Monday, March 31, 2014

Papal Economics

The Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism

by Fr. Maciej Zieba - published by Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2013
A Book Review by Father John McCloskey
Everybody is interested in economics, for the simple reason that the state of the economy has an important effect not only on individuals but also on the basic building block of society, the family. Even Joseph and Mary must have noticed if the shekel lost value or the crops were not distributed fairly by the Romans, making it more difficult to feed and clothe their special Child.
The Catholic Church, too, is concerned with the whole human person, including not only the faithful's salvation, but also their earthly well-being — and the state of the economy plays its part in that well-being. Even the early Fathers of the Church preached on the proper use of earthly goods, and in the Middle Ages, thetheologian, St. Thomas Aquinas, also wrote about the economy and the serious sin of debasing the currency (what we call inflation).
The title of this book says it all. Father Maciej Zieba, who was close to the soon-to-be canonized John Paul II, has written perhaps the most condensed explanation of the Church's teaching on economics, covering all the papal social encyclicals, from Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum in 1891 up to and including Pope Benedict XVI'sCaritas in Veritate in 2009. However, Father Zieba focuses primarily on Centesimus Annus in this book, explaining:
"Centesimus Annus provides the most comprehensive answer to a deceptively challenging question: What is the Church's position on democratic capitalism? For decades the Catholic commentators of all stripes have tried to enlist Catholic social teaching in their cause, arguing that it is variously pro-left-wing or right-wing or pro-socialist or pro-capitalist. This book aims to correct the misconceptions about the Church's teaching on economics. Although the teaching evolved in certain important respects over more than a century, the social encyclicals display a continuity many observers have missed. As early as Rerum Novarum in the nineteenth century, popes rejected socialism as wrong in its core."
He goes on to write, "It is clear that a democratic state characterized by the rule of law and endowed by a market economy in which human freedom can find expression deserves praise and respect."
I direct the reader particularly to Chapter Four, on "The Primacy of Culture," which was at the heart of John Paul's hope for humanity. As he put it:
"All human activity takes place within a culture and interacts with culture. For an adequate formation of culture, the involvement of the whole man is required, whereby he exercises his creativity, intelligence and knowledge of the world and of people. Furthermore, he displays his capacity for self-control, personal sacrifice, solidarity and readiness to promote the common good."
This book is an invaluable tool for anyone who values religious liberty and a healthy culture for the family.
First appeared on National Catholic Register in February 2014.

A Prayer of Hope.

Dear God,

When I stand at the beginning
of a new day, bless me with vision 
to see the best of things to come...
Wisdom to make good decisions...
and most of all, faith that you are
walking with me every step of the
way. Amen.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Today's Mass Readings - Sunday, March 30, 2014 with Reflection

Fourth Sunday of Lent

1ST READING - 1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13
The Lord said to Samuel: Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen my king from among his sons.” As Jesse and his sons came to the sacrifice, Samuel looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is here before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel: “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.” 10 In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any one of these.” 11 Then Samuel asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Send for him; we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.” 12 Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them. He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold and making a splendid appearance. The Lord said, “There — anoint him, for this is the one!” 13 Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed David in the presence of his brothers; and from that day on, the spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.
P S A L M - Psalm 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
R: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul. (R) He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage.(R) You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (R) Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come. (R)
2nd READING - Ephesians 5:8-14
Brothers and sisters: You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. 10 Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, 12 for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; 13 but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.
John 9:1-41
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent. So he went and washed, and came back able to see. His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is,” but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.” 10 So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” 11 He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.” 12 And they said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.” 13 They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. 14 Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. 15 So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” 16 So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” 18 Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight. 19  They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?” 20 His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue. 23 For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.” 24 So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner.” 25He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” 26 So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” 28They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.” 30 The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. 31  We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. 32 It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.” 34 They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out. 35 When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him and the one speaking with you is he.” 38 He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshipped him. 39 Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.”


In this Sunday’s Second Reading, St. Paul wrote that when we were in sin, we were like blind men living in the dark. But when Christ came and called us to conversion, we were able to see anew. St. Paul would continue that in Christ, “We are children of the light. There was a time when you were in darkness, but now you are the light in the Lord. Well then, live as children of light” ( Ephesians 5:8 ). Paul here is admonishing the people of Ephesus to remain in the light of Christ and not regress into the darkness of sin.

