Monday, September 3, 2018

⛪ The Midst of them...

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God's Loving Plan

Work is part of God's loving plan: we are called to cultivate and care for all the goods of creation. In this way we all share in the work of creation! Work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. Work, to use a metaphor, "anoints" us with dignity; it fills us with dignity and makes us similar to God, who has worked and still works, and who always acts (cf. Jn 5:17). Work gives us the ability to maintain ourselves and our families, and to contribute to the growth of our nations.

—from the book The Blessing of Family


"There are in truth three states of the converted: the beginning, the middle, and the perfection. In the beginning they experience the charms of sweetness; in the middle the contests of temptation; and in the end the fullness of perfection."
— Pope St. Gregory the Great
"For want of contrition, innumerable Confessions are either sacrilegious or invalid; the penitent so often breaks his promises to God, and falls again so easily into the same faults, and many souls are eternally lost. Contrition is that true and lively sorrow which the soul has for all the sins it has committed, with a firm determination never to commit them any more . . . Many Christians spend a long time in examining their consciences, and in making long and often unnecessary narrations to the confessor, and then bestow little or no time upon considering the malice of their sins, and upon bewailing and detesting them. Christians such as these, says St. Gregory, act like a wounded man who shows his wounds to the doctor with the utmost anxiety and care, and then will not make use of the remedies prescribed. It is not so much thinking, nor so much speaking of your sins that will procure their pardon, but heartfelt sorrow and detestation of them."
— Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Jesus, p. 289
The School of Jesus Crucified

"For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?"
Romans 8:29-31


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Saint Gregory the Great

(c. 540 – March 12, 604)

Gregory was the prefect of Rome before he was 30. After five years in office he resigned, founded six monasteries on his Sicilian estate, and became a Benedictine monk in his own home at Rome.

Ordained a priest, Gregory became one of the pope's seven deacons, and also served six years in the East as papal representative in Constantinople. He was recalled to become abbot, but at the age of 50 was elected pope by the clergy and people of Rome.

Gregory was direct and firm. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. He was very concerned about the conversion of England, sending 40 monks from his own monastery. He is known for his reform of the liturgy, and for strengthening respect for doctrine. Whether he was largely responsible for the revision of "Gregorian" chant is disputed.

Gregory lived in a time of perpetual strife with invading Lombards and difficult relations with the East. When Rome itself was under attack, he interviewed the Lombard king.

His book, Pastoral Care, on the duties and qualities of a bishop, was read for centuries after his death. He described bishops mainly as physicians whose main duties were preaching and the enforcement of discipline. In his own down-to-earth preaching, Gregory was skilled at applying the daily Gospel to the needs of his listeners. Called "the Great," Gregory has been given a place with Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, as one of the four key doctors of the Western Church.

An Anglican historian has written: "It is impossible to conceive what would have been the confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages without the medieval papacy; and of the medieval papacy, the real father is Gregory the Great."

Gregory was content to be a monk, but he willingly served the Church in other ways when asked. He sacrificed his own preferences in many ways, especially when he was called to be Bishop of Rome. Once he was called to public service, Gregory gave his considerable energies completely to this work. Gregory's description of bishops as physicians fits in well with Pope Francis' description of the Church as a "field hospital."

Saint Gregory the Great is the Patron Saint of:


Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

Reading 1 1 Cor 2:1-5

When I came to you, brothers and sisters,
proclaiming the mystery of God,
I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom.
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you
except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling,
and my message and my proclamation
were not with persuasive words of wisdom,
but with a demonstration of spirit and power,
so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom
but on the power of God.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 119:97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102
R. (97) Lord, I love your commands.
How I love your law, O LORD!
It is my meditation all the day.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
Your command has made me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
I have more understanding than all my teachers
when your decrees are my meditation.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
I have more discernment than the elders,
because I observe your precepts.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
From every evil way I withhold my feet,
that I may keep your words.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
From your ordinances I turn not away,
for you have instructed me.
R. Lord, I love your commands.

Alleluia See Lk 4:18
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 4:16-30

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll,
he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
"Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, "Is this not the son of Joseph?"
He said to them, "Surely you will quote me this proverb,
'Physician, cure yourself,' and say, 'Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.'"
And he said,
"Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian."
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.


Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Memorial); Labor Day, USA

I came to you in weakness. (1 Corinthians 2:3)

Strong, successful, smart—clearly, these are admirable qualities, and for good reason. They are gifts coming from the hand of a loving God. But as admirable and helpful as these gifts are, there are a few things they cannot do. First, and most important, they don't make us more valuable in God's eyes. What's more, they don't make us better witnesses to the gospel. Of course, God is pleased when we use our gifts to build his Church, but that doesn't mean he loves us any more than before. Intelligence, strength, and other abilities are simply attributes God expects us to develop and put to good use.

