Weeks 241-250

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 241: Prep Work: A Reflection on Luke 4: 38-44

 

After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them. 

 

At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them. And demons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.” But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ. 
 
At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea. (Luke 4:38-44) 

 

In this gospel passage by Saint Luke today, there’s a good outline for priestly ministry.  And yet, these are things we can all do to build the kingdom of God.  “After Jesus left the synagogue…”  It says, AFTER Jesus left the synagogue.   Whether it’s priestly ministry, or the ministry of the lay person, we begin in Church.  

 

Let’s talk about people who attend daily Mass. “We few…we happy few…we band of brothers,” to quote Shakespeare’s, Henry V. 

 

Why do Catholics keep coming to daily Mass?  I don’t know if it’s true of everyone, but I know it’s true of me; after my reversion back to faith with a pilgrimage to Medjugorie in 1988, I started going to daily Mass, and it wasn’t long before I realized that if I missed daily Mass for some reason, if I skipped a day, my day just didn’t seem complete.  I felt the absence of the Blessed Sacrament in my life, and that kind of threw the day off. 

 

If that’s also true of you who attend daily Mass, rejoice!  You’re addicted to Grace!  That’s probably the only good addiction we can ever have.     

       

 But, note, it doesn’t end there.  ‘AFTER Jesus left the synagogue…’  There is something we have to do AFTER we leave Church.  Now that we have this Grace, there’s something we have to do with it.  What does Jesus do AFTER he leaves the synagogue?  He heals a bunch of people!  He cures people of their sicknesses and casts out demons.  Well, that’s all fine and good for Jesus, Father, he was God.  How can I do that?  The corporal and spiritual works of mercy--that’s how we heal people.  

 

Remember them from your Religious Education classes?  Corporal Works of Mercy: Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, cloth the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead.  Spiritual Works of Mercy: Instruct the uninformed, admonish the sinner, comfort the sorrowing, counsel the doubtful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive injuries, and pray for the living and the dead.  

 

Pope Francis wants the new liturgical year, beginning in Advent 2015, to be the year of Mercy.  I can think of no better way to kick this year off than by recommitting ourselves to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  What happens next?  Luke tells us, “At daybreak, Jesus withdrew to a deserted place.”  Why? He obviously went to pray.  Even Jesus needed to pray.  Even Jesus needed time alone with his heavenly Father.  You know, we can get so caught up doing good things that we neglect prayer time.  That’s a dangerous habit, because if we neglect prayer we’ll get burned out.  We’ll burn out mentally, spiritually and even physically.  

 

Make an appointment with God every day.  Don’t just squeeze God in here and there where you can.  Set a time apart for the Lord.  Why does Jesus go out at daybreak?  Because everyone is still asleep and he knows no one will bother him.  Find a quiet place, alone, every day, and talk to God.  Most churches have a chapel you can use for quiet prayer.

 

Or make a quiet prayer spot in your house. A closet will do. A recent movie called “The War Room” centered around an elderly woman’s prayer closet (her “War Room”) where she prayed fervently for all her intentions which she had taped to the walls of the closet.    

 

The next thing that happens is that the people beg Jesus to stay, but he refuses.  It’s always a temptation in the spiritual life to stay where we are and stop challenging ourselves.  It’s always tempting for a pastor to stay in a parish as LONG as he possibly can, especially if there was a lot of work to be done initially, and now he can rest on his accomplishments and enjoy his good reputation. But the Spirit of God is always pushing us to take on a new challenge, and we have to push ourselves to accept those challenges.  And Jesus says, “To the other towns I must also proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God.” 

 

Witness. The last part of ministry is always witness.  We always have to be looking for ways to point people to God with our words, and most importantly with our actions, so we may accomplish our mission.  Our mission is to make our lives a living Gospel for others to read and be converted.  May God make it so in each one of us.  

 

Blessed be God forever. Father Michael Anthony Sisco 

 

Saint’s quote: “Let us return from that Table like lions breathing out fire, terrifying to the devil!” --St. John Chrysostom 

 

Prayer: Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous; teach me to serve You as You deserve; to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and not to ask for reward save that of knowing I am doing Your Will. --St. Ignatius Loyola  

 

Questions for Discussion  

  • List the ways we prepare for our jobs at work, such as laying out clothes the night before, etc.   Ask yourself what you do spiritually the night before or the morning of, to go out and do the work of God.   

  • Is there one thing you can add to your evening/day to make yourself more prepared to face spiritual challenges that present themselves during the day?  If so, what would that be?   

  • Where, in your home, is your “sacred space”, that one area you can go to and be alone to pray?  If you don’t have a space to be alone, do you at least have a corner, closet, or even a table that you can dedicate as a holy space?  

  • List an activity you do that would qualify as a corporal work of mercy.  Can you list one or two more activities that you could potentially add to your repertoire?   

  • List an activity that qualifies as a spiritual work of mercy.  Are there any others that you are aware of that are inspiring to you? 

  • Can you think of an incident where you helped someone get closer to the Lord through a conversation or a good deed?  Was there something about that moment that made you more open to inspiration by the Holy Spirit, or was it just by random chance?   

  • Think of the most inspiring person you know in your life.  Why do they inspire you?  How do they live their lives?  Who or what inspires them?   

  • Envision your eulogy.  What is the one thing you would want people to say about you more than anything else?  What one thing can you do to make this wish a reality?   

--Lucy Fernandez

 

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 242: Obeying God: A Reflection on Acts 5: 27-33 

 

When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour, so that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’ (Acts 5: 27-33) 

 

“Better for us to obey God rather than men.” 

 

Obeying God. This seems like a rather obvious statement by Peter when the Sanhedrin command them not to speak the name of Jesus any longer. We want to say, “Well of course we must obey God, before obeying men. Can’t they see that?”

 

The problem is no different two thousand years ago than it is today. What exactly is obeying God? Think about this for a second. 

