Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mt 13:36-43 Oh My!

Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By FR ALFONSE NAZZARO

Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house.  His disciples approached him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field."  He said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man...The weeds are the children of the Evil One...  The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.  They will throw them into the fiery furnace..."

It's not everyday we hear the Lord speak so, well, "Medieval."  But we have it in us to be very "Medieval," or, better yet, so "20th century."

The Lord is reminding us that we have a tremendous responsibility towards Him and our neighbor.  So what exactly does this mean?

1.  Keep your priorities straight.  I continue to be amazed at how so many people, including old people, perpetuate century old lies.  For example, a few days ago I had someone come up to me and ask me to pray that their grandson pick and choose the right college.  I couldn't believe my ears.  Really?  Com' on! Let me tell you what is far more important:  that college is for learning, not liberating.  And what is even more important than that is how they need to keep their heads on straight when they are in college. 

Do you remember how everyone was talking about Breaking Bad? I can't tell you how many times people said to me: Oh my gosh!  You have to watch this show!  It's amazing! 

Really?  It's a TV show.  Give me a break! 

Believe it or not I have reflected on this phenomenon.  I find it amazing how we (I include myself) can talk up a storm about a TV show or a sports game or something similar to it and encourage others to watch it, participate in it and be thrilled by it...and yet I don't even mention a word about my faith, or my religion, or my God.

Amazing!

2.  Get out of your shell.  Early this morning I read in the news that the Church of the Snows, a Catholic Church - the only one on this particular continent- was closing.  That's right.  The only Catholic Church in Antarctica is closing after some fifty-plus years. 

I couldn't believe it!  At first I thought, "We have a church down there?"  And then I said to myself, "Big deal. I'm sure the priest is relieved."  But once I was fully awake, I felt quite a bit of sadness.  I was truly disturbed by this fact and was curious to know why. 

In its heydays, there were over 2000 people working in the vicinity of the Church.  Today, with budget cuts and other constraints, the number has dwindled.  But the real reason for its closure was "a lack of interest."   The people are no longer coming to Church.

HEY FOLKS:  Wake up!  Do you still believe that people come to Church?  Give me a break!  People don't come to Church.  They are brought to Church. 

How are we supposed to bring people to Church?  This is what I do.  I invite HS students, college students, young people, anyone!!! to breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I invite people to Church.  I tell them what God has done for me.  I take my life and theirs seriously.  I take my responsibility seriously. 

Very few times did Christ ever speak in a medieval (or modern) tone.  We should take Him seriously, for the salvation of souls depends on Him and on us as well.

We have our part in the history of salvation.

Mt 13:31-35 Seeds and Costa Rica

Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By KATIE GROSS

Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds.
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.”

As perhaps some readers may have noticed, I have not written a post for Father’s blog in three weeks. This is because I just returned back from a two-week study abroad in Costa Rica. My time in Costa Rica was more incredible than anything I could have ever imagined. Sure, I knew that I was going to get better at Spanish, and that I would probably get a nice tan, and that I would see a beautiful part of the world. But I think my greatest takeaway from my time in Costa Rica is this; Costa Rica doesn’t mess around. Costa Rica really teaches you how weak you are.
 
One afternoon, we went out to a mountain in a region of Monserrat de Coronado called “Las Nubes,” or “the clouds” in English. As one could assume, the region got its name for its average altitude, which puts it smack-dab in the middle of some of the lower stratus clouds. We were planning to go on a fifteen-kilometer hike up and down the mountain on an intermediate trail, covering a total altitude change of about 200 meters. Some students at my school had done the same hike the week prior, and they had vehemently warned me not to participate. “Don’t do it,” they told me, “every single one of us was on the ground after that thing.” But of course, I didn’t listen. I was about ten years younger than most of them. I was in Costa Rica, the land of adventure!!! Plus, I run cross country, and I had been training for months at that point for the fitness test for the military academies. How bad could it have been?
 
