Weeks 491-500

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 491: Don’t Stop Praying: Reflection on IS 38:1-8

 

When Hezekiah was mortally ill,

the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him:

“Thus says the LORD: Put your house in order,

for you are about to die; you shall not recover.”

Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord:“O LORD, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly

I conducted myself in your presence,

doing what was pleasing to you!”

And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: “Go, tell Hezekiah:

Thus says the LORD, the God of your father David:

I have heard your prayer and seen your tears.

I will heal you: in three days you shall go up to the Lord’s temple;

I will add fifteen years to your life.

I will rescue you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria;

I will be a shield to this city.

“This will be the sign for you from the LORD

that he will do what he has promised:

See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun

on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz

go back the ten steps it has advanced.”

So, the sun came back the ten steps it had advanced. -Is 38:1-8 NAB

 

Our piety CAN change the course of events. That’s the message of this reading. The Assyrian Empire conquered the Kingdom of Samaria, the North of Israel. This was a punishment for Israel’s idolatry. But then the Southern Kingdom, Judah, became just as bad as the North. And Assyria is now poised to invade Judah.

 

King Hezekiah spent his life TRYING to bring Judah back to the Lord. He met with some success, but the Lord can’t ignore the sins that Judah has already committed. And it’s kind of a sad scene, because Hezekiah is on his deathbed, and he’s seeing his life’s work as a failure. “I couldn’t save Judah.” He couldn’t turn the people from their idolatry, and he couldn’t stop the Assyrian Empire from invading. So Hezekiah, on his deathbed, turns his face to the wall, and weeps, and as he weeps he prays and basically tells God, “I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t enough.” And God responded to Hezekiah’s prayers. God gave Hezekiah another 15 years of life, and the Lord prevented the Assyrian Empire from invading.

 

Unfortunately, Hezekiah does eventually die and then the people of Judah turn back to their idolatry with a vengeance when Manasseh succeeds Hezekiah as king. Manasseh is the polar opposite of Hezekiah. Manasseh promotes Moloch worship to the people, which demanded infant sacrifice. And then the Lord had enough. So, while Hezekiah could not STOP the punishment that the Lord would inflict on Judah, his piety certainly delayed it. NEVER think your prayers don’t matter. NEVER think your prayers DON’T have an effect.

 

We live in a time much like ancient Israel, where many hearts of our fellow citizens have turned from God to idols, where many exploit others instead of treating them as brothers and sisters, where many act in pride or treat their bodies like toys. It can be very discouraging. But this is NOT the time to give up and STOP praying. This is the time to step up our prayers, devote MORE time to prayer, because our prayers CAN make a difference. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote From a Saint

 

At three o’clock, implore my mercy, especially for sinners and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy for the whole world… In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion.” -Jesus to St. Faustina

           

Prayer

 

You, expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Share a time when you saw the effect of your prayers or the prayers of another.

  2. What are some instances in history in which prayer changed the course of events? (Look it up online if you need to)

  3. What are some other instances in Scripture of prayer changing the course of events?

  4. What is your favorite prayer to pray for others?

  5. What is your favorite prayer for your own intentions?

  6. Why is Our Lord’s Passion especially important for intercessory prayer?

  7. Have you ever been tempted to stop praying for someone or some cause? Did you give up or persevere?

  8. Why is it important to persevere in prayer even for a seemingly lost cause?

  9. What would you tell someone who doesn’t believe in the power of prayer or who has given up on praying for an important cause?

  10. What are the most important things to pray for in our times?

  11. What parallels do you see between the story from Isaiah and our time? -Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 492:God Loves Us: Reflection on Mt 11:28-30

 

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, 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 11:28-30 NAB

 

Way back when I was a deacon, and Father Mancini, the rector of the Cathedral, was only an assistant pastor, he once said at the dinner table, “Where did people ever get this idea that God loves us?! God doesn’t love us! He tolerates us!” Father Ed Peronni, the pastor of Saint Raymond’s in Providence, when HE was assistant pastor at Saint Ann’s in Woonsocket once said, “God doesn’t love us. He hates us! And we pray to make him feel guilty for the lousy way he treats us.” Now BOTH these priests were joking, but reading the Old Testament, it’s easy to see how such ideas can occur, and maybe even be taken seriously by some. There are so many stories of God destroying someone or punishing people for disobedience, pride, or idol worship, but today we get a refreshing change. This Gospel can be summed up as this: “In the Lord is our rest and refreshment.”

