Today, I am standing watch and praying for the young ladies and poor souls in their wombs at the local Planned Parenthood death mill. It is a shame that these girls (most barely ladies) feel so desperate as to kill a human life.
The forecast is for rain and thunderstorms. If my misery in advocating against this barbaric act of abortion may save a soul, I gladly accept this distress.
Today is United Nations Day (chartered in 1945). Please pray for the relief of suffering in the world as a whole.
Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
Today in Catholic History:
† 1710 – Birth of Alban Butler, English Catholic priest and writer (d. 1773)
† 1911 – Birth of Paul Grégoire, French Canadian archbishop of Montreal (d. 1993)
† 2004 – Death of James Cardinal Hickey, American Catholic archbishop (b. 1920)
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Quote or Joke of the Day:
“The value of consistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will hear Him.” – William McGill
Today’s reflection is about Jesus telling the parable of the proud Pharisee who prayed from his self-importance, contrasted with the tax collector who prayed with humility and faith.
9 He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. 10 “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity–greedy, dishonest, adulterous–or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ 13 But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted. (NAB Luke 18:9-14)
Jesus offers a striking story of two men at prayer and is a continuation of last Sunday’s reading. This is the second of two parables about prayer. The first is found in Luke 18:1-8 and is about the diligence and perseverance we should display in our prayer life. This second parable condemns the haughty and judgmental attitudes of the Pharisees. The story teaches us why we must have a proper attitude in prayer; that the essential need of any follower of Jesus Christ is in recognizing one’s own sinfulness and a further need in acknowledging a total dependence and faith in God’s graciousness. Jesus teaches us about the character of prayer in regards to our relationship with God by drawing a distinction between these two exceptionally different approaches towards prayer. Notice that the Pharisee prayed to himself (not God). The tax-collector believed he needed God’s mercy because he DID believe in God.
This parable gives us a warning about the danger of slighting others around us. Disrespecting others is more than an action of being mean-spirited. Conceit and disrespect of others erupts from a self-conceived notion of one’s own goodness and righteousness. So, that one conceited person feels “competent” to sit in the “judges’ seat” that determines who is a good and just person.
I bet Jesus’ story offended those present who regarded “tax-collectors” as being “unworthy” of God’s blessing and love. How could Jesus slight a Pharisee, a temple leader, and praise a known “sinner”? This parable reminds me of the story of the “pardoning of the sinful woman” found in Luke 7:36-50: – “… Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment …,” – wherein a similar distinction is presented between the judgmental view of the Pharisee “Simon,” and the love and faith shown by the woman now a pardoned [by Jesus] sinner.
Luke unquestionably loves stories. He should have had some “Irish” blood in him! To set the stage for today’s story, Jewish tax-collectors were a quasi-partner with the Roman officials in a practice that allowed the tax-collector to pad their own purses (or coin-bags) by charging much more than the straightforward taxes. Because of this relationship with the Romans and their “less-than-honest” business practices, the tax-collector was more than aware of his “unworthiness” per Jewish societal norms. He was well aware how others perceived him; he also knew that he wasn’t even welcomed in the temple for worshipping. The tax-collector though, never lost his faith and hope IN God. He was looking for forgiveness FROM God. And he sought after an internal and spiritual peace THROUGH God.
Remember from last week’s reflection that Pharisees were high-ranking members of the Jewish religion during Jesus’ time. They taught an oral interpretation of the Law of Moses (the Torah) as a foundation for Jewish devoutness and practices. If anyone would be an example for prayer, one would think a Pharisee would normally be an expected model to the Jewish community.
This Pharisee, unlike the “sinful” tax-collector, was very much pleased with himself; he further expected God to also be extremely pleased with him as well. His prayer was not from his heart (nor from his faith) like the tax-collectors. The Pharisee represents those who take pride and smugness in their personal religious practices; praising himself at the expense of others. Engrossed with [self-] approval, pleasure, and opulence, he mainly prayed with himself and not to God! His prayer consisted of congratulatory declarations of what he did, and of scorn for those he loathed. In reality, his prayer was just a listing of his political and social achievements. I can’t believe he actually had the audacity to thank God for his “high” position in society! This Pharisee believed he justified himself through his prayer. In reality, only God can justify His creations! – – by Grace!!
The tax-collector in today’s Gospel represents the lowly, despised and desperate of society. He humbled himself before God and begged God for His mercy. God was pleased with the humble attitude of faith and reliance of this tax-collector, a self-professed sinner. This “sinner’s” prayer was truly heard by God, for this person had a true remorse for his sins against God AND his fellow brethren. This man sought God with a humble heart rather than with a prideful spirit. The tax-collector, and not the Pharisee, went home “justified”- – vindicated by God.
I believe this parable shows the tax-collector as THE example of faith and prayer. Jesus loves the marginalized, the humble “tax-collectors” of society. He even went so far as to eat with, and touch the lowly “sinners and unclean” of His time. In Luke 5:30-32, Jesus said that He came, “NOT for the healthy, but for the sick!” Thank God we, as sinful humans, are “spiritually sick” and thus in need of Jesus daily in our daily lives! We simply need to recognize this fact and to ask God for His grace and magnificent mercy. – – Daily!
The proud among us, like today’s Pharisee, do not believe they need any help. They believe they hold their own destiny in their hands. They don’t realize the danger they are placing themselves in, in not seeing the need for God’s compassion, generosity, and mercy, in their lives.
