Posts Tagged ‘humility’

The Loss of Our Interior Peace Is Disastrous Because In Peace, God Accomplishes Great Things

September 16, 2018

One of the most common strategies of the devil in his efforts to distance us from God and to slow our spiritual progress is to attempt to cause the loss of our interior peace.

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Here is what Dom Lorenzo Scupoli, one of the great spiritual masters of the 16th century [and author of The Spiritual Combat], who was highly esteemed by Saint Francis de Sales [author of Introduction to the Devout Life], said; “The devil does his utmost to banish peace from one’s heart, because he knows that God abides in peace and it is in peace that he accomplished great things.”

It would be well to keep this in mind, because, quite often in the daily unfolding of our Christian life it happens that we fight the wrong battle, if one may put it that way, because we orient our efforts in the wrong direction. We fight on a terrain where the devil subtly drags us and can vanquish us, instead of fighting on the real battlefield, where on the contrary, by the grace of God, we are always certain of victory.  And this is one of the great secrets of spiritual combat — to avoid fighting the wrong battle, to know how to discern, despite the ruses of our adversary, which is the real battlefield, what we truly have to struggle against and where we must place our efforts….

Related:

 (More from Jacques Philippe)

See also:

Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe

Source:https://richardconlin.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/searching-for-maintaining-peace-by-fr-jacques-philippe/

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Mother Teresa’s “Prayer for Priests”

September 14, 2018

Mary, “Protect them, guide them, and keep them in your heart.”

During her life on earth, Mother Teresa prayed for many people. However, one group of individuals that she prayed for on a regular basis was priests. She knew the temptations they underwent and the many difficulties they struggled with.

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Below is her prayer for priests, asking the Blessed Mother to protect them in a special way, keeping them faithful to their vows.

Mary, Mother of Jesus,
throw your mantle of purity over our priests.
Protect them, guide them, and keep them in your heart.
Be a Mother to them, especially in times of discouragement and loneliness.
Love them and keep them belonging completely to Jesus.
Like Jesus, they, too, are your sons, so keep their hearts pure and virginal.
Keep their minds filled with Jesus, and put Jesus always on their lips,
so that he is the one they offer to sinner and to all they meet.
Mary, Mother of Jesus, be their Mother, loving them and bringing them joy.
Take special care of sick and dying priests, and the ones most tempted.
Remember how they spent their youth and old age, their entire lives serving and giving all to Jesus.
Mary, bless them and keep a special place for them in your heart.
Give them a piece of your heart, so beautiful and pure and immaculate,
so full of love and humility, so that they, too, can grow in the likeness of Christ.
Dear Mary, make them humble like you, and holy like Jesus.

 

Source:https://aleteia.org/2018/09/09/a-prayer-for-priests-written-by-mother-teresa/?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_campaign=english_page&utm_medium=aleteia_en&utm_source=Facebook#Echobox=1536706969

Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, September 13, 2018 — “Knowledge inflates with pride.” — “Stop judging and you will not be judged.”

September 12, 2018

Advice for the age of Twitter and other social media: Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you

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Thursday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 440

Reading 11 COR 8:1B-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:
Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up.
If anyone supposes he knows something,
he does not yet know as he ought to know.
But if one loves God, one is known by him.

So about the eating of meat sacrificed to idols:
we know that there is no idol in the world,
and that there is no God but one.
Indeed, even though there are so-called gods in heaven and on earth
(there are, to be sure, many “gods” and many “lords”),
yet for us there is

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one God, the Father,
from whom all things are and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom all things are and through whom we exist.

But not all have this knowledge.
There are some who have been so used to idolatry up until now
that, when they eat meat sacrificed to idols,
their conscience, which is weak, is defiled.

Thus, through your knowledge, the weak person is brought to destruction,
the brother for whom Christ died.
When you sin in this way against your brothers
and wound their consciences, weak as they are,
you are sinning against Christ.
Therefore, if food causes my brother to sin,
I will never eat meat again,
so that I may not cause my brother to sin.

Responsorial Psalm PS 139:1B-3, 13-14AB, 23-24

R. (24b) Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
Probe me, O God, and know my heart;
try me, and know my thoughts;
See if my way is crooked,
and lead me in the way of old.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

Alleluia1 JN 4:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If we love one another,
God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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Sermon On The Mount art by Carl Bloch

Gospel  LK 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say, love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

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“The one filled with the spirit of Christ has nothing to lose.”
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Modern Idolatry Diminishes Sacredness of Every Human Being
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The word idolatry is one of those old sounding words often relegated to the archives of history. Many of us don’t associate idolatry with contemporary culture, thinking of it as something of the past, kind of “Old Testament stuff.”

I think it is alive and well in our world today.

Idolatry is the worship of a created object or being, as if it were a god.

Idols in today’s world are ubiquitous. How often have you spoken to individuals who stand in awe and reverence to the gods of money, land, house, health, or occupation?

Perhaps the most insidious form I have encountered is the tendency to make God into our image. In effect, we make ourselves idols.

We all have been taught, and hopefully believe, that we are made in God’s image and likeness. We share in divine life. We resemble God in our ability to think and will the good for ourselves and others. We share in God’s creative power by bringing new life into the world. We have the ability to reach out and form intimate relationships and thus share in the Trinitarian life. We share in God’s authority over other created beings and things. It is God’s image that is reflected in us. 

How often have you heard others try to give God human attributes (characteristics)? When we do that, we divide God, we limit God, we define God, and we place God in opposition to others and to God’s nature. God is One, and is infinitely great. God has perfect nature, without division or disunity. We cannot anthropomorphize divine nature. God is so infinitely different from us, i.e., transcendent, that we cannot comprehend it.

As one of my earliest theology professors said, “We know more about what God isn’t than what He is.”

If we fall into the trap of making God into our image and likeness, we fall into idolatry. We cannot create God. We can only experience and receive God in the divine self-revelation in salvation history, in Scripture, and in the living Tradition of the Church.

Yes, God is revealed in the daily events of our lives; we can come to recognize God in creation; we can come to know God in the lives of those around us, but that is because these events, these lives bear some faint resemblance of God’s image and likeness.

It is true that God assumed human nature in the Incarnation and Ascension into heaven of Jesus, God’s Son, but this is all God’s doing. God divinizes us in doing so, i.e., making us holy as God is holy. Jesus is God and (a) Man. With the Incarnation, God came to live within us intimately, closer to us than we are to ourselves. This is a reflection of the divine image in us.

http://bob.yerhot.org/2010/08/modern-day-idolatry/

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Commentary on Luke 6:27-38 From Living Space

For many people, even those who identify themselves as Christians, this may be one of the most difficult passages in the Gospel. It seems to express an idealism that is totally unrealistic and unattainable.

We live today in a world of great violence, of terrorism, of increasing litigation – suing and counter-suing, violence and murder, of vicious vendettas often stirred up in the tabloid press and other media, the horror of terrorist attacks on the innocent. Are these things not to be avenged?

Where do Jesus’ words fit in? It may be worth noting that the passage (in the original – not in today’s reading) begins: “I say this to you who are listening.” In order to understand what Jesus is really saying to us, we have to put aside our prejudices and assumptions and really listen to what he is saying. This passage, in particular, is one where we are likely to react emotionally.

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly.” We may feel that to follow this teaching is to try something which is totally beyond our capacity, that it would require a tremendous amount of will-power and that it would only encourage those people to behave even worse. In the Old Testament hatred of evildoers is presumed to be the right attitude to have. But Jesus is extending love to the enemy and the persecutor.

This is the core of Jesus’ teaching, which he himself practised. The Golden Rule which is often expressed as “Do not do to others what you would not want them do to you” is expressed here in positive terms.

The first big hurdle is the word “love”. For us it is a very emotional word, implying both affection and intimacy. For us to “love” is often to “be in love with”, to “be attracted to”. But Jesus is not telling us to be in love with our enemies. He is not even telling us to like them. The Greek verb which the gospel uses is agapao (‘agapaw) from which the noun agape (‘agaph) comes. Agape [pronounced ‘ah-gah-pay’] is a special kind of love. It is not the physically-expressed love of lovers nor is it the love of close friends. It is rather an attitude of positive regard towards other people by which I wish for their well-being.

