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!


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Mk 3:20-21 Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

By JENNIFER BURGIN

Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

 I'm sure at one time or another someone labeled you as "crazy" for something you did, said, or believed in.  Oftentimes we embarrass our friends and family. We go about doingour own thing clueless how our words and actions affect others.

My mother reminds me of my own childhood craziness.  I threw terrible temper tantrums as a little girl, especially in the grocery store.  When I didn't get candy I wanted, I screamed my little blonde head off.  I dropped to the floor and threw a hissy fit with arms, legs, and pigtails flailing about.  My mom "scolded" by walking away in silence. With my mom out of sight, I didn't feel the need to cry anymore.  I immediately lost focus on that candy bar:  Poof, out of mind!

Jesus Christ's own relatives thought he was "out of his mind" for preaching to large crowds and hanging out with lowly sinners.  Hard to believe but true! Christ could have easily shooed away the crowds, eating with his disciples in peace; but, he decided against it.  His ministry took precedence over any personal comforts.

At first glance, it appears like the relatives set out to seize Jesus for their own selfish reasons; however, most likely they wanted to protect Our Lord.  They were concerned about his safety and well-being.  Maybe if he was taken out of sight then the crowds will go away, and the chief Scribes and Pharisees will keep Jesus out of mind.  If Christ pushed his luck with so-called blasphemy, certain death loomed.

Thomas a Kempis wrote:  "Out of sight, out of mind.  The absent are always in the wrong."  When we fail to pay attention to our environment, and the people around us, we make false assumptions.  We label someone as a "little off the rocker" when we haven't taken the time to get to know the person.  We may even go so far as dump a whole group of people into "the loony bin" because their ideas and beliefs are so different from our own. We block out what we don't want to see or hear.

If we wish to be better Christians, we must remain in sight and mind.  Be on the lookoutfor ways to help others instead of condemn.  Don't discount those who may have strange ideas and perceptions.  We may learn something new which will enhance our spiritual lives.

Pay attention!  Keep eyes open and minds sharp as Disciples of Christ!  

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Francis de Sales who is one of my favorite Doctors of the Church.  Here are a few quotes to reflect on this coming week:

"The bee collects honey from the flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them."

"Always be as gentle as you can, and remember that more flies are caught with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar."

"We are not drawn to God by iron chains, but by sweet attractions and holy inspirations."

St. Francis de Sales, Pray for Us! 

This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin.  Please follow her blog:  Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hebrews 8:6-13 Sins and Toys R' Us

Friday if the Second Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By GABY HUNDZA

But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming , declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after the time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
I’d really like to spend my time with this meditation focusing on verse 12: For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. God will always forgive our sins. It doesn’t matter what we do, He is understanding and compassionate.
Think of sin like toy blocks: if you stacked all of your sin up, you could easily see how you compare to everyone else. No one’s stack is the same height from our point of view - we either take pride in the fact that our own sin stack is not too tall, or we are shameful because it is taller than the others. The problem here is that we either see this as an accomplishment for not having the tallest stack or we worry too much because we believe our stack is too tall - we feel inferior or superior to others depending on how they compare to us. Now, if we look at it from God’s perspective, he watches over us from above, so the stacks that all seem so different to us are exactly the same in his eyes: we all have sinned, but no sinner is greater than another. We are all equal.
The reason I decided to try and explain that little metaphor is because we often are ashamed of the things we have done and it seems like we will be judged by God for how tall our stack is, but first of all, God will never judge us harshly for the sins we commit - he loves us and hopes that we will go to him when we mess up. Second of all, God can’t judge us or compare us to others like we so often do when we all have the same stacks in his eyes. We are his children and he wants us to come to him when we have done wrong, because he has the power to forgive and can release the weight of the sin from our souls. We should never turn away from God when we are fearful of what he will think of our sin, because we are not strong enough to hold on to our own sin - Christ died on the cross for us for this very reason.
It’s important to understand this, because at times we turn away from the Lord to help us with our struggles: we are ashamed. When we feel shame for this, we are choosing to walk away and hide from God. The more you hold on to these feelings, the heavier the sin will feel (spoiler alert: no matter how long you hold on to this sin or how bad it may seem, God will always forgive you!!). God tells the people “I will forgive their wickedness” - I don’t know how else to say it, but he is literally telling them that he will forgive all for their bad deeds. God is an all-powerful and compassionate father - he cares deeply for each and every one of us, and he wants to be the one we go to when we have done something bad; he’s the only one that can bear the weight of our sin.
He does not get angry when we commit a sin, but he rejoices when we come to him for forgiveness and guidance in these situations. Take time to talk to him about the struggles and weaknesses you have, because the only thing that will ever last is his love for us, and he desires to help us grow and help us conquer the pain and weakness that is holding us down. Choosing to hide from God when we are ashamed of our sin is like letting the sin control us. Don’t let the sin and shame take over when we have a wonderful God who always forgives and will always be with us through the hard times!
We can never do anything that will cause God to love us any less - he will always forgive us, always love us, and always care for us.

