Posts Tagged ‘sanctity of human life’

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/

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Catholic Church: Hospital for sinners, not a museum of saints

September 5, 2018

“The church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners.”

I’ve been using that line for years in our RCIA. I probably stole it from somebody. Now Pope Francis is saying something very much like it, so I feel confident in that assertion.

“I see clearly,” said Pope Francis in his interview with the Jesuit magazine La Civita Cattolica, “that the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle.”

Alleluia! A hospital for sinners, not a museum of saints.

By Fr. Peter Daly

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Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt

We should print that on yard signs and put them on our front lawns. We should paint it on banners and hang the banners from our steeples.

“We are a hospital for sinners. Wounds healed inside.”

A broken world needs a place to bring its spiritual injuries. We need an emergency room more than a courtroom. We want healing more than judgment.

“The confessional,” Pope Francis says, “is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better.”

Another alleluia! This is a guy who understands reconciliation. I’ve always said confession is not so much an encounter with our guilt as it is with God’s mercy.

This is a man who also understands people’s fear of confession. He knows we have too often rendered judgment, not mercy.

The pope talked of the church he wants: “I dream of a church that is a mother and a shepherdess. The church’s ministers must be merciful.”

Amen.

All my life, I have heard the church referred to as “Holy Mother the Church.” But in truth, that is not how most people outside experience us. The world sees us not so much as “mother” but as the world’s “scold.”

Instead of a motherly embrace and healing, we come at people with a scowl and a wagging finger. The first words out of our mouths are often not the words of Jesus: “Peace be with you.” Instead, we lead with a correction: “Let me tell you what is wrong with you.”

Is it any wonder people are just walking away from us? Who wants to be scolded even before they are known?

A good pastor will eventually get around to moral issues, but our first words should be good news, not rules. As Pope Francis puts it, “The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.”

Pope Francis says that in his early years as provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina, at the young age of 36, he was too authoritarian. He was too quick to judge. Over time, he grew and learned to take time to discern.

I think most priests evolve. When I was first ordained at the age of 36, I thought it was my job to enforce the rules. “No Communion for you.” But gradually, I came to see that the sacraments are not a reward for good behavior but the medicine of sinners.

The Christian life is not so much about rules as it is about relationships. It’s about a relationship with Christ and with each other. If you don’t have a relationship with someone, they won’t care if you quote the rule book to them. If you do have a relationship with someone, you probably won’t need to quote the rules. That’s what St. Paul means by the law of love.

Pope Francis thinks mercy comes before catechesis.

“A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon, must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis” (emphasis added).

Some people think religion is only from the neck up. But I’ve come to see that it is more about the heart than the head. Too often, we answer questions people have not even asked, but we fail to answer the basic question of life everyone is asking: “Am I loved?”

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A good pastor knows you answer that question first. You don’t just answer it once, either. It takes time and repetition for the answer to sink in.

Pope Francis recognizes the complexity of life. People must be seen in the context of their lives. I tell the catechumens that God sees our lives as a movie, not a snapshot. It’s God’s view of the life that the church should be trying to take.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio recalled how someone once asked him provocatively if he approved of homosexuality. He answered, “Tell me; when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person. … It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.”

In his interview, Pope Francis says, “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in context.”

He gives the example of a woman who had a failed marriage and an abortion. Her life continues. She remarries and has five children. She is much more than her sin. “That abortion in her past weights heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?”

His answer is: Focus on the essentials first. Tell her the good news.

“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials … this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn as it did for the disciples at Emmaus.”

I’ve seen that in my own life. As a pastor in the same parish for 19 years, I’ve seen people fall away and come back. I’ve seen them be on fire with faith, grow cold, then catch fire again. I’ve known them as rebellious teens and questioning adults. I’ve seen their lives collapse from sin but recover by God’s grace. Any “snapshot” of their lives is a distortion. We have to wait for the movie. We are all in process, including the church.

To me the most disarming thing about the pope’s interview was his answer to the first question, “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” He said simply, “I am a sinner.”

Some people dismissed that answer as a cliché, but I don’t think so. To illustrate his answer, he said that sometimes, when visiting Rome, he used to go to the Church of St. Louis of France, near Piazza Navona, where he would sit in front of Caravaggio’s famous painting, “The Calling of St. Matthew.

