Readings 20150225

http://ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/15_02_25.mp3


The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

Do you pay careful attention to warning signs? Many fatalities could be avoided if people paid attention to such signs. When the religious leaders demanded a sign from Jesus, he gave them a serious warning to avert spiritual disaster. It was characteristic of the Jews that they demanded “signs” from God’s messengers to authenticate their claims.

When the religious leaders pressed Jesus to give proof for his claims he says in so many words that he is God’s sign and that they need no further evidence from heaven than his own person. The Ninevites recognized God’s warning when Jonah spoke to them, and they repented. And the Queen of Sheba recognized God’s wisdom in Solomon. Jonah was God’s sign and his message was the message of a merciful God for the people of Nineveh.

Unfortunately the religious leaders were not content to accept the signs right before their eyes. They had rejected the message of John the Baptist and now they reject Jesus as God’s Anointed One (Messiah) and they fail to heed his message. Simeon had prophesied at Jesus’ birth that he was destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that inner thoughts of many will be revealed (Luke 2:34-35). Jesus confirmed his message with many miracles in preparation for the greatest sign of all – his resurrection on the third day.

The Lord Jesus came to set us free from slavery to sin and hurtful desires. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit he pours his love into our hearts that we may understand his will for our lives and walk in his way of holiness. God searches our hearts, not to condemn us, but to show us where we need his saving grace and help. He calls us to seek him with true repentance, humility, and the honesty to see our sins for what they really are – a rejection of his love and will for our lives. God will transform us if we listen to his word and allow his Holy Spirit to work in our lives. Ask the Lord to renew your mind and to increase your thirst for his wisdom and truth.

James says that the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity (James 3:17). A double-minded person cannot receive this kind of wisdom. The single of mind desire one thing alone – God’s pleasure. God wants us to delight in him and to know the freedom of his truth and love. Do you thirst for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14)?

 “Lord Jesus, change my heart and fill me with your wisdom that I my love your ways. Give me strength and courage to resist temptation and stubborn wilfulness that I may truly desire to do what is pleasing to you.”


The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com  

CONNECT THE DOTS

  “Every man shall turn from his evil way.” —Jonah 3:8  

The people of Nineveh, wicked as they were, made the connection between their sins and the destruction to come. These people frequently brutalized and butchered large numbers of people. They were pagans, spiritually dead, the least likely to repent. Yet the prophetic word pierced their hearts, and they repented. Jesus commended them for this (Lk 11:32). 

We fancy ourselves more sophisticated than the ancient Ninevites. We specialize in knowing connections, such as the connection between cholesterol and heart disease, drinking alcohol and liver disease, sanitation and the prevention of infection, physical health and mental health, etc. Yet we, in our “advanced” culture, miss the all-important connection between sin and damnation.

Our culture misses the connections between sexual sin and spiritual guilt, consumerism and lack of concern for the poor, contraception and the breakdown of marriage and family, relativism and the shortage of vocations, etc. Our culture specializes in missing the connection between Jesus and forgiveness of sin. So many act like the Pharisee, thinking they are OK with God while failing to know what acts are sinful, or even failing to know that they are sinners (Lk 18:11-12). If we were making these connections, the Confession lines in our churches would be full every week. 

Jesus came to save sinners like us. All we need to do is make the connection that we are sinners and He is our Lord, Savior, and Redeemer. Repent!

  Prayer: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Lk 18:13). Promise: “A heart contrite and humbled, O God, You will not spurn.” —Ps 51:19 Praise:Realizing an unforgiveness in her life was stifling the Holy Spirit, Nancy went to Confession and was set free.   (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 February 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 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

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Saint of the day 20150224


24 February


Blessed Thomas (Tommaso) Mary Fusco 

Priest and Founder of the Daughters of Charity of the Most Precious Blood

(1831-1891)

        Thomas Mary Fusco, the seventh of eight children, was born on 1 December 1831 in Pagani, Salerno, in the Diocese of Nocera-Sarno, Italy, to Dr Antonio, a pharmacist, and Stella Giordano, of noble descent. They were known for their upright moral and religious conduct, and taught their son Christian piety and charity to the poor.

        He was baptized on the day he was born in the parish of S. Felice e Corpo di Cristo. In 1837, when he was only six years old, his mother died of cholera and a few years later, in 1841, he also lost his father. Fr Giuseppe, an uncle on his father’s side and a primary school teacher, then took charge of his education.

