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!

Jesus is a ninja…

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Reading the Gospel today, I couldn’t help but think that Jesus was showing his ninja skills when he evaded the stoning they aimed at him after His proclamation that “I AM”.  I led the communion service this morning and I have to say it was weird saying those words from Jesus this morning.  Not just because they are so important for us to hear that Jesus said them, but because when you read them in the Gospel of John, it is as if you are saying them.

Knowing my sinfulness, I expected that I would be stoned and run out of the service this morning, but thanks to His mercy, I was allowed to stay and offered a simple reflection based on th

e video reflection that I watched from the USCCB website.  I don’t understand the sig

nificance of the ninja theme that has been

the focus of my last few posts, but I have the pro

mise from  the Word of God, that God will work it together for good for those that love Him

and are called according to His purpose.  (Romans 8:28)

I am leaning on the Holy Spirit to lead my whole life and I hope that Jesus is taking the things that I struggle with in my life and preparing to reveal to me how I will be converted and continue to repent from my past sins and look to the future that is planned for me in heaven.

 I pray that my words on this post and this prayer can bring light to someone’s darkness and allow them to lean on the mercy that is promised to all those who strive to obey His Word…Amen!

A nazirite vow…

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Gift:  Fortitude (Courage) – With the gift of courage, we overcome our fear and are willing to take risk as a follower of Jesus. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of God, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or even physical harm and death.

Reading:  The woman went and told her husband, “A man of God came to me; he had the appearance of an angel of God, fearsome indeed. I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name. But he said to me, ‘You will conceive and bear a son. So drink no wine or beer, and eat nothing unclean. For the boy shall be a nazirite for God from the womb, until the day of his death.’”  (Judges 13:6-7)

Observation:  As I sat through Mass in Spanish this morning, I have to say it was quite difficult since I had not read the readings before I came to Mass and heard them read in Spanish.  I thought I was actually understanding more Spanish until this morning, when I realized that I still have a lot to learn.  Anyway, the message that I got came to me as I was reading the readings later.  I realized that the story of the first reading was about Samson and not about John the Baptist as I thought when I heard it at Mass.  Also, I saw an opportunity to deepen my faith this last week of Advent by taking this nazirite vow for myself.  If you look up the reference or footnotes on this reading, it explains that this nazirite vow can be taken for any amount of time.

Personification:  Faithfulness  I think it would be a great way to display my faithfulness to God by taking this nazirite vow for the remainder of the days that we have left until Christmas.  Since I have been growing my beard out for a while, no one will notice that part and the abstaining from strong drink and wine, shouldn’t really raise any eyebrows, except at our staff Christmas Party tomorrow night.  I am not concerned if anyone knows about my vow, but I would rather just fly under the radar about it.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Whoops!

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Folio 18 recto, beginning of the Epistle to Th...

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Gift: Knowledge – With the gift of knowledge, we understand the meaning of God’s Revelation, especially as expressed in the life and words of Jesus Christ. A person with knowledge is always learning more about the scriptures and Tradition.

Reading:  But you, brothers, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief. For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober.  (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6)

Observation:  As I read the second part of the second reading for today’s Mass readings out loud to my Mom and my brother whose computer I am borrowing to write this journal entry today, my brother said “Whoops!”  It was immediately funny to both my Mom and I, but as I reflected further on the rest of the reading and the possible reasons why he could say it, I realized that this was a perfect title for my blog post today.  I have read this reading many times before and probably had the same reaction to it that my brother did.  However, this morning as I sit in Las Vegas, I am thankful to God that I was given the grace to make decisions that make me look more like a child of the light.

Personification:  Gentleness  I don’t know if my family will read this before they attend Mass with me this morning, but it is my hope that I will be supplied with enough grace to put the fruit of gentleness on display for them, to not convince them of the glory of God but stay out-of-the-way, so that the work that God is doing in them will not be harmed by my over-zealousness.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to model the behavior of your disciple.  Please keep me grounded and focusing on your will for others and not my will for them.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

The Word is alive today…

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Instead of my normal format for my journaling today, I thought I would tell the story of how God’s Word is alive for me this morning.  I read the reading like normal, and I was led to listen to some music to calm my heart and put my mind focused on Him.  I was led to the first video from Godtube, that comes to my email…

After listening to a few more songs, I was led back to the readings to realize that anything that I journaled on could be considered as judgmental.  SO I decided not to journal about it.  I will share the journal entry that I made while at Mass this morning:  Jesus Christ is the Word of God.  The Word of God is the key of knowledge.  The key of knowledge leads me to righteous faith.  I don’t know if it means anything to anyone else, but it actually came to me in the reverse order to how I just shared it, but the idea of reversing it came to me while I was praying after receiving Communion.

Jesus, exorcise our demons…Since I guess we don’t have an exorcist here :(

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the Stainned Gless of depicting the Holy Spirit.
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Gift:  Piety (Reverence) – With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love.

Reading:  At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them.  And demons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.” But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Messiah.  (Luke 4:40-41)

Observation:  It is clear to me today that the gospel is saying that the people cured from disease are separate from the people who were possessed by demons.  Therefore, the old explanation of  the people of God during the time of Jesus’ incarnation, would have assumed that people with certain diseases were possessed and when he cured them they would assume he exorcised their demon, is rendered a lie by this gospel.  The truth is, the gospel reveals that their were people who were possessed by evil spirits and these demons knew Jesus, and called him by name when he kicked them out of their host.

Personification:  Self-Control  It will be my focus today to continue to pray without ceasing to make sure that I am focus on God’s will today and not my own.  Today, displaying the fruit of self-control will consist of my keeping my thoughts to myself about our Mass this morning and allowing the holy Spirit to reveal the truth to those who need to hear it.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to be faithful to you at all times.  Please keep your praises ever on my lips and keep me from being selfish today.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

In a broken world, how do we refrain from immorality?

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Holy Mass

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Gift:  Understanding – With the gift of understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by all the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live.

Reading:  This is the will of God, your holiness: that you refrain from immorality,4that each of you know how to acquire a wife for himself in holiness and honor,5not in lustful passion as do the Gentiles who do not know God.  (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)

Observation:  It was amazing to have our Pastor celebrate Mass for us this morning.  It is obvious that he is full of the holy Spirit and riding high on the grace he received from his pilgrimmage to World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain.  I am thankful that he chose to point out three of the young women who were at the Mass to tell them that they were called to be pure, not as a penalty for being made by God to be a woman, but rather as a gift to show the world the way that we should all be.

Personification:  Patience  In order to be able to display the fruit of patience in my life, I must not be in a hurry to do what I think is the best way to fulfill the will of God in my life.  I must be willing to wait for the Lord to reveal his ways to me, and follow his ways over mine.  Practically, this means not putting myself in the near occasion of sin, when I know that I am liable to fall.  Setting up boundaries for myself, and knowing where I can find prayers in a hurry to build myself up in the holy Spirit, and having these prayers and sacramentals located in different locations to be ready to fight evil whenever it comes up in me or at me.

Prayer:  Lord, show me the ways I can rest in your arms and be covered by your grace.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.