Posts Tagged ‘Padre Pio’

Catholic Recovery: AA and The Sacraments (Addiction is no joke)

September 25, 2018

The Best Cure for a Sick Human Being May Be Prayer 

Image may contain: drink

By John Francis Carey

Image may contain: text

The “Big Book”

Addicted people, alcoholics and drug addicts, generally know where to go to get sober: Alcoholics Anonymous (and Narcotics Anonymous). Oh you can go to Malibu if your health insurance is good enough or you are  rolling in dough, but only the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous has a decades-long proven track record of getting drug addicts and alcoholics sober and keeping them that way.

So, having exhausted all prior options and afraid that sacrificing a live chicken in suburbia would upset the neighbors, I went to AA.

But since I am a Catholic, I have another place to go to help me to maintain a “fit spiritual condition.” We have the Church.

Suffering miserably, I trembled as I asked my spiritual advisor and AA sponsor the secret to good health and happiness.

“Go, listen to the Spoken Word, eat the Body of Christ in the form of the Eucharist at Mass, and confess your sins,” both of them replied.

I told them I thought I needed a better doctor and more health insurance.

“Nonsense,” one said.  “Physically you are fine. What you need is a spiritual awakening!”

There’s that thought again: spiritual awakening.

Isn’t “spiritual awakening” the entire point of Alcoholics Anonymous? Isn’t Step Twelve “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

So,  I stepped into a Catholic Church for the first time in years.  Before too long The Holy Spirit began to talk to me and recommended I go to confession and get a new start on life by wiping away all the built-up sin and grime and dirt.

After confession, my first in decades, I felt like I could fly. So, for once in my life I followed orders exactly: I went to Mass every day, I listened, paid attention, concentrated and consecrated my efforts in life.

I also received Holy Communion daily: The Bread of Life. I have been keeping this daily routine supplemented with lots of prayer and spiritual reading since 2007; and you know what? I have had a spiritual recovery.

My Old friend Peter calls it a “CONVERSION.”  Like Saul in the Scripture: “the scales fell from my eyes.”

And Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, used those same words.

“The scales fell from our eyes.”

One of the landmark books that told me I was on the right track was “Holy Spirit” by Father Edward Leen.

Father Leen says if you do the daily diet of Mass and Communion and you keep your life in a helpful, grateful and useful frame of mind with lots of good works: you will be filled with an “indwelling of the Holy Spirit.”

It happened to me exactly the way my spiritual advisor and Fr. Leen promised.  And I am reborn.

Many Catholics in AA find St. Francis de Sales a good one to read in order to straighten out a long lost catholic soul. “Introduction to the Devout Life” is the book that includes just about everything Francis de Sales teaches: but there are several shorter books of his teachings to get folks started.

And don’t let that word “devout” slow you down. Are you devoted to your sobriety or not? Are you grateful to God and devoted to Him?

I keep in mind that “what we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”

Like a Space Walker tethered to the mother ship by a three inch diameter chord — we have support from our AA fellowship and the Church and all its benefits. But, I know that a mortal sin just now will slam the hatch, sever my relationship with God, and I could float off into space before I come to my senses and return to the Spiritual Life again! IF I can return to the spiritual life again.

Ed White was the first American to perform a spacewalk. Image Creit: NASA

Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” So as I look at the Twelve Steps and the Ten Commandments, and see that our supplemental Catholic Church effort actually has fewer steps that AA! And since we are seeking that “daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition” — it might be a good idea for me not to continue to violate the Ten Commandments. I need all the Grace God can give me and I sure don’t want to slam the door in God’s face again.

It is only by the Grace of God that I am still alive.

So we use everything at our disposal to stay sober and stay on a spiritual path. We “go to any lengths to get it.” That means we pray, we go to AA meetings and we go to Church.

Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob both once said, “I’ll never go to church again.” But both DID go back to church after they got sober using the steps.

Now a few thoughts on prayer:

“A soul should not resolve, on account of the dryness it experiences, to abandon prayer.” — St. Teresa of Avila

“No prayer, no spiritual life.” –St. John Paul II

“Nothing so much purifies our mind from its errors, or our will from its depraved  affections, as prayer.” — St. Francis de Sales

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

For thousands of years, human beings have been praying. We modern Americans may need to give it a try too. I know it’s not cool but being cool won’t keep me sober or get me to heaven!

.

Related:

.

Image may contain: one or more people

We recommend the book “Holy Spirit” By Edward Leen. It changed my life. It can change yours too.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, beard and closeup

Padre Pio

.

 (Padre Pio)
.
.
.
.
.
 (“Stay in the present moment.”)
.
Image may contain: text
.
Book: Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly.
  1. Pray/Meditate
  2. Study
  3. Pour ourselves out in service to others
  4. EVANGELIZE
Advertisements

Morning Prayer for Wednesday, August 22, 2018 — Recovery from pain, suffering, addiction all cry out for our prayers and God’s help

August 22, 2018

Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting

“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”

Thought for the Day

“Those who do not recover from addiction are people who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault. They seem to be born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover, if they have the capacity to be honest.” Am I completely honest with myself and with other people?

Meditation for the Day

You can make use of your mistakes, failures, losses, and sufferings. It is not what happens to you so much as what use you make of it. Take your sufferings, difficulties, and hardships and make use of them to help some unfortunate soul who is faced with the same troubles. Then something good will come out of your suffering and the world will be a better place because of it. The good you do each day will live on, after the trouble and distress have gone, after the difficulty and the pain have passed away.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may make good use of my mistakes and failures. I pray that some good may result from my painful experiences.

Related:

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, outdoor and nature

Related image

Meditation of St. Francis of Assisi 

Related:

Image may contain: sky, ocean, cloud, water, outdoor and nature

Padre Pio
.
“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”
.
– St. Pio of  Pietrelcina
.
.
.
.
.
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, beard and closeup
.
Padre Pio

Morning Prayer for Friday, August 3, 2018 — Stay in the Present Moment — Life is a gift to God — Get Help from Your Friends!

