Skip to comments.Catholic Caucus: Daily Mass Readings, 02-21-14, OM, St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor/Church
Posted on 02/20/2014 8:05:02 PM PST by Salvation
February 21, 2014
Reading 1 Jas 2:14-24, 26
What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
if someone says he has faith but does not have works?
Can that faith save him?
If a brother or sister has nothing to wear
and has no food for the day,
and one of you says to them,
“Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,”
but you do not give them the necessities of the body,
what good is it?
So also faith of itself,
if it does not have works, is dead.
Indeed someone might say,
“You have faith and I have works.”
Demonstrate your faith to me without works,
and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
You believe that God is one.
You do well.
Even the demons believe that and tremble.
Do you want proof, you ignoramus,
that faith without works is useless?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works
when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
You see that faith was active along with his works,
and faith was completed by the works.
Thus the Scripture was fulfilled that says,
Abraham believed God,
and it was credited to him as righteousness,
and he was called the friend of God.
See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
For just as a body without a spirit is dead,
so also faith without works is dead.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 112:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
R. (see 1b) Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.
Wealth and riches shall be in his house;
his generosity shall endure forever.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
R. Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just man shall be in everlasting remembrance.
R. Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.
Gospel Mk 8:34-9:1
Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the Gospel will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
What could one give in exchange for his life?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words
in this faithless and sinful generation,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of
when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
He also said to them,
“Amen, I say to you,
there are some standing here who will not taste death
until they see that the Kingdom of God has come in power.”
From: James 2:14-24, 26
Faith Without Good Works Is Dead
 But some one will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your
faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.  You
believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder.
Examples from the Bible
14-26. This passage forms the core of the letter. The sapiential method (often
used in the Old Testament) and pedagogical style of the passage help to engrave
the message on the readers’ minds: unless faith is accompanied by works, it is
barren, dead. This basic message, with different variances, is stated up to five
times (verses 14, 17, 18, 20, 26), in a cyclical, repetitive way.
The initial rhetorical question (verse 14) and the simple, vivid example of a person
who is content with giving good advice to someone in urgent need of the bare es-
sentials (verses 15-16), catch the disciples’ attention and predispose them to ac-
cept the core message, which is couched in the form of a sapiential maxim
The narrative retains its conventional tone, with a series of questions; we are
given three examples of faith: firstly (a negative example), the faith of demons,
which is of no avail (verses 18-19); contrasting with this, the faith of Abraham,
the model and father of believers (verses 20-23); and finally, the faith of a sinner
whose actions won her salvation, Rabah, the prostitute (verses 24-25). The last
sentence once again repeats the essential idea: “faith apart from works is dead”
14. This teaching is perfectly in line with that of the Master: “Not every one who
says to Me, `Lord, Lord’, shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does
the will of My Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
A faith without deeds cannot obtain salvation: “Even though incorporated into the
Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains
indeed in the bosom of the Church, but `in body’ not `in heart’. All children of the
Church should nevertheless remember that their exalted condition results not
from their own merits but from the grace of Christ. If they fail to respond in
thought, word, and deed to that grace, not only shall they not be saved, but they
shall be the more severely judged” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, 14).
In the Christian life, therefore, there needs to be complete consistency between
the faith we profess and the deeds we do. “Unity of life”, one of the key features
of the spirituality of Opus Dei, tries to counter the danger of people leading a dou-
ble life, “on the one hand, an inner life, a life related to God; and on the other, as
something separate and distinct, their professional, social and family lives, made
up of small earthly realities [...]. There is only one life, made of flesh and spirit.
And it is that life which has to become, in both body and soul, holy and filled with
God: we discover the invisible God in the most visible and material things” (St. J.
Escriva, “In Love with the Church”, 52).
15-16. This very graphic example is similar to that in the First Letter of St. John:
“If any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his
heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17); and the
conclusion is also along the same lines: “Little children, let us not love in word
or speech but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). St. Paul gives the same tea-
ching: “the Kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (1 Corinthians
4:20). Actions, works, measure the genuineness of the Christian life; they show
whether our faith and charity are real.
Almsgiving, for example, so often praised and recommended in Scripture (cf.,
e.g., Deuteronomy 15:11; Tobias 4:7-11; Luke 12:33; Acts 9:36; 2 Corinthians 8:
9), is very often a duty. Christ “will count a kindness done or refused to the poor
as done or refused to Himself [...]. Whoever has received from the divine bounty
a large share of temporal blessings whether they be external or material, or gifts
of the mind, has received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting
of his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the ste-
ward of God’s providence, for the benefit of others” (Leo XIII, “Rerum Novarum”,
17. As well as involving firm adherence to revealed truth, faith must influence a
Christian’s ordinary life and be a standard against which he measures his con-
duct. When one’s works are not in accordance with one’s beliefs, then one’s
faith is dead.
Christian teaching also describes as “dead faith” the faith of a person in mortal
sin: because he is not in the grace of God he does not have charity, which is as
it were the soul of all the other virtues. “Faith without hope and charity neither
perfectly unites a man with Christ nor makes him a living member of His body.
Therefore it is said most truly that `faith apart from works is dead’ (James 2:17ff)
and useless” (Council of Trent, “De Iustificatione”, 7).
18. The Apostle makes it crystal clear that faith without work makes no sense at
all. “The truth of faith includes not only inner belief, but also outward profession,
which is expressed not only by declaration of one’s belief, but also by the actions
by which a person shows that he has faith” (St. Thomas, “Summa Theologiae”,
II-II, q. 124, a. 5).
19. St. James goes as far as to compare a faith without works with the kind of
faith devils have, for they do believe: they are forced to believe by the evidence
of the signs (miracles and prophecies, for example) which support Christian tea-
ching (cf. “Summa Theologiae”, II-II, q. 5, a. 2). However, that faith is not saving
faith; on the contrary, it causes them to cringe by reminding them of divine jus-
tice and eternal punishment.
Commenting on this verse, St. Bede says that it is one thing to believe God, a-
nother thing to believe in God, and another to believe “towards” God (”credere in
illum”). “Believing Him is believing that what He says is true. Believing in Him
is believing that He is God. Believing `towards’ Him is loving Him. Many people,
even bad people, believe that God tells the truth; they believe it is the truth and
they do not want to, are too lazy to, follow the way truth points. Believing that
He is God is something the devils are able to do. But believing and tending to-
wards Him is true only of those who love God, who are Christians not in name
only but whose actions and lives prove them to be so. For without love faith is
of no avail. With love, it is the faith of a Christian; without love, it is the faith of
the devil” (”Super Iac. Expositio, ad loc.”).