 

If we were Jews living two thousand years ago in ancient Israel, and suddenly this group of fishermen from Galilee; (a region with a notorious reputation to begin with,) start saying, “We have seen the Messiah, and his name is Jesus, and our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be crucified.” 

 

And now we have our chief priests and leaders saying, “No these fishermen are wrong. This is a false teaching. To believe in the name of Jesus is blasphemous.” 

 

Who are you going to believe? Who do you follow? 

 

How can we be sure who is obeying God, and who isn’t? 

 

After all, didn’t Moses under God’s instruction give us the law and the Levitical priesthood? And isn’t it this same Levitical priesthood who’s telling us now that we aren’t to follow that Jesus group, those followers of the new way? 

 

Who do we believe? 

 

The answer to that question is easier than most people realize. One of my favorite Gregorian Chants is called Ubi Caritas. “Ubi Caritas set amore Deus ibi est.” “Where charity and love are, there God is.” The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of charity and love. Wherever we find the Holy Spirit, we find God. 

 

What happens when God establishes the Levitical priesthood? God pours out a portion of his Spirit on them. 

 

What does God do when he establishes his new priesthood in the apostles? He pours out his Holy Spirit on them. And the Holy Spirit does not come quietly. When the Holy Spirit comes he manifests his presence powerfully. That’s how we know someone is obeying God. When we see the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fruits of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives. That’s how we know we’re obeying God, when the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit are manifested in our lives.           

 

When someone lives a life of obedience to God, the Holy Spirit empowers that person to live a life of exemplary holiness. That should do two things. First, it should serve as a beacon to light the way for us to follow. Secondly, it should inspire us to also live lives of exemplary holiness so we can serve as beacons to others. 

 

It is my prayer for all of us today, that the Holy Spirit fill us all with a spirit of obedience to God, and humility to do his will, and in so doing may the Holy Spirit empower all of us to stand against the false prophets of this present age, and be witnesses to his people. 

 

And blessed be God forever.

 

Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint: It is not hard to obey when we love the one whom we obey. --Saint Ignatius of Loyola

 

Prayer: “On each occasion I say: ‘Lord, thy will be done! It’s not what this or that one wants, but what You want me to do.’ This is my fortress, this is my firm rock, this is my sure support.” –-St. John Chrysostom

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

  1. Do you feel you are obeying God? How do you know? What makes you feel that you are or are not obeying God?

  2. How do the Ten Commandments factor into our obedience to God? How about the New Testament?

  3. Discuss the quote from St. Ignatius of Loyola. Does our obedience to God show our love of Him?

  4. Do people obey God out of fear? Why do you answer as you do?

  5. What role does the Church play in our obedience to God?

  6. Discuss the prayer of St. John Chrysostom. Is it easier to do God’s Will or the will of what someone else wants? Why do you answer as you do?

  7. Do you pray to the Holy Spirit for the gift of obedience to God?

  8. Discuss the meaning of Ubi Caritas set amore Deus ibi est. Does what Fr. Sisco says about charity and love indicating the presence of the Holy Spirit make sense to you?

  9. What other qualities indicate the Holy Spirit’s presence?

  10. If you had lived when Jesus was alive, do you think you would have followed Him or the Pharisees?

  11. How was Jesus radically different from others? How was the faith He proposed different from the Jewish faith?

  12. How do we know that Jesus is God?

 

--Madeline Pecora Nugent

 

 

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 243: Blessings in Disguise: A Reflection on 1 Timothy 1: 12-20

 

I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry. I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief. Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost. But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life. To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:12-20).

 

“I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry.” I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, Paul says. And that is an amazing statement considering all Paul has suffered for the gospel before he wrote this letter: stoned, flogged, shipwrecked, beaten. He was often hungry, cold, worn out and weary. And he writes this from prison while awaiting his execution. Grateful? How could Paul possibly be grateful and not bitter or angry?

 

Laura Story is a 37 year old singer and songwriter. If you listen to Christian radio stations like K-love, you hear her music often. In 2006, her husband Martin was diagnosed with a life threatening brain tumor. The couple had only been married a year at the time. Thankfully doctors were able to remove the tumor but not without complications. To this day Martin suffers vision problems and memory loss.

 

Laura’s faith, not surprisingly has really been put to the test through this experience. Early on her attitude was, “Why don’t you just fix it, God? You’re all powerful! You’re all loving! Just fix it!”

 

I think that’s a prayer all of us have said from time to time. But God didn’t just “fix it” for Laura and Martin, not totally. Yet Laura was able to perceive the Lord at work through it all, and out of it came this song, “Blessings.”

 

We pray for blessings. We pray for peace. Comfort for family, protection while we sleep. We pray for healing, for prosperity. We pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering. And all the while, you hear each spoken need, yet love is way too much to give us lesser things. Because, what if your blessings come through raindrops? What if your healing comes through tears?

 

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near? What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise? We pray for wisdom, your voice to hear. We cry in anger when we cannot feel you’re near. We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love, as if every promise from your word is not enough. And all the while you hear each desperate plea and long we’d have the faith to believe. Because, what if your blessings come through raindrops? What if your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near? What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise? What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy. What if trials of this life; the rain, the storms, the hardest nights are your mercies in disguise?

 

Laura Story realized the truth that Paul had learned through his suffering. God always brings good things even out of the most difficult and painful circumstances. That’s why Paul could be grateful. Even if he wasn’t sure exactly how, Paul knew God would bring salvation to souls through his sufferings. And so Paul was grateful that God found a useful purpose for him.

 

Good enough reason to be grateful. What if you knew that you could get one soul to heaven, but in order to do it, you’d have to undergo a personal suffering; struggle with a terrible disease like cancer, lose your job and live in poverty for a time, or watch someone you love die? Could you do it? Could you not only make that sacrifice but actually be grateful that God has used you as a tool to help save that other soul?

