Weeks 481-490

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 481: Restore, Repair, Renew: Reflection on Am 9: 11-15

 

“On that day I will raise up the fallen hut of David; I will wall up its breaches, raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old,

That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all nations claimed in my name— oracle of the LORD, the one who does this. Yes, days are coming—oracle of the LORD—

When the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps and the vintager, the sower of the seed;

The mountains shall drip with the juice of grapes, and all the hills shall run with it.

I will restore my people Israel, they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities,

Plant vineyards and drink the wine, set out gardens and eat the fruits.

I will plant them upon their own ground; never again shall they be plucked

From the land I have given them—the LORD, your God, has spoken.” -Amos 9:11-15 NAB

 

 

Restoration. Repairing. Renewing. That’s what this passage is about. Amos is saying this to a divided country. Israel has split into two kingdoms and their split is going to cause their demise because divided, they cannot stand against their enemies. First the North will fall to Assyria, then both the North and South will fall to Babylon. This is the penalty the people will pay for indulging their idolatry despite warning after warning after warning from the prophets. And yet, the Lord gives Amos this word of comfort: when all that is done and the people finally repent, I will restore what they have lost.

 

Well, wait a minute Father. Wasn’t Amos wrong? It didn’t happen. After the Davidic dynasty falls to Babylon it NEVER rises again. Yes it does, in Jesus Christ. What Amos is foretelling here is the rise of the Church. God restored David’s kingdom, because Jesus Christ is a descendant of King David. God renewed Israel by renewing the covenant, a new and better covenant, that gave us access to eternal life. God repaired creation by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross that atoned for the sins of humanity.

 

And this mission of Jesus Christ- to restore, repair, and renew- has now been passed onto us, the Church. How do we accomplish this? Jesus makes it clear that we cannot restore, repair, or renew without the proper tools. You don’t put new wine in old wineskins do you? Of course not! Why not? Because the acidity of the new wine will eat through the old skins and cause them to burst! Then you lose the wine AND the skins. You don’t tear a piece of cloth from a new cloak to patch an old do you? NO! Why not? Because you ruin the new cloak by tearing it, and when you sew that cloth on the old cloak it will just make the tear bigger because the new cloth hasn’t shrunk yet.

 

So if we want to restore, repair and renew, we need the proper tools. That means restoring, repairing and renewing ourselves first. We can’t fix someone else if we’re broken. So how do we restore ourselves? The Eucharist. The Eucharist strengthens us to do the Lord’s will. How do we repair ourselves? Confession. Confession heals the wounds we inflict on our souls through sin. How do we renew ourselves? Prayer and praise of God. Prayer and praise energize us and gives us a sense of purpose. Prayer and praise excite us to do the work of God. Once we do this we’re ready to restore, repair and renew others.

 

How do we restore others? Charity. Charity is more than throwing money at causes. Charity is lifting others up in dignity. That restores people. How do we repair others? Forgive them. We all have someone we can forgive. We all have someone we have a hard time forgiving. But if we come seeking the Lord’s forgiveness in the confessional, we have no right to withhold that forgiveness from anyone else. How do we renew others? By sharing our faith with them. Evangelizing renews people. Sharing the Lord with others gives them a brand new start on life.

 

Brothers and sisters, the Lord has kept his promises to us. He has restored, repaired and renewed us. Now we have to keep our promise to him and do the same for others; for this IS the promise of every confirmed Catholic. Blessed Be God forever.

-Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

God “gives Himself as prize and reward: He is the refreshment of holy souls, the ransom of those in captivity. ‘The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him’ (Lam. 3.25). What will He be then to those who gain His presence? But here is a paradox, that no one can seek the Lord who has not already found Him. It is Thy will, O God, to be found that Thou mayest be sought, to be sought that Thou mayest the more truly be found. But though Thou canst be sought and found, Thou canst not be forestalled. For if we say, ‘Early shall my prayer come before Thee’ (Ps. 88.13), yet doubtless all prayer would be lukewarm unless it was animated by Thine inspiration.”

-St. Bernard of Clairvaux

 

Prayer

 

O HOLY SPIRIT, CREATOR, be propitious to the Catholic Church; and by thy heavenly power make it strong and secure against the attacks of its enemies; and renew in charity and grace the spirit of thy servants, whom Thou hast anointed, that they may glorify Thee and the FATHER and his only begotten SON, JESUS CHRIST, our LORD. Amen. -Raccolta 39

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. What divisions in our society need repair right now?

  2. What wounds in your own soul need repair right now?

  3. Why is it important to renew, refresh, and repair yourself in your spiritual journey?

  4. How does praise of God renew us?

  5. How does the Eucharist refresh us?

  6. How does confession repair us?

  7. What else do you do to refresh, renew, and repair on your spiritual journey?

  8. How can we renew, refresh, and repair others?

  9. What is the difference between “throwing money at causes” and true charity?

  10. What are some examples from the lives of saints of true charity?

  11. What graces do we receive in Confirmation to help us renew, refresh, and repair others?

  12. How does renewing, refreshing, and repairing ourselves and others give glory to God?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 482: Hate Evil and Love Good: Reflection on Amos 5:7,10-15

 

“Woe to those who turn justice into wormwood and cast righteousness to the ground,

They hate those who reprove at the gate and abhor those who speak with integrity;

Therefore, because you tax the destitute and exact from them levies of grain,

Though you have built houses of hewn stone, you shall not live in them;

 

Though you have planted choice vineyards, you shall not drink their wine.

Yes, I know how many are your crimes, how grievous your sins:

Oppressing the just, accepting bribes, turning away the needy at the gate.

(Therefore at this time the wise are struck dumb for it is an evil time.)

