An Exchange of Gifts May 28, 2024


Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Video

Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more…” Mark 10:29–30

Jesus’ statement above is in response to Peter who said to Him, “We have given up everything and followed you.” It was as if Peter were patting himself on the back, attempting to highlight just how much he and the other disciples had sacrificed to follow Jesus. And it was true, they did give up everything of their former life. They left home, their occupation, their relationships and everything that had been part of their daily established life in response to the call of Jesus. They were truly all in.

In hearing this statement from Peter, Jesus does not give the expected response. He doesn’t say to Peter, “Yes, you have, that’s very impressive Peter. Good job and thank you!” Instead, Jesus immediately explains to Peter that the sacrifice he and the others have made is worth it. Their unwavering commitment to follow Jesus would be repaid with gifts beyond their imagination. Thus, Jesus was saying that the gifts that He would bestow upon them would be exponentially greater than every sacrifice they made.

This was not a belittling of Peter’s self-sacrifice; rather, it was a form of encouragement by Jesus. He was encouraging Peter, and the other disciples, to have full confidence in their decision to follow Him. Their sacrifice would yield a hundredfold return. That is truly a good investment.

It can be tempting for us all, at times, to feel as though God asks too much of us. It’s true that God asks much of us. He asks everything from us. He asks for the complete and total gift of our lives to Him. He calls us to abandon all selfishness and to dedicate ourselves to His holy will without exception. But if we understand the reward of our self-giving, then the sacrifices we make will pale in comparison to the reward.

Reflect, today, upon whether or not you can say those words with the Apostle, Saint Peter: “Lord, I have given up everything to follow You.” Have you truly given your life completely to Christ Jesus? Are there things that you still hold back, not wanting to “sacrifice” for our Lord? Ponder those words of Peter and allow yourself to see the areas of your life you still need to surrender over to Jesus. And as you do so, allow the reward promised by our Lord to motivate you to the point that you truly hold nothing back and truly have given up everything to follow His holy will.

My generous Lord, You ask everything of me. You ask me to abandon everything in my pursuit of Your perfect will. Give me the grace I need to answer Your call and to live sacrificially for You without counting the cost. You are generous beyond description, dear Lord, and I trust that following You will produce an abundance of good fruit. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

 

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Featured image above: Jesus entrusts his Flock to St Peter, via flickr

The Path to Perfection May 27, 2024


Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop—Optional Memorial

Video

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments…” Mark 10:17–19

Jesus addresses different people in different ways. He chastised the proud and arrogant who came to trap Him. He was exceptionally gentle and kind to the repentant sinner who came in tears. He spoke in parables and figures of speech to those who were curious but had little faith. And to those who came with openness, sincerely seeking the truth, He spoke clearly, lovingly and directly.

Today’s Gospel presents us with the familiar story of the Rich Young Man. Notice how this young man came to Jesus. First, he “ran up” to Jesus. This suggests he was very desirous to speak with our Lord. He also knelt down before Jesus, which points to his humility and reverence. Then he asked Jesus a  direct and important question. He didn’t ask Jesus to heal someone. He wasn’t looking for a miracle or a personal favor. Instead, this young man asked the question we should all ask Jesus every day. “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Is this a question that you ponder and ask our Lord?

As the story unfolds, Jesus gives two answers. First, He gives the young man the fundamental answer to his question. Eternal life is obtained by keeping away from serious sin, out of love and obedience to the will of God. But after the young man inquires further, Jesus gives him a much deeper answer. This second answer was one based on a deep love for this young man because it presented the key to perfection. “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

Many people go through life fulfilling the most fundamental precepts of holiness. They avoid serious sin so as to remain in a state of grace. And this is good. But Jesus wants so much more: He wants perfection. When we sincerely seek out perfection, Jesus will answer us as He answered the Rich Young Man. Perfection requires the deepest purification from all unhealthy attachments. Most people have many attachments that hinder perfection. Those attachments might not be mortal sins, but they are venial sins, or spiritual imperfections. Therefore, it’s important to know that if you want perfection, and if you humble yourself before our Lord and sincerely ask how to obtain it, He will lovingly invite you to detach from everything but God and His holy will for your life. What that means practically for you must be prayerfully discerned.

