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March 27, 2014

 Thursday in the 3rd Week of Lentstained glass last supper 2

Saint for the day: Bl. Francis Faa di Bruno (1825-1888)

Scripture readings for today's Liturgy:

Jeremiah 7:23-28

Psalm 95

Luke 11:14-23

 “Jesus says, ‘Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.’” (Luke 11:23) In the reading from Jeremiah we hear the term “stiff-necked people” and this thought was further advanced with the refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm, “… harden not your hearts.”

snooty lady cartoonThose three verses, captioned above, come together for me as I sit here in the quiet dark of our little house chapel and form a single picture in my mind: I have an image of a tall, slender person – almost stretched out to be scrawny and skeleton-like – with head thrust back and snooty nose high in the air. It’s the image of a person who cares nothing for anyone else and isn’t even aware that there are other people around. We might call this person “self-centered” or “egotistical” and it’s a miracle that they can even move around since their haughtiness has not only hardened their hearts but their lungs and nose are stretched so tightly they can hardly breath. With this stance, they are totally unaware of anybody around them. This image almost scares me and I find myself praying, “A clean a new bright heartheart create for me, O Lord and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” (Psalm 51:10)   If our Lenten Journey is to have any meaning for us that verse above has to be our prayer as we are re-created into caring, loving people. I can even hear the poor and the sick crying out, “Have a heart!” as they struggle to find someone who cares for them. There doesn’t seem to be very much middle ground when it comes to following Jesus. If we’re not with him we have to ask ourselves where are we? We certainly don’t want to be part of that group that is divided against itself.  But don’t let me scare you away. Think back to that parable of the “talents:” It wasn’t that the last guy was supposed to have brought back as shadows reaching outmuch as the first or second person did. But he is thrown out because he didn’t even put his gift in the bank for interest. An act that is totally passive. It shouldn’t surprise us that the Church promotes devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary since this reminds us to soften our approach and make our journey one which is motivated by a clean and loving heart. A creative heart that pumps new life into us and allows us to see with the eyes of Jesus and know the healing power that his loving presence gives to us so that we can share that with those in need.   The closing line of today’s Holy Gospel seems to be key: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Luke 11:23)   When Jesus says this verse above, how do we know where we stand? Perhaps the answer can be found in St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 5:22-23. Amen!

                                                         “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Amen!

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March 26, 2014

Wednesday in the 3rd Week of Lentaa lawgrace wide

Saint for the day: : St. Margaret Clitherow (16 cent.) 

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Deuteronomy 4:1,5-9

Psalm 147

Matthew 5:17-19

“For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us…?” (Deuteronomy 4:789?)

Then in today’s Holy Gospel Jesus says, “not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved.” (Matthew 5:18)

aa 5  coins for lentFor most of us, the word, “LAW” produces negative feelings and right off the bat we quickly put up our defenses. We think in terms of being restricted instead of seeing that law is a means to a better end. Just think what would happen if there were no traffic laws? All of us know that the laws concerning a four-way-stop-sign intersection are there to enhance the orderly flow of traffic. They are a means to an end. In today’s Holy Gospel, Jesus is warning his disciples not to follow the manner of the Scribes and Pharisees who often spent more of their energy nit-picking the minute aspects of the law at the expense of helping the poor and those most in need.

Some of us who are of my generation can remember the rigor of the Lenten Fast Regulations and how we could so easily maneuver aroundaa lent purpose w cross them. I think of my own saintly parents who used to belong to a folk-dancing group that met weekly for practice, which included refreshments at the end. How did my parents make that work? They told us that we weren’t having any dessert this night and wouldn’t even say the “grace after meals” on the theory that they would just extend their dinnertime to end at the end of their dancing when they could then have their just dessert! The Church has eased up on some of these regulations but hasn’t exempted us from the “bottom line purpose” that fasting was supposed to accomplish: a stepping back from some of our ordinary practices in order to see more clearly the wonder of God’s Love – which was intended to make us more loving and concerned about others and those in most need. Laws aren’t there to make us angry. They exist in order to bring about some good in our world which has often let laws shackle people rather than freeing them.

aa jesus  poor man sqIn this mid-way point in our Lenten Journey we hear Jesus say, “… I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved.” (Matthew 5:19) Those last five words hold the key to our understanding of the purpose of the LAW. So we must look to see what “that purpose” of the law is. I don’t think many of us think of laws as a means to freedom and that certainly is a sad commentary of what our proliferation of “Laws” has done for humanity in general. It’s back to being the opposite of what the original Lenten Fast laws were intended to bring about: our stepping back from the ordinary way we looked at life; in order to see more clearly the Glory of Easter. Whenever we give up something we need to be doing that in order that we are able to do something better and more productive by way of building up those who have not been blessed like we have.  Amen!

