Weeks 431-440

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 431: Words of Everlasting Life- Reflection on Ps 19 and Mt 13:18-23

 

Jesus said to his disciples:  "Hear the parable of the sower.  The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart.

The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold." (Mt 13:18-23, from USCCB.org)

 

 “Lord, you have the words of everlasting life…” (Psalm 19)

 

This is from the Psalm 19.

 

“Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.” What does that mean? That means simply that God has freely told us the means of getting to heaven. Our religion is not one where we have to meditate for years on end to become enlightened; to have imparted on us some secret knowledge or wisdom for acquiring salvation. God has told us plainly what to do, and what not to do. Why? Because he wouldn’t be God if he didn’t. In order for God to be God, he must be perfect. In order for God to be perfect he MUST be all knowing, all powerful, and all loving. In order for God to be all loving, he simply cannot wash his hands of us. He simply cannot leave us to own devices and watch us as we struggle toward a goal that we have no possible hope of achieving. That isn’t loving. That’s sadistic!

 

So, in order for God to BE God, he MUST tell us how to acquire eternal life, and he MUST give us a means toward achieving eternal life; so, he gave us the Church. The Church is the custodian of God’s word, which gives us the instructions for acquiring salvation, and the Church provides the sacraments, which contain the Graces that make it possible for us TO keep his word, and so acquire salvation. And so, we have in the Ten Commandments, the foundation of morality. The commandments teach us how to be just.

 

The first three outline what we owe God; the remaining seven, what we owe each other.  Jesus completes the teaching in his Sermon on the Mount, with the beatitudes. The beatitudes explain the way to become holy.  Each of the beatitudes breaks us of an earthly attachment and focuses us on a spiritual good.

 

The Gospel from Matthew ties into this theme. In it, Jesus explains the parable of the sower, and why the sower allows his seeds to fall on anything other than good soil. WHY does he allow his seeds to fall on the path, among the rocks and thorns? Because the Lord has the Words of everlasting life, and that word goes everywhere. But it’s up to each one of us individually, to do something with that word. It’s up to us to allow that word to affect us, so we can affect others.

 

The problem these days is that people don’t care if it’s in the Bible or not. Their feelings trump everything, even Scripture. God’s word is not subjective. God has told us very clearly what to do, and what NOT to do, to get to heaven.  Because the Lord has the words of everlasting life.

 

- Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint:

            All would wish to be saved and to enjoy the glory of paradise; but to gain heaven, it is necessary to walk in the straight road that leads to eternal bliss. This road is the observance of the divine commandments. Hence, in his preaching, the Baptist exclaimed: Make straight the way of the Lord. --St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church

 

Prayer:

            Show favor, O Lord, to your servants and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace, that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity, they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. – (Collect from Friday of 16th week of Ordinary Time (from Catholicculture.org)

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

1. How have I reacted to God’s word? Have I been good soil? How can I become more receptive to God’s life-giving word?

 

2. Discuss links between the Beatitudes (See Mt. 5:1-12) and the Ten Commandments. (See Ex 20:2-17) Can you name the Ten Commandments? The Beatitudes? Look them up if you can’t.

 

3. Father Sisco says that Catholics do not meditate for years on end to become enlightened. Rather, God tells us through Scripture and His Church the truths that enlighten us. What, then is the primary purpose of prayer? Consider the text of the Our Father as you discuss this.

 

4. Father Sisco states that the Commandments teach us how to be just. How do the first three commandments reveal to us justice toward God?

 

5. The line “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die” is from a traditional bluegrass song, but as St. Alphonsus says, “ to gain heaven, it is necessary to walk in the straight road that leads to eternal bliss,” and the straight and narrow path often asks us to die to our sinful selves. How do the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes ask us to die to ourselves? How can focusing on the spiritual good of the beatitudes help break us of earthly attachments?

 

6. “The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart.” How important, then, is it to seek through the Church to better understand the Word of God? How can you do this? (give examples)

 

7. How do the sacraments give the graces to live God’s commandments? Refer back to Fr. Sisco’s reflection and/or to the Catechism for help if needed.

 

8. Besides the Beatitudes, there are other times where Jesus expanded and fulfilled in His teaching the Commandments (for example forbidding divorce entirely). What other examples can you find?

 

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 432: Remaking God in Our Image: Mt 13:10-15

 

Then the disciples came and asked him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ He answered, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that “seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.” With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:
“You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.” (Mt 13:10-15 From bible.oremus.org)

 

Anytime someone tries to argue with me that Jesus never intended to establish a Church of his own, I like to point out this passage from Matthew:  The apostles ask Jesus why he always speaks to the crowds in parables.

 

Jesus answers, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God has been entrusted to YOU, not to them.” ‘I want them to look and not see, hear but not listen or understand.’  Why?

So that they have to come to you for the answers, so that they have to depend on the authority of the Church to be their moral compass, so that they can’t say, “Well, I don’t need a church.  I can go to Jesus on my own!” This is precisely what this passage is intended to prevent. Why can’t we just go to Jesus on our own?  Why do we need an authoritative body to interpret Jesus’ words and apply them to modern day situations? Because if the Old Testament proves anything to us, it’s that left on our own, we will always turn to idolatry. It’s inevitable.

 

As soon as Moses, the teaching authority to the Israelites, leaves them to converse with God one-on-one to deliver the message of the ten commandments to them, as soon as he disappears on this burning, smoking, mountain for forty days, shrouded in fog and thunder and lightning, what do the people do?  They demand that Aaron make a golden calf for them to worship.  Interesting: out of all the Egyptian gods that they Israelites could have told Aaron to make, they settle on the golden calf, Apis, the Egyptian god of money, sex, and power; because that’s ultimately what every fallen human being craves, and that’s precisely what the Lord tries to weed out of us. And that’s why we need the Church.  That’s why we need an authoritative body to interpret the words of Christ and apply them to modern situations. Because if we do that on our own, we will always create God in our own image and likeness instead of making the attempt to be recreated in his.

