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!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lk 12:29-53 Setting The Earth On Fire

Thursday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to his disciples:  "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!"

Set the earth on fire.  Did your fire die out long ago? 

I find it disturbing the significant number of young men and women (from the West) traveling to Syria to join the Islamic State's caliphate.  We're not talking about ten or twenty crazy people;  We're talking thousands and thousands of well-educated, well-established young men and women risking their lives to take up arms to take away lives.

They are not crazy.  They are on fire for their faith, and this is crazy!  Why is this crazy?  Because their belief is telling them:  KILL! KILL! KILL!

I used to think it difficult - especially in the 21st century - to convince a young person to take their faith - any faith - seriously.  I never imagined in a million years that thousands of young men and women could so easily be wooed to leave their family and friends, go off to war, commit suicide (or kill someone and cut off their head and take a picture of it) and be proud of it.  And do it all in the name of God.  I don't understand this! 

But what I find even more confusing is the apparent difficulty that Christians have in convincing a young person to share their faith in Jesus Christ with others, share their love for him and (God- forbid) say a personal and silent prayer in school before meals.

What is going on here?  Where is our fire?  

Do we not see that our world - our children and grandchildren - need, more than ever before, our fire for the Lord?  Why do we give up so easily?  What is wrong with us?  Do we not realize how important Christ is to the health of our children?

Our world needs Christ's understanding of Creation - that rationality and freedom are not bad but good.  It needs Christ's understanding of the sacredness of life - that all life, regardless of what others may think, are still children of God.  It needs Christ's understanding of holiness - that "the first shall be last and the last shall be first." It needs Christ's understanding of divine intervention:  mercy, compassion, forgiveness.  What does it look like?  "He who is without sin cast the first stone." What does it not look like? Look at this! WARNING:  This article is very disturbing

Are you eager to join Christ in His fight to save humanity's soul???

Is wish it were already blazing.   I have no doubt that the sickening images of women being stoned to death; and children being kidnapped and turned into sex slaves; and Islamic converts from the American heartland - who turned away from Christianity and turned into suicide killers and bombers - will stir in the hearts of many a repulsion for anything "religious."  That's what the extremists want.  They want the West to turn away from Christ and turn into secular Crusaders.  If this happens, then we will only continue to feed the fires of extreme Islamic ideology and theology, and end up creating more and more warriors for the Islamic State (ISIL). 

What the world needs right now - come to think of it, it is what the world has always needed - are not the fires of hatred and revenge - an image of hell, but the fires of Christ's image and likeness of God - of calm and peace.

Peace be with you. 


  1. Secularism has no response for terrorism. It's a selfish viewpoint that glorifies the individual and casts doubt on everyone else. If someone suffers in the world, that's their problem. It's utterly complacent and irresponsible.What does this self-satisfied attitude rest on? The false notion that this type of think could never spread, could never affect us, could never be so bad. And yet this horror continues to spread, continues to grow worse, and continues to threaten regional and global stability--even our own citizens are joining the enemy.

    People should not let this go. This is the tragedy of our time, and we allow it to happen. We fight rampant terror with ignorance and falsehood. I would say that Muslims show their true sentiments by the apparent indifference to these developments, but I could also say that Christians show their true sentiments by so much indifference for their brethren. We need to pull ourselves away from the idiotic distractions of news and entertainment and demand action from our leaders to help these poor people. The moral imperative has never been so clear.

  2. "Are you eager to join Christ in His fight to save humanity's soul???" - Fr. Alfonse

    Yes! I love how Archbishop Vigneron of Detroit put it:

    "God wants his world back, and it's our job to help him."

    So why don't we do it? Why aren't we bold in our faith? Are we just complacent?

    I don't buy it. I think it's because we haven't really encountered Jesus. In 2007, then Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis) wrote:

    "Knowing Jesus is the best gift that anyone can ever receive. That we have encountered Him is the best thing that has happened in our lives. Making Him known by our deeds and words is our greatest joy.”

    Do we really believe this? Can we honestly stand up in front of our friends and family and say this? In order to really know Jesus, we need to encounter Him through an intimate and consistent prayer life and through consistent reception of the sacraments. Once we are able to believe with utter conviction that our lives make no sense without our intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, we can't help but to evangelize. We will be so excited, we will want to share the message with the world.

