Archive for “2016”

Lectio Divina 8/12/2016

Friday, August 12 ~ Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Jane Frances de Chantall, Religious;

Foundress, Order of the Visitation of Mary

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 19:3-12 Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, 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, man must not separate.”  They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” His disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”

 

Meditation: What is God’s intention for our state in life, whether married or single?  Jesus deals with the issue of divorce by taking his hearers back to the beginning of creation and to God’s plan for the human race.  In Genesis 2:23-24 we see God’s intention and ideal that two people who marry should become so indissolubly one that they are one flesh.  That ideal is found in the unbreakable union of Adam and Eve.  They were created for each other and for no one else.  They are the pattern and symbol for all who were to come.  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.

 

Prayer: O God, who made Saint Jane Frances de Chantal radiant with outstanding merits in different walks of life, grant us, through her intercession, that walking faithfully in our vocation, we may constantly be examples of shining light. 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: Both marriage and celibacy are calls from God to live a consecrated life – that is to live as married couples (marriage between one man and one woman) 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 in his way of holiness in their state of life.  Do you seek Christ and his grace for your state of life?

 

About Saint Jane Frances de Chantal: Jane Frances Fremiot de Chantal was the foundress of the Order of the Visitation of Mary. She was born in 1572 and came from a noble family, her father gave her in marriage to the Baron von Chantal in 1592. As mother she most zealously instructed the children in the ways of virtue and piety and in the observance of every divine precept. With great generosity she supported the poor and took special joy in seeing how divine Providence often blesses and increases the smallest larder. Therefore she made a vow never to refuse anyone who asked for alms in the Name of Christ. The death of her husband, who was accidentally shot while on the chase (1601), she bore with Christ-like composure and with all her heart forgave the person who had killed him; then she acted as sponsor for one of his children in order to show her forgiveness openly. There was a holy friendship between her and her spiritual guide, Francis de Sales; with his approval she left her father and children and founded the Visitation nuns. Thus, too, it should be with us—firm yet forgiving, and each at the proper place and in the proper measure. Our zeal must not make us hard, fanatic; neither may love degenerate into sentimentalism. In fundamentals, in faith, and in the commandments we must be firm, immovable, with no trace of tolerance; but in our contacts with men, patient, forgiving, tender, conciliatory. The Christian ought be firm and resolute as a father, mild and self-sacrificing as a mother. This tension between complementary virtues we find exemplified in a heroic degree in St. Jane Frances de Chantal.

 

 

 

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 8/11/2016

Thursday, August 11 ~ Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Clare, Virgin

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 18:21-19:1 Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.” When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.

 

Meditation: When Peter posed the question of forgiveness, he characteristically offered an answer he thought Jesus would be pleased with.  Why not forgive seven times!  Jesus made it clear that there is no reckonable limit to forgiveness. And he drove the lesson home with a parable about two very different kinds of debts. The man who was forgiven such an incredible debt could not, however bring himself to forgive his neighbor a very small debt which was about one-hundred-thousandth of his own debt.  This contrast could not have been greater.  No offense our neighbor can do to us can compare with the debt we owe to God! We have been forgiven a debt which is beyond all paying; to ransom our debt of sin God gave up his only begotten Son. If God has forgiven each of us our debt – which is very great – we, too, must forgive others the debt they owe us.

 

Prayer: O God, who in your mercy led Saint Clare to a love of poverty, grant, through her intercession, that, following Christ in poverty of spirit, we may merit to contemplate you one day in the heavenly 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.

 

Contemplation: Jesus teaches that one must forgive in order to be forgiven. If we do not forgive our fellow human being we cannot expect God to forgive us. C.S. Lewis once wrote: “Mercy will flower only when it grows in the crannies of the rock of Justice: transplanted to the marshlands of mere Humanitarianism, it becomes a man-eating weed, all the more dangerous because it is still called by the same name as the mountain variety.”  Thus if we desire mercy to be shown to us, we ourselves must be ready to forgive others as God has forgiven us. Do you hold any grudge or resentment towards anyone? If so, there is no time like the present to forgive, forget, and move on with life.

Lectio Divina 8/10/2016

Wednesday, August 10 ~ Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

 

Holy Gospel: John 12:24-26 Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.”

 

Meditation: The image of the grain of wheat dying in the earth in order to grow and bear a harvest can be seen as a metaphor of Jesus’ own death and burial in the tomb and his resurrection.  Jesus knew that the only way to victory over the power of sin and death was through the cross.  Jesus reversed the curse of our first parents’ disobedience through his obedience to the Father’s will — his willingness to go to the cross to pay the just penalty for our sins and to defeat death once and for all.  His obedience and death on the cross obtain for us freedom and new life in the Holy Spirit.  His cross frees us from the tyranny of sin and death and shows us the way of perfect love.  There is a great paradox here – death leads to life; when we “die” to ourselves we “rise” to new life in Jesus Christ.

