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Weeks 641-650

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 650: Constant vigilance  (Wis 6:12-16, Ps 63:2-8, and 1 Thes 4:13-18)


Wisdom 6:12-16

12 Resplendent and unfading is Wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her. 13 She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her; 14 one who watches for her at dawn will not be disappointed, for she will be found sitting at the gate. 15 For setting your heart on her is the perfection of prudence, and whoever keeps vigil for her is quickly free from care; 16 Because she makes her rounds, seeking those worthy of her, and graciously appears to them on the way, and goes to meet them with full attention.

Psalm 63 : 2-8

2 O God, you are my God— it is you I seek! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, In a land parched, lifeless, and without water. 3 I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory. 4 For your love is better than life; my lips shall ever praise you! 5 I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands, calling on your name. 6 My soul shall be sated as with choice food, with joyous lips my mouth shall praise you!7 I think of you upon my bed, I remember you through the watches of the night 8 You indeed are my savior, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

13 We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.  14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore, console one another with these words.


The end of the liturgical year accents waiting and keeping watch for the return of Christ and the end of time. The new year that begins with Advent stresses waiting and watching...for the coming of Christ at his birth.


All of today’s readings highlight different aspects of vigilance and keeping watch.


The Book of Wisdom speaks of those who “watch at dawn” for Wisdom, and how she anticipates those “who keep vigil for her sake” and graciously seeks them out. Our vigilance invites the always greater vigilance of wisdom, then.


The psalm (63) speaks of the element of yearning in watchfulness: “for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts, like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.”


Paul speaks of vigilance regarding our approaching death. All of these dimensions of watching blend together: out of love for wisdom, we listen and try to stay attuned to all the ways that life is trying to wake us up.


We yearn for God and cultivate our desire for him, our deepest heart’s desire, and the only one that can ultimately satisfy. We look to him also in light of our poverty and approaching death, as mortal, needy, vulnerable creatures.


All of this provides the context for Jesus’ parable about the wise and foolish virgins keeping watch for the return of the Bridegroom.


The moral of the story is given as “Therefore stay awake for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Of course, both the wise and foolish virgins fall asleep...


Presumably, if they’d kept awake they could have conserved oil and not run out. Perhaps the wise virgins are wise because they knew that despite their best efforts they might well fall asleep, so they brought along a reserve of oil just in case.


Perhaps the foolish virgins imagined they were strong enough to resist sleep...So wisdom here would be the wisdom of knowing our weakness and making provision for it.


St Bernard touches on this parable in his magnificent Sermon 18 On the Song of Songs. He speaks of gifts the Spirit gives us for our own salvation and those he gives us for the building up of the wider community.


We need to first cultivate our own inner life, prayer, reading, an attitude of constant wakefulness so that this wealth can naturally overflow to others from our abundance.


You can do a lot for another person but you can’t do their inner work for them—so the wise virgins cannot really share their oil, even if they want to, as we can’t cultivate prayer or deepen conversion for someone else.


We can relate this discussion of watchfulness here to what the desert tradition speaks of as nepsis.: the attention or wakefulness that undergirds and supports prayer, and in some sense IS prayer itself.


We need to cultivate attentiveness and keep watch through the day so that we’re aware when our lamp starts to flicker and we slip towards reactivity, prejudice or craving.


An attentive presence is the best gift we can bring to others. Simone Weil wrote: “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”


In the words of Kallistos Ware: “Watchfulness means, among other things, to be present where we are—at this specific point in space, at this particular moment in time. All too often we are scattered and dispersed, we are living, not with alertness in the present, but with nostalgia in the past, or with misgiving and wishful thinking in the future... The neptic man, then, is gathered into the here and the now. He is the one who seizes the kairos, the decisive moment of opportunity.”


In the Eucharist we receive a share in Jesus’ own watchfulness—“We have the mind of Christ”—strengthened by that grace may we keep awake and alert to the sacrament of the present moment.


Fr. Isaac Slater, OCSO



Prayer: “Jesus help me to be vigilant for your return and ensure that I maintain my lamp so that I can join you in the heavenly marriage feast. Amen”

Quote from a Saint: “Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear; for He that created you has sanctified you, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be Thou, O God, for having created me.” – St. Clare of Assisi

Questions for reflection:

  1. How do you keep watch for the return of Christ? Do you look forward to the end of time?

  2. Do you meditate upon your coming death daily? Do you allow it to guide the choices that you make and the actions that you take?

  3. What does your inner life look like? Do you cultivate it? Do you regularly take an account of your spiritual life to monitor if you have become lax or have begun to drift off of course?

  4. What is the current state of your prayer life? Do you stay faithful to daily prayer? If you have been less than diligent start again right now.

  5. Do you engage in regular spiritual reading? Do you study the lives of the saints? If not, start today by setting aside 15 minutes to read some edifying book or listen to an audiobook.

  6. Have you tried listening to Catholic podcasts or YouTube videos as a form of “spiritual reading”?

  7. Are you attentive to the people that God has put before you? If you are married, do you give your spouse your undivided attention? What about your children (if applicable) or when you are out with friends?

  8. Does your use of electronic devices steal your attentiveness from others? From God? In our contemporary culture our phones and other devices are capable of stealing our attentiveness or giving us the illusion of multitasking and being productive when, in fact, we are ignoring those around us while we pursue entertainment. An interesting experiment is to observe how you and others use their devices in social situations.

  9. Do you allow your thoughts to dwell on the past or on the future? How can dwelling on these thoughts distract you from being in the present?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 649:  Be a true servant : A meditation on the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 23 : 1-12)


1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.

3 Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.

4 They tie up heavy burdens [hard to carry] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.

5 All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.

6 They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, 7 greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’

8 As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.

9 Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.

10 Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Messiah.

11 The greatest among you must be your servant.

12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.


The dictionary defines posturing as an affected attitude of mind and body, behaving in order to impress, assuming an exaggerated pose, acting artificially…in a word “phoniness”.


