February 28, 2015

Feb. 28

February 28, 2015:  Saturday, 1st week of Lent

  • 'Sun' tie:  the sun rises on the bad and the good (gospel)
  • 'Girl with heart' pin:  observe God's command with your whole heart (1st reading); love your enemies (gospel)
  • 'Walker' [or shot-putter?] tie pin:  walk in the Lord's ways (1st reading, psalm)
  • Purple shirt:  Lenten season


    Papal preacher Fr. Cantalamessa's homily: Gospel Joy Fills Heart and Life: Reflections on Evangelii Gaudium
    1.  Personal Encounter with Jesus:  Evangelii Gaudium presents three intertwined poles of interest:  who must evangelize, what must be evangelized, how one should do it.  All the baptized should evangelize.  Pope Francis invites us all to a renewed daily personal encounter with Christ.  The purpose of evangelization isn't transmission of doctrine, but encounter with Jesus.  Jesus is alive and wants to walk next to you, as he walked with the disciples en route to Emmaus and was was in their hearts.  We've preferred to speak of ecclesial encounter with Jesus through the sacraments, but a personal encounter isn't a substitute.  Both must be be free, willed, and spontaneous.
    In the Church's first 3 centuries, you became a Christian after a long initiation/catechumenate, and it was a personal decision.  When Christianity became tolerated, favored, even imposed, becoming Christian shifted to a social decision, and mass baptisms were the norm; the king's religion was also the kingdom's.  Focus shifted from becoming Christian to living morally.  But monasticism and religious orders arose in which baptism was radically lived and Christian life was the fruit of a personal decision.  Centuries later, modernity, the French Revolution and Enlightenment, the emancipation of State from Church, the exaltation of individual freedom, and radical secularization, changed the situation of the faith in society.  Hence the urgency of a new evangelization that, moving from nontraditional bases and taking new situations into account, creates occasions to enable today's people to make free, personal, and mature decisions to become real, not nominal, Christians.  [continued tomorrow]
    Wordle: Readings 2-28-15
    • Dt 26:16-19  Moses:  “God commands you to observe these commands; do it with your heart and soul.  You're agreeing to walk in God's ways, and the Lord is agreeing to make you his own and raise you high.”
    • Ps 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8  "Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!"  I'll give you thanks and keep your statutes.
    • Mt 5:43-48  “You've heard it said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say, Love your enemies.  So be perfect, just like your heavenly Father.”
            • Creighton:  If we dwell on our failures to observe the commandments or think that commands are an end in themselves, we can forget God promised a redemptive embrace even in the midst of shortcomings and a Spirit that will empower us to be perfect like our Father.  Recognize God’s desire for an eternal embrace, even now.  He wants to embrace our failures, struggles, and humanity, free us from guilt. and make us a people sacred to him.
            • One Bread One Body:  "Abba":  The Holy Spirit will confirm our Father's love through our Lenten prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Trust God completely and let him lead you; let the Spirit cry "Abba" in your heart.
            • Passionist:  A contract is a civil agreement, but a covenant is an agreement between two persons and God.  The covenant in the 1st reading called for people to observe God's commandments and to hearken to God's voice.  If we follow the commandments and walk in God's footsteps, we'll enjoy a lasting relationship with God.  We slip and fall, but God is there to pick us up and remind us of the love that makes our relationship powerful!  Matthew says we can be faithful to the covenant by heeding the law of love.  Love of enemies takes willingness to lay down jealousy, stubbornness, and impatience in order to embrace others; we can't if we view our relationship with God as a mere contract.  May God lead us to an ever-deepening relationship with him....
            • DailyScripture.net:  God's constant love can free us from every evil.  Jesus' teaching on the law transforms the law of justice and mercy with grace and loving-kindness.  God is good to the just and unjust alike; he seeks our highest good and teaches us to seek others'.  It's hard when we expect nothing in return, but his love, power, and grace make it possible.  Jesus' "be perfect" command parallels God's command to Abraham to "be perfect"/"blameless" before God (Hebrew/Aramaic "perfect" = "complete," "whole," "not lacking in what's essential") and God's "be holy, for I am holy" command to Moses and Israel, calling us to become like him.  God knows our sinfulness and assures us of his mercy and help.
            • Universalis:  St. Oswald, Benedictine monk, bishop, revived monastic life, celebrated liturgy well, loved the poor.