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March 25, 2014

The Annunciation of the Lord  (click on the link on left to read about today’s solemnity)

Scripture readings for today's Liturgy:anounciation long

Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10

Psalm 40

Hebrews 10:4-10

Luke 1:26-38

“The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying: ‘Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!”(Isaiah 7:10)   “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.” (Today’s Responsorial Psalm refrain and repeated in the Scripture Reading from Hebrews)   “Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’” (Luke 1:37)

With the above three quotations from today’s “liturgy of the Word” I am almost tempted to say: “If you meditate on these three verses and make that meditation into your prayer you will have gained something wonderful about the great gift that God has given to us. I’m almost tempted to say, “I’ll let it go at that and let you form your own meditation for today.

But … for the sake of consistency, I’ll add a few of my own thoughts since something that happened on Sunday caught me up quick and I old monk flipedwant to share that with you.  I think you know that I put these Scratchpad Reflections together early in the morning. I get up before 4 o’clock; have a cup of coffee and then spend about an hour and a half in our little house chapel in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament, prayerfully composing my reflection by the light of a couple of small candles. I love this quiet time with the Lord and know in my heart of hearts that any benefit that these reflections have is the direct result of this prayerful practice.  Sunday, however, I didn’t get up early. I was completely worn out from the previous day’s workshop that had me on my feet talking the whole day!

So, when I finally came to put together my reflection for Monday other friars were in the chapel so I just sat back in the corner trying to be as quiet as possible so as not to disturb their prayer time.

In all the years that I’ve been doing these reflections they have always come to me very easily. Yesterday was the first time I experiencedcomputer freeze  up sq difficulties: my computer froze up; I lost what I was working on; I made mistakes; had two or three windows open at the same time; got all confused and lost several pages. You name it; it happened to me!  It was only afterwards that I realized how important it was to follow Bishop Fulton Sheen’s practice of doing these kinds of preparations before the Exposed Blessed Sacrament. However, God had to knock me down a few pegs in order to remind me that it was not just my clever skills that made these reflections work, but His Devine Presence that was key.

quiet at prayerSo, just for today: go back to those three quotes at the top of the page and prayerfully read then again. Mary is such a wonderful example for all of us to realize that God’s grace can do infinitely more than we could ask or imagine when we can honestly be open to His presence in our lives and say, “Let it be done to me according to your word.”   Amen!

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March 24, 2014

Monday in the 3rd Week of LentJesus heals crowds 1 wide

Saint for the day: St. Catherine of Genoa

Scripture readings for today's Liturgy:

2nd Kings 5:1-15

Psalm 42

Luke 4:24-30

 

“On the day of Pentecost the disciples went out and preached to a wide, diverse group of peoples: Parthian, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphlet, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; as well as visitors from Rome – Jews and proselytes’ alike… we could all hear them speaking in our own language about the marvels of God.” (Acts 2:8ff)

 scribes  begger 2Given the “Day of Pentecost” Scripture quoted above and the readings that we’re hearing in this 3rd Week of Lent we could call this “Foreigners Week” since the scriptures speak of God’s mercy reaching out to people who were not considered part of the “chosen people” in the minds of the Jews at the time of Jesus. This should give all of us some encouragement that – as foreign as we might be seen to some – we are not outside of theJesus Good Shepherd Icon possibility to know the saving grace of God.  When Jesus brings up the topic of Naaman’s healing from Leprosy   while speaking in the Synagogue at Nazareth the Jews try to kill him by throwing him over a cliff. Why were they so upset when a kind deed was done to someone whom they thought of as a foreigner? I think the point that Jesus is always trying to get across is that God sent him into this world to bring salvation and redemption to all people. None of us has a corner on the distribution market of God’s redeeming grace! Jesus might have gone under the name, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” but he was to be the King and redeemer for all people.

The thought that’s running though my mind as I reflect on these Holy Scriptures is that our redemption requires us to show some movement – or turning - from wherever we are in order to receive the healing that we need. It’s all part of the “journey theme” that we live through in the Lenten Season. In other words we must show some signs of our desire to meet Jesus – for whatever our needs might be – believing that he can touch our lives in a healing, redeeming way.

Jesus at GatesThere’s a joke that I heard about St. Peter meeting new arrivals at the Gates of Heaven. He takes them on their introductory walk down the streets of Gold and points out, “This is Faith Street where all the Anglicans live. And over here is Hope Street where all the Baptist’s live.” Then he lowers his voice to a whisper saying, “This is Charity Street where all the Catholic’s live.” When he’s asked why he was whispering he says, “Because they think there the only ones here!”  We always have to be careful about how we try to limit God’s love and mercy by setting up our own imaginary boundaries which separate and divide rather than welcoming in. We have to remember that Jesus says, “Come unto me all who are sick and tired and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

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The General Curia

The church and convent of Santa Sabina on the Aventine hill in Rome have been home to the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) since the 13th century. At that time the church and associated buildings formed part of the holdings of the Savelli family. A Savelli Pope, Honorius III, approved the Order in 1216. Read more...

Province of St. Joseph

The Dominican friars of the Province of St. Joseph were founded in 1806 by Edward Dominic Fenwick, O.P., an American who had joined the English Province of the Order as a young man during its exile in Belgium. Fenwick eventually returned to the United States with the dream of establishing the Order in his native land. Read more...

 

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The Third Order of Saint Dominic consists of men and women, singles and couples living a Christian life with a Dominican spirituality in a secular world. Read more...

 

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