Archive for “August, 2015”

Lectio Divina 9/4/2015

Friday, September 4 ~ Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 5:33-39 The scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “The disciples of John the Baptist fast often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink.” Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” And he also told them a parable. “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”

 

Meditation: Are we to reject the old in place of the new? Just as there is a right place and a right time for fasting and for feasting, so there is a right place for the old as well as the new.  Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old (Matthew 13:52). A very common expression, dating back to the early beginnings of the Church, states that the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New — the two shed light on each other. The New Testament does not replace the Old, rather it unveils and brings into full light the hidden meaning and signs which foreshadow and point to God’s plan of redemption which he would accomplish through his Son, Jesus Christ. How impoverished we would be if we only had the Old Testament or the New Testament, rather than both.

 

Prayer: O God, who in the abasement of your Son have raised up a fallen world, fill your faithful with holy joy, for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin you bestow eternal gladness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: The Lord Jesus gives us wisdom so we can make the best use of both the old and the new. He doesn’t want us to hold rigidly to the past and to be resistant to the new action of his Holy Spirit in our lives. He wants our minds and hearts to be like the new wine skins, open and ready to receive the new wine of the Holy Spirit. Are you eager to grow in the knowledge and understanding of God’s word and plan for your life?

 

Scripture passages (NAB translation) courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops;

prayers are from The Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing, 2011;

information about saints, solemnities, feasts and memorials courtesy of Catholic Culture.

frlumpe:2015

 

Lectio Divina 9/3/2015

Thursday, September 3 ~ Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 5:1-11 While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.

 

Meditation: The miracle in today’s Gospel shows us an important truth about how God works in and through each of us for his glory. God expects of us greater things than we can do by ourselves. When we cooperate in his works, we accomplish far beyond what we can do on our own. Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun who died of tuberculosis at the age of 24, once wrote: “Jesus has so incomprehensible a love for us that he wills that we have a share with him in the salvation of souls. He wills to do nothing without us. The Creator of the universe awaits the prayer of a poor little soul to save other souls redeemed like it at the price of all his Blood.” When God’s word is spoken his kingdom is revealed and his divine power is made shown. When people respond to God’s word with faith and obedience they are changed and made “a new creation” in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

 

Prayer: O God, who care for your people with gentleness and rule them in love, through the intercession of Pope Saint Gregory, endow, we pray, with a spirit of wisdom those to whom you have given authority to govern, that the flourishing of a holy flock may become the eternal joy of the shepherds. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: The apostles were not saints from the get-go – they were men who worked hard and played hard and, as Simon Peter admits, sinful persons. But Jesus did not condemn them.  Rather Jesus said “do not be afraid” and so they followed him. God chooses ordinary people, like you and me, sinners all, and uses the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives and work situations to draw others into his kingdom. Jesus speaks the same message to us today: we will “catch people” for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the Gospel.

 

About Pope Saint Gregory the Great: St. Gregory was born at Rome in 540. He was successively senator and prefect of Rome before the age of 30. After five years he resigned and became a monk, transforming his own house into a Benedictine monastery, and founding six others. At the age of 50 he was elected pope, serving from 590 to 604. In 14 years he accomplished much for the Mystical Body of Christ. After seeing English children being sold as slaves in Rome, he sent 40 monks, including St. Augustine of Canterbury, from his own monastery to make “the Angles angels.” England owes her conversion to him. He watched over the holiness of the clergy and the maintenance of Church discipline, the temporal interests of his people of Rome and the spiritual interests of all Christendom. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, and emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and victims of plague and famine. These deeds and others made him, in the words of an antiphon in his office, “the Father of the City, the joy of the World.” Gregory reformed the liturgy, and it still contains several of his most beautiful prayers. The name “Gregorian chant” recalls this great Pope’s work in the development of the Church’s music. His commentaries on Holy Scripture exercised a considerable influence on Christian thought in the Middle Ages. Saint Gregory died on March 12, 604; his body lies at Saint Peter Basilica in Rome.