August 3, 2018

The only day you can tuly influence is today. The only moment you are working on is the present moment.

With God we are OK. Do not be afraid.

Image result for life, god, giving thanks, pictures

Each moment of your day, which you devote to this new way of life is a gift to God. The gift of the moments. Even when your desire to serve God is sincere, it is not an easy thing to give Him many of these moments: the daily things you had planned to do, given up gladly so that you can perform a good service or say a kind word. If you can see God’s purpose in many situations, it will be easier to give Him many moments of your day. Every situation has two interpretations – your own and God’s. Try to handle each situation in the way you believe God would have it handled.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may make my day count somewhat for God. I pray that I may not spend it all selfishly.

Related:

Image may contain: 1 person, sky and outdoor

.

In other words: stay in the present moment.
.
How come we refuse to believe?
.
Image may contain: flower and text
Book: The Sacrament of the Present Moment
.

Get God To Help With Your Problem

God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
 (That word “UNLESS” means this is something we cannot ignore…)
.
.
.
.
.

On our Peace and Freedom web site, these are our three top “overnight reads” —

.
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, beard and closeup
.
Padre Pio
.
“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”
.
– St. Pio of  Pietrelcina
.
.
Image may contain: one or more people
John Paul The Great (Pope Saint John Paul II) carries his cross. What cross is yours? How are you doing carrying it the way Jesus taught us?
.

Image may contain: 1 person, beard

Our Thanks to Father Benedict J. Groeschel C.F.R. — His books can be very helpful if you are seeking God in your life ….. He helped me more than he ever knew… He also suffered a lot his last few years…

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

Morning Prayer (Part II) for Wednesday, June 20, 2018

June 20, 2018

Image may contain: text

Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Related:

“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”

“If you are worried, PRAY. Once you are praying, why worry?”

Both quotes from Padre Pio (Saint Pio of Pietrelcina)

5 Things We Can Learn From St. Padre Pio

https://www.catholiccompany.com/getfed/5-quotes-padre-pio/

Image result for saint pio of pietrelcina

Padre Pio

Morning Prayer for Sunday, June 17, 2018

June 17, 2018

No automatic alt text available.

Meditation For The Day

Thinking about God in love and worship drives away evil. It is
the thought before that the hosts of evil flee. The thought of
a Power greater than yourself is the call for a life-line to
rescue you from temptation. The thought of God banishes
loneliness and dispels gloom. It summons help to conquer your
faults. Think of God as often as possible. Use the thought
prayerfully and purposefully. It will carry your thoughts away
from material things and toward the spiritual things that make
life worthwhile.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may think of God often. I pray that I may rest in
peace at the thought of His love and care.

************************************************

Related:

No automatic alt text available.

Saint Joseph is the Model for Dads on Father’s Day. He is not quoted one time in the bible. He leads by example. This book by Devon Schadt talks about our call to Fatherly Greatness.

Father’s Day Book:

Book: Joseph’s Way: The Call to Fatherly Greatness – Prayer of Faith: 80 Days to Unlocking Your Power As a Father by Devin Schadt
.
.

.
.
.
.
Image result for François Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận, photos
.
Many of  Nguyễn Văn Thuận letters, prayers and sermons have been preserved and published — most are available at fine bookstores and from Amazon.
.
.
.
************************************************
.
.
Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
.

17 JUNE, 2018, Sunday, 11th Week, Ordinary Time

CO-OPERATING WITH THE GRACE OF GOD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  Ez 17:22-24Ps 92:2-3,13-162 Cor 5:6-10Mk 4:26-34 ]

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast.”  (Eph 2:8f) Indeed, the primacy of grace is the primary theme of today’s scripture readings. Without His grace, all our works would be in vain. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”  (Ps 127:1)  This is what the Lord says, “From the top of the cedar, from the highest branch I will take a shoot and plant it myself on a very high mountain. I will plant it on the high mountain of Israel. It will sprout branches and bear fruit and become a noble cedar.”  It is God who will make Israel grow, just as He made the trees grow.  God will appoint a Messiah to lead Israel back to Him.

Consequently, we are reminded not to abandon Yahweh and make false compromises with the idols of the world.  This was what Israel did.  Instead of seeking the Lord’s protection, they made alliances with foreign powers and eventually sold out Israel to them.  There is always this temptation not to rely on the grace of God but on ourselves.  As a result, we make a mess of our lives and bring more problems instead.  This was the mistake of the Kings of Israel for trusting in the might and power of foreign nations to save and protect them.

Indeed, we must never forget that if we are Catholic, or if we are blessed, it is because of the goodness and mercy of God.  Without His favour, we would not be where and what we are today.  Like Israel, we were nobody, just slaves and nomads.  But having been chosen in Christ, we are His choicest vineyard.  But it is purely His grace and His love.  This is illustrated in the parables of the seeds.  Once the seed is planted, it grows gradually even though we are asleep.  “Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.”   God continues to look after it.  This is the truth of life.  God watches over us whether we are asleep or awake.  “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.”  (Ps 127:2)

His grace is also unimaginable.  The parable of the Mustard seed speaks of the spectacular growth from a very small seed “into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.”   Indeed, the Church began with only a handful of disciples, but today Christianity has more than two billion adherents in the world.  One out of every three persons in the world is a Christian.  How could this be possible if not for the grace of God at work in the Church and in the disciples?  God can do great things in us if we allow His grace to work.  We only have to be docile to Him and He can transform us.  St Paul reminded the Christians, “Consider your own call, brothers and sisters; not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are,  so that no one might boast in the presence of God.”  (1 Cor 1:26-29)

But we are not chosen for ourselves.  Like Israel, we are called to be the light of the nations.  “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.” (Isa 42:1) The parable of the Mustard seed envisaged the Church to be a refuge and sanctuary for everyone, especially those who are tired, the sick, the poor and the marginalized.  “Once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.” We are to invite everyone to Jesus who said to us, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt 11:28-30)  As Pope Francis invites us, we are called to reach out to the peripheries, to those who are suffering and give them hope and mercy.

