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Weekly meditation

 November 23, 2014. The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
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Sheep and Goats
November 23, 2014. The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ´Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.´ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ´Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?´ And the king will say to them in reply, ´Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.´ Then he will say to those on his left, ´Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.´ Then they will answer and say, ´Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?´ He will answer them, ´Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.´ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this chance to spend time with you in prayer. You are the Prince of Peace and the Lord of Mercy. I trust in your goodness and love. I love you and earnestly long to love you more each day.

Petition: Lord, help me to translate my faith in you into good deeds done for others.

1. Judgment Day: All of our life is, in a sense, a preparation for the judgment we face at life´s end. That is when we go before Our Lord and give account for everything we have done or failed to do. No excuses will be accepted, no more "second chances" given. Jesus´ mercy doesn’t mean he ignores justice. "Mercy differs from justice, but is not in opposition to it," wrote Pope Saint John Paul II in his 1980 encyclical, Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy). Would I be ready to face the Lord this very day? If not, why not? What facet of my life do I need to change right now?

2. The Sheep: The sheep to be saved are the people who helped others, who showed mercy, who didn´t turn a cold shoulder to someone in need. Our Lord doesn´t praise them for their many prayers so much as for their good deeds. Prayer is important, of course. But it´s not enough. Christ wants our love for him to be reflected in our love for others. Oddly, many of those to be saved will not have realized that it was really Christ they were helping. Do I see Christ in those who need help? Do I see Christ in my family members? My co-workers? The demanding boss? The unpopular classmate? The smelly beggar?

3. The Goats: It´s scary to think that those who will be lost were not necessarily "bad people." In this passage Our Lord doesn´t chide them for doing wicked things. He doesn´t accuse them of starting wars or peddling drugs or committing acts of terrorism. Rather, he faults them for the sin of omission, for things they didn´t do. "You gave me no food …. You gave me no clothing." We may think ourselves good Christians because we don´t cheat on our taxes or look at pornography or miss Mass on Sundays. But acts of charity are key, too. We should do these without neglecting the others.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I don´t want to end up with the goats at the Last Judgment. That´s why I want to take my faith seriously. I want to have a generous heart. But do I limit my generosity? Why can´t I see you in my neighbor? You have loved me unconditionally. Help me to respond to your love by loving others unconditionally.

Resolution: Before noon, I will perform one small act of charity for someone close to me.

By Father Edward McIlmail, LC

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2014-11-23

The Richest Gift
November 24, 2014. Memorial of Saint Andrew Dũng-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs

Luke 21:1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, "I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood."

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe that you have blessed me with life and with a vibrant faith. Thank you. I dedicate this time and prayer to you. I love you, and I offer you all that I am and all that I have with the desire of becoming a joyful gift to you.

Petition: Lord, teach me to share joyfully all that I have received!

1. Some Wealthy People: Jesus sat before the temple treasury. What did Jesus see as he looked on? He saw more than we do. He saw the heart. Wealth tends to captivate us with desire and enslave us with concerns and worries. Jesus saw many hearts squeeze out just a couple drops of their abundant security, a gesture that was neither painful nor difficult. The act of fulfilling, or thinking they were fulfilling a duty to God, caused them to glow with self-satisfaction. Some even were bloated with pride for having given so much, and yet their act was empty of real self-giving. They gave with routine indifference. Their giving lacked love. What does Jesus see in my daily or weekly gifts? Do I generously give God my all when I see him on the altar? Do I generously give him my all when I am on my knees in prayer? Do  I give him my all on my feet at work?

2. A Poor Widow: Only Jesus could have seen that this widow was now reduced to total dependence on family or friends. She gave more because she gave herself with a heart full of surrender. Is there anything we can give God that he has not already given us? We can give God our trustful surrender. The poor widow gave to God with trust since she knew that he would continue to care for her. She had no other real desire but to be with him and be enriched by him. Her giving was serene and resigned, not despairing, but rather full of hope. She had the hope of one who knows deep down how much God loves her. How much do I trust and depend on him, particularly when other securities begin to disappear?

3. Offering My Whole Life: Jesus shows the great importance of how we give—not only of what we give. What we have—our possessions and those, which in some way we have made our own—are not for us. We have them so that we might give them, and we should give them back to God, for they are his. We give them as an expression of our love for God. I give my life when I work diligently, practice charity, pray, or sacrifice for love of Christ. All these acts of love, if not made explicit before, are made into an intentional gift to Jesus, when I mentally place them upon the paten along with the hosts to be consecrated during the Offertory at Mass. Do I give him my whole life?