A Witness To Life

By SOPHIE DRUFFNER

Today is the forty-second anniversary of Roe versus Wade. Today, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion was legal through the first three months of a pregnancy, and with the accompanying case of Doe v. Bolton, nine months.

But I don’t want to talk about abortion. I want to talk about time and hope. I want to take you back to a time where organized killing of a certain group of people was legal, a time which is now left to history books, empty concentration camps, and acertain Diary of a Young Girl.

The lie was cast in iron, invincible, unchanged since the seventy years past when those who entered the camp saw it for the first time—“Arbeit macht frei.” But it was not the lie which was so shocking, for I had seen it written in accounts and stories. Instead, it was the bigness, the largesse, the endless space of the area which we were standing it. The camp was millions of meters of light gray gravel, extending into eternity. I wondered how many thousands or millions of feet had marched here, had been wounded here, had died here. I looked around and saw the barbed wire, separated from the gravel by several feet of blooming green grass. The grass was so green, so lively, against the grayness of the area and the sadness of the bright day. Then the tour guide told our orchestral group that people had run across that short feet of grass into the electric fence, wishing to end their pain once and for all. And then I saw to my right a horrid portrayal of corpses in the fence, also in blackened iron, two stories tall, and even the grass lost its allure. The stick figures were twisted and writhing, at once part of the fence but also apart from it. Although the figures had no faces, I could picture their screams.
Then there were the Blocks which the people of Dachau had burned after the Nazis had left. The townspeople wished to burn the evidence of their hate so that the world would wear blinkers. They wished to eradicate the memories of the corpses, built up in graves, because the coal supply had run out at the crematorium. They wished to take away the memories of the American soldiers’ liberation, and the subsequent forced march of the German people of Dachau into the camp—Look at what you have done, look at what your indifference has wrought. Look what happened when you were warm in your beds, when you complained about having to go with less because of the war. Look and see.
I looked and I saw too but I survived. I looked at my sin, and my friends’ sin, and the sin of all who look and refuse to see. For it was not just the Germans who did this to the hapless political prisoners, homosexuals, Jews, and other lost ones in the camp. It was the time that I and my smirking sixth-grade friend wrote ten things that we hated about a boy in my class, and then showed it to him. It was the time that I had gossiped about how a girl a grade above me talked so properly, so fake, without knowing that she had undergone years of speech pathology because of a defect in her upper lip. It was all the times that my immaturity and indifference had caused some to laugh at the expense of others.

I looked again and saw the altar just outside of the crematoriums on which people of all faiths had celebrated Easter Mass together on the day of liberation of the Dachau camp—Easter Sunday. It was right outside of the gas chamber, directly in front of the ovens. It was small and white and had words written in all languages on it, words of joy and hope. For these people too were resurrected from the dirt and death; they had become new through the life of liberation.

This is our hope, our future. Outside of the gas chambers, outside of the instruments of torture and killing, stood the place the prisoners had forgiven their captors. Here, the prisoners forgave the thieves in the night, the Reich which had stolen their family, friends, and homes.  