 

Case in point: have you ever noticed how we’re outraged by sins we’re never tempted to commit, but we always seem to have an excuse for our own sins? “Oh, my sins are just little sins; God doesn’t care about my sins.  Oh, that isn’t a sin!  That’s one of those man-made rules!”  We create God in our own image. Saint Augustine said it best, “Having failed to convert ourselves we become intensely interested in the faults of others.”

 

And some will take it one step further, and to the passage I based this reflection on will say, “Well did Jesus REALLY say that? How do we know the Church didn’t add that later?”   So, you don’t trust the Church, you don’t trust Scripture, you can do anything you want, you’re free to create God in your own image. Idolatry.  It always comes back to idolatry, which is why God dealt with idolatry in the first commandment he gave Moses…that is if God REALLY said that.

 

Brothers and sisters, no matter how free thinking and independent we think we think we are, none of us can escape this simple truth; I need the Church, you need the Church, we all need the Church, because none of us is strong enough, wise enough, or loving enough to reach God on our own.  –Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

The Church is a virgin, the bride of one Spouse, Who is Christ, and this Church does not allow herself to be violated by any error; so that, throughout the whole world there may be for us one uncorruptedness of a single chaste communion.  -Pope St. Leo the Great

 

Prayer

Act of Faith:  I MOST firmly believe, because GOD, who is the infallible Truth, hath so revealed to the Holy Catholic Church, and through the Church reveals to us, that there is one only GOD in three divine Persons, equal and distinct, FATHER, SON, and HOLY GHOST; that the SON became Man by taking to himself flesh and a human soul through the operation of the HOLY GHOST in the womb of the most pure Virgin Mary; that He died for us upon the Cross, rose again, ascended into heaven, and from thence shall come again at the end of the world to judge the living and the dead, to give Paradise for ever to the good and hell to the wicked; moreover, from the same motive I believe all that the same holy Church believes and teaches.   -Raccolta

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

  1. Why did Jesus entrust the faith to the apostles?

  2. What are some other ways we recreate God in our image?

  3.  Consider the quote from Pope St. Leo. Can you give examples from scripture where infidelity to God or idolatry are referred to as adultery? How does this affect your outlook on sin?

  4. Pope St. Leo describes the Church as a Virgin. Mary is described as "Virgo Ecclesia facta," Virgin made Church. How does Mary give us example of how to be faithful to the Church and to Christ?

  5. Besides preaching the Truth, what other powers or traits did Christ give His Church?

  6. What are some other ways we need the Church? Why else can’t we go to God on our own?

  7. What are some resources you use or know of to find out what the Church teaches about challenging scripture passages or common moral questions?

  8. How can we reconcile the fact that the Church is without error yet throughout Church history, there have always been Church members who are in error, who even at times preach heresy?

  9. Can you think of ways in which you find fault in others but are unconverted yourself?

 

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 433: Enter Through the Narrow Gate: Lk 13:22-27

 

 Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, ‘Lord, will only a few be saved?’ He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, “Lord, open to us”, then in reply he will say to you, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” But he will say, “I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!” Lk 13:22-27

 

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate.” What does Jesus mean by this? Very simply he means that talk is cheap. We can call ourselves “Christian” all day long, but if our actions don’t match the Christian message, we can’t expect to get into heaven. Jesus uses this image of the narrow gate to describe this. He’ll allude to the same image again when he says, “It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle, than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” The “Narrow Gate” and the “Eye of the Needle” are the same thing.

 

Jerusalem was a fortified city on a hill. It was a city built to hold back invaders. There was only one way into Jerusalem and one way out- clearly, they didn’t care about fire codes back then. To get into Jerusalem, you had to go up a steep incline, and come through the narrow gate, nicknamed the eye of the needle by merchants, which a person or a mule with no pack, could walk through, but a camel, which was the standard, flatbed truck of merchants, had to be unloaded outside the gate, so the camel could then crawl through on its knees, then all the stuff the camel was carrying had to be dragged through the gate, and the camel reloaded on the other side. Big hassle. But this was a solid defense against cavalry attack, because a soldier on horseback could never fit through the narrow gate, and it was even a solid defense against infantry attack. Since only one soldier at a time would be able to fit through the gate, the city could be easily protected with very few defenders. So, Jesus is telling us the entrance into heaven is much like the narrow gate, the eye of the needle, that allowed entrance into Jerusalem. We can’t get in with stuff; we can’t get in with baggage.

 

 So, what stuff do you cling to that will keep you from entering heaven? Is it love of money, or material things? Is it ego or pride, always putting “me” first? Do you love the grudge you’re holding onto? Is it a lack of forgiveness? Is it lust, an unwillingness to discipline your flesh? All of these things are baggage, my brothers and sisters. All of these things will keep us from entering through the narrow gate.

 

C.S. Lewis wrote a wonderful short book called “The Great Divorce.” The premise of the story, is the souls in hell are given the opportunity to take a bus trip to heaven, and while there, each of them will be given the opportunity to stay if they can let go of whatever it is that kept them out of heaven in the first place. Some catch their opportunity and stay, others don’t. Some even start walking back to the bus- they prefer to go back to hell! One woman is there because her son died when he was a small boy, and she could never forgive God for it. She made the lives of her husband and daughter and everyone around her miserable because she couldn’t let go of her grief. And she’s there to find her son and bring him back to hell with her, because she felt that he belonged with her! And, an angel is trying to explain to her that if she would just once say, “not my son, but he’s God’s son. He belongs to God first.” She could go in to join him, AND her husband, AND her daughter, but she won’t do it.

 

This is why, my brothers and sisters, it’s so important we take time for prayer and self-reflection every day, because unholy things can hide deep inside us and we can get so used to them that we forget they’re even there. Take some time today to consider what baggage you’re clinging to and dump it, because you don’t want anything keeping you from entering through the narrow gate.

