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Mass Readings, Mar. 9, 2014 – First Sunday of Lent

Mass Readings, Mar. 9, 2014 – First Sunday of Lent

This Sunday’s readings can be found here.

The first reading was, Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7 – The fall of man; Adam and Eve being tempted by the serpent.

Psalm 51 – Be merciful, Oh Lord, for we have sinned.

Romans 5:12-19 – St. Paul relating the connection between Adam and Jesus; sin and death came into the world through one man, Adam, and is also saved from sin and death by One Man, Jesus.

Matthew 4:1-11 – The tempting of Jesus by Satan in the desert.

Father began his homily by talking about what it means to “obey.”  To obey means “to listen,” or “to hear.”  We are called to be obedient to the Father, to listen to Him.  The evil one seeks to distract, to confuse, to keep us from listening to the Father.

If we go through the three temptations that Satan puts to Jesus, first he questions Jesus’ identity – “IF you are the Son of God . . . “.  Then he attacks Jesus on a physical level, suggesting that He turn the stones into bread.  Jesus responds with scripture, “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”  Taking up the “Scripture Game,” as Father put it, the devil then uses Scripture to tempt Jesus a second time, suggesting that if Jesus throws Himself down from the parapet, “He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”  Jesus responds with, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”  (This also shows us how Scripture can, and so often is, twisted and taken out of context in an effort to make it conform to what someone wishes it to say.)  Finally, the devil tempts Jesus with power.  The devil, after having convinced Adam and Eve to fall, feels that all he needs to do is get Jesus to fall and then he can be in control of the whole world forever.  So, he takes a gamble by offering Jesus the entire world, if only He will bow down to him, but Jesus has had enough and sends Satan away.

Through this entire exchange, we see Jesus listening to the Father, obeying Him, through Scripture.  He is the contrast to Adam and Eve.  Where they did not listen, did not obey, Jesus does.  St. Paul refers to the fall of man as a “happy fault.”  It is because they fell that we needed a Savior.  God sending His only Son into the world to die, reveals for us a God Who is merciful, loving, cares for us, and truly understands us.

It is tempting to see God’s laws as over-burdensome.  When the devil asks Eve what God said about the fruit, she says God told them they would die if they even touched the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.  We know, and the devil knew, that God did not mean a physical death, but the devil uses this to trick Eve.  He twists the truth and convinces them that God was being too harsh, thus convincing them to fall.

Finally, Father encourages us to take time this Lent, and always, to pray.  Set time apart in our day and just listen – listen to God speak to us through Scripture, through stories of the Saints, or just in our hearts as we sit quietly with the One Who loves us perfectly.  In the Bible we hear God command us at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him,” and at the wedding at Cana, Mary tells us, “Do whatever He tells you.”  Jesus went into the desert in order to cut Himself off from the noise and chaos of the world.  We should try to do the same – cut away all that is extra in our lives, all that stops us from really listening to God.

Have a blessed week!

Deo Juvante, Jen

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2014 in Mass Readings

 

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Mass Readings, Sun., Mar. 2, 2014

Mass Readings, Sun., Mar. 2, 2014

Sundays readings began with:

Isaiah 49:14-15 – The Lord will never forget us, His love is constant

Psalm 62 – Rest in God alone, my soul.

1 Corinthians 4:1-5 – The Lord alone judges us, we need not fear any human judgement.

Matthew 6:24-34 – We can not serve two masters – we must serve God alone; God cares for us and provides us with everything we need.

Monsignor said Mass this Sunday.

When a woman has a baby, she has a small glimpse of what it means to love someone completely.  If we take that love and multiply it hundreds, thousands of times, even then we can’t begin to fathom the depths of God’s love for us, His ability to love and forgive.  No matter who forgets us in this life, God never forgets us.

So what does God ask from us in return?  He asks only that He be our Master, our ONE master.  When we have God’s complete and total love, and we giver ourselves to Him completely in return, there are glorious consequences!

