Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30, 2014 Monday: First Martyrs of the Church of Rome

Etty Hillesum, that incredibly beautiful woman who died in Auschwitz in 1943, whose diary was published in a book titled "The Interrupted Life", tells her story about her gradual discovery about where God resides. In her!

She recalls being in Westerbork, which was a camp where 10,000 Jewish people were waiting to be taken away, and she says some incredible words. "It isn't that I need God; God needs me!" She explains that God needs me to open my heart so that I can receive God into my being and then begin to radiate the presence of God which is the presence of peace, the presence of forgiveness, the presence of compassion.
-Jean Vanier

Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 29, 2014: Saints Peter and Paul, Year A

Click: Audio Homily
Have you seen the 1976 movie “Rocky” featuring Sylvester Stallone? Can you imagine what it’s like to watch it in Korean? As I watched the movie as a child in Korea, that was my first encounter with what’s called the American dream. In the movie, Rocky Balboa was a rough on the edges and an uneducated but kind-hearted debt collector for a loan shark in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rocky starts out as a small-time boxer, but later gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship. Rocky’s trainer Mickey always considered Rocky’s potential to be better than his effort—telling Rocky that he had heart but also called him by endearing titles such as, “tomato” and “bum.” Through determination and hard training, Rocky was able to fight the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion and persevere for 15 grueling rounds. When the movie was over, as the Rocky theme music was playing in the background, I stepped out of the theater brimming with enthusiasm that I could achieve greatness like Rocky if I would just apply myself with determination.

In some ways, St. Peter had a similar background as Rocky Balboa. Simon was an uneducated fisherman with a kind heart but impetuous spirit. Simon’s major break in life came when he encountered Jesus on his own boat. Jesus instructed reluctant Simon to put out a net over one direction; his reluctance melted as the net was filled to the point of tearing with fish. His fishing partners, James and John, also could not believe their eyes. Simon’s reaction to this miracle was startling. Simon knelt before Jesus and cried out, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Before the divine presence, Simon felt small, petty, unworthy, and fearful. But Jesus reassured Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When Simon, James and John brought their boats and the catch back to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus. In contrast to the character “Rocky,” Simon’s  ‘success’ in the end was not due to luck or personal achievement, but due to his humility before Jesus after making mistakes. A humbled Simon allowed Jesus to lead him.

St. Paul’s break in life came similarly as St. Peter’s although St. Paul’s background was quite different. Saul was a brilliant yet overconfident and boastful scholar of the law with a vengeful personal mission. On the way to persecute Christians, he was blinded by a bright light and knocked to the ground. He then heard a voice, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  Before this thundering voice, Saul felt small, petty, unworthy, and fearful. “Who are you, sir,” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do,” he replied. Three days after suffering blindness in the city of Damascus, Saul received a new mission for his life from Jesus.  

Jesus challenges us, just as he did with Peter, to let go of what is comfortable and predictable--that is, our own will. Heavenly Father has a unique mission for each of us. Do we have the courage to let go and say yes to this mission? Courage is connected with taking risks. Some think that examples of courage are bungee jumping off of a bridge, climbing Mt. Everest, or crossing the ocean in a rowboat--where people risk their lives. None of these daredevil acts come from the centre of our being. Rather, they all come from the desire to test our physical limits and to become famous and popular. Spiritual courage is something completely different. Spiritual courage is following the deepest desires of our hearts at the risk of losing fame and popularity.  It asks of us the willingness to lose our temporal lives in order to gain eternal life.
When Jesus changed Simon’s name to Cephas or “Rock,” some scholars believe that this was Jesus’ way not only establishing His Church on the rock foundation, but also highlighting Peter’s rough edges. All of us begin our spiritual life being rough on the edges, with flaws, and not being perfect. The faith journey of St. Peter and St. Paul remind us that we often come to God not by doing right but by doing wrong. Do you believe that Jesus can use you to accomplish great things for His Kingdom? Then humbly submit your will to the Heavenly Father’s will. St. Paul reminds us what can happen when we do this, “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed.”

Saturday, June 28, 2014

June 28, 2014 Saturday: Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

The Saints Speak about Mary's Immaculate Heart:

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta :
"The feast of the Immaculate heart of Mary, cause of our joy, is drawing near. Our preparation for the great day should be that of deep, humble gratitude to God. Let us ask two special graces from Our Lady: The grace of perseverance in our beautiful vocation, and delicate love for God’s poor. The greatness of Our Lady was in her humility. No wonder Jesus wanted to live so close to her. We learn from him and from her one lesson: To be meek and humble of heart."

“Mary my Mother, give me your heart so beautiful, so pure, so Immaculate, so full of love and humility, that I may be able to receive Jesus.”

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque:
"The most efficacious way to have devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is through the Immaculate Heart of Mary."

St. Claude de la Colombiere:
"I turn to Mary and ask her to obtain for me the grace to imitate Our Lord’s Heart. I saw how perfectly her Heart copied His."

St. Louis de Montfort:
"If you put all the love of all the mothers into one heart it still would not equal the love of the Heart of Mary for her children."

St. Anthony Mary Claret:
“A son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man who is consumed with love and who sets on fire everything in his path. He is a man who unceasingly expends himself to light the fire of divine love in the world. Nothing stops him; he places his joy in privations, he undertakes all works for the glory of God; he embraces willingly every sacrifice, he is happy in the midst of calumnies; he exults in torments. He can think of but one thing — working, suffering, and seeking at all times the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls, to imitate Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Venerable Father Francis Liberman :
"You do not know what a treasure the Holy Heart of Mary is. Jesus Christ has placed in it so great a fullness of grace and favors that they would be sufficient to satisfy not merely the whole world but a hundred thousand worlds and much more."

