Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tuesday, Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 24
Mass: Romans 8:18-25; Resp. Psalm 126; Luke 13:18-21

“To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God?
It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch of dough was leavened.”

If we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.
Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. 
In hope we were saved.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad indeed.
Psalm 126

Monday, October 30, 2017

Monday, Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 23
Mass: Romans 8:12-17; Resp. Psalm 68; Luke 13:10-17

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

I hope I never forget a valuable lesson learned years ago in a pastoral counseling class: “You can try to walk in someone else’s shoes, but remember, you will never walk in someone else’s shoes.” This is especially important when I might be tempted to tell someone, “I understand how you feel,” or “I know exactly what you are going through.” The truth is, I can never fully understand how someone else feels or experience something in the same way someone else does. That said, I can be compassionate towards others. Compassion means “to suffer with.” Therefore, I can be with others in the midst of trials and tribulations. As children of God and members of the Body of Christ we are meant to share in the sufferings of others and help one another carry our burdens and lighten the load. One way we might do this is to pray with our eyes, modeled by Cardinal Basil Hume:

I like that because sometimes in the morning when you’re tired and have a lot of worries in your head, it’s not easy to get the head up to God, so you have to pray with your eyes. Sometimes I just sit and look at the cross and say to myself: in all hospitals there are people dying. A lot of people I meet or who write letters to me are suffering terribly at this moment. So, looking at the cross, I think of all those people sharing that passion, sharing the agony of the Lord. And if God became man—as indeed he did—he came to share a lot of what we all have to live and undergo and gives it meaning and purpose and makes it holy. I find that very powerful, and when people say to me, “I’m very worried” or “I’ve just lost my husband” or “There’s been a terrible tragedy in our family—please pray for me,” I say, “Yes, I’ll do it tomorrow morning.” So sitting in the chapel, looking at the crucifix, I remember that person (B. Hume, Hope from the Cross, 77-78).

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 22
Mass: Exodus 22:20-26; Resp. Psalm 18; 1 Thess. 1:5c-10; Matthew 22:34-40

The Pharisees throw one of their scholars into the ring to test Jesus: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Without hesitation, Jesus answers:

You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.

What next? Saint Matthew doesn’t tell us. Saint Mark, with a different version of the exchange (12:28-34), relates, “No one dared to ask Jesus any more questions.”

My question: Jesus, how can I live this love? Some answers came during the reading at vigils. What follows is from Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, In the School of Love:

The person whose soul has been enlarged through love may be described as someone who takes pity and lends, who is disposed to be compassionate, quick to render assistance, who believes that there is more to happiness in giving than in receiving, who easily forgives but is not easily angered, who will never seek to be avenged and will in all things take thought of his neighbor’s needs as if they were his own.

Those who love one another are pleasant and temperate, without grudging; they neither deceive nor attack nor offend another; they never exalt themselves nor promote themselves at another’s expense, but offer their services generously as they accept those of others.


Living and true God, grant us the grace.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Saints Simon and Jude

Readings of the day: RB 21
Mass: Ephesians 2:19-22; Resp. Psalm 19; Luke 6:12-16

The Transfiguration
This is what praying is: opening the door to the Lord, so that he can do something.
If we close the door, God can do nothing!
(Pope Francis)

Pray without ceasing.
(1 Thess. 5:17)


Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday, Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 20
Mass: Romans 7:18-25a; Resp. Psalm 119; Luke 12:54-59

The Holy Rule of Saint Benedict
Ch. 20. Reverence in Prayer

Whenever we want to ask some favor of a powerful man, we do it humbly and respectfully, for fear of presumption. How much more important, then, to lay our petitions before the Lord God of all things with the utmost humility and sincere devotion. We must know that God regards our purity of heart and tears of compunction, not our many words. Prayer should therefore be short and pure, unless perhaps it is prolonged under the inspiration of divine grace. In community, however, prayer should always be brief; and when the superior gives the signal, all should rise together.

