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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Mass Readings, Sun. Feb. 23, 2014

Mass Readings, Sun. Feb. 23, 2014

The readings for this past Sunday are here:

Leviticus 19:1-2,17-18 – Correct your fellow man if necessary, but don’t bear hatred, revenge, or grudges; don’t incur sin on yourself because of them.

Psalm 103 – The Lord is kind and merciful.

1 Corinthians 3:16-23 – We are a temple of God; we do not belong to the world, but to God.

Matthew 5:38-48 – Love our enemies and give to anyone who asks of us; be perfect as Our Heavenly Father is perfect.

Monsignor said Mass.  He broke down the readings by focusing on how we are all made to be like God.  He calls us to be perfect, as He is perfect; to be transformed into fitting temples for the Holy Spirit.  To do this, we need to be willing, committed, have hope, and perseverance.

First, we have to be willing.  He won’t force us.  When He calls us, He wants our willing response.

Second, what is our level of commitment?  Do we actively seek His help and then LET Him help us?   Is God first in our lives and do we let Him be in charge?

We also need to have hope.  Do we have the attitude of love and generosity that our Father has?  Obviously there is a line to be drawn – we don’t give to others to the point of our own bankruptcy and we don’t intentionally subject ourselves to people who harm us.  It is the attitude that is important. When someone has harmed us, we can forgive them without opening ourselves up to be hurt again.  When we encounter people in the course of our daily life, do we treat everyone equally, regardless of how they look?  Satan will try to tell us that it doesn’t matter, that we shouldn’t even bother trying.  But we have to retain hope in what God has promised.

Finally, we need to have perseverance.  We’re all going to screw up sometimes.  It’s not always easy to say yes to God.   We need to start every day fresh, committed to trying again.  We need to start every day saying yes to God.

Have a blessed week!

Deo Juvante, Jen

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Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Mass Readings

 

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Confessions, Book 1, Chap. 11

Confessions, Book 1, Chap. 11

As we read today’s passage from Confessions, we realize that Augustine was not baptized as a child.  That seems startling to us, especially since He believed in God and Christ’s dying to save us from our sins.  In the fourth century, however, the people were more afraid of sinning after baptism than they were of dying without it and so, it was common practice to postpone baptism until immediately before death.

Augustine laments the decision to postpone his baptism, recognizing that baptism would have cleansed him and, perhaps, kept him from suffering the many temptations that plagued him in his youth.  It is clear that Augustine deeply regretted the sinful life he lead in the years before his conversion.  I think, however, that this speaks again of what I wrote previously – God takes even our worst moments in life and uses them for the advancement of His glory.

Did God want Augustine to sin?  Did God purposely cause Augustine to sin in order to use him as an example?  No, but God did know that Augustine was going to fall into sin.  Augustine had free will and willingly made the choice to sin throughout his youth.  God does not interfere with our choices to sin, but He allows it to happen and then brings good out of it.  In the case of Augustine, when he finally converted and repented of his sin, God gave him the grace and ability to bring others to repentance not in spite of his sin, but because of it.  Here we are today, almost 2000 years later, learning how to be a good follower of Christ, because this man defied his elders and lived a life of rampant sin.  Imagine what could have happened if he had never strayed, never led that wild life of sin and promiscuity.  Augustine may have lived in obscurity and died quietly in his bed of old age, never to be thought of again beyond his immediate family!

In our own lives, we are going to make mistakes; we have probably already made quite a few!  But if we look with the eyes of faith, and ask God to show us, we should be able to see many examples of places we are now and good things that have happened to us, because of sinful decisions from our past.  Maybe it is knowledge or wisdom that we gained, maybe it is a chance encounter that ended up having lasting effects, maybe it is something that became a milestone moment that affected the entire course of our lives.  Whatever it is, we have to be thankful for those occasions of sin, those moments of temptation.  We are what we are today, not in spite of those times, but because of them and to change them, could change our entire life.

As a boy, then, I had heard of eternal life promised us through the humility of the Lord our God stooping to our pride.  Even from the womb of my mother, who greatly hoped in you, I was signed with the mark of His cross and seasoned with His salt.  You saw, Lord, how at one time while yet a boy I was suddenly seized with pains in the stomach and was near death.  You saw, my God, for You were my Keeper, with what eagerness of mind and with what faith I besought the baptism of Your Christ, my God and Lord, from the piety of my own mother and of Your Church, the mother of us all.  At this time, my mother was very anxious, since she labored more lovingly in travail from my salvation than in my natural birth.  She would have provided for my cleansing initiation by Your health-giving sacraments, confessing You, Lord Jesus for the remission of sins, if I had not suddenly recovered.  And so, as if I must needs be further polluted if I should live, my cleansing was deferred because the defilements of sin would bring greater and more perilous guilt after that washing.  I already believed at that time, with my mother and the whole household except  my father.  Yet he did not overcome the power of my mother’s piety in me so as to prevent my believing in Christ.  The fact that he did not yet believe did not make me think that I should not.  For it was her earnest concern that You, my God, should be my Father rather than he.  In this You enabled her to overcome her husband to whom, though the better of the two, she yielded obedience because in this she obeyed Your commandment as well.

