Weeks 441-450

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 451: All Empires Fall, Except One: Reflection on Daniel 5

“King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles, with whom he drank.

Under the influence of the wine, he ordered the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar, his father, had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, to be brought in so that the king, his nobles, his consorts, and his concubines might drink from them...Suddenly, opposite the lampstand, the fingers of a human hand appeared, writing on the plaster of the wall in the king’s palace. When the king saw the hand that wrote, his face became pale; his thoughts terrified him, his hip joints shook, and his knees knocked.

Then Daniel was brought into the presence of the king. The king asked him, “Are you the Daniel, one of the Jewish exiles, whom my father, the king, brought from Judah? I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you, that you have shown brilliant insight and extraordinary wisdom… But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems; now, if you are able to read the writing and tell me what it means, you shall be clothed in purple, wear a chain of gold around your neck, and be third in governing the kingdom.”

“This is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, TEKEL, and PERES…” That very night Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was slain.” Dn 5:1-2, 5-6, 13-16, 30

During the diaspora, the Babylonians come to respect the Jews, and this god they worship, because they keep witnessing his power. And these stories keep spreading, so when Babylon falls to Persia, which is what happens next in this story, a power message came to Belshazzar. Belshazzar foolishly desecrates the sacred vessels brought back from the temple in Jerusalem, and so a ghostly hand writes these words on the wall, foretelling Babylon’s downfall:

MENE: God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to them. All empires fall, all nations eventually end, even the United States. Someday this country will cease to be. Before that, another nation will replace this one as the world’s superpower. Don’t invest yourself in nations and politics. Invest yourselves in God.

TEKEL: you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. We have all been found wanting because of sin. So use the Grace of the sacraments to minimize the effects of sin in your lives, because you don’t want your exile to continue after you die.

PERES: your kingdom has been divided. We are all divided between what we want, and what we know God wants from us. Jesus said a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. If your heart is divided between God and the world, you will not last. Eventually the world will win. The secret to peace in this life, and eternal joy in the next, is to stop this tug of war we constantly have with God and be submissive to his will. That means going against our fallen nature and learning to be humble.

The book of the prophet Daniel describes another vision: King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a statue with the gold head, silver chest, bronze belly, iron legs and clay feet, a vision that foretells the succession of empires. The beast, like the lion with the eagle’s wings, is Babylon because of its majesty. The bear is Persia because of its strength. The leopard is Greece because of its speed. And this indescribable iron beast that just destroys everything in its path is Rome. Earthly empires will rise and fall. This is the way of things. The Kingdom of God will endure forever. The Church is the earthly extension of the Kingdom of God. We are the Colonial outpost of God’s empire. Being on the frontier, life is going to be especially challenging for us, but our homeland is always secure. Use the Church to always be in God’s presence. Then you will have peace with whatever the empires of the world are doing. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint

“A nation always gets the kind of politicians it deserves. If a time ever comes when the religious Jews, Protestants and Catholics have to suffer under a totalitarian state, which would deny them the right to worship God according to the lights of their conscience, it will be because for years they thought it made no difference what kind of people represented them in Congress, and because they abandoned the spiritual in the realm of the temporal.” - Ven. Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Prayer

God of power and might, wisdom and justice, through you authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed. Assist with your spirit of counsel and fortitude the President and other government leaders of these United States. May they always seek the ways of righteousness, justice and mercy. Grant that they may be enabled by your powerful protection to lead our country with honesty and integrity. We ask this through Christ our Lord. – from Catholic.org

Questions for reflection

  1. Father Sisco says that if the kingdom of our heart is divided the world will eventually win. Do you agree or disagree? What is necessary to prevent the world from winning our hearts?

  2. What is especially challenging about living in exile from our homeland?

  3. How can knowing that “our homeland is always secure” help us in our earthly exile?

  4. Consider the quote from Ven. Fulton Sheen.

    1. What can we do to prevent a totalitarian state?

    2. How is our society abandoning the “spiritual in the realm of the temporal”? How can we combat this?

  5. How is the Church, the “earthly extension of the Kingdom of God,” connected to the Kingdom of God in heaven and in purgatory?

  6. Consider the prayer. Is our government currently leading us “with honesty and integrity”?

  7. How might we help our government to led with honesty and integrity?

  8. Discuss Ven. Archbishop’s Sheen’s words with regard to the following statement “Keep your religion out of politics.

  9. Do you pray for our government? For world governments? For our Church leadership? If you are not doing this, should you begin? How might you start? Why is prayer for government important?

  10. Why do you think God chose to write on the wall for King Belshazzar? Could He have gotten the message across in another way? Which way was more effective
     

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 452: Afflict the Comfortable: Reflection on 1 Mc 2:38-48

 

So the officers and soldiers attacked them on the Sabbath, and they died with their wives, their children and their cattle, to the number of a thousand persons.

 

When Mattathias and his friends heard of it, they mourned deeply for them. “If we all do as our kinsmen have done,” they said to one another, “and do not fight against the Gentiles for our lives and our traditions, they will soon destroy us from the earth.” On that day they came to this decision: “Let us fight against anyone who attacks us on the sabbath, so that we may not all die as our kinsmen died in the hiding places.”

 

They then were joined by a group of Hasideans, valiant Israelites, all of them devout followers of the law. And all those who were fleeing from the disaster joined them and supported them. They gathered an army and struck down sinners in their anger and lawbreakers in their wrath, and the survivors fled to the Gentiles for safety. Mattathias and his friends went about and tore down the pagan altars; they also forcibly circumcised any uncircumcised boys whom they found in the territory of Israel. They put to flight the arrogant, and the work prospered in their hands. They saved the law from the hands of the Gentiles and of the kings and did not let the sinner triumph.” 1 Mc 2:38-48 NAB

 

Here the Maccabean revolt begins. Prior to this the Greeks were trying to bribe, threaten, and torture the Jews into submitting to forsaking the covenant and worshipping the Greek gods. One important thing to note is that the majority of Jews acquiesce to the Greeks. MOST of the Jews do what the Greeks want and abandon the covenant. But it’s that stubborn minority that refuses to yield, and no bribery or torture can sway them. It was the stubborn minority, the minority that held fast to their faith, who started a revolution, which would liberate their country from oppression, at least for a while. That’s the way it has always been in salvation history; the Lord works through a pious minority to lead the majority back to him.

