November 8, 2020 – Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Heart’s Oil
Father Alex Yeung, LC
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that you are here calling me to prayer. I believe in the reality and strength of your love, poured out for me. I trust that I can enter into this love now through prayer and find all the courage I need to seek you actively. I love you, Lord. May this prayer serve as a sincere act of my love for you.
Petition: Lord, prepare my heart for Love.
- Called to Meet the Bridegroom: God became man to encounter each one of us in a human way. Yet the encounter is not distant, brief or superficial. It is intimate; God presents himself as a “bridegroom.” He is the reason for joy and celebration. The 10 bridesmaids represent the bride, sharing in her joy. Their sole mission is to greet and accompany the bridegroom into the wedding feast. No one can take their place. How seriously they take their role will determine how well they fulfill it. The Church is Christ’s bride. Like the bridesmaids, must I not have a deeper understanding of Christ and his love for the Church, if he is to be my joy and reason to celebrate?
- Life Is a Preparation: Time is one of God’s most precious gifts. Once lost, it can never be restored. We realize that the most important moment of life is in fact the moment of death. Yet, that last hour will be in some way the result and summary of all the hours we have lived until that moment. Every moment is a preparation to meet the Lord who loves us and has given his life to win our salvation. We will not be able to improvise when the moment of truth comes. Each act of faith, trust and love—every effort to sacrifice and do God’s will—establishes a relationship with the Bridegroom. My life is a search to know and love him, to be with him. How ready, open and surrendered will my heart be? Will I still want to greet him?
- Does He Know Me: What words could be more desperate than, “Lord, open to us”? And what more tragic than “I do not know you”? The Bridegroom certainly knows the bride, the one for whom he has given his life. But he knows us in love, what his love calls us to be. So he cannot know us only if we “fall out of love.” Our disposition while we await the Bridegroom—which sums up faith, hope and love—is gratitude. The Lord, who loved us first, will look to find a grateful heart that has been transformed by the graces of baptism, repentance and charity. A grateful heart does not forget him. Not a day goes by without a loving remembrance and acts of thanksgiving. Little wonder he left us the Eucharist, the thanksgiving sacrament, through which to prepare for his coming.
Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, help me to anticipate your coming by finding you in each person on my path. May I never fail to prepare my heart to love you and share the joy of your Kingdom. Reveal to me the depths and qualities of your love so that I can prepare to give you a ready, sincere and worthy response.
Resolution: I will take time to resolve or put aside the worries or hardships of the day in order to recognize and love Christ in those I love.
November 9, 2020 – Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
Father Steven Reilly, LC
John 2: 13-22
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are here with me, and I hope in your boundless mercy and love. Thank you for watching over me and keeping me in your friendship. Thank you for the precious gift of our Mother, the Church.
Petition: Lord, increase my zeal!
- The Indestructible Temple: Today we celebrate the dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica, known as the “mother and head of all the churches.” Going to Rome and visiting this wonderful church, now some seventeen centuries old, one gets a sense of the durability of Catholicism. The Catholic Church has been around for a long time, and it will be around for a lot longer—until judgment day, to be exact. No matter how hard the world has tried, it hasn’t been able to destroy the temple of the Church. This should give us a deep confidence that the Lord is with us as we journey through history.
- Purification: Being indestructible doesn’t mean, however, that the Catholic Church does not need constant purification. When our Lord came to the temple in Jerusalem, he found many things that marred the spirit of prayer and devotion that was to characterize that sacred building. His vigorous reaction serves to underline the high vocation of holiness that God had given to the Chosen People. We Catholics have inherited that call; yet all too often, the ways of the world creep into our souls. Each one of us needs to submit to the Lord’s purification. He will challenge us in our conscience, and sometimes that will sting like the whip of cords. But if we are sincere in our desires, we accept this with humility, aware that our souls must be living temples of God’s presence.
- Consuming Zeal: When the apostles contemplated our Lord’s action in the temple, “zeal” was the word that summed it all up. Jesus is zealous because he doesn’t accept the status quo of entrenched mediocrity. The day he arrives it is no longer business as usual: His Father’s house WILL be respected. Too often we let the barnacles of laziness and the accretions of apathy weigh down and extinguish our zeal. Every day we must pray that the Lord will once again “enkindle in our hearts the fire of his love.” Our zeal in living the faith is part of the way God works to make this temple of his Church indestructible. Don’t we want to cooperate with his love, so that the “gates of hell will not prevail?”
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I love your Church. I thank you for the priceless gift of my Catholic faith. Protect the Church from all her enemies and help me to be an effective apostle filled with authentic zeal.