       In the Gospel, after having been given the gift of sight, the man born blind progressed in his knowledge and faith in Jesus. Ironically, the people in the temple, supposedly people who had received the light of faith, ridiculed the man and put no faith in the person of Jesus. They have regressed into the darkness of unbelief. They have sight, but could not see.

       I’m sure all of us here have had an experience of living in the darkness of sin. But we were converted to the Lord and we lived in the light. Unfortunately, we often go back into the dark, like the darkness of past hurts. I remember a woman who spoke of a hurt a loved one had inflicted on her — 20 years ago — as if it had happened only yesterday. When we refuse to forgive the hurts of the past, we will continue to live in darkness.

       We all have our favorite sins. We confess the same sins over and over again. Sometimes I would tell people in the confessional, “Do you promise that you will do your best to turn away from these sins?” They would say, “Yes, Father, but not this one or that one.” If we continue to hold on to some of our favorite sins, we will continue to live in darkness.

       Elizabeth Kubler-Ross said, “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.”

       Today, we ask the Lord to help us out of the dark because by ourselves we cannot do it. Remember what Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Let us have faith in Jesus. Fr. Joel Jason

REFLECTION QUESTION: What darkness covers your real beauty? Allow your beauty to shine forth!
Dearest Lord, help me to cling to Your light. Help me to get out of the darkness that I am in.

St. Peter Regalado, pray for us.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Lessons in living from Jesus Christ

Our Faith isn't based on an idea or an accumulation of traditions.

It's based on a man.

For a few brief decades, that man walked among us, spoke with us, and shared our food and lodgings.

He encouraged the weak, consoled the sorrowing, and taught us to pray.

He told us of the inner life of God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — and also revealed to us (by His example) much about our lives and how they should be lived.

Knowing this man is essential to our salvation.

That's why Archbishop Alban Goodier wrote The Good Galilean.


In these pages, you'll consider those incidents in the Gospel that illuminate the human traits of Jesus — not to demonstrate that Jesus was truly man, but to show that it's possible for each of us to become what we are supposed to be.

By following our Lord's example of patience, humility, veracity, simplicity, tenderness, compassion, strength, vulnerability, joy, sorrow, and prayerfulness, we become more like God . . . and simultaneously more truly human.

Jesus is the model of manhood, and human life as He lived it made the world a better place.

With the help of our Lord and under the wise guidance of Archbishop Goodier, you too can make the world a better place as you grow more like Jesus and more truly human.

The Good Galilean
Archbishop Alban Goodier
112 pages - $11.95

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Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, Archbishop Emeritus of Bologna, Italy and close friend of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, wrote The Man Christ Jesus to give us an intimate portrait of Jesus as we meet him in the Gospels.

Only by experiencing a close, personal encounter with Jesus in His full humanity — just as His first disciples did — can we develop a true and salvific belief in the Christ of Faith.

In meticulously following the Gospel data, Cardinal Biffi reveals . . . 
  • A man of unsurpassed physical strength, vigor, handsomeness, and charisma.
  • A true friend who exhibits selflessness and humility in all His dealings.
  • A brilliant and complex mind who teaches simple people with simple words.
  • A pious Jew, and a perfectly prayerful and obedient son of the Father.
  • A "politically incorrect" preacher whose message leaves no one unchallenged.
  • An "unsolvable enigma of history" that the world, without the gift of faith, will never understand.
"When we are brought face-to-face with the unique mystery of the man Christ Jesus," writes Biffi, "either we reject Him, or we fall on our knees before Him."

There is no middle way.

Let these pages reveal to you the face of Christ, and bring you more readily and lovingly to your knees.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

I'm a Christian

When I say "I'm a Christian",
I'm not shouting "I live a clean life"
I'm whispering "I was lost but now I'm found
and forgiven."

When I say "I'm a Christian",
I'm not bragging of success, but I'm
admitting I have failed and need God to clean
up my mess...