St. John Eudes:
"Jesus lives in her (Mary) soul and body...His Heart abides in Her heart, His Soul in Her soul ... His virtues, mysteries, and divine attributes are loving in Her heart..."

"Although the heart of Jesus is distinct from that of Mary, and infinitely surpasses it in excellence and holiness, nevertheless, God has so closely united these two hearts, that we may say with truth, that they are but one heart."

St. Francis of Assisi:
“Immaculate Heart of Mary, cause of our joy, pray for us.”

Friday, June 27, 2014

June 27, 2014 Friday: Sacred Heart of Jesus

The heart of God burns with compassion! On today’s solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus the Church presents us this mystery for our contemplation: the mystery of the heart of a God who feels compassion and who bestows all his love upon humanity. A mysterious love, which in the texts of the New Testament is revealed to us as God’s boundless and passionate love for mankind. God does not lose heart in the face of ingratitude or rejection by the people he has chosen; rather, with infinite mercy he sends his only-begotten Son into the world to take upon himself the fate of a shattered love, so that by defeating the power of evil and death he could restore to human beings enslaved by sin their dignity as sons and daughters. But this took place at great cost—the only-begotten Son of the Father was sacrificed on the Cross: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (cf. Jn 13:1). The symbol of this love which transcends death is his side, pierced by a spear. The Apostle John, an eyewitness, tells us: “one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water” (cf. Jn 19:34).

Together let us pause to contemplate the pierced heart of the Crucified One. Just now we heard once again, in the brief reading from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, that “God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:4-6). To be “in” Jesus Christ is already to be seated in heaven. The very core of Christianity is expressed in the heart of Jesus; in Christ the revolutionary “newness” of the Gospel is completely revealed and given to us: the Love that saves us and even now makes us live in the eternity of God. As the Evangelist John writes: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (3:16). God’s heart calls to our hearts, inviting us to come out of ourselves, to forsake our human certainties, to trust in him and, by following his example, to make ourselves a gift of unbounded love.
-Pope Benedict XVI, Saint Peter’s Basilica Friday, 19 June 2009

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June 26, 2014 Thursday: 12th Week of Ordinary Time A

Desires and Discernment

Mark Thibodeaux, SJ, has a pithy definition of discernment: “Good discernment consists of prayerfully pondering the great desires that well up in my daydreams.”

These “great desires” are the fundamental forces that drive us. Sin happens not because we have desires, but because we are ignorant of the “desires beneath the desires.” In Ignatius’s view, the most universal desire is to praise, reverence, and serve God. This deep desire is often hidden to us. We fall into sin not because we are in touch with our desires, but because we are not in touch with them.

Discernment, says Thibodeaux, is a process of “praydreaming:”

I fantasize about great and beautiful futures. I let God dream in me and I sit in silent awe and wonder as these holy dreams come to life before the eyes and ears of my soul. . . .

Often, after many hours of prayerful deliberation, there will be a moment when you will just know. It will feel not as though you are making a decision but, rather, as though you are acknowledging a decision that has already been agreed upon by God and your heart.

I’ll recognize this auspicious moment by the way one option over the others leads to praydreams. Maybe those praydreams aren’t idealistic, comfortable or beautiful. But somehow they are realistic and right, more peaceful and charged with energy. These dreams will fit like a glove.

All the other options—though perhaps more beautiful, more comfortable or more safe—will drift farther from my soul’s watchful eye and will begin to fade into the horizon.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

June 25, 2014 Wednesday: 12th Week in Ordinary Time A

What entails being a Christian Disciple: John the Baptist

Describing him as ‘the greatest of the prophets’, the Pope summed up the three key vocations of John in three words: ‘prepare’, ‘discern’ and ‘diminish’.

Firstly Pope Francis said John was a man who prepared the way for Jesus without taking any of the glory for himself. People sought him out and followed him because he was a powerful preacher, the Pope noted, but when asked if he was the Messiah, John replied that he was just “a voice” who had come “to prepare the way of the Lord.”

The second vocation of John the Baptist, Pope Francis said, was to discern, among so many good people, who was the true Messiah. When John saw Jesus passing by, he said to the disciples , “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. The disciples looked, but let Jesus go on, so John repeated to them the next day, “Look, this is God’s chosen one!” The third vocation of John the Baptist, Pope Francis said, is to diminish himself so that the Lord may grow in the hearts of others.

This third stage of John’s vocation is the most difficult one, the Pope noted, because Jesus had a way of behaving which was so very different from what John had imagined. Just before his death in prison, John is filled with doubt and sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he really is the chosen one. John is humiliated through his death but also in the darkness of his doubts, yet he remains a model for Christians today. Pope Francis concluded by saying that as Christians we too must prepare the way of the Lord, , we must discern the truth and we must diminish ourselves so that the Lord can grow in our hearts and in the souls of others.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 24, 2014 Tuesday: The Birth of John the Baptist

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, June 24, the liturgy invites us to celebrate the solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, whose life was totally oriented toward Christ, as was the life of Christ's mother, Mary.

