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, August 25, 2012

Mt 23: 1-12 Heavy Burdens To Carry

Mt 23: 1-12  Heavy Burdens To Carry
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.  Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example.  For they preach but they do not practice.  They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry…”
Do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example.   Some months ago, the Italian media began publishing hundreds of personal memos and letters by high ranking prelates working in the Vatican.  This scandal, known as “Vati-leaks”, is the stuff of soap operas.  It paints a horrible picture of some the personalities working closely with the Holy Father.  Not a few of these Cardinals and Bishops appear to be solely interested in advancing their careers.  Of course, these individuals (and documents) have become a source embarrassment and distraction for the Church, the Holy Father and the entire people of God.  Recently, the Holy Father called the entire Roman Curia together to blast them for their selfish ambitions and personal desires for personal gain.  In a nutshell, the Pope told them:  When you were invited to work at the Vatican, you were not invited to be served by others, but to serve others.  You are not here because you earned it.  You are here because you were called.  Get to work!
We really shouldn’t be scandalized by what is very human.  It’s very human to blame others for my failures.  It’s very human to point the finger at others.  It’s perfectly normal to make excuses for one’s incompetence. What’s remarkable - rather stunning - is that the Lord did not tell his disciples that the Pharisees were evil men; or that they preached evil things.  In fact, He told them that they preached what they were supposed to teach (the truth).  But they didn’t practice what they preached; or better yet, they didn’t preach what they practiced.  There’s a novelty for you! 
And by not doing so, they added extra burdens on sinners!  They isolated the open sinners from the hidden sinners.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry.  I have noticed that kids always love it when I tell them personal stories about myself, especially of my past mistakes.  They love it because they never ever expected it.  Actually, they love it because they can relate to it.  My hope and prayer for doing so is that they can relate to it in confession!  That is one of my goals during a retreat:  to get to confession and to get others to go to confession as well.
I don’t know about you, but I have noticed how the lines for communion are always much longer than the lines for confession.  I think it’s because we are far more inclined to let others see our good side than our bad side.  And this is the problem.  It’s not always a good thing.  According to today’s Gospel, the Lord’s problem with the Pharisees is not that they not perfect, it’s that they cannot relate to sinners, even though they are sinners themselves.  They tie up heavy burdens hard for others to carry because they tie their burdens upon the shoulders of others.  In other words, what makes it harder for me to carry my burden is if I think I am the only one carrying any burden at all!  If I pick up at how everyone around me is receiving communion, chances are I WILL TOO!  If I notice someone crossing their arms and receiving a blessing, I will be more inclined to do the same.
We can make ourselves more accessible (and more relatable) by making ourselves more transparent.  It’s not easy.  It’s no fun.  It’s not without its risks.  But it will end up being a bit relaxing for others.  What happens when someone opens up their heart to another?  The others follow.  And even more will eventually follow.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

14 comments:

  1. Fr
    I don't want to embarass you so I don't expect you to post this but when I read your blog today I felt I had to send you a message.

    After reading your blog yesterday my 16 year old son came to me and told me that Fr Alfonse drives too fast all the time so whats the problem?

    What could I say? Don't do what he does, do what he says?

    So when I read today's blog I thought it was a sign to say something.

    I am not criticizing you there are plenty of things that I do or have done that are not good examples for my kids. But I only have two kids to be a bad example to.

    I just thought maybe you hadn't thought of that.

    God bless you. You have many young eyes on you.

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    1. What could you say? I would have told your son to read the meditation again, especially the part where I write that being generous does not eliminate being reckless. Or, striving to be a saint does not take the fact away of being a sinner. He doesn't hide the one from the other. He reveals that the one lives inside the other. Then, I would have gone on to say that driving fast is huge temptation, especially for young men. You have to fight it while you are still young, otherwise it becomes a habit that's hard to break or hard not to excuse.
      And yes...Don't do what he does. Do what he says. Just like any good mentor, mom, dad, brother or sister. It's nonsense to think that the only thing I can say to someone is what I have already mastered. Tell your son the truth. Tell your son to be organized, even if you are not organized. All the more reason to tell him. We want our kids to be better than us, not equal.

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    2. It is interesting how it sounds like so many people will say they dont like to get speeding tickets or to be careful not to get caught, but very rarely does one say that maybe they should quit speeding or that it is even wrong.

      Speeding seems to be one of those things that is wrong that everyone accepts as normal and ok to do in our society.

      True its not as serious as other wrongs that have become acceptable.

      So maybe it is an unjust law like abortion being legal.

      I know it sounds like making a big deal out of nothing but my neice was killed by someone who's only crime was speeding and not being able to stop soon enough. So it is a big deal to her husband, kids, parents.......

      ps I do recall Fr A mentioning one time in his blog that he did hear that small voice telling him he would not get tickets if he didn t speed. So Im not dogging you Fr. We are all human.

