Weeks 501-510

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 501: Good Gifts: Reflection on Lk 11:9-13

 

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?” -Lk 11:9-13

 

Many people misinterpret our gospel today to mean, ask God for any old thing and he’ll give it to you, as long as you pester him long enough. No. Jesus says, “If you know how to give GOOD gifts to your children…” Sometimes our children ask us for things that are not good, and we must say no. So too with God. We can ASK for any old thing, but that doesn’t mean God will grant it. God, like any good parent, only gives us what is good for us, even if what is good for us, seems unappealing to us! We, for OUR part, must train ourselves to ask God for GOOD things. Like what? Let’s start with Jesus’ suggestion; “How much more will the Father in heaven give the HOLY SPIRIT to those who ask?” How often do we pray to receive the Holy Spirit?

 

Father, why do I have to ask for the Holy Spirit? Wasn’t I already GIVEN the Holy Spirit in baptism? Wasn’t the Spirit empowered in me when I was confirmed? Why do I have to ask for something I already have? Because the sacraments are vehicles of Grace, not magic tricks. The sacraments are not a matter of the priest saying the magic words, and we’re suddenly transformed into saints. To become holy takes a lifetime, and it takes effort. It won’t just happen. So every day we have to be asking God that we will grow in holiness. Every day we have to be asking God to help us grow in virtue. Every day we have to be asking God to forgive us our sins, and give us the grace not to sin ever again. And God responds by sending us the Holy Spirit.

 

God has given us great tools to aid us in that goal- the sacraments, the intercession of the saints, our guardian angels, the rosary. Practically every Saturday, the Mass intention at my church is for the people of Saint John Paul II parish and their intentions. When I elevate the chalice at Mass, and I’m praying for that intention, I always say, “Lord, hear the prayers of those who call out to you, and be pleased to answer them if those intentions are within your Divine Will. But may our first desire always be your glory, and your eternal kingdom.” My brothers and sisters, by all means, may we always persevere in prayer, and may we always be praying for good things. - Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

During Mass, I thanked the Lord Jesus for having deigned to redeem us and for having given us that greatest of all gifts; namely, His love in Holy Communion; that is, His very own Self. At that moment, I was drawn into the bosom of the Most Holy Trinity, and I was immersed in the love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These moments are hard to describe. -St. Faustina’s diary

 

Prayer

O almighty and eternal God, you have adopted me as your child in the holy sacrament of Baptism; granted to me the remission of my sins at the tribunal of penance; and have fed me with the bread of angels; perfect in me, I beseech you, all these benefits. Grant unto me the spirit of Wisdom, that I may despise the perishable things of this world, and love the things that are eternal; the spirit of Understanding, to enlighten me and to give me the knowledge of religion; the spirit of Counsel, that I may diligently seek the surest ways of pleasing God and obtaining heaven; the spirit of Fortitude, that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation; the spirit of Knowledge, that I may be enlightened in the ways of God; the spirit of Piety, that I may find the service of God both sweet and amiable; the spirit of Fear, that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God, and may dread in any way to displease him. Seal me, in your mercy, with the seal of a disciple of Jesus Christ, unto everlasting life; and grant that, carrying the cross upon my forehead, I may carry it also in my heart, and confessing you boldly before men, may merit to be one day reckoned in the number of your elect. Amen.

-Golden Manual

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. How often do you pray to receive the Holy Spirit? If you are not praying for this, why not?

  2. Why should we ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit?

  3. Describe an experience you have had in which the Holy Spirit has helped you.

  4. Describe an experience in which the Holy Spirit has helped another person or has acted in way so as to influence many people.

  5. What gifts has God given us? Which would you consider to be most important? Why? Would you consider any of these gifts to be of minimal importance? Why or why not?

  6. What sort of gifts can you ask God to give you for Christmas? List at least three.

  7. Have you had any experiences in which God gave you something other than what you were asking for? How did it turn out?

  8. How is Father Sisco’s message different from the “prosperity gospel” so prevalent today?

  9. Why do you think we do not become saints overnight?

  10. If we believe that God will always grant our request for the Holy Spirit, how should we respond once we have asked God for His gift?

  11. What can we do to prepare to receive the Holy Spirit when God chooses to send Him to us? What should our attitude be if God seems to answer slowly?

  12. How can we more conform our desires and requests to what God wills for us?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 502: Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist: Reflection on Lk 1:39-45

 

During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” -Luke 1:40-45

 

After the Annunciation, when Mary first discovered that she was chosen to bring the Messiah into the world, what’s the first thing she does? She brings him to others. Mary learns that her old kinswoman Elizabeth is pregnant (with John the Baptist), and so Mary makes a long, dangerous, journey to help Elizabeth during the pregnancy. As soon as she enters the house and Elizabeth hears Mary’s voice, John the Baptist, STILL in his mother’s womb, leaps for joy and Elizabeth is then filled with the Holy Spirit and praises God. It’s quite a dramatic but telling little scene. Mary had Christ, physically dwelling inside of her. Mary is motivated by charity, on hearing the news of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Mary is willing to sacrifice for charity’s sake, making this long, uncomfortable, and dangerous journey. Because the trip is dangerous, it also speaks to Mary’s faith, that she trusts God so completely that she knows no harm will come to her. Mary’s faith is also reinforced by her response to the Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation when she accepted being the mother of the Messiah, knowing that to be caught pregnant without a husband in her culture carried a death sentence. ALL of these ingredients are what make the scene we see unfold before us.

 

Notice something interesting here: Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit because of the intercession of three other people; Jesus, the Blessed Mother, and John the Baptist. We all know people whom we want to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We all know people whom we want to come to the faith and go to heaven when they die. I would propose, for their sake, that we follow this same model. First, it means that we need the Eucharist. If we want to bring Jesus to others, we need him dwelling within us. Attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist accomplish this. Second is charity. We have to become people who are mindful of charity. That means we have to look for opportunities to practice charity, and we have to go out of way to practice charity. We can’t confine this to charity with our wallets. We also have to be charitable with our time, our words, and our thoughts.