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When I was a seminarian in Rome, I used to do the same thing, putting my coins in the meter to illuminate the painting. I wonder if we ever sat there together.

“That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew,” Pope Francis says, “that’s me. I feel like him, like Matthew. … He holds onto his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’ Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze. … I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I admired John Paul II. I respected Benedict. But I think I could love Francis.

[Fr. Peter Daly is a priest in the archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and has been pastor of St. John Vianney parish in Prince Frederick, Md., since 1994.]

Editor’s note: We can send you an email alert every time Fr. Peter Daly’s column, “Parish Diary,” is posted to NCRonline.org.

https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/parish-diary/church-should-be-hospital-sinners

Related:

  (We Have to Practice Forgiveness to Get Good At It…)

  (Saint Peter denied Christ three times — Didn’t think he was a “rock”)
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(Priests are human, and sinners, just like us — But we need them and they need us)
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The Good Samaritan by Walter Rane

Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, August 26, 2018 — Encountering The Holy One of God — “It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail.”

August 25, 2018

“If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve…”

Image result for Joshua addresses the tribes of Israel at Shechem, art, photos

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 122

Reading 1  JOS 24:1-2A, 15-17, 18B

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem,
summoning their elders, their leaders,
their judges, and their officers.
When they stood in ranks before God,
Joshua addressed all the people:
“If it does not please you to serve the LORD,
decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”But the people answered,
“Far be it from us to forsake the LORD
for the service of other gods.
For it was the LORD, our God,
who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt,
out of a state of slavery.
He performed those great miracles before our very eyes
and protected us along our entire journey
and among the peoples through whom we passed.
Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”

Responsorial Psalm  PS 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21

R. (9a) Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
The LORD has eyes for the just,
and ears for their cry.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Many are the troubles of the just one,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him;
he watches over all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Reading 2 EPH 5:21-32 OR 5:2A, 25-32

Brothers and sisters:
Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of his wife
just as Christ is head of the church,
he himself the savior of the body.
As the church is subordinate to Christ,
so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church
and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,
cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,
that he might present to himself the church in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish.
So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one hates his own flesh
but rather nourishes and cherishes it,
even as Christ does the church,
because we are members of his body.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.

This is a great mystery,
but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.orBrothers and sisters:
Live in love, as Christ loved us.
Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church
and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,
cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,
that he might present to himself the church in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish.
So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one hates his own flesh
but rather nourishes and cherishes it,
even as Christ does the church,
because we are members of his body.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.

This is a great mystery,
but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.

Alleluia JN 6:63C, 68C

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  JN 6:60-69

Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said,
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, “Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending
to where he was before?
It is the spirit that gives life,
while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.”
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him.
And he said,
“For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father.”
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As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
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First Though From Peace and Freedom
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Father Benedict Groeschel once said to me, “God wants us to serve Him. But many of use loudly proclaim, “I will not serve!”
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Much as we may want to turn our backs on God, He never turns his back on us!
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Besides, we may think we can just “not serve’ and sit this whole thing out. But life is not that way. If we are not serving God, we can easily be serving self full time! Or we might be serving Satan.
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We can return to the fork in the road and make our decision any time we want. But once we choose to serve God we need to get going and make up for lost time.
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Yogi Berra, the great New York Yankees catcher said, “When you get to the fork in the road, TAKE IT.”
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Unfortunately, God, and each individual human being, knows what he or she chose to do do….. One way or another, we own the road we are upon.
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Reflect from the Abbot, Monastery of Christ in the Desert
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My sisters and brothers in Christ,

What is your decision?  God asks us today to decide about Him, to decide about Jesus Christ.  Jesus wants us to stay with Him but also to believe in Him.  What is your decision?

The first reading today is from the Book of Joshua and speaks about the decision of our ancestors in the faith.  They also had to decide to serve the one God or to continue with other gods.  This decision always sounds simple but is very complex, just as it is for us.  So often we say that we will serve the Lord and yet we go on as if we are serving other Gods.  Our values remain foreign from this God who reveals Himself to us in the Scriptures.  Today it is so very common for people to say that they are “Catholic” and yet reject most of the teachings of the Church.  It is easy to say “I am a Catholic,” and it is truly difficult to be Catholic.