            February 27, 2015

            Feb. 27

            February 27, 2015:  Friday, 1st week of Lent

            • 'Clock' tie bar: My soul waits for the Lord (psalm)

            • 'Wood block' tie pin:  whoever calls his brother raqa (see below) will be held accountable (gospel)
            • 'Scales of justice' tie:  Settle on the way to court, or you'll be handed over to the judge... (gospel)
            • 'Penny' button:  If  you don't reconcile, you won't get out till you pay the last penny (gospel)
            • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

            • Ez 18:21-28  If the wicked man turns away from sin and does what's right, he'll live because of the virtue he's practiced; I rejoice when he turns from evil and lives.  But if the virtuous man turns from virtue and does evil, he'll die.  You say, “Not fair!” but it's your ways that are unfair.
              Wordle: Readings 2-27-15
            • Ps 130:1-8  "If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?"  Out of the depths I cry to you; hear me!  I trust and wait for you.  God is kind and forgiving and will redeem Israel. 
            • Mt 5:20-26  Your righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees.  It was said, Don't kill, but I say, Don't be angry.  Be reconciled with your brother.  Settle with your opponent or you'll be imprisoned.

            Today's word
            • Raqa (rēqā’ or rēqâ, Aramaic, from gospel):  probably 'blockhead' or 'imbecile,' a term of abuse.
              • Creighton:  Forgiving God, help us to forgive others who have hurt us or others.  Forgiveness includes “a new heart and spirit” leading us to healing, as we replace anger, resentment, or fear with reconciliation and acceptance.  God knows our hearts....
              • One Bread One Body:  "Todaylight savings time":  "All's well that ends well," but waiting till the end for conversion is like waiting to marry on your deathbed:  no time to break up, but years of missed love.  "Now is the acceptable time!..."
              • Passionist:  The Pharisees were socially just, observed the law, and were faithful to their rich heritage, but Jesus insists  his disciples must surpass their holiness....