The scene described by St Matthew is a conflict, a tense one between Truth, Jesus Himself, and the leaders, the scribes, and Pharisees. As we listened to the Gospel Jesus has no sympathy or reservations about their conduct, their posturing. His words could be called a litany of posturing: what they do is to be seen, their robes are adorned to be admired, they seek to be honored in any way possible, they need to be greeted. We can imagine the reaction of these leaders as their facade was torn down in front of the very people they sought to impress.


In all this Jesus is calling them to see themselves; He is calling them to conversion because they live in deception, they have bought a lie, more than one. In His own words Jesus proclaimed, “I have come to call sinners”...people who have lost their way, living in error and deception.


We know that with the Lord Jesus, there are no half-measures, no acceptance of untruth, no compromises of any kind. He calls people - us - to a way of life that is radical, profound, true and life-giving: love God above all things, your neighbor and yourself - deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me - forgive 70 times 7 times…to name a few. To these scribes and Pharisees and to us Jesus’ message cuts through like a knife through the posturing He has witnessed and rebuked. This is truth: “The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled but whoever humbles himself will be exalted” - that is, exalted by God, not by self!


Jesus can say this in all truth because in becoming man He became a servant, THE servant - “The son of Man has come to serve and not to be served.” In this Mass this becomes all too clear to us; He serves Himself to each of us in the Holy Eucharist - the host, the wine can hardly be called “self-exaltation”. He serves us - what an awesome truth and experience is ours! The Lord comes to serve you/me in all our frailty, poverty, in all our sinfulness. He comes to serve because He desires to serve. He comes not because He is in need but because we are.


Because we are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, He is our exemplar. He calls us to serve and we do - out of duty, obligation, desire. Because we are His, our service to others falls terribly short if what looks good is really self-serving…trying to impress, seeking thanks that is excessive, being egotistical, in a word serving with a price tag - a self-exalted price tag.


How do we know if your/my service is really Christ-like or not? Not always easy - we need to listen to our heart. Anything done with a self-serving attitude easily leads to resentment, childishness, sadness, anger; perhaps it has to come to this: “Lord, I pray that when I serve others, it is after Your example. If it is not, teach me and purify my motives, free me from any self-exaltation.”


Should we be concerned about our intentions, our motives? If we say that we believe in Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, as we are doing now, then our motives, intentions must be marked by His word, His Spirit. If not, then our Catholic faith is a kind of posturing - seen but empty - outwardly impressive but inwardly a wilderness.


May our loving God in His mercy deliver us from such! But more than that - fill us with His own Spirit of loving service.

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO


Prayer: “Lord help me to serve as you served, to love as you loved. Amen”


Quote from a Saint: “People say, 'What is the sense of our small effort?' They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There's too much work to do." -- Servant of God Dorothy Day

Questions for reflection:

  1. It is easy for us to see what we perceive as posturing in other people, but it is harder to see in ourselves. Have you ever caught yourself posturing? What could you have done differently to be more genuine in your actions?

  2. Do you have a different way of behaving with your church friends than you do when you are with more secular friends or just out in public? Could this be a kind of posturing? Take this to prayer and ask the Lord.

  3. Do you take time everyday to look back at your actions? If not, look up how to do an examen and start to practice it in a prayerful manner.

  4. Have you ever felt that the Lord was calling you to conversion? How did it make you feel? Did He use anyone to call to you either by words or because you felt that they were a good example of how to live?

  5. How comfortable are you with thinking of yourself as a servant? Do you care for others of even though your actions may not be noticed by man?

  6. If you aren’t recognized for your service do you feel resentful? What does that say about your motivation to serve?

  7. Do others see Jesus reflected in how you live your life? Do you try to live your life so that others will want to follow Jesus as you do? Would you say your life is “radical, profound, true and life-giving”?

  8. Have you ever prayed the Litany of Humility? If so, how do you feel when you pray it? If not, look it up and give it a try.

  9. How does how Jesus serve us in the Eucharist? Meditate on this the next time that you are in Adoration.


--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP


Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 648:  The Greatest Commandments : A meditation on the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 22 : 34-40)


34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them [a scholar of the law] tested him by asking,


36“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and the first commandment.


39 The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.


40 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”



St Benedict was a master of the spiritual life, and he knew how to put first things first. In writing his Rule, he devoted all of chapter 4 to what he called “the tools for good works”. Chapter 4 begins with a quotation from this morning’s Gospel: “First of all, love the Lord God with your whole heart, your whole soul, and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself”.

The first tool for good works is an instrument with two edges, the love of God and the love of neighbor, and Jesus himself says that “the whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments”. We were made to use this tool, to love God and our neighbor, and we learn to use it from our life experiences.

As with any tool, there’s a right way and a wrong way to use it, and most of us begin by using it the wrong way. Before we know how to love, we want too much to be loved, and before we’ve learned to love ourselves in the right way, we want to get our neighbor to love us. That doesn’t work, because it’s using the tool in the wrong way.

The right way is to consult the user’s manual, written by the Designer of the tool. In the user-friendly book of Genesis, it says that God created us in his own image and likeness. Since God is love, our love for our neighbor should be in the image and likeness of our love for God. The tool will work properly if we put God first, and then love those who are made in the image and likeness of God.


Why should we love God at all? St Bernard had the best answer: God himself is the reason we love him; we love God because he is goodness itself, without limits. The right reason for loving ourselves is because we recognize that we are the image and likeness of God. And since every other human being has the very same dignity, we love them as ourselves, as living images of the Godhead.


So the right way to use this tool is to work with both edges at the same time, so that the same charity produces together acts of the love of God and of our neighbor, and that is an art that can only be learned from experience. The whole of life is itself a learning experience, a “school of charity” as Cistercian tradition calls it.


One of the Cistercian Fathers who spoke from his own experience in the school of charity was Blessed Guerric of Igny. In a sermon for the feast of St Benedict, he wrote: “I am not saying that between the love of God and the love of neighbor, there must be any order of time, although there must be an order of intensity. From the very beginning, it is necessary to pay attention to the one and not to neglect the other. But if the heart is right, a person cannot be unaware which of these two loves should be the stronger, which of them should determine the form and expression the other should take, and the limits that should be put on it”.