This, in fact, is the love that God has for us. It is a one-sided love in the sense that a return is not expected. God reaches out in infinite love to every single person without exception. God wishes every person to experience that love; God wishes the fullest well-being of every single person. That love of his is often not returned; it is often rejected or ignored.

But it continues unabated, like the father in the story of the prodigal son waiting for his boy to come back. The father continued to love his son even in his lowest moments of debauchery and degradation. It was the same with the people who were nailing Jesus to the cross. He prayed for them, for their being forgiven and that they might come to a realisation of just what they were doing.

In this sense, loving our enemies seems altogether reasonable. And not only not impossible but really the only thing to do.

Who are our “enemies”? First of all, they are not our enemies in the sense that we hate them or want to harm them. In that sense, Christians should have no enemies. Rather, they are people who are hostile to us. They want to harm us, take revenge on us, even destroy us, or whatever.

There are two ways we can deal with such people. We can set out to do more harm to them, to take revenge on them, or try to wipe them out completely. Or we can try and work to turn them round.

Our problem is that we tend to focus too much on ourselves and our own immediate needs and overlook the needs of others. To love as God loves is to focus more on others. We can only do this if we have a strong inner sense of security and self-acceptance. Then we are not too worried about what people say about us or do to us.

And then, too, we can turn our attention much more to the one who is hating or harming. We will begin to ask why do they have to act in this way. What is hurting inside them that drives them to such behaviour? Already we are just by thinking in this way beginning to care for our enemy and beginning to love him or her.

And is not this a much better solution to the problem? To bring peace back into that person’s life and initiate a healing process in them and between them and me.

Jesus is not at all asking us to do something “unnatural”. We do not naturally want to hate or be hated. We want to love and to be loved. We see many parts of the world where – for years – there has been a process of hatred and retaliation in a never-ending spiral of vengeance and loss of life.

The only way to break this cycle is to follow Jesus’ advice. It is not a lose-lose or lose-win situation; it is a win-win situation where everyone benefits.

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Perhaps words of the late Mother Teresa are appropriate here:

“Love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.”

To put Jesus’ teaching into effect is not a matter of strengthening our will to do something very difficult but to change our conventional thinking at the deepest level, to see things his way. Once we do that, it becomes much easier.

Jesus’ application of this teaching also has been the subject of much mockery. “To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too.” In a world where macho reigns, this is just too much. Only wimps would follow Jesus’ advice because they are afraid to do anything else.

Schwarzenegger and Stallone know what to do in such cases: mow them down with an automatic machine gun.

Again, it is a question of seeing things from Jesus’, that is, God’s viewpoint. Turning the other cheek, as it is presented here, is not at all an act of weakness. It requires great courage and great inner strength and an awareness that the one who strikes is the one who is really weak. It is easy to lash out at another person by word or act. It is easy to hit back; it is almost an instinctive reaction but it is not the truly human response.

To hit back is to reduce oneself to the same level as one’s attacker and it solves nothing in the long run. Deliberately and calmly not to hit back is to refuse, in Eric Berne’s words, “to play the other person’s game”. It is to break the cycle and change the level of the playing field and move it to a higher level – the level of mutual respect and human dignity.

Jesus set the example when he was struck on the face during his trial. During the whole degradation of the Passion his dignity shines out in contrast to the pathetic posturings of his judges and tormentors. This was the spirit that guided Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King and which is behind all movements devoted to active non-violence.

Jesus sets the principle: “Treat others as you would like them to treat you.” You do not want to be hated or struck so you refuse, no matter what happens, to hate or strike another person. “If you love those who love you, what thanks can you expect?” No, we will not react simply in the way others deal with us.

As followers of Christ, we see things in a completely different way and we want to behave differently. We believe that not only do we personally benefit from following Jesus’ way but that others too will benefit and may even come to our point of view.

Finally, Jesus calls us to follow the model of God himself: “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.” In Matthew’s gospel it is, “Be perfect as…” The meaning is the same: our perfection consists in our empathetic reaching out in compassionate agape to every single person.

And, through us, the compassion of God can then be experienced by people.

We are not to judge or condemn persons (although we may be asked and required to give an objective and discerned evaluation of a person’s behaviour or fitness for some task or position). And we are to forgive. Then we will not be condemned and will in turn receive forgiveness.

The emphasis is on reaching out to others rather than gathering for ourselves, being turned in on our little, insecure selves. “Give, and there will be gifts for you.” Jesus put this graphically when he told us to give not only our cloak to someone asking for it but our tunic as well. Given that the poor in those days only had two garments, that would leave the donor totally naked!

But that is the point: the one filled with the spirit of Christ has nothing to lose, nothing to be ashamed of. Life consists in what we are able to give and not what we can get. “The amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.”

And that, above all, applies to agape. Everyone can give an endless supply of that.

https://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2235g/

Prayer and Meditation for Monday, September 10, 2018 — “You are inflated with pride. Your boasting is not appropriate.”

September 9, 2018

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He said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up and stand before us.”
And he rose and stood there.
Then Jesus said to them,
“I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath
rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
Looking around at them all, he then said to him,
“Stretch out your hand.”
He did so and his hand was restored.

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Monday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 437

Reading 1 1 COR 5:1-8

Brothers and sisters:
It is widely reported that there is immorality among you,
and immorality of a kind not found even among pagans–
a man living with his father’s wife.
And you are inflated with pride.
Should you not rather have been sorrowful?
The one who did this deed should be expelled from your midst.
I, for my part, although absent in body but present in spirit,
have already, as if present,
pronounced judgment on the one who has committed this deed,
in the name of our Lord Jesus:
when you have gathered together and I am with you in spirit
with the power of the Lord Jesus,
you are to deliver this man to Satan
for the destruction of his flesh,
so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not appropriate.
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?
Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough,
inasmuch as you are unleavened.
For our Paschal Lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.
Therefore, let us celebrate the feast,
not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Responsorial Psalm PS 5:5-6, 7, 12

R. (9) Lead me in your justice, Lord.
For you, O God, delight not in wickedness;
no evil man remains with you;
the arrogant may not stand in your sight.
You hate all evildoers.
R. Lead me in your justice, Lord.
You destroy all who speak falsehood;
The bloodthirsty and the deceitful
the LORD abhors.
R. Lead me in your justice, Lord.
But let all who take refuge in you
be glad and exult forever.
Protect them, that you may be the joy
of those who love your name.
R. Lead me in your justice, Lord.

Alleluia  JN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  LK 6:6-11

On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught,
and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.
The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely
to see if he would cure on the sabbath
so that they might discover a reason to accuse him.
But he realized their intentions
and said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up and stand before us.”
And he rose and stood there.
Then Jesus said to them,
“I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath
rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
Looking around at them all, he then said to him,
“Stretch out your hand.”
He did so and his hand was restored.
But they became enraged
and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

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First Thoughts From Peace and Freedom
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Every Gospel story could have any one of us at its core.
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We all suffer afflictions, diseases, sins and human failings.
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The Gospels tell every one of us to come forward, stare Jesus in the eye, get to know Him and ask for His Divine Help.
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I am the man with the “withered hand.” I am the Prodigal Son. The humility we need to come forward and seek forgiveness is the necessary first step in a new, adult conversion and a life lived in the pursuit of sanctity and holiness.
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We renounce Satan and evil in our lives to allow God, to give him permission, to cast out all that we know has no justified place in our heart and soul. We need and seek reconciliation, forgiveness and a “Christ-like life.”
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And what is it that we get in return? A new life, full of hope for eternity. We move away from anxiety and worry caused by our human limitations and weaknesses — and toward empowerment with spiritual energy that can only come from him.
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Hundreds of scripture readings contain the words “do not be afraid.” Once we approach Jesus and know His way, we can follow without anxiety or fear or worry.
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The Holy Spirit within us starts as a tiny flame, like the pilot light in a gas stove. When we lead the life of love that Jesus shows us, that flame grows in warmth and life from Him.
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John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom
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Commentary on Luke 6:6-11 From Living Space

Immediately following the incident of plucking the grains in the cornfield, we have another confrontation with religious leaders also on a Sabbath day. This one is even nastier as it involves what is called in American police movies a “set up” or “entrapment”.