The second reading is from the Letter to the Ephesians and is another difficult reading because the teaching is barely acceptable to many people today.  “Wives, be subordinate to your husbands.”  That is a strong teaching and yet in the context makes perfect sense.  So many people get upset with this teaching and yet in the same teaching, we are told that we should be subordinate to one another.  This is not a one way street!  The teaching also tells us that “husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.”  Always we must listen to the whole context of a teaching.  In this context, the author is speaking about a mutual care for one another.  His way of expressing that care for one another comes from another time and another culture so we must listen attentively not to read in our own meanings or to take out the author’s meaning.  It is as we hear so often in the books of Wisdom:  Be attentive.

The Gospel of John today brings us back to the place of decision.  Many of the followers of Jesus left Jesus because of his teaching about the Bread of Life, that He Himself is the Bread and that we must eat His body and drink His blood.  If that teaching were only symbolic, it would not have offended those followers.  So many today, even among Catholics, no longer believe in the Real Presence.  Jesus Christ is truly present in the bread and wine, which become His body and His blood.  Only when the strength of that teaching is present can we understand why followers left Him in His own time and why people today still find it difficult to accept the Divine Presence, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Holy Eucharist.

When we come to communion in our Catholic Church, we affirm that Christ is truly present, not just as symbol and not just as remembrance—but truly present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  This is why the early Christian believers could rejoice and could be strong when they were persecuted.  They knew that Jesus is with us, now and always, and in this Sacrament.

What is your decision?

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

From the Abbot in 2015:

You and I are all challenged to keep struggling with the Scriptures so that we can encounter the living God present there.  We must also struggle with our Catholic Church because it is the living presence of Christ present in our world today.  In order to struggle, we must be humble and accept that I personally do not have all the answers and that even my way of thinking may need conversion.

Related:

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The Good Samaritan By Walter Rane

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Morning Prayer for Monday, August 20, 2018 — Conscious Contact with God

August 20, 2018
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Thought for the Day

“When many hundreds of people are able to say that the consciousness of the presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith. When we see others solve their problems by simple reliance upon some Spirit of the universe, we have to stop doubting the power of God. Our ideas did not work, but the God-idea does. Deep down in every man, woman, and child is the fundamental idea of God. Faith in a Power greater than ourselves and miraculous demonstrations of that power in our lives are facts as old as the human race.” Am I willing to rely on the Spirit of the universe?

Meditation for the Day

You should not dwell too much on the mistakes, faults, and failures of the past. Be done with shame and remorse and contempt for yourself. With God’s help, develop a new self-respect. Unless you respect yourself, others will not respect you. You ran a race, you stumbled and fell, you have risen again, and now you press on toward the goal of a better life. Do not stay to examine the spot where you fell, only feel sorry for the delay, the shortsightedness that prevented you from seeing the real goal sooner.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may not look back. I pray that I may keep picking myself up and making a fresh start each day.

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

20 AUGUST, 2018, Monday, 20th Week, Ordinary Time

SEEING ALL THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE WITH CHRIST

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ EZEKIEL 24:15-24MATTHEW 19:16-22  ]

Like the rich man who came to Jesus seeking eternal life, many of us too are unsatisfied with our lives.   Our lives might even be good in the eyes of the world, a good career, status, and a beautiful family.   But something seems to be missing.  So too we ask, “Master, what good deed must I do to possess eternal life.”

What was the response of Jesus?  “There is one alone who is good. However, if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.  You must not kill. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not bring false witness. Honour your father and mother, and: you must love your neighbor as yourself.”  These commandments that Jesus referred to all concern our relationship with our neigbours.  The young man said, “I have kept all these. What more do I need to do?”  It is significant that he had done what the commandments required and still he was not complete.  Thus, he felt that perhaps he was not doing enough and needed to do more.

What was he lacking?  He lacked the right motivation for doing what he did.  This is true for us all.  Many of us might observe the commandments to love our neighbours.  We obey slavishly what the law requires of us.  We become self-righteous.  We feel good and great about ourselves that we have fulfilled the laws.  However, that only draws us further from our fellowmen who are struggling to obey the laws.  We lack compassion, understanding and forgiveness for their failures.  In fact, some of us might even despise them for not living up to the standards of the gospel.

