Weeks 341-350

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 341: Predestination: A Reflection on Ephesians 1:14 

“In him you too were chosen; when you heard the glad tidings of salvation, the word of truth, and believed in it, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit who had been promised.”  Eph 1:13

This passage from Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians echoes a line we hear in the Gospel: “Many are called. Few are chosen.” Paul is reiterating to the Ephesians that they have been chosen. He also uses the word “predestination,” in this passage. This word confused many people after the Protestants split with Catholicism in the mid 1500’s. “We were predestined to praise his glory by being the first to hope in Christ.”

John Calvin, whose influence formed the Puritans, the Presbyterians, and all of the fundamentalist Churches, believed that predestination meant that we were chosen for heaven or hell, even before we were born. Therefore, you would your life living this Christian existence,

wondering if you were one of the elect, one of those who were predestined for heaven. You looked for clues to this because God would send little hints. If your crops do well and you are successful, God is blessing you because you are predestined for heaven. If your wife gives birth to five sons and they all die at childbirth, you’re obviously a sinner and are going to hell. And while we can look at this and see how ridiculous it is, you’d be surprised at how much this train of thought still effects peoples’ thinking today.

Is this what Paul meant by “predestination?” Of course not. Being destined for heaven or hell before birth would eliminate free will. If you eliminate free will, the cross becomes meaningless.

What did Paul mean? Paul means what Christ meant when He said, “Many are called. Few are chosen.”

God wills everyone be saved. God desires the best for us all, so His call goes out to everyone. But what we do with that call is up to us. We must choose to respond. Our destiny, for those of us who have chosen Christ and who live by that choice, has been pre-arranged. The destiny of those who do not follow Christ is unknown.

Can it be that easy? I just call myself Christian and I’m saved? That sounds an awful lot like fundamentalism. And it is. And it’s false. Being a Christian means responding to the call of Christ.

How do we respond to that call? This is what Paul gets into detail about. “In him you too were chosen when you heard the glad tidings of salvation.”

Where do we hear the glad tidings of salvation? Where do we hear “the word of truth?” Whenever anybody hears the gospel call, they are being chosen by God. They are being invited to participate in building his kingdom. This can come from the word of truth preached, or the word of truth read in Scripture. But note that Paul doesn’t stop here.

The Pharisees heard Jesus preach, and it didn’t affect them. In fact, many people heard Jesus preach, and went unaffected. Many people read and hear the word of God today and are unaffected. Note the tag Paul puts on the end of the statement, “and believed in it.”

The word of truth cannot just be heard or read, it has to be embraced. And believing in the Word, embracing that word, allows us to be sealed with the Holy Spirit. How is that done? Through the Sacraments.

Now a fundamentalist, a Calvinist, would jump all over me at this, and say NO! “It doesn’t say anything here about sacraments! Paul is talking about Scripture!” Oh, yeah? How is that possible since Scripture didn’t exist yet?

Paul is writing this letter before any of the gospels had been recorded. Paul couldn’t be talking about the Scriptures other than the Old Testament. When Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit in other passages, what is it always in reference to? Baptism, and the laying on of hands, which happens in Confirmation and Holy Orders, coincidentally the three sacraments that incur an ontological change. Paul is talking sacraments, and the sacraments come from the Church.

The Word leads us to the sacraments. The sacraments make us part of the Holy Spirit, who is God. So, remember, my brothers and sisters, that, yes, you have been chosen, but you have been chosen to know and embrace God, so he might touch others through you.

And blessed be God forever. Father Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint: The God of mercy waits for you. – St. Therese of Liseaux

Prayer: Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What is the Catholic view of predestination? How can we explain this view to others?

  2. Do you believe that a person can overcome his or her past? How?

  3. How can we encourage belief in Jesus?

  4. Is it possible that God would choose some people to not be saved? Give reasons for your answer.

  5. Why is faith not enough for salvation?

  6. How can you do your good works close to the Lord?

  7. Discuss Fr. Sisco’s reasoning that St. Paul was not referring to Scripture when he said that “We were predestined to praise his glory by being the first to hope in Christ.”

  8. What does belief in God entail? Where does it lead? Why is it not enough to say, “I believe?”

  9. Discuss the quote from St. Therese of Liseaux and the prayer. How do these fit with predestination?

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 342: The Powers of Darkness: A Reflection on Colossians 1: 9-14

 

Brothers and sisters: From the day we heard about you, we do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1: 9-14)

 

“He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.”

 

How did God deliver us from the power of darkness? He did so by giving us a means to have our sins forgiven! That’s the deliverance! Note, Paul did NOT say that God delivered us from darkness. The darkness still surrounds us! Sin is everywhere! In our humanity we still commit sins. We have been delivered from the POWER of darkness. Darkness has no power over us anymore because Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross atoned for all the sins that happened from the beginning of time until Calvary, and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross empowered the sacraments so we could continue to be forgiven for our sins after Calvary.

 

This being true, why don’t more Catholics partake of confession? Several reasons. First reason: People are not convinced that they have to go to a priest to get their sins forgiven. “I can just tell God I’m sorry myself.” All fine and good but Jesus never said that. The power of absolving sins Jesus gives to his priesthood. See the end of John’s gospel.

 

Second reason: People don’t think they sin seriously enough to confess. I would blame that on a lack of prayer. I said last week I go to confession every week, and I can’t be all THAT bad. Saint John Paul II used to go to confession daily. When we pray we are confronted with what we are, and at the same time what God is. In that intimacy, we are immediately faced with our own inadequacy and our need to change. I would submit that many active Catholics don’t go to confession because they don’t pray, or their prayers are superficial. Even if you don’t think your sins are that serious, confess them anyway, because in doing so you may discover sins that you never realized were there.

 

Third reason: Sins of habit. People fall into the same sin so often that they’re embarrassed to keep coming into the confessional to say it. Don’t be. Sins are habit forming. Sometimes it takes years to break a habitual sin. Don’t get discouraged. Think of it as an exercise in perseverance. There’s no reason to be embarrassed. There are only Ten Commandments. You can’t invent any new sins. All sins are variations on those commandments.