        Since 1839, the year of the canonization of St Alphonsus Mary de’ Liguori, little Tommaso had dreamed of church and the altar; in 1847 he was at last able to enter the same diocesan seminary of Nocera which his brother Raffaele would leave after being ordained a priest in 1849.

        On 1 April 1851, Tommaso Maria received the sacrament of Confirmation and on 22 December 1855, after completing his seminary formation, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Agnello Giuseppe D’Auria.

        In those years, sorrowful because of the loss of his loved ones, including his uncle (1847) as well as his young brother, Raffaele (1852), the devotion to the Patient Christ and to his Blessed Sorrowful Mother, already dear to the entire Fusco family, took root in Tommaso Maria, as in fact his biographers recall: “He had a deep devotion to the crucified Christ which he cherished throughout his life”.

        Right from the start he saw to the formation of boys for whom he opened a morning school in his own home, while for young people and adults, bent on increasing their human and Christian formation, he organized evening prayers at the parish church of S. Felice e Corpo di Cristo. This was a true place of conversion and prayer, just as it had been for St Alphonsus, revered and honoured in Pagani for his apostolate.

        In 1857, he was admitted to the Congregation of the Missionaries of Nocera under the title of St Vincent de Paul and became an itinerant missionary, especially in the regions of Southern Italy.

In 1860 he was appointed chaplain at the Shrine of our Lady of Carmel (known as “Our Lady of the Hens”) in Pagani, where he built up the men’s and women’s Catholic associations and set up the altar of the Crucified Christ and the Pious Union for the Adoration of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus.

        In 1862 he opened a school of moral theology in his own home to train priests for the ministry of confession, kindling enthusiasm for the love of Christ’s Blood; that same year, he founded the “(Priestly) Society of the Catholic Apostolate” for missions among the common people; in 1874 he received the approval of Pope Pius IX, now blessed.

        Deeply moved by the sorry plight of an orphan girl, a victim of the street, after careful preparation in prayer for discernment, Fr Tommaso Maria founded the Congregation of the “Daughters of Charity of the Most Precious Blood” on 6 January, the Solemnity of Epiphany in 1873. This institute was inaugurated at the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in the presence of Bishop Raffaele Ammirante, who, with the clothing of the first three sisters with the religious habit, blessed the first orphanage for seven poor little orphan girls of the area. It was not long before the newborn religious family and the orphanage also received the Pope’s blessing, in response to their request.

        Fr Tommaso Maria continued to dedicate himself to the priestly ministry, preaching spiritual retreats and popular missions; and from his apostolic travels sprang the many foundations of houses and orphanages that were a monument to his heroic charity, which was even more ardent in the last 20 years of his life (1870-1891).

        In addition to his commitments as founder and apostolic missionary, he was parish priest (1874-1887) at the principal church of S. Felice e Corpo di Cristo in Pagani, extraordinary confessor to the cloistered nuns in Pagani and Nocera and, in the last years of his life, spiritual father of the lay congregation at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

        It was not long before Fr Tommaso Maria, envied for the good he achieved in his ministry and for his life as an exemplary priest, was faced with humiliation and persecution and, in 1880, even a brother priest’s slanderous calumny. However, sustained by the Lord, he lovingly carried that cross which own Pastor, Bishop Ammirante had foretold at the time of his institute’s foundation: “Have you chosen the title of the Most Precious Blood? Well, may you be prepared to drink the bitter cup”.

During the harshest of trials, which he bore in silence, he would repeat: “May work and suffering for God always be your glory and in your work and suffering, may God be your consolation on this earth, and your recompense in heaven. Patience is the safeguard and pillar of all the virtues”.

        Wasting away with a liver-disease, Fr Tommaso Maria died a devout death on 24 February 1891, praying with the elderly Simeon: Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word” (Lk 2, 29).

        He was only 59 years old! In the notice issued by the town council of Pagani on 25 February 1891 the Gospel witness of his life, known to one and all, was summarized in these words: “Tommaso Maria Fusco, Apostolic Missionary, Founder of the Daughters of Charity of the Most Precious Blood, an exemplary priest of indomitable faith and ardent charity, worked tirelessly in the name of the Redeeming Blood for the salvation of souls: in life he loved the poor and in death forgave his enemies”.