 

Remember that the next time you are confronted with the cross. Say to yourself, “God is using this to bring a soul to him.” Convince yourself of it. And that may be enough to make the burden bearable.

 

Blessed be God forever.

Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint:

 

If God sends you many sufferings, it is a sign that He has great plans for you and certainly wants to make you a saint. --St. Ignatius Loyola

 

Prayer:

 

O Lord, we ask for a boundless confidence and trust in Your divine mercy, and the courage to accept the crosses and sufferings which bring immense goodness to our souls and that of Your Church. Help us to love You with a pure and contrite heart, and to humble ourselves beneath Your cross, as we climb the mountain of holiness, carrying our cross that leads to heavenly glory. May we receive You with great faith and love in Holy Communion, and allow You to act in us as You desire for your greater glory. O Jesus, most adorable Heart and eternal fountain of Divine Love, may our prayer find favor before the Divine Majesty of Your heavenly Father. --St. Pio of Pietrelcina

 

Questions for Discussion

 

1. Can you think of a particularly difficult or painful moment of your life? At the time you were going through this, were you aware of God’s purpose and plan for you in the experience?

 

2. Ask yourself whether or not you would be willing to suffer some trial or difficulty if it meant that this would help someone else get to heaven.

 

3. Can you see the value of events that are out of our control? Do you trust God in these difficulties to have your best interest in mind and surrender yourself? If not, then why?

 

4. St. Therese, the Little Flower, advocates the voluntary offering up of many small sacrifices during the day instead of attempting hard penances beyond our strength to accomplish. For example, one could skip the second cup of coffee, or, say an extra prayer at meals for the conversion of sinners, or for a specific intention. List 3-4 small acts of sacrifice you can do during the course of a day.

 

5. Have you ever known a person with a serious illness or handicap who handled their affliction with cheerfulness and grace? What attributes did this person have that helped them through their trials? What was their relationship with God? Do you believe they were closer to God due to their hardships? Why do you believe that?

 

6. Why do you think God loves the poor and is close to the brokenhearted? Why is he so stern and demanding on the rich and powerful?

 

7. Can you name some people from the Bible or saints in Christianity who suffered great trials for the love of God? What positive results came from their faith? For instance, Job underwent severe trials, but, instead of getting angry and bitter towards God, maintained his faith and hope and was rewarded with more than he formerly had.

 

8. List some positive reactions you can make to trials and tribulations that will help you gain the maximum benefit. For instance, the next time someone irritates you, praise God instead of complain about it.

 

9. Many Christians, around the world, are undergoing severe trials for the sake of the Faith. Can you see any “blessings in disguise” that have come as a result of their suffering? Why do you think God allows this, and what positive outcomes may come from these things?

 

-- Lucy Fernandez

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 244: Christians Offending People: A Reflection on Matthew 11: 16-19

 

But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.” For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.’ (Matthew 11: 16-19)

 

People who do not want faith are NEVER going to happy with us. But in our passion to save souls, in our zeal to bring to people to Christ, we have consumed ourselves with trying to make people happy.  We obsess over not offending people.  

But John the Baptist offended people. And JESUS offended people! Jesus offended LOTS of people! If Jesus had never offended anyone, there would have been no reason to kill him.  But, really, it wasn’t him they were offended by. They were offended by the truth.

 

I attend all these Diocesan priest study days, and seminars about facing the future of the Church with optimism, and they all seem to wrestle with the same question; ‘How do we re-package Church teaching to make it more appealing to people?’

 

Mind you, they’re not saying, change Church teaching, just how do we present it in a way that won’t offend  people? And I think that’s where they've got it all wrong.

 

The things we teach are going to offend some people. There’s no getting around that. Whenever you say to someone “you can’t,” or “I won’t,” someone will get offended.


There are things we cannot sanction. There are things we will not do. So the question becomes, why are so many people offended by the Church these days?


Well look around. People are offended by everything these days! This is the age where everyone is offended by everything. It’s fashionable to be offended. It’s in vogue to have angst.  Why? Pride. Vanity.  

 

We have become a nation of spoiled little brats who want their own way in every particular detail of their lives, with no thought of compromise or consideration for others. That’s the truth. If that offends you, thank you for illustrating my point.

We keep pushing God further away because God tells us to dedicate our lives to serve others, and put their needs before our own.

 

And as we push God further away, society and the world become more and more dysfunctional, but instead of dealing with that and saying, “Hey, we got back to the Lord,” people instead retreat further into their own little cocoons, their own
little worlds, and the heck with everything out there.

 

We cannot be Christian and be isolationists. The two don’t mesh. So what can we do about it?


We have to challenge ourselves to become a people of mercy; to go that extra mile for our neighbor, and pray that’s enough to convince them to re-evaluate some things in their lives.

 

People without faith are NEVER going to be happy with us. But everyone with -- or without -- faith, with the exception of the most rabid atheists, respected Mother Theresa of Calcutta for the work she did.

 

If we make mercy the theme of our lives, we may not win over the people with no faith, but at least we’ll have their respect.

 

 --Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint:

"The truth is not always the same as the majority decision." -- St. Pope John Paul II

 

Prayer:

 

Dear God, give me courage, for perhaps I lack it more than anything else.
I need courage before men against their threats and against their seductions.
I need courage to bear unkindness, mockery, contradiction.
I need courage to fight against the devil,
against terrors and troubles, temptations,
attractions, darkness and false lights,
against tears, depression, and above all fear.

Questions for Discussion:

 

1.  Do you read the New Testament daily?  Do you pray about what you read and how it might apply to you, daily?

 

2.  Do you fear standing up for what the Catholic Church teaches?

 

3.  If you are afraid to defend the teaching of Christ as presented by the Catholic Church is it because you think you don't know enough?  If so, are you currently enrolled in a faith formation program?