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, awaken me to all you are for me, and let me realize all that you have given me. May I never cease to thank you through my own self-giving. You are my living and constant invitation to be more generous, to give more often and with more love. Open my heart, Lord, to your work!

Resolution: In prayer, I will make a list of all that I can do for Jesus this week and offer this to him. Then, on Sunday during the Offertory, I will mentally place before him on the paten all the sacrifices I have made during the week—my real gift to him, given with faith and love.

By Father Edward Hopkins, LC

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2014-11-24

Why So Glum?
November 25, 2014. Tuesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, "I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood."

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe that you have blessed me with life and with a vibrant faith. Thank you. I dedicate this time and prayer to you. I love you, and I offer you all that I am and all that I have with the desire of becoming a joyful gift to you.

Petition: Lord, teach me to share joyfully all that I have received!

1. Some Wealthy People: Jesus sat before the temple treasury. What did Jesus see as he looked on? He saw more than we do. He saw the heart. Wealth tends to captivate us with desire and enslave us with concerns and worries. Jesus saw many hearts squeeze out just a couple drops of their abundant security, a gesture that was neither painful nor difficult. The act of fulfilling, or thinking they were fulfilling a duty to God, caused them to glow with self-satisfaction. Some even were bloated with pride for having given so much, and yet their act was empty of real self-giving. They gave with routine indifference. Their giving lacked love. What does Jesus see in my daily or weekly gifts? Do I generously give God my all when I see him on the altar? Do I generously give him my all when I am on my knees in prayer? Do  I give him my all on my feet at work?

2. A Poor Widow: Only Jesus could have seen that this widow was now reduced to total dependence on family or friends. She gave more because she gave herself with a heart full of surrender. Is there anything we can give God that he has not already given us? We can give God our trustful surrender. The poor widow gave to God with trust since she knew that he would continue to care for her. She had no other real desire but to be with him and be enriched by him. Her giving was serene and resigned, not despairing, but rather full of hope. She had the hope of one who knows deep down how much God loves her. How much do I trust and depend on him, particularly when other securities begin to disappear?

3. Offering My Whole Life: Jesus shows the great importance of how we give—not only of what we give. What we have—our possessions and those, which in some way we have made our own—are not for us. We have them so that we might give them, and we should give them back to God, for they are his. We give them as an expression of our love for God. I give my life when I work diligently, practice charity, pray, or sacrifice for love of Christ. All these acts of love, if not made explicit before, are made into an intentional gift to Jesus, when I mentally place them upon the paten along with the hosts to be consecrated during the Offertory at Mass. Do I give him my whole life?

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, awaken me to all you are for me, and let me realize all that you have given me. May I never cease to thank you through my own self-giving. You are my living and constant invitation to be more generous, to give more often and with more love. Open my heart, Lord, to your work!

Resolution: In prayer, I will make a list of all that I can do for Jesus this week and offer this to him. Then, on Sunday during the Offertory, I will mentally place before him on the paten all the sacrifices I have made during the week—my real gift to him, given with faith and love.

By Father Edward McIlmail, LC

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2014-11-25

Costly Catholicism
November 26, 2014. Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:12-19

Jesus said to his disciples: "Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

Introductory Prayer: Jesus my Savior, thank you for another day and another chance to grow in holiness with your grace. I love you and wish to make you the true center of my thoughts, desires and actions.

Petition: Lord, help me face the difficulties of practicing my faith day-to-day.

1. Persecution: Opposition from the world is the price we pay for following Christ. No pain, no gain. Why should that surprise us? If living the Gospel were easy, all the world would be saints. But the Gospel is demanding. It rubs against our fallen human nature. It demands of us — and even makes us unpopular. Why? Because people who do good are a thorny reminder to those who don´t. It shouldn´t surprise us that the neighbors look down on us for having so many kids. Or that the guys in the dorm snicker at us for living chastely. Or that the boss overlooks us for a promotion because we wouldn´t donate to that pro-abortion group last Christmas during the company fund drive. Do I realize that to be a Christian is to be persecuted?