Then there are those who observe the commandment to love their neighbours more out of guilt than charity.  They are doing well in life.  They have plenty and are successful.  They know that they are among the 1% who owns half of the world’s wealth, or the top 10% that holds 85% of the world’s wealth, or at least the top 30% that holds 97% of the total wealth of the world.  So they feel guilty that they are enjoying so much of the world’s resources and out of guilt give a small token of what they have to the poor and society.  Such giving is not motivated by charity but guilt when they see others who are so much poorer than them.

Others care for their neighbours because they feel good about being involved in all these activities.  They are activists.  They like to feel needed and be recognized or loved.  So they are busy with all kinds of activities.  The activities sustain them.  Beneath the flurry of activities, there is a fear to confront one’s inner self and motives.  Deep within, they are afraid to be lonely, to be without friends or they seek recognition.  So they serve the poor, or rather, they make use of the poor or their services for their sense of self-worth.

And there are others who truly love their neighbours because of humanitarian reasons.  They feel sorry for those who are poor, or a sense of responsibility towards their countrymen and society.  They offer their services and their resources to help them.  They spend their time serving the community and those who are in need.  Still, after all that they have done, there seems to be something lacking in their lives.  There is a gnawing feeling that there is something more.

What is lacking?  It is God.  This is why the Lord told the rich man, “If you wish to be perfect, go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”   To be perfect is to find completion in God alone.   If you desire to make your life complete, then what is necessary is not so much that we give our money to the poor, rather it is in order that we can follow Jesus.  Eternal life is to share in the life of Jesus.   God comes to share with us His life in Christ.  He wants us to enjoy the same intimacy that Jesus has with His Father.  It is only when God is with us and in us, that we can find fulfillment in life.  Without God, no matter what we do, life will not be complete.  Salvation precisely is not by good works but faith in Christ as the revealer of the Father.

Putting God as the ultimate in our lives is the key to perfection of life.  Our hearts are restless until we rest in God.  However, we read that “when the young man heard these words he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.”  He was not willing to put God as the center of his life.  His wealth was his god.  Although he did a lot of good works and was faithful to the commandments, he was still serving mammon and not God.  His priority in life was not God but himself, his security and his wealth.  This was the case of the Israelites in today’s first reading.  They worshipped money, power and idols rather than God.  Indeed, as the psalmist says, “You forget the Rock who begot you, unmindful now of the God who fathered you.”

To put God as the focus of our lives does not mean always that we are to give away everything to the poor.  God might not want us to give away everything to the poor and follow Him as priests, religious and missionaries do.  Different people are chosen for different vocations, marriage, family and service to the country.  However, the motive in all that we do must be correct.  It must be done with the love of God in mind.  In the final analysis, we must love God and put Him first above all things.  This is what the Lord taught, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Mt 23:37-39)  The problem with the rich man and many of us is that we love our wealth and for some, our neighbours first.

So when we love God above all things, then we will know how and what we should do with ourselves, our resources and our time.  Everything we have is meant for His service and for the love of neighbour.  What we do should spring from our love for God and then expressed concretely in our daily life where we are called to help and serve.  That is why when we put God as the centre of our lives, then we will be able to see in perspective the things of this world.  We will realise that these are passing things and that they are not the ends themselves but the means through which we share in the life and love of God through service of our fellowmen.  Loving God entails loving our neighbours because the life of God is love and emptying.  But we do not love our neighbours or make use of them for our insecurity and fulfilment.  Rather, it is because we are fulfilled and loved in Christ that we want to pour out our love for others.

This absolute commitment to the Lord is seen in today’s exemplary life of Ezekiel.  God wanted to use him as a sign for the people of Israel who were unfaithful to Him.  So He told Ezekiel that He was going to take away his wife from him.  When that day comes, he was “not to lament, not to weep, not to let your tears run down.  Groan in silence, do not go into mourning for the dead.”  It must have been extremely difficult enough for him to lose his dear wife.  However, not to be allowed to mourn for her was a double blow.  Yet the prophet accepted the will of God in his life.  He did not fight against God’s will because he knew that the death of his wife and being forbidden to mourn for her was to enable him to serve the greater good of his people.  He was a prophetic sign to them to repent of their sins and to prepare them for the day when they had to be exiled to Babylon.  We too must learn from the prophet to trust in God and to put our lives in complete surrender to His will and service.  We must love Him above all things.  By so doing, we will find the grace to be detached from the world and be available for the service of God.   In this way, we share in the eternal life of God, a life of love and joy.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Parents selectively aborting children based on their gender — ‘We need to know the sex. If it’s a girl we are going to terminate it’

August 19, 2018

 

Sonographs often used to determine sex of baby — so the girls can be killed

It is a moment burned into the memory of a veteran sonographer.

