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 4, 2015

Heb 12:4-7, 11-15 Love and Discipline

Wednesday if the Third Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By Benedict Augustine

“Endure your trials as “discipline”;
God treats you as his sons.
For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?
At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.”

In an effort to attract more Catholics, and more general support, many Catholic leaders have relaxed discipline for modern parishioners. They have relaxed obligations for fasting, abstaining from certain foods, and many other penitential activities and mortifications. Catholics complain today of abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent when Catholics in the past did this all year round. They also fasted on many more days and performed acts of penance that seem impossible for people now.

Additionally, these leaders have softened the Christian message, emphasizing love and forgiveness while deemphasizing repentance and personal sacrifice. No one should be surprised that out of thethrongs of Catholics receiving communion each week, only a trickle make a habit of going to confession regularly; nor should anyone wonder at the diminishing number of religious vocations which require a whole life of sacrifice.

While this pastoral approach wins popularity—just consider the millions in the Philippines who come to hear Pope Francis speak—it does not win true disciples. The media may lavish their praise, and outsiders might nod with approval, but the faithful find nothing in this. Relaxing the standards of the Church, lightening the cross, only validates the lukewarm Catholics, those who want to have their communion wafer and eat it too. In most cases, they do not change for the Church; they wait for the Church to change for them, truth being relative in any case.

As one can easily imagine, such calls for “mercy”will quickly turn into findings ways to enable essentially sinful behavior. Never minding that the word, disciple, derives from the word “discipline,” all too many Catholics, clergy and laity alike, look for easy ways out of the Christian life. Unfortunately for them, there is only one way: the way of the cross. Removing the sacrifice made on the cross, removing a disciple’s need for the cross, effectively removes the hope of salvation.

God hopes to turn his creation into His children. He begot Jesus so that He could adopt His Son’sdisciples. Unfortunately, in a culture that has torn family life in shreds with divorce, abortion, and rampant promiscuity, understanding the discipline that accompanies good parenting carries less and less meaning. What does it mean to be a child of God? What does it mean for a father to discipline his child? What does it mean to be “trained by it? If the Church, and everyone else with an opinionhave allpreached that love means tolerating and forgiving bad behavior, general mediocrity, and vanity, a father’s discipline seems quite unfair. Neither the priest, nor parent, nor God Himself should try to correct the sinner; rather, they should accept him and coexist—or something like that.

The consequences of ignoring spiritual discipline will manifest themselves quickly. Parents who spoil their children and forego every opportunity to teach them will soon have terrible children who ironically feel unloved and ignored, and who eventually fall prey to every bad influence. A church that spoils her children will have the same problem: they will soon have a disenchanted laity prone to apostasy, heresy, and every hedonistic impulse. Many ex-Catholics and lukewarm Catholics today champion the causes ofcontraception, abortion, same-sex marriage, and socialism. Lacking the moral and spiritual upbringing that comes from discipline, they seek political and economic solutions to such moral and spiritual problems. They think relaxing discipline and indulging will solve the problems of the world because that is how they were taught themselves.

In light of this, Catholics should rediscover the value of discipline. The writer of Hebrews states it beautifully when he says discipline brings “the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” This verse expresses two deep truths: discipline encourages an atmosphere of peace, andit bears the fruit of righteousness. These are the goods that people desire in their faith, not feckless forgiveness and meaningless mercy. People of good will want to become better, and they convert for this reason. They fall away or refrain from joining a church when they stay the same or become worse.

Discipline does not necessarily mean adopting a harsh unloving tone and practice; rather, it means being even more loving. People respond to the priest who warns them about Hell, informs them about their responsibilities, and sincerely urges their reformation in Christ. It means he cares and seeks the spiritual wellbeing of his listeners over gaining their approval. Likewise, the congregation should respond to this call instead of immediately taking offense and stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the possibility of evil and Hell. As Catholics, they should strive to be good children willing to grow up and do more for their Father. No one gains anything from empty reassurance and passive acceptance.

If the Church would renew this discipline, all Catholics would then endure the trials to come. They will do so and bear the fruit of righteousness later. Only then will the whole world will follow their lead instead continue to lead them astray.


