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.

Why change the gospel for today?

Gospel of Matthew
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For those of you that follow my blog regularly, I apologize for taking the past few days off.  I have struggled with getting my mind engaged in the morning and being able to actually journal on the readings.  However, I have prepared a talk for the youth ministry group today and I plan on changing the gospel reading to sound a little more relevant to the group, and I hope this journal shows justification for that…

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:  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together* with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord.  (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

Observation:  So, the gospel for today’s Mass has Jesus telling a parable of ten virgins to explain what it will be like during the time of the coming of the kingdom of heaven to earth.  I believe that we should believe that Jesus brought his kingdom to earth already in the form of the church, but he is discussing the final coming, when he returns to restore the believers to his perfection.  I got this from the footnote from the gospel reading in Matthew’s gospel, and from the long version of the second reading for today’s Mass.  So, I intend to change the oil that the virgins had or didn’t have to the way that they choose to dress.  The reason I am using that change in the parable and not anything else, is because the virgins who choose to dress inappropriately, will justify it because they are virgins and their chastity is not in question.  However, at the end of the gospel, when the bridegroom comes, and he is dressed for a formal ball, they will realize that they should not have been concerned with how they were affecting others.  I will finish by reminding the boys that they are not free from blame, if they condone or hope that they see young women dressed inappropriately.  What if the bridegroom were to show them all the women that we have lusted for, and not tell them that they were dressed inappropriately.

Personification:  Joy  Since, I was able to make it to confession last night, I feel like I should be able to display the fruit of joy in my life today.  I was going to choose to focus on gentleness or kindness, but it seems to me that real joy will be a better fruit to display when delivering the message that I will be delivering today.

Prayer:  Lord, give me the strength to stay on topic and not allow the discussion tonight to stray from the words that you want the young people to hear.  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?

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.

No pressure…

Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, ...

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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:  For we now live, if you stand firm in the Lord.  (1 Thessalonians 3:8)

Observation:  I can imagine being a Christian in Thessalonia and having this letter from Paul being read to me.  After it was read, I would most likely feel a bit of pressure to live up to the standard that was set by the apostle’s example.  It is not much different that what I believe the saints that went before us would say to us right now.  They would say that it is only when we stand firm in the faith that they feel like their lives on earth meant something, and by standing firm in the faith, we keep the saints alive in this world.  We believe that they are already destined to spend eternity with God, but only the grace that we receive from God as a result of our standing firm in the faith will bring the saints to life on earth again.

Personification:  Faithfulness  It is only by the display of faithfulness to the Gospel that I can live out the values that were passed on to me by the saints of the past.  It is necessary to adjust my actions to conform to the gifts that I am given, but always remember the example left by Jesus and his saints that came before me.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to follow your will for my life, and let me see clearly the path that you laid out before me in the lives of the saints.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.