Weeks 71-80

Week 71: The Worth of Eternity: A Reflection on John 16:20

 

“I tell you truly: you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices; you will grieve for a time, but your grief will be turned to joy.” (Jn16: 20)

               

There are a few things we must ascribe to Jesus; he’s brutally honest. He doesn’t pull any punches or sugar coat anything. Second, Jesus is extremely focused. Everything he does is geared toward fulfilling his purpose, his vocation. He heals, he preaches, he suffers and dies, all to fulfill his purpose.

 

Some will use the fact that Jesus was rather a rather social person, going to parties, weddings and the like, as an excuse to reduce Christianity to nothing but social events. Yes, there is a social aspect to the faith. We are called to be fraternal. But also realize that Jesus never steps out his role at social gatherings.    He uses social gatherings as opportunities to teach either through example or parable or even reprimand. He stayed focused on his goal.

 

And the last thing we must ascribe to Jesus is that he is amazingly realistic in communicating what God expects from us, and with what we can expect from the world. For example Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” He never said, “Like your enemies.” It’s unrealistic that you’re going to “like” everyone because “like” is an emotional reaction. It’s impossible to like everyone. But loving someone is wanting what’s best for them, and that we can even do for our enemies.

 

The above Scripture quote is another example. Jesus doesn’t give the illusion that his followers are going to enjoy all pie in the sky; in fact, he told us to expect the exact opposite. “You will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.” Jesus doesn’t give his followers any false hopes. He tells us very plainly that his way, the Lord’s way, is a difficult way. He tells us very plainly that his way, the Lord’s way, will be opposed by the world, so much so that the world will rejoice at our sorrow. So much so that the world will call good the very things that we consider evil.

 

There used to be a time when most people in the country were appalled at the thought of abortion. Now it’s an uphill battle for a politician to get elected if they’re NOT pro-abortion. Jesus predicted that some would think that destroying us is actually doing a service to God or society. As examples, I give you radical Islam, secular humanism and atheism.

 

Well, golly gee, there’s some good motivations for wanting to be a Christian. Nothing but blood, sweat and tears all the way! Woo-hoo! Where do I sign up? I mean, are we called to be a Church of masochists or something? No. A masochist is someone who takes pleasure from pain. A sadist is someone who takes pleasure from inflicting pain. We are called to be neither. We are called to be Christian.

               

That means we are called to be a people of hope in the midst of pain, because hope is easy for anyone when things are going good. In what do Christians hope? If Jesus said the world is like this, what are we hoping in? We are hoping in the fact that everything we suffer brings us closer to eternal joy. We hope that everything we suffer will ultimately make the world better. Jesus uses the image of the woman in labor; she first grieves over the pain she’s in, but after her child is born, she forgets the pain and rejoices.

 

So everything comes down to this question, “What is eternity worth to me?” If we really believe what Christ put forward, we must make a choice between Christianity, which means persecution, opposition, and suffering in this life for the sake of something better later, or paganism, which suggests you should get your pleasures now, because there’s nothing later.

               

If we believe in Christ, we won’t lose hope, because we know something better awaits us. If we really believe what Christ put forward, we can’t remain indifferent or silent on moral issues. When people are wrong, we have to tell them so because Jesus told us that we can’t compromise with the world. Jesus laid it all open for us with no surprises, no fine print, and no hidden costs.

 

So what is eternity worth to you? Consider that question today.

 

Blessed Be God Forever.

Father Michael Anthony Sisco

Visitor, Confraternity of Penitents

 

Quote From a Saint: “We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials." -- Saint Teresa of Avila

 

Prayer By a Saint “Give me Yourself, O my God, give Yourself to me. Behold I love You, and if my love is too weak a thing, grant me to love You more strongly. I cannot measure my love to know how much it falls short of being sufficient, but let my soul hasten to Your embrace and never be turned away until it is hidden in the secret shelter of Your presence. This only do I know, that it is not good for me when You are not with me, when You are only outside me. I want You in my very self. All the plenty in the world which is not my God is utter want. Amen.” – Saint Augustine of Hippo

 

Questions for Reflection:

1. Over what does the world rejoice?

 

2. What makes you weep and mourn?  Why?

 

3. What would you consider good motivation for being Christian?

 

4. When you are in pain, for what do you hope?

 

5. Where, on the list of things hoped for when you are suffering, would you find the desire to make the world a better place? 

 

6. Where on that same list would you find eternal joy?

 

7. On Holy Thursday, Saint Peter believed that he was willing to pay the price of death. What price are you willing to pay for that eternal joy?

 

8. What changed in Saint Peter from Good Friday to his acceptance of martyrdom?

 

9. What price are you willing to pay when confronted on matters of faith or morals or when an opportunity arises to publicly evangelize? 

 

10. What could transform you to acceptance of martyrdom? 

 

By Susan Boudreau

Week 72: The Catholic Church Always Leaves the Door Open: A Reflection on Luke 15: 1-10

 

 

Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’

 

 

So he told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.

 

 

‘Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15: 1-10)

 

 

This Gospel is one of my favorites--Jesus dining with the sinners and tax collectors. And the Pharisee’s are scandalized by this, and it’s kind of understandable why. Even their title, Pharisee, (Par-oosh—eea) means in Hebrew to be set apart. This was the wisdom of the day that came from the Mosaic Law. You separated yourself from the sinner, you shunned the sinner, for two reasons. If you didn’t he may never fully realize the extent of how wrong his sin is and keep doing it. And if you didn’t shun the sinner, his bad influences might start to effect you.

 

 

And to a degree, we still do this. Saint Paul warns us in his letter to the Corinthians to be careful about the company we keep, and not to surround ourselves with friends who will discourage us from the spiritual life. In the early Church there was a renegade bishop who was putting forth false teachings after repeated warnings from the apostles. In one of Saint John’s letters he tells the people not to have anything to do with him, and that John has “given him over to Satan,” in other words, excommunicated him.

