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“Blessed are the merciful…

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2016/09/23 at 12:00 AM

What is a merciful woman like? First of all, she is not like the morphine addict who slowly poisons herself, becoming completely unaware of the insidious and deadly effects of selfishness on the soul.

The merciful woman is one who is determined to help and support others in a kind and disinterested way. Recognizing that her own nature is flawed, and loving God in others requires her to begin over and over again, she prays for perseverance. Her loving heart is vigilant over the needs of others and on guard to protect those entrusted to her care as well as whomever God sends her way. She generously goes about doing good to others wherever she sees a need, be it spiritual or material, emotional or practical.

Above all, she is a forgiving person and not only disarms by her merciful ways those who have offended her, but does so in a manner that her forgiveness leads the offender to reconsider. The merciful woman knows that by nature it is easier for her to indulge her desires and plans rather than her duties which she at times looks at with anxiety and impatience. She is able to be merciful because she is very aware of this natural tendency to prefer her own plans rather than be self-giving, and thus she makes the effort to relinquish her plans and help those who have erred. In particular, she is conscious that everything she does has repercussions, and no action is without its impact on those which whom she deals.

In particular, she is not afraid to use opportunities that arise to gently correct family members and friends when they need to be alerted to the dangers of the ways and ideas that are contrary to what is true and right. Seek to understand others even when they seem to be unaccepting. By being a friend can cause other to open their hearts so be prepared to help them.

Show mercy and kindness to those who are sad, dejected, ill, or lonely. Comfort the grieving and the sorrowing. Never act indifferently to a suffering person; rather spend time with those who need physical or spiritual consolation. Never seek repayment or praise; that your are doing it for God in your neighbor is a rich enough reward.

We will only have mercy in our hearts when we offer mercy, when we forgive, our enemies from the example and with the help of Christ. Mercy is not simply a matter of giving alms to the poor, but also of being understanding of other people’s defects, overlooking them, helping them not only to cope with them but to love them despite whatever defects they may have. Mercy suffers and rejoices with others.

Your love of God can be measured by the way you treat those who need help. Follow Jesus’ example who was always motivated by mercy and always acted out of mercy. Lead others to turn to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother for solace, peace, and mercy.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after justice….

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2016/09/16 at 12:00 AM

While the Church has a duty to call attention to the temporal problems of the world that have a moral dimension, it is not her role to solve them. Hers is to satisfy peoples thirst for the restoration of the relationship essential to man by applying the merits of Christ’s life and death through the Sacraments so as to give man the ability to love God and live in union with him. The Church is involved in guiding souls to freedom from eternal death from the claws of the devil and from the seductions of the flesh.

The lay members of the Church in particular have a responsibility to try to see that society’s laws and customs are in accord with the teachings of Christ in education, the home and the workplace.

Each woman has an obligation to make her environment more Christian and to pray for the legislators, government officials and business leaders to solve the major problems that confront society today. While justice is an essential component of resolving problems, it is charity/mercy that is the main component. Mercy/charity enrich and make justice effective.

No Christian woman who hopes to live her faith cannot in political action ever support ideologies or groups which propose false and distorted views of mankind or the dignity and nature of the person or just plain sin

All the fundamental principles of the natural law God implanted in man’s nature must be respected, supported and defended. This means standing firm against contraception, sterilization, abortion, euthanasia, divorce, same-sex unions, and for religious and academic freedoms and property rights.

What is due to a person in justice cannot be considered charity. What is due to a person is a demand of justice. Each person is another Christ and this is particularly so in the case of the weak, the defenseless and the needy. Our hearts need to have compassion for the pains of the injustices that afflict others.

One acknowledges God’s presence in another individual by treating that person with both justice and charity. Each person’s dignity and greatness is derived from God who gives the soul its spiritual reality and who gives meaning to every person’s life.

How can one judge progress in society and science? Very simply: by how the dignity of the person is acknowledged in word and deed. Man is not an economic entity or gadget. He is neither merchandize nor tool but a member of a society with God given rights for the protection of which is the main purpose of laws and governments.