 

4.  Or are you afraid you won't know what to say, or how to say it? If so, remember what Jesus said:  "When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."  (Luke 12:11-12).

 

--Joel Whitaker

 

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 245: Lessons from Saint Martin of Tours: Patron of Soldiers and of Veterans  -- A Reflection on Ephesians 2: 14-14, 17

 

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility … And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. Ephesians 2:13-14,17

 

Veterans Day has always been a special holiday for me, because I come from a family of war veterans. And I find it significant that, in the United States, we celebrate Veterans’ Day on November 11th. Veterans’ Day was originally called Armistice Day, which marked the end of WWI. It was later changed to Veterans’ Day to remember all veterans of all wars. 

 

It is true that God draws straight with crooked lines. Because on this day, November 11th we, the Church, celebrate the feast of Saint Martin of Tours, who is, quite coincidentally, the patron saint of soldiers. 

 

Martin of Tours was born the son of a pagan Roman soldier in Savaria (Hungary) around the year 315. At fifteen years old, he was unwillingly drafted into military service. Seven years later, a famous incident occurred when he encountered a beggar. Having nothing to give him, Martin took out his sword, cut his military cloak in half, and gave one half to the beggar.

 

That night he had a vision of Christ wearing his half cloak, and Martin realized the very man that had appeared to him as the beggar was actually Christ. Martin converted to Christianity and refused to fight from that day on until he was discharged. 

 

Martin then became a soldier of Christ, and founded the 1st monastic community in Gaul, where he acquired a large following. Martin spent the rest of his life championing the poor and defending the rights of the defenseless. 

 

What better saint to commemorate on Veterans’ Day? What better day to remember the men and women who sacrificed their lives defending those who could not defend themselves? And what better saint to remind us that we still have a responsibility to champion the poor, the oppressed, the persecuted and to work for peace for all? 

 

It is the cross of the rich to help the poor. It is the cross of the strong to defend the weak. God has blessed this nation with an abundance of everything. Now we have to pray that virtues of charity, and courage, and character, and honor, abound in our land just as abundantly.

 

There are still people in this world and in this country who are unjustly oppressed. There are still people in this world and in this country who go to bed sick, hungry, or cold, because of their poverty. And we, the soldiers of the spiritual war, and the veterans of the spiritual war whom we call saints, are being called to action again to see that justice is done for all. 

 

We owe that much to the memory of our brave brothers and sisters who sacrificed so much protecting the liberties we take for granted everyday. They suffered and died, defending the idea of democracy, a government that is run by the people, for the people.

 

And now that the guns are silent for those who fought in past wars, we must not forget their sacrifice.

 

And for those still engaged in combat around the world now, we, the army of God, carry the burden of seeing that their sacrifice bears fruit, by insuring that the ideals they so nobly fought for, and are still fighting for, are guaranteed for all—no matter what race, no matter what creed, no matter what financial class, whether they are out of or still in the womb. 

 

God bless America, and God bless all those who fought, and still fight, to protect her. 

And blessed be God forever.

Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint:

 

The purpose of all wars . . . is peace. (St. Augustine)

 

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. (St. Teresa of Calcutta)

 

Prayer:

Lord, if Your people still have need of my services,

I will not avoid the toil.

Your will be done.

I have fought the good fight long enough.

Yet if You bid me continue to hold the battle line

in defense of Your camp,

I will never beg to be excused from failing strength.

I will do the work You entrust to me.

While You command,

I will fight beneath Your banner. (St. Martin of Tours)

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

  1. Discuss the quotes by St. Augustine and St. Teresa. Do they make sense to you?

  2. Do you know any war veterans? What spiritual lessons have they taught you?

  3. Can you identify any spiritual battles in the world today? What are they? Do you know anyone engaged in those battles?

  4. Do you know any veterans of spiritual battles? What were those battles? How did these people emerge from them?

  5. Discuss the quote from Ephesians. What is the “dividing wall of hostility”? How is Christ our peace?

  6. What lessons does St. Martin of Tours hold for our time?

  7. Fr. Sisco says that God draws straight with crooked lines. Have you seen this in your life or in the life of someone you know? Explain.

  8. Discuss the prayer of St. Martin of Tours. Do you know anyone who might have prayed a similar prayer? What does this prayer teach about surrender to the will of God?

  9. Why, in the spiritual life, are both victory and surrender admirable?

 

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 246: Put on Perfection: A Reflection on Colossians 3: 11-15

 

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3: 11-15, NIV).

 

“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.” So what’s happening to the community in ancient Colossus, that Paul feels compelled to write them this?

 

Well, basically the same thing that’s happening in the Church all over the ancient world. People are putting other people into categories, and they are ranking those categories. We can understand why they do this on some level because they’re all living under the rule of the Roman Empire and the Empire did this constantly. Roman citizens were on the top, then citizens of the other city states on the Italian peninsula, then foreign allies, then conquered nations, then barbarians, and finally slaves.

 

The highest honor the Empire could bestow on a person or a tribe was to grant them Roman Citizenship, because that gave them the freedom to travel throughout the empire un-harassed, as well as a host of other benefits.

 

So now the Christian communities are following suit; not by any official teaching, they’re just doing it on their own. Jewish converts to faith rank higher than Gentile converts. Men rank higher than women. Christian communities that were founded by Peter, or one of the original apostles, are more special than communities started by Paul. Rich Christians outrank poor Christians. Paul is trying to put a stop to all this. We are all one in Christ because Christ dwells in us all. Stop this foolishness!

 

And if you think of it, we still have the same problem today. Catholics divide themselves by ethnic groups; Italian Catholics, Irish Catholic, French Catholics, Portuguese Catholics, etc. We divide ourselves by politics, liberal Catholics and conservative Catholics.

