Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Memorial of Saint Jerome

So who is Saint Jerome? Let's turn to Wikipedia:

- Latin name: Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus (Greek: Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος)
- born
c. 347 at Stridon to born to Christian parents (but was not baptized until about 360 or 366)

Today's Bible Readings (30 Sep, Tue - 26th Week)

Job 3: 1-3, 11-17, 20-23
Job opened his mouth and cursed the day he was born.
Job spoke up and said:
Let the day on which I was born perish,
and the night that said,
‘A man has been conceived!’
Why did I not die at birth,
and why did I not expire
as I came out of the womb?
Why did the knees welcome me,
and why were there two breasts
that I might nurse at them?
For now I would be lying down
and would be quiet,
I would be asleep and then at peace
with kings and counselors of the earth
who built for themselves places now desolate,
or with princes who possessed gold,
who filled their palaces with silver.
Or why was I not buried
like a stillborn infant,
like infants who have never seen the light?
There the wicked cease from turmoil,
and there the weary are at rest.
Why does God give light to one who is in misery,
and life to those whose soul is bitter,
to those who wait for death that does not come,
and search for it
more than for hidden treasures,
who rejoice even to jubilation,
and are exultant when they find the grave?
Why is light given to a man
whose way is hidden,
and whom God has hedged in?

Luke 9: 51-56
Now when the days drew near for him to be taken up, Jesus set out resolutely to go to Jerusalem. He sent messengers on ahead of him. As they went along, they entered a Samaritan village to make things ready in advance for him, but the villagers refused to welcome him, because he was determined to go to Jerusalem. Now when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to call fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael (a.k.a. Michaelmas)

Did you know that angels (pure, created spiritual non-corporeal beings) also get to become saints? Or that there is a day in the RC calendar celebrating them? Here's something on this feast day from Wikipedia and Catholic Culture:

- Michael (Who is like God) was the archangel who fought against Satan and all his evil angels, defending all the friends of God - he is one of the principal angelic warriors, seen as a protector against the dark of night, and the administrator of cosmic intelligence
- Gabriel (Strength of God) announced to Zachariah the forthcoming birth of John the Baptist, and to Mary, the birth of Jesus - his greeting to the Virgin, "Hail, full of grace," is one of the most familiar and frequent prayers of the Christian people.
- Raphael (Medicine of God) is the archangel who took care of Tobias on his journey - his mission as wonderful healer and fellow traveller with the youthful Tobias has caused him to be invoked for journeys and at critical moments in life
- because this feast falls near the equinox, it is associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days
- during the Middle Ages, Michaelmas was celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation, but this tradition was abolished in the 18th century

Bible Readings for Today (29 Sep, Mon - 26th Week)

Daniel 7: 9-10, 13-14
“While I was watching,
thrones were set up,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His attire was white like snow;
the hair of his head was like lamb’s wool.
His throne was ablaze with fire
and its wheels were all aflame.
A river of fire was streaming forth
and proceeding from his presence.
Many thousands were ministering to him;
Many tens of thousands stood ready to serve him.
The court convened
and the books were opened.
As the visions during the night continued, I saw:
“With the clouds of the sky
one like a son of man was approaching.
He went up to the Ancient of Days
and was escorted before him.
To him was given ruling authority, honor, and sovereignty.
All peoples, nations, and language groups were serving him.
His authority is eternal and will not pass away.
His kingdom will not be destroyed.”

Revelation 12: 7-12
War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But the dragon was not strong enough to prevail, so there was no longer any place left in heaven for him and his angels. So that huge dragon – the ancient serpent, the one called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world – was thrown down to the earth, and his angels along with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying,
“The salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the ruling authority of his Christ, have now come,
because the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
the one who accuses them day and night before our God,
has been thrown down.
But they overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
and they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.
Therefore you heavens rejoice, and all who reside in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea
because the devil has come down to you!
He is filled with terrible anger,
for he knows that he only has a little time!”

John 1: 47-51
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and exclaimed, “Look, a true Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?” Jesus replied, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel!” Jesus said to him, “Because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” He continued, “I tell all of you the solemn truth – you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Memorial of Saint Wenceslaus (Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia)

This is one of the saints venerated today. I chose this saint because according to Wikipedia he is the subject of the popular Boxing Day and Christmas Carol "Good King Wenceslas".

- born c. 907 in Prague, Bohemia to Vratislav I, Duke of Bohemia from the Přemyslid dynasty. His father was a Christian from birth while his mother Drahomíra (daughter of a pagan tribal chief of Havolans) was baptized at the time of her marriage to his father.
- in 921, his father died and he was brought up by his grandmother (Saint Ludmila)
- in 924/925 he assumed government for himself - defeated a rebellious duke of Kouřim named Radslav
- founded a rotunda consecrated to St Vitus at Prague Castle
- was killed on September 28, 935 at Stará Boleslav, Bohemia
- was canonised as a saint due to his martyr's death, as well as several purported miracles that occurred after his death- he is the patron saint of the Czech people and the Czech Republic

Bible Readings for this day (28 Sep, Sun - 26th Week)

Ezekiel 18: 25-28
Thus says the LORD: Yet you say, ‘The Lord’s conduct is unjust!’ Hear, O house of Israel: Is my conduct unjust? Is it not your conduct that is unjust? When a righteous person turns back from his righteousness and practices wrongdoing, he will die for it; because of the wrongdoing he has done, he will die. When a wicked person turns from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will preserve his life. Because he considered and turned from all the sins he had done, he will surely live; he will not die.

Philippians 2: 1-11
Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy, complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose. Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had,
who though he existed in the form of God
did not regard equality with God
as something to be grasped,
but emptied himself
by taking on the form of a slave,
by looking like other men,
and by sharing in human nature.
He humbled himself,
by becoming obedient to the point of death
– even death on a cross!
As a result God exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow
– in heaven and on earth and under the earth –
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord
to the glory of God the Father.

Matthew 21: 28-32
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ The boy answered, ‘I will not.’ But later he had a change of heart and went. The father went to the other son and said the same thing. This boy answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, tax collectors and prostitutes will go ahead of you into the kingdom of God! For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe. Although you saw this, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul

So who is this saint? Let's turn to Wikipedia:

- born on April 24, 1581 in Pouy, Landes, Gascony, France
- was ordained in 1600
- was taken captive by Turkish pirates to Tunis, and sold into slavery
- was freed in 1607 after converting his owner to Christianity
- returned to France and served as priest in a parish near Paris
- founded many charitable organizations such as Congregation of the Daughters of Charity
and the Congregation of Priests of the Mission (Lazarists)
- died on September 27, 1660 in Paris, France
- was declared Blessed on 13 August 1729 and canonized on 16 June 1737
- patron to the Sisters of Charity and the Brothers of Charity
- his body has remained incorrupt to this day

Today's Bible Readings (27 Sep, Sat - 25th Week)

Ecclesiastes 11:9 — 12:8
Rejoice, young man, while you are young,
and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth.
Follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes,
but know that God will judge your motives and actions.
Banish emotional stress from your mind.
and put away pain from your body;
for youth and the prime of life are fleeting.
So remember your Creator in the days of your youth –
before the difficult days come,
and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;
before the sun and the light of the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds disappear after the rain;
when those who keep watch over the house begin to tremble,
and the virile men begin to stoop over,
and the grinders begin to cease because they grow few,
and those who look through the windows grow dim,
and the doors along the street are shut;
when the sound of the grinding mill grows low,
and one is awakened by the sound of a bird,
and all their songs grow faint,
and they are afraid of heights and the dangers in the street;
the almond blossoms grow white,
and the grasshopper drags itself along,
and the caper berry shrivels up –
because man goes to his eternal home,
and the mourners go about in the streets –
before the silver cord is removed,
or the golden bowl is broken,
or the pitcher is shattered at the well,
or the water wheel is broken at the cistern –
and the dust returns to the earth as it was,
and the life’s breath returns to God who gave it.
“Absolutely futile!” laments the Teacher,
“All of these things are futile!”