An aspect of justice which is very much ignored in our times is the right to one’s good name. Gossip has become a media staple. Sins by unbridled tongues included envy, negative criticism, slander, calumny; all of which are acts of defamation, whether spoken, broadcasted by the media or printed as well as e-mailed or texted.

Justice towards others in thought and deed must proceed from our hearts if we are to live harmoniously with others. We must beware of partial truths, flawed simplifications, hasty judgments and empty words. At all times we must be open to having our opinions calibrated to truth.

Beware of excessive curiosity and of any intrusion into the private lives of others particularly now that the Internets parades before us the lives and follies of others. Also, beware of false zeal which conceals hypocrisy. When you are with others, beware of falling into making rash judgments of others, gossiping, making false deductions and accusations or revealing the flaws of others that detract and diminish others’ view of them. Be instead actively committed to denounce unjust accusations made of anyone. Reject any type of falsehood in word or cheating in actions. Do not be a gossip or spread rumors. Be scrupulous in respecting others rights to their good name, their property and their possessions. You are your brother’s keeper.

Love is…

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2016/09/09 at 12:00 AM

St. Gregory the Great comment in his work, Moralia 10.7-8 re St. Paul’s I Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, because it bears serenely the injury it suffers.

It is kind, because it repays evil with good.

It is not jealous, because it covets nothing in this world: it does not know what it is to envy worldly prosperity.

It is not boastful, because it yearns only for spiritual reward, and it is not carried away by external things.

It is not arrogant, because it thrives only on the love of God and neighbor and avoids whatever would take it from the path of righteousness.

It is not coveousts, because although it ardently pursues its own spiritual goals, it does not desire the goods of others.

It does not insist on its own way, because it scorns as as lien those things it temporarily possess here below: it seeks to hold on only to what is enduring.

It is not irritable and even though injuries seek to provoke it, it does not let itself have any desire for vengeance, for no matter how difficult a time it may have in this life, it hopes for greater rewards in the next.

It is not resentful, because it has invested its thought in the love of purity, and having rooted out all hatred, it is incapable of harboring in its heart any type of aversion.

It does not rejoice at wrong, because it feels affection for others and does not rejoice in seeing the ruin of its enemies.

It rejoices in the right, because by loving other as it loves itself, it is pleased to see goodness in them as if it were indeed something to its own personal advantage.

“Blessed are the peacemakers…”

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2016/08/19 at 12:00 AM

True peace means being concerned about others, being interested in their plans and projects, their joys and sorrows.  God wants us Christians to bring peace and joy with us wherever we go.  Then, we can say as St. Paul ends his first letter to the Corinthians: “My love be with you in Christ Jesus.”

Peace is a clear sign of God’s nearness and closeness to us. St. Paul consistently exhorted the first Christians to live in peace, saying that the God of love and peace would be with them. True peace results from holiness. St. Augustine also describes true peace as the tranquility of order.

A peacemaker easily abandons her own agenda in order to do what God places in front of her, and she does that without complaining.  Without  making excuses or apologies, she takes on unpleasant tasks.  Share the woes of others by trying to ease their distress, reaching out to them in kindness and compassion, in attitude, words and deeds.

What does it mean to be a Christian?  A Christian views the world as Christ did and reacts to circumstances following the example of Christ’s reaction in similar situations.  He encountered every single problem we will encounter in our lives.  The appearances might be different, but the essence of the concern is the same. We should open our hearts to others and transmit to others the joy that comes from following Christ.  If others are slow to respond, we must treat them with patience, respecting each person’s circumstances. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and do not impute intentions, but rather seek by kindness to bring about reconciliation more for the other’s sake than for yours.  Never let yourself grow cold, distant or sour towards anyone, and above all, never humiliate anyone with a disdainful attitude. Avoid sharp or sarcastic comments or replies, and be patient with the irksome and cantankarous.