 

God REALLY does love us. The world tends to forget that. Some people believe in God the ‘hit man;’ the guy who’s just WAITING for us to mess up so he can hurl fire and brimstone at us. So, they pray to APPEASE God, to hold back his wrath. Others believe in God the ‘garbage collector,’ that is, God made me worthless, and takes some kind of sadistic pleasure in watching me suffer; they pray to God like they’re garbage, but don’t really expect him to answer. Then there’s the other extreme; those that hold that God is all love and no justice. God is the sweet, snowy bearded, rosy cheeked old grandfatherly man, who would never possibly ask me to do anything that I wouldn’t want to do. And it doesn’t matter if I sin because God will just forgive me when I die anyway. ALL of these positions are wrong. We need to understand the balance between God’s perfect love and perfect justice.

 

First, we must always remember that the SAME God exists in both Old and New Testaments. Second, we must remember that examples of God’s mercy and wrath can be found in BOTH the Old and New Testaments. And third, we must remember that God’s wrath is part of the mystery of his holiness. God is so phenomenally holy, so completely holy, that he radically separates himself from anything that’s sinful. Adam and Eve HAD to get kicked out of the garden of Eden. They had contaminated themselves, and would contaminate everyone after them, so they HAD to leave God’s presence. God’s perfect justice is part of his holiness.

 

But God also HAD to send his Son to repair that damage, and build us a bridge so we could touch him again; which is what we have in the sacraments. The sacraments are that bridge. God’s perfect mercy is ALSO part of his holiness. So, God’s wrath is twofold; when we sin, God separates himself from us, because the all-holy God cannot come in contact with evil. If that state of sin continues throughout our lives, we risk eternal damnation, hell, which is the ultimate separation from God. That’s WHY hell is hell. Hell is the one place in creation where God is not.

 

But God also gave us the sacrament of confession, so we can be rescued from the burden of sin. God’s perfect mercy. So, use the confessional often. Sin weighs down the soul and pulls us further from God. Jesus gave his priesthood the power to relieve that burden. USE that gift. Listen to what Jesus said in the Gospel today; “Come to me all of you who are labored and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” The Lord is always inviting us to come to him, to get closer to him, to rest in him, because above all else, he truly does love us. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

In this manner too, we should receive whatever other crosses God sends us. “But,” you reply, “these sufferings are really punishments.” The answer to that remark is: Are not the punishments God sends us in this life also graces and benefits? Our offenses against God must be atoned for somehow, either in this life or in the next. Hence, we should all make St. Augustine’s prayer our own: “Lord, here cut, here burn and spare me not, but spare me in eternity!” Let us say with Job: “Let this be my comfort, that afflicting me with sorrow, he spare not.” Having merited hell for our sins, we should be consoled that God chastises us in this life, and animate ourselves to look upon such treatment as a pledge that God wishes to spare us in the next. When God sends us punishments let us say with the high-priest Heli: “It is the Lord, let him do what is good in his sight.” -Alphonsus di Liguori, uniformity with God’s will

 

Prayer

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy. -Fatima prayer

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Why is it necessary to suffer in this life?

  2. What is the Christian view of suffering?

  3. How does Christ bring rest in suffering?

  4. How should you view the stories in the Old Testament about God’s wrath in light of this?

  5. How does suffering in this life show God’s mercy?

  6. Have you encountered any of the false notions of God that Fr. Sisco mentions?

  7. Have you encountered any other false notions of God that you would like to share?

  8. How does the sacrament of confession reveal that Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light?

  9. How can suffering be both punishment and manifestation of God’s mercy?

  10. How is Jesus the bridge that allows us to touch God again?

 

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 493: Pride: Reflection on Isaiah 10:12-15

 

“But when the LORD has brought to an end all his work on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,

I will punish the utterance of the king of Assyria’s proud heart, and the boastfulness of his haughty eyes.