 

We look around at our country and the majority of Catholics, the majority of Christians in general, have acquiesced to the idolatry of the culture. The majority of the culture favor all forms of perverse sexual practices, abortion, greed, corruption, and if they’re not explicitly in favor of these things, they’re not opposed to them enough to try to stop them. This is precisely why Jesus was weeping over Jerusalem. The only sin that ever gets an emotional reaction out of Jesus, be that sorrow or anger, is hardness of heart, or as he would call it, sinning against the Holy Spirit. Hard heartedness is when we’ve become so accustomed to sin that it paralyzes us, makes us ineffective, so God can’t do anything with us. We become indifferent to the sin and all the pain it causes us. And I fear the majority of Catholics and Christians in our nation have become hard hearted. I fear the majority of the country has become indifferent to sin.

 

And so it is up to us, the stubborn minority. It’s up to us to keep reminding them. It’s up to us to shake them out of their complacency. We must comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. We have to continue being the conscience of society, and sometimes, you, the laity, also have to be the conscience of the Church. You, the faithful minority, have to remind the Church hierarchy where our priorities truly lie.

 

Expect to be resisted. Expect to be hated. Expect the devil to do anything he can to discourage you and make you uncomfortable. Sometimes this is the price of sainthood. Throughout salvation history God has used the stubborn minority to set nations right, and he will continue to do so again. Let’s get stubborn.

 

-Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint

“We turn finally to the [Franciscan] Tertiaries, both to those who are living together in regular communities and those who live in the world. They, too, should try, with truly apostolic zeal, to promote the spiritual welfare of Christian peoples. Their apostolate which, at its origins, made them worthy to be called by Gregory IX 'soldiers of Christ and new Maccabees,' will today also, with no less efficacy, succeed in promoting the common good provided they, although they have grown in numbers all over the world, become like their Father, St. Francis, by giving proof of innocence of life and integrity of morals.”

- Pope Pius XI, from the 7th centenary celebration of St. Francis of Assisi

 

Prayer

 

JESUS, Mary and Joseph, bless us and grant us the grace to love the Church, as we ought, above every other earthly thing, and always to show forth our love by deeds. PATER, Ave, Gloria.

JESUS, Mary and Joseph, bless us and grant us the grace without fear or human respect openly to profess, as we ought, the faith which was given to us in baptism. PATER, Ave, Gloria.

JESUS, Mary and Joseph, bless us and grant us the grace to share, as we ought, in the defence and propagation of the Faith, when duty calls, whether by word or by the sacrifice of our fortunes and our lives. PATER, Ave, Gloria.

JESUS, Mary and Joseph, bless us and grant us the grace to love one another, as we ought, and to live together in perfect harmony of thought, will and action, under the rule and guidance of our pastors. PATER, Ave, Gloria.

JESUS, Mary and Joseph, bless us and grant us the grace to conform our lives, as we ought, to the precepts of GOD and of the Church, so as to live always in that charity which they set forth. PATER, Ave, Gloria. -Raccolta no. 458

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. How is Christianity being attacked by the culture today?

  2. When is it better to die for the faith as the first group in Maccabees and when is it better to fight for it as the second group?

  3. How do we overcome the discomfort of standing up for our faith?

  4. How can we avoid becoming indifferent to sin?

  5. How can the stubborn minority remind the church hierarchy charitably where their priorities should lie? Are enough people doing this? What can you do to help?

  6. Share examples from the lives of St. Francis or other saints who gave “proof of innocence of life and integrity of moral” to their times.

  7. Pope Pius XI commends the Franciscan Tertiaries as soldiers of “Christ and the new Maccabees” to fight to promote the Gospel. What other apostolates are available to laypeople for the same end? How do these organizations help promote “the spiritual welfare of Christian peoples?” How can you do this if you are not a part of a tertiary or other organization?

  8. Consider the five petitions in the prayer. Which of these challenges you the most? Why?

  9. What sacrifices are demanded of us in order to persevere in the faith today?

 

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 453: O Maggot Israel: Reflection on Is 41: 13-14

“For I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, Do not fear, I will help you. Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you maggot Israel; I will help you—oracle of the LORD; the Holy One of Israel is your redeemer.” IS 41: 13-14

 

I am the Lord your God, who grasp your right hand: It is I who say to you, “fear not, I will help you.” So says the prophet Isaiah today, and doesn’t this make us feel so warm and fuzzy? Isn’t this a beautiful image that God conveys, like a father taking a little child by the hand, so he won’t be afraid of what’s around him? Well, before we get too gushy with this, listen to the very next verse.

 

 “Fear not, O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel; I will help you says the Lord.” Do you think God was maybe a little bit angry when he was telling Isaiah this? Yes, the Lord IS angry because Israel had gotten themselves into this big mess by turning to idolatry and turning away from God, and got themselves conquered by the Assyrian empire. God is pretty upset with them, but he still loves them, nonetheless. He IS going to fix all this, nonetheless. He IS going to stay faithful to Israel, even though Israel didn’t stay faithful to him. That’s what parents do isn’t it?

 

That’s the image I get when I read this passage. Say your teenage son gets caught with drugs and gets himself thrown in jail, and he’s used his one phone call to call you. What are you going to say? “I TOLD YOU not to hang around with those boys! I TOLD YOU they were going to get you in trouble some day!” You might say that, and you’d be perfectly within your rights to say that, but I’m guessing that’s not the first thing you’d say. The first thing I’m guessing you’d say after hearing the fear in your son’s voice, the trembling voice, is, “OK, sit tight, we’re coming to post your bail. Your uncle knows a good lawyer. Don’t worry. We can fix this.” But when you get him home, then you’re going to say, “I TOLD YOU not to hang around with those boys! I KNEW something like this was going to happen someday!”

 

That’s kind of what’s going on in this passage from Isaiah. The Lord is letting Israel know that He is not going to disown them for what they’ve done, He is going to get them through this big mess, but he is also going to let them feel his anger.

 

I felt God’s anger once. Back when I was stationed in Woonsocket, my favorite target was Paris Hilton. She represented everything I couldn’t stand about that generation; spoiled, rich,

over indulged, self-absorbed. So, whenever I was stuck for a homily, I’d google Paris Hilton and see what she was up to, and use it as a negative example in my homily.