 

--Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint:

 

A brother renounced the world and gave his goods to the poor, but he kept back a little for his personal expenses. He went to see Abba Anthony. When he told him this, the old man said to him, 'If you want to be a monk, go into the village, buy some meat, cover your naked body with it and come here like that.' The brother did so, and the dogs and birds tore at his flesh. When he came back the old man asked him whether he had followed his advice. He showed him his wounded body, and Saint Anthony said, 'Those who renounce the world but want to keep something for themselves are torn in this way by the demons who make war on them. -Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Translated by Sr. Benedicta Ward

 

Prayer:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all I have and call my own.

You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me. -St Ignatius, Suscipe prayer

Questions for Reflection:

  1. In another place Jesus says, “I AM the Gate.” Reflect and share on how this expands the meaning of this section from Luke 13.

  2. Abba Anthony suggests that the possessions we cling to not only affect our entrance to heaven, but also cause us unnecessary travail on this earth. Can you think of any examples of this in your own life or another’s?’

  3. What material baggage do you carry right now that might prevent your entering heaven?

  4. What other sorts of non-material baggage might someone carry? Are you carrying any of these things?

  5. Pray the Suscipe prayer from above, offering up to God specifically what you reflected on in questions 4 and 5.

  6. Fr. Sisco asks us to take time every day for reflection. St. Ignatius of Loyola also recommends making an examination of conscience daily. How can a daily examination of conscience help one to become, and remain, un-burdened of “baggage”?

  7. Consider the woman from C.S. Lewis’ book who couldn’t forgive God. What advice would you give someone facing a similar trial?

 

--Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 434: Mary our Queen: A Reflection on Revelation 12:1

 

“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Revelation 12:1


The feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary was cut out of the calendar after Vatican II, and Saint John Paul II reinstituted it. Why do we celebrate this feast? Do we do this JUST to annoy our non-Catholic Christian brothers and sisters who already accuse us of placing far too much emphasis on Mary? No. There is a significant reason why we have this feast. We always emphasize how we’re the family of God, the family of God. We say it so often that it almost becomes a cliché.  God is our Father.  Mary is our mother.  Jesus is our brother.

But like the feast of Christ the King, which happens at the end of Ordinary Time, we have the feast of the Queenship of Mary, which happens around the middle of Ordinary Time, as a reminder that the family we belong to is no ordinary family. The family we belong to is royalty, a holy royalty, a divine royalty. And if we are members of that holy, royal family, we have a responsibility to be acting holy and royal as well.

I’m reluctant to say that we should act like royalty alone, because we look at the behavior of so many royal people throughout history, and they behaved despicably. That is certainly NOT the royalty we are called to imitate. We are called to imitate royalty in its purest form.  The Royals were supposed to lead by example.  They were supposed to protect the people, and they were supposed to see the needs of the poor, the widows, and the orphans.

And so we are supposed to lead by example, that our actions don’t contradict what we profess to believe at Mass. We’re supposed to protect people by knowing the Word of God and the teachings of the Church, and we are not to be afraid to speak out when the teachings of the Church or the Word of God are being violated. We’re supposed to take care of the poor in our charity. This is our holy royalty. This is what truly makes us noble.  This is what our feast today reminds us of.

Mary is in every way a noble Queen. Mary led by example.  We see this in her walk to Calvary with her son, and how she never curses her son’s executors, even though she KNOWS his condemnation is unjust.  She protected humanity in the Incarnation where Mary agreed to be the Mother of the Messiah, knowing that to be caught pregnant before marriage carried a death sentence in her day. She put herself at great, personal, risk for the sake of saving others. And Mary took care of the poor.  We see this in her cousin Elizabeth. When Mary learns that her aged cousin Elizabeth is pregnant, Mary makes a long and dangerous journey to the hill country to help her. Mary proved her nobility.  She earned her Queenship.

It’s entirely proper we acknowledge this, because when Solomon becomes King, the first thing he does is set up a throne beside him for his mother Bathsheba. In Hebrew culture, the Queen-Mother was always revered.

When I was a chaplain at Roger Williams University in Bristol, I became briefly acquainted with a Moslem Imam, who once said at an ecumenical Thanksgiving prayer service, “In Islam, it is customary to kiss your father once, but you kiss your mother three times; once because she gave birth to you, second because she nursed you, and third because she taught you your first lessons about God.”  I always liked that.  And even here we can apply the example of the Blessed Mother. With Christ’s gift on the cross, Mary became the mother of us all.  Holy Mother Church has given birth to us spiritually. Mary has nursed us. She has fed us on her example in scripture. And Mary has taught us our first lessons about God.  She says to us always, as she said to the servants at the Wedding of Cana, “Do whatever he tells you.”

She is indeed our noble Queen, and our Mother, and we should be grateful to have her. Blessed be God forever. -- Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint:

 

"Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that disturbs you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing. Do not let your countenance, your heart be disturbed. Do not fear this sickness of your uncle or any other sickness, nor anything that is sharp or hurtful. Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more?” -Our Lady to St. Juan Diego

 

Prayer:

 

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve, to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus. O clement, o loving, o sweet Virgin Mary!

 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. How has Mary shown her motherhood to you?

  2. How is Christ’s Kingship related to Mary’s Queenship?

  3. Reflect on other saints or even role-models in your own life who have exhibited qualities of holy royalty as described by Fr. Sisco and share how this has influenced you.

  4. How can we, spiritually speaking, “kiss” our heavenly Mother three times?

  5. In quote from Our Lady to St. Juan Diego and the prayer, Mary is described as “the source of [our] joy,” “our life, our sweetness, and our hope.” How else might you describe Mary?

  6. Father Sisco mentions Mary leading by example using three examples from scripture: the Annunciation, the Visitation, the wedding at Cana, and Mary at Calvary. All of these are also mysteries of the Rosary. Reflect on the other Mysteries of the Rosary and share what we can learn from Mary’s example.

  7. How can you lead others by example?

  8. How do you best relate to Mary—queen, sister, mother, guide, intercessor? Share how you relate to her and why this relationship means most to you. 

---Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 435: The Greatest Commandment: A Reflection on Matthew 22: 34-38

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.  One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.”” MT 22:34-38 NIV

Now we hear this passage of scripture all the time, and it’s something we kind of glaze over. “Yeah, yeah, I know, love God above all other things,” but is that all this passage means?

