Friday, February 8, 2019

⛪ ""What shall I ask for?"

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St. Josephine Bakhita, Pray for Us!

The story of St. Josephine Bakhita remains a very moving testament to God's providential hand on all who are called to do God's great work. Although God's work is often found in what some may call menial tasks, all work done in the name of the Lord is work of great magnitude in the eyes of God. She was, according to one of her biographers, simply "a Sister, a slave, sold, bought, resold, unknown in the world, coming from nowhere!" Freedom and the knowledge of the good Lord allowed Bakhita to understand that although she did not know God during slavery, God was still there orchestrating her life and preparing this "lucky one" for himself.

—from African Saints, African Stories: 40 Holy Men and Women


"If a tiny spark of God's love already burns within you, do not expose it to the wind, for it may get blown out… Stay quiet with God. Do not spend your time in useless chatter… Do not give yourself to others so completely that you have nothing left for yourself."
— St. Charles Borromeo

"A spiritual Communion acts on the soul as blowing does on a cinder-covered fire which was about to go out. Whenever you feel your love of God growing cold, quickly make a spiritual Communion.' 'Quickly!' There's a sense of urgency here. The saints are trying to tell us that we should not limit our union with Christ in the Eucharist to sacramental Communion once a week, or even once a day. We need Christ's living presence in our lives moment-by-moment to nourish us and protect us from sin, so we need to renew our union with Him regularly, especially any time we feel ourselves drifting away. Christ is not merely present in the Eucharist during Mass! The Eucharist is an ongoing fulfillment of Christ's Gospel promise to remain with us: 'Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age' (Mt. 28:20)."
— Vinny Flynn, p. 98-9
7 Secrets of the Eucharist

"I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, so I shall be saved from my enemies."
Psalm 18:1-3


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Saint Josephine Bakhita

(c. 1869 – February 8, 1947)

For many years, Josephine Bakhita was a slave but her spirit was always free and eventually that spirit prevailed.

Born in Olgossa in the Darfur region of southern Sudan, Josephine was kidnapped at the age of 7, sold into slavery and given the name Bakhita, which means fortunate. She was resold several times, finally in 1883 to Callisto Legnani, Italian consul in Khartoum, Sudan.

Two years later, he took Josephine to Italy and gave her to his friend Augusto Michieli. Bakhita became babysitter to Mimmina Michieli, whom she accompanied to Venice's Institute of the Catechumens, run by the Canossian Sisters. While Mimmina was being instructed, Josephine felt drawn to the Catholic Church. She was baptized and confirmed in 1890, taking the name Josephine.

When the Michielis returned from Africa and wanted to take Mimmina and Josephine back with them, the future saint refused to go. During the ensuing court case, the Canossian Sisters and the patriarch of Venice intervened on Josephine's behalf. The judge concluded that since slavery was illegal in Italy, she had actually been free since 1885.

Josephine entered the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa in 1893 and made her profession three years later. In 1902, she was transferred to the city of Schio (northeast of Verona), where she assisted her religious community through cooking, sewing, embroidery, and welcoming visitors at the door. She soon became well loved by the children attending the sisters' school and the local citizens. She once said, "Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him. What a great grace it is to know God!"

The first steps toward her beatification began in 1959. She was beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later.

Josephine's body was mutilated by those who enslaved her, but they could not touch her spirit. Her Baptism set her on an eventual path toward asserting her civic freedom and then service to God's people as a Canossian Sister.

She who worked under many "masters" was finally happy to address God as "master" and carry out everything that she believed to be God's will for her.


Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Heb13:1-8

Let brotherly love continue.
Do not neglect hospitality,
for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.
Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment,
and of the ill-treated as of yourselves,
for you also are in the body.
Let marriage be honored among all
and the marriage bed be kept undefiled,
for God will judge the immoral and adulterers.
Let your life be free from love of money
but be content with what you have,
for he has said, I will never forsake you or abandon you.
Thus we may say with confidence:

The Lord is my helper,
and I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?

Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you.
Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 27:1, 3, 5, 8b-9abc
R. (1a) The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life's refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart will not fear;
Though war be waged upon me,
even then will I trust.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
For he will hide me in his abode
in the day of trouble;
He will conceal me in the shelter of his tent,
he will set me high upon a rock.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Alleluia See Lk 8:15
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart,
and yield a harvest through perseverance.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 6:14-29

King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread,
and people were saying,
"John the Baptist has been raised from the dead;
That is why mighty powers are at work in him."
Others were saying, "He is Elijah";
still others, "He is a prophet like any of the prophets."
But when Herod learned of it, he said,
"It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up."

Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
"It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers,
and the leading men of Galilee.
His own daughter came in and performed a dance
that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
"Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you."
He even swore many things to her,
"I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom."

She went out and said to her mother,
"What shall I ask for?"
Her mother replied, "The head of John the Baptist."
The girl hurried back to the king's presence and made her request,
"I want you to give me at once on a platter
the head of John the Baptist."
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner
with orders to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter
and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.


Meditation: Hebrews 13:1-8

Saint Jerome Emiliani (Optional Memorial)

Let . . . love continue. (Hebrews 13:1)

For the past three weeks, we have been puzzling over some of Scripture's most challenging theological subjects in the Letter to the Hebrews. But now that we have come to the last section of the letter, one thing becomes abundantly clear: love is what matters most.

It's easy to miss unless you look at the original Greek text. First, there is an exhortation to continue brotherly love or philadelphia. Next, there is a reminder not to forget hospitality, or philoxenia, which is love of strangers. The passage goes on to talk about honoring marriage, which, of course, is all about marital love. And finally, it talks about remaining free from the love of material things. Love is all over this passage!

All of these areas of love are equally important, and in many cases they can be intertwined. We might welcome guests into our home, for example, but forget to let our spouse and children know in advance—or forget to consider the impact on our budget. Or we might spend a lot of time caring for one particular family member at the expense of another—or at the expense of reaching out to people who don't have any family to speak of. No matter what area of our lives we are contemplating, the central question should always be: "Is love present?"

When you need to make a decision, ask, "Will I be showing love well if I do this?" Even if it's a choice between two good and honorable options, you can ask, "Which of these will make love grow the most?" By thinking this way, you are inviting the Holy Spirit into your decision making and asking him how you can best reveal God's character to the people around you.

How can you love a little bit more today? How can the Holy Spirit help you be guided by the "love" test? No matter what the situation, it always comes down to love—the love that drove Jesus to the cross, the love that will keep us close to him, and the love that compels us to reach out to other people.

"Jesus, help me to love as you have loved: completely and generously."

Psalm 27:1, 3, 5, 8-9
Mark 6:14-29


Of the many things we heard, how to treat prisoners, and the ill, and the ill-treated, and how to always be hospitable, we heard also "Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers." Marriage today is not so honored. The unborn neither. Not always. Many years ago, an elderly priest said in his talk "young people don't get married anymore". There's this long time running show called "The bachelor" and it is built all on lies and sex and money, money to be made, and fame to be had. I think the statistics on that show, of the ones who get engaged, not even 1 out of 10 actually get married. It's all lies, and if they marry, they divorce. And the basis was on courting and even having adulterous affairs all throughout. That's the kind of dark world we live in. Where many are unmarried, where many are having affairs. Faithless, tied to infidelity. Why is marriage important? Ask God. Why did He begin the Word (the Bible) with a marriage (in Genesis) and end with a marriage (in Revelation)? Because, I believe, it is our relationship with Him. That's why. Faithfulness. Fidelity. Promises to be kept. A true love relationship. And thank God He is true.

Let us pray: "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life's refuge; of whom should I be afraid?" I went to 2 funerals yesterday. I sang at one. A song was Psalm 23 and another Do Not Be Afraid. This is a tough one. For all the times the Bible says not to be afraid, how many times are we still afraid? And, are we afraid of faithfulness, and what it will cost? What will it cost? It costs many saints everything, and they freely gave everything, because love don't cost a is given.

