Gospel and Readings 21.2.2021

First Sunday of Lent

Lectionary: 23

Reading I

God said to Noah and to his sons with him:
“See, I am now establishing my covenant with you
and your descendants after you
and with every living creature that was with you:


all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals
that were with you and came out of the ark.
I will establish my covenant with you,
that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed
by the waters of a flood;
there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.”
God added:
“This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come,
of the covenant between me and you
and every living creature with you:
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign
of the covenant between me and the earth.
When I bring clouds over the earth,
and the bow appears in the clouds,
I will recall the covenant I have made
between me and you and all living beings,
so that the waters shall never again become a flood
to destroy all mortal beings.”

Responsorial Psalm

R. (cf. 10) Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Good and upright is the LORD,
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and he teaches the humble his way.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.

Reading II

Beloved:
Christ suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
he was brought to life in the Spirit.
In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison,
who had once been disobedient
while God patiently waited in the days of Noah
during the building of the ark,
in which a few persons, eight in all,
were saved through water.
This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
It is not a removal of dirt from the body
but an appeal to God for a clear conscience,
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
who has gone into heaven
and is at the right hand of God,
with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

Verse Before the Gospel

One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

Gospel

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.  Mark 1:12–13

Today’s Gospel from Mark presents us with a short version of the Temptation of Jesus in the desert. Matthew and Luke give many more details, such as Jesus’ threefold temptation from satan. But Mark simply states the fact that Jesus was driven into the desert for forty days and was tempted.

What’s interesting to note is that it was “The Spirit” Who drove Jesus into the desert. Jesus did not go there against His will; He went there freely in accord with the will of the Father and by the direction of the Holy Spirit. Why would the Spirit drive Jesus into the desert for this time of fasting, prayer and temptation?

First of all, this time of temptation took place immediately after Jesus was baptized by John. And though Jesus Himself did not spiritually need that baptism, these two series of events teach us much. The truth is that when we choose to follow Christ and live out our baptism, we receive a new strength to fight evil. The grace is there. As a new creation in Christ, you have all the grace you need to conquer the evil one, sin and temptation. Jesus, therefore, set for us an example in order to teach us this truth. He was baptized and then was driven into the desert to face the evil one so as to tell us that we also can conquer him and his evil lies.

As Jesus was in the desert enduring these temptations, “the angels ministered to him.” The same is true with us. Our Lord does not leave us alone in the midst of our daily temptations. Rather, He always sends us His angels to minister to us and to help us defeat this vile enemy.

What is your greatest temptation in life? Perhaps you struggle with a habit of sin that you fail at time and time again. Perhaps it’s a temptation of the flesh, or a struggle with anger, self-righteousness, dishonesty or something else. Whatever your temptation may be, know that you have all you need to overcome it on account of the grace given to you by your Baptism, strengthened by your Confirmation and regularly fed by your participation in the Most Holy Eucharist.

Reflect, today, upon whatever your temptations may be. See the Person of Christ facing those temptations with you and in you. Know that His strength is given to you if you but trust Him with unwavering confidence.

My tempted Lord, You allowed Yourself to endure the humiliation of being tempted by satan himself. You did so to show me and all Your children that we can overcome our own temptations through You and by Your strength. Help me, dear Lord, to daily turn to You with my struggles so that You will be victorious in me. Jesus, I trust in You.

From Catholic daily reflections .com

Prayer for Ash Wednesday

 

 

 

WHAT IS ASH WEDNESDAY?

Ash Wednesday is one of the most popular and important holy days in the liturgical calendar. Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer.

Ashes on forehandAsh Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and is chiefly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it too.

Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Alternatively, the priest may speak the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

Ashes also symbolise grief, in this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God.

Writings from the Second-century Church refer to the wearing of ashes as a sign of penance.

Priests administer ashes during Mass and all are invited to accept the ashes as a visible symbol of penance. Even non-Christians and the excommunicated are welcome to receive the ashes. The ashes are made from blessed palm branches, taken from the previous year’s palm Sunday Mass.

It is important to remember that Ash Wednesday is a day of penitential prayer and fasting. Some faithful take the rest of the day off work and remain home. It is generally inappropriate to dine out, to shop, or to go about in public after receiving the ashes. Feasting is highly inappropriate. Small children, the elderly and sick are exempt from this observance.

Priest applying ashesIt is not required that a person wear the ashes for the rest of the day, and they may be washed off after Mass. However, many people keep the ashes as a reminder until the evening.

