Holiness of Life October 1, 2022


Saturday of the Twenty-Sixth Week of Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor—Memorial

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The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing and said to Jesus, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”  Luke 10:17-20

That would have been impressive.  The seventy-two had power over demons when they called on the name of the Lord Jesus.  This was a power they had that amazed them more than anything.

Most likely if we saw someone actually possessed by a demon and we went over and demanded the demon leave in the name of Jesus, and the demon left, we’d also be impressed.  Though this is an uncommon experience in the strictest sense.  There are a few things to say about it.

First, yes, it is impressive and, yes, Jesus has full authority over the evil one.  Therefore, the seventy-two should have been overjoyed at seeing His power at work through them.

Second, we should be aware of the fact that even though we may not encounter people who are fully possessed, we do encounter the workings of the evil one on a daily basis.  So one thing this Scripture should tell us is that we need to trust in the power of Jesus to act through us as evil is combated.  We must confidently pray that our world be delivered from the evil one and we must have full faith that the power of Christ will work through our prayer.

Third, though combating evil directly is essential, Jesus takes this occasion to point out that there is something far more important.  He says that we should primarily rejoice because our “names are written in Heaven.”  In other words, power over the evil one is not the end goal.  Heaven is.  Growth in holiness and virtue are the primary goals we must have in life.

Reflect, today, upon your duty to rebuke the evil one and his works in Jesus’ name.  But reflect even more upon your calling to holiness of life and growth in virtue.  These, more than anything else, are the pathway to Heaven!

Lord of true holiness, help me to have confidence in Your power to overcome the evil one and his works.  But more importantly, help me to continually turn my eyes to You and Heaven, making holiness of life my primary goal.  Jesus, I trust in You.

October is the month of the Holy Rosary

Instruments of God September 30, 2022


Friday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor—Memorial

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“Whoever listens to you listens to me.  Whoever rejects you rejects me.  And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”  Luke 10:16

Jesus makes a threefold connection in this passage.  He connects you to Him and Himself to the Father.  Thus, when you are acting as a true instrument of the Lord, and another either listens to or rejects what you bring to them, then they are either listening to or rejecting not only you but also our Lord and the Father in Heaven.

One thing this reveals is the awesome responsibility we all have to bring the love and mercy of the Father in Heaven to those whom we encounter every day.  We are able to be true instruments of God.  In making such a strong connection between us, Himself and the Father in Heaven, Jesus is elevating our human dignity to an incredible level.

This passage also reveals the fact that others will act as instruments of God to us.  This is important to understand because Jesus is very clear.  If someone comes to us, acts in Christ’s name, and we reject that person, then we are actually rejecting the Father in Heaven.  This should lead us to pause and be seriously attentive to the way in which we treat others.  We must especially be aware of the fact that others have great potential to be instruments of God to us.  The Lord speaks through them in numerous ways.

Reflect, today, upon these revelations.  Reflect upon the great gift it is to act as an instrument of the Father in Heaven.  This is a sacred duty and a profound privilege we must not take lightly.  Look also for ways that the Father speaks to you through others.  When He speaks, give Him your full attention and be grateful for those who act as these instruments of God’s love.

Lord, I thank You for the honor and privilege of serving as an instrument of Your holy voice.  May I always seek to embrace this calling with faith and sincerity.  May I also be open to every way that You speak to me through others.  Give me the humility I need to listen to Your voice through them.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Day Nine: Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux – The Little Flower

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Saint of the Day – Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor

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Archangels Thursday, September 29, 2022

 

Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

Readings for Today

Video

“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”  John 1:51

Yes, angels are for real.  And they are mighty, glorious, beautiful and magnificent in every way.  Today we honor three of the multitude of angels in Heaven: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

These angels are “archangels.”  An archangel is the second order of angels just above the guardian angels.  In all, there are nine orders of celestial beings that we commonly refer to as angels and all nine of these orders are traditionally organized into three spheres.  The entire hierarchy is traditionally organized this way:

Highest Sphere: Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones.
Middle Sphere: Dominions, Virtues and Powers.
Lower Sphere: Principalities, Archangels and Angels (Guardian Angels).

The hierarchy of these celestial beings is ordered in accord with their function and purpose.  The highest of the beings, the Seraphim, were created solely for the purpose of surrounding the Throne of God in perpetual worship and adoration.  The lowest of the beings, the Guardian Angels, were created for the purpose of caring for humans and communicating God’s messages.  The Archangels, whom we honor today, were created for the purpose of bringing messages of great importance to us and to accomplish tasks of the highest importance in our lives.