  1. I appreciate the daily meditation ,and wish the same were published in a booklet possible through out the year.May all who are concerned in the preparation of this good work be blessed

    1. Thanks. It's a been a blessing to write them and have readers.

  2. Dear Benedict,
    Most of your meditations complain about the leaders of the Church and the lack of emphasis in keeping the letter of the law of repentance, fasting, penance, mortifications, confession, etc. which I agree bring me to a greater union with God. But the one thing that you have never talked about is that faith is a gift of God: We cannot earn it by doing these things. You said that “People of good will want to become better, and they convert for this reason.”

    My 2 questions for you Benedict are: 1. “Where did these people of good will get the desire, the impetus to become better? 2. Do you really think this is the reason for their conversion as you stated?”

    In his book, ‘Prayer: The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection’, St Alphonsus Ligouri says,
    “Without the assistance of God’s grace we can do no good thing: Without me, you can do nothing (Jn 15,5). St Augustine remarks on this passage, that our Lord did not say, ‘Without me, you can complete nothing’, but ‘without me, you can DO nothing’; giving us to understand that without grace we cannot even BEGIN to do a good thing.” Nay more, St Paul writes, that of ourselves we CANNOT EVEN HAVE THE WISH TO DO GOOD. Not that we are sufficient to think anything ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2 Cor 3.5 ). If we cannot EVEN THINK a good thing, MUCH LESS CAN WE WISH IT. The same thing is taught in many other passages of Scripture: God works all in all (1Cor 12,6). I WILL CAUSE YOU to walk in my commandments, and to keep my judgments, and do them (Ezek 36,27). So that, as St Leo I says, “Man does no good thing, except that which God, by his grace, ENABLES HIM TO DO,’ and hence the Council of Trent says: ‘If anyone shall assert that without the previous inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and his assistance, man can believe, hope, love OR REPENT, as he ought, in order to obtain the grace of justification, let him be anathema.’”

    “…And although the first graces that come to us WITHOUT ANY COOPERATION ON OUR PART, such as the call to faith or TO PENANCE, are, as St Augustine says, granted by God even to those who do not pray; yet the saint considers it certain that the other graces, and specially the grace of perseverance, are not granted except in answer to prayer: ‘God gives us some things, AS THE BEGINNING OF FAITH, EVEN WHEN WE DO NOT PRAY. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray.’ (Capital Letters my emphasis)

    You and I and all Catholics who have been graced with an incredible desire for God and His Church are being asked by God “Do you love me more than these?” If the answer is YES, with no one looking at me and I not looking at anyone else, then I will love God (obeying His commandments) and love my neighbor ONLY BECAUSE GOD ASKED THIS OF ME! As he says, “Feed my sheep.” Aren’t we the ones with the faith? Aren’t we the ones who have the food that they are searching for? Shouldn’t WE be the ones praying, doing penance, fasting and making sacrifices so as to have a penitential aspect, atoning for ourselves and for others? Isn’t that what God wants from you and I as His followers?

    1. I agree, faith is a gift from God, and those who have accepted this gift should share its fruits with others. I think it's important to note that there's a dialogue here: God gives and we accept. God's giving implies that man cannot know and trust God on his own, nor can he save himself; God must grant this knowledge, trust, and salvation to him. Man's accepting implies that man seeks to know and trust God's salvation all the more; he can do this through prayer, fasting and alms-giving. Simply put: God calls, man answers that call. Asserting that faith is a gift does not let believers off the hook: "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:14-16).

      I appreciate the abundant quotes from the saints, which show the importance of Grace and the Holy Spirit. I would never doubt that these act as the author of man's good works and eventually allow the means of his salvation. However, while I think God has sent His Holy Spirit into the world, given the gift of faith to many, and provides every opportunity for sanctity, the majority of people inside and outside the Church have not responded to this gift. They do not go to Mass, or pray, or help others, or incorporate any kind of discipline in their lives. God has already done His part; man must still do his.

      And me? I continue to try my best to respond. My reflections are based on experience, good ones and bad ones. Adopting various devotions, prayers, practices, and participating in the sacraments have all helped me, and those around me, immensely. Neglecting these gifts of the Church has set me back and those around me. I find that spiritual discipline can be wonderful thing, and more Catholics should embrace that. We used to in the past, but we seem scared of it today.

      I don't think I'm being hypocritical in saying that, only critical. And always remember, I criticize out of love, because I care. Therefore, I will try harder to live the devout life, and hope that you join me in this wonderful work. Go in peace.


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