To be perfected in God’s grace

The Commemoration of All Souls

Today the Church prays for the souls being purified in Purgatory. As we remember our deceased loved ones, let us also pray in a special way for the assistance of today’s “holy innocents,” those whose lives were ended — in their mothers’ wombs — through the sin of abortion, and who in their innocence bypass Purgatory. Through their union with God, may they pray for us and assist us in building a culture of life in America and throughout the world.

Quotes of the Day

No one is barred from heaven. Whoever wants to enter heaven may do so because God is all-merciful. Our Lord will welcome us into glory with his arms wide open. The Almighty is so pure, however, that if a person is conscious of the least trace of imperfection and at the same time understands that Purgatory is ordained to do away with such impediments, the soul enters this place of purification glad to accept so great a mercy of God. The worst suffering of these suffering souls is to have sinned against divine Goodness and not to have been purified in this life.

— Saint Catherine of Genoa, Treatise of Purgatory, 12

How sweet will death be for the person who has fully repented of all personal sins and can leap over Purgatory. — Saint Teresa of Avila, Way of Perfection

Do not ever forget that after death you are going to be welcomed by Love itself. Within the love of God you will find implicit all the noble human loves on earth as well. Our Lord has arranged for us to spend this brief day of our earthly existence working, and like his only-begotten Son, ‘doing good.’ Meanwhile we have to be on our guard and alert to the call St Ignatius of Antioch felt within his soul as the hour of his martyrdom approached: ‘Draw close to your Father. Come to him who is so desirous of your company.’

— St Josemaria Escriva, Friends of God, 221

Catechism of the Day: I believe in life everlasting

1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come. (St Gregory the Great)

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them. (St John Chrysostom)

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Wisdom 3:1–9

The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
they shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the LORD shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.

Responsorial Psalm: 23

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.
R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

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.
R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

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.
R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

New Testament Epistle: Romans 5:5–13

Brothers and sisters:
Hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person,
though perhaps for a good person
one might even find courage to die.
But God proves his love for us
in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
How much more then, since we are now justified by his Blood,
will we be saved through him from the wrath.
Indeed, if, while we were enemies,
we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son,
how much more, once reconciled,
will we be saved by his life.
Not only that,
but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Gospel: John 6:37–40

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me,
and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,
because I came down from heaven not to do my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.
And this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.
For this is the will of my Father,
that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him
may have eternal life,
and I shall raise him on the last day.”

Prayer of the Day
Saint Gertrude the Great’s Prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

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Song of the Day: Danny Boy performed by Eva Cassidy (d. Nov. 2, 1996)
Say an Ave for me

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The greatest gift par excellence

Feast of Saint Faustina

First Quote of the Day

I do not desire to punish aching mankind but I desire to heal it pressing it to My merciful heart… — Jesus to Saint Faustina, Diary #1516

Questions of the Day

Do we expect God to work miraculously?

Are we open to receiving the gifts God wants to give us?

Second and Third Quotes of the Day

Life in the Spirit is never dull. I love to tell people ‘God is full of surprises.’ People ask me ‘Is your life boring? Is your life monotonous?’ And I say ‘No two days are ever the same.’ I think when we really dare to give ourselves over to the Holy Spirit, that’s when things get exciting, that’s when things get really fun. It can be a little scary because you do lose control in a sense of my plans, my ideas. But when you can get beyond that, of my goodness, the hundredfold of it is just incredible. … We just need to let Him be in charge, and have fun. — Sister Maris Stella Vaughn, OP

God was waiting for me to release my control, so He can show me His love. — Bishop Sam Jacobs

Video of the Day
The Wild Goose #5: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Prayer of the Day

Come, Holy Spirit and fill us. Pour out your gifts upon the world. Heal and restore broken bodies and hearts. Illuminate darkened minds. Set free those bound by sin. Bring peace and hope to those disturbed and who feel uncertain in the world. Give us the grace to surrender to and embrace your holy will. Give us strength and courage to do what we must do and faith to step back and allow you to do all that you want to do. Enliven us that we may enjoy the fullness of life that Jesus came to give.

Challenge of the Day
Dare to give your life over to the Holy Spirit.

A free heart where God can dwell

Quote of the Day
excerpt from chapter 2 of The Gift of Faith by Tadeusz Dajczer

And you, in whom or in what do you place your hope? What do you count on? Who is your God? If you place your hope in a false god, then you will know bitterness and disappointment, because it is a matter that sooner or later will disappoint you. This will be a great grace for you because then your trust in mammon will begin to crumble.