 

 

But the difference between the Pharisee’s and Jesus, the difference between the Pharisee’s and the apostles, is that Jesus and the apostles always gave people the chance to repent. The Pharisee’s didn’t. Note that in this gospel Jesus doesn’t deny that these people are sinners. He indirectly calls them “lost” by means of the one sheep, and the one silver coin. Jesus isn’t doing a warm fuzzy here. He’s not denying the existence or the seriousness of sin. But he is giving the sinner the invitation to repent.

 

 

I’ve always loved the sacrament of reconciliation, but I especially love offering the sacrament after wedding rehearsals. I hear some of my best confessions after wedding rehearsals. Many times I get people who haven’t gone to confession in years. And I believe they come because I extend the invitation right at the end of the rehearsal; “I don’t care how long it’s been since you’ve been to confession, and I don’t care what you’ve done. My wedding gift to you is that everyone who comes to confession gets off with three Hail Mary’s.”

 

 

Once I get them into the confessional I can deal with the seriousness of whatever sins they’ve committed, and talk to them about that. What they do with that when they leave the confessional is up to them, but at least I can say I made sure they got the dishes done once in their lives. And many times this provokes discussions in the confessional. In a previous parish assignment, I had someone come to confession after a wedding rehearsal who told me the reason she didn’t come to church was the problems she had with some Church teachings. And as I explained some things we discovered that she really didn’t have that big of a problem with Church teachings, but rather what she thought some Church teachings were. She still had a long way in her understanding to go but at least we got started, and it all started with an invitation to repent.

 

 

Yes, we all have a duty to hold the sinner accountable. We all have a duty not to be permissive in our speech or behavior towards certain beliefs or activities. But we always have to leave a door open for the sinner to return through.

 

 

And I have to say that is why I love Roman Catholicism, and that is why I don’t think I could ever be anything but a Catholic priest. I remember a comedian who came to Roger Williams College when I was a student there. He said something like this. “I’m a Catholic, but I haven’t been to Mass for seven years. I don’t give the Church my money. I never go to confession. I love being a Catholic because they never kick you out.” Now while he was making a joke, there is some truth in what he said. The Catholic Church always leaves the door open for repentance. That’s why I love Roman Catholicism.

 

 

Every sacrament is an invitation to grow in holiness.

 

 

Every sacrament is an invitation to grow in the image and likeness of God.

 

 

Every sacrament is an invitation to change our lives.

 

 

And may Jesus Christ be praised!

 

 

Father Michael Sisco

Visitor of the Confraternity of Penitents

 

 

Quote from a Saint: “God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.”
― Augustine of Hippo

 

 

Prayer:

Oh, my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all because I have offended Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen. (The Act of Contrition)

 

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

 

1. How often do you receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Do you think that frequency is good or should you go more often?

 

2. Do you have trouble remembering your sins when you approach the sacrament? If so, what might help you do better?

 

3. What harm comes from shunning the sinner? How should we behave around someone who is engaged in sin?

 

4. Have you ever recalled a sinner from his ways? Why did you do that? How did you do that? If you have never done it, do you feel you should have tried?

 

5. How can you know when to speak to someone about their sins? Is it sometimes wiser to remain silent? If so, how can you avoid giving scandal by appearing to approve of sin?

 

6. Do you know anyone who has not been to confession in a long time? Is there anything you can do or say to encourage them to return to the Sacrament? What part might your prayer for that person play in their return?

 

7. How can we hold a sinner accountable for sin and yet leave the door open for him or her to return to the Church? Discuss how this might happen with someone you know (without using specific names or details).

 

8. Have you ever been freed from grave sin? Or do you know someone who has been freed? How did that feel?

 

9. Evaluate your friends. Do you need to find more spiritual companions? Where will you find them?

 

10. Evaluate your work environment. Does it help or hinder your spiritual development? How can you be a witness there if your co-workers and/or boss are obviously not following God's commandments. What can you do, say, wear, and how can you act to help effect change? Where does prayer fit in?

 

 

--Madeline Pecora Nugent

 

Week 73: On a Mission from God: A Reflection on Ephesians 1: 4-7

 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1: 4-7)

 

At first glance, our first reading from the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians might not seem like much to comment about. Here’s Paul, as usual, opening one of his letters praising God. But what makes this significant, is that Paul is writing this letter from the loneliness of prison.

 

Now for any of us that would be depressing enough in our modern prisons. But in Paul’s day, conditions of the typical Roman prison were appalling. In this country, prisoners have rights. In Paul’s day a prisoner had no rights. If you were lucky enough to get a cell on the outer wall you might get light through a small window. If not, other than torches, your day was spent in almost complete darkness. The air was foul, the food was wretched, the discipline was savage, and there was no sanitation to speak of. Prisoners were not allowed outside for air or exercise, there was no way to stay warm in the winter or cool in the summer, and more prisoners died from disease every year than execution.

 

And yet in the midst of that, Paul can open this open this letter, not just with a generic prayer thanking God, but praising God eloquently. And I think what gave Paul the strength to endure these extreme sufferings he went through was the knowledge that is expressed in one line of this opening prayer. “God chose us in him before the world began to be holy and blameless in his sight.”

 

Saint Paul isn’t just spouting this off because it seems like a real romantic, poetic, thing to say. St. Paul believed this to the very depths of his soul. That is what gave him the strength to endure the sufferings he did. Paul recognized that every Christian has been given a glorious vocation. God chose us in him. We have been chosen. This is not arbitrary. This is not chance. God has chosen each one us to be Christian because God sees in us something unique and valuable we can contribute to his kingdom. And because we are chosen we are called to be holy and blameless in his sight, so w can be an example to the world.