John the Baptist was the precursor, the "voice" sent to announce the Incarnate Word. For this reason, to commemorate the birth of John the Baptist in reality means to celebrate Christ, the fulfillment of the promises of all the prophets, of whom John was the greatest, called to "prepare the way" before the Messiah (cf. Matthew 11:9-10).

All the Gospels begin the narrative of Jesus' public life with the account of the Jesus' baptism in the Jordan by John. St. Luke sets John's appearance on the scene in a solemn historical frame. My book "Jesus of Nazareth" also takes cues from Jesus' baptism in the Jordan, an event that had enormous resonance at that time.

From Jerusalem and from every part of Judea people came to listen to John the Baptist and be baptized by him in the river, confessing their sins (cf. Mark 1:5). The fame of the baptizer grew to such an extent that many asked whether he might be the Messiah. But John -- the Gospel writer emphasizes -- resolutely denied it: "I am not the Christ" (John 1:20).

Nevertheless, he is still the first "witness" of Jesus, having received instruction about him from heaven: "The man on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is he who will baptize in the Holy Spirit" (John 1:33). This happened precisely when Jesus, having received baptism, came out of the water: John saw the Spirit descend on him like a dove.

It was then that he "knew" the full reality of Jesus of Nazareth and began "to make it known to Israel" (John 1:31), naming him as Son of God and redeemer of man: "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

As an authentic prophet, John bore witness to the truth without compromise. He denounced transgressions of God's commandments, even when the protagonists were people in power. Thus, when he accused Herod and Herodius of adultery, he paid for it with his life, sealing with martyrdom his service to Christ, who is the truth in person.

Let us call on his intercession together with that of Mary Most Holy so that the Church of our time will know how to be ever faithful to Christ and testify with courage to his truth and his love for all.

- Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus, June 24, 2014

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 23, 2014 Monday: 12th Week of Ordinary A

Words That Become Flesh

Words are important.  Without them our actions lose meaning.  And without meaning we cannot live.   Words can offer perspective, insight, understanding, and vision.  Words can bring consolation, comfort, encouragement and hope.  Words can take away fear, isolation, shame, and guilt.  Words can reconcile, unite, forgive, and heal.  Words can bring peace and joy, inner freedom and deep gratitude.  Words, in short, can carry love on their wings.  A word of love can be the greatest act of love.  That is because when our words become flesh in our own lives and the lives of others, we can change the world.

Jesus is the word made flesh.  In him speaking and acting were one.
-Fr. Henri Nouwen

Saturday, June 21, 2014

June 22, 2014: Corpus Christi

Click: Audio Homily
There are moments in our lives when a single word uttered brings so much joy. Take for instance the first time that a baby utters an intelligible word. Parents usually anticipate with great eagerness the moment their new baby says “Momma” or “Dada.” One mother shared that she was teaching her 14-month-old daughter for weeks to say “Momma.” The mother was doing this because her daughter was babbling what sounded to be “Dada”; I guess she wanted her baby daughter’s first word to be “Momma” instead of “Dada.” However, both the husband and the wife were unprepared for the day their baby uttered her first word. The word was, “Bob.” When that word was uttered, their golden retriever named “Bob” came running to the baby.

There are also a few simple words that can bring so much pain and suffering to parents. One young mom
share this experience. During one summer vacation, her four year old son asked for a toy at a store and she declined to buy it. Promptly, her son yelled, “I hate you.” She said that small phrase packed quite the emotional punch, especially because it was the very first time she heard it from her son. When children feel disappointed, frustrated, angry or a host of other difficult emotions, they may lash out and shout “I HATE YOU!” Have you had such an experience? How did you handle the situation? Were you hurt or angry by your child’s remark? Some moms suggest that you reply to your child with something like, "You will hate me many times as you grow up, and I'm prepared for it and I will always love you."

In today’s Gospel account, Jesus also experienced a profound hurt. He told the people gathered around him, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world...unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” This invitation to partake of his flesh and blood aroused in the crowd angry arguments and disagreements. Promptly, the crowd lashed out at Jesus and left him in disgust. I wonder what emotions Jesus felt in his heart as droves of men and women deserted him. The crowd forgot the words of Moses from Today’s First Reading.

"Do not forget the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery; who guided you through the vast and terrible desert with its saraph serpents and scorpions, its parched and waterless ground; who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock
and fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers."

Even to this day, there are times that forgetfulness prevents us from loving and following Our Lord. The same angry response to the new Manna from Heaven, the Eucharist, also happens today, even from Catholics. I was one of them. I was baptized and confirmed Catholic but by the time I graduated from high school, I was more interested in New Age philosophy than what Jesus had to say. I still went to mass during that time and went up to receive communion. I wonder what Jesus felt when I uttered my empty “Amen” when the priest said, “the Body of Christ.” Jesus knew that I didn’t believe him; Jesus knew that I didn’t believe that God could be present in that flour wafer. He knew that I was angry and perhaps even hateful of Him for some reason. I wonder what Jesus felt when I avoided him and detested him after I was so-called “saved” at a non-denominational prayer meeting while in college. After reading a short comic tract about how Catholics commit the alleged abomination of idolatry by worshipping a wafer, I was determined to ‘save’ my parents from such horrible and sinful abomination. I even preached to my parents about idolatry. I wonder how Jesus felt as I denied Him just as the crowd did in the Gospel saying, “How could this man give his flesh to eat?” Looking back, I can only say that Jesus was so patient with me. He did not diminish His love for me no matter how many times I persecuted Him through my words and actions. Jesus humbled himself before this sinner. He was willing to be humiliated, rebuked, and forgotten by me, in order to be near me.

