Monday, September 30, 2013

"a friend for the lonesome"

Blue Moon Rising by Ann L. Krumrein

The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.  ~Carl Sandburg

Sunday, September 29, 2013

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

During your life good things came your way just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted while you are in agony.  ~Luke 16:25

It is worthwhile inquiring why the rich man saw Lazarus in Abraham’s arms, and not in the company of some other righteous person. The reason is that Abraham was hospitable, and so the sight of Lazarus with Abraham was meant to reproach the rich man for his own inhospitality.

Abraham used to pursue even passers-by and drag them into his home, whereas the rich man disregarded someone lying in his own doorway.

Although he had within his grasp so great a treasure, such an opportunity to win salvation, he ignored the poor man day after day. He could have helped him but he failed to do so.

The patriarch was not like that but just the opposite. He would sit in his doorway and catch all who passed by. And just as a fisherman casting a net into the sea hauls up fish, yes, but also quite often gold and pearls, so Abraham whilst catching people in his net finished by catching angels, though strangely enough without knowing it.

Even Paul marvels at this and gives the advice: “Remember to welcome strangers into your homes, for some by so doing have entertained angels without knowing it.”

And he did well to say “without knowing it,” for if Abraham had welcomed his guests with such kindness because he knew who they were he would have done nothing remarkable.

He is praiseworthy only because, without knowing who the passers-by were and taking them to be simply human wayfarers, he yet invited them in with so much good will.

And this is true of you also. If you show much eagerness in welcoming some famous and distinguished person you do nothing remarkable; often the high rank of a guest compels even a reluctant host to show every sign of courtesy.

But we do something truly great and admirable when we give a most courteous welcome to all, even the outcasts of society or people of humble condition.

Hence Christ himself praised those who so acted, declaring: “Whatever you did for one of these very poor people you did to me.” He also said:“ It is not your Father’s will that one of these little ones should perish.”

Indeed, throughout the gospel Christ speaks a great deal about the little people and those of the humblest condition.

And so Abraham also, knowing this, did not ask who travelers were or where they came from, as we do today, but simply welcomed them all.

Anyone wishing to show kindness should not inquire into other people’s lives, but has only to alleviate their poverty and supply their needs, as Christ commanded when he said: “Imitate your Father in heaven, who makes his sun rise on good and bad alike, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.”

~John Chrysostom, c.347-407

Dear Lord, make my heart like Yours, open and welcoming to all.  Amen.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"the true 'Eucharistic attitude'"

"In the Eucharist the Church is completely united to Christ and his sacrifice, and makes her own the spirit of Mary. This truth can be understood more deeply by re-reading the Magnificat in a Eucharistic key. The Eucharist, like the Canticle of Mary, is first and foremost praise and thanksgiving. When Mary exclaims: 'My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour', she already bears Jesus in her womb. She praises God 'through' Jesus, but she also praises him 'in' Jesus and 'with' Jesus. This is itself the true 'Eucharistic attitude.'" 

~Bl. John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 4/17/03

Dear Mary, "Woman of the Eucharist," help me to make my life  more and more like yours, "completely a Magnificat" -- "through him, and with him, and in him," for the glory of the Father.  Amen.

Friday, September 27, 2013

How To Know Jesus

Let us know, let us strive to know the Lord.  ~Hosea 6:3

Ave Maria!  In his homily at his Mass yesterday, Thursday, September 26, Pope Francis said that getting to know our Lord requires personal involvement: 
“We cannot know Jesus without becoming involved with him, without betting our lives on him.” 
The Holy Father said that we need three languages to know Jesus: that of the mind, that of the heart, and that of action. 

Mind:  "We can know Jesus in the Catechism...the Catechism teaches us many things about Jesus...we have to study it, we have to learn it....  We know the Son of God, who came to save us, we understand the beauty of the history of salvation, of the love of the Father, studying the Catechism.... Yes, you have to come to know Jesus in the Catechism –- but it is not enough to know Him with the mind: it is a step."

Heart:  "However, it is necessary to get to know Jesus in dialogue with Him, talking with Him in prayer, kneeling. If you do not pray, if you do not talk with Jesus, you do not know Him. You know things about Jesus, but you do not go with that knowledge, which He gives your heart in prayer. Know Jesus with the mind –- the study of the Catechism: know Jesus with the heart –-  in prayer, in dialogue with Him. This helps us a good bit, but it is not enough."