Jesus had gone into the local synagogue, as was his practice on the sabbath, and began to teach. Right in front of him was a man with a withered hand, no doubt something he was born with.

There were scribes and Pharisees in the congregation and, we are told, they “were watching him” to see whether he would heal the man on a Sabbath day so that they could accuse him of breaking the Law.

Medical work was forbidden on the Sabbath because it normally took time. Jesus, of course, healed with just a word but even if he did not, could one say that healing was against the spirit of the Sabbath? At the same time, it is also worth noting that the man was suffering from a chronic and probably non-painful disability. There was no need for him to be cured on the spot; it could easily have waited until the next day.

Christ Healing the Man with the Withered Hand, by Robert T. Barrett

That gives further point to Jesus’ argument. The poor man had clearly been “planted”. He was being used as bait for their sinister ends. For the Pharisees and their co-conspirators the man and his plight were secondary. They had to prove their point and he was seen as a useful tool.

Jesus, of course, is fully aware of what is going on. He speaks directly to the disabled man: “Rise up and stand out in the middle!” The command to “rise up” is already an indication of what is going to take place; the man is going to be given new life. Nor is there any secrecy. What Jesus is going to do is to be seen by all.

But first he puts a question to the whole congregation, scribes and Pharisees included: “Is it lawful on the sabbath day to do good, or to do evil? to save life or to destroy it?”

It is really an unanswerable question because the answer is so obvious. But it was not the way these Pharisees were thinking. Their question would be very different: “Is it right to obey the Law or to violate it?” For them the Law, even the letter of the Law, was paramount. There is an irony in Jesus’ question because Jesus is planning to bring healing into a man’s life while they were preparing to bring about his destruction. Who was really breaking the Sabbath?

Not so with Jesus. For him the Law was relative to the true and the good. No implementation of a law can offend the true and the good. And sometimes the following of the true and the good may have to go against the letter of the law. What is legal is not always moral. It can be immoral, that is, evil, to obey a law in certain circumstances. What is moral sometimes transcends the law and may even contradict the law.

Hearing no dissenting answer, Jesus says to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so. His arm was fully restored to normal.

The scribes and Pharisees were furious and began to plot against Jesus. Their plans had been brought to nought. They showed no pleasure that a crippled man had been made whole. Their interpretation of the law had been shown to be wanting and they had to get back at Jesus.

Such situations are by no means unknown in our Christian life and in our Church. We will run into situations where doing good may be in conflict with traditional regulations and legal formulae.

We will find ourselves in situations where contemporary Pharisees will try to put the Church into a straitjacket of narrow-mindedness and fundamentalism whether it involves our understanding of the Scripture or the liturgy or morality or something else. These are people who put the letter of the laws, regulations and rubrics before love. For them it is more important to observe the externals of rules than to be a loving person.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2232g/

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Morning Prayer for Saturday, September 8, 2018 — “We fly to your protection”

September 8, 2018

We fly to your protection: These words take for granted that Mary our Mother has the power as well as the will to protect her children. As St Alphonsus Liguori wrote: “When Mary’s clients call her mother, they are not using empty words. She is our Mother, not by flesh, but spiritually: the Mother of our souls, of our salvation.

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Art: Mary Most Holy Mother of God by Giuseppe Serafini

We fly to your protection, most holy Mother of God; please listen to our petitions and needs, and deliver us from all dangers, ever glorious and blessed Virgin Mary.

Mary, our model and mother, by your obedience and patience you have taught us how to be true children of God. Please help us by your powerful assistance to overcome all our weaknesses, and to fulfill perfectly our tasks in life.

By your compassionate aid may we ever stand in spirit with you beneath the cross of Christ so that we may also rejoice with you in your divine Son’s triumphant victory over sin and death.

In your maternal kindness help us to be faithful to prayers in the company of God’s Church as you were one with the Apostles in the upper room as you waited for the promised Spirit of Pentecost.

With your gracious assistance may we be near you in the glory of Christ’s kingdom come to sing with you and all the faithful the eternal praise of God. Amen.

https://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=118

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Related image

http://quemarlosbarcos.blogspot.com/2008/05/fotos-de-la-virgen.html

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Related:

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In the booklet, ‘The Marist Laity, A Basic Guide’, on page 14, there is a suggestion recommending that Marists pray the Sub Tuum, or in English, ‘We fly to your protection’, first and last thing each day.

This prayer is important, not just because it is a Marist Tradition but because it is the oldest known prayer to Mary and one that was also recommended by the Second Vatican Council. Today I would like you to hear more about this little prayer so that we can appreciate it the more and pray it better.

The Sub Tuum, so called from the first two words of the Latin translation, is regarded as the oldest supplication addressed to Mary. This beautiful and time tested prayer is still one of the few texts to which the Church specifically attaches indulgences. The Handbook of Indulgences assigns a partial indulgence for its recitation. The Second Vatican Council alluded to the Sub Tuum in the magnificent chapter on Mary in the ‘Constitution on the Church (n. 66a)’: “Clearly from the earliest times, the Blessed Virgin Mary has been honoured under the title of ‘Mother of God’ and the faithful have taken refuge under her protection in all their dangers and necessities.”

A case can also be made for the thought that the Sub Tuum fits in quite well with the frenetic pace of modern life and the dangerous times in which we live. By making use of it often in our busy lives, we will be carrying out explicitly the desire of the Church. The Constitution on the Church continues” “Let the entire body of the faithful pour forth persevering prayer to the Mother of God and Mother of Humankind. Let them implore that she who aided the beginning of the Church by her prayers may now, exalted as she is in heaven above all the Saints and Angels, intercede with her Son in the fellowship of all the Saints.” There is good reason to believe that this may be termed a lived prayer – one whose words were fashioned out of pressing need. When it was first used by Christians, the ‘dangers’ mentioned were a harsh reality for those who uttered the words – dangers that spelled fierce persecution and horrible death.

This deceptively simple prayer was once regarded as dating from the Middle Ages, it actually goes back to Third Century Egypt. At that time, Christians were being battered by the persecution of the Roman Emperors and decimated by deportations. Therefore it was natural for such a short spontaneous prayer to rise constantly to their lips.

From them it passed on to other Christians especially in their worship. In the Coptic, Egyptian rite of the third century, the Sub Tuum was part of the liturgical office of Christmas. At the end of that century, Patriarch Theonas of Alexandria built the first real church for local Christians and called it the Church of St Mary Virgin and Mother of God. Prior to that time, people were accustomed to assemble in homes and catacombs. Thus, it is evident that in the third century Alexandrian Christians were already calling Mary the ‘Mother of God’ long before St Athanasius who was usually credited with coining the phrase. In deed, the title “Mother of God” was a traditional one in Egypt even before the advent of Christianity. It was originally the title given to Isis, mother of the god, Horus. The Coptic Christians, quite naturally, bestowed this title of Mother of God on Mary, and they did so even before the Council of Ephesus officially endorsed this exalted title for Mary in 431.

In 1917, an innocent-looking papyrus leaf originating in Egypt found its way into the John Rylands Library of Manchester, England. This set in motion a series of events that had a great effect on Mariology. It took 21 years, till 1938 for the experts to complete their painstaking work of examining this 3½ x7 inch papyrus and the ten lines of Greek letters inscribed in capitals on it. The term Mother of God was proven to have been addressed to Mary a hundred years earlier than previously thought. So this prayer was first prayed by Christians around 250 AD.

Thus the Sub Tuum, We fly to your protection, may be regarded as a precious heritage of the Egyptian Church, which tradition tells us was founded by St Mark the Evangelist. It is just another contribution of the Church of Alexandria, present day Egypt, that aided the formulation of the Christian Faith.

http://www.maristlaitynz.org/mobile.php?URL=TO-Weflytoyourprotection&j=110&orderingby=date

See also:

Sub tuum praesidium

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sub_tuum_praesidium

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The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen.