The peacemaker meets all angry outburst with gentleness, kindness and humility, never with harshness or vengefulness.  Her forgiveness is readily given; it is quick, sincere, and lasting.  Offenses once forgiven will not be felt and will be easy to forget.  Never, ever, harbor resentment against another because to do so is a form of spiritual suicide by the cancer of bitterness which brings death to the soul. Keep your heart clear of any trace of hostility, anger or bitterness.  Disarm insults or hostility with kindness and a positive attitude.  Clear your your mind of strife and offenses as if they had never occurred.

Be precise in your speech, even in small matters.  Do not hesitate in correcting errors you make, exaggerations or careless language.  Beware of hypocrisy and half truths, avoiding deceitful behavior at all cost.  Speak the truth prudently and without apology but with firmness born of faith. Jesus was a total revolutionary. He turned the  world upside down. His values reverse the usually accepted human values in every age.  We must follow His example and when we hear or see anything that reverses proper human values, we too must become revolutionaries, correcting the situation.

Meditate carefully on the life of Our Lord; He is your perfect model and guide.  We have been rescued because God is compassionate towards us.  Should we not extend that same compassion to those who aggravate us, dislike  us or needle us?  Instead, with sympathy and kindness, help the floundering; you will find that you gain more than you give. Turn to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother for solace and encourage others to do so.

“Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.”

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2016/08/12 at 12:00 AM

Like the Greeks who approached Philip, we too say that we would like to see Jesus. God Himself and His creation can only been seen by those whose intentions and attitudes are good.

To be clean of heart means to be selfless, looking at everything from God’s point of view rather than our own. By putting God first we can keep our hearts pure. It is in the heart that the soul can defile itself. This occurs when envy, spite, evil desires or evil intentions sprout in our hearts. Once conceived, they are brought to life in actions. You cannot “see Jesus” in your neighbor if your imagination has cluttered your hear with a tapestry of false images. So, it is in the heart that we can offend God instead of loving Him. Consequently, anything that comes between us and God must be avoided, corrected, given up; we must remove all obstacles and ask forgiveness of God for what we have done.

In order to really have a pure heart, we must have right intentions which mean that Christ alone is the reason for and object of our actions. We begin this by making our daily Morning Offering Prayer we learned as children. As the day goes on, we must ask ourselves: What am I doing? Why? and For Whom? Do everything for His glory and when you encounter difficulties, do not allow yourself to be discouraged. Simply ask yourself: Is this God’s work or mine? Is God leading or am I? Correct intention brings interior freedom and peace of soul.

Our exterior appearance is not of any importance compared with our inner life. We must ask God’s help in keeping our hearts pure and must be on guard duty 24/7 in order for it not to be defiled by jealousy, envy, spite or any disordered desires. We must be careful to have proper intentions in our actions because our egotism can make an obstacle out of any good thing. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide our hearts and follow His guidance with docility as He transforms us.

To maintain a pure heart involves controlling our intellect, our memory and above all, our imagination, and above all the interior dialogue those produce, easily derailing the heart. A wise man once referred to the imagination as the lunatic in the house. Useless imaginings can lead to loss of proper perspective and become a spiritually destructive force. Often the imagination can create false scenarios which can lead to unjust judgments which cool the heart.

The prompt dismissal of useless thought is the initial means of purifying the imagination. Then, comes the replacement of wild imaginings, suppositions, and projections by focusing on some aspect of the life of Christ, thus displacing the unreal with the real and true. Essential to keeping one’s heart pure are: guarding the senses, avoiding sinful situations, controlling ones entertainment, being temperate but above all, having recourse prayer and to the Sacrament of Confession.

If your heart searches for God, your heart will find Him simply because he is looking for you like the father of the prodigal looked for his son. We can always count on Our Father’s help to put us on the right track again. He understands us and is there to encourage us in our struggles. He never ceases to love us even when our hearts have turned from Him. He will never abandon us.

