Readings 20150201

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

RATED “R”

“I have no desire to place restrictions on you, but I do want to promote what is good, what will help you to devote yourselves entirely to the Lord.” —1 Corinthians 7:35
We must accept certain restrictions if we wish to totally commit our lives to the Lord. Gospel poverty, celibacy, a large family, a faithful marriage, a demanding ministry — all restrict us significantly. However, any decision or commitment restricts us. Any successful athlete, business person, or celebrity has placed severe restrictions on themselves. How much more willing should we be to restrict ourselves out of love for the Lord!

Consider what Jesus did for us. When He became a man, He emptied Himself and took the form of a slave (Phil 2:7). There is no greater restriction than to be nailed to a cross. Jesus was the most restricted person who has ever lived, but also the most free. He broke all restrictions of space and time by rising from the dead and ascending to heaven. We too can be restricted and resurrected as He was.

Prayer: Jesus, give me the freedom to be committed and self-sacrificing. Promise: “The unclean spirit convulsed the man violently and with a loud shriek came out of him.” —Mk 1:26 Praise: Praise Jesus, Who gave up all freedom, both natural and supernatural, so that we may be free. (We offer a Discipleship Retreat entitled Extreme Make-Over: Who Am I in Christ? on February 20-21, 2015. You can register online at http://www.presentationministries.com or by calling 513-373-2397.)
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 believe that God’s word has power to set you free and to transform your life? When Jesus taught he spoke with authority. He spoke the word of God as no one had spoken it before. When the Rabbis taught they supported their statements with quotes from other authorities. The prophets spoke with delegated authority – “Thus says the Lord.” When Jesus spoke he needed no authorities to back his statements. He was authority incarnate – the Word of God made flesh. When he spoke, God spoke. When he commanded even the demons obeyed.
Faith works through love and abounds in hope
Augustine of Hippo (354-430) remarked that “faith is mighty, but without love it profits nothing. The devils confessed Christ, but lacking charity it availed nothing. They said, ‘What have we to do with you’ (Mark 1:24)? They confessed a sort of faith, but without love. Hence they were devils.”
Faith is powerful, but without love it profits nothing (1 Corinthians 13). Scripture tells us that true faith works through love (Galatians 5:6) and abounds in hope (Romans 15:13). Our faith is made perfect in love because love orients us to the supreme good which is God himself as well as the good of our neighbor who is created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26,27).
Hope anchors our faith in the promises of God and purifies our desires for the things which will last for eternity. That is why the word of Christ has power to set us free from all that would keep us bound in sin, deception, and despair. Bede the venerable abbot of an English monastery (672-735) contrasted the power and authority of Jesus’ word with the word of the devil: “The devil, because he had deceived Eve with his tongue, is punished by the tongue, that he might not speak” [Homilies on the Gospels 1.8].

Faith must be nourished with the Word of God
Faith is both a free gift of God and the free assent of our will to the whole truth that God has revealed. To live, grow, and persevere in the faith to the end, we must nourish it with the word of God. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds that we may grow in his truth and in the knowledge of his great love for each of us. If we approach God’s word submissively, with an eagerness to do everything the Lord desires, we are in a much better position to learn what God wants to teach us through his word. Are you eager to be taught by the Lord and to conform your life according to his word?

“Lord Jesus, your word is power and life. May I never doubt your saving love and mercy, and the power of your word to bring healing and deliverance to those in need.”