20-26. The original addressees of the letter (Christians of Jewish background
steeped in Scripture) would have been very familiar with the two examples from
the Old Testament (Abraham and Rahab).
The patriarch Abraham is a model of faith (cf. especially Hebrews 11:8ff). St.
James highlights the fact that his faith was manifested in deeds (verse 22),
so much so that he was ready to sacrifice his own son when God, to test him,
asked him to do so (cf. Genesis 22:1ff). The text of Genesis 15:6 quoted here
(verse 23) is also used by St. Paul in his polemic against the Judaizers, to show
that “first justification” comes from faith and not from works of the Mosaic Law
(cf. Romans 4:1-25; Galatians 3:6-9); that is, Abraham was justified from the
very moment he believed in God; his works would not have any value without that
direct reference to God. In Abraham, as in every Christian who acts consistently,
faith and works totally imbue each other: works show forth faith, and faith inspires
and performs works (verses 22, 24).
The story of Rahab (verse 25) is told in the Book of Joshua (2:1-21; 6:17-25): this
woman, who was living among the Canaanites, saved the lives of two Israelite
spies whom Joshua had sent into Jericho, and for this reason she and her family
were saved when the Israelites took the city. Her actions showed her faith (cf. Jo-
shua 2:9-14; Hebrews 11:31), and led not only to her coming out unscathed and
becoming a member of the people of Israel; it also won her the honor of being one
of the four foreign women mentioned in the Gospel in our Lord’s ancestral tree (cf.
These two examples clearly show that God calls all men to believe and that all
can and should manifest their faith by exemplary living.
22-24. The Magisterium of the Church quotes these verses when it teaches that
justification, righteousness, received as a free gift in the Sacrament of Baptism,
grows in strength as the Christian responds to grace by keeping the command-
ments of God and of the Church; the righteous, the just, “increase in the very
justice which they have received through the grace of Christ, their faith is com-
pleted by works (cf. James 2:22), and they are justified the more, as it is written,
`Let the righteous still do right’ (Revelation 22:11), [...] and again: `You see that
a man is justified by works and not by faith alone (James 2:24)” (Council of
Trent, “De Iustificatione”, 10).
23. “It was reckoned to him as righteousness”: St. Paul (cf. Galatians 3:6 and
note) uses these words of Genesis 15:6 to explain that righteousness is attained
not just by Abraham’s descendants but by all who believe the word of God, whe-
ther they be Jews or not; St. James, from another perspective, quotes this text
to show that Abraham’s faith made him righteous, that is, holy. Both teachings
are complementary. Abraham believed in the divine promise that he would be
the father of a great people despite his age and his wife’s sterility; but that faith
was reinforced and manifested when it met the test God set—that of sacrificing
his only son, while still believing in the earlier promise. The same thing happens
in the case of the Christian: his initial faith is strengthened by obedience to the
commandments, and he thereby attains holiness.
“The friend of God”: Scripture also gives this touching title to Abraham (cf. Isaiah
41:8; Daniel 3:35, New Vulgate) and our Lord uses it to describe His Apostles: “I
have called you friends” (John 15:15). These are not just isolated examples, for
God calls all to be His friends; He wishes to be as intimate with everyone as He
was with Abraham and the Apostles: “We do not exist in order to pursue just any
happiness. We have been called to penetrate the intimacy of God’s own life, to
know and love God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and to love
also—in that same love of the one God in three divine Persons—the angels and all
men” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 133).
26. In speaking of “the spirit” St. James is referring to the “breathe of life”, “brea-
thing”. The comparison (like all those in the letter) is very graphic: we recognize
a body to be alive by its breathing: if it is not breathing it is a corpse; similarly, a
faith that is alive expresses itself in actions, especially in the acts of charity.
“Just as when a body moves we know it is alive,” St. Bernard explains, “so too
good works show that faith is alive. The soul gives life to the body, causing it to
move and feel; charity gives life to faith, causing it to act, as the Apostle says,
`faith working through love’ (Galatians 5:6). Just as the body dies when its soul
leaves it, so faith dies when charity grows cold. Therefore, when you see some-
one who is active in good works and happy and eager in his conduct, you can
be sure that faith is alive in him: his life clearly proves it to be so” (”Second
Sermon on the Holy Day of Easter”, 1).
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.
From: Mark 8:34-9:1
Christian Renunciation (Continuation)
 And He said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who
will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God come with power.”
35. “Life”: in the original text and the New Vulgate the word literally means “soul.”
But here, as in many other cases, “soul” and “life” are equivalent. The word “life”
is used, clearly, in a double sense: earthly life and eternal life, the life of man here-
on earth and man’s eternal happiness in Heaven. Death can put an end to earthly
life, but it cannot destroy eternal life (cf. Matthew 10:28), the life which can only
be given by Him who brings the dead back to life.
Understood in this way, we can grasp the paradoxical meaning of our Lord’s
phrase: whoever wishes to save his (earthly) life will lose his (eternal) life. But
whoever loses his (earthly) life for Me and the Gospel, will save his (eternal) life.
What, then, does saving one’s (earthly) life mean? It means living this life as if
there were no other — letting oneself be controlled by the lust of the flesh and the
lust of the eyes and the pride of life (cf. 1 John 2:16). And losing one’s (earthly)
life means mortifying, by continuous ascetical effort, this triple concupiscence —
that is, taking up one’s cross (verse 34)—and consequently seeking and savoring
the things that are God’s and not the things of the earth (cf. Colossians 3:1-2).