On the feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Francis said, “Besides physical hunger, people have another hunger, one that cannot be satisfied with ordinary food. It is the hunger for life, hunger for love (and) hunger for eternity. The body and blood of Christ can give people eternal life because the substance of this bread is love. Living the Catholic faith means allowing yourself to be nourished by the Lord and building your life not on material goods, but on the reality that does not perish--his word and his body.” While some people find satisfaction in money, success, vanity, power, and pride,” the Pope said, “the people tempted by them forget those are meals eaten at slaves’ table.” Pope asks each of us: “Where do I want nourishment? At the Lord’s table or tasty food in slavery?”

Throughout our lives, countless times we will say, “Amen” before receiving the Eucharist. The word, “Amen” is not an English word but Aramaic which means, “So be it,” or “Yes, it is true!” So before receiving the Eucharist and when words “the Body of Christ” is pronounced, our “Amen” means:  "I truly believe that when I receive, it is You, Jesus.” How Jesus must be joyful by that single word uttered by us with faith! Just as a new mom or dad is joyful in hearing “Momma” or “Dadda,” Our Lord rejoices when we recognize Him and love Him in the Eucharist.

June 21, 2014 Saturday: St. Aloysius Gonzaga

In 1579, after two years in Florence, the marquis sent his two sons to Mantua, where they were boarded with relatives. But unfortunately for Ferrante’s (St. Aloysius' father) plans, the house of one host boasted a fine private chapel, where Luigi (St. Aloysius Gonzaga) spent much time reading the lives of the saints and meditating on the psalms. It was here that the thought came to the marquis’ son that he might like to become a priest. Upon returning to Castiglione, Luigi continued his readings and meditations, and when Charles Cardinal Borromeo visited the family, the twelve-year-old Luigi’s seriousness and learning impressed him greatly. Borromeo discovered that Luigi had not yet made his first communion and so prepared him for it. (In this way a future saint received his first communion from another.)

In 1581, still intending to pass on to Luigi his title and property, Ferrante decided that the family would travel with Maria of Austria, of the Spanish royal house, who was passing through Italy on her return to Spain. Maria was the widow of the emperor Maximilian II, and Ferrante saw an excellent opportunity for his son’s courtly education. Luigi became a page attending the Spanish heir apparent, the duke of Asturias, and was also made a knight of the Order of St. James.

Yet these honors only strengthened Luigi’s resolve not to lead such a life. While in Madrid, he found a Jesuit confessor and eventually decided to become a Jesuit himself. His confessor, however, told him that before entering the novitiate, Luigi needed first to obtain his father’s permission.

When Luigi approached his father, Ferrante flew into a rage and threatened to have Luigi flogged. There followed a battle of wills between the fierce and intransigent marquis of Castiglione and his equally determined sixteen-year-old son. Hoping to change his son’s mind, the marquis brought him back to the castle at Castiglione and promptly sent Luigi and his brother on an eighteen-month tour around the courts of Italy. But when Luigi returned, he had not changed his mind.

Worn out by his son’s persistence, Ferrante finally gave his permission. That November, Luigi, at age seventeen, renounced his inheritance, which passed to his brother Ridolfo, a typical Gonzaga with all the bad habits thereof. His old life over, Luigi left for Rome.

On his way to the novitiate, Aloysius (as he is most often called today) carried a remarkable letter from his father to the Jesuit superior general, which read, in part, “I merely say that I am giving into your Reverence’s hands the most precious thing I possess in all the world.”

At the beginning of 1591, a plague broke out in Rome. After begging alms for the victims, Aloysius began working with the sick, carrying the dying from the streets into a hospital founded by the Jesuits. There he washed and fed the plague victims, preparing them as best he could to receive the sacraments. But though he threw himself into his tasks, he privately confessed to his spiritual director, Fr. Robert Bellarmine, that his constitution was revolted by the sights and smells of the work; he had to work hard to overcome his physical repulsion.

At the time, many of the younger Jesuits had become infected with the disease, and so Aloysius’s superiors forbade him from returning to the hospital. But Aloysius—long accustomed to refusals from his father—persisted and requested permission to return, which was granted. Eventually he was allowed to care for the sick, but only at another hospital, called Our Lady of Consolation, where those with contagious diseases were not admitted. While there, Aloysius lifted a man out of his sickbed, tended to him, and brought him back to his bed. But the man was infected with the plague: Aloysius grew ill and was bedridden by March 3, 1591.

Aloysius rallied for a time, but as fever and a cough set in, he declined for many weeks. He had an intimation in prayer that he might die on the Feast of Corpus Christi, and when that day arrived he appeared to his friends better than on the previous day. Two priests came in the evening to bring him communion. As Fr. Tylenda tells the story, “When the two Jesuits came to his side, they noticed a change in his face and realized that their young Aloysius was dying. His eyes were fixed on the crucifix he held in his hands, and as he tried to pronounce the name of Jesus he died.” Like Joan of Arc and the Ugandan martyrs, Aloysius Gonzaga died with the name of Jesus on his lips.

He was twenty-three years old.

-Fr. James Martin SJ, My Life with the Saints

Friday, June 20, 2014

June 20, 2014 Friday: 11th Week of Ordinary Time A

"The Eucharist is the sacrament of the communion that takes us out of our individualism so that together we live our discipleship, our faith in him," Pope Francis said.

