Clearly one of the pillars of the spiritual life, as far as the Desert Monastics were concerned, was a time and place for reflection. A cell. A place to which we can retire in order to find our way back to our best ideals, our fullest selves, our life with God. A physical place, not a mental one, where we are truly alone and truly in peace. The cell is the place where clamor and chaos stop at the door. It's the place where we get back in touch with our best selves. It's the center of our very own, private, spiritual universe.
–from the book In God's Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics
†Quote "If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master's presence. And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back and place it again in Our Lord's presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed." — St. Francis de Sales
† MEDITATION OF THE DAY "This great power of grace over nature appears at first sight as unnatural, for which reason nature strives against it and does not even wish to hear of the necessity of penance and mortification. But the obligation of penance remains, and precisely because of nature's opposition, it cannot be emphasized often enough or earnestly enough. Softened, wounded nature, moreover, makes difficulties greater than they really are. Grace does not wish to destroy nature, but only to elevate it, that is, to drive out the evil that makes it sick and then to introduce a new and better life. By taking away all that nature loves to its own detriment, and thus wounding it in its innermost depth, it at the same time pours such a healthful balsam into this wound that it is a delight to be wounded in this way. Ask the Saints if they have ever experienced any greater delight than in those moments when they offered themselves, body and soul, as a victim to God. ... Ask yourself if you have ever enjoyed a deeper or more genuine delight than when you suppressed a violent desire of proud, angry nature, or performed any other act of heroic mortification with the help of grace. If, then, grace could give the Saints such a wonderful, superhuman and heroic courage as to elevate them above themselves and make them lead an angelic life already in the flesh, can it not enable you to live at least as a man, in harmony with your natural dignity, and not as a slave of the flesh, of the passions, of your own will and opinion?" — Fr. Matthias J. Scheeben, p. 260 AN EXCERPT FROM The Glories of Divine Grace: A Fervent Exhortation to All to Preserve and to Grow in Sanctifying Grace
† VERSE OF THE DAY "Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation." Habakkuk 3:17-18
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Saint Paul the Hermit
(c. 233 – c. 345)
It is unclear what we really know of Paul's life, how much is fable, how much is fact.
Paul was reportedly born in Egypt, where he was orphaned by age 15. He was also a learned and devout young man. During the persecution of Decius in Egypt in the year 250, Paul was forced to hide in the home of a friend. Fearing a brother-in-law would betray him, he fled in a cave in the desert. His plan was to return once the persecution ended, but the sweetness of solitude and heavenly contemplation convinced him to stay.
He went on to live in that cave for the next 90 years. A nearby spring gave him drink, a palm tree furnished him clothing and nourishment. After 21 years of solitude, a bird began bringing him half of a loaf of bread each day. Without knowing what was happening in the world, Paul prayed that the world would become a better place.
Saint Anthony of Egypt attests to his holy life and death. Tempted by the thought that no one had served God in the wilderness longer than he, Anthony was led by God to find Paul and acknowledge him as a man more perfect than himself. The raven that day brought a whole loaf of bread instead of the usual half. As Paul predicted, Anthony would return to bury his new friend.
Thought to have been about 112 when he died, Paul is known as the "First Hermit." His feast day is celebrated in the East; he is also commemorated in the Coptic and Armenian rites of the Mass.
The will and direction of God are seen in the circumstances of our lives. Led by the grace of God, we are free to respond with choices that bring us closer to and make us more dependent upon the God who created us. Those choices might at times seem to lead us away from our neighbor. But ultimately they lead us back both in prayer and in fellowship to one another.
Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 Heb 2:5-12
It was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. Instead, someone has testified somewhere:
What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, subjecting all things under his feet.
In "subjecting" all things to him, he left nothing not "subject to him." Yet at present we do not see "all things subject to him," but we do see Jesus "crowned with glory and honor" because he suffered death, he who "for a little while" was made "lower than the angels," that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
For it was fitting that he, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering. He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin. Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them "brothers" saying:
I will proclaim your name to my brethren, in the midst of the assembly I will praise you.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 8:2ab and 5, 6-7, 8-9 R. (see 7) You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands. O LORD, our Lord, how glorious is your name over all the earth! What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him? R. You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands. You have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet. R. You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands. All sheep and oxen, yes, and the beasts of the field, The birds of the air, the fishes of the sea, and whatever swims the paths of the seas. R. You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.