Seek good and not evil, that you may live;

Then truly the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you as you claim. Hate evil and love good, and let justice prevail at the gate; Then it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will have pity on the remnant of Joseph.” Amos 5:7,10-15 NAB

 

I love the prophet Amos because he’s very meat and potatoes. There’s very little fluff or symbolism in the prophet Amos. He’s very straightforward. He just bluntly tells it as it is, and I like that. I respect that. “Hate evil and love good,” Amos tells us. Hate, as I have said before, is not simply finding something distasteful. Hate is not avoiding something. Hate is actively seeking its demise. If I hate you, I’m not satisfied with just not having to deal with you. If I hate you, I want to see you ruined. If I hate you, I want to see you destroyed. And if I hate you, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that happens. That’s hate, and that’s why as Christians we are not allowed to hate anything except evil.

 

Evil is the only thing we are allowed to hate, and it should be noted, that NEVER applies to a person. People say this all the time. “She is just pure evil!” That’s wrong. “Those Moslems are all evil!” That’s wrong. “Pro-abortion people are evil!” No. That’s one of those things a Christian should NEVER say about another person. We are all made in the image and likeness of God, and God always creates good things, so, as misled or misguided a person may be, no matter if they have done EVIL things, no PERSON, STRICTLY speaking, IS evil. ALL people have the potential for doing good. Therefore, no person can be evil because evil, by its definition, is completely void of good, and every person has the potential to do good.

 

So no Christian ever has an excuse for hating someone, and no Christian has an excuse for labeling people “evil”. But every Christian should hate evil, and so every Christian should be doing everything in their power to destroy evil. How do we do that? By praying against evil and loving what is good.

 

Whenever I pray the 3rd glorious mystery of the rosary, ‘the descent of the Holy Spirit,’ I ask the Blessed Mother to pray that her spouse, the Holy Spirit, descends anew upon creation to destroy all evil. This should be a regular intention for all of us. But that isn’t enough. We also have to love what is good. Loving something means more than promoting it, although it does include that.

 

I have told you many, many times what love is. Love begins when we want what’s best for another. It grows when we’re willing to do what’s best for another, but love reaches perfection when we’re willing to sacrifice ourselves for what is good for another. So, if we love what is good, that means we have to be willing to sacrifice ourselves for what is good.

 

You see, my brothers and sisters, our problem is that too many people are lukewarm in their approach to God. They don’t really HATE evil. They tolerate it. They may find evil distasteful, but they’re really not interested in actively opposing it. And too many people don’t LOVE what is good. They LIKE good. But they’re not willing to sacrifice themselves for what is good. This is why evil flourishes in the world. And if we want to quell the spread of evil, then actively opposing its spread while sacrificing ourselves for the good is the only way to do it. And blessed be God forever. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

“True love rises above creation and is steeped in God. Such love extends its arms in loving embrace and prays for all, suffers for all, wishes well to all and desires the happiness of all- because God wills it!” - St. Maximilian Kolbe

 

Prayer

 

Jesus, Mary, I love you, save souls. -Prayer given by Jesus to Servant of God, Sr. Consolata Betrone

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Sometimes the truth is challenging. How do you respond to those who “reprove at the gate”or who “speak with integrity”?

  2. Why are we allowed to hate only evil?

  3. What is the difference between liking good and loving the good?

  4. What is the difference between having a distaste for evil and hating evil?

  5. How does lukewarmness prevent us from hating evil and loving good?

  6. How does acting in justice show that you hate evil and love good?

  7. How do we love those who have committed evil acts?

  8. Why is it necessary for true love to “rise above creation”?

  9. How would you explain to someone who is unwilling to forgive?

  10. What prayers do you use most to fight evil?

  11. How can a simple prayer like the one given by Jesus to Sr. Consolata help you to grow in love for what is good?

  12. Consider your relationship with someone you love in light of this quote: “Love begins when we want what’s best for another. It grows when we’re willing to do what’s best for another, but love reaches perfection when we’re willing to sacrifice ourselves for what is good for another.” How does it measure up? Is your love for that person rightly ordered? Why or why not?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 483: Speak, Lord. Your Servant is Listening : Reflection on Amos 7:12-15

 

“To Amos, Amaziah said: “Off with you, seer, flee to the land of Judah and there earn your bread by prophesying! But never again prophesy in Bethel; for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.” Amos answered Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor do I belong to a company of prophets. I am a herdsman and a dresser of sycamores, but the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’” -Amos 7:12-15

 

Do we respond to the Lord’s call? In this reading, the prophet Amos is accosted by Amaziah, a half pagan priest. I say half pagan, because he was NOT a Levitical priest. Amaziah is a priest appointed by King Jeroboam in the north. When the north of Israel broke with the southern Kingdom of Judah, Jeroboam basically began his own religion which mixed elements of Judaism with elements of paganism.

 

And so Amaziah, an invalid priest, tells Amos to leave Israel and go earn a living prophesying in Judah. And Amos answers him, “I was no prophet, nor did I belong to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The Lord took me from following the flock and said to me, ‘Go prophesy to my people Israel.”

 

So Amos was telling Amaziah, “Look, I didn’t ask for this job. I had a career as a shepherd and a gardener. It was the Lord who called me to leave all that behind and come here to preach to you, and try to show you the error of your ways.”

 

How many of us are willing to do what Amos did, and answer the call of the Lord? The Holy Spirit calls to us all the time, to do things and to not do things. Do we listen? Or do we just go about our merry lives and shut the Spirit out? Have you ever been somewhere and gotten the feeling that you should talk to a particular person? It could be a complete stranger! Do you listen to that instinct? Or do you ignore it? What is that is the Lord speaking to your heart, “Hey, this person needs a friendly voice right now.”? Even just a friendly smile and a “Good morning!” can go a long with some people.

 

Every day, we should be praying, “Lord, train me to listen to your promptings.” “Teach me to listen to your voice.” Or if you want a REALLY easy prayer to remember; “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

 

Why are so many people reluctant to pray these prayers? Because they are afraid that the Lord might do to them what he did to Amos- call them away from their nice comfortable niche, and do something crazy, like go evangelize people. Could happen. But don’t be afraid of that.

 

First of all, God is not going to ask you to do what you are not capable of doing. Second, you are capable of doing MORE than you give yourself credit for. Third, we are ALL called to the work of evangelization. Every single confirmed Catholic is an evangelist. But we’re all called to accomplish that end through a variety of different means because we all have been given different gifts.