The pope said he is "always struck" by the disciples asking Jesus to send the crowd away to find food and lodging and Jesus telling him, "Give them some food yourselves."

"In the face of the crowd's needs, this is the disciples' solution: Everyone takes care of himself; dismiss the crowd," the pope said. "Many times we Christians have that same temptation; we don't take on the needs of others, but dismiss them with a compassionate 'May God help you' or a not-so-compassionate 'Good luck.'"

Jesus' solution, though, was to ask God's blessing on the little food available, then to have the disciples share it with crowd, he said.

"It is a moment of profound communion: the crowd quenched by the word of the Lord is now nourished by his bread of life, and all had their fill."

What Jesus encouraged the disciples to do was an act of "solidarity," he said, which is nothing other than "placing at God's disposal what little we have, our humble abilities, because only in sharing and in giving will our lives be fruitful."

In the Eucharist, the pope said, Catholics experience the "solidarity of God," a solidarity that can never be exhausted and should never stop causing awe.

"Once again this evening, Jesus gives himself to us in the Eucharist, shares our journey and, in fact, makes himself the food that sustains our lives, even when the road gets rough and obstacles slow our steps," Pope Francis said.

At the same time, he said, in receiving the Eucharist faithfully "the Lord leads us to follow his path -- that of service, sharing and giving; and that little that we have, the little that we are, if shared, becomes a treasure because the power of God, who is love, descends to our poverty and transforms it."

Pope Francis, Corpus Christi procession, 2013

Thursday, June 19, 2014

June 19, 2014 Thursday: 11th Week of Ordinary Time A

When the Saint lay on her deathbed, she grieved that she was not able to receive the Lord in the Eucharist. She was beloved by the community, and by the priest in attendance at the end of her life. She still had a very strong will. She convinced the priest, Fr. James de Campo Reggio, to bring the Eucharist to her bedside, so that she could at least see Her Lord before she died. The priest agreed.

When he brought the Blessed Sacrament into the room, Juliana was obsessed with the desire to touch Him somehow. She pleaded with the priest to allow her to at least kiss the Host. He refused. She waited a little longer. It was very obvious to all that she was nearing death. She begged the priest to put a corporal on her chest, and just lay the Lord gently on her chest, near her heart. The priest, who found it very difficult to deny her anything, gave in. Fr. James arranged the cloth on her chest, as she had requested. No sooner had the Host been placed there than It disappeared from sight, to the astonishment of the 18 people gathered in the room. Saint Juliana closed her eyes, smiling. She never opened them again. At the touch of Our Lord Jesus on her heart, her life had been fulfilled, and she went to Him.

This Is My Body, This Is My Blood: Miracles Of The Eucharist
Bob and Penny Lord

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 18, 2014 Wednesday: 11th Week in Ordinary A

We Are the Glory of God

Living a spiritual life is living a life in which our spirits and the Spirit of God bear a joint witness that we belong to God as God's beloved children, (see Romans 8:16). This witness involves every aspect of our lives. Paul says: "Whatever you eat, then, or drink, and whatever else you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). And we are the glory of God when we give full visibility to the freedom of the children of God.

When we live in communion with God's Spirit, we can only be witnesses, because wherever we go and whomever we meet, God's Spirit will manifest itself through us.
-Fr. Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 17, 2014 Tuesday: 11th Week in Ordinary Time A

Doing Love

Often we speak about love as if it is a feeling. But if we wait for a feeling of love before loving, we may never learn to love well. The feeling of love is beautiful and life-giving, but our loving cannot be based in that feeling. To love is to think, speak, and act according to the spiritual knowledge that we are infinitely loved by God and called to make that love visible in this world.

Mostly we know what the loving thing to do is. When we "do" love, even if others are not able to respond with love, we will discover that our feelings catch up with our acts.
-Fr Henri Nouwen

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 16, 2014 Monday: 11th Week of Ordinary Time A

As Christians, “we are called to bear witness to and announce the message that ‘God is love,’ that God is not distant or insensible to our human affairs.” God, the Pope said, “is close to us, He is always by our side, He walks with us to share our joys and our sorrows, our hopes and our struggles.” He loves human beings so much that He sent His only Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, into the world, that the world might be saved through Jesus.

It is the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis continued, “the gift of the Risen Jesus,” that “communicates the divine life to us and so makes us enter into the dynamism of the Trinity, a dynamism of love, of communion, of reciprocal service, of sharing.” A person, a family, a parish that loves others for the sake of love is a “reflection of the Trinity.”

But although true love is without limits, true love also knows when to limit itself in order “to meet the other, to respect the liberty of the other.” Drawing the connection between the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity and next week’s Feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Francis said “the Eucharist is like the ‘burning bush’ in which the Trinity humbly dwells and communicates Itself.” He reminded the faithful of the custom of Rome of celebrating the Mass of Corpus Christi in the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran, followed by a Eucharistic procession to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. “I invite Romans and pilgrims to participate,” the Pope said, “in order to express our desire to be a people ‘gathered in the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
-Pope Francis, Angelus, June 15, 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

June 15, 2014: The Most Holy Trinity

Have you ever seen a four-year old boy protest? A mother who has a five-year old, a four-year old, and a one-year old shared this story. One day the five-year old boy popped in the kitchen and said to his mother, “Gravity, Mommy.” The mother with a puzzled look said, “What’s gravity?” The five-year old then replies, “Gravity is a force that pulls objects to the center of the earth.” The mother is still puzzled and thinks to herself, ‘Why is he going on about gravity.” Then the little boy said, “Gravity also pulled all of Jude’s toys out of his window and into the pool.” The mother jumped up and ran to the kitchen window. And there they were, all of Jude’s toys were strewn about the kiddie pool. Jude, her four-year old son, was sent to bed early; in protest, he opened his bedroom window upstairs and flung every single toy from his room to the deck below. Your own family life, too, has its surprises and adventures, right?