For he says: “By my own power I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am shrewd.

I have moved the boundaries of peoples, their treasures I have pillaged,

and, like a mighty one, I have brought down the enthroned.

My hand has seized, like a nest, the wealth of nations.

As one takes eggs left alone, so I took in all the earth;

No one fluttered a wing, or opened a mouth, or chirped!”

 

Will the ax boast against the one who hews with it?

Will the saw exalt itself above the one who wields it?

As if a rod could sway the one who lifts it,

or a staff could lift the one who is not wood!” Isaiah 10:12-15

 

What does the prophet Isaiah see as the root of Israel’s problem? If we recall the prophet Hosea, we see that Hosea saw the nation’s problem as being idolatry. Isaiah, if we read him carefully, has made a shift. So, what does HE see the problem as?

 

“For he says, ‘By my own power I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am shrewd.” So, Isaiah sees the problem as being Israel’s PRIDE. But how can that be, Father? If ALL the prophets are being inspired to speak by God, how can they come up with different identifications to the problem? Really, they’re NOT contradictory. Rather, problems evolve. First we get attracted, and then attached to money, flesh, or power. We feel guilty and we try to resist it; but our desire is greater than our love for God. So, we either justify our desire, or we deify our desire, we actually convince ourselves that our desire is REALLY a GOOD thing, rather than a sin.

 

For example, take a teenage girl who has gotten pregnant. She didn’t want to have an abortion, but if she DIDN’T, her parents would disown her, or her boyfriend would leave her, or her pastor would be so disappointed in her, so she has the abortion. Then she convinces herself that this was REALLY the best thing for herself AND her child, because if she did have the baby, what kind of life could she have given it, but now, the child is with God in heaven, so they’re both better off. Then she starts working in the abortion industry or politically advocating the abortion industry, because she feels that she’s empowering women! And that’s a “good” thing!

 

It’s starts with the idol, the desire- she wants to take sex out of the context of marriage, and fulfill her cravings too soon. That leads to murder, which is all abortion is. And that leads to the rationalization, because she can’t face the fact that she murdered her child, and she actually wants MORE women to do this so that she feels justified in her choice. And, finally, THAT evolves into, “I don’t need God.” “By my OWN power I have done it, and by MY wisdom, for I am shrewd.” I am God. I decide what’s right and wrong. MY body, my choice.

 

THAT’S how idolatry evolves into pride- because we just can’t admit we screwed up. So, Isaiah is dealing with the same spiritual problem that Hosea was, just at a different stage of development. As for us, my brothers and sisters, we just can’t be pleasing to the Lord unless we’re willing to surrender ALL areas of our lives to HIS control. This life has nothing to do with MY power or MY wisdom. Holiness begins with the admission ‘I have no power. I have no wisdom.’ Rather, ANYTHING good that comes from me is inspired by God. And anything good that comes TO me, is a gift of his Grace. And Blessed be God forever.

 

-Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

“If I keep my eyes open and my spirit alert, I will live in continual thanksgiving. I am overwhelmed by the memory of so many graces… I will need an eternity to thank you unceasingly. How can I repay you, Lord, for filling my life with so many good things?”

-Venerable Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan

 

Prayer

 

Not to us, LORD, not to us

but to your name give glory

because of your mercy and faithfulness.

Why should the nations say,

“Where is their God?”

Our God is in heaven

and does whatever he wills.

Their idols are silver and gold,

the work of human hands.

They have mouths but do not speak,

eyes but do not see.

They have ears but do not hear,

noses but do not smell.

They have hands but do not feel,

feet but do not walk;

they produce no sound from their throats.