 

At that time, the remake of the movie “House of Wax,” was coming on TV late and I wanted to see it, because I was a fan of the original with Vincent Price, (70’s Creature double feature 56), and also because Paris was in it and I wanted to see her die, even though it was a fake Hollywood death. I didn’t care! And I wanted it to be gross and gory! So, this movie is wearing on, it’s getting late, I’m getting tired, young people are getting picked off one by one, and then I get the horrific thought, ‘What if Paris survives?!’ Because you know how in these movies one or two always get away? Well, sure enough, the psycho killer finally starts chasing Paris. She did die. It was gory. I went to bed feeling edified. A couple weeks later I’m having dinner with friends. And I’m telling them about the movie and being crude in my humor.

 

Now I’m not a mystic, but I do believe the Lord has spoken to me several times in my life and that night was one of them. This was the first time I felt his anger. Driving home I heard, “How dare you, priest of God, talk that way about my beloved daughter, whom I love and

whom I died for? How dare you, priest of God, talk that way about my beloved daughter, whom I love and whom I died for?” I went to confession the next day!

 

Don’t ever believe, my brothers and sisters, that God can’t get angry. He certainly CAN. But he’s also ready to forgive the repentant heart, so repent of your sins, brothers and sisters. But let’s make a real effort not to do anything to anger him in the first place. --Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a saint

 

“Public, notorious sinners may be spoken of freely, provided always even then that a spirit of charity and compassion prevail, and that you do not speak of them with arrogance or presumption, or as though you took pleasure in the fall of others. To do this is the sure sign of a mean ungenerous mind. And, of course, you must speak freely in condemnation of the professed enemies of God and His Church, heretics and schismatics,—it is true charity to point out the wolf wheresoever he creeps in among the flock.” -St Francis de Sales

 

Prayer

 

“HAIL, thou that art most venerable, Queen of Peace, most holy Mother of GOD; through the Sacred Heart of JESUS, thy Son, the Prince of Peace, procure for us the cessation of his anger, that so He may reign over us in peace. Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who sought thy prayers was forsaken by GOD. Inspired with this confidence, I come unto Thee. Despise not my petitions, O Mother of the Incarnate Word; but in thy loving-kindness hear and answer me, O merciful, O sweet Virgin Mary”. -Raccolta 197; 300 Days indulgence, Plenary once/month under usual conditions

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Have you ever felt God’s anger?

  2. Is it necessary to repent to experience God’s mercy?

  3. How does God’s anger reveal more His mercy?

  4. Some people say that an “angry God” is merely a conception of the Old Testament and that the New Testament reveals God is compassionate. What is the Catholic viewpoint on this? What passages from the Gospel can you use to demonstrate God’s anger? What Old Testament passages show God’s mercy? How can an angry God be reconciled with a compassionate God?

  5. How can we be charitable in speaking about notorious sinners?

  6. How should we speak about those in the Church who have betrayed their office?

  7. How does God reveal his mercy through Our Lady?

  8. How can we be instruments of God’s mercy?

  9. St. James writes: “the wrath of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God” Jas 1:20. Why is it important to control our own anger?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 454: Spreading the Message: Mark 5: 1-20

 

They came to the other side of the lake, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.’ For he had said to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’ He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; and the unclean spirits begged him, ‘Send us into the swine; let us enter them.’ So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the lake, and were drowned in the lake.

 

The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed. (Mark 5:1-20)

 

What’s happened in this gospel passage? Jesus has just cast a whole bunch of demons out of a man. You remember the story. He hung out in the tombs. No one could go near him. Chains and fetters couldn’t hold him. Jesus asked the demon’s identity and it responded, “We are Legion for we are many,” and Jesus cast the demons into a herd of pigs who proceed to charge down the hill into the sea and drown themselves.

 

A Roman Legion consisted of 4,500 to 5,500 men, so this guy had a LOT of demons! This man begs Jesus to let him stay with him. And Jesus refuses. That’s interesting. This guy WANTS to be a disciple. Why would Jesus turn him away? That question is the cause of much speculation. It could be because he was a pagan. Jesus didn’t want to take a non-Jew as a disciple YET because, without a knowledge of Judaism he might misinterpret who Jesus is and what he’s about. It could be because he wasn’t truly repentant of his sins. You got to be into some pretty heavy duty stuff to incur a possession, but to be possessed by thousands of demons?! I don’t know WHAT this guy was into, but it was pretty bad! We don’t know the reason that Jesus did not take him as a disciple. So what DOES Jesus tell him to do? “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”

 

The mission Jesus sends this man on is to give thanks, and note, starting with his family. Why? Because being the closest people to him, they KNOW what he was into, and they KNOW how far gone he was, so they would have been the easiest to convince about the saving power of God.

 

Instead of letting the man become a disciple of Jesus by following Christ around, Jesus instead makes him a disciple to his own people, who by the way, BEGGED Jesus to leave their territory after he cast the demons into the pigs! Jesus leaves one of their own behind to evangelize them, because they knew nothing of Jesus’ teaching, or the covenant that Jesus was fulfilling. Neither did the formerly possessed man! He only knew that “I was lost, and now I’m found. I was in torment, and this Jesus of Nazareth rescued me.” That witness was the first step in evangelization. Jesus left this man behind to till the soil and plant the seed in preparation for the day, when after Christ’s death and resurrection, one of his apostles would return to finish the job.

 

The evangelization of the Gerasenes began with giving thanks. It began with gratitude to God. That’s where ALL evangelization begins, because evangelization begins with us. The first ones we need to evangelize are ourselves. Ourselves are always the first ones we need to convince that God’s way is better than sin. And we do that by constantly giving thanks to God for what we’ve got! A heart full of gratitude to God is a heart full of Grace. And when our hearts are truly grateful, of course we’d share with others what God has done for us, because, when we discover a good thing, we naturally want to share it. When you discover a good deal, don’t you call your friends? “Everything in Walmart is 50% off today! Get down there fast!”

 

Catholics should give God thanks every day, not just on Thanksgiving Day. Every day is a way to remember that God saved us. Are you gashing your soul with any stones of hatred, jealousy, revenge, guilt, self-loathing, or anything else spiritually harmful? Jesus wants to heal you of those destructive emotions. Call out to Him and let Him work in your life. He can free you, you can be forever grateful, and you, too, can become a disciple to your own family and friends. Discipleship starts with gratitude to God. What are you grateful for today?

--Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

“Get used to lifting your heart to God, in acts of thanksgiving, many times a day. Because he gives you this and that. Because you have been despised. Because you haven’t what you need or because you have. Thank him for everything, because everything is good.” - St. Josemaria Escriva

 

Prayer

Lord, Father all-powerful and ever-living God, I thank You, for even though I am a sinner, your unprofitable servant, not because of my worth but in the kindness of your mercy, You have fed me with the Precious Body & Blood of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that this Holy Communion may not bring me condemnation and punishment but forgiveness and salvation. May it be a helmet of faith and a shield of good will. May it purify me from evil ways and put an end to my evil passions. May it bring me charity and patience, humility and obedience, and growth in the power to do good. May it be my strong defense against all my enemies, visible and invisible, and the perfect calming of all my evil impulses, bodily and spiritual. May it unite me more closely to you, the One true God, and lead me safely through death to everlasting happiness with You. And I pray that You will lead me, a sinner, to the banquet where you, with Your Son and Holy Spirit, are true and perfect light, total fulfillment, everlasting joy, gladness without end, and perfect happiness to your saints. Grant this through Christ our Lord, Amen. St. Thomas Aquinas, prayer for thanksgiving after Holy Communion

 

Questions for Reflection

  1. Why do you think the man with the unclean spirits immediately ran to meet Jesus?

  2. Sometimes those who want to become religious or priests are denied entrance to the community to which they believe they are called. Do you think their situation is anything like the Gerasene demoniac being sent back to his home? What advice would you give those who were unable to enter the religious life for some reason?

  3. Why do you think the Gerasenes begged Jesus to leave? Do our own actions ever beg Jesus to leave?

  4. Why do we need to evangelize ourselves first?

  5. How can thanksgiving help us grow in our relationship with God?

  6. How can we convince ourselves that God’s way is better than the sins or faults we still cling to?

  7. Are you more willing to “evangelize” good earthly news, such as the example of a good sale, or the Good News of the Gospel?

  8. How are the “stones of hatred, jealousy, revenge, guilt, self-loathing” contrary to giving thanks to God?

  9. What parts of the Mass most especially express our thanksgiving to God?

  10. Consider the petitions in the thanksgiving prayer from St. Thomas Aquinas. Which resonate with you?

  11. It is a common practice for some to leave Mass immediately after Communion. What is wrong with this practice?

  12. How can we make a more fruitful thanksgiving after Communion?

  13. Consider the quote from St. Jose Maria Escriva. Is it hard to give thanks in difficult situations such as being despised or not having what you need?

  14. How often do you give thanks to God? How can you give Him thanks more often?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 455: God Teaches Us the Way We Should Go: Reflection on Is 48:17-19

 

Thus says the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

I, the Lord your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go.

If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river,

and your vindication like the waves of the sea; Your descendants would be like the sand,

and those born of your stock like its grains, Their name never cut off or blotted out from my presence.” Is 48:17-19

 

God teaches us what is for our good, my brothers and sisters, and God teaches us the way we should go. He does this in three ways.

 

The first is scripture. The Bible is God’s inspired word, written over centuries, by many different human authors and yet one divine author- the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has guided the human authors in their writings of the sacred texts. So, when Jesus takes a few barley loaves and a couple of fish and feeds a crowd of thousands with it; one evangelist says the crowd numbered five thousand, another records three thousand. Critics of the faith will point that out and say, “SEE! How can you claim God wrote the bible if God can’t contradict himself?!”

 

Inspiration does not mean that God narrated the Bible to the human authors, like a secretary taking dictation. It means that the Holy Spirit guided the authors of scripture to keep them from theological error. God doesn’t really care that we know how many people were in the crowd. That isn’t important. No one actually counted the crowd. They were guestimating. What all the evangelists DO agree on, is that Jesus fed a whole lot of people with very little food. So, scripture is the first way God teaches us and leads us in the way we should go.

 

The second way, that God teaches us and guides us, is the Apostolic Tradition. THIS is what we’re referring to when you hear someone say, “All Church teaching is based on scripture and tradition.” They’re referring to the Apostolic Tradition. And that statement is true. All Church IS based on scripture and tradition. But because of that word “tradition,” people mistakenly think that we mean that we do these things because that’s the way we’ve always done things. That isn’t so. Apostolic Tradition is a theological term that is defined as “Those teachings of Jesus that are NOT recorded in sacred scripture, but rather were recorded by the early Church Fathers, who were the disciples of the original apostles.” Scripture verifies that Apostolic Tradition exists. Note that, at the end of John’s gospel, he writes, “There is much more that Jesus said and did that is not recorded here. If it were recorded the volumes would fill up the entire world.” That body of information, to which John refers, is the Apostolic Tradition, recorded by the disciples of the original apostles, and yes, their body of work is extensive. So, the Apostolic Tradition is the second way God teaches and guides us.

 

The third way God teaches and guides us is through the teachings of the Church. What if God didn’t give us scripture and tradition to tell us what to do? What if God had said, “Figure it out yourselves”? Then God wouldn’t be just or merciful, for He would not have supplied us the means for knowing His will or giving us a means to do it. But, He has given us an authoritative body to interpret the sacred texts. Jesus gave us the Pope and the Magisterium; Peter and the Apostles. Jesus gives THEM the authority to govern. “What you hold bound on earth shall be bound in heaven. What you hold loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

 

And this is where we part with many other world religions who DON’T have an authoritative body to interpret their sacred texts. This is why we can’t have a meaningful dialog with Islam. There’s no authoritative interpretation of the Koran, so every individual Imam (Moslem cleric) can interpret the Koran himself. So, we have radical Moslems who want to kill us, and moderate Moslems who don’t.

 

When we get a crazy Christian who shoots an abortionist, the Church condemns the action and says, “You can’t accomplish good through evil means.” When you get crazy politicians, who say that by advocating abortion they’re doing God’s work, the Church says, “No, the taking of innocent life can never be morally justified.” The Church interprets scripture and tradition for modern moral questions.

 

There’s one last way God teaches and guides us, and that’s through our own conscience. But our conscience has to be formed by the other three sources; scripture, tradition, and the teachings of the Church. These are all the ways the Lord teaches and guides us, and we would do well to heed them. --Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

“The heretics follow neither Scripture nor Tradition. When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but viva voce: wherefore also Paul declared, "But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world." And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth; so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent, who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself.” -Saint Irenaeus, Against Heresies

 

Prayer

Apostles Creed:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Why do we need the Church to interpret scripture and Tradition for us?