Reflect, today, upon whether or not you could join this rich young man in his humble questions posed to Jesus. Do you want to know how to be perfect? If so, are you ready to respond to Jesus’ answer? Are you willing to abandon everything that is a hindrance to the will of God so that you can follow Him and fulfill His perfect will? Ponder this question and commit yourself to the full embrace of Jesus’ answer and you will become richer in what matters than you could ever imagine.

My generous Lord, You call me to perfection. You call me to turn from everything that hinders my perfect love of You and my full embrace of Your will. Please help me to sincerely turn to You every day, seeking only Your full will in all things. As I do, please set me free from all that keeps me from the life of perfection to which I am called. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

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Saint of the Day – Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop

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Featured images above: Cathedral Church of Saint Patrick (Charlotte, North Carolina) – stained glass, Christ and the rich young man, via Wikimedia Commons

The Essence of the Most Holy Trinity Sunday, May 26, 2024

 

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Readings for Today

Video

“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19–20(Year B Gospel)

Of all the great feasts we celebrate within the Church throughout the year, today’s Solemnity presents us with a Mystery that is so deep and transcendent that our eternity will be spent in perpetual contemplation. The Trinity, the life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, will never get old, never be fully understood, and will be the cause of our everlasting adoration and joy. Though the Church has used philosophical concepts to explain the Trinity, no human concept or description will ever fully explain Who God is. Though we can point to some general truths about God, we will never be able to fully depict the inner essence, depth, beauty and omnipotence of the Trinity.

As we consider that fact, it’s important to understand that the Trinity is not first a theological mystery we try to define. Rather, the Trinity is first a communion of Persons we are invited to know. We do not primarily come to know God through intellectual deduction. We come to know God through prayerful union with Him. Though theology is exceptionally useful and important, the essence of God is beyond any and every philosophical concept we can define.

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are Persons. And as Persons, they want to be known. And they want to be known primarily through a life of deep and intimate prayer. Praying to One Person, of course, is praying to all, since they are One God. But we are, nonetheless, called to a relationship of love with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And though our feeble minds may not be able to fully comprehend the essence of God, He will draw us deeper and deeper into a knowledge of Him if we let Him.

Prayer often begins by saying prayers, by meditating upon Scripture, and by listening. But true prayer is something much deeper. True prayer is contemplative prayer that ultimately leads to divine union. Only God can initiate this form of prayer in our lives, and only God, through this deep form of prayer, can communicate Himself to us as He is. Some of the greatest mystics of our Church, such as Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Ávila, explain in their mystical theology that the deepest knowledge of God does not come through concepts or images. In fact, if we wish to obtain a knowledge of God in His essence, we must allow Him to purge every concept of Who He is so that the pure light of His essence can be poured forth upon our minds. This knowledge, they say, is beyond knowing “about” God. It’s the beginning of a knowledge “of” God.

Reflect, today, upon the Most Holy Trinity. As you do, say a prayer to God asking for a deeper and more intimate knowledge of Him. Ask Him to communicate to you His divine love and to open your mind and heart to a deeper understanding of Who He is. Try to humble yourself before the great Mystery of the inner life of God. Humility before the Mystery of God means that we know how little we know about Him and how little we know of Him. But that humble truth will help you move closer to the deeper relationship of love to which you are called.

