Archive for “2016”

Lectio Divina 5/20/2016

Friday, May 20 ~ Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Bernardine of Siena

 

Holy Gospel: Mark 10:1-12 Jesus came into the district of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds gathered around him and, as was his custom, he again taught them. The Pharisees approached him and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” They replied, “Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

 

Meditation: Jesus explains that Moses permitted divorce as a concession in view of a lost ideal. Jesus sets the high ideal of the married state before those who are willing to accept his commands. Jesus, likewise sets the high ideal for those who freely renounce marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:11-12). Both marriage and celibacy are calls from God to live a consecrated life, that is to live as married couples or as singles who belong not to themselves but to God. Despite what we may think, our lives are not our own – they belong to God. He gives the grace and power to those who seek to follow his way of holiness in their state of life. Do you seek the Lord and his grace in your state of life?

 

A prayer to St. Bernardine of Siena: Saint Bernardine of Siena, words were very important to you. You spent most of your life speaking the golden words of Jesus’ mercy and his Holy Name, and you abhorred words that were shameful. Pray for us that we may always choose to speak Jesus’ name with reverence, and choose words of love over words of shame. Amen.

 

Contemplation: What is God’s intention for your state in life, whether married or single? Are you open to God’s plan being paramount in your life versus your own thoughts and desires for what you want in this earthly life?  Put yourself in the back seat, and let God take you where he wants you to go.  By letting God’s plan for us be our course in life, our lives become less complex, more simple, and more joyous because God takes us where he wants us to go, instead of the other way around.

 

The Holy Name of Jesus – HIS: This monogram of the Holy Name, common among Western Christians, comes from the first three letters in the Greek spelling of Jesus’ name. Those letters are iota (“I”), eta (“H”) and sigma (here rendered as its Roman equivalent: “S”). Variations: Sometimes the iota is rendered as a “J” (hence, “JHS”), or one will see the monogram in all Greek letters, or with the final sigma in a “C” shape (hence “IHC”), an alternate way of rendering the letter sigma. They all mean the same thing. The greatest promoters of the monogram were St. Bernardine of Siena and St. John Capistran. They carried with them on their missions in the turbulent cities of Italy a copy of the monogram of the Holy Name, surrounded by rays, painted on a wooden tablet, wherewith they blessed the sick and wrought great miracles. At the close of their sermons they exhibited this emblem to the faithful and asked them to prostrate themselves, to adore the Redeemer of mankind. They recommended their hearers to have the monogram of Jesus placed over the gates of their cities and above the doors of their dwelling. It became even more popularised after St. Bernardine encouraged a playing card maker in Bologna – a man whose business had been ruined because of the Saint’s preaching against gambling – to make holy cards depicting it instead of making his usual fare. Because the manner in which St. Bernardine preached this devotion was new, he was accused by his enemies, and brought before the tribunal of Pope Martin V. But St. John Capistran defended his master so successfully that the pope not only permitted the worship of the Holy Name, but also assisted at a procession in which the holy monogram was carried. The tablet used by St. Bernardine is venerated at Santa Maria in Ara Coeli at Rome. Formalized devotion to the Holy Name is the fruit of the work of St. Bernardine of Siena, A.D. 1380-1444, the Franciscan who reformed his Order and preached fiery sermons all over Italy.

 

 

 

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:2016

 

 

 

 

Lectio Divina 5/19/2016

Thursday, May 19 ~ Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Mark 9:41-50 Jesus said to his disciples: “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.  “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. “Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor? Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another.”

 

Meditation: Jesus set before his disciples the one supreme goal in life that is worth any sacrifice, and that goal is God himself and his will for our lives which leads to everlasting peace and happiness. Just as a doctor might remove a limb or some part of the body in order to preserve the life of the whole body, so we must be ready to part with anything that causes us to sin and which leads to spiritual death. Jesus warns his disciples of the terrible responsibility that they must set no stumbling block  in the way of another, that is, not give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin. The Greek word for temptation (scandalon) is exactly the same as the English word scandal. The original meaning of scandal is a trap or a stumbling block which causes one to trip and fall. The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, he in turn may teach still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end. The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith.  In this permissive, “politically correct” society in which we live, are you setting a good example – a Christ-like example – for others to follow, especially the young?

 

Prayer: Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, always pondering spiritual things, we may carry out in both word and deed that which is pleasing to you. 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 Gregory of Nyssa, a Father of the Church, once wrote: “God never asks his servants to do what is impossible. The love and goodness of his Godhead is revealed as richly available. It is poured out like water upon all. God furnished to each person according to his will the ability to do something good. None of those seeking to be saved will be lacking in this ability, given by the one who said: ‘whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.’” Ask the Holy Spirit to transform your heart by the fire of his love that you may wholly desire what is good for your neighbor.

Lectio Divina 5/18/2016

Wednesday, May 18 ~ Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Saint John I, Pope and Martyr

 

Holy Gospel: Mark 9:38-40 John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.”

 

Meditation: Are we not like the disciples when we get upset and jealous because someone else has taken our place or taken the spotlight away from us? Envy and jealousy, its counterpart, are sinful because they lead us to sorrow over what should make us rejoice – namely, our neighbor’s good. The reason we may be sad or feel discontent over one another’s good fortune or excellence is the fear of losing our own value and excellence or being replaced by a rival. Envy is contrary to love. Both the object of love and the object of envy is our neighbor’s good, but by contrary movements, since love rejoices in our neighbor’s good, while envy grieves over it. How can we overcome envy and jealousy? With the love that God puts into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). This love seeks the highest good of our neighbor.