Catholics should receive ashes within the context of Mass (where possible, in a non covid world)

In some cases, ashes may be delivered by a priest or a family member to those who are sick or shut-in.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

Why we receive the ashes

Girl receiving palmsFollowing the example of the Ninevites, who did penance in sackcloth and ashes, our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and reminds us that life passes away on Earth. We remember this when we are told

“Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.”

Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.

The distribution of ashes comes from a ceremony of ages past. Christians who had committed grave faults performed public penance. On Ash Wednesday, the Bishop blessed the hair shirts which they were to wear during the forty days of penance, and sprinkled over them ashes made from the palms from the previous year. Then, while the faithful recited the Seven Penitential Psalms, the penitents were turned out of the church because of their sins — just as Adam, the first man, was turned out of Paradise because of his disobedience. The penitents did not enter the church again until Maundy Thursday after having won reconciliation by the toil of forty days’ penance and sacramental absolution. Later, all Christians, whether public or secret penitents, came to receive ashes out of devotion. In earlier times, the distribution of ashes was followed by a penitential procession.

The Ashes

The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolise penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.

 

Thank you to Catholic . org for the above

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gospel/Readings/Reflection 14.2.2021

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 77

Reading I

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron,
“If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch
which appears to be the sore of leprosy,
he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest,
or to one of the priests among his descendants.
If the man is leprous and unclean,
the priest shall declare him unclean
by reason of the sore on his head.

“The one who bears the sore of leprosy
shall keep his garments rent and his head bare,
and shall muffle his beard;
he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’
As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean,
since he is in fact unclean.
He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.”

Responsorial Psalm

R. (7) I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.
Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just;
exult, all you upright of heart.
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Reading II

Brothers and sisters,
Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do everything for the glory of God.
Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or
the church of God,
just as I try to please everyone in every way,
not seeking my own benefit but that of the many,
that they may be saved.
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst,
God has visited his people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched him, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.

He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”

The man went away and began to publicise the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

REFLECTION

leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” Mark 1:40–41

“I do will it.”  These four little words are worth digging into and pondering.  At first, we may read these words quickly and miss their depth and significance.  We may simply jump to that which Jesus wills and miss the fact of His willing itself.  But His act of willing is significant.  Sure, that which He willed is significant also.  The fact that He cured a leper has great meaning and significance.  Certainly it shows us His authority over nature.  It shows His almighty power.  It shows that Jesus can heal all wounds that are analogized by leprosy.  But don’t miss those four words: “I do will it.”

First of all, the two words “I do” are sacred words used at various times in our liturgies and are used to profess faith and commitment.  They are used in marriages to establish an unbreakable spiritual union, they are used in baptisms and other sacraments to renew our faith publicly, and they are also used in the ordination rite of priests as he makes his solemn promises.  To say “I do” is what one may call “action words.”  They are words that are also an act, a choice, a commitment, a decision.  They are words that have an effect on who we are and what we choose to become.

Jesus also adds “…will it.”  So Jesus is not just making a personal choice here or a personal commitment about His own life and convictions; rather, His words are an action that is effective and that makes a difference for another.  The mere fact that He wills something, and then sets that will into motion by His words, means something happened.  Something changed.  An act of God was accomplished.

It would be of great benefit to us to sit with those words and ponder what sort of significance they have in our lives.  When Jesus speaks those words to us, what is He willing?  What is the “it” He is referring to?  He definitely has a particular will for our lives, and He is definitely willing to enact it in our lives if we are willing to hear those words.

In this Gospel passage, the leper was completely disposed to Jesus’ words.  He was on his knees before Jesus as a sign of complete trust and complete submission.  He was ready to have Jesus act in his life, and it is this openness, more than anything else, that evokes these action words from Jesus.

The leprosy is a clear sign of our own weaknesses and sin.  It’s a clear sign of our fallen human nature and weakness.  It’s a clear sign that we cannot heal ourselves.  It’s a clear sign that we need the Divine Healer.  When we acknowledge all of these realities and truths, we will be in a position, just like this leper, to turn to Jesus, on our knees, and beg His action in our lives.

Reflect, today, upon Jesus’ words and listen to what He is saying to you through them.  Jesus wills it.  Do you?  And if you do, are you willing to turn to Him and ask Him to act?  Are you willing to ask for and receive His will?

Lord, I do will it. I do. I acknowledge Your divine will in my life.  But sometimes my will is weak and insufficient.  Help me to deepen my resolve to daily turn to You, the Divine Healer, so that I may encounter Your healing power.  Help me to be open to whatever Your will includes for my life.  Help me to be ready and willing to accept Your action in my life.  Jesus, I do trust in You.

