The sheep hear his voice

Good Shepherd Sunday
World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Prayer of the Day
Diocese of Arlington Prayer for Vocations

Heavenly Father, Lord of the Harvest, call forth vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life from our diocese and families. Inspire men to imitate Christ the Eternal High Priest in sacrificial service to your Church. Move the hearts of men and women to offer themselves wholly to You in poverty, chastity, and obedience. Send them as laborers for Your harvest. Inspire the faithful to support them with prayer and sacrifice. Raise up holy families who foster openness to Your call. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Video of the Day: Love to pray, pray to love
God wants me

“God is in your life.” — Aunt Helen

Every happy mistake was probably something that was really just meant to be. — Anne Goetze talking about the process of making the artwork for Pray to Love

Scriptures of the Day

Early Church: Acts 2:14A, 36–41

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“Let the whole house of Israel know for certain
that God has made both Lord and Christ,
this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart,
and they asked Peter and the other apostles,
“What are we to do, my brothers?”
Peter said to them,
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is made to you and to your children
and to all those far off,
whomever the Lord our God will call.”
He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them,
“Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Those who accepted his message were baptized,
and about three thousand persons were added that day.

Psalm: 23:1–3A, 3B–4, 5–6

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.

Epistle: 1 Peter 2:20B–25

Beloved:
If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good,
this is a grace before God.
For to this you have been called,
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.
He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.

When he was insulted, he returned no insult;
when he suffered, he did not threaten;
instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly.
He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross,
so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness.
By his wounds you have been healed.
For you had gone astray like sheep,
but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Gospel: John 10:1–10

Jesus said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Mini Homily on Jesus the Good Shepherd

Quote of the Day

Commitment to mission is not something added on to the Christian life as a kind of decoration, but is instead an essential element of faith itself. A relationship with the Lord entails being sent out into the world as prophets of his word and witnesses of his love.

Even if at times we are conscious of our weaknesses and tempted to discouragement, we need to turn with God with confidence. We must overcome a sense of our own inadequacy and not yield to pessimism, which merely turns us into passive spectators of a dreary and monotonous life. There is no room for fear! God himself comes to cleanse our “unclean lips” and equip us for the mission: “Your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out. Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I, send me’” (Is 6:6-8). — Pope Francis message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2017

Jesus is anointed by the Spirit and sent. To be a missionary disciple means to share actively in the mission of Christ. Jesus himself described that mission in the synagogue of Nazareth in these words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Lk 4:18-19). This is also our mission: to be anointed by the Spirit, and to go out to our brothers and sisters in order to proclaim the word and to be for them a means of salvation. — Pope Francis message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2017

Equation of the Day

Truth + Beauty + Goodness = God

A share in the divinity of Jesus Christ

Feast Day of Saint Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, Father of Orthodoxy,
Doctor of the Church, and Defender of Christ’s Divinity

The spiritual battle will not end until Christ comes again. The divinity of Christ is questioned and denied as much now, if not even more, than it was during the time of Athanasius (4th century). The Catholic Church teaches that the eternal God chose to participate in our humanity, making a total gift of himself, so that we might have a share in his divinity.

Athanasius Creed
A meditation on the Trinity of God

Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith.

For unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever.

This is what the Catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity.

Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substance.

For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit.

But the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have one divinity, equal glory, and coeternal majesty.

What the Father is, the Son is, and the Holy Spirit is.

The Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated.

The Father is boundless, the Son is boundless, and the Holy Spirit is boundless.

The Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, and the Holy Spirit is eternal.

Nevertheless, there are not three eternal beings, but one eternal being.

So there are not three uncreated beings, nor three boundless beings, but one uncreated being and one boundless being.

Likewise, the Father is omnipotent, the Son is omnipotent, the Holy Spirit is omnipotent.

Yet there are not three omnipotent beings, but one omnipotent being.

Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.

However, there are not three gods, but one God.

The Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Spirit is Lord.