 

Love God with all your heart.  How do I love God with all my heart?  To love someone with your heart is to imitate him or her. So how do I come to imitate God?  We imitate God through prayer. Through prayer I open my heart to God, I give him my deepest desires, and then I allow him to do whatever he wants with all of that. Through prayer, I invite God to mold me and shape me after his image and likeness, which is basically growing in virtue.  God IS virtue.  God is the living embodiment of virtue.  So, whenever I grow in virtue, when I grow in the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, I more closely resemble God.

 

Love the Lord with all your soul.  How do you love something with your soul? “Heart and mind I kind of understand, but soul is a bit on the abstract side.” What IS your soul?  Your soul is your life spark.  Your soul is what makes you animate. What do we call a body without a soul?  A corpse!  So, loving the Lord with all our soul means loving the Lord with all our life. That means we have to be loving with our actions.  We have to do something, and that something is acts of charity.  Charity is how we love God with our soul. Charity is taking the love we have in our hearts and expressing that in a tangible action.

 

And love God with all your mind.  How do we love with our mind?  This one is actually the easiest to understand. You remember what it was like when you fell in love with someone, and you wanted to find out everything about him or her?  When I was in college, I fell in love with a young lady and so I asked mutual friends, “What dorm does she live in?”  And from then on, I’d always manage to time it that I was walking by her dorm just as she was coming out for the class that we both had together.  “Hey how you doing?  Aren’t we in the same class together in the science building?” I’d say.

 

She was in the college choir, so I became intensely interested in choir.  She was on the debate team, so I became intensely interested in the debate team. You know how this works!  When we’re in love with someone, we want to know everything about him or her, and we want to like the things they like to make ourselves more appealing to them. Now the good news is that God is already in love with us so we don’t have to impress him. So how do we love God with our minds?  By meditating on God and godly things, reading about God, pondering about God, learning about God. We’re so lucky now to have Relevant Radio so we can raise our minds to God while we’re driving home from work.

 

This is how we love God completely.  This is how we love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

 

Quote from a Saint:

 

“There are many who believe themselves to be in a state of love who are actually in a state of hatred. And there are many who believe they possess God while in reality they love the flesh, the world, and the devil. Hence some love God so that he will protect them from sickness, bodily ailments, and temporal dangers. Such persons even love themselves in such a disorderly way that they treat their bodies as though they were souls and gods.” -Blessed Angela of Foligno, Instructions, Classics of Western Spirituality

 

Prayer:

 

“Lord, give me, the companion of Your throne, that it may ever be with me and labor with me, so that I may know what is acceptable to you, Lord, God. Who is there that can know Your meaning unless You give wisdom and send your Holy Spirit from on high?

 

Mary, Mother of fair love and fear and knowledge and holy hope, through your faithful intercession, many though otherwise of modest talent, have made marvelous progress in learning and holiness. I choose you as the guardian and patron of my studies. By your heart full of maternal love, and, above all, by that Eternal Wisdom which condescended to take our flesh from you and beyond all the saints made you shine with heavenly light, I humbly ask you to obtain for me, through your intercession, the grace of the Holy Spirit. May it enable me to grasp with my mind, retain in my memory, and express by my words and my life, all that shall give honor to you and your Son and be blessedly conducive to my eternal salvation. Amen.

 

Merciful God, grant me, I beg of You, ardently to desire, prudently to study, truly to understand, and perfectly to fulfill those things that are pleasing to You, for the praise and glory of Your name. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.” ~St. Thomas Aquinas, Prayer for Wisdom and Knowledge,

 

Questions:

  1. The Pharisees’ intention in questioning Jesus was to test him. How do you think they responded to Jesus’ answer?

  2. What are you presently doing to love God with your whole heart? Is your current daily routine for prayer sufficient? Do you think that loving someone with your whole heart means imitating him or her? Share the basis for your answer.

  3. What are you presently doing to express your love for God through acts of charity? Can an act of charity be done for God without being also for our neighbor’s good?

  4. What are you presently doing to grow in love for God with your whole mind? How are you striving to know Him more?

  5. Consider the quote from Blessed Angela of Foligno. How might we disguise love of the world, the flesh and the devil as love of God? Is there anything you love which may be hindering your love for God? How can we change ourselves to loving God in truth?

  6. The prayer from St. Thomas Aquinas highlights the fact that the Holy Spirit helps us to grow in knowledge and love of God. How does Fr. Sisco tell us that the Holy Spirit helps us? How else can the Holy Spirit help you grow in knowledge and love of God?

--Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 436: Don’t Glean Your Wheatfield: Ruth 2:8-12

 

“Boaz then spoke to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Do not go to glean in anyone else’s field; you are not to leave here. Stay here with my young women. Watch to see which field is to be harvested, and follow them. Have I not commanded the young men to do you no harm? When you are thirsty, go and drink from the vessels the young people have filled.” Casting herself prostrate upon the ground, she said to him, “Why should I, a foreigner, be favored with your attention?”  Boaz answered her: “I have had a complete account of what you have done for your mother-in-law after your husband’s death; you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom previously you did not know. May the LORD reward what you have done! May you receive a full reward from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” Ruth 2:8-12 NAB

 

In the Law of Moses, people who owned land had a duty to the poor. It said in the Law and was reiterated by the prophet Amos, that no one should glean their wheat field twice.  What does that mean? In this time of history, at harvest, you sent reapers into your field to cut down the wheat. The reapers wielded a sickle, a long, curved blade to do that. When we see images of the Angel of Death, the Grim Reaper, he’s often depicted holding a sickle.  (That type of sickle with the long handle was developed later in history.)

 

During this period in scripture, a sickle just looked like a long, curved, knife. But the problem was, that with this low-tech method of harvesting, the reapers never got all the wheat on the first pass. In order to get the rest of the wheat, the reapers had to go through the field a 2nd time.  THAT was forbidden by the Law of Moses.  What was left standing after the reapers made their first pass, was supposed to be left for the poor, the widows, and the orphans, so they could go into the wheat field and gather food for themselves.  That was the duty that landowners had toward the poor.