        His life was directed to the highest devotion of Christian virtues by the priestly life, lived intensely in constant meditation on the mystery of the Father’s love, contemplated in the crucified Son whose Blood is “the expression, measure and pledge” of divine Charity and heroic charity to the poor and needy, in whom Fr Tommaso Maria saw the bleeding Face of Jesus.

        His writings, preaching and popular missions marked his vast experience of faith and the light of Christian hope that shone from his vocation and actions. He had a vital, burning love for God; it enflamed his words and his apostolate, made fruitful by love for God and neighbour, by union with the crucified Jesus, by trust in Mary, Immaculate and Sorrowful, and above all by the Eucharist.

        Fr Tommaso Maria Fusco was an Apostle of Charity of the Most Precious Blood, a friend of boys and girls and young people and attentive to every kind of poverty and human and spiritual misery.

        For all these reasons he enjoyed the fame of holiness among the diocesan priests, among the people and among his spiritual daughters who received his charism, and witness to it today in the various parts of the world where they carry out their apostolate in communion with the Church.

        The cause for the beatification of Fr Tommaso Maria Fusco was initiated in 1955 and the decree of his heroic Christian virtues was published on 24 April 2001. The miraculous healing of Mrs Maria Battaglia on 20 August 1964 in Sciacca, Agrigento, Sicily, through the intercession of Fr Tommaso Maria Fusco was recognized on7 July 2001.

        With his beatification, Pope John Paul II presents Fr Tommaso Maria Fusco as an example and a guide to holiness for priests, for the people of God and for his spiritual daughters, the Daughters of Charity of the Most Precious Blood.



– Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana



Readings 20150224

http://ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/15_02_24.mp3


The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

Do you believe that God’s word has power to change and transform your life today? Isaiah says that God’s word is like the rain and melting snow which makes the barren ground spring to life and become abundantly fertile (Isaiah 55:10-11). God’s word has power to penetrate our dry barren hearts and make them springs of new life. If we let God’s word take root in our heart it will transform us into the likeness of God himself and empower us to walk in his way of love and holiness. God wants his word to guide and shape the way we think, act, and pray. Ambrose (339-397 AD), an early church father and bishop of Milan, wrote that the reason we should devote time for reading Scripture is to hear Christ speak to us. “Are you not occupied with Christ? Why do you not talk with him? By reading the Scriptures, we listen to Christ.”

We can approach God confidently because he is waiting with arms wide open to receive his prodigal sons and daughters. That is why Jesus gave his disciples the perfect prayer that dares to call God, Our Father. This prayer teaches us how to ask God for the things we really need, the things that matter not only for the present but for eternity as well. We can approach God our Father with confidence and boldness because the Lord Jesus has opened the way to heaven for us through his death and resurrection. When we ask God for help, he fortunately does not give us what we deserve. Instead, God responds with grace, mercy, and loving-kindness. He is good and forgiving towards us, and he expects us to treat our neighbor the same. God has poured his love into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5). And that love is like a refining fire – it purifies and burns away all prejudice, hatred, resentment, vengeance, and bitterness until there is nothing left but goodness and forgiveness towards those who cause us grief or harm.

Consider what John Cassian (360-435 AD), an early church father who lived for several years with the monks in Bethlehem and Egypt before founding a monastery in southern Gaul, wrote about the Lord’s Prayer and the necessity of forgiving one another from the heart:

“The mercy of God is beyond description. While he is offering us a model prayer he is teaching us a way of life whereby we can be pleasing in his sight. But that is not all. In this same prayer he gives us an easy method for attracting an indulgent and merciful judgment on our lives. He gives us the possibility of ourselves mitigating the sentence hanging over us and of compelling him to pardon us. What else could he do in the face of our generosity when we ask him to forgive us as we have forgiven our neighbor? If we are faithful in this prayer, each of us will ask forgiveness for our own failings after we have forgiven the sins of those who have sinned against us, not only those who have sinned against our Master. There is, in fact, in some of us a very bad habit. We treat our sins against God, however appalling, with gentle indulgence – but when by contrast it is a matter of sins against us ourselves, albeit very tiny ones, we exact reparation with ruthless severity. Anyone who has not forgiven from the bottom of the heart the brother or sister who has done him wrong will only obtain from this prayer his own condemnation, rather than any mercy.”

Do you treat others as you think they deserve to be treated, or do you treat them as the Lord has treated you – with mercy, steadfast love, and kindness?