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, please draw me into a relationship of love with You Who are one God and three divine Persons. May the mystery and beauty of Your life become more known and loved by me each day through the gift of transforming mystical prayer. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

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Saint of the Day – Saint Philip Neri, Priest
Not celebrated as a liturgical memorial this year since it falls on Sunday

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Featured images above: Holy Trinity By Hendrick van Balen, via Web Gallery of Art

Dependence Upon God May 25, 2024


Saturday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor—Optional Memorial

Saint Gregory VII, Pope, Religious—Optional Memorial

Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Virgin—Optional Memorial

Video

People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:13–14

Simplicity, trust, purity of intent, transparency, and resiliency are all qualities that children often have by nature. They are not yet capable of evil intent. They are quick to forgive and reconcile when conflicts arise. And they have an unwavering confidence in the care of their parents. These are among the qualities that we need to imitate in our relationship with God.

It seems that as we age and as our human reason develops, we can lose some of the important qualities we had as children. But when it comes to our relationships with our loving God, we must never lose the important childlike qualities that lead us to be completely trusting and dependent upon God’s providence and care.

Children are also weak in the sense that they are not able to care for themselves. They rely completely upon the care of others, especially parents. For that reason, a child is an ideal image of how we must approach God. We must see our weakness and dependence. We must know, with deep conviction, that we are incapable of caring for ourselves. And though we may achieve a certain independence as we age, being able to provide for ourselves materially, we will never be able to provide for the interior spiritual needs we have. For our spiritual needs, we remain completely dependent upon the mercy of God. We must never forget that, at our core, we are spiritual beings who long for true spiritual satisfaction. Material or fleshly satisfactions that we can obtain by ourselves will never suffice to fulfill us at the deepest level of who we are. God and God alone is capable of this form of fulfillment.

Think about your own approach to life. Do you seek to find fulfillment and satisfaction in life through your own efforts? Have you attempted to take complete control of your present and future happiness? Though it is essential that we act responsibly in life, it must be understood that the most responsible way we can act is by willfully turning over complete control of our lives to God’s providence and care. As a child depends upon a parent, so we must depend upon the grace of God.

Reflect, today, upon a child. Ponder, especially, how a child is dependent upon others. As you do, see yourself similarly as one who must become completely dependent upon God for all that is important in life and for all that ultimately fulfills who you are. Trust in God’s providence and mercy, and allow that childlike trust to place you firmly in the arms of your Father in Heaven.

Loving Father, I turn to You in complete trust as a small child turns to a loving parent. May I never become so self-sufficient that I fool myself into thinking I am capable of finding my own fulfillment in life. Instead, may I always see You as the one and only source of true fulfillment and always trust in You alone. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

 

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Saint Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor

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Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Virgin

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Featured image above: Christ Blessing Little Children by Charles Lock Eastlake, via Wikimedia Commons

Resolving Conflict May 24, 2024


Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Video

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. Mark 10:1–2

Notice the contrast above. The crowds gathered around Jesus to listen to Him. Clearly, they were coming to faith. But the Pharisees came to Jesus to test Him. They did not come in faith; they came with jealousy and envy and were already seeking to trap Him. The question they proposed was a trick question, not an honest attempt at communication with our Lord. They presumed that however Jesus answered the question, some people would be offended. The Pharisees were ready to stir things up, since so many were flocking to Jesus. Also, the Pharisees wanted to find fault with Jesus’ answer so as to show that He opposed the Law of Moses. But Jesus’ answer was perfect.

Much could be said about the content of Jesus’ answer. He clearly supports the indissolubility of marriage. He states that “what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” He adds: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” For those who have suffered through a divorce, it is important to prayerfully ponder this teaching from our Lord. It is also important to work with the Church Tribunal to examine the marriage in the light of truth so that a determination can be made about the validity or invalidity of the marriage bond. With that said, the approach that both the crowds and the Pharisees took toward Jesus also teaches us an important lesson about communication, not only with God but also with one another. This is a lesson that is especially important for married couples to learn.