“Blessed are those who mourn…”

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2016/08/09 at 12:00 AM

Your neighbor is anyone who has need of you. So, beware of sins of omission for those who mourn particularly those who are not even aware of their loses, but mourn for their loss without even being aware of what ails them. This refers to those we should mourn for because they have not been taught the basics of the faith and now wander in a spiritual wasteland. Or those who have had their beliefs stolen from them by the bad example of others or the rejection of Christian values by modern culture and an atheistic media. Any thing we can do to alleviate those who mourn for whatever reason, we do for God Himself; the object of our charity being Jesus Himself in the person of our neighbor.

If we hurry through life with our needs in first place instead of in second, where they should be, we fail to see the sufferings of others. In order to be compassionate to those who mourn, we must cease to be the center of our own attention; we must forget ourselves and attend to others’ needs. Some who mourn that we might not be aware of include the victims of calumny, defamation and mental persecution.

God often comes to un in unexpected ways, leading us along the path of suffering specifically for our own good. At such times we need to say to ourselves: “If this is your will, Lord, it is mine also.” What we term misfortunes in life (illness, fatigue, pain, financial problems, whatever the source of the evil be) these trials are actually God’s summons to reach out to Him. These calls are for our hearts to detach themselves from ourselves and attache themselves to Christ who visits us at those times with outstretched hands to helps grow interiorly in a union with Him.

Suffering clears the way for grace, for the transforming power of grace to remold our souls as the divine medication of trials rids us of what pollutes our souls. Trials endured with God’s help will result in blessings because it is only through contradictions and obstacles that our souls can be purified. As mourners we cry in our distress to God who views our problems objectively and will come to our aid in a manner suitable to our individual spiritual benefit.

God takes advantage of everyone’s sorrows to bring about good for others. While God permits these trials which purify others, they are for you opportunities for you to be compassionate. Sometimes the destruction the mourners endure are preface to a spiritual revolution; for as they mourn their losses, God re-directs them in unforeseen ways. God ransomed and saves those who mourn, for whatever reason, in ways we cannot image. We must also pray for those who cause evils that they might cease to offend God in our neighbor. Sometimes all we can do for those who mourn is to encourage them to remain steadfast in their trials and give their complete acceptance to God’s permissive will.

Friday is a good day to reflect on the suffering of Christ during His Passion and His suffering today in the thousands of victims of violence, terrorism and the hordes of refugees who mourn the loss of their homeland and way of life. We must ask Our Lady of Sorrows to help us console those who mourn as she would, for she is their mother. We should ask her to strengthen in us the virtue of fortitude to endure our own sufferings. It is at the foot of the Cross that man learns to understand the real nature of the suffering Jesus endured and to unite his suffering to His.

Despite the onslaught of trials, we must remain faithful and prayerful in the supernatural bond of the Communion of the Saints , giving and receiving. As a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, our suffering and those of others are one and the same. Praying for relief and/or endurance for ourselves and others enriches both as we sustain the others and they sustain us in our solidarity of grace.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2016/07/08 at 12:00 AM

The poor in spirit are those who remember that all they are and have is from God and give back to Him whatever He wants of them. We live the virtue of simplicity when we maintain the proper intention in our love for Our Lord. This includes  being completely dependent on our Heavenly Father  by abandoning ourselves confidently to his loving Providence, just as a child entrusts everything to its father.

A child does not hold grudges, is ignorant of duplicity or fraud, does not deceive, does not seek revenge, easily forgets, does not store up grievances and has no deep sorrows.  Simplicity is one of the principal manifestations of spiritual childhood. It is the result of becoming defenseless before God like a vulnerable and trusting child before its father. Spiritual childhood always holds to the freshness of love in a soul by not dwelling on adverse experience.

Simplicity, which is close to humility, will lead us to ask forgiveness often; to admit and correct our mistakes.  Simplicity is the opposite of artificiality, deceit or phoniness. Simplicity never looks at anything from the viewpoint of personal advantage.  Simplicity is an indicator of humility.