  2. What do you think is the consequence of not having an authoritative body to interpret sacred texts as in other religions?

  3. Why is it important to inform our consciences using Scripture, Tradition, and the teachings of the magisterium?

  4. What is the difference between Tradition and traditions of the Church? How can various traditions reveal the Tradition of the Church?

  5. Do you see anywhere else in scripture where the authority of the Church is taught?

  6. How are we tempted to preach ourselves, as St. Irenaeus describes the heretics as doing?

  7. Have you heard of Valentinus, Maricon, or Cerinthus? What has become of their heresies today? How does this compare to the true teachings of the Church?

  8. How can we know that the Scriptures are authoritative?

  9. What points of the Apostles Creed do you see directly in Scripture?

  10. What points of the Apostles Creed do we get from Tradition?

  11. What does it mean to believe in the holy Catholic Church?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 456: Intercessory Prayer: A Reflection on Lk 5:17-26

 

“One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set [him] in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.”

 

Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?”

 

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

 

He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.”” Lk 5:17-26

 

I have spoken in past homilies about how this Gospel passage speaks of the power of intercessory prayer. And I say that because it’s not necessarily the faith of the paralytic that enables him to be healed, but rather, the faith of his four friends. It was his friends who carried him there, and when they can’t get near Jesus, hoist him on the roof and make a hole to lower him through. They’re determined not to let anything stop Jesus from seeing their friend. The faith of the paralytic is really never dealt with. We don’t know what kind of faith he had, if any at all, yet Jesus heals him, for the sake of the faith of his friends.

 

But have you ever wondered why? Why does God want us to pray at all? If God is omnipotent, and knows what everyone needs, why not just DO it and save us all a lot of fuss and bother? Because the whole reason for us bring here is to acquire faith and share the faith. The primary way that faith is increased is through prayer. Well, why then is praying in groups, or lots of people praying for an intention, more powerful than someone praying alone? Does God hear more clearly when a bunch of people are shouting to heaven for something? No. The reason why intercessory prayer is effective is because God is allowing us to share in his work.

 

Think of it as a parent grooming his children to take over the family business, so from their earliest childhood, he starts trusting them with little responsibilities in the business, and then a little more, and then a little more. In allowing us to share in his work, God raises our dignity. In allowing us to share in his work, God encourages us. When people ask me to pray for an intention and that prayer gets heard, it gives me a boost of encouragement. I affected someone’s life for the better.

 

And finally, God allows us to share in his work to increase not only our faith, but the faith of the person who asked for our prayers. I am sure whatever level of faith the paralytic had before his encounter with Christ –that level was significantly boosted after his encounter with Christ. His four friends made that possible. So ALL their faith was increased through the encounter. When we intercede in prayer for others, and those prayers are heard, our faith is increased and so is theirs. Praying for others is also an act of charity. Charitable deeds can help heal the wounds on our soul that were made by sin.

 

So, my brothers and sisters, there is no shortage of people who need prayers. Don’t pray only for yourselves and your own needs. Pray for the needs of others, so the Lord can increase your faith. -Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote

 

On the Church and State in France.

 “ We cannot lay too great stress upon the precepts given to the first Christians by the Prince of the apostles in the midst of persecutions: 'Honor all men: love the brotherhood: fear God: honor the king'; and those of St. Paul: 'I desire, therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men: For kings and for all who are in high station, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all piety and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior.'” -Leo XIII, Pope [1833-1903 AD]

 

Prayer

 

 

To you, O blessed Joseph, do we come in our tribulation, and having implored the help of your most holy Spouse, we confidently invoke your patronage also.

 

Through that charity which bound you to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and through the paternal love with which you embraced the Child Jesus, we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance which Jesus Christ has purchased by his Blood, and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.

 

O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ; O most loving father, ward off from us every contagion of error and corrupting influence;

 

O our most mighty protector, be kind to us and from heaven assist us in our struggle with the power of darkness.

 

As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril, so now protect God's Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example and your aid, we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness, and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven. Amen. -Composed by Pope Leo XIII

 

 

Questions for Reflection

  1. When have you seen the power of intercessory prayer in your life or in the life of someone close to you?

  2. What are some common reasons people don’t believe in the power of intercessory prayer? How would you answer these?

  3. How is our faith increased in prayer?

  4. What intentions do you most commonly pray for? How often do you pray for others? Do you really believe that your prayer is effective?

  5. Is intercessory prayer the only way that prayer increases faith? How about the liturgy? Meditation on Christ’s life?

  6. How is interceding for our neighbor an act of charity?

  7. When is prayer enough? When is it also necessary to add acts for neighbor’s good?

  8. What needs are expressed in the prayer to St. Joseph?

  9.  How are we interceding for others in this prayer? How is St. Joseph interceding for us?

  10. What is the importance of asking saints for intercession?

 

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 457: I am With You Always: Reflection on Mt 28:16-20

 

“The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Mt 28:16-20

 

Every week on my day off, I go home to my mother’s house in Westerly. My day off is the time that I get my personal business done; paying bills, doctor’s appointments, car maintenance, banking, food shopping for the rectory. And because my mother is 86 years old, I also do things for her (take the trash to the dump, mow the lawn, things of that nature) and I always take some time to just sit with her and tell her about my week, and she tells me about her week, though a lot of times we just sit in silence watching TV together. My mom always tells me how much she loves it when I’m home. I was thinking about that recently, asking myself, “Why?  I’m out of the house more than I’m in it.”  And then it dawned on me: what my mother likes is just the knowledge that I’m close by. It’s a comfort for her to know that I’m in the house, or if I’m not in the house, I’ll be back soon.

 

Did you ever think that Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament brings us comfort the way I being comfort to my Mom? This is why adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is so valuable to us. When we’re in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, we are reminded that God is close by.  God is in the house.  That knowledge should give us comfort and peace. And we don’t even have to SAY anything.  Sometimes it’s best if we don’t say anything. Because just sitting in silence, God can speak to us as he spoke to Samuel when he was just a boy. Many places have Adoration Chapels. And if your place doesn't, just go into the church and sit quietly in the presence of the Lord. He's in the tabernacle. .