Lectio Divina 9/2/2015

Wednesday, September 2 ~ Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 4:38-44 After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them. At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them. And demons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.” But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ. At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

 

Meditation: Who do you take your troubles to? Dear Abbey? The self-help aisle at Barnes and Noble? Some blog or web page? Jesus’ disciples freely brought their troubles to him because they found him ready and able to deal with any difficulty, affliction, or sickness which they encountered. We are invited to do the same in prayer – deep, from the heart prayer. When Simon Peter brought Jesus to his home for the Sabbath meal (right after Jesus preached in the synagogue in Capernaum), his mother-in-law was instantly healed because Jesus heard Simon’s prayer. When is the last time you prayed – really prayed – when you were facing a challenge where you needed God’s help and divine guidance?  When is the last time you made a pilgrimage to a shrine – for example Our Lady of Consolation Shrine and Basilica in nearby Carey, Ohio (www.olcshrine.com) – seeking the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession with Jesus on your behalf or someone important in your life?  Go to someone who can actually help – Jesus!

 

Prayer: O God, protector of those who hope in you, without whom nothing has firm foundation, nothing is holy, bestow in abundance your mercy upon us and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may use the good things that pass in such a way as to hold fast even now to those that ever endure. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: We can never intrude upon God nor exhaust his love, compassion, generosity and kindness. He is ever ready to give to those who earnestly and faithfully seek him out. Do you allow Jesus to be the Lord and Healer in your personal life, family, work, parish, neighborhood and community? Approach him with expectant faith. God’s healing power restores us not only to health but to active service and care of others. There is no trouble he does not want to help us with and there is no bondage he can’t set us free from.

 

Lectio Divina 9/1/2015

Tuesday, September 1 ~ Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 4:31-37 Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee. He taught them on the sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out in a loud voice, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down in front of them and came out of him without doing him any harm. They were all amazed and said to one another, “What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.

 

Meditation: When you listen to the word of the Lord in Sacred Scripture how do you respond? In one ear and out the other? Half-hearted while surrounded by various distractions? Or do you listen to the word of the Lord with the full assent of faith, a heart longing for his word, a desire to learn, embrace and live as a doer of his word and not simply a hearer of his word (ref. James 1:22)? When Jesus taught he spoke with authority. He spoke the word of God as no one had spoken it before. When the Rabbis taught they supported their statements with quotes from other authorities. The prophets spoke with delegated authority – Thus says the Lord. When Jesus spoke he needed no authorities to back his statements. He was word incarnate, authority incarnate – the Word of God made flesh. When he spoke, God spoke. When Jesus commanded even the demons obeyed!

 

Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, whom, taught by the Holy Spirit, we dare to call our Father, bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts the spirit of adoption as your sons and daughters, that we may merit to enter into the inheritance which you have promised. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Contemplating on today’s Gospel from a different perspective, what if each of us – not as an unclean demon, but as a brother or sister in Christ Jesus – were to ask “What have you to do with me, Jesus of Nazareth?”  Hopefully we would respond first recognizing who Jesus is – the Son of God, sent out of love by God to be the Redeemer and Savior of the world, and that each of us are part of the world whom Jesus wishes to redeem as our Savior. That’s right, you, me, and every man, woman and child on this earth, past, present and future. Second, we need to understand that this can only occur if we invite Jesus into our lives and let him, as the Good Shepherd, lead us and guide us through the often “dark valley of death” (Psalm 23) that we encounter in our various challenges in life, and be at our side to experience the joy and peace of being an authentic disciple of his. So, “what have you to do with me, Jesus of Nazareth?”  Everything that truly matters – our salvation.

Lectio Divina 8/31/2015

“’Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.’ There is here a particular reference to ourselves; we hold in our hearts one we have not seen in the flesh. We are included in these words, but only if we follow up our faith with good works. The true believer practices what he believes. But of those who pay only lip service to faith, Paul has this to say: ‘They profess to know God, but they deny him in their works.’ Therefore James says: ‘Faith without works is dead.’” ~Pope Saint Gregory the Great

 

Monday, August 31, 2015 ~ Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 4:16-30 Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Is this not the son of Joseph?” He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’” And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

 