Of course we must cooperate with His grace to make this happen.  St Paul wrote, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them – though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”  (1 Cor 15:10)  Like the farmer, we need to plant the seed.  Grace is given to us but without our cooperation, the grace would have been received in vain.  St Paul urges us, “We urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.”  (2 Cor 6:1)  For this reason, St Paul says that we must be intent on pleasing Him as a consequence of His love.  “Whether we are living in the body or exiled from it, we are intent on pleasing him.”  We must let our whole life be a praise to Him.

In the final analysis, we would have to render an account of how we use His grace in our lives.  St Paul says “For all the truth about us will be brought out in the law court of Christ, and each of us will get what he deserves for the things he did in the body, good or bad.”  Indeed, salvation is a free gift from God but we have to be accountable for how we make use of His grace. “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. So then, each of us will be accountable to God.”  (Rom 14:10,12)  It behoves us therefore to consider carefully how, having received the grace of God, we justify this grace by living a good and fruitful life.  St Peter wrote, “Be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble.”  (2 Pt 1:10)

How can we be fruitful disciples of the Lord and confirm our calling?  Firstly, we need to be rooted in the Lord and grounded in Him.  As the psalmist says,  “Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God, still bearing fruit when they are old, still full of sap, still green, to proclaim that the Lord is just. In him, my rock, there is no wrong.”  Unless Christ is the center of our lives and the cornerstone, we cannot bear much fruit. (cf 1 Pt 2:4-6)   In the gospel, Jesus says in no uncertain terms, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.  I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”  (Jn 15:4f)

Secondly, we must seek union with Him as the ultimate calling and our hope in life.  Our hope must be with the Lord who is the source and end of life, love and happiness. “We are always full of confidence when we remember that to live in the body means to be exiled from the Lord, going as we do by faith and not by sight – we are full of confidence, I say, and actually want to be exiled from the body and make our home with the Lord.”  It is this hope to be with Jesus that is the real motive for what we do and how we act.  A life of faithful service depends on the hope that is promised to us.  Without this hope, then we will be motivated by other worldly goals.  Only when we are convinced that eternal life is to be with Christ, can we then give ourselves fully to the cause, like St Paul.  He wrote, “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”  (cf Phil 1:21-24)

Thirdly, we must be grateful to God for chosing us to be His servants and messengers of the Good News.With the psalmist, we pray, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your truth in the watches of the night.”   Gratitude is what will empower us to do good and repay God for all that He has done for us.  St Paul said, “I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Tim 1:12-14)

Finally, let us walk by faith, not by sight, as St Paul urges us.  This is what both parables are teaching us.  We cannot see that God is working in us at times but He is at work.  We must be patient to allow the grace of God to work through nature.  Small beginnings, but great outcomes at the end.  Growing in faith is not always an instantaneous reality but more often than not it is a gradual ongoing process until we reach full spiritual maturity.  There are times when we have to wait.   So let us have full confidence in Him as St Paul asks of us.  Let us trust Him.  But let us cooperate with His grace by growing and deepening our faith each day.  Through contemplation of His word like the early Christians, we will grow in understanding and grasp the truth of the message of Jesus for ourselves.  In this way, we will certainly come to a time when we can too harvest the crops that the Lord has planted in us.

.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

.
Written by The Most Rev William Goh
 
.
***********************************************
.

Holy Thursday Meditation — The Cross doesn’t end in death, but in resurrection!

March 29, 2018

Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) – March 29, 2018 – 12:00am

It’s Holy Thursday a.k.a. Maundy Thursday and for the millions of Catholics from all over the country and the world, it is time for the Visita Iglesia, where devout Catholics more often than not… walk to at least seven churches within their town or city for this very solemn Catholic tradition. Lest you have already forgotten, Holy Thursday teaches us very important lessons, which have become doctrines of the Catholic Church.

Allow me to talk about the tradition of the institution of the Holy Eucharist, the institution of the Holy Orders and all these is preceded by the washing of the feet of the 12 Apostles. All these are “gifts” by God himself through the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. The washing of the feet by our Lord Jesus Christ is very significant as written in John 13: 1-7.

I love the conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter when this event was happening, when Jesus came before Simon Peter, Simon asked the Lord“Master, are you going to wash my feet? Jesus replied, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Then Peter replied“You will never wash my feet.” Jesus then replied to Peter“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Peter then replied“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”

For me, this singular act of humility by our Lord Jesus is revolutionary of sorts because leaders or masters have their feet washed by their servants or slaves. But not in this case, where the Master washed the feet of his 12 Apostles… something that they did not expect because it was clearly an act of humility. Today, you will never see world leaders (except the Pope) do this act of humility with their political underlings… as the teaching of Christianity is unfortunately no longer in vogue even in countries that used to be Christian nations.

The greatest gift of Holy Thursday is the institution of the Holy Eucharist, when our Lord broke the bread and gave it to his disciples and said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Jesus also did the same to the wine, which through the process of transubstantiation, truly becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Few Christians realize that, it is for this very reason why the first miracle made by our Lord Jesus Christ was turning the water into wine at the bequest of his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is for this very reason why we read about the feeding of the 5,000, not counting women and children… because this event is relived in all our churches during the Holy Communion.

Of course, we still see the white wafer after the prayer of consecration is said by the priest, but as our Lord Jesus have taught us, “Blessed are those who cannot see, but yet believe.” Last September, we took a road trip from Rome to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit the uncorrupt remains of St. Padre Pio. On our way, we saw a sign that said, “Lanciano.” Upon investigation, we found out that it was the very same Lanciano where the Church of San Francesco was located halfway between Rome and San Giovanni Rotondo.

Lanciano is the legendary place of St. Longinus, the bearer of “The Lance.” He is the Centurion who pierced the side of Jesus who was already dead on the cross, and blood and water gushed forth from his side, spilling into the Centurion’s wounded eye. Thus he declared, “Truly, this man is the Son of God.” St. Longinus then moved to Cappadocia and finally stayed in Lanciano.