In the Holy Gospel, we are presented with Saint John the Baptist, who was imprisoned, and the Herods, the captors, were busy partying, hosting a party, for what? To impress others? Gain their affection? To inflate your head? And so it happens. When you are so busy with yourself, an innocent could be suffering at your expense. This is how it is with a pregnant girl who just can't see herself having a baby. So her head lops off another. Sounds bad, and sad, doesn't it? Think Jesus. How often are we too busy for God? Sadly, it is true. Most people I encounter can't help in ministries or weekly things demanded because they are too busy. Some are too busy even to call me back, or text me back, and so I text again, and I call again. I must've invited a half dozen men to different things yesterday, to retreats, to gatherings, to ministries, and no replies. I must be getting them tired of so many texts and calls and pleas. So when I talk to men, I'm just starting to say with them, "yeah, everyone's just so busy nowadays" agreeing, and exaggerating the point, "just so darn busy". Meanwhile, someone suffers, a prisoner. That's some of the the ministries I was inviting to also...jail. "Oh, I got a party that day", and "Oh I think I'm on call that day", and the sadness goes on. Sad for the innocent. I'm kind of scared when someone asks or if I ask someone...for their own good. Jesus is asking "will you come be with me, see me in prison"? That's the scary part, and the sad part is to hear the replies "I got no time". No time for what is important. "No sir, my family is more important", said the Herods. Sadly, I was one of those, "just too busy in other ministries" was my reply.
That's why Jesus says you have to hate your family. For that very reason. Because so often we will choose them over Him. You know what's crazy? If you'd go see the prisoner or serve where you are asked, you would actually love your family more and better. To neglect Jesus is to neglect your family.
What's crazy is that Herod was "perplexed" and intrigued with St. John the Baptist. He kind of liked to hear him talk, but, he still had him murdered in cold blood, to appease the crowds, and his own family. Now think of our Lord. Nowadays many are turning their backs on Jesus the very same way. They say they believe, like to hear what He says, but in an instant, they turn their backs, are unfaithful and cover their eyes while He is beheaded. Think of the unborn. Think of the prisoner. Think of the sick. Think now, who is really sick? The merciless.

"Blessed are they who mourn", I sang yesterday at a funeral, and "Be not afraid".
Be not afraid to give what it costs to follow Jesus, to believe Jesus.
Saint John the Baptist was imprisoned for truth, for Jesus.
Saint John spoke out against wrongful marriage.
Nowadays, if you don't believe in homosexual marriage, you too can be beheaded, imprisoned, ousted, and shunned.
We went to a pro-life rally at our state capitol a couple weeks ago. As we marched, a girl on a bike was flipping everyone the bad finger. And another lady, was walking topless, all day as we marched, she'd go against us, our flow, and among my 7 kids, I couldn't cover their eyes by the time this unsightly scene would cross. I asked the police officers "you know there is a woman walking here topless?" they said "yeah we know...but it is legal here".

Some police officers had stopped me and my kids to tell us our flagpoles where not allowed, the metal rods or whatever. But the topless, and obscene was allowed.

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen said "first comes nudity, then comes violence" (Genesis). Pornography incites violence. Violence to the unborn. Violence to marriage. Violence to the innocent. Violence to our Lord. Impurity is leading many souls to hell. But....we are just so busy.
Too busy for holiness.
Too busy for purity.
Just too busy for rules.
We want to do what we want, when we want, and how we want.
I told my 9th graders "you don't have to follow any rules, any commandments, just do whatever....but remember, we must pay".

And who pays? The innocent.
Think Jesus.
So how can we combat? I ran into a quote by G.K. Chesterton this week and made it my signature line on my emails, it says ""A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."
The living thing will fight the currents. And it will always be a struggle, constant. So we have to be constant. Last week, a brother said in a group text which I was inviting to a weekly gathering, "why does it get harder and harder to follow through and meet?" and I replied "It gets harder if we 'skip', but it gets easier if we are consistent".

Do not be fooled. Every day is a struggle. But if you give up, you're good as dead. The currents will take you where they (the world) wishes. And the world will distract you over and over again, until you are old, and ask "where did the time go? What happened? I wish I could've...". What?

Been more faithful?
That moment is now. No matter where you are, what age you are. The moment for fidelity in our marriage to God is now. I told my 9th graders, "whether you are married, you are married to God, whether you are single, you are God's, and if you are in Holy Orders, you are married to God".
Faithfulness, a true love of God: This is a light for all nations.

Pray with me:
Lord, please, help me be your body, as you want, to be one with us. I want to be your holy body. I want to be your beautiful hands and feet. I want to feel your heart beating in mine. I want to see what you see. Be with the innocent, and call the sinner to that holy innocence. Please Lord, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand....


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Thank You Jesus

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