Meditation: The word “gospel” literally means “good news.” Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those oppressed by sin and evil (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus came to set people free from the worst tyranny possible – the tyranny of slavery to sin and the fear of death, and the destruction of both body and soul. God’s power alone can save us from emptiness and poverty of spirit, from confusion and error, and from the fear of death and hopelessness. The Gospel of salvation is “good news” for us today, tomorrow, three weeks from today – every day of our lives. And so you might ask yourself today whether or not you have experienced true happiness, joy and freedom of the Gospel.  The “good news” of Jesus Christ is truth from Truth personified – Jesus Christ, the source of all that is right and good and true. The “good news” of Christ’s timeless truths can bring us nothing but authentic freedom from sin, and the joy of experiencing his unbounded love for each of us. As Pope Francis notes in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew” (EG 1).

 

Prayer: God of might, giver of every good gift, put into our hearts the love of your name, so that, by deepening our sense of reverence, and, by your watchful care, keep safe what you have nurtured. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: In relation to day’s Gospel, additional contemplation on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium is useful: “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since ‘no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord’ (Pope Paul VI, Gaudete in Domino). The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: ‘Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace.’ How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another ‘seventy times seven’ (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards” (EG 3)!

Lectio Divina 8/28/2015

Friday, August 28 ~ Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13  Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’  While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.  Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

 

Meditation: Jesus warns us that there are consequences for being unprepared. There are certain things you cannot obtain at the last moment. For example, students cannot prepare for their exams when the day of testing is already upon them. A person cannot get the right kind of character, strength, and skill required for a task at hand unless they already possess it, such as a captain with courage and nautical skills who must steer a ship through a dangerous storm at sea. When the Lord Jesus comes to lead you to his heavenly banquet will you be ready to hear his voice and follow? Our eternal welfare depends on our hearing his voice, the call of the Good Shepherd, above all others.  How can we meet the Lord, face to face, when he calls us on the day of judgment, unless we listen to him today. The Lord invites us to feast at his heavenly banquet table. Are you ready?

 

Prayer: Renew in your Church, we pray, O Lord, that spirit with which you endowed your Bishop Saint Augustine that, filled with the same spirit, we may thirst for you, the sole fount of true wisdom, and seek you, the author of heavenly love. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: What is your ultimate goal, and what are you doing to attain it?  If your ultimate goal is to graduate from Harvard, have a six-figure salary, live in a mansion and drive an expensive car, you’ve missed the boat.  Those might be short-term goals, but our ultimate goal should be to get to heaven; there is only one way to get there, and that is through Jesus Christ. Knowing this, now, what are you going to change in your life in order to achieve this ultimate goal?  There is no time like the present to change from our former ways of life to newness of life in Christ.  Start now!

 

Scripture passages (NAB translation) courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops;

prayers are from The Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing, 2011;

information about saints, solemnities, feasts and memorials courtesy of Catholic Culture.

frlumpe:2015

Lectio Divina 8/27/2015

Thursday, August 27 ~ Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Monica

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 24:42-51 Jesus said to his disciples: “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

 

Meditation: When God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world it was to rescue us from ourselves, from the tyranny of sin, Satan, and death. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross and his triumphant victory over the grave won pardon for us and reconciliation with our heavenly Father, and the promise of everlasting life and joy in his kingdom. The Lord Jesus told his disciples on a number of occasions that he would return again at the end of this present age, not simply to rescue us again from our enemies, but as a victor King and Lord who will vindicate all who have believed in him,  How? By releasing us from the curse of death and condemnation and restoring for us the plan he had from the beginning of creation – a new heaven and a new earth for a people perfectly united with God in peace, joy, and harmony forever. This is the background to Jesus parable in today’s Gospel about the householder and the thief in the night.  When the Lord Jesus returns, he doesn’t want to find us flirting with the enemy or worse joining forces with enemies who are opposed to God and his kingdom.  He wants to see us fully aligned with him, and invites us constantly to do so when Jesus says “follow me.”