 

Before I became a priest I was gifted in speaking, writing, and teaching. So the Lord turned me in a direction where those gifts could be used to evangelize others most effectively. It just happened to be the priesthood. What are your gifts? What are you good at? Because you can bet whatever that is, the Lord is calling you to use those gifts in some way that will touch souls, change hearts, and build up his Church. And you can be sure you will encounter an Amaziah or two who will try to discourage you and say, “Stop doing that!” Don’t let them discourage you. Work quietly for the Lord and carry on. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

“My Jesus, obedience works miracles; help me to do our Mother’s will.” - Servant of God Sr. Benigna Consolata Order of the Visitation of the B.V.M

 

Prayer

 

Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my mind. Give me a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity, so that I may always and in all things act according to Your Holy Will. Amen. -St. Francis of Assisi

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Do you want to hear the Holy Spirit’s instructions, or do you resist them?

  2. What do you think is the biggest obstacle to responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit?

  3. What Amaziah’s have you encountered in your following of Christ? How did you respond?

  4. There were many false, hired prophets in the time of Amaziah. What characterizes a true vs. a false prophet?

  5. Why is it important for us to pray for the Lord to speak to us and guide us if He already wants to do this?

  6. How could praying for this every day help you in your spiritual life?

  7. What talents do you have that God has called upon you to use for His glory?

  8. Think of someone in your life or of a saint who has been an example of responding to the Holy Spirit.

  9. What is the difference between using your talents to glorify yourself and using your talents to touch souls?

  10. Our Lady is called “spouse of the Holy Spirit.” How is obedience to Our Lady also obedience to the Holy Spirit?

  11. What do you think of Sr. Benigna Consolata’s statement that “obedience works miracles”?

  12. How does Mary model a person responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit?

 

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 484: Today’s Idols: Reflection on 1 Kings 18:36-40

 

“36 At the time for offering sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came forward and said, “LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, LORD! Answer me, that this people may know that you, LORD, are God and that you have turned their hearts back to you.” 38 The LORD’s fire came down and devoured the burnt offering, wood, stones, and dust, and lapped up the water in the trench. 39 Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said, “The LORD is God! The LORD is God!” 40 Then Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Let none of them escape!” They seized them, and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon and there he slaughtered them.” - 1 Kings 18:36-40

 

God is always testing our commitment. This is shown in this story of Elijah confronting the 400 prophets of Baal. These were Jews that Elijah was confronting, not Canaanites, not pagans.  These were Jews who had turned away from the covenant to follow pagan gods. Why? Because the pagan gods were supposed to offer them what fallen human nature wants: money, sex, and power. All paganism, no matter what the form, encourages us to indulge our animal instincts. THAT’S why paganism is so attractive.  For example, Baal, was a Canaanite fertility god, so part of worship of Baal, was temple prostitution and orgies. Even cheating on your spouse was permissible within the context of Baal worship. 

 

The idea was that such sexual activities aroused Baal to have intercourse with HIS wife Ashteroth, and THEIR intercourse caused the rain to fall to and fertilized the earth so crops could grow. Whether people REALLY believed that, or, whether this "belief" was just an excuse to indulge in sexual desires under the guise of piety, is up for debate. 

 

The Canaanite god Mammon was a god of wealth. Worship of Mammon permitted people to get wealthy even by dishonest means. Have you heard of any of this going on today?

 

Moloch was a god of power, who demanded infant sacrifice in return for allowing you to control the circumstances of your life. Does this sound familiar?

 

Idolatry appeals to our worst fallen tendencies.  That is why it is so offensive to God.

 

In this passage, Elijah confronts the prophets of Baal and tests them. They fail, of course,, because Baal doesn’t exist in reality. Right after this, Elijah orders the execution of the 400 prophets of Baal for leading the people astray. This infuriates the Queen of Israel, Jezebel, a Baal worshiper herself, and she orders the execution of Elijah so he has to flee into the desert. Isn’t it interesting that even after Elijah shows this great sign that there is no other God but the Lord, the people would still rather kill HIM, than give up their idols?

 

Now before we’re tempted to judge the Israelites too harshly, we should realize that many people these days are guilty of the exact same thing. Every time I pray the second luminous mystery; the wedding at Cana, I offer it up for a greater awareness for the sacred nature of marriage; for all married couples, and against everything that sins against marriage: contraception, abortion, divorce, adultery, domestic violence, child abuse, homosexuality, pornography and prostitution. These things are so common in our culture now that they don’t even shock us. When Hugh Hefner died, he was treated like a national hero. He was called a champion of free speech. The man was a smut peddler.  No more. 

 

When I post something pro-life on my Facebook page, sometimes I’m taken on by people who I KNOW are Church going Catholics.  I’ve been called “ignorant” more than once.  In this State, strip clubs got the OK to open for business again before the churches did. The churches finally opened only when people expressed outrage. When Bishop Tobin told Catholics they shouldn’t attend the Gay Pride events, he was publicly attacked, and when I defended the Bishop’s right to teach the faith, in my Sunday homily, we got letters from people who said they were leaving the parish over it. My brothers and sisters, we are living in a culture of Baal worshipers. And when the Church speaks out against this idol, we are criticized, we are mocked, we are scorned, and we are threatened. And always, always, someone decides they’re not coming back to Church anymore because of it.

 

God is always testing our commitment! God is always watching to see what we will reach for --Him or the idols. When all these Corona bans are finally lifted, it will be interesting to see how many people will really come back to Church again. I have no idea what to expect, but I pray for the best. Please pray with me.  And Blessed be God forever. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote From a Saint

 

“Idolatry is worshiping anything that ought to be used, or using anything that is meant to be worshiped.”- Saint Augustine

 

Prayer

 

O God, protector of those who hope in you, without whom nothing has firm foundation, nothing is holy, bestow in abundance your mercy upon us and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide,

we may use the good things that pass in such a way as to hold fast even now to those that ever endure. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. R. Amen.  -Collect prayer from 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Questions for reflection

 

  1. How has God tested your commitment?

  2. How are abortion, contraception, and homosexuality a form of idolatry?

  3. How else do you see these pagan gods worshiped in our culture?

  4. Father Sisco tells us how idolatry is portrayed in worshiping what ought to be used (money, sex, power) for the glory of God. What are some examples of idolatry in which things are used which ought to be worshiped? What does this mean?