However, there as not three lords, but one Lord.

For as we are obliged by Christian truth to acknowledge every Person singly to be God and Lord, so too are we forbidden by the Catholic religion to say that there are three Gods or Lords.

The Father was not made, nor created, nor generated by anyone.

The Son is not made, nor created, but begotten by the Father alone.

The Holy Spirit is not made, nor created, nor generated, but proceeds from the Father and the Son.

There is, then, one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.

In this Trinity, there is nothing before or after, nothing greater or less. The entire three Persons are coeternal and coequal with one another.

So that in all things, as is has been said above, the Unity is to be worshipped in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity.

He, therefore, who wishes to be saved, must believe thus about the Trinity.

It is also necessary for eternal salvation that he believes steadfastly in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and man.

As God, He was begotten of the substance of the Father before time; as man, He was born in time of the substance of His Mother.

He is perfect God; and He is perfect man, with a rational soul and human flesh.

He is equal to the Father in His divinity, but inferior to the Father in His humanity.

Although He is God and man, He is not two, but one Christ.

And He is one, not because His divinity was changed into flesh, but because His humanity was assumed unto God.

He is one, not by a mingling of substances, but by unity of person.

As a rational soul and flesh are one man: so God and man are one Christ.

He died for our salvation, descended into hell, and rose from the dead on the third day.

He ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

At His coming, all men are to arise with their own bodies; and they are to give an account of their own deeds.

Those who have done good deeds will go into eternal life; those who have done evil will go into the everlasting fire.

This is the Catholic faith. Everyone must believe it, firmly and steadfastly; otherwise He cannot be saved.

Scriptures of the Day

Early Church: Acts 7:51–8:1A

Stephen said to the people, the elders, and the scribes:
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears,
you always oppose the Holy Spirit;
you are just like your ancestors.
Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute?
They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one,
whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.
You received the law as transmitted by angels,
but you did not observe it.”

When they heard this, they were infuriated,
and they ground their teeth at him.
But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit,
looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
and Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened
and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
But they cried out in a loud voice,
covered their ears, and rushed upon him together.
They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.
The witnesses laid down their cloaks
at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out,
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice,
“Lord, do not hold this sin against them”;
and when he said this, he fell asleep.

Now Saul was consenting to his execution.

Psalm: 31:3CD–4, 6, 7B, 8A, 17, 21AB

Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me.

Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
My trust is in the LORD;
I will rejoice and be glad of your mercy.

Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
You hide them in the shelter of your presence
from the plottings of men.

Gospel: John 6:30–35

The crowd said to Jesus:
“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:

He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

So Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.”

So they said to Jesus,
“Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Quote of the Day

4) You may be wondering why we are discussing the origin of men when we set out to talk about the Word’s becoming Man. The former subject is relevant to the latter for this reason: it was our sorry case that caused the Word to come down, our transgression that called out His love for us, so that He made haste to help us and to appear among us. It is we who were the cause of His taking human form, and for our salvation that in His great love He was both born and manifested in a human body. For God had made man thus (that is, as an embodied spirit), and had willed that he should remain in incorruption. But men, having turned from the contemplation of God to evil of their own devising, had come inevitably under the law of death. Instead of remaining in the state in which God had created them, they were in process of becoming corrupted entirely, and death had them completely under its dominion. For the transgression of the commandment was making them turn back again according to their nature; and as they had at the beginning come into being out of non-existence, so were they now on the way to returning, through corruption, to non-existence again. The presence and love of the Word had called them into being; inevitably, therefore when they lost the knowledge of God, they lost existence with it; for it is God alone Who exists, evil is non-being, the negation and antithesis of good. By nature, of course, man is mortal, since he was made from nothing; but he bears also the Likeness of Him Who is, and if he preserves that Likeness through constant contemplation, then his nature is deprived of its power and he remains incorrupt. So is it affirmed in Wisdom: “The keeping of His laws is the assurance of incorruption.” And being incorrupt, he would be henceforth as God, as Holy Scripture says, “I have said, Ye are gods and sons of the Highest all of you: but ye die as men and fall as one of the princes.”