St. Paul makes this point in today's first reading. Pointing to his own story, he tells the Corinthians that he came to them aware of his weaknesses so that the "power of God" might be revealed (1 Corinthians 2:5). Now, Paul had many gifts: he himself was strong, intelligent, persuasive, and steadfast. But he also had his fair share of negative qualities. He had a short temper, he sometimes didn't get along with the other disciples, and his zeal for the gospel could sometimes get the better of him. But despite his weaknesses—and despite his strengths—what really mattered when he came to Corinth was his reliance on the "power of God," on the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:5).

Like Paul, you too have gifts and abilities, and like him, you have weaknesses as well. But again like Paul, you reveal God to other people, by virtue of the simple fact that God made you and filled you with his Holy Spirit. He shines out from you just as you are, even as he continues to mold you and strengthen you.

Paul's faults didn't disqualify him from serving God, and neither do yours. As St. John Paul II once said, "We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son" (World Youth Day Homily, 5, July 28, 2002). You don't have to be perfect for God to use you. Just tell God you want to try, and ask him to help you reduce your faults and increase your talents.

"Holy Spirit, shine through me, even as you mold me."

Psalm 119:97-102
Luke 4:16-30


Saint Paul:
"I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom,
but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God." Immediately, an image comes as if one has in his grasp this beautiful light power, more powerful than anything in the world, but he holds it with such honor and reverence, not for self-use, and not for self-satisfaction, but as protection, and to bring to the world what it consists of....salvation.

So let us pray: "Lord, I love your commands. I have more understanding than all my teachers when your decrees are my meditation." There are, in the world, people who actually love God's laws. Where did I read today about contrition? Ah yes, today's meditation. This cuts to the heart. It cuts the duplicity, splitting the true from the false. My old false self used to confess for years, as a youngster, without resentment, and without remorse. Words, from teeth out, never from the heart. Now, I tremble in the confessional, and at times, tears automatically build up. Why? Because God is there. On the other side of the veil is a heart, a Father's heart. And He is all ears. Am I all ears? Promises ensue. His law dictates one thing...sincerity. The lowly listen, have ears for the one who has ears....

In comes our Lord, to His hometown, now yours, now listen! "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor." At first, these words were beautiful words all heard: "He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free...". He says, "This is fulfilled before your very eyes". And the mood begins to change. Smiles flatten out, and then He speaks again knowing what's going on as they murmur "this can't be the one, we know him too well". Jesus says a prophet is not welcome in his home. And immediately the flattened smiles become frowns of rage, kicking Him to the edge of a cliff to kill him. My my my. How truth hurts. Yesterday before Mass, a brother in choir told me just moments before we'd begin singing and playing guitars for Mass "hey brother so-and-so said you were too loud last time, turn down your microphone". Nope. Didn't set too well right away inside of me. Does that brother not remember I have an ear thing going on? If I can't hear myself properly on those speakers I'm afraid of what I'd sound like. I looked at the mixing board and said to the brother "hey, all the mics are set equal, I can't help it if no one else is singing loud enough". Mass begins. And I know what I gotta do; quiet down, and listen. Nobody likes the truth. Nobody says "OH! Thank you for that! I appreciate the feedback! Yes, Yes I will look into it right away!" LOL. Nope. We get defensive right away. As if everything is an attack...on our ego. "Nobody understands me" is the mantra. As if it were all about you! So I controlled my volume. I'd hate to be like the previous choir guy that all you could hear was him and he'd turn down all the other mics cuz he was afraid they'd throw him off! DOH!! I'm becoming what I didn't want to become!? I think we actually sounded a little better yesterday too.

The point is, all this, is, for those who have ears.
Those people that chased Jesus out of the temple and to the cliff, all those people covered their ears just like when they rushed Stephen to stone him to death as Saul (before he was Paul) looked on in approval.

In the book of Zechariah God said: "Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. And do not plot evil in your hearts against one another.' 11 But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder; they stopped up their ears from hearing. 12 They made their hearts like flint and would not listen to the law and the words that the LORD of Hosts had sent by His Spirit through the earlier prophets."
God's laws are like "don't hurt one another".
Homosexuality hurts children and people physically.
Go to church! Stop living in adultery, and fornication.
And people hate them who act on His behalf.
Don't kill, don't do abortions! And the mantra lies on "the mother has rights!".
Repent and believe! And the mantra lies on "you have nothing to repent from, nobody understands you, YOU are right, so what is there to believe?"
But, what about you? Where do you stand in the story? Are you an onlooker, on the sidelines? Who was with Christ? Somebody was there to write the story, HIStory. That's what history is all about...HIS-Story.

And that is what today is all about.
And that is what tomorrow is all about.
His Story.
Your life should be attracting souls to Heaven. You should always have one foot in Heaven and one hand reaching out to those in need of Heaven. So what does Heaven mean? Salvation. Peace. Joy. And most importantly, being WITH GOD



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