 

Finally, the last reason; people don’t go to confession -- they don’t believe in sin anymore. I saw a statistic on Facebook recently from a Catholic Study that said sixty some odd Catholics polled didn’t believe in the devil or thought the devil was merely symbolic. This alarms me. Why? Because if you don’t believe in the devil, you don’t believe in sin. If you don’t believe in sin, why do you need a savior?

 

Scripture makes it VERY clear that these things are real., “Then the King will say to those on his left, out of my sight you accursed into that fire prepared for the devil and his angels…”

 

In Jesus’ own words, there is a hell, there is a devil, and people get sent there.

 

“The road to perdition is wide and easy and many choose to take it.” Jesus’ words, not mine. One endearing quality about Saint Peter, despite his many faults. This is the quality that makes him worthy of being an apostle:  he has no problem admitting that he’s a sinner, and because of that, despite all his other faults, Jesus takes him, because Jesus can work with someone like that.

 

That’s what confession is. We admit we’re sinners; we humble ourselves before God and a brother priest, and, through that, we not only receive forgiveness but the Holy Spirit also can effect changes in us. Be like Peter, and don’t let the darkness have any power over you.

 

Blessed be God forever. Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint:


"The human soul is the battlefield between God and Satan." --St. Pio of Pietrelcina

 

Prayer:

My Jesus, I place all my sins before you. In my estimation they do not deserve pardon, but I ask you to close your eyes to my want of merit and open them to your infinite merit. Since you willed to die for my sins, grant me forgiveness for all of them. Thus, I may no longer feel the burden of my sins, a burden that oppresses me beyond measure.  Assist me, dear Jesus, for I desire to become good no matter what the cost. Take away, destroy, and utterly root out whatever you find in me that is contrary to your holy will. At the same time, dear Jesus, illumine me so that I may walk in your holy light. --St. Gemma Galgani

Questions for Discussion

 

1. How often do you go to Confession? Is it monthly or more often? Do you believe that you would make a better Confession if you went more often? Why, or why not?

2. Reflect back on your childhood. Do you remember your age you first began to sin? What manner of sin was it? Disobedience or lying to parents, perhaps, or fighting with siblings? Can you identify the motivation behind these first sins? How much did willfulness and pride factor in?

3. Try to identify two or three sins that are motivated by self love, pride or sensuality. For instance, overeating. Can you think of a remedy for each? For instance, a person can skip a meal occasionally, to counteract the tendency to overindulge.

4. Most sins are motivated by certain “root sins” toward which each person tends to gravitate. These are pride, vanity and sensuality. Name two or three ways our culture encourages these tendencies. For instance, commercials sell products that appeal to our sense of vanity.

5. Many serious social problems seem to be motivated through a lack of self-control. Can you identify two or three of our most serious problems based on this? In what ways do we encourage this lack of control in our young people?

6. The opposite of sin is virtue. A virtue is a good act. Virtue is the counterpart to sin. If committing sin drives us away from God, can you see how cultivating virtue can bring us closer to Him? Can you name three or four virtues?

7. If you could perfect one virtue in yourself, what would it be? Name one way you could increase this virtue. For instance, attending Mass daily when able, to show more reverence and gratitude towards God.

8. Reflect on the end your life. What do you like people to say about you? For instance, that you were a good cook, or that you went out of your way to help people. Is there one special attribute you think would be remembered?

-- Lucy Fernandez, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 343: Trust in the Lord: A Reflection on Isaiah 26: 3-4

Trust in the Lord for He is an Eternal Rock.

Stating the obvious. It seems rather tedious at times.

Sometimes stating the obvious can seem silly, like many of the warning labels we get on products. Manufacturers are often forced to state the obvious to protect them from lawsuits when some people don’t use their heads while using their products, like the woman who sued McDonald’s about 20 years ago now, for millions, because her cup didn’t have a warning label on it that told her the coffee inside the cup was hot.

So clearly, we sometimes need to have the obvious stated to us. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the obvious.

Case in point--is there anyone here who did not know that we should trust in God? Raise your hands. My point exactly. You all KNOW you should trust in God. Why does Isaiah have to say “Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal rock.” Why does the psalm have to say, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”

We all know that we should trust in God, because, in our heart of hearts, we all know that God wants what’s best for us. We know our God is not some kind of tyrannical ogre that makes up sadistic rules to oppress us. We know our God has set up his commandments to protect us, and to guide us, and to lead us home to him.

But even though this is obvious, we need the occasional reminder, because we can be incredibly short sighted, because we can easily forget the message. Trust in the Lord is trumpeted all throughout the scriptures, because ultimately, every sin is based in a lack of trust in the Lord. Every sin is a way for us to trust in something other than the Lord, because for some reason, at least temporarily, we trust that the sin will be better for us, or more pleasurable, or more advantageous than the law of the Lord.

We demonstrate our trust for the Lord by following the Lord’s way. And the Lord’s way is not easy. If you have found it easy to be Christian all your life, I hate to break it to you, but you probably haven’t been doing it right. Practicing Natural Family Planning instead of using

contraception is hard.

Nowadays, not having sex until you are married is hard. Being single, and having the baby instead of having an abortion is hard. Loving your enemies is hard. Giving to charity when I’d rather buy something for me, or just saving my money in the bank, is hard. That’s why these behaviors require trust.

Trust never comes easy. Jesus said in the Gospel, “Not all who cry out, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of God, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Jesus, in essence, says, “Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words.” Our actions speak for us. So, let’s make sure that all of our actions speak for us a message that is loud and clear to the world-- that we are a people who trust in the Lord.