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

08 SEPTEMBER, 2018, Saturday, Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary

MARY’S GIFT OF HER LIFE TO THE CHURCH

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  MICAH 5:1-4 OR ROM 8:28-30MATT 1:1-1618-23 ]

Today we celebrate the birth of our Blessed Virgin Mary.  In truth her birthday would not have been celebrated if not for the fact that she is the mother of God.  Indeed, birthdays are only meaningful events when we are celebrating the gift of life and the gift of love.  The life that is given to us is not just for ourselves but it is always for the good of others.  As St Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.  If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”  (Rom 14:7f)  So to be born and to live is always for the Lord and His people.

Mary’s birth is celebrated in the Church because she was already saved by the Lord at her conception in the womb of St Anne.  The dogma of the Immaculate Conception speaks of Christ’s salvific grace in His passion, death and resurrection given to her in view of the fact that she would be His mother.  She was saved by the Lord by preemption rather than by redemption.  In other words, Christ’s grace protected her from being born with the sin of Adam.  In this way, her womb was a perfect sanctuary for the Lord to dwell in.  This is why Mary is also called the tabernacle of the New Covenant, carrying the Lord Jesus in her womb.

But more importantly, that Mary was a creature like us, giving birth to the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity in the flesh, makes it possible for us to be saved.  This is because as the second reading explains, “They are the ones he chose specially long ago and intended to become true images of his Son, so that his Son might be the eldest of many brothers. He called those he intended for this; those he called he justified, and with those he justified he shared his glory.” Jesus, by His coming in the flesh, shows us our true identity as the sons and daughters of God.  In the letter to the Hebrews, we read that “For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason, Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”  (Heb 2:11)

The fact that the gospel traced Jesus’ history to Abraham means that Jesus was a human person, with flesh and blood.  This authenticates the humanity of Jesus.  It is important for the Church to underscore Jesus’ true humanity so that we are truly saved in Christ.  St Paul’s letter to the Galatians says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.”  (Gal 4:4f)  Unless Jesus was a man, we cannot say that we can overcome our sins.  We would say that He was after all, divine and hence could do the Father’s will. But because Jesus as a man was able to fulfill the divine will using His human will, we too, with His grace, can do the same.  We have no excuse that salvation is not within our reach.  Jesus has shown us the way.  “Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”  (Heb 5:8f)

But Mary also served to link Jesus to the history of salvation as the Messiah foretold to come.  “The Lord says this: You (Bethlehem), Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, out of you will be born for me the one who is to rule over Israel; his origin goes back to the distant past, to the days of old.”  This explains why the scriptures take pains to trace His history to Joseph as His foster father in order to show that He was the fulfillment of the promise of the Messiah made to humankind.   It was Mary’s betrothal to Joseph that made it possible to ground the messiahship of Jesus; that He was the One promised by God to save us.

But for this to happen, we need to thank Mary for saying “yes” to God to undertaking this role of being the Mother of Christ and then later on as the Mother of the Church.  We must bear in mind that Mary, like Joseph, was betrothed in marriage.  Perhaps Mary, like Joseph, thought that marriage was the only possible vocation for her.  Like everyone else, Mary would have thought that getting married and having a family was the way to live out the will of God for her.   If that were so, then she must have given up a lot to have a family.  How many of us are willing to abandon our preferences and our plans for the greater good of others? But that was what Mary did.  Her life was for God and for us.

Of course, there is also the other tradition that suggests that perhaps Mary wanted to live a life of virginity.  This argument derives from her question to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  Regardless whichever interpretation we favour, the point remains that Mary cooperated with the plan of God for her.  She was ready to do whatever God willed for her.  She was able to say “Yes”, knowing the complexity ahead of her, the possible disbelief if she were to tell Joseph and her parents and relatives that she was pregnant through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit; and perhaps, face ridicule, rejection by Joseph and worst of all, be accused of committing adultery.  We can imagine there would have been a host of questions and uncertainties ahead.   Yet, she in faith said to the angel, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38)  Mary never put herself before God and His people.  It was always God’s will before her own plans.

Today, when we celebrate the Birthday of Mary, we want to thank God for the gift of her life.  She is the New Eve, as the Fathers of the Church call her.  Whilst Christ is seen as the New Adam who gave life to all men, Mary too, by her obedience, brought life to us all in giving us Jesus.  Mary is truly the New Eve, for without her cooperation with the grace of God, there would be no saviour.  What is more, she cooperated with God’s grace throughout her life; not just at the Annunciation.  She continued to give life to the Church and to her Son by supporting Him quietly and unobtrusively by standing by Him, especially when everyone abandoned Him at the cross.  Mary shared in Jesus’ suffering and death and thus gave herself totally to us in the offering of her Son for the salvation of humanity.  She was generous and forgiving towards those who killed her Son.  Without uttering grudges, just cries of grief, she joined Jesus in offering Himself for the forgiveness of sins.

Mary continues to offer herself to us by being not just the Mother of Christ but of the Church.  She was with the Church in prayer when the apostles waited for the descent of the Holy Spirit.  She became the mother of the Church when our Lord handed her over to John who was told to make a place for her in his home.  From that moment, Mary began to exercise her motherly role in the Church by giving support to the apostles.  After her death and glorification, Mary continues to watch over us and help us by her prayers so that we too can share the life of Christ and be life-givers to others.   With this assurance of her presence with the Church, we can now do the same and be life-givers to others through the sacrifice of our own lives.

Today, as we celebrate her birthday, let us too make our life a vocation for the service of God and our fellowmen.  Let us not live in vain, not even a single day.  With devotion and dedication, let us use our life, all our talents and resources for the glory of God, for the salvation of humanity and the service of our fellowmen.  We have only one life and therefore we must do all we can, and expend ourselves for the good of humanity so that we will never regret that we had not lived our life meaningfully.  We must learn from Mary and our Lord that we cannot be living for ourselves if we are to find life.  “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?” (Mk 8:35-37)  With Mary, we live fully by giving our life to all.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Deprived of Innocence? You Found out Priests Were Sinners Too? — We All Need God — Morning Prayer and Reflection for Thursday, September 6, 2018

September 6, 2018
“Make no mistake about it: if any one of you thinks of himself as wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then he must learn to be a fool before he really can be wise. Why? Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God.”
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1 Corinthians 3: 18-19
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Maybe it is the laity’s time to be compassionate and forgiving toward their priests. Let the courts and God pass judgment. We should pray for them, our servants.
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See also:
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Christ offered the world a new way of thinking and being
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http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2014/02/20/in-what-st-paul-described-as-the-wisdom-of-the-cross-christ-offered-the-world-a-new-way-of-thinking-and-being/
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Related:
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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06 SEPTEMBER, 2018, Thursday, 22nd Week, Ordinary Time

INTELLECTUAL PRIDE IS THE DOWNFALL OF HUMANITY

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 CORINTHIANS 3:18-23LUKE 5:1-11  ]

The greatness of man in creation is recognized throughout the scriptures.  The psalmist sings praise to God, saying, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet.”  (Ps 8:3-6) Indeed, this is what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God, sharing in His knowledge and His love. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”  (Gn 1:27)

However, the gift of knowledge is a double-edged sword.  It causes man to think more highly of himself than he actually is.  This is what St Paul wrote in the first reading. “Make no mistake about it: if any one of you thinks of himself as wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then he must learn to be a fool before he really can be wise.”  This temptation to intellectual pride was present since the foundation of the world.  In the book of Genesis, God told Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Gn 2:16f)  But he did not take heed of God’s command.  By eating, man was deprived of his innocence and from then on he had to make a choice between good and evil.

This temptation to intellectual pride, human knowledge and human wisdom grew in propensity.  The story of the Tower of Babel is yet another expression of original sin, which is the sin of pride leading to disobedience. They said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” (cf Gn 11:1-9)  In our days, this is expressed in atheism, humanism and relativism.  There are many people in the world who believe only in themselves and in their knowledge. They think that scientific and technological knowledge alone can save the world.  They reduce everything to reason and empirical proofs.  There is no God and there are no absolutes.  By so doing, they proclaim themselves as gods and relativism as the absolute truth!

