Thursday, March 7, 2019

⛪ If anyone wishes to come⛪

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A Meditation on the Cross

Grasping the secret of the cross is not something we do once and for all. Sometimes we grasp it, and we are inside the circle of understanding; and sometimes we don't grasp it, and we are outside the circle of understanding.

For example, after Peter denies Jesus during the passion, the Gospels tell us that "Peter went outside." They are referring to much more than simply stepping outside through some courtyard door. Peter was stepping outside the circle of both true discipleship and of a true understanding of life. His denial of Jesus took him "outside." We too, in our following of Jesus, sometimes step "outside" when we give in to temptation or adversity. But then, if we repent, like Peter, we can step back "inside."

—from the book The Passion and the Cross by Ronald Rolheiser


clickable: The Following is from MorningOffering

"I know well that the greater and more beautiful the work is, the more terrible will be the storms that rage against it."
— St. Faustina

"Throughout Sacred Scripture, we find that when God's people fast, the power of their prayers is increased, especially when they are engaged in spiritual warfare. In the Old Testament, the Lord told Isaiah that a fast properly undertaken would 'loose the bonds of wickedness ... undo the thongs of the yoke ... let the oppressed go free' (Is. 58:6) ... In the New Testament, we find that Jesus fasted for forty days and nights in the wilderness in preparation for His battle with Satan, who came to tempt Him (see Lk 4:1-2) ... If prayer is a spiritual weapon, fasting is the spiritual whetstone on which it is sharpened. It's the spiritual muscle that, when exercised regularly, strengthens the thrust of that weapon to pierce the Enemy and drive him away."
— Paul Thigpen, p. 42
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

"But, as it is written, 'What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him'— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God."
1 Corinthians 2:9-10


click to read more


Saints Perpetua and Felicity

(d. 203)

"When my father in his affection for me was trying to turn me from my purpose by arguments and thus weaken my faith, I said to him, 'Do you see this vessel—waterpot or whatever it may be? Can it be called by any other name than what it is?' 'No,' he replied. 'So also I cannot call myself by any other name than what I am—a Christian.'"

So writes Perpetua: young, beautiful, well-educated, a noblewoman of Carthage in North Africa, mother of an infant son and chronicler of the persecution of the Christians by Emperor Septimius Severus.

Perpetua's mother was a Christian and her father a pagan. He continually pleaded with her to deny her faith. She refused and was imprisoned at 22.

In her diary, Perpetua describes her period of captivity: "What a day of horror! Terrible heat, owing to the crowds! Rough treatment by the soldiers! To crown all, I was tormented with anxiety for my baby…. Such anxieties I suffered for many days, but I obtained leave for my baby to remain in the prison with me, and being relieved of my trouble and anxiety for him, I at once recovered my health, and my prison became a palace to me and I would rather have been there than anywhere else."

Despite threats of persecution and death, Perpetua, Felicity–a slavewoman and expectant mother–and three companions, Revocatus, Secundulus and Saturninus, refused to renounce their Christian faith. For their unwillingness, all were sent to the public games in the amphitheater. There Perpetua and Felicity were beheaded, and the others killed by beasts.

Felicity gave birth to a girl a few days before the games commenced.

Perpetua's record of her trial and imprisonment ends the day before the games. "Of what was done in the games themselves, let him write who will." The diary was finished by an eyewitness.

Persecution for religious beliefs is not confined to Christians in ancient times. Consider Anne Frank, the Jewish girl who with her family, was forced into hiding and later died in Bergen-Belsen, one of Hitler's death camps during World War II. Anne, like Perpetua and Felicity, endured hardship and suffering and finally death because she committed herself to God. In her diary, Anne writes, "It's twice as hard for us young ones to hold our ground, and maintain our opinions, in a time when all ideals are being shattered and destroyed, when people are showing their worst side, and do not know whether to believe in truth and right and God."

Saint Felicity is the Patron Saint of:
Mothers of Deceased Sons


Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Lectionary: 220
Reading 1

Dt 30:15-20

Moses said to the people:
"Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin on you today,
loving him, and walking in his ways,
and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees,
you will live and grow numerous,
and the LORD, your God,
will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen,
but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,
I tell you now that you will certainly perish;
you will not have a long life
on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you,
a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore
he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6
R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Verse Before the Gospel
Mt 4:17
Repent, says the Lord;
the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.


Lk 9:22-25

Jesus said to his disciples:
"The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised."

Then he said to all,
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?"


Meditation: Luke 9:22-25

Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs (Optional Memorial)

If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

Ed was in the habit of spending chunks of his weekends on the golf course. That often meant ducking out early from Mass and missing out on time with his wife and kids. One weekend, however, Ed and his wife attended a parish retreat. As Ed prayed before the tabernacle, he had an overwhelming sense of God's love. Ed knew he needed to draw closer to God. That meant making some changes, starting with less golf and more time with the Lord and his family.

Ed's story is a perfect illustration of Jesus' words in today's Gospel: "He must deny himself" (Luke 9:23). Those words might give the impression that following Jesus means living a joyless, austere existence. But God loves you too much to want you to be miserable all the time. Most likely, he is asking you to deny something that's keeping you from him. Perhaps a hobby or pastime has taken over too much free time. Maybe you need to cut back on your time binge-watching TV or surfing the Internet. Maybe you are too focused on your career, and your prayer life suffers.