  3. Sometimes we are on fire! Everything is cruising along, busy but do-able, stressed but manageable. Then God sees exactly what this world needs: Christians to carry some crosses so that there will be a stronger presence of Jesus here on earth!

    Then here comes another cross, and another, and just one more…

    I know it’s Him asking me again, “Do you love me more than theses?” I often say yes to the small ones. It’s usually the bigger ones that I say no – This is where I lose my fire, but the crosses are still there!! Why can’t I love Him like I say I do? We are not hard or soft in our parenting approach, but we have to be so very creative and hopeful during these teen years! I try to trust that if we do our part, God will do His.

    So I slowly begin to say yes to one, then another.

    When I am weak, He is strong. I love this, because it goes so against our human way of thinking / acting. I wonder what this world would look like if just Christians (including myself) understood the immense power of redemptive suffering which is Jesus crying out for our oneness with Him…. The only thing lacking in Jesus’ suffering is our participation! (Col 1:24)

    This act is truly bringing a greater presence of Jesus on earth. I truly believe we would not see this absolute Hell that is going on in the Middle East! Christians can change this! We are co-creators with God!

    I have work to do!

    Also Benedict: I know Muslims whose behavior is far superior to many Christians I know. I’m sure you have heard about the Muslims in the Middle East who spoke out against ISIS: they are no longer with us on this earth. There are bad Muslims and good Muslims. There are bad Christians and good Christians. There are bad people and good people. I strongly disagree with your generalizations about Muslims. Your comment just worsens the possible unity that could be built between good Muslims and good Christians. (I’m not speaking of’ bad’ Muslims – ISIS) Let’s just carry our everyday crosses that God Himself gives us so we can better the situation with our own actions & intentions and not depend on our leaders, which is a coin toss if they listen to us or not. I trust God can do more than our government.

    1. You talk of a unity that could be built between Muslims and Christians. Could you clarify what you mean by unity? I find great difficulty in reconciling Muhammed's revelation with the message of the Gospel. I would even say, in all charity, that Muhammed's revelation is wholly incompatible with the Gospel.

      Vacuous statements like "There are bad Muslims and good Muslims" really only serve to stymie the discussion. Anonymous, criticizing a religious ideology is vastly different from making a personal attack on Muslims, or condemning all of them. In fact, it is respectful of Islam to recognize the real differences between Islam and Christianity. There are things that Christians do that Muslims find to be wrong, and there are things that Muslims do that Christians find to be wrong. The most useful thing we can do is to know thoroughly and precisely what the tenets of Islam actually are as well as the teachings of Christianity.

      The Islamic religious tradition and its holy books all have examples which support ideas contrary to Christianity, such as the lack of equal rights and dignity of non-Muslims, offensive wars against all unbelievers, and unfair treatment of women, to name a few of the big ones. The tradition and holy books of Islam even compel the Muslim to action, not to remain indifferent towards these things. This Islam cannot be avoided; it is what it is, and there are plenty of references for you to read in the Qur'an should you desire to do so. I'd suggest starting with Sura 65:1-4, Sura 4:34, Sura 4:129, Sura 33:50, Sura 4:3, Sura 23:5-6, Sura 70:22-30, Sura 4:24, Sura 2:230, Sura 4:11, Sura 2:282 and Sura 2:223 if you want to read about the female stuff. Sura 2:228 is my favorite: "The Prophet said, "I looked at Hell and saw that the majority of its inhabitants were women." Oh, those wily women! At this rate, I doubt I'll have enough comment space to include all of the citations that encourage the persecution and war against non-Muslims. I can do so in another comment, if you'd like.

      Please consider for a moment the three murders that took place earlier this year in Kansas at two Jewish centers by a Ku Klux Klan member. Even though most KKK members are now non-violent, this murderer is a true clansman, and you cannot deny otherwise. The world view that informed this man's decisions to commit these heinous murders and his shocking antisemitism can be linked directly back to the principles and doctrines of the KKK. Now, please refer to the above article about the poor woman being stoned. The men involved have reasons why they are stoning her, and these reasons can be linked directly back to their faith (multiple sunnah in hadiths condone stoning as punishment for adultery, but I suppose the Qur'an is a bit more lenient when it advocates only 100 lashes for adulterers [Sura 24:2]). My point is that, yes, there are good people who are Muslim, but regardless of that fact, the ideology of Islam is flawed, and it can never be unified with the message of the Gospel.

