Saint of the day 20141127

27 November

SAINT MAXIMUS Bishop († 460)        

St. Maximus, abbot of Lerins, in succession to St. Honoratus, was remarkable not only for the spirit of recollection, fervor, and piety familiar to him from very childhood, but still more for the gentleness and kindliness with which he governed the monastery which at that time contained many religious, and was famous for the learning and piety of its brethren.        

Exhibiting in his own person an example of the most sterling virtues, his exhortations could not fail to prove all-persuasive: loving all his religious, whom it was his delight to consider as one family, he established amongst them that sweet concord, union, and holy emulation for well-doing which render the exercise of authority needless, and makes submission a pleasure.        

The clergy and people of Frejus, moved by such a shining example, elected Maximus for their bishop, but he took to flight; subsequently be was compelled, however, to accept the see of Riez, where he practised virtue in all gentleness, and died in 460, regretted as the best of fathers. Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]

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Readings 20141126

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

If the Gospel message is good news, then why do so many people treat Christians with contempt and hostility for their beliefs and practices? Jesus warns his followers that they will be confronted with wickedness, false teaching, persecution, as well as the temptation to renounce their faith when it is put to the test. The real enemy of the Gospel is Satan, the powerful leader of the fallen angels who rebelled against God. Satan opposes God’s reign – his kingly rule of peace and justice on the earth. Jesus calls Satan a “murderer” and the “father of lies” (John 8:44). Satan not only opposes God’s rule, he seeks to destroy all who would obey God. Satan will use any means possible to turn people away from God. He tempts people through envy, deception, hatred, and fear to provoke hostility towards those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is Jesus’ response to hostility and persecution? Love, forbearance, and forgiveness. Only love can defeat prejudice, intolerance, hatred, and envy. God’s love purifies our heart and mind of all that would divide and tear people apart. Knowing and loving God’s truth is essential for overcoming evil. Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear those who would oppose us or treat us harshly for following the Lord Jesus. He promises to give us supernatural strength, wisdom, and courage as we take a stand for our faith and witness to the truth and love of Christ. The Gospel is good news for the whole world because it is God’s eternal word of truth, love, pardon, and salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus has won the victory for us through his atoning death on the cross and his rising from the grave. That is why the gospel has power to set people free from sin and ignorance, death and destruction.

Jesus tells his disciples that if they endure to the end they will gain their lives – they will inherit abundant life and lasting happiness with God. Endurance is an essential strength which God gives to those who put their trust in him. Endurance is the patience which never gives up hope, never yields to despair or hatred. Patience is long-suffering because it looks beyond the present difficulties and trials and sees the reward which comes to those who persevere with hope and trust in God. That is why godly endurance is more than human effort. It is first and foremost a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit which enables us to bear up under any trial or temptation.

Endurance is linked with godly hope – the supernatural assurance that we will see God face to face and inherit all the promises he has made. Jesus is our supreme model and hero who endured the cross for our sake (Hebrews 12:2). “God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus willingly shed his blood for us – to win for us pardon and peace with God. Our joy and privilege is to take up our cross each day to follow the Lord Jesus.

The word “martyr” in the New Testament Greek means “witness”. The Book of Revelations says that “Jesus was the faithful witness …who freed us from our sins by his blood” (Revelations 1:5). Tertullian, a second century lawyer who converted when he saw Christians singing as they went out to die by the hands of their persecutors, exclaimed: “The blood of the martyrs is seed.” Their blood is the seed of new Christians, the seed of the church. The third century bishop, Cyprian said: “When persecution comes, God’s soldiers are put to the test, and heaven is open to martyrs. We have not enlisted in an army to think of peace and to decline battle, for we see that the Lord has taken first place in the conflict.” True martyrs live and die as witnesses of the Gospel. They overcome their enemies through persevering hope and courage, undying love and forbearance, kindness, goodness, and compassion.

God may call some of us to be martyrs who shed their blood for bearing witness to Jesus Christ. But for most of us, our call is to be ‘dry’ martyrs who bear testimony to the joy and power of the gospel in the midst of daily challenges, contradictions, temptations and adversities which come our way as we follow the Lord Jesus.

What will attract others to the truth and power of the Gospel? When they see Christians loving their enemies, being joyful in suffering, patient in adversity, pardoning injuries, and showing comfort and compassion to the hopeless and the helpless. Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear our adversaries. God will give us sufficient grace, strength, and wisdom to face any trial and to answer any challenge to our faith. Are you ready to lay down your life for Christ and to bear witness to the joy and freedom of the Gospel?

