Saturday, February 27, 2016

"the power of God and the wisdom of God" ~1 Cor 1:24

Jesus is the true King, whose saving power is shown in the cross.
~Pope Francis, 2/24/16 General Audience

Save us, O Jesus!
Save us from all that threatens us,
that can harm us,
that can destroy us
and even separate us from you.
In other words, O Lord,
save us from ourselves!
O Jesus, King of Love on Calvary!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Lord's Day

Where every day is not the Lord's,
the Sunday is his least of all.
~George MacDonald, 1824-1905

Photography by James Jordan

This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice in it and be glad.
~Psalm 118:24

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Second Sunday of Lent

This is my chosen Son; listen to him.
~Luke 9:35

This is, therefore, the gift and commitment for each one of us in the Lenten Season: To listen to Christ, like Mary. To listen to him in the word, preserved in sacred Scripture. To listen to him in the very events of our lives, trying to read in them the messages of providence. To listen to him, finally, in our brothers, especially in the little ones and the poor, for whom Jesus himself asked our concrete love. To listen to Christ and to obey his voice. This is the only way that leads to joy and love.  ~Pope Benedict XVI, 3/13/06 Angelus Message
Let Thy voice sound in my ears:
for Thy voice is sweet,
and Thy face comely.
~Songs 2:14

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Awake, my soul! I will awake the dawn. ~Psalm 57:9

If we wish to make any progress in the service of God
we must begin every day of our life with new eagerness.
~St. Charles Borromeo

My heart is ready, O God;
my heart is ready.
I will sing, I will sing your praise.
~Psalm 57:8

Friday, February 19, 2016

"walk in the plain, simple way"

Why is it that we are so busy with the future? ...Is there not a criminal interference with him to whom it belongs, in our feverish, anxious attempts to dispose of it, and in filling it up with shadows of good and evil shaped by our own wild imaginations? To do God’s will as fast as it is made known to us, to inquire hourly –- I had almost said each moment –- what he requires of us, and to leave ourselves, our friends, and every interest at his control, with a cheerful trust that the path which he marks out leads to our perfection and to himself, this is at once our duty and happiness; and why will we not walk in the plain, simple way?  ~William Ellery Channing

But as for me, I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, "You are my God.  My lot is in your hands..."
~Psalm 31:15

Dear Lord, lead me in the plain, simple way
that brings me to You and glorifies the Father.
Jesus, I trust in You!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

"faithful in a very little"

…many good souls are hungry to do great things for God.  They complain that they have no opportunities for heroic virtue, no chance at the apostolate.  They would be martyrs; but when a meal is late, or a bus is crowded, when the theater is filled, or the dance postponed, or the bacon overdone, they are upset for a whole day.  They miss their opportunities for loving God in the little things He asks of them.  Our Lord said: 'Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much" (Luke 16:10).  ~Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

I will bless you all my life;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
~Psalm 63(62):5

Dear Lord, may I never overlook the little things You ask of me
but rather, make of them an offering of love and praise to You.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Reality Check

Owe no one anything, except to love one another;
for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
~Romans 13:8

There is a very real danger of our drifting into an attitude of contempt for humanity. We know quite well that we have no right to do so, and that it would lead us into the most sterile relation to our fellow-men. The following thoughts may keep us from such a temptation. It means that we at once fall into the worst blunders of our opponents. The man who despises another will never be able to make anything of him. Nothing that we despise in the other man is entirely absent from ourselves. We often expect from others more than we are willing to do ourselves. Why have we hitherto though so intemperately about man and his frailty and temptability? We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer. The only profitable relationship to others – and especially to our weaker brethren – is one of love, and that means the will to hold fellowship with them. God himself did not despise humanity, but became man for men’s sake.  ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers From Prison

Dear Lord, help me to remember that only You know what is in the heart of man -- and that I cannot possibly know nor do I need to know, I only need to love as You love us.  Amen!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Closeness of Our God

God is not failing us when we don’t feel his presence.  Let’s not say: God doesn’t do what I pray for so much, and therefore I don’t pray anymore.  God exists, and he exists even more, the farther you feel from him.  God is closer to you when you think he is farther away and doesn’t hear you.  When you feel the anguished desire for God to come near because you don’t feel him present, then God is very close to your anguish.  ~Oscar Romero

You drew near on the day I called you;
you said, “Do not fear!”
~Lamentations 3:57

Thank you, Father, for always being so near...

Monday, February 15, 2016

Our Father!

Have we not all one father?
Has not one God created us?
Why then are we faithless to one another,
profaning the covenant of our fathers?
~Malachi 2:10

Our Father, he is the Father of a great family; he is our Father. He knows that he has a unique love, but he does not know how to bear or raise an “only child”. He is the God of the home, of brotherhood, of bread broken and shared. He is the God who is “Our Father”, not “my father” or “your stepfather”.  ~Pope Francis, Homily at Mass in Mexico City, 2/14/16

Thank you, dear Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for being "Our Father"
and for making us one great family forever bound together in Your wondrous love.