Luke 9: 43-45
While the entire crowd was amazed at everything Jesus was doing, he said to his disciples, “Take these words to heart, for the Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this statement; its meaning had been concealed from them, so that they could not grasp it. Yet they were afraid to ask him about this statement.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Memorial of Saints Cosmas and Damian

According to Wikipedia, Saints Cosmas and Damian:

- were twins - born in Cilicia (south coastal region of the Anatolian peninsula, extending inland from the southeastern coast of Asia Minor)- died ca. 303
- practiced the art of healing in the seaport of Aegea in the Gulf of Issus, then in the Roman province of Syria
- were given the nickname anargyroi (The Silverless) - most commonly translated into English as "Unmercenaries" (as they accepted no payment for their services) - thus they led many to the Christian faith
- during the persecution under Diocletian (Emperor of the Roman Empire), they were arrested and ordered under torture to recant - they stayed true to their faith and thus enduring being hung on a cross, stoned and shot by arrows and finally suffered execution by beheading

Today's Bible Readings (26 Sep, Fri - 25th Week)

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11
For everything there is an appointed time,
and an appropriate time for every activity on earth:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to search, and a time to give something up as lost;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to rip, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
What benefit can a worker gain from his toil?
I have observed the burden that God has given to people to keep them occupied.
God has made everything fit beautifully in its appropriate time,
but he has also placed ignorance in the human heart
so that people cannot discover what God has ordained,
from the beginning to the end of their lives.

Luke 9: 18-22
Once when Jesus was praying by himself, and his disciples were nearby, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others that one of the prophets of long ago has risen.” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” But he forcefully commanded them not to tell this to anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Bible Readings of this day (25 Sep, Thu - 25th Week)

Ecclesiastes 1: 2-11
“Futile! Futile!” laments the Teacher,
“Absolutely futile! Everything is futile!”
What benefit do people get from all the effort
which they expend on earth?
A generation comes and a generation goes,
but the earth remains the same through the ages.
The sun rises and the sun sets;
it hurries away to a place from which it rises again.
The wind goes to the south and circles around to the north;
round and round the wind goes and on its rounds it returns.
All the streams flow into the sea, but the sea is not full,
and to the place where the streams flow, there they will flow again.
All this monotony is tiresome; no one can bear31 to describe it:
The eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear ever content with hearing.
What exists now is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing truly new on earth.
Is there anything about which someone can say, “Look at this! It is new!”?
It was already done long ago, before our time.
No one remembers the former events,
nor will anyone remember the events that are yet to happen;
they will not be remembered by the future generations.

Luke 9: 7-9
Now Herod the tetrarch heard about everything that was happening, and he was thoroughly perplexed, because some people were saying that John had been raised from the dead, while others were saying that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had risen. Herod said, “I had John beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” So Herod wanted to learn about Jesus.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Memorial of Our Lady of Ransom

It's not that difficult to guess who Our Lady of Ransom is, right? Yep, it's dear Mama Mary again. Read more about her here (or you can just look down):

- The Blessed Virgin appeared in 1218 in separate visions to St. Peter Nolasco, St. Raymond of Penafort and James the king of Aragon, asking them to found a religious order dedicated to freeing Christian captives from the barbarous Saracens or Moors, who at the time held a great part of Spain.
- On August 10, 1218, King James established the royal, military and religious Order of our Lady of Ransom (first known as the Order of St. Eulalia, now known as the Mercedarian Order). The work of the Mercedarians was in ransoming impoverished captive Christians (slaves) held in Muslim hands, especially ordinary people who had not the means to negotiate their own ransom (the "poor of Christ"). They also organized many hospices and hospitals and also established local charitable institutions such as almshouses.
- The order included religious priests who prayed and gathered the means for ransoming captives while the lay monks or knights went into the very camps of the Moors to buy back Christians, and, if necessary, take their places.
- This feast, once kept only by the Order, was extended to the whole Church by Pope Innocent XII in the 17th century.

Today's Bible Readings (24 Sep, Wed - 25th Week)

Proverbs 30: 5-9
Every word of God is purified;
he is like a shield for those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
lest he reprove you, and prove you to be a liar.
Two things I ask from you;
do not refuse me before I die:
Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
do not give me poverty or riches,
feed me with my allotted portion of bread,
lest I become satisfied and act deceptively
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or lest I become poor and steal
and demean the name of my God.

Luke 9: 1-6
After Jesus called the twelve together, he gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, and do not take an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave the area. Wherever they do not receive you, as you leave that town, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Then they departed and went throughout the villages, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Memorial of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

So who is this saint (better known as Padre Pio)? Let's find out from Wikipedia:

- was born as Francesco Forgione on May 25 1887 in Pietrelcina, Campania in southern Italy
- was baptized in the Santa Anna Chapel (which stands upon the walls of a castle) and later served as an altar boy there
- attended Daily Mass, prayed the Rosary nightly, and abstained from meat three days a week in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
- in 1897, after completing three years at the public school, he was drawn to the life of a friar
- on January 6, 1903 (at the age of 15) he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars at Morcone, where on January 22 he took the Franciscan habit and the name of Fra [Brother] Pio in honor of Pope Saint Pius V (the patron saint of Pietrelcina)
- in 1910 Brother Pio was ordained a priest by Archbishop Paolo Schinosi at the Cathedral of Benevento
- on September 4, 1916 he was moved to an agricultural community (Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary) located in the Gargano Mountains in San Giovanni Rotondo, where he stayed till his death (except for his military service)
- in August 1917 he was called to military service - was assigned to the 4th Platoon of the 100th Company of the Italian Medical Corps - in all, his military service lasted 182 days
- had five rules for spiritual growth: weekly confession, daily Communion, spiritual reading, meditation, and examination of conscience - his advice on the practical application of theology: "Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry"
- in addition to his childhood illnesses, throughout his life Padre Pio suffered from ailments such as: asthmatic bronchitis, a large kidney stone with frequent abdominal pains, chronic gastritis, (which later turned into an ulcer), inflammations of the eye, nose, ear and throat, rhinitis and chronic otitis
- on September 20, 1918, he received the Visible Stigmata, the five wounds of Christ (these were permanent). Later through his life he manifested many gifts including: healing, bilocation, levitation, prophecy, miracles, extraordinary abstinence from sleep and nourishment, the ability to read hearts, the gift of tongues, the gift of conversions, and fragrance from his wounds
- though he would have preferred to suffer in secret, by early 1919 news about the stigmatic friar began to spread in the secular world - he became a symbol of hope to people who had started rebuilding their lives after World War I - however his fame had the negative side effect that accusations against him (e.g. that he was "an ignorant and self-mutilating psychopath who exploited people's credulity" and that he violated all three of his monastic vows- poverty, chastity and obedience) made their way to the Holy Office in Rome, causing many restrictions to be placed on him (e.g. in 1923 he was forbidden to teach teenage boys in the school attached to the monastery he was living in)
- in the period from 1924 to 1931 the Holy See made various statements denying that the happenings in his life were due to any divine cause - at one point, he was prevented from publicly performing his priestly duties (e.g. hearing confessions and saying Mass)
- by 1933, the tide began to turn, with Pope Pius XI ordering the Holy See to reverse its ban on his public celebration of Mass - in 1934, he was again allowed to hear confessions - was also given honorary permission to preach despite never having taken the exam for the preaching license - in the mid 1960s Pope Paul VI firmly dismissed all accusations against him
- in 1940, Padre Pio began plans to open a hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, to be named the "Home to Relieve Suffering"; the hospital opened in 1956 - in order that Padre Pio might directly supervise this project Pope Pius XII in 1957 granted him dispensation from his vow of poverty
- on September 22, 1968 he celebrated his last mass - early in the morning of the next day he made his last confession and renewed his Franciscan vows - at 2:30am he breathed his last in his cell in San Giovanni Rotondo - his body was buried on September 26 in a crypt in the Church of Our Lady of Grace
- in 1997 was declared venerable, was declared blessed in199, and was canonized in 2002

Bible Readings for this day (23 Sep, Tue - 25th Week)

Proverbs 21: 1-6, 10-13
The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord like channels of water;
he turns it wherever he wants.
All of a person’s ways seem right in his own opinion,
but the Lord evaluates the motives.
To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart –
the agricultural product of the wicked is sin.
The plans of the diligent lead only to plenty,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
Making a fortune by a lying tongue is like a vapor driven back and forth;
they seek death.
The appetite of the wicked desires evil;
his neighbor is shown no favor in his eyes.
When a scorner is punished, the naive becomes wise;
when a wise person is instructed, he gains knowledge.
The Righteous One considers the house of the wicked;
he overthrows the wicked to their ruin.
The one who shuts his ears to the cry of the poor,
he too will cry out and will not be answered.

Luke 8: 19-21
Now Jesus’ mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not get near him because of the crowd. So he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” But he replied to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Monday, 22 September 2008

Memorial of Saint Thomas of Villanueva

This saint (according to Wikipedia):

- was born in 1488 in Ciudad Real, Spain
- though was from a rich family, as a young boy often went about naked as had given his clothing to the poor
- entered the Augustinian order in Salamanca in 1516, and ordained a priest in 1518
- became prior of the friary, General Visitor, and Provincial Prior for Andalusia and Castile
- was known for his great personal austerity and for his continual and untiring charitable efforts - sought to obtain definitive and structural solutions to the problem of poverty
- in 1533 sent out the first Augustinian friars to arrive in Mexico
- in 1544 was nominated as Archbishop of Valencia - there he organized a special college for Moorish converts, and in particular an effective plan for social assistance, welfare, and charity
- had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary, whose heart he compared to the burning bush that is never consumed
- died in 1555 in Valencia - was canonized on November 1 1658

Bible Readings for this day (22 Sep, Mon - 25th Week)

Proverbs 3: 27-34
Do not withhold good from those who need it,
when you have the ability to help.
Do not say to your neighbor, “Go! Return tomorrow
and I will give it,” when you have it with you at the time.
Do not plot evil against your neighbor
when he dwells by you unsuspectingly.
Do not accuse anyone without legitimate cause,
if he has not treated you wrongly.
Do not envy a violent man,
and do not choose to imitate any of his ways;
for one who goes astray is an abomination to the Lord,
but he reveals his intimate counsel to the upright.
The Lord’s curse is on the household of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.
Although he is scornful to arrogant scoffers,
yet he shows favor to the humble.

Luke 8: 16-18
Jesus said to the crowd: “No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lamp stand so that those who come in can see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be made known and brought to light. So listen carefully, for whoever has will be given more, but whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Memorial of Matthew, evangelist and/or apostle

After reading the article on him from Wikipedia, this is what I conclude:

- Christian tradition credits him with writing the Gospel of Matthew, though some use the designation "Matthew the Evangelist" to refer to the anonymous gospel author, and "Matthew the Apostle" to refer to the Biblical figure described in that gospel
- Virtually nothing besides his apostleship can be determined from the gospels of Mark and Luke as well as in the Acts of the Apostles, and he is not mentioned at all in the gospel of John or subsequent epistles
- The Gospel of Matthew names Matthew as the tax collector Jesus called whom the other gospels name "Levi"- Christian tradition holds that these two names describe the same person
- Matthew (called the "Son of Alphaeus") is described as being a toll collector who was called by Jesus to follow him, and his calling leads into a scene where Jesus is confronted by Pharisees for eating with tax-collectors and sinners
-Like the other evangelists, Matthew is often depicted in Christian art with one of the four living creatures of Revelation 4:7; in his case, the creature is a winged man

Today's Bible Readings (21 Sep, Sun - 25th Week)

Isaiah 55: 6-9
Seek the Lord while he makes himself available;
call to him while he is nearby!
The wicked need to abandon their lifestyle
and sinful people their plans.
They should return to the Lord, and he will show mercy to them,
and to their God, for he will freely forgive them.
“Indeed, my plans are not like your plans,
and my deeds are not like your deeds,
for just as the sky is higher than the earth,
so my deeds are superior to your deeds
and my plans superior to your plans.”