 

To become charitably minded is quite a challenge. Why do we have to do this? Because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love, dwells within the charitable heart. So, we can’t expect the Holy Spirit to fill someone whom we love if we are not also allowing him to fill us. Third, we have to sacrifice. In this way we model ourselves after the Blessed Mother AND John the Baptist, who both lived a life of sacrifice. I don’t think many of us really comprehend the power of fasting and sacrifice. If you have people in your life whom you want to come back to a life of faith, start fasting and offering sacrifices for their souls. The Blessed Mother has said in every apparition approved by the Church that prayer and sacrificing can change hearts and avert wars and natural disasters. There’s incredible power there! That’s why finally, fourth and last, I recommend that you pray for the intercession of the Blessed Mother who lived all of this so well.

 

So, there we have it. If we want others to also be filled with the Holy Spirit, we can’t do it alone and we just can’t wish for it to happen. We need the help of Jesus in the Eucharist, charity to make room for the Holy Spirit in OUR hearts, the intercession of the Blessed Mother, and the fasting and sacrificing of John the Baptist. Spend your energy thus, and I’ll bet you start to see some results. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

Here again there is a motive of piety, there is even a doctrinal teaching: it must indeed be remarked that the superior comes to the inferior to help the inferior: Mary to Elizabeth, Christ to John; as well, later, to consecrate the baptism of John, the Lord came to this baptism (Matt., III, 13).

And immediately the blessings of the arrival of Mary and the presence of the Lord manifest themselves: for "when Elizabeth heard the salvation of Mary, the child shuddered in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. ". Notice the choice and precision of each word. Elizabeth first heard the voice, but John was the first to feel grace: the latter, according to the order of nature, heard, the latter shuddered under the effect of mystery; she perceived the arrival of Mary, that of the Lord: the woman that of the woman, the child that of the child. -St. Ambrose

Prayer

O GLORIOUS St John the Baptist, of those born of women the greatest of prophets (Luke vii, 28); thou, though sanctified from thy mother’s womb and most innocent, didst nevertheless will to retire into the desert, there to practice austerities and penance; obtain for us from our LORD the grace to be detached, at least in the affections of our hearts, from all earthly treasure, and to practice Christian mortification with interior recollection and a spirit of holy prayer. PATER, Ave, and Gloria. -Raccolta

 

Questions for Reflection

 

1. Why do we need Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist?

2. Why isn’t it enough to bring God to others ourselves?

3. Reflect on a time that you tried to bring Christ to someone or a time when someone brought Christ to you. How was sacrifice involved in the process? Could the same effect have come about without sacrifice?

4. How does Mary lead us to Jesus?

5. How does John the Baptist lead us to Jesus?

7. Which of the three people mentioned by Father Sisco do you feel closest to? Why?

6. What does Elizabeth teach us about encountering Christ in others?

8. How can you become more mindful of charity?

9. How do attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist help us to bring Christ to others?

10. What other saints give good examples of bring Christ to others?

11. How does charity make room for the Holy Spirit in our hearts?

12. How does Mary’s response of charity reflect her faith? How do our works of charity show our faith?

--Erin Wells

 
 
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 503: When Peter was Wrong: Reflection on Gal 2:11-14

 

And when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews [also] acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.

 

But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all, “If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” -Galatians 2:11-14

 

What is Paul talking about in his letter to the Galatians? Who is Cephas? Cephas is the Greek word for Peter. So, Paul had a clash with Peter in Antioch. What did they clash over? There was a group of early heretics called the Judaizers. They were Jewish converts to Christianity who were now insisting that Gentile converts to the faith had to observe the Law of Moses and become Jewish before they could become Christian, which included getting circumcised. The apostles met in Jerusalem to discuss the issue, and what they decide is, no. Gentile converts don’t have to go through this burden.

 

When Peter comes to Antioch though, at dinner time, he and James only sit with Jewish converts to Christianity, not the Gentile converts. Why? The Mosaic Law. You don’t break bread with sinners; and in the Jewish mind, that automatically included tax collectors, and Gentiles. So, Peter is back paddling. And Paul lambastes him for it! “If you, a Jew are living like a Gentile, by what logic do you force Gentiles to live like Jews?”

 

And when Paul is done, Peter relents. Peter backs down. But Peter’s the Pope! That’s right. He is. Popes have not always been right, starting with Peter! There have been absolute disastrous decisions made by Popes throughout history. But isn’t the Pope supposed to be infallible? Yes, under certain conditions. When the Pope speaks in union with the Bishops of the Magisterium on an issue of faith or morals, THEN his word is infallible. That’s it. In not sitting with the Gentiles to eat, Peter was expressing his opinion about the Gentiles. But that wasn’t infallible. When Peter decided with the other apostles that the Gentiles were NOT obliged to follow the Mosaic Law that WAS infallible. So, Paul was perfectly justified in reprimanding Pope Peter I, for not heeding an infallible decision of the Church.

 

Pope Francis feels that no one has any business owning a gun unless you’re in the military or a police officer. OK, that’s his opinion. And, being the head of the Catholic Church, he’s certainly entitled to express his opinion on a social, moral, issue. However, that is NOT Church teaching. Church teaching states that everyone has the right to defend their own lives and the lives of other innocent people, and, while it is preferred that deadly force NOT be used, the Church recognizes that, regrettably, sometimes deadly force is necessary. So, when Pope Francis expresses his opinion on this subject, he is NOT speaking infallibly, because he does NOT speak this opinion in union with the bishops of the Magisterium, so it’s alright to disagree with the Pope on this, which I do. Bad guys have guns. You’re never going to change that. So, if law abiding citizens also want to arm themselves for their protection and the protection of their families, under Church teaching, they have that right.

 

Recently, Pope Francis also asked that people say the rosary and the Saint Michael prayer every day, for the protection of the Church. That’s a request. And being the leader of prayer in the Catholic Church, the Pope is entitled to ask the faithful to pray a certain devotion, for a particular intention, but again, because he did this on his own, and NOT with the Bishops, it’s not infallible. So, it is NOT a sin if you choose to NOT pray the rosary or the Saint Michael prayer daily for the protection of the Church. This is simply a request, but a request I personally agree with. Nothing bad ever came from prayer.