Saint of the day 20150201

01 February

SAINT BRIDGID
Abbess, and Patroness of Ireland
(c. 453-523)

Next to the glorious St. Patrick, St. Bridgid, whom we may consider his spiritual daughter in Christ, has ever been held in singular veneration in Ireland. She was born about the year 453, at Fochard in Ulster. During her infancy, her pious father saw in a vision men clothed in white garments pouring a sacred unguent on her head, thus prefiguring her future sanctity. While yet very young, Bridgid consecrated her life to God, bestowed everything at her disposal on the poor, and was the edification of all who knew her. She was very beautiful, and fearing that efforts might be made to induce her to break the vow by which she had bound herself to God, and to bestow her hand on one of her many suitors, she prayed that she might become ugly and deformed. Her prayer was heard, for her eye became swollen, and her whole countenance so changed that she was allowed to follow her vocation in peace, and marriage with her was no more thought of. When about twenty years old, our Saint made known to St. Mel, the nephew and disciple of St. Patrick, her intention to live only to Jesus Christ, and he consented to receive her sacred vows. On the appointed day the solemn ceremony of her profession was performed after the manner introduced by St. Patrick, the bishop offering up many prayers, and investing Bridgid with a snow-white habit, and a cloak of the same color. While she bowed her head on this occasion to receive the veil, a miracle of a singularly striking and impressive nature occurred: that part of the wooden platform adjoining the altar on which she knelt recovered its original vitality, and put on all its former verdure, retaining it for a long time after. At the same moment Bridgid’s eye was healed, and she became as beautiful and as lovely as ever.

Encouraged by her example, several other ladies made their vows with her, and in compliance with the wish of the parents of her new associates, the Saint agreed to found a religious residence for herself and them in the vicinity. A convenient site having been fixed upon by the bishop, a convent, the first in Ireland, was erected upon it; and in obedience to the prelate Bridgid assumed the superiority. Her reputation for sanctity became greater every day; and in proportion as it was diffused throughout the country the number of candidates for admission into the new monastery increased. The bishops of Ireland, soon perceiving the important advantages which their respective dioceses would derive from similar foundations, persuaded the young and saintly abbess to visit different parts of the kingdom, and, as an opportunity offered, introduce into each one the establishment of her institute.

While thus engaged in a portion of the province of Connaught, a deputation arrived from Leinster to solicit the Saint to take up her residence in that territory; but the motives which they urged were human, and such could have no weight with Bridgid. It was only the prospect of the many spiritual advantages that would result from compliance with the request that induced her to accede, as she did, to the wishes of those who had petitioned her. Taking with her a number of her spiritual daughters, our Saint journeyed to Leinster, where they were received with many demonstrations of respect and joy. The site on which Kildare now stands appearing to be well adapted for a religious institute, there the Saint and her companions took up their abode. To the place appropriated for the new foundation some lands were annexed, the fruits of which were assigned to the little establishment. This donation indeed contributed to supply the wants of the community, but still the pious sisterhood principally depended for their maintenance on the liberality of their benefactors. Bridgid contrived, however, out of their small means to relieve the poor of the vicinity very considerably; and when the wants of these indigent persons surpassed her slender finances, she hesitated not to sacrifice for them the movables of the convent. On one occasion our Saint, imitating the burning charity of St. Ambrose and other great servants of God, sold some of the sacred vestments that she might procure the means of relieving their necessities. She was so humble that she sometimes attended the cattle on the land which belonged to her monastery.

The renown of Bridgid’s unbounded charity drew multitudes of the poor to Kildare; the fame of her piety attracted thither many persons anxious to solicit her prayers or to profit by her holy example. In course of time the number of these so much increased that it became necessary to provide accommodation for them in the neighborhood of the new monastery, and thus was laid the foundation and origin of the town of Kildare.

The spiritual exigencies of her community, and of those numerous strangers who resorted to the vicinity, having suggested to our Saint the expediency of having the locality erected into an episcopal see, she represented it to the prelates, to whom the consideration of it rightly belonged. Deeming the proposal just and useful, Conlath, a recluse of eminent sanctity, illustrious by the great things which God had granted to his prayers, was, at Bridgid’s desire, chosen the first bishop of the newly erected diocese. In process of time it became the ecclesiastical metropolis of the province to which it belonged, probably in consequence of the general desire to honor the place in which St. Bridgid had so long dwelt.

