Friday, February 23, 2018

HAPPINESS is a daily decision

You don't find it in the absence of problems.
You find it despite the problems.
Be Happy all the way with the Lord.
Even in the worst of times, never
should our trials make us forget to
count our blessings because

GOD is Good.... All the time!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"A Blessing becomes a blessing when it is spoken"

Therefore today,

Let's declare that We Are Blessed,
with a loving family, good health,
faith, favor, humility, peace,
provision, wisdom, fulfillment.

Declare that everything we put our
hands to do is going to prosper & succeed.

Declare that any curse & negative vibe is null and void.

Declare that We Are Blessed!

Go forth & continue to be a blessing!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A DANGEROUS PRAYER


A visit with a pilgrim group to Jerusalem always includes a moment of reflection on the Mount of Olives where the “Our Father Church” commemorates that moment when Jesus taught this prayer to His disciples. On the walls inside and outside the church, you can find the Lord’s Prayer in more than 60 languages, including Tagalog. We usually sit down there and think about this profound prayer. Then I read a text I got years ago, I don’t know anymore from whom it came from. And this text makes us aware how dangerous a prayer the “Our Father” actually is. Here is the text:

“Do not say ‘Father’ if every day you do not behave like a son or a daughter;
Do not say ‘Our’ if you live isolated in your egoism;
Do not say ‘Who are in heaven’ if you think only of earthly things;
Do not say ‘Holy be Your name’ if you do not honor Him;
Do not say ‘Your Kingdom come’ if you confuse Him with material success;
Do not say ‘Your will be done’ if you do not accept it when it is painful;
Do not say ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ if you are not worried about the people who are hungry, who are without culture and means to live;
Do not say ‘Forgive us our sins’ if you bear your brother a grudge;
Do not say ‘And lead us not into temptation’ if you intend to keep on sinning;
Do not say ‘Deliver us from evil’ if you do not take position against evil;
Do not say ‘Amen’ if you do not take the words of the ‘Our Father’ seriously.”

A dangerous prayer, don’t you think so? The next time you recite it, take note of what you are actually saying. Otherwise, it becomes what Jesus calls in today’s Gospel passage, “a babbling of pagans.” Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD

Sunday, February 18, 2018

First Sunday of Lent, Cycle B February 18, 2018


FIRST READING
Genesis 9:8-15

God establishes a covenant with Noah, giving a rainbow as its sign.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Psalm 25:4-5,6-7,8-9
A prayer praising God for his covenant

SECOND READING
1 Peter 3:18-22

In our baptism, we are saved through Christ's death and Resurrection.

GOSPEL READING
Jesus is tempted in the desert by Satan.

GOSPEL MK 1:12-15


The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
"This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel."


BACKGROUND ON THE GOSPEL READING


On the first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reading in each Lectionary cycle
is about Jesus' temptation in the desert. This event in the life of
Jesus is reported in each of the Synoptic Gospels--Matthew, Mark, and
Luke--but it is not found in John's Gospel. This year we read Mark's
account of this event.

Compared to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the details throughout
Mark's narrative are sparse. This is evident in Mark's account of Jesus'
temptation in the desert. Mark tells us only that Jesus was led into the
desert by the Spirit and that for 40 days he was tempted by Satan. The
Gospels of Matthew and Luke explain that Jesus fasted while in the
desert, that Satan presented him with three temptations, and that Jesus
refused each one, quoting Scripture. Only the Gospels of Matthew and
Mark report that angels ministered to Jesus at the end of his time in
the desert.

In each of the Synoptic Gospels, the temptation of Jesus follows his
baptism by John the Baptist. In Mark's Gospel, we are told that Jesus
went into the desert immediately after his baptism, led by the Spirit.
Jesus' public ministry in Galilee begins after his temptation in the
desert. Mark's Gospel makes a connection between the arrest of John the
Baptist and the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Jesus' preaching about the
Kingdom of God is in continuity with the preaching of John the Baptist,
but it is also something new. As Jesus announces it, the Kingdom of God
is beginning; the time of the fulfillment of God's promises is here.

The fact that Jesus spent 40 days in the desert is significant. This
recalls the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the desert after
being led from slavery in Egypt. The prophet Elijah also journeyed in
the desert for 40days and nights, making his way to Horeb, the mountain
of God, where he was also attended to by an angel of the Lord.
Remembering the significance of these events, we also set aside 40 days
for the season of Lent.

