Monday, August 28, 2023

†... 'If one swears ...


†Saint Quote of the Day
"O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams."
–St. Augustine

†Today's Meditation
There are two loves, the love of God and the love of the world. If the love of the world takes possession of you, there is no way for the love of God to enter into you. Let the love of the world take the second place, and let the love of God dwell in you. Let the better love take over."
—St. Augustine, p. 34

†Daily Verse

"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching."

–2 Timothy 4:1-2

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St. Augustine

St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430 A.D.) was born in North Africa to a pagan father and a Christian mother, St. Monica. His mother did her best to raise him in the Christian faith, but Augustine, a brilliant and promising young student, was carried away into wordly attractions, lust for women, and pagan philosophies. This put his faith and morals into a state of crisis for many years. His waywardness gave his holy mother great pain and anxiety as she watched her son pursue materialistic ambitions and keep company with heretical sects. Through her constant prayers and the holy preaching of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, St. Augustine came to recognize the truth of Christianity; but only after several spiritually tumultuous years of seeking God through his philosophical studies. He underwent a profound conversion and was baptized, after which he lived a holy life of purity, prayer, and penance. His life is one of the greatest sinner-to-saint stories in the history of the Church. St. Augustine eventually became a priest, bishop, theologian, writer, and the founder of a religious order of priests. He was declared a Doctor of the Church and is considered one of the most influential saints and theologians to have ever lived, one whose writings are widely read to this very day. His feast day is celebrated on August 28.

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Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Readings for the Memorial of Saint Augustine, bishop and doctor of the Church

Reading 1 1 Thes 1:1-5, 8b-10

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the Church of the Thessalonians
in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
grace to you and peace.

We give thanks to God always for all of you,
remembering you in our prayers,
unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love
and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,
before our God and Father,
knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God, how you were chosen.
For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone,
but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.
You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake.
In every place your faith in God has gone forth,
so that we have no need to say anything.
For they themselves openly declare about us
what sort of reception we had among you,
and how you turned to God from idols
to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven,
whom he raised from the dead, Jesus,
who delivers us from the coming wrath.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

R. (see 4a) The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches;
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia!
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia Jn 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 23:13-22

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves.

"Woe to you, blind guides, who say,
'If one swears by the temple, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.'
Blind fools, which is greater, the gold,
or the temple that made the gold sacred?
And you say, 'If one swears by the altar, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.'
You blind ones, which is greater, the gift,
or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it;
one who swears by the temple swears by it
and by him who dwells in it;
one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God
and by him who is seated on it."


We give thanks to God always for all of you. (1 Thessalonians 1:2)

Today we begin reading St. Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians—and what an encouraging greeting he gives them! He thanks God for them, prays for them, and never stops recalling their "work of faith and labor of love and endurance" (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

Paul's words are even more meaningful when we consider what he is addressing in this early Christian community. He and Silas had proclaimed the gospel in Thessalonica, where both Jews and Greeks came to believe in Jesus. Their strong faith brought Paul great joy and inspired the believers throughout Macedonia and as far away as Achaia (1 Thessalonians 1:7). But Paul's and Silas' preaching also aroused opposition, so the Thessalonians had to send them away during the night for their own safety (Acts 17:10). The Thessalonians also suffered threats of persecution and needed encouragement to persevere. Finally, Paul had to address issues of immorality, lack of mutual love, and their misguided approach to Jesus' Second Coming.

It's clear that the Thessalonians hadn't done everything perfectly. Even so, Paul begins by recounting how much they have grown. They might have disappointed him, but he responded with mercy instead of harshness. In this way, he reflects our heavenly Father's heart toward us, his imperfect children, and he shows us a blueprint for loving people: see the whole person, highlight the positives, and then acknowledge and forgive the failures.

We may not be tasked with building a church, but we are called to love the people around us every day. And there will be times when this is difficult! When that happens, we probably find it easier to focus on their weaknesses and not their strengths. But like Paul, we can call to mind their progress and labors of love instead. We can ask God to help us to see them as he does. And we can ask him to fill our hearts with mercy and our mouths with encouragement. As we do, we'll be able to reflect the compassion and love of our Father in heaven.

"Father, help me to be merciful as you are merciful."

Psalm 149:1-6, 9
Matthew 23:13-22


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Reflections with Brother Adrian:

From today's 1st Holy Scripture:
"For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone,
but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction......"
end of verse.
. . .
There is power in the word. Do you believe? And there is power in the Holy Spirit. Do you believe? And if you believe, do you believe with a conviction? Are you convinced that you are able to live in the life of the Word and the Spirit? Much like faith and works, we are being called to live outside the known, and to work with the unknown. There is power in that alone.


We pray today:
"Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
The Lord takes delight in his people......"_ end of Psalm."

Have you ever felt that your praise and worship and adoration falls short? We sing our heart out, we praise, and we adore and it's like singing into a vast vacuum? I have. And so what do I do now? I sing to Jesus in the Eucharist and the fullness connects. I sing and pray with Jesus in the people, in our gatherings, and the connection begins to connect. This is absolutely necessary. For God is alive and here.


In the Gospel today we heard:
""Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves...."
end of Gospel verse.

From Bishop Barron today:
"Friends, in today's Gospel, Jesus launches a blistering attack on the scribes and Pharisees.
The Son teaches, heals, preaches to, and forgives those who feel far from the mercy of God. He is the hand that the Father stretches out to sinners and to those who are lost. And by the same token, he is the judge of a sinful world. When the light of God's forgiving love appears, the shadows of sin become all the deeper and more obvious. In light of him, there is nowhere to hide. And Jesus, the Word of the Father, gives voice to this judgment: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites."

The Son names all those powers that are opposed to the creative and loving intentions of his Father. He speaks a word of judgment on a world grown cozy with sin. He "channels" all of the feelings of the Father toward the world: intense, forgiving love to those who are lost and equally intense hatred for the structures of darkness."

And this is the danger of being a hypocrite, that those who you teach will fall into the duplicity, and multiply it to the next degree. The watering down of faith has happened like this. That those with two faces, one foot in one door and another foot in another, and then, the following followers, are duped and tricked by the enemy. I notice that kids often like to do what the parents like, and they take it to the next level. And they can take the good or the bad of you to the next level.
So how can we assure they go to the next level with the good you got?
The obvious first step is to get rid of your duplicity.
The second step we can take a cue from St. Augustine's mother, who never stopped pestering him, even chasing him across countries to convince him to revert, and to convert.
What the Jews were doing to convert people was ok but they were hypocrites, doing it for their own greater glory.
What St. Augustine's mother was doing was ok because she was in it for the salvation of her son's soul. That is true love.
Just how important is salvation to you and for your children and our generations future?
It should mean the world to us, because the Kingdom of God is at hand...lives are at hand.

Let us pray:
Lord, Your words have power, striking down to the bone and marrow of our very being. Please help us help in the salvation of souls. Both now and forever.


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2 Samuel 7:28

And now, O Lord GOD, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.


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