We, too, need to forgive. It is easy to look upon those who advocate to destroy young lives with hate. But that is not what Jesus called us to do. Jesus, the ultimate Innocent, was killed on the cross, and yet he and his disciples forgave us, we who killed him with very time we chose not to love God, self, or neighbor. One day the fight against abortion will be won, but today, we need to forgive those who fight against us; they know not what they do.

Mk 3:7:12 March for Life 2015

Thursday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By JENNIFER BURGIN

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea. Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.

March for the Babies   Today, the annual March for Life takes place in Washington D.C. Since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision 42 years ago, over 57 million babies have died from abortion.  This is a colossal tragedy, especially when I think about the brilliant scientists, inventors, and artists alive today if only their mothers chose life!  What if the late Steve Jobs was aborted instead of given up for adoption?  No Apple Corp - no Mac, no iPad, no iPhone.....our electronic gizmos would be quite different, if invented at all.

 I applaud the brave pro-lifers, who despite the wintry elements, proudly rally and march on behalf of unborn children.  What I find so amazing about this event are the sheer numbers of youth participating.  They grow exponentially each year.  What a change from my parents' generation who planted the weeds for abortion-on-demand.  Sadly, my mom is still very pro-choice to this day.  In fact, she makes critical remarks about the March for Life each year.  I just ignore her comments. Certain subjects my mom and I do not discuss; abortion is one of them.

Before I became Catholic, and learned about the horrors behind Planned Parenthood, I was pro-choice just like mom.  I always said to myself that as a single person if I ever became pregnant I'd opt for an abortion.  I'd go so far as travel out of state for one.  The last thing I wanted was to confront a sidewalk counselor begging me to save my baby. Thank the Lord my attitude towards Life changed.  I know now I could never kill my unborn child. Life is too sacred and precious.  Only God has the right to take away a life, and it's according to His master plan.

As I age, I've learned to enjoy children more.  In the past, I'd never be caught holding a kid.  I'd quickly shy away from the whole baby coo and poo thing.  All this changed after a recent trip to Nevada to visit my sister and her husband.  I taught my 10 month old niece how to clap her hands for the first time!  I couldn't believe the smile on her face.  (My sister raves how much the baby loves her Auntie Jennifer!!)  I wish I could hold that bundle of joy in my arms right now.  Having family living long distance is a challenge, especially since children grow so quickly and the "firsts" are often missed. My sister set up an account through the website Lifecake, so I follow my niece's development each week.

A Sea of Crowds A parallel can be drawn between the vast crowds following Jesus and the thousands of pro-lifers marching onto the steps of The Capitol and Supreme Court buildings.  Both crowds, biblical and modern-day, walk with an enthusiastic mission.   They desire healing and forgiveness; change and conversion. They rely on faith, trusting God will provide physical and emotional healing.  Furthermore, they remain hopeful that their lives, and the lives of their children, will remain protected from dark and evil practices.

Let us spend a few moments in prayer for a greater respect for human life and even more converts to the pro-life movement!

"How can there be too many children?  That is like saying there are too many flowers." -Mother Teresa


This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin.  Please follow her blog:  Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mk 3:1-6 The Psychology of Legalism

Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

By Benedict Augustine

“He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death.”

The Pharisees pick an odd time to plot a murder:they decide on this immediately after Jesus heals a man’s withered hand. He does not announce his intention to overturn social order or lead his fellow Jews away from God, nor does He threaten the Pharisees themselves; instead, He heals a man’s of a particularly debilitating injury. This act of love obviously clashes with the preconceptions of the Pharisees. Their God did not afflict people in vain, but punished them for some good reason, for some kind of sin. That Jesus, Who claimed God as His father, reversed that condition, on the Sabbath no less, could only mean one thing: Jesus was the Evil One.

This ironic conclusion of the conspirators clearly demonstrates that intelligence and learning in a person do not count for much if his heart has “hardened.” They break numerous commandments in order to correct Jesus’ possible violation of the Sabbath. They would rather imagine God as a cruel deity taking pleasure in the suffering of His childrenthan as a compassionate creator hoping to redeem His creation. Filled with such righteous indignation, they stand there dumb as Jesus asks them, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” They see nothing evil in letting this man suffer, but they do sense something deeply wrong in healing him. The Law, as they understand it, does not seem to make provisions for healing on the Sabbath, but it does declare the Sabbath as a day of rest. Therefore, they do not see Jesus healing a man, but Jesus breaking a law.  