Friday, February 12, 2016

"Let us set out on this journey together"

Let us set out on this journey together, as a Church, receiving the ashes and keeping our gaze fixed on the Crucified One. Loving us, He invites us to be reconciled with God, and to return to Him, in order to rediscover ourselves.  ~Pope Francis, Homily for Ash Wednesday, 2/10/16

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  ~Hebrews 12:1-2
 O Lamb of God, we come, we come...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

What on earth does Cinderella have to do with Lent???

"When we hear the name Cinderella, usually we imagine the lovely princess.  One should also recall the dirty maiden smudged with cinders (Aschenputtel in the Brothers Grimm).  Although she was always beautiful, the grime on her face hid that dignity from sight.

"Like many other fairy talks, this tale tells a Christian message.  Martin Luther famously imagined the Christian as a rank pile of dung blanketed with snow.  The Catholic Church envisions us more like Cinderella.  Underneath we shine with regal beauty, but overtop we bear the soot of sin.  That is not the end, however.  A 'happily ever after' also comes.  Scripture says, From the ash heap he raises the poor.  [Psalm 113:7]  

"[On Ash Wednesday] the Church reminds us that we've fallen, and we walk the streets like so many chimney sweeps.  But as we're blotched black with ashes and told that to ash we will return, we also confess something deeper in us than dust.  We are crafted in God's Image, a royal people all his own.  Before this black cross ever signed our head, the sacred chrism of baptism marked the spot.

"Above the baptismal font in the Hagai Sophia a Greek palindrome was inscribed:  'Wash the sins, not only the face.'  This Lent, may we recover our royal baptismal beauty, by uncovering our souls from the stain of sin we wears."

~Father Anthony Giambrone, O.P.

I thank you who wonderfully made me; 
how wonderful are your works,
which my soul knows well!
~Psalm 139:14

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday

Remember that you are dust
and unto dust you shall return.

"The Church is our Mother...she tells us that the whole life of a Christian should be a life of penance.  And because so unwelcome a truth needs to be pressed home, she brings all her children under the discipline of penance....

"The Church knows that we must one and all do penance.  She has her Master's word for it:  'Unless you do penance you shall all perish.'  She knows, too, that were a season for doing penance left to our choice, we should never do it.  Were any month in the twelve optional, we should put off till the last weeks of the year, and then find ourselves unavoidably hindered.  

"She comes, therefore, to our help, and appoints as her principal season of penance, six weeks in the spring, in memory of our Lord's fast of forty days, in union with His bitter Passion and Death which she commemorates at this time, and to prepare by prayer, fasting, and alms-deeds -- the three eminent good works -- for the celebration of His Resurrection at Easter....

All this means a call to effort and self-sacrifice.  We must not, we will not hang back.  "Now is the acceptable time, now are the days of salvation."  Who knows whether another Lent will be granted us?  Scripture speaks of the time of death as one when all men will wish to have done penance.  Why prepare fruitless regrets for that awful time!  God is willing -- more than willing -- is most desirous to give us now all the grace we need.  Let us win from Him by fervent prayer the special blessing that belongs to a fervent Lent."

~Mother Mary Loyola, With the Church, Vol. 1: Advent to Ascension
Thank you, dear Jesus, for our Mother the Church!  Thank you for this blessed time of penance that she so wisely and lovingly imposes upon us.  Help us to live this Lenten season in such a way that one day it may be said of us, 'You also were with Jesus the Galilean' (Matthew 26:69).  Amen!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

St. Josephine Bakhita

"The Lord has loved me so much:
we must love everyone...
we must be compassionate!"
~St. Josephine Bakhita

"The Lord has loved me so much: we must love everyone...we must be compassionate!"  ~St. Josephine Bakhita

Ave Maria!  Yesterday, February 8, was the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, also known as "Mother Moretta," or "our Black Mother."  You can read more about her here and here, but this much I want to share with you now.  Josephine was born in Sudan in 1869 and died in Italy in 1947.  When she was nine years old, she was abducted and sold into slavery.  The 144 scars she bore throughout her long life testify to the terribly cruel suffering she endured as a slave.  St. Josephine tells us about some of these atrocities in her own words -- but let me warn you that I found this extremely difficult to read and was sobbing by the time I finished it.
“One day I unwittingly made a mistake that incensed the master’s son. He became furious, snatched me violently from my hiding place, and began to strike me ferociously with the lash and his feet Finally he left me half dead, completely unconscious. Some slaves carried me away and lay me on a straw mat, where I remained for over a month.
"A woman skilled in this cruel art [tattooing] came to the general’s house…our mistress stood behind us, whip in hand. The woman had a dish of white flour, a dish of salt and a razor… When she had made her patterns; the woman took the razor and made incisions along the lines. Salt was poured into each of the wounds… My face was spared, but 6 patterns were designed on my breasts, and 60 more on my belly and arms. I thought I would die, especially when salt was poured in the wounds…it was by a miracle of God I didn’t die. He had destined me for better things.”