 

So, Ruth is getting ready to go with the other widows and orphans to gather wheat for her and her mother in law, Naomi, and Boaz says to her, “at the harvest tomorrow don’t go to anyone else’s wheat field but mine.  I’ve told all the workers to leave you alone.” Well why would anyone bother her?  Because Ruth isn’t a Jew.  She’s Moabite. She’s a pagan.  She’s not part of the covenant, and these rules of charity apply ONLY to other Jews, not Gentiles, so the others might give Ruth a hard time. But Boaz said he ordered his workers to defend Ruth if the others start harassing her. And Ruth asks him, “Why are you being so nice to me?” And Boaz responds it’s because he was so impressed with Ruth for not abandoning her mother in law, Naomi. Instead of looking out for herself, like her sister in law Oprah did, Ruth stayed with Naomi after her husband died, to take care of her, and suffer the same fate as her.

 

Boaz is so impressed by Ruth’s great love and charity toward her mother in law that he himself falls in love with her, and marries her, and they end up having a son they named Obed, who would become the father of Jesse, who would be the father of King David.  From the line of King David came Jesus.

 

Ruth, a pagan, Moabite woman, becomes part of Jesus’ family tree, because of her love. Ruth went out of her way to be charitable to Naomi, and God rewarded her for it. It got her a new husband, a new family, and a means for her to always be taken care of. Boaz went out of HIS way to be charitable to Ruth, and God rewarded him for it. God honored Boaz by making sure that his name would always be attached to the Messiah. And THAT’S the moral of the story; go out of your way to be charitable to others. Look for opportunities to practice charity, and God will reward you, too.

 

I saw a modern version of gleaning the wheat field on Facebook.  I can’t remember what country it was, but it was in Scandinavia; they planted apple trees all along the public streets, so poor people could pick the apples to eat in the fall. Now that isn’t going to solve the poverty problem, OR the hunger problem, but it’s something.  It’s a step.  If nothing else, it sends a visible message to citizens to always be mindful of the poor.

 

Don’t glean your wheat field twice.  Plant an apple tree.  Look for opportunities to make the lives of others around you just a little bit better. Can you image if everyone did this simple little thing? What a world we would live in!  --Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint:

“If you ever wish to associate with someone, make sure that you do not give your attention to those who enjoy health and wealth and fame as the world sees it, but take care of those in affliction, in critical circumstances, who are utterly deserted and enjoy no consolation. Put a high value on associating with these, for from them you shall receive much profit, and you will do all for the glory of God. God himself has said: ‘I am the father of orphans and the protector of widows’” (Psalm 67:6).  ~St. John Chrysostom
 

Prayer:

“O MARY, who, crowned with stars, hast for a footstool under thy feet the moon, and for thy throne the wings of angels; turn thy eyes upon this valley of sorrows, and listen to the voice of one who puts his hope and refuge in thee… Thou hast tried the needs of this exile, and therefore knowest how bitterly flow the days of those who live in sorrow… Each one of them has a sorrow which tries him, a grief which overwhelms, a wound which torments. And all have recourse to thee, as to a port of safety, to a fount of complete refreshment. When the waves lash themselves into fury, the wayfarer turns to thee and prays for calm. To thee has recourse the orphan who, like a flower in the wilderness, lies exposed to the whirlwind of life. To thee pray the poor who want their daily bread; and not one of them remains without help and consolation.  –Raccolta, 211, abridged

Questions for Reflection:

 

  1. What are some ways to keep in mind the poor in your neighborhood?

  2. Is there any modern practice that you could compare to gleaning one’s own wheat field? How could you change that practice to be more considerate of the poor?

  3. Have you ever experienced God rewarding you for an act of charity which you went out of your way to do? Please share your story.

  4. In a way, we are all poor. How have Our Lord and Our Lady provided for you in time of need?

  5. What value do you place on time you spend with those in need? Is it a dreaded chore? A great joy? Something in between?

  6. What are some other examples in Scripture of kindness to the poor? How do these examples compare to the story in the Book of Ruth?

  7. Do you know anyone who lived out a similar “Ruth” story, going with someone else to help them and support them when the one accompanying the needy person may have done better for himself or herself had he or she stayed back? How did this turn out?

  8. Discuss the prayer from the Raccolta verse by verse. What parallels do you see in today’s society?

  9. Discuss the quote from St. John Chrysostom. Where might you find those in utter need? Do you have to go to slum or jails to find them? Where are the hidden needy? Might some be in your home, your workplace, your parish? How will you know the\m?

  10. What special personal qualities are needed in dealing with the destitute and needy so as not to appear compromising to or superior to them? How did Boaz show these qualities in dealing with Ruth and Naomi?

 

--Erin Wells and Madeline Nugent, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 437: Trust in God: Reflection on Lk 8:4-8

 

“When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to him, he spoke in a parable.  “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.” After saying this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”” Luke 8:4-8 NAB

 

In this Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the sower. And we understand that the sower is God, the seed is his Word of truth, and the various different kinds of soil are the different kinds of people that hear the Word. Some seed falls on the path and the birds eat it.  Who are they?  People who hear the word of God and don’t believe it. Some seed falls on the rocky soil.  Who are they?  People who hear and accept the word of God, but don’t invest themselves in it, don’t let it change their lives, so their relationship with Christ doesn’t last. Some seed falls among the thorns.  Who are they?  People who initially hear the word, but their love for money and material things, supersedes their love for God.  All of these people have one, common, denominator; they lack faith.

 

They don’t trust God. The seed that falls on the path: atheists, agnostics.  They just refuse to believe. The rocky soil: lukewarm Catholics, Sunday Christians, who do their duty, but never let themselves be challenged to do better. They say, ‘I don’t want to get TOO holy!  I don’t want to be a Jesus freak!  I want to do just enough to get me into heaven, but I don’t want to sacrifice the sins I love.’  Why not? If sin separates us from God, why would you NOT want to give it up? ‘Just in case God ISN’T there.  Just in case Jesus WAS only a nut case with delusions of grandeur.  I want to make sure I still have some fun in this life.’  They don’t trust; they lack faith;  they have no claim on eternal life.  The thorns: people who don’t trust God because they only trust their own wealth and power.  All of these people have no trust therefore they have no faith.