The mother who shared the story said that originally she didn’t want to have children. She and her husband felt that their two dogs were adequate enough. In fact, they felt the same about God in their marriage. When they were married at a Protestant service, they removed any trace of the mention of God or Jesus in their ceremony. Do you know of someone in your family or of an acquaintance who share a similar attitude? After a few years of not having children, her husband one day mentioned in passing, “It would be nice to have a rugrat or two.” Then the wife, after her friend brought along her one year old son for a visit, broke down and cried saying that she wanted to have a child too. She learned, late into her marriage, that the deepest part of herself desired a family. The image of God written in her heart desired a love that was fruitful--that is, a family with children. Up until then, she wanted her marriage on her own terms--devoid of children, devoid of God.

Have you invited God into your family life? How does a married couple place God in the center of their marriage? Today’s Gospel offers succinct advice, "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Simply, Jesus has shown us the way to peace. All families desire and pray for peace in their lives. Yet, if I were to ask you, do you wish that you did less running around, spent less time in the car, and preoccupied with less stuff, how would you answer? We lament that we are too busy, but none of this activity is forced upon us. All of us choose to clutter our lives with activities of the world. We choose to stay busy with many useless activities. We even allow our children to choose to stay busy with many extracurricular activities. Even those of us involved in ministry, we choose to stay busy doing things.

Jesus offers us a very different vision. Imagine a little town of Nazareth 2000 years ago. When Jesus woke up in the morning, he didn’t turn on his TV in his room to catch cartoons. Mary and Joseph didn’t rush to check their smartphone for updates. The family didn’t eat with TV news playing in the background. As they began breakfast, they first began with a prayer of thanksgiving to God. As they ate, they heard the birds chirping and each other’s voice in conversation. They were not preoccupied with how to logistically fit innumerable activities in one single day.

These days, kids are looked at as misfits if they are not enrolled in sports, music/art, and every other activity that keeps them busy all day long. From after school activities to summer day camps, today the family time is being spent running around ferrying our kids to every place imaginable and eating on the run instead of enjoying family meals around the table together. Our culture expects us to keep busy, but if we desire peace in our lives, then the love of the family is central. None of the activities are bad in themselves. But when we are invited to an activity, sometimes we need to say ‘no’ so that our family can have time together to grow closer and to enjoy the company. When the family loves completely, there is peace. This love and peace will spread to friends and neighbors.

Can you think of ways to slow down your pace and put God in the center of your family? There will be pain and struggle in restructuring your family life to slow down. But we must not be afraid. We must ask the Heavenly Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit for help us put the life of the Divine Family of the Trinity as the first in our own lives.

Friday, June 13, 2014

June 13, 2014 Friday: St. Anthony of Padua

The Source of All Love

Without the love of our parents, sisters, brothers, spouses, lovers, and friends, we cannot live. Without love we die. Still, for many people this love comes in a very broken and limited way. It can be tainted by power plays, jealousy, resentment, vindictiveness, and even abuse. No human love is the perfect love our hearts desire, and sometimes human love is so imperfect that we can hardly recognise it as love.

In order not to be destroyed by the wounds inflicted by that imperfect human love, we must trust that the source of all love is God's unlimited, unconditional, perfect love, and that this love is not far away from us but is the gift of God's Spirit dwelling within us.
-Fr. Henri Nouwen

Thursday, June 12, 2014

June 12, 2014 Thursday: 10th Week in Ordinary A

Empowered to Receive Love

The Spirit reveals to us not only that God is "Abba, Father" but also that we belong to God as his beloved children. The Spirit thus restores in us the relationship from which all other relationships derive their meaning.

Abba is a very intimate word. The best translation for it is: "Daddy." The word Abba expresses trust, safety, confidence, belonging, and most of all intimacy. It does not have the connotation of authority, power, and control, that the word Father often evokes. On the contrary, Abba implies an embracing and nurturing love. This love includes and infinitely transcends all the love that comes to us from our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, spouses, and lovers. It is the gift of the Spirit.
-Fr. Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June 11, 2014 Wednesday: 10th Week in Ordinary A

Empowered to Call God "Abba"

Calling God "Abba, Father" is different from giving God a familiar name.  Calling God "Abba" is entering into the same intimate, fearless, trusting, and empowering relationship with God that Jesus had.  That relationship is called Spirit, and that Spirit is given to us by Jesus and enables us to cry out with him, "Abba, Father."

Calling God "Abba, Father" (see Roman 8:15; Galatians 4:6) is a cry of the heart, a prayer welling up from our innermost beings.  It has nothing do with naming God but everything to do with claiming God as the source of who we are.  This claim does not come from any sudden insight or acquired conviction; it is the claim that the Spirit of Jesus makes in communion with our spirits.  It is the claim of love.

-Fr. Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June 10, 2014 Tuesday: 10th Week in Ordinary Time A

Salt and Life
Salt was of vital importance in Jesus’ time, imperative to enhancing flavor and to preserve food in a desert climate with no refrigeration. Still today salt is of utter importance. Recently thawed by the warmth of June we recall the intense cold that gripped most of our country, freezing our communities and leading to widespread closures. Our streets still glimmer with salt residue, which equipped us with the means to carry on with our daily tasks.