God had indeed destined this incredibly strong, courageous woman for much better things.  In 1882 St. Josephine was bought for the Italian Consul.  This was the beginning of her transformation as she was treated with kindness, respect and love.  Eventually she was entrusted to the Canossian Sisters of the Institute of the Catechumens in Venice.  There she came to know God, was received into the Catholic Church in 1890, entered the Canossian Sisters and professed her final vows in 1896.  

When St. John Paul II canonized St. Josephine in 2000, he said in part during his homily:
"The law of the Lord is perfect, ... it gives wisdom to the simple" (Ps 19: 8).  These words from today's Responsorial Psalm resound powerfully in the life of Sr Josephine Bakhita. Abducted and sold into slavery at the tender age of seven, she suffered much at the hands of cruel masters. But she came to understand the profound truth that God, and not man, is the true Master of every human being, of every human life. This experience became a source of great wisdom for this humble daughter of Africa.
"In today's world, countless women continue to be victimized, even in developed modern societies. In St Josephine Bakhita we find a shining advocate of genuine emancipation. The history of her life inspires not passive acceptance but the firm resolve to work effectively to free girls and women from oppression and violence, and to return them to their dignity in the full exercise of their rights.
"My thoughts turn to the new saint's country, which has been torn by a cruel war for the past 17 years, with little sign of a solution in sight. In the name of suffering humanity I appeal once more to those with responsibility:  open your hearts to the cries of millions of innocent victims and embrace the path of negotiation. I plead with the international community:  do not continue to ignore this immense human tragedy. I invite the whole Church to invoke the intercession of St Bakhita upon all our persecuted and enslaved brothers and sisters, especially in Africa and in her native Sudan, that they may know reconciliation and peace.
Perhaps even more than an advocate of genuine emancipation, St. Josephine is a faithful witness of God's mercy and love.  She so completely forgave her tormentors their unspeakable cruelty to her, even though as a result she suffered intensely until the end of her life, that she said with absolute conviction and utter love:
“If I were to meet the slave-traders who kidnapped me and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands, for if that did not happen, I would not be a Christian and Religious today…”
Yesterday as I reflected upon St. Josephine, I marveled at her astonishing response to God's amazing grace.  If ever I think that I cannot forgive someone who has hurt me, surely I am wrong, quite seriously wrong.  St. Josephine tells me otherwise, and she shows me how it's done -- grace upon grace upon grace -- the grace that our dear Lord Jesus Christ purchased for us when He died on the cross, pleading for His own tormentors and for us as He prayed, "Father, forgive them!"  Dear St. Josephine, please pray for me and please help me!

For of His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  ~John 1:16

Monday, February 8, 2016

Today's Plan

Don’t be one of those who give God everything but one little corner of their heart on which they put up a notice board with the inscription: “Trespassers not allowed”.  ~Fr. William Doyle
You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart,
and with your whole soul,
and with all your strength,
and with all your mind:
and your neighbor as yourself.
~Luke 10:27

Dear Lord, help me to get busy right now as I have quite a few signs to take down. Amen.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Rejoicing in hope...

No law promises so  great a recompense as that which we are promised in the law of Christ.  To the Saracens are offered rivers of milk and honey, to the Jews the promised land.  But to Christians angelic glory.  "They shall be as the angels in heaven" (Matthew 22:30).  Thinking on this, St. Peter says, in the Gospel, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  Thou hast the words of eternal life."  (John 6:69)  
~St. Thomas Aquinas

O how abundant is Your goodness,
which You have laid up for those who fear You!
~Psalm 31:19

Friday, February 5, 2016

"What on earth is He up to?"

Be you also as living stones built up,
a spiritual house,
a holy priesthood,
to offer up spiritual sacrifices,
acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
~1 Peter 2:5

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of -- throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.   ~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Dear Lord Jesus, I do not always know what You are up to and often do not like what You are doing, but I do believe that You are the Master Builder with the perfect plan for each one of us. Therefore, with all my heart, Jesus, I trust in You!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Thank you, dear Lord, for those glorious little things!

Fidelity to little things,
to the grace of the passing moment,
is the secret of sanctity.
~Mother Mary Loyola

Small things are best:
Grief and unrest
To rank and wealth are given;
But little things
On little wings
Bear little souls to heaven.
~Fr. Frederick Faber