What Guerric is saying is that the right way to love our neighbor is to cherish God alone for his own sake, and everyone else for love of him. That is why divine love repeatedly commands us to love our neighbor because that is what life is all about, even if we get tired of hearing it. There’s a story from the old Cistercian Night Office that sums it all up. For the feast of St John the Evangelist, there was a reading from St Jerome’s commentary on Galatians. It goes like this:


“In his old age at Ephesus blessed John the Evangelist could barely be supported into church on the arms of his disciples, nor could he say more than a few words when he got there. At each service, he would only repeat, ‘My little children, love one another’. Finally, the disciples who were present, wearied by such constant repetition, said to him, ‘Master, why do you always say the same thing?’ The reply was worthy of John: ‘Because it is the Lord’s command, and if you do only this, it is enough’”.


Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO


Prayer: “Jesus, help me to find You in the sometimes distressing disguise of my neighbor. Amen”

Quote from a Saint: “If we recognize [Jesus] under the appearance of bread … we will have no difficulty recognizing him in the disguise of the suffering poor.”—St. Theresa of Calcutta

Questions for reflection:

  1. Consider this passage: “The right reason for loving ourselves is because we recognize that we are the image and likeness of God. And since every other human being has the very same dignity, we love them as ourselves, as living images of the Godhead.” Do you love yourself? Do you love yourself for the right reasons?

  2. Do you love others as yourself since they are also living images of the Godhead? How does this alter how you treat people? What about people that you disagree with?

  3. If someone is not living according to God’s will, isn’t it loving to accept them as they are? How does correcting them show love?

  4. How often do you “consult the user’s manual, written by the Designer of the tool”? Do you read and study the Bible to gain greater understanding of how and why God made us and how to better live our lives?

  5. “As with any tool, there’s a right way and a wrong way to use it, and most of us begin by using it the wrong way.” How has your ability to love changed as you learned to use the “tool”? In what ways can you improve on how you love?

  6. How are you learning from the “school of charity” throughout your life? How different does your life look now compared to earlier in your life?

  7. How does loving your neighbor look different if you “cherish God alone for his own sake, and everyone else for love of him”? How can the source of your motivation behind loving your neighbor change the ways in which you love them?

  8. Do you love God as you should and spend time every day in prayer? Do you give Him some silent time during your prayer into which he can speak? To fall in love with someone you must spend time with them and give them time to speak with you. If you have not been in the habit of having silent time with God, start today with 5 minutes. Once you are comfortable with 5 move on to 10 in the end aim for at least 15 to 20 minutes of silent prayer per day with God.

  9. Do you try to see God in others in order to love them as you love yourself and God? Saint Mother Teresa would talk about “Jesus in his most distressing disguise.” When you are dealing with other people start trying to find Jesus disguised in them and not only in the people who you find pleasant.

  10. Are there people that you find to be too difficult to love? Are there people who pre-annoy you just by thinking about them? If so, start to pray for them daily and the next time that you see them treat them as if they were Jesus.

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 647:  Our flawed perception of the world & the danger of making rash judgements : A meditation on the books of Judges and the first letter of Peter  (Judges 9:8-15, 1 Peter 2 : 4-9)


8  One day the trees went out to anoint a king over themselves. So they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ 9 But the olive tree answered them, ‘Must I give up my rich oil, whereby gods and human beings are honored, and go off to hold sway over the trees?’ 10 Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come; you reign over us!’ 11 But the fig tree answered them, ‘Must I give up my sweetness and my sweet fruit, and go off to hold sway over the trees?’ 12 Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come you, reign over us.’13 But the vine answered them, ‘Must I give up my wine that cheers gods and human beings, and go off to hold sway over the trees?’ 14 Then all the trees said to the buckthorn, ‘Come; you reign over us!’15 The buckthorn answered the trees, ‘If you are anointing me in good faith, to make me king over you, come, and take refuge in my shadow. But if not, let fire come from the buckthorn and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’


[1 Peter]

4 Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, 5 and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  6 For it says in scripture: “Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.” 7 Therefore, its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone that will make people stumble and a rock that will make them fall.” They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny.  9 But you are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.


 When I’m working in the woods and getting logs for sawmills I’m very conscious of species of trees. I’m delighted when I find a black walnut that’s large enough to harvest and has a nice, straight trunk. Those bring the highest prices. So, my favorite trees are the ones that have value and are marketable. And I’m annoyed with trees that have no worth. Some trees you can’t even give away – they aren’t even good for firewood. Foresters refer to those kinds of trees as weed trees. They just take up space and are good for nothing. And as luck would have it, they’re hard to kill. If you cut them off at the ground they just sprout right back. Within three or four years they’re just as big again as when you cut them off. We have a very heavy deer population on our property and they’re determining the trees that will be here in the future – they just love to browse off black walnut, oaks, maples, cherry, and all the ones that bring the best prices. But weed trees like boxelder and buckthorn they won’t even look at. Any seedling or sapling from a crop tree is doomed, but the weed trees are proliferating. 


I tend to value a tree by its worth at the sawmill. But they can have other redeeming qualities. For instance, the sugar maples are especially beautiful this time of year with their fall foliage. So are the hickories and oaks and many of the others. But not the boxelder trees and the buckthorn. They’re just as worthless in the autumn as they are the rest of the year. The buckthorn tree is even made fun of in the Bible. It’s a little, scrubby, bushy thing but in chapter 9 of Judges all the other trees ask it to rule over them, after the olive tree, the fig tree, and the vine have declined.  