I quickly answered that question—VERY BAD. The second the incline broke twenty degrees or so, I found myself out of breath. At that altitude, there was not nearly as much oxygen in the air as I was accustomed to in Dallas. Then came the countless flights of crazy-steep stairs (if you could even call them stairs) that I could barely clear in a single step. Cue the rain. Cue three separate stings from a particularly vicious species of Costa Rican horsefly that was attracted to the smell of my soap, and the resulting paranoia from hearing them buzz around my head. And did I mention that we were in a federally-protected tropical rainforest? This was the real deal—our guide cleared the path with a machete. Needless to say, it was an adventure I will never forget. And I did fall on the ground afterwards from pure exhaustion—I have pictures to prove it.
 
What does this have to do with today’s Gospel reading, you may ask? Well, when I got to the top of that mountain, I had experienced a whole new variety of humility.  I had only covered fifteen kilometers of a preserve that composed a whole county of Costa Rica. I had only scaled one tiny mountain, and I was beat. I compare my feelings that day to that cliché experience of awe and powerlessness that some people have described upon viewing the Grand Canyon. You suddenly realize how weak you are in comparison with nature, and thus with God. But if any of you have ever experienced a similar sentiment, you know that it’s not a negative or discouraging feeling of weakness. Instead, you know in those moments that your weakness is just reality.
 
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds…” In a way, we are the mustard seeds. Alone, we can do very little. We’re weak, small, and frankly, even the brightest among us have moments where we are not all that bright. Weakness is in our human nature. It is only when we accept our smallness and weakness that we can entrust ourselves to God, who knows where we should be scattered to grow into the fullest version of ourselves. If we are mustard seeds, unless we are planted, we are basically worthless. But if we allow ourselves to be planted, we, though weak, can live in a way that we could never have imagined.
 
“…yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.” Hopefully most people reading this have had their lives enriched and deepened by their faith in some aspect. With faith and with trust in God, our understanding of the world around us becomes so much broader and richer—in other words, it grows into the largest of plants. While others may say that Christianity creates narrow-minded thinkers, Christians know that the exact opposite is true. Just think of the low level of dignity that my generation attributes to marriage, the family, and the unborn. To far too many members of my generation, marriage is a contract between any two people about what property belongs to whom, founded on a sentiment that might be here today and easily erased tomorrow. The unborn are “choices,” mere consequences—although the word consequence implies responsibility, which many would like to believe no longer exists. These definitions are the mustard seeds not yet entrusted to the right grower. But to Catholics, who have placed their mustard seeds in the hands of God, the family is an icon of the Trinity. To Catholics, the unborn are reflections of the vulnerability of the Son of God himself. To Catholics, love is a choice that endures hardship and comes out stronger after having been tested in fire.
 
When we allow God to plant us, our understanding of the world around us only becomes deeper and richer. True-- alone, we can do very little. But with the help of God to sow us in the right ground, we can open our eyes to see things that are otherwise hidden.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Eph 4:1-6 Bear With One Another

Seventeenth Sunday in ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By FR ALFONSE NAZZARO

Brothers and sisters:  I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit.

A prisoner for the Lord.  How often do I consider myself a "prisoner for the Lord"?  Not very often, I must say. How unfortunate for me! 

Far too often I see myself as a "prisoner" to my own passions or sensuality, or to my pride and vanity.  Oh how I wish I could embrace being a prisoner for the Lord, which is so much more liberating and exciting!

And what exactly does it mean to be "a prisoner for the Lord"?

To live in a manner worthy of the call.  A prisoner of the Lord sees people and things as the Lord sees them: with great humility. 

God continues to be amazed at His very own creation.  So much so that His only begotten Son was created in the image and likeness of man!  This is remarkable.  God so loved us that He became one of us!  He understands that the word "power" is entirely, wholeheartedly, and unconditionally associated with another word:  HUMILITY. 

If you want others to adore you, then you must adore them. 
If you want people to worship you, then you must worship them.
If you want people to love you, then you must love them.
If you want people to appreciate you, then you must appreciate them.
If you want people to bend their knees and bow down to you and serve you, then you must bend your knees, bow down to them and serve them.

It's that simple...and scary...yet exciting.

LIVE IN A MANNER WORTHY OF THE CALL.