Today, we are presented with both an opportunity for betterment and a stern warning. Pride (a deadly sin) leads one to false assumptions, false impressions, and false honesty. Humility, the flipside virtue of the coin, helps us to see ourselves as we really are. A humble approach to prayer disposes oneself to knowledge of God’s love, grace, and mercy.
In Isaiah 57:15 (NRSV), it is written “For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” God does not hear us in prayer if we are not humble in heart, or if we hate and despise any other of God’s creation!
Do you truly trust in the divine mercy and generosity of our Trinitarian God? Do you ask for help from Him on a daily basis? Do you realize how weak in spirit and flesh you may be at this time, and how much you need God’s continual compassion? In 2 Cor 12:10 it is written,”… when I am weak, then I am strong.” How can we emulate the prayer of this “weak” tax-collector?
We sometimes see and experience a high level of competition between ourselves and others around us. This behavior happens for many reasons; but usually it is for the purpose of gaining attention or for acknowledgement of one’s skills and talents. Some even seem to believe that any attention given to one person has to significantly lessen the attention available to be given to another. In believing this way, people can act like the Pharisee in today’s parable.
Have you ever compared yourself to another or another to you? Is it helpful to compare yourself to another? In what ways can comparing yourself to another be a positive experience from a spiritual viewpoint? In what circumstances might this comparison be unhelpful or dangerous spiritually?
Do you seek God’s love and mercy with a humble or prideful heart? Do you show love and mercy to others around you? – – especially those you find difficult to love and to forgive, as St. Theresa of Lisieux found happening within her?
If we are pompous and self-important, then there may be far too little room for God to work in and through us! So, as you pray, please believe in, and remember, to thank God for His unconditional love for you NOW. Today’s parable tells us that when we pray, we must bear in mind our need for God in our lives.
“The Serenity Prayer”
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen.”
(A Lutheran Minister from
the St. Louis, MO area)
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: St. Anthony Claret (1807-1870)
The “spiritual father of Cuba” was a missionary, religious founder, social reformer, queen’s chaplain, writer and publisher, archbishop and refugee. He was a Spaniard whose work took him to the Canary Islands, Cuba, Madrid, Paris and to the First Vatican Council.
In his spare time as weaver and designer in the textile mills of Barcelona, he learned Latin and printing: the future priest and publisher was preparing. Ordained at 28, he was prevented by ill health from entering religious life as a Carthusian or as a Jesuit, but went on to become one of Spain’s most popular preachers.
He spent 10 years giving popular missions and retreats, always placing great emphasis on the Eucharist and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her rosary, it was said, was never out of his hand. At 42, beginning with five young priests, he founded a religious institute of missionaries, known today as the Claretians.
He was appointed to head the much-neglected archdiocese of Santiago in Cuba. He began its reform by almost ceaseless preaching and hearing of confessions, and suffered bitter opposition mainly for stamping out concubinage and giving instruction to black slaves. A hired assassin (whose release from prison Anthony had obtained) slashed open his face and wrist. Anthony succeeded in getting the would-be assassin’s death sentence commuted to a prison term. His solution for the misery of Cubans was family-owned farms producing a variety of foods for the family’s own needs and for the market. This invited the enmity of the vested interests who wanted everyone to work on a single cash crop—sugar. Besides all his religious writings are two books he wrote in Cuba: Reflections on Agriculture and Country Delights.
He was recalled to Spain for a job he did not relish—being chaplain for the queen. He went on three conditions: He would reside away from the palace, he would come only to hear the queen’s confession and instruct the children and he would be exempt from court functions. In the revolution of 1868, he fled with the queen’s party to Paris, where he preached to the Spanish colony.
All his life Anthony was interested in the Catholic press. He founded the Religious Publishing House, a major Catholic publishing venture in Spain, and wrote or published 200 books and pamphlets.
At Vatican I, where he was a staunch defender of the doctrine of infallibility, he won the admiration of his fellow bishops. Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore remarked of him, “There goes a true saint.” At the age of 63, he died in exile near the border of Spain.
Jesus foretold that those who are truly his representatives would suffer the same persecution as he did. Besides 14 attempts on his life, Anthony had to undergo such a barrage of the ugliest slander that the very name Claret became a byword for humiliation and misfortune. The powers of evil do not easily give up their prey. No one needs to go looking for persecution. All we need to do is be sure we suffer because of our genuine faith in Christ, not for our own whims and imprudence’s.
Queen Isabella II once said to Anthony, “No one tells me things as clearly and frankly as you do.” Later she told her chaplain, “Everybody is always asking me for favors, but you never do. Isn’t there something you would like for yourself?” He replied, “Yes, that you let me resign.” The queen made no more offers.
Patron Saint of: Savings & Weavers
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 #’s 24 & 25 of 26:
24. To foster communion among members, the council should organize regular and frequent meetings of the community as well as meeting with other Franciscan groups, especially with youth groups. It should adopt appropriate means for growth in Franciscan and ecclesial life and encourage everyone to a life of fraternity. The communion continues with deceased brothers and sisters through prayer for them.
25. Regarding expenses necessary for the life of the fraternity and the needs of worship, of the apostolate, and of charity, all the brothers and sisters should offer a contribution according to their means. Local fraternities should contribute toward the expenses of the higher fraternity councils.