A number of years ago, the sonographer was asked by a couple at their scan around 12 weeks to tell them the gender of their developing baby.

“They said something along the lines of ‘We need to know the sex, because if it’s a girl we are going to terminate it’,” they said.

“You have to deal with things like terminal cancer and miscarriages when you’re working as a sonographer. But this occasion, it still sickens me to this day.”

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Parents selectively aborting children based on their gender

New Australian research, revealed this month, has indicted that a group of parents could be aborting female babies because of a preference for sons. It’s led to questions over whether it is necessary to provide parents with early information about the sex of their fetuses.

Already, many obstetricians and sonographers don’t routinely provide gender information at the 12-week scan when people can still readily access abortion, largely because it’s not always accurate and there is rarely any medical purpose. Yet there is an unwillingness to follow in the path of China and India, where abortion of female foetuses is a well-identified problem, and there are bans on early gender reveals.

Advances in science and technology mean Australians are now able to find out the sex of their baby from as early as 10 weeks, via a blood test that also screens for chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome. Others may find out their baby’s sex during an ultrasound around the 12-week mark.

While ultrasound providers have different protocols on whether they reveal the gender of the baby at the first scan, it’s the stance of the Australasian Sonographers Association that they should play no part in the debate around gender selection.

The association’s chief executive, Jodie Long, said if the sonographer was confident in being able to identify the gender, then they would provide that information if asked.

“What the parents do with information is not for the sonographer to determine,” she said

“The majority of the examination is to determine if there is an abnormality. If it is communicated to the parent that there is an abnormality, then the parents will decide what to do with that information. And that’s not up to the sonographers to determine either.”

The study from La Trobe University found that while the ratio of boys and girls born in Victoria was close to natural rates of 105 boys to every 100 girls, there are higher rates of boys born to mothers who have migrated from China and India.

For example, between 1999 and 2015, 8654 mothers born in China had boys at a rate of almost 111 males to every 100 baby girls for their second child, then at a rate of 114 to 100 to for their third or subsequent child.

“We believe that some women may be terminating pregnancies after discovering they are expecting a girl and in other cases are travelling overseas to access non-medical sex selection services through assisted reproduction,” said lead researcher Dr Kristina Edvardsson.

One experienced sonographer, who did not want to be identified, said they believed that medical professions should consider the ethics and accuracy of revealing the sex of a baby at the first-trimester scan, when an “elective termination” could still be performed.

In the past, one couple told them they would abort their child if it was a girl. As was the policy of their employer, the sonographer did not tell them the sex at the first scan, although they were so shocked by the incident, they can’t remember if they noticed if it was a boy or a girl.

“I did wonder for some time what became of that baby.”

Melbourne obstetrician Lisa Hui said she had only heard about one possible case of gender selection during her career, but most patients would be aware that it was not an approved practice, and not tell doctors about it.

“It’s very hard for us to know as professionals whether the practice is widespread. I guess that is concerning and raises it as a possibility, but we don’t have data on how fetal sex information is being used,” she said.

Nevertheless, Associate Professor Hui said she felt it was reasonable not to disclose fetal sex information at the first 12-week scan, because there was rarely a medical reason to give that information, and it was not always possible to tell the sex.

There appears to be little appetite for a formal change in that protocol that would advise doctors or ultrasound technicians against offering their best guess at the sex of a baby during the first scan or blood test.

Australia’s chief medical officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, said “it would also be unreasonable to deny access to gender information on ultrasounds for the vast majority of people who want a child of any gender”.

It’s a view shared by the man who helped draft Australia’s guidelines banning gender selection through IVF , Professor Ian Olver.

“It’s just like you can’t stop everyone from being a criminal,” he said. “You can’t stop people who are desperate to do things getting round the system. I don’t think it’s the fault of the system, and I think the society and the law is clearly anti any sort of sex discrimination.”

https://www.smh.com.au/healthcare/we-need-to-know-the-sex-if-it-s-a-girl-we-are-going-to-terminate-it-20180816-p4zxvr.html

Drugs Claim Another Life? Korn lead singer Jonathan Davis’ estranged wife dead at 39

August 18, 2018

Deven Davis, the estranged wife of Korn’s lead singer Jonathan Davis has died. She was 39.