Lord, let your steadfast love become my comfort
according to your promise to your servant.
Psalm 119:76

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Thursday, Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 19
Mass: Romans 6:19-23; Resp. Psalm 1; Luke 12:49-52

You may recall the blogpost of October 11. To refresh your memory, it was on that day that Saint Benedict began his eleven chapters (Chapters 8-18) devoted to praying the Divine Office, aka, Liturgy of the Hours. Yesterday we completed those chapters. Today and tomorrow we are gifted with reflecting on two of my favorite chapters of the Rule, both support Ch. 8-18 and point to the importance of our demeanor and attitude when we pray the psalms, and when we pray in general. So beautiful are the chapters that today I include Chapter 19, “The Discipline of the Psalmody,” for your personal reflection.

We believe that the divine presence is everywhere and that in every place the eyes of the Lord are watching the good and the wicked (Prov 15:3). But beyond the least doubt we should believe this to be especially true when we celebrate the Divine Office.
We must always remember, therefore, what the Prophet says: Serve the Lord with fear (Ps 2:11), and again, Sing praise wisely (Ps 46[47]:8); and, In the presence of the angels I will sing to you (Ps 137[138]:1). Let us consider, then, how we ought to behave in the presence of God and his angels, and let us stand to sing the psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.

As an aside, I can’t help but recall a letter written to a diocesan newspaper, a question and answer column so to speak. A woman was inquiring whether or not it was appropriate for her to drink a Starbucks coffee during the celebration of the Eucharist. She could see no reason why she couldn’t since her baby drinks from a bottle during Mass. How would you answer the woman’s question?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wednesday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 18:20-25
Mass: Romans 6:12-18; Resp. Psalm 124; Luke 12:39-48

By Ana Rabat, http://www.spiraliot.com
I was sleeping, but my heart kept vigil;
I heard my lover knocking.
Songs 5:2

Is your heart ready to receive the Lord?

“…our Lord God, being very courteous, does not wish to enter into the houses of our hearts unless we ourselves are there to welcome him.”
Francisco de Osuna, O.F.M.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Saint Anthony Mary Claret (d. 1870)

Readings of the day: RB 18:12-19
Mass: Romans 5:12,15b,17-19,20b-21; Resp. Psalm 40; Luke 12:35-38

The WORD is incisive:

Gird your loins; light your lamps.
Blessed are those whom the Master finds vigilant.

Are you ready?
If not, why?


Monday, October 23, 2017

Saint John of Capistrano

Readings of the day: RB 18:7-11; Resp. Psalm (Luke 1); Luke 12:13-21

Too much stuff? Do not fear, storage is here—mini-warehouses, self-storage, mini-storage, storage containers, public storage—storage everywhere! Today’s gospel makes me think of all the stuff we have accumulated. There’s clutter here and clutter there; now we’ve nowhere to put it. I recently lived near a new housing development. On weekends the neighborhood was part of my running route. It was amazing how many houses could be built in the period of one week. Perhaps more amazing was that there seemed to be more square footage for the garage then there was for the actual living space of the humans that were to inhabit the house.

Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, and be merry!

“You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”

Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself
but is not rich in what matters to God.”

Kyrie eleison.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In other years: Saint John Paul II (1920-2005)

Readings of the day: RB 18:1-6
Mass: Isaiah 45:1,4-6; Resp. Psalm 96; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b; Luke 22:15-21

I tend to sit up straighter when I read, “Thus says the Lord.” Today, like all days, the words of the Lord are powerful—yet what God says to Cyrus, king of Persia, are awe-inspiring:

I am the Lord and there is no other, there is no God besides me!

The God who called Cyrus, giving him the title, “anointed;”
the God who calls us by name and chose us to “shine like lights in the world.”

Almighty ever-living God,
strengthen us in faith,
grant us the grace to labor in love and endurance
in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ
so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun
people may know that there is none besides the Lord our God.
Guard us as the apple of your eye; hide us in the shadow of your wings.

A Roman Denarius


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Saturday, Blessed Virgin Mary

Readings of the day: RB 17
Mass: Romans 4:13,16-18; Resp. Psalm 105; Luke 12:8-12

Marianne Misetich, SNJM

Holy Spirit, fill me with your love. Holy Spirit, take my heart and keep it close to the Father, close to the Son, Holy Spirit make us one in love.
Holy Spirit, fill me with your peace. Holy Spirit, take my heart and keep it close to the Father, close to the Son, Holy Spirit, make us one in peace.
Holy Spirit, fill me with your joy. Holy Spirit, take my heart and keep it close to the Father, close to the Son, Holy Spirit, make us one in joy.