Think about your own approach to communication. When you struggle with conflict with another, how do you resolve it? How do you bring your questions and concerns to your spouse? The crowds came to Jesus to listen and understand. The reward was the gift of faith in that they received a deeper knowledge of Who Jesus was. The Pharisees, however, came to Jesus with the intent of finding fault with Him. And though it is obviously foolish to take this approach with our Lord, it is also foolish to do so with another, especially a spouse.

Use the above approaches of the crowds and the Pharisees to think about how you come to others with your questions and concerns. When there is some conflict or misunderstanding, do you come with an open mind and heart, seeking to understand and resolve the question? Or do you come with a loaded question so as to trap and find fault with the other? So many conflicts in life with others, especially among spouses, could be resolved if the goal of any conversation was simply to understand the other person, not trap them or find fault with them. This is hard for many people to do and requires much humility and openness.

Reflect, today, upon any relationship with which you are currently struggling. Reflect, especially, upon whether your approach to communication with that person is more like the crowds or more like the Pharisees. Commit yourself to the approach of seeking open and honest communication and you will find that this commitment brings true resolution, peace and unity.

Lord of all truth, You desire that I always come to You with sincerity, honesty and humility, seeking resolution to every internal question and conflict I face. You call me to approach others with this same depth of communication. Give me the grace to always seek the unity and truth that result in peace of mind and heart. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

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Featured images above: Christ among the Pharisees By Jacob Jordaens, via Wikimedia Commons

Mercy for the Weak May 23, 2024


Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Video

“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.” Mark 9:42

St. Bede, an early Church Father, states that “he who is great, whatever he may suffer, departs not from the faith; but he who is little and weak in mind looks out for occasions of stumbling.” In other words, the “little ones” here could be understood to be those who are weak in faith and are constantly looking for reasons to depart from the faith.

Consider who might struggle with this tendency in your own life. Perhaps there is a family member who continually questions the practice of the faith, perhaps someone you know considers himself or herself a “fallen away Catholic.” According to St. Bede, these are the “little ones” of whom Jesus is speaking.

When dealing with someone who appears to lack faith, expresses doubts and disagreements, is caught in a life of manifest sin, or has begun to walk away from the practice of the faith, there can be a temptation to criticize, argue or condemn. If this is a temptation you struggle with, then listen closely to Jesus’ words: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin…” We cause those who are weak in faith to sin when we fail to show an abundance of virtue toward them during their struggles. Deep down, most people who are struggling with a life of sin or a weakness of faith do, in fact, have some faith. They do believe in God. But their faith is often easily shaken, and they can be easily pushed further away from God if we fail to exercise the necessary virtues of patience, compassion and mercy they need.

With that said, we also have to avoid offering a “compassion” that is not grounded in the truth. On this point, St. Gregory states: “If a stumbling block is laid before men in what concerns the truth, it is better to allow the offense to arise, than that the truth should be abandoned.” In other words, it is not compassionate or merciful to show support for another in their error so as to make them feel good. The truth of the Gospel must never be abandoned; instead, that truth must always be offered with the greatest of charity, especially toward those “little ones” who are weak in faith.

Reflect, today, upon the important balance that is necessary in the apostolic life. “Balance” does not mean compromise. Rather, it means that we seek to continually bring forth the full truth of the Gospel while also seeking to exercise the fullness of every virtue in the process. Do not become a stumbling block to others in the faith. Seek, instead, to lavish God’s grace and mercy upon those in your life who need it the most. If you do, then many of those little ones will one day become truly strong in the grace and truth of our loving God.

Most merciful Lord, You desire that all of Your children come to the full revelation of Your truth and mercy. Please use me as You choose to reach out to those who struggle with their faith and need to be treated with the utmost care. May I never be a stumbling block to them but always be a bridge to You and Your abundance of grace. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

 

 

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Featured images above: Jesus and the Little Child by James Tissot, via Wikimedia Commons

Mutual Support May 22, 2024


Wednesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Rita of Cascia—Optional Memorial

Video

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…” Mark 9:38–39

Why would John and the other disciples try to stop someone from driving out demons? To understand this, imagine the scene. John and the other disciples had come to believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah of God. They witnessed Him perform many miracles and change many lives. As a result, they no doubt wanted everyone to discover Who Jesus was and come to faith in Him. But then they encountered someone they did not know, who was driving out demons in Jesus’ name, and they tried to stop him.