Well, in our second reading, we heard that the stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. Our Brother Barsanuphius has been doing a lot of work at the wood lathe recently in order to produce a fitting piece for a special benefactor that we will be honoring next month. Brother has been experimenting with different species of wood that we have available here, and can you guess what the two finalists are? Yep, wouldn’t you know it . . . boxelder and buckthorn. Buckthorn has a tight-grain, beautiful orange color, and boxelder has a splash of bright red if you can find a tree that is being attacked by boxelder bugs. Yesterday I got a peak at the vase that is the finalist of the finalists and it is stunning. Who would have thought that a weed tree that looks so ugly on the outside could look so beautiful on the inside?!


On one occasion I had remarked to Br. Barsanuphius, “Maybe there’s a homily in this.” And he had replied, “Yes, the stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone!” We’re told to not judge a book by its cover. How often does it happen that a person whom we did not give much value to at first ends up being a real gem on the inside once we get to know them? I like to believe that everyone has a hidden treasure buried within. You know, God doesn’t make junk. Each person is a masterpiece. We just have to be patient enough to hang in there and dig long enough. Sometimes the person himself doesn’t even believe in his own richness. He views himself as just a weed tree among crop trees. Who knows . . . maybe God has destined us from all eternity to be a Br. Barsanuphius to that person and layer by layer uncover the stunning vase inside. They may be a diamond in the rough. A master diamond cutter is able to unlock all the beautiful facets inside and produce something that will sparkle and give glory to God for ages. 


Another image along the same line would be a geode. Geodes look pretty drab and unattractive on the outside. But once they’re broken or cut open, the incredible beauty within is revealed. I have a large amethyst geode in my room that Fr. Gerard brought back from Brazil. Our daughter-house there gave it to him as a gift. I just marvel every time I look at it. 


In regard to the geode, I just mentioned cutting and breaking. That sounds painful like you’re doing violence to something in its original state. Cleaving away the debris of a diamond also involves sharp, decisive blows. And Br. Barsanuphius was able to free the beautiful vase inside with skilled hands and sharp tools called gouges. When it comes to our own inner work on ourselves sometimes it requires painful and decisive actions. Our vices and garbage need to be stripped away so that God’s unique image can shine forth from within with the least amount of obstruction. 


Each one of us is a temple of the Holy Trinity. Despite the appearances, we need to believe in and coax forth the treasure within others and within ourselves.


Fr. Stephen Muller, OCSO


Prayer: “Jesus, form me into the saint that you would like me to become, chip away my sinfulness, gouge out my willfulness and allow me to bring with me others whose lives have been changed for the better by my witness. Amen”

Quote from a Saint: “I let God observe me, to dig deep inside me, to form my soul, to mold it. He is truly present, not an invention. He’s there. And if everyone could realize that, how they would run to it! If everyone believed in this truth, how their lives would change for the better!”—Blessed Carlo Acutis

Questions for reflection:

  1. Do you find that you are quick to make rash judgements about others? These could be either positive or negative judgments. Have you ever been surprised once you got to know the person or observed them longer?

  2. If you have been surprised because your judgment was wrong, have you prayed for that person? If you shared your rash judgement with others, did you attempt to correct what you said once you realized that you were wrong?

  3. Have you been the victim of someone else’s rash judgement? How did that make you feel?

  4. Meditate on the concept that Jesus became the cornerstone of our Church. He was most despised by His own people and was put to death by them to remove Him from their society. How would you respond if the person that you had despised suddenly rose to prominence due to their piety or saintliness?

  5. Do you see yourself as a good tree that is ready for the sawmill, or a weed tree? Both must submit to the tools of the craftsman to bring out their internal beauty. Are you willing to submit to the tools of The Craftsman and allow him to make something beautiful out of the raw material of your life?

  6. Community life can wear off your rough edges as you attempt to live the Christian life in an authentic manner. It does not just exist in a monastery-- if you have a family and submit to the process, family life can smooth some of your rough edges and let your inner beauty shine. Are you willing to embrace this process of formation?

  7. How do you work on bringing forth your inner beauty? Adoration can do this because we are told that we become more like the thing that we adore. So, if we adore Christ in the Eucharist we will find ourselves becoming more like Him. Do you spend time in Adoration? Do you read and meditate upon the Gospels regularly? Do you attempt to conform your life to Christ?

  8. Do you study the lives of the saints to find inspiration and examples of how you too can become more like Christ and follow closely in His footsteps?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 646:  You are Worth More than Many Sparrows : A reflection on the Gospel of Luke (Luke 12: 1-7)


1 Meanwhile, so many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. He began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven—that is, the hypocrisy—of the Pharisees.

2 “There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.

3 Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.

4 I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more.

5 I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.

6 Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God.

7 Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.


“Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows" (Lk. 12:7). I suggest that you ponder this phrase from today’s gospel throughout the day. We have reason to be confident because God treats us as the apple of his eye. God who is love loves us more than we could ever ask or imagine. Our response to such an offer of boundless love is to love him in return, with our whole heart, with our whole soul, and with all our might (CF. Deut. 6:5). Knowing that we are loved, and are nestled close to the heart of God, we have nothing to fear. Knowing that God is with us (CF. Mat. 28:20) we have no reason to panic or be anxious. When we look at the heavens, we are filled with wonder. When we look at the Cross, we are filled with awe.

Our thoughts are governed by what we look at, therefore, we should look at the cross often. How we think affects how we feel. Looking at the cross reminds us of Christ’s self-emptying love for us. Immersed in that unconditional love, we can begin to love others as we are loved. Without fear, without panic, we can extend loving kindness to all we meet, embracing their joys and hopes, their griefs and anxieties.

“Let us not be afraid to confess the Crucified. Let the Cross be a seal we make on our foreheads; over the bread we eat and the wine we drink. Let us talk about it when we sit at home and when we walk along the road. Let us sign ourselves with it when we lie down to sleep and when we get up. Great is that preservative; it is without price, for the poor’s sake; without toil, for the sick, since also its grace is from God. It is the Sign of the faithful and the dread of the demons; for with is Christ has triumphed over them, having made a shew of them openly. Let us embrace the cross of Christ for the honor of your Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns forever and ever” (St. Cyril of Jerusalem). Such thoughts give life. Such thoughts give hope. Such thoughts overcome fear.  Such thoughts are the seedbed of love and respect for one another and the beginnings of lasting peace.


Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO


Prayer: “Lord protect us from ever being ashamed of your cross.”

Quote from a Saint: God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”—St. Augustine

Questions for reflection:

  1. Contemplate this verse from the Gospel, “Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows" (Lk. 12:7) What does this say about the nature of God? The nature of humans?

  2. Do you often think about the love that God has for you and how deep it runs? How does this affect how you feel about yourself?

  3. How does meditating on this great love of God make you want to return that love to Him? How are some ways that you can do that?

  4. How can our love for God translate into performing corporal and spiritual works of mercy? How have you done this in your own life?

  5. Do you have a crucifix in an area in which you can look upon it while praying? Do you think that looking upon a crucifix often would change how you think and, therefore, change how you feel?

  6. How does the cross give life and hope? How can it overcome fear and give peace?

  7. “Our thoughts are governed by what we look at.” Are there things that you look at often that might negatively affect the nature of your thoughts? What can you limit or eliminate to improve the way that you think?

  8. Do you make the sign of the cross in public, such as saying grace before you eat in a restaurant or in the breakroom at work? If you do not, spend time praying about this.

  9. Are you sometimes ashamed of the cross? In what situations does this happen? Pray about this and beseech the Lord to give you strength.

--Kristen & Benjamin Rinaldo, CfP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 645:  Evangelizing by Attraction : A reflection on Zechariah and the Gospel of Luke (Zechariah 8: 20-23, Luke 9:51-56)



20 Thus says the LORD of hosts: There will yet come peoples and inhabitants of many cities; 21 and the inhabitants of one city will approach those of another, and say, “Come! let us go to implore the favor of the LORD and to seek the LORD of hosts. I too am going.” 22 Many peoples and strong nations will come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to implore the favor of the LORD.

23Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten people from nations of every language will take hold, yes, will take hold of the cloak of every Judahite and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”)



51 When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, a 52 and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, 53but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. 54


When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” 55 Jesus turned and rebuked them, 56 and they journeyed to another village.


"Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you" (Zech. 8:23). This verse reminded me of Pope Francis’s notion of evangelization by attraction, not coercion. Since the dawn of time, God has manifested his mercy and compassion towards us. Because we have been the objects of God’s mercy and loving compassion, we can show mercy and compassion to others. We have only to recall Jesus’s words, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (Jn. 13: 35). We are called to have an intimate relationship with the living Christ, head, and body. The Church attracts people by how its members live, not by what they say. If we strive to live peaceably with all people, especially with those with whom we disagree, people will desire to walk with us because they see that God is with us (CF. Zech. 8:23).


G. K. Chesterton wrote: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried” (What’s Wrong with the World). The great theological divide stems from our felt need to argue and debate the use of terms. Words are cheap, creating a meaningless void. I was reminded of a few lines written by William Shakespeare.


“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more: it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” (Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5)


The Christian vocation is a lived experience, springing from a life-changing encounter with the Living Word. When Nathanael asked if anything good could come from Nazareth, Philip simply invited him to come and see (CF, Jn. 1:46). I find Philip’s response quite interesting. He does not bluster with meaningless sound and fury. He simply invites Nathanael to join him on the journey to Jesus and learn for himself. I guess that Nathaniel could make the words of the prophet Zechariah his own. “Let me go with you, for I have heard that God is with you” (CF. Zech. 8:23).


What makes Christianity so challenging is that it does not give us a package of ready-made answers. Rather, it invites us to become engaged in a life-transforming relationship. Because we are invited to make the journey without a map and GPS coordinates we have to walk by faith. Recall the answer the first disciples got when they asked Jesus where he was staying. “Come and see” (Jn. 1:39). Saint John tells us that they abandoned their previous plans, accepted his challenge, and spent the rest of the day with him. That journey made all the difference. The disciples’ response is similar to that of Jesus’s ancestor, Ruth to her mother-in-law Naomi. “Wherever you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16) . They looked for an answer and encountered the mystery of God’s infinite mercy, and that encounter made all the difference. When we respond to the invitation of love, then Christianity will have been tried and not found wanting. People will want to walk arm-in-arm with us as we journey to our Father’s house.

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO


Prayer: “Lord Jesus help me to live in a manner that the world sees more of your than of me.”


Quote from a Saint: “We should ever be grateful for and love the vocation to which God has called us. This applies to every vocation because, after all, what a privilege it is to serve God, even in the least capacity!”--Blessed Solanus Casey


Questions for reflection:

  1. Have you ever met a person who lived their faith so well that you wanted to be more like them or wondered how they got there?

  2. Do you try to live your faith in a manner that evangelizes others and makes them want to be more like you or to have what you have? Have you ever considered this before? If not, take it to the Lord the next time that you pray.

  3. Do your treat all with mercy and compassion? Do you live peaceably with all people? Are there some people to whom it is easier to be merciful and compassionate? Does a certain person come to mind who it is difficult to treat with mercy and compassion? If so, start to earnestly pray for them.

  4. Consider the idea of attracting others to Christ by inviting rather than bragging. Does that sound more convincing to you? If so, how can you use this idea to evangelize others?

  5. Are you engaged in a life transforming relationship with the Lord or do you feel that you are just going through the motions in order to give the impression that you are?

  6. Consider the following: “Because we are invited to make the journey without a map and GPS coordinates we have to walk by faith.” Does that make you nervous? What do you think your response says about your willingness to surrender to God?

  7. Do you like the challenge of not being given ready-made answers when it comes to Christianity? Does this lack of complete certainty bother you? Do does it work as a way to invite you “to become engaged in a life-transforming relationship”? Would that relationship have been possible with the ready-made answers version? How does some uncertainty lead to relationship?

  8. Has there been a time when you found Christianity to be difficult and you just stopped trying? What brought you back?

  9. Is there a saint who inspires you to be a better Christian? If so, what lessons have you learned from them? If not, why not start exploring and see if there is a saint that resonates with you?