 

This is something that many modern Christians have lost sight of. I think many people treat their Catholic faith like, well I had no choice. This was the faith I was born into. My family are all Catholics and so I’m following tradition. This is completely false. You’re Catholic because God chose you to be. You are Catholic because God has you on a mission to be a holy witness so you  can help convert the world! Not bad!

 

I remember that movie with Dan Ackroid and John Belushi, The Blues Brothers. They kept saying all throughout the movie, “We’re on a mission from God.” Now I don’t approve of some of the tactics that the Blues Brothers used to accomplish that mission, but they had the right idea, they knew they were on a mission. And once they knew they were on a mission they invested everything they had to accomplish that mission. And making that commitment gave them the strength they needed to overcome the obstacles they encountered.

 

That is also what gave Saint Paul the strength to overcome adversity in his ministry. And it is that knowledge that gives us the strength to overcome the obstacles in our lives as well.

 

And Blessed Be God forever! 

Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint:

 

“A good vocation is simply a firm and constant will in which the person who is called must serve God in the way and in the places to which almighty God has called him.” – Saint Francis de Sales

 

Prayer from a Saint:

 

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.  – Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

1. Have you ever felt imprisoned? When? What were the circumstances?

 

2. Are more prisons without bars than with them? Explain your answer.

 

3. Do you feel that you have a mission from God? Why or why not?

 

4. What made you first realize your mission from God?

 

5. Why might people believe that they have no mission from God? Why might they think that?

 

6. Do you believe that every person has a mission in life? Why do you say this?

 

7. Why are you Catholic? Is that a good reason? Why should you be Catholic?

 

8. Where do you find strength when things grow difficult? Is there any way to help others find strength in similar situations?

 

9. What in Scripture proves that God is with us wherever we are? Do you believe this?

 

10. Is there a difference between a vocation and a mission? What might that difference be? How do you know if you are on a mission or if you have a vocation? Can these ever be the same?

 

--Madeline Pecora Nugent

Week 74: Who Do You Say That I Am?: A Reflection on Luke 9:18-20

 

 

 

18 Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ 19They answered, ‘John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.’ 20He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered, ‘The Messiah of God.’ (Luke 9: 18-20)

 

 

In the Gospel reading, we see people puzzled over the identity of this Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus asks his apostles, “Who do the people say that I am?" They answer, “Some say Elijah, some say John the Baptist, some say one of the prophets of old.”

 

This is a recurring theme in the Gospels - people trying to figure out just who or what Jesus is.

 

We even see this in the way different people address Jesus. Some call Jesus “Rabbi”, some call him “teacher”. The Samaritan woman in John’s Gospel says, “Sir, I perceive you are a prophet.” Some call Jesus, “Lord”.

 

And it’s interesting, that everyone who dwells on this question of who Jesus is, will get an opportunity to discover who Jesus really is, if they have the faith to see the opportunity when it arises.

 

The Roman centurion with the dying servant who sends for Jesus, because he has the faith to see that Jesus is a man of authority, in the supernatural, has that faith affirmed by the miracle that follows.

 

The Samaritan woman, who perceives that Jesus is a prophet, and not just a prophet, but the prophet, the Messiah, which was the only prophet whom Samaritans would acknowledge, not only comes to understand who Jesus is herself, but becomes the instrument of conversion for her entire village.

 

Now, why do I pick these two examples? Because both of these people are pagan. The centurion is obviously pagan. He is an officer in the Roman army. The Samaritan woman is a half Jew. Herod was an Edomite. He was a foreign king. And I find Herod to be one of the most tragic figures in the Gospels, because he does have a degree of faith. Herod has great potential. But, because he will not let go of himself, his pride, his lust, that faith is killed. Even though Herod has John the Baptist imprisoned, Herod is captivated by John’s words. This shows that Herod has faith potential. But what leads Herod to execute John? Lust, for his stepdaughter and his wife’s challenging his pride. When given the option, Herod gives in to the flesh. Then Herod hears about Jesus, and he is very anxious to meet Jesus. Again, there is a faith potential. But when Herod gets his opportunity, when Jesus is arrested and brought before him, because Jesus won’t perform for him, because Jesus won’t dazzle him with a miracle, Herod sends him back to Pilate.

 

Why does Jesus perform a miracle for the Roman Centurion? Because the Centurion was a man with great power and authority, but who had the faith to submit that authority before Jesus.

 

Why does Jesus emotionally and spiritually heal the Samaritan woman? Because she was a woman of the flesh, ostracized by her community, who had the faith potential to see that Jesus was more than he appeared to be and submitted to that.

 

Herod also had faith potential, but instead of allowing his faith to overcome himself, he allows his pride and his flesh to bury his faith.

 

And so the question remains for us, are we allowing our faith to discover who Jesus is, and where he is directing our lives, or are we allowing ourselves to get in the way? This is why a daily examination of conscience and frequent confession is necessary to the spiritual life. We always have to be challenging ourselves to remove what is blocking us from discovering the identity of Jesus.

 

And Blessed Be God forever!

--Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote of a Saint:

I see in my neighbor the Person of Jesus Christ. -Saint Gerard Majella

 

 

 

Prayer: The Jesus Prayer

 

 

 

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

1. Read the Jesus Prayer. Who is Jesus according to this prayer? Who are you? State your feelings about the difference between you and Jesus.

 

2. Why does knowing who we are help us to know who Jesus is?

 

3. Make a list of all the different titles for Jesus that you can think of. Discuss these. Which ones seem to capture more completely the fullness of Christ. Or do any of them? Discuss reasons for your response.

