Tuesday, March 9, 2021

...Then in anger ... †


What Is Refuge?

What exactly is refuge? It's vastly different than shelter. Refuge is deeper, scarier. The stakes are higher when you need refuge. Shelter is from temperatures dropping and the chance of rain. You can probably make it through without shelter. But without refuge, you're vulnerable and truly alone. Refuge is wind blowing the cedars as far as they will bend, thunder that jolts you and an absolutely black night that has suddenly fallen. And you're running toward home. The need for it is deeper in the body. When you find shelter, you can calmly peer out. But the need for refuge makes you look within. I could never add up the number of hours I've spent alone staring out the window at that void. Those are the deepest darkest loneliest hours. I feel that darkness filling me, as I am part of it. In you, Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame (Ps 31:1). When I remember to say a prayer, it comes as a cluster of stars on the periphery, and I'm not quite sure I even saw any green sparkle, but I try again. A Hail Mary. A Jesus Please. I can't even call that relief "embers" because embers stay awhile. When I cannot sleep because I am reliving some conflict I endured that day, one I feel I cannot undo, when I'm imagining some future event which I fear is going to flood me with more heartache and sink me, and God, at last, finds me in the dark, I fall asleep, and when I wake up, I don't know at what point I finally let that refuge enclose me. The psalms are all about the contrasts in our lives. Like a riveting black-and-white photo, there's gradations: vivid cool to dramatic warm to dramatic cool. Refuge honors the challenge of the silver tone moments turning to noir.

— from the book What Was Lost: Seeking Refuge in the Psalms

by Maureen O'Brien


†Saint Quote
"Realize it, my brethren; —every one who breathes, high and low, educated and ignorant, young and old, man and woman, has a mission, has a work. We are not sent into this world for nothing; we are not born at random; . . . God sees every one of us; He creates every soul, He lodges it in the body, one by one, for a purpose. He needs, He deigns to need, every one of us. He has an end for each of us; we are all equal in His sight, and we are placed in our different ranks and stations, not to get what we can out of them for ourselves, but to labor in them for Him. As Christ has His work, we too have ours; as He rejoiced to do His work, we must rejoice in ours also."
— St. John Henry Newman

"When one is given the Spirit of wisdom, one is able to perceive God's fingerprints upon the wonders of the world. One is able to see the pattern God has established in history (world history, faith history, and even our own personal history). This should leave us with a sense of comfort, for it means that life is not chaotic. God has a plan."
— Rev. Jude Winkler, OFM, p.62
Daily Meditations with the Holy Spirit

"Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intervene; then his own arm brought him victory, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in fury as a mantle."
Isaiah 59: 15-17


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St. Frances of Rome (1384-1440) was born to a noble family in Rome. As a young girl her desire to become a nun was refused by her father, who instead arranged her marriage at the age of 12. St. Frances accepted this as God's will for her life. She was married for 40 years and had children, two of whom died from the plague. In her time Rome was at war and the city was in chaos from political disarray and widespread disease. St. Frances responded by converting her home into a hospital. She drove with a wagon into the streets and collected the sick and stranded in order to care for them. She miraculously cured many people, and also began the city's first orphanage. She inspired many women to join her in this life of prayer and good works, and eventually founded a congregation of lay oblates attached to the Benedictine monastery known as the Oblates of St. Frances of Rome. After her husband's death she entered religious life as the group's superior. One of the great mystics of her time, she dictated 97 visions and was visibly guided by her guardian angel throughout her life. St. Frances of Rome is the patron saint of many causes, including motorists, pilots, women, widows, and against plague and the death of children. On her feast day many priests bless cars due to her patronage of cars and drivers. Her feast day is March 9th.


Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Lectionary: 238
Reading I

Dn 3:25, 34-43

Azariah stood up in the fire and prayed aloud:

"For your name's sake, O Lord, do not deliver us up forever,
or make void your covenant.
Do not take away your mercy from us,
for the sake of Abraham, your beloved,
Isaac your servant, and Israel your holy one,
To whom you promised to multiply their offspring
like the stars of heaven,
or the sand on the shore of the sea.
For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation,
brought low everywhere in the world this day
because of our sins.
We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,
no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,
no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you.
But with contrite heart and humble spirit
let us be received;
As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks,
or thousands of fat lambs,
So let our sacrifice be in your presence today
as we follow you unreservedly;
for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.
And now we follow you with our whole heart,
we fear you and we pray to you.
Do not let us be put to shame,
but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.
Deliver us by your wonders,
and bring glory to your name, O Lord."

Responsorial Psalm

25:4-5ab, 6 and 7bc, 8-9

R. (6a) Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;

teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,

for you are God my savior.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,

and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,

because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;

thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,

he teaches the humble his way.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Verse before the Gospel

Jl 2:12-13

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart;
for I am gracious and merciful.


Mt 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.
Instead, he had him put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."


Daily Meditation: Matthew 18:21-35

If my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? (Matthew 18:21)

We can all identify with Peter here. How many times should we have to put up with the sins and annoying habits of those we know best? If they were really sorry, they'd stop doing the same thing!

It's likely that Peter was not just asking a theoretical question. Like us, he was probably challenged to forgive someone in his life repeatedly. Maybe it was an irresponsible brother who ruined the nets because he didn't store them properly. Maybe it was his wife, whose patience came to a breaking point by day's end. Maybe it was even one of the other apostles.

Gently Jesus takes Peter through a thought experiment. He refrains from pointing out that Peter is just as likely to need repeated forgiveness. Instead, he tells a parable that helps Peter come to that conclusion on his own. With the help of the debtor in the parable, Jesus shifts Peter's attention from the faults of his brother to the mercy he himself has received.