When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities,
do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say.
For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Saint Paul of the Cross

Readings of the day: RB 16
Mass: Romans 4:1-8; Resp. Psalm 32; Luke 12:1-7

I don’t know how many times our Lord said, “Do not be afraid,” but I like to think he said it at least 365 times, once for each day of the year. It seems Jesus knew we needed to hear those words over, and over again. In today’s passage from Saint Luke, Jesus tells us two times! Even so, we spend a considerable amount of time being afraid, and worrying about this and that. Then we are given unhelpful advice from too many people, “Oh, stop your worrying.” I prefer the words of Caryll Houselander: “The more you say, ‘I must not worry,’ the more you will: I think it is better simply to offer the worrying to God.” I also offer my fears.

Not one of them has escaped the notice of God. (Lk 12:6)

Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan?
If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?
Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
Luke 12:25, 32

I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.
Psalm 32

May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us;
Who have put our hope in you.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Saints John de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues, and Companions

Readings of the day: RB 15
Mass: Romans 3:21-30; Resp. Psalm 130; Luke 11:47-54

When Jesus left, the scribes and the Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
(Communion Antiphon, Mass)

Processional Cross Redwoods Abbey

May we never boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the word of the Cross is the power of God to us who have been saved.
(Entrance Antiphon, Mass)


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Feast of Saint Luke

Readings of the day: RB 14
Mass: 2 Timothy 4:10-17b; Resp. Psalm 145; Luke 10:1-9

Demas succumbed to the trappings of the world; Crescens preferred Galatia; Titus, Dalmatia. Alexander the coppersmith was nothing but trouble. Paul, although deserted by his companions, reminds us of something very important: “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength.” People are fickle; Jesus isn’t. The Lord will never abandon us.

Please God, may we never forget the words of the psalmist:
The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.

Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Saint Ignatius of Antioch

Readings of the day: RB 13:12-14
Mass: Romans 1:16-25; Resp. Psalm 19; Luke 11:37-41

The Pharisees are exasperated with Jesus’ breach of etiquette. How dare he have such poor table manners! I picture Jesus rolling his eyes while exclaiming, “Oh, you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools!”

Lest I be too quick to judge, I reflect on how often I am as foolish the Pharisees—when am I more concerned with how I appear before others than I am with what is going on interiorly, in the depths of my heart. If I ever question why I should be more concerned about what is happening on the inside of my cup and dish than on the outside, I turn to one of my favorite scriptural passages, viz., today’s verse for the Gospel Acclamation:

The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

I also look to Saint Benedict as he concludes Ch. 13 of the Holy Rule. Benedict insists on the importance of praying the Lord’s Prayer: “Lauds and Vespers must never pass by without the Abbess reciting the entire Lord’s Prayer at the end for all to hear, because thorns of contention are likely to spring up.” What “thorns of contention” arise in my heart?

Our Father who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy name;
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Saint Hedwig (c. 1174-1243); Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690)

Readings of the day: RB 13:1-11
Mass: Romans 1:1-7; Resp. Psalm 98; Luke 11:29-32

For weeks we have been hearing about Jesus teaching, driving out demons, healing, and responding to those who test him and try to justify themselves. Nevertheless, the crowd still seeks a sign. Jesus doesn’t mince words: “This generation is an evil generation.” It seems an age-old problem—we are always looking for something bigger and better, something a little bit more convincing. The Ninevites took to Jonah. There is something greater than Jonah in our midst. 

If today you hear HIS voice, harden not your hearts.

 Saint Hedwig's family from Legend of Saint Hedwig (in the center sit: Hedwig of Andechs and Henry I the Bearded, from left stand: Gertrude, Agnes, Henry II the Pious, Boleslaus, at the bottom sit: Sophia i Conrad the Curly


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In other years: Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

Readings of the day: RB 12
Mass: Isaiah 25:6-10a; Resp. Psalm 23; Philippians 4:12-14,19-20; Matthew 22:1-14

The WORD proclaimed is a feast to behold!

In a recent conversation, two of us were talking about how we are always in the Divine Presence. Always. Still, we manage somehow to not even take notice. We go about our grumblings, bad moods, self-centeredness, preoccupations with trivial matters, being over-burdened, irritable, and busy; all things that dull our senses and prevent us from recognizing God in our midst. What a pity.