Action:  "There is a third way to know Jesus: it is by following Him. Go with Him, walk with Him....know Jesus in the language of action...walk along the path of his ways with him."

In conclusion, the Holy Father said, if “I know Jesus in these ways, I involve myself with Him”​​: When so many people -– including us –- pose this question: ‘But, who is He?’, The Word of God responds, ‘You want to know who He is? Read what the Church tells you about Him, talk to Him in prayer and walk the street with him. Thus, will you know who this man is.’ This is the way! Everyone must make his choice.”
Dear Lord, help me to choose wisely that I may truly know You -- and knowing You, fully love You with all my heart, soul, strength and mind.  Amen.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"My one desire..."

My heart sighs for You, O Jesus. 
My one desire is to possess You, my God. 
 ~St. Thérèse of Lisieux

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup. 
~Psalm 16:5

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"the love of charity must be universal"

And walk in love, as Christ loved us.  ~Ephesians 5:2

" is not in our power to have as tender and sweet an affection for those who tempers and dispositions are not in accordance with our own, as for others with whom we are in sympathy.  But that is nothing; it remains that the love of charity must be universal, and the signs and manifestations of our friendship must be impartial, if we wish to be true servants of God."  ~St. Francis de Sales, Spiritual Conference on Cordiality

Dear Lord, help me to love everyone as You love me.  Amen.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hope and Wait

Harvest Moon in Belfast, Maine by Ann L. Krumrein 

"'It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait.' (Lamentations 3:26)  I never saw, till recently, how that word 'both' exactly strikes the balance so needed...    Some of us rush ahead with our hopes and are downhearted when they crumble, having never learned to quietly wait.  Others go on quietly waiting for a lifetime, without much of the spring of hope anywhere; both hope and quietness and confidence; that is the answer."  ~Lilias Trotter

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.  ~Psalm 130:5

Sunday, September 22, 2013

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.  ~Luke 16:13

The Lord Jesus, true teacher of the precepts that lead to salvation, wished to urge upon the apostles in his own time and all believers today the Christian duty of almsgiving. He therefore related the parable of the steward to make us realize that nothing in this world really belongs to us.

We have been entrusted with the administration of our Lord’s property to use what we need with thanksgiving, and to distribute the rest among our fellow servants according to the needs of each one.
We must not squander the wealth entrusted to us, nor use it on superfluities, for when the Lord comes we shall be required to account for our expenditure.

Finally, at the end of the parable, the Lord adds: “Use worldly wealth to make friends with the poor, so that when it fails you,” when you have spent all you possessed on the needs of the poor and have nothing left, “they may welcome you into eternal dwellings.”

In other words, these same poor people will befriend you by assuring your salvation, for Christ, the giver of eternal rewards, will declare that he himself received the acts of kindness done to them.

Not in their own name, then, will these poor folk welcome us, but in the name of him who is refreshed in their persons by the fruit of our faith and obedience.

Those who exercised this ministry of love will be received into the eternal dwellings of the kingdom of heaven, for the King will say: “Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world; for I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink.”

But "if you have been untrustworthy in the administration of worldly wealth, who is going to trust you with true riches?” For if someone cannot be relied on to administer worldly possessions that provide the means for all sorts of wrong doing, would anyone dream of trusting that person with the true heavenly riches rightly and deservedly enjoyed by those who have been faithful in giving to the poor?

The Lord’s query above is immediately followed by another: “If you cannot be trusted with another’s property, who will give you your own?”

Nothing in this world really belongs to us. We who hope for a future reward are told to live in this world as strangers and pilgrims, so as to be able to say to the Lord without fear of contradiction: “I am a stranger and a pilgrim like all my ancestors.”

What believers can regard as their own is that eternal and heavenly possession where our heart is and our treasure, and where intense longing makes us dwell already through faith, for as Saint Paul teaches, “Our homeland is in heaven.”