36-37. Jesus promises eternal life to those who are willing to lose earthly life for
His sake. He has given us example: He is the Good Shepherd who lays down
His life for His sheep (John 10:15); and He fulfilled in His own case what He said
to the Apostles on the night before He died: “Greater love has no man than this
that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
38. Each person’s eternal destiny will be decided by Christ. He is the Judge who
will come to judge the living and the dead (Matthew 16:27). The sentence will de-
pend on how faithful each has been in keeping the Lord’s commandments — to
love God and to love one’s neighbor, for God’s sake. On that day Christ will not
recognize as His disciple anyone who is ashamed to imitate Jesus’ humility and
example and follow the precepts of the Gospel for fear of displeasing the world or
worldly people: he has failed to confess by his life the faith which he claims to
hold. A Christian, then, should never be ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16);
he should never let himself be drawn away by the worldliness around him; rather
he should exercise a decisive influence on his environment, counting on the help
of God’s grace. The first Christians changed the ancient pagan world. God’s arm
has not grown shorter since their time (cf. Isaiah 59:1). Cf. Matthew 10:32-33 and
note on same.
9:1. The coming of the Kingdom of God with power does not seem to refer to the
second, glorious coming of Jesus at the end of time (the Parousia); it may, rather,
indicate the amazing spread of the Church in the lifetime of the Apostles. Many
of those present here will witness this. The growth and spread of the Church in
the world can be explained only by the divine power God gives to the mystical bo-
dy of Christ. The Transfiguration of our Lord, which is recounted in the next pas-
sage, is a sign, given to the Apostles, of Jesus’ divinity and of the divine powers
which He will give His Church.
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.
James 2:14-24,26 ©
Take the case, my brothers, of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty’, without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.
This is the way to talk to people of that kind: ‘You say you have faith and I have good deeds; I will prove to you that I have faith by showing you my good deeds – now you prove to me that you have faith without any good deeds to show. You believe in the one God – that is creditable enough, but the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear. Do realise, you senseless man, that faith without good deeds is useless. You surely know that Abraham our father was justified by his deed, because he offered his son Isaac on the altar? There you see it: faith and deeds were working together; his faith became perfect by what he did. This is what scripture really means when it says: Abraham put his faith in God, and this was counted as making him justified; and that is why he was called ‘the friend of God.’
You see now that it is by doing something good, and not only by believing, that a man is justified. A body dies when it is separated from the spirit, and in the same way faith is dead if it is separated from good deeds.
Psalm 111:1-6 ©
Happy the man who fears the Lord,
who takes delight in all his commands.
His sons will be powerful on earth;
the children of the upright are blessed.
Riches and wealth are in his house;
his justice stands firm for ever.
He is a light in the darkness for the upright:
he is generous, merciful and just.
The good man takes pity and lends,
he conducts his affairs with honour.
The just man will never waver:
he will be remembered for ever.
Whenever anyone obeys what Christ has said,
God’s love comes to perfection in him.
I call you friends, says the Lord,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
Mark 8:34-9:1 ©
Jesus called the people and his disciples to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to win the whole world and ruin his life? And indeed what can a man offer in exchange for his life? For if anyone in this adulterous and sinful generation is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’ And he said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.’
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We thank you, God our Father, for those who have responded to your call to priestly ministry.
Accept this prayer we offer on their behalf: Fill your priests with the sure knowledge of your love.
Open their hearts to the power and consolation of the Holy Spirit.
Lead them to new depths of union with your Son.
Increase in them profound faith in the Sacraments they celebrate as they nourish, strengthen and heal us.
Lord Jesus Christ, grant that these, your priests, may inspire us to strive for holiness by the power of their example, as men of prayer who ponder your word and follow your will.
O Mary, Mother of Christ and our mother, guard with your maternal care these chosen ones, so dear to the Heart of your Son.
Intercede for our priests, that offering the Sacrifice of your Son, they may be conformed more each day to the image of your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Saint John Vianney, universal patron of priests, pray for us and our priests
This icon shows Jesus Christ, our eternal high priest.
The gold pelican over His heart represents self-sacrifice.
The border contains an altar and grapevines, representing the Mass, and icons of Melchizedek and St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney.
Melchizedek: king of righteousness (left icon) was priest and king of Jerusalem. He blessed Abraham and has been considered an ideal priest-king.
St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney is the patron saint of parish priests.
1. Sign of the Cross: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
2. The Apostles Creed: II BELIEVE in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
3. The Lord's Prayer: OUR Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
4. (3) Hail Mary: HAIL Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death. Amen. (Three times)
5. Glory Be: GLORY be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Fatima Prayer: Oh, my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy.
Announce each mystery, then say 1 Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, 1 Glory Be and 1 Fatima prayer. Repeat the process with each mystery.
End with the Hail Holy Queen:
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve! To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears! Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us; and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus!
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Final step -- The Sign of the Cross
St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle
Be our protection against the wickedness
and snares of the devil;
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
Cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.
From an Obama bumper sticker on a car:
"Pray for Obama. Psalm 109:8"
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Since the 16th century Catholic piety has assigned entire months to special devotions. The month of February has been primarily asociated with the Holy Family, probably due to the feast of Our Lord's presentation at the temple, celebrated on February 2. At the very outset of Christ's work on earth, God showed the world a family in which, as Pope Leo XIII teaches, "all men might behold a perfect model of domestic life, and of all virtue and holiness." The harmony, unity, and holiness which characterized this holy Family make it the model for all Christian families.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph most kind, Bless us now and in death's agony.
FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE HOLY FAMILY
Grant unto us, Lord Jesus, ever to follow the example of Thy holy Family, that in the hour of our death Thy glorious Virgin Mother together with blessed Joseph may come to meet us and we may be worthily received by Thee into everlasting dwellings: who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY FAMILY
O Jesus, our most loving Redeemer, who having come to enlighten the world with Thy teaching and example, didst will to pass the greater part of Thy life in humility and subjection to Mary and Joseph in the poor home of Nazareth, thus sanctifying the Family that was to be an example for all Christian families, graciously receive our family as it dedicates and consecrates itself to Thee this day. Do Thou defend us, guard us and establish amongst us Thy holy fear, true peace, and concord in Christian love: in order that, by conforming ourselves to the divine pattern of Thy family, we may be able, all of us without exception, to attain to eternal happiness.
Mary, dear Mother of Jesus and Mother of us, by thy kindly intercession make this our humble offering acceptable in the sight of Jesus, and obtain for us His graces and blessings.
O Saint Joseph, most holy guardian of Jesus and Mary, assist us by thy prayers in all our spiritual and temporal necessities; that so we may be enabled to praise our divine Savior Jesus, together with Mary and thee, for all eternity.
Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be, three times.