 

Prayer: O God, who console the sorrowful and who mercifully accepted the motherly tears of Saint Monica for the conversion of her son Augustine, grant us, through the intercession of them both, that we may bitterly regret our sins and find the grace of your pardon. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: And so Jesus invites us to follow him, time and time again.  But ask yourself: Do I take up Jesus on his invitation? If I do follow him, I am truly attentive to his teachings by embracing them and living them, so that I am ready to meet him when he calls each of us to himself. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit so that we may have the wisdom, help, and strength we need to turn away from sin to embrace God’s way of love, justice, and holiness. The Lord’s warning of judgment causes dismay for those who are unprepared, but it brings joyful hope to those who eagerly wait for his return in glory.  God’s judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet him. Their reward is God himself, the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, love and everlasting life.

Lectio Divina 8/26/2015

Wednesday, August 26 ~ Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 23:27-32 Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out!”

 

Meditation: Outward appearances can be deceptive. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth (Isaiah 11:3-4). The heart reveals the true intentions and attitudes that form the way we think of others and treat them. Jesus used strong language to warn the religious leaders and teachers about the vanity of outward appearance and pretense – wearing a mask that hides the true intentions and thoughts of the heart. This warning applies to all persons who identify themselves as disciples and followers of Christ, and so we must meditate on what authentic discipleship in Christ really means.  It is not mere show, but an authentic way of life, in all aspects of life, day in and day out.

 

Prayer: O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose, grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, amid the uncertainties of this world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Jesus warns that what truly corrupts a person is not external ritual impurity but the impurity of wrong and sinful attitudes that come from within a person’s mind and heart – pride, greed, sloth, envy, hatred, gluttony, and lust.  These are what produce sinful habits (vices) and ways of speaking, acting, judging, and treating others. That is why every good deed is beautiful in God’s sight and every wrong or sinful deed is ugly in his sight. The scribes and Pharisees were intensely religious in their outward observances, but their outward show didn’t match the inner reality of the state of their minds and hearts. True beauty, goodness, and piety come from within, an interior motivation from a heart that is set on pleasing God and a mind that is set on hearing and obeying God’s word, and thus the importance of having an authentic interior life rooted in Christ. Jesus came to set us free from slavery to sin and harmful habits and addictions that lead us into wrong and sinful ways of thinking, acting, and relating to others. Only the humble of heart can receive from God true wisdom and understanding, pardon and healing. The Holy Spirit is ever ready to renew our minds and hearts and to lead us in God’s way of love and holiness. Pray that the Holy Spirit will purify your heart and mind and to fill you with the power of God’s love and goodness, and thus integrate this wisdom and love into your daily life.  Such integration will lead to a balanced way of life. Therefore, cultivating our interior life is a means of finding that balance. Trappist monk Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO, contextualizes this more richly in his book New Seeds of Contemplation: “This then is what it means to seek God perfectly: to withdraw from illusion and pleasure, from worldly anxieties and desires, from the works that God does not want, from a glory that is only human display; to keep my mind free from confusion in order that my liberty may be always at the disposal of His will; to entertain silence in my heart and listen for the voice of God; to cultivate an intellectual freedom from the images of created things in order to receive the secret contact of God in obscure love; to love all men as myself.”  This book is a must read for those who wish to cultivate their interior life so that one may enter into a more fruitful, prayerful dialogue with God.

Lectio Divina 8/25/2015

Tuesday, August 25 ~ Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Louis of France, King; Saint Joseph Calasanz, Priest

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 23:23-26 Jesus said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. But these you should have done, without neglecting the others. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.”

 

Meditation: Jesus went to the heart of the matter when he called the religious leaders of his day blind Pharisees and hypocrites! A hypocrite is an actor or imposter who says one thing but does the opposite or who puts on an outward appearance of doing good while inwardly clinging to wrong attitudes, selfish desires and ambitions, or bad intentions. Many scribes and Pharisees had made it a regular practice to publicly put on a good show of outward zeal and piety with the intention of winning greater honors, privileges, and favors among the people. Jesus had a very good reason for severely rebuking the scribes and Pharisees, the religious teachers and leaders, for misleading people and neglecting the heart and essence of God’s law – love God above all things, and love your neighbor as yourself.