And blessed be God forever. Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote: ““Do not let your troubles disturb your trust in God  .  . .  Trust in God’s Providence, interfering – as it always does – for our own good.” – – St. Mary MacKillop

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You are the God of the impossible. You can do anything. I want to trust in Your ability and not my own. Teach me to see difficulties in my life from Your perspective. Help me to focus on You and Your power. I want to be like Joshua and Caleb who believed in a good report and focused on You even in hard circumstances (Numbers 14:7-9). My responsibility is to carefully read, trust, and obey Your Word. Today I bring before You this difficulty in my life [Name a hard situation you are right now facing]. Help me not to fear but to trust You in this situation. I declare my faith in Your ability to fulfill Your promises to me. You will fight for me and win the battles in my life. You are mighty, powerful, righteous and true. I love You. I thank You for creating me and for loving me. Increase my trust in You. Amen. 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Take a good, hard look at yourself and your attitudes. Do you trust God in all things? In all circumstances? With all people? With your own health and abilities? In your security? In your salvation? In the salvation of others? Discuss.

  2. Where is your trust in God strongest? Where is it weakest?

  3. Find a passage in the Gospels that displayed trust in God. Discuss. What parallels can you find in modern life?

  4. Find a passage in the Gospels that displayed lack of trust in God. Discuss. What parallels can you find in modern life?

  5. Discuss a time in your life when you had to trust God. What was that time? Why did you feel you had to trust God? Was your trust justified? How did the situation resolve?

  6. Discuss this passage from the Psalm 118: 8-9: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”

  7. Discuss this saying of Jesus: “Not all who cry out, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of God, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” How is trusting God doing His Will?

  8. Have you ever trusted in yourself or someone else and not in God? What was the result of that? How could things have turned out differently had you trusted in God?

  9. Discuss the quote by St. Mary MacKillop.

  10. Think of a difficult situation that you are now facing and pray the above prayer.

  11. Have you ever felt that God was asking you to do something difficult and maybe even seemingly unreasonable? What trust was involved? Were you able to follow what you felt God was asking of you? What was the result?

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 344: Using Our Talents: A Reflection on Luke 19: 11-28

 

While people were listening to Jesus speak, he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the Kingdom of God would appear there immediately. So, he said, "A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, 'Engage in trade with these until I return.' His fellow citizens, however, despised him and sent a delegation after him to announce, 'We do not want this man to be our king.'

 

But when he returned after obtaining the kingship, he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, 'Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.' He replied, 'Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge of ten cities.'

 

Then the second came and reported, 'Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.' And to this servant too he said, 'You, take charge of five cities.'

 

Then the other servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief,

for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man; you take up what you did not lay down and you harvest what you did not plant.'

 

He said to him, 'With your own words I shall condemn you, you wicked servant. You knew I was a demanding man, taking up what I did not lay down and harvesting what I did not plant; why did you not put my money in a bank? Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.' And to those standing by he said, 'Take the gold coin from him and give it to the servant who has ten.'

 

But they said to him, 'Sir, he has ten gold coins.' He replied, 'I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.'" After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem. (Luke 19:11-28)

 

Creation is NOT eternal. Creation will, someday, end. Our lives on this earth will someday end, and, when that happens, we will hopefully be given a new life in the next world that will extend into eternity.

 

John describes the end of creation in the Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation deals with Christ’s judgment upon creation at the end of time. It also describes crises in the early Church that John was dealing with while he was in exile on the island of Patmos. Moreover, the Book of Revelation reveals the heavenly community and all who are included in it: the faithful.

 

Jesus’ parable of the coins illustrates who actually goes to heaven. A nobleman goes off to be crowned king. There are two groups of people. One group are his servants. The other group are the people who don’t want him to become king. The nobleman gives ten of his servants a gold coin to trade with until his return. We’ve all been given gifts from God, and God expects us to use those gifts to help build up his kingdom.

 

Saint Matthew records this parable a little differently, OR Jesus told it differently himself on another occasion --we don’t know. In Matthew’s gospel, the master gives three servants three different amounts of money, based upon their abilities. THAT means not all of us have the same gifts. We are all not expected to produce the same results. In Luke’s telling of the Gospel, all the servants get the same amount, meaning, God doesn’t show favoritism. We all have been given an equal opportunity to produce something for God.

 

The nobleman leaves and comes back a king. He then summons his servants. The first makes ten coins by wisely using his one. The king responds, “Well done, good servant. Take over ten cities.” The servant produces, and he is rewarded. The second makes five coins. Note the King does NOT say “Well done good servant.” He simply says, “You take over five cities.” It’s not like, a great job, but it's not a bad job. That indicates there are different levels of rewards in heaven based on how much we have invested ourselves in the kingdom here! This is verified by various saints and mystics who have had visions of heaven and described it as having different levels, each more beautiful than the last.

 

This is verified by Jesus’ own words at the Last Supper, which is always mistranslated, because translated literally, it’s confusing. When Jesus tells the apostles, “In my Father’s house there are many ROOMS.” Literally translated, he says, “In my Father’s house there are many steps.” There are many levels, there are many plateaus in heaven. Therefore, we want to invest ourselves in our spiritual life, we want to produce for the Lord, because we not ONLY want to go to heaven, we want the best spot we can get!

 

What happens to the servant who buries the coin and produces nothing? Does he go to hell or not? In the version of this parable in Matthew’s gospel, yes. The Master orders the servant’s hands and feet tied and him cast out in the darkness. This is certainly an allusion to hell, but in Luke’s Gospel, it’s unclear. In Luke’s Gospel, the unprofitable servant has his reward taken away from him. He doesn’t use his gift, so he loses it. But does he go to hell?

 

Who most certainly DOES go to hell? “Now bring me those enemies of mine, those who did not want me to be king, and slay them in my presence.” THEY go to hell! Those who by their words or actions deny that Jesus is king.

 

What happens to the lazy servant? I would submit that he goes to Purgatory. That is the penalty for not using the gifts that God has given us to build His kingdom. Whatever his fate, don’t be like that servant. Use the gifts and talents God has given you to bring others to him. How do you do that? Stick to the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy and you can’t go wrong. --Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote: “It is with the smallest brushes that the artist paints the most exquisitely beautiful pictures.” – St. André Bessette

 

Prayer: Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know You, a heart to seek You, wisdom to find You, conduct pleasing to You, faithful perseverance in waiting for You, and a hope of finally embracing you. Amen.  --St. Thomas Aquinas

 

Questions for Discussion

 

–              1. What do you believe is spiritually represented by the gold coins in this parable?

