Are there people given in return for you?

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Isaiah 43 4From Isaiah 43:4, we hear God say, “Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you and nations in exchange for your life.”  Verse 5 continues, “Fear not, for I am with you;  from the east I will bring back your offspring, from the west I will gather you.”  I heard the beginning of verse 4 read on the radio this morning, by a priest who was leading some type of retreat somewhere in the Tampa, Florida area today.  Anyway, as I heard it read, I was motivated to spend some time in the chapel reading the rest of it, after our normal morning prayer with a few fellow parishioners.  So, I read it and started to realize that God really loves me, which is awesome, but that God has given people in return for me sounded pretty amazing.  As I sat there and finished the Office of Readings that I wasn’t able to get to at home this morning, this was really all I got.  However, as I drove home I realized that there are people who have come before me that have been offered by God in exchange for my life.  I don’t think that my being here on earth has more value than those that were offered for me.  Rather that I am so precious to God that he would do this for me, made me stop the car for a moment and contemplate the awesome responsibility this puts on my shoulders to live out my faith more fully.

As I read the fifth verse of the 43rd chapter of Isaiah, before I copied it on to this post, I realized that God reminds me not to fear this awesome responsibility.  I should know that he feels the same way about all of his children and anyone who realizes the truth of God’s love for them.  He will be faithful to bring them back from wherever they may have wandered.  My hope, as always, is for everyone who reads this today will be brought to a greater understanding of God’s love for them and thereby want to join me in the daily battle against sin in our own lives and in the whole world.  We can partner with God in dispelling evil with the good works we do in spreading His good news and … Prayer-Fasting-Almsgiving, not just a Lenten observance…Keep the faith!

Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us!

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English: Painting of Maria Goretti.

English: Painting of Maria Goretti. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Father Ron was so inspiring this morning at Mass at Saint Mary Catholic Church.  I am abandoning my normal format to make sure this message gets through.  As I reflected on the readings that were chosen specifically for her optional memorial, as well as the story of her life that Father Ron had read for part of his homily, I realized that if we took the attitude of this 12-year-old girl towards the virtue of chastity, we would have very few young people who struggled with purity before marriage.  It may have been an inference that Father Ron made to the fact she is a model of purity that is much-needed in this world today, but I think the thought I had expounds on his inference.

The thought was that if every person would consider death over impurity, in other words that they would prefer to die than violate the commandment of God to save sex for the Sacrament of Matrimony.  Imagine the young man who is trying to pressure the girl he is dating to take this relationship to the next level that is told that his girlfriend would prefer that he just kill her and not violate her purity.  Understandably, this sounds crazy for those parents that have daughters that are dating the guy that might actually take her up on it.

However, if we look at this from the other side, maybe it might shine some light on the wisdom here.  What if every time a woman, young or old, was to offer her purity to a man in a way that incited his flesh to desire to take her as his own in a way that was meant for the marriage bed, he informed her that he would rather that she were to kill him, and not cause him to desire to violate her purity.  I imagine myself preferring to be stabbed in the heart with a knife, rather than ever be incited to violate a woman’s purity.

If you look at the life of Saint Maria Goretti, you may understand this line of thinking a little better.  For my part, I will probably develop this idea just a little better before I ever share it with our youth, but if we look at this line from the gospel chosen for the memorial of Saint Maria Goretti, it might shed an even brighter light on the purpose and meaning of the reference I made above to preferring death to sin.

(John 12:24-26) :  Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life* loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.

Furthermore, in the first reading, Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians…

(1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a):  The body, however, is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body; God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body.* Do you not know that your body is a temple* of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.

Finally, the collect prayer from the beginning of Mass is the best prayer to encapsulate my hope in the intercession of Saint Maria Goretti in my life and the conversion of the whole world…

O God, author if innocence and lover of chastity, who bestowed the grace of martyrdom on your handmaid, the Virgin Saint Maria Goretti, in her youth, grant, we pray, through her intercession, that, as you gave her a crown for her steadfastness, so we, too, may be firm in obeying your commandments. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen!

Why do we shy away from the real message?

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Archangel Raphael

It was, curious, the other day how the lector who was reading the long first reading from the book of Tobit, completely left out the word “lust” from the reading. It was curious, because no one noticed. We were talking about the service later that morning and no one mentioned it. As much as that reading moved me, I didn’t mention it either. The truth is, it is this lack of attention to the main issue that relates to the moral decay of our society as it relates to love.

Whenever I have mentioned that a man should not lust after a woman, even his own wife, that response that I usually get is, “How do you fall in love with her then?” or “It is OK to lust for your wife, isn’t it?”. Here is the prayer from the end of the reading, in its entirety, with the verse of note in bold letters…

“Blessed are you, O God of our fathers,
praised be your name forever and ever.
Let the heavens and all your creation
praise you forever.
You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve
to be his help and support;
and from these two the human race descended.
You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone;
let us make him a partner like himself.’
Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine
not because of lust,
but for a noble purpose.