Resolution: I will offer myself to collaborate in a parish ministry or other Catholic apostolate out of love for the Church.
November 10, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
The “Right” of Gratitude
Father Edward Hopkins, LC
Jesus said to the Apostles: “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”
Introductory Prayer: Jesus, I believe in you, my Lord and my Creator! You have given me everything, and you owe me nothing. You have forgiven me everything when I owed you more than I could ever pay. I trust in your forgiveness and love, Lord.
Petition: Jesus, help me to be grateful to you.
- Proud Attitudes: How often are we offended by how others treat us, by a lack of gratitude, respect or appreciation? However justified the reactions of our sensitivity, what lies at the root of our complaints is pride. Looking out from my own broken creaturely condition, I can’t help but see myself for more than I am and expect more respect from everyone – including God. Yet, before God I am but a poor, tiny and dependent creature. From him I receive all that I am and need. How can I demand anything from him? Even worse, how can I complain when I recognize that I am an ungrateful sinner who has denied the rights and love of my Creator?
- The Fundamental Relationship: Our culture has become one of “entitlement.” We view ourselves as having rights – “just” expectations –, and we expect that much is owed to us. Thus, we see children demanding what they want, spouses expecting their preferences to be respected, and the belief that government must provide us with everything. God gets thrown into the fray as well, so that he, too, must deliver according to our attitude of spoiled children. What we forget is that we have received everything from God, and we owe him everything. Jesus’ image of the servant and master is not just a metaphor. Although his free and generous gift of redemption raises us up to the level of children and friends, he owes us nothing. Our fundamental relationship with God must be that of a grateful creature with a loving creator. We must start there.
- Humble Attitudes: Far from asking us to act as “unprofitable servants,” Jesus wants to free us from the pride that enslaves. The virtues of service, gratitude, honor and obedience may not be popular today, but they forever reflect the heart of a child of God. Jesus embraced all these virtues and the attitudes of humility that they require. My first duty in life is to serve and obey God. My duty of gratitude can never be exhausted, for he gives me so many gifts—life, faith, family, etc.—, and he leads me to a love that is self-giving rather than demanding my rights before God and others.
Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord Jesus, help me to embrace my condition as creature with humble simplicity. Open my mind and heart to the many endless expressions of your generous love. Teach me a gratitude that thinks more of you than of me.
Resolution: I will pray for the grace to show gratitude to God in my daily activities, striving to make these acts of gratitude occur.
November 11, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop
The Highest of All Prayers
Father Alex Yeung, LC
Luke 17: 11-19
As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going, they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
Introductory Prayer: I love you my Lord, because you are love itself. Forgive all that is in me that does not come from your love and does not reflect your love. If I am to become what you want me to be, it will happen only if I allow you to act in me.
Petition: Lord, grant me the gift of gratitude towards you.
- From Receiver to Giver: These poor lepers are outcasts, banned from communion with all society. Their only hope is Christ. They have nothing to lose by asking, and so they make their plea. Standing at a distance from Christ, according to the law, they acknowledge their own helplessness and beg for mercy. They receive it: Christ heals them, and they go on their way, satisfied with his gift. To our Lord’s dismay, however, only one returns to give thanks. To give thanks in Greek is EuXaristia. Only one is Eucharistic; only one is saved.
- A Just Return: Our Lord rewards gratitude. Why is our thanksgiving so important to God? In a way, by showing gratitude we justly return to God what he deserves. Take the example of the lepers: They are helpless outcasts. They can’t do anything for themselves except beg—much like our situation before God. We, too, are spiritual lepers begging God’s mercy. If we were to accept God’s gift without giving thanks, we would be reduced to mere consumers of grace, incapable of giving anything back. But God wants to save us from that predicament, and he asks our thanksgiving, euXaristia.
- From Thanksgiving to Communion: What is the dynamic of thanksgiving? When we give thanks, we are no longer passive recipients; we become active givers, giving back to One who has given us what we do not deserve. When we become active givers, God places us on another level—another level capable of receiving even more from him. By giving thanks for what he had received, the leper was capable of receiving more from God. Indeed, he did receive more—he was saved. Saved by God’s mercy, he was now capable of receiving still more, of growing in intimacy with God. God invites us into a personal relationship today, into a Eucharistic relationship in which we are no longer mere passive recipients of his grace, but coworkers of his redemption. In living a life of thanksgiving, a Eucharistic life, we attract many blessings for our own souls, our families, our parish, and for souls in danger of being lost.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, make me aware of the many gifts you have given me so that I may respond to them and give you what you deserve: my heartfelt thanksgiving. May I be more thankful and thus deepen my communion with you.