–              2. How do you believe these can be invested in order to receive a return?

–              3. In Church history, name three or four people who have made this investment and procured a large return on investment for the Lord.

–              4. What attributes do people have who invest wisely and boldly?

–              5. Do you believe it is possible to not always see a return on investment? For instance, the apostles could never have imagined how far and wide the Gospel message would have been taken, nor how long it would last. In the same way, is it possible that we do not always see the complete product of our labor?

–              6. It appears, from this parable, that God does not like laziness. He does not go in for excuses. Would you agree with this?

–              7. What would it look like to love God with all your strength, mind, and heart? Would it take a lot of effort? Name a person you know who loves God in this way? Certainly, all the saints did, and that is why they are saints. Name one thing you can do or change that would lead you to loving God more.

–              8, St. Therese of Lisieux seemingly little to give, yet, her “little way” has virtually revolutionized the spirituality of the Church. Her simplicity and great love of God, allowing Him to make the increase, was her investment in the Kingdom of God. What does this tell us about where and how our efforts are to be focused?

 

--Lucy Fernandez, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 345: Love and Sacrifice: A Reflection on Colossians 3:12-17

 

Brothers and sisters: Put on, 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. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. --Colossians 3: 12-17

 

“And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.”

 

Love is the bond of perfection. That means, love is what makes us perfect. This is an interesting passage. Paul lists all these virtues; compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, forgiving one another, peace, gratitude, admonish one another. And padded in the middle of it, he says, “over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection,” because love is the source and result of all these other virtues.

 

All virtue stems from love, and they all lead us to love more. That’s perfection. I’ve said in homilies before, love begins when we want what’s best for others, it grows when we do what’s best for others, and love reaches perfection when we’re willing to sacrifice ourselves for what’s best for others.

 

Sacrifice ourselves for what’s best for others. Look at all these virtues. Humility. Humility means I defer to someone else. That requires me to sacrifice myself. Compassion is when I share another’s pain. That requires me to sacrifice myself. Kindness is when I offer myself to others. That requires me to sacrifice myself. Patience requires me to wait for others. It’s a sacrifice of time. This is even true with people who annoy us. I have to sacrifice my time to listen to someone who’s annoying me, or talking about something I have absolutely no interest in. Why? No reason but love.

 

Those are the virtues that Paul lists before love. Those are the virtues that lead us to love. What about the virtues he lists after love? Peace. “Let the peace of Christ control your hearts.” “Be thankful.” Gratitude. Wisdom. “Teach and admonish one another.” All these virtues are a result of love.

 

Love will make us peaceful. Love will make us thankful. Love will make us wise. Love will give us the strength to correct others whom we see doing wrong. These are the perks of love. Love benefits us as well as benefiting those around us. So, if you find yourself lacking in any of these qualities, I would advise you to look at your level of sacrificing yourself for others. Because sacrificing yourself for the good of others is the only thing that will increase your love. Jesus confirms this in the Gospel.

 

This whole discourse of Jesus can be summed up by saying; sacrifice yourselves for others. “Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. “Someone strikes you on the one cheek, offer him the other. “Someone takes your cloak, offer him your tunic. “Give to everyone who asks you without demanding repayment.” This isn’t natural, you say. It’s not normal to behave this way. You’re right. It’s not.

 

Love isn’t natural. It’s supernatural. Love isn’t normal. Love is extraordinary. Because God is love, and God is supernatural and extraordinary. And if are truly to be God’s children, then we must strive to imitate him. That calling is not easy. We will fail at it often. But if we truly desire heaven everlasting, it’s a goal we must never give up on. --Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote:

 

“Let us remember that love lives through sacrifice and is nourished by giving. Without sacrifice, there is no love.” --St. Maximillian Kolbe

 

Prayer:

 

"Oh Jesus, why am I not burned up with love for you? Why is it that my heart is not consumed with Love's flame? Why is it that my love does not correspond to yours? Oh Jesus, how much time I have lost! How many years I could have loved you, and did not do so! But your bounty makes me hope that I may make up for lost time. Why did you suffer for me, dear Jesus? For love! The nails...the crown...the cross...all for love of me! For You, I sacrifice everything willingly. I offer you my body with all its weakness, and my soul with all its love. My God, dear Jesus, remove whatever malice may be at the bottom of my offering, and then accept it. Do not abandon me, Jesus. I am Yours. Take care of my soul. Think of what you have borne to save it. Surely they are right who say, 'To suffer is to love'." --St. Gemma Galgani

 

Questions for Discussion

 

1. Name the one thing you have that you could never sacrifice, regardless of for who it would be, or what reason. Your home, for instance, your job, your favorite pair of perfect fitting shoes. Would you be willing to sell all that you have and leave your job if you knew that God asked you to do so?

 

2. Jesus says that there is no greater love than to lay one's life down for a friend. Do you know someone, or of someone who has done this? What were the circumstances?

 

3. Our culture seems to be confused and divided on this issue of sacrificing oneself for another, even a love interest. In fact, it is considered foolish, even strange and suspect to make unnecessary or excessive sacrifices. What correlation do you see between this attitude and the current problems in society?

 

4. What can fasting and abstinence teach us about sacrifice? Do you believe these small sacrifices, as proscribed by the Church, help ready us for bigger sacrifices? If so, why do you believe it is so important?

 

5. The saints are examples of how to love God as we ought. Can you name a saint who did not make a sacrifice of himself? Do you believe you can show God that you love Him without some sacrifice?

 

6. St. Therese of Liseux promoted a spirituality that encouraged small sacrifices to show God our love. She believed that most people are called to this “little way”, as opposed to being asked to make big sacrifices. Do you believe that daily offering up small sacrifices can lead to holiness? Why or why not?