Their makers will be like them,

and anyone who trusts in them.

Psalm 115:1-8 NAB

 

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. How are idolatry and pride related?

  2. Consider the example of the girl whose desire leads to abortion, which leads her into pride. How is this manifest in other socially accepted sins? (for example, homosexual acts)

  3. Father demonstrates how pride responds to a fall into sin. How does humility respond?

  4. What are other remedies to this form of pride?

  5. How does Fr. Sisco’s reflection show that idols are “the work of human hands”?

  6. Do you think that idolatry evolves into pride or that pride evolves into idolatry? Why?

  7. How do the makers of idols come to be like the idols they create?

  8. What are some ways that pride can slip into the life of the Christian who has already rejected the major idols of the world?

  9. How can the Christian combat these more subtle manifestations of pride?

  10. How is thanksgiving a remedy for pride?

  11. What are some other passages in Scripture which demonstrate the problem of pride?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 494: May the Lord Rebuke You: Reflection on Jude 1:5-9

 

I wish to remind you, although you know all things, that [the] Lord who once saved a people from the land of Egypt later destroyed those who did not believe. The angels too, who did not keep to their own domain but deserted their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains, in gloom, for the judgment of the great day.

 

Likewise, Sodom, Gomorrah, and the surrounding towns, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual promiscuity and practiced unnatural vice, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. Similarly, these dreamers nevertheless also defile the flesh, scorn lordship, and revile glorious beings. Yet the archangel Michael, when he argued with the devil in a dispute over the body of Moses, did not venture to pronounce a reviling judgment* upon him but said, “May the Lord rebuke you!” Jude 1:5-9

 

There is an interesting story in this short epistle written by Saint Jude. Why we don’t quote from that epistle as the first reading on his feast day I don’t know. I don’t make those decisions. Anyway, Saint Jude quotes here an apocryphal tale from Jewish folklore about an argument between Saint Michael and Satan over where to bury the body of Moses:

 

Satan is arguing that Moses should have a glorious tomb, with a great monument that everyone can see for miles, and Saint Michael is arguing that Moses’ burial place should be kept secret. What for? Saint Michael knows all too well that at this fragile stage of Israel’s spiritual growth; (remember it was Moses who led the people to freedom after being slaves in Egypt for 400 years,) if they KNOW where Moses is buried, it will become a worship site, a shrine, but that will eventually be perverted into a place of idolatry, which is precisely WHY the devil pushes for a very public burial spot. Saint Michael finally gets tired of arguing and says, “May the Lord rebuke you!”

 

And, my brothers and sisters, that is the PERFECT way to handle the devil! DON’T try to argue with the devil; he’s smarter than you. DON’T try to outwit the devil; he’s craftier than you. DON’T try to overpower the devil; he’s stronger than you. DON’T compete with the devil, like Johnny in the Charlie Daniels song, “The Devil went down to Georgia,” and try to win his golden fiddle! The best way to deal with the devil is by NOT dealing with him at all.

 

When you’re feeling tempted to sin say, “May the Lord rebuke you, Satan!” That’s all! It’s not your job to fight the devil. It IS your job to fight SIN. THAT’S your job! You fight sin by accessing sacramental Grace, persistent prayer, practicing virtue and encouraging others to do the same, but going head to head with the devil is NOT your job. It’s God’s job. So, let God DO His job.

 

“May the Lord rebuke you, Satan!” That’s all you have to say when you’re tempted to sin. Whenever you’re feeling anxious, “May the Lord rebuke you Satan!” Because fear and anxiety are of the devil. Whenever something causes you to lose your peace, “May the Lord rebuke you, Satan!” Even in the midst of turmoil and darkness, the Christian should always have peace, because no matter what disease is ravaging the country, no matter what natural disaster has damaged or destroyed livelihoods, no matter what civil unrest causes dismay or whoever the president is or might be, God is STILL God, and He STILL has dominion, so there is no reason for the Christian to lose his peace. The Saints acted thus; they never lost their peace even as they were being martyred.