From Catholic Daily reflections.com

Gospel/ Readings 7th February 2021

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 74

Reading I

Job spoke, saying:
Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?
Are not his days those of hirelings?
He is a slave who longs for the shade,
a hireling who waits for his wages.
So I have been assigned months of misery,
and troubled nights have been allotted to me.
If in bed I say, “When shall I arise?”
then the night drags on;
I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle;
they come to an end without hope.
Remember that my life is like the wind;
I shall not see happiness again.

Responsorial Psalm

R. (cf. 3a) Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Praise the LORD, for he is good;
sing praise to our God, for he is gracious;
it is fitting to praise him.
The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem;
the dispersed of Israel he gathers.
R. Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
or:
R. Alleluia.

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He tells the number of the stars;
he calls each by name.
R. Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
to his wisdom there is no limit.
The LORD sustains the lowly;
the wicked he casts to the ground.
R. Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense,
but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense?
That, when I preach,
I offer the gospel free of charge
so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn, he left
and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come.”
So he went into their synagogues,
preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

REFLECTION

Job spoke, saying: Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?

My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to an end without hope.  Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again. Job 7:16–7 

The funny thing is, as soon as that reading is concluded at Mass, the entire congregation will respond, “Thanks be to God!”  Really?  Is this reading worth thanking God for?  Do we really want to thank God for an expression of such pain?  We most certainly do!

Job was clearly expressing feelings that we all face at times. He speaks of a sleepless night.  Feelings of a loss of hope.  Months of misery.  Et cetera.  Hopefully these feelings are not an everyday occurrence.  But they are real, and everyone experiences them at times.

The key to understanding this passage is to look at Job’s whole life.  Even though he felt this way, it did not direct his decisions.  He did not give in to ultimate despair; he did not give up; he persevered.  And it paid off!  He stayed faithful to God through his tragedy of losing everything precious to him and never lost faith and hope in his God.  In his darkest hour, even his friends came to him telling him he was being punished by God and that all was lost for him.  But he wouldn’t listen.

Remember Job’s powerful words, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord!”  Job praised God for the good things he received in life, but when they were taken away, he continued to bless and praise God.  This is the most central lesson and inspiration of Job’s life.  He did not give in to the way he felt in the reading above.  He did not let the despair he was tempted with deter him from praising and worshiping God.  He praised Him in ALL things!

The tragedy of Job took place for a reason.  It was to teach us this essential lesson of dealing with the heavy burdens life can throw at us.  Interestingly, for those who carry heavy burdens, Job is a real inspiration.  Why?  Because they can relate to him.  They can relate to his pain and learn from his perseverance in hope.

Reflect, today, upon Job.  Let his life inspire you.  If you are finding a particular burden in life weighing you down, then try to praise and worship God anyway.  Give God the glory due His name simply because it is due His name and not because you do or do not feel like doing it.  In this, you will find that your heavy burden leads to your strengthening.  You will become more faithful by being faithful when it’s very difficult to do so.  Job did it and so can you!

Lord, when life is hard and the burden is great, help me to deepen my faith in You and my love for You.  Help me to love and worship You because it is good and right to do in all things.  I love You my Lord, and I choose to praise You always!  Jesus, I trust in You.

(From Catholic Daily Reflections.com)

Inspiring Quotes

Inspiring quotes from Catholic Saints:

“Pain and suffering have come into your life, but remember pain, sorrow, suffering are but the kiss of Jesus — a sign that you have come so close to Him that He can kiss you.” St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“Without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. The gift of grace increases as the struggle increases.” St. Rose of Lima

“A humble soul does not trust itself, but places all its confidence in God.” St. Faustina

“Faith is to believe what you do not see. The reward of faith is to see what you believe.” St. Augustine of Hippo

“I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.” Pope Francis

“Know that the greatest service that man can offer to God is to help convert souls.” St. Rose of Lima

“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day.” St. Gianna Molla

“Anxiety is the greatest evil that can befall a soul except sin. God commands you to pray, but He forbids you to worry.” St. Francis de Sales

“And the Lord said to me, ‘My child, you please Me most by suffering. In your physical as well as your mental sufferings, My daughter, do not seek sympathy from creatures. I want the fragrance of your suffering to be pure and unadulterated. I want you to detach yourself, not only from creatures, but also from yourself…The more you will come to love suffering, My daughter, the purer your love for Me will be.’” St. Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul

“Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again: for forgiveness has risen from the grave!” St. John Chrysostom

“Faith in the resurrection of Jesus says that there is a future for every human being; the cry for unending life which is a part of the person is indeed answered. God exists: that is the real message of Easter. Anyone who even begins to grasp what this means also knows what it means to be redeemed.” Pope Benedict XVI

“Mary, who is the Virgin Most Pure, is also the Refuge of Sinners. She knows what sin is, not by the experience of its fall, not by tasting its bitter regrets, but by seeing what it did to her Divine Son.” Venerable Fulton Sheen

“The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” Pope Benedict XVI

“The Eucharist is the secret of my day. It gives strength and meaning to all my activities of service to the Church and to the world.” Pope Saint John Paul II

“Nothing great is ever achieved without enduring much.” St. Catherine of Siena

“In my deepest wound I saw your glory and it dazzled me.” St. Augustine of Hippo

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“Genuine love is demanding, but its beauty lies precisely in the demands it makes.” Pope Francis

“We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.” G.K. Chesterton

“The saints did not all begin well, but they ended well.” St. John Vianney

“Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to Him. That is all the doing you have to worry about.” St. Jane Frances de Chantal

“The devil fears hearts on fire with love of God.” St. Catherine of Siena

“To be tempted is a sign that the soul is very pleasing to the Lord.” St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

“It isn’t good to let our thoughts disturb us or worry us at all.” St. Teresa of Ávila

“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.” St. Maximilian Kolbe

“Each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most.” G.K. Chesterton

“If God sends you many sufferings it is a sign that He has great plans for you, and certainly wants to make you a saint.” St. Ignatius of Loyola

“Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You.” St. Augustine of Hippo

“Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be – and becoming that person.” St. Thérèse of Lisieux

“He who possesses God lacks nothing: God alone suffices.” St. Teresa of Ávila

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.” St. John Paul II

“Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed; I am your God. I will strengthen you, and help you, and uphold you with my right hand of justice.” Isaiah 41:10

“The future starts today, not tomorrow.” St. John Paul the Great

“The Lord is loving unto man, and swift to pardon, but slow to punish. Let no man therefore despair of his own salvation.” St. Cyril of Jerusalem

“You will never be happy if your happiness depends on getting solely what you want. Change the focus. Get a new center. Will what God wills, and your joy no man shall take from you.” Venerable Fulton Sheen

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire!” St. Catherine of Siena

“A single act of pure love pleases me more than a thousand imperfect prayers.” Jesus (According to St. Faustina)

“Though an army encamp against me, my heart does not fear; Though war be waged against me, even then do I trust.” Psalm 27:3

“True charity consists in doing good to those who do us evil, and in thus winning them over.” St. Alphonsus Liguori

“Faith is like a bright ray of sunlight. It enables us to see God in all things as well as all things in God.” St. Francis de Sales

“The Holy Spirit leads us like a mother. He leads His child by the hand…as a sighted person leads a blind person.” St. John Vianney

“I am not capable of doing big things, but I want to do everything, even the smallest things, for the greater glory of God.” St. Dominic Savio

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“Father, I am seeking: I am hesitant and uncertain, but will you, O God, watch over each step of mine and guide me.” St. Augustine of Hippo

“I love You, O my God, and my only desire is to love You until the last breath of my life. I love You, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving You, than live without loving You. I love You, Lord and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally…My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You, I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath.” St. John Vianney

“We are to love God for Himself, because of a twofold reason; nothing is more reasonable, nothing more profitable.” St. Bernard of Clairvaux

“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!” St. Catherine of Siena

“To convert somebody go and take them by the hand and guide them.” St. Thomas Aquinas

“If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.” St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“Do not lay too much store on the favorable judgments of men, for I love thee with a perfect love. I spent My earthly existence in humiliations and scorn and in a hidden life. It was thus that I glorified My Father, laid the foundations of My Church, and remedied the evils of pride. This is the path that thou must follow.” Our Lord to Blessed Maria Celeste Crostarosa

Quotes on Suffering:

“I want to suffer and even rejoice for love, for this is my way of scattering flowers. Never a flower shall I find but its petals shall be scattered for you; and all the while I will sing; yes, always sing, even when gathering roses in the midst of thorns; and the longer and sharper the thorns may be, the sweeter shall be my song!” St. Thérèse of Lisieux

“One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying. He is offering up his sufferings to God, and many a time he is praying much, more truly than one who goes away by himself and meditates his head off, and, if he has squeezed out a few tears, thinks that is prayer.” St. Teresa of Ávila