Meanwhile, the living and true God is inviting us to the feast, to put on the garment of love and bear fruits of the Holy Spirit: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The LORD spreads the table before us, laden with juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. God is inviting us to build the kingdom of heaven on earth. God will heal us and help us to carry our crosses. We can do all things in HIM who strengthens us; God will supply whatever we need. The ever-present God envelops us in love, mercy, and compassion and calls us to extend love, mercy, and compassion to our neighbors and to ourselves.

As we enter the Twenty-Eighth in Ordinary Time, may we go gently and not get bogged down with ourselves and miss the presence of LOVE in our midst. The invitation stands: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet and everything is ready; come to the feast.” Lord Jesus, grant us the grace to enthusiastically RSVP with a resounding, “YES”

Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!

May the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
so that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday, Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Callistus I

Readings of the day: RB 11
Mass: Joel 4:12-21; Resp. Psalm 97; Luke 11:27-28

We are gifted with two profound verses in today’s Gospel; both point to the announcement of the birth of Jesus:

First, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.”

Second, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe.”

“Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

“Let it be done to me according to your word.”

The greatness of our Lady was in her humility. No wonder Jesus, who lived so close to her, seemed to be so anxious that we learn from him and from her but one lesson:
to be meek and humble of heart.
(Saint Teresa of Calcutta)

Mary, Mother of our Savior, pray for us.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday, Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 10
Mass: Joel 1:13-15; 2:1-2; Resp. Psalm 9; Luke 11:15-26

The gospel passage proclaimed at today’s Mass leaves out the whole of verse 14:

When Jesus had driven out a demon that was mute, the demon came out,
the mute person spoke, and the crowds were amazed.

How do you suppose the previously mute person felt after being relieved of the demon?

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart;
I will declare all you wondrous deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, Most High.
Psalm 9
Christ the Healer through the hand of Mary Katsilometes

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thursday, Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 9
Mass: Malachi 3:13-20b; Resp. Psalm 1; Luke 11:5-13

Today’s commentary brought to you by Cardinal Basil Hume (1923-1999).

“How often have we prayed for something, and our prayer has been ignored, or so it would seem. And how irritating this is when we have been told quite clearly: ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you’ (Mt 7:7/Luke 11:9-10).

Is there such a thing as unanswered prayer? I am not able to give an answer that convinces me completely. The Gospel passage about asking is clear enough. I am helped by two things:

The first is this: just outside Fribourg in Switzerland there is an ancient shrine to Our Lady. It is a holy place and one where it is easy to pray. The walls are covered with expressions of gratitude for answers to prayers said in the chapel. One plaque caught my eye especially. It said: ‘Thank you for not answering my prayer’. What had that person in mind? Did he or she realise how the answer required might have turned out to be harmful? Did that person realise that God’s way of handling the problem was wiser or better? I do not know, but that prayer chipped into a stone hanging on a chapel wall was, for me at any rate, an important lesson. God’s ways are not mine. He knows best. I do not know His plans, I do not understand them. I must learn to trust.
How often have we prayed for, say, the recovery of a sick child, and the prayer seems to have been unheard. The child has died. There is no easy explanation of that. But we do have to trust, and that will mean in a situation of this kind, walking on in the darkness and in pain. God had a plan for that child and we do not know and we cannot understand.

The second aid to understanding apparent failure to answer my prayer of petition is to reflect on what God really wants for all of us. He had one over-riding wish for us, and that is union with Him. Everything else is subordinated to that. So I would think that any request made, which will lead to union with God, either here or now or later on when I shall see Him face to face, will most certainly be answered. Perhaps much that we ask for will not be helpful. But even the asking draws me closer to Him. 

I remain a bit uneasy. I do think that what I have written above in these notes is true. Why, then, am I uneasy? It is because the prayer of petition come from a heart that trusts, from the kind of faith that is strong enough to move mountains. I have to add this reflection. My explanation of why prayers remain unanswered is in many situations true and valid; at other times, though, there may be too little faith” (To Be a Pilgrim: A Spiritual Notebook, 135-136).

Prayer—dialogue with the God who saves—will save the world.
(E. Bianchi, Echoes of the Word: A New Kind Monk on the Meaning of Life, 99)