“Lord Jesus Christ, by your atoning death on the cross you have redeemed the world. Fill me with joyful hope, courage, and boldness to witness the truth of your love for sinners and your victory over the powers of sin, Satan, and death.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com  

THANKSGIVING ALL TOGETHER AND FOREVER  
“You will be delivered up even by your parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death.” —Luke 21:16  

Many of you in the USA will be spending Thanksgiving with your families and relatives. As you visit with the family, pray that none of them will betray you and turn you over to the police to be executed for your faith in Jesus. Pray also that you yourself will not turn them in to the authorities when persecution rages against the disciples of Jesus.

If we and our families are committed 100% to the Lord, we will not persecute each other. Instead, we will support one another in the coming times of persecution. If our families pray together this Thanksgiving (not just before meal prayers), we may well stay together and resist the pressures to betray our Christian brothers and sisters.

Then we will have the greatest family reunion ever and forever. Each member of our families will have won the victory over the evil one and His forces (see Rv 15:2). Each member of our families will be standing on “something like a sea of glass mingled with fire” (Rv 15:2). Our whole family will be worshipping God and singing: “Mighty and wonderful are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Righteous and true are Your ways, O King of the nations!” (Rv 15:3)

Tomorrow, pray with your family for a happy Thanksgiving all together and forever.  

Prayer: Father, make my family holy and happy together forever. Promise: “Since You alone are holy, all nations shall come and worship in Your presence. Your mighty deeds are clearly seen.” —Rv 15:4 Praise: When in session, several Christian legislators gather for a weekly prayer meeting in seeking God’s wisdom concerning the current debated issues.     

Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014.†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 24, 2014.  The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements

Saint of the day 20141126

26 November

SAINT PETER OF ALEXANDRIA, Bishop, Martyr († 311)        

St. Peter governed the Church of Alexandria during the persecution of Diocletian. The sentence of excommunication that he was the first to pronounce against the schismatics, Melitius and Arius, and which, despite the united efforts of powerful partisans, he strenuously upheld, proves that he possessed as much sagacity as zeal and firmness.        

But his most constant care was employed in guarding his flocks from the dangers arising out of persecution. He never ceased repeating to them that, in order not to fear death, it was needful to begin by dying to self, renouncing our will, and detaching ourselves from all things.        

St. Peter gave an example of such detachment by undergoing martyrdom in the year 311. Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]

Other saints: St Leonard of Porto Maurizio (1676 – 1751)Leonard was born in Porto Maurizio in 1676, the son of a master mariner. He joined the Franciscan order and for forty-seven years preached, wrote letters and sermons, and travelled the whole length of Italy. The popularity of the Stations of the Cross is much due to the impetus he gave to the devotion. He died at Rome in 1751.

Readings 20141125

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com  

THE WORST FEARS ARE YET TO COME  
“…in the sky fearful omens and great signs.” —Luke 21:11  

Are you afraid of anything? I hope not because the worst is yet to come. We will “hear of wars and insurrections” (Lk 21:9) even more so than we do today. “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, plagues, and famines in various places — and in the sky fearful omens and great signs” (Lk 21:10-11). “Men will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the earth” (Lk 21:26).

How can we live fearlessly, die fearlessly, and even face the end of the world fearlessly? We conquer fear by love. “Love has no room for fear” (1 Jn 4:18). “Perfect love” is not necessarily sinlessness but complete commitment. If we love the Lord with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, and all our strength (Lk 10:27), we will be so filled with love that our love will crowd out all fears.

Because of the graces lavished upon all who receive the Holy Spirit (Rm 5:5; Ti 3:6), may love reign supreme and fear be homeless forever.  

Prayer: Father, by Your grace I will walk in faith (see 2 Cor 5:7) and not in fear. Promise: “So the One sitting on the cloud wielded His sickle over all the earth and reaped the earth’s harvest.” —Rv 14:16 Praise: Wise beyond her young years, St. Catherine, patroness of Christian philosophers, was blessed with a martyr’s death.   (For a related teaching, order our tape on Interpreting the Present Time on audio AV 81-1 or video V-81.)   

Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014.†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 24, 2014.  The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

How would you respond if someone prophesied that your home, land, or place of worship would be destroyed? Jesus foretold many signs that would shake peoples and nations. The signs which God uses are meant to point us to a higher spiritual truth and reality of his kingdom which does not perish or fade away, but endures for all eternity. God works through many events and signs to purify and renew us in hope and to help us set our hearts more firmly on him and him alone.