Such people, St Paul says, are foolish. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  (Rom 1:18-21)

This is not to dismiss the relevance and important role of reason.  Pope John Paul II in his encyclical, Fides e Ratio wrote about how revelation completes the work of reason.  “From the teaching of the two Vatican Councils there also emerges a genuinely novel consideration for philosophical learning. Revelation has set within history a point of reference which cannot be ignored if the mystery of human life is to be known.  Yet this knowledge refers constantly to the mystery of God which the human mind cannot exhaust but can only receive and embrace in faith. Between these two poles, reason has its own specific field in which it can enquire and understand, restricted only by its finiteness before the infinite mystery of God. Revelation therefore introduces into our history a universal and ultimate truth which stirs the human mind to ceaseless effort; indeed, it impels reason continually to extend the range of its knowledge until it senses that it has done all in its power, leaving no stone unturned.”  (Fides et Ratio, 14)

Pope John Paul also cited from the previous Council’s teaching.  “The First Vatican Council teaches, then, that the truth attained by philosophy and the truth of Revelation are neither identical nor mutually exclusive: ‘There exists a twofold order of knowledge, distinct not only as regards their source, but also as regards their object. With regard to the source, because we know in one by natural reason, in the other by divine faith. With regard to the object, because besides those things which natural reason can attain, there are proposed for our belief mysteries hidden in God which, unless they are divinely revealed, cannot be known’.  Based upon God’s testimony and enjoying the supernatural assistance of grace, faith is of an order other than philosophical knowledge which depends upon sense perception and experience and which advances by the light of the intellect alone. Philosophy and the sciences function within the order of natural reason; while faith, enlightened and guided by the Spirit, recognizes in the message of salvation the ‘fullness of grace and truth’ (cf. Jn 1:14) which God has willed to reveal in history and definitively through his Son, Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Jn 5:9Jn 5:31-32).”  (Fides et Ratio, 9)

Indeed, St Peter in today’s gospel shows how the wisdom of God transcends the wisdom of man.  As a fisherman by profession, he knew from knowledge and experience where to catch fish.  And so when the Lord instructed him to “put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch”, the immediate reaction of Peter was, “Master…we worked hard all night long and caught nothing.”  It was as if Peter was saying to Jesus that he had already tried his best using whatever knowledge he had as an experienced fisherman.  In other words, he did not need someone who is a carpenter to teach him how and where to fish.  However, out of respect for the Lord on one hand, and on the other, perhaps, to prove Him wrong, Peter said, “but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.”

And lo and behold, “when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.”  It was unbelievable and unimaginable for the fishermen, especially Peter who thought he knew everything about fishing.  He thought he could show off to Jesus his knowledge and that he knew better than he did.  But when he saw the miraculous catch, he realized his deep secret pride that wanted to prove Him wrong. It turned out that he was the foolish one instead.  Rather than trusting in the power of God, he relied on human and worldly wisdom.

Realizing his mistake and pride, he humbled himself before the Lord.  “He fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me Lord; I am a sinful man.’  For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners.”  Why did he call himself a sinful man, were it not for the fact that he was too presumptuous in his knowledge?  Before the Lord, he knew that he had misjudged Him.  Jesus was the presence of God, the power of God and divine wisdom.  On that account, we read that when the Lord said to Simon, “‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’  Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.”  After encountering the divine wisdom and power of Christ, Peter and his friends no longer followed their own intellectual reasoning and knowledge; instead, they left everything behind and followed the Lord.  From then on, they took direction from Jesus.  Obedience is always the outcome of faith.

Indeed, St Paul himself came to the realization that human knowledge alone cannot grasp the mystery of life “Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God.  As scripture says: The Lord knows wise men’s thoughts: he knows how useless they are: or again: God is not convinced by the arguments of the wise.  So there is nothing to boast about in anything human.”  Earlier on, St Paul wrote, “For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” (1 Cor 1:25It behooves us therefore to remain humble before God and the mystery of life.

In the final analysis, our trust is not in man but in God.  Even when we admire people in our lives, especially those who are wise and intelligent, let us not forget that their wisdom and knowledge come from God.  As St Paul reminds us, “So there is nothing to boast about in anything human: Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life and death, the present and the future, are all your servants; but you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.”  Everything we have and what we are belong to all and for the service of all.  This is because all of us and all that we have ultimately belong to God.  With the psalmist, we exclaim, “The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness, the world and all its peoples.  It is he who set it on the seas; on the waters he made it firm.”

“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass…”

September 5, 2018

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. [Matthew 7:2]

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors [Matthew 6:12]

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Eight Keys To Forgiveness

Sometimes the hurt is very deep, such as when a spouse or a parent betrays our trust, or when we are victims of crime, or when we’ve been harshly bullied. Anyone who has suffered a grievous hurt knows that when our inner world is badly disrupted, it’s difficult to concentrate on anything other than our turmoil or pain. When we hold on to hurt, we are emotionally and cognitively hobbled, and our relationships suffer.

Forgiveness is strong medicine for this. When life hits us hard, there is nothing as effective as forgiveness for healing deep wounds. I would not have spent the last 30 years of my life studying forgiveness if I were not convinced of this.

Many people have misconceptions about what forgiveness really means—and they may eschew it. Others may want to forgive, but wonder whether or not they truly can. Forgiveness does not necessarily come easily; but it is possible for many of us to achieve, if we have the right tools and are willing to put in the effort.

Below is an outline of the basic steps involved in following a path of forgiveness, adapted from my new book, 8 Keys to Forgiveness. As you read through these steps, think about how you might adapt them to your own life.

1. Know what forgiveness is and why it matters

Forgiveness is about goodness, about extending mercy to those who’ve harmed us, even if they don’t “deserve” it. It is not about finding excuses for the offending person’s behavior or pretending it didn’t happen. Nor is there a quick formula you can follow. Forgiveness is a process with many steps that often proceeds in a non-linear fashion.

But it’s well worth the effort. Working on forgiveness can help us increase our self-esteem and give us a sense of inner strength and safety. It can reverse the lies that we often tell ourselves when someone has hurt us deeply—lies like, I am defeated or I’m not worthy. Forgiveness can heal us and allow us to move on in life with meaning and purpose. Forgiveness matters, and we will be its primary beneficiary.

Studies have shown that forgiving others produces strong psychological benefits for the one who forgives. It has been shown to decrease depression, anxiety, unhealthy anger, and the symptoms of PTSD. But we don’t just forgive to help ourselves. Forgiveness can lead to psychological healing, yes; but, in its essence, it is not something about you or done for you. It is something you extend toward another person, because you recognize, over time, that it is the best response to the situation.

2. Become “forgivingly fit”

To practice forgiveness, it helps if you have worked on positively changing your inner world by learning to be what I call “forgivingly fit.” Just as you would start slowly with a new physical exercise routine, it helps if you build up your forgiving heart muscles slowly, incorporating regular “workouts” into your everyday life.

You can start becoming more fit by making a commitment to do no harm—in other words, making a conscious effort not to talk disparagingly about those who’ve hurt you. You don’t have to say good things; but, if you refrain from talking negatively, it will feed the more forgiving side of your mind and heart.

You can also make a practice of recognizing that every person is unique, special, and irreplaceable. You may come to this through religious beliefs or a humanist philosophy or even through your belief in evolution. It’s important to cultivate this mindset of valuing our common humanity, so that it becomes harder to discount someone who has harmed you as unworthy.

You can show love in small ways in everyday encounters—like smiling at a harried grocery cashier or taking time to listen to a child. Giving love when it’s unnecessary helps to build the love muscle, making it easier to show compassion toward everyone. If you practice small acts of forgiveness and mercy—extending care when someone harms you—in everyday life, this too will help. Perhaps you can refrain from honking when someone cuts you off in traffic, or hold your tongue when your spouse snaps at you and extend a hug instead.

Sometimes pride and power can weaken your efforts to forgive by making you feel entitled and inflated, so that you hang onto your resentment as a noble cause. Try to catch yourself when you are acting from that place, and choose forgiveness or mercy, instead. If you need inspiration, it can help to seek out stories of mercy in the world by going to the International Forgiveness Institute website: http://www.internationalforgiveness.com.

3. Address your inner pain

It’s important to figure out who has hurt you and how. This may seem obvious; but not every action that causes you suffering is unjust. For example, you don’t need to forgive your child or your spouse for being imperfect, even if their imperfections are inconvenient for you.