“When I shrink from suffering, Jesus reproves me and tells me that He did not refuse to suffer. Then I say ‘Jesus, Your will and not mine’. At last I am convinced that only God can make me happy, and in Him I have placed all my hope…” St. Gemma Galgani

“Those who pray and suffer, leaving action for others, will not shine here on earth; but what a radiant crown they will wear in the kingdom of life! Blessed be the ‘apostolate of suffering’!” St. Josemaría Escrivá

I do not know what will happen to me; I only know one thing for certain, that the Lord will never fall short of His promises. “Do not fear, I will make you suffer, but I will also give you the strength to suffer,” Jesus tells me continually. “I want your soul to be purified and tried by a daily hidden martyrdom”. . .”How many times,” Jesus said to me a little while ago, “would you have abandoned me, my son, if I had not crucified you.” St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

“A cross carried simply, and without those returns of self-love which exaggerate troubles, is no longer a cross. Peaceable suffering is no longer suffering. We complain of suffering! We should have much more reason to complain of not suffering, since nothing makes us more like Our Lord than carrying His Cross. Oh, what a beautiful union of the soul with Our Lord Jesus Christ by the love and the virtue of His Cross!” St. John Vianney

“Trials and tribulations offer us a chance to make reparation for our past faults and sins. On such occasions the Lord comes to us like a physician to heal the wounds left by our sins. Tribulation is the divine medicine.” St. Augustine of Hippo

“To the prospect of the Kingdom of God is linked hope in that glory which has its beginning in the Cross of Christ. The Resurrection revealed this glory — eschatological glory. … Those who share in the sufferings of Christ are also called, through their own sufferings, to share in glory” St. John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris

Quotes for Lent:

“As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst…’Repent and believe’ Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor — He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.” St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.” Pope St. Gregory the Great

“Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take in life…” Pope Benedict XVI

“Nothing, how little so ever it be, if it is suffered for God’s sake, can pass without merit in the sight of God.” Thomas à Kempis

“Renounce yourself in order to follow Christ; discipline your body; do not pamper yourself, but love fasting.” St. Benedict of Nursia

“Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in my steps.” Luke 9:23

“One should never initiate anything that he cannot saturate with prayer.” Unknown

“Lent is like a long ‘retreat’ during which we can turn back into ourselves and listen to the voice of God, in order to defeat the temptations of the Evil One. It is a period of spiritual ‘combat’ which we must experience alongside Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the arms of faith: prayer, listening to the word of God and penance. In this way we will be able to celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our Baptism.” Pope Benedict XVI

Quotes on Fasting:

“Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity. Enter again into yourself.” St. Augustine of Hippo

“Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you.” Didache

“When a man begins to fast, he straightway yearns in his mind to enter into converse with God.” St. Isaac the Syrian

“Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself.” St. Peter Chrysologus

“When the stomach is full it is easy to talk of fasting.” St. Jerome

“Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works. If you see a poor man, take pity on him. If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him. Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye, and the ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies.” St. John Chrysostom

“We must fast with our whole heart, that is to say, willing, wholeheartedly, universally and entirely.” St. Francis de Sales

“God hides the prize of eternal glory in our mortifications and in the victory of ourselves, which we always strive for with great gentleness.” St. Jane Frances de Chantal

“The Scripture is full of places that prove fasting to be not the invention of man but the institution of God, and to have many more profits than one. And that the fasting of one man may do good unto another, our Saviour showeth himself where he saith that some kind of devils cannot be cast out of one man by another “without prayer and fasting.” And therefore I marvel that they take this way against fasting and other bodily penance.” St. Thomas More

“Fasting is most intimately connected with prayer. For the mind of one who is filled with food and drink is so borne down as not to be able to raise itself to the contemplation of God, or even to understand what prayer means.” Catechism of the Council of Trent

“The ultimate goal of fasting is to help each one of us to make a complete gift of self to God.” Pope Benedict XVI

Above from Catholic daily reflections.com

Prayer to St. Brigid

Prayer to Saint Brigid

St. Brigid,
You were a woman of peace.
You brought harmony where there was conflict.
You brought light to the darkness.
You brought hope to the downcast.
May the mantle of your peace cover those who are troubled and anxious,
and may peace be firmly rooted in our hearts and in our world.
Inspire us to act justly and to reverence all God has made.
Brigid, you were a voice for the wounded and the weary.
Strengthen what is weak within us.
Calm us into a quietness that heals and listens.
May we grow each day into greater wholeness in mind, body and spirit.
Amen.