Eight hundred years later in Lanciano, a Basilian monk had doubts that Jesus was truly present in the Holy Eucharist, so when he uttered the words of consecration, the Holy Host turned into flesh and coagulated blood. We were blessed to have visited the very first Eucharistic miracle in the very same monstrance that bore the coagulated blood and the host that turned to flesh in Lanciano, which was a miracle of sorts for my family because that visit to Lanciano was not even in our radar screen. It was as if the Lord himself wanted us to visit him in Lanciano.

Finally lest we have also forgotten, Holy Thursday brings us the Holy Orders or the institution of the sacrament of the priesthood. In the last supper, our Lord Jesus Christ offers himself as the Passover sacrifice, God’s sacrificial and unblemished lamb and teaches his apostles and disciples to follow the same sacrifice of the Holy Mass, which began during the last Supper and continues all over the world where the Holy Mass is celebrated.

On Holy Thursday, Bishops and priests from all over the world would come together to celebrate the institution of the priesthood in a holy mass were the bishops bless the new Oil for Chrism that would be used for baptism, confirmation and the anointing of the sick or dying. At this point, we continue to reflect the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. But remember the Cross doesn’t end in death, but in resurrection!

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/03/29/1801273/my-maundy-thursday-reflection#eGXfvotvSxbEQmWZ.99

Pope visits Italy’s south to honor popular saint, Padre Pio

March 17, 2018

.

SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO, Italy — Pope Francis on Saturday traveled to southern Italy to honor a hugely popular Italian saint, Padre Pio, praying silently before a glass display case holding the mystic monk’s body in a shrine town that draws millions of pilgrims each year.

Francis took a helicopter from the Vatican early Saturday morning to visit Pietrelcina, the birthplace of the Capuchin monk. There he told faithful that Padre Pio “loved the holy church … and its sinner children.”

He then flew to San Giovanni Rotondo, a mountain town in the southeastern region of Puglia

Padre Pio is famed for holiness, and his popularity began to spread in 1918 when he bled from his hands, feet and sides. The monk, who died in 1968, is considered the first priest in centuries to display signs of the stigmata, or the wounds suffered by Jesus at crucifixion.

Francis made the half-day visit to the south to mark the 50th anniversary of the saint’s death and 100 years since the stigmata was seen. The phenomenon is said to have caused the monk much physical torment in his life.

Padre Pio was made a saint in 2002 by Pope John Paul II, who himself, while still a simple priest, had journeyed to Puglia from Poland in 1947 to see him for confession.

In San Giovanni Rotondo, Francis visited a chapel where the monk’s body is kept in a see-through glass case and, with his hands clasped, prayed silently for a few minutes.

He also cheered up child patients in the oncology department in the hospital that Pio founded in San Giovanni Rotondo. He wrote a message on a drawing the children had made for him, thanked them for their greeting cards, and chatted with some of their parents.

In his homily at an outdoor Mass attended by thousands of faithful, Francis spoke about those needing help in life, especially the elderly and children.

“Whoever takes care of the little ones is on God’s side and wins over the throw-out culture, which privileges the powerful and considers the poor useless,” Francis said.

Doubted and rejected by many in the Vatican for much of his life, and accused by detractors of being a fraud, Padre Pio persisted in his lifetime labor of prayer, while his popularity among rank-and-file Catholics soared.

Many Italians display photographs or paintings depicting him in their homes, shops and even cars. Devotion to him spread abroad, thanks in part to Italian emigrants, who brought with them their faith.
.

**********************************************

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and indoor

Pope Francis prays in front of the mortal remains of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) at the Santa Maria delle Grazie sanctuary in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy March 17, 2018. Osservatore Romano/Handout via REUTERSREUTERS

Pope pays tribute to mystic monk said to have wrestled with the Devil

BY PHILIP PULLELLA

SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO, Italy (Reuters) – Pope Francis prayed on Saturday before the body of one of Catholicism’s most popular saints, Padre Pio, a mystic monk who is said to have wrestled with the Devil.

It was Francis’ first visit as pope to this hill town in southern Italy that is a main stop along the country’s pilgrim route linking places where saints are buried.

The bearded Capuchin monk, who died in 1968 after spending most of his life here, is said by the Catholic Church to have had the “stigmata” – the bleeding wounds of Jesus on his hands and feet. He wore brown half-gloves to cover the wounds and absorb the blood from his palms.

Many people said Pio knew what they were about to confess. He is said to have told then-bishop Karol Wojytla of Poland in the mid-1960s that he would become pope. Wojtyla became Pope John Paul in 1978 and in 2002 declared Pio a saint.

Padre Pio’s biographers say he wrestled with the Devil regularly in his cell in a small monastery that is now the centerpiece of a sprawling complex receiving more than a million pilgrims a year.

Francis made a reference to Pio’s battles with the Devil earlier on Saturday when he visited Pietrelcina, the village where Pio was born in 1887.

“His soul was greatly tormented,” Francis said in improvised remarks. “He felt assailed by the Devil.”

PILGRIM TRADE

According to monks, the last demonic tussle was in 1964, when they heard him calling from his cell at night.

They found him on the floor, his forehead split open. He told them “The Devil tried to scratch out my eyes.”

The next day, the Devil is said to have spoken through a possessed person, saying “I went to visit somebody. I took revenge.”

Pio’s body was exhumed in 2008 and partially reconstructed with a life-like silicone mask. It is preserved in a temperature-controlled glass coffin. Pilgrims toss money and notes to the saint over a wrought-iron fence.

Thousands of Padre Pio prayer groups exist around the world. One group came from Nashville in the United States.

Pio’s fame as a mystic grew in the first half of the 20th century and the town expanded with it, making the pilgrim trade the heart of its economy. Former grazing lands are now dotted with hotels.