(5) This, then, was the plight of men. God had not only made them out of nothing, but had also graciously bestowed on them His own life by the grace of the Word. Then, turning from eternal things to things corruptible, by counsel of the devil, they had become the cause of their own corruption in death; for, as I said before, though they were by nature subject to corruption, the grace of their union with the Word made them capable of escaping from the natural law, provided that they retained the beauty of innocence with which they were created. That is to say, the presence of the Word with them shielded them even from natural corruption, as also Wisdom says: “God created man for incorruption and as an image of His own eternity; but by envy of the devil death entered into the world.” When this happened, men began to die, and corruption ran riot among them and held sway over them to an even more than natural degree, because it was the penalty of which God had forewarned them for transgressing the commandment. Indeed, they had in their sinning surpassed all limits; for, having invented wickedness in the beginning and so involved themselves in death and corruption, they had gone on gradually from bad to worse, not stopping at any one kind of evil, but continually, as with insatiable appetite, devising new kinds of sins. Adulteries and thefts were everywhere, murder and raping filled the earth, law was disregarded in corruption and injustice, all kinds of iniquities were perpetrated by all, both singly and in common. Cities were warring with cities, nations were rising against nations, and the whole earth was rent with factions and battles, while each strove to outdo the other in wickedness. Even crimes contrary to nature were not unknown, but as the martyr-apostle of Christ says: “Their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature; and the men also, leaving the natural use of the woman, flamed out in lust towards each other, perpetrating shameless acts with their own sex, and receiving in their own persons the due recompense of their pervertedness.”

— Saint Athanasius, On the Incarnation, chapter 1, Creation and Fall

Walking dead, with life himself

Third Sunday of Easter
Jesus cares deeply about those who have lost hope,
and goes out of his way to restore them to life

Excerpts from Saint Augustine’s Sermon on today’s Gospel reading: Luke 24:13–35
The Appearance on the Road to Emmaus

The disciples were so shattered by the crucifixion
that they forgot all Christ’s teaching and promises

2. So what benefit has this reading bestowed on us? A very considerable one if we understand it rightly. Jesus appeared. He was seen with their eyes, and wasn’t recognized. The Master was walking with them along the way, and he himself was the way. And they weren’t yet walking along the way; he found, you see, that they had wandered off the way. After all, when he had been with them before the passion, he had foretold everything; that he was going to suffer, to die, to rise again on the third day. He had foretold it all, but his death had erased it from their memories. They were so shattered when they saw him hanging on the tree, that they forgot about him teaching, they were not expecting him to be rising, nor holding on to what he had been promising.

We, they said, were hoping that it was he that would redeem Israel (Luke 24:21). O my dear disciples, you were hoping! So now you’re no longer hoping? Look, Christ is alive; is hope dead in you? Certainly, certainly, Christ is alive. Christ being alive, found the hearts of his disciples dead, appearing to their eyes, and not appearing. He was at one and the same time seen and concealed. I mean, if he wasn’t seen, how could they have heard him questioning them, and answered his questions? He was walking with them along the road like a companion, and was himself the leader. Of course he was seen, but he wasn’t recognized. For their eyes were held, as we heard, so that they wouldn’t recognize him (Luke 24:16). They weren’t held so that they wouldn’t see him, but they were held so that they wouldn’t recognize him.