  5. How can these things be used for the glory of God instead?

  6. How can we use the things of this earth to obtain the things of heaven?

  7. What can you do to help others learn the truth about idolatry and turn away from it?

  8. What can you do to avoid idolatry in the subtle ways it comes up in our culture today?

  9. Why do you think that the people wanted to kill Elijah even after he showed God’s power! -Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 485: He Missed Mass: A Reflection on John 20: 24-29

 

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

 Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”” -John 20:24-29

 

Poor Thomas will always be remembered by his ONE failure- refusing to believe that Christ had risen from the dead until he had seen it with his own eyes. We don’t remember Peter for his threefold denial of Christ. When we think of Peter, usually the first thing that comes to mind is his identifying Jesus as the Messiah or his walking on water. We remember Peter’s victories, not his failure. The same is true for John. We remember John for laying his head on Jesus’ breast at the last supper and standing at the foot of the cross. We don’t remember John for saying to Jesus after a Samaritan village refused to let them pass through their territory, “Lord, shall we call down fire from heaven to consume them?” No. All of the apostles had their failures. All the apostles had their turn being reprimanded by Jesus by saying or doing something stupid, but we don’t remember those nearly as much as we remember their victories, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, and poor Saint Thomas.

 

When Jesus was determined to go to Jerusalem for the Passover, it was Thomas who said to the other apostles, “Come. Let us go and die with him.” (Quite a display of courage.) So, the question becomes, “WHY did Thomas fail? WHY did Thomas doubt? And why is it so important we remember HIS failure, over the failures of the other apostles?”

 

Why did Thomas NOT believe his fellow apostles when they told him they had SEEN the risen Christ? Very simply because Thomas skipped Mass. WHERE were the others when the Lord appeared to them? Sitting in the upper room, the room where they had had the FIRST Mass, the Last Supper, on the FIRST day of the week- Sunday, the Lord’s Day- gathered in prayer. They were having Mass, and Thomas for whatever reason, wasn’t there.

 

WHY wasn’t Thomas there? We don’t know. Scripture doesn’t tell us. But I’m sure Thomas THOUGHT he had a good reason for not being there. Maybe it was a nice day, and he wanted to go to the beach. Maybe Sunday was the ONLY day he could get yard work done. But for whatever reason, Thomas wasn’t there, and BECAUSE he wasn’t there he missed the opportunity to experience the risen Christ, and in being absent, he also stunts his spiritual understanding, so he can’t believe the same men he just spent three years of his life with when they share with him what they had experienced. Do you see why coming to Mass is so important?

 

If we don’t come to Mass, we not only can’t fully experience Christ, but we also hinder our faith on which our salvation hinges. I think we can all concede that if someone told us they saw alive again someone whose funeral WE had attended, THAT would be difficult for us to believe. And yet Thomas was called to believe it, and Jesus reprimanded him for NOT believing it. 

 

 But there are other things that we find just as difficult to believe that are also important to our salvation. If we don’t come to Mass, we will miss out on grace to help us believe these other difficult things, too. How do you think Jesus will react to not believing that abortion is wrong, or homosexuality is wrong, or contraception is wrong, all of those TOUGH medical and sexual ethics questions that the Church HAS ruled on. How do you think JESUS will react to people who stop coming to Mass because they don’t LIKE those teachings, or CHANGE their parishes because their priests aren’t afraid to tackle those tough moral issues, and INSTEAD seek out Churches where the pastor always delivers a softball, warm, fuzzy, FEEL good message? Do you think Jesus will GIVE them a pass? He DIDN’T give Thomas a pass. Jesus reprimands Thomas for not believing the other apostles, aka the CHURCH. The Church spoke as a BODY, on an issue of FAITH, and Thomas did NOT believe, and, for that unbelief, Thomas is reprimanded.

 

My brothers and sisters, it is important that we remember the apostles’ victories and their sacrifices; Thomas ended up being martyred for the faith. But in Thomas’ case especially, I think it’s important we also remember his failure -and why he failed. And Blessed be God forever. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

Attend to the words of venerable Bede: "A priest who without an important reason omits to say Mass robs the Blessed Trinity of glory, the angels of joy, sinners of pardon, the just of divine assistance, the souls in purgatory of refreshment, the church of a benefit, and himself of a medicine." -St. Alphonsus de Ligouri, Dignity and Duties of the Priest

 

Prayer

ETERNAL FATHER, I unite myself with the intentions and affections of our Lady of Sorrows on Calvary, and I offer Thee the sacrifice which thy beloved SON JESUS made of himself on the Cross, and now renews on this holy altar: 1. To adore Thee and give Thee the honour which is due to Thee, confessing thy supreme dominion over all things, and the absolute dependence of everything upon Thee, Thou who art our one and last end. 2. To thank Thee for innumerable benefits received. 3. To appease thy justice, irritated against us by so many sins, and to make satisfaction for them. 4. To implore grace and mercy for myself, for . . . , for all afflicted and sorrowing, for poor sinners, for all the world, and for the holy souls in Purgatory. -Raccolta

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Why is it important to attend Mass on Sunday?

  2. How does our participation at Mass differ from that of the priest? How is it the same?

  3. Why does God want us to attend Mass?

  4. What are some valid excuses to miss Mass? What are some common invalid excuses?

  5. How would you respond to someone who says that he doesn’t need to attend Mass to experience God?

  6. What is it that draws you most to attend the Mass? If you have ever spent a period of time away from regular attendance at Mass, what is it that drew you back? If you are a convert, what is it that first drew you to the Mass? If you are struggling to regularly attend Mass, what is your greatest struggle?

