Archive for “September, 2015”

Lectio Divina 10/2/2015

Friday, October 2, 2015 ~ Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 9:18-22 The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

 

Meditation: Despite the fact that we may “feel” alone at times we are not. God dwells with every person and regards them with love and compassion.  While we may turn our back on God, God never turns his back on us.  His angels watch over us as guardians. “For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11). God has not left us alone in our struggle “to refuse evil and to choose good” (Isaiah 7:15). The angels are his “ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). Sacred Scripture is full of examples of how the angels serve as messengers and protectors. When Peter, for example, was chained in prison and kept under guard, an angel woke him in middle of the night, released his chains, and brought him safely out of prison, past several guards and through locked gates. When Peter realized he wasn’t dreaming, he exclaimed: “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me” (Acts 12:11).

 

Prayer: O God, who in your unfathomable providence are pleased to send your holy Angels to guard us, hear our supplication as we cry to you, that we may always be defended by their protection and rejoice eternally in their company. 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 to our Guardian Angel: Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day (or night), be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Saint John Chrysostom, a Father of the Church and renowned preacher, compared the guardian angels to the troops garrisoned in cities on the frontiers of the empire to defend it from the enemy. Saint Basil the Great said, “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” Angels ministered to Jesus after his temptation in the wilderness and during his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43). The angels will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgment (Matthew 25:31). The angels show us that this universe which God created is not just that which we see, but also that which we cannot see – something we profess each Sunday during the Creed.

 

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 10/1/2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015 ~ Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

                                     

Holy Gospel: Luke 10:1-12 Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the Kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.”

 

Meditation: When Jesus commissioned seventy of his disciples to go on mission, he gave them a vision of a vast field that is ready to be harvested for the kingdom of God. Jesus frequently used the image of a harvest to convey the coming of God’s reign on earth. The harvest is the fruition of much labor and growth, beginning with the sowing of seeds, then growth to maturity, and finally the reaping of fruit for the harvest. In like manner, the word of God is sown in the hearts of receptive men and women who hear his word and accept it with faith, trust and obedience, and then share the abundant fruit of God’s word in their life with others. The harvest Jesus had in mind was not only the gathering in of the people of Israel, but all the peoples (and nations) of the world – including our corner of the world, wherever that may be.

 

Prayer: O God, who open your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of Saint Thérèse, so that through her intercession we may see your eternal glory revealed. 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 gave his disciples instructions for how they were to carry out their ministry. They must go and serve as people without guile, full of charity (selfless giving in love) and peace, and simplicity. They must give their full attention to the proclamation of God’s kingdom and not be diverted by other lesser things. They must travel light – take only what was essential and leave behind whatever would distract them – in order to focus time and attention on the task of speaking the word of the God. They must do their work, not for what they can get out of it, but for what they can give freely to others, without expecting reward or payment. God gives us his life-giving word that we may have abundant life in him. He wills to work in and through each of us for his glory. God shares his word with us and he commissions us to speak it boldly, plainly, and lovingly to others. And so in this day and age when “political correctness” is highly revered – often at the expense of the truth of the Gospel – you might ask yourself whether or not you witness the truth and joy of the Gospel by word and example.

Lectio Divina 9/30/2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 ~ Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church

                                     

Holy Gospel: Luke 9:57-62 As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

 

Meditation: Today Jesus asks us a question that each of us must answer: Are you ready to follow Jesus wherever he may lead you, when and how he asks you? With the call the Lord gives the grace to respond and the strength to follow all the way to the end. Why does Jesus issue a challenge with the call? Jesus was utterly honest in telling people what it would cost to follow him. When a would-be disciple approached Jesus and said he was ready to follow, Jesus told him it would require sacrifice – the sacrifice of certain creaturely comforts. Jesus appealed to this man’s heart and told him to detach himself from whatever might hold him back. Spiritual detachment is a necessary step for following the Lord. It frees us to give ourselves without reserve to the Lord and his service. While many of us may not need to give up the comfort of our own home and bed to follow Jesus, each of us, nonetheless, must be willing to separate ourselves with anything that might stand in the way of doing God’s will, in addition to doing it right then and there – not when it might be “convenient” for us.