I beseech You, my God, for I would like to know if it is Your will, for what purpose was my baptism then deferred?  Was it for my good that the reins were loosed on me, as it were, for me to sin? Or were they not slackened at all?  If not, why does it still echo in my ears on all sides, “Let him alone, let him do as he will, for he is not yet baptized”?  But as to bodily health, no one says, “Let him be wounded even more seriously, for he is not yet healed.”  How much better then, would it have been for me to have been healed at once and then, by my friends’ diligence and my own, my soul’s recovered health had then been kept safe in Your keeping who gave it!  Better truly.  But how many great waves of temptation seemed to hang over me after my childhood!  My mother foresaw these and preferred to expose the unformed [unrengenerate] clay to them rather than to the very image itself after it was made.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Confessions, Book 1, Chap. 10

Confessions, Book 1, Chap. 10

In this chapter, Augustine is repenting of his childhood folly.  With the eyes of an adult, he sees clearly that his parents and teachers really wanted what was best for him and he knows now that he should have listened.

Don’t we all do this?  I think everyone can look back at their childhood (especially our teen years) and be embarrassed or even ashamed by bad decisions, defiant behavior, and those moments of, “What was I thinking?” or “If only I had listened!”

The good news is, no matter what we do, no matter what bad choices we make, no matter how we disappoint, frustrate, or defy our parents and teachers, God can use everything for something greater.  I can look back on the dumb things I did as a teenager – and I had some real doosies! – and I know that I learned something from every single one.  Even though I didn’t know it, and even though God was the last person in the world I wanted to hear about at the time, He was working in my life.  All of those things formed and shaped me into the person I am today.  I regret many of the choices I made as a teenager, but I would never ask to change them or take them back because, without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

I’ve heard people ask, “Why does God allow abortion?”  In response, I’ve pointed out the courageous women who speak out against abortion because they had one.  When a woman uses her abortion experience to encourage others to choose life, God is working through her bad decision to save lives!  When I see one of these women, proudly standing there proclaiming that she is, “Silent no more!” I can’t help but think of the devil just writhing.  When she had the abortion, the devil was clapping his hands and cackling with delight, but the whole time, God just sat there, maybe even grinning a little, saying, “Just wait.  Wait till you see how many babies she saves.”

As parents, we should never forget the mistakes we made and how they helped to form us into the people we are today – flaws and all, and when our kids mess up or start doing dumb things, take heart.   Keep praying for them, guide them as much as they will let you, and never lose hope.  God can take the very worst situations and use them to accomplish His will.  And sometimes, those mistakes, can be the best things that happen to them.

Confessions, Book 1, Chap 10

And yet I sinned in this, O Lord God, Creator and Disposer of all things in Nature (but of sin only the Disposer) O Lord my God, I sinned acting against the commands of my parents and of my teachers.  For what they, with whatever motive, wanted me to learn, I might have put to good use later on.  But I disobeyed, not because I had chosen a better way, but from love of play, loving the honor of victory in my contests, and to have my ears tickled with fables that they might itch for more.  The same curiosity burned in my eyes more and more for the shows and sports of adults.  Those who gave these shows were held in such repute that almost everyone wished the same for their children, and they were very willing that the children be beaten if these very games kept them from their studies by which they wanted them to reach the point of being teachers to others.

Look down with compassion on these things, Lord, and deliver us who call upon You now.  Deliver those, too, who do not call on You, that they may call on You and that You may deliver them.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Confessions

 

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Mass Readings, Feb. 16, 2014

The readings from Sun., Feb. 16, can be found here.

Sirach 15:15-20, focuses on how we have the choice of good or evil in this life.

Psalm 119, “Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!” – how we should long to know and keep the Lord’s decrees.

1 Corinthians 2:6-10 – the eternal and never changing mystery of God.

Matthew 5:17-37 – Jesus takes the old law and expands it, fulfills it.  “Do not kill,” is no longer just physical killing, but also “killing” someone with your words or your anger.  Adultery is not just the physical act, but even to lust after someone.

Father’s homily focused on how it is through keeping God’s commandments that we grow in sanctity.  We want to grow in sanctity because our ultimate goal is Heaven – we want to be Saints!