2. No Defense: When Christ tells us not to prepare our defense he´s not telling us to sit back and do nothing. Rather, he wants us to use our talents for the Kingdom. Christ is inviting us to trust that ultimately the victory of good over evil belongs to him. God has his time and place for everything. In the meantime we are called to build the Kingdom wherever we can—in our families, our offices, our schools, our communities. How am I building the Kingdom in the areas around me?

3. Wisdom from Above: "I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking…" When we stay close to Christ in prayer and deed, he takes over our lives little by little. And that´s good. Our selfishness fades. Our heart grows. We die to ourselves. "He must increase; I must decrease" (John 3:30). But we have to ask ourselves: Do we really believe in the Gospel? Do we believe in it enough to use Christ´s words when we have to respond to the nonbelievers around us? How often do we identify ourselves as Catholic in public?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know it´s not easy to be seen as your friend. People laugh at us — if they don´t feel sorry for us. They don´t understand where we are coming from. Help me understand some of the loneliness you must have felt when you went against the world´s standards. Help me be faithful to you regardless of the cost.

Resolution: In conversation or in an e-mail I will use a line of Christ’s wisdom from the Gospel.

By Father Edward McIlmail, LC

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2014-11-26

Scary Times
November 27, 2014. Thursday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:20-28

Jesus said to his disciples: "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that its desolation is at hand. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. Let those within the city escape from it, and let those in the countryside not enter the city, for these days are the time of punishment when all the scriptures are fulfilled. Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth and a wrathful judgment upon this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. "There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand."

Introductory Prayer: Jesus my Savior, thank you for another day and another chance to grow in holiness with your grace. I love you and wish to make you the true center of my thoughts, desires and actions.

Petition: Lord, give me a healthy but realistic Christian optimism.

1. Desolation at Hand: What a grim Gospel passage! Lots of talk of armies and calamity and roaring seas. Jesus is speaking of the coming destruction of Jerusalem (in A.D. 70) as well as images of the end times In our day we can think of wars, terrorism, floods and wonder why the world is such a nasty place sometimes. Why can´t life be easier? Why do so many innocent people suffer? Alas, Our Lord asked the same questions. All the evil we see springs from original sin, from the fall of Adam. It wasn´t God´s plan to have all this suffering--but he allows it. He allows it because he respects our freedom. He allows it too because he knows he can bring good out of it. How do I use my freedom? Do I have enough faith in Christ to be optimistic?

2. Trampled Underfoot: The fall of Jerusalem didn´t mean that God abandoned the world. True, the focus of religion would no longer be the Temple; rather, it would be a new focus: Christ, truly present in the Eucharist. The tabernacle would be the new center of attention. How few souls grasp that truth! After 2,000 years, Jesus is still humble, allowing himself to be kept in a tabernacle. Does that fact influence the way I act in a church? Does it affect the way I dress when going to church? Do I try to enter church with the proper state of heart and mind?

3. Redemption at Hand: Faithful following of Christ gives us the best assurance that our lives have meaning. Christ will make sense of everything at the end of our lives. All our struggles to live the Gospel will be worth it. On the last day we might regret many things, but we will never regret the things we did for Christ. Does that truth guide our lives each day? Do we live each day as if it were our last? What is there in my life that I would be ashamed of on the last day? Why not weed it out of my life now?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to judge the things of my daily life against eternity. Let me see things with your eyes. Let me see what is really valuable and what is fleeting. And help me to act accordingly.

Resolution: I will make a fresh effort to get rid of the biggest vice in my life

By Father Edward McIlmail, LC

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2014-11-27

The Kingdom Is Near
November 28, 2014. Friday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:29-33

Jesus told his disciples a parable. "Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe in you and in the Kingdom you are building in and through me. I believe in the value of my sacrifice and struggles united to yours. I hope to arrive to heaven when you say it is time. I wish to spend myself for those I should love the most.

Petition: Thy Kingdom come, both now and forever!

1. See for Yourselves: In today’s Gospel, Jesus is responding to the disciples’ anxious plea for a “when” and a “with what warning” the end will come (Luke 21:7). He tells them some signs that will precede the imminent fall of Jerusalem as well as the coming of the Son of Man “on the clouds.” But these will all be very apparent, like the coming of summer. So don’t be obsessed with figuring out the “when.” Focus on living and knowing the Kingdom of God now. How easily we are distracted with all that happens around us, yet how difficult it is to be aware of the Kingdom and its demands in my heart and my relations to others in my life! What efforts do I make to discover and to know the present demands of his Kingdom in my life?