 

Prayer: O God, who reward faithful souls and who have consecrated this day by the martyrdom of Pope Saint John the First, graciously hear the prayers of your people and grant that we, who venerate his merits, may imitate his constancy in the faith. 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: Do you rejoice in the good that others do, especially when they seem to outshine you? Jesus reprimands his disciples for their jealousy and intolerance towards others. Jesus had given his disciples power and authority to heal the sick and to cast out evil spirits from tormented individuals. But the disciples became upset when they met someone who was not associated with them doing a good deed and acting with Jesus’ authority and power. The apostles even tried to prevent the man to stop speaking in the name of Jesus “because he does not follow us.” Jesus’ reply is filled with wisdom: “There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.”  Whenever someone chooses to act for good in order to overcome evil that person brings glory to God.

Lectio Divina 5/17/2016

Tuesday, May 17 ~ Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Mark 9:30-37 Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.”  But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. For they had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”  Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”

 

Meditation: Jesus made a dramatic gesture by embracing a child to show his disciples who really is the greatest in the kingdom of God.  What can a little child possibly teach us about greatness? Children in the ancient world had no rights, position, or privileges of their own. They were socially at the “bottom of the rung” and at the service of their parents, much like the household staff and domestic servants. So what is the significance of Jesus’ gesture?  Jesus elevated a little child in the presence of his disciples by placing the child in a privileged position of honor. It is customary, even today, to seat the guest of honor at the right side of the host. Who is the greatest in God’s kingdom? The one who is humble and lowly of heart – who instead of asserting their rights willingly empty themselves of pride and self-seeking glory by taking the lowly position of a servant or child. Hmmm. Can each of us learn a less from this?  You bet!

 

Prayer: Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, always pondering spiritual things, we may carry out in both word and deed that which is pleasing to you. 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: Have you ever given any thought as to whose glory do you seek? There can be no share in God’s glory without the cross. When Jesus prophesied his own betrayal and crucifixion, it did not make any sense to his disciples because it did not fit their understanding of what the Messiah came to do. And they were afraid to ask further questions!  Like a person who might receive a bad verdict from the doctor and then refuse to ask further questions, they, too, didn’t want to know any more. How often do we reject what we do not wish to see?  We have heard the good news of God’s word and we know the consequences of accepting it or rejecting it. But do we give it our full allegiance and mold our lives according to it? Ask the Lord to fill you with his Holy Spirit and to inspire within you a reverence for his word and a readiness to obey it.

Lectio Divina 5/16/2016

 

Humility consists in being precisely the person you actually are before God, and since no two people are alike, if you have the humility to be like yourself, you will not be like anyone else in the whole universe… To the truly humble man the ordinary ways and customs and habits of men are not a matter for conflict. The saints do not get excited about the things that people eat and drink, wear on their bodies, or hang on the walls of their houses. To make conformity or non-conformity with others in these accidents a matter of life and death is to fill your interior life with confusion and noise. Ignoring all this as indifferent, the humble man takes whatever there is in the world that helps him to find God and leaves the rest aside… It is not humility to insist on being someone that you are not. It is as much as saying that you know better than God who you are and who you ought to be…” ~Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO

 

Monday, May 16 ~ Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Mark 9:14-29 As Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James, John and approached the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them. Immediately on seeing him, the whole crowd was utterly amazed. They ran up to him and greeted him. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit. Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so.” He said to them in reply, “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him to me.” They brought the boy to him. And when he saw him, the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions. As he fell to the ground, he began to roll around and foam at the mouth. Then he questioned his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” He replied, “Since childhood. It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering, rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it, “Mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!” Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out. He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, “He is dead!” But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up. When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private, “Why could we not drive the spirit out?” He said to them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”

 

Meditation: Notice that when Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, the boy, at first, seemed to get worse rather than better as he went into a fit of convulsion. Saint Peter Chrysologus, a Father of the Church, reflects on this incident: “Though it was the boy who fell on the ground, it was the devil in him who was in anguish.  The possessed boy was merely convulsed, while the usurping spirit was being convicted by the awesome judge.  The captive was detained, but the captor was punished.  Through the wrenching of the human body, the punishment of the devil was made manifest.”  God promises us freedom from oppression, especially the oppression of sin and evil that rob us of faith, joy, and peace with God. The Lord invites us, as he did this boy’s father, to pray with expectant faith. Do you trust in God’s unfailing love and mercy?

 

Prayer: Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, always pondering spiritual things, we may carry out in both word and deed that which is pleasing to you. 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 kind of faith does the Lord expect from each of us, especially when we meet challenges and difficulties? Inevitably there will be times when each of us cause disappointment to others. In this gospel incident the disciples of Jesus brought disappointment to a pleading father because they failed to heal his epileptic son. Jesus’ response seemed stern; but it was really tempered with love and compassion. We see at once both Jesus’ dismay with the disciples’ lack of faith and his concern to meet the need of this troubled boy and his anguished father. Jesus recognized the weakness of the father’s faith and at the same time challenged him to pray boldly with expectant faith: “All things are possible to him who believes!” Saint Augustine, in his commentary on this passage, reminds us that prayer and faith go together: “Where faith fails, prayer perishes. For who prays for that in which he does not believe? ..So then in order that we may pray, let us believe, and let us pray that this same faith by which we pray may not falter.” The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit that we may have the confidence and boldness we need to ask our heavenly Father for his help and grace. Do you trust in God’s love and care for you and pray with expectant faith that he will give you what you need?