 

Gracious, in my parish we even divide ourselves by which side of Newport Avenue we live on. St. Cecilia Parish verses St. Leo Parish, now cojoined into St. John Paul II parish but still operating both churches. One weekend I had to assure the joint congregation that I was holding the Saturday vigil Mass a while longer at Saint Leo because of the excessive heat, not because I was secretly conspiring to keep the vigil Mass at St Leo permanently. And, I gotta say, it bothered me. I thought we were finally past this. I thought that, after several years of having the parishes joined, everyone was secure in the knowledge that I was trying to keep both churches.

 

With pending sales on our excess properties for both churches, I was hearing comments floating around, “Oh, we have to sell OUR convent to pay THEIR debt,” or “We have to sell OUR school to fix THEIR church.” There it is again, us and them. And so I’m saying the same thing to you as Paul said to the Colossians—no matter what your parish situation is--there is no us and them. There is only “we,” for we are all one in Christ, and Christ is in each of us.

 

The devil loves division, because divided people are easy to conquer. It’s easy to sow seeds of hatred and mistrust when people are divided. Don’t fall into that trap. We are all Roman Catholics…period. We are all Americans…period. We are all Children of God, loved by God, redeemed by God, and destined for eternal life by God, if we can put our divisions aside and see his Divine Spirit dwelling in people all around us…period.

 

---Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote:

 

What will be the crown of those who, humble within and humiliated without, have imitated the humility of our Savior in all its fullness! --- St. Bernadette

 

Prayer:

 

Soul of Jesus, Sanctify me. -- Blood of Jesus,, Wash me. -- Passion of Jesus, Comfort me. -- Wounds of Jesus, Hide me. -- Heart of Jesus, Receive me. -- Spirit of Jesus, Enliven me. -- Goodness of Jesus, Pardon me. -- Beauty of Jesus, Draw me. -- Humility of Jesus, Humble me. -- Peace of Jesus, Pacify me. -- Love of Jesus, Inflame me. -- Kingdom of Jesus, Come to me. -- Grace of Jesus, Replenish me. -- Mercy of Jesus, Pity me. -- Sanctity of Jesus, Sanctify me. -- Purity of Jesus, Purify me. -- Cross of Jesus, Support me. -- Nails of Jesus, Hold me. -- Mouth of Jesus, Bless me in life, in death, in time and eternity. -- Mouth of Jesus, Defend me in the hour of death. -- Mouth of Jesus, Call me to come to Thee. -- Mouth of Jesus, Receive me with Thy saints in glory evermore.

 

Let Us Pray

 

Unite me to Thyself, O adorable Victim. Life-giving heavenly Bread, feed me, sanctify me, reign in me, transform me to Thyself, live in me; let me live in Thee; let me adore Thee in Thy life-giving Sacrament as my God, listen to Thee as to my Master, obey Thee as my King ,imitate Thee as my Model, follow Thee as my Shepherd, love Thee as my Father, seek Thee as my Physician who wilt heal all the maladies of my soul. Be indeed my Way, Truth and Life; sustain me, O heavenly Manna, through the desert of this world, till I shall behold Thee unveiled in Thy glory. Amen.

 

--St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

 

Questions for Discussion

 

1. List at least three activities you can do to foster unity in your community. Example: invite your neighbors, whom you know to be recent immigrants from a foreign country, to dinner.

 

2. Can you name an incident where you received unfair treatment at the hands of another because of your race, creed, color, standing in the community, or other distinction? How did you feel when this happened? Angry? Sad? Do you believe that the experience has taught you humility? Explain your answer.

 

3. Name one or two ways one can incorporate prayers for unity into one’s prayer life.

 

4. List groups of people in the Church, who may be marginalized by the main stream. Why do you think these people are ranked lower, and what ways exist to help them to feel welcomed and affirmed?

 

5. Can you explain why God loves humility in His children? This seems to be a paradox in the world. Those with the least wealth and worse afflictions may be lowly in the sight of the world, but highly exalted in God’s eyes. Why do you think this is so?

 

6. What saints were especially known for their humility? In what ways did God give special favors?

 

7. What is your definition of humility? God says he is pleased with acts of humility, and has exalted those saints who sought humility in their lives. Can you see reasons why this would be so?

 

8. List two or three ways you can foster humility in your own life.

 

– Lucy Fernandez, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 247: Moses: The Image of the Priest: A Reflection on Exodus 32:7

 

 “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go quickly down to your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, for they have become depraved.’” (Exodus 32:7)

 

In this passage of scripture we see Moses acting as a priest. Now Aaron, Moses’ older brother, was the high priest. But here we see Moses in the priestly role of interceding on behalf of the people.

 

We know what’s happened; the Lord delivered the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt with a powerful hand. With signs and wonders God worked for Pharaoh through Moses, but Pharaoh would not believe.

 

We know how God fed the Israelites on manna in the desert, bread from heaven, but the Israelites only believed temporarily. And then Moses disappears on this smoking, thundering mountain for forty days to receive God’s law, and while he’s gone the people make a golden calf to worship.

 

Ever notice that when you are hungry, stressed, scared, anxious, or exhausted, it’s a lot easier to sin? Sure, it’s easy not to sin when life is good. It’s when life is difficult that we’re overwhelmed by temptation. The Israelites have been traveling through the desert; they’re tired, hungry. And now, their guide has disappeared on this mountain for over a month and they’re scared. “What are we going to do if Moses doesn’t come back? He knows the way.” And so they revert to worshipping something they’re familiar with, something they grew up with in the land of Egypt. The golden calf, the god Apis.

 

And God is ready to wipe them out for it. He says, “I will destroy them and raise up for you, Moses, a better nation.” Now what if God had said that to any one of us? Just think of it. “The people of Moses.” To see the temptation, put your own name in the blank: “The people of __________.”

 

This was a test of Moses’ faithfulness, just as much as the people.  

 

Moses passes. The people fail.