Philippians 1: 20-24, 27
Brothers and sisters: My confident hope is that I will in no way be ashamed but that with complete boldness, even now as always, Christ will be exalted in my body, whether I live or die. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Now if I am to go on living in the body, this will mean productive work for me, yet I don’t know which I prefer: I feel torn between the two, because I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, but it is more vital for your sake that I remain in the body. Only conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Matthew 20: 1-16
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. And after agreeing with the workers for the standard wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When it was about nine o’clock in the morning, he went out again and saw others standing around in the marketplace without work. He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and I will give you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and three o’clock that afternoon, he did the same thing. And about five o’clock that afternoon he went out and found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why are you standing here all day without work?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go and work in the vineyard too.’ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and give the pay starting with the last hired until the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each received a full day’s pay. And when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But each one also received the standard wage. When they received it, they began to complain against the landowner, saying, ‘These last fellows worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us who bore the hardship and burning heat of the day.’ And the landowner replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am not treating you unfairly. Didn’t you agree with me to work for the standard wage? Take what is yours and go. I want to give to this last man the same as I gave to you. Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Memorial of the Korean Martyrs

Today we celebrate the memory of certain Korean martyrs, namely St. Andrew Kim (priest and martyr) and St. Paul Chong (martyr) and companions (martyrs). Here are some facts regarding Korean martyrs (taken from Wikipedia):
- the Roman Catholic faith came to Korea at the end of the 18th century, by the reading of some Catholic books written in Chinese
- the strong and dynamic Catholic communities were led almost entirely by lay people until the arrival of the first French missionaries in 1836
- the Catholic community suffered major persecutions in the years 1839, 1846 and 1866, producing at least 8,000 known martyrs- most of them were simple lay people, including men and women, married and single, old and young
- on May 6, 1984 Pope John Paul II canonized Andrew Kim Taegon along with 102 other martyrs, including Paul Chong Hasang.
- currently Korea has the 4th largest number of saints in the Catholic world

Here are some facts on today's saints (taken from Catholic Culture):

- Andrew Kim Taegon (1821 - 1846) was the first native Korean priest and a son of Korean converts
- after baptism at the age of 15, traveled 1300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China
- at the age of 21 crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai to be ordained as priest
- was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul (capital of Korea)

- Paul Chong Hasang (1795–1839) was a lay apostle and a married man
- was a servant of a government interpreter- this enabled him in 1825 to travel to Beijing multiple times, where he entreated the bishop of Beijing to send some priests to Korea, and wrote to Pope Gregory XVI via the bishop of Beijing, requesting the establishment of the diocese of Korea, independent from that of Beijing
- was captured, went through a series of torture in which his countenance remained tranquil, was bound to a cross on a cart and cheerfully met his death at the age of 45

Bible Readings for today (20 Sep, Sat - 24th Week)

1 Corinthians 15: 35-37, 42-49
But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” Fool! What you sow will not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare seed – perhaps of wheat or something else.
It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living person”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven. Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust, and like the one from heaven, so too those who are heavenly. And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Luke 8: 4-15
While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from one town after another, he spoke to them in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled on, and the wild birds devoured it. Other seed fell on rock, and when it came up, it withered because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns, and they grew up with it and choked it. But other seed fell on good soil and grew, and it produced a hundred times as much grain.” As he said this, he called out, “The one who has ears to hear had better listen!” Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that although they see they may not see, and although they hear they may not understand. “Now the parable means this: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in a time of testing fall away. As for the seed that fell among thorns, these are the ones who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the worries and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for the seed that landed on good soil, these are the ones who, after hearing the word, cling to it with an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with steadfast endurance.”

Friday, 19 September 2008

Memorial of Saint Januarius, bishop and martyr

There is little known of the life of Januarius but local Neapolitan tradition says he was born in Benevento to a rich patrician family that traced its descent to the Caudini tribe of the Samnites. At a young age of 15, he became local priest of his parish in Benevento, which at the time was relatively pagan. When Januarius was 20, he became Bishop of Naples and befriended Juliana of Nicomedia and St.Sossius whom he met during his priestly studies as young boys. As Bishop of Naples, he performed many miracles. During the persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian, he hid his fellow Christians and prevented them from being caught. Unfortunately, while visiting Sossius in jail, he too was arrested. He was placed in a furnace to be cooked alive, he came out unscathed. He was pushed into the Flavian Amphitheater at Pozzuoli to be eaten by wild bears, who had not eaten in days. Yet the animals refused to eat them, instead licking their toes. Januarius was beheaded along with Sossius and his companions at Solfatara.

Januarius is famous for the reputed miracle of the annual liquefaction of his blood, first reported in 1389. The dried blood is safely stored in small capsules in a reliquary. When these capsules are brought into the vicinity of his body on three occasions in the year, the dried blood supposedly liquefies. St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote the following in defense of the veracity of the miracle of St. Januarius' blood:

The Neapolitans honor this saint as the principal patron of their city and nation, and the Lord himself has continued to honor him, by allowing many miracles to be wrought through his intercession, particularly when the frightful eruptions of Mount Vesuvius have threatened the city of Naples
with utter destruction. While the relics of St. Januarius were being brought in procession towards this terrific volcano, the torrents of lava and liquid fire which it emitted have ceased, or turned their course from the city. But the most stupendous miracle, and that which is greatly celebrated in the church, is the liquefying and boiling up of this blessed martyr's blood whenever the vials are brought in sight of his head. This miracle is renewed many times in the year, in presence of all who desire to witness it; yet some heretics have endeavored to throw a doubt upon its genuineness, by frivolous and incoherent explanations; but on one can deny the effect to be miraculous, unless he be prepared to question the evidence of his senses.

(The above is taken from Wikipedia)

Today's Bible Readings (19 Sep, Fri - 24th Week)

1 Corinthians 15: 12-20
Now if Christ is being preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty. Also, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified against God that he raised Christ from the dead, when in reality he did not raise him, if indeed the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Luke 8: 1-3
Some time afterward Jesus went on through towns and villages, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and disabilities: Mary (called Magdalene), from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Cuza (Herod’s household manager), Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their own resources.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Memorial of Saint Joseph of Cupertino

So who is this saint? Let's turn to Wikipedia:

- born Giuseppe Maria Desa on June 17 1603 at Copertino, Puglia, Italy
- was remarkably slow witted and clumsy as a child- had little formal education- unsuited for scholarship as had a learning disability
- attempted to join the Friars Minor Conventuals at 17 years of age but lack of education prevented him from gaining admittance- was soon after admitted as a Capuchin, but removed from the organization shortly thereafter when his constant fits of ecstasy proved him unsuitable- was admitted into a Franciscan friary near Cupertino in his early twenties
- on October 4 1630 he was assisting in the procession on the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi when he suddenly soared into the sky, where he remained hovering over the crowd- after that on hearing the names of Jesus or Mary, the singing of hymns, during the feast of St. Francis, or while praying at Mass, he would go into dazed state and soar into the air, remaining there until a superior commanded him under obedience to revive
- other paranormal abilities: could smell the bad odor of a sinful person, had the gift of healing
- in 1653 the church authorities transferred him to a Capuchin friary in the hills of Pietarossa and kept him completely out of sight - was ordered to live in seclusion and not speak to anyone except the Bishop, the Vicar General of the Order, his fellow friars, and, in case of a health crisis, a doctor
- on August 10 1663, became ill with a fever- died on the evening of September 18 1663 after receiving the last sacraments, a papal blessing, and reciting the Litany of Our Lady
- was canonized on July 16 1767- because of his many 'flights', he is the patron saint of those traveling by air, astronauts, and pilots who fly for the NATO Alliance- also the patron saint of those undergoing examinations of any kind and of students, having struggled with being a poor student himself

Bible Readings for today (18 Sep, Thu - 24th Week)

1 Corinthians 15: 1-11
It is actually reported that sexual immorality exists among you, the kind of immorality that is not permitted even among the Gentiles, so that someone is cohabiting with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you have been deeply sorrowful instead and removed the one who did this from among you? For even though I am absent physically, I am present in spirit. And I have already judged the one who did this, just as though I were present. When you gather together in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, along with the power of our Lord Jesus, turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast affects the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough – you are, in fact, without yeast. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. So then, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of vice and evil, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. In no way did I mean the immoral people of this world, or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person.