 

Prayer: O God, giver of that ardor of love for you by which Saint Lawrence was outstandingly faithful in service and glorious in martyrdom, grant that we may love what he loved and put into practice what he taught. 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 asked what it means to “die” to oneself?  It certainly means that what is contrary to God’s commands, God’s will and the teachings of Christ must be “crucified” or “put to death.”  God gives us grace to say “yes” to his will and to reject whatever is contrary to his loving plan for our lives.  Jesus also promises that we will bear much “fruit” for him, if we choose to deny ourselves for his sake.  Jesus used forceful language to describe the kind of self-denial he had in mind for his disciples.  What did he mean when he said that one must hate himself?  The expression to “hate” something often meant to prefer less.  Jesus says that nothing should get in the way of our preferring him and the will of our Father in heaven.  Do you hope in the Lord and follow joyfully the path that he has chosen for you?  Or when challenged by Christ, do you push back?  Learn now how to die to one’s self.

Lectio Divina 8/9/2016

Tuesday, August 9 ~ Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Theresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), Virgin and Martyr

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14 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 becomes humble 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. What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”

 

Meditation: Do you find yourself somewhat surprised to see the disciples discussing with Jesus who is the greatest? Have each of us not done the same thing at some point in our lives? The appetite for glory and greatness seems to be inbred in us on one level or another. Even the Psalms speak about the glory God has destined for us: “you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor.”  (ref. Psalm 8:6). Jesus made a dramatic gesture by placing a child next to himself 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. 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 at his right side.

 

Prayer: God of our Fathers, who brought the Martyr Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross to know your crucified Son and to imitate him even until death, grant, through her intercession, that the whole human race may acknowledge Christ as its Savior and through him come to behold you for eternity. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: So, then, who is the greatest in God’s kingdom? The one who is humble of heart, who instead of asserting their rights willingly, empties themselves of pride and self-seeking glory by taking the lowly position of a servant or child – and they do so by imitating Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity. Remember the words of Saint Benedict: “The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all.”

 

About Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: Born Edith Stein of Jewish parents, Saint Teresa Benedicta was a brilliant philosopher who stopped believing in God when she was fourteen.  She was so captivated by reading the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Avila that she began a spiritual journey that led to her Baptism in 1922. Twelve years later she imitated Teresa by becoming a Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Born into a prominent Jewish family in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), Edith abandoned Judaism in her teens. As a student at the University of Gottingen, she became fascinated by phenomenology, an approach to philosophy, and earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1916. After living in the Cologne Carmel (1934-1938), she moved to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands. The Nazis occupied that country in 1940. In retaliation for being denounced by the Dutch bishops, the Nazis arrested all Dutch Jews who had become Christians. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, also a Catholic, died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.

Lectio Divina 8/8/2016

“A person who governs his passions is the master of the world. We must either rule them, or be ruled by them. It is better to be the hammer than the anvil. “

–Saint Dominic

 

Monday, August 8 ~ Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Dominic, Priest; Founder, Order of Preachers (Dominicans)

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 17:22-27 As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were overwhelmed with grief. When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, “Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes,” he said. When he came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?” When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “Then the subjects are exempt. But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you.”

 

Meditation: On three different occasions the Gospels record that Jesus’ prediction that he would endure great suffering through betrayal, rejection, and the punishment of a cruel death. The Jews resorted to stoning and the Romans to crucifixion – the most painful and humiliating death they could devise for criminals they wanted to eliminate. No wonder the apostles were greatly distressed at such a prediction! If Jesus their Master were put to death, then they would likely receive the same treatment by their enemies. Jesus called himself the “Son of Man” because this was a common Jewish title for the “Messiah.” So why must the Messiah be rejected and killed? Did not God promise that his Anointed One would deliver his people from their oppression and establish a kingdom of peace and justice? The prophet Isaiah had foretold that it was God’s will that the “Suffering Servant” make atonement for sins through his suffering and death. Jesus paid the price for our redemption with his blood. Slavery to sin is to want the wrong things (those include anything against the ten commandments, and anything contrary to the truths of sacred scripture) and to be in bondage to destructive desires. The ransom Jesus paid sets us free from the worst tyranny possible – the tyranny of sin and the fear of death. Jesus’ victory did not end with death but triumphed over the tomb. Jesus defeated the powers of death through his resurrection.

 

Prayer: May Saint Dominic come to the help of your Church by his merits and teaching, O Lord, and may he, who was an outstanding preacher of your truth, be a devoted intercessor on our behalf. 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: No one is overly fond of paying taxes, especially when one thinks they might be unreasonable or unjust. And yet taxes provide much in the way of necessary civil services. Jesus and his disciples were confronted by tax collectors on the issue of tax evasion. When questioned about paying the temple tax, Jesus replied to his disciples: We must pay so as not to cause bad example. In fact, we must go beyond our duty in order that we may show others what they ought to do. The scriptural expression to “give no offense” doesn’t refer to insult or annoyance; rather it means to put no stumbling block in the way of another that would cause them to trip or fall. Jesus would not allow himself anything which might possibly be a bad example to someone else. Do you evade unpleasant responsibilities or obligations?