 

4. Who do people say Jesus is if they don't believe in His Divinity? Make a list of these descriptions of Jesus. Discuss the pros and cons of each.

 

5. Fr. Sisco chose examples of people who were pagans and yet who believed in Jesus. Is it possible for this same thing to happen today? Why or why not?

 

6. Make a list of all the things that you can think of that block faith in Christ. Is there any way to combat these?

 

7. What in your own life can block your faith in Christ? How can you deal with that?

 

8. What is your favorite title for Jesus? Why?

 

--Madeline Pecora Nugent

Week 75: A Church Built on Rock: A Reflection on Matthew 16: 17-18

 

 

“Blest are you, Simon bar Jonah! For no mere man has revealed this to you but my heavenly Father. I, for my part, declare that you are ‘Rock,’ and on this rock I will build my Church, and the jaws of death will not prevail against it.”(Matthew 16: 17-18)

 

 

 

When I was ordained a deacon my friend, Dean Perri, and I made a pilgrimage to Rome. On this trip we went on what is called, “The Scavi.” The Scavi is a tour of the catacombs and passages that rest under St. Peter’s basilica in Rome.

 

 

Since the age of antiquity, tradition had held that Saint Peter was buried under the main altar of the basilica. In this century, however, theologians had proposed that this was probably one of those foolish Catholic myths, and Saint Peter was most likely buried in one of the catacombs on the outskirts of the city, with the other first century Christians, if he was even buried in Rome at all.

 

 

Well, in the 1930’s, when renovation was being done of the foundation of the Basilica, a workman fell through a weak spot in the floor, into an ancient mausoleum, a tomb. Workman began excavating around the tomb and found a whole network of early Christian tombs and caverns. Construction was suspended during World War II, but these caverns came in handy in which the Vatican could hide Jews trying to escape the Nazi occupation.

 

 

When excavation continued in the 1950’s, the excavators found a tomb set aside by itself. There were Christian graffiti markings carved all around the opening and an inscription in Latin that read, “Peter the apostle.” Now scientists cannot confirm that the bones that were found were those of Saint Peter, but this is what they can say. The bones are those of a robust male of the first century AD and are Middle Eastern in origin. And what makes the find even more significant is that there were no feet found with the bones.

 

 

Remember that Saint Peter was crucified upside down. Christianity was an illegal religion in the empire. The Christians that retrieved his body had to do it quickly and at night, and the quickest way to get his body off the cross would have been to lop off his feet.

 

 

When engineers determined the location of the tomb, they found it directly sixty feet below the main altar at Saint Peter’s Basilica. So this Gospel reading from St. Matthew has taken on a new meaning for me, because now I realize that, when Jesus said to Peter, “You are rock, and on this rock I build my Church,” Jesus was speaking figuratively and literally. For the capitol of Catholic Churches is literally built on a foundation of the bones of Saint Peter.

 

 

To me the Scavi just a further testimony of the Primacy of Saint Peter, and the authenticity of the papacy. That the early Christians would take such care to preserve Peter’s remains, and take such risks to retrieve his body--to mark the spot so that later a mausoleum, a church, and finally a basilica would be built over that spot three hundred years later--shows me how important it was to the early Christians to preserve the oral tradition, and how significant Peter and the succession of Popes was to them. We are so blessed to have such a Church, with a long spiritual tradition. A church that has undergone suffering and persecution in every century since its birth and that has somehow always managed to survive, because the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, has always supplied good shepherds to lead the people, and a shepherd to lead the shepherds. A church that has made some mistakes in the past, but has always bounced back, because it’s a Church built on a solid foundation, a foundation of rock.

 

 

Let’s pray now. “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Lord God we thank you for the gift of Your Church, the gift of Your Papacy, and the gift of the witness of the martyrs. We ask you to send your spirit especially today to our Pope, to strengthen him to carry on the task that Saint Peter began as the shepherd of shepherds. And we ask all of this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

 

 

And blessed be God forever.

Father Michael Anthony Sisco, Visitor, Confraternity of Penitents

 

 

Quote from a Saint:

 

"It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up completely and remember that I am the Pope." -- Blessed Pope John XXIII

 

 

 

Prayer:

 

O Lord, we are the millions of believers, humbly kneeling at Thy feet and begging Thee to preserve, defend and save the Sovereign Pontiff for many years. He is the Father of the great fellowship of souls and our Father as well. On this day, as on every other day, he is praying for us also, and is offering unto Thee with holy fervor the sacred Victim of love and peace.

 

Wherefore, O Lord, turn Thyself toward us with eyes of pity; for we are now, as it were, forgetful of ourselves, and are praying above all for him. Do Thou unite our prayers with his and receive them into the bosom of Thine infinite mercy, as a sweet savor of active and fruitful charity, whereby the children are united in the Church to their Father. All that he asks of Thee this day, we too ask it of Thee in unison with him.

 

Whether he weeps or rejoices, whether he hopes or offers himself as a victim of charity for his people, we desire to be united with him; nay more, we desire that the cry of our hearts should be made one with his. Of Thy great mercy grant, O Lord, that not one of us may be far from his mind and his heart in the hour that he prays and offers unto Thee the Sacrifice of Thy blessed Son. At the moment when our venerable High Priest, holding in His hands the very Body of Jesus Christ, shall say to the people over the Chalice of benediction these words: "The peace of the Lord be with you always," grant, O Lord, that Thy sweet peace may come down upon our hearts and upon all the nations with new and manifest power. Amen.

 

-- Pope Leo XIII

 

 

Questions for Reflection:
 

    • Do you pray for the Pope? What may we hope to achieve by our prayers for the Pope?

    • Why do you think Jesus put someone at the head of His Church?

    • What does the Scavi reveal about the early Christians’ reverence for Peter? For the remains of the dead?