~St. Gaudentius of Brescia, +410

Jerusalem, my happy home!
Even now, dear Lord, while still on this earth,
may I live the gladsome life of a citizen of heaven.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Our Lady's Obedience of Faith

 "Live in a manner worthy of the call you have received."  ~Ephesians 4:1

Mary is the creature who opened the door to her Creator in a special way, placing herself in his hands without reserve. She lived entirely from and in her relationship with the Lord; she was disposed to listen, alert to recognizing the signs of God in the journey of his people; she was integrated into a history of faith and hope in God’s promises with which the fabric of her life was woven. And she submitted freely to the word received, to the divine will in the obedience of faith....  And Mary’s “yes” to God’s will, in the obedience of faith, is repeated throughout her life, until the most difficult moment, that of the Cross.

...Mary does not stop at a first superficial understanding of what is happening in her life, but can look in depth, she lets herself be called into question by events, digests them, discerns them, and attains the understanding that only faith can provide. It is the profound humility of the obedient faith of Mary, who welcomes within her even what she does not understand in God’s action, leaving it to God to open her mind and heart. “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45), her kinswoman Elizabeth exclaims. It is exactly because of this faith that all generations will call her blessed.

~Pope Emeritus Benedict, 12/19/12 General Audience

Dear Mary, Virgin ever faithful, "teach us wisdom, teach us love."  Amen.

Friday, September 20, 2013

St. Francis de Sales on desiring crosses...

"Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us."  ~Hebrews 12:1

"Do not desire crosses except insofar as you have borne those which were offered to you.  It is an error to desire martyrdom without having enough courage to bear an insult.  The enemy often arouses in us ardent desires for things that are absent and may never come on our way.  It is to turn our away our minds from present objects from which, however small they may be, we could draw great profit.  In imagination we fight monsters in Africa.  But in fact, due to lack of attention, we allow ourselves to be killed by little serpents on our way."  ~St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life
 Dear Lord, help me to remember that I live in Houston, TX, not Africa.  Amen.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The work of Jesus, a work of mercy

"Following Jesus does not mean taking part in a triumphal procession! It means sharing his merciful love, entering his great work of mercy for each and every man and for all men. The work of Jesus is, precisely, a work of mercy, a work of forgiveness and of love! Jesus is so full of mercy!"  ~Pope Francis, 9/8/13 Angelus

"The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God."  ~Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2447

"O Lord, I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor."  ~St. Maria Faustina

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi

I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.  ~Galatians 6:17

Ave Maria!  Yesterday, September 17, was the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi.  From the beginning of his conversion, St. Francis had a profound love of Christ Crucified.  With burning admiration, St. Francis constantly contemplated the Passion of our Lord, whom he strove to imitate as closely as possible, both exteriorly and interiorly.  Two years before he died, while praying on a solitary retreat, St. Francis received the Stigmata, the sacred marks of Christ's Passion on his body.  In a new and more defined way, St. Francis could truly henceforth proclaim:  "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). 

It is not so much St. Francis whom the Church glorifies on this feast but Christ Jesus Himself:  the first and the last, and the living one, who died and behold is alive for evermore, and who has the keys of death and hell (Revelation 1:17-18).  Dom Prosper Guéranger (1837-1875), a Benedictine monk who  was one of the leading monastics and liturgists of his generation, helps us to better understand and appreciate this feast in the following commentary from his 15-volume masterpiece, The Liturgical Year
"The Feast of the Stigmata of Saint Francis, whom we will soon honor again on his feast of October 4th, is not only to glorify a Saint; it commemorates and signifies something which goes beyond the life of any single man, even one of the greatest of the Church. The God-Man never ceases to live on in His Church, and the reproduction of His own mysteries in this Spouse whom He wants to be similar to Himself, is the explanation of history.
"In the thirteenth century it seemed that charity, whose divine precept many no longer heeded, concentrated in a few souls the fires which had once sufficed to inflame multitudes. Sanctity shone as brilliantly as ever, but the hour for the cooling of the brazier had struck for the peoples. The Church itself says so today in its liturgy, at the Collect: Lord Jesus Christ, when the world was growing cold, You reproduced the sacred marks of Your passion in the body of the most blessed Francis, in order that Your love might also set our hearts afire.' The Spouse of Christ had already begun to experience the long series of social defections among the nations, with their denials, treasons, derision, slaps, spittings in the very praetorium, all of which conclude in the legalized separation of society from its Author. The era of the Passion is advanced; the exaltation of the Holy Cross, which for centuries was triumphant in the eyes of the nations, acquires in the sight of heaven, as the Angels look down upon it, the aspect of an ever closer resemblance with the Spouse to the sufferings of her crucified Beloved. 
"Saint Francis, loved today by all who know of him — and few there are who do not — was like precious marble placed before an expert sculptor. The Holy Spirit chose the flesh of the seraph of Assisi to express His divine thought, thus manifesting to the world the very specific direction He intends to give to souls thereafter. This stigmatization offers a first example, a complete image, of the new labor the divine Spirit is meditating — total union, on the very Cross of Christ itself, of the mystical Body with the divine Head. Francis is the one honored by this primacy of choice; but after him the sacred sign will be received by others, who also personify the Church. From this time on, the Stigmata of the Lord Jesus will be at all times visible, here and there on this earth."
With what joy and gratitude must St. Francis have received the Stigmata!   May he help us to lovingly receive our own share in the Passion of Jesus Christ, our Beloved Lord and Master! 

