Monday, August 27, 2018

⛪I Saw You

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Suffering Can Make Us Holy

The discovery of a deep wound can become a transformative gift or a wrenching sorrow that opens the heart and soul to longing and realized grace, which is at the core of Christian mystery. No matter who we are, at some time in our life we experience sorrow. We have a choice to either become bitter or become hopeful. Suffering hallows us and invites us to connect with God and others to receive support and care. Sorrow can teach empathy and expand our notion of reality and the world we live in. The potential for spiritual growth in our sorrow and brokenness is found in the detection that it is possible to experience gratitude or even appreciation for what once may have been unbearable.

—from Your Spiritual Garden: Tending to the Presence of God


"The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder . . . What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course, and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection."
— St. Padre Pio

"Whenever we receive Communion, we enter into communion with the Holy Trinity. Did anybody ever tell you that? With each reception of Holy Communion, we experience, already here on earth, the same divine activity that we will one day experience in all its fullness in heaven—the divine activity of love eternally taking place within the Trinity . . . God wants to live his triune life in us. We are called to be dwelling places for the Holy Trinity and to enter into a personal relationship with each of the persons in God."
— Vinney Flynn, p. 27-8
7 Secrets of the Eucharist

"No weapon that is fashioned against you shall prosper, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, says the Lord."
Isaiah 54:17


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Saint Monica

(c. 330 – 387)

The circumstances of Saint Monica's life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law, and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica's prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism.

Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine, is the most famous. At the time of his father's death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy—"all flesh is evil"—and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted.

When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine's trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan.

In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, Saint Ambrose, who also became Monica's spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her. Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste.

She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter 387, Saint Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, "Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled." She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death.

Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of Saint Augustine, especially his Confessions.

Today, with Google searches, online shopping, text messages, tweets, and instant credit, we have little patience for things that take time. Likewise, we want instant answers to our prayers. Monica is a model of patience. Her long years of prayer, coupled with a strong, well-disciplined character, finally led to the conversion of her hot-tempered husband, her cantankerous mother-in-law and her brilliant but wayward son, Augustine.

Saint Monica is the Patron Saint of:
Married Women


Memorial of Saint Monica

Reading 1 2 Thes1:1-5, 11-12

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the Church of the Thessalonians
in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters,
as is fitting, because your faith flourishes ever more,
and the love of every one of you for one another grows ever greater.
Accordingly, we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God
regarding your endurance and faith in all your persecutions
and the afflictions you endure.

This is evidence of the just judgment of God,
so that you may be considered worthy of the Kingdom of God
for which you are suffering.

We always pray for you,
that our God may make you worthy of his calling
and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose
and every effort of faith,
that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you,
and you in him,
in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 4-5
R. (3) Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.
For great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
awesome is he, beyond all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are things of nought,
but the LORD made the heavens.
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Alleluia Jn 10:27
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 23:13-22

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves.

"Woe to you, blind guides, who say,
'If one swears by the temple, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.'
Blind fools, which is greater, the gold,
or the temple that made the gold sacred?
And you say, 'If one swears by the altar, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.'
You blind ones, which is greater, the gift,
or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it;
one who swears by the temple swears by it
and by him who dwells in it;
one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God
and by him who is seated on it."


Meditation: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11-12

Saint Monica (Memorial)

Your faith flourishes ever more. (2 Thessalonians 1:3)

The Thessalonians were going through a rough patch. They were being persecuted (2 Thessalonians 1:4). A false prophecy or a letter forged under Paul's name said that the Second Coming was imminent, and it left the community unsettled (2:1-2). Some members weren't doing their fair share of work (3:6-11). Yet even though they faced all these problems, Paul opened his letter by commending them for their ever-increasing faith. Why?

Paul saw all the good that was happening among them. His word of encouragement probably helped them see it for themselves as well.

Sometimes in the face of obstacles, all we need is a kind word to keep us moving forward. When someone comments on how hard we are working, it energizes us and gives us hope. One simple word of encouragement can change the tone of an environment and bring peace to a situation on the verge of discord. Even a humble "Thank you for all you do" can brighten someone's day.