Luke 7: 36-50
Now one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. Then when a woman of that town, who was a sinner, learned that Jesus was dining at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfumed oil. As she stood behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfumed oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” So Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” He replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then, turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house. You gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss of greeting, but from the time I entered she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfumed oil. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Memorial of Saint Albert Avogadro, Bishop and Lawgiver of Carmel

I shall pick this one of the many saints celebrated today to honor. This is as this morning I attended daily mass at a Carmelite chapel, and the mass there honored this particular saint.
So who is this saint? I have two sites on him: here and here. But basically he was:

- born in 1149 at Parma, Italy
- became a Canon Regular of the Holy Cross at Mortara and was elected their prior in 1180
- named Bishop of Bobbio in 1184, bishop of Vercelli in 1185, and Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1205
- mediated disputes between the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Cyprus, as well as between the Knights Templar and the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia
- united the hermits of Mount Carmel into one community (the Carmelite order) and wrote a Rule for them while serving as Patriarch of Jerusalem
- was assassinated in Acre on on 14 September 1214 by a disgruntled cleric

Bible Readings for this day (17 Sep, Wed - 24th Week)

1 Corinthians 12:31 - 13:13
Brothers and sisters: Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast, but do not have love, I receive no benefit. Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But if there are prophecies, they will be set aside; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be set aside. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when what is perfect comes, the partial will be set aside. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways. For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Luke 7: 31-35
Jesus said to the crowds: “To what then should I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, yet you did not dance;
we wailed in mourning, yet you did not weep.’
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Memorial of Saints Cornelius (pope and martyr) and Cyprian (bishop and martyr)

Today we Catholics celebrate the memory of two saints: Cornelius and Cyprian. Who are they? Let's refer to Catholic Culture:

- Pope Saint Cornelius was famous for opposing Novatian (circa 200 – 258) the first antipope (who held that lapsed Christians- Christians who had not maintained their confession of faith under persecution- may not be received again into communion with the Church, and that second marriages are unlawful).
- Saint Cyprian (or Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus) ranks as an important Church Father, one whose writings are universally respected and often read in the Divine Office.

Bible Readings for Today (16 Sep, Tue - 24th Week)

1 Corinthians 12: 12-14, 27-31
For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body – though many – are one body, so too is Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. For in fact the body is not a single member, but many.
Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a member of it. And God has placed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, gifts of healing, helps, gifts of leadership, different kinds of tongues. Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? Not all are teachers, are they? Not all perform miracles, do they? Not all have gifts of healing, do they? Not all speak in tongues, do they? Not all interpret, do they? But you should be eager for the greater gifts.

Luke 7: 11-17
Soon afterward Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the town gate, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother (who was a widow), and a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and those who carried it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” So the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they began to glorify God, saying, “A great prophet has appeared among us!” and “God has come to help his people!” This report about Jesus circulated throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

Today we Catholics celebrate the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady the Blessed Virgin Mary. The title "Our Lady of Sorrows" focuses on Mary's intense suffering during the passion and death of Christ. So what are these seven sorrows?
  1. The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
  2. The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
  3. Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50)
  4. Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
  5. Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
  6. The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
  7. The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)
These seven sorrows were foretold by Simeon (read it in today's reading) and thus are signs of the spiritual martyrdom of Mary, and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son Jesus. (source: Catholic Culture)

Today's Bible Reading (15 Sep, Mon - 24th Week)

1 Corinthians 11: 17-26, 33
Now in giving the following instruction I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For in the first place, when you come together as a church I hear there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must in fact be divisions among you, so that those of you who are approved may be evident. Now when you come together at the same place, you are not really eating the Lord’s Supper. For when it is time to eat, everyone proceeds with his own supper. One is hungry and another becomes drunk. Do you not have houses so that you can eat and drink? Or are you trying to show contempt for the church of God by shaming those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I praise you? I will not praise you for this! For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

Luke 2: 33-35
Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “Listen carefully: This child is destined to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be rejected. Indeed, as a result of him the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul as well!”

John 19: 25-27
Now standing beside Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. So when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, look, here is your son!” He then said to his disciple, “Look, here is your mother!” From that very time the disciple took her into his own home.

Friday, 12 September 2008

My Thoughts on Today's Bible Readings

What did Jesus mean when he talked about logs and splinters in eyes? These pieces of wood are faults in our thinking and perception of the world. These faults make people blind to God's message and goodness. Such people are in need of a physician who can give them the kind of vision and clarity for overcoming the blindspots in their lives. Guess who is the physician I'm talking about?
A true disciple of Christ is one who listens to the voice of his/her Master and who submits to the skillful help of the Divine Physician for treating and removing the cancer of sin in his/her life. If we want to be guides and teachers for others, then we need clear vision, both spiritual and moral vision, and a map that shows us the right destination for our life's journey. If our ultimate destination is heaven, then there is only one way to get there and that way is through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the cross of Christ sin is pardoned and the sinner is made whole, darkness and corruption give way to light and truth, death is defeated and new life restored. The cross of Christ frees us from condemnation and guilt and shows us the way of perfect love.
[source: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/sep12.htm]

Memorial of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today we Catholics commemorate the Holy Name of Mary. This feast exemplifies the Roman Catholic focus on Mariology and the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mother Mary's parents named her eight days after her birth in accordance with Jewish custom and were inspired to call her Mary. The feast of the Holy Name of Mary therefore follows that of her Birthday, as the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus follows Christmas. The Hebrew name of Mary (in Latin Domina) means lady or sovereign; this Mary is in virtue of her Son's sovereign authority as Lord of the World.

We call Mary our Lady as we call Jesus our Lord. When we pronounce her name, we affirm her power, implore her aid and place ourselves under her protection.On this day dedicated to the Holy Name of Mary let us repeat that wonderful prayer of Saint Bernard (responding to Pope Benedict XVI 's invitation to "invite everyone to become a trusting child before Mary, even as the Son of God did"): “Look to the star of the sea, call upon Mary … in danger, in distress, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. May her name never be far from your lips, or far from your heart … If you follow her, you will not stray; if you pray to her, you will not despair; if you turn your thoughts to her, you will not err. If she holds you, you will not fall; if she protects you, you need not fear; if she is your guide, you will not tire; if she is gracious to you, you will surely reach your destination.” [source: Catholic Culture]

Today's Bible Readings (12 Sep, Fri - 23rd Week)

1 Corinthians 9: 16-19, 22-27
Brothers and sisters: for if I preach the gospel, I have no reason for boasting, because I am compelled to do this. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward. But if I do it unwillingly, I am entrusted with a responsibility. What then is my reward? That when I preach the gospel I may offer the gospel free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights in the gospel. For since I am free from all I can make myself a slave to all, in order to gain even more people.
To the weak I became weak in order to gain the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I may save some. I do all these things because of the gospel, so that I can be a participant in it. Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win. Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.

