I started Saint Louis de Monfort’s “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary” novena this week. This prayer novena is 34 days of prayers, meditation, and reflection on Jesus’ teachings, and Mary’s faith in Jesus as a model for us to mimic. This novena always ends on a Marian Feast Day, so can be started many times throughout the year. There are tons of websites dedicated to this novena for those interested. It is even on Facebook now! I do this novena every year, and have received much in return each time. Please consider this novena: “Try it, you’ll like it!”
Today in Catholic History:
† 1771 – Foundation of the Mission San Antonio de Padua in modern California by the Franciscan friar Junípero Serra.
† 664 – Death of Deusdedit of Canterbury, Archbishop of Canterbury
† 1575 – Death of Richard Taverner, English Bible translator
† 1614 – Death of Camillus de Lellis, Italian saint (b. 1550)
Quote or Joke of the Day:
A disciple once complained, “You tell us stories, but you never reveal their meaning to us.” The master replied, “How would you like it if someone offered you fruit and chewed it up for you before giving it to you?” — Anonymous
Today’s reflection is about Jesus being the exclusive revelation of God.
At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (NRSV Mt 11:25-27)
Today’s Gospel Reading, with some very minor variations is identical with Luke 10:21-22. It introduces a little joy into this part of Matthews’s gospel where unbelief seems to dominate. While the “wise and the intelligent,” [the Scribes and Pharisees], rejected Jesus’ preaching and the significance of his striking actions and conduct; the trusting and innocent accepted them.
As a child, I thought of God as a stern judge, sitting at a big desk with a gigantic book open and quill pen in hand, making notations in the book with every sin; and condemning me for every transgression that I made. My friends say He must have had a very big book, just for me: and I always told them that I was a “victim of circumstances!”
At that young age, I saw “God” as a distant, scowling, unapproachable “Zeus-type” figure; sort of like an Ebenezer Scrooge turned Greek God. Isn’t it a pity that there are many adults today that still see God this way, such as the Islamic belief of an “Allah” being a stern judge and Ruler.
On the other hand, I always saw Jesus as being much nicer. He was not only a “sort-of-God;” He was also a man. Jesus seemed to be more kind, and more caring than “God,” and was always talking about love instead of judging people.
With the maturity of many birthdays and experiences granted to me from the grace of God, I now know better. Besides, God would have had one helluva case of carpal tunnel disease, and arthritis of the hand by this time; again solely because of me.
Acceptance of “mysteries” and graces depends solely on God’s revelation made available to us: but it is granted only to those who are open to receive it; and is usually rebuffed by the arrogant, the proud, and self-important that are not open to anything but themselves. Divine communication is a powerful irreducible religious mystery, with Jesus being the exclusive revelation of the Father!
Jesus is capable of speaking about all “mysteries” unknown to us, because He IS the “Son” of the “Father,” and thus the perfect recipient and disseminator of knowledge between Himself and the Father; “things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows … except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses.”
Jesus came to earth to reunite and bring us together, with God. We need to keep in mind that it was God that sent Jesus to us, in human form. Sending a being to earth to “save” us is a ‘less-than-nothing’ accomplishment for a divine being such as God. Making that being a “human” without the usual corporal act necessary is also no real mystery for this omnipotent God. These two actions to me are simply facts based on faith. Here is the ultimate “faith” statement for me, and an absolutely true “Mystery:” Jesus IS God, and God IS Jesus!
God wants to have a relationship with us. He sent Himself, in the form of the totally divine and totally human Jesus, to do just that (Gives new meaning to the phrase, “He gave 200 % to his job!”). God is not a checklist maker and judge with gavel in hand, waiting to slam it down hard while yelling “GUILTY!”
God is the loving Father we should have all had. God is the Father that leads the innocent; and allows His children to experiment with life while He closely watches. God is the Father that weeps bitterly when we turn our backs on Him, and rejoices and jumps for delight when we remember Him by continuing His work on earth. And God is the one that wishes to hear from us and to talk to us as often as possible; and is sad when we ignore him. He just wants to be a continual part of our daily lives.
How do we find God? That’s simple! All we need to do is open our arms and hearts to Him: He is right there, next to you right now.
“Act of Faith”
“O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because you revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680)
The blood of martyrs is the seed of saints. Nine years after the Jesuits Isaac Jogues and John de Brébeuf were tomahawked by Iroquois warriors, a baby girl was born near the place of their martyrdom, Auriesville, New York.
Her mother was a Christian Algonquin, taken captive by the Iroquois and given as wife to the chief of the Mohawk clan, the boldest and fiercest of the Five Nations. When she was four, Kateri lost her parents and little brother in a smallpox epidemic that left her disfigured and half blind. She was adopted by an uncle, who succeeded her father as chief. He hated the coming of the Blackrobes (Jesuit missionaries), but could do nothing to them because a peace treaty with the French required their presence in villages with Christian captives. She was moved by the words of three Blackrobes who lodged with her uncle, but fear of him kept her from seeking instruction. She refused to marry a Mohawk brave and at 19 finally got the courage to take the step of converting. She was baptized with the name Kateri (Catherine) on Easter Sunday.
Now she would be treated as a slave. Because she would not work on Sunday, she received no food that day. Her life in grace grew rapidly. She told a missionary that she often meditated on the great dignity of being baptized. She was powerfully moved by God’s love for human beings and saw the dignity of each of her people.
She was always in danger, for her conversion and holy life created great opposition. On the advice of a priest, she stole away one night and began a 200-mile walking journey to a Christian Indian village at Sault St. Louis, near Montreal.
For three years she grew in holiness under the direction of a priest and an older Iroquois woman, giving herself totally to God in long hours of prayer, in charity and in strenuous penance. At 23 she took a vow of virginity, an unprecedented act for an Indian woman, whose future depended on being married. She found a place in the woods where she could pray an hour a day—and was accused of meeting a man there!
Her dedication to virginity was instinctive: She did not know about religious life for women until she visited Montreal. Inspired by this, she and two friends wanted to start a community, but the local priest dissuaded her. She humbly accepted an “ordinary” life. She practiced extremely severe fasting as penance for the conversion of her nation. She died the afternoon before Holy Thursday. Witnesses said that her emaciated face changed color and became like that of a healthy child. The lines of suffering, even the pockmarks, disappeared and the touch of a smile came upon her lips. She was beatified in 1980.
We like to think that our proposed holiness is thwarted by our situation. If only we could have more solitude, less opposition, better health. Kateri repeats the example of the saints: Holiness thrives on the cross, anywhere. Yet she did have what Christians—all people—need: the support of a community. She had a good mother, helpful priests, Christian friends. These were present in what we call primitive conditions, and blossomed in the age-old Christian triad of prayer, fasting and alms: union with God in Jesus and the Spirit, self-discipline and often suffering, and charity for her brothers and sisters.
Kateri said: “I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love. The state of helpless poverty that may befall me if I do not marry does not frighten me. All I need is a little food and a few pieces of clothing. With the work of my hands I shall always earn what is necessary and what is left over I’ll give to my relatives and to the poor. If I should become sick and unable to work, then I shall be like the Lord on the cross. He will have mercy on me and help me, I am sure.”
Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #14:
Secular Franciscans, together with all people of good will, are called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively. Mindful that anyone “who follows Christ, the perfect man, becomes more of a man himself,” let them exercise their responsibilities competently in the Christian spirit of service.