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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Anxiety

"Have no anxiety at all." Phil 4:6

Terror comes to us all. Sometimes it takes the form of a new illness or anxiety. At other times, we are deeply troubled by the sickness of a spouse, friend or child, especially when the doctors seem unable to diagnose the problem. When this happens, we tend to breathe more shallowly and our insides get frantic with worry and concern. Worse, it is often difficult to sleep or rest well when we are overwhelmed with a life threatening situation.

Jesus continually assures his disciples that he is always alert and will always be with them, but he does not promise a carefree life. Rather, he insists that the Good News is so good that they need not fear even death itself, a great challenge for the disciples and us.



Today, ask the Lord to assure you he is near.

Do you have a prayer that helps you when you are anxious?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Our Lady of the Rosary

“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.”  
(Lk 10:27)

Learning to pray by rote is important. Repetition allows the substance of the prayer to seep slowly into our psyches and souls, and repetitive prayer like the rosary teaches us that we do not have always to be conscious of every word we speak to God, but we do have to be faithful. 

Archbishop Fulton Sheen, one of the most dramatic and effective preachers of the twentieth century and now a candidate for canonization, one wrote:
"The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men (and women); it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description." (History of Rosary)
It does not matter if we are blind, simple or old as long as we keep praying as best we can, and the rosary is a wonderful way to do this.

Today, say a decade of the rosary with an open spirit.

What are your best experiences of repetitive prayer?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Doing Justice

"Justice is with the Lord our God." Bar 1:15

Being just and doing justice is an essential element of the Christian vocation. At the end of the 19th century, when the world was changing more rapidly than anyone could understand or accept, and workers were being used and abused by the newly emerging assembly line technology which left them exhausted at the end of a working day, the church, under the leadership of Pope Leo XIII wrote,
"Justice, therefore, demands that the interests of the working classes should be carefully watched over by the administration, so that they who contribute so largely to the advantage of the community may themselves share in the benefits which they create – that being housed, clothed, and bodily fit, they may find their life less hard and more endurable. (Rerum Novarum # 34)
In a world in which too many people, without work and the dignity work can offer the worker, are hungry, thirsty and naked, Jesus' command to feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, becomes increasingly important,(Mt 25:32-46) and our obligation to do justice gratefully an even more powerful sign of God's love for all. When we live a just life, everything and everyone changes. Not only do we practice the Gospel in everyday life, we witness to others the joy we experience in being Good News.

Today, be grateful for the food and work you have.

How do you think justice should proceed in the world?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

God's Harvest

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Mt 9:38

Too often this passage is reduced to a commentary on religious or priestly vocations, and that is a shame. It is clear to anyone who reads the scriptures regularly that Jesus is much more concerned with all people hearing the Good News and living it than with reforming the lives of the community's leaders. While a hierarchy will develop in Christianity over time, the role of leaders is not first to govern, but to create an environment that frees people to enter the mysteries of faith.

At the same time, Jesus is concerned that so few people seem ready to risk their lives to follow the Gospel. Most of us have an attitude that suggests we should leave well enough alone, but this stance does not advance our own lives or the lives of the community. Jesus invites us to make monumental changes in life, and while this prospect is daunting, we need to ask for the faith to pray with Jesus to make us laborers who are willing to stretch our imaginations and dreams to conform to Jesus' vision.

The Gospel really is Good News, although its demands may not always feel comfortable. Jesus challenges his followers to look again at the poor, the broken, the sick and all that is in it in order to see with God's eyes. All that God creates is good and beautiful, and its fruits belong to all as a gift from God. Our only task is to share its bounty with all people in order that all might know God's justice, have God's peace and believe that its wonders are a promise of  another Kingdom

Today, be one of God's laborers.

Whose efforts on behalf of the Gospel most moved you to belief in God?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

St Francis of Assisi

"Brothers, let us begin, for up to now we have done nothing." St Francis as he neared death

The name Francis is in the forefront of the news these days, especially in the United States. Humble, honest, and unafraid to speak his mind, the Holy Father has captivated the imagination of many around the world and is using his new prominence to speak out on behalf of the voiceless: the poor, refugees, the sick and creation itself . Calling the church to return to its foundations, Pope Francis is living up to his name. When asked why he chose the name Francis, he was clear, “The poor, the poor." 

St Francis of Assisi not only thought about the poor, he became poor and like so many great saints he allowed God to turn his life upside down. Urged as a boy to be a soldier and fight for Assisi, Francis listened, went to war against the neighboring town of Perugia, but then heard God's call to let go of his warring ways and live the Gospel without compromise. Like the 3rd century martyr, St Maximilian, who said "I am a solder of Christ, I cannot fight," Francis fought not for dominance over his neighbors but for Gospel purity. Wanting to live so poorly that he and his brothers would have nothing to defend, he directed the friars to own nothing and possess nothing, eventually convincing the Roman hierarchy to approve their way of life. Francis' example continues to inspire thousands of women and men today.

Today, live simply so that others can live.

What should be our response to the poor?

Monday, October 2, 2017

Refusing to be Vengeful

"On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they (the Samaritans) would not welcome him....When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
"Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?''' Lk 9 51,55

Few passages in the Gospel tell us more about the radical demands of the Gospel than Jesus' refusal to condemn the Samaritans. The laws of hospitality which the rabbis taught were strict. Because Israel was a desert land populated by nomads, travelers and strangers had to be welcomed. By Torah law the Samaritans should have welcomed Jesus and his disciples. But because the rabbis condemned Samaritans, the Samaritans wanted nothing to do with Jesus. Even though the prophet Isaiah reminds his readers to feed the hungry lavishly, the Samaritans, hurt and angry by the failure of the authorities to accept them, reject Jesus and his disciples. Still, Jesus will not condemn them.

Clearly, Jesus' demand that we love our enemies interprets the Torah in a much more radical way and pushes Christians even further. It is one thing to welcome strangers and offer them a bit of bread, it is another altogether to love those who attack you or with whom you have been at war. If God's love for us is going to be announced clearly and dramatically, then Christians have to go the extra mile and let go of our resentments and desire for vengeance in order that God can be known.

Today, love someone who has hurt you.

Who has lived the Gospel most powerfully for you?



Sunday, October 1, 2017

Guardian Angels

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” Mt 18:10

Most of us work diligently not to despise anyone or anything, trying always to think of all creation as a gift from God. Nevertheless, we slip, we sin, we fail. In recent days, the actions of our Congress have led many to despise the intransigence of those we have elected to serve, but whose behavior too often seems self protective and rigid. Because we so need our representatives to remember all the people of this nation, especially the poor, we expect them to have the comprehensive and inclusive view of what a stoppage in government service might mean for the neediest of our citizens.

When Jesus wants his disciples and opponents to understand fully his attitude towards them and his expectations of them, he reminds them to look at children as icons of humility. Children, he insists, can teach all what it means to understand greatness. We are not called to dominate or manipulate others, but to serve one another like children and slaves, and to be innocent, vulnerable and alert to everything and everyone around us, especially the poor.

Today, remember that there are angels around us to protect us.

How do you counter arrogance in yourself and others?