Call down your mercy on me and on her,
and allow us to live together to a happy old age.”

They said together, “Amen, amen,” and went to bed for the night.

This is from Tobit 8:5-9. I would love to hear a comment from someone on this issue, or are we all just going to allow the world to fall further into the rabbit hole of depravity. I pray that we start talking about this issue, and everyone has their eyes opened to the fact that this issue of how we see each other as men and women, even when we are married, is the cause of so many other issues in this twisted world today.

Litany in Honor of St. Raphael

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, King of Angels, have mercy on us.

Mary, Queen of the Angels, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, whose name means “God has healed”, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, preserved with the good Angels in God’s kingdom, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, one of the seven spirits that stand before the Most High, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, ministering to God in heaven, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, noble and mighty Messenger of God, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, devoted to the Holy Will of God, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, who offered to God the prayers of the father Tobit, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, traveling-companion of the young Tobiah, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, who guarded your friends from danger, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, who found a worthy wife for Tobiah, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, who delivered Sarah from the evil spirits, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, who healed the father Tobit of his blindness, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, guide and protector on our journey through life, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, strong helper in time of need, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, conqueror of evil, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, guide and counselor of your people. pray for us.
Saint Raphael, protector of pure souls, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, patron Angel of youth, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, Angel of joy, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, Angel of happy meetings, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, Angel of chaste courtship, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, Angel of those seeking a marriage partner, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, Angel of a happy marriage, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, Angel of home life, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, Guardian of the Christian family, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, protector of travelers, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, patron of health, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, heavenly physician, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, helper of the blind, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, healer of the sick, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, patron of physicians, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, consoler of the afflicted, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, support of the dying, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, herald of blessings, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, defender of the church, pray for us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world; spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world; graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world; have mercy on us.

Pray for us, O glorious Saint Raphael the Archangel,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
God, you graciously gave the Archangel Raphael as a companion to Your servant Tobiah on his journey. Grant us, Your servants, that we may ever enjoy his protection and be strengthened by his help. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Pope is still on fire, speaking truth that shines bright!

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Benedict XVI (2005-present, Episcopal form of ...

Benedict XVI (2005-present, Episcopal form of Papal arms) An alternate version with Papal Tiara: here (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

POPE: DO NOT GIVE IN TO TEMPTATION TO INSTRUMENTALIZE GOD

 

Vatican City, 13 February 2013 (VIS) – Benedict XVI dedicated the catechesis of today’s General Audience to the season of Lent, which begins today, Ash Wednesday. “Forty days,” he said, “that prepare us for the celebration of Easter. It is a time of particular commitment in our spiritual journey. … Forty days was also the period that Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public life, when he was tempted by the devil.”

 

Reflecting on Jesus’ temptations in the desert, is “an invitation to each of us to respond to a fundamental question: What is truly important in our lives? … The core of the three temptations that Jesus faced is the proposal to instrumentalize God, to use Him for personal interests, for self-glory and success. In essence, it is putting oneself in God’s place, eliminating Him from our existence and making Him seem superfluous. … Giving God the first place is a path that each Christian has to undertake. ‘Conversion’ … means following Jesus, so that His Gospel becomes the practical guide of our lives. … It means recognizing that we are creatures who depend on God, on His love …This requires us to make our decisions in light of the Word of God. Today it is no longer possible to be a Christian as a simple consequence of living in a society that has Christian roots. Even those who come from a Christian family … must renew daily their decision to be Christian, to give God the first place in the face of the temptations continuously suggested by a secularized culture, in the face of the criticism of many of their contemporaries.”

 

“The tests that Christians are subjected to by society today are numerous and affect our personal and social life. It is not easy to be faithful to Christian marriage, to practice mercy in our everyday lives, or to leave space for prayer and inner silence. It is not easy to publicly oppose the decisions that many consider to be obvious, such as abortion in the case of an unwanted pregnancy, euthanasia in the case of serious illness, or the selection of embryos to avoid hereditary diseases. The temptation to set one’s faith aside is always present and conversion becomes a response to God that must be confirmed at various times throughout our lives.”

 

The Holy Father recalled that in history there have been “great conversions such as St. Paul’s on the road to Damascus or St. Augustine’s. But also in our age, when the sense of the sacred is eclipsed, God’s grace acts and works wonders in the lives of many people … as was the case for the Orthodox Russian scientist Pavel Florensky who, after a completely agnostic education … found himself exclaiming, ‘It’s impossible without God.’ He completely changed his life, even becoming a monk.” The Pope also cited the case of the intellectual Etty Hillesum (1914-1943), “a young Dutch woman of Jewish origin, who died in Auschwitz. Initially far from God, she discovered Him by looking deep within herself, writing: ‘There is a well deep within me. And God is that well.’ … In her scattered and restless life, she rediscovered God in the midst of the great tragedy of the twentieth century, the Shoah.”