 

Prayer ~ Saint Louis: O God, who brought Saint Louis from the cares of earthly rule to the glory of a heavenly realm, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that, by fulfilling our duties on earth, we may seek out your eternal Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Prayer ~ Saint Joseph Calasanz: O God, who adorned the Priest Saint Joseph Calasanz with such charity and patience that he labored tirelessly to educate children and endow them with every virtue, grant, we pray, that we, who venerate him as a teacher of wisdom, may constantly imitate him, for he was a co-worker of your truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: The essence of God’s commandments is rooted in love – love God above all things, and love your neighbor as yourself – righteousness (justice and goodness), and mercy. God is love and everything he does, including his justice and goodness, flows from his love for us. True love is costly and sacrificial – it both embraces and lifts the burdens of others. And so we might ask ourselves today: Do you allow the love of God to shape and transform the way you live your daily life, especially in the way you think of others, speak of them, and treat them?  If not, now is an opportunity to let the transformative grace of God work in and through you so that you may imitate Christ in thought, word and deed.

Lectio Divina 8/24/2015

“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments

is not the truest of guides for human life?” ~Saint Benedict, from the Rule of Saint Benedict (73:3)
“A Christian is: a mind through which Christ thinks, a heart through which Christ loves, a voice through which Christ speaks, and a hand through which Christ helps.”

~ Saint Augustine

 

Monday, August 24, 2015 ~ Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Bartholomew, Apostle

 

Holy Gospel: John 1:45-51 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

 

Meditation: What is the significance of Jesus’ revelation of seeing Nathanael (known as Bartholomew in Matthew 10:3 and Luke 6:14) “under the fig tree?” For the people of Israel, the fig tree was a symbol of God’s peace and blessing (1 Kings 4:24b-25, Micah 4:4). It provided shade from the midday sun and a cool refreshing place to retreat, pray, meditate and reflect on God’s word. Rabbis often gathered their disciples under the shade of the fig to teach them the wisdom and revelation of God from the Scriptures. The rabbis had an expression for comparing the fig tree to being nourished with God’s word in Scripture, “He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit.”  And thus we see the importance of meditating on Sacred Scripture, but then “living” what we have learned as “doers of the word, not hearers only” (James 1:22) so that these sacred teachings can bear fruit in our daily lives.

 

Prayer: Strengthen in us, O Lord, the faith, by which the blessed Apostle Bartholomew clung wholeheartedly to your Son, and grant that through the help of his prayers your Church may become for all the nations the sacrament of salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Jesus’ death on the cross, where he defeated sin and won new life for us through his resurrection, opens the way for each of us to come into a new relationship with God as his adopted sons and daughters. The Lord Jesus opens the way for each one of us to “ascend to heaven” and to bring “heaven to earth” in the daily circumstances of our lives. God’s kingdom is present in those who seek him and who strive to do his will. Through the gift of faith God opens a door for each one of us to the heavenly reality of his kingdom. And so we might contemplate on asking ourselves: Do you see with the “eyes of faith” what the Lord Jesus has done for us?

 

About Saint Bartholomew: In St. John’s Gospel, Bartholomew is known by the name Nathaniel (the liturgy does not always seem aware of this identity). He hailed from Cana in Galilee, was one of the first disciples called by the Lord. On that initial meeting Jesus uttered the glorious compliment: “Behold, an Israelite indeed in whom there is no guile!” After the Resurrection he was favored by becoming one of the few apostles who witnessed the appearance of the risen Savior on the sea of Galilee (John 21:2). Following the Ascension he is said to have preached in Greater Armenia and to have been martyred there. While still alive, his skin was torn from his body. The Armenians honor him as the apostle of their nation. Concerning the fate of his relics, the Martyrology says: “His holy body was first taken to the island of Lipari (north of Sicily), then to Benevento, and finally to Rome on an island in the Tiber where it is honored by the faithful with pious devotion.” The Church of Armenia has a national tradition that St. Jude Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew visited the Armenians early in the first century and introduced Christianity among the worshippers of the god Ahura Mazda. The new faith spread throughout the land, and in 302 A.D., St. Gregory the Illuminator baptized the king of Armenia, Dertad the Great, along with many of his followers. Since Dertad was probably the first ruler to embrace Christianity for his nation, the Armenians proudly claim they were the first Christian State.