To become clearer, you can look carefully at the people in your life—your parents, siblings, peers, spouse, coworkers, children, and even yourself—and rate how much they have hurt you. Perhaps they have exercised power over you or withheld love; or maybe they have physically harmed you. These hurts have contributed to your inner pain and need to be acknowledged. Doing this will give you an idea of who needs forgiveness in your life and provide a place to start.

There are many forms of emotional pain; but the common forms are anxiety, depression, unhealthy anger, lack of trust, self-loathing or low self-esteem, an overall negative worldview, and a lack of confidence in one’s ability to change. All of these harms can be addressed by forgiveness; so it’s important to identify the kind of pain you are suffering from and to acknowledge it. The more hurt you have incurred, the more important it is to forgive, at least for the purpose of experiencing emotional healing.

You may be able to do this accounting on your own, or you may need the help of a therapist. However you approach looking at your pain be sure you do it in an environment that feels safe and supportive.

4. Develop a forgiving mind through empathy

Scientists have studied what happens in the brain when we think about forgiving and have discovered that, when people successfully imagine forgiving someone (in a hypothetical situation), they show increased activity in the neural circuits responsible for empathy. This tells us that empathy is connected to forgiveness and is an important step in the process.

If you examine some of the details in the life of the person who harmed you, you can often see more clearly what wounds he carries and start to develop empathy for him. First, try to imagine him as an innocent child, needing love and support. Did he get that from the parents? Research has shown that if an infant does not receive attention and love from primary caregivers, then he will have a weak attachment, which can damage trust. It may prevent him from ever getting close to others and set a trajectory of loneliness and conflict for the rest of his life.

You may be able to put an entire narrative together for the person who hurt you—from early child through adulthood—or just imagine it from what you know. You may be able to see her physical frailties and psychological suffering, and begin to understand the common humanity that you share. You may recognize her as a vulnerable person who was wounded and wounded you in return. Despite what she may have done to hurt you, you realize that she did not deserve to suffer, either.

Recognizing that we all carry wounds in our hearts can help open the door to forgiveness.

5. Find meaning in your suffering

When we suffer a great deal, it is important that we find meaning in what we have endured. Without seeing meaning, a person can lose a sense of purpose, which can lead to hopelessness and a despairing conclusion that there is no meaning to life itself. That doesn’t mean we look for suffering in order to grow or try to find goodness in another’s bad actions. Instead, we try to see how our suffering has changed us in a positive way.

Even as one suffers, it’s possible to develop short-term and sometimes long-range goals in life. Some people begin to think about how they can use their suffering to cope, because they’ve become more resilient or brave. They may also realize that their suffering has altered their perspective regarding what is important in life, changing their long-range goals for themselves.

To find meaning is not to diminish your pain or to say, I’ll just make the best of it or All things happen for a reason. You must always take care to address the woundedness in yourself and to recognize the injustice of the experience, or forgiveness will be shallow.

Still, there are many ways to find meaning in our suffering. Some may choose to focus more on the beauty of the world or decide to give service to others in need. Some may find meaning by speaking their truth or by strengthening their inner resolve. If I were to give one answer, it would be that we should use our suffering to become more loving and to pass that love onto others. Finding meaning, in and of itself, is helpful for finding direction in forgiveness.

6. When forgiveness is hard, call upon other strengths

Forgiveness is always hard when we are dealing with deep injustices from others. I have known people who refuse to use the word forgiveness because it just makes them so angry. That’s OK—we all have our own timelines for when we can be merciful. But if you want to forgive and are finding it hard, it might help to call upon other resources.

First remember that if you are struggling with forgiveness, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure at forgiveness. Forgiveness is a process that takes time, patience, and determination. Try not to be harsh on yourself, but be gentle and foster a sense of quiet within, an inner acceptance of yourself. Try to respond to yourself as you would to someone whom you love deeply.

Surround yourself with good and wise people who support you and who have the patience to allow you time to heal in your own way. Also, practice humility—not in the sense of putting yourself down, but in realizing that we are all capable of imperfection and suffering.

Try to develop courage and patience in yourself to help you in the journey. Also, if you practice bearing small slights against you without lashing out, you give a gift to everyone—not only to the other person, but to everyone whom that person may harm in the future because of your anger. You can help end the cycle of inflicting pain on others.

If you are still finding it hard to forgive, you can choose to practice with someone who is easier to forgive—maybe someone who hurt you in a small way, rather than deeply. Alternatively, it can be better to focus on forgiving the person who is at the root of your pain—maybe a parent who was abusive, or a spouse who betrayed you. If this initial hurt impacts other parts of your life and other relationships, it may be necessary to start there.

7. Forgive yourself

Most of us tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on others and we struggle to love ourselves. If you are not feeling lovable because of actions you’ve taken, you may need to work on self-forgiveness and offer to yourself what you offer to others who have hurt you: a sense of inherent worth, despite your actions.

In self-forgiveness, you honor yourself as a person, even if you are imperfect. If you’ve broken your personal standards in a serious way, there is a danger of sliding into self-loathing. When this happens, you may not take good care of yourself—you might overeat or oversleep or start smoking or engage in other forms of “self-punishment.” You need to recognize this and move toward self-compassion. Soften your heart toward yourself.

After you have been able to self-forgive, you will also need to engage in seeking forgiveness from others whom you’ve harmed and right the wrongs as best as you can. It’s important to be prepared for the possibility that the other person may not be ready to forgive you and to practice patience and humility. But, a sincere apology, free of conditions and expectations, will go a long way toward your receiving forgiveness in the end.

8. Develop a forgiving heart

When we overcome suffering, we gain a more mature understanding of what it means to be humble, courageous, and loving in the world. We may be moved to create an atmosphere of forgiveness in our homes and workplaces, to help others who’ve been harmed overcome their suffering, or to protect our communities from a cycle of hatred and violence. All of these choices can lighten the heart and bring joy to one’s life.

Some people may believe that love for another who’s harmed you is not possible. But, I’ve found that many people who forgive eventually find a way to open their hearts. If you shed bitterness and put love in its place, and then repeat this with many, many other people, you become freed to love more widely and deeply. This kind of transformation can create a legacy of love that will live on long after you’re gone.

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/eight_keys_to_forgiveness

Related:

 

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Meditation of St. Francis of Assisi 

Related:

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Padre Pio
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“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”
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– St. Pio of  Pietrelcina
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Padre Pio

See also:

A Prayer to Stop Judging

http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/prayerplainandsimple/2015/04/a-prayer-to-stop-judging.html

Morning Prayer for Tuesday, September 4, 2018 — Praying for Inner Peace

September 4, 2018

Calm my anxious spirit, Lord — Take away my needless worry. Allow me to become a better person each day. Relieve me of the need to solve the cruelty, injustice and wrongs of the world. Teach me humility, forgiveness and the joy of life again.

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Above: Protests in Russia

Meditation for the Day

Do not become encumbered by petty annoyances. Never respond to emotional upsets by emotional upset. Try to keep calm in all circumstances. Try not to fight back. Call on the grace of God to calm you when you feel like retaliating. Look to God for the inner strength to drop those resentments that drag you down. If you are burdened by annoyances, you will lose your inward peace and the spirit of God will be shut out. Try to keep peaceful within.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may do the things that make for peace. I pray that I may have a mission of conciliation.

Related:

See also:

Prayer For Inner Peace

https://www.godupdates.com/prayer-inner-peace/

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Prayer and Meditation for Monday, September 3, 2018 — “I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling”

September 2, 2018

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Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 431

Reading 1 1 COR 2:1-5

When I came to you, brothers and sisters,
proclaiming the mystery of God,
I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom.
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you
except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling,
and my message and my proclamation
were not with persuasive words of wisdom,
but with a demonstration of spirit and power,
so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom
but on the power of God.

Responsorial Psalm PS 119:97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102

R. (97) Lord, I love your commands.
How I love your law, O LORD!
It is my meditation all the day.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
Your command has made me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
I have more understanding than all my teachers
when your decrees are my meditation.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
I have more discernment than the elders,
because I observe your precepts.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
From every evil way I withhold my feet,
that I may keep your words.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
From your ordinances I turn not away,
for you have instructed me.
R. Lord, I love your commands.