Resolution: I will make a visit to the Eucharist today, if possible, and consider the many gifts God has given me. In adoration I will thank him with all my being.
November 12, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr
The Kingdom Within
Father Edward Hopkins, LC
Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus said in reply, “The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the kingdom of God is among you.” Then he said to his disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. There will be those who will say to you, ‘Look, there he is,’ or ‘Look, here he is.’ Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your presence in my life. You have called me to share in your faith and love. I trust that you will help me grow closer to you. I love you, Lord, here and now. I will live this day in prayer.
Petition: Lord, help me to understand your Kingdom better.
- When? Since the Pharisees had the wrong notion of the Kingdom of God, they could hardly ask the proper questions concerning it. Their expected kingdom was a worldly kingdom that would cast off foreign domination and restore sovereignty to Israel. But Christ’s kingdom is concerned more about the state of the soul and the struggle between good and evil than external nations. The Pharisees’ misperception kept them from recognizing Christ and his kingdom. Thousands of years later we, too, can be susceptible to the errors of the Pharisees. For us, a lack of faith can keep us from seeing that the Kingdom of God comes only when we accept Jesus as king of our souls. Only when we allow him to rule and order our lives does his kingdom come. The “when” is now. Now is the moment for me to encounter Christ and make him my king.
- Where? Christ’s disciples also struggled to understand the nature of the kingdom. They sought to see “the days of the Son of Man,” a powerful reign where Christ was supreme with the entire world subject to him. Yet, Christ comes first to reign in the heart of each person. In my own heart, do I believe in Christ and accept his will? Do I love him and sacrifice myself in order to respond to his will? Am I building the kingdom from my prayer and life of grace?
- How? If the kingdom is here and now, then how do we enter? We enter the same way our King enters—through the door of suffering and perseverance. “First he must suffer greatly and be rejected.” Belief is not just a one-time acceptance. Faith must be lived throughout the great and little trials we encounter in life. In this way we make faith and the kingdom more our own. We need to remember that in the end, it is the kingdom—and the King himself—who comes to us, like lightning across the sky.
Conversation with Christ: Dear Jesus, help me to understand your kingdom. Build your kingdom within me, in my thoughts and desires. Become my life and my love. Cut away any distance between us. Make my life the light and salt to spread your kingdom effectively to those with whom I cross paths.
Resolution: Tonight, I will dedicate a longer and calmer time to examine my conscience. I will look for progress as well as the struggles of the kingdom within me.
November 13, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, virgin
Living My Encounter with Christ
Father Edward Hopkins, LC
Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; on the day when Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all. So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, a person who is on the housetop and whose belongings are in the house must not go down to get them, and likewise a person in the field must not return to what was left behind. Remember the wife of Lot. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it. I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. And there will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken, the other left.” They said to him in reply, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather.”
Introductory Prayer: I believe in you, Lord, my companion and strength. I believe that you come out to meet me each day, asking me to depend more on you and less on creatures. I hope in you, Lord, as the one who fills my longing to love and be loved. I love you here and now with my prayer and with my desire to be faithful and generous in the little things you ask of me.
Petition: Lord, help me to put you first in my life.
- They Were Eating and Drinking: In the time of Noah and of Lot, God’s judgment was said to come down upon man. Yet the real moment of judgment for each one of us comes immediately upon our own death. It is then that the kingdom will be fully revealed to us, and it will be decided whether we will be part of it or not. But it is in the course of my own life that my option for being received into the kingdom is decided. God comes to me today. How will I respond? My response now and each day determines my eternal place in the kingdom.
- Do Not Return to What Was Left Behind: In most disasters people have little chance to collect belongings; those who try are often lost as a result. The same will be true of the Final Judgment—or at our own death; when Jesus comes, will I be ready? What do I most cherish? What I must hold on to is my relationship with Christ. And this implies in so many ways losing “my life” here. Do I live with the attitude of losing my life a little more each day, detaching myself from things, activities and people, so as to be freer to love, serve and be with Christ?
- Where the Body Is: “Where Lord?” the disciples ask; where will the day of the Son of man take place? It will take place, says Jesus, wherever you are. Whether we die and encounter Christ in a personal judgment or are alive to encounter the Lord at his Second Coming and the Final Judgment, the reality is the same. Standing next to a saint or a sinner will not alter our fate. Who we know or what contacts we have will do little. Where we are in our relationship with Christ will be the only real determining factor. Where am I, Lord, today, in relationship with you? May this be my only concern!