Just how are we called to be salt that melts the ice and opens the pathway? In today’s culture we see many forms of ice that isolate us and require melting. Instead of seeking ‘Easy Street’ we are called as faithful Christians to take the higher road by examining our behavior, melting the ice of self -seeking narcissism, empty promises of immediate gratification, and contentment with the status quo.

Jesus calls each of us to this higher road by finding the unique flavor of our salt. To go out to be the salt of humility that melts resentment and leads to reconciliation, the salt of justice that melts oppression and brings peace, and the salt that of love that melts the coldness of indifference.

— Matthew Lieser, S.J.

Monday, June 9, 2014

June 9, 2014 Monday: 10th Week in Ordinary Time

The Power of the Spirit

In and through Jesus we come to know God as a powerless God, who becomes dependent on us. But it is precisely in this powerlessness that God's power reveals itself. This is not the power that controls, dictates, and commands. It is the power that heals, reconciles, and unites. It is the power of the Spirit. When Jesus appeared people wanted to be close to him and touch him because "power came out of him" (Luke 6:19).

It is this power of the divine Spirit that Jesus wants to give us. The Spirit indeed empowers us and allows us to be healing presences. When we are filled with that Spirit, we cannot be other than healers.
-Fr. Henri Nouwen

Saturday, June 7, 2014

June 8, 2014: Pentecost Sunday A

When you were a teenager, how well did you obey your parents’ instructions? Did you ever tell your parents that you were going to do one thing but ended up doing something they wouldn't approve of? A mother shared her recent experience with her 9th grade daughter. Her daughter and few friends were going to the movies. Before she left, the mother told her daughter that she should not go see certain movies. The daughter replied to her mom that her friends wanted to see a PG-13 science fiction movie involving robot boxers. About 20 minutes after her daughter was dropped off at the movies, the mother got a call from from her daughter to come back and pick her up. When the mother picked her up, the daughter explained that after buying the tickets her friends decided to go in and see a R-rated movie involving a demon-possessed house. The daughter told her friends that she could not go see that movie because she did not want to betray her mom’s trust.

If we look back in our lives, have we made some foolish mistakes that we are not proud of? Perhaps in making those mistakes we may have betrayed the trust of our loved ones and God. Were there some occasions we wished we would have prayed and asked for the guidance of the Holy Spirit before we just impulsively jumped in? If we carefully recall those mistakes, we may discover that the Holy Spirit was prompting us, all along, to choose to be God’s instrument of love and do the right thing. Yet in the heat of the moment--out of pride, human respect, impatience, anger, lust, laziness, or greed--we acted contrary to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

It’s an understatement to say that our parents and grandparents worry about how our children will navigate through this world. We can, to a certain extent, try to protect and guide them, but once they are out of our house we can only hope and pray that our children will make the right choices. Heavenly Father knew this dilemma from the very beginning as He created each one of us.  He knew that we needed an advocate, a counselor, and a guide to lead us, even when we are away from our loved one’s supervision.

On Pentecost, God gave his very self to us in the person of the Holy Spirit. He is no longer outside of us, but resides inside of each of us at the very center of ourselves. And from there, the Holy Spirit pours out the gift that the Heavenly Father desires for us to have. Most importantly the Holy Spirit guides us to encounter Jesus, to a deeper communion with Jesus. However, the gifts of the Holy Spirit must be exercised.  

This was demonstrated by the 9th grader I mentioned at the beginning. She was using several gifts of the Holy Spirit she received from her baptism to guide her to make the right choice. She exercised the Holy Spirit’s gift of wisdom, which is the gift of knowing the right choices to make to live a holy life. Using that gift allowed her to avoid the things that could lead her away from God. Can you imagine what kind of images and dreams she would struggle with had she seen a movie filled with demons, graphic violence, profanities, and sexual situations? She also exercised the gift of courage to stand up to her friends about what is the right thing to do.

A movie rated R means that an adult is allowed to watch. Yet, should we, adults, also exercise the Holy Spirit’s gift of wisdom and courage to avoid filling our adult minds with images, situations, and language that lead us astray from God’s peace? Think of a movie, a late-night talk show, or a book you read recently. Did it produce in your spirit a love for others, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, self-control, modesty, and chastity? We must be vigilant in discerning the spirit behind what we consume through our eyes, ears, and imagination. The evil one is always lurking around to destroy the peace and joy that we experience in being in the presence of Christ.

Each of us has received the precious gifts of the Holy Spirit from the Heavenly Father. What good are those gifts if we keep them locked up in the attic and let them gather dust? We must open the gifts and carry the spirit of God through the world in our very being. We must bring the light of Christ wherever we go. We must be the sign of love and cooperation between man and the holy forces at work in the world. Will we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us so that all will come to know Our Lord’s love?

Friday, June 6, 2014

June 6, 2014 Friday: 7th Week of Easter A

Picture yourself as Peter when Jesus asks you, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Jesus asks you further, "Do you know that I love you?" Wouldn't you respond by saying, "Lord, you know I love you. Thank you for coming back to me. I weep for the hurt and harm that I have sinfully inflicted on you and others. I failed you, but right now what I need most is your love. Comfort me and assure me of your love so that I can move on with my life."