Just prior to this passage, we read the story of a man who had brought his possessed son to Jesus’ disciples and asked them to cure the boy, but they were unable to do so. Perhaps the disciples were a bit humbled by their inability to cast out the demon, and then they witnessed another person, not of their company, who was able to cast out demons in Jesus’ name. This might have added to their feelings of weakness and humiliation, and perhaps that is part of their motivation for trying to stop the man from exercising authority in Jesus’ name.

One common temptation that the evil one issues upon the members of the Church is that of internal division. As followers of Christ, we are all entrusted with the same mission, in different ways. We are called to become instruments of God’s grace for the salvation of souls and the glory of God. But sometimes we fail to act in unison and, instead, see our co-workers as our opponents.

Within our Church today, there are plenty of internal divisions that must cease. Perhaps the best way to accomplish this is to make it a priority to focus upon mutual support. Instead of allowing pride to create jealousy toward those who perform “mighty deeds” by the grace of God, we must work to rejoice in every good that we see. This seems like an obvious statement, but pride and feelings of inadequacy are real temptations that lead us to look down upon those who accomplish the will of God in powerful ways. When we see someone doing something good, we often immediately think about ourselves, wishing we were the ones doing the good work. And when God uses another in a powerful way, we can easily be tempted to see our own inadequacies and failings, rather than glorifying God for the good deeds done by another.

Reflect, today, upon the simple truth that every Christian is on the same spiritual team. We are all called to work toward the goals of the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Try to humbly think about those in your life who do this well and consider your attitude toward them. If you see any form of jealousy, envy or criticism, commit to dispel those attitudes. Instead, seek to have gratitude as you rejoice in the many ways that God uses others for His purpose.

Lord of power and might, You accomplish countless good through the generosity and fidelity of Your people. You constantly use all who follow You to bring forth Your will. Please use me, dear Lord, as an instrument of Your will, and help me to always rejoice in the ways that You bring Your grace forth through others. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

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Featured image above: Jesus teaching his disciples by Ilyas Basim Khuri Bazzi Rahib, via Wikimedia Commons

Alone with Jesus May 21, 2024


Tuesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Martyr and Companions, Martyrs—Optional Memorial

Video

 

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.” Mark 9:30–31

Why would Jesus wish that no one know that He and His disciples were traveling through Galilee at that time? It appears the reason was that Jesus was intently focused upon teaching His disciples about His coming passion, death and resurrection. Today’s Gospel presents us with three moments in which Jesus taught His disciples privately, directly and clearly: first, while they were journeying; second, when they arrived in Capernaum and entered a house; and third, when Jesus called a child over. Though the content of what Jesus taught His disciples is significant, it is also helpful to first reflect upon the simple fact that Jesus spent time alone with the disciples teaching them.

In many ways, our Lord does the same with us. Jesus is constantly calling us to various forms of solitude with Him so that we can listen to all that He wants to teach us. This is difficult for many today. So many people are constantly bombarded with the various noises of the world, are constantly distracted by momentary and passing experiences, and find it difficult to go off with our Lord alone so that He can teach them the most important lessons of life.

As you consider your weekly activities, how much time do you devote to being alone with our Lord? How much time do you spend in prayer, in the reading of Scripture and in silent meditation away from other distractions? For many, this is a challenge.

It is also useful to consider the content of what Jesus taught His disciples in private. He spoke to them about His coming passion, death and resurrection. This was the central purpose of His life and was clearly something that Jesus wanted to communicate to His disciples. Notice also that Jesus spoke very directly and without any figure of speech as He explained this. Contrast that with the many parables He told to the crowds. It appears that when Jesus was able to be alone with those who had dedicated their lives to following Him in faith, Jesus was able to speak His saving message more clearly and directly.