  7. How is our faith in Christ manifest through our faith in the teaching of the Church?

  8. What are some things you can do to get more out of the Mass? -Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 486: Lord, Heal our Defects: Reflection on Hosea 14:4-8

 

“Assyria will not save us,

nor will we mount horses;

We will never again say, ‘Our god,’

to the work of our hands;

for in you the orphan finds compassion.”

 

“I will heal their apostasy,

I will love them freely;

for my anger is turned away from them.

I will be like the dew for Israel:

he will blossom like the lily;

He will strike root like the Lebanon cedar,

and his shoots will go forth.

 

His splendor will be like the olive tree

and his fragrance like Lebanon cedar.

Again they will live in his shade;

they will raise grain,

They will blossom like the vine,

and his renown will be like the wine of Lebanon.” Hosea 14:4-8

 

What is the Lord saying through Hosea? What defection is he going to heal in Israel? He’s going to heal them of their idolatry; their love for things; money, flesh, and power. “We shall say no more, “our God’ to the work of our hands.” That’s idolatry. Idolatry is in essence, making God into who WE want him to be. Creating God in OUR image and likeness, instead of allowing ourselves to be spiritually recreated into HIS image and likeness. THAT’S the defect. THAT’S idolatry.

 

We do this whenever we try to minimize our sins; “Oh, God doesn’t care if I do this.” That happens whenever we give anything priority over God, be it pleasure or work. ALL of these are forms of idolatry, and ALL of these forms of idolatry are prevalent in the United States. That being said, THIS is a good prayer intention for all of us to adopt; “Lord, heal the defection in OUR country. Lord heal MY defects.” The only way to beat idolatry in ourselves is to be on constant guard for it, and go to confession frequently. The only way to beat idolatry in others it to PRAY against it. And because idolatry, like all sin, wounds us, the best way to pray against it is to ask God to heal those wounds.

 

We always have this stereotypical vision of the prophets being all gloom and doom. A tyrannical God laying the smack-down on his people for the slightest infraction of his rules, but when you read the prophets, you see nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, the Lord eventually does lower the boom on Israel, but look at all he tolerated before he got to that point! The Lord put up with decades of disobedience and defiance before he finally has enough. And reading the language of the prophets like Hosea, you see God trying to LURE his people back to him; He uses the image of a father with a little child to describe his relationship to Israel, or of a doctor who’s going to heal the sick nation. Other prophets use marital imagery to describe God’s relationship to his people. All very tender. All very loving.

 

But one sin God absolutely cannot ignore is idolatry. My brothers and sisters, pray that God delivers our nation. Pray that God heals our nation. And blessed be God forever. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

“This soul then, being purified by the fire of divine love, which she found in the knowledge of herself and of God, and her hunger for the salvation of the whole world, and for the reformation of the Holy Church, having grown with her hope of obtaining the same, rose with confidence before the Supreme Father, showing Him the leprosy of the Holy Church, and the misery of the world, saying, as if with the words of Moses,...” (continued in prayer below)

 

Prayer

 

“...'My Lord, turn the eyes of Your mercy upon Your people, and upon the mystical body of the Holy Church, for You will be the more glorified if You pardon so many creatures, and give to them the light of knowledge, since all will render You praise when they see themselves escape through Your infinite goodness from the clouds of mortal sin, and from eternal damnation; and then You will not only be praised by my wretched self, who have so much offended You, and who am the cause and the instrument of all this evil, for which reason I pray Your divine and eternal love to take Your revenge on me, and to do mercy to Your people, and never will I depart from before Your presence until I see that you grant them mercy. For what is it to me if I have life, and Your people death, and the clouds of darkness cover Your spouse, when it is my own sins, and not those of Your other creatures, that are the principal cause of this? I desire, then, and beg of You, by Your grace, that You have mercy on Your people, and I adjure You that You do this by Your uncreated love which moved You Yourself to create man in Your image and similitude, saying, "Let us make man in our own image," and this You did, oh eternal Trinity, that man might participate in everything belonging to You, the most high and eternal Trinity.'” -Dialogues of St. Catherine of Sienna, CCEL.org

 

Questions for reflection

 

  1. How do we remake God in our image?

  2. How can we fight idolatry in ourselves?

  3. How can we fight idolatry in others?

  4. What idols can you list in our nation? How can each one be combatted?

  5. What idols do you see in your own life? List them mentally. Discuss with your Oratory group any you feel comfortable with sharing. Confess to a priest the idols you have been serving and make and implement plans to destroy these idols and to serve only God.

  6. How does God heal us of our infirmities, especially that of idolatry?

  7. How is St. Catherine’s prayer like the book of Hosea?

  8. Why does God have mercy on idolatrous Israel?

  9. How does our healing give God glory?

  10. What other analogies of God’s relationship with Israel do you find that reveal God as tender and loving? Look in both the Old and New Testaments.

  11. What strikes you most about the prayer from St. Catherine of Siena? Is there anything in this prayer that challenges you?

  12. What are some ways that you can intercede for others? What is your favorite intercessory prayer? Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 487: Tuned in: Reflection on Hosea 11:1-4

 

“When Israel was a child I loved him, 

out of Egypt I called my son.

The more I called them,

the farther they went from me,

Sacrificing to the Baals

and burning incense to idols.

 

Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,

who took them in my arms;

but they did not know that I cared for them.

drew them with human cords,

with bands of love;

I fostered them like those

who raise an infant to their cheeks; 

I bent down to feed them.” - Hosea 11:1-4 NAB

 

The Lord is totally tuned in to us, so why aren’t we tuned in with him?

 

This passage from Hosea is truly a beautiful one. Look at the images Hosea uses to describe our relationship to God. “From when Israel was a child I loved him. Out of Egypt I called my son. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms… “I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; yet though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer.”

 

THIS was the relationship God wanted with us. God is as tuned to us as a parent is to a small child. Ever see a new mom with her baby? The kid cries, gurgles, giggles, burps--mom is right there! God is THAT tuned in to us. He’s been that tuned in to us since the beginning, and God will remain that tuned in to us until the end of time.

 

So why aren’t we that tuned in to him? I think the answer lies in that same analogy of the parent and child. While it is true that a new parent is totally tuned in to what their child is doing, or if their child needs anything, the child is distracted by almost everything! You know how you can’t turn your back on a small child for just a minute!? Because if you do, they get themselves into mischief!