      I guess this is an issue for me because of my experience. I do realize that deaths caused by speeding usually involve other factors.

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    3. I have to say, to everyone, I think we put an unrealistic expectation on our men of the cloth. We seem to think being a priest means being perfect all of the time in every situation. I am a parent and I absolutely want my children to do BETTER than I do. I was not a good student in the beginning, but I learned to take it more seriously in college. Should I tell my young sons' that or should I preach to have better habits in grade school now? I have a sweet tooth, but I try to teach my sons' to eat healthy. Does that make me a bad mother? I try my best to model better behavior, but I am not perfect. And I think the same goes for our priests. Give them a break. What makes Father Alfonse relatable, he is a pretty down to earth guy who happens to be a priest. Jesus and Mary...perfect, the rest of us trying our best. I'm sorry Father, why do people think priests should be completely perfect?

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    4. I agree with you, Anonymous. It is unrealistic to expect perfection in our priests. You are definitely not a bad mother for wanting the best for your children. Nobody is perfect. God made us that way because He along with his Blessed Mother are perfection.

      I think people think priests should be completely perfect because priests are visible representatives of Christ. (As close to God as a human person can get in many ways.) Through their ordination, they have been given tremendous responsibility in the care of our souls. They consecrate the Eucharist for us to consume every single day. They minister to all of us on our spiritual journeys. We naturally expect a priest to be kind, understanding, disciplined, rule obeying, and authoritative. When one of these expectations isn't met, then we question it.

      (Sorry, I don't mean to answer for you, Father. I'm sure you can write a whole meditation on perfection.)

      -J.

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    5. Why do we think priests should be perfect? Because it gives us the perfect excuse to not be perfect!

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    6. So tell me the reason why Father Alfonse,
      you would not be prefect? You follow God path right?

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    7. Well !
      just want to say " I think u are prefect in my eye"

      compare to other adults in my life :) LOL

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    8. Far from it!!! We all have our struggles, doubts, temptations and falls. The Lord knows. Sometimes people say why should I confess my sins to a priest if he is just as much a sinner as I am. Well. I went to the doctor recently and told him what I was suffering from ad he told me that he suffers from the same thing. And then he treated me. A priest treats sins. He isn't immune to them.

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    9. Well, Father, I'm thankful you're not perfect!!! I don't think I could relate to you as well if you were unblemished and flawless. Your imperfections are what make you inspiring and interesting! ;)

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  2. Very nice meditation, Father Alfonse.

    Transparency.....I guess I'm one of those individuals who easily reveals the good, bad and ugly about myself. I show my feelings in my words and body language. I've sometimes thought it was a curse to be so revealing. ("Wearing your heart on your sleeve" doesn't fit too well in some areas like the workplace. Been there, done that will drastic consequences.) I don't want to be a fake. I like the idea that I can share a little about myself with the hope that someone else will share with others. Along with relaxing, it's much more loving to be open with one another.

    After reading this meditation, I went straight to confession. I didn't want to be one of those people in line for communion with sin on my heart! I've definitely become a little harder on myself when examining my conscience. I used to avoid confession like it was the plague, becoming nauseated at the thought of telling my nasty sins to a priest! But, then thanks to Father Alfonse my idea of confession completely changed into something positive. Now I confess monthly, sometimes more often if I'm really having a hard time. (This month especially....) Holy communion is much more sacred and intimate when I know my mortal sins have been forgiven. That heavy burden is lifted. Yes, sin tends to pile up again when I get off track and do stupid stuff. However, I know the Lord always has the door open and ready to take me back into his loving arms.

    Confession is a powerful sacrament and a great compliment to healthy living. We think of a healthy life as taking our vitamins, eating right and exercising but regular confession should be added to the regimen. :)

    Blessings & Peace to All,

    -Jennifer

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  3. I have to thank Father Alfonse from potentially keeping me from getting a ticket this morning on the way to Mass. I felt we were running late and I had my foot further down on the gas pedal than normal. When I turned onto Walnut Hill from 75, I remembered Father's meditation and slowed down. No tickets and we got to Mass safe, sound and well before it started. So thank you Father for reminding us to drive appropriately. (Of course, I did get more out of your meditation than just obeying traffic laws! This was just a bonus.)

    Craig

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  4. And then he treated me. A priest treats sins. He isn't immune to them.


    I agree,but when a doctor treat something they want a follow up. You know like in two week from the day you went in or after you have taken the medication.



    I could not imagine you having temptations or doubts?? or do you.

    You are a man and a human being!
    I see that :)




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