Souvenir stalls sell everything from cheap Padre Pio key chains to life-size statues of the saint costing thousands of euros.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

Pope to pay homage to venerated Italian saint — Padre Pio

December 19, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Last year, Pope Francis had the remains of beloved Italian saint Padre Pio brought to Rome where it was placed in a transparent coffin in the Vatican

VATICAN CITY (AFP) – Pope Francis will pay homage to the beloved Italian saint Padre Pio in March, visiting the sites connected to a man reputed by believers to have been able to levitate.The Argentine pontiff will make a quick trip on March 17 to Padre Pio’s hometown of Pietrelcina near Naples before flying by helicopter to San Giovanni Rotondo in southern Italy, the Vatican said Tuesday.

Pio was revered during his lifetime (1887-1968) and his popularity has grown since his death, particularly in Italy, where mini-statues and pictures of the mystical Capuchin friar are ubiquitous.

 Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, beard and closeup
Padre Pio

The pope’s visit will mark the 50th anniversary of Padre Pio’s death.

Born Francesco Forgione, he lived most of his life in the Capuchin convent of San Giovanni Rotondo, which is now a sanctuary where his body is on display.

In a crowd-pleasing move last year, Francis had the remains of the saint — a favourite among those looking for compassion and healing — brought to Rome and carried through the streets to the Vatican.

Thousands turned out to glimpse the body of a man said by followers to have been able to read minds and miraculously appear in foreign lands while remaining at the same time in his friary.

– Exhumation –

Canonised under Pope John-Paul II, Pio’s brand of popular, mystical Catholicism was less popular with the Vatican authorities when he was alive.

He regularly spoke of having both heavenly and diabolic visions, other clerics claimed to have witnessed him levitating in ecstasy and he was frequently associated with apparently miraculous recoveries among the seriously ill.

From the age of 31 until the end of his life, he regularly presented apparent signs of stigmata — marks on the body corresponding to the wounds of Jesus during his crucifixion.

One sceptic wrote a book suggesting Pio maintained his wounds with acid while a prominent doctor theorised that he suffered from a rare form of haemophilia.

While Pio was regarded with suspicion by popes John XXIII and Paul VI, he was admired by Polish Pope John Paul II, who confessed to the friar when he was a young priest.

Pio’s legend was further enhanced after his death when, in 2008, his body was exhumed from his crypt to be put on display and was allegedly found to be in remarkably good condition.

There were, however, no signs of any stigmata and his skull had become exposed, which resulted in a silicon face mask being made for him.

Prayer and Meditation for Monday, October 9, 2017 — “Go and do likewise.”

October 8, 2017

Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 461

Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor and nature

The Good Samaritan by Walter Rane

Reading 1 JON 1:1–2:1-2, 11

This is the word of the LORD that came to Jonah, son of Amittai:

“Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it;
their wickedness has come up before me.”
But Jonah made ready to flee to Tarshish away from the LORD.
He went down to Joppa, found a ship going to Tarshish,
paid the fare, and went aboard to journey with them to Tarshish,
away from the LORD.

The LORD, however, hurled a violent wind upon the sea,
and in the furious tempest that arose
the ship was on the point of breaking up.
Then the mariners became frightened and each one cried to his god.
To lighten the ship for themselves, they threw its cargo into the sea.
Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship,
and lay there fast asleep.
The captain came to him and said, “What are you doing asleep?
Rise up, call upon your God!
Perhaps God will be mindful of us so that we may not perish.”

Then they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots
to find out on whose account we have met with this misfortune.”
So they cast lots, and thus singled out Jonah.
“Tell us,” they said, “what is your business?
Where do you come from?
What is your country, and to what people do you belong?”
Jonah answered them, “I am a Hebrew,
I worship the LORD, the God of heaven,
who made the sea and the dry land.”

Now the men were seized with great fear and said to him,
“How could you do such a thing!–
They knew that he was fleeing from the LORD,
because he had told them.–
They asked, “What shall we do with you,
that the sea may quiet down for us?”
For the sea was growing more and more turbulent.
Jonah said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,
that it may quiet down for you;
since I know it is because of me
that this violent storm has come upon you.”

Still the men rowed hard to regain the land, but they could not,
for the sea grew ever more turbulent.
Then they cried to the LORD: “We beseech you, O LORD,
let us not perish for taking this man’s life;
do not charge us with shedding innocent blood,
for you, LORD, have done as you saw fit.”
Then they took Jonah and threw him into the sea,
and the sea’s raging abated.
Struck with great fear of the LORD,
the men offered sacrifice and made vows to him.

But the LORD sent a large fish, that swallowed Jonah;
and Jonah remained in the belly of the fish
three days and three nights.
From the belly of the fish Jonah prayed
to the LORD, his God.
Then the LORD commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore.

Responsorial Psalm  JONAH 2:3, 4, 5, 8

R. (cf. 7) You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.
Out of my distress I called to the LORD,
and he answered me;
From the midst of the nether world I cried for help,
and you heard my voice.
R. You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.
For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the sea,
and the flood enveloped me;
All your breakers and your billows
passed over me.
R. You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.
Then I said, “I am banished from your sight!
yet would I again look upon your holy temple.”
R. You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.
When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the LORD;
My prayer reached you
in your holy temple.
R. You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.

Alleluia JN 13:34

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment:
love one another as I have loved you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said,
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law?
How do you read it?”
He said in reply,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.”
He replied to him, “You have answered correctly;
do this and you will live.”

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied,
“A man fell victim to robbers
as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.
A priest happened to be going down that road,
but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
Likewise a Levite came to the place,
and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him
was moved with compassion at the sight.
He approached the victim,
poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.
Then he lifted him up on his own animal,
took him to an inn, and cared for him.
The next day he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction,
‘Take care of him.
If you spend more than what I have given you,
I shall repay you on my way back.’
Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.”
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

*******************************************************

.
Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
.
09 OCTOBER, 2017, Monday, 27th Week, Ordinary Time
CHRISTIAN CHARITY EXTENDS TO ALL, INCLUDING OUR ENEMIES

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [JONAH 1:1 – 2:1.11JON 2:3-5,8LK 10:25-37]

In the gospel, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’”  (Mt 5:43-48)

This is the theme of today’s scripture lessons.  The call to love our neighbours does not include just our loved ones and our friends; not even mere strangers but even our enemies.  For many of us our love is only given to our loved ones.  Indeed, although we claim to be Christ’s disciples, in truth we are not; we only love those who love us or are close to us.  With strangers, we might give some money to help the poor.  But what about helping our enemies?  What about helping those who have hurt us or cheated us of our money, reputation or even our work?

I was watching this Korean drama about this lady doctor whose grandmother died in surgery under the knife of her director because he was negligent.  She could not forgive him.  One day, the director himself had a tumor growing next to the spinal cord.  It was a dangerous operation, but although she was the best doctor, she would not do it for him inspite of the plea of her daughter who was her fellow colleague.  Eventually, she agreed to assist the professor who was performing the surgery because she remembered how her grandmother passed away peacefully all because she had total confidence in the doctor.  So she decided to assist in the surgery so that she could give her director confidence in the surgery.  This is what loving and forgiving our enemies and those who hurt us is all about.  She remembered that she was a doctor and she was called to save lives, regardless whoever the patient was.  So she gave her best and the director’s surgery was a success. She did not take into account the mistake and pain her director had caused her.

This was also the case of Jesus when He was at His passion and on the cross.  In spite of what His enemies had done to Him, He prayed for His enemies and made excuses for them.  Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”  (Lk 23:34)  Jesus did not simply teach us to love our enemies, but He demonstrated by His own life in the way He dealt with His enemies.   With Judas, He gave him a chance to repent.  “He was troubled in spirit, and testified, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.’” (cf Jn 13:21-30) When Peter denied Him three times, “The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.”  (Lk 22:61f)   He forgave Peter after His resurrection by allowing Him to override his threefold denial with a threefold affirmation of love for Him.  (cf Jn 21:15-19)

Indeed, the point of today’s scripture lessons is that God loves every one of us, regardless who we are.  We are all His children even when we have sinned against Him.  He desires to save every one.   The love of God extends beyond the Israelites and the Jews, His chosen people.  On the contrary, they were chosen so that they could be instruments of His love and mercy to all of humanity.  Indeed, Israel was chosen to be the light for all nations. “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations.” (Isa 42:1)  The love and blessings that God gives to Israel and to us are not for ourselves to keep but to be shared with all the nations.

Unfortunately, most of us behave like Jonah and the Jews.  Jonah rejected the call of God to preach to the Ninevites, the capital of the powerful Assyria.  The Assyrians were known for their brutality, wickedness and immorality.  The prophet Nahum described the Assyrians as people who plotted against God, exploited the poor and helpless, cruel in war and involved in idolatry and witchcraft.  He was sent to the Ninevites to warn them of the impending judgement if they did not repent, but that they will receive God’s mercy and forgiveness if they repented.  But deep in his heart Jonah wanted God to punish them.  He did not want God to show mercy to this barbaric nation and be spared of God’s judgment.  Hence, instead of going east to Nineveh, 500 miles northeast of Israel, he took the ship to Tarshish, a city in the South west of Spain which was 2500 miles west of Israel.  He deliberately refused to answer the call of God to save the Ninevites.

This was the same attitude the Jews had in today’s gospel as well.  They all knew the laws of the Lord but they did not fulfill them.  The lawyer, like his fellow Jews, was just interested in an intellectual discourse on the commandments of God but he was not concerned with the practice.  Instead they sought to justify themselves for not loving their enemies.  This made Jesus tell them the story of the Good Samaritan.  The priest in the story was seeking to evade difficulties in attending to the wounded man.  The Levite was only curious.  But it was the Samaritan who took care of the injured traveler.  He paid for his accommodation and medical fees.  Yet, it was significant that when the Lord asked the lawyer, “Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands’ hands?”, the laywer replied, “The one who took pity on him.”  His hatred for the Samaritans was so intense that he could not bring himself to say that the man was a Samaritan.  By so doing, he betrayed his knowledge of the laws of love which requires him to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.”  Because he failed to do this, he had no life.

Consequently, we must not fall into the same attitude of the Jews.  This parable underscores that if we accept the new life of grace that the Lord gives us to us, we must manifest it in a life of love, mercy and compassion for all regardless, even for our enemies.  Loving our enemies and forgiving them is what distinguishes us as Christians.  St Paul urges us, “Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’  No, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.’  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Rom 12:17-21)  If we bear grudges in our hearts, it shows that we have not acted on the Holy Spirit’s love in us.  So long as our hearts are insensitive to those who are suffering, even if they are our enemies, we lack the compassion and heart of God to feel with them.   We cannot justify ourselves like the lawyer in refusing love to those who are in need.  Christian love means to reach out to anyone who is in need, regardless of race, language or religion or status.

The failure to respond to God’s invitation to love our enemies and do good for them could cost us our peace and bring harm to ourselves.  We will not be at peace within us. This was the case of Jonah.  In trying to run away from God’s call, he landed himself into worse troubles.  He had to pay almost the price of his life for running away from his responsibilities. His disobedience not only endangered his own life but the lives of others around him. When evil happens to them, we will feel guilty, as Jonah did when he saw how his action was causing the lives of the sailors to be at risk.  That was why he felt the need to pay for his crime by asking them to throw him out of the ship so that he would not have to live with the guilt of causing the people on board the ship so much misery.  We should be ashamed, like the Jews and Jonah, because we read that the pagan sailors showed more compassion than Jonah towards the Ninevites!  Unbelievers embarrass us when they show in their lives that they are much more loving, forgiving and charitable towards those in need than we who profess our love for Christ as our Saviour.  Let us not be counter-witnesses of our Lord but love as He loved.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

.
.
**************************************************
.
Go and do likewise….
.
Image may contain: 1 person, closeup
Mother Teresa
.
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, beard and closeup
.
Padre Pio — “If you are worried: pray. Once you are praying, why worry.”
.
Image may contain: one or more people
.
John Paul II (Suffering in silent dignity)
.
Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor and nature
.
The Good Samaritan by Walter Rane.
.
The scriptures and our faith are filled with examples….

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, September 23, 2017 — Eternity and Unapproachable Light

September 22, 2017

Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest
Lectionary: 448

Image result for Unapproachable Light, art, Bible

Reading 1 1 TM 6:13-16

Beloved:
I charge you before God, who gives life to all things,
and before Christ Jesus,
who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate
for the noble confession,
to keep the commandment without stain or reproach
until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ
that the blessed and only ruler
will make manifest at the proper time,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light,
and whom no human being has seen or can see.
To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

.

Image result for Unapproachable Light, art, Bible

Responsorial Psalm PS 100:1B-2, 3, 4, 5

R. (2) Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
Sing joyfully to the LORD all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him; bless his name.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
For he is good:
the LORD, whose kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.

Alleluia SEE LK 8:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generious heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

.

Image may contain: indoor

Gospel LK 8:4-15

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another
journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable.
“A sower went out to sow his seed.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled,
and the birds of the sky ate it up.
Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew,
it withered for lack of moisture.
Some seed fell among thorns,
and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew,
it produced fruit a hundredfold.”
After saying this, he called out,
“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

Then his disciples asked him
what the meaning of this parable might be.
He answered,
“Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God
has been granted to you;
but to the rest, they are made known through parables
so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.

“This is the meaning of the parable.
The seed is the word of God.
Those on the path are the ones who have heard,
but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts
that they may not believe and be saved.
Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear,
receive the word with joy, but they have no root;
they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation.
As for the seed that fell among thorns,
they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along,
they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life,
and they fail to produce mature fruit.
But as for the seed that fell on rich soil,
they are the ones who, when they have heard the word,
embrace it with a generous and good heart,
and bear fruit through perseverance.”

****************************************************

.
Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
.
23 SEPTEMBER, 2017, Saturday, 24th Week, Ordinary Time
GRACE AS THE MYSTERY OF THE KINGDOM

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [1 TIM 6:13-16LK 8:4-15  ]

The parable of the Sower has often been interpreted as a reminder of our responsibility to respond to the invitation of the Good News of the Kingdom.  To the extent that we receive the Word, to that extent the Kingdom can become a reality in us.  Hence, all of us are exhorted to be the rich soil so that the Word of God can produce in us the fruits of the Kingdom.  This allegorical interpretation of the parable is attributable to the influence of the evangelist and his Christian community.   However, this was not the primary intention of Jesus when He told this parable.  The fact that this parable is called the parable of the Sower and not the parable of the soil or something similar to this theme implies that the emphasis of the parable does not lie in our efforts or capability to respond to the Word. Rather, the stress is on the graciousness of God who is the Sower of the seed of the Good News.

We all know very well that responding to the Word is not something that we can simply will.  By our efforts alone we cannot receive the Good News into our lives.  Indeed, like the Jews, many of us “may see but not perceive, listen but not understand.”  Indeed, the mysteries of the Kingdom are not even revealed to us as parables but more likely as puzzles.  At any rate, which one of us does not wish to be the rich soil which the gospel speaks about – the soil that produces a bumper harvest.  Thus, the truth of life is that everything is grace.  This is not to deny the importance of human effort, but the mysteries of the Kingdom cannot be attained simply by hard work, responsibility and discipline.  We need grace.  This is the original meaning of the parable of the Sower.  It is not so much a question of whether we are making a responsible decision to accept the Word.  Nay, it is to remind us that the mysteries of the Kingdom can be summarized in one word: grace.  Grace is the mystery of the mysteries of the kingdom.  How is that so?

In the first place, we need the grace of the Word or the Good News of the Kingdom.  The Word that is sown or given to us is the initiative of God.  That is why the parable commences by saying, “A sower went out to sow his seed.”   And then continuing, we are told that “as he sowed, some fell on the edge of the path.”  Others fell on rock, others among thorns and some on rich soil.  In other words the seed is freely given to all without discrimination and without conditions. The Sower did not choose to sow only on rich soil but he sowed the seeds everywhere he went.  Like the sun, the Good News of the Kingdom is given to all without reserve or distinction.  Hence, we must say that the Good News is itself the grace of God.  It is not something that we can earn or merit. It is wholly due to the graciousness of God.

Secondly, we need the grace of response, the grace of disposition.  We must realize that given the choice we all want to be that rich soil which the gospel speaks about.  No one wants to belong to the edge of the path, nor the rock that has hardly any soil, nor the soil that is overgrown with briers and thorns.  Unfortunately, the fact of life is that we cannot choose where we want to be born.  It is not for us to be born into a rich and talented family or a poor and marginalized family.  It is not for us to be born into a situation where there is faith or lack of it. Very often, some of us do not have the opportunity to hear the Word, especially when we are living in a secularized world. We know that many want to become Christians but are prevented by their race or culture.  Others seriously want to be converted but because of their responsibilities to their family or to society, cannot become converted, or simply because they do not have the time to hear the Good News.  And there are many of us who have heard the Good News but due to many factors are unable to deepen our faith and spiritual life.

So in truth, the circumstances of where we are cannot be determined by us.  They are a given.  Consequently, for some of us, the ability to make a response to the Word would be more difficult than others. Just because we can respond does not mean that it is due to our efforts alone.  It is ultimately once again the work of grace.  There is nothing for us to boast about except the glory and goodness of God.  Instead of feeling superior towards others, we must be more humble for receiving such blessings from God.  That is why those who are successful in their studies or in life, those who have been blessed with talents, wealth, health and opportunities should learn to be grateful and not despise others who do not have the same privileges.   Instead of attributing success purely to our hard work, much of it has to do with the grace of God more than ourselves and our efforts.