 

One of my mom’s favorite stories is of one morning when I was a baby. I was on the kitchen floor while my dad was finishing his breakfast before work. He got up to leave and my mom went with him leaving me alone in the kitchen. Our stove, like many stoves, had a drawer at the bottom of it. In the process of cooking breakfast, my mother must have opened it in front of me, so after they left, I went over to check out what was inside. When I opened the drawer, I found it was full of different sized metal lids for all the pots. Now at that age, I had a toy monkey that when you wound him up, would bang on a pair of cymbals. To me, those pot lids looked just like the cymbals the monkey had. So I started banging away on them like the monkey, and made a huge racket that caused my parents to come running back into the kitchen.

 

THAT’S why you can’t turn your back on a child. They’re easily distracted, and they’re naturally curious. And this is the SAME reason why we have such difficulty being as focused on God as he is on us. Like little children, we’re easily distracted. Like little children, we don’t listen when our parents tell us to do something the FIRST time. Like little children, we throw temper tantrums when we don’t get our way. The comforting thing about this, is that, just as a parent doesn’t get rid of their child because of these things; God won’t abandon us. We, for our part though, have to make a concerted effort NOT to get distracted, and stay focused on him.

-Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

To remain a child before God means to recognize our nothingness, to expect everything from God. It is not to become discouraged over our failings, for children fall often, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much. -St. Therese of Lisieux

 

Prayer

 

Open, O Lord, my mouth to bless thy holy Name; cleanse also my heart from all vain, evil, and wandering thoughts; enlighten my understanding and kindle my affections; that I may worthily, attentively, and devoutly recite this Hour, and so be meet to be heard before the presence of thy divine Majesty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. - prayer before the Divine Office

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. What is the difference between the Gospel’s instructive to be childlike and the problems with childish behavior such as distractedness?

  2. What can you do to help reduce distractions in your daily life? In prayer?

  3. What is the worst source of distraction for you? How can you fight against it?

  4. How can we avoid being discouraged by our distractedness?

  5. How does God see the foibles of our childlike nature?

  6. How does St. Thérèse give us an example of childlikeness?

  7. How do the examples of our relationship to our parents as children given by Father Sisco in the last paragraph model our spiritual lives? Reflect and share personal examples if you feel comfortable doing so.

  8. What other examples in scripture show God as a good father?

  9. What does it mean to have God “tuned in” to us? How do you see this in your own relationship with God?

  10. What might you do to become more aware of God’s continual presence? Discuss this in terms of the current trend to “mindfulness”, which is very similar (but without God) to Saint Andre Bessett’s instruction to practice continually the presence of God. 

  11. What other saints or traditions of the Church especially show God’s fatherhood toward us? How do they show this?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 488: Cover Your Faces :Reflection on Is 6:1-7

 

In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple.

Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they hovered.

One cried out to the other:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts! 

All the earth is filled with his glory!

At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook and the house was filled with smoke.

Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar.

He touched my mouth with it. “See,” he said, “now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” Is 6:1-7

 

This is the vision Isaiah received when he was first called to be a prophet. First Isaiah has the vision of the Seraphim angels, who hover around the throne of God. They have six wings; with two they cover their faces, with two they cover their feet, and with two they fly. What does this mean? Let’s start with the feet. 

 

Why are they covered? In Isaiah’s time, right through Jesus’ time, the part of your body that got the dirtiest was your feet. It makes sense- you either walked barefoot or had sandals, and the roads were dirt and sand. Washing a guest’s feet was reserved for the lowest servant or member of a household. If a home was too poor to have servants, the job of foot washer usually fell to the youngest daughter, or the youngest son if none of the children were girls. This is why it SHOCKS the apostles when Jesus washes their feet at the Last Supper, so much so, that Peter initially objects to having his feet washed. Jesus is Lord, Jesus is master, Jesus is teacher. Washing feet is BENEATH him. So, for the angels to have their FEET covered, means they are TOTALLY clean. They are TOTALLY pure. There is NOTHING sinful or dirty about them.

 

With two wings they hover aloft. Why? They strictly belong to the spiritual realm. They don’t touch the ground. There is nothing earthly about them. And with two wings they cover their faces. Why? (Obviously they were afraid—corona) No. Good guess, but no! They cover their faces, because DESPITE being totally clean, DESPITE being without sin, DESPITE having NO association with the earth, and belonging completely to the spiritual realm, they STILL can’t LOOK at GOD! His glory and magnificence is too much EVEN for THEM!

 

And this is underscored by Isaiah’s reaction when HE sees the glory of God. Immediately, Isaiah becomes keenly aware of his sinfulness. “Woe unto me for I am DOOMED! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips.” I think we can all agree, that in the grand scheme of sins, having a foul mouth REALLY doesn’t rank among the most serious; and yet, LOOK how the sin is AMPLIFIED in Isaiah’s mind when he is in the presence of God! What makes us think WE’RE going to react any differently?

 

And before you’re tempted to revert to, “Well yeah, Father, but we don’t believe all that OLD TESTAMENT stuff anymore! Jesus changed all that!” Just remember, Saint John had a very similar reaction in the book of Revelation when he saw Christ the King in Glory, and Jesus was John’s best friend. New Testament! How will WE react when WE’RE in the presence of God and confronted with all of our sins left to be repented of, and also confronted with the opportunities we had to do good, but chose not to? How will we react?

 

Naysayers of Christianity will often throw this out there, “How can an ALL loving God send people to hell?” I don’t think God DOES send people to hell. I think we send ourselves. I think when we stand before the glory of God, confronted with sins we still cling to, WE decide where we’re going to spend eternity. So, the trick is, DON’T leave ANY sin unrepented of! Because even the smallest sin is going to seem monumental in God’s presence. 

 

You know how, sometimes, these commercials on TV show what LOOKS like a clean kitchen. But then they show it under that special light and you see how dirty and germ filled it REALLY is. THAT’S what I think the judgment experience will be like! God’s going to shine that special light on our soul, and we’ll see all the spots we missed, or we thought were unimportant.