      Finally, I'm not sure how you can classify Benedict Augustine's statement as damaging to the so-called unity of Muslims and Christians. The first part of his statement is as follows: "I would say that Muslims show their true sentiments by the apparent indifference to these developments." B.A. then immediately follows this with the application of the same exact statement towards Christians: "but I could also say that Christians show their true sentiments by so much indifference for their brethren." B.A. is not solely calling out Muslims; he's calling out all apathetic members of both parties involved. Regardless, why are you not accusing B.A. of being unfair towards Christians and making generalizing statements about them?


      Anyway, I understand and agree with the idea that we should love others, including Muslims, and proclaim to them the good news. It is one of our duties as a Christian. But we can't fall into the grave error of shutting off discussion of religious ideologies (including our own) by just pointing out the elementary truth that there are good people and bad people in the world. By doing this, you miss an opportunity to closely examine the tenets of Islam and other religions, and to even gain a better understanding of your own faith. Peace be with you, yo.

    3. I don't have much to add. RR makes her case quite nicely. I would simply suggest to look at this matter historically.

      As much as equivocating between Christians and Muslims would soothe our consciences, this misrepresents reality. Islam has historically spread by the sword and continues to maintain its rule through the sword. This began with Mohammed and continued with his successors. Terrorism and violent persecution are a uniquely Muslim phenomena. Whether or not you know of good Muslims and bad Christian does not change this fact. People are now coming to realize the Islam legitimizes aggressive behavior while Christianity does not--and if you're thinking of the Crusades, just remember those were wars of defense against a vast Muslim empire eager to snuff out all of Christendom. There is a root to all this violence made in the name of religion, and we do no one any favors by ignoring it.

      Excusing Islamic extremists as a couple of bad apples completely misconstrues the issue and veers towards relativism: people come to the conclusion that one religion is just as good or bad as another and doesn't make any fundamental difference. I think the histories, and present day situations, of Christianity and Islam prove this idea completely wrong. One religion regards humanity as God's slaves while the other recognizes humanity as God's children--secularism sees humanity as commodities, but that's another matter. Obviously, one is right, and one is wrong. To say both are equally right utterly contradicts the practice of faith and treats truth and reason as nothing. Why promote error when Christ told us that the truth can set us free?

      Blind tolerance does not promote peace, but only more extremism, more misunderstanding, and more hostility. Our Church was built on the blood of martyrs who sacrificed themselves for the truth; it was not built on optimists who believed that truth could come in all religions. Don't let your pacifism become an idol that empowers the cruel and mocks the martyr.

      For further reading, please read this article: It shows how extensive this problem is. It's not just ISIS, but all countries where Muslims form a large portion of the population.

    4. Yes, many, many Muslims in the Middle East are doing EVIL thing and they really do believe they are right! I do thank God every night that I am a Christian!

      Just as the Evangelical Christians, Protestants and Catholics have the same Bible but quite different interpretations, so it is with the Quran. Quoting scripture does not compare to the interpretation: “If you eat my flesh and drink my blood….” The Protestants and atheist late night talk show hosts have a heyday with that one! Do you personally know any Muslims? I think it’s great that you want to find out all the differences between the tenants of the various interpretations of Islam and Christianity. I find it more helpful to find real-life Muslims/ Christians/Buddhist who don’t/ do live out their faith. I relate this to the Good Samaritan story that Jesus told. The Jews also thought that the Samaritans were dreadful people on their way to hell! Jesus asks us as well in this story: Who among the three was the neighbor to the dying person? Love your neighbor as yourself. This is all I was trying to say. Please read about this Muslim – I think he is a “good .Extremely interesting what he says about jihad!!!!

      Al Cresta has said many times that most Muslims who convert to Christianity are converted by Christians sharing Jesus’ words: “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.” It’s not by condemning other religions that we are going to get to have a discussion with them so that they can even learn about Christ from us. Reading about the ideologies, basis for faiths, and academic studies are good – we must do it! I am with you! That is why I am Catholic! I can talk about the differences in the various faiths all day long, but what is the hardest thing to do: putting the Gospel into ACTION in my everyday life!!!! Picking up my neighbors from the side of the road, from down in the dumps, from falling on hard times, REGARDLESS of their faith!