The simple woman is neither naive nor suspicious; rather, prudent but not distrustful. She does not make hasty judgements on superficially based facts.  She lives the teaching of the Christ to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.  The simple person is transparent, never appearing to be what she is not or to have what she does not have.  She seeks to correct matters gone wrong by putting things right and asking forgiveness. She is definitely not hyper-sensitive, inflexible or impatient.  Nor is she cold or indifferent but warm, caring and compassionate.

The real cause of egotism and selfishness is pride. It looks at everything from our its own viewpoint and it’s own agenda. Pride inflates one’s own abilities, aggrandize one’s own qualities and demands the attention of others to them. Consequently, proud people are egocentric and selfish, not really knowing how to love anyone but themselves, loving only for what they can obtain from others for themselves.  Pride strangles; egoism deforms the personality.  Humility opens the way to act charitably with a joyful spirit.

To conquer this vice, we must fix our gaze on Christ, admitting our mistakes and correcting them. Thus, we will grow in humility, thanking God for all the benefits received from Him, allowing ourselves to be helped, seeking advice, stopping excusing our sins and failures, asking forgiveness of those we offend.
The will of God is the compass that guides and directs the humble woman to follow God’s will cheerfully.  She serenely sees God’s will in all the things He allows to happen, accepting them as  helping her encounter God.  She prays always because she is confined of her need for God.  The humble woman radiates joy.

Consider the Beatitudes

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2016/07/01 at 12:00 AM

The Beatitudes clearly image the perfect fruits of the Holy Spirit in man’s soul.  The Beatitudes are as “divinely” human acts we can perform.   In living the Beatitudes, we will gain the reward attached to them now and in the afterlife.

sermon-on-the-mount-13-1-GoodSalt-prcas6178All the Beatitude align to our human desire for happiness.  This desire was placed in our hearts by God to draw us to Himself who is the fulfillment of those desires.  St. Augustine stated it clearly: “Thou hast made us for Yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

We are called to imitate Christ; to be Christlike.  the Beatitudes are a mini biography of Christ, of His charity.  They describe His perfected humanity, the one we are to follow, the one He models for us.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Way – our only way. He is our Truth – our only truth. He is our Life – our only life. To know Jesus Christ is the supreme goal of every Christian.

Jesus drew up and eight point plan to guide us. The Beatitudes teach us that real happiness comes from fulfilling God’s will for us. It is a good idea to follow Pope Francis’ admonition to dwell on Our Lords’ magnificent plan contained in the Beatitudes. These Beatitudes are Our Lord’s invitation to a godly life. Let us accept this divine invitation with joy and determination.

All the Beatitudes have the sanctification of our souls as their goal. Our Lord, through the Beatitudes, calls each and every woman, NOW, to reform, to conform herself to Him. In the Beatitudes you have the one and only strategy you need to be filled with a supernatural joy you will be able to communicate to others. They will enable you to be exemplary lay apostles radiating Christ to others.

The Beatitudes contradict the spirit of our times. The culture and media of today call losers winners and losers those whom Jesus declares winners. For as where the world exalts wealth, power, glamor and influence, Our Lord commends humility, meekness, mercy, purity, generosity and detachment.

Which path are you following? What path will you take? Let’s be like St. Peter who recognized that Jesus has the words of eternal life and say “YES” to Him.

 

 

 

Liberation From Sin

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2016/04/06 at 12:00 AM

The beginning of Luke’s gospel is written in a style that was common for historical works in the Greek world and Luke was written for a gentile population that was very familiar with Greek influences. The introduction tell us that this gospel is historically accurate, is not private opinions but from those who knew of Jesus, and it is meant to strengthen the faith of Christians.
Jesus has just finished his forty days of fasting and praying in the desert (sounds like Lent) and he returns to Nazareth where he grew up. He proclaims the word of God spoken by the prophet Isaiah. The people of this time expected that the Messiah would free Israel from the domination of the Romans. So they saw this passage promising their national independence.
The word of God that Jesus proclaims is about renewal. The people will be freed from slavery (idols), debt (guilt), and imprisonment (from sin). The word of God announces liberation from sin not from domination by the Romans. This reading announces a turning point. For the people hearing it the time has come to choose a new path. Hearing the word of God is the beginning.
Will we hear the word of God today? Are we ready to know that we are at a turning point? Are we ready to follow where the word of God is calling us? Let’s respond “Amen Amen”.