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"He is so great, I so small..."

"But when does our littleness so come home to us as when we stand in God's presence? He is the great God, who is today and yesterday, whose years are hundreds and thousands, who fills the place where we are, the city, the wide world, the measureless space of the starry sky, in whose eyes the universe is less than a particle of dust, all-holy, all-pure, all-righteous, infinitely high. He is so great, I so small, so small that beside him I seem hardly to exist, so wanting am I in worth and substance. One has no need to be told that God's presence is not the place in which to stand on one's dignity. To appear less presumptuous, to be as little and low as we feel, we sink to our knees and thus sacrifice half our height; and to satisfy our hearts still further we bow down our heads, and our diminished stature speaks to God and says, Thou art the great God; I am nothing."

~from Sacred Signs by Romano Guardini

Ave Maria!  As I read the above excerpt from Msgr. Guardini's excellent book Sacred Signs, I envisioned myriads of angels falling down to worship the One "who was and is and is to come" (Rev 4:8).  If even the angels "adoring, bend the knee" before the Lamb upon His throne, how can I do anything less than kneel in humble adoration and eternal gratitude when I receive the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16) in Holy Communion?!

O come:  let us bow and bend low.
Let us kneel before the God who made us.
~Psalm 95(94):6

Monday, September 16, 2013

Learning from the Mother of the Lord and our Mother

May the Virgin Mary, who was not afraid to answer “yes” to the Word of the Lord and, after conceiving in her womb, set out full of joy and hope, always be your model and your guide. Learn from the Mother of the Lord and our Mother to be humble and at the same time courageous, simple and prudent; meek and strong, not with the strength of the world but with the strength of the truth. Amen.  ~Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 10/16/11
Your word is truth.  ~John 17:7 
Mother of the Incarnate Word, pray for us!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

There will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents. ~Luke 15:7

Finding something we have lost gives us a fresh joy, and we are happier at having found the lost object than we should have been had we never lost it. This parable, however, is concerned more with divine tenderness and compassion than with human behavior, and it expresses a great truth.

Humans are too greedy to forsake things of value for love of anything inferior. That is something only God can do. For God not only brought what was not into being, but he also went after what was lost while still protecting what he left behind, and found what was lost without losing what he had in safe keeping.

This story, then, speaks of no earthly shepherd but of a heavenly one, and far from being a portrayal of human activity, this whole parable conceals divine mysteries, as becomes clear from the number mentioned when Christ says: “Which of you, if you have a hundred sheep and lost one of them...”

You see how the loss of a single sheep made the shepherd grieve as though the whole flock were no longer in safe keeping but had gone astray, and how this made him leave the ninety-nine to go after the lost one and search for it, so that its recovery might make the flock complete again.

But let us now unfold the hidden meaning of this heavenly parable.

The man who owns the hundred sheep is Christ. He is the good shepherd, the loving shepherd, who in a single sheep, that is in Adam, fashioned the whole flock of humankind. He set this sheep in a place of rich pasturage amidst the pleasures of paradise, but heedless of the shepherd’s voice it trusted in the howling of wolves, lost the protection of the sheepfold, and was pierced through by deadly wounds.

