation. No hard words should be used nor any sort of contempt for their errors be shown." One of the greatest ecumenists was the 20th-century German Jesuit, Cardinal Augustin Bea.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola is the Patron Saint of:


Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

Reading 1 Jer 14:17-22

Let my eyes stream with tears
day and night, without rest,
Over the great destruction which overwhelms
the virgin daughter of my people,
over her incurable wound.
If I walk out into the field,
look! those slain by the sword;
If I enter the city,
look! those consumed by hunger.
Even the prophet and the priest
forage in a land they know not.

Have you cast Judah off completely?
Is Zion loathsome to you?
Why have you struck us a blow
that cannot be healed?
We wait for peace, to no avail;
for a time of healing, but terror comes instead.
We recognize, O LORD, our wickedness,
the guilt of our fathers;
that we have sinned against you.
For your name's sake spurn us not,
disgrace not the throne of your glory;
remember your covenant with us, and break it not.
Among the nations' idols is there any that gives rain?
Or can the mere heavens send showers?
Is it not you alone, O LORD,
our God, to whom we look?
You alone have done all these things.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 79:8, 9, 11 and 13
R. (9) For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name's sake.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Let the prisoners' sighing come before you;
with your great power free those doomed to death.
Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
through all generations we will declare your praise.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;
all who come to him will live for ever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 13:36-43

Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
"Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field."
He said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the Evil One,
and the enemy who sows them is the Devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his Kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the Kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear."


Meditation: Jeremiah 14:17-22

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (Memorial)

Let my eyes stream with tears. (Jeremiah 14:17)

It's always easier to hear a message of hope than a message of woe. That's why the people of Jerusalem found it hard to accept many of Jeremiah's prophecies. He warned them that unless they turned back to God, their land would suffer grievous consequences. Unfortunately, they ignored him, and everything Jeremiah said came to pass: drought, famine, an invasion, and finally, exile. What can possibly inspire us about this tragic tale?

If we look around, we can see at least as many problems today as existed in Jeremiah's time. In fact, if we think about it long enough, we may also be moved to tears. What of all the pain caused by abortion, drug addiction, and domestic violence? What of the poor who live in unimaginable squalor? As God's people, we must surely empathize with all of the sadness, loss, and suffering.

But our response doesn't have to end there. In fact, it would be unchristian to let it stay there. Many critics of religion point to suffering as a reason not to believe in God, but we can say exactly the opposite. God's will is not to cause suffering but to stop it. That's why he sent his Son! Jesus came to free us from sin and to give us the "ministry of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:18). He came to bring heaven down to earth, and he now calls all of us to build that kingdom here and now.

God doesn't want us to resign ourselves to tragedy and watch things get worse. We share in Jesus' office of priest, prophet, and king. Sometimes we're called to be like priests and minister his healing love to those who are hurting. At other times we can act as prophets as we speak the word of God to people who have lost hope or don't think God loves them. And we can exercise kingly gifts: providing food, shelter, and justice for the marginalized, the poor, and the neglected.

Yes, our eyes should stream with tears. But at the same time, our hands and feet should be just as busy as we bring hope and healing to all God's people.

"Lord, give me compassion for the wounded people you have placed in my path. Give me the courage to reach out to them and the wisdom to help them as best I can."

Psalm 79:8-9, 11, 13
Matthew 13:36-43



"Is it not you alone, O LORD, our God, to whom we look?" This is a prayer, isn't it? A conversation with our Lord. To hear His reply though, to discern His will though. I asked Him last night for this guidance, this reply, this discernment. "What do you desire"? I never heard any words. But the words entered "do His will". But that's the big question isn't it? Follow Him. But we put so many obstacles, so many things in between, barriers, fences, walls, doors, so many things between Him, and us. It easily becomes hard to not hear Him.

So we pray: "For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us. Let the prisoners' sighing come before you; with your great power free those doomed to death.
Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; through all generations we will declare your praise." Behind all these walls, fences, gates and doors lies a prisoner then. Unable to do God's will. Prisoners then of our own will, of our own doing, of our own retracting. Take a step back, another wall. Another obstacle, another fence. As if to say "don't come near me Lord". This is the digression, this is a backtracking that makes one walk backwards, and the danger of walking backwards is you do not see when you will fall off a cliff.

And so our Lord comes with easing words for His flock, His sheep, you and I: ""He who sows good seed is the Son of Man..." The Son of Man is our Lord. The Son of Man is the one who has come from God Himself, the creator of the universe. (It just so happens I read about this last night in the book Psalm Basics for Catholics by Bergsman). It was no small thing to call Himself Son of Man. And He does so repeatedly. It is to say "I Am God" the Son of God. The Son of Man sows the good seed. He sowed it. And be weary, be watchful of the weeds that grow among us and in our souls that can choke and kill the good wheat out of us, that what gives life. "The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil." Little devils abound. Wouldn't you like to know who these devils are? These are bad spirits. These are planted in people, and they linger, and they grow. Just right now I heard of a man that hung himself in our town. Something must've given him the idea that death was the only way out. Yes, he was divorcing, yes, perhaps he had health issues, but to opt for this way out? There are people trying to capitalize on this suicide thing too. They are coming up with fancy ways to do so. Even laws are being passed calling it "assisted suicide". They are inventing nicer ways to help you do it, like proposing certain places and capsules, who knows, maybe people are coming with farewell parties to boot. Its similar to homosexual weddings; Say goodbye to traditional marriage, and say goodbye to bearing children, and goodbye to mother and father, kicking out a mother, or kicking out the Father. How is it similar? Death is the common denominator. Spiritual death. Skulls around every corner. I saw a food vendor and his logo was a skull and crossbones. We shouldn't fool around with death. Evil spirits want this reward for all. The rewards for sin is death.

And so, our Lord shines some light in the darkness today: "The Son of Man will send his angels..." They will take care of the dirty work. And " the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father." And it can start here and now. God loves saints. Why? Because they shine. They stand out, and like a sore thumb, so much so that even the Church puts them in a corner at times until they are exonerated. Has your holiness caused you to be shunned? Ostracized? To become unpopular? To be left out? To be bullied? Nobody likes bullies. I think most people have at sometime been "bullied". But they are there for a purpose, true proving grounds is where we are located, the Church Militant. Tests are here and now. Will you be the Church Triumphant? This Church is in Heaven. They want you triumphant. Jesus is victorious. He does not meddle so much in our lives, for us to grow. The seeds He has planted must grow. The weeds must go.
Those sinful things in your life keep you from a tighter relationship with Him. Tear these weeds out and watch walls and fences disappear.
And suddenly, He appears closer and closer.
Stop being afraid.
Stop being defensive.
Stop being afraid to show the world how much you really want to love Him.
Stop being ashamed...of Him. He does not care so much about your sin as you let it go. Confess...regress, return. If you were created from nothing it was for were thought of in His mind, and the mindset of the Son of Man is calling.

"Enter into my Love"



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