              February 26, 2015

              Feb. 26

              February 26, 2015:  Thursday, 1st week of Lent

              • 'Crown' tie bar:  Queen Esther (1st reading)
              • 'Lion' pin:  "turn the lion's heart" (1st reading)
              • 'Hand' tie pin:  I'm taking my life in my hand; save us from our enemies' hand (1st reading); your right hand saves me; don't forsake the work of your hands (psalm)
              • 'Angel' pin:  In the sight of the angels I'll praise you (psalm)
              • 'Phone' tie bar:  When I called, you answered (psalm)
              • 'Kneeling person' tie bar:  Pray:  ask, seek, knock (gospel)
              • 'Stone' tie pin:  Who'd hand his son a stone when he asked for bread...? (gospel) [oops, forgot 'wheat' pin for the bread]
              • 'Snake' tie pin:  ...or a snake... (gospel)
              • 'Fish' tie pin:  ...when he asked for a fish?  (gospel)
              • Purple in shirt, tie, and suspenders:  Lenten season
              • Est 4:12, 14-16, 23-25  Queen Esther, in anguish:  “God, help me, an orphan; I'm taking my life in my hand.  Give me persuasive words, and turn the lion's heart, so that he and his co-conspirators may perish. Save us from our enemies; turn our mourning into gladness.”
              • Ps 138:1-3, 7-8  "Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me."  I'll praise you in the angels' presence.  God will complete what he's done for me.
              • Mt 7:7-12  Ask, seek, and knock.  All who ask receive; all who seek find; to all who knock the door will be opened.  Your Father will give good things to all who ask!  Do to others what you'd have them do to you.
                • Creighton:  How can this gospel be true if God doesn't really give us what we ask for?  It's childish to think God doesn't care for us when he doesn't give us something we ask for that's not good for us.  May we look to the Father for all our needs and trust him.
                • One Bread One Body:  "Forming an ask-force":  Jesus wants us to ask not because he won't give otherwise but because he wants us to communicate more.  Constantly ask, love, and live in Jesus.
                • Passionist:  Queen Esther asked for God's help, but we have a hard time asking when we see ourselves as self-sufficient; asking suggests weakness and makes us uncomfortable.   It can be easier to serve, help, give, and love than be served, be helped, receive, and let ourselves be loved.  May we acknowledge our weakness and need and humbly ask for God’s help. 
                • DailyScripture.net:  Esther's prayer is a model for us; she prayed for help according to God's promise of faithfulness.  God wants us to remember his promises and count on his help.
                "Prayer is an all-efficient panoply, a treasure, a mine never exhausted, a sky unobstructed, a haven unruffled by storm. It's the root, fountain, and mother of a blessings.  It exceeds a monarch's power...  I speak not of prayer that's cold, feeble, and devoid of zeal but rather of what proceeds from a mind outstretched, a contrite spirit, a converted soul.  Prayer has subdued fire's strength, bridled lions' rage, silenced anarchy, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst chains of death, enlarged the gates of heaven, relieved diseases, averted frauds, rescued cities, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the thunderbolt.  Prayer can destroy whatever is at enmity with the good." (St. John Chrysostom)
                "Let me love you, my Lord and God, and see myself as I am:  a pilgrim, a Christian called to respect and love all whose lives I touch, those in authority over me or those under my authority, my friends and enemies.  Help me conquer anger with gentleness, greed by generosity, apathy by fervor.  Help me forget myself and reach out to others."  (attributed to Clement XI)

                February 25, 2015

                Feb. 25

                February 25, 2015:  Wednesday, 1st Week of Lent

                • 'Whale' tie pin:  Jonah before the 1st reading
                • 'Girl with heart' pin:  create a clean heart in me (psalm)
                • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  don't take your Holy Spirit away (psalm)
                • 'Signs' tie:  no 'sign' will be given but the sign of Jonah (gospel)
                • 'Owl' tie pin:  Queen came to hear Solomon's wisdom (gospel)
                • 'Beast' pin:  Nineveh king:  “Neither man nor beast shall eat or drink.
                • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

                • Jon 3:1-10  Lord to Jonah:  “Set out for Nineveh, and prophesy.”  He began his journey, announcing, “40 days and Nineveh shall be destroyed”; they believed and proclaimed a fast.  The king rose, covered himself with sackcloth, sat in ashes, and proclaimed a fast: “Repent; God may relent and save us.”  God saw; he repented and didn't carry out the evil he'd threatened.
                  (Not this "sign of Jonah" :-)
                • Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19  "A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn."  Have mercy on me.  Create a clean heart for me.
                • Lk 11:29-32  “No sign will be given this evil generation but Jonah; the Son of Man will be a sign like Jonah.  At the judgment, the queen of the south who came to hear Solomon's wisdom will condemn this generation; at the judgment, repentant Nineveh will condemn this generation.  Something greater than Solomon and Jonah is here.”
                God bless Ivette, Manny, and Santiago!
                  • Creighton:  At Jonah's preaching, Nineveh's king and people turned from their evil ways.  Since the threat probably wasn't enough motivation, did he remind them of their freedom and the goodness and courage within them, and that God created, loved, and called them?  We believe we're fundamentally flawed, fear disapproval, and turn against ourselves in self-hatred, or against others in judgment and hostility. It's easy to recognize sin around us but hard to recognize the lies we believe about ourselves contribute to that sin.
                  • One Bread One Body:  "Connect the dots":  The Ninevites made the connection between their sins and the threatened destruction.  Wicked though they were, the prophecy reached them, and they repented.  Today our culture, and we ourselves, can miss the connection between sin and destruction.  We need to make the connection between our sinfulness and Jesus' mercy and forgiveness....
                  • Passionist:  "Another chance, another opportunity":  To Jonah's dislike, he was a sign of God’s mercy to the Ninevites, outsiders.  Ponder God's mercy and compassion, and show compassion for those who wrong us.
                  • DailyScripture.net:  The Ninevites recognized God's warning in Jonah's prophecy, and they repented.  The Queen of Sheba recognized God's wisdom in Solomon.  But the religious leaders weren't satisfied with the signs before their eyes:  John the Baptist, Simeon, and Jesus.  God will transform us if we listen and allow the Spirit to work in us.