 

So, it’s important to remember that not everything the Pope says is infallible, and when the Pope is NOT speaking infallibly, it’s OK to disagree, and it’s even OK to tell the Pope he’s wrong, when he says or does something in contradiction to Church teaching, as Paul did to Peter today. Just keep those truths stored in the back of your head as current events begin to unfold. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

“Most holy and blessed father in Christ sweet Jesus: your poor unworthy little daughter Catherine comforts you in His precious Blood, with desire to see you free from any servile fear. For I consider that a timorous man cuts short the vigour of holy resolves and good desire, and so I have prayed, and shall pray, sweet and good Jesus that He free you from all servile fear, and that holy fear alone remain...Up, father, like a man! For I tell you that you have no need to fear. You ought to come; come, then. Come gently, without any fear. And if any at home wish to hinder you, say to them bravely, as Christ said when St. Peter, through tenderness, wished to draw Him back from going to His passion; Christ turned to him, saying, "Get thee behind Me, Satan; thou art an offense to Me, seeking the things which are of men, and not those which are of God. Wilt thou not that I fulfill the will of My Father?" Do you likewise, sweetest father, following Him as His vicar...” -From a letter of St. Catherine of Siena to Pope Gregory XI, urging to continue in his resolve to return to Rome from Avignon

http://www.domcentral.org/trad/cathletters.htm#2Gregory4

 

Prayer

 

MOST holy and immaculate Virgin Mary, our most tender Mother, and powerful Help of Christians ...enlighten and strengthen bishops and priests and keep them ever united in obedience to the Pope, their infallible master. Preserve incautious youth from irreligion and vice. Promote holy vocations and increase the number of thy sacred ministers, that by means of them the Kingdom of JESUS CHRIST may be preserved among us and extended to the farthest boundaries of the earth. -Raccolta, Prayer to Mary our Helper

 

Questions for Reflection

 

1. Why is the teaching of papal infallibility important for Catholics?

2.When is it OK to disagree with the pope?

3. How should you handle disagreements you may have with public, but not infallible, statements of the pope or any prelate?

4. How does papal infallibility reveal Divine Providence for the Church?

5. How do mistakes of our popes, past and present, reveal Divine Providence for the Church?

6. How would you respond to those who question the authority of the Church because of bad decisions made by various popes?

7. What can you learn from St. Catherine of Siena’s writing style when addressing Pope Gregory XI?

8. Why is it important for priests and bishops to be united in obedience to the pope?

9. As a lay person, how should you be obedient to the pope? (ask your pastor if you are unsure)

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 504: First Installment: Reflection on Eph 1:11-14

 

“In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.

 

In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.” Eph 1:11-14

 

The Holy Spirit, Paul tells the Ephesians, is the first installment of our inheritance. The first installment: that means there’s more to come and that, of course, is heaven. Think for a moment of all that God has given us ALREADY. Aside from life and this world, this creation, he gave us HIMSELF. He became ONE of us to give us his example, his teaching, his forgiveness, and he gave us himself sacramentally; because he wanted to touch us, and be intimately connected to us, and help us to be like him. And if that wasn’t enough, he finally will give us his home; heaven. The FINAL installment of our inheritance is that we get to live in God’s presence, in peace and joy with him forever, and be in intimate union with everybody else in heaven FOREVER.

 

So why give it to us in installments? So that, once we receive the first installment, we’ll want the rest. And THAT’S why God starts with the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to help us desire the rest, so that we’ll turn our backs on sinful things and worldly desires, because with His help nothing will mean more to us than getting that last installment of our inheritance. But in order for that to work, we have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Now, clearly that means praying, going to confession, going to Mass, all of the usual stuff. But that also means looking for opportunities to practice virtue, to be charitable.

 

And here’s the hitch--you have to practice virtue and charity with the intention of NOT having it recognized! Because if we do it for praise or recognition, we’re being like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day who did EVERYTHING for praise and recognition. Jesus says, “There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.” What does that mean? At our judgment, just as all of our sins will be revealed for all of heaven to see, so also all our virtuous deeds will be known for all of heaven to see. THAT’S when we receive our praise. THAT’S when we get our acknowledgment. If we get our recognition HERE we don’t get it THERE.

 

So, do we ask the Holy Spirit to help us desire the right things? I think I just told you recently, but we always try to schedule one Mass every week, usually Saturday, for the intentions of all of our parishioners. When I’m praying that intention during consecration, I’m saying, “Lord, I offer up all the prayers of the parish of Saint John Paul II. Be pleased to hear and answer ALL prayers that conform to your Holy will, but Lord, may our first and foremost desire ALWAYS be your Glory and your Kingdom.” That should ALWAYS be our first desire; God’s glory and his kingdom. And if it’s not, we should be asking the Holy Spirit every day to MAKE that our first and foremost desire; because the Holy Spirit IS the first installment of our inheritance, given to us to help us desire the LAST installment.

 

Blessed be God forever. - Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint

 

An act of virtue may be taken in two ways: first materially, thus an act of justice is to do what is just; and such an act of virtue can be without the virtue, since many, without having the habit of justice, do what is just, led by the natural light of reason, or through fear, or in the hope of gain. Secondly, we speak of a thing being an act of justice formally, and thus an act of justice is to do what is just, in the same way as a just man, i.e. with readiness and delight, and such an act of virtue cannot be without the virtue.