    • Pope Leo XIII’s prayer contains the line, “we desire to be united with him,” meaning, with the Pope. Are you united with the Pope? How?

    • Father Sisco reflects that the Vatican is built on the tomb of St. Peter which gives a double meaning to “You are rock and on this rock I will build My Church.” Can you think of any other sayings of Jesus that had a double meaning that was apparent only after a time?

    • What does Blessed John XXIII’s quote reveal about the humanity of the Pope? How must a Pope feel when he realizes that “the buck stops here?” Or does it?

    • What do you consider to be the main duty of the Pope? Why?

    • Discuss the personality of St. Peter and how it make him a good choice for the first Pope.

 

  • What do you see as strengths of the current Pope? Why do you say that?

 

 

 

--Madeline Pecora Nugent

Week 76: Food and Intimacy: A Reflection on John 21: 1-14

 

“After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way.2Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin,* Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.3Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ 6He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. T7      hat disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the lake. 8But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards* off.

9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.” (John 21: 1-14)


There are so many little details about this reading that I love; I couldn’t possibly speak of them all. But my favorite line is; “When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire there with a fish laid on it and some bread.” And then Jesus said, “Come and eat your meal.”
 
Jesus is always feeding people. So often when we see Jesus, it’s in association with food. Mary lays him in a manger. A manger is a feeding trough for animals. Jesus’ first miracle is changing water to wine. Jesus multiplies loaves of bread and fish. Jesus commissions Peter, James and John, after a miracle like the one above, when their fishing nets caught so many fish they were in danger of breaking. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” Jesus described heaven as a banquet.
 
So often Jesus is surrounded by, or associated with, food. That’s probably why everyone in my hometown thinks that Jesus was Italian. Jesus is always feeding people. Why? Why food? Isn’t food such a functional part of our existence? Yes, of course it is. The purpose of food is to supply nutrition to the body, but let’s face it; food goes way beyond its biological purpose.
 
When we get together with friends we say, “let’s have lunch,” or “let’s get some coffee.”  Whenever we go over to someone’s house, the first thing they do is break out the food. “Here, have something to eat.” Whenever a couple starts dating, the first step of a courting ritual is to take your date out to a nice restaurant. There’s a bonding experience that comes from breaking bread with someone. There’s an intimacy that gets formed.
 
And I think that’s why we get so many food images with Jesus. Jesus longs to be intimate with us. Jesus wants to get close to us. Jesus longs to feed us! So Jesus comes to us as food. What a gift! What a joy! We have a God that longs to be intimate with us. We have a God that longs to get close to us. We have a God that longs to feed us, with a desire so great he’s willing to be the food himself.
 
It is my prayer for all of us today that we,  and all Catholics everywhere, come to appreciate the unique and precious gift we have in the Eucharist.

 

Blessed be God forever,

Father Michael Anthony Sisco

Visitor to the Confraternity of Penitents

 

Quote From a Saint: “Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven.” -- Pope St. Pius X

“If it is "daily bread," why do you take it once a year? . . . Take daily what is to profit you daily. Live in such a way that you may deserve to receive it daily. He who does not deserve to receive it daily, does not deserve to receive it once a year.”  -- Saint Ambrose of Milan

 

Prayer by a Saint: “Mary, Give us a heart as beautiful, pure, and spotless as yours. A heart like yours, so full of love and humility. May we be able to receive Jesus as the Bread of Life, to love Him as you loved Him, to serve Him under the mistreated face of the poor. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” – Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

1. What is your favorite food?

 

2. What about that food makes it your favorite? 

 

3. Which of your senses are delighted by this food?

 

4. Describe the setting in which you last had that food.

 

5. What feeds your mind?

 

6. What feeds your heart?

 

7. What feeds your soul?

 

8. How do you respond to the Eucharist to make the meal mutually intimate?

 

9. How do you feed Jesus?

 

By Susan Boudreau

Week 77: Spiritual Treasure: A Reflection on Matthew 6:20

 

‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust* consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust* consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ (MT 6:19-21)

 

I think this is a good verse for our country today, because we see all kinds of people spending all kinds of energy building an earthly legacy. Jesus tells us that none of that matters, because whatever treasure we can build for ourselves can be taken away by any number of circumstances beyond our control.

 

Look at how easily the price of gas can throw the mighty United States of America into a tizzy. Look at how easily an oil spill, or the stock market, or civil unrest in a country on the other side of globe, can, in one fell swoop, destroy what we’ve worked so hard to save. These are some examples of what happens when we trust too much in an earthly treasure.

 

Now, Jesus is not saying that we have to live from hand to mouth everyday. Jesus is not telling us that we cannot provide a future for our family and ourselves. Jesus is saying, “Don’t get carried away. Do what you need to do to get by, but don’t get so consumed with this world that you neglect to invest in your eternal future.”

 

Now this would seem to go without saying, but you will be surprised at some of the lame excuses I hear from people because they weren’t at Sunday Mass. Oh, we missed Mass because the kids had a sporting event: a soccer game, or baseball game. Oh, we skipped Mass this week to go to the beach. I like to sleep in on Sunday. Or Sunday is the only day I have to work in the yard or around the house. What are all these things? Earthly treasures! And someday, like all earthly treasures, they’ll be dust.

 

Now I know I’m preaching to the choir out here, you who go to daily Mass and receive the Sacraments regularly, but I’m telling you this so that, if you know any people like this in your life, you can pass this on.

 

The Catholic Church has made salvation relatively easy. We don’t put a lot of burdens on people so that they have to earn their way into heaven. Basically, the requirements are: attend Mass on Sunday, fast two days a year (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday), give what you can to charity, go to confession regularly, and make a little time for prayer so the Lord can form your conscience. That’s it! Doesn’t get much easier than that.