What can this mammon that enslaves your heart be? It can be material as well as spiritual goods. For example, it can be attachment to money, to your children, to you work, or to something you are presently creating or working on. It may be attachment to peace or even to one’s own perfection. All these attachments cause your bondage and bring you slavery. As a human being you can choose to attach yourself to the one and only reality — the will of God. Everything that enslaves you closes you off from God and diminishes your faith.

How can you uncover your mammon? Are the tension, stress, restlessness, rushing, and sadness that accompany you through life signs that you serve some kind of mammon? There are people, for example, who live under constant stress. How great then must be their attachment to something opposed to God. People free from attachments are filled with the peace of God. The peace of God builds and strengthens mental health, which in turn reflects on physical health. In this way, the soul, the psyche, and the body participate in a person’s great freedom. A person free form attachments is also free from facial wrinkles, from stress, and from the diseases of civilization. Mammon systematically destroys a human person. It not only blocks you way to Christ and your adherence to Him, but it also destroys your health and your psyche.

An obvious sign of attachments is also your sadness in situations when God takes something away from you. He will, therefore, take that to which you are enslaved; hence, He will take everything that is your greatest enemy — whatever causes your heart not to be free for Him. It is only when you start to cheerfully accept these kinds of situations, and submit with serenity, that you will become more and more free.

While standing before the Lord during prayer, show Him not only your empty hands, but also your dirty hands defiled by your attachments to mammon, and pray that He will have mercy on you. Prayer can develop only in the atmosphere of freedom. As a disciple of Christ, you are especially called to contemplative prayer. For your prayer to become contemplation — a loving gaze on Jesus Christ, your beloved — it is essential to have a free heart. That is why Christ fights so much for your heart to be free. He fights through various events, difficulties, and storms, all the while giving you the chance to cooperate intensely with grace. In all these situations, Christ expects that you will try to cleanse your heart soiled by attachments and servitude to mammon. Hence, all these difficult moments and all the storms are graces for you. They are the passing by of the Merciful Lord who loves you so much that He wants to give you the magnificent gift — the gift of the total freedom of your heart. Your heart should not be divided; it should be a heart solely for Him.

To have faith means to see and understand the meaning of your life in accordance with the Gospel, and that God is most important. Your life is to be oriented toward Him — primarily to seek and to build His kingdom, with faith that everything else will be given to you (cf. Mat 6:33). God wants to bestow each person with all His love. However, He can bestow this on a person only to the extent of his openness and his readiness to be stripped of his attachments so that room may be made for Him. It is faith that creates the emptiness and vacuum in us where God can dwell.

He wants to pardon everyone

Nineteenth Week of Ordinary Time – Wednesday

Gospel of the Day: Matthew 18:15–20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church.
If he refuses to listen even to the Church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”

Quote of the Day
In Conversation With God, Vol. 4, Francis Fernandez

60.1 The promise of the sacrament of Penance and its institution. Giving thanks for this sacrament.

Jesus is well aware of our weaknesses and failings. That is why he instituted the sacrament of Penance. He wanted us to be able to straighten out our ways whenever necessary. Christ had the power to forgive sins and He exercised it on a number of occasions — with the woman taken in adultery (John 8:11), with the good thief hanging from the cross (Luke 23:43), with the paralytic of Capharnaum (Mark 2:1–12) … He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10), just as he does now in our own day.

The prophets had prepared the way and foretold this restoration of all things in Christ and the reconciliation of man with God. It is reflected in the words of Isaiah: Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool (Is 1:18). This was  also the mission of the Baptist, who came to preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4). How is it then that people wince when the Church preaches the need for Confession?

Jesus shows his mercy above all in his approach to sinners. I know the plans I have for you, plans for peace and not affliction (Jer. 29:11). This was God’s promise through Jeremiah. The liturgy applies these words to Jesus, for it is through him that God reveals his infinite love for us. He did not come to condemn us, to remind us of our pettiness and lack of virtue. He came to save us, to pardon us, to excuse us, to bring us peace and joy (St Josemaria Escriva, Christ is passing by). He sought to pardon those men and women he met on the roads and in the villages of Palestine. He wants to pardon everyone who lives on the earth for the rest of time. …

60.2 Reasons for our gratitude

… In Confession we encounter Jesus, in the same way that the good thief met him, as did the woman caught in adultery, the Samaritan woman and so many others. We meet Jesus as Peter did after his denials. Inasmuch as the remission of sins is an action of Christ, it is at the same time an action of the Mystical Body, the Church.