“Father in heaven, you have given me a mind to know you, a will to serve you, and a heart to love you. Give me today the grace and strength to embrace your holy will and fill my heart and mind with your truth and  love that all my intentions and actions may be pleasing to you. Help me to be kind and forgiving towards my neighbor as you have been towards me.”


The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com  

THE WORD FOR LENT

  “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but shall do My will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” —Isaiah 55:11  

God’s Word does not return void but achieves the end for which it is sent. Because God’s Word is always “living and effective” (Heb 4:12), it is “more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (Ps 119:72). Therefore, we should read and share God’s Word daily (Acts 17:11), for ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ (Catechism, 133St. Jerome). 

This Lent, may God’s Word find a home in your life. “Humbly welcome the word that has taken root in you, with its power to save you” (Jas 1:21). Like Jesus, use God’s Word to resist the temptations of Satan (Lk 4:4, 8, 12). Abide in God’s Word (Jn 8:31). Soak in it, and let yourselves be purified “in the bath of water by the power of the word” (Eph 5:26). Delight in the Word of the Lord and meditate on it day and night (see Ps 1:2). “Keep this book of the law on your lips. Recite it by day and by night, that you may observe carefully all that is written in it; then you will successfully attain your goal” (Jos 1:8). This Lent, prepare for Easter by taking a long walk with Jesus as He interprets for you “every passage of Scripture which [refers] to Him” (Lk 24:27). A Lent in God’s Word is a Lent in God’s will — a Lent of a lifetime.

  Prayer: Father, this Lent may Your Word burn in me and purify me (Lk 24:32). Promise: “Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us the wrong we have done as we forgive those who wrong us.” —Mt 6:11-12 Praise:Several pre-teens and teenagers join with a group of adults to faithfully prepare One Bread, One Body for mailout. The book you are currently reading may have been provided to you through the love of a teenager.   (Easter is approaching. To abide in the Word, order our leaflet, Through the New Testament in Easter.)  
  Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from February 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 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 20150223

23 February

SAINT POLYCARP
Bishop, Martyr
(+ 167)

St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was a disciple of St. John. He wrote to the Philippians, exhorting them to mutual love and to hatred of heresy. When the apostate Marcion met St. Polycarp at Rome, he asked the aged Saint if he knew him. “Yes,” St. Polycarp answered, “I know you for the first-born of Satan.” These were the words of a Saint most loving and most charitable, and specially noted for his compassion to sinners. He hated heresy, because he loved God and man so much.

In 167, persecution broke out in Smyrna. When Polycarp heard that his pursuers were at the door, he said, “The will of God be done; ” and meeting them, he begged to be left alone for a little time, which he spent in prayer for “the Catholic Church throughout the world.”

He was brought to Smyrna early on Holy Saturday; and, as he entered, a voice was heard from heaven, “Polycarp, be strong.” When the proconsul besought him to curse Christ and go free, Polycarp answered, “Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He never did me wrong; how can I blaspheme my King and Saviour?” When he threatened him with fire, Polycarp told him this fire of his lasted but a little, while the fire prepared for the wicked lasted forever. At the stake he thanked God aloud for letting him drink of Christ’s chalice. The fire was lighted, but it did him no hurt; so he was stabbed to the heart, and his dead body was burnt. “Then,” say the writers of his acts, “we took up the bones, more precious than the richest jewels or gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, at which may God grant us to assemble with joy to celebrate the birthday of the martyr to his life in heaven!”

Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]

Readings 20150223

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

POOR PLANNING

“I assure you, as often as you did it for one of My least brothers, you did it for Me.” —Matthew 25:40
The Lord says that you shall not “stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake” (Lv 19:16). The Lord says: “I assure you, as often as you did or did not provide for the needs of the least of your brothers and sisters, you did or did not do it for Me” (see Mt 25:40, 45). The Lord expects us to recognize the Lazaruses at our doors (Lk 16:19ff) and “love in deed and in truth and not merely talk about it” (1 Jn 3:18). We are to see Jesus in the poor, love and serve the poor, and even be in solidarity with the poor.

This means that we must listen to the teachings of the Church. Pope John Paul II taught that we should “carry out a sincere review of [our] lives regarding [our] solidarity with the poor” (Mission of the Redeemer, 60). We must imitate Jesus and have a preferential love for the poor (Catechism, 2448). St. John Chrysostom insisted: “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.” St. Gregory the Great taught: “When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice” (Catechism, 2446).

The Church through the centuries echoes: “Love the poor in Jesus; love Jesus in the poor.”