Encouragement can start right in our own families. It can be so easy to focus on what we think needs correcting in family members. But how about pointing out all the things they are doing well instead? When we say to a teenager, "I saw how kind you were to your little brother today," it makes her feel good about herself and will lead her to be kind to her brother in the future. When we tell our spouse, "I really appreciate how hard you are working to provide for us," it makes him or her feel valued and appreciated.

Don't stop with your family. Maybe at Mass you could turn to a family with small children and tell them how happy you are that they are there—even if the kids were a handful that morning. Or you could tell a coworker struggling with a tough assignment that you have confidence in her and are sure she has the gifts and ability to complete it.

Just as Paul chose to recognize the growing faith of the Thessalonians, so we can choose to see the good in people and let them know about it. Don't ever underestimate the value of an encouraging word. You never know the good it can do!

"Jesus, help me not to miss opportunities to encourage my brothers and sisters."

Psalm 96:1-5
Matthew 23:13-22


"We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling
and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose...". Saint Monica was always praying, but that's not all. Her cries and supplications were real. If they say that a man, a father, a husband has about 70 to 80% effect on the child's faith, and the mother is left with 20 or 30%, what does this mean? That the mother can sit back and blame the husband, that wayward husband, that unfaithful husband? It means that she now has to give 100% and more. Is that possible? Yes. Is praying a rosary enough? Probably not in most cases, it will take more. More and more, P.U.S.H., they say, Pray Until Something Happens. That's what they say, and it has a grain of truth. But prayers must be accompanied by real supplications. Real seeking. Real knocking. Real reaching. Real...chasing. It made SAINT Augustine uncomfortable. This is the kind of Push we need. Prayer and works, but all with one very important ingredient, Faith.

Let us pray: "Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations. For great is the LORD and highly to be praised; awesome is he, beyond all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are things of nought, but the LORD made the heavens." Shall one say this: Only those who fear the Lord are in Heaven. ? Shall one say "only those who love God sincerely, are in Heaven. ?
Shall one say "only holy souls are in Heaven."? What do you think? Shall it be any different, or like some protestants believe, that anyone can live however they want and just say you believe and that's enough? Holiness goes out the door. What kind of people are holy? I bet it's the ones suffering and have Jesus at the forefront. Suffering for Him. Suffering with Him. Living and dying for Him. There are some elect, chosen to be loved and following God. Not everyone who says Lord Lord will enter.

Let us turn to our Lord and our Savior, the LOVE of our Lives! AMEN? He said "You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?" Jesus made it Sacred. Jesus makes the gift sacred. My high school senior nephew walked in on me yesterday as I was cleaning our family van, and says, "I like how you keep your van clean" and I said "these things are a gift from God, you have to take care of it, like your body, it is a gift, you have to take care of it...your soul as well. He asked me for the Mass readings for the day, which were about people walking away from Jesus when He said to eat His body. People walk away from the Catholic faith, and they walk away from Jesus. Our Catholic faith is not the people, but it is a faith about Jesus Christ on the altar, who is the altar, who is the lamb of God. He offers Himself to us and what do we do with His body? We are supposed to live out His life through us. Swearing becomes a life commitment. "One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it" says our Lord. Holy Sacraments are oaths, swearings. We have to be careful how we handle sacraments. I accidentally walked into church during confessions, I was just there to put up posters for a men's conference, didn't mean to go to confession. But, there were two priests ready, nobody there but an elderly woman that was dropped off and her walker. I was about to leave, but the old lady had finished, and I felt a tugging. I confessed. I can't believe I didn't want to do it. And they were words of encouragement given to me there. God was there waiting. The light was on, the green light and I didn't want to go. He was ready to make a renewed promise, renewed because I had failed my part. And so, when the new covenant enters, His Body and Soul into Mine, it is a severe promise, blood in blood, eternity into eternity.

Realize what this swearing means. It is a giving of life.



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