Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Out of Joy Goes

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We Are Not the Center of the Universe

We begin to pray the two major sections of the Peace Prayer— "Lord...Divine Master"—and the ground beneath our feet immediately begins to move. We realize and acknowledge that the universe was not designed to revolve around me and my petty wants and desires. Indeed, by virtue of my baptism, I am called to walk in the footprints of Jesus who, in emptying himself, surrendering and serving God's will, has become the Lord and Divine Master of the universe.

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


"Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious."
— St. Thomas Aquinas

"I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but without effect for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The flames which were burning them do not touch me at all. My Guardian Angel did not leave me for an instant. I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God . . . [I heard an interior voice] which said, My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it."
— St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, p. 35
Hungry Souls

Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua 24:15


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Saint Alphonsus Liguori

(September 27, 1696 – August 1, 1787)

Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.

In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.

At the University of Naples, Alphonsus received a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, at the age of 16, but he soon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest, and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular parish missions, hearing confessions, and forming Christian groups.

He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted after a while by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over.

Alphonsus' great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples preaching popular missions.

He was made bishop at age 66 after trying to reject the honor, and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese.

His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, a royal official changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united.

At 71, Alphonsus was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck. Until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of "dark night" scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent.

Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His Glories of Mary is one of the great works on that subject, and his book Visits to the Blessed Sacrament went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.

Saint Alphonsus was known above all as a practical man who dealt in the concrete rather than the abstract. His life is indeed a practical model for the everyday Christian who has difficulty recognizing the dignity of Christian life amid the swirl of problems, pain, misunderstanding and failure. Alphonsus suffered all these things. He is a saint because he was able to maintain an intimate sense of the presence of the suffering Christ through it all.

Saint Alphonsus Liguori is the Patron Saint of:


Saint Alphonsus Liguouri, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Reading 1 Jer 15:10, 16-21

Woe to me, mother, that you gave me birth!
a man of strife and contention to all the land!
I neither borrow nor lend,
yet all curse me.
When I found your words, I devoured them;
they became my joy and the happiness of my heart,
Because I bore your name,
O LORD, God of hosts.
I did not sit celebrating
in the circle of merrymakers;
Under the weight of your hand I sat alone
because you filled me with indignation.
Why is my pain continuous,
my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?
You have indeed become for me a treacherous brook,
whose waters do not abide!
Thus the LORD answered me:
If you repent, so that I restore you,
in my presence you shall stand;
If you bring forth the precious without the vile,
you shall be my mouthpiece.
Then it shall be they who turn to you,
and you shall not turn to them;
And I will make you toward this people
a solid wall of brass.
Though they fight against you,
they shall not prevail,
For I am with you,
to deliver and rescue you, says the LORD.
I will free you from the hand of the wicked,
and rescue you from the grasp of the violent.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18
R. (17d) God is my refuge on the day of distress.
Rescue me from my enemies, O my God;
from my adversaries defend me.
Rescue me from evildoers;
from bloodthirsty men save me.
R. God is my refuge on the day of distress.
For behold, they lie in wait for my life;
mighty men come together against me,
Not for any offense or sin of mine, O LORD.
R. God is my refuge on the day of distress.
O my strength! for you I watch;
for you, O God, are my stronghold,
As for my God, may his mercy go before me;
may he show me the fall of my foes.
R. God is my refuge on the day of distress.
But I will sing of your strength
and revel at dawn in your mercy;
You have been my stronghold,
my refuge in the day of distress.
R. God is my refuge on the day of distress.
O my strength! your praise will I sing;
for you, O God, are my stronghold,
my merciful God!
R. God is my refuge on the day of distress.

Alleluia Jn 15:15b
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 13:44-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
"The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it."


Meditation: Psalm 59:2-4, 10-11, 17-18

Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)

As for my God, may his mercy go before me. (Psalm 59:11)

Imagine driving down a crowded street with only the use of your rearview mirrors. The idea is laughable—and more than a bit dangerous. It just doesn't make sense to drive while looking backward.

This isn't a bad image for our spiritual lives. Most of the time, we need to be looking forward, not backward. Sure, we need to glance back to check for blind spots or to assess our progress—like when we review our day or learn from past mistakes. But overall, we need to be looking forward if we want to move forward. And so today's Responsorial Psalm talks about God's mercy going before us.

You might think of mercy as a gift that deals with your past. And it is. Mercy reaches back to cover your sins. But the Hebrew word for mercy (hesed) here can also mean "God's grace and favor," his loving kindness toward us that never fails. This broad, expansive definition tells us to do more than just seek God's mercy for our past sins and failings. It urges us to entrust our future to his provision as well.

In today's first reading, Jeremiah is focused on the past. He laments the day he was born, and he recalls how he "sat alone" under the weight of God's hand (Jeremiah 15:17). It wasn't easy being a prophet, and Jeremiah struggled bringing God's words of warning to his people. But as he poured out his heart, God broke in and gave him a vision for his future: "I will free you from the hand of the wicked," he promised (15:21). Comforted in the knowledge that his future was covered by God's merciful love, Jeremiah continued on.