Prayer: Father, this Lent may I give alms to the extent that my lifestyle changes significantly. Promise: “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” —Lv 19:18 Praise: St. Polycarp, a student of St. John the Evangelist for nearly sixteen years, was one of those early Christians honored by God to give his life in martyrdom for his King. (For related teaching, order our booklet, The Bible on Money.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from February 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 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) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
Do you allow the love of God to rule in your heart? Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) said, “Essentially, there are two kinds of people, because there are two kinds of love. One is holy the other is selfish. One is subject to God; the other endeavors to equal Him.” Jesus came not only to fulfill the law (Leviticus 19), but to transform it through his unconditional love and mercy towards us. The Lord Jesus proved his love for us by offering up his life on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. His death brings freedom and life for us – freedom from fear, selfishness, and greed – and new abundant life in the Holy Spirit who fills our hearts with the love of God (Romans 5:5). Do you allow God’s love to purify your heart and transform your mind to think, act, and love others as Christ has taught through word and example?
The lesson of separating goats and sheep at the end of the day
Jesus’ description of the Son of Man, a Messianic title which points to the coming of God’s anointed Ruler and Judge over the earth (John 5:26-29, Daniel 7:13ff), and his parable about the separation of goats and sheep must have startled his audience. What does the separation of goats and sheep have to do with the Day of Judgement over the earth? In arid dry lands such as Palestine, goats and sheep often grazed together during the day because green pasture was sparse. At nightfall, when the shepherd brought the sheep and goats to their place of rest, he separated them into two groups. Goats by temperament are aggressive, domineering, restless, and territorial. They butt heads with their horns whenever they think someone is intruding on their space.
Goats came to symbolize evil and the expression “scape-goat” become a common expression for someone bearing blame or guilt for others. (See Leviticus 26:20-22 for a description of the ritual expulsion of a sin-bearing goat on the Day of Atonement.) Jesus took our guilt and sins upon himself and nailed them to the cross. He payed the price to set us free from sin and death. Our choice is to either follow and obey him as Lord and Savior or to be our own master and go our separate way. We cannot remain neutral or indifferent to the command of Christ. If we do not repent of our sins and obey the Gospel we cannot be disciples and inherit his kingdom. Separation is inevitable because one way leads to sin, rebellion, and death and the other way leads to faith, hope, and love that lasts forever.
Love of God frees us from inordinate love of self
The parable of the goats and sheep has a similar endpoint with the parable of the rich man who refused to give any help to the poor man Lazarus who begged daily at the rich man’s doorstep (Luke 16:19-31). Although Lazarus lacked what he need, he nonetheless put his hope in God. The rich man was a lover of wealth rather than a lover of God and neighbor. When Lazarus died he was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom to receive his reward in heaven. When the rich man died his fortunes were reversed and he was cast into the unquenchable fires of hell to receive his just desserts. The parable emphasizes the great chasm and wall of separation between the former rich man held now bound as a poor and miserable prisoner in hell and Lazarus clothed in royal garments feasting at God’s banquet table in heaven.

The day of God’s judgment will disclose which kind of love we chose in this present life – a holy unselfish love directed to God and to the welfare of our neighbor or a disordered selfish love that put self above God and everyone else.

When Martin of Tours (316-397 AD), a young Roman soldier who had been reluctant to embrace the Christian faith, met a poor beggar on the road who had no clothes to warm himself in the freezing cold, Martin took pity on him. He immediately got off his horse and cut his cloak in two and then gave half to the stranger. That night Martin dreamt he saw a vision of Jesus in heaven robed in a torn cloak just like the one he gave away that day to the beggar. One of the angels next to Jesus asked, “Master, why do you wear that battered cloak?” Jesus replied, “My servant Martin gave it to me.” Martin’s disciple and biographer Sulpicius Severus states that as a consequence of this vision “Martin flew to be baptized” to be united with Jesus and the members of his body – the body of Christ on earth and the communion of angels and saints in heaven.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) wrote, “Christ is at once above and below – above in Himself, below in his people. Fear Christ above, and recognize him below. Here he is poor, with and in the poor; there he is rich, with and in God. Have Christ above bestowing his bounty; recognize him here in his need” (excerpt from Sermon 123, 44).

On the day of judgment Jesus will ask “whom did you love”?
When the Lord Jesus comes again as Judge and Ruler over all, he will ask each one of us face to face – did you love me and my Father in heaven above all else and did you love your neighbor as yourself? Let us entrust our lives into the hands of the merciful Savior who gave his life for us. And let us ask him to make our faith and courage strong, our trust and hope secure, and our love and compassion overflowing with joy.