 

7. Name one or two sacrifices you can make in the course of a day to show your love for God. For instance, can you put off watching TV in the evening to say a decade of the rosary? Do you believe a small act of self denial such as that could make a difference in your relationship with the Lord?

 

8. Can you define the relationship between love and sacrifice? Do you believe there is such a thing as love without sacrifice? If so, can you describe the circumstance?

 

 9. Can you name three people known for their great love? For instance, Mother Teresa. What sacrifices did each of these people make in their lives?  -- Lucy Fernandez, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 346: Love of God, Love of Neighbor--Salvation in a Nutshell: A Reflection on 1 John 4: 20 

“Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4: 20)

 

Saint John has, in one verse of Scripture, captured the sum of Christianity. We are here to love God. --here to acknowledge the love God has shown us. And we express that love, and acknowledge that love, by loving other people. 

There you have it, salvation in a nutshell.

Can it be that easy? Yes and no. 

The answer is an easy one; accomplishing it is a whole other story. But God has given us the teaching and the tools to do just that. 

The first question we have to answer is, “What is love?” The foundation of that answer is in the Ten Commandments. The Commandments define our responsibilities. The first three explain our responsibility to God. Don’t worship idols, meaning don’t place anything as more important than God. Keep Holy the Sabbath Day, and don’t use his name in vain. 

The remaining seven explain our responsibilities to our neighbor. To love my neighbor I can’t sin against him or her, by stealing from him, killing him, lying to him, cheating with his or her spouse, etc.

But as we all know, love is more than just fulfilling responsibilities. I can go through my entire life and never cheat, steal, kill, or commit adultery against my neighbor, but does that automatically mean I love him or her? No. I might not even know who he or she is. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, please note that Jesus never says that the rich man knew poor Lazarus was there outside his gate. How did the rich man sin against Lazarus? The rich man didn’t cheat Lazarus, or abuse Lazarus. What was his sin? He was indifferent toward Lazarus. Indifference sins against love. 

That is why to build on the foundation of the Commandments, we must proceed to the Beatitudes, because the Beatitudes complete our understanding of love. If you look at the Beatitudes closely, you see that none of them focus on other people. The commandments all focus on my neighbor. Don’t steal. Don’t steal from who? Your neighbor! Don’t lie. --to who? Your neighbor!

By contrast the Beatitudes all focus on me. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Who are the poor in spirit? I’m supposed to be. Blessed are the meek. Who are the meek? I’m supposed to be meek. 

The commandments focus on other people because they focus on responsibility, and responsibility focuses on other people. We’re responsible in relation to someone else. 

The Beatitudes focus on me, because to love I have to change who I am, and not simply exercise restraint. God, to show his love, changed himself. As Paul said, God emptied himself of his Divinity and became one of us. Then to prove his love he died on the cross to give all of us the ability to change and become like him. 

And that’s the completion of love. Love is self-sacrificing. The commandments say, “This is what I owe others, and this is what they owe me.” The Beatitudes say, “This is what I surrender to God, so I see others as more important than me, because there is no greater good than God, and I desire to be like him.” And that’s love in a nutshell. 

Love is striving to conform every aspect of our lives to become like God. He’s given us his teaching to conform our minds to his, so we have to know his teaching. He’s given us his Grace in the sacraments to conform our hearts to his, so we have to use them. And then, all that’s left is to surrender our will. And once we can do that, we will truly love.'

And blessed be God forever. Father Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint: 'The more the wicked abound, so much the more must we suffer with them in patience; for on the threshing floor few are the grains carried into the barns, but high are the piles of chaff burned with fire.' -- Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor and Father of the Church

Prayer: I came to You late, O Beauty so ancient and new. I came to love You late. You were within me and I was outside where I rushed about wildly searching for You like some monster loose in Your beautiful world. You were with me but I was not with You. You called me, You shouted to me, You wrapped me in Your Splendour, You broke past my deafness, You bathed me in Your Light, You sent my blindness reeling. You gave out such a delightful fragrance and I drew it in and came breathing hard after You. I tasted, and it made me hunger and thirst; You touched me, and I burned to know Your Peace. -- St. Augustine of Hippo

Questions for Reflection:

  1. If you had to sum up salvation and when Scripture verse, would you choose the one that Father Sisco have selected? Why or why not? What other Scripture verses might sum up salvation? Why did you select these?

  2. What would you say is the most difficult thing about attaining salvation? What would you say is the easiest? Why do you answer this way?

  3. How does indifference sin against love?

  4. Read the Beatitudes and the 10 Commandments. Contrast the Beatitudes with the 10 Commandments. Do you see the differences which Father Sisco mentions?

  5. What do you think are more important? The Beatitudes? Are the 10 Commandments? What are the reasons for your choice?

  6. Discuss the quote from Pope St. Gregory the Great.

  7. Discuss the prayer from St. Augustine.

  8. Father Sisco says that in the end, all that’s left is to surrender our will. How do we do that?

  9. What is love? Why is love the basis of salvation? How do we know if we love someone? What would you say are the three main distinguishing characteristics of true love of another person?

  10. What would you be willing to do for God? What would you be willing to do for your neighbor? Could you have the same answers to both questions? Would that be a good or a bad thing?

  11. Love is self-sacrificing. Think about someone whom you love. Would your love for that person fit this category of self - sacrificing?

  12. Think of someone you don’t love. Do you make any sacrifices for that person? If so, is it possible that you actually do love them? How would you know?

--- Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 347: The Kingdom of God: A Reflection on Luke 17: 20-25

 

Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, 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

 

‘When will the kingdom of God come?’ That’s the question the Pharisees ask Jesus in this Gospel. The answer to that question is threefold; the kingdom of God has been, is now, and shall become. 

 

The kingdom of God has been… The kingdom of God began when God created…creation. Everything belongs to God, ergo, everything is part of God’s kingdom.

