God provides a way back

Questions of the Day

  • Who in the netherworld can glorify God?
  • Who can be saved?
  • What must I do to inherit eternal life?
  • In which direction will you walk: away from Jesus, sad and weighed down or free, following in his footsteps?

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Sirach 17:20 

To the penitent God provides a way back,
he encourages those who are losing hope
and has chosen for them the lot of truth.
Return to him and give up sin,
pray to the LORD and make your offenses few.
Turn again to the Most High and away from your sin,
hate intensely what he loathes,
and know the justice and judgments of God,
Stand firm in the way set before you,
in prayer to the Most High God.

Who in the nether world can glorify the Most High
in place of the living who offer their praise?
Dwell no longer in the error of the ungodly,
but offer your praise before death.
No more can the dead give praise
than those who have never lived;
You who are alive and well
shall praise and glorify God in his mercies.
How great the mercy of the LORD,
his forgiveness of those who return to him!

Psalm: 32:1–2, 5, 6–7

Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
and you took away the guilt of my sin.

For this shall every faithful man pray to you
in time of stress.
Though deep waters overflow,
they shall not reach him.

You are my shelter; from distress you will preserve me;
with glad cries of freedom you will ring me round.

Gospel: Mark 10:17–27

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,
knelt down before him, and asked him,
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother
.”
He replied and said to him,
“Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
“You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
At that statement, his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
“How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
“Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,
“Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God.”

 

When you come to serve the LORD

Feast of Saint Peter Damian

Scripture of the Day: Sirach 2:1–11

My son, when you come to serve the LORD,
stand in justice and fear,
prepare yourself for trials.
Be sincere of heart and steadfast,
incline your ear and receive the word of understanding,
undisturbed in time of adversity.
Wait on God, with patience, cling to him, forsake him not;
thus will you be wise in all your ways.
Accept whatever befalls you,
when sorrowful, be steadfast,
and in crushing misfortune be patient;
For in fire gold and silver are tested,
and worthy people in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust God and God will help you;
trust in him, and he will direct your way;
keep his fear and grow old therein.

You who fear the LORD, wait for his mercy,
turn not away lest you fall.
You who fear the LORD, trust him,
and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the LORD, hope for good things,
for lasting joy and mercy.
You who fear the LORD, love him,
and your hearts will be enlightened.
Study the generations long past and understand;
has anyone hoped in the LORD and been disappointed?
Has anyone persevered in his commandments and been forsaken?
has anyone called upon him and been rebuffed?
Compassionate and merciful is the LORD;
he forgives sins, he saves in time of trouble
and he is a protector to all who seek him in truth.

Sanctifying Gifts of the Holy Spirt
continued from yesterday

  • Fear is sovereign respect for God; to dread nothing as much as to offend Him by sin; fear that is the beginning of wisdom (detachment from worldly things)
  • Piety is filial affection for God as our most loving Father. Inspires us to love and to respect for His sake persons and things consecrated to Him, his Blessed Mother, the saints, the Church, the Pope, our parents, superiors, country, and its rulers. Not a burdensome duty: where there is love, there is no labor.

 

Living the feminine genius

Talks From the GIVEN 2016 Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum

There is nothing that we can do but love.

This past summer 300 women between the ages of 20 and 30 had the opportunity to attend GIVEN 2016, a 5-day conference during which participants focused on authentic femininity as expressed through three key themes:

  • receiving the gift you are
  • realizing the gifts you’ve been given
  • responding with the gift only you can give

So, if you are hearing about the forum after the fact, or if you heard about it in time, and were too old to apply to participate… organizers recorded and published the daily homilies and talks, so that we all may benefit. Following are just a few of the many great speakers.

The Feminine Genius – Dr Helen Alvare

Reclaiming the Public Square – Gloria Purvis
Giving counter-witness to the culture about what authentic femininity really is

What are you willing to risk to bring the Gospel Truth to the person in front of you?

Every young woman has been entrusted with a mission: to cultivate her own unique gifts and initiate positive change in the world through the love that is exclusively hers to give.
GIVEN 2016 Vision statement

The Temperament God Gave You – Laraine Bennet
“I used to think my husband was just like me, only bad.”