Michael is well known as the archangel who was empowered by God to cast Lucifer out of Heaven.  Lucifer is traditionally thought to be of the highest sphere of celestial beings and, thus, being cast out by a lowly archangel was quite a humiliation.

Gabriel is well known for being the archangel who brought the message of the Incarnation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

And Raphael, whose name means “God heals” is referred to in the Old Testament Book of Tobit and is said to have been sent to bring healing to Tobit’s eyes.

Though not much is known of these archangels, it’s important to believe in them, honor them and to pray to them.  We pray to them because we believe God has entrusted them with a mission to help us bring healing, fight evil and proclaim the Word of God.  Their power comes from God, but God has chosen to use the archangels, and all celestial beings, to accomplish His plan and purpose.

Reflect, today, upon your knowledge of the angels.  Do you believe in them?  Do you honor them?  Do you rely upon their powerful intercession and mediation in your life?  God wants to use them, so you should truly seek their help in your life.

Lord, thank You for the gift of the Archangels whom we honor today.  Thank You for their powerful work in our lives.  Help us to rely upon them and to love them for their service.  Archangels, pray for us, heal us, teach us and protect us.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Day Eight: Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux – The Little Flower

Hesitation September 28, 2022


Wednesday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Wenceslaus, Martyr—Optional Memorial

Saints Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs—Optional Memorial

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And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”  Luke 9:61-62

Jesus’ call is absolute.  When He calls us we ought to respond with complete submission of our will and with an abundance of generosity.

In the Scripture above, God willed that this person immediately and completely follow Jesus.  But the person hesitates saying he wants to go and first say goodbye to his family.  That sounds like a reasonable request.  But Jesus makes it clear that he is called to follow Him immediately and without hesitation.

It’s certainly not that there is anything wrong with wanting to say goodbye to his family.  The family would most likely expect such a thing.  But Jesus uses this opportunity to show us that our number one priority must be to answer His call, when He calls, how He calls, and because He calls.  In the wonderful and even mysterious call to follow Christ, we must be ready to respond without hesitation.

Imagine if one of the persons in this story were different.  Imagine if one of them came to Jesus and said, “Lord, I will follow You and am ready and willing to follow You right now without qualification.”  That’s the ideal.  And, yes, the idea is quite radical.

In our own lives, we most likely will not receive the radical call to literally leave everything behind immediately and go serve Christ in some new form of life.  But the key is our willingness!  Are you willing?

If you are willing, you will start to discover that Jesus is daily calling you to fulfill His mission.  And if you are willing, you will daily see that His mission is glorious and fruitful beyond measure.  It simply comes down to you saying “Yes” without hesitation and without delay.

Reflect, today, upon your willingness to follow Jesus.  Put yourself into this Scripture and reflect upon how you would respond to Jesus.  Most likely you will see hesitation.  And if you see hesitation in your heart, try to surrender that over so that you will be ready for all our Lord has in mind for you.

Lord, I do love You and I do want to follow You.  Help me to overcome any and every hesitation in my life in saying “Yes” to Your holy will.  Help me to discern Your voice and embrace all You say every day.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Day Seven: Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux – The Little Flower

The Desire for Revenge September 27, 2022


Tuesday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest—Memorial

Video

“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?”  Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.  Luke 9:54-56

These words, spoken by James and John, are words that many people feel like saying at various times in their lives.  Perhaps you can relate.  These Apostles spoke this way because Jesus was not welcomed in a Samaritan town they had just entered.  He wanted to dine there and the townspeople rejected Him and His Apostles.  As a result, James and John were hurt and angry and wanted to call down the wrath of God upon that village.

Whenever we experience hurt in life, it’s understandable that we feel this way.  We tend to want justice and revenge and want those who hurt us to pay for their sin.  But Jesus’ attitude was much different.  He rebuked His Apostles for their desire of wrath and moved on not allowing this rejection to affect Him.

Rejection and other forms of hurt caused by others can be difficult to let go of.  It can easily sit within our hearts, acting like a mold that slowly grows and takes over.  When this happens, you may have a very hard time forgiving and letting go of the hurt.

The best way to approach the hurt caused by another is to immediately act as our Lord did.  It must be let go of right away and you must move on.  God is the only one to issue vengeance, not us.  When we fail to do this and harbor the hurt feelings, they ultimately do us more harm than anyone else.

Reflect, today, upon any feelings of anger or hurt that you still harbor in your heart.  Make the conscious choice to forgive and move on.  Forgiving does not mean that you act as if the hurt caused you was okay.  On the contrary, an act of forgiving another is also an acknowledgment that there was wrongdoing.  Forgiveness allows you to keep that hurt from doing you more unnecessary damage.  In the end, it is also an open invitation to the other to repent and reconcile with you.  Leave vengeance and wrath to the Lord and seek to keep your heart at peace.