In Mark's Gospel, the desert marks beginning of Jesus' battle with
Satan; the ultimate test will be in Jesus' final hours on the cross. In
a similar way, our Lenten observances are only a beginning, a
preparation for and a reinforcement of our ongoing struggle to resist
the temptations we face in our lives. During Lent, we are led by the
Holy Spirit to remember the vows of Baptism in which we promised to
reject sin and to follow Jesus. Just as Jesus was ministered to by the
angels, God also supports us in our struggle against sin and temptation.
We succeed because Jesus conquered sin once and for all in his saving
death on the cross.

FAMILY CONNECTION

The announcement that Jesus makes as he begins his preaching in today's
Gospel is recalled on Ash Wednesday at the signing with ashes: "Repent
and believe in the gospel." This is our challenge for Lent; indeed, it
is the challenge of our entire life. During Lent, we are invited to
strengthen and to renew the promises that we made at our Baptism, to
reject Satan and sin so as to live as children of God. Through the grace
of God that we received at Baptism, we follow the promptings of the Holy
Spirit and know that with Jesus' help, we will be victorious over sin.

As you gather as a family, talk about the importance of Baptism. At our
Baptism, our sins were forgiven, and we promised to live as children of
God. As part of the Rite of Baptism, we rejected sin and Satan. Read
today's Gospel, Mark 1:12-15. During Lent, we renew the promises of our
Baptism, turning again from sin and promising to follow God. Light a
candle, perhaps a candle used at one of your family member's Baptisms,
and pray together the Act of Contrition.


Sources: Loyola Press; Sunday Readings

Friday, February 16, 2018

How St. Thérèse Saved My Soul

"Do you reject Satan?"


"I do," I answered.
But trembled at the mention of that Name.



"And all His works?"


"I do," I said again,
looking the bishop in the eye
and praying fervently that I would.




"And all His empty promises?"

"I do!" But my soul cried out,
"No! I don't! I'll never be able
to reject them!"



It was the fall of 1974.


I was the only grownup in a pew filled with teenaged
Confirmation candidates reciting their nervous "I do's."
As a recent convert, ex-druggie, long-time drunk, and former soldier, I was acquainted with the night.


Memories of past sins danced in my mind. Nonetheless, that night — and with all my strength — I chose goodness.



* * *

I soon found that Confirmation didn't banish temptation;
it didn't drive out despair. Weeks later, troubled by my continued sinfulness and seeking distraction, I happened on the Confirmation gift my sponsor had given me: Fr. Jean D'Elbée's beloved book on the spirituality of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who spent most of her brief life in a cloistered convent.





What could such an innocent teach me?

My eyes fell on this passage:

"I ask that from now on, you never let your past sins be an obstacle between you and Jesus.  It's a ruse of the devil to keep putting our sins before our eyes in order to make them like a screen between the Savior and us."

A ruse of the devil?

"Think of your past sins to persuade yourself of your weakness; think of them to confirm your resolution not to fall again -- that's necessary -- but think of them mainly to bless Jesus for having pardoned you, for having purified you, for having cast all your sins to the bottom of the sea.

"Do not go looking for them at the bottom of the sea!
He has wiped them out; He has forgotten them."


But I haven't forgotten them -- and I continue to fall.

"I'm not saying that you believe too much in your own wretchedness.  I'm telling you that  you don't believe enough in merciful love."

* * *

And in another place:

"Why are you here?
Why were you baptized?
Why have you learned to know
Jesus and to love him?"  


The answer?

"Because God has chosen you, and preferred you from all eternity, to heap these graces upon you."

And:

"God's greatest pleasure is to pardon us. The good Lord is more eager to pardon a repentant sinner than a mother to rescue her child from the fire."

* * *

That last point makes sense of Our Lord's words to a holy soul: "Not a single soul falls into Hell that has not torn itself out of my arms."

No wonder St. Thérèse was able to say, just before her death:

"Even if I had committed all possible crimes, I would still have the same confidence;I would feel that this multitude of offenses would be like a drop of water thrown into the flaming furnace of God's love."

 


"This classic beautifully reveals God's deep love for each of us and awakens in us a burning love for Him. If you want to grow in love of God, this book is a must."
Fr. Benedict Groeschel 

 





The pages of this book transformed my understanding of God; they brought my soul its first peace in decades.