Christ therefore came into the world to look for it, and he found it in the Virgin’s womb. He came in the body assumed at his human birth, and raising that body on the cross, he placed the lost sheep on his own shoulders by his passion. Then in the intense joy of the resurrection he brought it to its heavenly home. “And he called his friends and neighbors,” that is the angels, and said to them: “Rejoice with me, for I have found the sheep that was lost.”

The angels joined Christ in gladness and rejoicing at the return of the Lord’s sheep. They did not take it amiss that he now reigned over them upon the throne of majesty, for the sin of envy had long since been banished from heaven together with the devil, and it could not gain entry there again through the Lamb who took away the sin of the world!

Brothers and sisters, Christ sought us on earth; let us seek him in heaven. He has borne us up to the glory of his divinity; let us bear him in our bodies by holiness. As the apostle says: Glorify and bear God in your bodies. That person bears God in his body whose bodily activities are free from sin.

~St. Peter Chrysologus, c.400-450

Thank You, dear Jesus, for the glory of repentance and the joy of Your forgiveness.  Amen.  Alleluia!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Generation after generation passes. And in the midst of this passing, the Cross of Christ remains. Through the Cross, God continuously proclaims to the world the infinite love which no created evil is able to overcome. Yes, the Cross remains, so that in it the world, indeed every human person, may find the way of salvation. For it is by this Cross that the world is saved!....

The Cross of Christ has indeed triumphed.... The Christian faith has taken root and brought forth abundant fruit. And yet evangelization must continue. The Good News of Christ’s Death and Resurrection must be constantly proclaimed anew, for the Church always needs to be built up in faith and charity....

And the greatest word that God has ever spoken to humanity through his only-begotten Son is the Cross, the word of the Cross....  Let us never forget the Cross, the triumphant Cross.

Let us never forget the works of the Lord! (Cfr. Ps. 78[77]:7).  Amen.

~Bl. John Paul II, 9/14/88 Homily

Carry me, Christ,
on the Cross,
which is salvation to the wanderers,
sole rest for the wearied,
wherein alone is life for those who die.
~St. Ambrose

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Feast of the Sweet Name of Mary

Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother!

Ave Maria!  Pope Francis gave a beautiful homily at his Mass earlier today on this lovely Feast of the Holy Name of Mary.  Read all about it in the following article from Vatican Radio -- and have a joyful day savoring the "Sweet Name of Mary"!

(Vatican Radio, 9/12/13) In order to live the message of the Gospel, a Christian must contemplate the “two poles” of “the suffering humanity” of Jesus and the “sweetness” of Mary. That was Pope Francis’ message in his homily Thursday morning at Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. 

The Gospel, he said, is demanding, it requires “strong things” from a Christian: the ability to forgive, magnanimity, love for enemies… There is only one way to be able to put it into practice: “to contemplate the Passion, the humanity of Jesus” and to imitate the behaviour of His Mother. It is precisely to Mary, whose Holy Name is celebrated in today’s Feast, that the Pope dedicated the first part of his homily. At one time, he said, today’s feast was known as the feast of the “Sweet Name of Mary.” Later this title was changed — but in the prayer, he observed, this “sweetness of her name” remains:  

“Even today, we stand in need of this sweetness of the Madonna, in order to understand the things that Jesus requests of us, no? Because this list [of things] is not easy to live. Love the enemy, do good, lend without hoping for anything… to those who strike you on the cheek, offer the other; to those who rip your cloak, don’t refuse the tunic… But these are tough things, no? But the Madonna, in her own way, lived all these things: it is the grace of meekness, the grace of mildness." 

Saint Paul, too, in the letter to the Colossians in the day’s liturgy (Col 3:12-17), invites Christians to “put on . . . heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness . . . bearing with one another and forgiving one another.” And here, Pope Francis said, we immediately ask: “But how can I do this? How can I prepare myself to do this? What must I learn in order to do this?” The answer, the Pope said, is clear: “We cannot do this through our own effort. We cannot do this! Only a grace can accomplish this in us.” And this grace, he added, comes along a definite path:  

“Fix your thoughts on Jesus alone. If our heart, if our mind is with Jesus, the Victor who has conquered death, sin, the devil, all things, we can do what Jesus Himself asks of us, and what the Apostle asks of us: meekness, humility, kindness, heartfelt compassion, gentleness, magnanimity. If we do not look to Jesus, if we are not with Jesus, we cannot do this. It is a grace: it is the grace that comes from the contemplation of Jesus.”