Looking at the first reading, we have good and evil before us; we are free to choose either.  At all times, we should be asking ourselves, “What kind of decision am I making?  Is this something that will help me grow in sanctity?  Is this something that will help me get to Heaven?”

Father then told a great story about St. Padre Pio.  People always wanted to come see Padre Pio.  Most times they wanted spiritual advice or to have him hear their confession.  Sometimes though, he would have someone come to see him, who only wanted a little “souvenir,” a relic of the holy priest that many knew would be a Saint one day.

One day, a little nun came to see Padre Pio and, while he was distracted, she took his Rosary and began to run off with it.  Padre Pio noticed and ran after her.  When he caught up with her, he asked her to give back the Rosary.  She was immediately contrite and asked his forgiveness, saying that she only wanted a relic from him.  Padre Pio looked at her tenderly and told her, “Sister, go home and make your own relics.”

We are called to be Saints.  Rather than clinging to the relics of others, become a Saint and create your own.   Have a blessed week everyone!!

Deo Juvante, Jen

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2014 in Mass Readings

 

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Confessions, Chap 9

Confessions, Chap 9

O God, my God!  What miseries and mockeries I now experienced, when obedience to my teachers was set before me as proper to my boyhood that I might prosper in this world and excel in the science of speech which would gain the praise of men and deceitful riches.  After that, I was put in school to get learning whose usefulness I could not imagine (useless as I was), and yet if I was idle in my studies, I was flogged!  For our forefathers deemed this the right way, and many, passing the same way before us, had laid out the weary paths through which we were obliged to pass, multiplying labor and grief on the children of Adam.

But, Lord, we found that men prayed to You, and we learned from them to think of You according to our abilities, to be some Great One who, though hidden from our senses, could hear and help us.  So I began, even as a boy, to pray to You, my help and refuge; and I let my tongue freely call on You, praying to You, even though I was small, with no small earnestness, that I might not be beaten at school.  And when You did not hear me (not giving me over to folly thereby), my elders, yes, my own parents who certainly wished me no ill, laughed at my stripes, which were then my great and grievous ill.

Is there anyone, Lord, bound to You with such greatness of soul and with so strong an affection (there is a sort of stupidity that may do that much) – is there anyone who is endowed with so great a courage from clinging devoutly to You that he can think lightly of racks and hooks and other tortures?  For throughout the whole world men pray fervently to be saved from such tortures and can they as bitterly mock those who fear them as our parents mocked the torments which we suffered from our teachers in boyhood?  For we did not fear our torments any less, nor did we pray less to You to escape them.  And yet we sinned in writing, reading, or studying less than was required of us.  For we did not lack memory or ability, Lord, of which, by Your will, we possessed enough for our age.  But we delighted only in play, and for this we were punished by those who were doing the same things themselves.  But older people’s idleness is called business, while boys who do the same are punished by those same elders; and yet no one expresses pity, either boys or men.  For will any one of good sense approve of my being whipped because as a boy I played ball, and so made less progress in studies which I was to learn only so that, as a man, I might play at more shameful games?  And what else was my tutor doing who beat me, who, if defeated in some trifling controversy with his fellow tutor was more embittered and angry than I was when I was beaten in a game of ball by a playmate?

St. Augustine is describing the great trials he endured as a youth, preferring, like most boys, to play than to apply himself to study – study that he did not see as being worth his time.  The greater message here, to me, is that one of the reasons he saw no point to his studies is because he looked at the adults around him with disdain.  He saw well educated adults being idle, but calling it part of their business.  He saw his tutor get very angry over a disagreement with another tutor, angrier even then he got over a game, yet young Augustine would get punished for such behavior.

For me, this recalls times when I have asked more of my children than I have asked of myself.  How many times have I scolded my children for wasting time or not doing what I asked when I too am guilty of spending too much time on the computer or not doing my duties cheerfully and efficiently.  Sure, we can tell ourselves (and the kids) how they don’t carry the mental responsibilities we do, how they didn’t work all day, how we do so many things that they don’t see.  While this is true to a certain extent, do we really set the best example for our children as often as possible?  And if we really are doing the best we can and we truly are tired or are suffering from something they don’t realize or know about, do we sit down with them and help them understand how valuable they are to us and how much their help means to us?

I’m sure Augustine’s teachers and parents felt like they were doing the best they could – they were treating him as most children of that time were treated.  But they, like many of us, don’t often look at ourselves through our children’s eyes and see how things appear to them.  We can’t always make them understand everything and there is definitely a time and place for telling them they have to do something “just because,” but we should never forget what it’s like to be a child and how we appear to them.