We break bread, and we recognize the Lord

3. Ah yes, brothers and sisters, but where did the Lord wish to be recognized? In the breaking of the bread. We’re all right, nothing to worry about; we break bread, and we recognize the Lord. It was for our sakes that he didn’t want to be recognized anywhere but there, because we weren’t going to see him in the flesh and yet we were going to eat his flesh. So if you’re a believer, any of you, if you’re not called a Christian for nothing, if you don’t come to church pointlessly, if you listen to the word of God in fear and hope, you may take comfort in the breaking of bread. The Lord’s absence is not an absence. Have faith, and the one you cannot see is with you. These two, even when the Lord was talking to them, did not have faith, because they didn’t believe he had risen, nor had they any hope that he could rise again. They had lost faith, lost hope. They were walking along, dead, with Christ alive, they were walking along, dead, with life itself. Life was walking along with them, but in their hearts life had not yet been restored.

You too, then, if you want to have life, do what they did in order to recognize the Lord. They showed him hospitality. The Lord, you see, was like someone who still had a long way to go, but they held him back. When they reached the place they were making for, they said, Stay with us now, the day has faded toward evening (Luke 2:29). Constrain the stranger, if you want to recognize the Savior. What had been lost through infidelity was restored through hospitality. So the Lord made himself present in the breaking of the bread. Learn where to look for the Lord, learn where to have him, learn where to recognize him. It’s when you eat him. The faithful you see, know something which they can understand better in this reading than those who don’t know it.

Faith is built up by the Lord’s absence; sight when he comes again will be the reward for faith now

4. The Lord Jesus was made known, and after being made known, he appeared no more. He withdrew from them in the body, since he was held by them in faith. That indeed is why the Lord absented himself in the body from the whole Church, and ascended into heaven, for the building up of faith. After all, if you only know what you can see, where does faith come in? But if you also believe what you cannot see, when you do see it you will rejoice. Let faith be built up, because it will be paid back with sight. It will come, what we cannot see, it will come, brothers and sisters, it will come. Mind how it finds you.

…You may be quite sure, he will come. Not only will he come, but he will come even if you don’t want him to. Woe to those who haven’t believed, and great joy to those who have believed! Believers will rejoice, unbelievers will be confounded. Believers are going to say, “Thank you, Lord, what we heard is true, what we believed is true, what we hoped is true, what we now see is true.” Unbelievers, though, are going to say, “Where has the fact of our not believing got us to, where the fact that we used to think that what was read was all lies!” That’s how it will happen, and confusion will be paid with punishment, while joyful thankfulness will receive its reward; because those will go into eternal burning, and the just into eternal life (Matthew 25:46).

— Saint Augustine, Sermon 235, Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons

Prayer: Act of Hope

O my God, relying on Your almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Your grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.

 

United in prayer for peace

Rosary Warriors Needed for Operation Storm Heaven
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima

GOAL: one million prayer warriors united in faith and intention for peace in the world

Message of Cardinal Raymond Burke About Operation Storm Heaven

The first temptation Satan uses to break us down is discouragement. This temptation is only an illusion, for Christ alive within us always gives us courage, even in the most trying of times. In such times, as today, we must pray more than ever, especially in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and all throughout the day.

While we witness evil advance in minds and hearts, and become enshrined in law even as it becomes the social norm, we must remember that God is always victorious. God is testing our Faith at this most difficult time, but He remains always with us. Christ alive for us in the Church and in our individual souls speaks to us: Be not afraid!

Be courageous, my beloved brothers and sisters! Stand fast with sure Hope! Let us together, storm Heaven with steadfast prayer, through Operation Storm Heaven, in order to obtain from Our Beloved Savior, through the intercession of His and our Blessed Mother, the victory of Good, Truth, and Beauty in all things. May God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven!