When I say "I'm a Christian",
I'm not holier than everyone, but I'm just
a sinner who received God's grace...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. Today's Mass Readings - Tuesday, March 25, 2014 with Reflection

1ST READING - Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10
10 The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying: 11 “Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!” 12 But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!” 13 Then Isaiah said: “Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God? 8: 10 Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel, which means “With us is God!”
P S A L M - Psalm 40:7-8, 8-9, 10, 11
R: Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
6 [7] Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. 7 [8] Holocaust or sin-offerings you sought not; then said I, “Behold I come.” (R) “In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, 8 [9] to do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!” (R) 9 [10] I announced your justice in the vast assembly; I did not restrain my lips, as you, O Lord, know. (R) 10 [11] Your justice I kept not hid within my heart; your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of; I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth in the vast assembly. (R)
2ND READING - Hebrews 10:4-10
Brothers and sisters: It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats take away sins. For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in. Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God.’ ” First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings, you neither desired nor delighted in.” These are offered according to the law. Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.” He takes away the first to establish the second. 10 By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
The word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us; and we saw his glory.
Luke 1:26-38
26 The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33 and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” 35 And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 36 And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; 37 for nothing will be impossible for God.” 38 Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.


Religion, they say, is man’s search for God. But the God of the Bible is different. Christianity has a radical proposal. The Christian God is the God who searches for man. He longs for him. His is the initiative. The biblical God is a God who pursues.

       In the words of the English poet Francis Thompson, “God is the Hound of Heaven” (a hound is a breed of dog with a strong sense of smell, relentless in its pursuit of subjects). If the image of God as a hound in pursuit is scandalizing, what is more disconcerting is the courtesy of God in His pursuit. He is God. He doesn’t need to ask. He can just demand attendance and presence in His banquet. But no. He invites, He asks, He proposes. He risks the embarrassment of rejection.

       Today is the feast of the Lord’s Annunciation. The Fathers of the Church have long seen this scene in Luke’s Gospel as God making a proposal to Mary to become the spouse of the Spirit, and Mary giving her free yes, her fiat, to that proposal.

       I remember being in a plane bound to Davao for a talk. During the flight, a Korean approached the flight attendant, asked for the microphone, and proposed marriage to his girlfriend. The guy said to the girl, “I have something to ask you and you’re free to choose from the four possible answers. You can say ‘yes,’ ‘of course,’ ‘why not?’ or ‘absolutely’.” So much for freedom, huh? The choices left no room for the possibility of rejection.

       Why did God take the risk of rejection? Because that is the way of genuine love. If we were created in a way that we cannot say no to God, then in the same measure, our yes to Him is of no value. God, the courteous hound of heaven, longs for our free and genuine yes.

       May Mary’s yes to God be our own. May that free invitation and gracious response at the scene of the Annunciation be repeated over and over again in human history. Mama Mary, pray for us! Fr. Joel Jason
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: What is God calling you to do now? What is your answer?
I say yes to You, Lord. May Your will be done in my life. May I follow Mama Mary’s example of faithful obedience to Your call.

St. Dismas, pray for us.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Atheist confesses, becomes priest

Elisabeth and Me (1910)

By the time this volume appears,
I shall have left the world,
and entered the seminary.

My beloved wife, Elisabeth, prayed incessantly
for my return to the Catholic Faith. Daily for this intention,
she offered up all her sacrifices, trials, sufferings,
and at the end, even her death.

But she did this secretly,
because when we married,
I was profoundly anti-religious.

I had been raised Catholic,
but lost my faith in medical school.
I searched for weapons against Catholicism.
I set myself to attack Elisabeth's Faith,
to deprive her of it, and
— may God pardon me —
I nearly succeeded.

Then, in 1913, she was struck down
by cancer, which for ten months
was her Calvary until she died,
just forty-eight years old.


I have, since Elisabeth's death,
learned to appreciate the power of her silence.
God heard the constant prayer it concealed,
and completed the conversion
begun in me by her influence
and by my reading her Journal,
which I found after her death,
and which I present to you here.


Renunciation, detachment, sacrifice,
and utmost charity toward God and neighbor:
these are the themes on each of its pages.

It shows how Elisabeth
endured terrible afflictions.
She comforted those around her,
never complained,
and looked to the Eucharist,
and to prayer and self-sacrifice,
for the support she needed.

To think I was foolish and criminal enough
to try to destroy the Faith that lifted her so high
and sustained her so powerfully!
To what a Hell would I have reduced her
and condemned myself with the same stroke!