Although to outsiders, this obsessively legalistic perspective seems to have little appeal to any person in their right minds, this reverence of the law made perfect sense to the Jews. In their collective history up to that point—and afterward, for that matter—people had failed them time and again. Their kings failed them; most of their prophets seemed to fail them; the priests failed them; even the people failed themselves. History taught the Jews one thing: human beings were bound to fail. By contrast, God’s Law remained, uncorrupted, unchanged since its recording by Moses over a millennium ago. The Law, not man, could redeem Israel. Should the Messiah arrive, He would most certainly agree with this assessment and tout the Law as the Pharisees did and as their predecessors,the Maccabees, did. He would not violate the Law, and he would dare not supersede the Law in his own person. Unfortunately, Jesus does exactly that.

The Pharisees feel that they would lose what little gains they had made with such innovations while Jesus knew that Law promised something much greater than befuddling an insecure people. Jesus also understood that the Law in itself has no life, confers no life, and if idolized, actually destroys life.Thus, Jesus makes the point that God instituted Sabbath, and the Law as a whole, to restore men, not confine them. A day of rest, a day of love, a day of prayer should heal men, not paralyze or wither them.

In their zeal, the Pharisees fall into the same trap as any group that despairs of men and seeks stabilityfrom the law: they believe that the Law is bigger than men. This thinking easily transitions into the State being bigger than men; hence, both the Pharisees and Herodians imagined a political messiah, not a spiritual one. In modern centuries,thinkers like Thomas Hobbes and Karl Marx championed a slavish devotion to the state and its laws as though the sheer political power of the state made its laws sacrosanct—“might makes right.” In this warped mentality, eliminating men for the sake of the law, for the sake of state, makes perfect sense.

Even Americans today cling to the idea that the laws of the government can make things right and absolve the sins of the people. Tomorrow will mark the 41stanniversary of the disastrous decision of Roe v. Wadethat made abortion legal in the United States. Millions of babies have died since then. In minds of so many reluctant mothers and fathers, the logic of the law had more weight than life of their children. Like the Pharisees seeing the Sabbath as an excuse to let the sick suffer, so many in America see freedom as an excuse to let infanticide run rampant. Those who support abortion see their opponents as the Pharisees saw Jesus: a threat to their conscience and their conception of the good.

Abortion proves that legalism is alive and well even today. The hissing and seething of the pro-choice movement prove that the vindictive spirit of the Pharisees lives on. Following the lead of Jesus, Christians should continue confront this logic of death, grieve over it, and proceed to heal those in need.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Heb 6:10-20 Anchor of the Soul

Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

By JENNIFER BURGIN 

  ....we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil,  where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever...


As a kid, I was mesmerized by the ocean. We lived near San Francisco Bay in the heart of a Northern California.  We often visited Fisherman's Wharf or drove through the hilly streets of downtown admiring the ocean front. I'll never forget the low lying fog, the damp chill, and the smell of the salty air.  

 Years later, after we moved to Dallas, I remember how my mother decorated my bedroom with an ocean-themed bed spread, artwork, and sea-related toys. She knew my childhood dream was to become a marine biologist someday.  I wanted to be a female Jacques Cousteau! I relished in the idea of saving the tortoises, the coral reefs, and the colorful fish.  The ocean's fauna and flora appealed to my childhood curiosity.  Sadly, my childhood dream never achieved reality.  God directed me on a totally different path; a path I never imagined so challenging yet spiritually fruitful.  

We all have dreams as children. Maybe we wish to become an NFL football star or an Olympic athlete.  Maybe we want to grow up to be a rock star or a famous actor.  Maybe life as a priest or sister will be a dream come true....