Reflect, today, upon the fact that our Lord wants to draw you into silence and solitude from time to time. He wants to spend time with you alone. This is especially the case for those who have chosen to fully devote their lives to Him and His mission. If that is you, then seek out these moments of solitude in which our Lord can speak more clearly and directly to you so that your faith will deepen and your understanding and knowledge will grow by leaps and bounds.

Lord, You have so much to say, so much to teach and so much to reveal. As I choose to follow You and devote my entire life to You, I pray that You will continuously draw me into greater silence and solitude so that I can receive from You the deep, clear and direct messages that I need to hear, understand and believe. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

 

 

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Saint of the Day – Saint Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Martyr and Companions, Martyrs

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Featured image above: via flickr

Your Heavenly Mother May 20, 2024

 

Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church
Monday after Pentecost

Readings for Today

Video

 

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

 

The memorial we celebrate today, which was added to the Roman Liturgical Calendar in 2018 by Pope Francis, highlights the truth that the Blessed Virgin Mary is not only the Mother of the Person of Christ, and, therefore, the Mother of God, she is also the Mother of the Church, that is, the Mother of all the faithful. The Blessed Virgin Mary is your mother. And as your mother, she is truly tender, compassionate, caring and merciful, bestowing upon you everything that a perfect mother desires to bestow. She is the fiercest of mothers who will stop at nothing to protect her children. She is a mother wholly devoted to you, her dear child.

The Gospel passage chosen for this memorial depicts our Blessed Mother standing at the foot of the Cross. She would have been no other place than directly beneath her Son as He endured His last agony. She did not flee in fear. She was not overwhelmed by grief. She did not sulk in self-pity. No, she stood by her Son with the perfect love and strength of a devoted, caring, compassionate and faithful mother.

As she stood by her Son in His hour of suffering and death, Jesus turned to her and entrusted the Apostle John to her maternal care. From the early Church Fathers until the most recent teachings of the Church today, this act of entrusting John to Mary and Mary to John by Jesus has been understood as an entrustment of all the faithful to the maternal care of Mother Mary. Mother Mary is, therefore, not only the Mother of the Redeemer, Christ Himself, she also becomes the Mother of all the redeemed, the mother of us all, the Mother of the Church.

Consider the spiritual mother you have in Heaven. A mother is one who gives life. Your mother in Heaven is entrusted with the task of bestowing upon you the new life of grace won by the Cross. And as your mother, she will not withhold anything from you that is to your benefit. A mother is also one who is tender with her children. The Immaculate Heart of our mother in Heaven is one that is filled with the greatest tenderness toward you. Though her caresses are not physical, they are much deeper. She caresses with the tenderness of grace which she imparts to you as you pray and turn to her in your need. She gives you the grace of her Son, poured out upon the Cross as the blood and water sprung forth as a font of mercy. Mother Mary pours that mercy upon you as a tender and devoted mother would. She holds nothing back.

If you are unaware of the love in the heart of our Blessed Mother for you, use this memorial as an opportunity to deepen your understanding of her role in your life. Many children take their mothers for granted, not fully understanding the depth of their love. So it is with our Mother in Heaven. We will never fully comprehend her love and her constant motherly workings in our life until we join her in Heaven face to face.

Reflect, today, upon Mother Mary standing by you in every moment of your life. See her there in your joys and in your sorrows, during your moments of temptation and struggles, in your moments of confusion and clarity. See her there by your side, bestowing every good spiritual gift upon you when you need it the most. She is a true mother, and she is worthy of your love and gratitude.