Intentions

Each Mass and rosary is offered to obtain from God through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the following graces and for the following intentions:

  • For Holy Mother Church: that Our Lord guide the Pope, the bishops and all members of the clergy to be holy in all things, faithful shepherds, beacons of Truth, and defenders of Good;
  • In reparation for the sins and offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary;
  • May all confusion be dispelled from the hearts and minds of all people and may the Light of Truth shine in them;
  • For our families and the family institution that is being so attacked in our world;
  • For the conversion of all sinners to the True Faith;
  • For the salvation of my soul, the souls of my loved ones, and the souls of all;
  • For the sanctification of each and every Catholic, especially for my personal sanctification. May I live holy every moment of every day of my life. May I be a true follower of Jesus Christ in all things;
  • To make each and every one of us a faithful soldier of Christ in the struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil;
  • To obtain the graces necessary to stop abortion, stop the onslaught of the homosexual revolution, to overturn legalized same-sex marriage, to stop the spread of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, and to stop the culture of death in all its forms and establish the Culture of Life in all souls, in all minds and in all hearts;
  • For our beloved Nation and for every nation on earth;
  • For all the personal intentions that have been submitted to Operation Storm Heaven.

Spiritual Crusaders

The rosary is the “weapon” for these times. — Saint Padre Pio

PLEDGE (and add your petitions to the list of intentions) to pray the rosary on the first day of every month in union with the Mass offered by Cardinal Raymond Burke and the intentions of Operation Storm Heaven

Already pledged? UPDATE your prayer intentions each month

LEARN MORE at Catholic Action for Faith and Family

How to Pray the Rosary

Never see death

As we move toward Holy Week, the readings selected express not only the tension building between the Jewish religious leaders and Jesus, but why there is tension: the identity of Jesus.

The Old Testament passage presents the covenant God made with Abraham. This is the oldest story in the Bible. The psalm recalls that God remembers his covenant forever, even though, as the stories in the Bible —and our own lives— convey, his people fail and forget their part of the relationship. In the Gospel, Jesus clearly reveals his divinity, “I AM,” and the promise of the New Covenant: “whoever keeps my word will never see death.”

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament Covenant: Genesis 17:3–9

When Abram prostrated himself, God spoke to him: “My covenant with you is this: you are to become the father of a host of nations. No longer shall you be called Abram; your name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a host of nations. I will render you exceedingly fertile; I will make nations of you; kings shall stem from you. I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land in which you are now staying, the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession; and I will be their God.” God also said to Abraham: “On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.”

Psalm: 105:4–5, 6–7, 8–9

Look to the LORD in his strength; seek to serve him constantly. Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought, his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.

You descendants of Abraham, his servants, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! He, the LORD, is our God; throughout the earth his judgments prevail.

He remembers forever his covenant which he made binding for a thousand generations – Which he entered into with Abraham and by his oath to Isaac.

Gospel: John 8:51–59

Jesus said to the Jews: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” So the Jews said to him, “Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.

Question of the Day

Do you dare to hope in the Lord and his promises?

Do you grapple with the identity of Jesus, and the mystery of his nature, which is both fully human and fully divine?

Collect for Mass

Be near, O Lord, to those who plead before you,
and look kindly on those who place their hope in your mercy,
that, cleansed from the stain of their sins,
they may persevere in holy living
and  be made full heirs of your promise.
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.

N

ن

“It’s naïve to ignore this reality.”

What does it mean when the news reports that a town has been liberated from ISIS?

Watch the video below to see what liberated Karemlash and Qaraqosh look like (brought to us by Ed Pentin/National Catholic Register).

“Hope has disappeared”

In the following video Father Kiely rightly says, these towns need to be exorcised.

Father Benedict Kiely acknowledges the spiritual nature of the battle and emphasizes the need for Christians in the West to pray consistently for their persecuted brothers and sisters. Will you pray a weekly rosary for persecuted and displaced Christians?

“The UN is not providing what is needed. It’s the church. Only the church.”

“They are persecuted and killed because they are Christians”

I forgave your entire debt

First Question of the Day

Is there some offense I don’t have to forgive?

Scripture of the Day

Old Testament: Sirach 28:2–4

Forgive your neighbor the wrong done to you;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Does anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Can one refuse mercy to a sinner like oneself,
yet seek pardon for one’s own sins?