 

Whenever we pray we are connected to the kingdom of God has been. Whenever we pray, we meditate on God beginning this covenant with Abraham, and building it through Moses, and David.  This is the kingdom of God has been. When we meditate on creation, and see the hand of God working in the natural world around us, we are connected to the Kingdom of God has been.

 

The Kingdom of God is now… Jesus Christ instituted a new stage in the Kingdom of God, a stage that would enable us to build God’s kingdom on earth and allow us access to God’s Heavenly kingdom when we die. Therefore, the Kingdom of God is now because the Kingdom of God is something we are called to be actively building now. We build that through our charity, by extending ourselves as brothers and sisters to those in need, because we recognize Christ in them. We do that through the sacraments. We do it by keeping our own souls pure and free from the influences of sin so we may be more pleasing to God and be more useful tools in his hands.

 

The Kingdom of God shall be. This refers to the time when Jesus will claim his final victory over satan, when God will restore what was lost in the fall of Adam and Eve, and there will be no more barrier between the spiritual world and the created world.

 

Now THAT is fun to meditate on! What will it be like when that barrier is removed?

 

That means that while living on earth, we’ll be able to look up and physically see heaven.

 

We will be able to see and talk to our loved ones that have died and gone to heaven before us, as effortlessly as we speak to each other. (I KNOW this is going to sound really hokey, but the only way I can think to explain this is in the Star Wars movies, when Obi Wan Kenobi visits Luke and gives him advice after he’s been killed. I picture it as something like that!)

 

And when the time comes for our earthly lives to end, we’ll just effortlessly ascend, body and soul into heaven.

 

OH! The Kingdom of God that shall be, is going to be so great!! But as Jesus said, as to WHEN that will happen, no one can know.

 

And this is what the Pharisees are really asking; when will the end of the world be? 

 

People who obsess over this question really demonstrate their lack of faith. Why? Because people who obsess over this question do so because either 1) they KNOW they’re sinning and they want to work out a time frame when they have to start repenting; OR 2) a self-righteous motivation; they want to live to see all those SINNERS burn in the fire of perdition and be cast into hell forever. I want to see God get rid of all the riff-raff. That also demonstrates a lack of faith because faithful people, truly faithful people don’t want to see anyone suffer that. Truly faithful people want to see all other people saved, no matter what they’ve done.

 

So that’s the Kingdom of God has been, is now, and shall become. Take some time in your prayer every now and then and meditate on these and it will help you keep your life in perspective.

 

Blessed be God forever. Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote:

 

Our business is to gain heaven; everything else is a sheer waste of time. --St. Vincent de Paul

 

Prayer:

 

My past, O Lord, to your mercy; my present to your love; my future to your providence. --St. Pio of Pietrelcina

 

Questions for Discussion

 

1. Describe a world where the kingdom of God already exists. How would it compare to our world as it is today?

 

2. What is the definition of a king? What does a king do for his subjects, and why is he so revered? What are the attributes of a good king, and how do they compare with God as king?

 

3. In many of his parables, Jesus describes God as a master or king who is absent, but will be returning. He describes the master/king's subjects as going about doing their own thing, abusing one another, and not doing the work they were assigned. Do you believe that he described us well? What one or two things should we be doing differently upon God's return?

 

4. Jesus uses the image of coins and talents in many of His parables. What do you think He means by coins? What do you think He means by talents? What treasure and talent do you have, and what specific ways do you think He expects you to invest in these?

 

5. Name two or three things that are priorities for God, as opposed to what the world considers a priority.

 

6. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” What do you think is meant by the word, righteousness?

 

7. Why do you believe God allows trials and difficulties, and even disasters? Do you pray more often and more fervently when things are going well, or when they are difficult? Do you find that the more difficult the problem, the more fervently you seek God's help and consolation? Do you believe He may allow these problems for this very purpose?

 

8. Why doesn't God provide everything we ask for immediately and on demand? Do you believe He is able to do it? If so, why are we not given instant gratification? Do you believe God is teaching us something by doing this? If so, what is He teaching? If not, why are we not given exactly what we want whenever we ask?

 

--Lucy Fernandez, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 348: Do Not Sin: A Reflection on Romans 6:12-18

 

Brothers and sisters:
Sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires. And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness. For sin is not to have any power over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Of course not! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted. Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6: 12-18)

 

I have said before that Jesus is always trying to get our heads out of this world and fixed on the next. This Gospel passage is a good example of that. The Sadducees don’t believe in the resurrection of the body. The Pharisees do, and clearly so does Jesus. So the Sadducees try to trip Jesus up by posing this scenario to him. A man, one of seven brothers, marries a woman and died before they had any children, so, according to the Law, the next brother marries her. However, he, too, dies without leaving any children, and so forth through all the brothers, until the woman also dies. If the body rises from the dead, as you believe, Jesus, whose wife will she be in eternity, since all seven brothers married her? Interesting problem.

 

But Jesus derails it effortlessly, and basically says they don’t know what they’re talking about. Jesus says that, in heaven, people neither marry nor are given in marriage. They live like the angels. What are angels? Angels are beings of pure spirit. They have vast knowledge of creation. They exist to serve God and praise God.

 

That’s how we exist in heaven. We will also have a vast knowledge of creation. We’ll finally see the big picture. We will serve God by praying and interceding for those on earth, and we will praise God and rejoice to be in his presence. The Sadducees don’t understand this because their heads are too stuck in the world.

 

The Sadducees were the secular humanists of the day. Get in all your pleasure now. Get in all your fun, now. Eat, drink, and be merry now, because when you die, game over! Because they can’t get their heads out of the world, they can’t see what Jesus is trying to show them.

 

And I think that this is the exact same reason why people today are also so incapable of seeing the importance of the Church, the sacraments, and the moral life; their heads are too stuck in the world. Like the Sadducees of Jesus’ day, people, even though they say that they believe in God, have become so consumed with hedonistic pleasures that they have remade God into something they’re comfortable with, instead of seeking to learn about the God that really exists and conform themselves to him.

