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!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mk 7:14-23 Both A Blessing And A Curse

Wednesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.

God gave us beautiful hearts, capable of magnifying His love to all we encounter. Through these hearts, we find passion. We create. We love. We live.
But God also gave us free will. Both a blessing and a curse, free will allows us to actualize our heart’s desires. We’re not just robots on some pre-destined, uncontrollable route to the grave. We control the route we take.
Our Father could keep us like puppets on His string, but instead, He trusts us with free will. He allows us to choose whether or not we want to live life beside Him. And when we do, when the will of our hearts is aligned with the will of God, perfect harmony ensues. We’re living the life He wants for us, a life that—although not devoid of tribulation—is rooted in Christ and can overcome any trial.
The discord comes, however, when our hearts stray, when we abuse free will and turn away.  Our paths no longer point to Christ and the evil within our hearts creeps out without Him to combat it. The devil now guides our actions. All the vices and sins this gospel passage speaks about surface. God is left chasing after us trying to pick up the pieces we savagely tear apart and throw in our wake.
It’s important for us to be aware of the evil capacities of our own hearts. It’s the reason we see war, oppression, violence, slavery to sin, death, and more. Men created with a good purpose allow the devil to win the battle for their heart. Their view of God becomes distorted and evil springs forth within them. No one forces it upon them; rather, quite ironically, it is through their very own freedom that they enslave themselves to their sins.
It’s a danger that always follows close behind the path of a Christian. Our sin and our selfishness, the devil within our own hearts, wishes to watch us abuse God’s gift of free will. The devil wants to see us crash and burn.  And the faster we run toward Christ, the harder he tries to trip us up. That’s why being a Christian is never easy.
If you set heaven as your goal, getting there won’t be a walk in the park. Each time you think you’ve finally figured God out, something will come and knock you off your high horse, something that can either cause you to turn to God for comfort or away from Him and toward false, fading comfort.
Within your heart, undoubtedly, evil will creep up. It’s a fact of humanity we can’t deny. It will be tempting to say yes, but it will harm your connection to Christ. And each subsequent denial of your purpose is like cutting another cord that links you to God. So how, then, do we combat it?
How do we keep this connection intact? How, as Christians, can we fight the good fight and resist the evil within us that will undoubtedly attempt to surface?
A relationship with God and a relationship with others are key. There are countless ways to go about this, but I’d like to share with you a method that has worked wonders for my faith community.
Prayer buddies. My youth minister (featured in the Jan. 16 post “The Leper and a Catholic Hater”) proposed this idea a few months ago as a means of making us more comfortable praying. Three people pray three days a week for three intentions. You can meet, call, or text. Since we’re on different schedules, my group texts. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, we send three intentions and all pray for each intention. That’s 9 people prayed for (by three people) in one day. 27 per week. 108 per month!!!! 108. Crazy. Just think of the effect this system could have if any of you reading this gave it a shot, too. (And this is Fr. Alfonse’s blog, so there must be a lot of people reading. Thousands of prayers each month….now THAT is powerful.)
This practice is not only an awesome way to expand the power of prayer, but also a way to stay focused on Christ. Each week since we began, I find myself looking for people in need of prayers. I’m more receptive to others’ needs. And I’m more willing to share my own struggles when sometimes I’m the one in need of prayers.
A mere group text has become, for us, a prayer community. It’s hard to let evil seep in when you’re reminded each day to spot those in need of God’s love.
Combat the evil within your own heart. Pray. Pray for your own strength and the strength of those around you. It will be hard to maintain a close relationship with Christ. It will be hard to keep the evil from surfacing. But with a Savior who never stops loving you and a faith community who recognizes the power of prayer, you’ll find all the strength you need.

Faith is a Senior at Ursuline Academy.  Please visit her website at heavens boulevard.  


  1. I'm assuming this was a collaboration with someone else but thank you Fr, this was exactly what my soul needed! And I love the idea of "praying it forward"

  2. Faith - Wow, another fantastic meditation! You are such a gifted writer! I love the idea of prayer buddies. Thank-you for sharing. :)



  3. (As Faith wrote this, I am curious what her reply would be, but feel free to reply as well Father)

    "But God also gave us free will."

    How do you reconcile free will with God's supposed perfect omniscience? If he knows exactly what we are going to do before we do, we cannot make another choice, because then God would have been wrong. If God knew, trillions of years before he even created the universe that I will end up in hell, being tortured for all of eternity, what choice do I have in the matter? Why would God still even create me if for no other purpose that I eventually end up in hell? Doesn't sound very loving to me.