Gospel: Matthew 18:21–35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had him put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

Note: Some translations of The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant are more specific about the amount the debtor owed his king: 10,000 talents. “Huge sum” is too easily misunderstood. A laborer earned one denarius for a day’s labor. It would take 15 to 20 years of work to pay back one talent. The point is that the amount is a sum that a man could never pay back. We can never make full reparation for the damage our sin has caused. God tells us that the measure we use for others is the measure he will use for us.

Video of the Day
Immaculee Ilibagiza keynote speech at the 2017 Women’s Conference

Prayer of the Day

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 have trespassed against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

More Questions of the Day

  • With whom are you most angry?
  • Is there someone we need to forgive or need to ask to forgive us?

Mercy Quote

Tell sinners that no one shall escape My Hand; if they run away from My Merciful Heart, they will fall into My Just Hands. Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them, that I listen intently to the beating of their heart… when will it beat for Me? Write, that I am speaking to them through their remorse of conscience, through their failures and sufferings, through thunderstorms, through the voice of the Church. And if they bring all My graces to naught, I begin to be angry with them, leaving them alone and giving them what they want. — Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of Saint Faustina, #1728

Lenten Action

Make a good confession. Have your entire debt forgiven, and then go and do likewise.

Prostrate in prayer before the Lord

Prayer / Scripture of the Day: Esther C:12, 14, 23–25

Prayer of Esther, a Jew, married to the King of Persia

Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish,
had recourse to the LORD.
She lay prostrate upon the ground, together with her handmaids,
from morning until evening, and said:
“God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you.
Help me, who am alone and have no help but you,
for I am taking my life in my hand.
As a child I used to hear from the books of my forefathers
that you, O LORD, always free those who are pleasing to you.
Now help me, who am alone and have no one but you,
O LORD, my God.

“And now, come to help me, an orphan.
Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion
and turn his heart to hatred for our enemy,
so that he and those who are in league with him may perish.
Save us from the hand of our enemies;
turn our mourning into gladness
and our sorrows into wholeness.”

Background

Though it features real people, the Book of Esther is not a historical document. It is the basis for the Feast of Purim, a feast commemorating a time when God saved his people. The setting of the narrative is Persia in the 5th century BC. When King Xerxes falls for a plot to kill all the Jews, Queen Esther is the only one who can save her people. Yet she can do so only by risking her own life. The king does not know that his Queen, Esther, is a Jew. And, anyone who went to see the king without being summoned would be killed. The story is one of a reversal of fortune, where the lives of the prospering wicked come to an abrupt and violent end, and the God’s people, who are enslaved, are saved.

Quote of the Day

 “God remembered his people and vindicated his inheritance.” — Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, Esther 10: 12

Question of the Day

Do we trust God enough to begin to pray? T o persevere in prayer? Do we believe he hears and answers? Do we believe in God’s provision and protection? What will we sacrifice to make more time for prayer? Do we turn to God only for the “big things,” or do we engage God in every area of our need?

Gospel of the Day: Matthew 7:7–12

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which one of you would hand his son a stone
when he asked for a loaf of bread,
or a snake when he asked for a fish?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things
to those who ask him.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the law and the prophets.”

Ask, Seek, Knock

Like Esther, we, too, have recourse to the Lord. With the courage and humility of Esther, may we, this Lenten season, offer, with a spirit of repentance, an enduring prayer of adoration and petition, with great confidence in our loving and merciful God. Our enemy, we know, is not flesh and blood, and the enemy to banish is Satan and his minions, the fallen angels. May they be cast into hell forever, and may the kingdom of God come. May we find in Christ the wholeness for which we long. May God set us free.