IN HONOR OF THE HOLY FAMILY
O God, heavenly Father, it was part of Thine eternal decree that Thine only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, should form a holy family with Mary, His blessed mother, and His foster father, Saint Joseph. In Nazareth home life was sanctified, and a perfect example was given to every Christian family. Grant, we beseech Thee, that we may fully comprehend and faithfully imitate the virtues of the Holy Family so that we may be united with them one day in their heavenly glory. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer Source: Prayer Book, The by Reverend John P. O'Connell, M.A., S.T.D. and Jex Martin, M.A., The Catholic Press, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, 1954
Holy Family Chaplet
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, be with me in my last hour.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul
in peace with you.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse. Amen.
Say 3 Our Father's, 3 Hail Mary's, and 3 Glory be's.
THE HOLY FAMILY
GOD our Heavenly Father, You call all peoples to be united as one family in worshipping You as the one and true God. You willed that Your Son become man, giving Him a virgin mother and a foster father to form the Holy Family of Nazareth.
WE pray: may the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, image and model of every human family unit walk in the spirit of Nazareth and grow in the understanding of its particular mission in society and the Church. May our families be living cells of love, faithfulness and unity, thus reflecting God's covenant with humanity and Christ's redeeming love for His Church.
JESUS, Mary and Joseph protect our families from all evil; keep us, who are away from home, one in love with our dear ones.
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Universal: That the Church and society may respect the wisdom and experience of older people.
For Evangelization: That priests, religious, and lay people may work together with generosity for evangelization.
Friday of the Sixth week in Ordinary Time
Commentary of the day
Saint Raphael Arnaiz Baron (1911-1938), a Spanish Trappist monk
Spiritual writings 07/04/1938 (trans. Mairin Mitchell)
"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me"
What joy to live in the Cross of Christ! Who could complain of suffering? Only the insensate man who does not adore the Passion of Christ, the Cross of Christ, the Heart of Christ, can in his own griefs, give way to despair... How good it is to live united with the Cross of Christ.
Christ Jesus... teach me that truth which consists in rejoicing in scorn, injury, degradation; teach me to suffer with that humble, silent joy of the saints; teach me to be gentle towards those who don't love me or who despise me; teach me that truth which from the mound of Calvary you reveal to the whole world.
But I know: a very gentle voice within me explains it all; I feel something in me which comes from you and which I don't know how to put into words; so much mystery is revealed that man cannot apprehend it. I, Lord, in my way, do understand it. It is love. In that is everything. I know it, Lord, nothing more is needed, nothing more, it is love! Who shall describe the love of Christ? Let men, creatures, and all things, keep silent, so that we may hear in the stillness the whisperings of love, meek, patient, immense, infinite, which from the Cross Jesus offers us with his arms open. The world, mad, doesn't listen.
| Friday, February 21, 2014
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The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.
Saint Peter Damian,
Bishop and Doctor of the Church
St. Peter Damian, a Benedictine monk, was the author of many important works on the liturgy, as well as on theology and morals. He supported the future Pope St. Gregory VII in his struggle for the rights of the Church.
Source: Daily Roman Missal, Edited by Rev. James Socías, Midwest Theological Forum, Chicago, Illinois ©2003
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that we may so follow the teaching and example
of the Bishop Saint Peter Damian,
that, putting nothing before Christ
and always ardent in the service of your Church,
we may be led to the joys of eternal light.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.
First Reading: 2 Timothy 4:1-5
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.
Gospel Reading: John 15:1-8
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of Mine that bears no fruit, He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in Me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
Saint Peter Damian
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
During the Catecheses of these Wednesdays I am commenting on several important people in the life of the Church from her origins. Today I would like to reflect on one of the most significant figures of the 11th century, St Peter Damian, a monk, a lover of solitude and at the same time a fearless man of the Church, committed personally to the task of reform, initiated by the Popes of the time. He was born in Ravenna in 1007, into a noble family but in straitened circumstances. He was left an orphan and his childhood was not exempt from hardships and suffering, although his sister Roselinda tried to be a mother to him and his elder brother, Damian, adopted him as his son. For this very reason he was to be called Piero di Damiano, Pier Damiani [Peter of Damian, Peter Damian]. He was educated first at Faenza and then at Parma where, already at the age of 25, we find him involved in teaching. As well as a good grounding in the field of law, he acquired a refined expertise in the art of writing the ars scribendi and, thanks to his knowledge of the great Latin classics, became "one of the most accomplished Latinists of his time, one of the greatest writers of medieval Latin" (J. Leclercq, Pierre Damien, ermite et homme d'Église, Rome, 1960, p. 172).
He distinguished himself in the widest range of literary forms: from letters to sermons, from hagiographies to prayers, from poems to epigrams. His sensitivity to beauty led him to poetic contemplation of the world. Peter Damian conceived of the universe as a never-ending "parable" and a sequence of symbols on which to base the interpretation of inner life and divine and supra-natural reality. In this perspective, in about the year 1034, contemplation of the absolute of God impelled him gradually to detach himself from the world and from its transient realties and to withdraw to the Monastery of Fonte Avellana. It had been founded only a few decades earlier but was already celebrated for its austerity. For the monks' edification he wrote the Life of the Founder, St Romuald of Ravenna, and at the same time strove to deepen their spirituality, expounding on his ideal of eremitic monasticism.
One detail should be immediately emphasized: the Hermitage at Fonte Avellana was dedicated to the Holy Cross and the Cross was the Christian mystery that was to fascinate Peter Damian more than all the others. "Those who do not love the Cross of Christ do not love Christ", he said (Sermo XVIII, 11, p. 117); and he described himself as "Petrus crucis Christi servorum famulus Peter, servant of the servants of the Cross of Christ" (Ep, 9, 1). Peter Damian addressed the most beautiful prayers to the Cross in which he reveals a vision of this mystery which has cosmic dimensions for it embraces the entire history of salvation: "O Blessed Cross", he exclaimed, "You are venerated, preached and honoured by the faith of the Patriarchs, the predictions of the Prophets, the senate that judges the Apostles, the victorious army of Martyrs and the throngs of all the Saints" (Sermo XLVII, 14, p. 304). Dear Brothers and Sisters, may the example of St Peter Damian spur us too always to look to the Cross as to the supreme act God's love for humankind of God, who has given us salvation.