 

Brothers and sisters, don’t take ANY sin LIGHTLY. Make a GOOD examination of conscience, and go to confession OFTEN, because once a sin is absolved it’s GONE, and you DON’T have to worry about it anymore! And then outside of confession, we have to make EVERY effort to avoid sin. And blessed be God forever! -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

Inordinate appetites for the things of the world do all this damage to the beauty of the soul, and even more… Although it is true that the disordered soul possesses in its natural being the perfection that God bestowed when creating it, nevertheless in its rational being it is ugly, abominable, dirty, dark, and full of all the evils here described, and many more besides. One inordinate appetite alone, as we will explain, suffices to make a soul so captive, dirty, and unsightly that until the appetite is purified the soul is incapable of conformity with God in union. This is true even though there may be no matter for mortal sin in the appetite. What then will be the ugliness of a soul entirely disordered in its passions and surrendered to its appetites? How far it will be from God and his purity! -St. John of the Cross

 

Prayer

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. - response at Mass

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Compare the vision of John in Revelation 1:12-20 to this passage from Isaiah. What is similar? What is different? How does the vision in Revelation shed light on the vision in Isaiah and vice versa?

  2. Why is it important not to take any sin lightly?

  3. What sins, if any, do you tend to take too lightly? 

  4. How else can we prepare for Judgement day?

  5. What is the difference between a sin and a disordered affection? 

  6.  How can we prevent disordered affections from becoming sins? How can these be uprooted from the soul?

  7. How has your perspective on sin changed throughout your life? How has prayer shed light on what seemed like minor offenses?

  8. Why is it important to confess frequently?

  9. How can one make a good examination of conscience? If you don’t know this, make a resolution to find out from your pastor or other trustworthy source.

  10. Considering what Fr. Sisco said about the job of the foot-washer, what does Jesus washing his disciples’ feet reveal about his relationship to each of us?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 489: Legitimate Authority: Reflection on Hosea 8:1-5

 

“Put the trumpet to your lips!

One like an eagle is over the house of the LORD!

Because they have violated my covenant,

and rebelled against my law,

They cry out to me,

“My God! We know you!”

But Israel has rejected what is good;

the enemy shall pursue him.

They made kings, but not by my authority;

they established princes, but without my knowledge.

With their silver and gold

they made idols for themselves,

to their own destruction.

He has rejected your calf, Samaria!

My wrath is kindled against them;

How long will they be incapable of innocence in Israel?” - Hosea 8:1-5 NAB

 

What is Hosea talking about? When Israel in the North decided it would no longer follow the House of David, and it split with Judah in the south, it set up tits own kingship in Samaria. So in the North, they made kings, but not of the line of David. God did not grant His authority to the kings in the North. And what was the first thing these kings in the North did? They sanctioned idolatry, and they encouraged the people to worship idols.

 

Authority MUST come from God to be legitimate, because if it doesn’t, it will be illegitimate and will lead people to idolatry. We’ve seen this so many times with the fragmenting of Christianity into different denominations and sects, and so many of them change their moral teachings with the whims of society, NOT keeping with scripture, NOT keeping with the teachings of the Church Fathers.

 

A friend of mine was talking to a Protestant friend of his, and they were talking about getting a pastor they don’t like. And MY friend was telling HIS friend, that in the Catholic Church, the parishioners have to write letters and complain to the Bishop to get a pastor removed. And the Protestant said, “When WE don’t like our pastor, our parish council just fires him.” Now on one hand, I can see where that might be appealing. But what if the pastor has to preach an unpopular message no one wants to hear? So he loses his job over staying true to scripture? What motivation IS there then to not just preach the warm, fuzzy, easy messages all the time?

 

We see this in the attitude of many Catholics who think the Church’s teachings are subject to popular opinion or a vote. We hear the complaint of special interest groups who make claims like; “the laity should be part of the decision making process on Church teaching.” No you shouldn’t. Because quite frankly, that’s none of your business. The LAITY are not the legitimate authority God has established for interpreting scripture, sacred tradition, and applying those to modern day situations.

 

THAT is reserved to the Pope and Magisterium of Bishops. And granted, sometimes Church authorities have been corrupt, and they have to answer to God for that, but they still have the legitimate authority. And whenever we break from legitimate authority it’s only a matter of time before we embrace idolatry- money, flesh, and power. - Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

In His gracious goodness, God has seen to it that what He had revealed for the salvation of all nations would abide perpetually in its full integrity and be handed on to all generations. Therefore Christ the Lord in whom the full revelation of the supreme God is brought to completion, commissioned the Apostles to preach to all men that Gospel which is the source of all saving truth and moral teaching, and to impart to them heavenly gifts. This Gospel had been promised in former times through the prophets, and Christ Himself had fulfilled it and promulgated it with His lips. This commission was faithfully fulfilled by the Apostles who, by their oral preaching, by example, and by observances handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The commission was fulfilled, too, by those Apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing.

But in order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the Church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors, "handing over" to them "the authority to teach in their own place." This sacred tradition, therefore, and Sacred Scripture of both the Old and New Testaments are like a mirror in which the pilgrim Church on earth looks at God, from whom she has received everything, until she is brought finally to see Him as He is, face to face. And so the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved by an unending succession of preachers until the end of time. -Dei Verbum, St. Pope Paul VI

Prayer

 

“O my LORD JESUS CHRIST, King of eternal glory, restorer of all things in heaven and on earth, supreme and omnipotent, who with infinite wisdom reunitest at thy feet things scattered and dispersed; enlighten the Kings of the earth, the rulers of nations; instil thy spirit into all civil institutions, into every form of government, into laws and armies; grant that all the powers of earth may recognize in Thee the majesty of the eternal GOD, the source from which all authority is derived;” -from “An act of homage to Christ, our God and our King, (Raccolta)

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Why is it important to obey legitimate authority?