--Kristen & Benjamin Rinaldo, CfP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 644:  Following God's will : A reflection on the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 21: 28-32)


28 Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: "What is your opinion? A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.'

29 He said in reply, 'I will not,' but afterwards changed his mind and went. 30 The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, 'Yes, sir, 'but did not go.

31 Which of the two did his father's will?" They answered, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.

32 When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him."


So which of the sons did his Father’s will? Actually, the supreme example of the Son who did his Father’s will is Christ, whom St. Paul praises in the letter to the Philippians. Judging from the hymn which St Paul quotes, the attitude, or mind, of Christ was revealed in his self-forgetting devotion to doing the Father’s will. And throughout his earthly life, we have before us not only the attitude or mind of the Son but also the mind of the Father who sent him.


In other words, what the Father saw in Christ is what we also ought to see: not only the humility, the obedience, and the patient endurance, but, in the heart of all these, the mind of Christ. That gives us the reason for his self-emptying: because his heart went out to the human race. Any regard for himself disappeared as he looked on our fallen race.


His heart was set on delivering us, even though it would mean all kinds of humiliation, obedience, and suffering. This gave meaning and character to every step of his life. This was the attitude of the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep. And this is what completes and consecrates all of Christ’s work, and why the Father greatly exalted him. This is the Lamb of God. There never was a Lamb like this.


We have no way of knowing how all this was and is in the Eternal Son in his divine nature. But we can think and speak of it as the mind of Christ, as it came to light in the Man of Bethlehem. With all the possibilities of the incarnation, he set his face steadily toward fulfilling the Father’s will for him. Because of this, God greatly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name. This is the right way. This is the right life.


Can we claim to be followers of Christ? Then let us have in us the same attitude that was also in Christ Jesus, this humble, loving attitude. Let each of us look out not for our own interests, but also for those of others. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory. Humbly regard others as more important than yourselves. If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, do all these things. Have in you the same attitude that is in Christ Jesus, and find ways of showing it. But if in fact, his attitude is really in you, it will find ways to show itself.


As we come to Christ in this Eucharist, with all our sorrows, and sins, and needs, let his drink in his mind. Let us sit at his feet and learn from him, for he is meek and humble of heart.


Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO



Prayer: The Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved... Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled ... Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honored ... Deliver me, Jesus

From the desire of being praised ... Deliver me, Jesus

From the desire of being preferred to others... Deliver me, Jesus

From the desire of being consulted ... Deliver me, Jesus

From the desire of being approved ... Deliver me, Jesus

From the fear of being humiliated ... Deliver me, Jesus

From the fear of being despised... Deliver me, Jesus

From the fear of suffering rebukes ... Deliver me, Jesus

From the fear of being calumniated ... Deliver me, Jesus

From the fear of being forgotten ... Deliver me, Jesus

From the fear of being ridiculed ... Deliver me, Jesus

From the fear of being wronged ... Deliver me, Jesus

From the fear of being suspected ... Deliver me, Jesus

That others may be loved more than I, Deliver me, Jesus

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. Deliver me, Jesus

That others may be esteemed more than I ... Deliver me, Jesus

That, in the opinion of the world others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That others may be chosen and I set aside ... Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ... Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That others may be preferred to me in everything... Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should… Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it

Quote from a Saint: “First and foremost, we must lay down a solid foundation of profound humility to serve as the foundation of the tower of virtues that will rise up toward heaven.”--Saint John Cassian.


Questions for reflection:

  1. Which son do you resemble most when it comes to doing the Lord’s will? Do you say that you will do what He wants but you do not end up doing it? Do you say no, but then later change your mind?

  2. It is easy to say that you will do things and then fail to do them. What are some ways that you can strengthen your commitment to following through?

  3. Do you ever find that you hesitate or avoid doing what you know is the Lord’s will out of fear?

  4. Are there certain people in your life who make doing the will of God uncomfortable, or maybe even impossible, to do? If so, begin praying for them more and try showing them the love of God.

  5. Do you see yourself as a follower of Christ? Why or why not? If not, begin making small changes in your life that will let you follow Christ more closely.

  6. How are you doing in your practice of humility? Do you see yourself as humble person? Are you willing to put others before yourself?

  7. How did you feel when you prayed the Litany of Humility? Try praying the Litany of Humility once a week for a month. If you really struggle with pride, try saying it slowly and sincerely once a day.

  8. How do people know that you are a follower of Christ? Is it because you tell them or because of how you treat others?

--Kristen & Benjamin Rinaldo

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 643:  Listen for the gentle whisper of the Spirit : A reflection on the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 16:13-20)



13 When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”


16 Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.


18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.


19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”


20 Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah.


“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God” (Rom. 11:33). When the Word became flesh, he shrouded the riches of his glory and mercy in a vessel of clay (CF. 2 Cor. 4:7). Whenever we come face to face with the revelations of God’s infinite and super-abundant love for us, all that we can say is “THANKS.” Pondering the depths of God’s wisdom and knowledge leads us to offer ecstatic praise to him who made us and keeps us in existence. These moments of worship take us deeper and deeper into the mysteries of God’s infinite love and draw us closer to his heart.


God's Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

  It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

  It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?


The poet proposes a very serious question for our postmodern, techno-centric age. Surrounded by the grandeur of God, why do so many people not recognize his glory and submit to his authority? In our sophistication, we have learned to take so much for granted. We have put up a noise barrier that filters out the gentle whisper of the Spirit. The Psalmist wrote: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1). And we can make Jacob’s words our own: “and I did not know it” (Gen. 28:16). Because of work and other concerns weighing upon us, we keep our heads down, and our sight low. Surrounded by a cloud of darkness and living in a culture of death, we abort our future, euthanize our past, and anesthetize our present. The Lord utters a word to those who are walking in the valley of darkness. “Lift up your heads, behold your redemption is drawing near” ( Lk. 21:28).