This great monk compiled a Rule for eremitical life in which he heavily stressed the "rigour of the hermit": in the silence of the cloister the monk is called to spend a life of prayer, by day and by night, with prolonged and strict fasting; he must put into practice generous brotherly charity in ever prompt and willing obedience to the prior. In study and in the daily meditation of Sacred Scripture, Peter Damian discovered the mystical meaning of the word of God, finding in it nourishment for his spiritual life. In this regard he described the hermit's cell as the "parlour in which God converses with men". For him, living as a hermit was the peak of Christian existence, "the loftiest of the states of life" because the monk, now free from the bonds of worldly life and of his own self, receives "a dowry from the Holy Spirit and his happy soul is united with its heavenly Spouse" (Ep 18, 17; cf. Ep 28, 43 ff.). This is important for us today too, even though we are not monks: to know how to make silence within us to listen to God's voice, to seek, as it were, a "parlour" in which God speaks with us: learning the word of God in prayer and in meditation is the path to life.
St Peter Damian, who was essentially a man of prayer, meditation and contemplation, was also a fine theologian: his reflection on various doctrinal themes led him to important conclusions for life. Thus, for example, he expresses with clarity and liveliness the Trinitarian doctrine, already using, under the guidance of biblical and patristic texts, the three fundamental terms which were subsequently to become crucial also for the philosophy of the West: processio, relatio and persona (cf. Opusc. XXXVIII: PL CXLV, 633-642; and Opusc. II and III: ibid., 41 ff. and 58 ff). However, because theological analysis of the mystery led him to contemplate the intimate life of God and the dialogue of ineffable love between the three divine Persons, he drew ascetic conclusions from them for community life and even for relations between Latin and Greek Christians, divided on this topic. His meditation on the figure of Christ is significantly reflected in practical life, since the whole of Scripture is centred on him. The "Jews", St Peter Damian notes, "through the pages of Sacred Scripture, bore Christ on their shoulders as it were" (Sermo XLVI, 15). Therefore Christ, he adds, must be the centre of the monk's life: "May Christ be heard in our language, may Christ be seen in our life, may he be perceived in our hearts" (Sermo VIII, 5). Intimate union with Christ engages not only monks but all the baptized. Here we find a strong appeal for us too not to let ourselves be totally absorbed by the activities, problems and preoccupations of every day, forgetting that Jesus must truly be the centre of our life.
Communion with Christ creates among Christians a unity of love. In Letter 28, which is a brilliant ecclesiological treatise, Peter Damian develops a profound theology of the Church as communion. "Christ's Church", he writes, is united by the bond of charity to the point that just as she has many members so is she, mystically, entirely contained in a single member; in such a way that the whole universal Church is rightly called the one Bride of Christ in the singular, and each chosen soul, through the sacramental mystery, is considered fully Church". This is important: not only that the whole universal Church should be united, but that the Church should be present in her totality in each one of us. Thus the service of the individual becomes "an expression of universality" (Ep 28, 9-23). However, the ideal image of "Holy Church" illustrated by Peter Damian does not correspond as he knew well to the reality of his time. For this reason he did not fear to denounce the state of corruption that existed in the monasteries and among the clergy, because, above all, of the practice of the conferral by the lay authorities of ecclesiastical offices; various Bishops and Abbots were behaving as the rulers of their subjects rather than as pastors of souls. Their moral life frequently left much to be desired. For this reason, in 1057 Peter Damian left his monastery with great reluctance and sorrow and accepted, if unwillingly, his appointment as Cardinal Bishop of Ostia. So it was that he entered fully into collaboration with the Popes in the difficult task of Church reform. He saw that to make his own contribution of helping in the work of the Church's renewal contemplation did not suffice. He thus relinquished the beauty of the hermitage and courageously undertook numerous journeys and missions.
Because of his love for monastic life, 10 years later, in 1067, he obtained permission to return to Fonte Avellana and resigned from the Diocese of Ostia. However, the tranquillity he had longed for did not last long: two years later, he was sent to Frankfurt in an endeavour to prevent the divorce of Henry iv from his wife Bertha. And again, two years later, in 1071, he went to Monte Cassino for the consecration of the abbey church and at the beginning of 1072, to Ravenna, to re-establish peace with the local Archbishop who had supported the antipope bringing interdiction upon the city.
On the journey home to his hermitage, an unexpected illness obliged him to stop at the Benedictine Monastery of Santa Maria Vecchia Fuori Porta in Faenza, where he died in the night between 22 and 23 February 1072.
Dear brothers and sisters, it is a great grace that the Lord should have raised up in the life of the Church a figure as exuberant, rich and complex as St Peter Damian. Moreover, it is rare to find theological works and spirituality as keen and vibrant as those of the Hermitage at Fonte Avellana. St Peter Damian was a monk through and through, with forms of austerity which to us today might even seem excessive. Yet, in that way he made monastic life an eloquent testimony of God's primacy and an appeal to all to walk towards holiness, free from any compromise with evil. He spent himself, with lucid consistency and great severity, for the reform of the Church of his time. He gave all his spiritual and physical energies to Christ and to the Church, but always remained, as he liked.
Feast Day: February 14
Born: 988, Ravenna
Died: February 22, 1072, Faenza
Light shines through the darkness for the upright
St. Peter Damian
Feast Day: February 21
Born:1007 :: Died:1072
St. Peter Damian was born at Ravenna, in Italy. His parents died when he was a child and he was left an orphan. He went to live with an older brother who mistreated him badly. He often left him hungry and starving and made him look after his herd of swine to earn his keep. Another brother named Damian found out about the trouble little Peter was having and brought him to his own home.
That was when Peter's life changed completely. He was treated with love, affection and care. He was so grateful that when he became joined a religious order he took the name Damian after his loving brother. Damian educated Peter and encouraged his studies.
Peter later became a great teacher and taught at the university while he was in his twenties. But the Lord was directing him in ways he could never have thought of.
Peter lived in times when many people in the Church were more interested in collecting wealth. Peter realized that the Church is divine and has the grace from Jesus to save all people. He wanted the Church to shine with the holiness of Jesus.
After seven years of teaching, he decided to become a Benedictine monk. He wanted to live the rest of his life in prayer and penance. He would pray and make sacrifices so that many people in the Church would become holy. His health suffered when he tried to replace sleep with prayer.