Luke 6: 39-42
Jesus also told them a parable: “Someone who is blind cannot lead another who is blind, can he? Won’t they both fall into a pit? A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while you yourself don’t see the beam in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The 11 September 2001 attacks in the U.S.

Here's something from Wikipedia on this issue:

- a series of coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States
- how it happened: terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners, crashing two into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and one into the Pentagon. The last one crashed into a field near Shanksville in rural Somerset County, Pennsylvania, after passengers and members of the flight crew attempted to retake control of their plane
- how the U.S.A responded: declaring a War on Terrorism, launching an invasion of Afghanistan to depose the Taliban (who had harbored al-Qaeda terrorists) and enacting the USA PATRIOT Act

I feel that today's gospel reading is appropriate when it comes to remembering this day (at least for the people of the US of A).

My Thoughts on Today's Bible Readings

First, something from St. Augustine of Hippo on today's reading (source: Daily Reading and Meditation):
  • "Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given you. These are the two wings of prayer on which it flies to God. Pardon the offender what has been committed, and give to the person in need." [Sermon 205.3]
  • "Let us graciously and fervently perform these two types of alms giving, that is, giving and forgiving, for we in turn pray the Lord to give us things and not to repay our evil deeds." [Sermon 206.2]
Today's gospel reading highlights one of the differences between Christianity and other religions: treating others not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated. And since God is kind and merciful to all people (just and unjust, good and bad, saint and sinner, kind and cruel, etc.), so should we. It is the way of the world for us to treat better those we like, look up to and/or consider to be similar to us. This is not to be the way Christians should act. It is also easier to show kindness and mercy when we expect something in return, even if it is a small something. This is also not how we should act. We should give without expecting anything in return, without fear that our gifts would be misconstrued, and without worry that we would be taken advantage of. For even if these things happen to us God is with us and He sees all. It is not our place to protect ourselves but rather to give until it hurts and then give some more. So let's take today's gospel reading literally- the next time someone sins against you, don't return the favour. Forgive and forget, even when the person does nothing to deserve it.

Today's Bible Readings (11 Sep, Thu - 23rd Week)

1 Corinthians 8: 1-7, 11-13
With regard to food sacrificed to idols, we know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. If someone thinks he knows something, he does not yet know to the degree that he needs to know. But if someone loves God, he is known by God. With regard then to eating food sacrificed to idols, we know that “an idol in this world is nothing,” and that “there is no God but one.” If after all there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we live, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we live. But this knowledge is not shared by all. And some, by being accustomed to idols in former times, eat this food as an idol sacrifice, and their conscience, because it is weak, is defiled.
So by your knowledge the weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed. If you sin against your brothers or sisters in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. For this reason, if food causes my brother or sister to sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I may not cause one of them to sin.

Luke 6: 27-38
Jesus said: “But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well, and from the person who takes away your coat, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your possessions back from the person who takes them away. Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to be repaid, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, so that they may be repaid in full. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.”

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

My Thoughts on Today's Bible Reading

Today's reading from the gospel of Luke is another list of beatitudes (which literally means happiness or blessedness). Unlike the one from Matthew, this one is shorter and has a list of Woe's.

Looking at all the beatitudes, it seems that access to heaven is restricted to a certain class of people, i.e. the poor. In other words, the rich Christian has no chance of going to Heaven. This reading of the beatitudes is incorrect. After all Jesus came to save all humankind, regardless of any manner of stratification. It is more accurate to say that those who are too much concerned with this world (its ambitions, power struggle, rat race, divisions, desires, etc.) find it more difficult to enter Heaven. For the ways of the world are not God's ways. How can one approach God then if one identifies oneself with the world? Thus emptying oneself of all that would shut God out of one's heart is necessary to approach the kingdom of God. And the ways of the world influences people to forget about God and His ways.

St. Paul has a similar message in his letter to the Corinthians. If you know that Jesus would come for you tomorrow what would you do today? Would you marry? Leave your spouse? Would you mourn over losses? Rejoice that you have gained something? Buy more possessions? Chase after worldly possession and recognition? Eat and drink some more? None of the above matters in Jesus' kingdom. So why do them on that day? Let's think about things we would do if we were in the above situation and do them every day.

Memorial of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino

Let's find out who this saint is (source: Wikipedia)

- known as the Patron of Holy Souls
- born circa 1246 A.D. at Sant'Angelo in Pontano, Italy
- named after St. Nicholas of Myra
- became an Augustinian Friar at the age of 18, became a monk at Recanati and Macerata,
and was ordained at the age of 25
- moved to Tolentino in 1274 as result of a vision he had
- famous for Saint Nicholas Bread, a certain type of bread roll that had been dipped in water - distributed these rolls while praying to Mary as result of a vision he had
- preached, worked wonders, healed people, visited prisoners (always telling those he helped, "Say nothing of this"), received visions (including images of Purgatory), and had a great devotion to the recently dead
- died in 1305 A.D.

Bible Readings for This Day (10 Sep, Wed - 23rd Week)

1 Corinthians 7: 25-31
With regard to the question about people who have never married, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one shown mercy by the Lord to be trustworthy. Because of the impending crisis I think it best for you to remain as you are. The one bound to a wife should not seek divorce. The one released from a wife should not seek marriage. But if you marry, you have not sinned. And if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face difficult circumstances, and I am trying to spare you such problems. And I say this, brothers and sisters: The time is short. So then those who have wives should be as those who have none, those with tears like those not weeping, those who rejoice like those not rejoicing, those who buy like those without possessions, those who use the world as though they were not using it to the full. For the present shape of this world is passing away.

Luke 6: 20-26
Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God belongs to you.
“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and jump for joy, because your reward is great in heaven. For their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your comfort already.
“Woe to you who are well satisfied with food now, for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
“Woe to you when all people speak well of you, for their ancestors did the same things to the false prophets.”

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Memorial of Saint Peter Claver

So who is this saint? Wikipedia tell us that:

- the patron saint of slaves, of Colombia and of African Americans
- born on June 26 1580 in Verdu, Catalonia in Spain
- dedicated his life to the service of slaves - as new slaves arrived, Claver would carry food and clothes to the living, remove the bodies of those who had died. He cared for the weakest first and took the sick to a nearby hospital he had built - shared the Gospel with all slaves who would hear and instructed and baptized them into the Faith.
- many found the sense of dignity Claver gave the slaves a dangerous thing
- his efforts were supported by the Jesuit community, to which he was a member of.
- became the prophet and miracle worker of Cartagena
- died on September 8 1654, beatified on July 16 1850, and canonized on January 15 1888
-An excerpt from one of his letters:
Yesterday, May 30, 1627, on the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, numerous blacks, brought from the rivers of Africa, disembarked from a large ship. Carrying two baskets of oranges, lemons, sweet biscuits, and I know not what else, we hurried toward them. When we approached their quarters, we thought we were entering another Guinea. We had to force our way through the crowd until we reached the sick. Large numbers of the sick were lying on wet ground or rather in puddles of mud. To prevent excessive dampness, someone had thought of building up a mound with a mixture of tiles and broken pieces of bricks. This, then, was their couch, a very uncomfortable one not only for that reason, but especially because they were naked, without any clothing to protect them.