 

So, how do we till our soil to make sure our soil is good soil?  Prayer, fasting, and charity. Prayer conditions us to surrender our will to God’s will.  Prayer fosters trust in God. Fasting.  The purpose of fasting is to experience hunger, so we can increase our hunger for God.  Fasting makes sin unpalatable to us. Charity increases our love for God, by expressing our love in a tangible way for others. Prayer requires a sacrifice of time.  Fasting requires a sacrifice of the flesh. Charity requires a sacrifice of money.  All sacrifices require trust. All sacrifices increase faith.  My brothers and sisters I pray today that we learn to rely on the Lord for everything.

-Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a saint:

 

“The Greek preparatory culture, therefore, with philosophy itself, is shown to have come down from God to men, not with a definite direction but in the way in which showers fall down on the good land, and on the dunghill, and on the houses. And similarly both the grass and the wheat sprout; and the figs and any other reckless trees grow on sepulchers. And things that grow, appear as a type of truths. For they enjoy the same influence of the rain. But they have not the same grace as those which spring up in rich soil, inasmuch as they are withered or plucked up. And here we are aided by the parable of the sower, which the Lord interpreted. For the husbandman of the soil which is among men is one; He who from the beginning, from the foundation of the world, sowed nutritious seeds; He who in each age rained down the Lord, the Word. But the times and places which received [such gifts], created the differences which exist… such conclusions of human reasonings, as men have cut away and falsified, I would never call divine. And now we must look also at this, that if ever those who know not how to do well, live well; for they have lighted on well-doing. Some, too, have aimed well at the word of truth through understanding. “But Abraham was not justified by works, but by faith.” It is therefore of no advantage to them after the end of life, even if they do good works now, if they have not faith. … For the teaching of piety is a gift, but faith is grace. “For by doing the will of God we know the will of God.””  -Writings of St. Clement of Alexandria

 

Prayer:

 

Lord, I believe: I wish to believe in Thee. Lord, let my faith be full and unreserved,
and let it penetrate my thought, my way of judging Divine things and human things. Lord, let my faith be joyful and give peace and gladness to my spirit, and dispose it for prayer with God and conversation with men, so that the inner bliss of its fortunate possession may shine forth in sacred and secular conversation. Lord, let my faith be humble and not presume to be based on the experience of my thought and of my feeling; but let it surrender to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, and not have any better guarantee than in docility to Tradition and to the authority of the magisterium of the Holy Church. Amen. (from Catholic.org)

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

  1. St. Clement of Alexandria says that “by doing the will of God we know the will of God.” How is Fr. Sisco’s recommendation to pray, fast, and do works of charity an example of this?

  2. How else can sacrifice increase faith?

  3. How is it that doing good works without faith is of “no advantage” (St. Clement)?

  4. Fr. Sisco gives several arguments for not wanting to become holy. Do any of these resonate with you? How can you fight against them?

  5. St. Clement of Alexandria describes how secular culture can reflect God’s truth, though in an inferior way to the Faith. How does our culture reflect God’s truth? In what ways does it lack? How can our Faith build on our culture for the glory of God?

  6. Fr. Sisco describes our attitude of faith as the rich soil, while St. Clement describes The Faith as the rich soil. How do these interpretations relate to one another?

  7. How is trust related to faith? Do you have any personal experience of this you want to share?    -- Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 438: He Made him Obstinate: Reflection on Ex11:10-12:14

 

“Thus, although Moses and Aaron performed these various wonders in Pharaoh’s presence, the Lord made Pharaoh obstinate, and he would not let the Israelites leave his land.

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, ‘This month shall stand at the head of your calendar… tell the whole community of Israel: on the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb…For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every first born of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgement on all the gods of Egypt- I the Lord! But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you.” From Ex 11:10-12:14 NAB, abridged

 

“Although Moses and Aaron preformed various wonders in Pharaoh’s presence, the Lord made Pharaoh’s heart obstinate…” The LORD made Pharaoh’s heart obstinate. Even when Moses begins this journey of faith, the Lord says to him, “I will work many signs through you, but I will make Pharaoh so obstinate, he will not heed your word.” There it is again. “I, (the Lord), will make Pharaoh so obstinate…”

 

“Father,” you may say, “THIS can’t be right! God set Pharaoh up to fail! What about free will?!” That is a completely valid question, and it deserves an answer. The answer is that Pharaoh set himself up to fail; God only set up the punishment for Pharaoh’s failure. Pharaoh set himself up to fail years before the Exodus takes place when he ordered all the Hebrew boys to be killed. Pharaoh murdered that which was sacred to God. That was Pharaoh’s failure. And that failure demanded a response from God. So, Moses, who survived that execution, becomes the instrument of God’s retribution. You cannot desecrate that which is sacred to God and expect it to go unpunished, so Moses and Aaron keep working signs which Pharaoh rejects, culminating at this event, for which the Lord instructs the people for the Passover meal.

 

Why this ritual? So that the angel of death will pass over the houses of the Israelites but enter the house of every Egyptian and strike dead the first-born male child of every house. Then Pharaoh finally releases the Jews from slavery. And still the Lord says to Moses, “But I will make Pharaoh’s heart so obstinate he will pursue you into the desert.” And so he does. Then what happens? The rest of the sons of Egypt end up getting drowned in the Red Sea. How did Pharaoh murder the Jewish boys? By drowning them in the Nile River.

 

If you research the scriptures you will find that the two sins that never go unanswered are ignoring God, and the taking of innocent life. Those two sins always provoke a response from God, even if that response is sometimes delayed. When does the Lord finally allow Israel to be conquered by a pagan empire? When the people leave worship of the Lord to worship Moloch who demanded infant sacrifice. This happens throughout history as well. Abraham Lincoln, in the speech he made right before his assassination, said he believed the Civil War was God’s just punishment on the United States for endorsing the evil of slavery for so long. I personally believe Hitler had no chance of winning World War II because of the Holocaust. Systematically executing whole families? An entire people? Of course, God wouldn’t let that go unanswered!