 

Accordingly, almsgiving can be materially without charity, but to give alms formally, i.e. for God's sake, with delight and readiness, and altogether as one ought, is not possible without charity. -St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa, from newadvent.org

 

Prayer of Adoration to the Holy Spirit

 

I ADORE Thee also, O HOLY GHOST, the PARACLETE, my GOD and my LORD, and in union with all the heavenly host I render Thee infinite thanks for every grace and favour Thou hast granted to the most blessed Virgin, thy most loving Spouse, and, above all, for that most perfect and divine charity with which Thou didst inflame her most holy and most pure heart in the act of her most glorious Assumption into heaven. In the name of thy most chaste Spouse, I humbly beg of Thee to grant me the grace of remission of all my most grievous sins which I have committed from the first moment when I was able to sin until this day, for all of which I grieve exceedingly, firmly purposing rather to die than ever again offend thy Divine Majesty; and relying on the high merits and most powerful protection of this thy most loving Spouse, I beg of Thee to grant me the most precious gift of thy grace and Divine love, by vouchsafing me those lights and special helps whereby thy eternal providence has determined to will my salvation, and to bring me to Thyself. -Raccolta


 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Why is it important to practice charity without the intention of being noticed?

  2. How should you respond if you are noticed for your charity despite your intention not to be?

  3. Why does God give His gifts in installments?

  4. What is the difference between a merely “material” act of almsgiving and a “formal” act of almsgiving, according to St. Thomas? Why is only the latter true charity?

  5. What motive, according to St. Thomas, is necessary for “good deeds” to be true acts of charity?

  6. What else does Jesus say about receiving praise on judgment day? How can this help you when doing acts of charity?

  7. What motives does Fr. Sisco suggest for acts of charity?

  8. How does the Holy Spirit help us to prepare to receive the “final installment”, heaven?

  9. According to the prayer of Adoration above, what should we ask the Holy Spirit for?

  10. Why should we adore the Holy Spirit for the gifts He has given to Mary? How will this help us toward salvation?

-Erin Wellsà

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 505: Turn to Me and Be Safe: Reflection on Is 45:22-25

 

Turn to me and be safe,

all you ends of the earth,

for I am God; there is no other!

By myself I swear,

uttering my just decree,

a word that will not return:

To me every knee shall bend;

by me every tongue shall swear,

Saying, “Only in the LORD

are just deeds and power.

Before him in shame shall come

all who vent their anger against him.

In the LORD all the descendants of Israel

shall have vindication and glory.” Isaiah 45:22-25 NAB

 

Turn to me and be safe. How often do we pray for protection? How often do we pray for the protection of those we love? This should be a regular in our prayer intentions. Don’t ASSUME because you’re a devoted, practicing, Catholic, that your protection is automatic. Protection is something we should be regularly asking the Lord for; protection for ourselves, protection for our loved ones, protection for our nation, protection for our church.

 

How often do you pray for the protection of the Catholic Church? How often do you pray for the protection of the Pope, the Bishops, your priests, your PASTOR? WE need protection more than anyone, because the devil knows if he takes down a priest, he takes down an entire parish. Saint John Vianney, the patron Saint of parish priests, said, “A priest goes to heaven or a priest goes to hell with a thousand people behind him.” THAT’S a scary thought! It’s a statement that reminds me of the awesome responsibility we have. We need prayers for our protection.

 

But Father, how can Isaiah say, “turn to me and be SAFE all you ends of the earth,” when we KNOW people who HAVE turned to the Lord and WEREN’T safe, like the martyrs? Good question. It is true, people who have lived their lives trusting the Lord have lost their lives, but does that mean they’re not safe? You see again, we have to abandon this mentality that this life is the end all and be all. If we turn to the Lord, we WILL be kept safe…for ETERNITY! We WILL be kept safe for HEAVEN! THAT’S what’s truly important. And this is what is meant in that end of the passage, “In the Lord shall be the vindication and the Glory of all the descendants of Israel.” Don’t worry about being treated justly. The LORD will avenge those who wrong us! Those who cheat us, abuse us, persecute us, hold us in disdain, make GOD their enemy! God will avenge us. God will do justice for us. And God will reward us for staying true to him even when the pressure was on.

 

So my brothers and sisters, you see we really are SAFE when we turn to the Lord. Let’s pray today that everyone turns to him in good times and in bad. Blessed be God forever.

- Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

Again I give Thee thanks, and yet again, O merciful almighty Christ, that Thou hast hitherto been pleased to deliver me, worthless and insignificant as I am, for Thine own sake and Thy Holy Name’s sake, from many straits, many tribulations, calamities, and sicknesses; to save me from many pits, snares, scandals, and sins; from many treacheries of foes visible and invisible; from many evils and most serious perils; marvelously and mercifully guiding my life’s course between adversity on the one hand, and prosperity on the other, so that neither should the one deject me nor the other too much elate. For Thou hast put a bridle on my jaws, and hast not left me altogether at the disposal of my own will, having care for me in Thy fatherly compassion, and not suffering me to be tempted beyond my power of endurance (1 Cor. 10. 13). Where there was opportunity for sinning, often there was not the will; or where there was the will, opportunity was wanting.

 

Therefore be praise and benediction and thanks giving rendered unto Thee, O Lord my God, for all Thy gifts and largesses, and for all the benefits which Thou dost lavish on me both in soul and body, and hast lavished incessantly even from my cradle, such has been Thy mercy and Thy goodness, no merits of mine requiring; nay, rather, my sins notwithstanding. But I pray Thee, Lord, I pray Thee, let me not be unthankful for such great benefits, nor unworthy of so many mercies. -Meditations of St. Anselm

 

Prayer

 

Saint Michael the archangel, defend us in battle,

be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.

May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,

and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,

cast into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world

seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Do you ask the Lord for protection for yourself?

  2. Do you ask the Lord for protection for others?

  3. Why do our pastors and church leaders need protection?

  4. For whom else should you be asking protection?

  5. Why do we also ask St. Michael for protection?

  6. You were also given a guardian angel for your protection. How often do you ask your guardian angel for help?

  7. Consider what St. Anselm praises God for providing in his life. How has God done the same for you?

  8. What has God protected you from?

  9. Why does God not always “protect” us from material suffering?

  10. Since God will vindicate us, how should we respond when we are being persecuted?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 506: Saving the World :Reflection on Psalm 77:12-15

 

 

I will recall the deeds of the LORD;

yes, recall your wonders of old.

I will ponder all your works;

on your exploits I will meditate.

Your way, God, is holy;

what god is as great as our God?