                  February 24, 2015

                  Feb. 24

                  February 24, 2015:  Tuesday, 1st Week of Lent

                  • 'Jubilee year' button NEW (thanks Carmen!):  "Look to him that you may be radiant with joy" (psalm)
                  • 'Fruits' tie:  God's Word is fruitful (1st reading)
                  • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  The Lord has eyes for the just (psalm)
                  • 'Pierced hearts' suspenders:  God is close to the brokenhearted (psalm)
                  • 'Kneeling person' tie bar:  "Here's how to pray" (gospel)
                  • 'Crown' tie bar:  "Thy Kingdom come" (gospel)
                  • 'Wheat' pin:  "Rain and snow make the earth fruitful, giving bread" (1st reading); "Give us this day our daily bread' (gospel)
                  • Blue shirt:  As rain that waters the earth and makes it fertile, so my word... (1st reading)

                  • The Our Father has inspired other prayers:  see Alternative Lord's Prayers including from the New Zealand Prayer Book, Emerging Church Movement, Dominican Sisters 1993 Retreat (Kansas), and a "retranslation" from the Aramaic
                  Wordle: Readings 2-24-15
                  • Is 55:10-11  My word shall be fruitful:  it won't return to me void but shall do my will.
                  • Ps 34:4-7, 16-19  "From all their distress God rescues the just."  The Lord has eyes for the just and is close to the brokenhearted; he saves the crushed in spirit.
                  • Mt 6:7-15  Your Father knows what you need.  Pray:  “Our Father....  Deliver us from evil.”  If you forgive, your Father will forgive you; if you don't, he won't.

                    • Creighton:  We're invited to speak directly to our father, who always has time to listen.  Our heavenly father showers us with blessings come to earth.  The Kingdom comes to us in ordinary experiences; God works with us when we're open to the extraordinary in the ordinary.  The Lord is close to us now!  Jesus invites us to ask God for what we need.  Ask for forgiveness, our need and greatest joy!  God rescues us every day.  God expects we'll make mistakes, but we do better when we seek guidance.  Jesus invites us to make calling on God a habit.  We're not lost, no matter what happens; he'll hear us.  Find new contexts to pray the Our Father...
                    • One Bread One Body:  "The Word for Lent":  God's Word does not return void but achieves the end for which it's sent; read, meditate on, delight in, observe, and share it daily.
                    • DailyScripture.net:  Let God's word take root; it has transforming power.  St. Ambrose:  "Aren't you occupied with Christ?  Why don't you talk with him?  By reading the Scriptures, we listen to Christ."  God is waiting to receive his prodigal children; that's why Jesus gave us a prayer that calls God "Our Father" and teaches us how to ask for what we need.  We can pray with confidence because the Lord opened the way to heaven through his death and resurrection; God responds with grace and loving-kindness.  He forgives us and expects us to treat our neighbor the same.  God's love burns away prejudice, hatred, resentment, vengeance, and bitterness, leaving only goodness and forgiveness.
                    St. John Cassian:  "God's mercy is beyond description.  While he's offering a model prayer, he teaches a way of life and how to be judged with mercy.  We can treat our sins against God with gentle indulgence but severely exact reparation for sins against ourselves; all who doesn't forgive from the heart those who do them wrong will only obtain from this prayer his own condemnation, not mercy."  How do I treat others?

                    February 23, 2015

                    Feb. 23

                    February 23, 2015:  Monday, 1st week of Lent

                    See 10 connections with today's readings?
                    Legend at bottom

                    • Servant song/ Gillard (composer-sung; note differences) (gospel)
                    • Die letzten Dinge (The last judgment)/ Spohr:  bilingual libretto+ (gospel theme though the oratorio doesn't actually set today's gospel.  BTW I found this while looking from something related from Handel whose birthday is today)
                      The Last Judgment/ Michelangelo
                    • Lv 19:1-2, 11-18  Be holy; fear the Lord.  Don't steal, lie, swear falsely, defraud or rob, withhold wages, or curse the deaf or blind.  Judge justly, not dishonestly or with bias.  Don't spread slander.  Don't hatehold grudges, or take revenge.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  I am the Lord.
                    • Ps 19:8-10, 15  "Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life."  The law of the Lord is perfect, trustworthy, clear, pure, true, and just.  May I find favor with you, O Lord, my rock.
                    • Mt 25:31-46  The Son of Man will separate people, saying to the righteous, ‘Come, you blessed; inherit the kingdom, for when I was in need you fed me, gave me drink, welcomed me, clothed me, cared for me, and visited me.’ / ‘When?’ / ‘What you did for the least, you did for me.’  Then he'll say to the rest, ‘Depart from me, for when I was in need, you didn't feed me, give me drink, welcome, clothe, or care for me.’ / ‘When?’ / ‘What you didn't do for the least ones, you didn't do for me.’  They'll go to punishment; the righteous to life.
                    • Creighton:  The readings focus on the relationship between individual and community.  Our holiness is measured by how we treat each other.  Jesus refines:  love takes active care “for the least ones.”  "Giving things up for Lent" is only a start; it helps clarify our encounter with God, removing distractions and allowing refocus and renewal.
                    • One Bread One Body:  "Poor planning":  The Lord expects us to recognize the poor at our door and show love in deeds.  We are to see Jesus in the poor, love and serve them, and be in solidarity with them.  St. John Chrysostom:  "Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life.  The goods we possess are theirs."  St. Gregory the Great:  "When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs.  We are paying a debt of justice."
                    • Passionist:  The Lord teaches that to be holy, we must act justly, love, and attend to those in need, not steal, lie, profane God’s name, defraud, steal, curse, place stumbling blocks, slander, or hate.  Holiness is when we give food, clothing, comfort, or compassion to others.
                    • DailyScripture.net:  The Day of the Lord will reveal whether we choose a life of peace and joy with God, or misery and separation from God, in the age to come.  Jesus' parable of the separation of goats and sheep, similar to that about Lazarus and the rich man, invites us to consider our lives in view of the age to come.  Sheep and goats need to be separated; goats are aggressive, domineering, restless, and territorial.  God's love compels us to treat others with mercy and kindness. When we do something for one of Christ's little ones, we do it for Christ.  Do I treat others with mercy and love as Christ has treated me?  Purify my heart that I may love as You do.
                    Outfit legend
                    • 'Scales of justice' tie:  judge justly (1st reading); God's ordinances are just (psalm); Last Judgment (gospel)
                    • 'Rock' tie pin:  Lord, my Rock (psalm)
                    • 'Girl with heart' pin: Don't bear hatred in your heart (1st reading); God's precepts rejoice the heart; let my heart find favor with you (psalm)
                    • Blue shirt:  I was thirsty and you gave me drink (gospel)
                    • 'Owl' tie pin:  The Lord's decree gives wisdom (psalm)
                    • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  The Lord's command enlightens the eye (psalm)
                    • 'Sheep' tie bar:  God will separate as shepherds separate sheep from goats (gospel)

                    February 22, 2015

                    1st Sun. of Lent

                    February 22, 2015:  1st Sunday of Lent

                    • People on tie, ' 'bird,' tame and wild animals pins:  I'm establishing a covenant with you and every living creature... (1st reading); Jesus was among wild beasts (gospel)
                    • 'Boat' tie bar: ...that came out of the ark (1st reading); the spirits in prison had been disobedient while the ark was being built (2nd reading)
                    • Blue shirt: Never shall creatures be destroyed by flood waters (1st reading)
                    • 'Clouds' tie, 'rainbow' on 'bird': I set my rainbow in the clouds as a sign of the covenant (1st reading)
                    • 'Holy Spirit' chain: The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert (gospel)
                    • 'Angel' pin: Angels ministered to Jesus in the desert (gospel)

                    Suggestions from Ed Bolduc's blog include
                    Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days where he successfully overcame temptations.  Through his victory, we have triumphed, but we need to protect this victory in our daily lives.  In the wilderness we can listen to God’s and the tempter's voices.  It’s important to read the Scriptures lest we be unable to resist Satan's lure.  Read and reflect on the Gospel every day, even for just 10 minutes, and carry a copy with you.  The Lenten wilderness helps us say no to worldliness and idols and to make courageous choices in line with the Gospel and to strengthen our solidarity with others.
                    Accept my gift of this pocket-sized "Safeguard your heart" booklet; it has several key teachings of Jesus and tenets of our faith, including the sacraments, the gifts of the Spirit, the commandments, the virtues, and works of charity.  Let it help in your conversion and spiritual growth.  In our heart we make the daily choice between good and evil, between worldliness and the gospel, between indifference and sharing.  We can only have the justice, peace, and love we need by returning to God. 
                    • Gn 9:8-15  God to Noah:  “I'm establishing my covenant with you and every living creature:  Never again shall a flood destroy all creatures.  I set my rainbow in the clouds as a sign of the covenant.
                    'Rainbow' cloud (1st reading)
                    • Ps 25:4-9  "Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant."  Teach me your paths, guide me in your truth, for you're my savior.  Remember your compassion and love.  You show sinners the way and guide the humble to justice.
                    • 1 Pt 3:18-22  Christ suffered for sins to lead you to God.  He was brought to life in the Spirit and preached to the spirits in prison.  As people were saved through water in Noah's time, baptism saves you now, appealing to God for a clear conscience through the Resurrection.
                    • Mk 1:12-15  The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert, where Satan tempted him for 40 days.  He was among wild beasts, and angels ministered to him.  Then he came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel:  “This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
                    • Creighton:  Hearing Jesus' "repent and believe" proclamation, we face a momentous decision as did the original hearers.  Am I willing to search my heart and probe my fidelity to the covenant, materialistic attitudes, indifference to the needy...?  Lent is an invitation to total renewal.  We'll be renewed to the degree we're open to God, turn from sin, and embrace Jesus' good news.
                    • Christ in the desert/ Kramskoi
                    • One Bread One Body:  "Beauty and the beast":  When Mark was written, Christians were thrown into an arena to be devoured by beasts, so Jesus' safety among beasts would have encouraged Mark's readers.  Today we face "beasts" of secular culture, economic tyranny, attacks on religious freedom, and so on, but the Spirit is with us as with Jesus.
                    • DailyScripture.net:  40 days was seen as a significant period of testing and preparation for a covenant relationship with God.  Satan will tempt us to choose our will over God's, or at least take steps away, but God sustains all who seek his will. / "Repent and believe":  Repent = change my life so Jesus can be my Lord, surrendering what's in the way; it takes a contrite heart, sorrow for sin, and resolution to avoid occasions of sin.  Believe = take Jesus at his word, recognizing God's love and sacrifice.
                    • Sacred Space:  I think today's will be my last link to this daily prayer from the Irish Jesuits.  I've gotten some feedback that the site has too much content, and this is a 'baby step' in response.  Feel free to comment with, send me your own feedback, and visit Sacred Space directly at http://www.sacredspace.ie.