“Lord Jesus, be the Master and Ruler of my life. May your love rule in my heart that I may only think, act, and speak with charity and good will for all.”

Saint of the day 20150222

22 February

Blessed Isabel of France
(1225 – 1270)

Isabel was sister of St. Louis and daughter of King Louis VIII of France and Blanche of Castile. When still a child at court, Isabel, or Elizabeth, showed an extraordinary devotion to exercises of piety, modesty, and other virtues. She refused offers of marriage from several noble suitors to continue her life of virginity consecrated to God.

She ministered to the sick and the poor, and after the death of her mother, founded the Franciscan Monastery of the Humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Longchamps in Paris. She lived there in austerity but never became a nun and refused to become abbess.

She died there on February 22, and after nine days her body was exhumed, when it showed no signs of decay, and many miracles were wrought at her grave. Her cult was approved in 1521.

In other years: St Peter’s Chair
This feast has been celebrated in Rome since at least the fourth century. It signifies the unity of the Church founded upon the Apostles.
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Readings 20150222

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

“He stayed in the wasteland forty days…He was with the wild beasts.” —Mark 1:13
Mark’s Gospel was written around 70 A.D., and is believed to have been written in Rome. At that time in Rome, it was not uncommon for Christians to be thrown into an arena with hungry wild beasts, such as lions and tigers, to be martyred by being devoured by them.

Can you imagine how the early Christians of Rome must have been encouraged to hear that Jesus dwelt in safety among the wild beasts? (Mk 1:13) Jesus not only survived being in the presence of the wild beasts, but apparently lived in peace with them. The prophet Isaiah announced that in Jesus the wild beasts will likewise live in peace with all creation (see Is 11:6-8). The Lord in His power can shut the jaws of the wild beasts to protect His holy ones (Dn 6:23). In fact, in Daniel’s case, the wild beasts eventually destroyed the human beasts (Dn 6:25).

Today we’re always facing the wild beasts of the godless secular culture, economic tyranny, government attacks on religious freedom, and so on. Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion, that is, a wild beast, looking for someone to devour (1 Pt 5:8).

When Jesus was with the wild beasts, He was not alone. The Spirit was with Him, and angels of God ministered to Him (Mk 1:12-13). The Lord can save us from the jaws of the wild beasts, human, animal, or spiritual (see 2 Tm 4:17). Nothing, not even wild beasts, can separate us from the love of Jesus (Rm 8:39).

Prayer: “In God I trust without fear; what can flesh do against me?” (Ps 56:12) Promise: “Good and upright is the Lord; thus He shows sinners the way.” —Ps 25:8 Praise: Praise You, risen Jesus! Your first act after You rose from the dead was to offer Your disciples peace and reconciliation (Jn 20:19, 23). Praise You, Jesus, “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4). (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 February 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 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) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
What is the significance of Jesus spending 40 days and nights of solitude, prayer and fasting in the Judean wilderness? In the Old Testament 40 days was often seen as a significant period of testing and preparation for entering into a covenant relationship with God. In the days of Noah, God judged the earth and destroyed its inhabitants in a great flood because of their idolatry and total rejection of God. Noah and his family were spared because they obeyed God and took refuge in the ark for 40 days. When the flood subsided God made a covenant with Noah and promised that he would not destroy the human race again. Jesus came to fulfill that promise.

