When Your Glory Appears, My Joy Will be Full

“I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
Show your wondrous mercies,
O savior of those who flee
from their foes to refuge at your right hand.

Hide me in the shadow of your wings,
But I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking, I shall be content in your presence”

(Psalm 17:6-7, 8B and 15).

Today…

Shining Stars

“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”  (Luke 14:27)

The desire for God is written into every human heart, so we should all have some sense of what Jesus demands of us as His disciples. Maybe that’s why many of us turn Him down when He calls us to be one, because we fear the weight of our crosses. I wonder how many aspirants in today’s Gospel abandoned the idea altogether when they learned what Jesus required of them.

Jesus warned us that it would be demanding. He wants us to look hard at what it’ll cost us and to consider the suffering that comes with it. He tells us to renounce our possessions and put Him first before our families and even our own lives!

It’s a severe message Luke’s Gospel brings, but as St. Paul tells us in our first reading, we must make every effort to persevere for our salvation and the salvation of others. Fortunately, we learn quickly that material possessions become less important to us the more we hunger for Jesus’ presence.

When we put Jesus before our own families, He sends us grace to see that He created the ones we love and they are His gifts to us. Without Him we have nothing, and that’s why we love Him more; that’s why we love Him first.

In reality, accepting the call is the most difficult part, but Jesus comes at once to give us courage and each trial leaves us with tremendous strength and even joy. As disciples we put to use all Jesus reveals to us, to accept our crosses with patience, speak our faith with courage and to bear witness to it with confidence, even at the cost of our own lives.

Such strength should have us repeating the words St. Paul left for us, “Even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.” (Philippians 2:17)

With more joy than ever imagined, we push forward as disciples of Christ. Some will think we’ve given up a great deal, but we’re still the same stars. We’re just shining brighter in a world that so desperately needs His light.  e.

Happy St. Teresa of Calcutta Day!

Something beautiful…

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The Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the oldest Marian Feast, returns every year in the heart of summer. It is an opportunity to rise with Mary to the heights of the spirit where one breathes the pure air of supernatural life and contemplates the most authentic beauty, the beauty of holiness.”
~ Pope Benedict XVI, homily on the Solemnity of the Assumption, August 15, 2008

“If anyone comes to me, I want to lead them to Him.” – Edith Stein

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Today is the Memorial of Edith Stein

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr

“Things were in God’s plan which I had not planned at all. I am coming to the living faith and conviction that – from God’s point of view – there is no chance and that the whole of my life, down to every detail, has been mapped out in God’s divine providence and makes complete and perfect sense in God’s all-seeing eyes.”

St. Teresa Benedicta (1891-1942), began life as Edith Stein, the child of Jewish parents. By the time she was a teenager, though, she identified as an atheist. She earned a doctorate in philosophy, summa cum laude, and her thesis “The Problem with Empathy” earned her great renown. Later, while trying to gain a professorship, a near-impossible feat for women of the day, St. Teresa Benedicta had a conversion experience. St. Teresa of Avila’s autobiography inspired her, and in 1922 she was baptized. She continued academic life and translated works of Aquinas and Newman. In 1934, she professed in the Carmelite Order. Sadly, her path took an abrupt turn. As World War II engulfed Europe, St. Teresa’s Jewish heritage caused her to be arrested and placed in Auschwitz, where she was killed. She is remembered as a ‘daughter of Israel,’ who was faithful to both her Jewish heritage and her Christian beliefs.

Today’s Catholic Mass Readings here.

Sweet Peace

PEACE by Henry Vaughan, 1650

My soul, there is a country
Far beyond the stars,
Where stands a wingèd sentry
All skillful in the wars :
There, above noise and danger,
Sweet Peace sits crown’d with smiles,
And One born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files.
He is thy gracious Friend,
And—O my soul awake !—
Did in pure love descend,
To die here for thy sake.
If thou canst get but thither,
There grows the flower of Peace,
The Rose that cannot wither,
Thy fortress, and thy ease.
Leave then thy foolish ranges ;
For none can thee secure,
But One, who never changes,
Thy God, thy life, thy cure.

“He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent.” St. Augustine

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“God willed that man should be left in the hand of his own counsel (cf. Sir 15:14), so that he might of his own accord seek his creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him” (GS 17 § 1).

Freedom is the power to act or not to act, and so to perform deliberate acts of one’s own. Freedom attains perfection in its acts when directed toward God, the sovereign Good”  (CCC 1743, 1744).

Our Spiritual Family

A reflection on today’s Sacred Scripture:

Imagine you’re the one who relays the message to Jesus that His mother and close relatives are waiting outside the crowds to speak to Him.  No doubt you’d be flabbergasted by Jesus’ response: “Who is my mother?  Who are my brothers?”  (Matthew 12:48)

Jesus wasn’t turning His back on His relatives.  He was teaching that to be His disciple means saying yes to God’s invitation to belong to His family by living in conformity with His way of life: “For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12:50)  Family ties are vital, but as Christians, our first vocation is to follow Jesus.

Many people aren’t a part of an earthly family and at times feel they’re without a friend in the world.  But when we live in friendship with Jesus, our family circle grows to millions as we become part of the spiritual union with everyone in Heaven who served God faithfully while on earth, and those on earth who live in His friendship along with us.

Today’s Gospel promises that if everyone were to draw near to Jesus, there’d be no more loneliness in the world, for He not only becomes our truest of friends, but our brother, sharing with us the same loving Father in Heaven.

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Like Sheep Without a Shepherd

Again, Jesus amazes the crowds when He heals a demoniac, but the Pharisees respond with suspicion, declaring to all that Jesus’ power comes from the devil.  The crowds are confused by this and feel abandoned by their religious leaders, especially after they hear Jesus teach in their synagogues and see more of His miraculous healings.  Jesus’ heart is moved with pity for them because they recognize Him as Truth, but having been deserted in their own place of worship, are now like sheep without a shepherd, who only thirst for more of Him.  So Jesus sends His disciples out on a mission, telling them to ask the Master of the harvest to send out laborers for His abundant harvest.

Our world is still vastly troubled and in a state of confusion, because like the Pharisees, too many religious leaders are leery of the Truth the Gospel brings.  But it was by this Truth that Jesus received the power to heal when He disposed His heart to do the will of His Father.

Jesus has many followers, but few who are willing to become laborers and proclaim the Gospel of His Kingdom.  We want only to see His miracles, feel His consolation — but not His sufferings.  Today’s Gospel incites the disciples of our time to become true laborers by imitating Jesus, the Great Laborer, by bringing into our prayer-lives the desire to cooperate with the divine plan of our Father, the Master of the harvest, and to share the message of Truth to those He brings to us.  e.