Bearing with one another through love.  It seems like the political race is beginning to heat up.  Some candidates are beginning to throw insult upon insult, thinking that it will get them to the Presidency - thinking it is the perfect strategy.  But we humans are fickle creatures.  We enjoy a good spectacle for a short while. Not for long periods of time.  There's a lot we can learn from those who lived in the years B.C., who slowly but surely grew weary of spectacles and scandals on and off the arena.  We don't have to be prisoners to those who grow in power through insult or arrogance or insecurity.

A calling from God is a calling from former ways to new ways.  It is the divine call to share in God's love and truth, which brings people together (unity) and results in peace. 

We can be prisoners to those who grow in power through love.  And that is a blessing!

To the Top of a Mountain; Exodus 19:20

Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for reading)

By SOPHIE DRUFFNER

“When the LORD came down to the top of Mount Sinai,
he summoned Moses to the top of the mountain.”

[Please note: I’m going to go just a little further in the reading today, beyond the confusion of the Israelites at seeing “Mount Sinai wrapped in smoke,” and the fear they must have felt at hearing Moses speak to the thunder, the Voice of the Lord. I’m going to take the part where Moses starts to go up the mountain, totally stressed at the thoughts of leaving his people, knowing that, like children, they’ll probably be up to some mischief without him.]

As we looked at the mountains surrounding Mount LeConte, a huge gray cloud began descending, wrapping around the top of the mountain. Parts of it separated and traveled even lower; the mountain looked as if it was being enveloped in smoke.

Recently, my family and I went on vacation in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. As we were hiking the 5.5 miles up to the tip of Mount LeConte, the sky gradually grew darker and darker. Portions of ground under the canopy of pine trees began to grow nearly black. And as we climbed, I began to think of how prophets used to go to mountains to pray. It seems as if we believe God is somewhere “in the clouds,” we have to go up to the highest point that we can imagine to hear him. We have to climb with our hiking boots sinking into the mud, our hands occasionally brushing the rough leaves of enormous trees, and sit down on a bed of lichen. Paradoxically, as we climb closer to God on the mountain, we sink a little further into the dirt, which he created, and as we reach the top of the mountain, the dirt is on our ankles, our face, our hands.

Muslims believe that all creation is “muslim,” or “in submission to God,” because He created it. In yoga, participants are encouraged to feel as if they are part of nature, as is the case in most meditations. Most Native American religions integrate nature to a great extent. And of course, in Genesis, humankind names the animals and rejoices in the plentiful fruit and nourishment in the Garden of Eden. In many religions, understanding nature can bring us closer to God.

It was amazing how removed from the modern world we were on that mountain. Of course, you could always point out that a little beyond those trees were telephone lines, chain restaurants, and electricity. But as we hiked in groves of dead, white trees which had sunk to an upside-down V-formation, I felt as if I could be there among the dinosaurs, the only person in the world. I wondered if this was how Moses felt, climbing up on that mountain. A little beyond him were the camps of the confused Israelites, looking for someone to take comfort in, perhaps distrusting Moses and looking to idols. But as he climbed up on that mountain, although thoughts of his people may have troubled his head, the further he climbed, the more he became involved in the nature, the more he became closer to God.

So this week, I encourage you to go climb a mountain, if you are near one. Or, if you aren’t, just take a walk in suburbia, or wherever you are. Enjoy how the water drips off of a live oak tree, how the sun shines on a cluster of hydrangeas, how the colors of the flowers are so bright and alive. While you are walking, completely involve yourself in the sights of the nature. Think of the complexity of each leaf, the amazing nature of photosynthesis, how God created each green thing that you see. And at the end of your walk, having just a little closer to God, say “Thank you,” to Him.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

2 Cor 4:7-15 Treasure in Earthen Vessels

Feast of St James, Apostle
 
By JENNIFER BURGIN
Brothers and sisters: We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;  perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned;  struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.

Last week, I read an interesting article on the discovery of a shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina.  Estimated to be from The American Revolution, marine scientists found perfectly preserved cooking bricks, chains, wine bottles, and wood timbers buried deep in the cold waters.  These "treasures"  from an "earthen vessel" will provide insight into maritime voyages from centuries ago.  Who knows what other treasures will be found. 