In particular, Pope Francis continued, there is a specific aspect of the life of Jesus to which the Christian’s contemplation must always return: His Passion, His “suffering humanity.” And, he insisted, it is through this contemplation “of Jesus, of our life hidden with Jesus in God, that we are able to go forward with this attitude, these virtues that the Lord asks of us. There is no other path”:  

“To think about His meek silence: this will be your endeavour. He will do the rest. He will do everything that is lacking. But you must do that: hiding your life in God with Christ. This is done through contemplation of the humanity of Jesus, of the suffering humanity. There is no other path – there’s none. It is the only way. To be good Christians, contemplating the humanity of Jesus, the suffering humanity. In order to witness, in order to be able to give this witness. In order not to hate the neighbour, contemplate Jesus suffering. To not gossip against the neighbour, contemplate Jesus suffering. It is the only way. Hide your life with Christ in God: this is the counsel the Apostle gives. It is the counsel to become humble, meek and good, magnanimous, kind.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Jesus, our living hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  ~1 Peter 1:3-5

Jesus, hope, renews everything.  He’s a constant miracle.   Christ is the reason for our hope, and this hope does not delude.  ~Pope Francis, 9/9/13 Homily
It is you, O Lord, who are my hope.  ~Psalm 71(70):5

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bought with a price...

You are not your own; you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.  ~1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.  ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Dear Jesus, my crucified Lord and Savior, may I always treasure Your Grace and the Everlasting Life You secured for me on the Cross.  Amen.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Following Jesus

"There is no such thing as low-cost Christianity.  Following Jesus means swimming against the tide, renouncing evil and selfishness." 
~Pope Francis, 9/5/13 Tweet

“If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple....anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”  ~Luke 14:26-27; 33

Keep Thou my all, O Lord, hide my life in Thine;
O let Thy sacred light over my pathway shine;
Kept by Thy tender care, gladly the cross I’ll bear;
Hear Thou and grant my prayer, hide my life in Thine.
~Frances Jane Crosby

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pope Francis Renews His Appeal for Peace in Syria

Ave Maria!  Vatican Radio reports that yesterday Pope Francis renewed his appeal for peace in Syria. 
Pope Francis renewed his appeal for peace in Syria and throughout the world on Wednesday, once again inviting Christians of every denomination, believers of every religious tradition and all people of good will to take part in the worldwide fast and vigil of prayer and penance for peace, which he has called for September 7th, the vigil of the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, whom we venerate as Queen of Peace. First announced at the Sunday Angelus at the start of the week, many local Churches have already organized their own initiatives to mark the day. The Holy Father especially urged the faithful of Rome and pilgrims to the city to participate in the prayer vigil to be held in St. Peter's Square starting at 7 PM Rome Time and continuing until midnight. The Holy Father concluded, “May a powerful cry for peace go up from every land!” 
Below, please find Vatican Radio’s translation of the full text of Pope Francis’ appeal.
"This coming Saturday we will live together a special day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world. I renew the invitation to the whole Church to live this day intensely, and even now I express gratitude to the other Christian brethren, to the brethren of other religions and to the men and women of good will who desire to join in this initiative, in places and ways of their own. I especially urge the Roman faithful and pilgrims to participate in the prayer vigil here in St. Peter's Square at 19.00, in order to ask the Lord for the great gift of peace. May a powerful cry for peace go up from every land!"
Here in Houston, 7pm Rome Time will be 12 noon our time.  You can check the World Clock for further information. 

Dear Friends, together, let us fast and pray for peace!


Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

To you, the first-fruits of humanity redeemed by Christ, set free at last from the slavery of evil and sin, we raise together our heartfelt, trusting plea: listen to the cry of pain of the war victims, of the victims of the many forms of violence that bathe the earth in blood.

Dispel the shadows of sorrow and of loneliness, of hatred and of revenge. Open to forgiveness the minds and hearts of all!