You are the God who does wonders;

among the peoples you have revealed your might.

With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,

the children of Jacob and Joseph. Psalm 77:12-15

 

Charles Spurgeon who was an English Baptist Preacher once said, “The greatest enemy to human souls, is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.” Isn’t that where we are at right now? Christianity has sold itself to this mentality that WE can save the world. WE can make paradise HERE. NO! Only GOD can save the world. We’re here to build the kingdom of God on earth, so GOD can save the world. The “WE can save the world” mentality is behind this one world government agenda, which I believe is demonic in nature.

 

Why do I believe that? Is it Christian to have one governing body for the whole world? That depends on what kind of government they want to govern, and folks, they are NOT basing this model on our constitution. This is a handful of very rich, very powerful people, that are consolidating their power and trying to insure their power can never be taken away. And they do this all under the pretext of saving the world, when really what I believe they’re trying to do is enslave the world.

 

Scripture NEVER says one world government is in the plan of God. Whenever God addresses the world it’s always as God addressing the NATIONS-ZZ. Plural. He talks about nations being at war and nations coming together in peace, but he never addresses the world as one nation. I can see the book of Revelation playing out one chapter at a time.

 

I can even see this mentality in some of our church hymns such as “Let there be Peace on Earth.” Oh Father! What’s wrong with that song? “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with GOD?” No. ME! Let peace begin with ME. The problem with that is peace can’t begin with ME, because I don’t know about you, but I’M a sinner! Peace has to begin with God, and I have to cooperate with God’s grace to become a peaceful person. But that’s NOT what the song says.

 

“Gather Us In.” I won’t let Bob play the last verse of THAT song because in my opinion it borders on heresy. “Not in the dark of buildings confining…” OK. So God isn’t in the Church. “Not in some heaven light years away…” OK, So God isn’t there either. And what the verse IMPLIES is that God is somehow generated by the congregation. God comes from US. NO! WE come from GOD!

 

“Go make a difference, WE can make a difference. Go make a difference in the world.” There it is again…WE. Church hymns are supposed to glorify God, not glorify WE. These are all examples of our arrogance. We look to ourselves for salvation when we should be looking to God. And the sooner we can switch that around, the happier we all will be. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

When Abba Macarius was returning from the marsh to his cell one day carrying some palm leaves, he met the devil on the road with a scythe. The latter struck at him as much as he pleased, but in vain, and he said to him, ‘What is your power, Macarius, that makes me powerless against you? All that you do, I do, too; you fast, so do I; you keep vigil, and I do not sleep at all; in one thing only do you beat me.’ Abba Macarius asked what that was. He said, ‘Your humility. Because of that I can do nothing against you.’ -Sayings of the Desert Fathers, St Macarius

 

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; instill 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; illuminate the nations that they may understand that Thou art the origin of rights and duties, that it is through Thee that the Kings of the earth rule, and that it is to Thee that Kings and people alike owe obedience. - Raccolta

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Why can only God save the world?

  2. What is the problem with human attempts to save the world?

  3. Does this mean that it is wrong to pursue programs aimed at “social justice”? Why or why not?

  4. What are some good examples of hymns that glorify God rather than us?

  5. Besides the hymns which Father Sisco quoted, where else do you see the “we can save the world” mentality in Christian culture?

  6. Where do you see the “we can save the world” mentality in secular culture today?

  7. How can you combat this mentality?

  8. How did humility save Macarius from the devil?

  9. How does humility combat the “we can save the world” mentality?

  10. How would obedience to God bring peace to nations?

  11. How would reflecting on the deeds and wonders of God help us grow in humility?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 507: Have You not Heard?: Reflection on Is 40:28-31

 

Do you not know

or have you not heard?

The LORD is the eternal God,

creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint nor grow weary,

and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.

He gives strength to the fainting;

for the weak he makes vigor abound.

Though young men faint and grow weary,

and youths stagger and fall,

They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,

they will soar as with eagles’ wings;

They will run and not grow weary,

walk and not grow faint. IS 40:28-31 NAB

 

This passage reminds us why we should trust God. Here, the prophet Isaiah tells us how great God is, how far above us. That’s something we should really contemplate from time to time. God is so much more powerful, smarter, faster, and loving than us. Because contemplating the greatness of God increases our trust in him, and every sin we commit is ultimately rooted in a lack of trust. Faith IS trusting God.

 

The Catholic catechism says of faith: “By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God. With his whole being man gives his assent to God thereafter. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, “the obedience of faith.” Note that. By faith, man completely submits his INTELLECT and his WILL to God. So that means faith is, in part, accomplished through an INTELLECTUAL exercise. You see, I think one of our more popular modern day heresies, is that people keep trying to SEPARATE faith from the intellect. Non-believers try to convince us that to have FAITH you have to shut off your brain. You see these statements plastered all over social media, “Believe in science, not superstition.” The irony is that, if you QUESTION the “science crowd,” they stick all kinds of labels on you. But isn’t that their chief complaint about what people of faith did to people of science in the Middle Ages?

 

The attitude of “Don’t question us. Just accept what we tell you,” is not faith. Faith does NOT shut off the intellect. In fact faith requires the USE of the intellect. This is why we should be reading about God and our faith. Now with the internet you can find all kinds of good YouTube videos on the faith. While I was on retreat, I watched an excellent three part series on the book of Revelation and the End Times done by one of the priests at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, MA.

 

But that isn’t all. According to the Catechism, we also have to submit our will to God. THAT comes through constant, CONSISTENT, prayer and fasting. Prayer and fasting are the ONLY way to tame the will and discipline our passions. That’s why in EVERY approved apparition of the Blessed Mother, she stresses the need for prayer and fasting. Prayer and fasting tame the will, and taming the will builds up our resistance against temptation in us and diminishes the effects of sin AROUND us. During the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, which occurred near the end of World War One, our Lady warned of an even WORSE war looming on the horizon, but that war could be averted with prayer (particularly praying the rosary) and fasting. So what happened? Thousands of people witnessed the miracle of the sun, they built a shrine to our Lady on the spot of the apparition, but nobody prayed, and nobody fasted, and World War Two broke out. We just DON’T get it! God keeps pitching them and we keep missing them.