My dearest Mother, you stood by your Son with unwavering fidelity and love. You cared for Him, nurtured Him and never left His side. I also am your dear child. I thank you for your loving fidelity toward me and open my heart to the grace of your Son that you bestow upon me throughout life. Help me to be more attentive to your motherly care and to daily grow in gratitude for your presence in my life. Mother Mary, pray for us. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

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All Saints/Feasts

Saint of the Day – Saint Bernardine of Siena, Priest
Not celebrated as a liturgical memorial this year since it falls on Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

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Further Reading – Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

Featured image above: The Crucifixion By Giovanni Di Paolo via Web Gallery of Art and The Crucifixion By Lucas Cranach the Elder, via Wikimedia Commons

Reconciled & Filled by the Holy Spirit May 19, 2024

 

Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday  (Year B)

Readings for Pentecost

Video

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” John 20:21–23

Happy Pentecost! Today, throughout the world, our Church celebrates the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ first followers and upon all of us. Why do we need the Holy Spirit in our lives? This is an important question to ponder. Today, as always, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit work as One God. It is the Father Who wills that we be reconciled to Him; it was the Son Who made this reconciliation possible; and it is the Holy Spirit Who now accomplishes the completion of this act in our lives. At the heart of that gift of salvation is the remission of our sins. The passage above clearly reveals to us that Jesus bestowed a unique gift of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, His first bishops, entrusting them with the ability to forgive sins in His name and by His power.

As we celebrate Pentecost, it is a good opportunity to prayerfully consider the action of the Holy Spirit in your life. One of the greatest ways that the Holy Spirit is potentially active in your life is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Through that Sacrament, the Holy Spirit draws you to the Father and enables you to see and understand His perfect will, living more fully in union with the Son as a member of His Body.

The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are some of the other ways that the Holy Spirit helps us in our Christian walk. However, these gifts would be ineffective in our lives if we did not first receive the gift of forgiveness given through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That is the first and most foundational action of the Holy Spirit and opens the door to every other gift. Perhaps that is why Jesus’ first bestowal of the Holy Spirit focused upon the power given to His Apostles to forgive sins in His name.

Once we are reconciled to the Father and begin to live in a state of grace, the Holy Spirit will continue to deepen His relationship with us and bestow His help upon us for our Christian journey. This especially happens through the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts most affecting our intellect are the Gifts of Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge. Wisdom helps us to understand the inner life of the Trinity more clearly. Understanding helps us to make sense of our lives and mission in the light of the Gospel. Knowledge helps us make practical decisions in accord with God’s will.

The gifts of Fear of the Lord and Piety assist us in our love of God. Fear of the Lord helps us to see how our actions help or hinder our relationship with God, helping to motivate us to avoid all that harms this relationship and choose all that strengthens it. Piety helps us to see the great dignity and beauty of God and enables us to have a deep reverence for Him and for all of His people.

Counsel and Fortitude are also given by the Holy Spirit and help us to firmly move forward in faith and love. Counsel especially helps us with love of neighbor, and Fortitude adds the strength we need to do all that we are called to do in love with unwavering commitment.

As we celebrate the great Solemnity of Pentecost, reflect, today, upon the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. If you want to be open to the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your life and receive the many gifts you need for your journey of faith, then begin with the most fundamental gift. Begin with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Ponder the words Jesus spoke in our Gospel today and know that by entrusting the grace to forgive sins in His name to His first priests, Jesus was also calling you to embrace that gift. The Holy Spirit wants you to be cleansed of all sin. Allow Him to do so and you will be amazed at all the grace that follows.

My glorious Lord, You promised to send the Holy Spirit upon us to lead us into all Truth and to reconcile us to the Father. You were faithful to that promise at Pentecost and now continuously bestow the Holy Spirit upon all who believe. Holy Spirit, please come upon me, especially by forgiving my sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and by filling me with Your sevenfold Gifts. Jesus, I trust in You.

Prayers for Pentecost

 

 

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Further Reading – Pentecost Sunday

Saints/Feasts for Today

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Featured images above: Pentecost By Juan Bautista Maíno, via Wikimedia Commons