Thursday, March 18, 2021

...For If You Had Belived ... †


Prayer Changes Our Hearts

"The Bible says that Moses spoke to the Lord face-to-face, like a friend, and this is how prayer must be: free, insistent, with arguments, even reproving the Lord a little: 'But you promised me this and you didn't do it!' Prayer is like speaking with a friend: in prayer one opens one's heart. Following his face-to-face with God, Moses went down the mountain reinvigorated, saying, 'I got to know the Lord better.' And that strength allowed him to resume his work of leading the people to the Promised Land."—Pope Francis

During Lent, most of us decide to pray more. We begin the season with a fresh new plan for improving our prayer lives. We might decide we're going to say the rosary every day or pray the Liturgy of the Hours. We might plan to go to daily Mass more often. We find a new prayer book and commit to using it at a set time during the day. These are all worthy goals, but as we come to the end of the fourth week of Lent, we have to admit that our intentions are often defeated by our inertia or simply by the day-to-day realities of life. Pope Francis reminds us that prayer is not about us and the things we do, it's about our relationship with God. He describes for us a very vivid image of talking to God as we would talk to a friend, a lover, a trusted confidante, a caring parent. He reminds us not to keep God at a distance, not to behave as though God doesn't know our innermost thoughts and feelings. Too often our prayer is what we think God wants to hear. And sometimes we do that to keep ourselves detached from our deepest needs as well. Sometimes it takes talking to a close friend to discover what's really bothering us. Pope Francis reminds us that God can be that close friend, as he was to Moses, to Abraham, to Noah, to Jesus, to all the saints through the ages.

Set aside your formal prayers today and bring before God the deepest desires and fears that you hold close in your heart. Talk to God the way you would talk to your closest friend. And then take time to sit in silence with God. Let yourself be held in God's love, listening to the divine heartbeat in the world around you and in the depths of your own heart.

— from the book The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis

by Diane M. Houdek


†Saint Quote
"Pray with great confidence, with confidence based on the goodness and infinite generosity of God and upon the promises of Jesus Christ. God is a spring of living water which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray."
— St. Louis De Montfort

"Many try to fly away from temptations only to fall more deeply into them; for you cannot win a battle by mere flight. It is only by patience and humility that you will be strengthened against the enemy. Those who shun them outwardly and do not pull them out by the roots will make no progress; for temptations will soon return to harass them and they will be in a worse state. It is only gradually—with patience and endurance and with God's grace—that you will overcome temptations sooner than by your own efforts and anxieties . . . Gold is tried by fire and the upright person by temptation. Often we do not know what we can do until temptation shows us what we are . . . This is how temptation is: first we have a thought, followed by strong imaginings, then the pleasure and evil emotions, and finally consent. This is how the enemy gains full admittance, because he was not resisted at the outset. The slower we are to resist, the weaker we daily become and the stronger the enemy is against us."
— Thomas à Kempis, p. 32-33

"If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing."
1 John 1:9


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St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386 A.D.) was a well-educated man from Jerusalem and a scholar of Sacred Scripture. He was ordained a priest by the bishop of Jerusalem shortly after the legalization of Christianity in the Roman Empire. He was given the task of catechizing new Christians leading up to and immediately following their baptism. Later he himself became bishop of Jerusalem, and soon after his ordination a miraculous apparition of a cross appeared in the sky, visible to the whole city. Because St. Cyril defended Christ's full humanity and divinity against the Arian heresy, he was exiled from his bishopric three times in twenty years due to misunderstandings, intrigue, and politics. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem is one of the early Church Fathers and one of the most important sources for how the early Church celebrated the liturgy and sacraments during the first few decades after Christianity was legalized. For St. Cyril's work in catechesis he was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1883. His feast day is March 18th.


Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Lectionary: 247
Reading I

Ex 32:7-14

The LORD said to Moses,
"Go down at once to your people
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt,
for they have become depraved.
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,
making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it,
sacrificing to it and crying out,
'This is your God, O Israel,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt!'
The LORD said to Moses,
"I see how stiff-necked this people is.
Let me alone, then,
that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.
Then I will make of you a great nation."

But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying,
"Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt
with such great power and with so strong a hand?
Why should the Egyptians say,
'With evil intent he brought them out,
that he might kill them in the mountains
and exterminate them from the face of the earth'?
Let your blazing wrath die down;
relent in punishing your people.
Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel,
and how you swore to them by your own self, saying,
'I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky;
and all this land that I promised,
I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.'"
So the LORD relented in the punishment
he had threatened to inflict on his people.

Responsorial Psalm

106:19-20, 21-22, 23

R. (4a) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people
Our fathers made a calf in Horeb

and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory

for the image of a grass-eating bullock.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They forgot the God who had saved them,

who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,

terrible things at the Red Sea.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Then he spoke of exterminating them,

but Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach

to turn back his destructive wrath.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Verse before the Gospel

Jn 3:16

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.