 

So, you can also invoke the intercession of the saints; Saint Michael, your guardian angel, the Blessed Mother, your patron saint, or ANY of the saints like Saint Simon and Saint Jude. Let THEM fight the devil. They’re good at it. All we have to do is trust God, stay faithful, and be the best people we can be. Saint Simon and Saint Jude, pray for us. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

The sign of the cross is the most terrible weapon against the devil. Thus the Church wishes not only that we have it continually in front of our minds to recall to us just what our souls are worth and what they cost Jesus Christ, but also that we should make it at every juncture ourselves: when we go to bed, when we awaken during the night, when we get up, when we begin any action, and, above all, when we are tempted. -Saint John Vianney

 

Prayer

 

MOST holy Mary, Queen of Heaven, I who was once the slave of the Evil One now dedicate myself to thy service for ever; and I offer myself, to honour and to serve thee as long as I live. Accept me for thy servant and cast me not away from thee as I deserve. In thee, O my Mother, I place all my hope. All blessing- and thanksgiving be to GOD, who in His mercy giveth me this trust in thee. True it is, that in past time I have fallen miserably into sin; but by the merits of JESUS CHRIST, and by thy prayers, I hope that GOD has pardoned me. But this is not enough, my Mother. One thought appalls me; it is, that I may yet lose the grace of GOD. Danger is ever nigh; the devil sleeps not; fresh temptations assail me. Protect me, then, my Queen; help me against the assaults of my spiritual enemy. Never suffer me to sin again, or to offend JESUS thy Son. Let me not by sin lose my soul, heaven, and my GOD. This one grace, Mary, I ask of thee; this is my desire; this may thy prayers obtain for me. Such is my hope. Amen. -Raccolta, prayer for Monday

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Why shouldn’t you try to argue with the devil?

  2. How can the sign of the Cross help us in temptation?

  3. What other means of aid do we have for times of temptation?

  4. What other passages of scripture or anecdotes from the lives of the saints give good example of how to react in time of temptation?

  5. What is the difference between fighting the devil and fighting sin?

  6. It is a common saying amongst the saints that God send us temptation for our good. How can temptations work for our good?

  7. Do you ever consider that it is still possible to lose the grace of God? How can this thought help you to avoid sin? - Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 495: Duties of a Priest: Reflection on Eph 3:7-10

 

“To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light [for all] what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things, so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens.” - Eph 3:7-10

 

Saint Paul has in a single line summed up the role of Christ’s priests. A priest’s first function is to proclaim the infinite treasure of Christ. A priest’s second function is to safeguard and dispense the sacred mysteries, that is, the sacraments.

 

Proclaiming the infinite treasure of Christ is an insurmountable task for any human being. How can a priest even begin to scratch the surface of the infinite treasure of Christ? It’s so far beyond us, and yet it is made present to us at every Mass.

 

Father Benedict Groeschel, whom some of you may be familiar with if you watch EWTN, has said on more than one occasion that he is not impressed with portrayals of the risen Christ, because there is nothing remarkable about the resurrection. If Jesus was truly God, he would have to rise from the dead. That’s a given. That’s expected. What is truly remarkable, what is truly beyond comprehension, is that the all knowing, all loving, all powerful God, would suffer. That God would die. That God would allow himself to be made into food- that’s remarkable. Yet the infinite treasure of Christ is all contained in that sacred bread. From that Body and Blood flow all gifts, graces, and spiritual power beyond our wildest imaginings.

 

And that power is contained in the second role of the priest, ‘dispensing and safeguarding the sacred mysteries as found in the sacraments.’ We all protect precious things, don’t we? We lock in safes, we deposit in banks, we buy insurance. The sacraments are also precious and contain an awesome power. That’s why we should frequent them as often as we can, to be empowered.