Delay not your conversion to the Lord

Feast of Saint Polycarp

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Sirach 5:1–8

Rely not on your wealth;
say not: “I have the power.”
Rely not on your strength
in following the desires of your heart.
Say not: “Who can prevail against me?”
or, “Who will subdue me for my deeds?”
for God will surely exact the punishment.
Say not: “I have sinned, yet what has befallen me?”
for the Most High bides his time.
Of forgiveness be not overconfident,
adding sin upon sin.
Say not: “Great is his mercy;
my many sins he will forgive.”
For mercy and anger alike are with him;
upon the wicked alights his wrath.
Delay not your conversion to the LORD,
put it not off from day to day.
For suddenly his wrath flames forth;
at the time of vengeance you will be destroyed.
Rely not upon deceitful wealth,
for it will be no help on the day of wrath.

Psalm: 1

Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.

Gospel: Mark 9:41–50 

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

“Everyone will be salted with fire.
Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid,
with what will you restore its flavor?
Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another.”

Quotes of the Day

for Everlasting Love may still return
if hope reveals the slightest hint of green
— Dante, The Divine Comedy, Volume II: Purgatory, Canto III. verses 134–135

We are souls who met a violent death,
and we were sinners to our final hour;
but then the light of Heaven lit our minds,
and penitent and pardoning, we left
that life at peace with God, Who left our hearts
with longing for the holy sight of Him.
— Dante, The Divine Comedy, Volume II: Purgatory, Canto V. verses 52–57

Prayer of the Day: for Divine Mercy

O Greatly Merciful God, Infinite Goodness, today all mankind calls out from the abyss of its misery to Your mercy—to Your compassion, O God, and it is with its mighty voice of misery that it cries out. Gracious God, do not reject the prayer of this earth’s exiles! O Lord, Goodness beyond our understanding, who are acquainted with our misery through and through and know that by our own power we cannot ascend to You, we implore You, anticipate us with Your grace and keep on increasing Your mercy in us, that we may faithfully do Your Holy Will all through our life and at death’s hour. Let the omnipotence of Your mercy shield us from the darts of our salvation’s enemies, that we may with confidence, as Your children, await Your final coming—that day known to You alone. And we expect to obtain everything promised us by Jesus in spite of all our wretchedness. For Jesus is our Hope: Through His merciful Heart, as through an open gate, we pass through to heaven. (Diary of Saint Faustina, #1570) Amen.

In love, destined for adoption

9-days-bwlogoDay 9 Intercession

For God’s peace to fill the hearts of all who travel upon the path of adoption.

Scriptures of the Day

Romans 8:14–17

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

Ephesians 1:3–6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.

Galatians 4:1–7

I mean that as long as the heir is not of age, he is no different from a slave, although he is the owner of everything, but he is under the supervision of guardians and administrators until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were not of age, were enslaved to the elemental powers of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

Prayers of the Day
From Prayers for the Family by Kevin Nelles

For Motherhood

Loving God, who alone knows and understands the heart of a woman, I lift up in prayer blessed motherhood, the channel of all human life. As our Lord Jesus Christ himself came through the woman, may we acknowledge and honor the exalted gift of motherhood, as mothers love and serve their husbands and children.

Through the intercession of Holy Mary, Mother of God, may all women receive into their hearts the Divine call to motherhood, both natural and spiritual, and find their joy and identity in this calling.

May the prayers of the Blessed Mother be a beacon of light to all women, leading them on the path to discover true beauty, serve with humility, give of their own hearts and bodies, confound the darkness, and blind the evil ones with the light of feminine grace.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Divine Lover and ennobler of all women, who reigns forever and ever.

Amen.

For Fatherhood

Eternal God, originator of Fatherhood, I offer up to you the blessed office of Father. May the men who occupy this dignified place protect and care for their children and wives with valiant honesty, heroic chastity, noble humility, and stern sobriety.

Ignite a fire in the hearts of men, O God, so that they may respond to the Divine call to fatherhood, both natural and spiritual, and model themselves after the holy example of Blessed Joseph, Father of the Universal Church.

Through his intercession, may fathers e strengthened to flee from sin, subdue their flesh, wrestle with the powers of corruption, banish the darkness, and obtain victory over hell and its agents.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, sanctifier of all men, to the glory of God the Father.

Amen.

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