Dreams bring hope to the future. We have something to look forward to and something to prepare for.  When we stop dreaming, that's when life fails to progress.  I think of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech.  Just imagine if Dr. King gave up his fight for Civil Rights. Wow, how things would be different.... 

Maybe we dream of becoming another Martin Luther King as we strive to preserve the Right to Life  from birth until natural death...

When the ocean of life becomes rocky, and our hopes and dreams crash around us, Jesus Christ is our rescue.  He is the anchor of the soul.  When we believe and trust in Him, our sailboats won't float away.  It's as if Jesus places an anchor around our hearts so that we never drift away from him permanently. Yes, there are times our hopes and dreams don't pan out.  We may blame God for our misfortunes, attempting to yank apart the heavy rope linking us to Christ's anchor.  However, we must remember that sometimes things don't work out because God has something else better planned!  Christ's anchor doesn't rust away.  It stays firmly in place in our soul.  When our souls wish to veer into uncharted territory, God doesn't allow us to stray too far.  In fact, with steadfast patience and eagerness to follow God's will our lives calm down.  Dire situations become smooth sailing.  Christ's anchor no longer feels heavy and burdensome.  

What are your dreams and ambitions?  Is Christ part of your plan?  Imagine sailing along the high seas destined for a promising future.  You have the anchor of the soul bound tightly to your vessel. Christ's anchor keeps you on course through life's ups and downs. The anchor is always set sure and firm in place.

“The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed.”- Maya Angelou


This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin.  Please follow her blog:  Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality



Monday, January 19, 2015

Heb 4:12-16 Alive and Active!

Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By GABY HUNDZA

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than a double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 
There’s a lot going on in these few verses, and everything being said is wonderful and important, so I think it’s best if I break it down;
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than a double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
The word of the Lord is living and it will always be alive, for the word is the truth and the truth will continue on for eternity; it will always be the truth and will never fail to be heard. It is active and effective in the way that it changes lives and stirs up the soul. Our spirits are transformed by God’s message. When we are struggling, the Lord can bring us peace, and He does not fail to provide what is necessary for us. He reminds us of our worth and purpose, he tells us how much he loves us, he reveals to us our true beauty. There is beauty in everyone, and he sees it; he recognizes the goodness in our hearts.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin.

Sometimes this is hard for me to fully understand, but God sent his only son down to endure the pain and temptations that we face every day because of the immense love he has for us. Jesus suffered for us sinners. He understands what we are going through, no matter what is going on. Like I said before, he recognizes the goodness in our hearts; however, he also sees the sadness and feels the pain that we experience. We are blessed to have a great high priest that not only sacrificed his life for us, but also understands the happiness, sorrow, joy, and pain we go through. We are undeserving of the sacrifice Christ made for us, but we are worthy because of God’s grace.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

In 8th grade I wasn’t very comfortable with the community I was exposed to at the church due to my own personality, and consequentially I had doubts in myself. I chose to “take a break” from attending mass, and I decided not to get confirmed with my class. During my first year and a half of high school, I was strong in my faith but I still felt lost. I had no doubts in our God, but I didn’t have any confidence in myself. At my school we take religious courses, so I began to dig even deeper into the word, and as a result I began to listen to the plan God had for me. I began attending mass again sophomore year, I spent more time with the Lord, and I discovered who I was. A verse that I’ve come to love while talking about my journey of faith is Galatians 4:9 - “but now that you know God - or rather are known by God - how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” It really describes what I went through - the struggles I dealt with and the recovery I made.

I know now to rely completely on God, because he cares for all of us deeply and wants the best for us. God will give us all that we need, and he is patient when we are not ready to listen or accept what he provides. I may be three years later than the typical Catholic girl, but I know God is rejoicing over the fact that I finally am ready to be confirmed and start a new chapter in my journey of faith.
I think of the Bible like God’s love letters to us. He is actually talking to us through this beautiful book. When we choose to listen to what He is telling us, we are transformed. We gain confidence. We understand his love for us. We believe in ourselves. We know who we are and whose we are.

Gaby Hundza is an active high school student with a heart of gold and a spirit that is very much alive and active!  She is a frequent contributor to this blog.  Thank you Gaby!