 

Moses, despite having the opportunity by God to father a new nation, assumes the role of a different fatherhood, a spiritual fatherhood, by assuming the role of a priest, and standing between God and the people to intercede on their behalf. Moses says, “You can’t do it, Yahweh! Remember the covenant you made with your servants, Abraham, Isaac and Israel. Remember how you swore by your own self. You’re stuck with these people just as much as I am, because you have bound yourself to us by covenant.”

 

God performs signs in the form of plagues, but Pharaoh won’t believe. Jesus performs signs in the form of healings, but the Pharisees won’t believe.

 

God fed people temporarily in the desert on manna. Jesus feeds thousands temporarily on a few loaves and a couple fish.

 

In speaking to the Jews, Jesus lists all the people and everything else that testify to his authenticity. John the Baptist. God the Father. His miracles. The Scriptures. Even Moses. Jesus said, “And that same Moses who stood between your fathers and the Almighty God and stopped Him from annihilating them in the desert; is going to be the same Moses to condemn you on a later day, because you refused to believe me, your true high priest, who will intercede for you before the Father. I am your true high priest who came to form with you the new covenant that Moses began.”

 

Every priest is now an image of that high priest. We are bound to God through covenant. He is ours, and all of us are his, for better or worse. The priest is true to that covenant through the sacraments of the Church that God has entrusted to us, to stand between the people and Almighty God, to intercede on their behalf. Woe to the priest who neglects his sacred responsibility to dispense God’s Grace. And woe to those who seek to undermine the office of the priest.

 

Pray for your priests. We have been entrusted with a power and a responsibility we cannot possibly fathom. Pray that God raise up more priests to serve Him. And pray that He makes holy the ones He has already raised up.

 

And Blessed Be God forever! 

 

--Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint:

 

After that the Lord gave me, and gives me, so much faith in priests who live according to the form of the holy Roman Church, on account of their order, that if they should persecute me, I would have recourse to them. And if I had as much wisdom as Solomon had, and if I should find poor priests of this world, I would not preach against their will in the parishes in which they live. And I desire to fear, love, and honor them and all others as my masters; and I do not wish to consider sin in them, for in them I see the Son of God and they are my masters. And I do (his because in this world, I see nothing corporally of the most high Son of God Himself except His most holy Body and Blood, which they receive and they alone administer to others. – Saint Francis of Assisi

 

Prayer for a Priest

 

O Jesus, our great High Priest, hear my humble prayers on behalf of your priest, Father [N]. Give him a deep faith, a bright and firm hope and a burning love which will ever increase in the course of his priestly life.


In his loneliness, comfort him In his sorrows, strengthen him in his frustrations, point out to him that it is through suffering that the soul is purified, and show him that he is needed by the Church, he is needed by souls, he is needed for the work of redemption.


O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests, take to your heart your son who is close to you because of his priestly ordination, and because of the power which he has received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs him so much.
Be his comfort, be his joy, be his strength, and especially help him to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy.
Amen.

 

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

  1. Do you pray for your priest? For priests in general? Why or why not?

  2. Why does Fr. Sisco say that Moses was acting like a priest?

  3. When laity intercede before God, would that be a priestly role in a sense?

  4. Discuss St. Francis of Assisi’s quote about priests.

  5. What should be our attitude toward priests who sin? How can we separate the sin from the function of being a priest?

  6. What parallels between Moses and Jesus does Fr. Sisco mention? Can you think of others? What are they?

  7. Father Sisco believes that Moses was tempted to vainglory when God threatened to destroy the Jewish nation and make of Moses a new nation. Have you ever been tempted to vainglory? If so, did you recognize the tempation?

  8. What can you do personally to support your parish priest?

  9. What should be your response toward a priest you don’t like?

 

--Madeline Pecora Nugent

 

 

 

 

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 248: Practice What You Preach: A Reflection on 1 Timothy 4

 

Beloved: Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. Until I arrive, attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands by the presbyterate. Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to everyone. Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you. (1 Tm 4:12-16)

 

“Set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.” This is advice that Paul, an old apostle, is giving to Timothy, a young Bishop in the Church. Note, first he says, “set an example for those who believe…” Well, what about people who don’t believe? Shouldn’t we set an example for them, too?

 

Sure, but for a Bishop especially, as well as the rest of us, when we neglect these things, we give scandal to other believers and so we become responsible for them losing faith. If we inspire other believers, we will de facto inspire non-believers as well, or, if we do NOT inspire them to change their lives, at least we will earn their respect.

 

So the first thing we need to do is watch ourselves around other believers. That’s important to know, because often other believers are those we tend to relax around, we tend to be looser in our behavior. We have to be careful with that. And I preach to myself here because I do that. Around the staff, around priest friends, I let myself give into sarcasm or jokes that can be crude. I have to stop that. We can never let our spiritual guard down, or take someone else’s faith for granted.

 

What aspects of ourselves do we have to guard carefully? Paul says, first, speech. How’s our language? Do we cuss and swear? Do we gossip? Do we make crude jokes? Do we complain or run other people down when we talk? Do we tell lies, either to hurt others or inflate ourselves? These are all ways our speech can be sinful, lead us to sin, or damage the faith of others.

 

What is the second aspect of ourselves that we need to guard? Paul says, our conduct. How do we act, how do we carry ourselves? Do we use good manners? Are we gentle or bombastic? Are we as good at listening as we are at talking? Are we fair to people? Are we diligent in meeting our responsibilities?

 

The third aspect we need to guard is love, and love is expressed in action through charity. How is our charity? Is what we give to the Church and to charity an honest sacrifice? But charity goes further than just money. Are we kind to others? Are we patient with others? Are we empathetic to the needs of others?

 

Do we look for ways to helpful to others? Are we polite with people who annoy us or irritate us? Do we care enough about people to tell them when they are doing wrong?