2. The Kingdom of God Will Come: Jesus has used many images to describe the Kingdom of God. Like the mustard seed, it is hard to recognize at first. It begins small and grows slowly. But it will come, and this must be our daily prayer of desire: “Thy Kingdom Come!” We must resist a very real temptation. Almost unconsciously we want it to be a worldly Kingdom that will come during our lifetime. We work and pray as though we will soon arrive at our goals and rest from all our spiritual labors. This leads us to get easily discouraged at our lack of progress in prayer and virtue, no less than with the problems that surround us. No, we must live with hope, pushing forward with growing confidence that the Lord will bring his Kingdom to fulfillment, both in us and in the world – when the time is right. Whose kingdom am I seeking?

3. My Words Will Not Pass Away: Another temptation in awaiting the Kingdom is to despair of the times of trial through which we must pass. But in the words of St. Theresa of Jesus, “all things pass,” only God remains. Nothing we suffer will remain as the Kingdom approaches. And yet all these “trials” are the most valuable and powerful means to bring about the Kingdom in our own souls and in the lives of others, especially in those who wander. Use the tools of the Kingdom: Suffer trials with faith, and respond with a love that gives them an eternal value. May we never lose a moment in which to merit graces and to build the Kingdom that comes. In the end, only what we have done for God and for our brothers and sisters remains.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, give me a greater faith and confidence that every cross and burden, no matter how trivial or small, is a means to love. I want to build your Kingdom with you. Keep me focused on the opportunities and demands of the present moment.

Resolution: I will make one small sacrifice at a meal today for someone I wish I could help more.

By Father Edward Hopkins, LC

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2014-11-28

Ready or Not?
November 29, 2014. Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:34-36

Jesus said to his disciples: "Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man."

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe in you and in the Kingdom you are building in and through me. I believe in the value of my sacrifice and struggles united to yours. I hope to arrive to heaven when you say it is time. I wish to spend myself for those I should love the most.

Petition: Rouse my heart, Lord, to live in you!

1. Drowsy Hearts: Our life is a time of preparation, not only for an eternal friendship with God, but for the “assault” of the “tribulations” that must come first. The spiritual battle is real, whether or not we are aware of it, whether or not we want it. We fight each day and in many ways, but the battle is ultimately won in the depths of our hearts. All that puts our hearts to sleep and gives us a false sense of security must be avoided. I may not “carouse and get drunk” in the typical fashion, but do I wander about seeking satisfaction from the world? Am I superficial in my judgments? Do I become so engrossed and absorbed in material matters, works and worries that I am unable to pursue my spiritual life and vocation with a clear and focused attention?

2. That Day: It seems that none of us will escape the trial of that last day. For some it will be sudden and painful, for others it will be prolonged and difficult. But we are all mortal creatures. The great saints all lived with their end in mind. Death was a healthy meditation that moved them to live the present day to the full. Death is the door to my real life. The anticipation of that day need not rob us of joy; rather, it must call us to love. How I live this day determines how I will live “that day” and the everlasting day of eternal life with God. How do I want to live that day?

3. Vigilance and Prayer: This is how Jesus invited his closest friends, the apostles, to live “that day” of his Passion: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Matthew 26:41). The final words of the Our Father must find resonance with how we live. Vigilance requires awareness not only of the enemies and threats that surround us, but also of the weaknesses within us. These elements are at work each day, and so we must be on guard each day to check their influence. This must be the simple and serene priority in our life. But it must always lead us to Christ, to stand before him sincerely and trustingly in prayer. Prayer and vigilance lead to each other. If we do not make prayer the air we breathe, we will suffocate in a polluted world. How much importance am I giving to my habits and life of prayer?

Conversation with Christ: Grant me, dear Jesus, a sense of urgency. Wake me up from any drowsiness or spiritual carelessness. Allow me to see both the threats and opportunities for my life of grace. Keep before my eyes the real meaning of my life and the limited time I have to conquer and to grow in love.

Resolution: I will pray today for the soul in purgatory who was most distracted or least prepared for “that day” of his death.

By Father Edward Hopkins, LC

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2014-11-29

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