 

In the alleged apparitions of Medjugorie, Our Lady called for all the faithful to pray fifteen decades of the rosary every day, and fast on bread and water every Wednesday and Friday. I know a lot of people who’ve gone to Medjugorie SEVERAL times, and are big advocates for Medjugorie and sometimes they get critical about why the Church is holding back its approval of these apparitions. Then I ask them, “So do YOU pray fifteen decades of the rosary every day, and fast on bread and water every Wednesday and Friday?” And suddenly how quiet they get. And I’M just as guilty! I’M not excusing myself here! I always witnessed about my three trips to Medjugorie and how, if it wasn’t for those first two trips, I NEVER would have become a priest. And yet I didn’t start praying a 20 decade rosary (because Saint John Paul II added the Luminous mysteries), until the pandemic started last March. And fasting on bread and water, I didn’t start that until TODAY. And even now I’m cheating! I had a bagel for breakfast. OK. I had two slices of bread for lunch, but I put some Tuna Salad in between! I’ve drunk nothing but water, but this morning I filtered it through coffee beans! I’m EASING myself into it because I’m diabetic and I don’t want to shock my system. But I am going to get myself there eventually. I made my first trip to Medjugorie in 1988. That means it took 32 YEARS for me to START doing what our Lady asked us to do.

 

And I’ve GOT to do it, not just for the world, but for ME, to increase my faith, because I know, if my faith were stronger, I wouldn’t sin nearly as much as I do. And I KNOW I can’t be alone. My brothers and sisters, start giving the Lord your intellect and your will. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

It is not a good thing to load ourselves with many spiritual exercises; it is better to undertake a little and go on with it: for if the devil can persuade us to omit an exercise once, he will easily get us to omit it the second time, and the third, until at last all our pious practices will melt away. -St. Philip Neri

 

Prayer

 

TAKE, O LORD, all my liberty. Receive my memory, understanding, and entire will. Thou hast bestowed on me whatever I have or possess: I give all back to Thee, and deliver it to Thee to be entirely subject to thy will. Only grant me thy love and thy grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more. -St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. What from this passage from Isaiah most inspires you to have faith in God?

  2. What else in this passage strikes you?

  3. How are the intellect and will involved in faith?

  4. How does St. Ignatius’ prayer express faith?

  5. Why should we practice prayer and fasting?

  6. Why is it important to be moderate in our prayer and fasting?

  7. How can prayer and fasting help us increase our faith?

  8. How does an increase in faith help us to overcome sin?

  9. What is wrong with the way of thinking of the “science crowd”?

  10. How can you bolster your faith through use of the intellect?

  11. What books or media sources have you found helpful for to grow in faith?

  12. What ways, besides fasting and prayer, are there to give your will to God?

- Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 508: Rejoice Heartily: Reflection on Is 61:10

 

“I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul: for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bridegroom adorn with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels.” Is 61:10

 

“I rejoice heartily,” Isaiah says. What in the world does Isaiah have to rejoice about?! His country is divided. The northern country of Israel has been conquered by Assyria. It looks like Assyria is getting ready to invade the southern kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem as well. The people have given themselves over to idolatry and the practices of their pagan Canaanite neighbors. What is there to rejoice about?

 

As for myself, I can say these same words as the prophet Isaiah. Father, how can you honestly say that you rejoice heartily?! Have you been living with your head in the sand?! We’ve got a pandemic that just seems to be getting worse! Businesses have gone bankrupt, churches have closed. We’re living in a nation that’s sharply divided along political lines. We’ve got civil unrest; riots, and people getting assaulted in the streets. I don’t know if it’s a majority, but a least a significant number of people have abandoned Christianity and Christian values and embraced a new paganism and the hedonism that accompanies it. How can you POSSIBLY say that you rejoice heartily?!

 

If you take those three words out of context, like I just did, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that Isaiah and I, must be nuts! But now let’s look at that whole statement. I rejoice heartily IN THE LORD, IN MY GOD is the joy of my soul…THAT’S why Isaiah can rejoice, and that’s why I can rejoice, and not just rejoice, but rejoice heartily, enthusiastically! If the source of your joy is the world, you’re going to be disappointed, because the world is not joyful. It was joyful before the fall of man, but not anymore. The world can be a HAPPY place because happiness is based on present circumstances, but as we all KNOW, circumstances can change. But the world cannot be a joyful place because joy is based on a relationship with the living God, which the world continually rejects. Jesus said to his disciples at the Last Supper, that because “You do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the word, the world hates you.”

 

Now this is NOT to say that the world is evil or bad. God made the world. And in Genesis we learn that everything God makes is good. But this good world has been corrupted by sin. That does not mean God stops loving the world. We also read in Saint John’s gospel, “…for God so LOVED the world, that he sent his only Son, that those who believe in him might NOT perish, but have eternal life.” So the world is good insofar as it was created by God, and it is the theater of redemption. But the world is not joyful. So if you desire to be joyful (to rejoice is being joyful put into an action), you have to seek that joy from another source, and the only source to find that joy is Jesus Christ.

 

And this is where so many people miss the mark. They keep trying to find joy in this world, and they get frustrated when they can’t. And the primary reason people can’t find joy in this world is that they mistake joy for happiness. So people try to navigate their lives from one happy circumstance to the next. This is completely understandable, because after all, who goes out their way to be unhappy?

 

The problem is, it’s impossible to always be happy. Sooner or later unhappiness catches all of us. So, what do you do then? Well, most people blame God, get mad at God, stop praying because they think they’re going to punish God for their unhappiness. Why do they think this? Because they’re seeking their joy in this world. But the joyful person knows that these unhappy circumstances are only getting him or her closer to the ultimate goal of eternal happiness. The joyful person knows that this world is only a means to an end. The joyful person knows that this life is nothing more than a divine scavenger hunt, where I try to collect all the virtues I possibly can! The joyful person knows that if he or she faces unhappy circumstances with faith and trust in God, when death comes, the graces from all those unhappy things once endured, will carry that person over purgatory to heaven, like a boat on a strong current.