Deo Juvante, Jen

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2014 in Confessions

 

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Confessions, Chap. 8

Confessions, Chap. 8

Passing on from infancy, I came to boyhood, or rather it came to me, succeeding my infancy.  The infancy did not depart (for where did it go?) and yet it was no more.  For I was no longer a speechless infant, but a chattering boy.  This I do remember and have since observed how I learned to speak.

My elders did not teach me words by any particular method (as a little later they taught me other things); but when I was unable to say all I wished and to whomever I desired by whimperings and broken sounds and various gestures which I used to enforce my wishes, I myself began to repeat the sounds in my memory according to the understanding which You, my God, gave me.  When they called anything by name and turned toward it as they spoke, I saw and gathered that the object they were pointing out was called by that name.  And I understood by their gestures that they meant this thing and nothing else, movements that are the natural language as it were of all nations, expressed by the countenance, glances of the eyes, movements of the limbs, and tones of the voice, indicating the feelings of the mind as it seeks, gets, rejects or avoids certain things.  And so by frequently hearing words as they occurred in various sentences, I gradually gathered what they meant.  Having formed my mouth to make these sounds, I could then give voice to my will.  Thus I exchanged with those about me these current expressions of our wants, and so advanced deeper into the stormy fellowship of human life, still subject to parental authority and the bidding of my elders.

The human body is a wonder isn’t it?!  Augustine chose to write about something so natural, so common, that we almost take it for granted, but when we pause to think of it, when we watch our own children begin to grapple with language, when we, as adults, try to learn a new language! – we realize how amazing our gift of speech is.

No one teaches us to speak, and yet we do.  At birth, our mouth and tongue are able to pronounce every sound and phoneme.  It is only as we begin to speak that we adopt the sounds specific to the language we hear around us.

It doesn’t take us long to discover that our ability to speak gives us power.  The piercing shriek of a toddler can stop us in our tracks – and send the child into fits of giggles at our reaction!  Through speech we ask questions, process our thoughts, describe our hopes and dreams.  We profess love, make promises, and give oaths.  We teach, convey wisdom, and whisper solemn good byes.

Unfortunately, our speech can also get us into trouble.  We all know the old rhyme, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me,” but the truth is, we can cut others to shreds and cause immense pain with our speech.  We can also lie, manipulate, and, in seconds, say things that can destroy a relationship.

There are, according to this website, no less than 100 verses in the Bible about taming our tongues and our speech.  It is certainly a part of the human condition to speak without thinking or to say things that are hurtful to the ones we love.  Often times, sadly, the ones we love get the worst of us – the short temper, the bad day, the tired and stressed out growls – while the clerk at the grocery store gets our biggest smile.  So, knowing that we all fall short on a daily basis and regularly say things we know we shouldn’t, it gives us an opportunity to do something else with our speech – forgive.  Even when the other person doesn’t deserve it, even when they have spoken to us in anger for the umpteenth time, forgive, because, before we know it, we’ll be in need of that forgiveness too.  Life is too short to let our words destroy each other.  Use this beautiful gift of speech to console, heal, love, and most of all, forgive.  God bless!!!

Deo Juvante, Jen

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2014 in Confessions

 

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Mass Readings – Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014

Mass Readings – Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014

Our readings this week were (for full text click here):

Isaiah 58:7-10 – The prophet exhorts us to care for each other – feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, etc. – and remove oppression, false accusation, and malicious speech from our lives.  If we do this, we will be God’s light in the world.

Psalm 112 – The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 – St. Paul tells us that he comes teaching Christ crucified.  It is not he who has any special power or wisdom, but God who is using Paul to spread the message of Christ.

Matthew 5:13-16 – Jesus is telling us that we are the salt and light of the world.  Like the lamp that is lit and put on a stand where it can light up the whole room, so we must light up the whole world with God’s light.  All who see us, should see Christ and glorify God through our good deeds.

Monsignor gave an abbreviated homily today because it is time for the Annual God’s Gift Appeal.  We got to watch a video from our bishop, explaining all the good things that this annual contribution pays for throughout our diocese, including seminarian education, various salaries, and numerous other ministries.  Here is the link to our diocese’s God’s Gift Appeal site which also has the video we watched today.

In his homily, Monsignor followed up on the Gospel message of keeping Christ in everything we do.  Not just our prayers, but our work, our joys, our sufferings, even the smallest tasks, can all be done with Christ in mind.  When we do this, we are making Christ take the first and primary place in our hearts and minds, as well as inviting Him to be a part of our daily lives.

Hope you all had a blessed Sunday and have a great week ahead of you!!

Deo Juvante, jen

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2014 in Mass Readings

 

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