 

 

St. Blaise

February 3rd is the Feast of Saint Blaise. On this date the traditional Saint Blaise blessing of throats is offered.
Bishop Blaise was martyred in his episcopal city of Sebastea, Armenia, in 316. The legendary Acts of St. Blaise were
written 400 years later. According to them Blaise was a good bishop, working hard to encourage the spiritual and
physical health of his people. Although the Edict of Toleration (311), granting freedom of worship in the Roman
Empire, was already five years old, persecution still raged in Armenia. Blaise was apparently forced to flee to the back
country. There he lived as a hermit in solitude and prayer, but he made friends with the wild animals. One day a group
of hunters seeking wild animals for the amphitheatre stumbled upon Blaise’s cave. They were first surprised and then
frightened. The bishop was kneeling in prayer surrounded by patiently waiting wolves, lions and bears. The legend has
it that as the hunters hauled Blaise off to prison, a mother came with her young son who had a fish bone lodged in his
throat. At Blaise’s command the child was able to cough up the bone. Agricolaus, governor of Cappadocia, tried to
persuade Blaise to sacrifice to pagan idols. Blaise refused and consequently died a martyr’s death.

Gospel and Readings 31.1.2021

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 71

Reading I

Moses spoke to all the people, saying:
“A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you
from among your own kin;
to him you shall listen.
This is exactly what you requested of the LORD, your God, at Horeb
on the day of the assembly, when you said,
‘Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God,
nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.’
And the LORD said to me, ‘This was well said.
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin,
and will put my words into his mouth;
he shall tell them all that I command him.
Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name,
I myself will make him answer for it.
But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name
an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak,
or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die.’”

Responsorial Psalm

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading II

Brothers and sisters:
I should like you to be free of anxieties.
An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord,
how he may please the Lord.
But a married man is anxious about the things of the world,
how he may please his wife, and he is divided.
An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord,
so that she may be holy in both body and spirit.
A married woman, on the other hand,
is anxious about the things of the world,
how she may please her husband.
I am telling you this for your own benefit,
not to impose a restraint upon you,
but for the sake of propriety
and adherence to the Lord without distraction.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light;
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death,
light has arisen.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

Then they came to Capernaum,
and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said,
“Quiet!  Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

REFLECTION

Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.  Mark 1:25–26

This passage from Mark’s Gospel could be the scene from a horror movie.  Well, at least if Hollywood were producing the film.  In truth, it’s the scene of an act of great love and mercy and reveals the power and authority of Jesus!

It’s the story of a man with an unclean spirit, a demon.  The demon is tormenting him.  So, Jesus looks at the man with great love and compassion and expels the evil spirit, setting him free.  This truly is an act of love.

But one question this clearly brings up is the role of the evil spirits in our world and their ability to control, manipulate or, at least, tempt us.  They are powerful spiritual beings created by God with free will, and they exercised that free will to turn away from God.  One of their primary duties, granted them at the moment of their creation, was to care for humanity.  Those spirits who fell from grace by their pride and sin still retain their natural spiritual power.  But because of their fall, they now only have hatred for mankind and seek to destroy us.  This is real.  And this is something we should be keenly aware of.

But there is no reason to lose hope or to give in to fear.  These beings are, of course, ultimately subject to the power and authority of God.  They can do nothing without God permitting it—and, in the end, they can have no power over our lives.

But for now, we need to be aware of their natural spiritual power and influence.  We need to understand that they can and will try to wreak havoc in our lives.  When we let fear weaken our faith, and lack trust in God’s almighty power, we slowly allow them to have more influence over us.  But when we allow the grace and mercy of God to overshadow their evil influence, we hear Jesus rebuke them and order them to cease.

Reflect, today, upon the fact that the spiritual battle is a real one.  However, the victory is assured if we only humble ourselves before God and trust in His power and authority.  Humility is the key to this spiritual battle.  It’s the key to overcoming the attacks and temptations of the evil one.  So, humble yourself before God when you feel oppressed or tempted.  Humble yourself by admitting your weaknesses.  Acknowledge that only God has the authority to strengthen you.  Put your trust in Him.  He will not let you down!

Lord, I am weak and nothing without You.  Help me to know and believe that.  Help me to humble myself before You and to be strengthened in that humility to overcome the temptations and influences of the evil one.  Jesus, I trust in You!

From Catholic daily reflections.com

A little thought

Christian unity pamplet

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christianunitypamphlet