Alleluia See 1 Thes 2:13 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Receive the word of God, not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the word of God. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 1:21-28
Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!" Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!" The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him." His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
Meditation: Mark 1:21-28
1st Week in Ordinary Time
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him. (Mark 1:27)
People living in First World countries have all but completely dismissed the idea that evil spirits are real. But as numerous saints have emphasized over and over again, that's a big mistake. Demons are real, and they are constantly trying to tempt us to commit sins.
Before we go any further, however, we need to make one important distinction. While very few people are actually possessed by evil spirits, most of us have been harassed by them. One story from the Bible can help us out here. It's the story of Peter telling Jesus, You don't really have to die, do you? In response, Jesus told Peter, "Get behind me, Satan" (Mark 8:33).
Here Jesus was not saying that Peter was possessed by Satan. He was saying that the devil was using Peter to tempt Jesus. Here's the difference. It was Peter's mind that came up with the idea. It was his good intentions that moved him to speak. And it was Peter's voice that did the speaking. But it was the influence of Satan that moved Peter to say what he said.
What Satan did to Peter, he still does to us today. So how can we guard against his tactics? First, we should try our best to agree with Jesus. Of course, we can always ask him to help us understand or follow his commands, but we should continually try to keep an attitude of trust and humility. When we think we know better than Jesus, as Peter did, we open ourselves up to the devil's harassment.
Second, we need to put on the "armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11). When you wake up each morning, ask the Lord to protect your whole family. Pray, "In the name of Jesus, I command you, Satan, to go to the cross where Jesus defeated you."
Third, soak yourself in the word of God and the Eucharist. Read the Scriptures and meditate on them for at least five minutes each day. Go to Mass, and receive Jesus in Holy Communion as often as you can.
Finally, always remember that Jesus, who lives in you, is stronger than the devil (1 John 4:4).
"Jesus, teach me how to stand firm and resist all the temptations of the evil one."
Hebrews 2:5-12 Psalm 8:2, 5-9
2cents: "You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, subjecting all things under his feet." God made man. And the Son of Man came to be. Let us be clear on one thing...you will never understand God in totality, you will only have a glimpse of His mere essence revealed in His Presence. So what are, and why are we called His Children? His children are those who do His will. Then, we are little less than angels as Jesus came to be. Yet I can only imagine how intensely angels looked upon Him on earth. Waiting at an instant for His word...to be. For when He speaks, things come to be.
Let us pray: "You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands. O LORD, our Lord, how glorious is your name over all the earth! What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him?" Human life is animated by the spirit life. People talk in spirits. Either yours, or the good, or the bad. What is critical then is to always be in the good and Holy Spirit of God. And this takes a will, a direct effort. I asked my kids if they prayed the rosary yesterday, they said yes. Then I thought "wait, have I prayed the rosary myself?". No. So I began, and I focused on the nativity of our Lord at the 3rd mystery, and I decided to pray in front of our nativity scene since we haven't taken down our Christmas things. And there, the little statues gazed upon Jesus. What is man...that you should care for Him? I snapped a picture.
And who cared for Him? Look at all the angels around Him. Those who sought Him. Those who protected Him. Those who kept Him warm, and clothed Him. Look at how the lamb provided its own for Him to eat and to dress. Look at how the donkey carried the load, and all their weight. Look at how we care for the Lord in the most vulnerable, those that are the least. Look at the human love that is created by God. Look at He provides for the birds in the air and the fishes in the sea.
Yet, all this would not have come to be, had one not taken the time to care. Me, to pray. The Shepherds to heed the angel's message. Have you received a message? God talks through people. But so do evil spirits. When I'm being yelled at and cursed, just getting cussed out, now, living in grace, I've learned to discern the evil spirits that are tempting me and luring me. But, those are easy to decipher. The ones not so easy are the ones that sound really nice. Temptations to not suffer. Temptations of ego. Temptations of pride. Those are the ones that hide in the bushes. That's why God speaks through a burning bush, for the light to be seen and to reveal what is inside.
And so, today, Jesus is, guess where? In the temple! This flies in the face of all liars in our world that say they don't need to go to church. That is a lie from Satan. Learn to decipher who is being fooled. Jesus is in the temple. Jesus heals in the temple. Jesus teaches in the temple. How many people hate the priests. Many go in with evil spirits. Is this place for those haters? Yup. This is where Jesus can meet the soul and heal. In our temple, in the Catholic Church, normally, that is where we confess; there we come out with what is inside. Exorcists claim that confessions can be equally as or more powerful as an exorcism's prayers and rites. So why are lines to confessions virtually empty? Why don't we confess more often? It should be monthly. You listen to all doctors and newest health trends, but why not to this Heavenly health tip? Because, in the end, we will realize, only the Holy Belong In Heaven.