 

Prayer: O God, who gave the Priest Saint Jerome a living and tender love for Sacred Scripture, grant that your people may be ever more fruitfully nourished by your Word and find in it the fount of life. 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: Another would-be disciple said he would follow as soon as he had buried his father. What he meant by this expression was that he felt the need to return to his home to take care of his father through old age until he died. The third had no obligation to return home, but simply wanted to go back and say good-bye. Jesus surprised these would-be disciples with the stark truth that nothing should hinder us from following the Lord. Was Jesus being harsh and rude to his would-be followers? Not really. We are free to decide whether we will take the path which Jesus offers. But if we choose to go, then the Lord wants us to count the cost and choose for it freely. What does the story of a plowman have to do with the journey? A plowman who looked back while plowing his field caused the line he cut into the soil to become crooked. One crooked line easily leads to another until the whole field is a mess. The plowman had to look straight ahead in order to keep the plow from going off course. Likewise, if we look back on what we have freely left behind to follow the Lord – whether that be some sort of distraction, attachment, or sinful habit which leads us away from doing God’s will – our path will likely diverge and we will miss what God has for us. Notice how the Gospel does not record the response from these three would-be disciples. We are only left with the question which Jesus intends for us as well: Are you ready to take the path which the Lord Jesus offers? Remember, the Lord Jesus offers us a kingdom of lasting peace, unending joy, surpassing love, enduring friendship, and abundant life. Is there anything holding you back from pursuing the Lord and his will for your life? If so, rid yourself of it so that you can experience a life in Christ to the fullest.

Lectio Divina 9/29/2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 ~ Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

                                     

Holy Gospel: John 1:47-51 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: Who are the angels and why do they intervene between heaven and earth? In short, Sacred  Scripture tells us the angels are God’s servants and messengers. “They are the mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word” (Psalm 103:20). The angels belong to Christ and were created for and through him (Colossians 1:16). The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of the role of the angels in God’s plan of salvation: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14) The angels are not only messengers but protectors and guardians as well. “For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all yours ways” (Psalm 91:11). We are not alone in our struggle against sin and evil in the world. The armies of heaven fight for us and with us in the spiritual battle for our hearts, minds, and wills.

 

Prayer: O God, who dispose in marvelous order ministries both angelic and human, graciously grant that our life on earth may be defended by those who watch over us as they minister perpetually to you in heaven. 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: Saint John Paul II, while serving as Pope, provided a great deal of catechesis on the angels during his General Audiences beginning in July of 1986 (you can read these in their entirety via the Vatican web site: www.vatican.va). Worth contemplating today: “In the perfection of their spiritual nature the angels are called from the beginning, by virtue of their intelligence, to know the truth and to love the good which they know in truth in a more full and perfect way than is possible to man. This love is an act of a free will, and therefore for the angels also freedom implies a possibility of choice for or against the Good which they know, that is, God himself. It must be repeated here what we already mentioned earlier in regard to man: by creating free beings, God willed that there should be realized in the world true love which is possible only on the basis of freedom. He willed therefore that the creature, constituted in the image and likeness of his Creator, should be able in the greatest degree possible to render himself similar to God who “is love” (1 Jn 4:16). By creating the pure spirits as free beings, God in his Providence could not but foresee also the possibility of the angels’ sin. But precisely because Providence is eternal wisdom which loves, God would have been able to draw from the history of this sin, incomparably more radical inasmuch as it was the sin of a pure spirit, the definitive good of the whole created cosmos.”

Lectio Divina 9/28/2015

“For me, prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy; finally it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.”

~Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus

 

Monday, September 28, 2015 ~ Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Wenceslaus, Martyr; Saint Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 9:46-50 An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.” Then John said in reply, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.” Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

 

Meditation: Today’s Gospel begs the question: what do we personally and collectively as a society tell us what it means to be numero uno in our culture? Our society and many popular media prize the contemporary world of drugs, sex and money.  But Jesus says “Seek first the kingdom of God…” (Matthew 6:33).  The more the world drifts away from God the less it recognizes what is truly great and comes first, and the more the world resembles the pathetic attitude of the disciples arguing on the road. The Church in her ministry reminds us what is truly great and comes first, reminds us that drugs, sex and money are not the ultimate goals of life, that the ultimate goal of life is to get to heaven by loving and serving God. We take our image and model and ideal of what is truly great from Jesus and His “good news” of the Gospel. We do not want to be contaminated by the world, but instead want to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world and to show the world what comes first.  We have many humans who show it is possible to live a life of service to others. Blessed Mother Teresa, for example, once said: “love begins at home, love your family and your neighbors. Share with the poor and needy around you your smile, your word, your time, your belongings. See God’s presence in the people you meet daily and treat them as children of God. Serve and love one person at a time. God does not want us to love crowds of people, that is an impossibility. He wants us to love Him in every single person we meet, when we meet that person.”