Again Jesus asks, "Simon, son of John, do you love me? Do you love me with all your heart? Do you love me so that you also know my heart? My sheep are hungry, thirsty, and scattered. Some are in darkness lacking knowledge of who I am and what I have done to them. Do you really love me?" Wouldn't you reply and say, "Lord, you know I love you. I need your love to free me to pursue you. Love makes me wanting to feel and know your heart and mind. I want to hear your voice more closely. I want to share your thinking, your goals, and your motivations for doing things."

Third time Jesus asks, "Simon, son of John, do you love me? Do you love me and love your neighbor? Do you love them so as to leave the ninety-nine in search of the one who is lost? Do you love them that you will give the most loving thing you can offer and are willing to sacrifice everything you have for them?" Wouldn't you respond and say "Lord, you know I love you. I need your love to fill my heart, transform my mind, and free me to give myself in loving service to others."

Perhaps at the end of the day, Jesus still asks: "After all we have gone through, after all the experiences of pain and disappointment, do you love me? Even though the other day you let me down, even though your words have hurt me so much, do you love me?

The gospel today is an encounter of celebration, marked by tenderness and affection. Jesus would so much like to see you with a loving heart...he's not asking for plans, words or intentions - but for love. He wishes us to replace every denial, every sin, with a statement of our love for him. His question of "do you love me?" opens the door of love and caring, the door of understanding and belonging together, the door in which emotions count and affection is essential.

If you feel that you do not know how to love God, or how to feel God's love, it may help to ponder his question "Do you love me?" The love of God, being loved by God, loving God, is what gives our lives their shape and form, their texture and their fullness.

Fall In Love
Nothing is more practical than finding God,
than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

by Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

June 5, 2014 Thursday: 7th Week of Easter

The longest recorded prayer of Jesus is found in the Gospel of John, the "high priestly" prayer which Jesus prayed aloud at his last supper meal with his disciples (John 17). This prayer most clearly reveals the heart of Jesus - who and what he loved most - love for his Father and love for those who believed in him. His prayer focused on the love and unity he desired for all who would believe in him and follow him, not only in the present, but in the future as well. Jesus' prayer concludes with a petition for the unity among all Christians who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus prays for all men and women who will come after him and follow him as his disciples. In a special way Jesus prays here for each one of us that as members of his body the church we would be one as he and his Father are one. The unity of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, with the eternal Father is a unity of mutual love, service, and honor, and a oneness of mind, heart, and spirit. The Lord Jesus calls each and every one of his followers into this unity of mutual love, service, honor, and friendship with all who belong to Christ.

Jesus prayer on the eve of his sacrifice shows the great love and trust he had for his beloved disciples. He knew they would abandon him in his hour of trial, yet he entrusted to them the great task of spreading his name throughout the world and to the end of the ages. The Lord Jesus entrust us today with the same mission to make him known and loved by all. Jesus died and rose again that all might be one as he and the Father are one. Do you love and accept all baptized Christians as your brothers and sisters in Christ?

The Lord Jesus included each one of us in his high priestly prayer at the last supper. He continues his high priestly office this very day as our intercessor at the right hand of the Father before the throne of heaven. Paul the Apostle tells us that it is "Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us" (Romans 8:34; see also Hebrews 7: 25). Do you join in Jesus' high priestly prayer that all who profess Jesus as Lord may grow in love and unity together as brothers and sisters who have been redeemed through the precious blood shed for us on the cross?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June 4, 2014 Wednesday: 7th Week of Easter A

Claiming the Identity of Jesus

When we think about Jesus as that exceptional, unusual person who lived long ago and whose life and words continue to inspire us, we might avoid the realisation that Jesus wants us to be like him. Jesus himself keeps saying in many ways that he, the Beloved Child of God, came to reveal to us that we too are God's beloved children, loved with the same unconditional divine love.

John writes to his people: "You must see what great love the Father has lavished on us by letting us be called God's children - which is what we are." (1 John 3:1). This is the great challenge of the spiritual life: to claim the identity of Jesus for ourselves and to say: "We are the living Christ today!"

Fr Henri Nouwen

June 3, 2014 Tuesday: Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs

Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.

Our Lady taught Mother Teresa that even pain could become a place of prayer. What seems to the world a lack of God’s presence becomes a place of meeting. Instead of struggling with pain as a distraction to our prayer, we can integrate our suffering into our prayer. We can lift our pain up to the Lord on the Cross, and hold it there before him. We can be there in peace, even in darkness, with that part of us that says “Why, Lord?” If we remain there with the brokenness this represents in us, we give Jesus the opportunity to be our Savior, to be our Resurrection again in the present, to take this pain and this problem and make it a part of his own Passion, and the doorway to share his Resurrection.

Christ has the power to do this, if we give him permission. He will transform our suffering and raise it to the Father. Though the pain might remain, our anguish will turn to peace. There will be healing of bitterness, of resentment, and of despair. Jesus does not take away all our wounds. Rather, he disinfects them and glorifies them. For Jesus, the Resurrection was not an emergency room where the Father took away all the signs of the Passion. Jesus rose with his wounds, wounds now transformed from darkness to light, dug into his hands in time and in pain and now become eternal fonts of light and blessing and glory.

Nor is the Resurrection Jesus’ reward for having suffered. It is rather the unstoppable explosion of glory that pours forth from Love’s triumph on the Cross. The Lord will do with our wounds the same as he did with that unspeakable wound that pierced Our Lady’s heart, so that we too may also rise with him.

Mother Teresa, In the Shadow of Our Lady by Fr. Joseph Langford