Lord of mercy, I pray for the grace to forgive.  I especially forgive those who have hurt me the most and offer them to You.  Free me from any feelings of vengeance I harbor and help me to love with Your pure and merciful heart.  I love You, dear Lord.  Help me to love others as You love.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Day Six: Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux – The Little Flower

Supporting One Another September 26, 2022


Monday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saints Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs—Optional Memorial

Video

Then John said in reply, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.” Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”  Luke 9:49-50

Why would the Apostles try to prevent someone from casting a demon out in Jesus’ name?  Jesus was not concerned about it and, in fact, tells them not to prevent him.  So why were the Apostles concerned?  Most likely because of jealousy.

The jealousy we see in this case among the Apostles is one that can creep into the Church at times.  It has to do with a desire for power and control.  The Apostles were upset because the person casting out demons did not follow in their company.  In other words, the Apostles were not able to be in charge of this person.

Though this may be hard to understand it may be helpful to see it in a modern context.  Say someone is in charge of a ministry at church and another person or persons start up a new ministry.  The new ministry is quite successful and, as a result, those who have been working in the older more established ministries may get upset and a bit jealous.

This is silly but it’s also reality.  It happens all the time, not only within a church setting but also in our daily lives.  When we see someone else doing something that is successful or bearing good fruit, we may get envious or jealous.

In this case, with the Apostles, Jesus is quite understanding and compassionate about the whole thing.  But He is also quite clear.  “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”  Do you see things in life this way?  When someone does well do you rejoice or are you negative?  When another does good things in Jesus’ name, does that fill your heart with gratitude that God is using that person for good or do you get envious?

Reflect, today, upon the many good things going on all around you.  Reflect, especially, upon those who are furthering the Kingdom of God.  And reflect upon how you feel about them.  Pray that you will see them as your coworker in the vineyard of Christ rather than as your competitor.

Lord of true goodness, I thank You for the many good things taking place within Your Church and within society.  Help me to rejoice in all that You do through others.  Help me to let go of any struggle I have with envy.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Day Five: Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux – The Little Flower

 

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Seeing Beyond Your Suffering September 25, 2022


Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Readings for Today

Video

“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.  And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,  who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.  Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.”  Luke 16:19-21

From one perspective, Lazarus was existing in a very undesirable state.  He was poor, starving, and miserable.  He was covered with sores that dogs would lick.  This is very descriptive language used by Jesus and it’s helpful to do your best to imagine this miserable physical state that Lazarus was in.

The key to this story is that even though Lazarus was in a miserable physical condition, his soul was in the hands of God.  We know that to be true, because we are told that when he died, he was “carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham” (Luke 16:22).

This story provides us all with an opportunity to look at what is most important in life.  The rich man had all he wanted in this life but clearly lacked charity on account of the fact that he ignored the physical needs of Lazarus.  For that reason, the rich man was spiritually impoverished, whereas Lazarus was spiritually prosperous.

When you can keep your eyes on what is most important in life, spiritual wealth, it will make the many other hardships you endure less burdensome.  Perhaps you will never be in the same physical condition as Lazarus, but you may encounter other great pains and hardships in life.  When this happens, the tendency may be to become fixated upon those sufferings and to take your eyes off your interior union with God.

Reflect, today, upon how you would deal with living like Lazarus.  Reflect upon what your own “sores” are in life.  They may be varied in type, degree and number from those of other people’s sufferings, but they will be encountered in your life.  As you identify your suffering, turn your eyes from it to the presence of God in your soul, and allow His presence to fill you with the riches of His grace.

Lord, I offer to You my suffering and pain, my misery and hurt.  Help me to always keep my eyes on You and to seek satisfaction only in the riches of Heaven.  Fill my heart, especially, with love of You and charity for others so that I will be truly rich in what matters most.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Day Four: Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux – The Little Flower

Meaning in Suffering September 24, 2022


Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Video

“Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.  Luke 9:44-45

So why was the meaning of this “hidden from them?”  Interesting.  Here Jesus tells them to “pay attention to what I am telling you.”  And then begins to explain He will suffer and die.  But they did not get it.  They did not understand what He meant and “they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.”

The truth is that Jesus was not offended by their lack of understanding.  He realized that they would not immediately understand.  But this did not stop Him from telling them anyway.  Why?  Because He knew that they would come to understand in time.  But, at first, the Apostles just listened in a bit of confusion.

When did the Apostles come to understand?  They understood once the Holy Spirit descended upon them leading them into all Truth.  It took the workings of the Holy Spirit to understand such deep mysteries.