He went to a monastery of St. Romuald and wrote a rule for the monks. He also wrote about the life of their holy founder, Romuald. Peter wrote many books about religious studies to help people deepen their faith.
Twice his abbot sent him to neighboring monasteries so he could help the monks change their lives so that they could live closer to God. The monks were grateful because Peter was so kind and respectful.
Peter was finally called from the monastery. He became a bishop and a cardinal. He was sent on very important missions for various popes throughout his long life. St. Peter Damian died in 1072 at the age of sixty-five. Because he was a champion of truth and a peacemaker, he was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1828.
|English: Douay-Rheims||Latin: Vulgata Clementina||Greek NT: Byzantine/Majority Text (2000)|
|34.||And calling the multitude together with his disciples, he said to them: If any man will follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.||Et convocata turba cum discipulis suis, dixit eis : Si quis vult me sequi, deneget semetipsum : et tollat crucem suam, et sequatur me.||και προσκαλεσαμενος τον οχλον συν τοις μαθηταις αυτου ειπεν αυτοις οστις θελει οπισω μου ακολουθειν απαρνησασθω εαυτον και αρατω τον σταυρον αυτου και ακολουθειτω μοι|
|35.||For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel, shall save it.||Qui enim voluerit animam suam salvam facere, perdet eam : qui autem perdiderit animam suam propter me, et Evangelium, salvam faciet eam.||ος γαρ αν θελη την ψυχην αυτου σωσαι απολεσει αυτην ος δ αν απολεση την εαυτου ψυχην ενεκεν εμου και του ευαγγελιου ουτος σωσει αυτην|
|36.||For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?||Quid enim proderit homini, si lucretur mundum totum et detrimentum animæ suæ faciat ?||τι γαρ ωφελησει ανθρωπον εαν κερδηση τον κοσμον ολον και ζημιωθη την ψυχην αυτου|
|37.||Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?||Aut quid dabit homo commutationis pro anima sua ?||η τι δωσει ανθρωπος ανταλλαγμα της ψυχης αυτου|
|38.||For he that shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation: the Son of man also will be ashamed of him, when he shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.||Qui enim me confusus fuerit, et verba mea in generatione ista adultera et peccatrice, et Filius hominis confundetur eum, cum venerit in gloria Patris sui cum angelis sanctis.||ος γαρ εαν επαισχυνθη με και τους εμους λογους εν τη γενεα ταυτη τη μοιχαλιδι και αμαρτωλω και ο υιος του ανθρωπου επαισχυνθησεται αυτον οταν ελθη εν τη δοξη του πατρος αυτου μετα των αγγελων των αγιων|
|1.||8:39 And he said to them: Amen I say to you, that there are some of them that stand here, who shall not taste death, till they see the kingdom of God coming in power.||8:39 Et dicebat illis : Amen dico vobis, quia sunt quidam de hic stantibus, qui non gustabunt mortem donec videant regnum Dei veniens in virtute.||και ελεγεν αυτοις αμην λεγω υμιν οτι εισιν τινες των ωδε εστηκοτων οιτινες ου μη γευσωνται θανατου εως αν ιδωσιν την βασιλειαν του θεου εληλυθυιαν εν δυναμει|
Why was a man of peace like Jesus condemned to death on a Cross?
Jesus posed a decisive question to his contemporaries: Either he was acting with divine authority, or else he was an impostor, a blasphemer, and a violator of the Law and who had to be called to account.
In many respects Jesus was an unprecedented challenge to the traditional Judaism of his time. He forgave sins, which God alone can do; he acted as though the Sabbath law were not absolute; he was suspected of blasphemy and brought upon himself the accusation that he was a false prophet. All these were crimes punishable under the Law by death. (YOUCAT question 96)
Dig Deeper: CCC section (554-570) and other references here.
Part 1: The Profession of Faith (26 - 1065)
Section 2: The Profession of the Christian Faith (185 - 1065)
Chapter 2: I Believe in Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God (422 - 682)
Article 4: "Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried" (571 - 630)
Paragraph 1: Jesus and Israel (574 - 594)
From the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy him.317 Because of certain acts of his expelling demons, forgiving sins, healing on the sabbath day, his novel interpretation of the precepts of the Law regarding purity, and his familiarity with tax collectors and public sinners318 — some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession.319 He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.320
Cf. Mk 3:6; 14:1.
Many of Jesus' deeds and words constituted a "sign of contradiction",321 but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply "the Jews",322 than for the ordinary People of God.323 To be sure, Christ's relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting;324 Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes.325 Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God's people: the resurrection of the dead,326 certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),327 the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.328
Cf Lk 13:31.
Cf. Lk 7:36; 14:1.
Cf. Mt 6:18.
Cf. Mk 12:28-34.
In the eyes of many in Israel, Jesus seems to be acting against essential institutions of the Chosen People:
Friday, February 21
Liturgical Color: Green
Pope Julius II died on this day in 1513.
During his reign as pope, he laid the
cornerstone for St. Peters Basilica. He
also commissioned Michelangelo
Buonarroti to paint the frescoes on the
ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Daily Readings for:February 21, 2014
(Readings on USCCB website)
Collect: Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we may so follow the teaching and example of the Bishop Saint Peter Damian, that, putting nothing before Christ and always ardent in the service of your Church, we may be led to the joys of eternal light. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
· Ordinary Time: February 21st
· Optional Memorial of St. Peter Damian, bishop and doctor
St. Peter Damian, a man of vehemence in all his actions who was brought up in the hard school of poverty, found that he had the vocation of a reformer. He exercised it in the first place against himself as one of the hermits of Fontavellana in about 1035, but he did not remain for long hidden in his cell: his colleagues soon made him their abbot (1043). In 1057, Stephen IX made him Cardinal Bishop of Ostia. By his preaching and writings he was one of the valuable collaborators of the eleventh century popes in their great work of reform. Pope Leo XII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1823. His feast is celebrated on February 23 according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
St. Peter Damian
St. Peter Damian must be numbered among the greatest of the Church's reformers in the Middle Ages, yes, even among the truly extraordinary persons of all times. In Damian the scholar, men admire wealth of wisdom: in Damian the preacher of God's word, apostolic zeal; in Damian the monk, austerity and self-denial; in Damian the priest, piety and zeal for souls; in Damian the cardinal, loyalty and submission to the Holy See together with generous enthusiasm and devotion for the good of Mother Church. He was a personal friend of Pope Gregory VII. He died in 1072 at the age of 65.