We laid aside our cloaks, therefore, and brought from a warehouse whatever was handy to build a platform. In that way we covered a space to which we at last transferred the sick, by forcing a passage through bands of slaves. Then we divided the sick into two groups: one group my companion approached with an interpreter, while I addressed the other group. There were two blacks, nearer death than life, already cold, whose pulse could scarcely be detected. With the help of a tile we pulled some live coals together and placed them in the middle near the dying men. Into this fire we tossed aromatics. Of these we had two wallets full, and we used them all up on this occasion. Then, using our own cloaks, for they had nothing of this sort, and to ask the owners for others would have been a waste of words, we provided for them a smoke treatment, by which they seemed to recover their warmth and the breath of life. The joy in their eyes as they looked at us was something to see.

This was how we spoke to them, not with words but with our hands and our actions. And in fact, convinced as they were that they had been brought here to be eaten, any other language would have proved utterly useless. Then we sat, or rather knelt, beside them and bathed their faces and bodies with wine. We made every effort to encourage them with friendly gestures and displayed in their presence the emotions which somehow naturally tend to hearten the sick.

Bible Readings for this day (9 Sep, Tue - 23rd Week)

1 Corinthians 6: 1-11
When any of you has a legal dispute with another, does he dare go to court before the unrighteous rather than before the saints? Or do you not know that the holy ones will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent to settle trivial suits? Do you not know that we will judge angels? Why not ordinary matters! So if you have ordinary lawsuits, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame! Is there no one among you wise enough to settle disputes between fellow Christians? Instead, does a Christian sue a Christian, and do this before unbelievers? The fact that you have lawsuits among yourselves demonstrates that you have already been defeated. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? But you yourselves wrong and cheat, and you do this to your brothers and sisters! Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Luke 6: 12-19
Now it was during this time that Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and he spent all night in prayer to God. When morning came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), and his brother Andrew; and James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Then he came down with them and stood on a level place. And a large number of his disciples had gathered along with a vast multitude from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon. They came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases, and those who suffered from unclean spirits were cured. The whole crowd was trying to touch him, because power was coming out from him and healing them all.

Monday, 8 September 2008

My Thoughts on Today's Bible Readings

What is the significance of Jesus's genealogy that we read about in today's gospel reading? His genealogy is arranged in three sections portraying the three great stages in the spiritual history of the people of the Old Covenant. The first stage begins with Abraham, the father of the chosen people, and ends with David, God's anointed King. The second stage takes us to the exile of God's people in Babylon. This is the period of Israel's shame and disaster due to her unfaithfulness. The third stage takes us to Jesus, God's anointed Messiah. Jesus the Messiah is the direct descent of Abraham and David, and the rightful heir to David's throne. God in his mercy fulfilled his promises to Abraham and to David that he would send a Savior and a King to rule over the house of Israel and to deliver them from their enemies. Jesus is the fulfillment of all God's promises. And the one through whom Jesus came is the Blessed Virgin Mary. Without her yes He would not have come. That's why she is so important.
(Taken from Daily Reading and Meditation)

Feast of the Nativity of Mary

Today we Catholics celebrate the Immaculate Conception of Mary Mother of God. On Our Lady's birthday the Church celebrates the first dawning of redemption with the appearance in the world of the Savior's mother, Mary. The Blessed Virgin occupies a unique place in the history of salvation, and she has the highest mission ever commended to any creature. Mary was born to be the mother of the Savior of the world, the spiritual mother of all men, and the holiest of God's creatures. Because of her Son's infinite merits, she was conceived and born immaculate and full of grace. Through her, Queen of heaven and of earth, all grace is given to men. Through her, by the will of the Trinity, the unbelieving receive the gift of faith; the afflicted are tendered the works of mercy; and the members of Christ grow in likeness of their Head. In Mary all human nature is exalted. We rejoice in her birthday, as the Church has done from the earliest times. This is one of the three birthdays in the Church Calendar — the Birth of Jesus (December 25), the Birth of John the Baptist (June 24) and the Birthday of Mary. All three were born without original sin, although Mary and Jesus were conceived without sin, and St. John was cleansed of original sin while in the womb at the Visitation of Mary.

(taken from Catholic Culture)

Today's Bible Reading (8 Sep, Mon - 23rd Week)

Micah 5: 1-4
The LORD says: As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, seemingly insignificant among the clans of Judah – from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf, one whose origins are in the distant past. So the Lord will hand the people of Israel over to their enemies until the time when the woman in labor gives birth. Then the rest of the king’s countrymen will return to be reunited with the people of Israel. He will assume his post and shepherd the people by the Lord’s strength, by the sovereign authority of the Lord his God. They will live securely, for at that time he will be honored even in the distant regions of the earth.

Romans 8: 28-30
Brothers and sisters: we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.

Matthew 1: 1-23
This is the record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah (by Tamar), Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz (by Rahab), Boaz the father of Obed (by Ruth), Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon (by the wife of Uriah), Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon, Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to Christ, fourteen generations.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened this way. While his mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph, her husband to be, was a righteous man, and because he did not want to disgrace her, he intended to divorce her privately. When he had contemplated this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” This all happened so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet would be fulfilled: “Look! The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.”

Sunday, 7 September 2008

My Thoughts on Today's Boble Readings

Saint Augustine of Hippo's comments on Jesus' instruction:

If someone has done you injury and you have suffered, what should be done? You have heard the answer already in today’s scripture: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” If you fail to do so, you are worse than he is. He has done someone harm, and by doing harm he has stricken himself with a grievous wound. Will you then completely disregard your brother’s wound? Will you simply watch him stumble and fall down? Will you disregard his predicament? If so, you are worse in your silence than he in his abuse. Therefore, when any one sins against us, let us take great care, but not merely for ourselves. For it is a glorious thing to forget injuries. Just set aside your own injury, but do not neglect your brother’s wound. Therefore “go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone,” intent upon his amendment but sparing his sense of shame. For it might happen that through defensiveness he will begin to justify his sin, and so you will have inadvertently nudged him still closer toward the very behavior you desire to amend. Therefore “tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother,” because he might have been lost, had you not spoken with him. [Sermon 82.7] (source: here)

It seems to be Christian to leave people alone, to turn one's eyes from sin because it is not right to judge. This is not true. Is it not said, "Love the sinner, hate the sin"? How can we hate the sin if we let it pass without rebuke? Though Jesus did tell us to remove the plank from our eyes before we ask our brothers to let us remove the splinter from theirs, this does NOT mean that we ignore their sins. For their sins shame the community. Their sins doom them. To ignore their sins is to let them die.