 

“In our age, there are more than a few conversions that are seen as the return of those who, after a Christian education, perhaps a superficial one, have turned away from the faith for years, then later rediscover Christ and His Gospel. … In this time of Lent, in the Year of Faith, we renew our commitment to the path of conversion, overcoming the tendency to be wrapped up in ourselves and to make room for God, seeing our everyday reality with His eyes. Conversion means not being wrapped up in ourselves in the search for success, prestige, or social position, but rather of making each day, in the small things, truth, faith in God, and love, become what is most important,” the Pope concluded.

 

( I feel the comparison to the forty years since Roe V Wade decision legalized abortion can be made here, and it is about time we all stand up for all the obvious issues that can be opposed and defeated, if we choose life now and choose now to not be afraid, the Holy Father said it would not be easy to publicly oppose this issue among others, but not impossible!)

 

Do we have any reason to be surprised? Or live in fear!

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Words

Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

Gift:  Wisdom- With the gift of wisdom, we see God at work in our lives and in the world. For the wise person, the wonders of nature, historical events, and the ups and downs of our lives take on deeper meaning. The matters of judgment about the truth, and being able to see the image of God.

Reading:  (From the Office of Readings this morning)

RESPONSORY 1 Maccabees 3:20, 22, 19, 21, 22

They come against us with great insolence and lawlessness.
Do not fear them,
– for victory in war does not depend on the size of the army
but on the strength that comes from heaven.

We are fighting for our lives and our laws;
the Lord will crush our enemies before our eyes.
– For victory in war does not depend on the size of the army
but on the strength that comes from heaven.

&

Do everything without grumbling or questioning,
that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish
in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life,
so that my boast for the day of Christ may be
that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
But, even if I am poured out as a libation
upon the sacrificial service of your faith,
I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.
In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.  (Phil. 2:14-18)

Observation:  With the result of the election being that the greater of the two evils, IMO, won, do we have reason to fear?  In reading the Office this morning and then as the Word continues to embolden my faith, in the first reading for today’s Mass, I am left with the knowledge and wisdom from God that is telling me that the only time I should fear is if I decide to stop following His Word.  God is not only with us, but against these seemingly insurmountable odds, He will bring us to His final victory.

Personification:  Faithfulness. Thanks be to God that the word that he provided for me today is keeping me faithful to Him, by His grace.  However, it is only by continue to follow His will for me today that I will be able to be kept safe from this evil and perverse generation.

Prayer:  Lord, help me always to be faithful to you by following your word and obeying your commands.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…Amen!

Are we looking for temporary joy or the joy that surpasses all understanding?

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Christ icon in Taizé

Christ icon in Taizé (Photo credit: lgambett)

 

Gift: Counsel (Right Judgment) – With the gift of right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus.

 

Reading:  Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also everyone for those of others.  (Phil 2:1-4)

 

Observation:. Yesterday, I talked to the middle school and high school youth groups about how the joy that we get from being with Jesus is so much greater than the temporary happiness from the enjoyment of the things of this world.  It is awesome that the first reading for today’s Mass tells us today that .we can expect our joy to be complete when we are of the same mind, not just with Christ but also with his other children that are in this world with us.

 

Personification:  Joy  I guess it makes sense that I would choose to focus on joy today.  I don’t believe that I am quite ready to be completely of the same mind as Christ, but I can be joyful in those times that I am of the same mind as his other children.

 

Prayer:. Lord, help me to share your truth with others today in the same loving way that you would, always mindful that other people are worthy of being heard as well, so that I can better understand their point of view and we can be of the same mind.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…Amen!

 

Why not celebrate the Holy Name of Mary?

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Holy Name of Mary

Holy Name of Mary (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

 

Gift:  The spirit of understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of divine truth.

 

Reading:  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

 

Observation:  At Mass this morning we read the ordinary readings, but I felt like we were missing out on something.  I knew I was, but the homily and Mass were amazing, so I knew I was supposed to be there, but I knew that this celebration of the Holy Name of Mary had a special meaning still for me today.  This optional second reading says it all, but the collect prayer for the special feast today will further show why I feel called to share this celebration on my journal today.

 

Personification:  Joy.  It is only through the remembrance of the name of Mary that I see a great cause for joy.  We hear in Luke’s Gospel for today’s Feast Mass that John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb, may I leap. for joy,  when I meet Jesus today.

 

Prayer:  Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, for all who celebrate the glorious Name
of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
she may obtain your merciful favor.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.