After seventy years devoted to the practice of the most sublime virtues, corporal infirmities admonished our Saint that the time of her dissolution was nigh. It was now half a century since, by her holy vows, she had irrevocably consecrated herself to God, and during that period great results had been attained; her holy institute having widely diffused itself throughout the Green Isle, and greatly advanced the cause of religion in the various districts in which it was established. Like a river of peace, its progress was steady and silent; it fertilized every region fortunate enough to receive its waters, and caused it to put forth spiritual flowers and fruits with all the sweet perfume of evangelical fragrance. The remembrance of the glory she had procured to the Most High, as well as the services rendered to dear souls ransomed by the precious blood of her divine Spouse, cheered and consoled Bridgid in the infirmities inseparable from old age. Her last illness was soothed by the presence of Nennidh, a priest of eminent sanctity, over whose youth she had watched with pious solicitude, and who was indebted to her prayers and instructions for his great proficiency in sublime perfection. The day on which our abbess was to terminate her course, February 1, 523, having arrived, she received from the hands of this saintly priest the blessed body and blood of her Lord in the divine Eucharist, and, as it would seem, immediately after her spirit passed forth, and went to possess Him in that heavenly country where He is seen face to face and enjoyed without danger of ever losing Him. Her body was interred in the church adjoining her convent, but was some time after exhumed, and deposited in a splendid shrine near the high altar.

In the ninth century, the country being desolated by the Danes, the remains of St. Bridgid were removed in order to secure them from irreverence; and, being transferred to Down-Patrick, were deposited in the same grave with those of the glorious St. Patrick. Their bodies, together with that of St. Columba, were translated afterwards to the cathedral cf the same city, but their monument was destroyed in the reign of King Henry VIII. The head of St. Bridgid is now kept in the church of the Jesuits at Lisbon.

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

Other saints: St Brigid (451? – 525)
She was born in 451 or 452 at Faughart, near Dundalk, in Ireland. Her name is that of the pagan goddess of fire. She converted to Christanity, inspired by the preaching of St Patrick. She founded a double monastery, of monks and nuns, at Kildare, the first women’s monastic community in Ireland, and she died there in 525. See the articles in Wikipedia and the Catholic Encyclopaedia.
Other saints: St Henry Morse (1595-1645)
Henry Morse was born into a Church of England family in 1595 at Brome, Suffolk. He converted to Catholicism, studied for the priesthood in Rome and was sent on the English mission in 1620. He was almost immediately arrested and imprisoned in York Castle. He had already declared that he wished to become a Jesuit, and spent the three years he was then in prison as his novitiate. On his release he was banished and went to Flanders for a while before returning to England. He worked as a covert priest in London, and among plague victims in 1636, when he caught the plague himself though soon recovered. He was again arrested and exiled but within two years had returned to England. For a time he ministered in the south of the country, then after a brief ministry in the north he was arrested in Cumberland and although he escaped he was soon rearrested and taken to London, where he was convicted for practising as a Catholic priest and condemned to death. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered on 1 February 1645 at Tyburn, London.
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Readings 20150131

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

WHAT IS FAITH?

“Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.” —Hebrews 11:1
We are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8). “All depends on faith, everything is grace” (Rm 4:16). Therefore, faith in the Lord is absolutely necessary. However, this presents a problem because we are lacking in faith (see Mk 4:40). Jesus asks: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find any faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8) We must cry out to the Lord: “I do believe! Help my lack of faith!” (Mk 9:24, our transl.)

“Faith is confident assurance” (Heb 11:1). It is a solid, substantial assurance of security, stability, affirmation, and unconditional love. We can rest assured, for the Lord is our Rock (see Ps 18:3) and our Abba (see Mt 6:9; Gal 4:6). We are securely held in His loving arms.