 

Prayer ~ Saint Wenceslaus: O God, who taught the Martyr Saint Wenceslaus to place the heavenly Kingdom before an earthly one, grant through his prayers that, denying ourselves, we may hold fast to you with all our heart. 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 Lawrence Ruiz and Companions: Grant us, we pray, Lord God, the same perseverance shown by your Martyrs Saint Lawrence Ruiz and his companions in serving you and their neighbor, since those persecuted for the sake of righteousness are blessed in your 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.

 

Contemplation: Remember in grade school when we were asked “who do you want to be like when you grow up?” Students generally responded with the names of sports figures, film stars and the like. And yet the response really should be “I want to be like Jesus.” Jesus, himself, really is the model for each of us. He came not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). Paul the Apostles states that Jesus “emptied himself and took the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7).  Jesus lowered himself (he whose place is at the right hand of God the Father) and took on our lowly human nature that he might raise us up and clothe us in his divine nature. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). If we want to be filled with God’s life and power, then we need to empty ourselves of everything which stands in the way – pride, envy, self-seeking glory, vanity, and possessiveness. God wants empty vessels so he can fill them with his own glory, power, and love (2 Corinthians 4:7). Are you ready to humble yourself and to serve as Jesus did? As a disciple of Jesus, don’t we really want to be like him?

 

Lectio Divina 9/18/2015

Friday, September 18, 2015 ~ Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 8:1-3 Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

 

Meditation: During his three years of public ministry Jesus traveled widely. The Gospel records that a band of women accompanied Jesus and the twelve apostles. This was a diverse group of women; some came from rich and prominent families; some had been prostitutes, and others had been afflicted with mental and physical infirmities. No matter their backgrounds or “status” in life, these women served Jesus out of their own resources. We know that Mary Magdalene had lived a very troubled life before Jesus freed her from seven demons. She was privileged to be the first to see Jesus as the risen Lord. As the wife of King Herod’s chief financial officer, Joanna was a wealthy lady of the court. It’s unlikely that these two would have ever met under other circumstances. What brought them together and united them in a bond of friendship, service, and loyalty to Jesus? Certainly Jesus and his message of the kingdom of God had transformed them. Unlike the apostles, who took great pride in being the chosen twelve, these women did not seek position or demand special privileges. Jesus had touched them so deeply that they were grateful to do anything for him, even menial service. They brought their gifts and resources to Jesus to use as he saw fit.

 

Prayer: Look upon us, O God, Creator and ruler of all things, and, that we may feel the working of your mercy, grant that we may serve you with all our heart. 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: Our privilege as children of God and disciples of Jesus is to serve as Jesus served with humility, selfless love, generosity, joy, and a willingness to do whatever God asks of us. God, in his turn, gives us every good gift and grace we need to carry out our task and mission. God in his infinite power needs no one, but in his wisdom and love, he chooses to entrust his work through each one of us. His Holy Spirit equips us with all that we need to love and serve others. No one is unimportant or unnecessary in God’s economy. The least in his kingdom find a home and a mission at Jesus’ side. Do you know the joy of serving Jesus in company with others who love and serve him willingly?

 

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 9/17/2015

Thursday, September 17, 2015 ~ Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

                                     

Holy Gospel: Luke 7:36-50 A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

 

Meditation: Why did a woman with a bad reputation approach Jesus and anoint him with her tears and costly perfume at the risk of ridicule and abuse by others? The woman’s action was motivated by one thing, and one thing only, namely, her love for Jesus – she loved greatly out of gratitude for the kindness and forgiveness she had received from Jesus. She did something a Jewish woman would never do in public. She loosened her hair and anointed Jesus with her tears. It was customary for a woman on her wedding day to bind her hair. For a married woman to loosen her hair in public was a sign of grave immodesty. This woman was oblivious to everyone and everything around her; she was totally focused on  Jesus. She also did something which only love can do. She took the most precious thing she had and spent it all on Jesus. Her love was not calculated but extravagant. In a spirit of humility and heart-felt repentance, she lavishly served the one who showed her the mercy and kindness of God. Jesus, in his customary fashion, never lost the opportunity to draw a lesson from such a deed.