We read in the bible about Saint Paul shipwrecked.  Scripture doesn't go into much detail. Perhaps he attempted to sail from point A to point B.  Wicked winds threw his navigation off course.  Gigantic waves possibly made him sea sick.  A torrential storm crashed his ship onto land, tearing it up into pieces.  Obstacles from every compass direction afflicted Paul....

Another disciple of Christ gives up:  No more discipleship! No more spreading the good news!  I'm done with this Jesus mission! Travel is impossible!  However, Paul carried the crucified Christ inside every recess of his soul.  His intimate relationship with Our Lord kept his head above water while suffering discomfort, agony, and torment.

We go through life hunting for buried treasure through material possessions and intimate pleasures.  We desire to become god-like, obsessed with our own desires.  When  affliction and confusion strike us, we do all we can to scrape off the crusty barnacles and prevent the sun from burning our skin further, yet nothing seems to help.  This is when the Holy Spirit rescues.  Real treasure lies in God alone.

Marine Biologist Sylvia Earle wrote, "Like a shipwreck or a jetty, almost anything that forms a structure in the ocean, whether it is natural or artificial over time, collects life."  So, when life turns into one massive shipwreck, sinking our earthly vessels nautical miles deep into the sea, rest-assured God has everything under control and divinely protected.

Receive the Holy Eucharist regularly.  Adore the Blessed Sacrament frequently.  Pray for the strength to survive life's shipwrecks trusting that God will provide.  Keep the crucified Christ bound tightly to the heart!

‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

Saint James, Pray for Us!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Jn 20: 1-2, 11-18 Along Comes Mary

Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

By Benedict Augustine

“Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.”

Mary Magdalene has a difficult time letting go of Jesus. After His death, she can think of no other thing to do than to sit at His tomb and mourn in the presence of His corpse. And before this, when Jesus lived and preached, Mary can think of little else but to cling, kneeling at His feet while her sister busies herself with hosting. Once Jesus heads over to Jerusalem one last time for the Passover, Mary shocks the disciples by pouring costly ointment over Jesus with little thought of the cost. At the crucifixion, she stands with Jesus’ mother and a young disciple to watch Jesus die, oblivious to the gore and scandal. In her mind, no one else seems to exist besides her Lord and Master.

Because of Mary’s almost slavish devotion to Jesus, practical concerns quicklyescape her notice. She thinks nothing of money, or imminent persecution, or proper hospitality. As a disciple, she does quite little. She does not evangelize; she does not heal or serve others; she does not write epistles and establish churches; she only follows Jesus and sits at His feet.

And yet, Jesus reveals Himself to her after the resurrection before anyone else.He could have chosen Peter, or His mother, or John, but He chooses her, the useless one that always latched to Him unthinkingly. Some might argue that He could have revealed Himself to Pilate, or Caiaphas, or Herod, and prove to them that He came back to life and that they had just crucified God’s Son. In either case, whether appearing first to the leader of His Church or His enemies, He probably could have made his resurrection that much more successful and powerful.

But instead He chooses Mary Magdalene. Why?

Mary does something unique. Long before anyone else, she truly worships and adores Jesus as God’s Son. Peter might have been the first to verbalize this truth, and Mary His Mother might have been the first to know this truth, but Mary Magdalene realizes the full import and acts on it. While the masses crowd around Jesus like some celebrity, shoving sick people in His face; and while His disciples complain to Him about food shortages, storms, and botched miracles as though He were a manager; and while His enemies make plans to destroy Him as a dangerous rebel; Mary humble kneels in awe, treating Him like God.

Jesus appears first to Mary because she alone would not question His resurrection. The others to whom He appears afterward her all need some kind of assurance. On the way to Emmaus, Jesus must deliver a lecture on the full meaning of the Old Testament and reenact the Last Supper before His audience realizes what had happened. With His apostles, Jesus must pass through a locked door and show His wounds—and then, later, let Thomas poke them.