    Does God even have free will if he is omniscient? He knew, again trillions of years before the universe was created, that he would have to send his son, could he have done otherwise when the time came, or is he powerless to change his own mind?

    "He allows us to choose whether or not we want to live life beside Him."

    And if we chose not to, he tortures us for all eternity. Could God have given us free will in such a way that we could still make choices, but not torture us for not choosing what he wants? If you knew of a parent who demanded their child love, worship and obey them, otherwise they would beat them constantly for the rest of their life, would you call that loving?

    Will we have free will in heaven? Once we get there, can we later decide that we no longer want to worship God? Why should God care if we disobey him for what is essentially no time (comparing human life span to infinite time) if we won't be able to for the rest of eternity?

    1. Dear Anonymous, (I think my response is too long so I'll break it up)

      First of all, thanks for reading my post! And for commenting. I always appreciate feedback and hearing what questions my posts raise in the minds of readers.

      I'd like to respond to a few points you raised, but just to preface that: Father Alfonse's response and advice is good, so I'm just adding my own personal responses on top of that. And I am a 17 year old high school kid, so although I am passionate about learning more about my faith, I don't have all the answers. And I have nowhere near the experience that priests, religious, and most lay people have in regards to such complex issues as free will. So, that being said....

      There's a big flaw in your reasoning, so let me offer insight on that, because it may straighten up your other points. Just because God knows what we're going to do, it doesn't mean we can't make another choice. Think about this: every human, because of our inherently sinful nature, will at some point in their lives disobey God. God knows this. He knows when, how, and why we'll mess up. But He doesn't say "Oh Bob's going to mess up, so I might as well not make him." He chooses to still create us DESPITE our inevitable failures, not because He wants to watch us burn, but because He loves us. A God who didn't love us wouldn't bother to create us. Our God gives us a chance to try to follow Him on our earthly lives. He knows we will fail, but He's not forcing us to fail. He knows we're not perfect, but we still have a shot at heaven; otherwise, why create us and love us, imperfections and all? He didn't create us with free will just so we could fail. He created us with free will so we could turn to Him, and in doing so, avoid failure caused by sin.

      God could have changed circumstances so that He didn't have to send His Son to die. I've often thought about that. But then that would mean we never messed up and sin didn't come around and create death to begin with. That would mean we lived in a perfect world, otherwise known as heaven. But alas, God doesn't want to rob us off the option to choose or not choose Him, so He gave us free will. Fruit was eaten and the rest is history. Good thing heaven's still out there.

      Besides, had God not sent His Son, regardless of how awful Jesus' death was, we would find no consolation in suffering. We wouldn't be able to look at a Cross and say "Jesus endured the very same human pain I'm enduring...and He overcame it." That's love. Jesus' death is painful and horrible, but His Resurrection gives it a new light: it teaches us how much God loves us. He died to save us from Hell. He died so that His sinful, disobedient children would have a chance at heaven, even in a world where sin is inevitable. Talk about love. Why die if we weren't worth the fight? If we were too sinful to be worthy of creation, too sinful to achieve union with Him? He died so we could be reunited one day, so that we could overcome the separation our sin and failures caused.

    2. (Part 2)

      One other clarification: Hell isn't necessarily the fiery pit of doom you seem to suggest. Hell is the absence of God. And when we die and realize God and heaven are real, and we chose not to partake in it, then lacking God forever seems like torture, more so than it does when choose to lack Him on earth. So God's not "beating" us necessarily. He's just not there, which, once we realize how awful that is, is pretty darn torturous. Like choosing not to attend an awesome birthday party. You're stuck at home the whole time and you hear how awesome the party is and get bummed. The person who threw the party isn't beating you up, but you feel pretty hurt that you're not there, that you chose not to accept His invitation. Let me know if that doesn't make full sense and I'll rephrase it. But once again, I don't know who goes to hell and who doesn't. I'm just throwing this out there to clear up some approaches to the subject,

      If we don't live a life beside Christ, it doesn't mean we face torture. I know of a lot of people who stray from God often. I do it! Though I don't know, I would hope we're not destined to Hell. After all, everyone strays. Even the saints. And they're in heaven, so there's hope for us after all. Also, who am I to say that those who were never exposed to Christ deserve hell? This is a tricky subject that Pope Francis' infallibility would do best to answer, but from my perspective, not choosing God does not mean facing torture. Our God is a loving God. Think about the Cross some more if you need convincing in that matter. He doesn't will our demise. Suffering is merely the result of evil and sin that we create. God doesn't torture us for not choosing Him because He's always willing to welcome us back into His arms. Think about Reconciliation.