 

Prayer: O God, who adorned the Bishop Saint Robert Bellarmine with wonderful learning and virtue to vindicate the faith of your Church, grant, through his intercession, that in the integrity of that same faith your people may always find joy. 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 makes clear that great love springs from a heart forgiven and cleansed. Peter the Apostle tells us that “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). It was love that motivated the Father in heaven to send his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus, to offer up his life on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. The woman’s lavish expression of love was an offering of gratitude for the great forgiveness, kindness, and mercy Jesus had shown to her. The stark contrast of attitudes between Simon and the sinful woman demonstrates how we can either accept or reject God’s mercy and forgiveness. Simon, who regarded himself as an upright Pharisee, felt no need for love or mercy – he never gave it a thought! His self-sufficiency kept him from acknowledging his need for God’s grace – God’s gracious gift of favor, help, and mercy. The woman, on the other hand, knew exactly what she needed from Jesus and sought it at all costs.  Are you grateful for God’s mercy and grace? Do you ever think of your need for God’s mercy and grace?

Lectio Divina 9/16/2015

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 ~ Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Cornelius, Pope and Martyr; and Saint Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr

                                     

Holy Gospel: Luke 7:31-35 Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

 

Meditation: Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God is a proclamation of good news that produces great joy and hope for those who will listen – but it is also a warning of disaster for those who refuse to accept God’s gracious offer. Why did the message of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus meet with resistance and deaf ears? It was out of jealously and spiritual blindness that the scribes and Pharisees attributed John the Baptist’s austerities to the devil and they attributed Jesus’ table fellowship as evidence for pretending to be the Messiah. They succeeded in frustrating God’s plan for their lives because they had closed their hearts to the message of  John the Baptist and now they close their ears to Jesus, God’s anointed Son sent to redeem us from bondage to sin and death.

 

Prayer: God our Father, in Saints Cornelius and Cyprian you have given your people an inspiring example of dedication to the pastoral ministry and constant witness to Christ in their suffering. May their prayers and faith give us courage to work for the unity of your Church. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

 

Contemplation: What can make us spiritually dull and slow to hear God’s voice? Like the generation of Jesus’ time, our age is marked by indifference and contempt, especially in regards to the message of God’s kingdom. Indifference dulls our ears to God’s voice and to the good news of the Gospel. Only the humble of heart who are hungry for God can find true joy and happiness. And so we might ask ourselves today: Do you listen to God’s word with expectant faith and the willingness to trust and obey?

Lectio Divina 9/15/2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015 ~ Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

                                     

Holy Gospel: John 19:25-27 Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

 

Meditation: Does suffering or sorrow weigh you down? Suffering affects all of us on one level or another, in one way or another. But the cross is different – the cross brings us face to face with Jesus’ suffering. He was alone. All his disciples had deserted him except for his mother and three women along with John, the beloved disciple. The apostles had fled in fear. But Mary, the mother of Jesus and three other women who loved him were present at the cross. They demonstrate the power of love for overcoming fear (1 John 4:18) in the face of horrific challenge.

 

Prayer: O God, who willed that, when your Son was lifted high on the Cross, his Mother should stand close by and share his suffering, grant that your Church, participating with the Virgin Mary in the Passion of Christ, may merit a share in his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Prayer to Mary in Honor of Her Seven Sorrows: O Mary, Mother of Sorrows, I beseech Thee, by the bitter agony thou didst endure at the foot of the Cross offer to the Eternal Father, in my name, thy Beloved Son, Jesus, all covered with Blood and Wounds, in satisfaction for my sins, for the needs of Holy Church, the conversion of sinners, the relief of the Souls in Purgatory and for the special grace I now implore. (Mention your request at this point in the prayer). Amen.

 

Contemplation: This is a day to pray the Stations of the Cross. Don’t wait for the Season of Lent or for Holy Week; today is also a day to read and contemplate the words of the Stabat Mater – “At the cross her station keeping, stood the mournful Mother weeping, close to Jesus to the last.” The entire text can be found via the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops web page (www.usccb.org) by clicking on today’s date on the Daily Readings calendar. You might also want to read the seven sorrows of Mary in Sacred Scripture; the Biblical references are listed below.