God wants to do so much more than forgive our sins. He wants to give us his guidance, his comfort, and his protection. So press forward, confident that God's mercy and grace will go ahead of you. It's the difference between driving with just mirrors and driving with a large clear windshield.

"Lord, I entrust my future to you."

Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21
Matthew 13:44-46


In today's 1st Holy Scripture we heard:
Jeremiah: "You have indeed become for me a treacherous brook,
whose waters do not abide!
he LORD answered: "If you repent, so that I restore you, in my presence you shall stand"
Our Lord stands. But where are we? Jeremiah was on the ground, wailing, a hurt child. My little boys have been riding their bikes. They fall and scrape their bare knees on the concrete. I picked a boy up, looked at his knees, saw skin abrasion, no real bleeding, I blew on it, I comforted him, and told him to stand and walk it off. This one yesterday, not only stood up, but took off running once he heard what I told him. Yet if he would hear the opposite or nothing at all, surely he'd remain on the floor, concentrating on his injury, making it even worse. So where do you stand? Can you stand? With our Lord? You will, and it all hinges on how much you value your Father's words.

First, let us pray: "God is my refuge on the day of distress. But I will sing of your strength and revel at dawn in your mercy; You have been my stronghold,
my refuge in the day of distress." Ah yes, distress. Tell me about it, right? Let me tell you all my woes! I think if you want to make a friend for Christ, be ready to be a listener for distress. People love to talk about themselves, just look at my2cents!! LOL!!. But really, I've heard it from various sources. That is why confessional is good, but do you value it? When we are sharing in bible studies, or friendship groups for Jesus, our testimonies are what brings value. Your life testimony is very valuable. And much more, the testimony of Christ! I told a worker that was in bible study years ago, "I'm going to tell you something most won't hear, and it is gravely important...missing Mass is a mortal sin". I don't see him at my church, but he has told me he has gone in another town. I told a nephew many years ago some advise. He was a troubled young teen. He was headed to juvenile detention, it almost seemed that was his goal, and the logic was this: "I don't care". His parents divorced, he actually had hidden physical ailments, and he was troubled. I told him to stop being disobedient to his father, no matter how ridiculous his father was, to just listen to everything unless it was completely immoral. I said many other things, speaking of God and His commands of obedience. Well, he listened. Now he's going to be a senior, with almost straight A's, and always says yes sir to his dad, with respect. Things are in order...more-so anyhow.

In comes our Lord and our Father and the Holy Spirit: ""The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field". Why is The Kingdom buried? So we can look for it. Buried in the muck of our world. People are constantly looking for something. Many are on a worldwide search. Many people are looking and don't even know they are looking. For men, hunting is what we are instinctively doing, and for women, as well. We hunt for food, we look for something to feed off. To know, to grow.
The second is the same, the man finds a pearl and then "he goes and sells all that he has and buys it."

We would think immediately of saints that sell all they have, like Saint Francis, and they surrender all their lives to God. Right? Wouldn't it be nice? Nice thoughts. Nice intentions we may have even. But thoughts and intentions must be realized. Dreams must be realized. If you dream of losing weight, then it won't come true if you don't try. And try your heart out. So is God asking for everything? Nope. Its up to us in this free world to give everything. If you find, you will automatically do so. If the value is that great. If the reward for the risk is that great. If you are that greatly...certain.

Be certain of the value.
Be certain of the Kingdom of God.
Be certain that the Kingdom of God is the most valuable.
How will you value something? Let's take a rosary. If you are not used to it, cold to it, you can't get warm to it without some work. It takes a leap of faith. At first, it is hard. It is awkward. There is no "time" for it. This simply means, there is no will. There is no value. The same could be said of the Holy Sacraments. All things grace. It takes some digging, some elbow grease, some considerable effort. Reading theology and apologetics also, can be hard. But you have to keep digging. The hunt is what makes it a hunt. Is it funner to fish in a nice real lake, or in a barrel of fish? Where do you get most of the adventure? On the road trip, the adventures are on the road. It is the same with our faith. I just let a church youth group use a church van I bought to travel to California this past weekend, a good probably 1400 mile trip one way. It broke down in Arizona. Luckily it was just men sponsors in the van. They got a taste of memories and adventures. A brother from church went to bring it back. Amazingly it just drove all the way back. But the trip with his graduated son, I am sure made for quality time that only gets churned out of quantity time.

The same is with quantity time digging for the Kingdom of God.
Ven. Fulton Sheen suggest we spend at least an hour a day, a holy hour with our Lord, at the Blessed Sacrament.
Start digging. Start making time. Start finding clues, start seeing the shiny shining truth. You will leave everything else behind for this...



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