We should also give thanks for the universality of this power granted to the Church in the person of the Apostles and their successors. The Lord is ready to forgive everything in everyone, always, as long as he finds the proper dispositions. …

Jesus says to us: I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. In Confession he gives us the opportunity to empty all worldliness from the soul, to have a thorough cleaning out. Imagine that God wants you to be overflowing with honey, but you are full of vinegar. Where can God put the honey? asks Saint Augustine. First you have to empty and clean out the container. … The Holy Spirit will increase the sensitivity of our souls if we make the little effort required to confess our sins frequently, to examine our consciences diligently and make good resolutions. We will acquire an interior refinement of soul characterized by a horror of mortal sin. We will flee from the occasions of mortal sin while we grow in our hatred of venial sin. In this manner, Confession fills us with confidence in the struggle. Those who practice it have found it to be “the sacrament of joy.”

…With this aid we make progress in humility. We combat un-Christian customs. We confront lukewarmness head on. We strengthen our will and increase sacramental grace in ourselves by the virtue of the sacrament of Penance. How mamy benefits we receive from the Lord through this wonderful sacrament!

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Anchored in love, miles offshore

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Gospel of the Day: Matthew 14:22–33

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

Quote of the Day

In Conversation With God, Vol. 4 by Francis Fernandez

55.3 Confidence in God. He never arrives late to rescue us, if we go to him with faith and use the means available to us.

Peter stayed on his feet — even when facing the greatest difficulties —  as long as he acted with supernatural outlook, with faith, with confidence in the Lord. Later, in order to stay afloat, to receive God’s help, he had to cooperate, because when our cooperation is lacking divine help also ceases [Saint John Chrysostom, Homilies on St Matthew’s Gospel, 50, 2] . It was our Lord who helped him to go on.

The experience of our personal weakness will serve for us to find Jesus who puts out his hand and enters our heart, giving us great peace in the midst of any trial. We should learn never to be afraid of God, who presents himself in ordinary things, as well as in the physical and moral sufferings we may experience in our lives. Have confidence; it is I, do not fear. God never delays coming to our rescue, and never fails to remedy every need. He arrives — at times in a hidden and mysterious way — at the opportune time. And when, for whatever reason, we find ourselves in a difficult situation — with the wind against  us — He comes close to us. He may pass as if to continue on so that we will call out to him, but He will not delay in coming to our side when we do.

If at times we realize that we are out of our depth, that we are sinking, we should repeat with Peter, Lord, save me! We should neither doubt  his Love nor his merciful hand. We should not forget that God does not demand the impossible. Instead, when He makes a request, He asks that we do what we can do, that we ask for what we cannot do and for his help to carry it out. [Saint Augustine, On nature and grace, 43]

What certainty our Lord gives us! He has guaranteed his protection. I do not depend on my own strength, my certainty, my tranquil haven. Even if the entire world is shaken, I read the written word I carry with me, for it is my fortress, my defence. And what does this word tell me? “I will be with you until the end of the world” it says.

Christ is with me. What shall I fear? Let the waves of the sea and the fury of the powerful come upon me. That will not weight me down any more than a spider’s web. [Saint John Chrysostom, Homily before departing for the desert] Let us not let go of his hand. He does not let go of ours.

We end our prayer asking Our Lady to intercede for us. She will help us to cry out confidently the liturgical prayer, Renew O Lord, the marvels of your love. [Divine Office, Sunday of the Third Week, Vespers] May we live firmly anchored in your love.

 

 

Slackness snaps the soul

Feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus

Quotes of the Day

From Saint Ignatius’ letter on Perfection
to the fathers and brothers studying at Coimbra, May 7, 1547 

The Advantages of Fervor

Therefore, give serious thought to your vocation so that you can give much thanks to God for so great a favor and ask Him for the special help needed to correspond to it with courage and diligence. Both of these you must have in large measure if you are to attain the end you have in view. Sloth, tepidity, weariness in study and in the other exercises which you have undertaken for the love of our Lord you must recognize as the sworn enemies of your vocation.

For his encouragement each one should keep before his eyes, not those who he thinks will accomplish less, but rather those who are active and energetic. Never permit the children of this world to show greater care and interest in the things of time than you show for those of eternity. It should bring a blush to your cheek to see them run to death more enthusiastically than you to life. Hold yourselves as worth little if a courtier serves with greater dedication to gain the favor of an earthly prince than you do for the favor of the King of Heaven, or if a soldier battles with greater courage for the glory of victory and hope of spoils, than you fight for victory and triumph over the world, the devil, and yourselves, all for a heavenly kingdom and eternal glory.