 

Go out and tell your families, go out and tell your friends and your co-workers, not to get so caught up in their worldly concerns that they neglect their spiritual treasures because life is fleeting, and there’s not a moment to waste.

 

Blessed be God forever,

Father Michael Sisco

Visitor to the Confraternity

 

 

Quote From a Saint: “Our greatest gain is to lose the wealth that is of such brief duration and, by comparison with eternal things, of such little worth; yet we get upset about it and our gain turns to loss. -- Saint Teresa of Avila

 

 

Prayer by a Saint: “For Your mercies' sake, O Lord my God, tell me what You are to me. Say to my soul: "I am your salvation." So speak that I may hear, O Lord; my heart is listening; open it that it may hear You, and say to my soul: "I am your salvation." After hearing this word, may I come in haste to take hold of you.” – Saint Augustine of Hippo

 

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

1. What do you treasure on earth?

 

2. What consumes the largest percentage of your time?

 

3. What would a sudden, involuntary loss of this do to you?

 

4. What does this attachment cost you?

 

5. Could you voluntarily detach from and give up this treasure?

 

6. If you detach from this earthly treasure, with what could you replace it?

 

7. What do you most treasure spiritually?

 

8. What would the loss of this spiritual treasure cost you?

 

9. What would the loss of Mass and Communion do to you?

 

10. What can you do to help prevent this loss?

 

-- Susan Boudreau

Oratory 78: Hope and Trust in God Dispels Despair: A Reflection on Matthew 8: 1-13

 

“When Jesus* had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; 2and there was a leper* who came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean. ’3He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately his leprosy* was cleansed. 4Then Jesus said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’

5When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him a6 nd saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralysed, in terrible distress. ’7And he said to him, ‘I will come and cure him.’ 8The centurion answered, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go”, and he goes, and to another, “Come”, and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this”, and the slave does it. ’10When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, ‘Truly I tell you, in no one* in Israel have I found such faith. 11I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 13And to the centurion Jesus said, ‘Go; let it be done for you according to your faith.’ And the servant was healed in that hour.” (Matthew 8: 1-13)

Hopelessness. How do we handle hopelessness? If we believe what we profess to believe, “hopeless” should not be in our vocabulary. That’s easy to say. And when I say it , we all nod our heads in a reverent ‘Amen.’

               

But honestly, haven’t we all felt at some time or another that something or someone in our lives was hopeless? Haven’t any of us children of God, people of faith, bordered on despair, maybe even toyed with the idea of suicide at some point in our lives because we’ve felt completely trapped by our circumstances, and could see no way out? Maybe that situation was social. Maybe it was financial. Maybe it was medical. Have you ever thought of that? What if your doctor called you today and told you that you have a terminal disease, and won’t be here this time next year?

               

Why is hopelessness such a sin? It is a sin because it denies the sovereignty of God. Because it denies that God is control. Because it denies that God loves us. It’s even prideful, because hopelessness says my problem is bigger than God.

 

The Israelites were faced with hopelessness many times. One major time was at the time of the Babylonian exile. Here is what happened, blow by blow. The King of the Babylonian empire invades the land and captures Jerusalem. There’s no way out. The King of Babylon then executes the sons of the King of Judah while the king of Judah is forced to watch, and then he has the King of Judah blinded and brought back to Babylon in chains as a slave. Babylon then burns Jerusalem and destroys the temple after plundering the riches from it. Finally, Babylon exiles the people from Israel and scatters them throughout their empire.

               

If there was anyone who had the right to feel hopeless, it was the Israelites. And they did feel hopelessness, but they also felt they were being justly punished. They knew what befell them was the result of their sins of idolatry and turning away from the Lord. But it wasn’t hopeless.

 

First, God used Babylon to shock the people into repentance by seeing the error of their ways. Second, the Lord used the exile to spread the faith through Babylon. Third, the Lord raised more prophets to comfort the people and tell them that they would return to Jerusalem someday and rebuild the temple. And it all happened as God said.

 

A man with a hopeless disease approaches Jesus. In Jesus’ day when you got leprosy, if you didn’t get rid of it quickly, within a few months, your life was basically over.           You were exiled while you helplessly watched this disease slowly eat your body. Leprosy was so horrid that the Israelites were convinced that anyone who contracted it was being punished by God, so you were also branded a sinner. Yet this leper, a hopeless man by definition, shows great faith and hope in the way he approaches Jesus. He doesn’t say, “Please cure me.” or, “Please make me clean,” or “I want to be clean.” Rather he puts everything in Jesus hands, “If you will it, you can make me clean.” A little grammar lesson: Jesus is the subject of his sentence, not himself.

 

I think that’s why he doesn’t give into hopelessness, because he didn’t put the focus on himself; rather he put the focus on Jesus. “You.” “You can do this, if you wish.” If we want to avoid the trap of hopelessness, we’ll do the same. If we’re always focusing on “me”, we will eventually succumb to feelings of hopelessness because we’ll always see our own defects, things we want to change, or things we are unhappy about. But if we focus on him in prayer, we’ll have hope. We’ll see his perfection; we’ll trust his love, and even if we can’t understand the reason, we’ll know that creation will unfold just as he has deemed it, whether we worry about it or not.