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, increase my desire to live my life in close relation with you. Order all my activities according to your will, and my relationships according to your heart. “I want whatever you want, because you want it, the way you want it, as long as you want it” (Prayer of Pope Clement XI).
Resolution: I will give priority to my relationship with Christ. I will make prayer my first act today before every meal.
November 14, 2020 – Saturday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Pray with Faith
Father Edward Hopkins, LC
Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Introductory Prayer: I believe in you, Lord, for you are mine and have proved your love for me. I trust you, for you have never let me down and know what is best for my life. I love you Lord for all your gifts. I desire to love and to do your will.
Petition: Teach me to pray always, Lord.
- Becoming Weary: We can become weary in prayer when we don’t see results. This happens because we have a distorted idea of prayer, or we have taken on worldly views that undermine our appreciation for its true value, or simply because we experience what seems to be failure in prayer (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2726-2728). Prayer is a gift and comes from the Holy Spirit. It is neither a machine nor a magic formula. It requires effort on our part, for it is an act of love, self-giving. Prayer works if I persevere and allow God to act. Sometimes I will not see its effects. To continue to seek God in prayer is already the best fruit of prayer. Do I depend on him?
- The Judge: If prayer is about giving myself and depending more on God, then it becomes a question of how I understand God. I depend only on those I trust, and I trust only those who have proven their love and ability to support me. Do I really believe God is all good, all-loving and all-powerful? Do I believe he cares about me? God for us is a judge, but so much more. He is first of all a loving father and a dedicated, unconditional savior and lover. As a loving Father he wants our trusting dependence. He wants us to believe.
- The Chosen Ones: Who are we for God? We are more than simple creatures, more than worthless slaves. We are beloved children, for whom he died and to whom he gives everything. We are the frustrated scholars and broken lovers that he desires to raise up to share his infinite truth and love. We are chosen ones, chosen for him, for happiness, forever. Out of the darkness and slavery of sin, he frees us so that his glory will shine in us. Now, if we are all this and more for God, why do we doubt in prayer? Let us place all our confidence in him.
Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord Jesus, increase my knowledge of your love for me. Help me to trust you in my everyday life. Open my heart to persevere in prayer. Grant me the humility to see how I need to pray, always and in so many ways. Teach me what prayer is and how to do it well for love of you.
Resolution: Throughout the day, I will dedicate myself to simple, small invocations and prayers that express my love, gratitude and trust in God.
November 15, 2020 – Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Invest in Christ
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two. But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’”
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I know that you don’t want me to live my life in fear. Only one type of fear is legitimate: the fear of losing you. Because I know you will never leave me, I am not afraid of this either. I know that I can lose you only if I leave you. Jesus, I place my hope in you and offer you all my love.
Petition: Heavenly Father, grant me the grace of increased hope and trust in you.
- To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected: At times, life can seem a little overwhelming, and we can feel we just don’t have what it takes. Then we are reminded of a certain truth: Christ never gives us more than we can handle! When Christ gives us a mission or allows a temptation, he always provides the talents and grace to complete that mission or resist that temptation. What, then, is there to be afraid of? Each of us has been given a certain amount of talents; thus, we are expected to bear a certain amount of fruit.We are not expected to bear fruit beyond the talents we have been given. Each of us is faithful to the degree in which we glorify God by using our talents!
- There Is Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself: St. John tells us that “God is love.” There is, then, only one proper response to him: love. It is amazing to think that we can fear him who is described simply as “love.” We might fear what will happen in the future—college, job, family, and so on—but does this really solve anything? If we look into the past, it’s easy to see that many of our fears were unfounded and unrealized. So why is this fear present? Satan will use any means to separate us from our God who is love. If he can’t get us to fall by committing sin, he paints a picture that might make us fear or fall into discouragement. It has been said that “after mortal sin our biggest enemy is discouragement.” Our faults keep us humble, aware that we are always in need of Christ. No disposition brings greater joy to the heart of Christ than that of a humble, trustful child.
- Take a Risk for Christ: Christ took the ultimate risk for me! He died knowing full well that I might not choose him, and yet the small chance that I would, far outweighed the chance that I would reject him. Again I am reminded that Christ didn’t die for a whole mass of people, but that he died for each of us individually: He died for me! Jesus, I want to be like the first disciples who loved you with an unrestrained love. I want to go out on a limb for you! I want to offer my life for the salvation of one soul, knowing full well that he might not choose you!
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I know that you do not want me to be afraid of failure. I know that if I try my hardest for you, there will be no such thing. Please help me always to fight courageously in order to better myself for your glory.
Resolution: Today, when the opportunity presents itself, I will speak to someone about Christ.