For the love of God, therefore, be neither careless nor tepid. For if tautness snaps the bow, slackness snaps the soul; while on the contrary, according to Solomon, the soul of them that work shall be richly supplied [Prov. 13:4]. Try to maintain a holy and discreet fervor in your work and in the pursuit of learning as well as virtue. With both alike, one energetic act is worth a thousand that are listless, and what a lazy man cannot accomplish in many years an energetic man can usually achieve quickly.

In the matter of learning, the difference between the earnest and the careless student stands out clearly. The same holds true in the mastering of passion and the weaknesses to which our nature is subject, as in the acquiring of virtue. It is certain that, because the negligent do not struggle against self, they never achieve peace of soul or do so tardily, and never possess any virtue in its fullness, while the energetic and industrious make notable advances on both fronts.

Experience proves that in this life peace and satisfaction are had, not by the listless but by those who are fervent in God’s service. And rightly so. For in their effort to overcome themselves and to rid themselves of self-love, they rid themselves of the roots of all passion and unrest. And by acquiring habits of virtue, they naturally succeed in acting with ease and cheerfulness in accordance with these same virtues.

By this means they dispose themselves to receive the holy consolation of God our faithful consoler, for to him who conquers I will give the hidden manna [Rev. 2:17]. On the other hand, tepidity is the cause of a lifetime of uneasiness, for we never uproot its cause, self-love, nor do we ever deserve God’s help. Therefore you should rouse yourselves to work earnestly at your praiseworthy tasks, since even in this life you will perceive the advantages of holy fervor, not only in the growth of perfection in your souls but even in the peace of mind it grants you in this present life.

But if you look to the eternal reward, as you often should, Saint Paul will easily convince you that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that shall be revealed in us [Rom. 8:18], because this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal measure of glory beyond all comparison [2 Cor. 4:17].

From Saint Ignatius’ letter on maturing spiritually
to the scholastics at Alcala, 1543 

  1. We should be careful to preserve great purity of heart in the love of God, loving nothing but Him, and desiring to converse with Him alone, and with the neighbor for love of Him and not for our own pleasure and delight.
  2. We should speak only with necessity, and for the edification of ourselves or others, and leave aside those things which do not profit the soul, such as the desire for news and worldly affairs. We should try always to treat of matters connected with humility and mortification of the will, and not of things that give occasion for laughter or murmuring.
  3. Let no one seek to be considered a wit, or to affect elegance or prudence or eloquence, but look upon Christ, who made nothing at all of these things and chose to be humbled and despised by men for our sake rather than to be honored and respected.
  4. We should not wish to see or do anything which could not be done in the presence of God and His creatures, and we shall thus imagine that we are always in His presence.
  5. We should not dispute stubbornly with anyone; rather we should patiently give our reasons with the purpose of declaring the truth lest our neighbor remain in error, and not that we should have the upper hand.
  6. One of the things which we must be very firm about, if we are to please our Lord, is to cast far from us everything that could remove us from the love of our brethren. We should make every effort to love them with a tender charity, for Supreme Truth has said: This is how all will know you are my disciples, etc. [John 13:35].
  7. Should anyone do anything that is disedifying, and it seems that as a result he should be held in less esteem than he was held before, let him not be so discouraged as to wish to give up, but let him humble himself and ask forgiveness of those who might have been scandalized by his bad example and a penance from his superior. He should thank God, who has permitted him to be humbled, so that he can be known by all for what he is. He should not wish to appear better in the eyes of men than he is in the eyes of God. The brethren who behold him should think that they could fall into even greater weakness, and should ask God to strengthen them.
  8. In our superiors we should always behold the person of Christ, whom they represent, and have recourse to them in our doubts and hold it as certain that our Lord will direct us through them.
  9. We should not conceal our temptations, nor even our good thoughts, but make them known to our confessor or superior, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light [2 Cor. 11:14]. We should always act according to the judgment and counsel of our spiritual father rather than our own, which we should always regard rather with suspicion.
  10. In dealing with others we should bear ourselves modestly, and try not to appear sad or too serious, nor, on the other hand, overcheerful and gay, but as the Apostle says: Everyone should see how modest you are [Phil. 4:5].
  11. We should never postpone a good work, no matter how small it may be, with the thought of later doing something greater. It is a very common temptation of the enemy to be always placing before us the perfection of things to come and bring us to make little of the present.
  12. Let us all persevere in the vocation to which God calls us, and not make our first loyalty an empty word. For the enemy is wont to tempt those in the desert with thoughts of dealing with the neighbor and improving him, and to those who are helping the neighbor he will propose the great perfection of the desert and solitary life. Thus he lays hold of what is far off to prevent us from taking advantage of what is at hand.