Forty days of retreat to seek the face of God
When God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt he brought them into the wilderness of Sinai. Moses went to the mountain of the Lord at Sinai and remained there in prayer and fasting for 40 days (Exodus 24:18). At the conclusion of this 40 day encounter God made a covenant with Moses and the people. After the prophet Elijah had confronted the sin of idolatry (the worship of false gods) in the land of Israel and destroyed the 400 priests of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-40), he fled into the wilderness and journeyed for 40 days to the mountain of God at Sinai (1 Kings 19:8). There God spoke with Elijah and commissioned him to pass on the work of restoring the worship of the one true God in the land. After Jesus was anointed by the Spirit in the waters of the Jordan River, he journeyed to the wilderness of Judea for 40 days to prepare himself for the mission which the Father sent him to accomplish – to offer up his life as the perfect atoning sacrifice for our sins. Through the shedding of his blood on the cross he won for us a new and everlasting covenant which fulfilled and surpassed all the previous covenants which God had made with his people.
God’s Word and Spirit sustains those who seek God’s will
Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us in their Gospel accounts that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. Mark states it most emphatically: “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness” (Mark 1:12). Why was Jesus compelled to seek solitude for such a lengthy period? Was it simply a test to prepare him for his ministry? Or did Satan want to lure him into a trap? The word tempt in English usually means to entice to sin or wrong-doing. The scriptural word here also means test in the sense of proving and purifying someone to see if there are ready for the task at hand. We test pilots to see that they are fit to fly. Likewise God tests his servants to see if they are fit to be used by him.
God tested Abraham to prove his faith. The Israelites were sorely tested in Egypt before God delivered them from their enemies. Jesus was no exception to this testing. Satan, in turn, did his best to entice Jesus to chose his own will over the will of his Father in heaven. Despite his weakened condition, due to fatigue and lack of food for 40 days, Jesus steadfastly rejected Satan’s subtle and not so subtle temptations. Where did Jesus find his strength to survive the desert’s harsh conditions and the tempter’s seduction? He fed on his Father’s word and found strength in doing his will. Satan will surely tempt us and will try his best to get us to choose our will over God’s will. If he can’t make us renounce our faith or sin mortally, he will then try to get us to make choices that will lead us, little by little, away from what God wants for us.

As soon as John the Baptist had finished his ministry, Jesus began his in Galilee, his home district. John’s enemies had sought to silence him, but the Gospel cannot be silenced. Jesus proclaimed that the time of restoration proclaimed by the prophets was now being fulfilled in his very person and that the kingdom of God was at hand. What is the kingdom of God? The word “kingdom” means something more than a territory or an area of land. It literally means “sovereignty” or “reign” and the power to “rule” and exercise authority. The prophets announced that God would establish a kingdom not just for one nation or people but for the whole world. God sent us his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, not to establish an earthly kingdom but to bring us into his heavenly kingdom – a kingdom ruled by justice, truth, peace, and holiness. The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ mission. It’s the core of his Gospel message.

Two conditions for the kingdom – repent and believe
How do we enter the kingdom of God? In announcing the good news of the Gospel Jesus gave two explicit things each of us must do in order to receive the kingdom of God: repent and believe. Repent means to turn away from sin and wrong-doing in order to follow God’s way of love, truth, and moral goodness. When we submit to God’s rule in our lives and believe in the Gospel message the Lord Jesus gives us the grace and power to live a new way of life as citizens of his kingdom. He gives us grace to renounce the kingdom of darkness ruled by pride, sin, and Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) and the ruler of this present world (John 12:31). Repentance is the first step to surrendering my will and my life to God.
Repentance means to change – to change my way of thinking, my attitude, my disposition, and the way I choose to live my life – so that the Lord Jesus can be the Master and Ruler of my heart, mind, and will. Whatever stands in the way of God’s will and plan for my life must be surrendered to him – my sinful pride, my rebellious attitude, and stubborn will to do as I please rather than as God pleases. If I am only sorry for the consequences of my own sinful ways, I will very likely keep repeating the same sins that control my thoughts and actions. True repentance requires a contrite heart and true sorrow for sin (Psalm 51:17) and a firm resolution to avoid the near occasion of sin. The Lord Jesus gives us the grace to see sin for what it really is – a rejection of his love, truth, and wisdom for our lives and a refusal to do what he says is right and good for us. His grace brings pardon and freedom from guilt, and breaks the power of bondage to sin in our lives through the strength and help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. If we yield to the Holy Spirit and not to our sinful inclinations, we will find the strength and help we need to turn away from all wrong-doing and whatever else might keep us from living in his truth and love.
To believe is to take Jesus at his word and to recognize that God loved us so much that he sent his only begotten Son to free us from bondage to sin and harmful desires. God made the supreme sacrifice of his Son on the cross to bring us back to a relationship of peace, friendship, and unity with our Father in heaven. He is our Father and he wants us to live in joy and freedom as his beloved sons and daughters. God loved us first and he invites us in love to surrender our lives to him. Do you believe in the Gospel -the good news of Jesus Christ – and in the power of the Holy Spirit who transforms each one of us into the likeness of Christ?

“Lord Jesus, your word is life, joy, wisdom, and strength for me. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may have the strength and courage to embrace your will in all things and to renounce whatever is contrary to your will for me.”