January 24, 2017

Francis de Sales

January 24, 2017:  St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor

  • 'Scroll' pin:  "As is written of me in the scroll, I come to do your will, O God." (1st reading)
  • 'Blood drop' pin:  Bull and goat blood can't take away sins (1st reading)
  • 'Heart' pin:  "I didn't hide your justice in my heart" (psalm)
  • 'Skeleton' tie pin:  "...offering you didn't desire, but a body you prepared for me" (1st reading)
  • 'Doctor's office' tie:  Francis de Sales, 'doctor' of the church
  • 'Clock' tie bar:  "I've waited for the Lord" (psalm)
  • 'Treble clef' tie pin, 'keyboard' suspenders:  God put a new song into my mouth (psalm)
  • 'Mary' pin:  The mother of Jesus (gospel)
  • White shirt:  St. Francis de Sales

Pope Francis World Communications Day message:
"Fear not, for I am with you."  Today many can spread news instantly and widely.  That news may be good or bad, true or false.  Early Christians compared the mind to a grinding millstone; it's up to the miller to determine whether to grind wheat or weeds.  Our minds are always 'grinding,' but we must choose what to feed them (John Cassian, Epistle to Leontius).  I encourage you to engage in constructive forms of communication that reject prejudice and foster a culture of encounter, helping us all to view the world with realism and trust.
We have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from focusing on “bad news” (war, terrorism, scandal, human failure).  This is not spreading misinformation, ignoring human suffering, or blindness to evil.  I propose we all work to overcome the feeling of discontent and resignation that can generate apathy, fear, or the idea that evil has no limits.  In a communications industry that thinks that good news doesn't sell, and where human suffering and evil turn into entertainment, our consciences can be dulled or slip into pessimism.  I want to contribute to the search for communication that's open and creative, not glamorizing evil but instead concentrating on solutions and inspiring a positive, responsible approach.  Please offer people "good news" storylines.
Good news:  Life isn't just successive events but history, a story waiting to be told through an interpretative lens that selects and gathers the most relevant data.  Everything depends on how we look at things, on the lens we use.  If we change the lens, reality appears different.  So how can we “read” reality through the right lens?  For Christians, that lens can only be the good news, beginning with the Good News, the gospel, Jesus himself. 
This Good News isn't good because it has nothing to do with suffering; suffering becomes part of a bigger picture, Jesus’ love for the Father and for all.  In Christ, God has shown solidarity with every human situation.  We're not alone; we have a Father constantly mindful of us, immersed in his people's history.  In his Son, “I am with you” embraces all our weakness, even our death.  In Christ, even darkness and death become an encounter with Light and Life.  Hope is born, accessible to everyone, where life meets failure.  That hope doesn't disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into us and makes new life blossom, like a shoot springing from fallen seed.  Seen in this light, every tragedy can become a setting for good news, inasmuch as love can draw near and raise up sympathetic hearts, resolute faces, and hands ready to build anew.  (continued tomorrow)
Wordle: Readings 1-27-15
  • Heb 10:1-10  Since the law has only a shadow of things to come, it can't perfect those who worship with annual sacrifices; bull and goat blood can't take away sins.  He says, You didn't want sacrifices and [burnt and sin] offerings [offered according to the law], then I come to do your will; he takes away the first to establish the second.
  • Ps 40:2, 4ab, 7-8a, 10, 11  "Here am I Lord; I come to do your will."  I waited for the Lord; he stooped toward me and put a hymn to God in my mouth.  You didn't want sacrifice or oblation, but you opened me to obedience.  I announced your justice, faithfulness, salvation, kindness, and truth in the vast assembly.
  • Mk 3:31-35  Jesus, after crowd told him his family called him from outside:  “Who are my mother and my brothers?”  “Here; whoever does God's will is my brother, sister, and mother.”
    • Creighton:  The 1st reading reminds us that since the law has only a shadow (not the image) of good things to come, it can't perfect us.  We can't follow God's law flawlessly; we need a Savior.  Jesus came to give us a path for our consecration, but I can lose my focus on doing God's will and announcing him to our world.  Coming to do God’s will involves announcing his justice, kindness, and truth with confidence.  Maybe I hesitate to share because I believe like others that if it's too simple, it can't be true, but the Father revealed the Kingdom's mysteries to little ones.  Children understand that God loves us.  Childlike faith means trusting God and doing His will.  We do God’s will when we share our faith, letting his love flow to others.  Lord, give me the faith of a child to trust in your love and focus on doing your will....
      St. Francis de Sales
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Mystery":  God has revealed himself through creation, history, the Law, the prophets, Wisdom literature, the covenants, the priesthood, and so on, but "in this age, he has spoken through his Son," the eternal, incarnate, final Word. The Church will spend the rest of time "to grasp...  the breadth, length, height, and depth of Christ's love."  But even with all that revelation, God is primarily mystery:  the Trinity, fully God and fully human, the Father's begetting of the Son, their sending of the Spirit, how God lives in us....
    • Passionist:  Jesus uses close family relationships to indicate how close he wants to be with us.  In John he often uses 'meno' ('abide'):  "Abide in me...." "Abide in my love."  St. Francis de Sales lived in intimacy with God.  “Nothing is more worthwhile than to pray to God and to converse with him, for prayer unites us with God as his companions” (John Chrysostom).  Heartfelt closeness to Christ is the core of Christian faith; without it, we sink into cold rules and regulations and miss gospel joy.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister":  In today's gospel Jesus points to a reality of relationships higher than blood:  our relationship with God and his people.   God offers us union of heart, mind, and spirit with himself, author and source of love.  God's love never fails, forgets, compromises, lies, or disappoints; it's consistent, unconditional, unstoppable, though we may choose to separate ourselves from him.  He pursues, loves, and calls us no matter what.  He created us to be united with him and share in his love and unity.  He wants all our relationships to be rooted in his love.  The baptized who live as Jesus' disciples enter into a new family, a family of "saints" here and in heaven.  Jesus shows that true kinship is more than flesh and blood; our adoption as God's children transforms our relationships and requires loyalty to God and his kingdom of justice and peace....
    • Universalis:  Francis de Sales studied law, and was ordained priest despite his father's opposition.  He preached so effectively that many Calvinists returned to Catholicism.  After being made bishop, he reformed the diocese, preached, and gave spiritual guidance, teaching that everyone can attain a devout life:  “Religious devotion perfects”; to be more holy, be more yourself.  “To preach effectively, preach with love.”  "Half an hour's meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy.  Then a full hour is needed."  Read Introduction to the Devout Life online at CCEL or Catholicity.  He lived simply, sharing with the poor.  With St. Jane Frances, he founded the Order of the Visitation of Holy Marywhere gentleness and humility are also stressed.  Other orders were founded based on his spirituality.

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