Thirdly, we need the grace of revelation.  We know also that it is not simply by hearing the Word that we are able to come to realize the mysteries of the Kingdom.  We can be intellectually very bright and yet not be able to understand the mysteries of the Kingdom, just as it was the case of the Jewish priests and leaders.  Age and intellectual capabilities are no guarantee that we can grasp the inner realities of the kingdom.  The disciples of Jesus were more fortunate than us.  Christ had revealed the mysteries of the Kingdom to them.  They were given the insights to see the truths of the kingdom. Certainly not all of them were intellectually superior.  However, most of us are not so privileged to be able to have that gift of revelation and enlightenment.  So, the work of enlightenment is once again the work of grace, not simply one’s efforts.

If the mystery of the Kingdom is a mystery of grace, then does it mean that there is nothing we can do to make the Kingdom a reality in our lives?  Are we condemned to live in resignation to whatever situation we find ourselves in?  No.  Such an attitude will result in fatalism.  The mystery of the Kingdom is not simply a mystery of the grace of God; it is also the mystery of the relationship between grace and work.  While it is true that the kingdom of God is primarily a gift of God, we can certainly do something to prepare for this gift.  Within this context, the allegorical interpretation of the parable of the Sower becomes tenable.  We must, according to our own situation, live in such a way as to make the best of it, whether we are living at the edge of the path or the superficialities of life; or the rocky ground of trials and difficulties; or the soil that is stifled by the temptations of the world.

Here too, we must remember that grace is at work.  God will somehow, through His grace, lead us to His Kingdom, not in spite, but because of the circumstances that we are in.  In truth, there is no ideal situation, ideal community, ideal spouse or family that we can be placed in.  But according to the realities that we are in, if we co-operate with His grace, then we will certainly be able to reap a rich harvest  of life, both for ourselves and for others.  Perhaps, this co-operation between the grace of God and the efforts of man in coming to the Kingdom is the real heart of the mystery of the Kingdom.

This is precisely the advice of St Paul to the young Timothy in his pastoral ministry.  St Paul reminded him that God is the source of life, the ruler of all, and that everything comes from Him.  All that we need to do, according to Paul, is to be faithful to our duties in life, and as far as we can, to perform them without any faults or failures on our part.  And then in due time, the mystery of life and of grace will be made known to us with the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But this is something that we need not be concerned with now.  In time to come, He who is unapproachable light, will make known to us how His grace works with and through us in any condition that we are in.  His grace will ultimately be victorious for He is the “king of kings and Lord of Lords.”

Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

.
.

***********************************

.

Commentary on Luke 8:4-15 From Living Space

We saw yesterday that Jesus was going around preaching the Good News of the Kingdom, accompanied by his twelve chosen disciples and a number of women who supported the work. Jesus, we are told, is surrounded by people who have come from every nearby city. There is an intimation of universality, ‘catholicism’, about the message he is going to give.

We are given an example of some of the teaching that he was giving them. It takes the form of a parable, the well-known parable of the sower. As in Matthew’s version, the parable is told in two stages. The first is the parable itself. The emphasis is on the sower sowing. He scatters the seed all over – as Jesus is now doing with the people. Some of it falls on the path, some on rocks, some among brambles and some on good soil.

It describes a typical situation in Palestine at the time. The field was largely a public place, at least while it was fallow. So there were paths meandering across it where people took short cuts. The land was not very fertile so there were pieces of rock jutting out of the soil. In the fallow season, it was not looked after and wild plants like brambles grew up. Also, unlike other farming cultures, the sowing took place before the ploughing.

The central message is that, even though some of the seed that the sower plants will wither and die, there is some which will find fertile soil and flourish. So it is with the Word of God and the Word of Jesus. It is a message of confidence and hope for the future of the Kingdom. In the Gospel, it is Jesus’ disciples who are the fertile soil.

As he finished the parable Jesus called out to all, inviting them to hear. He did not mean that they just physically hear. They are meant to listen carefully, to assimilate fully and to implement effectively all that he says. He is the Sower, the seed is the Word, those spoken to are the soil.

Clear and all as it is, the disciples ask for an explanation of the parable. Jesus tells them that the inner secrets of the Kingdom are for them. Why this privilege? Because they are disciples, because they are followers, because they are ready to listen. The rest hear in parables and only in parables: seeing, they do not see; hearing, they do not understand. They do not really want to see or hear because, as the Gospel says elsewhere, if they were to see and understand, they would have to turn their lives around and they are not ready for that.

The disciples are those who have done just that; they have left their boats, their nets and their families, their security and gone with Jesus. That is what seeing and hearing means.

Then follows the explanation which really carries the original parable further than its simple message. In fact, it becomes more like an allegory where each part has a meaning of its own rather than the one point that a parable normally makes. And, whereas in the parable the emphasis was on the sower, here the emphasis is very much on the soil which receives the seed. Each example is made to represent a particular way in which the message is received or not.

The seed that falls on the path is like those who hear the word but it is snatched away from them before they have even a chance to respond. The overwhelming pagan world around them was just too strong an attraction.

The seed that falls on the rock where there may be some moisture in the crevices is like those who hear the word with great enthusiasm and joy (a favourite Lucan term). But they are not able to put down any long-lasting roots and, at the first hint of opposition or temptation, they fall away. They represent the many early Christians who must have given up under the pressures of persecution.

The seed that falls among the brambles represents those who do hear and accept the word. But, gradually the pressure of the secular world and its values is too much. They try to live in both worlds at once but are gradually choked up with concerns about money and material and social wants and the pursuit of pleasure. Eventually, the word dies in them. Many Christians today could identify with this group.

The seed that falls on good soil represents those who hear the word in all openness and accept it fully. The word takes root deep within them and overflows in all kinds of good works.

It is quite clear to which group we are called to belong. To which one, in fact, should I honestly identify myself?

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2247g/

**********************************

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, beard and closeup

http://caccioppoli.com/Padre%20Pio%20entom
bed,%20Blessed,%20Saint,%20exhumed,%20di
splayed,%20resting%20in%20the%20golden%20crypt.html