After Elisabeth's death,
when everything seemed to collapse around me,
I came upon the Spiritual Testament
she had written for me, and her Journal too.

I read and reread them,
and a revolution took place in my whole moral being.
There I discovered that Elisabeth had concluded with God
a kind of pact, vowing to exchange her life
for my return to the Faith.

I remembered that one day
she had told me
with absolute assurance:

"I shall die before you.
And when I am dead,
you will be converted;
and when you are converted,
you will become a religious.
You will be Father Leseur."


And so from her Journal
I perceived clearly the inner meaning
of Elisabeth's existence,
so grand in its humility.
I came to appreciate the splendor
of the Faith of which I had
seen such wonderful effects.

The eyes of my soul were opened.
I turned to God,
who called to me.
I confessed my sins to a priest
and was reconciled with the Church.

Fr. Felix Leseur, O.P.
(ca. 1940)


Elisabeth's Journal
is my daily reading.

It is a book of rare beauty.
The designs of God's Providence
are shown plain in
Elisabeth's life and work.

I am convinced that by reading these pages
many torn hearts will find the means
to endure with courage the sacrifices
which have been imposed on them.

I now, therefore, give to you
these precious pages.


I pray that the Holy Spirit will spread them far and wide
and that they may help to work in as many souls as possible
the renewal they have accomplished in my own soul.

Fr. Felix Leseur

*Felix's words are adapted from In Memoriam,
his 1917 introduction to Elisabeth's
Journal et pen sees de claque jour.

The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur
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The saints assure us that simplicity is the virtue most likely to draw us closer to God.

No wonder Jesus praised the little children and the pure of heart!  In them, He recognized the goodness that arises from an untroubled simplicity of life, a simplicity which in the saints is completely focused on its true center, God.

That's easy to know, simple to say, but hard to achieve.

For our lives are complicated and our personalities too.  (We even make our prayers and devotions more complicated than they need be!)

In these pages, Fr. Raoul Plus provides a remedy for even the most tangled lives.

Relying on the words of Jesus and the lives of the saints, Fr. Plus maps out a sure path to the simplicity which Jesus praised, a simplicity that bestows on all of us who seek it happiness, courage, and inner peace, no matter how complicated our circumstances may be or how crowded our days.

With the wise help of Fr. Plus, you will soon savor the strength and abiding joy that simplicity brings.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Today's Mass Readings - Sunday, March 23, 2014 with Reflection

Third Sunday of Lent

1ST READING - Exodus 17:3-7
In those days, in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and our livestock?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? A little more and they will stone me!” The  Lord answered Moses, “Go over there in front of the people, along with some of the elders of Israel, holding in your hand, as you go, the staff with which you struck the river. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb. Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it for the people to drink.” This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel. The place was called Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled there and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord in our midst or not?”

P S A L M - Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
R: If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord; let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation. Let us greet him with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalm to him. (R) Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides. (R) Oh, that today you would hear his voice: “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works.” (R)

2ND READING - Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
Brothers and sisters: Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Lord, you are truly the Savior of the world; give me living water, that I may never thirst again.

John 4:5-42
Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noonA woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” —For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans. — 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;14 but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.” 17 The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ 18 For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. 20Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true
worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” 26Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one speaking with you.” 27 At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said, “What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her?” 28 The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, 29 “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and came to him. 31 Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. 36 The reaper is already receiving his payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. 37 For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.” 39 Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I have done.” 40When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41 Many more began to believe in him because of his word, 42 and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”



Today, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. The Gospel begins with a detail that we tend to overlook. John says that Jesus was tired from a journey and He sat by the well and “the hour was about noon.”

       About that time, the woman came to draw water from the well. People usually visit the well either early in the morning or late afternoon while it is cool. At these times, too, the chance for interaction and engaging stories with fellow water-drawers makes for a pleasant experience. Now comes the woman who visited the well at noontime. The woman came at a time when the sun is at its hottest not because she wants a tan. She chose that time because she is hiding from people. She is a woman of ill repute and she wants to take refuge in the solitude the scorching noontime provides.

       We all have a past that we are not proud of. We want to project a good image even as we have skeletons in the closet that we hide from people. This is why the Gospel scene is a consolation. Jesus meets us where we are and we don’t have to put on masks to hide from Him.