What's getting in your way? Ask the Lord to show you in prayer. He might surprise you. If you cringe at the thought of denying yourself something you enjoy, don't worry. If it's nothing sinful, Jesus is probably not asking you to give it up completely, only to put it in its proper place.

Ed's decision to cut back on golf came after a dramatic experience of God, so it was only natural that he would pursue his faith with more enthusiasm. Who wouldn't want to spend more time with God after an experience like that? But in today's Gospel, Jesus says that it works both ways. Rather than always waiting for God to do something, we could take some of the initiative ourselves. If we want to get closer to him, we should check to see if there's something blocking us. If we can put that aside, it will be easier to feel his love.

Remember, you can never outdo God in generosity. Whatever you give up for him, he will give you so much more in return.

"Lord, help me to deny myself anything that is keeping me from following you."

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Psalm 1:1-4, 6



Prophets are necessary when wills are weak. Prophets are necessary when human reason is blinded. Prophets are necessary when the Word of God is obscured by sin, human weakness…. The prophet is the one who is sent to actualize the definitive Word of God, the definitive revelation, what God is revealing to me about his will for me, right now.
—Scott Hahn
from Your Share of the Prophets


"Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him." I have had these words as a decal on the back of my truck "Choose Life". I am in the process of ordering new chrome emblems to say those words because the decals finally washed off with years of rain and car washes and I crashed my tailgate at work a month ago, oops. I lost focus and supposed trailer was hitched properly. Boy don't that make you feel like a goofball? "You should've known". Why do we get careless? Caring less. My mind is on a dozen things at any given point in time. I need this lent to focus...on our Lord and not on all my worries. Don't we all need this? I encourage you to share a line at the blog (click)for this reflection, maybe one will read it and be offered a light. Choose life, and Jesus says today choose the cross...does THAT mean life?


Let us pray: "Blessed are they who hope in the Lord. Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked Nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law day and night." Today's saints died in the "games". They had hope in the Lord when all hope seemed lost. They were locked up for simply saying they loved Jesus. How does this all play out today? In our country, there are "games" still. There are people led to slaughter. In some countries it is physical. But our "games" are invisible. Spiritual warfare is an invisible game. I see people get slaughtered. And I am not glad. I see an ailing world. And as much as I try to help them with their cross...mine seems to get heavier. For that we need our Lord.


In the Holy Gospel, our Lord said to us today ""The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected...and be killed". And He was. What was the apple for Judas? Some shimmering silver. What will it take for you to reject the Lord? There are many years of ministries under my belt. I see things, I see people surrender the Lord for things...gods maybe? And it weighs on me. I didn't have a glorious Ash Wednesday. My day ended in a tearful prayer as I walked on the sands by my house, in the desert moment. I prayed "Lord, everyone is quitting, if it is because of me, remove me from it all". In the hayday of Cursillos, I was simply a backup guitarist, a guy that played accordion "De Colores" and was happy being in the background. Then the singer left, his job no longer allowed him to come around. Then, the lead guitarist left, he got a divorce and had inner turmoils and problems and joined a country band. The other lead bass guitar left and is now in a Tejano band. One by one they left...and I've been alone for a few years. The spirit of quitting, an oppressive one comes around. My spiritual brothers then started leaving, one by one. Work mostly they said. Spiritual warfare, hard to see.

Fast forward to last night, we had asked another brother to cover one of the Masses, he said he'd try, and he did. But he did warn us he may be quitting if he gets a job that makes him work Sundays. And after we sung yesterday, a lady said she no longer wanted to be in our choir, seemed upset. I'm begging and praying for her to stay, I've always admired her. Spiritual warfare. I am praying and I see evil spirits laughing at me, shaking their heads, during prayers I led. Yeah, I sensed an evil presence. Why do I lug my guitar on my back every morning? Why do I carry a rosary on my side pocket? Weapons. An assault rifle, and a 45. I need prayer. I'm in a world that needs light and help, and as much as I fight, I feel as if I'm spitting in the wind as it spits back at me. Everyone wants to easy to do. Just find an excuse... a way out. Just give in. Relax. And watch what temptations say to me, "...if you leave, the Church will go on fine without you, it is victorious in the end...remember?" That's what the devil says to me. But Christ chose to suffer.

Christ spoke today "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it...". How do temptations work? Satan introduces doubt to crumble your faith connection with God. You start doubting yourself and others. How do we combat doubt? This may sound silly, but...have faith. Overcome doubt. I confessed to you what I confessed to God yesterday. Why? So you know how prayer works. I was going into the desert for strength, for in my weakness I am made strong, less of me, more of Him. I was praying to our Lord. I wasn't shying away. I was crying a tear that would not drop to the sand. God held it for me. "Wait". "Remain". I went in my house. I watched a video on how one must die every day. They said that you must live every day as if it were your last for the Lord. The cross daily. The direction we take.
I'm tired of watching quitters. I want to watch for those who don't quit. So what did I do last night too? I texted my hermit Spiritual Director, "can we meet please?". And as I wrote to you, he called me. "I'm available".

Jesus is available. For what happens at the cross?

You meet Jesus. Fr. (Bishop) Barron, from Word on Fire, said today that the vertical beam stands for I, and the horizontal beam crosses out the I. It's no longer about me.
What's the message here? You are going to lose your life, but for who? Self...or Christ? Death...or life.
Choose life.


click to hear the bible verse


Random Bible Verse

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (Listen)

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Thank You Jesus

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