The Feminine Genius Unleashed in Education – Sister Amelia Hueller, OP
We are supposed to be in the process now of becoming more and more like God.

Reclaiming Beauty – Kara Eschbach
The media we consume affects the way we view ourselves and how we view other women.

How can we begin to see ourselves as God sees us?

Casting the Vision – Sister Mary Gabriel
God notices you. He waits for you and for your yes.

What do I desire? What do I think I need at this moment?
What does God desire here and now?

If you are tired of mainstream media junk and spin, visit givenforum.org to watch talks on Theology of Woman; Finding Balance in Life; Feminine Genius Unleased in the church, politics, and education; Living Motherhood; Entrusted with the environment, economic issues, and with the suffering of others.

The vocation of woman in its fullness changes everything forever.  The vocation of woman in its fullness ushers in a revolution of love that heals hearts and raises the dead to life.

Not afraid to let herself be loved.

Mother Teresa’s 1959 retreat – 12

Twelfth Day
Under the patronage of Mary, Queen of Heaven

Aim: Union with the Risen Jesus in His Great Glory; to acquire a great confidence in the goodness and greatness of my Redeemer

Examination: My Love for the Church

  1. Do I really look upon the Church as the “Mystical Body of Christ”?
  2. Do I burn with zeal to make the Church known and loved by all men?
  3. Do I try to conform my judgments with the directions given by the Church through the Encyclicals, Pastoral Letters, Directions, etc.?

Readings: Psalm 65; Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20 & 21

The Imitation of Christ: Book 3, Chapter 49

Reflections of the Day:

Joy to thee, O Queen of Heaven
He whom thou was meet to bear
As He promised, hath arisen
Pour for us to Him thy prayer.

When we stand sooner or later at his judgment seat, the questions put to us will be:

What have you done?
How have you done it?
Why did you do it?

May America progress in virtue

USCCB President Archbishop Kurtz selected today, the Feast Day of Saint Peter Claver, as a Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities.

Prayer of the Day

Let us pray . . .
O Lord our God, in your mercy and kindness,
no thought of ours is left unnoticed,
no desire or concern ignored.
You have proven that blessings abound
when we fall on our knees in prayer,
and so we turn to you in our hour of need.
Surrounded by violence and cries for justice,
we hear your voice telling us what is required . . .
“Only to do justice and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
Fill us with your mercy so that we, in turn,
may be merciful to others.
Strip away pride, suspicion, and racism
so that we may seek peace and justice
in our communities.
Strengthen our hearts so that they beat
only to the rhythm of your holy will.
Flood our path with your light
as we walk humbly toward a future
filled with encounter and unity.
Be with us, O Lord, in our efforts,
for only by the prompting of your grace
can we progress toward virtue.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[source: USCCB prayer card]

USCCB Intercessions

Let us pray to the Lord:

  • For an end to the violence perpetrated by harsh words, deadly weapons, or cold indifference. May our homes, our nation, and countries around the world become havens of peace,
  • For the grace to see every human being as a child of God, regardless of race, language or culture,
  • For the wisdom to receive the stories and experiences of those different from ourselves and to respond with respect,
  • For the strength to teach our children how to resolve differences non-violently and respectfully, and the courage to model it in our own behavior,
  • For our faith community, that we may celebrate and welcome the diverse faces of Christ in our worship, our ministries, and our leaders,
  • For our faith community, that we may respond boldly to the Holy Spirit’s call to act together to end violence and racism,
  • For healing and justice for all those who have experienced violence and racism,
  • For the protection of all police and first responders who risk their lives daily to ensure our safety; for fair and just policing that will promote peace and wellbeing in all our neighborhoods,
  • For our public officials, that they will strive to work for fair education, adequate housing, and equal opportunities for employment for all,
  • For our parish, that we may cultivate welcome, extend hospitality, and encourage the participation of people of all cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds,
  • For the courage to have difficult conversations about racism, and for a better appreciation of how our words and actions – or even our silence – can impact our communities,
  • For solidarity in our global human family, that we may work together to protect those who are most vulnerable and most in need,

Lord, hear our prayer.

