Stay humble and persevere

These words from Sirach 2:3a,4-6a motivate me and re-direct my thoughts (from myself to others) when I am finding things difficult:

Cling to Him, do not leave Him,
[…]
Accept whatever happens to you;
in periods of humiliation be patient.
For in fire gold is tested,
and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust in God, and he will help you…

This prayer helps me to grow in humility.

Oratio from lectio divina of Gospel for 14thSunOrdT-A

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is from Matthew 11:25-30:

Here is the fruit of my lectio/meditatio/contemplatio on this portion of Sacred Scripture:

Jesus, my heart swells with joy – and is greatly encouraged – to hear you publicly, exuberantly thanking our Father.  When I hear you proclaim our Father as “Lord of heaven and earth,” it greatly confirms my faith in Your divinity, for the Son of the “Lord” is Himself surely divine.  I am delighted to see that You were consoled in heart and mind that the will of the Father allowed only those of true grace-inspired littleness to perceive the sublime mystery of Your identity as Son and Your perfect communion with the Father.  Our Father wants to be known and loved, so He sent His perfect image, a perfect representation of Himself.  Help me, Jesus, to shed my pride and arrogance, that my heart may increase in simplicity, and my trust in You may never wane.

Jesus, the yoke of Your teaching and the way of life to which you call me is made so much lighter when I imitate Your meekness and humility.  Enable me to use the strength You have given me in a discerning, controlled manner, following Your example.  May I always be aware of my absolute dependence upon You, especially upon Your mercy.  I will indeed come to You frequently, Jesus, in the sacraments, in Your written word, in prayer, that Your yoke of discipleship may surely be lightened, joy-filled and attractive to others.

Rise and Go

Pope Francis recently had some harsh words for parishes that don’t proactively reach out to evangelize those in their community and others whom they encounter.  Here are some excerpts from the Vatican synopsis of the Pope’s homily:

Pope Francis called for a Church that “does not remain seated”

[…]

“Rise and go”. The Spirit “does not say: ‘remain seated, at ease, in your home’. No! In order to be ever faithful to the Lord, the Church must be on her feet and on the move: ‘Rise and go’”. In fact, Pope Francis continued, “a church that does not rise, that does not journey, becomes sick and ends up closed with much psychological and spiritual trauma, closed within a world of gossip, of things … closed, without horizons”. The invitation, however, is clear: Rise and go; get on your feet and get moving.

Oratio from lectio divina of Gospel for 13thSunOrdT-A

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is from Matthew 10:37-42.

Here is the fruit of my lectio/meditatio/contemplatio on this portion of Sacred Scripture:

Holy God, I praise You for Your supreme majesty.  You are deserving of all my love, my first love, my greatest love.  Aware of Your sovereignty and Your constant love for me, I desire to bestow my most intense self-giving love upon You above all – with all my heart, soul, strength and mind.

Jesus, I yearn to be a true, faithful disciple of Yours.  Your demands are severe, but my reward will be unending glory beholding Your Face.  Please fill me with the power of Your Holy Spirit to enable me to seek and embrace the Father’s will each day.  Knowing You are always at my side, give me the grace to persevere through any humiliation, pain or suffering that might accompany it, that my life might indeed be conformed to Yours, following where You have already gone.  With Your grace, sustain my efforts to shed my selfishness and disordered passions.  Enable me to eagerly surrender all aspects of my life for your sake that I may attain the eternal glory of Your resurrection.

Thank You for granting me Your authority to engage in the mission to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven.  May the Holy Spirit open the hearts of those with whom I share the Father’s plan, that it may be a blessing for them.  May I hospitably and joyfully welcome into my heart and home those disciples on mission for You who are sacrificing their time and using their gifts to share Your words and Your healing love with me.  Remind me, Jesus, that when I encounter them I also encounter You.

Our duty to proclaim Jesus

Today’s Gospel Reading at Mass (Mt 10:26-33) is a segment of the instructions which Jesus gave to His Apostles (ref Mt 10:1,5) just prior to sending them out on their first missionary expedition.  It concludes with Mt 10:32-33

So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

What does Jesus mean by “acknowledge me”?  CCC n. 1816 teaches us (quoting these exact verses) (emboldened text is my emphasis added):

The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: “All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.” Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: “So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

In Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) n. 120, Pope Francis describes our duty to acknowledge Jesus before others (emboldened text is my emphasis added):

In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients. The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples”….So what are we waiting for?

Any parish that is not engaging in a substantial amount of evangelization, and whose parishoners themselves are not “actively engaged in evangelization” is failing to heed the demand of Jesus and His Church echoed by Pope Francis.  On the vigil of Pentecost (June 3rd), Abp Vigneron inaugurated his extraordinarily innovative plan — entitled Unleash the Gospel — to have each parish in the Archdiocese of Detroit become a parish of missionary disciples.

For the latest teaching of the US Bishops on being missionary disciples, you can read this booklet that they published last month.

Day 9 of Lent prep novena based on Francis’ msg

Message of Pope Francis for Lent 2017

Quote:

“May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion…” (from n. 3)

Reflection:

St Paul informs us (in 1 Corinthians 12:3) that “no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”

The US Bishops note the essential role of the Holy Spirit in conversion:

The New Evangelization is an opportunity for ongoing conversion. This reorientation of one’s life toward Christ is possible because of the work of the Holy Spirit. The process of returning to active participation in the Church is a process of conversion that unfolds through the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, complete trust in the work of the Holy Spirit is essential.  (from Part 5)

How do we receive the Holy Spirit?  The Catechism teaches us (in n. 739):

Through the Church’s sacraments, Christ communicates his Holy and sanctifying Spirit to the members of his Body.

We also receive the Holy Spirit by beseeching our Lord earnestly in prayer as Jesus taught us in Luke 11:13

…how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Additionally, in these days, the Lord has been pouring out his love and power by allowing people to be “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (cf Acts 1:5).  This baptism in the Holy Spirit is a life-renewing experience — a personal Pentecost — in which my surrender to Jesus as Savior and Lord allows the intense love of God our Father to be poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit.  This grace of being baptized in the Holy Spirit can be granted by requesting it of our Lord in our personal prayer, or by asking others to pray with us and intercede for us that we may receive it.

May we all have a fruitful Lent in 2017!!

Novena Prayer:

Father, rich in mercy, I cling to you in love (cf Psalm 91:14).  I truly desire to engage in an ardent, life-transforming observance of Lent. Fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit, and bestow upon me the grace to be able to love others as you love me, and to make a gift of myself to them as you inspire me.  I ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.