Faith is the result of a very good relationship. To have such substantial, confident assurance of God’s love, we must truly and deeply know the Lord. Jesus taught and prayed: “Eternal life is this: to know You, the only true God, and Him Whom You have sent, Jesus Christ” (Jn 17:3). Paul prayed: “I wish to know Christ” (Phil 3:10). We too should pray to know God so as to have faith in Him.

Prayer: Father, may my love for You result in faith in You. May this faith cause me to experience the “breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love” (Eph 3:18). May this deeper love result in deeper faith. Promise: “All of these died in faith.” —Heb 11:13 Praise: A tremendously anointed minister to youth, St. John Bosco required kindness in all his fellow youth ministers. He said: “The young should know that they are loved.”
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 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

Readings 20150108

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

What can bring us true freedom and joy? In Jesus we see the healing power of God’s love and mercy in action. Wherever Jesus went, people gathered to hear him speak about the kingdom of heaven and God’s promise to bring freedom and healing to those who put their trust in God. His gracious words brought hope, joy, and favor to those who were ready to receive him.
Jesus began his public ministry in his own land of Galilee where he was reared. His proclamation of the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah brought wonder to the people. Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those oppressed by sin and evil (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus awakened their hope in the promises of God. They, in turn, received his words favorably and wondered what would become of “Joseph’s son”. Their hearts were hungry for the word of life and they looked to Jesus with anticipation and wonder. Do you look to Jesus with confidence and hope in the fulfillment of all God’s promises?

The word “gospel” literally means “good news”. Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those who suffered from physical, mental, or spiritual oppression (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus came to set people free, not only from their infirmities, but from the worst affliction of all – the tyranny of slavery to sin, Satan, and the fear of losing one’s life. God’s power alone can save us from dejection, hopelessness, and emptiness of life. The Gospel of salvation is “good news” for everyone who will receive it. Do you know the joy and freedom of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to bring us the kingdom of heaven?

“Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams. Through the gift of your Holy Spirit you bring us truth, freedom, and abundant life. Fill me with the joy of the Gospel and inflame my heart with love and zeal for you and for your kingdom of peace and righteousness”.

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com
OUR LIVES AND THIS YEAR

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; therefore, He has anointed Me. He has sent Me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and release to prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord.” —Luke 4:18-19
This year can be one of the greatest fulfillments of Jesus’ proclamation of Isaiah’s prophecy of “a year of favor” (Lk 4:19; Is 61:1ff). If Jesus has His way, this year the poor of the world will hear as never before the good news of “liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and release to prisoners” (Lk 4:18).

Do you believe that this can be the year of multiplied miracles? Do you believe that you were created and your life orchestrated in detail so that you can be your part in Christ’s body?

“Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thes 5:19, RSV-CE). “Do not despise prophecies” (1 Thes 5:19, our transl). Let each of us do all that we can to let the Holy Spirit renew the face of the earth this year (Ps 104:30). Do you believe? “Everyone begotten of God conquers the world, and the power that has conquered the world is this faith of ours” (1 Jn 5:4). Believe in the Lord Jesus. Alleluia!

Prayer: Abba, may this day be the occasion for a special outpouring of graces. Promise: “We, for our part, love because He first loved us.” —1 Jn 4:19 Praise: Jesus healed Brett of terminal cancer. (For a related teaching, order our tape I Believe in Miracles on audio AV 63-3 or video V-63.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 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 20150108

08 January
SAINT APOLLINARIS, THE APOLOGIST
Bishop
(2nd century)

Claudius Apollinaris, Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, was one of the most illustrious prelates of the second age. Notwithstanding the great encomiums bestowed on him by Eusebius, St. Jerome, Theodoret, and ethers, but little is known of his actions; and his writings, which then were held in great esteem, seem now to be all lost.

He wrote many able treatises against the heretics, and pointed out, as St. Jerome testifies, from what philosophical sect each heresy derived its errors. Nothing rendered his name so illustrious, however, as his noble apology for the Christian religion which he addressed to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, about the year 175, soon after the miraculous victory that prince had obtained over the Quadi by the prayers of the Christians.