* * *

Listen now -- quietly --
and let it bring you peace, too:

"I assure you, we are bathed in love and mercy. We each have a Father, a Brother, a Friend, a Spouse of our soul, bent down over us, over our weakness and impotence, with inexpressible gentleness, watching over us like the apple of His eye, Who said 'I will have mercy and not sacrifice, for I have not come to call the just, but sinners.'

"This Jesus is haunted by the desire to save us by all means; He has opened Heaven under our feet."

 

"I heartily endorse this book. It is the best application of St. Thérèse's teaching for individuals seeking to live it daily."
Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR

Franciscan University of Steubenville

 

Are you troubled by your sins?

Afraid you don't love enough?


"In the same way that Jesus said to St. Augustine,
'You would not seek me if you had not already found me,'
He will say to you, 'You would not have this great desire
to love me if you did not love me already.' He cannot fail to fulfill, beyond even our greatest hopes, a desire that He himself has inspired."


In just a few hours, this singular book, aptly entitled I Believe in Love, showed me I had to quit judging myself and seek but a single treasure: abandonment to God's mercy.

In three decades now as a Catholic convert, that's the only program for the interior life I've found to be within my reach.

Today, it's within your reach, too.




John Barger
Publisher Emeritus,
Sophia Institute Press


P.S. Please forward this message to those you know who may be struggling with guilt and discouragement. I assure you that St. Thérèse will give them the hope and the courage they need, and that God wants them to have.

 

"Whoever reads this book attentively and prayerfully will grow in the love of God."
Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.

Homiletic and Pastoral Review

 



I Believe in Love:
A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux

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"I Believe in Love penetrates to the heart
of a saint who, through love and humility,
the Christ of the heart."
Joseph Pearce

 

"Sophia Institute Press has done us all a great service in bringing this work back into print."
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After you learn about God's merciful love from the Little Flower, continue to feed your heart and soul with this powerful book on St. Teresa of Calcutta and her mission of love for Christ.
The countless sweet photos of her smiling at babies showed Mother Teresa to be a single-minded advocate for the poor. But she was a woman with a will whose strength has been matched by few souls in history. Mother Teresa broke death’s stranglehold on the poor of Calcutta, and she showed us how to conquer the sin and darkness in what she called the “slums of the hearts of modern man.”
Part biography and part spiritual reading, these pages bring to light little-known stories from Mother Teresa’s life that will help you to grow in your love of God. You will learn her approach to reading Scripture, what enabled her to persevere through agonizing nights, and the remarkable — some would say mystical — events that led her to start the Missionaries of Charity.

We are all called to holiness, and the saints are sent to us as “real life” examples of God’s love. With Mother Teresa as your guide, you’ll learn how to follow God’s call and find holiness in a world marked by the shadow of death and growing indifference to God. Indeed, you’ll learn how to be an everyday missionary of Christ’s love in the ordinary activities of your daily life.



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Isaiah 58:6-9

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

THE COMMANDMENTS: A YES TO VALUES


When we hear the word “commandment,” we easily shy away. There are too many “don’ts” at a time when we want to be free and think real freedom means we can do what we want. But old Moses is wise and has calmed down. He doesn’t thunder anymore like before. He puts a simple reality before the Israelites and before us: There are two ways. You have the choice because God has given you freedom. One way is to see the commandments of God for what they are — loving signposts along the road of life that we might go in the right direction — and obey so that we may be blessed by God and reach our goal. The other choice is to disobey and face the consequences.
       Pope Benedict XVI, in a homily he delivered on September 8, 2007 in Austria, gave an interesting twist to the many don’ts and makes us aware that the commandments of God are all a “yes” to a great value. And I quote him: “To gaze upon Christ! If we do this, we realize that Christianity is more than and different from a moral code, from a series of requirements and laws… it is the gift of friendship. For this reason, it also contains within itself great moral strength which is so urgently needed today on account of the challenges of our time… The Ten Commandments are, first and foremost, a ‘yes’ to God, to a God who loves us and leads us, who carries us and yet allows us our freedom: indeed, it is He who makes our freedom real (the first three commandments). It is a ‘yes’ to the family (fourth commandment), a ‘yes’ to life (fifth commandment), a ‘yes’ to responsible love (sixth commandment), a ‘yes’ to solidarity, to social responsibility and to justice (seventh commandment), a ‘yes’ to truth (eighth commandment), and a ‘yes’ to respect other people and what is theirs (ninth and tenth commandments). By the strength of our friendship with the living God, we live this manifold ‘yes’ and at the same time carry it as a signpost into this world of ours today.” Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD