Monthly Archives: August 2015

And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.”

(Luke 4:24)

How fickle are your people, Lord! We, who just a few moments ago, “spoke highly” of you, “amazed at your gracious words,” now resent that you are the “son of Joseph,” an ordinary carpenter. Your hearers become so angry that they try to throw you off a cliff.

“Familiarity breeds contempt,” we say. Why are we so reluctant to admit goodness, even greatness, in those we encounter daily? Are we jealous? Aware of our own shortcomings, we refuse to believe that our neighbors can be any better.

We, too, are so quick to protest about what we touted yesterday. Please help me, Lord, to proclaim goodness no matter where I find it.

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.

(Mark 7:8)

Once again, Lord, you emphasize the importance of internal holiness over external rituals. Today, we wash our hands for cleanliness. It is a simple act, not an elaborate rite. Help us to be even more diligent about our moral health.

It is from within that we defile ourselves and others. It is from our fallen human nature that we betray your law. Please help me today to pay attention to my thoughts and words, dismissing temptations to criticize and gossip.

Passion of John the Baptist

Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak, he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him.

(Mark 6:20)

Herod had arrested John, but he protected him. Herodias, his wife wanted to kill John but was unable until she “found an opportunity” on Herod’s birthday, when he made his notorious, rash promise. He would not go back on his foolish word.

If Herod had listened to his own heart and heeded John, opening himself to understand, the Baptist might not have been martyred. Still, he preceded you, my Jesus, in death as he had in his life and ministry. His passion anticipated yours.

What is it about your will that perplexes me? I cling to your words, Lord, but I cannot completely understand. Help me to trust you, and you will show me what to do. If I am centered in you, the vanities of this world will not distract me. As Paul writes to the Thessalonians, I will “aspire to lead a tranquil life.”

The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.

(Matthew 25:3)

St. Augustine, whose feast we celebrate today, says that the foolish virgins who took no oil for their lamps were trying to please men rather than you, Lord. He compares the oil to your grace. If we don’t carry it within us, we are empty.

A note in the NAB describes wise people as those who do good deeds. In that case, the oil represents wisdom, which is charity.

Without your grace, we can do nothing for your sake. What have I done to serve my neighbor today? Have I said “Yes” to you at every opportunity? I will be silent now and reflect on this.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.”
(Matthew 24:42)

Yesterday, Lord, I could not stay awake, even to pray. Now I am rested. I open myself to your will. When you return, I want you to find me doing your work and sharing your word. Let me expect you, then, at any moment.

Someone very special told me recently that each day is a gift not to be wasted. Help me to follow this wisdom as though I had just discovered it. Keep me alert. Thy will be done.

. . . and you say, “If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.”

(Matthew 23:30)

Lord, it is so easy for us to think that we would have done better than our ancestors or our neighbors. Do we ever know what we would do in different times or circumstances?

When I go to Mass in Holy Week and have to join with the congregation saying aloud the words, “Crucify him,” I can barely whisper the words. Do I know what I would have done if I had been part of that crowd – neither a disciple nor a prosecutor, but a part of the mob? Knowing what I do now, I think I would keep silent, but would I have stood up for you? Even the apostles, your intimate companions, had run away. Such a short time ago they had proclaimed that you are the Messiah, and yet now they flee. True, they still didn’t grasp that you would rise in just a few days. We know it now. When our faith is tested, should we not gladly proclaim you? We can only hope that you will give us the grace.

This is my prayer today. Give me courage for each moment in my life.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.

(Matthew 23:25)

Like the scribes and Pharisees, we tend to focus on externals, Lord. Do we spend more time deciding what to wear, how to fix our hair, or what diet and exercise plans to follow than we do on listening for your will and serving our neighbors?

Forgive me, Lord, for my vanity, my concerns about what others will think of me, and my insensitivity. Please make me more God-centric and less egocentric.

The Pharisees, in particular, were dedicated to observing the minutest of laws. They set up new ones to avoid any chance of accidentally breaking an old one, to the extent that they forgot the reason for all their precautions. So scrupulously did they follow the letter of the law that they forgot its heart.

You will not judge me on how many words I used to pray, but on whether I remembered that you want to dwell inside me. Cleanse my soul, Lord, that I may welcome you.

I just listed in my notebook several things for which I am thankful, and I realize that they are all externals –the weather, tasks accomplished, phone calls, etc. But my gratitude is from deep within my soul. I am so happy and relieved that you arrange for things to fall into place. Thank you, my Lord and my God.

But Nathaniel said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

(John 1:46)

Nathaniel accepted Philip’s invitation and experienced you for himself, my Jesus. You call us all to discover who you are, and, in doing so, we discover who we are. Just as you acknowledged Nathaniel as “an Israelite with no duplicity,” you look into our hearts and show us what you see. Let us come to you, then, humbly and sincerely, ready to embrace your will.

Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

(John 6:68)

My Lord, you did not soften your words about eating your Flesh, even when many of your disciples turned away. That shows us that you were not speaking symbolically. The twelve did not yet know that you would take bread and transform it into your Body, but they knew that only through you would they live forever. Without you there was nothing. Without understanding, they trusted you.

We cannot grasp the full significance of Presence in the Eucharist, but your Word has enlightened us. We come to you despite our failings, knowing that you have invited us. You allow us to participate in the one true Sacrifice.

That moment at the last supper explained your meaning to those who had remained faithful. They still did not know all that was to follow, but you strengthened them. Keep us faithful, Lord, and strengthen us for the difficulties or our mortal lives and deaths. Prepare us to live forever in you.

Are you envious because I am generous?

(Matthew 20:15)

When the workers who had labored all day discovered that those hired in the last watch received the same pay, they grumbled. They got the fair wage that they had been promised, but they felt they deserved more. They were not slighted.

Do we feel that we are worthier than our neighbors? When we consider the parable of the prodigal son, do we empathize with his brother? If we got exactly what we deserved, where would we be? You give us, instead, what we need. Everything we have is a gift chosen especially for each of us. Let us give thanks and be glad.

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For men, this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

(Matthew 19:25-26)

Lord, we cannot save ourselves. Nothing we could do would merit our salvation. Only you can redeem us, through your Son, Jesus Christ.

We are God-made, not self-made. We have nothing that you do not give us. What, then, are riches and fame to us? Help us to abandon everything to you. Thy will be done.

The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

(Matthew 19:20-21)

I, too, ask of you, Lord, “What do I still lack? What habits, possessions, or attachments prevent me from following you? How can I escape their hold on me?

Please help me to let go of my fears, my laziness, my love of comfort and resistance to change. Free me; disencumber me. Prepare me to drop everything when you invite me. Thy will be done.

Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord.

(Ephesians 5:17)

As St. Paul exhorts us, Lord, I am trying to understand your will. By understanding, I don’t mean asking why, but discerning, knowing how to serve you in each moment. When I spend time doing puzzles, I think of St. Charles Borromeo, who said that if God were to call him he would keep on playing cards. He hadn’t lost his awareness of you.

Still, I want to be more productive. Relaxation and exercise of the mind have a place in my routine, as long as they are a means and not an end. Even the most challenging games, however, can spawn restlessness and ennui after a while.

There is no reason to be bored, whether or not I have companions or diversions. With you, I am never alone, and contemplating you invites me into your Eternal Now, which is always new. I could call it the “Eternal New,” for you are unfathomable.

Please help me to live this day with the courage, joy and motivation that spring from your nearness. Thy will be done.

Feast of the Assumption

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.

(Luke 1:49-50)

On this date, fifty years ago, I professed my final vows, pronouncing and meaning the word, “forever.” I had made the one decision that would sustain every decision from that day on. I felt as though I were finally home.

The convent was not my home, nor is this world that I inhabit. Our only home is with you, Lord. I may have been dispensed from my vows, but that does not mean I have no vocation. We are called to love you here and in eternity. Renew me, Lord. Have mercy on me now, in this time, in this place. You will not abandon me.

You do great things for all of your people. If we take to heart the words of your Blessed Mother, “Do whatever he tells you,” we shall not stray. Please help me to listen attentively to whatever you tell me.

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for a friend.

This I command you, love one another.

(Matthew 15:13 and 15)

On this feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who gave his life for a fellow Auschwitz prisoner and as an example of hope for all the victims tortured there, we consider martyrdom. Not many of us will have the opportunity to die for faith and charity, and yet we all give ourselves throughout our lives. Please help us, Lord, to take advantage of every little occasion to suffer for others. Thy will be done.