 

When I first got here eight and a half years ago, the church had adoration Monday and Wednesday from noon until the evening Mass, but I wanted to create a place where the Blessed Sacrament would be available for adoration all day at least every weekday.  There is power in adoring the Lord.  There’s peace in adoring the Lord. Personally, one of the things I love to do this time of year is sit in the adoration chapel in the dark, with just the light coming out of the tabernacle, with no one else around. Not only does it look really cool, but for me, anyway, it shuts out all distractions.

 

One important thing to pray for in front of the Blessed Sacrament is healing. We are all lepers.  We all need healing. One thing I pray for everyday is that God heal the wounds that I have inflicted on others over the years.  I ask God to bless them with every good thing in this life and eternal happiness in the next. Then I ask God to heal me of any wounds that others have inflicted on ME, especially those that continue to affect me negatively. I forgive them, and I ask God to bless THEM with every good thing in this life and eternal happiness in the next. And then I ask God to heal me of any wounds that I have inflicted on myself through sin. Do you ever wonder why we commit the same sins over and over and over again? Every time we sin, we wound our soul.  The more we commit the sin the deeper the wound becomes.  Thus, sin becomes habitual.

 

When we go to confession the sin is forgiven, but then we have to pray that God heal our soul so that we don’t fall into that sin again.  This can take many years. Now, we can pray for these things without being in front of the Blessed Sacrament, but being in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord amplifies the power of our prayers. We can achieve our spiritual goals more quickly when we utilize the Blessed Sacrament. My brothers and sisters, I pray today that we amplify the power of our prayers. Use the adoration chapel. And, if  you don't have an adoration chapel, find a church that's open during the day and sit there in the presence of God. And if you are somewhere where every church is locked or you can't get to church except Sundays and holy days because it's such a long drive, then make some place in your house -- even a closet -- where you can get away and put yourself in God's presence daily. Maybe you won't have the physical presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament, but you will be aware of His spiritual presence for God is always with us. And blessed be God forever.

 

-Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

“Look upon the hour of adoration assigned to you as an hour in paradise. Go to your adoration as one would to heaven, to the divine banquet. You will then long for that hour and hail it with joy. Take delight in fostering a longing for it in your heart. Tell yourself, “In four hours, in two hours, in one hour, our Lord will give me an audience of grace and love. He has invited me; he is waiting for me; he is longing for me.”- St. Peter Julian Eymard

 

Prayer

 

We adore you, O most Holy Lord Jesus Christ, here and in all your churches throughout the world, and we bless you because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world. -Prayer said by Poor Clares when beginning the Office

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. How is Jesus present with us now?

  2. How does the knowledge of Jesus’ closeness to us in the Blessed Sacrament bring comfort? 

  3. How do you experience God’s closeness in the Blessed Sacrament?

  4. How are you a leper?

  5. Take a few moments to reflect on wounds you have inflicted on others or wounds others have inflicted on you. Ask for healing. You may share what you prayed for if you wish.

  6. What wounds do you still inflict on yourself? How can you resolve to make amends for this?

  7. Why is it necessary to pray for healing in order to overcome a fault or habitual sin? Is praying for healing from the wounds of habitual sins a practice of yours? Would you consider making this a habit?

  8. Fr. Sisco says that being alone in a dark church helps shut out distractions for him. What helps you avoid distractions in prayer?

  9. Do you regularly spend time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament?

  10. How do you view time spent before the Blessed Sacrament?

  11. How is adoration like Paradise? See Revelation 21:22-27 for inspiration if needed.

  12. What are some other fruits of Eucharistic adoration?

 

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 458: True Rest: Reflection on Mt 11: 28-30

 

“Come to me all of you who are wearied and find life burdensome and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart. And you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Mt 1:28-30

 

I wonder how many people actually take Jesus up on this offer. Who here is wearied by life? (Raise your hands!) Who here finds life burdensome? (Raise your hands!) Who hear could use a little more rest? (Raise your hands!) You know it’s been shown statistically that as Americans we don’t get nearly enough sleep? The average American adult sleeps only 5-6 hours a night. So, no wonder we’re weary! We’re all sleep deprived!

 

And while this is certainly included in Jesus’ statement, the “rest” he is speaking of here is more than physical rest. Jesus is speaking primarily of resting our minds and resting our souls. Why? Because if you rest the mind and rest the soul, the body will follow. THAT’S the rest he’s offering. So why do we stress out?

 

We stress out, first of all, because so often we burden ourselves by trying to control the circumstances in our lives, instead of giving these things up to God. We don’t give up control to God because, ultimately, we don’t trust God. So we get stressed, and, when we get stressed, we can’t sleep, and, when we can’t sleep, we get wearied. So the first thing we need to do is to stop trying to control things!

 

The second thing we need to do is stop worrying. We worry about the circumstances we CAN’T change in our lives. We’re control freaks! Worrying about things we can’t change is rooted in a lack of trust in God. And when we obsess with worrying about things that we cannot change, we get stressed, and, when we get stressed, we can’t sleep, and, when we can’t sleep, we get wearied.

 

The third reason why we stress out is because we’re trying to DO too much. We’re trying to please everyone. We’re trying to be all things to all people. This is ALSO rooted in a lack of trust in God. This is called a Messiah complex. I have to do it all because God won’t do enough. I have to take up the slack for God! Even though we may not think that consciously, that’s what we believe subconsciously. And because we TRY to be God, but cannot be God, we get stressed , and, when we get stressed, we can’t sleep and, when we can’t sleep, we get wearied.

 

So why don’t we rest in the Lord? Because we don’t trust the Lord! Trusting the Lord is the key to resting in the Lord! So how do we trust in the Lord? We trust in the Lord by surrendering to the Lord. And how do we surrender to the Lord? We surrender to the Lord through prayer. Through prayer we take all of our concerns and worries and put them before God and leave them with God, and we trust that whatever happens now is in God’s hands.

 

Surrendering to God means knowing our limits. And that means sometimes saying no to people, even to a good cause, because we’re stretched too thin. It sometimes means walking away from people that are toxic to us. You cannot save every soul. And if you’re trying to convince someone of the truth of the faith that just keeps coming up with every excuse possible not to believe, sometimes you just have to walk away and leave them in their ignorance. You don’t need that kind of negativity always in your life. So, lift them up in prayer, and say to God, “You created them, YOU fix them!” and walk away.