 

Well, alright Father, you sold me. How do I get this joy? By practicing what I’ve been banging over your heads for the past ten years- prayer, fasting, sacrifice, and charity. Technology changes, sin changes. Sin is always evolving. We keep finding new and better ways to sin. But God never changes, so the solution, the answer never changes. In these four things; prayer, fasting, sacrifice and charity are the power to change the unhappy circumstances in our lives, or at least give us the Grace to endure them if they don’t change. Blessed be God. Forever! Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint:

Reflect that the most delicate flower loses its fragrance and withers fastest; therefore guard yourself against seeking to walk in a spirit of delight, for you will not be constant. Choose rather for yourself a robust spirit, detached from everything, and you will discover abundant peace and sweetness, for delicious and durable fruit is gathered in a cold and dry climate. -Saint John of the Cross

 

Prayer

 

Happy should I be, could I but shed my blood that all might love Thee.

He who loves Thee not is blind indeed. My GOD, give him thy light.

Miserable indeed are they who love not Thee, the Sovereign Good.

My GOD, let me never be one of those poor ones who love Thee not.

My GOD, be Thou my joy, and all my good. I would be wholly thine for ever.

Who shall separate me from thy holy love?

Come, all ye creatures, love ye my GOD.

-From the Chaplet of Acts of the Love of God

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Is God the joy of your soul? If not, what else is?

  2. How do we attain the joy that Fr. Sisco describes?

  3. How can one choose to have a “robust spirit” as St. John of the Cross suggests? How can this attitude help one to attain the joy Fr. Sisco describes?

  4. How can prayer, fasting, sacrifice, and charity bring us joy?

  5. Why does the world not think these four things bring joy?

  6. How can our “unhappy” situations in life bring us joy?

  7. Imagine a recent situation in your life in terms of it being a “divine scavenger hunt.” Where can you find God in this event?

  8. How is virtue a more “durable fruit” than delight (what Father Sisco calls happiness)?

  9. Why does the world hate those chosen by God?

  10. How should we respond to those who hate us for our faith?

  11. The chaplet of acts of the love of God gives a variety of ways to express love for God. Do any of these statements strike you? How do you express your love for God?

  12. Why shouldn’t we stop praying when unhappy situations find us?

 

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 509: A Lion’s Cub: Reflection on Genesis 49:8-12

 

“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise

—your hand on the neck of your enemies;

the sons of your father shall bow down to you.

 

Judah is a lion’s cub,

you have grown up on prey, my son.

He crouches, lies down like a lion,

like a lioness—who would dare rouse him?

The scepter shall never depart from Judah,

or the mace from between his feet,

Until tribute comes to him,

and he receives the people’s obedience.

 

He tethers his donkey to the vine,

his donkey’s foal to the choicest stem.

In wine he washes his garments,

his robe in the blood of grapes.

His eyes are darker than wine,

and his teeth are whiter than milk. -Genesis 49:8-2

 

The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel reminds us that God has a plan. The coming of the Messiah was not arbitrary. The coming of the Messiah wasn’t a matter of God looking down from heaven every day and thinking, “Are they ready yet? Well, no, maybe not. We’ll try again tomorrow.” From when God made the covenant with Abraham, he had a plan for the precise time the Messiah would arrive. Why should that interest us? Because if God had a plan for that, God also has a plan for me. I’m NOT here by accident. I’m NOT here by random chance. I AM here because God specifically chose me to fulfill some part of his plan. And as we see by the people in this genealogy, that doesn’t mean I have to be perfect. In Jesus family tree, plenty of people messed up. Some of them messed up BIG time! Which brings me to Judah.

 

Judah was one of the twelve sons of Jacob and the head of the tribe that Jesus came from. Of course, Jacob did not know that, having been an ancestor of Jesus, but God knew that. When Jacob is blessing Judah, as he blessed all his sons, he also speaks prophetically, “You Judah shall your brothers praise—your hand on the neck of your enemies…The scepter shall never depart from Judah, or the mace from between his legs.” A scepter is a royal staff, a symbol of kingship, and a mace is a club-like weapon, used for crushing armor. So, Jacob is saying of Judah that he’s going to be a king and be the father of kings, but he’ll NEVER be free of war and conflict. Judah was the warrior among his brothers, and Judah is also the biggest troublemaker from among his brothers.

 

Now, note that Jacob says that Judah will be a king and the father of kings. That is prophetic because Judah was NOT the oldest brother. The oldest brother was Reuben! The kingship should have been Reuben’s! Why wasn’t it?

 

Remember the story of Joseph, the next to the youngest of Jacob’s sons. He had dreams, which he innocently shared with his brothers, which showed them bowing down to him, as if he were king. If this were not bad enough, his father Jacob favors Joseph and gives him a fine cloak. His envious older brothers see their chance when Joseph is sent by Jacob to see how his older brothers are faring as they tend the flocks. They say to each other, ““Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” Wanting to save Joseph, Rueben intercedes for him. “Let’s not take his life. Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” He had planned to rescue Joseph and bring him home. The brothers agree to not kill Joseph outright. The implication is that they would let him starve to death or be bitten by a snake or scorpion and so die.

 

However, while Joseph is down in the dry well, an Ishmaelite caravan going to Egypt passes by. Judah makes the suggestion, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” The brothers agree. Ironically, they get thirty pieces of silver for him, the same price Judas Iscariot gets for betraying Jesus.

 

Because Reuben failed to protect the youngest and weakest of his brothers, he cannot be king. Judah becomes king. But because of Judah’s role in what he did to Joseph, Judah’s kingship and the kingships of all of his descendants are never going to be free from war and conflict. They’ll never know peace. Judah was an ancestor of Jesus, and Jesus succeeds in every way that Judah fails.

 

How did all this work out in God’s plan? In Egypt , through God’s grace and design, Joseph rose from slavery to prominence. In a great famine, Joseph save the Egyptians and also his family who came to Egypt to buy grain when none was to be had in Israel. God brought good out of the evil done to Joseph. And God used Joseph, and his evil brothers, in a plan to save many lives.