On one occasion he wrote to a young nephew, "If I may speak figuratively, drive out the roaring beasts from your domain; do not cease from protecting yourself daily by receiving the Flesh and Blood of the Lord. Let your secret foe see your lips reddened with the Blood of Christ. He will shudder, cower back, and flee to his dark, dank retreat."
In his poem, the Divine Comedy, Dante places Damian in the "seventh heaven." That was his place for holy people who loved to think about or contemplate God.
— Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Symbols: Cardinal bearing a discipline in his hand; pilgrim holding a papal Bull, to signify his many legations.
Things to Do:
Also known as
Youngest child in a large but impoverished family of local nobility. Orphaned young, Peter was sent to live with a brother who mistreated him and forced him to work as a swine-herd. A pious boy, Peter was eventually sent to live with another brother, Damian, a priest in Ravenna, Italy; Peter was so grateful that he took the name Damian. Well educated in Ravenna, in Faenza and in Parma Italy. Professor. He was known for his life of strict austerity.
Around 1035, Peter gave up teaching to retire from the world and become a Benedictine monk. His health suffered, especially when he tried to replace sleep with prayer. He was forced to spend time in recovery; he used it to study Scripture, and when he was healthy, he was assigned to teach his brother monks and then the public. Economus of Fonte-Avellana; prior of the house in 1043, a post in which he served for the rest of his life. He expanded the monastery, greatly improved its library, and founded sister hermitages in San Severino, Gamugno, Acerata, Murciana, San Salvatore, Sitria, and Ocri. Friend of the future Pope Saint Gregory VII.
Attended a synod in Rome in 1047, and encouraged Pope Gregory VI to support a revitalization of Church zeal and clerical discipline. Wrote Liber Gomorrhianus, which described the vices of priests, mainly in their concern with worldly matters, with money, and the evil of simony. Created cardinal-bishop of Ostia on 30 November 1057. Fought simony. Tried to restore primitive discipline among priests and religious who were becoming more and more worldly. Strongly opposed anti-pope Benedict X. Legate to Milan for Pope Nicholas II in 1059; worked there with Saint Ariald the Deacon and Saint Anselm of Lucca. Supported Pope Alexander II.
A prolific correspondent, he also wrote dozens of sermons, seven biographies (including a one of Saint Romuald), and poetry, including some of the best Latin of the time. He tried to retire to live as a simple monk, but was routinely recalled as papal legate, called upon to make peace between arguing monastic houses, clergymen, and government officials, etc. Declared a Doctor of the Church in 1828.
Let us faithfully transmit to posterity the example of virtue which we have received from our forefathers. - Saint Peter Damian
Saint Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:17)
Even in the early Church, the debate about faith and works was a heated one! But here, James is telling us that faith is not something just to be talked about; it’s to be lived! As followers of Christ, we demonstrate the extent of our faith all day long, consciously or unconsciously, by the way we live.
Our works don’t earn us salvation. However, we make our love of God visible through the things we do. Abraham demonstrated his faith when he trusted God and prepared to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Mother Teresa demonstrated her faith when, even though she didn’t feel God’s presence, she continued to serve the poor, encourage her sisters, and trust God’s providence. Neither of these friends of God was saved because of his or her actions, of course, but their actions did give us a glimpse into the faith that supported everything they did.
What James is pointing to here is the “wheel of holiness.” God gives us the gift of faith. With that faith, we seek his presence in prayer and are moved deeply when he touches our hearts. Changed by what we have experienced, we find ourselves becoming more generous and selfless. This self-giving in turn nourishes our love for God and our desire to be with him, so we return to him in prayer. And so it continues. We form habits of holiness; we become more disposed toward God; it becomes more natural for us to demonstrate our faith in our everyday situations.
No matter where you are in this circle, let God take you farther! Do you have faith? Great! Act on it. Find someone today who needs you, and help him or her out. Are you busy working for God’s kingdom? Keep it up, but make sure you are cultivating your spiritual life as well. Righteousness isn’t about proving yourself by your deeds; it’s about letting your faith show itself. It’s about embracing all that God has done for you and wanting more. It’s not talking about faith but showing it in the way you live!
“Thank you, Father, for the gift of faith! Draw me close to you so that my faith makes itself known in every choice I make and every word I speak. I don’t want just to sound like a believer; I want to be one!”
Psalm 112:1-6; Mark 8:34–9:1
Daily Marriage Tip for February 21, 2014:
The lay movement Teams of Our Lady asks its members (married couples) to have a sit down once a month. Husband and wife set aside time to give each other undivided attention and share whats on their hearts. Could this practice benefit your marriage?
Friday, 21 February 2014 20:06
I continue here my translation of Mother Mectilde’s writing on prayer as given in Mère Marie–Véronique’s book, Catherine de Bar, Itinéraire spirituel. It is evident to one familiar with such shining spiritual doctors as Saint Teresa of Avila and Blessed Marie of the Incarnation, that Mother Mectilde belongs to the same company of chosen souls, graced by God with a marvelous ability to set forth the experience of interior prayer with clarity and simplicity. Mother Mectilde knows by experience that the soul drawn by God into the grace of contemplative prayer passes through successive seasons of purification. Reading Mother Mectilde makes one want to set out on the journey.
A Half–Way Light
[The contemplative soul passes] from perception by means of the senses to comprehension by the mental faculties or reason and. then, from this to the light of faith, beyond which comes another light, which one might call a half–way light between the light of glory and the light of faith. In this light the soul is possessed of God, who acts upon her as a painter applies different brush strokes to the canvas prepared for his work. At first, it seems that God stills all the soul’s faculties, which He holds bound and in darkness. The spirit is a bit restless, and then remains as if all lost in God, and God is the soul of its soul, in such wise that if God moves, something happens; if not, the soul rests in Him in patience and humility.
Repose and Quietness
At other times God manifests His presence as if He were withdrawn into Himself. The soul recognises that He is present and holds herself in respect before Him, like a valet in the presence of his master. In the nothingness of all operations, the soul enjoys a grand repose and quietness, neither wanting to be, nor being applied to anything in particular. This is the most ordinary disposition [of one] in this state of silence.