 

Recently we watched the movie “Unplanned” in the church hall. It’s the story of Abbey Johnson, a director of a Planned Parenthood facility in Texas, who after being personally responsible for 22,000 abortions over a ten-year period, had a profound conversion. In her own story she says what had the greatest effect on her was the number of people praying for her. No matter how hopeless someone may seem, no one is beyond God’s reach.

 

So, if you are weary, if you find life burdensome, pray more, trust God, and surrender everything. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

My most usual method [of prayer] is this simple attention, and such a general passionate regard to GOD; to whom I find myself often attached with greater sweetness and delight than that of an infant at the mother’s breast ... Sometimes I consider myself there, as a stone before a carver, whereof he is to make a statue: presenting myself thus before GOD, I desire Him to make His perfect image in my soul and render me entirely like Himself. At other times, when I apply myself to prayer, I feel all my spirit and all my soul lift itself up without any care or effort of mine; and it continues as it were suspended and firmly fixed in GOD, as in its centre and place of rest. -Brother Lawrence, Practicing the Presence of God

 

Prayer:

Our Father, Who art in Heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy Kingdom come,

Thy Will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread

and forgive us our trespasses

as we forgive those who trespass against us

Lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil.

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. How much sleep do you get each night? Do you agree that this reflects your level of trust in God? Why or why not?

  2. Besides lack of sleep, what other symptoms are results of lack of trust in God?

  3. Fr. Sisco lists three ways in which we typically lack trust in God. Are any of these a particular struggle for you? How can you seek to overcome this? Are there other ways in which you could grow in your trust in God?

  4. Do natural remedies for stress help? What might some of these be?

  5. Why is it important to know your limits? Have you discovered your limits?

  6. Why is it necessary to know our limits to be able to surrender to God?

  7. There is a lot going on in the church and the world today which can cause us to be stressed. How can we remain at peace with all of this going on? Is it possible to intercede for the troubles in the world while remaining at peace?

  8. Do you seek rest in God through prayer?

  9. There are different kinds of prayer. Br. Lawrence describes a kind of prayer which specifically aims at allowing the soul to rest in God. Nevertheless, the “rest” of a stone before the carver implies possible suffering. How can we be at peace, restful in spirit, while suffering?

  10.  How do the petitions in the Our Father encourage us to rest in God?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 459: Disciples and Apostles: Reflection on Lk 6:12-16 

 

“In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.” Lk 6:12-16 

 

In this Gospel, Jesus chooses, out of his many disciples, twelve of them to be apostles. What is the role of a disciple? A disciple follows, a disciple listens and a disciple learns. We were all made disciples by virtue of the sacrament of baptism. We never really graduate from being disciples. We are ALWAYS supposed to be following, listening to, and learning from the Lord. This does not end with religious education classes! This is a lifelong process. An apostle, by contrast, is one who is sent. Jesus singles these men out for a special mission. Their job is to evangelize the world; to spread the gospel. We are apostles by virtue of the sacrament of Confirmation. In Confirmation we are sent out to bring the light of the gospel into a world of darkness. 

 

I recently asked, “How is your discipleship going? How good are you at following, listening, and learning?” Today I want to ask, “How is your apostleship going? How good are you at bringing the faith out into that world of darkness, because right now the world really needs some light?” 

 

 How do we evangelize? First and always foremost, by our example: our language, our behavior, our charity, our patience with others. If we want to draw others to the faith, we really have to challenge ourselves to not be wishy-washy about the faith. Once a woman commented to me about how I elevate the host and chalice during the Eucharistic prayer, and the length of time I keep it elevated, and she said, “It’s like you REALLY believe it!” (Yeah??) I know she meant it as a compliment, but it makes me wonder how some of my brother priests are elevating the Eucharist during Mass for her to make that statement! People notice. We have to let our faith shine through our actions. 

 

Secondly, offer to pray with people. When a friend is sharing their problems with you, how often do you say, “Why don’t we pray together for a minute? Lord Jesus, look with compassion on Ralph here. Give him comfort and peace, and the knowledge that you’re very close to him while he goes through whatever this thing may be.” 

 

“Oh Father, I can’t do that!” Sure you can! You’re an apostle! That’s your job. Maybe your friend doesn’t want to pray with you. “No, No! I don’t want to pray with anyone.” “Ok then, I’ll pray over you,” and just pray over them silently. If they say, “No, no! I don’t want anyone praying over me,” say, “Ok, I’ll pray FOR you then.” Usually no one will object to that.  And if they DO object to that, you can say, “Why did you want me to listen to you? Why did you tell me your problems, if you didn’t want me to do anything about it? If you want advice, ok, do this, and don’t do that. But let’s ask the help from the one Person who really CAN solve all your problems.” That’s all it takes to be an apostle. 

 

“Well, Father, what if they ask me a question about the faith, and I don’t know the answer?” You have two options. the industrious option: find out the answer and tell them. Or the lazy option: say, “That’s not my department. Go ask a priest.” Either option is perfectly valid. 

 

But my brothers and sisters, one thing is certain, if you don’t start being apostles, eventually we’re going to run out of disciples. Think about that. And Blessed be God forever. 

-Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco 

 

Quote from a Saint 

He chose disciples, whom He also called apostles, of lowly birth, unhonored, and illiterate, so that whatever great thing they might be or do, He might be and do it in them. He had one among them whose wickedness He could use well in order to accomplish His appointed passion and furnish His Church an example of bearing with the wicked. Having sown the holy gospel as much as that behoved to be done by His bodily presence, He suffered, died, and rose again, showing by His passion what we ought to suffer for the truth, and by His resurrection what we ought to hope for in adversity; saving always the mystery of the sacrament, by which His blood was shed for the remission of sins. He held converse on the earth forty days with His disciples, and in their sight ascended into heaven, and after ten days sent the promised Holy Spirit. It was given as the chief and most necessary sign of His coming on those who had believed, that every one of them spoke in the tongues of all nations; thus signifying that the unity of the catholic Church would embrace all nations, and would in like manner speak in all tongues. -St. Augustine, City of God 

 

Prayer 

We pray that our Catholic people will be set ablaze with a desire to live their faith fully and share it freely with others. May their eagerness to share the faith bring a transformation to our nation and, with missionary dedication, even to the whole world. We ask God to open the heart of every Catholic, to see the need for the Gospel in each life, in our nation and on our planet. -USCCB

 

Questions for Reflection 

  1. How is your discipleship going? 

  2. What is the difference between an apostle and a disciple? 

  3. How do you let your faith shine through your actions? 

  4. How does our role in apostleship differ from that of the bishops who are true descendants of the twelve apostles? 

  5. Why did Jesus choose disciples and apostles? 

  6. How can you be an apostle? 

  7. St. Augustine describes the first apostles as “of lowly birth, unhonored, and illiterate, so that whatever great thing they might be or do, He might be and do it in them.” What excuses do you typically give for not being an apostle? How do these excuses hold up in light of this quote? 