  2. What graces/gifts not mentioned in Father’s reflection has God given to the Church?

  3. Why is it important for authority to be legitimate in God’s eyes?

  4. Why did Jesus give authority to the apostles?

  5. How should the successors of the apostles (our bishops) use their authority?

  6. What are some instances in history, the lives of the saints, or your own life which demonstrate authority being used well? How about authority being used poorly? Try to find one example for each.

  7. Why aren’t the laity given the authority to interpret scripture and decide on dogmas?

  8. How is sacred tradition a mirror for us to see God?

  9. The idolatry of the northern kingdom in Israel was obvious- sacrificing to statues of idols. But how do today’s secular authorities lead to idolatry?

  10. How should we, as citizens of a democratic society, respond to our secular authorities when they support policies that lead to idolatry? -Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 490: We Have No King : Reflection on Hosea 10:3-8

 

For now they will say,

“We have no king!

Since we do not fear the LORD,

the king—what could he do for us?”

They make promises,

swear false oaths, and make covenants,

While lawsuits sprout

like poisonous weeds in the furrows of a field!

The inhabitants of Samaria are afraid

for the calf of Beth-aven;

Its people mourn for it

and its idolatrous priests wail over it,

—over its glory which has departed from it.

 

It too will be carried to Assyria,

as an offering to the great king.

Ephraim will be put to shame,

Israel will be shamed by his schemes.

Samaria and her king will disappear,

like a twig upon the waters.

The high places of Aven will be destroyed,

the sin of Israel;

thorns and thistles will overgrow their altars.

Then they will cry out to the mountains, “Cover us!”

and to the hills, “Fall upon us!” -Hosea 10: 3:8

 

Here Hosea is prophesying against Samaria, the kingdom in the north of Israel, because they broke with the true line of kings, the Davidic dynasty in the South, and turned to idolatry. And he makes this very interesting statement in the midst of his prophecy: “IF they would say, ‘we have no king, -since they do not fear the Lord, what can the king do for them?” This means that if they would forsake the king of Samaria, and return their loyalty to the descendants of King David… for the King was an earthly extension of the authority of God.

 

When a king was chosen, he was anointed by a prophet to demonstrate that his rule was only valid by God’s authority. Thus, King Saul seeks to kill David when he finds out that Samuel anointed him as a boy. Why? Because Saul knows full well that Samuel anointed David to replace Saul as king. The kings of Samaria were NEVER anointed by a prophet, so their kingship wasn’t valid. The kingship was not just a political position; it was a vocation. The vocation of the kingship was to protect the people from foreign invaders, to administer justice, and to guard the people against idolatry. But because the kings of Samaria were NOT anointed by God for this vocation, where did the kings of Samaria lead the people? Into idolatry. The VERY thing the VOCATION of King was supposed to prevent. But since the people only SAW the kingship as a political reality and NOT a sacred vocation, when the kings of Samaria led them to idolatry, the people merrily followed along. That’s why Hosea says, “since they do not fear the Lord, what can the king do?” A king can’t lead a people in righteousness if the people PREFER sin.

 

Look at our political system today. People complain how corrupt and immoral our leaders are. So WHY do we tolerate it then?! Because it really DOESN’T bother us THAT much. If it did, we’d do something about it. And it’s a heck of a lot easier for US to do something about corrupt leaders because WE can vote. In ancient times, if one spoke out against the king, he risked getting executed. The reason why corruption prospers in our country, is because we ALLOW it to prosper. And if we want to stop tolerating sin in our government, the first thing we have to do is to stop tolerating sin in OURSELVES. As long as we keep making excuses for our own sins, as long as we keep embracing idolatry in OUR hearts, we will never get rid of the idolatry in society.

 

That’s why Hosea goes on to say here; “Sow for yourselves justice. Reap the fruit of piety. It’s time to seek the Lord.” This is where ALL true reform begins- seeking justice and piety. One CANNOT exist without the other. The only way justice is NOT corrupted is if we believe we’ll have to answer to an omnipotent God if we DO corrupt it. If piety doesn’t lead us to treat all others fairly, if our love of God doesn’t EXTEND to love our neighbor, then the piety is empty, superstitious rituals; in other words, idolatry. And without justice AND piety, a culture will tear itself apart and people will actually long for death. Note what Hosea says will end up happening in Samaria, “They shall cry out to the mountains, ‘cover us!’ and to the hills, ‘fall upon us!’” And also note, these are the EXACT same words Jesus uses on his way to Calvary. Jesus quotes that SAME verse of Hosea when he confronts the weeping women, and he says to them, “Don’t weep for me. Weep for yourselves and your children, for the day is FAST approaching when they shall cry out to the mountains ‘Cover us!’ and to the hills, ‘Fall upon us.’” Why does Jesus say this? They had the chance to accept Jesus as the Messiah, they had the chance to embrace his teaching, which is true justice and piety, but they didn’t.

 

My brothers and sisters, we need to call sin “sin” again. We have to stop tolerating sin in ourselves. We need to stop making excuses for the sins of others. This is the only way to a truly just society. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

“Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right.” - Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

 

Prayer

“Lord God, as the election approaches, we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our city/state/country, and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community. ...We pray for discernment so that we may choose leaders who hear your Word, live your love, and keep in the ways of your truth as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace. We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

- from the USCCB prayer before an election (abridged)

 

Questions for Reflection

  1. What expectations should we have of our political leaders (kings)?

  2. How can we use the democratic process to build up the Kingdom of God?

  3. Why is it more important to focus on building the Kingdom of God within ourselves than through political means?

  4. What excuses do you tend to make for your own sins?

  5. What is the difference between not tolerating sin in another and not judging another?

  6. What is the importance of voting for a Christian? How important if the official’s practice of faith?

  7. What sins do we tend to tolerate in ourselves and in others?

  8. Why do we tend to tolerate sin rather than speak up against it?

  9. Why is justice corrupted without piety? Why is piety harmed without justice?

  10. How does the “culture of death” show that our society is lacking justice and piety? How can we restore these? How do you think that restoring justice and piety will affect society?

  11. Do you think that Christians are doing enough to speak up against injustice and sin in our government today? How can we do better? -Erin Wells

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