      Will we have free will in heaven? Well, I believe in heaven, we will be perfectly united to Christ. In the process, our will will become His will. So then all these doubts we have on earth will finally make sense. We will finally achieve what our soul has been longing for since God created us. We are finally united to Him. Why would we want to leave? Our will will be His and we will be perfect and happy. Thoughts of leaving God should never even come to our minds because in heaven we'll see God firsthand. And to see God firsthand is all our souls could ever want and more.

      I hope this has answered some of your questions. I invite you to listen to two songs that are related to the points I made: "Beloved" by Tenth Avenue North and "The Struggle" (by the same band).

      God bless!

  4. Anonymous: Before I take the time to answer your question, let me ask you a question. What philosophical and/or Christian research have you done on these questions? Your questions are old, not at all original. The philosophical and theological answers are not hard to find. It just takes a little bit of effort on your part.

    So the question is: What difficulties did you find?

    You sent this message at 2:32 pm. I just read it. It's 2:58 pm. There's a great book from Dr. Peter Kreeft of Boston College, a convert to Catholicism and a professor of philosophy entitled: "Everything you ever wanted to know about Heaven, but never dreamed of asking."

    I think you will find the answers to your heart's, and most importantly, mind's desires.

  5. Whoops! I forgot to mention the page. (Page 39) "Will We Be Free to Sin in Heaven?"

    The question deals with free will. It is stated in the form of "sin" because of modernity's most pervasive illusion: the association of freedom with rebellion and of obedience with unfreedom.

    Given the fact that God is both sinless and the freest person in the world, then we take him as our model of understanding free will and heaven.

    Read on. This will help relieve the pseudo problems.

    1. "What philosophical and/or Christian research have you done on these questions?"

      Admittedly not much on these questions, but I have read some apologetics just for general knowledge.

      "There's a great book..."

      Sorry, but that sounds way to much like Ken Ham during his debate. But I digress...

      Our local library does not have it, perhaps you could summarize? I looked around some online and came across, which appears to be from the same author but I would guess the book may go more in depth. Regardless, I remain unconvinced. The problem with many of these theological arguments is that they already assume the answer they are looking then try to figure out how to make the facts fit. Similar to other flawed arguments such as Pascal's Wager, Anselm's Ontological argument, Aquinas' First Cause, etc. To me, it seems that if you were already a believer, they may help justify why you believe, but if you are not, there is nothing there of any real substance.

      "This will help relieve the pseudo problems. "

      If it is anything like the aforementioned apologetics, not really, but thanks for the reading suggestion. I may keep looking.

    2. YOU SAID: "Sorry, but that sounds way to much like Ken Ham during his debate. But I digress..."

      Really? Was Ken Ham the first to say it? Are you saying that only Ken Ham tells people to read great books? How silly, anonymous. Really. You're counter-argument is no argument at all, just a simple immature response.

      YOU SAID: "Our local library does not have it, perhaps you could summarize?"

      Like you summarize? You claim certain arguments have no substance without supplying any substance as to why they have no substance. By the way, the list you present as "arguments" do not deal at all with the questions you initially raised.

      It seems to me you just googled something and then cut and pasted it. How revealing. Unfortunately, you googled the wrong things and cut and pasted the wrong arguments!


      YOU SAID: "It seems that if you were already a believer, they may help justify why you believe, but if you are not, there is nothing there of any real substance."

      Are you unaware of the atheist Russell Bertrand's proof of 2+2 =4? It's a very long proof. Now you know he knew this before he set out to prove it, right? :)

      Or how about all the scientists who "prove" their theories. Didn't they already believe in them before they went about "proving" them?

      YOU SAID: "I may keep looking." Why not say the truth: I may keep googling. :)

      Can I offer a suggestion: why not start reading. Why not read what Peter Kreeft wrote and then comment on his arguments (as opposed to arguing based on thin air).

    3. Correction: Bertrand's proof was 1+1=2.

  6. Brilliant Jonathan! Just plan brilliant. I never knew that about Bertrand Russell. Anonymous #1: I lost respect for you long ago when you refused to acknowledge your clumsy mistake about Nelson Mandela.

    As a former atheist, I can honestly say that pride can blind. I was so full of myself that I could never acknowledge the littlest of mistakes. When I told a coworker there was no evidence for God, they made a list of every mistake I made and how I never acknowledged them, even though the evidence was right in front of me.

    You are just like that.

    Oh, and by the way, your responses are so typical of all the atheistic manuals I used to read; you know, the question/answer types. So typical of a one-sided approach to understanding things.


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