Alleluia  SEE LK 4:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  LK 4:16-30

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll,
he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, “Is this not the son of Joseph?”
He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb,
‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.'”
And he said,
“Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

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Saint Gregory the Great
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Pope Saint Gregory I, also known as the Great, was the Pope of the Catholic Church between 590 and 604 AD.

Gregory was born around 540 in Rome. The exact date of his birth is unknown. Although the Western Roman Empire had collapsed long before his birth, many ancient Roman families still commanded great wealth and influence in the city. Gregory was born into one such family. His great-great-grandfather was Pope Felix III who reigned from 483 to 492. (Astute readers may suspect this to be a scandal, but this was at a time before the clergy took vows of celibacy.)

His father was named Gordianus, and he was a senator and a Prefect of Rome. Gordianus also held a position in the Church with the title of Regionarius, but there are no records from the time which describe the post. Gregory’s mother was Silvia, also from a noble family. Silvia’s sister (Gregory’s aunt), Pateria are both recognized as saints in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Gregory had a brother, but nothing is recorded, neither his name or his fate.

Gregory’s family was very wealthy and owned estates on the island of Sicily which provided income.

When Gregory was just two years old in 542, the Plague of Justinian swept through the region. This plague was caused by a now-extinct strain of Yersinia Pestis, more commonly known as the Black Death. The plague was the most severe outbreak of deadly disease the world had ever known and remained the worst such incident until the Black Death in the 14th century. About a third of the population in Italy was wiped out by the disease.

In addition to disease, the barbarian Ostrogoths sacked Rome in 546. The Franks attempted an invasion in 554. Both of these incursions were short lived. It is unclear how these massive events impacted Gregory’s development as a child, but it is thought his family retreated to Sicily during part of that time. Peace followed in Italy after these upheavals.

Gregory was well educated and excelled in all his studies. He also became an expert in law. He excelled so much he became the Prefect of Rome, just as his father had been. Gregory was only 33 years old.

After Gregory’s father had died, Gregory had the family villa in Rome converted into a monastery. Today the monastery still stands as the San Gregorio Magno al Celio. This famous monastery fell into ruin in the following centuries but was restored during the 17th and 18th centuries.

As a monk, Gregory was hard and strict. When a monk on his deathbed confessed to stealing three pieces of gold, Gregory ordered he be left to die alone. After the poor monk had died, Gregory ordered his body thrown on a dung heap along with the three coins. Then, in a turn of heart, Gregory offered 30 Masses for the deceased monk.

Pope Pelagius II, who reigned from 579 to 590, chose Gregory to serve as an ambassador to the imperial court in Constantinople.

The Pope had a problem with the Lombards invading from the west. Gregory was ordered to request military aid from the emperor. But the emperor felt there were greater threats to the east, and he refused Gregory’s request.

In 590, Pope Pelagius II died, and Gregory was proclaimed pope by acclamation. This was not something Gregory wanted, but he accepted the burden nevertheless.

Gregory made clear he preferred the monastic life in a series of writings praising it. He also referred to himself as a servant of God. The habit remains in practice to this day and many clergy still refer to themselves as servants.

Pope Gregory was famous for the emphasis he put on missionary work. He sent many people out to bring many to Jesus and into the Church. Anglo-Saxon Britain was, at that time, still on the frontier of Christendom. It was Pope Gregory who dispatched St. Augustine (of Canterbury) to Kent in 597 (not to be confused with St. Augustine of Hippo).

Pope Gregory made many changes to the Mass, some of which remain today, The position of the Our Father in the Mass remains where Pope Gregory placed it.

He emphasized the aspect of service to the poor for deacons. The number of deacons was increasing in number and they were seen as less essential as extensions of the Bishop than they were in the early Church. Deacons were often tasked with giving alms to the poor, and at least one was assigned to each church and ordained for this purpose.

Pope Gregory may have also established “cantus planus,” known in English as plainchant. Most today know this style of singing as Gregorian Chant. The melodious, monophonic music is known throughout the Church and closely associated with medieval monasteries. Gregorian chant gives us the oldest music we still have in the original form, some dating to the centuries just after the death of Gregory. It remains a matter of some dispute just how involved Pope Gregory was in the development of the style. Some music historians argue the credit is a misattribution that rightly belongs to his less famous successor of a century later, Gregory II.

Pope Gregory was well known for his alms to the poor, and he gave quite generously of the riches donated to the Church by the wealthy people of Rome. Everything from money to land was given to the poor in some fashion. He made clear to his subordinates that their duty was to relieve the distress faced by the poor.

He ordered his clergy to go out into the streets to find and care for the poor in person. Any clergy who were unwilling to go into the streets and help the poor were replaced. Assets of the Church were liquidated to provide income for alms. Clergy doing this work were paid four times a year and given a gold coin as a sort of bonus.

When a famine struck Rome in the 590s, Pope Gregory ordered the Church to use its assets to feed the poor. At that time, the Church controlled nearly two thousand square miles of land, overseen by the clergy and used to generate income. Now, instead of selling the produce of the land, Pope Gregory ordered it shipped to Rome and given away for free. In this way, he saved thousands of people from certain death.

Pope Gregory himself refused to eat until his monks returned from their work of handing out food.

He also made certain to dine with a dozen poor people at each meal.

Gregory is widely considered the be the first medieval pope, and he was a prolific writer.

Because of his great respect for the poor, it was Pope Gregory and the Church that became the most respected –and obeyed force in Rome and across Italy.

From the time of Gregory onwards, the people looked to the Church for government rather than the distant and indifferent emperors in Constantinople.

Pope Gregory suffered from arthritis in his last years. He died on March 12, 604 AD. He was immediately proclaimed a saint by means of popular acclaim.

Saint Gregory’s relics remain in St. Peter’s Basilica to this day.

In 1969, the Second Vatican Council moved Saint Gregory’s feast day from March 12 to September 3 so it would not fall during Lent. During Lent, there are no obligatory memorials. The Eastern Orthodox Church also venerates Saint Gregory, honoring him on March 12.

Both Anglican and Lutheran Christians also venerate Pope Saint Gregory.

He is the patron saint of musicians, singers, students, and teachers.

https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=54

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“With the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God…”
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Commentary on Luke 4:16-30 From Living Space

We begin today the reading of Luke’s gospel which will bring us up to the end of the Church year. We have already gone through Matthew and Mark and John’s gospel has been spread through various parts of the year, especially during the Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter seasons.

The gospel is a companion volume to the book of the Acts and the language and structure of these two books indicate that both were written by the same person. They are addressed to the same individual, Theophilus, and the second volume refers to the first.

Luke presents the works and teachings of Jesus that are especially important for understanding the way of salvation. Its scope is complete from the birth of Christ to his ascension. It appeals to both Jews and Gentiles.

However, we take up Luke’s gospel at the beginning of Jesus’ public life (chap. 4). After his baptism he had returned “in the power of the Spirit to Galilee”, the northern province of Palestine and his home province. Already people were talking about him everywhere.

Now, as our reading opens, we find him in Nazareth, a small town in Galilee and the place where he grew up. From the verses immediately preceding, it does not seem that Jesus actually began his ministry in Nazareth. The event described here may not have taken place until a year later. One suggestion (NIV Bible) is that all that is described in John’s gospel between 1:19 to 4:42 took place between the temptation in the desert and the moving north to Galilee (vv.13 and 14).

But Luke has arranged the structure of his gospel so that Jesus will begin his public life in Nazareth and will gradually proceed southwards towards his goal, Jerusalem, without turning back. In the other Synoptics he moves around Galilee in all directions and John suggests that he made a number of visits to Jerusalem during his public life.

The Jerusalem Bible suggests that our passage today actually combines three distinct parts:

the first, vv.16-22 (Jesus is honoured), occurring at the time indicated by Matt 4:13;

the second, vv.23-24 (Jesus astonishing his audience), the visit of which Matthew and Mark speak;

the third, vv.25-30 (the life of Jesus threatened), not mentioned by Matthew or Mark and to be placed towards the end of the Galilean ministry.