Jn 5:31-47

Jesus said to the Jews:
"If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true.
But there is another who testifies on my behalf,
and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.
You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I do not accept human testimony,
but I say this so that you may be saved.
He was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.
But I have testimony greater than John's.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.
Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.
But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
and you do not have his word remaining in you,
because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.
You search the Scriptures,
because you think you have eternal life through them;
even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life.

"I do not accept human praise;
moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.
I came in the name of my Father,
but you do not accept me;
yet if another comes in his own name,
you will accept him.
How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another
and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father:
the one who will accuse you is Moses,
in whom you have placed your hope.
For if you had believed Moses,
you would have believed me,
because he wrote about me.
But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe my words?"


Daily Meditation: John 5:31-47

But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. (John 5:32)

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells the Jews what an effective witness John the Baptist was for him. But what made John so effective? He didn't perform flashy miracles. He didn't dress in a popular style or hang out with people of great power. On the contrary, he lived in the desert, wore a camel-hair outfit, and ate locusts and wild honey. Still, people were drawn to him. Even King Herod protected John and "liked to listen to him" (Mark 6:20).

What made John stand out? His single-mindedness. He had one purpose in life: to fulfill his calling as a herald of the Lord. The fact that every aspect of John's life reflected that calling made people respect him and take seriously the words that he preached.

We are now about halfway through Lent. By this point in the season, many of us may be feeling discouraged or frustrated. Maybe we haven't been as faithful to our Lenten observances as we had wanted to be. Maybe we are embarrassed, thinking that we are not credible witnesses to Christ. But discouraging thoughts like these can actually make your spiritual life worse!

You may well have fallen short of your goals for Lent, but today is a new day, and Jesus' mercy never fades. In fact, wasn't it the depths of God's mercy that John himself proclaimed when he preached his message of repentance? Don't let his preaching be in vain!

If you want to be a good witness to Christ in these remaining days of Lent, then take John's words to heart. First, ask God to forgive any unfaithfulness on your part. Then, confident in his mercy, keep moving forward. Take up the same single-minded approach that John had, and determine that you will be faithful to the Lord today.

Don't dwell on the past. Don't worry about any time that you may have lost or the blessings you may have missed out on. Seize hold of the grace that's available today. It's free. It's abundant. And it's yours if you want it.

"Jesus, help me to put the past behind me and begin this day with hope and confidence in your grace!"

Exodus 32:7-14
Psalm 106:19-23



Grace does not work like a penny in a slot machine. Grace will only move you when you want it to move you, and only when you let it move you.
— Ven. Fulton J. Sheen
from his book Remade for Happiness


"So the LORD relented in the punishment
he had threatened to inflict on his people."
And our Lord reveals Himself to Moses, "I Am Mercy...I desire Mercy". Moses had simply reminded Himself of God's promises. And our Lord would prove mercy to Moses. The people had made themselves a golden bull. Do you see people making the golden bull god nowadays? It's always when people make themselves gods, saying "I did this myself, we did this, it wasn't God!". And the bull begins, the lies ensue, and digging our own grave begins. That's unless...we return. Unless we believe in Mercy, and believe in Him who created us to be with Him and for Him.


We prayed: "Our fathers made a calf in Horeb and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people."
The molten image means a melting pot of things people want in their own design of a god. Yesterday I saw a guy parked next to us at the zoo on spring break. His car had one of those "coexist" bumper stickers with all religions mixed together to make up the word. That what he stands for, perhaps unbeknownst to himself, is his own god, his own version of "peace", but this is a man made melting pot of a false god too. For the prince of the world proposes a false peace saying "if you are silent about your faith, we won't come after you". And this is against our Lord's will, who is true love and true peace, and why? Because He shows true mercy. The melted bull shows no real mercy because in the end, it does not care.


Our Lord said today: "How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?"
Insecure people seek praise for their efforts, fuel for their pride. Our Lord seeks no such praise. He needs no fuel because He has no pride. What does He have then? Mercy and Love, true love. People in our world needs constant love and mercy. If you don't got love and mercy in you, then you better get you some, especially if you decide to take on God's cross...His will. And there are times when even your priests or religious need love and mercy and why? To turn hardened stones to true bread, that is a heart ready to be served to the world. And so, seek only praise from God. What is that? The honor to serve Him more. For those that understand this, you are well on your way to Calvary. Self giving to the max.

Lord, Thoust hast words of everlasting life. I am a figure of thy Love. I am made in thine image. May I begin this day to give Thou my whole heart and be melted into Thine Divine Precious and Sacred Heart.

from your brother in Christ our Lord,


Random online bible verse from a random verse generator:

1 Corinthians 6:19–20

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.


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God Bless You! Peace

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