Quotes of the Day

We are most Catholic when we reflect our oneness of faith, worship, that is achieved in response to our rich mixture of human variety through the grace of the Holy Spirit. — Archbishop Wilton Gregory (Atlanta)

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty. — Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

Take a Step Toward Peace and Reconciliation
Pray, Listen, Learn, Think, and Act

Following are five steps Archbishop Kurtz recommends that Catholics take to promote peace, justice, and respect for all people:

  1. Pray for peace and healing among all people.
  2. Study the Word of God and the social teaching of the Church in order to gain a deeper appreciation of the dignity of all persons.
  3. Make a sincere effort to encounter more fully people of different racial backgrounds with whom we live, work, and minister.
  4. Pursue ways in which Catholic parishes and neighborhoods can be truly welcoming of families of different racial and religious backgrounds.
  5. Get to know our local law enforcement officers. Let them know of our support and gratitude. And encourage young people to respect all legitimate authority.
[source: Statement on race relations at USCCB General Assembly, June 10, 2015]

Question of the Day

“How is your heart, today? Is it at peace? If it is not at peace, before speaking of peace, make sure your own heart is at peace. How is your family, today? Is it at peace? If you are not able to bring peace to your family, your rectory, your congregation, bringing it more peace, then words of peace for the world are not enough. This is the question that I would like to ask today: How is the heart of each one of us? Is it at peace? How is the family of each one of us? Is it at peace? That’s how it is, isn’t it? To achieve peace in the world.”
Pope Francis homily, September 8

Resources

Jesus, love all people of today

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary—in other words, it’s her birthday. Jesus did not keep his mother to himself, but shares her with all his brothers and sisters. As our spiritual mother, she desires nothing more than to form us into other Christs, as she formed her Son in his humanity. And so this day I want to share with you a list of praises to sing and a prayer for imitating Mary, the Christ-Bearer.

Biblical Litany of Our Lady

Greeted by the Angel Gabriel
Full of grace
Mother of Jesus
Mother of the Son of the Most High
Mother of the Son of David
Mother of the King of Israel
Mother by act of the Holy Spirit
Handmaid of the Lord
Virgin, Mother of Emmanuel
You in whom the Word became flesh
You in whom the Word dwelt amongst us
Blessed among all women
Mother of the Lord
Happy are you who have believed in the words uttered by the Lord
Lowly handmaid of the Lord
Called blessed by all generations
You in whom the Almighty worked wonders
Heiress of the promises made to Abraham
Mother of the new Isaac
You who gave birth to your firstborn in Bethlehem
You who wrapped your Child in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manager
Woman from whom Jesus was born
Mother of the Savior
Mother of the Messiah
You who were found by the shepherds with Joseph and the newborn Child
You who offered Jesus in the temple
You who put Jesus in the arms of Simeon
You who marveled at what was said of Jesus
You whose soul a sword should pierce
Mother who were found together with the Child by the Wise Men
Mother whom Joseph took into refuge in Egypt
You who took the Child Jesus to Jerusalem for the Passover
You who searched for Jesus for three days
You who found Jesus again in His Father’s house
Mother whom Jesus obeyed at Nazareth
Model of widows
Jesus’ companion at the marriage feast of Cana
You who told the servants “Do as He shall tell you”
You who gave rise to Jesus’ first miracle
Mother of Jesus for having done with Will of the Father in heaven
Mary who chose the better part
Blessed for having heard the word of God and kept it
Mother standing at the foot of the Cross
Mother of the disciple whom Jesus loved
Queen of the Apostles, persevering in prayer with them
Woman clothed with the sun
Woman crowned with twelve stars
Sorrowful Mother of the Church
Glorious Mother of the Messiah
Image of the new Jerusalem
River of living water, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb

— Composed by A.M. Roguet, published in La Vie Spirituelle and reprinted in the New Saint Joseph Prayer Book #925

nativity-of-the-virgin_andrea-di-bartolo
The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Andrea di Bartolo, circa 1400, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Prayer to Mary the Christ-Bearer

O Mary,
you are a mystery
of faithfulness,
of light,
of perfection.
I love to think of you
as bearer of Christ
for all others.
Every child is for God
and for others.