God doesn't treat us the way we often treat one another—especially when we come to him for forgiveness again and again. In fact, each time we muster up the courage to come to him seeking forgiveness, God is delighted. He doesn't hold up our past sins as a reason to withhold mercy. He's glad to see us and eager to help us weaken the patterns of sin in our lives. He offers us boundless grace as we take even the smallest step to change for the better.

It's not hard to imagine Peter recognizing himself at the end of this parable. Similarly, it shouldn't be hard to recognize ourselves as well. Just as God continues to forgive, he expects us to grow in the call to be merciful just as he is merciful (Luke 6:36).

Sure, it can be hard to extend forgiveness yet again. But the forgiveness God pours out on us can be our inspiration and our strength. And asking St. Peter to support us in prayer probably wouldn't hurt!

"Lord, thank you for the great mercy you have shown me. Help me to extend it to all the people in my life."

Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Psalm 25:4-9



Address yourself to Jesus Christ crucified present before you. Ask of your God why He has deigned to become incarnate, to suffer, to die for you. Ask yourself what you have done for Him up to this time that deserves mentioning; what you will do, and what you ought to do, for Him for the future.
— St. Ignatius of Loyola


"Do not take away your mercy from us,
for the sake of Abraham, your beloved...".
Can you imagine a world without mercy? It exists. It exists in hell. And we get glimpses of it on earth. A place where you are not forgiven. A place where you are continuously accused. A place of torment from the outside, and torn apart from the inside. That'd be a world without mercy. But we do not live in that merciless world, even though the world makes you think it is. There is mercy. There is forgiveness. You no longer have to torment yourself like the demoniac living at the cemetery. You no longer have to be ousted like the Samaritan woman and man. You are availed perhaps the greatest gift of God aside from life and grace...mercy. Look at the cross with Christ on it, a crucifix. An empty cross is meaningless. But He makes all the difference. Protestants don't like it, but we need it in our lives. It is the ultimate sign of mercy, for by His wounds, we have been healed. Taste this now.


We pray today: "Good and upright is the LORD; thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way. Remember your mercies, O Lord." Amazing, so if you want to learn His way, you first must be humble, then you will learn? What do you know about humility? I've got a long way to go on that subject, but I promise you, I've seen a humble man. I've seen Him with my own eyes. The humblest ever. And he's hanging on a cross. As if to be waiting. As if to be expecting. As if a servant. As if paused in time and eternity. The new pact. The new forever promise called covenant. The Holy of Holies Himself.


""Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?"
Good question. How often do you forgive? What's the limit? 3 strikes your out? That's what the government does right? There is no mercy like God's mercy. Of course we can't forgive criminals infinitely right? So what's up with mercy? If this nation was not a democracy, but instead was a theocracy, what would it look like? Theocracy is a form of government in which a deity of some type is recognized as the supreme ruling authority, giving divine guidance to human intermediaries that manage the day-to-day affairs of the government. In the theocracy, you'd still have a police force, right? Criminals would get caught and arrested. Punishment, right? That's why our Lord begins His parable about a Kingdom, a King that forgives a subject. But that subject refused to be forgiving like the King. Instead of forgiving, the subject chokes his debtor, as a motion of choking the life out of him and then casting him to jail, a hell, so to speak.

Who then becomes the real criminal? The subject gets caught.
"Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."
And so, our Lord says we too will face torturers who have no mercy. This is hell. This is not karma. This is real. To some, purgatory is not big thing. But what if I told you that purgatory is a place of suffering? What if I told you that for some, it is hell? And what is hell, but to be locked in time indefinitely?
And so, we'd be wise, and shrewd to settle up accounts here and now, and immediately, for our Judge is at hand in the Kingdom of God. What He says goes. What He speaks comes to be. I visited our Lord last night with my family. We all had alone time with our confession. I heard from His own mouth that I was forgiven. Is it fair that I was forgiven even though I caused harm? I met a guy this week that revealed that he had stabbed a guy and slashed his face and had him hospitalized. After he said what he said, he bowed his head, and his face changed "I was a monster" and went on to say "I saw the guy at a store, the guy I had hurt, and I was apologizing, saying sorry, but the guy just kept shaking, his hands, his body...". I could feel the scars and the hurt on both sides. How brutal are our thoughts and words and actions. And we look to the cross, with Christ. He's slashed, gashed, stabbed. How many more times will you use Him as an object? How many times more will you hurt Him?

And we speak of Mercy. Jesus trembled at the carrying of the cross, not of fear, but but His heart and blood were just about depleted of life giving energy. It was a miracle He made it to the crucifixion. How much longer will you force Him to carry your cross, your part in His Kingdom? Once people drop out of ministries in church, I step in. Once people are choking each other in fights, I step in. How many more times will I have to step in? How many times more will I have to suffer for their disobedience? And when I say I suffer, it means the church suffers. The body of Christ suffers. All the pictures I see of Mother Mary are of a solemn look. It is a constant look of something I cannot explain. It is reassurance of prayers. It is a mother that wishes her children would stop the bickering, backstabbing, and fighting, all things sins against charity, including modesty and thus purity.

But God knows mercy. I walked out of confession and into Mass. And after forgiving me, He serves Himself on the table for me to eat. Is that right? Is that fair? That the humblest man I know to come down to me?

It is only fair if we get one thing right in our minds and hearts...He isn't a stranger. He is Father. Father Love. Father mercy. Father life. And I can't imagine life without Him, as the Son of Light, and source of all things seen and unseen, thought and never thought. Perceived and not understood. And so, we are given a gift...of faith.

Lord, I cannot fathom mercy. But I taste mercy when I am humble and give mercy. May we all learn to be mercy as a man on a cross, should it take to that point of self serving sacrifice....

from your brother in Christ our Lord,


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