Mother of mercy and of hope, obtain for us the precious gift of peace; peace in hearts and families, in communities and among peoples; peace above all for those Nations where people fight and die every day.

Obtain that every human being of every race and culture may encounter and accept Jesus, who came down to earth in the mystery of Christmas to give "his" peace to us.

O Mary, Queen of Peace, give us Christ, the world's true Peace!
~Prayer of Blessed John Paul II

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pope Francis' Appeal for Peace

Join Pope Francis in fasting and praying for peace on September 7,
Vigil of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Read more here and here.

"I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me.... What can we do to make peace in the world? As Pope John said, it pertains to each individual to establish new relationships in human society under the mastery and guidance of justice and love.... All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace....

 "Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!"

~Pope Francis, 9/1/13 Angelus


Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

To you, the first-fruits of humanity redeemed by Christ, set free at last from the slavery of evil and sin, we raise together our heartfelt, trusting plea: listen to the cry of pain of the war victims, of the victims of the many forms of violence that bathe the earth in blood.

Dispel the shadows of sorrow and of loneliness, of hatred and of revenge. Open to forgiveness the minds and hearts of all!

Mother of mercy and of hope, obtain for us the precious gift of peace; peace in hearts and families, in communities and among peoples; peace above all for those Nations where people fight and die every day.

Obtain that every human being of every race and culture may encounter and accept Jesus, who came down to earth in the mystery of Christmas to give "his" peace to us.

O Mary, Queen of Peace, give us Christ, the world's true Peace!

~Pope John Paul II

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sirach on Humility

Chapter 3
(vs 21) Seek not what is too difficult for you,
Do not desire crosses except insofar as you have borne those which were offered to you.  It is an error to desire martyrdom without having enough courage to bear an insult.  The enemy often arouses in us ardent desires for things that are absent and may never come our way.  It is to turn our minds away from present objects from which, however small they may be, we could draw great profit.  In imagination we fight monsters in Africa.  But in fact, due to lack of attention, we allow ourselves to be killed by little serpents on our way.  ~St. Francis de Sales

 nor investigate what is beyond your power.
Pray simply.  Do not expect to find in your heart any remarkable gift of prayer.  Consider yourself unworthy of it--then you will find peace.  Use the empty, cold dryness of your prayer as food for your humility.  Repeat constantly: "I am not worthy, Lord, I am not worthy!"  But say it calmly, without agitation.  This humble prayer will be acceptable to God.  ~Elder Macarius of Optina

(vs 22) Reflect upon what has been assigned to you; 

Choose then, from among so many desires…what can be practiced and accomplished now.  Turn these into good account.  Once you do this, God will send you other desires which you will realize in their own time.  Thus you will not waste your time in useless desires…  Put into effect those which are ripe and in season.  ~St. Francis de Sales

for you do not need what is hidden. 

Let us think only of doing well today.  When tomorrow arrives, it will in turn become today and we can think about it then.  Here again we must have great confidence and acceptance of God's providence.  We must provide ourselves with only enough manna for each day (cf. Exodus 16:16-21).  And we must not doubt that God will rain down more manna on us tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and all the days of our pilgrimage.  ~St. Francis de Sales

Sunday, September 1, 2013

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ave Maria!  The first reading and the Gospel from the Mass for this 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time focus on humility.  The following two verses in particular sum up for me today's message.
"Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find mercy in the sight of God."  ~Sirach 3:18
"The one who exalts himself shall be humbled and the one who humbles himself shall be exalted."  ~Luke 14:11
One way to become humble is to humble ourselves.  Mother Teresa wrote a "humility list" for her sisters, but we don't have to be religious women or men to profit from it.  Putting her suggestions into practice, one by one, sure does help me to be humble.  When I get to the end of the list, I simply and humbly go back to the beginning and start all over again.  As St. Philip Neri used to pray, "Lord, today is the day I begin!"  Deo gratias!

Mother Teresa's Humility List  
  1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
  2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
  3. Avoid curiosity.
  4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
  5. Accept small irritations with good humor.
  6. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
  7. Accept censures even if unmerited.
  8. Give in to the will of others.
  9. Accept insults and injuries.
  10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
  11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
  12. Do not seek to be admired and loved.
  13. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.
  14. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.
  15. Choose always the more difficult task.