In this way Luke presents an introductory tableau which is a summary and symbol of Christ’s great offer and of its contemptuous rejection by his own people.

As the reading opens we find Jesus in the town synagogue. It is a sabbath day. He gets up to read the scripture and comments on it. The ruler of the synagogue could authorise any adult Jew to read the scripture lesson. The passage he reads is full of significance. It comes from the prophet Isaiah and Jesus’ reading of it amounts to a manifesto or what we might call today a “mission statement”. ‘Books’ in those days were in the form of scrolls and the Scriptures were kept in a special place in the synagogue and given to the reader by an attendant. Jesus may have chosen the passage himself or it may have been assigned for that day.

But it is more than just a mission statement. As he reads it becomes clear that the whole statement is about Jesus himself. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” This has already been confirmed during his baptism in the river Jordan when “the Holy Spirit came down on him in the form of a dove” and a voice was heard to say, “You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).

“Because he has anointed me.” In saying this Jesus is making an unequivocal claim to be the Messiah or the Christ, the long-awaited liberating King of Israel. The word “Messiah”, translated into Greek as Christos , means someone who is anointed with oil. (We call the oil in baptism and confirmation ‘chrism’.) And a person was made king by having oil poured over his head. (We remember how David was anointed king.) Jesus, of course, was not literally anointed but had been figuratively ‘anointed’ by the coming of the Spirit on him in his baptism. ‘Anointing’ is our equivalent of ‘coronation’, symbolised by the putting of a crown on the new king.

Then comes the mission of this King:

To preach the gospel to the poor,

to heal the broken-hearted,

to proclaim liberty to captives and

recovery of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are hurt

and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

There is nothing here of restoring the glories of Israel, nothing about conquering enemies and laying waste their lands. No, it is about letting the poor of this world hear the Good News of God’s love for them. It is about healing and reconciliation. It is about liberating those who are tied down by any form of enslavement. It is about helping people to see clearly the true meaning of life. It is about restoring wholeness to people’s lives and to societies. It is about the inauguration of the Kingdom by its King.

It is, in short, the whole picture of Jesus that will unfold in the pages of Luke, a gospel which focuses on the poor and vulnerable, a gospel of tenderness and compassion, a gospel of the Spirit and of joy, a gospel of prayer and healing.

It is about “proclaiming a year acceptable to the Lord”. This refers to the Messianic age when salvation would be proclaimed. Isaiah in the original text is alluding to the Year of Jubilee, when every 50 years slaves were set free, debts were cancelled and ancestral lands were returned to the original family. Isaiah was thinking mainly of freedom from Babylonian captivity but Jesus was speaking of liberation across the board of human living.

And, as he finished the reading, Jesus put down the scroll and said that these things were now being fulfilled as they were hearing them.

And the townspeople who thought they knew him so well were overawed by the wisdom with which he spoke. This positive reaction to Jesus is a favourite theme in Luke. “Is not this Joseph’s son?” they asked rhetorically. But they were wrong. He was not Joseph’s son; he was the son of Mary and of the Father, the divine Word sharing our ‘flesh’. (As suggested above, this event may have occurred on a second visit.)

And this in turn leads us to the third section of the reading which provides an unexpected turn of events and is more in harmony with the later part of Jesus’ public life. Jesus’ hearers were surprised at the way he spoke but they were not moved to change. After all, he was just the son of Joseph, and someone they knew so well could have nothing to say to them. At the same time Jesus says they, his own townspeople, must be wondering why he is not doing the things in Nazareth that he was doing in places like Capernaum.

Capernaum, apparently a sizeable town, was where Peter lived and Jesus made his house the centre out of which he did his missionary work in Galilee. A 5th century basilica now stands on the supposed site of the house and there is a 4th century synagogue quite near.

The reason for their non-acceptance is that they do not really accept him for what he is. He reminds them that prophets are seldom accepted in their own place. Familiarity blinds people to their message. “I know who he is and he has nothing to say to me.” Jesus then gives two rather provocative examples:

During a great famine in the time of the prophet Elijah he was sent to help not his fellow Israelites but a poor widow in Sarepta, near Sidon in non-Jewish territory. Sidon was one of the oldest Phoenician cities on the Mediterranean coast and about 33 km north of Tyre. Later, Jesus would heal the daughter of a Gentile woman here.

And in the time of the prophet Elisha, there were many lepers in Israel but he was sent to cure Naaman, a Gentile general from Syria.

God reaching out to Gentiles through his prophets sets the stage for the Gentiles to receive the message of the Prophet Jesus, which is so much a theme of Luke’s writings. But these remarks so angered the people of Nazareth that they dragged Jesus to the brow of a hill with the intention of throwing him down but he just walked through them. Whether he did this miraculously or from the sheer power of his personality is not clear. In any case, his time had not yet come.

Prophetic voices being rejected by their own is a phenomenon only too common in our own day. And it was something Jesus foretold would happen to his followers, simply for being his followers and proclaiming his vision of life. In the meantime, let us make Jesus’ mission statement our own. It is what being a Christian means.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2222g/

Related:

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Ben Affleck’s Alcohol Addiction is Like Anybody Else’s — “He’s a Movie Star and That Holds Him Back”

August 26, 2018

Ben Affleck spirals into a “destructive phase” when he’s not working, friends say, and while the star “has been battling demons for years,” this relapse is a “wake-up call” for the dad of three.

Affleck checked into a facility after an intervention by estranged wife Jennifer Garner at his Pacific Palisades home Wednesday.

He and Garner — who split in 2015 after 10 years — left his place together and headed for a treatment center.

Friends of the actor told Page Six that he’s been in a bad place since he broke up with “Saturday Night Live” producer Lindsay Shookus.

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A Hollywood insider said, “Ben’s issues with substance abuse seem to reach a destructive phase when he’s not working. His addiction doesn’t seem as powerful when he is working.”

Affleck wrapped “Triple Frontier” in May and Dee Rees’ “The Last Thing He Wanted” with Anne Hathaway in July.

Pals told us the downtime is when he needs his sober coach the most.

“Ben has a substance abuse problem with alcohol, which has been on and off for a very long time; he’s been battling these demons for years.

“He’s currently in rehab, and it’s likely he’ll be in and out of treatment more times in the future. But the good news is that this doesn’t affect his work. He’s an Oscar-winning director, he’s well liked in Hollywood, and there’s a lot of sympathy for him — he’s still working, people want to work with him.”

His rep didn’t comment.

Another friend tells Page Six of the new rehab visit: “Ben has never been afraid to ask for help, which shows growth from past years. He’s working to better himself and hopefully this was the wake-up call he needed. He goes to meetings every day. He’s never not out of a rehab. He is suffering, and thankfully he’s not afraid to ask for help. Rehab is a good thing,” the source added.

Affleck last year wrote on Facebook that he had been treated for addiction: “Alcohol addiction [is] something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront . . . I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it.”

On Saturday, Affleck and Garner settled their divorce after three years of being separated. They will finalize when he is out of treatment.

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He’s a Movie Star and That Holds Him Back
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We talked to several addiction experts about Ben Affleck and most said something like, “”He’s a “Big Shot.”
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One said, “He’s rich, famous, a movie star, the King of the Universe, at least in his own mind. Addiction recovery requires humility. At first just the humility to say, “I am beaten by alcohol.'”
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One said, “God doesn’t want me to be a ‘Big Shot'”
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For many, a Higher Power is an important part of recovery. The Humility to seek and to admit we human beings don’t have all the answers makes one a seeker of answers — and thus a better person.
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One addiction expert, a doctor who runs a rehab, told me, “He doesn’t need an “Addiction Coach.” That’s a high end, well paid person who may or may not be the answer. He needs Alcoholics Anonymous and an AA sponsor.”
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“Rock stars, movie stars and people like them have a hard time getting sober. Their ego is their worst enemy.”
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“If we are still clinging to something that we will not let go, we must sincerely ask God to help us to be willing to let even that go, too. We cannot divide our lives into compartments and keep some for ourselves. We must give all the compartments to God. We must say: ‘My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my friends.'” Am I still clinging to something that I will not let go?
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Related:
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(Study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

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