 

The Sadducees are highly educated. Their intelligence is evident as they pose this complex web for Jesus to sort out, and yet look how easily Jesus shoots it right down. Again, we live in a highly educated society, and yet, despite that, people use their knowledge to attempt to undermine Church teaching and denigrate the dignity of persons under the auspices of empowering them, all in the agenda of satisfying their flesh. All this to justify the misuse of sexuality by abortion, contraception, and homosexual behavior. All this to justify greed by corporate corruption. All this to justify their thirst for power by manipulating the poor.

 

 And yet, no matter how you slice it, we cannot get around this simple truth; what Jesus has revealed about eternity tells us that it is NOTHING like this world, and being attached to things of this world will deny us admittance to that eternal world. Remember that, when people hit you with clever arguments to justify what you know is wrong.

 

Blessed be God forever. Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote:

The more we are afflicted in this world, the greater is our assurance in the next; the more we sorrow in the present, the greater will be our joy in the future.       --St. Isidore of Seville

 

Prayer:

Oh, my God, fill my soul with holy joy, courage, and strength to serve you. Enkindle your love in me along the next stretch of road before me. I do not see very far ahead, but when I have arrived where the horizon now closes down, a new prospect will open before me, and I shall meet it in peace. --St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

 

Questions for Discussion

 

  1. Many non-Catholics ascribe to a belief that all that is needed to go to heaven is to profess belief in Christ and occasionally ask forgiveness of their sins. There is great faith in this belief, and it is very popular. Do you believe that this is partially or completely true? If you believe this, what evidence for this belief can you cite from Scripture? 

  2. Jesus Christ admonished his disciples that the one who would not deny himself and take up his cross daily would not share in Christ’s glory. What do you believe Christ meant when He said to deny oneself? 

  3. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says Lord! Lord! will be admitted to the kingdom of God, but only those who do the Will of the Father”. How can one determine whether or not they are doing the Will of the Father? 

  4. New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia defines sin as a moral evil. What do you think is the definition of evil? What do you think is the opposite of evil? Is it perfection? Can you give an example of a sin and name its opposite virtue? For instance, stealing money out of a person's purse is the sin of theft. Its opposite would be to give money away to someone who needs it. This is charity and a corporal work of mercy. What examples of a vice and corresponding virtue can you think of.? 

  5. Given the above example, can you see how giving alms can assist in making atonement for sins? Can you name two or three other “corporal” works of mercy that would have the same positive spiritual effect? 

  6. Catholic theology teaches that all baptized Christians in a state of grace (free from mortal sin) can participate in Christ's sacrificial offering for atonement for sin and the salvation of the world. Do you believe this? If not, why not? If so, can you give a specific example of how a person can participate Christ's mission? 

  7. The apostle Paul counsels us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord, (Romans 12:1). Can you give one or two examples of a sacrifice which can be offered on behalf of what. 

  8. Name some people who specifically prayed for you during your lifetime. Do you believe these prayers affected you? Do you believe your prayers for others have an effect on them? Knowing this, name one thing you can do to enhance your prayer life. 

  • --Lucy Fernandez, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 349: Listening to the Voice of God: A Reflection on Jeremiah 7:28

“Say to them: This is the nation which does not listen to the voice of the Lord its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.” Jeremiah 7:28

The Lord says this to the kingdom of Judah through the prophet Jeremiah. Let’s look at this statement and break it down. 

This is a nation which does not listen to the voice of the Lord its God. Meaning what? How has the nation not listened to voice of God? By not heeding the commandments. By not obeying the law of Moses.  

What results in them not heeding the law of Moses? They don’t take correction.  

From who? From the prophets. The prophets knew the word of God. And the prophets convicted the people to stay true to the Law of Moses. But because the nation doesn’t listen to the voice of the Lord, or take correction, what naturally follows?  

Faithfulness has disappeared. Faithfulness to what? The covenant. The covenant that called the people to be faithful to God first, and then to one another. 

And what’s the end result of that? “The word itself is banished from their speech.” Meaning they can’t speak the truth, and their praise of God is empty. 

We can see this same pattern happen in the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They stopped listening for the voice of the Lord, by reducing the commandments to rules and ignoring the spirit of the Law. As a result, when Jesus came correcting them, they refused to listen. We see that their faithfulness disappeared in their lack of mercy towards others. You would think they would be elated that Jesus could heal the sick, and cast out demons and free people of such bondage, but because they have no faith, what instead is their reaction? The Word itself is banished from their speech. “He casts out demons by the power of the prince of demons,” they say. Jesus effortlessly demonstrates that this is a ridiculous argument. 

My brothers and sisters, we must always be on guard that we don’t fall into the same pattern, because many still fall into it. Our first necessary step is always listening to the voice of the Lord. How? Through the authoritative body he has chosen to speak through. In the Old Testament it was the Law and the Prophets. Now it’s the Church. Heeding the Church is necessary for hearing the voice of God. 

And that means also taking correction. From who? The priesthood, and Scripture. We take correction in the teachings and exhortations we hear from the pulpit, and we take correction in the confessional. The Scriptures should also be convicting us to change our lives. 

How do we keep our faithfulness from disappearing? Through the sacraments. The sacraments are the source of Grace, and so build up faith. And being a sacramental people, my brothers and sisters, will always keep the word of God on our minds, in our hearts, and on our lips

.

  • Father Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote: God does not love us because we are valuable. We are valuable because God loves us. – Bishop Fulton Sheen --- God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us. – St. Augustine

Prayer for Generosity by St. Ignatius of Loyola:

Eternal Word, only begotten Son of God,
Teach me true generosity.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give without counting the cost,
To fight heedless of wounds,
To labor without seeking rest,
To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward
Save the knowledge that I have done your will.
Amen.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Discuss each of these ways to listen to the voice of God and give an example from your life in which you heard the voice of God through these means:

    1. Prayer

    2. Scripture

    3. Counsel

    4. Sacraments

    5. The Church

    6. Circumstances

    7. “Coincidences”

  2. What does taking correction have to do with hearing the voice of God? What does correction have to do with faithfulness?