  8. Consider the reason Augustine gives for Christ allowing wickedness in one of his apostles. Why do you think God allows evil in members of the Church today? 

  9. What is the gift of tongues? Since the Church is now all over the world, is the gift of tongues still necessary for evangelization?  What is the basis of your answer?

  10. In what ways can your heart be opened to see the need for the Gospel in each life? 

-Erin Wells 

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 460: Jealousy and Envy: Reflection on 1 Samuel 18:6-12

 

“At the approach of Saul and David, on David’s return after striking down the Philistine, women came out from all the cities of Israel to meet Saul the king, singing and dancing, with tambourines, joyful songs, and stringed instruments. The women played and sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, David his tens of thousands.” Saul was very angry and resentful of the song, for he thought: “They give David tens of thousands, but only thousands to me. All that remains for him is the kingship.” From that day on, Saul kept a jealous eye on David. The next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raged in his house. David was in attendance, playing the harp as at other times, while Saul was holding his spear. Saul poised the spear, thinking, “I will nail David to the wall!” But twice David escaped him. Saul then began to fear David because the LORD was with him but had turned away from Saul.” -1 Samuel 18:6-12

 

This passage demonstrates to us how deadly a sin jealousy and envy can be. After the Goliath incident, King Saul adopts David into his own family. Saul treats David as a son.  David becomes best friends with Saul’s oldest son Jonathan. David is smitten with Saul’s daughter Michela.  David is rising in rank in Saul’s army until he becomes second in command, because no matter who he fights, or how greatly the odds are against him, David always leads

the Israelites to victory.  Everything is going GREAT until this incident.

 

When David and Saul return from yet another successful military campaign, the women come out singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands!” And when Saul hears the song, when he realizes the people love David more than him, he gets jealous, and his jealousy with morph into envy, and his envy will destroy him. As he attempts to destroy David, he will ultimately destroy himself. 

 

What’s the difference between jealousy and envy? Jealousy seeks to acquire what it does not possess, envy seeks to destroy what it cannot possess. Jealousy is a venial sin, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly, because if we don’t deal with the jealousy and keep it in check, it quickly becomes envy, which IS mortal. And that is exactly what happens to Saul.  Saul is first jealous of David’s popularity. When Saul realizes he’s NEVER going to be more popular than David, he tries to kill David, and that will ultimately lead Saul to his own demise.

 

When Saul disobeyed God, the prophet Samuel told Saul that the Lord would tear the kingdom away from him and give it to another.  The difference between Saul and David, is Saul seeks his own glory while David seeks God’s glory. That’s why David always outdoes Saul in his military conquests. But if Saul would STOP seeking his own glory and start seeking God’s it wouldn’t matter to him who kills more of the enemy in battle.  And this is how God operates.

God doesn’t punish us in the strict sense.  God lets us punish ourselves. God’s punishment is letting us feel the effects of our sin, but in that hopes that this will lead us to repent.  So often though, we react like Saul.  When we feel the effects of our sin instead of repenting, we just immerse ourselves deeper into sin, convincing ourselves that it will solve the problem. WE have to dig OURSELVES out of this.  WE have to control our destiny.

           

If Saul would just realize his sin and repent the Lord WOULD have forgiven him.

We’ve seen this many times in scripture.  When the Lord intends to destroy the city of Nineveh, the prophet Jonah walks through the city crying out, “Forty days more and the Lord will destroy Nineveh.”  What happens?  The people repent! They proclaim a fast and wear sackcloth and ashes, and the Lord forgives them. When the Lord is going to punish the Israelites despite the fact that King Hezekiah has TRIED to bring political and spiritual reform, the Lord promises for the sake of Hezekiah, he would delay the disaster he was going to inflict on the people until

after Hezekiah died. David himself sins far more frequently that Saul, but because David repents, God forgives him.

 

Saul causes his own demise.  He allowed his jealousy to morph into envy, and he let his envy consume him, until in the end, he not only loses his kingdom, but everything. Don’t take any sin lightly.  Keep on resisting.  Keep on repenting.  Keep on confessing. And the Lord will keep on forgiving.

 

Quote from a Saint

 

One day when he was sitting in front of the church, the brethren were consulting [Abba John] about their thoughts. One of the old men who saw it became a prey to jealousy and said to him, 'John, your vessel is full of poison.' Abba John said to him, 'That is very true, Abba; and you have said that when you only see the outside, but if you were able to see the inside, too, what would you say then?' -Abba John the Dwarf, sayings of the Desert Fathers

 

Prayer

 

I give you thanks, O God, for all of the benefits you have given me throughout my life, for all the benefits you have given my neighbor, and for all the benefits you have given my enemies. I thank you for forgiving my sins seventy times seven times and for giving me the grace of repentance. Please grant me the grace to be as merciful to my neighbor as you have been to me and to hold no one in contempt for having what I do not, for it is Your providence which makes rich and makes poor, which casts down to the nether world and raises up again. Amen -Erin Wells

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. How does jealously turn into envy?

  2. How can we fight thoughts of jealousy?

  3. How does seeking God’s glory rather than our own prevent jealousy?

  4. Can you think of other examples in your own life, in history, or in literature, in which someone’s envy destroys him? What can we learn from these examples?

  5. How does Abba John use humility to conquer the old man’s jealousy?

  6. How does David respond to Saul’s envy? (Read the book of Samuel further if you can’t remember.) Is this similar to how Abba John responds?

  7. How can you respond to someone who demonstrates envy towards you?

  8. How can gratitude help fight or even prevent jealousy and envy?

  9. What are you most tempted to be jealous of others for? Pray in thanksgiving for that now.

-Erin Wells

Subscribe to receive these Oratory Reflections weekly by email

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