The ’90’s rocker and Deven split in 2016 citing irreconcilable differences, however a legal battle was still ongoing as Jonathan had reportedly filed for a domestic violence retraining order on Friday, according to documents obtained by TMZ. A judge granted a temporary order prohibiting custody or visitation with their two children due to her alleged drug use.

“The Davis family is brokenhearted over the devastating loss of Deven Davis,” a rep for the band told Page Six in a statement on Friday evening. “We ask that you respect their privacy—and the privacy of those close to the family—and allow them the space to mourn in private. We thank you for your love, understanding and prayers of support during this difficult time.”

Deven, a former porn star, had allegedly struggled with drug abuse for 20 years which led to the neglect of their kids, the documents said. Additionally, Jonathan Davis claimed Deven was dating a drug dealer and drug paraphernalia was frequently found in her house.

She also reportedly hadn’t been seen for a week.

Although the cause of her death is unclear, TMZ reports that the musician said in his court declaration that Deven has been dependent on prescription and narcotic drugs.

They were married in 2004.

https://pagesix.com/2018/08/17/korn-lead-singer-jonathan-davis-estranged-wife-dead-at-39/

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Movie producer’s daughter found dead in the Bronx

The pregnant daughter of movie producer Doug McHenry — who worked on flicks such as “New Jack City” and “Krush Groove” — was found dead Tuesday in The Bronx, cops said.

Lyric McHenry, 26, was found slumped over on a sidewalk in Highbridge at around 5 a.m., according to police.

She had on a pajama top and no pants, but still had her underwear on. Officers found her near the intersection of Undercliff Avenue and Boscobel Place.

McHenry was said to have had drugs on her, possibly cocaine.

The young mother-to-be was posting videos to her Facebook and Instagram accounts — partying the night away — just hours before the discovery.

Police say she was by herself when they found her. Investigators are waiting on the city medical examiner’s report to determine an official cause of death.

McHenry’s family refused to comment when reached by phone Tuesday.

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Morning Prayer for Thursday, June 28, 2018 — Maintain your calm and composure amid pressing duties and unending challenges

June 28, 2018

If you can take your troubles as they come, if you can maintain your
calm and composure amid pressing duties and unending engagements,
if you can rise above the distressing and disturbing circumstances in
which you are set down, you have discovered a priceless secret of
daily living. Even if you are forced to go through life weighed down by
some unescapable misfortune or handicap and yet live each day as it
comes with poise and peace of mind, you have succeeded where most
people have failed. You have wrought a greater achievement than a
person who rules a nation. Have I achieved poise and peace of mind?

Meditation For The Day

Take a blessing with you wherever you go. You have been blessed, so
bless others. Such stores of blessings are awaiting you in the months
and years that lie ahead. Pass on your blessings. Blessing can and does
go around the world, passed on from one person to another. Shed a
little blessing in the heart of one person. That person is cheered to
pass it on, and so, God’s vitalizing, joy-giving message travels on. Be a
transmitter of God’s blessings.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may pass on my blessings. I pray that they may flow into
the lives of others.

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Book: Holy Spirit by Fr. Edward Leen
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Every human being has the spark of God within. What we want to do is make that spark into hot, life saving flame! We want the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Related:

Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, June 24, 2018 — “The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.”

June 23, 2018

He made of me a sharp-edged sword — He made me a polished arrow

For surely the hand of the Lord was with him

God wants us all to reflect the mysteries of God and to point to God by everything in our lives.

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John the Baptist, wood carving

Elizabeth and Zechariah named him, “John” which in Hebrew means, “God is gracious.”

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist – Mass during the Day
Lectionary: 587

Reading 1 IS 49:1-6

Hear me, O coastlands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 139:1B-3, 13-14AB, 14C-15

R. (14) I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
O LORD, you have probed me, 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. I praise you for I am wonderfully made.
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. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
My soul also you knew full well;
nor was my frame unknown to you
When I was made in secret,
when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.

Reading 2  ACTS 13:22-26

In those days, Paul said:
“God raised up David as king;
of him God testified,
I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;
he will carry out my every wish.