But sometimes things don’t go quite right.  We worry, we get anxious.  We cast judgement on ourselves (how am I doing?  what are others thinking about me?  Am I good enough?).  These things distract us from our goal.

Naturally it is ok to be concerned about earning a living or doing what we need to do, but it’s a matter of attitude.  Do we go to God first with our problems, or do we try to take matters into our own hands, determined to do it ourselves?

Maybe we don’t want to give ourselves to God completely.  Maybe we don’t trust ourselves.  Maybe we don’t trust God.  If this is the case then we need to pray for the desire to give ourselves to God.  Simply tell Him that you want to trust Him, but you can’t right now, and ask Him to help.

Each day we need to entrust all of our daily tasks to the Lord.  Commit every day to doing God’s will to the best of our ability, seeking His kingdom, and giving ourselves over to Him.  When we do this, we find that we are able to let go of all our worries and anxieties, knowing that God is caring for us in every way.

Deo Juvante, Jen

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Mass Readings

 

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Confessions, Book 1, Chap. 12

Confessions, Book 1, Chap. 12

In my childhood, which was less dangerous for me than my adolescence, I had no love of leaning and hated to be forced to it.  Yet I was forced to it, and this was good for me, though I did not do well.  For I would not have learned unless I was compelled.  But no one does well against his will, even though what he does may be well.  Yet they who forced me did not do well either, but the good that came to me was from You, my God.  For they were totally uncaring of how I should use what they forced me to learn, except to satisfy the inordinate desire of a rich beggary and a shameful glory.  But You, by whom the very hairs of our head are numbered, used for my good the error of all those who urged me to learn; and my own error in my unwillingness to learn, You used for my punishment – a fit penalty for one, so small a boy and so great a sinner.  So by the instruments of those who did not do well, You did well for me; and by my own sin You justly punished me.  For You have appointed and it is so, that every inordinate affection should be its own punishment.

So like us all, was St. Augustine.  Do any of us want to do what we are forced to do?  We resist and drag our heels, and sometimes openly complain.  We all like to be independent and feel like we are free to do what we please.  The speed limit says 45, so I’m going to go 50!  Someone pushes, we shove back. Sometimes we might even find ourselves in an argument over something that has almost no meaning, just for the sake of rebellion.

But what becomes of us after all that rebellion?  Are we any better for it?  Augustine states that “every inordinate affection should be its own punishment,” so, we speed, and we get a speeding ticket.  We lie to save face, and we break trust with someone we love.  We pridefully and covetously make a big purchase because we tell ourselves that we “deserve it”, and a week later it gets broken.  It’s tempting to only look at the “big sins” – lust, adultery, theft, addictions – because those consequences are easier to see.  But those little things that we do on a day to day basis that we know we shouldn’t are often the bigger downfalls for most of us.  Something as simple as coloring our hair.  Why are we doing it?  Is it vanity?  Pride?  Rebelling against the natural process of aging?  Maybe fear?  I’m not saying that you can’t ever dye your hair or insinuating that it’s sinful, because it certainly isn’t, but what is the reason?  What attitude do you have about it?

In Augustine’s case, he knows in hindsight that he purposefully rebelled against learning.  He also sees that his teachers and elders weren’t teaching for the sake of making him a better person but rather to make themselves look better.  And yet, God made use of all these things both in Augustine’s life and in the lives of everyone who has been touched by his story – even us, reading it today!  He acknowledges that any and all good in his life came from God who, “numbers the very hairs of our heads.”  So we ask ourselves, do we rebel against God and the way he wishes us to walk in our lives or do we bend our heads and give ourselves over to Him?  Do we push back against the rules, fighting against what we know we should do, or do we invite God’s wisdom into our lives, doing our best to learn from every situation He presents to us, both the good and the bad?

Deo Juvante, Jen

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Confessions

 

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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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