 

I’ll give you some examples of the power of the sacraments. I met a couple once who were married outside the Church, and when I suggested they try to get their marriage sanctioned, the wife got indignant with me and said, “Why? Can’t we love one another just as well without a ceremony, and a piece of paper? Are you saying God won’t love us until we jump through the hoops?” And I explained, “The sacraments aren’t for God. They’re for you! The sacrament of matrimony is the means by which God dispenses that powerful grace so you can keep loving one another just as well even when things aren’t so great!” You want to give the devil a migraine? Pray the rosary! Read scripture! You want to give the devil ulcers? Receive the Blessed Sacrament! You want to give the devil a back ache? Go to confession! These are the weapons God has given us.

 

I can sympathize with Saint Paul when he calls himself the least among the apostles. There were men in my seminary class that would have made far better priests than me that washed out. To this day I don’t know why I made it and some of them didn’t. But now I am being entrusted with the special grace to proclaim the infinite treasures of Christ, and soon to dispense the sacred mysteries. Please pray for me that I do it well, and pray that other young men step up to this challenge.

-Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

“A certain priest in Rome felt great fears at death for his eternal salvation, although he had led a life of retirement and piety. Being asked why he was so much afraid, he answered ‘I am afraid because I have not labored for the salvation of souls.’ He had reason to tremble, since the Lord employs priests to save souls, and to rescue them from vice. Hence, if a priest does not fulfil his duty, he must render to God an account of all the souls that are lost through his fault.”

- St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Dignity and Duties of the Priest

 

Prayer

 

God our Father, please give us holy priests, all for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, all for the Immaculate heart of Mary, in union with Saint Joseph.

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. How is Saint Paul a model of the Priesthood? What other saints give good examples of the priesthood?

  2. Why did God give us the priesthood?

  3. Why is it important to pray for vocations to the priesthood?

  4. Besides prayer, what can we do to support vocations to the priesthood?

  5. How can you assist your priest’s labor for the salvation of souls? (ask your pastor if you are not sure about this)

  6. Why is it so critical that a priest labor for the salvation of souls, and so dangerous for his own salvation if he doesn’t?

  7. How is the Mass the “infinite treasure of Christ”?

  8. In our culture where cohabiting before marriage is so common, how would you defend the importance of sacramental marriage?

  9. Why should we frequent the sacraments as often as we can?

  10. Do you agree with Fr. Groeschel that the Resurrection is unimpressive compared to God suffering and dying for us?

  11. How would our faith suffer if only the Resurrection or only the passion of Our Lord were taught? In other words, why do we need to reflect on both mysteries?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 496: The Earth is Full of the Goodness of the Lord: Reflection on Ps 33:1-5

 

“Rejoice, you righteous, in the LORD;

praise from the upright is fitting.

Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;

on the ten-stringed lyre offer praise.

Sing to him a new song;

skillfully play with joyful chant.

For the LORD’s word is upright;

all his works are trustworthy.

He loves justice and right.

The earth is full of the mercy of the LORD.”

-Psalm33:1-5 NAB

 

“The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” The earth IS full of the goodness of the Lord. That is a fact. So, do you see goodness, or do you only see badness? Right now, we have a highly contagious virus that is active in the world, but 99% of people who contract it will survive. In our country we DO have some racists; but 95% of the people you meet are color blind and don’t have a racist bone in their body. We have some BAD police officers, but 90% of them would lay down their lives to protect yours. And we have some BAD priests, (and I’m not just talking about sex predators, they’re a VERY small percentage, but I’m also including lazy priests, indifferent priests, mean priests, selfish priests, materialistic priests, and priests that just promote agenda’s contrary to the Church,) but 80% of them are hardworking, dedicated, disciples of Christ, trying to help as many souls to heaven as they can. My brothers and sisters, if you choose to SEE evil, then evil is ALL you will see. And I fear that among US, the daily Mass goers, the people who REALLY invest themselves in their faith, this is a very REAL temptation; to see only evil around us. The problem with that is that it leads us to become jaded and cynical.