 

Blessed be God forever,

Father Michael Sisco

Visitor to the Confraternity

 

Quote From a Saint: “Consider seriously how quickly people change, and how little trust is to be had in them; and hold fast to God, Who does not change.” -- Saint Teresa of Avila

 

“Let us throw ourselves into the ocean of His goodness, where every failing will be canceled and anxiety turned into love.” -- Saint Paul of the Cross

 

Prayer by a Saint: “I place all my hope in Thee. Whatever good I may have, whether spiritual or temporal, either in this life or in the next, I hope for from Thee, through the merits of Jesus Christ, O God, my life and my only hope! – Saint Alphonsus de Liguori

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

1. Describe a situation of the past in which you have felt trapped.

 

2. Who was in control of that situation?

 

3. What changed to shift that control and resolve the situation?

 

4. In what ways are you trapped now?  By another?  By circumstance?  By sin? 

 

5. How well do you think you trust God?

 

6. Describe a time when you let God have control.

 

7. How did that make you feel?

 

8. What in your life could you turn over to His control now?

 

9. What can you do to avoid taking up that control again yourself?

 

10. Discuss the two Gospel stories above. How could those in them be hopeless? How did they show hope? Why were they able to be hopeful?

 

By Susan Boudreau

Week 79: The Reign of God Is Already in Your Midst: A Reflection on Luke 17: 20-21

 

“You cannot tell by careful watching when the reign of God will come. Neither is it a matter of reporting that is ‘here’, or ‘there.’ The reign of God is already in your midst.” (Luke 17: 20-21)

 

It’s so easy for us to get caught up in end of the world talk.

 

This was especially true when the new millennium was upon us. It seemed as though every third person was asking me if I thought the world was going to end in the year 2000. And I would say to people, “No, precisely because everyone expects it.”

 

“You cannot tell by careful watching when the reign of God will come.”

 

And yet, even after the many, many false predictions that have occurred throughout the centuries, people still seem bent on trying to figure out when the end will come, and how it will come, and people still seem bent on believing these stories.

 

Very simply, the end will come when it comes, and there is nothing we can do to calculate it, or plot it, or avoid it, so don’t worry about it. And this is what Jesus is trying to communicate to the Pharisee’s. Why are you obsessed with when the end of the world will come? The reign of God is already in your midst if you had eyes to see him. If you had faith you’d see that God is standing right here in front of you.

 

And this is the danger with becoming obsessed or over concerned with the end of the world, or giving into end of the world prophecies. We can become so focused on the future and with what might happen, that we lose focus of the present and with what is happening.

 

Whenever we start giving into any anxieties, ANY anxieties, the devil can more easily tempt us to sin. And when we start giving into anxieties about what will happen tomorrow, Jesus says the same thing to us as he says to the Pharisee’s today, “The reign of God is already in your midst.”

 

The reign of God is in our midst now, so we don’t have to worry about tomorrow. And if the reign of God is in our midst now, it is possible for us to be united to God now in a mystical way. We don’t have to wait for someday. We don’t have to wait for the final judgment of the world to see God.

 

Through the eyes of faith we can see him right now in the Eucharist.

 

Through a heart of faith we can be united to him in Holy Communion.

 

And while it is true that the sacraments don’t reveal to us the presence of God in all his glory, they do prepare us for the day when we will see him in all his glory, so there is nothing to be anxious about.

The only thing we should be anxious about that none of us are anxious enough about is staying out of sin! Because sin is the only thing that can blind us to God in our midst now, and keep us from being fully in his presence later. If people were as anxious about avoiding sin as they were about foolish things, we’d all be living saints. And I’m as guilty as anyone.

 

Brothers and sisters, God wants to teach each of us something today. God wants to reveal a mystery to each one of us today. God wants us to be united to him mystically today. And if we get too absorbed with the future and what might happen, we’ll lose those opportunities.

 

Because the reign of God is already in your midst.

 

And God be praised, now and forever.

Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint:

 

Nothing is far from God. – St. Monica

 

Prayer:

 

Act of Abandonment

 

O my God, I thank you and I praise
you for accomplishing your holy
and all-lovable  will without any regard for mine.
With my whole heart,
in spite of my heart,
do I receive this cross I feared so much!

It is the cross of Your choice,
the cross of Your love.
I venerate it;
nor for anything in the world
would I wish that it had not come,
since You willed it.

I keep it with gratitude and with joy,
as I do everything that comes from Your hand;
and I shall strive to carry it without letting it drag,
with all the respect
and all the affection which Your works deserve.

Amen.

By Saint Francis De Sales

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

  1. Do you worry about the end times? Why or why not?

  2. Should you worry about the end times? Why or why not?

  3. What are some ways that God is already in our midst? How is it beneficial for us to recognize these ways?

  4. How might we live our lives differently if we were aware that God is already in our midst?

  5. Discuss St. Monica’s quote.

  6. How does the Abandonment Prayer of St. Francis de Sales comfort us in light of knowing that God is already in our midst?

  7. Do you feel that you have truly abandoned yourself to God? Why or why not? If not, what do you need to surrender to Him?

  8. Where around us might we see God in our midst? Where do we see God working in our midst?

 

--Madeline Pecora Nugent

 

Week 80: Discouragement: A Reflection on 2 Kings 20:1-11

 

In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’ 2Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord: 3‘Remember now, O Lord, I implore you, how I have walked before you in faithfulness with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.’ Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4Before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him:5‘ Turn back, and say to Hezekiah prince of my people, Thus says the Lord, the God of your ancestor David: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; indeed, I will heal you; on the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. 6I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.’ 7Then Isaiah said, ‘Bring a lump of figs. Let them take it and apply it to the boil, so that he may recover.’

8 Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord on the third day?’9Isaiah said, ‘This is the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he has promised: the shadow has now advanced ten intervals; shall it retreat ten intervals?’10Hezekiah answered, ‘It is normal for the shadow to lengthen ten intervals; rather let the shadow retreat ten intervals. ’11The prophet Isaiah cried to the Lord; and he brought the shadow back the ten intervals, by which the sun* had declined on the dial of Ahaz. (2 Kings 20: 1-11)

 

We have a great reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

 

 

About two hundred years before this reading took place there was a civil war in Israel, and, just like in our own civil war, the country split into two nations; Israel in the North, and Judah in the South. Unlike our civil war though, in Israel it was the North who broke away. And as soon as the North breaks from the South, they immediately give themselves over to worshipping pagan gods.  Why?