      Why, why, why do we have to condemn other religions! I definitely disagree with them. But, (saying this with all charity to you two), do I have to smear it in their faces: “I am better than you!” That is the part that does not build unity. As Violin commented the other day, Christians will “win over” people to Christianity by building relationships, by loving God and one another. I know that there have been high-profile converts to Catholicism which have been ‘won over’ by their intellect – understanding of Catholicism. (God really gave them that insight.) But there are more people leaving our Church than entering! They won't / can't / don't want to understand more about our Catholic faith. But we can influence them. We don’t convert them – God does, but we can help God by softening their hearts, showing that we do love and care for them by the sacrifices we do for them, building relationships and community. They will know we are Christians by our Love. If they feel loved, they will at least begin to ask questions of why we do what we do.... I do it all for Christ.

    5. Unity does NOT mean saying in your heart “Your religion is just as good as mine.” Of course not! Unity means that I respect your beliefs (again, not the jihad of fundamentalist, but the jihad of this devout Muslim above), you respect mine and we can dialogue and work together to find ways to help one another. This definition of unity is really Christianity: love your enemies. If I really live out my Christianity, as Christ has commanded me, I know I will build loving relationships with them. Once I know them and they know / trust me, I can share my faith – so they can see what Christianity looks like. God does the hard work: gives them faith.
      To say it a different way: I cannot dialogue with Evil / terrorists!!!
      I know you don’t know me BA, but I’m not a pacifist.
      Here is a story I would like to share with you in what I am trying to convey:
      St Francis and the Sultan:
      I realize that you and BA talk more on the intellectual level. (You guys sound related??) That’s great. I talk more on the “living the Gospel” in our everyday life level. We are both talking on two different levels. I can understand your side, really. You two are great at explaining your views. Sorry , but I am not that good.
      We (RR, Benedict and myself) can also start building unity with each other. Maybe you don't think I'm a good enough Catholic. But if you really knew /trusted me, and I really knew /trusted you, I am sure that we would begin to see that we can respect each other's viewpoint.

  4. "Secularism has no response for terrorism. It's a selfish viewpoint that glorifies the individual and casts doubt on everyone else."

    I don't think you mean to use secularism here. Secularism is the idea that government and religion should not mix; that government should be neutral in matters of faith, neither endorsing nor opposing.

    1. And thus the inadequate response. What starts as a "separation of Church and State" descends into a value-neutral authority that stands for nothing except its own existence. When it becomes an ideology ("secular" or "saeculum" means world, and secularism means world-centered), secularism actively discourages organizations and religions that do to have values since it conflicts with the ideal of collective neutrality; hence, the secularist state attempts to marginalize and neutralize the role of religion in the community at every opportunity.

      In the case of violent Islamic sects taking over large swaths of land in the Middle East, a valueless authority with meaningless relativism as their moral compass can do nothing except shrug and forget about it. Nothing about a secular society compels any kind of action. What's sad is that dispatching this problem would be quite easy for our modern militaries; the Crusaders in the Middle Ages had much more difficult task but still tried all the same.

    2. "What starts as a "separation of Church and State" descends into a value-neutral authority that stands for nothing except its own existence."

      I see, you did intend to use secularism so you could set up your own strawman argument. Secularism in no way actively discourages religion. All it means (in terms of a secular government) is that the government cannot endorse one particular religion over another, it has to treat all of them equally. The opposite of a secular government would be one that actively promotes one religion over another. If you do not wish for a secular government, which religion do you think it should choose to promote? Islam? I don't think that will go over well. Christianity? Which version; what if it isn't yours? What special rights and privileges should members of this religion expect from the government? Should there be any penalty or punishment for members of other religions?

      "Nothing about a secular society compels any kind of action"

      In another of Father's meditations, he brought up the following:

      "Whatever is offensive to you yourself, do not do that to your neighbor. That is the whole law. Everything else is interpretation."

      I do not see any religious overtones in that statement, that could easily be a guide for a secular society. Sounds very similar to the Golden Rule (which predates Christianity and is found in several ancient cultures) or even the Wiccan Rede; "An it harm none do what ye will."

      " What's sad is that dispatching this problem would be quite easy for our modern militaries"

      How exactly do you propose we solve this problem with our military? Go in and overwhelm them with firepower? I seem to recall that not working so well in other places recently.


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