St. Apollinaris reminded the emperor of the benefit he had received from God through the prayers of his Christian subjects, and implored protection for them against the persecution of the pagans. Marcus Aurelius published an edict in which he forbade any one, under pain of death, to accuse a Christian on account of his religion; by a strange inconsistency, he had not the courage to abolish the laws then in force against the Christians, and, as a consequence, many of them suffered martyrdom, though their accusers were also put to death.

The date of St. Apollinaris’ death is not known; the Roman Martyrology mentions him on the 8th of January.

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

Readings 20150107

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

Does the Lord Jesus ever seem distant when trials or difficulties come your way? Right after Jesus performed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, he left his disciples by themselves so he could go to a remote place to pray alone.It was at Jesus’ initiative that the disciples sailed across the lake of Galilee, only to find themselves in a life-threatening storm. Although they were experienced fishermen, they feared for their lives. The Lake of Galilee was known for its sudden storms whipped up by strong winds which swept down from the nearby mountains. The disciples must have cried out for help when they recognized that their boat was about to be capsized by the threatening waves.
Jesus always intercedes for us
Although Jesus was not physically with them in the boat, he nonetheless had been keeping vigilant watch for them in earnest prayer. When Jesus perceived their trouble he came to them walking on the sea and startled them with his sudden appearance. The disciples were terrified rather than joyful when they saw Jesus’ presence on the water. They thought a ghost had appeared to seal their doom. They couldn’t believe it was really him until he spoke words of assurance: “Don’t give in to fear or panic, but take courage and be calm, because I am here for you and ready to help you in your need.” Jesus not only calmed their fears, but the threatening waves and storm as well.
Do you recognize the Lord’s abiding presence with you?
Does the Lord Jesus seem distant when trials and difficulties come your way? The Lord never leaves us alone, but keeps constant watch over us at all times, especially when we are tempted and feel weak or helpless. Do you look to the Lord Jesus to give you his strength and help when you are in need? Jesus assures us that we do not have to give into fear or discouragement if we put our trust in Him and remember his great love for us. He will see us through any trial that comes our way. When calamities and trials threaten to overwhelm you, do you respond with faith and hope in God’s love and presence with you?

“Lord Jesus, may I never doubt your saving help and your ever watchful presence, especially in times of adversity. Fortify my faith with courage and my hope with steady perseverance that I may never waver in placing all my trust in you who are my all.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com
THE MULTIPLIER EFFECT OF LOVE

“Beloved, if God has loved us so, we must have the same love for one another.” —1 John 4:11
Many saints have reflected God’s love for others (1 Jn 4:11) and took to heart the Lord’s command to go and teach all nations (see Mk 16:15). These saints could testify that God’s love is brought to perfection in us (1 Jn 4:12) when we give our “all” to bring His Kingdom to a disordered world.

When we, out of love, give all that we have (Lk 21:4) to obtain Jesus our Treasure (Mt 13:44), we will receive the resources, both physical and spiritual, to accomplish Christ’s objectives (see e.g. Eph 1:3; Phil 4:19).

When we have our lives in right and godly order, when we receive and obey our instructions from Christ, Jesus multiplies our faith (see Mt 25:29). Then He multiplies our works done in obedience and love. As He has told us, whoever “has faith in Me will do the works I do, and greater far than these” (Jn 14:12).

Therefore, love one another as God has commanded (1 Jn 4:11). Lovingly give Jesus your all. “Serve the needs of all” (Mk 10:44) and see Jesus multiply your deeds of love.

Prayer: Father, give me the grace to die to my selfish agenda and work for You alone. Promise: “If we love one another God dwells in us, and His love is brought to perfection in us.” —1 Jn 4:12 Praise: St. Raymond prayed: “May you never be numbered among those whose house is peaceful, quiet, and free from care, those on whom the Lord’s chastisement does not descend.” (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 December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 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