  3. Father Sisco says that Israel was the nation which does not listen to the voice of the Lord its God, or take correction. Can this statement apply to your own nation? Why or why not? Give examples.

  4. Can anything be done to bring a nation back to faithfulness to God? Can YOU do anything? Do you feel powerless to make a difference? Why or why not?

  5. Discuss the quotes from Bishop Sheen and St. Augustine. How does the message of these quotes relate to faithfulness?

  6. How does the popular meme “I have my ways” relate to faithfulness?

  7. Discuss the Prayer for Generosity by St. Ignatius and relate it to the theme of this reflection: “Say to them: This is the nation which does not listen to the voice of the Lord its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.”

  8.  Discuss how the sacraments can keep our faith from disappearing. Relate this to the decline in church attendance and to belief in God in general.

  9. How can you help spread the faith? List at least five ways. The number them from easiest to most difficult and begin with the easiest. Select one way and begin to work on it.

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 350: “You Talk to God, Father”: A Reflection on Hebrews 12: 18-19, 22

“You have not drawn near to an untouchable mountain and a blazing fire, and gloomy darkness, and storm and trumpet blast, and a voice speaking words such as those who heard begged that they not be addressed to them. … No, you have drawn near Mount Zion.” (Hebrews 12: 18-19, 22)

Powerful words in this reading from the letter to the Hebrews. What’s going on here? The author of the letter to the Hebrews is making reference here to the Exodus, when Moses and the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt, passed through the Red Sea, and came to Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments. And the author here in Hebrews is describing what the Israelites saw when they came to the mountain. The whole mountain seemed to be on fire. A dark storm cloud covered the top with thunder and lightning. Loud trumpet blasts were coming from the mountain. The Lord told Moses to tell the people not to touch the mountain, or even approach the base of the mountain or they’d be struck dead. Likewise, if any of the livestock wandered over to the mountain and touched it, the animal’s neck had to be immediately broken, and the carcass burned in fire.

The people, naturally, were terrified.  And the Lord told Moses to tell the people that for three days they had to fast and purify themselves, and on the third day they could approach the mountain and the Lord would speak to all of them individually, not just Moses.

Think about that. Wow! What an opportunity! To be able to speak to God one on one like Moses! And yet, when the three days are up, the people say to Moses, “That’s OK, Moses. You go and talk to God and tell us what he says.”

That response has been discussed by theologians for years. Why, when afforded this great opportunity, do the Israelites shrink away from it?

Some speculate they were still too terrified by the sight of the mountain. Others think they couldn’t keep themselves pure, or free from sin for the three days, and they knew if they approached the mountain in sin, they’d die. Still others speculate that they didn’t want to talk to the Lord themselves; they wanted to keep going through Moses, because that’s easier. It’s easier to put the responsibility of communicating with God on someone else, because if God doesn’t tell me personally, I really don’t have to change.

But the author to the letter of the Hebrews says, “That’s not us! Because we have approached Mount Zion!” Sinai was the mountain of the Lord’s judgment. Zion is the mountain of his mercy.

We have a means of keeping ourselves pure and sinless through confession, so we can approach his mountain, and his altar, without fear, because through the Grace of the sacraments, God also wants to talk to each of us individually. What the Lord wanted to accomplish back in the Exodus, he has now succeeded in, by establishing the sacraments, the priesthood, the Catholic Church. Now, through the Eucharist, his presence can unite with ours.

But the requirements are still the same; if we want this personal communication, we have to keep ourselves pure and free from sin. And people still have the same hang up as the Israelites; I don’t want the communication, because that means I have to change, and I don’t want to.

I see this in so many attitudes. “Holiness is just for priests and nuns.” “Well, Father, all that God stuff is good for you, but I have to live in the real world.” So, I’m living a fantasy?

In a previous assignment I was explaining to a woman why birth control contradicted what God intended in marriage, and she cut me short and said, “Stop! I don’t want to hear this! If I understand it, I have to stop using it!” Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

I get this attitude from many young people, “Father, I don’t want to get too holy.”

Well, first of all, you can’t get too holy, so don’t worry about it. Second, why not? Because the basic attitude today is, all I want to know is how much fun I can have and still go to heaven. “So, you talk to God, Father, and tell me what he says. Then I’ll decide if I do it or not.” It’s a destructive mindset.

It is my prayer for all of us today, that all the faithful truly approach Mount Zion, and God’s altar, with hearts full of faith, and ears to hear the Lord speaking.

And blessed be God forever! --Father Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint:

Become a saint, and do so quickly. -- Saint John Paul the Great

Prayer: Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love only what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me so, O Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy. Amen.

Questions for Reflection:

1.         Do you talk to God about becoming holy? Why or why not?

2.         Discuss the quote from Saint John Paul the Great as it relates to this Oratory Reflection.

3.         Fr. Sisco cites several ways in which we can talk to God and grow in holiness. List each of those ways and then discuss how each one can help us to grow in holiness.

4.         What other ways can you think of to talk to God and grow in holiness?

5.         What are the advantages to becoming holy? What are the pitfalls to becoming holy?

6.         What is the general attitude toward holiness?

7.         Pope Benedict XVI said, “Holiness never goes out of fashion.” Do you agree or disagree? Discuss.

8.         Father Sisco mentions several possible reasons why the Israelites did not want to hear God speaking directly to them. Can you think of any other reasons? Why do you think the Israelites did not want to hear God speaking directly to them?

9.         What excuses do people give for not praying? For not pursuing holiness? Evaluate each of these excuses.

10.       Have you ever wished that God would speak directly to you? Did you ever feel that God was speaking directly to you, perhaps without your asking Him to do so? Describe that experience.

11.       The prayer to the Holy Spirit is powerful. Try to pray this prayer daily and slowly.

12.       Discuss each line of the prayer to the Holy Spirit.

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

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