First signs of the end times To the great consternation of the Jews, Jesus prophesied the destruction of their great temple at Jerusalem. The Jewish people took great pride in their temple, a marvel of the ancient world. The foretelling of this destruction was a dire warning of spiritual judgment in itself. They asked Jesus for a sign that would indicate when this disastrous event would occur. Jesus admonished them to not look for signs that would indicate the exact timing of impending destruction, but rather to pray for God’s intervention of grace and mercy. Jesus said there would be many signs of impending conflicts and disasters – such as wars, famines, diseases, tidal waves, and earthquakes – which would precede the struggles of the last days when God’s anointed King would return to usher in the full reign of God over the earth. In that day when the Lord returns there will be a final judgement of the living and the dead when the secrets of every heart will be brought to light (Luke 12:2-3; Romans 2:16).

Jesus foretells the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem was a two-edged sword, because it pointed not only to God’s judgment, but also to his saving action and mercy. Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the dire consequences for all who would reject him and his saving message. While the destruction of Jerusalem’s temple was determined (it was razed by the Romans in 70 A.D.), there remained for its inhabitants a narrow open door leading to deliverance. Jesus said: “I am the door; whoever enters by me will be saved” (John 10:9). 

Jesus willingly set his face toward Jerusalem, knowing that he would meet betrayal, rejection, and death on a cross. His death on the cross, however, brought about true freedom, peace, and victory over the powers of sin, evil, and death – not only for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but for all – both Jew and Gentile alike -– who would accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Do you know the peace and security of a life submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ?

We need to recognize the signs of God’s judgment, mercy, and grace to save us Sometimes we don’t recognize the moral crisis and spiritual conflict of the age in which we live, until something “shakes us up” to the reality of this present condition. God reminds us that a future judgment and outcome awaits every individual who has lived on this earth. The reward for doing what is right and pleasing to God and the penalty for sinful rebellion and rejection of God are not always experienced in this present life – but they are sure to come in the God’s day of final judgment.

The Lord Jesus tells us that there will be trials, suffering, and persecution in this present age until he comes again at the end of the world. God intends our anticipation of his final judgment to be a powerful deterrent to unfaithfulness and wrongdoing. God extends grace and mercy to all who will heed his call and his warning. Do not pass up, even for one day, God’s invitation of grace and mercy to seek first his kingdom of righteousness and peace. This day may be your only chance before that final day comes. “Lord Jesus, your grace and mercy abounds even in the midst of trails and difficulties. Help me to seek your kingdom first and to reject whatever would hinder me from pursuing your way of righteousness and holiness. Fill me with the joy and hope of your everlasting kingdom.”

Saint of the day 20141125

25 November
SAINT CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRIA Virgin and Martyr († c. 307)         Catherine was a noble virgin of Alexandria. Before her Baptism, it is said, she saw in vision the Blessed Virgin ask her Son to receive her among His servants, but the Divine Infant turned away. After Baptism, Catherine saw the same vision, when Jesus Christ received her with great affection, and espoused her before the court of heaven.        

When the impious tyrant Maximin II came to Alexandria, fascinated by the wisdom, beauty and wealth of the Saint, he in vain urged his suit. At last in his rage and disappointment he ordered her to be stripped and scourged. She fled to the Arabian mountains, where the soldiers overtook her, and after many torments put her to death. Her body was laid on Mount Sinai, and a beautiful legend relates that Catherine having prayed that no man might see or touch her body after death, angels bore it to the grave. Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]

St Catherine of Alexandria (d. 305)Legends coming from a number of sources say that St Catherine was very outspoken at the time of the persecutions of Christians. She even protested openly to the emperor Maxentius who had her arrested, tortured on the wheel and decapitated in 305. St Catherine’s courage is a great challenge to all African Christians in their struggle for justice and peace. The witness of her life and her readiness to die for the faith encourages us to be brave witnesses to the Lord and to speak out on behalf of all those who suffer. Other saints: Saint Colman of Cloyne (522 – 600) He was a royal bard who in later life became a bishop. He founded several churches, including the church at Cloyne: he is patron saint of the diocese. See the article in Wikipedia.

Readings 20141124

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

Do you know the joy of selfless giving and love for others? True love doesn’t calculate – it spends lavishly! Jesus drove this point home to his disciples while sitting in the temple and observing people offering their tithes. Jesus praised a poor widow who gave the smallest of coins in contrast with the rich who gave greater sums. How can someone in poverty give more than someone who has ample means?

Jesus’ answer is very simple – love is more precious than gold or wealth! Jesus taught that real giving must come from the heart. A gift that is given with a grudge or for display loses its value. But a gift given out of love, with a spirit of generosity and sacrifice, is precious. The amount or size of the gift doesn’t matter as much as the cost to the giver. The poor widow could have kept one of her coins, but instead she recklessly gave away all she had! Jesus praised someone who gave barely a penny – how insignificant a sum – because it was everything she had, her whole living.