 

The fourth thing we need to guard in ourselves is faith. What do we do to nurture our faith? Are we getting fueled by the sacraments? Do we do some kind of spiritual reading, read a book about a saint, or Scripture, or listen to inspirational music, or watch EWTN, or just do anything to learn more about God?

 

Do we make time to pray everyday? Or, are we often negative, or critical of others or the Church? That is a sign of cynicism, and cynicism is an indication that our faith is in danger.

 

And, lastly, Paul lists purity as the aspect in ourselves we need to protect. Do we dress modestly, or scandalously? Do we treat the opposite sex as objects of gratification, or as sacred children of God? Do we guard our senses to protect them from impure influences?

 

Why does Paul list these things? Because speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity are where the devil attacks us the most, because if the devil can bring us down in one of these areas, he can affect the other people around us. Guard these aspects of your lives, and strengthen them, and you will protect yourself from harm and have a positive impact on those around you.

 

--Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint:

 

“Good example is the most efficacious apostolate. You must be as lighted lanterns and shine like brilliant chandeliers among men. By your good example and your words, animate others to know and love God”. -- St. Mary Joseph Rossello

 

Prayer:

 

O Holy Spirit, most merciful Comforter, You proceed from the Father in a manner beyond our understanding. Come, I beseech You, and take up your abode in my heart. Purify and cleanse me from all sin, and sanctify my soul. Cleanse it from every impurity, water its dryness, melt its coldness, and save it from its sinful ways. Make me truly humble and resigned, that I may be pleasing to You, and that You might abide with me forever. Most Blessed Light, most Amiable Light, enlighten me. O Rapturous Joy of Paradise, Fount of Purest Delight, My God, give yourself to me and kindle in my innermost soul the fire of Your love. My Lord, instruct, direct, and defend me in all things. Give me strength against all immoderate fears and against despondency. Bestow upon me a true faith, a firm hope, and a sincere and a perfect love. Grant that I always do Thy Most Gracious Will. Amen. -- Saint Antiochus

 

Questions for Discussion:

 

1. Who has been the most influential person in your life, good or bad? Why was that person so influential, and do you think they were aware that you were watching them and that they would be an example to you? What were some of their good points? Were you ever scandalized by their behavior?

 

2. Can you think of a time when someone has commented on your behavior, good or bad? Were you aware, at the time, that you were being watched? What does this say about how careful we need to be in how we react, and what we say or do?

 

3. Which behaviors mentioned in the reflection are you most guilty of? Is it in gossip, anger or rudeness, complaining…?

 

4. When you are judged by the Lord, what areas do you think He will find lacking in you? What are some ways you can improve in those areas?

 

5. List 2-3 concrete ways to innoculate yourself against pernicious habits that chip away at your progress in the spiritual life.

 

6. Many saints recommend an examination of conscience once or twice a day to identify these little faults and guard against bigger ones. List some ways you can incorporate habitual review of your behavior. (For instance, incorporate an Examen prayer into your daily prayer life).

 

7. Imagine some scenarios in which you could show love and charity to your neighbor instead of what you are more prone to do. (For instance, apologizing to a coworker for not handing in paperwork rather than getting defensive and sarcastic about it.)

 

8. Name 2-3 activities you can do to strengthen your knowledge of the Faith.

 

--Lucy Fernandez

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 249: Thy Kingdom Come: A Reflection on Luke 17: 20-25

 

Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would com, Jesus said in reply, “The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.” Then he said to his disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. There will be those who will say to you, ‘Look, there he is,’ or ‘Look, here he is.’ Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.” (Luke 17:20-25)

 

Jesus said, “The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed,” which begs the question, WHY can’t it be observed?

 

We cannot observe the coming the kingdom of God in the future because we don’t bother looking for the kingdom of God all around us right now. We’re either too busy, or too distracted, or too obsessed with worldly things to try seeing the kingdom of God in the here and now, so of course it will catch us all by surprise when Jesus arrives in glory on some future day.

 

In 2015, Starbucks wasn’t printing Christmas symbols on their coffee cupsin December. Instead they went with a generic red cup. Those snobbish, coffee sipping, commie sympathizing jerks!! And now people of good moral fiber have kicked off a campaign to boycott Starbucks!

 

REALLY!? This is an issue? We REALLY care that Starbucks isn’t printing pictures of frosty the snowman, kids on sleds, and pretty snowflakes on their coffee cups SOOOOOOO much, people are actually boycotting them? I never drank Starbucks anyway just because I didn’t like the way their coffee tastes, and I always thought it was grossly overpriced. I’m a Dunkin Donuts man myself. And Starbucks has taken a few political stands that in my opinion make them worthy of boycotting, but not this. This is just silly.

 

WELL, we’ve got to keep Christ in Christmas!! Amen! Yes we do! So keep Christ in Christmas by feeding the hungry, cloth the naked, shelter the homeless, take care of the sick and the elderly, visit the imprisoned, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That’s the best way to keep Christ in Christmas.

 

In my opinion that’s the ONLY way to keep Christ in Christmas, because that is the kingdom of God in the here and now. That’s the kingdom of God around us. I think these current years will go down in history as the years we got offended at everything. Everybody is offended at something and everybody is afraid of standing up for what’s morally right because we might offend someone else.

 

It’s like the whole nation is just itching to pick with a fight with someone over something.

And we wonder why we can’t observe the coming of the kingdom of God! How can we possibly observe the coming of the kingdom of God with attitudes like that? If we want to be able to observe the coming of the kingdom, we have to change our attitude. How do we do that?

 

Admonish the sinner, instruct the uninformed, bear wrongs patiently, pray for the living and the dead, council the doubtful, comfort the sorrowing, and forgive offenses willingly. Do these things and you’ll begin to see the kingdom of God around you. Then look for ways that you can help build the kingdom.

 

Take joy in the fact that God has chosen YOU to help build his kingdom. And then when the day the kingdom of God appears in glory, it not only won’t catch you off guard, you’ll rejoice in its arrival.