 

And my brothers and sisters this is why I preach so passionately against abortion. I don’t want to stifle the voices of women, but someone has to speak up for the child! Politicians and celebrities like Madonna are saying publicly, “Jesus would defend a woman’s right to have an abortion,” and I think, just like Pharaoh, their hearts have been made obstinate. And the blood of these children will have to be answered for someday.

 

This is why I call out for justice to be done for illegal immigrants on our southern border.  Yes, I know they’re here illegally. Yes, we have the right to protect our sovereignty. But these people are still our brothers and sisters in Christ and deserve to be treated humanely and mercifully. I’m not saying let them walk into the country. But while they are detained, while we figure out what to do with them, they should be provided the basics needs of human survival--food, water, shelter, clothes, sanitation, and medical attention. No one, illegal or not, should be allowed to live in squalor. We can do better than that. Pray for our nation, that hearts and minds may be changed. Fast and do little acts of penance to atone for sins already committed against the innocent. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint:

“There are two victims in every abortion: a dead baby and a dead conscience.” – St. Mother Teresa

 

Prayer:

O Lord, make my heart open, open to your commandments, open to your love. Remove from me any obstinance that keeps me from following you and instead make my will firmly fixed on serving you. Since I am sealed in the Blood of the Lamb, let your judgement pass over me and let your life flow through me that I may be an instrument of your love in a world dead in sin.

-Erin Wells

 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. How does sin harden one’s heart? How can it kill our conscience?

  2. Do you believe that our society is already answering for the crime of abortion? How?

  3. Read the entire passage from Exodus (11:10-12:14). Reflect on the significance of the Passover meal for Christians.

  4. Fr. Sisco states that there are two sins which God does not let go unpunished. Give examples of each.

  5. Is there a remedy for an obstinate heart? How can you help someone who is hard of heart regarding certain teachings of the Church or even about the existence of God?

  6. Why do you think the signs performed by Moses and Aaron did not convince Pharaoh of God’s holiness?

  7. What are some other examples in scripture of God’s vengeance on the taking of innocent life? -Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 439: Building Spiritual Muscles: Eph 4:11-13

 

“And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.” Eph 4:11-13 NAB

 

Something very significant is said in these words of Paul to the Ephesians. First of all, not everyone has the same role. Apostles: today we’d call them Bishops. Prophets: today we’d call them mystics, visionaries. Evangelists: today we’d call them preachers. Pastors: priests. And teachers: today we’d call them theologians. Everyone has a different role, and sometimes the roles overlap. Sometimes the gifts overlap, but what are the gifts for? “…to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.” Who are the holy ones? YOU!

 

All of these roles serve the purpose of building up YOU so you can in turn build up the body of Christ. So now the question becomes, “Are you using the gifts of all these different roles to build yourself up?”

 

I know you wouldn’t think it to look at me, but I used to lift weights. And when you’re lifting weights you rotate your workouts by muscle groups. So, one day you do upper body; chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders, and upper back. The next day you do lower body; abs, legs, glutes, and lower back, because you want to train ALL your muscle groups. You want your workout to be balanced. As is so often the case, what’s true for your body, is also true for your soul. If you want to be spiritually strong, you have to utilize the gift each of these groups offers. 

 

OK, so what do the Bishops offer? Sound moral teaching. Now I know that isn’t always the case, so you do need to discern. But there are many good Bishops out there with lots of good, sound advice. Prophets; mystics. Read the writings and lives of Saints and mystics who have been approved by the Church because they can be incredibly uplifting. They can be a moral booster, because the true mystic always has a message of hope, no matter how difficult the road became.

 

Evangelists, preachers. What do they offer? Inspiration. Challenge. Guidance. A good preacher takes the truths of scripture and of the faith and applies them to modern day situations, so YOU, the holy ones, can navigate successfully through this life. With that said, not every priest is automatically a good preacher. Preaching isn’t something that can really be taught. It’s a gift. If your priest isn’t a good preacher that doesn’t mean he has nothing of value to offer. He may be gifted in youth ministry or ministry to the sick, or parish administration. Don’t judge a priest based on his preaching ability. But if your priest ISN’T a good preacher, you have to fill that void in another way; EWTN, Relevant Radio, Bishop Sheen. Look around. 

 

Pastors; priests. Their primary role is to supply you with sacramental Grace. That’s it. Some people stop going to church because they don’t like their pastor. They don’t like his style or personality or preaching or business decisions. Non sequitur. All that stuff is irrelevant. If he supplies you with sacramental Grace, he’s doing his job. Now if he’s THAT upsetting to you, change parishes, but never stop going to church.

 

And finally, teachers; theologians. Theologians clarify and expound upon what the Church has already presented as true, and they also speculate and theorize on things that MIGHT be true.

Theologians like Dr. Scott Hahn, Dr. Peter Kreft, Father William May, Father John Hardon; you read these guys and they just add such depth and insights into the faith that you never conceived of before. You know who’s a really gifted contemporary theologian? Pope Benedict. Now when I was in seminary, John Paul II was Pope, and so we had to read every encyclical and document the guy wrote, and don’t get me wrong, I love John Paul, and he was a brilliant theologian, but he’s NOT an easy read. Sometimes I’d have to read one of his paragraphs several times to get what he meant. Pope Benedict had the gift of taking very complex theological truths and putting them into very simple, everyday language. Read his books. He’s brilliant. I don’t think the world appreciated what a gift he was.

 

So, there you have it my brothers and sisters. If you want to be spiritually strong, if you want to be able to build up the body of Christ, these are all the muscle groups you need to work out.

-Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

“To see a priest making his meditation before Mass does more for an altar boy’s vocation than a thousand pieces of inspirational literature.” - Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen

 

Prayer

“Gracious and loving God, we thank you for the gift of our priests. Through them, we experience your presence in the sacraments. Help our priests to be strong in their vocation. Set their souls on fire with love for your people. Grant them the wisdom, understanding, and strength they need to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Inspire them with the vision of your Kingdom. Give them the words they need to spread the Gospel. Allow them to experience joy in their ministry. Help them to become instruments of your divine grace. We ask this through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns as our Eternal Priest. Amen.” - USCCB, Prayer for Priests

 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Have you considered before how the gifts of the apostles, teachers, pastors etc. are for your good? Have you thanked God for the gifts He has given them?

  2. Have you been grateful to your pastor for being an instrument of God’s grace to you? How can you express your gratitude?

  3. Ven. Archbishop Sheen was an outstanding preacher, but this quote from him highlights the importance of a much more simple form of witness to the Gospel. Do you give witness by your prayer? Has anyone in your life been a witness of prayer to you?

  4. How would you convince someone who is irritated with his or her pastor to continue going to church?

  5. Is there a particular spiritual muscle group that you tend to work out more than the others? How can you be more balanced in your “work out”?

  6. Share with the group what spiritual resources you find most helpful.

  7. What gifts have you been given that you can use for the building up of the Body of Christ? -Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 440: Keep Holy the Sabbath: Amos 8:4-7

 

“Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land: “When will the new moon be over,” you ask, “that we may sell our grain, And the sabbath, that we may open the grain-bins? We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the destitute for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals; even the worthless grain we will sell!” The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Never will I forget a thing they have done!”” Amos 8:4-7, NAB

 

What could these words written twenty-five hundred years ago possibly have to with us today? Generally speaking, this passage is talking about the dangers of greed and materialism, but notice some of the details. You ask, “When will the new moon be over so we may sell of grain, and the Sabbath that we may display our wheat?” The New Moon and the Sabbath were religious feasts. When can we get this religious stuff out of the way so we can do business and make money?

 

Greed and materialism are usually the doorway into idolatry. Greed and materialism are usually where idolatry begins. So, where do greed and materialism begin? With a disregard for the sacred. When faith becomes a ritualistic obligation, and not a means to establish a relationship with God, that’s always where the problems begin.

 

Isn’t that what’s slowly been happening in our society the past few decades? I remember growing up in Westerly in the early 70’s, NOTHING was open on a Sunday. The movie theater in town was open in the afternoon, and a few diners were open in the morning because people used to go for breakfast after Church, but that was it. Now, Sunday is just another work day. And I get people coming to confession telling me they miss Mass because they have to work all weekend. Now when I pry with some people I find that’s not the case, and they CAN get to Church. But others legitimately CAN’T get to Church because of their jobs, and that’s so sad.

 

I remember as a teenager working as a state clerk at Burlingame State Park, one of my fellow clerks, who was an evangelical Christian, refused to work first shift on Sunday morning because that’s when she and her family went to Church and that was non-negotiable. And the park manager leaned on her and said, “Well, I don’t know if we’ll be able to keep you in a job.”

And she answered him, “If you want to fire me, fire me, but Sunday morning is when I 

go to church with my husband and my kids, and that’s more important to me than this job. I’ll work 2nd shift on Sunday, but not first.”

 

The park manager backed down. She got Sunday mornings off. Then of course, I, being the typical wise guy teenager said, “You should switch to Catholic; then you can go to Church on Saturday night.”

 

And she looked at me and said, “Sunday is the Lord’s day, and I will not put anything above God.” That made an impression on me! I can remember feeling this great respect and admiration for her. I wonder how many people today would make that kind of a stand? Our society, as a whole, has reduced God to ritualistic obligation. Our society, as a whole disregards, the sacred. We need to resist that. – Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

"Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you - for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart...don't listen to the demon, laugh at him, and go without fear to receive the Jesus of peace and love...Receive Communion often, very often...there you have the sole remedy, if you want to be cured. Jesus has not put this attraction in your heart for nothing..."- St. Therese of Lisieux

 

Prayer

 

“Almighty and everlasting God, behold I come to the Sacrament of Thine only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: I come as one infirm to the physician of life, as one unclean to the fountain of mercy, as one blind to the light of everlasting brightness, as one poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth. Therefore I implore the abundance of Thy measureless bounty that Thou wouldst vouchsafe to heal my infirmity, wash my uncleanness, enlighten my blindness, enrich my poverty and clothe my nakedness, that I may receive the Bread of Angels, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, with such reverence and humility, with such sorrow and devotion, with such purity and faith, with such purpose and intention as may be profitable to my soul’s salvation. Grant unto me, I pray, the grace of receiving not only the Sacrament of our Lord’s Body and Blood, but also the grace and power of the Sacrament. O most gracious God, grant me so to receive the Body of Thine only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, which He took from the Virgin Mary, as to merit to be incorporated into His mystical Body, and to be numbered amongst His members. O most loving Father, give me grace to behold forever Thy beloved Son with His face at last unveiled, whom I now purpose to receive under the sacramental veil here below. Amen.” -Prayer before Communion by St. Thomas Aquinas

 

Questions for Reflection

  1. How do you observe the Lord’s day? Are your practices truly fitting for the Lord’s day?

  2. How have you witnessed to others about the importance of the Sunday obligation? OR How have others witnessed to you? How can you be a better witness?

  3. The focal point of Sunday is the Mass, where we receive the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Eucharist. Consider the quote from St. Therese. To truly keep the Lord’s day, how should we approach the Mass?

  4. The observance of Sunday prefigures Eternal rest with God in heaven. How does the prayer by St. Thomas Aquinas reflect that? 

  5. What is the effect of the neglect of Sundays on today’s culture? 

  6. In the Gospels, Jesus cures on the Sabbath and shows us that not all work is prohibited on the Sabbath. How can we balance these two teachings? 

  7. How does “keeping Holy the Lord’s Day” affect the rest of the week?

  8. Give some examples of how greed and materialism turn into idolatry. How can we avoid this from happening in our own lives?

  9. Fr. Sisco says that our faith needs to be based on relationship rather than “ritualistic obligation.” How do the quote from St. Therese and St. Thomas Aquinas describe this relationship?

-Erin Wells

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