What we have to offer may look very small and not worth much, but if we put all we have at the Lord’s disposal, no matter how insignificant it may seem, then God can do with it and with us what is beyond our reckoning. Do you give out of love and gratitude for what God has already given to you?

“Lord Jesus, your love knows no bounds and you give without measure. All that I have comes from you. May I give freely and generously in gratitude for all that you have given to me. Take my life and all that I possess – my gifts, talents, time and resources – and use them as you see fit for your glory.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com  

ALL FOR THE ONE  
“She from her want has given what she could not afford.” —Luke 21:4   There’s an old joke about a man who leaves Church complaining to his son about the lousy music, the pastor’s poor homily, the stone-faced parishioners, and all the other things he dislikes about his Church. At that point, the son pipes up and says: “Gosh, Dad, I thought it was a good show for a quarter!”

One who is stingy and miserly with God “brings ruin on himself” (Sir 14:9). He or she is the real loser, not the Lord, Who has everything. In one sense, we get from our relationship with the Lord what we put into it (2 Cor 9:6). Jesus, however, is especially interested in “all-giving.” He declares: “None of you can be My disciple if he does not renounce all his possessions” (Lk 14:33). We can’t give all until we have given up all. We don’t just give our possessions; we give our needs, our “wants,” our desires. The poor widow gave from her want (Lk 21:4). What is your “want”? Do you want wealth, financial freedom, a new car, sexual fulfillment, popularity, or vacations? Renounce these and give them all up to Jesus. At this level of “all-giving,” we have given what we “could not afford” (Lk 21:4): our money, energy, hopes, means of support, lifestyle. When we give all, we are then empty; we “have no more” left (Jn 2:3). Jesus then fills us with a miraculous superabundance of His new life (see Jn 2:5ff) which comes only when we’ve emptied ourselves (see Phil 2:7). When we give it all to Jesus, He gives it all to the Father, Who fills us with new life, so through Him we “may be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).  

Prayer: Father, use me according to Your will. I am all Yours. Promise: “They are pure and follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” —Rv 14:4 Praise: St. Andrew Dung-Lac, a Vietnamese priest, was beheaded in 1839 for his faith in Jesus. He was canonized in 1988.   (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)   

Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014.†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 24, 2014.  The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements

Saint of the day 20141124

24 November SAINTS ANDREW DUNG-LAC Priest, AND HIS COMPANIONS (18th and 19th centuries)        

This feast day celebrates all of the martyrs of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries (1745-1862) who shed their blood in the remote Far East, particularly in Vietnam. Many of the martyrs were priests of the Dominican order. Others belonged to the Paris Society for Foreign Missions, while still others, including Andrew Dung-Lac, were Vietnamese.         

Paul Le-Bao-Tinh, a Vietnamese seminarian, wrote in a letter of 1843, shortly before his martyrdom: “I, Paul, chained for the name of Christ, wish to tell you the tribulations in which I am immersed every day, so that you, inflamed with love for God, may also lift up your praise to God, ‘for his mercy endures forever’. This prison is truly the image of the eternal Hell: to the cruelest tortures of all types, such as fetters, iron chains and bonds, are added hate, vindictiveness, calumny, indecent words, interrogations, bad acts, unjust oaths, curses and finally difficulties and sorrow. But God, who once freed the three boys from the path of the flames, is always with me and has freed me from these tribulations and converted them into sweetness, ‘for his mercy endures forever…. Assist me with your prayers so that I may struggle according to the law, and indeed ‘fight the good fight’ and that I may be worthy to fight until the end, finishing my course happily; if we do not see each other again in this life, in the future age, nonetheless, this will be our joy, when standing before the throne of the spotless Lamb, with one voice we sing his praises, exulting in the joy of eternal victory. Amen.” Saints Andrew Dũng-Lạc and his CompanionsThe evangelization of Vietnam began in the 16th century and was formally established with the setting up of two Vicariates Apostolic in 1659. There are now about 6 million Catholics in Vietnam, some 10% of the population.   

This growth comes partly from the fact that since the earliest times the seed of the Faith has been watered by the blood of the martyrs of Vietnam – the missionary clergy, the local clergy and the ordinary Christian people. They have all shared the labour of apostolic work and have together faced death to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel. In the course of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries no less than 53 decrees, signed by the lords and emperors of the country from 1625 to 1886, launched one persecution of Christians after another, each one more savage than the last. Over the whole territory of Vietnam about 130,000 Christians were killed in these persecutions. Over the centuries the names of most of them have been lost, but their memory is still alive in the Catholic community.   

Since the beginning of the 20th century 117 of these heroes (those whose sufferings were cruellest and best documented) were beatified, in four groups. They were all canonized together by Pope John Paul II on 19 June 1988.