Mary, however, does not think twice about Jesus’ resurrection but immediately reverts back to her old style of adoration, clutching His feet once more. For once, Jesus has to tell her to let go and actually do something: “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” In entrusting Mary with this message, Jesus communicates two things:(1) it was Mary, not the other disciples, who ultimately showed the most courage and strength, and (2) Mary’s courage and strength came from her adoration and devotion of Him.

Jesus intends to make Mary Magdalene a model for all His disciples. Knowing quite well man’s insatiable desire to works and prove himself, He chooses to give his attention to the woman who does nothing but adore.  Although there are times when a disciple must act, there are even more times where he must simply sit still and listen.

Many of the Church’s saints followed Mary’s example and came to understand the power behind adoration. Nearly all of them would adore Jesus before they witnessed in His name. Religious orders today, like that of Blessed Mother Teresa, kneel in the Presence of Jesus for hours before they begin their work with the poor. The popes do the same. At the urging of St. John Paul II, many parishes will offer Eucharistic Adoration all hours of the day and experience the blessings that accompany this practice.

Most people feel drawn to Christ’s presence, yet they might not understand this yet. More than likely, Mary Magdalene felt the same way, but she trusted Jesus to understand, and He did. The first disciples eventually followed suit as Christians throughout the ages have done the same. Adoration transcends understanding as it helps believers transcend themselves. It humbles and elevates at the same time, and it continues bring the peace and strength that Mary experienced so many centuries ago sitting at the feet of Christ, hearing His voice.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ex 12:37-42 Keeping Vigil

Saturday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
 
By JENNIFER BURGIN

(Click Here for Readings)

At the end of four hundred and thirty years, all the hosts of the Lord left the land of Egypt on this very date.  This was a night of Vigil for the Lord, as he led them out of the land of Egypt; so on this same night all the children of Israel must keep a vigil for the Lord throughout their generations.

I’ve read this passage from the Book of Exodus numerous times, yet the word "vigil" never jumped off the page until now.  So many thoughts come to mind....
Traditionally, Catholics celebrate Saturday evening Vigil masses. We attend candlelight vigils in honor of the deceased, or we pray as a candle-holding community for social causes.

Parents know all too well the late night "vigil" as they wait for a teen that drags in way past curfew. A son or daughter sneaks in the backdoor. Uh oh!  The living room lamp is on and an angry father sits on the couch with his arms crossed.  Oops, I forgot all about the curfew, Dad! 

A little boy reminds his mom to turn on the nightlight right before bedtime. In an imaginative vigil, he waits for his favorite Super Hero to arrive and destroy the evil Boogie Man hiding in the closet!

Remember the Bic lighter everybody used to carry to a rock concert?  Now replaced by the mobile phone's glowing screen, hundreds of fans wave their phones in the air whistling and yelling.  Encore!  We want to hear an encore! Come back out and sing to us some more!

We cannot forget the lighthouse which seafarers rely on for navigation.  The swirling light is seen for miles away in dense fog, successfully alerting ships before they crashonto land.  

Keeping vigil shines a light source in the darkness; keeping vigil consists of waiting, preparing, and protecting.  We anticipate something good arriving or fear something bad occurring.  Other times, lamentations swell our hearts as we mourn the tragic loss of a group of loved ones.

The most familiar vigil scene in the bible is when the maidens keep their oil lamps lit anxiously awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom.  Unfortunately, a few maidens did not carry along enough oil.  They were ill-prepared so naturally their lamps burned out.  Their vigil abruptly ended.  They are left out of the celebration in the presence of the bridegroom....We know the bridegroom represents Jesus Christ himself.  

All children of Israel must keep vigil for the Lord throughout their generations.  Are we doing this in modern day?  Are we preparing our hearts, minds and souls for the second coming of the Lord?  Are we doing all we can to brighten our lives so that others see the shining light of Christ in us?  Are we protecting and helping others who struggle with darkness?

Light a candle.  Say a prayer.  Patiently wait.  Prepare for eternal rewards.  Keep Christ close to your heart!  

"I believe in God - not in a Catholic God; there is no Catholic God. There is God, and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation. Jesus is my teacher and my pastor, but God, the Father, Abba, is the light and the Creator. This is my Being." Pope Francis