 

About the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows: This feast is dedicated to the spiritual martyrdom of Mary, Mother of God, and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son, Jesus. In her suffering as co-redeemer, she reminds us of the tremendous evil of sin and shows us the way of true repentance. May the numerous tears of the Mother of God be conducive to our salvation, with which tears Thou, O God, art able to wash away the sins of the whole world. As Mary stood at the foot of the Cross on which Jesus hung, the sword of sorrow Simeon had foretold pierced her soul. Below are the seven sorrows of Mary:

  1. The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35);
  2. The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15);
  3. Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50);
  4. Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17);
  5. Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30);
  6. The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37);
  7. The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47).

Lectio Divina 9/14/2015

“If I seek my maker, I find God alone. If I seek the material from which He made me, I find absolutely nothing. From this you can conclude that whatever is in me was made by God and wholly belongs to God. If I ask about my nature, I find that I am the image of God. If I ask about my end, I find God himself, who is my supreme and total good. Therefore, I will recognize that I have a great bond with and need for God, as He alone is my creator, my maker, my Father, my exemplar, my happiness, my all. And If I understand this, what can happen except that I seek Him ardently, that I think of Him, that I yearn for Him, desire to see and embrace Him? Should I not be horrified at the dense darkness of my heart which for so long has considered, desired, and sought anything other than God, who alone is my all?”  ~Saint Robert Bellarmine

 

Monday, September 14, 2015 ~ Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

 

Holy Gospel: John 3:13-17 Jesus said to Nicodemus: “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

 

Meditation: Moses lifted high the image of a bronze serpent fixed to the wood of the pole, which resembled a cross. Those who put their faith in God by repenting of their disobedience were healed and restored to wholeness of life. In today’s Gospel Jesus links his victory on the cross with Moses’ act of deliverance in the wilderness with his own impending sacrificial death when he will be “lifted up” on the wood of the cross at Calvary. Unlike Moses’ deliverance in the wilderness which only resulted in temporary relief for the people, Jesus’ atoning death on the cross brought decisive victory over sin, Satan, and death. Jesus’ victory on the cross cancels the debt of our sin, and releases us from guilt and condemnation. His death and victory brings us new life – the new abundant life in his Holy Spirit which lasts forever. Jesus’ victory on the cross also brought about his glorious bodily resurrection to new unending life and his ascension to the right hand of God the Father in heaven, where he now rules and intercedes for us. The result of Jesus “being lifted up on the cross” and his rising and ascending to the Father’s right hand in heaven is our “new birth in the Spirit” and adoption as sons and daughters of God. God not only has redeemed us from sin in Christ, he also fills us with his own divine life through the gift of his Spirit that we might share in his own glory. Indeed, “Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaimed, till all the world adores his sacred name” (Lyrics from the hymn “Lift High the Cross”).

 

Prayer: O God, who willed that your Only Begotten Son should undergo the Cross to save the human race, grant, we pray, that we, who have known his mystery on earth, may merit the grace of his redemption in heaven. 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: There is no greater proof of God’s love for us then the sending of his Son to become one with us in our humanity and to lay down his life for us — “To ransom a slave God gave his Son.” God sent his Son to free us from the worst of tyrannies — slavery to sin and the curse of death. Jesus’ sacrificial death was an act of total love through self-giving. Jesus gave himself completely out of love for his Father. And he willing laid down his life out of selfless love for our sake and for our salvation. His death on the cross was both a total offering to God and the perfect sacrifice of atonement for our sin and the sin of the world. John tells us that God’s love cannot be limited because it is boundless and encompasses all of creation (John 3:16). His love is not limited to a single nation or a few chosen friends. His love is limitless because it embraces the whole world and every individual created in His image and likeness. God is a persistent loving Father who cannot rest until all of his wandering children have returned home to him. Saint Augustine says, “God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love.” God gives us the freedom to choose whom and what we will love and not love. We can love the darkness of sin and unbelief, or we can choose to love the light of God’s truth, goodness, and mercy. If our love is guided by truth, goodness, and that which is truly beautiful, then we will choose for God and love him above all else. What we love shows what we prefer. Ask yourself: Do you love God who is the supreme good above all else, all things, all people?