When others do us injury, we should approach them and ask them why. It seems natural to either bury the hurt in our hearts and act as if nothing is wrong or go passive-aggressive with the offender. Neither is right. If the hurt is because of some misunderstanding, forgive and forget (but not before telling the offender how we are hurt; how would they know they have hurt us if we do not tell them?) If the hurt is done purposefully, tell them to stop. If they won't stop, time to refer to today's gospel reading and do as Jesus instructed.

"Treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector." What does this mean? The tax-collectors and Gentiles were regarded as "unclean" by the religious-minded Jews of Jesus' day and thus were social outcasts. Christian brethren who are stubborn and obdurate offenders should be treated so. But this does not mean they are cut off from God's love. Remember that Jesus often had fellowship with tax-collectors, ate with them, and even praised them at times. Since Jesus refuses no one who is ready to receive pardon, healing, and restoration, we should be the same. If such brethren are ready to repent (and we should pray for this to happen) let them return to the community. Forgive them and forget their past offenses.

Bible Readings for this day (7 Sep, Sun - 23rd Week)

Ezekiel 33: 7-9
Thus says the LORD: “As for you, son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you must warn them on my behalf. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you must certainly die,’ and you do not warn the wicked about his behavior, the wicked man will die for his iniquity, but I will hold you accountable for his death. But if you warn the wicked man to change his behavior, and he refuses to change, he will die for his iniquity, but you have saved your own life.”

Romans 13: 8-10
Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For the commandments “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Matthew 18: 15-20
Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector. “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven. Again, I tell you the truth, if two of you on earth agree about whatever you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them.”

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Terry Goodkind's Wizard's Rules

Terry Goodkind, the author of the epic fantasy series The Sword of Truth, created these 10 philosophical-ish rules. They make interesting reading (source: Wikipedia):

First Rule: People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. They will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true.
Second Rule: The greatest harm can result from the best intentions. Sometimes doing what seems right is wrong, and can cause harm. The only counter to it is knowledge, wisdom, forethought, and understanding the First Rule. Even then, that is not always enough.
Third Rule: Passion rules reason.
Fourth Rule: There is power in sincere forgiveness, the power to heal. In forgiveness you grant, but more so, in forgiveness you receive.
Fifth Rule: Mind what people do, not only what they say, for deeds will betray a lie.
Sixth Rule: Let reason be your sovereign. Reason is a choice. Wishes and whims are not facts, nor are they a means to discovering them.
Seventh Rule: Life is the future, not the past. Only the future holds life. To live in the past is to embrace what is dead. To live life to its fullest, each day must be created anew.
Eight Rule: Deserve victory. Be justified in your convictions. Be completely committed. Earn what you want and need.
Ninth Rule: A contradiction cannot exist in reality. Not in part, nor in whole. To believe in a contradiction is to abdicate your belief in the existence of the world around you and the nature of the things in it, to instead embrace any random impulse that strikes your fancy--to imagine something is real simply because you wish it were.
Tenth Rule: Willfully turning aside from the truth is treason to one's self. To seek the truth, it's a matter of simple, rational, self interest to always keep reality in view.

It shouldn't be too hard to Catholicise the above rules and make it your own, though guidance from priests and the Holy Spirit is recommended.

My Thoughts on Today's Bible Readings

Were Jesus' disciples breaking the Third Commandment (Thou shall keep holy the Sabbath day) in today's gospel reading?
The "Sabbath rest" was meant to be a time to remember and celebrate God's goodness and the goodness of his work, both in creation and redemption. It was a day set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on our behalf. It was intended to bring everyday work to a halt and to provide needed rest and refreshment. It is NOT a time when people cannot gather food to feed themselves. So why did the Pharisees interpret it this way?
Because they didn't interpret it with love. They see gathering of food as work. And God had banned work on Sabbath day. Therefore they concluded that there must be no gathering of food on Sabbath day. They didn't see the possible repercussions of that interpretation on others. They didn't see that they would be effectively calling it a sin for people to gather food to feed themselves on one particular day. They didn't see the ridiculousness of this idea, nor that their God who loved all and wanted all to be happy would place charity above obedience. After all, did He not say "What I want is mercy, not sacrifices?" So let us ask the Lord to help us interpret and live out His commandments His way. Let us be as zealous in our interpretation as He wants us to be, and as merciful in living out the commandments as He wants us to be.

Bible Readings of the day (6 Sep, Sat - 22nd Week)

1 Corinthians 4: 6-15
I have applied these things to myself and Apollos because of you, brothers and sisters, so that through us you may learn “not to go beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of the one against the other. For who concedes you any superiority? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as though you did not? Already you are satisfied! Already you are rich! You have become kings without us! I wish you had become kings so that we could reign with you! For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to die, because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to people. We are fools for Christ, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, we are dishonored! To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, poorly clothed, brutally treated, and without a roof over our heads. We do hard work, toiling with our own hands. When we are verbally abused, we respond with a blessing, when persecuted, we endure, when people lie about us, we answer in a friendly manner. We are the world’s dirt and scum, even now. I am not writing these things to shame you, but to correct you as my dear children. For though you may have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, because I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Luke 6: 1-5
Jesus was going through the grain fields on a Sabbath, and his disciples picked some heads of wheat, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is against the law on the Sabbath?” Jesus answered them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry – how he entered the house of God, took and ate the sacred bread, which is not lawful for any to eat but the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

Friday, 5 September 2008

Mother Teresa's dark night of the soul

First, a little background. Here's something on the phenomenon known as the dark night of the soul.

In the Christian tradition, the dark night of the soul refers to instances when people who had developed strong prayer lives and consistent devotion to God suddenly finds traditional prayer extremely difficult and unrewarding for an extended period of time. Such individuals may feel as though God has suddenly abandoned them or that their prayer life has collapsed. In the most pronounced cases, belief is lost in the very existence of God and/or validity of religion, rendering the individual an atheist, even if they bravely continue with the outward expressions of faith. However, the dark night is perceived by many to be a blessing in disguise, whereby the individual is stripped of the spiritual ecstasy associated with acts of virtue and thus is guided into performing such acts out of a true love for God.

Mother Teresa suffered from this "dark night" for nearly fifty years (from 1948 almost up until her death in 1997) during which she felt no presence of God whatsoever- neither in her heart nor in the Eucharist:

"Where is my faith? Even deep down … there is nothing but emptiness and darkness … If there be God—please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul … How painful is this unknown pain—I have no Faith. Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal, … What do I labor for? If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true."

She was neither alone nor was she any less of a saint in feeling this. Many other saints endured the same test, such as Mother Teresa's namesake, St. Therese of Lisieux, who called it a "night of nothingness." Contrary to the mistaken belief by some that what she endured would be an impediment to canonization, just the opposite is true; it is very consistent with the experience of canonized mystics. In fact Mother Teresa wanted very much to have faith:

"Jesus has a very special love for you. [But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak ... I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand."

and thus this seemingly lack of faith on her part does not affect her path to sainthood.

Daily Bible Verse

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