I heard 2 testimonies of people who died and experienced the next life. One was catholic and became "christian" after she came back. Funny, Catholics are Christians. But she said when she was Catholic she was a drinker and was only interested in looking good and the list goes on. She experienced the gates of hell being tortured already and being pulled further in for more torture, and she prayed much over and over and was saved by Jesus and His Holy Name. And Jesus told her she was at the gates of hell for not forgiving someone and for idolizing saints and Mary. She was replayed as in a film all her life and the failures since she was little. She said she felt she didn't deserve to be in Heaven even though at the gates of hell she was saying she was a good person that went to church and didn't belong in hell. She was asked if she wanted to return to earth, she said yes, to have a family and take care of her father. Jesus said He would be with her. She revived and found herself in a morgue. Promises came true and she eventually followed a friend to be a so called "Christian". The second story was a man that was a "drugger" like a pharmacist. These people are from South American Countries. Anyhow, he said he felt invincible, because any illness, he said he could pull out the perfect drugs and cure himself. But, he found himself direly seek, and things went from bad to worse, until he was in a coma, on life support, clinically dead. He experienced a vast place, and witnessed suffering of millions and millions of souls, and stench that the other lady had experienced too. He too said his body was there but things could go right through it, but you could feel pain and everything, the lady said feelings were even more stronger, like pain, and smell, and so forth. This man though, said he was not faithful, only when it was convenient in his earthly life, always making deals with God. And that was the relationship, just deals. He too was sat down, but this time by saints he had prayed to, and they told him he could not see the Virgin Mother, nor enter Heaven, because he had asked for it, they said that place was too holy for him. Rather, they played like a film too, of all his life since he was a child. He saw all the failures. He could hear prayers throughout his comatose state. He could see how prayers were effective. He came back to life to tell all that Heaven is for real. He didn't want to leave. They both said they couldn't feel the weight we do with earthly bodies.
The common denominator: Any little sin would be liable to keep them from Heaven. Back to life. Right? With distractions and spirits in the life we don't see, or care to hear.
We on earth, as baptized souls, we too are joined in Christ, so that they may say "He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him." I've learned to rebuke bad spirits. Some pervade in the mind and I have to rebuke them there too. Even bad thoughts are accounted for in Heaven, and up there, they are a big deal. What we think are not big deals, are actually big deals (so they said in testimonies). Unless, we repent.
Unless we reform our lives. Unless we become living saints, we too will face fiery Gehenna. Payment for every little nasty word or thought you ever had. Sadly, in our world, nobody things these little things are bad. But they are. All that filth is like pornography for the soul. It takes over, and rots it from the inside. And the spiritual manifestation ensues. The man giving testimony said a light came to him before coming back and it soothed him, and it was revealed as the Eucharist. He asked everyone to confess always and take the Eucharist, and to always pray, especially for poor souls in purgatory, truly suffering. I had a hard time listening to the lady speak about Catholics. But it was the same as when I'd hear an atheist explain how the universe was created out of nothing and so since he figured it out, there was no need for a god. How was it the same? Because, they do not testify anything against Catholic teaching. Everything they said was true, except for the part that attacks a fellow brethren.
So "What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him?". We are His creation. Created for the purpose you desire. If you desire worldly things, then you will get its reward. If you desire Heavenly things of God, you will get the reward. And you will receive to the degree you work. In both testimonies of the woman and man that died, they both came back saying we have to spread the news. Follow the commandments. We have to work. We have to be Holy.
Do you have to be Holy? Or do we get to be Holy? It is an honor. One not sought out for much. I see our government as rather un-united, somewhat chaotic. Why? Because, there is no common denominator. No true order. They are not listening to God, only to each other.
It should be the Love of God first. Then, it will be for the love of the neighbor. The least. The one that needs clothing, shelter, warmth, and protection, so often abandoned. Shall we go to church heartless, in the temple? Or shall we cry out to Him with all our hearts in the temple, to be purified with Him?
I go to Mass often. I fight all during Mass to stop being Martha and start being Mary. Yes there are things to do, but at that time, it is a moment of adoration, contemplation, and a time to be made Holy and His. A time to sit in Heaven, if even for a brief moment. Jesus has authority. And Jesus lives among us....
I am now scared of not being in Heaven. Living moments of our lives are speaking louder in the next world, speaking volumes. Both that died and return came back to save souls. She said you get crowns in Heaven by saving souls. In Revelation, you throw your crowns at the feet of God in adoration. Both came back desiring humility more than anything. This is to be reborn.
Jesus makes all things new...
For questions or comments contact Adrian@going4th.com. For more go to www.Going4th.com