When the psalmist heard that inner voice, he wrote: “I lift up my eyes to the heights from where will come my help” (Ps. 121:1). My brothers and sisters, thanks to the depth of the riches of God’s mercy, we too can lift our eyes to the heights of Mount Calvary from where shall come our salvation. As we turn our gaze towards the Cross, let us focus our sight on Christ who is the Son of the living God. Georgia O’Keeffe once said: “To fully appreciate the good things in life — from the beauty of nature to the joy of friendship — we have to take time to notice them, by choosing to give them our full attention.” We need to stop what we are doing, at least for a moment, and respond to the voice we have heard. It has spoken to the deepest longings of our hearts and invites us to speak to the heart of our beloved Master.


“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance;

to seek Him the greatest adventure;

to find Him, the greatest human achievement.”

(St. Augustine of Hippo)


Jesus Christ is the anchor of our soul and the cornerstone of our life. He sets before each one of us an open door, which no man can shut. As we cross the threshold we bring both body and soul into the eternal glory prepared for us before the world began. Christ himself is the gift and the revelation of the glory of God that the Father sent into the world because of his great love for us. Unlike us, God breathes life into our future. He treasures our past and he holds our present in the palm of his hands. He knows every event that has ever happened and ever will happen and is happening in our lives. Being the Alpha and Omega, Christ is the beginning and the end of all that we are. All knowledge and all wisdom and all riches originate in him and are held together by him. Everything he created exists to make him known. “Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God!” May the revelation of the Son and his ways move you to stand in awe of him. May you acknowledge him as the beginning, the middle, and the end in all you think and feel and do so that, in all things, God may be glorified.


Standing with Peter, we receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and make his profession of faith our own. Gazing into the eyes of Christ, we see the reflection of the Father’s face. Christ is the image of the invisible God and the revelation of the Father’s beauty. As messiah-king, he comes into the world to accompany us as we continue our pilgrim way to the Father. The Incarnate Word brings us to the ultimate vision of supreme beauty in the kingdom of the Father. When Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” He was asking him to put his faith into words. Like Peter, we are invited to speak of our relationship with the One who makes the Father’s love for us tangible. With Peter, we are invited to acknowledge our belief in our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, and to bear witness to his love by the way we live in the world.


When we acknowledge Jesus as “the Son of the living God,” our Heavenly Father freely offers us grace to change our lives and to participate in the process of making all things new. As we manifest the person of Jesus to the world we enable others to acknowledge him as “the Son of the living God.” By entering into moments of silence to ponder the mysteries of the kingdom, we open wide the door of our hearts to the One who desires to make his dwelling within us. When we speak to others of the One who has captured our hearts, we show them the way that leads to the springs of life-giving water. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God” (Rom. 11:33). May the words the bishop speaks to the newly ordained deacon while giving him the Gospel Book, become a rule of life for us.


Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become.

Believe what you read,

teach what you believe,

and practice what you teach.


Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

Prayer: “Dear Lord, Forgive me for letting the noise of this world drown out your voice. I’ve felt distant from you, and I long to draw near to my Heavenly Father once again. I know you are here with me now as I pray. Help me sense your loving presence and listen as you speak.”

Quote from a Saint: “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer” ― Saint Teresa of Calcutta


Questions for reflection:

  1. Do you notice the grandeur of God in your everyday life? If not, what can you do to start? How do you think this would improve your faith life?

  2. Surrounded by the grandeur of God, why do you think that so many people not recognize His glory and submit to his authority? How can we lead people to recognize His glory?

  3. Have you put up a noise barrier that filters out the gentle whisper of the Spirit?

  4. Reflect on the quote from Georgia O’Keeffe: “To fully appreciate the good things in life — from the beauty of nature to the joy of friendship — we have to take time to notice them, by choosing to give them our full attention.” Do you give the good things in your life your full attention so that you can fully appreciate them? If you are only giving partial attention to them, take the time this week to pause and focus on these good things.

  5. May you acknowledge him as the beginning, the middle, and the end in all you think and feel and do so that, in all things, God may be glorified.” If you were to acknowledge God in this way, even some of time, how do you think it would change how you view yourself? Those around you?

  6. How do you bear witness to God’s love by the way you live in the world? How do you see others doing this?

  7. Do you live in a way that manifests the person of Jesus to the world? When you consider that it can enable others to acknowledge Him as “the Son of the living God,” might that change how you live your own life?

  8. “Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” If we followed these principles what would our Church community look like? What about our personal lives?

  9. How often do you enter into moments of silence to ponder the mysteries of the Kingdom? Do you open wide your heart to God? What changes would you expect to happen as you open your heart more and more?

--Kristen & Benjamin Rinaldo


Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 642: We are the living stones of the Church : A reflection on the First Letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 3: 14-16)

14 I am writing you about these matters, although I hope to visit you soon.

15 But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.

16 Undeniably great is the mystery of devotion,

Who was manifested in the flesh,

vindicated in the spirit,

seen by angels,

proclaimed to the Gentiles,

believed in throughout the world,

taken up in glory.


You should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God” (1 Tim. 3:15). This Church is found on the cornerstone who is Christ. Each of us is a living stone that the Master builder has fitted together to build up the Church. As living stones, we are fitted together and cemented in place by the Holy Spirit. Because of the Master architect’s plan, we both support and are supported by one another. God the Father draws us into an intimate relationship with every other stone and the cornerstone, Jesus Christ. Having been fitted together into the Temple of the Holy Spirit, we need to be connected to Christ who is our foundation and support. As Christ is our helpmate and companion, we are to be helpmates and companions to one another.


Having been called out of the world and bound to Christ, we are to embrace and support all those that the Father considers precious in his sight. The image of living stones held together by the bond of love presents a vivid picture of a secure and intimate relationship with Christ and all His members. We, all of us, are to be one in Christ as he is one in the Father. We are called to live as people loved by God, who have been created out of love, to love one another. The household of God is meant to be a place of refuge for people who are lost in darkness. Having been bonded to him who is the way, the truth, and the life (CF. Jn 14:6), we are to speak the truth in love (CF. Eph.4:15).