I feel compelled
as I carry Christ
to others
to remain in the background like you
so that only He may be seen.
I am not running away,
or being detached,
but I am lending Him
my voice,
my face,
my living,
my environment
so that He
may speak
and save
and love
all people of today.

— Anna Teresa Ciccolini, New Saint Joseph’s Prayer Book # 930

Now have a piece of cake and some ice cream.

May God’s glory dwell in our land

Psalm of the Day: 85
Prayer for the People’s Salvation

For the leader. A psalm of the Korahites.

You once favored, LORD, your land,
restored the captives of Jacob.
You forgave the guilt of your people,
pardoned all their sins.

Selah

You withdrew all your wrath,
turned back from your burning anger.

Restore us, God of our salvation;
let go of your displeasure with us.
Will you be angry with us forever,
prolong your anger for all generations?
Certainly you will again restore our life,
that your people may rejoice in you.
Show us, LORD, your mercy;
grant us your salvation.

I will listen for what God, the LORD, has to say;
surely he will speak of peace
To his people and to his faithful.
May they not turn to foolishness!
Near indeed is his salvation for those who fear him;
glory will dwell in our land.
Love and truth will meet;
justice and peace will kiss.
Truth will spring from the earth;
justice will look down from heaven.
Yes, the LORD will grant his bounty;
our land will yield its produce.
Justice will march before him,
and make a way for his footsteps.

Novena for Our Nation

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, pray for us!

 

O Felix Culpa!

A happy fault?

This past week two people told me that they don’t understand original sin. What inspired both of them to share this with me, I do not know. One person is an Irish-Catholic, first-generation American, and the other is a practicing Muslim, who thinks it is important to learn about other faiths. If it had been one person, I might not have noticed. The Irish Catholic and I frequently talk Catholic to each other, but the Muslim?

When someone tells me they don’t quite understand original sin, I am not at all surprised. As a child, I was never able to grasp and, therefore, began to resist Church teaching on original sin. “I’m innocent!” I would shout in my soul. “What did I do? Nothing! I’ve not hurt anyone!” But in time, after much opportunity to demonstrate my own weaknesses; through grace, study and prayer; and an increase in self-knowledge, I am no longer able to imagine a human, no matter how young and innocent, who is not marred by original sin and concupiscence. Human nature discloses itself each and every day. Now, original sin seems evident to me, requiring no explanation. How could anyone miss it, as well as the need for a remedy?

The challenge to me this week was how to explain original sin to someone without using too much, if any, Catholicspeak or scripture. Our faith is rich and deep. A lifetime is not long enough to contemplate it. The teachings are interconnected, and where there is one question about doctrine, there are most likely at least a dozen more.

For now, this is the best I can do:

An artist, let’s say, Edgar Degas, has a vision in his mind and heart to sculpt a little ballerina. He sees and knows every detail even before he has begun to gather his materials. He knows also that this original will be the mold used to create many others like it.

Degas begins to work, with much joy and love. Imagine that, like God, Degas could not only shape and form a new creation, but also give it life. As he sculpts, he talks to his creation, and fills her mind with dreams of all she will be and do. He talks of beauty, strength, and grace. Exhilaration and freedom.

As Degas completes his ballerina, she is everything he imagined and hoped. Degas delights in his creation. But before the ballerina can begin to dance, she must wait one final evening, for everything to set in place. He instructs his dancer to rest until morning, and then she may rise and dance.

At first the ballerina is content and closes her eyes with a smile. But soon the dreams of sleep wake, and sparks of impatience begin to grow in the ballerina’s heart. Another of Degas’ creations, who watched the artist work and heard his words of love, comes over to speak to the new family member. He wants to see her dance and invites her to get up, just give it a try, to see if it is all true. “Why wait?” he asks her. “Look at me, you’ll be just like me,” he says as he spins around. The ballerina thinks to herself that she is strong and ready. She steps out, and immediately falls and breaks her leg.