       After asking the woman for water, Jesus inquired about her husband. He did this not to embarrass the woman. He did this to heal the woman.
       Anyone suffering from a physical malady, an addiction or chronic emotional baggage knows that the first stage to healing is to bring into light what is hidden in the dark. The doctor cannot cure what he does not know. In my own journey to growth, I have appreciated the presence of people before whom I can be “naked” and vulnerable — my spiritual director, my confessor, my accountability partner. Before them, I need not put on airs of invincibility. Before them, I can be vulnerable. Before them, my maladies can be brought to light.

       Most of all, Jesus is the Light. He is the Divine Physician. Before Him, I can expose parts of me that need healing. This happens in regular prayer, adoration and the sacrament of reconciliation. Fr. Joel Jason

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Do you have friends who allow you to be transparent but at the same time challenge and convict you when needed? Make an inventory of your friends.

If all they do is affirm you in everything, even in your sin, you need to get another one. I bare myself to You, Lord. Please heal me. I need You.

St. Turibius of Mongrovejo, bishop, pray for us.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Conquer your most stubborn vices

Conquer your most stubborn vices—
and start cultivating virtue TODAY.
There’s more to goodness than keeping the Commandments: you’ve got to cultivate virtue, too, so that you please God in what you do — not merely in what you don’t do.

In this new release of Romano Guardini's classic, you’ll learn countless ways to grow in such virtue.

The wise Msgr. Guardini, a German priest hailed by Pope Benedict XVI as “a great figure,” leads you from a consideration of virtue in itself to a discussion of each of the key virtues that will make you holy and lead you to God.
Here you’ll learn how to begin practicing the virtues and make them part of your daily routine. You’ll also learn about:
  • Envy:  It’s the hidden sin — even in the spiritually mature.  Learn how to fight it
  • Courtesy: how good manners are spiritually vital to souls
  • “What is truth?” The surprising answer to Pilate’s question will transform you
  • Patience: it’s the prerequisite for all moral growth, and only the morally strong attain it
  • Orderliness: not a moral virtue in itself, but lack of it may cost your soul
  • Why a sense of humor is so important — even to your spiritual health
  • The strange contradiction in blaming God for the evil in the world
  • Belief in “progress”: in our day it can be a form of idolatry
  • The tyranny of justice: why so many justice movements turn unjust (knowing this is the key to our future as a society)
  • Asceticism: it’s not just for monks — without it, you may not be saved!
  • Trashy movies: there’s spiritual danger even in the ones that don’t obviously glorify sin
  • Discover why noise weakens the spiritual life, and how silence is balm for your soul
  • Plus: many other topics to help you grow in the virtues that lead you to God!

Learning the Virtues that Lead You to God
by Msgr. Romano Guardini
List Price: $14.95 - 224 Pages
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Christ came not to call saints but to make them — often out of weak, stupid, and sinful men. That’s why the saints are not only models of holiness for us to imitate; they’re reminders that God’s grace can outshine every human flaw.
As Alban Goodier’s classic Saints for Sinners shows us, even the greatest saints had to battle the same stubborn vices, temptations of the flesh, and bouts of spiritual dryness that afflict you and me today. In these pages, with a style that perfectly blends hagiographical detail, spiritual meditation, and a skilled storyteller’s touch, Archbishop Goodier brings us the tales of:
  • The mercenary fighting man and itinerant gambler who left behind his rough soldier's habits and founded a religious order to care for the sick
  • The backward, sickly teenager, disowned by his family and dogged by the Inquisition,who became a miraculous healer and paragon of humble simplicity
  • The willful Tuscan beauty with a bad reputation who forsook vanity and lust to answer God's call to live in poverty and penitence
  • The brilliant, brooding Spanish nobleman who gave up everything to be a missionary — only to see most of his efforts fail
  • The royal chaplain and daring Counter-Reformer who escaped the gallows but had to endure a lifelong interior martyrdom of doubt and discouragement
  • The hedonistic heretic and womanizer who traded worldly pleasure for divine happiness, and became one of the Church's greatest theologians
  • And other inspiring tales of imperfect souls "made perfect in infirmity"
Read these stories and find in them delight and encouragement, as well as hope. You'll come to see that there is no one so sinful, weak, or desolate that God has not already raised another like him to the heights of glory.
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