 

Everyone is calling 2020 a bad year, myself included. It has been challenging no doubt. But in the midst of all these trials and difficulties, God has given us food. He’s given us a roof over our heads. He’s given us clothing. He’s protected us and our families. The earth is FULL of the goodness of the Lord. See the goodness around you and be encouraged. There are good people everywhere doing many good things for no personal gain whatsoever. So be a reflection of what you would like to receive.

 

If you want love, GIVE love. If you want truth, BE truthful. If you WANT respect, GIVE respect. That doesn’t mean that IF we give these things, they will automatically be returned to us.

I always try to be truthful, yet people lie to me all the time to get what they want or try to manipulate me to their agendas. As Christians we do NOT believe in Karma, that what we give will come back to us. But IF we give what we would also like to receive, it does help us recognize the goodness of the Lord that is all around us. And THAT will help us maintain our peace and keep us from getting discouraged.

 

My brothers and sisters, the earth IS FULL of the goodness of the Lord! SEEK that goodness, and always attempt to REFLECT that goodness, and then others will start to reflect it as well.

Blessed be God forever. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

-St Mother Teresa of Calcutta

 

Prayer

 

Lord, help me to see your goodness present all around me, in creation, in my neighbor, in myself. Then help me to love You in my neighbor, even when he is being a poor reflection of You, and help me to let your light shine through me that I may become a better reflection of you to my neighbor.

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. How are mercy and goodness related?

  2. What is the moral problem with becoming jaded and cynical?

  3. How is the attitude Fr. Sisco describes similar and different to the world’s concept of “optimism”?

  4. How can you combat the tendency to see the worst around you?

  5. Which of the lines from the quote from Mother Teresa challenges you most?

  6. How does giving what we would like to receive help us to recognize the goodness around us?

  7. How can seeking the goodness of the Lord help you to reflect it?

  8. Mother Teresa highlights how our efforts to do good often don’t reward us in this life. How should we respond when this happens?

  9. Social media platforms are often the worst place for spreading negativity. What is one concrete way to combat the “bad news” constantly present there? If you don’t use social media, what is a concrete way that you can combat the “bad news” that reaches you?

  10. What other passages in scripture reflect this theme?

  11. Can you think of any instances from the lives of the saints or from someone in your own life that exemplifies being a light in dark or bad times? How can this example inspire you?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 497: Pride of Thought: Reflection on Job 42:1-6

 

1 Then Job answered the Lord and said: 2 I know that you can do everything and no thought is hidden from you. 3 Who is the man who foolishly hides his plan without your knowledge? So I have spoken foolishly about things which far exceed my knowledge. 4 Listen, and I will speak, I will question you and answer me. 5 My ear heard you; now however my eye sees you. 6 Therefore I reproach myself and I do penance in dust and ashes. -Job 42:1-6

 

Trust in the Lord. In the book of Job, Job, a righteous man, has lost everything in a day. He lost his wealth, his children, his health, and his friends have come to console him, and they’re trying to figure out how this happened. And they keep trying to convince Job that he’s done something to offend God and he deserves this, and Job keeps maintaining his innocence.

 

So, Job says, “How can a man be justified before God,” meaning, “Aren’t ALL of us sinners? No one can claim to be pure before God, and God can’t be deceived. He sees everything, he hears everything, he KNOWS everything. He has power over everything.” And Job is TRYING to trust the Lord, but he struggles with it. He struggles with it because he can’t see any justification for what he’s going through. But as this situation keeps wearing on Job, as he continues to suffer, as his friends continue to badger him, we see another side of Job. He recounts all of his good deeds and says now people are laughing at him.

 

He says how the elders all used to bow with respect when he approached, and now they hold him in contempt. And NOW Job’s sin becomes apparent. He’s PROUD of his righteousness! And then Job REALLY messes up! In his pride, he challenges God. He says if he could just appear in the Lord’s court, he could PROVE that he’s right and God is wrong. And THAT’S when God finally shows up to straighten Job out. And the Lord points out to Job that he has no right to question why God does the things he does, because God has the advantage of seeing the big picture. Job never would have discovered this flaw in his character if God had not allowed him to go through this. Basically, the Lord says to Job, “If your righteousness had any depth, you should have trusted me.” That’s so easy to say when we see it in someone else, or even in ourselves in retrospect. But it’s HARD to see that in the moment, isn’t it? When we are the ones in suffering, it’s so HARD to trust God, and instead say, “God, WHY are you letting this happen to me?”