The mold that was to be used for so many other ballerinas is permanently marred.

In the morning, Degas comes to his studio eagerly, only to discover a broken sculpture. He has a choice. He can throw out what he has made, or he can fix it. Degas still loved his little ballerina, and refuses to abandon the dreams and plans he had for her. He will mend what has been broken.

So it is with God. As Adam and Eve sinned, we, too, are marred with this defect. Part of our weakness is our inability to comprehend God’s infinite love and mercy. God did not throw out his creation, only to start over and make something else. Rather, God made a way for us to be healed and live fully.

In the fullness of time, Jesus, Son of God, was born of woman, shed his blood to atone for every sin of ours, that we may be restored to the fullness of life for all eternity.

Baptism restores us. And where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20).

Blessed be the name of God. Praised be Jesus Christ.

Quote of the Day

The hand that graciously elevated mud into our form, graciously elevated flesh also for our restoration. Therefore the fact that the Creator is found in his creature, and that God is found in flesh, is an honor for the creature and not a humiliation for the Creator…. Man, whom he had made an earthly creature, he now has made a heavenly creature; one who was animated by a human spirit he quickens into a divine spirit. Thus he assumes him wholly into God so that he leaves nothing in him of sin, of death, of toil, of sorrow, of earth. — Saint Peter Chrysologus, Homily on the Nativity of Our Lord (406–450)

Catholicspeak

  • Read about original sin at Catholic Answers
  • Read about original sin in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
    • Part One – The Profession of Faith, Section Two – The Profession of Christian Faith, Chapter One – I Believe in God the Father, Article I – I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Paragraph 7 – The Fall
    • Part Three – Life in Christ, Section One – Man’s Vocation Life in the Spirit, Chapter One – The Dignity of the Human Person, Article 8 — Sin

As you did to the least, you did to me

Pope Francis at World Youth Day Krakow
Stations of the Cross – Friday, July 29, 2016

“I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.”

These words of Jesus answer the question that arises so often in our minds and hearts: Where is God?

  • Where is God if evil is present in our world? If there are men and women who are hungry and thirsty, homeless, exiles, and refugees?
  • Where is God when innocent persons die as a result of violence, terrorism, and war?
  • Where is God when cruel diseases break the bonds of life and affection, or when children are exploited and demeaned, and they, too, suffer from grave illness?
  • Where is God amid the anguish of those who doubt and are troubled in spirit?

These are questions that humanly speaking have no answer.

We can only look to Jesus, and ask him. And Jesus’ answer is this: God is in them. Jesus is in them. He suffers in them, and deeply identifies with each of them. He is so closely united to them as to form with them, as it were, one body.

We are called to serve the crucified Jesus in all those who are marginalized.

Unless those who call themselves Christians live to serve, their lives serve no good purpose. By their lives, they deny Jesus Christ.

The way of the cross is the way of fidelity in following Jesus to the end in the often dramatic situations of everyday life. It is a way that fears no lack of success, ostracism, or solitude, because it fills our hearts with the fullness of Jesus. The way of the cross is the way of God’s own life, his style, which Jesus brings even to the pathways of a society at times divided, unjust, and corrupt. — Pope Francis

— Pope Francis, excerpt from World Youth Day remarks after Stations of the Cross

Jezu Ufam Tobie

Video of the Day

Nun flash mob to promote World Youth Day in Krakow.

Polish version

English version

God bless all the pilgrims.

Prayer of the Day

Act of Entrustment of the Destiny of the World to the Divine Mercy

O God, merciful Father,
Who have revealed your love in your Son,
Jesus Christ, and have poured it out upon us
in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
We entrust to You today the destiny of the world
and of every man and woman.
Bend down to us sinners,
heal our weaknesses, conquer all evil,
and grant that all the inhabitants
of the earth may experience Your mercy.
May they always find the source
of hope in You, the Triune God.
Eternal Father, for the sake of the sorrowful Passion,
and the Resurrection of Your Son,
have mercy on us and on the whole world. Amen.

— Pope John Paul II
August 17, 2002, Krakow, Poland