 

So, yes, my brothers and sisters, we all have a place in God’s plan, but how we are rewarded depends on how well we cooperate with that plan. Pray with me today for everyone who is lonely, dejected, depressed, who feels like a failure. Pray that they realize that they are not worthless, for they have a place in God’s plan. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

Only Christ the Lord when he came into this world gave to mankind the example by word and deed of true holiness. -St. Maximilian Kolbe

 

Prayer

O LORD Almighty, who permittest evil to draw good therefrom, hear our humble prayers, and grant that we remain faithful to Thee unto death. Grant us also, through the intercession of most holy Mary, the strength ever to conform ourselves to thy most holy Will. -Raccolta

 

Questions for Reflection

1. What is true holiness?

2. How does Christ give example of true holiness?

3. Why are the Old Testament patriarchs imperfect examples of Holiness?

4. How can we learn from them despite their imperfections?

5. What place do you see yourself having in God’s plan?

6. How did God bring good from the evil done by Judah to his brother Joseph?

7. What are some other examples from scriptures, the lives of the saints, or your own experience, of God bringing good from evil?

8. What qualities make a good king (or any sort of leader)?

9. Jesus is called the “Lion of Judah.” How did Jesus succeed where Judah failed?

10. Why is it so bad that Reuben didn’t save Joseph? What can we learn from this about sins of omission?

11. Why is it important to try to cooperate with God’s plan? How can we strive to do this better?

 

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 510: The Lord, Our Justice :Reflection on Jer. 23:5-8

 

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD,

when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David;

As king he shall reign and govern wisely,

he shall do what is just and right in the land.

In his days Judah shall be saved,

Israel shall dwell in security.

This is the name they give him:

“The LORD our justice.”

 

Therefore, the days will come, says the LORD,

when they shall no longer say, “As the LORD lives,

who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt”;

but rather, "As the LORD lives,

who brought the descendants of the house of Israel

up from the land of the north”–

and from all the lands to which I banished them;

they shall again live on their own land. - Jeremiah 23:5-8

 

What can we say of God from this passage from the prophet Jeremiah? Jeremiah ascribes a few titles to God in this brief passage. “The Lord our justice,” is one of them. OK. God is fair. God wants to ensure that everyone gets their just due. So He also wants us to make sure everyone gets their just due. God does not like those who cheat others out of what is rightfully theirs. What other titles does Jeremiah ascribe of God? “As the Lord lives who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.” So, God is also ‘deliverer,’ ‘rescuer,’ the one who leads from slavery and oppression to freedom.

 

What OTHER title does Jeremiah ascribe to God? “As the Lord lives who brought the descendants of the house of Israel up from the land of the north—and from ALL the lands to which I banished them.” What’s Jeremiah talking about here? Remember all the times I referenced how Israel split into two kingdoms; ten tribes belonged to the country of Israel in the north, and two tribes formed the kingdom of Judah in the south? Then the Assyrian Empire came and conquered the northern kingdom? This is the time Jeremiah is writing- AFTER the north had fallen to Assyria, but BEFORE Judah had fallen to Babylon. So, the Lord was saying here that he would restore the country again. The North and the South would one day be reunited. So, God is also the great healer. The Lord binds back what was broken.

 

I think ALL of these aspects of God are good for our reflection. God is just, and desires that everyone gets their due. Jesus wants us to go beyond that and deny ourselves what may be ours in justice for the good of others in charity. God rescued Israel from slavery by leading his people through the parted waters of the Red Sea. Jesus Christ came to deliver us from our slavery to sin, by leading us to the waters of baptism, and renewing that Grace every time we receive the Eucharist. God restored and healed a broken nation. Jesus restores and heals us through the confessional and the anointing, and he desires us to restore and heal others through forgiveness.

 

My brothers and sisters, in the sacraments are the Grace and power to emulate these attributes of God. Pray with me today that more people use the sacraments for this purpose.

-Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

Sacraments are necessary unto man's salvation for three reasons. The first is taken from the condition of human nature which is such that it has to be led by things corporeal and sensible to things spiritual and intelligible. Now it belongs to Divine providence to provide for each one according as its condition requires. Divine wisdom, therefore, fittingly provides man with means of salvation, in the shape of corporeal and sensible signs that are called sacraments…. I

 

It follows, therefore, that through the institution of the sacraments man, consistently with his nature, is instructed through sensible things; he is humbled, through confessing that he is subject to corporeal things, seeing that he receives assistance through them: and he is even preserved from bodily hurt, by the healthy exercise of the sacraments. -St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa

 

Prayer

 

ETERNAL GOD, behold me prostrate before the immensity of thy majesty. I humbly adore Thee, and offer Thee all my thoughts, words, and works of this day. I intend to do everything for love of Thee, for thy glory, and for the fulfillment of thy divine will; in order to serve, praise, and bless Thee, to be enlightened in the mysteries of our holy faith, to secure my salvation, and to hope in thy mercy; to satisfy the divine justice for my many grievous sins, to assist the holy souls in purgatory, and to obtain the grace of a true conversion for all sinners. I desire, in fine, to do everything in union with that most pure intention which JESUS and Mary had during life, and which the saints now have in heaven, and the just on earth. -From a morning offering, Raccolta

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. What is the right way to approach the sacraments?

  2. How did Jesus ask us to go beyond the dictates of strict justice?

  3. How are we able to live up to what Jesus asks of us?

  4. How do the sacraments show God’s justice?

  5. How do the sacraments show God’s healing?

  6. How can we be instruments of Justice?

  7. How can we imitate God’s mercy?

  8. What is the importance of a morning offering?

  9. How can a morning offering help you to live out what Jesus asks?

  10. How do the Assyrian and Babylonian conquest/exiles reveal God’s justice and mercy?

  11. How do these events foreshadow Christ’s work of redemption?

  12. What “slavery” or “exile” can you ask God to save you from?

 

-Erin Wells