 

Jesus reiterates this message. A man wants to follow Jesus, and how does Jesus respond? “Foxes have dens, and the birds have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” “So, what are you saying? You want me to rent you a room at the Radisson? NO. If you’re going to follow me, you’ve got to trust God, because I can’t even provide a place for you to stay.” Another agrees to follow Jesus, but he wants to bury his father FIRST. Reasonable request. Burying the dead is an act of mercy. Jesus rejects him for it. Why? He doesn’t trust God. Jesus should be first. Answering God’s call should be first. But if he DOESN’T go home to bury his father, it will be seen as a mark of shame and disgrace by his family and his neighbors. Yup. “So, do you trust me or not?” Same thing with the third guy. “I’ll follow you, just let me go and say goodbye to my family FIRST.” “No. If you want to follow me I have to be first, last, and everything in between, because if I’m not, you don’t trust God.” You see my brothers and sisters, Jesus can be pretty demanding, but he demands that we trust God.

 

Let’s put this to the test. We all have an idea of who we want the next president to be. But instead of praying that YOUR candidate win, are you willing to pray that the candidate GOD favors win the election? And if the candidate you vote for DOESN’T win, are you willing to accept it as God’s will? That’s what I’m doing, because I trust God. How about you?

-Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

After the Lord reproved Job for his intemperate speech which seemed to smack of pride because he asserted that he was just so much that it seemed to some people to lead to the derogation of divine justice, Job humbly answers considering himself convinced. First, he confesses the divine excellence with respect to power, and so the text says, “Job answered the Lord and said: I know that you can do everything;” also as to knowledge and so he says, “and no thought is hidden from you.” ...From the consideration of the divine excellence he proceeds to consider his own fault when he says, “So I have spoken foolishly,” in not showing due reverence for divine excellence in my words, “about things which far exceed by knowledge,” in discussing divine judgments. Because, “I have spoken foolishly” in what remains I will speak wisely, and so he says, “Listen and I will speak,” and confess my fault... “I will ask you,” by asking, seeking and knocking, (Matt. 7:7) “and answer me,” by instructing me interiorly. He shows why he has so changed saying, “My ear heard you,” once when I was speaking foolishly;” now, however, my eye sees you,” that is, I know you more fully than before, just as things which are seen with the eyes are more certain than what is heard with the ear. He truly has grown both from his suffering and from divine revelation... he continues, “I do penance in dust and ashes,” as a sign of the frailty of corporeal nature. For humble satisfaction befits the expiation of pride of thought. -Saint Thomas Aquinas

 

Prayer

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, O Jesus. - from the litany of humility

 

Questions for Reflection

 

1. What did Job do well in his time of trial? What did he do poorly?

2. How did Job learn from his trial?

3. How do you handle trials?

4. Job is considered by the Church Fathers to be a type of Christ, as are David, Moses, Abraham and Adam. How can these figures, all of whom are imperfect, be types of Christ?

5. How can we learn from the flaws of the Old Testament patriarchs? How can we learn from their virtues?

6. Why does following Jesus demand radical trust?

7. Reflect on the obstacles that prevented the three men from following Jesus. Are any of these obstacles similar to blocks in your own life which keep you from more totally following the Lord?

8. Father Sisco proposes that “trust” is the theme of both the book of Job and the instance of the men who nearly followed the Lord, yet their situations are very different. How is it different trusting the Lord before following Him versus in the midst of the trials associated with following Him?

9. How does trust in God counter pride? What are other remedies to pride?

 

- Erin Wells

1 Mercy- from the Hebrew “hesed,” which is used here, has in other translations been called “goodness” or “kindness”

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