Nought but God and His Good Pleasure
At other times, the soul feels a plenitude of God that seems to take full possession of her. Sometimes the senses participate in this by the relish and sweetnesses communicated to them. And if the soul is continually ready to be sacrificed, and held captive by an impression of the holy love that detaches her from everything, she can want nought but God or His good pleasure.
Not by Reason
The understanding seems lifted into this light, and this without the operations of reason but, rather, by a prompt and sudden manifestation causing so instantaneous a change in the soul that she becomes aware of it only after she is established therein.
God Soothes the Afflicted Soul
When, at other times, the soul is cast down within herself, it seems that God manifests Himself to her to soothe her, to instruct her, and to raise her up. Finally, according to her need, He speaks a few distinct words to her, which, all of a sudden, lift her up to God. The soul has nothing to do in this state; she has only to receive passively and to leave God to his repose within her.
Simplicity and Recollection
In this state, the soul must simple, abandoned, simplified, humble, faithful to her duties and, above all, she must avoid the dissipation of the senses, the wanderings of the mind, and rushing about interiorly or exteriorly. Purity of heart and of conscience and the disengagement of the mind are absolutely necessary.
Experience the Best Teacher
To speak of the deaths, the agonies, the temptations that one must suffer to arrive at this . . . experience will teach it better than the discourse of a simple and ignorant girl. But, in the end, the fruits that one gathers from this are most sweet. The peace that the soul tastes causes her to pass over many a difficulty and to recognise that God alone can satisfy our spirit.
The Gift of Understanding
I want to say that the soul, in the state of interior silence, receives another light that illumines the light of faith. Its special characteristic is to captivate and subject human understanding to the truth of the mysteries taught us by faith. In this way the understanding is raised aloft with such certitudes of the things proposed to her that she could never doubt of them. This, according to my thinking, may be called the gift of understanding that the Holy Spirit pours forth into the soul.
Without Rule and Method
In this state of interior silence, one can give no law, nor exercise, nor can the soul bear any of these things. She must wait and receive in all simplicity what is given her. Her rule and method is to be unable to have any, given that, in this way, she is acted upon, and not herself acting.
In relation to this magnificent text, Mother Mectilde writes to Monsieur de Bernières on 7 December 1648 that she finds herself in a dark night where she clings to nought but a naked faith, stripped of all consolation. This little fragment is, to my mind, one of Mother Mectilde’s most beautiful writings. I have long wanted to translate it.
Abandoning Myself Without Return
Our Lord leads me by [the way of] darkness and poverty. I no longer know what He will make of me. I no longer have any knowledge; I relish nothing; I see nothing; I no longer know anything except that one must lose oneself and, even then, I do not know how to go about losing myself. All that I can do is remain at peace while abandoning myself without return to the divine leading.
|The Transforming Power of the Cross|
Friday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Mark 8: 34-9:1
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. And he said to them, "Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power."
Introductory Prayer: O Lord, this day you wish to take away from me any false ideas about what it means to be your friend. I believe that by attending to the sacred message of your cross, I can learn authentic love of you and your Kingdom. In your cross is an example of every virtue I need and every goal I wish to attain. In the cross there is hope, an all-powerful hope that transcends every human disappointment. I wish to carry my cross with joy as a token of my love and gratitude to you.
Petition: Lord, make the cross a singular place of friendship with you in my life.
1. Becoming Through Suffering: Most people move through the day with self-preservation and self-interest influencing their decision-making. Choosing a harder road can still be a self-interested affair, if people seek their own advancement in life. Christ’s message is not simply about a work ethic—sweating, toiling and sacrificing to be successful. The self-denial that is asked of a Christian goes deeper than that. It must reach into that place where we try to preserve ourselves and our most cherished desires. Nothing teaches Christ’s lesson better than the crosses that have surprised us, the crosses that were not planned or wanted. Every step with these crosses on our backs is true following, true loving, true salvation without delusion or bitterness.
2. Following or Leading?One day Mother Teresa saw one of her sisters headed out into the streets with a long face. She called her over and said, “What did Jesus say, to carry the cross in front of Him or to follow Him?” The sister responded, smiling, “To follow Him.” Mother then asked, “Why are you trying to go ahead of Him?” (Mother Teresa: Come be My Light, p.221) “The cross of Christ” is not just the rightful assumption of the weight of a holy life, it is also an attitude. The wrong attitude can crush our spirits and make us suffer like a pagan: alone. Humble faith reveals the One we follow, who shows us the way, who sustains our hope, and who leads us to profound Christian joy.
3. Sacrificial Love and Life Are Inseparable: Seeing the Kingdom in power is a consequence for those who suffer for Christ. Our Lord guarantees this: Love will never be defeated in this life or the next. Although they might seem to have suffered in vain, many saints saw the glory of the Lord in special moments during their life and in abundance after they passed to heaven. The incorrupt, the documented miracles of intercession, the great movement of spirituality in the Church—all these attest that God will never let love for him be separated from the coming of his Kingdom in power.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, bring my soul to the cross without fear, trusting in its mysterious power to change me and the world around me. I should not withdraw from life when it wounds me. May I resolve in every low moment, when Christ asks for more from me, to live the resolution of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta: “A hearty ‘Yes’ to God, and a big smile for all” (Mother Teresa: Come be My Light, p.217).
Resolution: At night I will examine well my attitudes towards difficulties and ensure that they reflect the spirit of a true disciple.
February 21, 2014
“Then Jesus called the people and his disciples and said, “If you want to follow me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”
In this modern world of instant gratification, where “Me! Me! Me! Now! Now! Now!” is the norm. Denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Jesus seem s like a foolish thing to do. Some might question, “Why should we choose to do the hard things through the hard way?” Others might think “Life is not about suffering.” Moving through life with the least amount of hardship and achieving fame and fortune are goals we all have. But as Christians, is that what Jesus wants of us? Is this what the little voice inside each of us says? Do we even hear that little voice in the hustle and the bustle of our daily lives?
Take some time to reflect on yourself. What drives you? What does denying yourself mean to you? What is your cross? Are we following Jesus’ path, or your own? Pray to Jesus for grace and guidance in your struggle to live the life of a Christian.
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