The same is true with us.  When we face the mystery of Jesus’ sufferings, and when we face the reality of suffering in our own lives or the lives of those we love, we can often be confused at first.  It takes a gift from the Holy Spirit to open our minds to understand.  Suffering is most often inevitable.  We all endure it.  And if we do not allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, suffering will lead us to confusion and despair.  But if we allow the Holy Spirit to open our minds, we will begin to understand how God can work in us through our sufferings just as He brought salvation to the world through the sufferings of Christ.

Reflect, today, upon how well you understand both Jesus’ sufferings and your own.  Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the meaning and even the value of suffering?  Say a prayer to the Holy Spirit asking for this grace and let God lead you into this profound mystery of our faith.

Lord, I know You suffered and died for my salvation.  I know that my own suffering can take on new meaning in Your Cross.  Help me to more fully see and understand this great mystery and to find even greater value in Your Cross as well as mine.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Day Three: Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux – The Little Flower


 

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Who Do You Say That I Am? September 23, 2022


Friday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), Priest—Memorial

Video

“Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”  Luke 9:18c-20

Peter got it right.  Jesus was “the Christ of God.”  Many others spoke of Him as one who was only a great prophet, but Peter saw deeper.  He saw that Jesus was uniquely the Anointed One who is of God.  In other words, Jesus was God.

Though we know this to be true, we can sometimes fail to fully comprehend the depth of this “Mystery of Faith.”  Jesus is human, and He is God.  This is hard to comprehend.  It would have been hard for those of Jesus’ time to comprehend this great mystery, also.  Imagine sitting before Jesus listening to Him speak.  If you were there before Him, would you have concluded that He is also the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity?  Would you have concluded that He existed from all eternity and was the great I AM WHO AM?  Would you have concluded that He was perfect in every way and that He was also the Creator of all things and the one who keeps all things in being?

Most likely none of us fully would have comprehended the true depth of the meaning that Jesus was “the Christ of God.”  We most likely would have recognized something special about Him, but would have failed to see Him for who He is in His full essence.

The same is true today.  When we look at the Most Holy Eucharist, do we see God?  Do we see the Almighty, Omnipotent, All-loving God who existed for eternity is the source of all good and is the Creator of all things?  Perhaps the answer is both “Yes”  and “No.”  “Yes” in that we believe and “no” in that we do not fully understand.

Reflect, today, upon the divinity of Christ.  Reflect upon Him present in the Most Holy Eucharist as well as His presence all around us.  Do you see Him?  Do you believe?  How deep and complete is your faith in Him.  Recommit yourself to a deeper understanding of who Jesus is in His Godhead.  Try and take a step deeper in your faith.

Lord, I do believe.  I believe You are the Christ of God.  Help me to comprehend even more what that means.  Help me to see Your divinity more clearly and to believe in You more fully.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Day Two: Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux – The Little Flower

 

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Holy Curiosity September 22, 2022


Thursday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Video

But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him. Luke 9:9

Herod teaches us both some bad qualities as well as some good ones.  The bad ones are quite obvious.  Herod was living a very sinful life and, ultimately, his disordered life led him to have St. John the Baptist beheaded.  But the Scripture above does reveal one interesting quality which we should try to imitate.

Herod was interested in Jesus.  “He kept trying to see him” the Scripture says.  Though this did not ultimately lead to Herod accepting John the Baptist’s original message and repenting, it was at least a first step.

For lack of better terminology, perhaps we can call this desire of Herod a “holy curiosity.”  He knew there was something unique about Jesus and he wanted to understand it.  He wanted to know who Jesus was and was intrigued by His message.

Though we are all called to go much further than Herod did in the pursuit of the truth, we can still recognize that Herod is a good representation of many within our society.  So many are intrigued by the Gospel and all that our faith presents. They listen with curiosity to what the pope says and how the Church reacts to injustices in the world.  Additionally, society as a whole often condemns and criticizes us and our faith.  But this still reveals a sign of its interest and desire to listen to what God has to say, especially through our Church.

Reflect, today, upon two things.  First, reflect upon your own desire to know more.  And when you discover this desire don’t stop there.  Allow it to draw you close to the message of our Lord.  Secondly, be attentive to the “holy curiosity” of those around you.  Perhaps a neighbor, family member or coworker has shown interest in what your faith and what our Church has to say.  When you see that, pray for them and ask God to use you as He did the Baptist to bring His message to all who seek it.

Lord, help me to seek You in all things and at all times.  When darkness closes in, help me to discover the light You have revealed.  Then help me to bring that light to a world in great need.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Day One: Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux – The Little Flower

 

 

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Image: Christ before Herod Antipas by Nikolaus Knüpfer, via Wikimedia Commons