From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise,
has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel;
and as John was completing his course, he would say,
‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.
Behold, one is coming after me;
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’

“My brothers, sons of the family of Abraham,
and those others among you who are God-fearing,
to us this word of salvation has been sent.”

Alleluia  SEE LK 1:76

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You, child, will be called prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  LK 1:57-66, 80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?”
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.
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Reflection From The Monastery of Christ in the Desert
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My sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ,

Instead of the regular Sunday Mass, today we have the Birth of Saint John the Baptist.  John the Baptist has a huge role in the life of Jesus and prepares others to know of the coming of salvation and of Jesus.  John the Baptist was recognized as a strong religious presence before Jesus was recognized—and John always points to Jesus.  In the same way, you and I must learn always to point to Jesus by the way we live our lives and in our speaking, writing and thinking.

The first reading today is from the Prophet Isaiah.  Isaiah tells us of his own awareness that God had called him to be a servant of God’s presence in all that he does.  Isaiah realized that God had created him to testify to God’s presence and to proclaim God’s presence in his life.  This reading reflects an awareness that many of the prophets had that God wants us all to reflect the mysteries of God and to point to God by everything in our lives.

You and I are invited today to know that God is also calling us in the same way, with the same intensity.  God loves us.  God wants us.  God wants us to proclaim His presence and His works to everyone.  Most of us don’t do that in our lives, but our not doing it does not change God’s wanting it.

The second reading is from the Acts of the Apostles.  It reflects another human trait:  when we someone good, we tend to think of them not only as set apart, but better than ourselves.  The challenge is that God wants us all to be saints.  The word “saint” makes us think of someone better than ourselves.  God wants us all to be saints, not to look better than others, but to reflect His goodness and love to all.  It is always the challenge of doing only what God wants.  This is the challenge of spiritual combat and we are all invited to such spiritual combat.

Saint John the Baptist took up the challenge of doing God’s will and tried to do God’s will with all his being.  John the Baptist took up the spiritual combat of not doing his will but God’s will.

The Gospel today, from Saint Luke, tells the things that happened before the birth of John the Baptist.  The neighbors all knew that there was something special about this child.  We can all claim that there was nothing special about our birth, but it is not so.  The birth of new life, of a new child, is always special—but we don’t pay attention to that aspect.  Today as there are fewer and fewer births in the western world, we begin to see how special each one is.  Only as we begin to pay attention to God do we begin to understand how special each human being is and how each human being can draw others to God and to the mysteries of faith.

May we come to know how special each life is, our own included, and how each of us can point to the Lord Jesus and draw others to Him.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

Pope Francis on abortion: It’s what the Nazis did, only with white gloves

June 17, 2018

Pope Francis denounced abortion on Saturday as the “white glove” equivalent of the Nazi-era eugenics program and urged families to accept the children that God gives them.

Pope Francis on abortion: It's what the Nazis did, only with white gloves

 

Pope Francis meets with the Forum of Family Associations in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican. (Vatican Media Handout/EPA-EFE/RE)
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Francis spoke off-the-cuff to a meeting of an Italian family association, ditching his prepared remarks to speak from the heart about families and the trials they undergo. He lamented how some couples choose not to have any children, while others resort to pre-natal testing to see if their baby has any malformations or genetic problems.
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“Last century, the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today, we do the same thing but with white gloves,” the agency quoted Francis as saying.

The pope urged families to accept children “as God gives them to us.”

Francis has repeated the strict anti-abortion stance of his predecessors and integrated it into his broader condemnation of what he calls today’s “throwaway culture.” He has frequently lamented how the sick, the poor, the elderly and the unborn are considered unworthy of protection and dignity by a society that prizes individual prowess.

He said women are often considered part of this throwaway culture and are forced to prostitute themselves.

“How many of you pray for these women who are thrown away, for these women who are used, for these girls who have to sell their own dignity to have a job?” Francis asked during his morning homily Friday.

Francis has dedicated much of his pontificate to preaching about families, marriage and the problems that families today encounter. He is expected to highlight the issues during a trip in August to Ireland, which recently voted to legalize abortion.

The Associated Press

Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square last week. He urged families to accept children “as God gives them to us.” Credit Vincenzo Pinto/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

Christians Throw The Book At Trump on Immigration — “God’s law trumps man’s law.”

June 16, 2018
Cardinal Dolan slams Trump immigration crackdown as ‘unbiblical’