Luke 1:1-4, 4: 14-21

Deacon Jack Staub at St. Mathew Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Gospel of the Annunciation

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2016/03/04 at 12:00 AM

The Pope reflected on the Gospel of this solemnity, the Gospel of the Annunciation.

Benedict XVI began by explaining that the encounter between the angel and Mary, the decisive moment in which God became Man, “was enveloped in a great silence. … That which is truly great often goes unnoticed and calm silence is more fruitful than the frenzy that characterises our cities, and which, in due proportion, was also present in the important cities of those times, such as Jerusalem. All this action prevents us from pausing, allowing ourselves to be calm and listening to the silence in which the Lord makes his discreet voice heard.”

On the day of the Annunciation, Mary was “deep in thought and yet ready to listen to God. There was no obstacle within her, no barrier, nothing that would separate her from God. This is the meaning of her being without original sin. Her relationship with God is free from even the slightest rift; there is no separation, no shadow of selfishness, but rather perfect harmony. Her little human heart was perfectly ‘centred’ in the great heart of God. … Coming here, before this monument to Mary, in the centre of Rome, reminds us first that the voice of God is not recognised amid noise and turmoil; his plan for our life as individuals and as a society are not visible on the surface; we need to descend to a deeper level where the forces at work are not economic or political but moral and spiritual. It is at this deeper level that Mary invites us to enter into harmony with God’s action.”

Secondly, Mary Immaculate teaches us that “the salvation of the world is not the work of man – of science, technology or ideology – but of Grace. … Grace means love in its purity and beauty. It is God Himself as revealed in the salvific narrative of the Bible and fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Mary is called the ‘favoured one’ and this identity recalls to us God’s primacy in our life and in the history of the world. She reminds us that the power of God’s love is stronger than evil, and that it fills the void that selfishness creates in the history of people, families, nations and the world. Such emptiness can become a form of hell, where human life is dragged to its lowest depths and towards emptiness, losing meaning and light. The false remedies the world offers to fill the void … in fact widen the abyss. Only love can save us from falling, but not merely any love. It must have the purity of Grace, which God transforms and renews to fill intoxicated lungs with fresh, clean air and new vital energy. Mary tells us that, however far a man may fall, he never falls beyond the reach of God, who has descended even into hell. However far astray our heart may be led, God is always ‘greater than our heart’. The soft breath of Grace can disperse the darkest clouds, and make life beautiful and rich in meaning even in the most inhumane situations.”

Finally, Mary Immaculate speaks to us of joy, “the true joy that emanates from a heart freed from sin. Sin carries a negative sadness that induces us to close up. Grace brings true joy, which does not depend on possessing things, but is rooted in the innermost, deepest part of the self, and which nothing and no one can take away. Even though some believe that Christianity is an obstacle to joy because they see it as an ensemble of prohibitions and rules, it is essentially a ‘Gospel’, a ‘good tiding’. In fact, Christianity is the proclamation of the victory of Grace over sin, of life over death. Even if it entails sacrifice and a discipline of the mind, heart and behaviour, it is because in man we find the poisonous root of selfishness that causes harm to the self and to others. We must therefore learn to say ‘no’ to the voice of selfishness and ‘yes’ to that of real love. Mary’s joy is complete because in her heart sin casts no shadow. This joy coincides with the presence of Jesus in her life”.

“In this time of Advent”, the Pope concluded, “Mary Immaculate teaches us to listen to the voice of God that speaks to us in silence; to welcome His Grace that frees us from sin and selfishness, so that we may experience true joy”.

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