 

 

Where is the temple?  In Jerusalem.  Where is Jerusalem?  In Judah, in the South. So as soon as the North breaks with the temple, with the Church, there’s nothing to stop them from succumbing to the temptations of idolatry. And the Lord sends prophet after prophet to warn the North what’s coming if they don’t return to the South and true worship of him. God sent some of the best prophets to preach repentance to the North; Elijah, Elisha, Amos, Hosea, but nothing gets through to them. And the more they sin in the North, the more the Lord withdraws his protection from them, until they finally fall to the Assyrian Empire.

 

 

In Judah, they’re struggling with idolatry too, but not nearly as bad, at least not yet. And in Judah a king comes to power, Hezekiah, who really wants to bring reform to Judah.  I love Hezekiah, because he’s so human.  He tries to do the right thing.  Sometimes he succeeds.  Sometimes he doesn’t.  But when he messes up he repents. And he’s so desperate to bring reform to Judah, because he knows why the North fell to Assyria, who have been occupying Israel for about fifty years now, and he knows Assyria’s getting ready to invade the South next. And now here in our reading we see Hezekiah on his deathbed. Assyria is poised to invade Judah.  And Hezekiah begins to despair.

 

 

He must have been thinking, it was all for nothing.  I didn’t make a difference at all. Who hasn’t felt this way at some time in their lives? Have you ever put your whole heart and soul into something and then thought, ‘Well this was a waste of time,’?  Have you ever felt that let down?  Have you ever tasted that bitter disappointment?  I know have.

 

 

Well, imagine now, if we feel that way over our little projects, our short term goals, imagine what that must have been like for Hezekiah, who’s seeing that defeat in relation to the culmination of his whole life’s work. Who can blame him for beginning to despair?  And yet the Lord intercedes. The Lord promises he will not die but will have fifteen more years of life. And Lord also promises because of the faithfulness of Hezekiah, that Assyria will not conquer Judah. Assyria tried, but could never take it.

 

 

Sometimes we all feel like Hezekiah did, that we try and try and try, and we do our best and still cannot make a difference. And this can get very discouraging, this can get very disheartening, especially if we’re doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Did Hezekiah do the right thing for the wrong reason?  Did he push for all of these reforms not for piety sake, but because he was afraid of a foreign invasion. Was he thinking, ”I’ll play God’s game, and maybe he’ll protect us?”

 

 

Perhaps.  We’ll never know.  But ask yourselves, why do I want to make a difference?  Why do I want to do good?  Is it money?  Is it fame and glory?  Do I want people to be impressed by me?  All of that is junk.  And yet many people do many good and even wonderful things for any one, or all of these motives. The only reason we should want to make a difference, the only reason we should want to do good, is for God and God alone.

 

 

This is the lesson Jesus is trying to teach the Pharisees. The Pharisees so often do the right thing for the wrong reason, because they were interested in their own glory, not God’s glory. And so they take a good thing, the Sabbath, a day intended for rest and prayer, for family, and re-consecration to God, and they twist it, so God is not the center of the Sabbath anymore, but rather the regulations surrounding the Sabbath become the center.  So instead of leading the people to God, the laws themselves become the god. And who interprets the laws?  The Pharisees.  So the glory goes to them.

 

 

We are in danger of falling into the same trap.  We are all in danger of doing the right thing for the wrong reason. That’s why it’s always important for us to be examining our motives and intentions and frequently ask ourselves, “Am I doing this for His glory, or for my own?”Most important, like Hezekiah, don’t give up.  Keep reaching for the Lord. Because more than anything, the Lord wants an intimate relationship with you.

 

 

And blessed be God forever.

Father Michael Anthony Sisco, Visitor

Confraternity of Penitents

 

 

Quote from a Saint:

 

 

“When we yield to discouragement it is usually because we give too much thought to the past and to the future.”  -- St. Therese of Liseaux

 

 

Prayer to Saint Anthony of Padua in Times of Discouragement

 

 

 

Saint Anthony of Padua, you endured much discouragement in your life before finding your calling. Help us to find patience in our own lives, and to trust God to lead us where we need to go. You preached by example; help us show others through example the truth of our faith. Amen.

 

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

 

  1. Are you discouraged about anything at the moment? What? Do you feel your discouragement is justified? Why or why not?

  2. Saint Anthony wanted to go to preach to the Saracens and be martyred. Instead he grew so ill that he could not even stand. So he was sent back to Italy. He went to ask a notorious lord to release prisoners kept in inhumane conditions. The lord refused. He preached the truth against heretics and most did not convert. The prayer above mentions St. Anthony’s discouragement before he found his calling, but what about the discouragement suffered thereafter, when he was sent to preach? Can we be discouraged even when we know we are doing God’s Will?

  3. Why was Hezekiah discouraged? Do you often feel that your life has been for nothing? What is the truth or falsity of that feeling?

  4. What are some wrong reasons for doing good things? How are these especially applicable to doing good? Is it possible to be religious for the wrong reasons? Why do you answer as you do?

  5. Discuss St. Therese’s quote. Do you think it is accurate? Why or why not?

  6. Are you in any position where you can receive glory? Is that a useful position spiritually? Why or why not?

  7. Are you in a position where you are not noticed and your value overlooked? Is that a good position to be in? Why or why not?

  8. Discuss a time in your life when you tried and tried and seemed to make no difference. Do you see the results the same way now as you did earlier?

 

 

--Madeline Pecora Nugent

 

 

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