 

And blessd be God forever.

Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote:

“I found thee not, O Lord, without, because I erred in seeking thee without that wert within.” ---Saint Augustine

 

Prayer:

O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fills all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of Life, come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One. –St. Basil

 

Questions for Discussion

 

-Have you been offended by anything or anyone these past few weeks? Did a friend or neighbor insult you? Were you angered by something in the news? Did someone cut you off on the highway? What was it that made it so offensive?

 

-Has anyone ever taken offense at something you said? What were the circumstances? Did you mean to give offense? Why do you suppose they were offended? Was it a weakness on their part, or justified?

 

-What is meant by the word “kingdom”? What does a kingdom consist of? Who are its subjects? How does a subject promote and contribute to the kingdom of which he belongs?

 

-What do you think the Lord means when He talks about His Kingdom? Who is allowed to reside in His Kingdom? What type of behaviors does He require in His subjects?

 

-Ask yourself, based on your behavior and thoughts, “Which kingdom do I promote, the Kingdom of God, or the kingdom of this world?” Why do you feel this way?

 

-List at least three changes you can make that would bring about the Kingdom of God in the world.

 

-Based on the homily, list at least 2 ways you can keep Christ in Christmas.

 

--Lucy Fernandez

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 250: God Is in Control of His Church: A Reflection on Acts 1: 15-17 and 20-26)

 

Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers and sisters (there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one place). He said, "My brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus. Judas was numbered among us and was allotted a share in this ministry. For it is written in the Book of Psalms: “Let his encampment become desolate, and may no one dwell in it,” and “May another take his office.”

 

“Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection." So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place." Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the Eleven Apostles. (Acts 1: 15-17. 20-26)

 

Matthias was, of course, chosen to be an apostle to replace Judas Iscariot. And a couple of things strike me about this passage. First, the complete trust the apostles have that God is in control of his Church.

 

Think of this; Judas betrays Jesus. Peter denies Jesus three times. All the others abandon Jesus in his hour of need. One would think that their confidence would be shattered. It was, for a while, but it was healed by Jesus’ appearances to them after the Resurrection, but more importantly by Pentecost.

 

Pentecost gave the apostles the ability to see the big picture. Not that God’s plan was suddenly laid open for them like a road map. But Pentecost gave the apostles the ability to understand that God was in control of his Church even during its seemingly darkest moments.

 

There’s no better example of God being in control than Jesus praying in the Garden before his crucifixion. Jesus knew what he was going to suffer the next day, and yet what gave him the strength to endure that suffering was knowing that his Passion would open the door for the Holy Spirit to enter his people.

 

Here, when the apostles want to replace Judas, they are inspired by that same confidence. Just as Jesus had complete trust in the plan of the Father, the apostles have complete trust in Jesus. And so by a simple drawing of lots following prayer to God, they determine who is to succeed Judas Iscariot, and nobody questions it! Nobody says, “Well, I think Joseph is better qualified,” or “Let’s do best two out of three.” As soon as the lots are drawn and it falls to Matthias, they accept it immediately.

 

And God, to show his approval, sends the Holy Spirit to descend on Matthias the same way it does on the others at Pentecost.

 

The second thing that strikes me about this passage is that God will always provide for the needs of his Church. Now that the apostles are one short, God doesn’t say, “Well, you’ll have to make due on your own.” God gives them what they need to accomplish the task he has set for them.

 

 And this is something we really need to take to heart because God is providing for the needs of his Church as much today as he was back then. We can forget this, because we tend to think of the Church in very local terms. So the Church to us is our local parish or our local Diocese or even our nation. What we have to keep in mind is that the Church is much larger than our diocese or our country.

 

So when we start getting nervous about the lack of priests we need to remind ourselves that this is a problem in our local Church, and some other local Churches, but not the Church everywhere.

 

When we hear of priest falling into scandals, we need to remind ourselves that this is a problem in our local Church, but not the Church everywhere.

 

When we hear of parishes, Catholic Schools, and Catholic hospitals going broke and closing, we need to remind ourselves these are problems in our local church, but not the Church everywhere.

 

God will provide for our needs now, one way or another, just as he did then. That may mean we’ll need to import some priests from other countries, like one of my classmates, Father Darius, a pastor in Central Falls and Woonsocket who came from Poland. That may mean we’ll have to tighten our belts a bit, or give a little more, or travel a little farther on Sunday to get to Mass, but God will provide for our needs. Because above all else, we trust in the Spirit of God to lead his Church.

 

And blessed be God forever. Father Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint:

 “Fear not, for I am with you;  be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

 

Prayer:

Lord, may You always lead me by the power of Your Spirit.May I trust with the eyes of faith in Your presence in every storm. Thank You for Your grace.

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

  1. Have you ever prayed before drawing lots or performing another “chance” ritutal to determine God’s Will? What is the difference if you pray or don’t pray before this?

  2. How does God make His Will known to you?

  3. Do you seek God’s Will before making a decision? How do you respond if His Will does not match what you want or what you think is prudent?

  4. How do you know if something is the Will of God?

  5. Do you seek counsel? From whom?

  6. Do you believe that God will provide for His Church? Why do you feel this way?

  7. Do you believe that God will provide for you? For your loved ones? Why do you feel this way?

  8. What in your life or experience could make you distrust God? How can you turn distrust into trust?

  9. What in your life or experience could increase or has increased your trust in God?

  10. How do we stand in the way of God’s Will or thwart God’s Will?

  11. What is your confidence in God level? Is it as high as the apostles’ level was?

  12. How do you see God’s Will at work in the Church? In the world? In your life?

--Edem Auguste Ahadjitse

 

 

Oratory of Divine Love Weekly Bible Study, c/o Confraternity of Penitents, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA  OratoryDivineLove@gmail.com   260-739-6882