All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ and have become living stones in the house where the Most-High dwells. The Temple of the Living God is the depository of the Living Word and a living testament to the Truth. We live and move in Him who chooses to live in us. We are to serve as beacons for those tossed about in the turbulent seas of life. Having our anchor in Christ, we stretch out our hands to those in trouble. We are partners with God in the task of building up the kingdom.


As I was putting together this reflection, our Jewish brothers and sisters were celebrating Rosh Hashanah. I will conclude with a few random comments I borrowed from “Not only is Rosh Hashanah about the One Above, but it is also about us below… He created the world. But we drive it to its destiny. That is why it is called “the beginning of Your works”—even though it is not the anniversary of the creation of the universe but of the human being. It is the true beginning, as all of time begins on this day... On this day, more than any other, we are empowered to switch tracks, to transform our destiny and thereby the destiny of all of creation … Through us, the bitter darkness that shrouded truth and goodness can become a flaming torch of light. By connecting our minds to the mind of our Creator, opening our hearts to His boundless love, and laboring to transform His world into a place where one being cares for another so that the many become one… Together, let us recreate our world, make order from confusion, harmony from destruction, caring and compassion where apathy had reigned, light out of darkness.”

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO


Prayer: “O, Heavenly Father, give me a heart like the heart of Jesus, a heart more ready to serve than be served, a heart moved by compassion towards the weak and oppressed, a heart set upon the coming of your kingdom in the world of men and women.”


Quote from a Saint: “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” ― St. Augustine


Questions for reflection:

1.     Consider this statement: “Because of the Master architect’s plan, we both support and are supported by one another.” Have you ever thought about God as the Master architect? Do you ever consider the bigger picture for your life? How have you supported others and/or been supported by others? How do you see this as part of God’s master plan?

2.     “The image of living stones held together by the bond of love presents a vivid picture of a secure and intimate relationship with Christ and all His members.” How do you see the Church and its members being held together by the bond of love? Does this imagery help you to understand the relationship between Jesus and His church and between the different members of the Church?

3.     When we use the living stone imagery for the member of the Church, does this change how you think about the other members of the Church? What do you think about those members of the Church that you disagree with or find difficult to love?

4.     Does your local parish feel as if it is made of living stones that are interconnected? If not, can you think of any ideas that might help to start forming a sense of community?

5.     When have you been a beacon for those tossed about in the turbulent seas of life? How can you make yourself more visible and attract others in need of help?

6.     How can we use the example of Christ as our helpmate and companion to become the helpmate of those around us?  

7.     How do you open your heart to “His boundless love”?  How does doing this make is so that you can transform the world to place of order, harmony, and compassion?

8.     In what ways can we open our mind to the mind of our Creator?

9.     How does your local parish reach out to those outside of your church? Are you active in any ministries that help to create light out of darkness? If not, bring this to prayer and see if God is calling you to become involved.

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 641: The Parable of the Talents.: A reflection on the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 25: 14 - 30)

14 “It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.

15 To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately 16 the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. 17 Likewise, the one who received two made another two. 18 But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.

19 After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.

20 The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’

22 [Then] the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’

24 Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; 25 so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’

26 His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?

28 Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. 29 For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.


30 And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’



The parable of Jesus, like all the others, is always an invitation to listen and receive God’s grace and also an invitation to use our imagination to enter and make the teaching our own - to personalize it so it speaks to you, to me.


In the interaction between the man and his servants, we can imagine an attitude of trust and respect by the man for the abilities and good will of his servants. And he is rewarded by their acceptance as he departs in a good spirit for a long journey.


In reality, two respond well in taking the talents, five and two, trading and increasing the amount. On his return, the man readily compliments them in these words, “Come share your master’s joy!” However, the servant with the one talent has an authority problem. For him, the master is a tyrant so he buries the talent in the ground with disdain, with ignorance of the gift.


When the man returns after a long time, he returns the talent, dirtied from being buried, dirtied with his spoken anger and no longer hidden disdain. He refused the gift; he set himself apart and therefore, being thrown into the darkness outside is, in fact, only a confirmation of his own decision and attitude. It can be said to him “This is what you wanted!”


A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. To us, men and women committed to the Lord, the parable presents a lesson on receiving and responding. I believe we can say that in our very human lives, we are all three servants. Sometimes in receiving God’s gifts with awareness, we have responded to God with lived gratitude. And sometimes, due to ignorance or sheer willfulness, we have not. “No, thank You, God- not now!”


Every parable poses a question as this one does: Where do I stand? How is my heart moved by God’s generosity? Is there wisdom or foolishness in my life?


Today, the first Saturday in September, we celebrate the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary - she who models total receptivity and total response - she who bore and lived Wisdom. As our mother and model, she tells us over and over, “Do whatever He tells you” - whatever He tells you - therefore, listen and in listening, obey, and in obeying become more His servant.

Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO

Prayer: “Lord, I am grateful for the gifts you have personally chosen for me. Please give me the courage and strength to invest my gifts to grow your kingdom as you so desire. I yearn to be like the first and second servants in this story—eager to use well what I have been given. Amen.

Quote from a Saint: “Whatever skills I have acquired, whatever gifts I have been given, I place them at Your service.”—St. Augustine

Questions for reflection:

1. Do you have any problems with authority? Does this stop you from being a good servant to God?

2. Which servant are you from the parable? When have you been the bad servant? The good? Where do you stand right now in relation to this parable?

3. How is your heart moved by God’s generosity?

4. Is there wisdom or foolishness in your life?

5. Do you listen for what God is saying so you can “Do whatever He tells you”? What can you do to listen better?

6. When you hear what God says to you, do you obey and “become more His servant”?

7. Do you ever say “No, thank You, God- not now!”? What have been the consequences? When you get off track what do you do to get back in line with following God’s will?

8. Have you ever considered what talents the Lord has given you? If not, bring this with you to your next moment of prayer.

9. How have you used the talents that the Lord has given you: for the sake of the Lord and His Kingdom or for your own personal gain?


--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo

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