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First Reading: Ezra 1:1-6

Daily Scripture Reading - 14 hours 33 min ago
1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:
2 "Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
3 Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel -- he is the God who is in Jerusalem;
4 and let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem."
5 Then rose up the heads of the fathers' houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, every one whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem;
6 and all who were about them aided them with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, with beasts, and with costly wares, besides all that was freely offered.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 126:1-6

Daily Scripture Reading - 14 hours 33 min ago
1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."
3 The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb!
5 May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy!
6 He that goes forth weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Gospel: Luke 8:16-18

Daily Scripture Reading - 14 hours 33 min ago
16 "No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, that those who enter may see the light.
17 For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light.
18 Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away."

The Sorrows of Jesus

Catholic Exchange Articles - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 22:07

September is the month traditionally dedicated to the Sorrows of Mary. But the life and ministry of Jesus is also punctuated with sorrows, including His final agony on the cross. So let us take the sorrows of Mary as an opportunity to also consider those of Jesus.

No place to lay His head. In Luke 9:58, someone proclaims his wish to become a follower of Jesus. Jesus responds: “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” This sense of homelessness pervades the gospels. Think for a moment: where exactly is Jesus’ home base of operations? He really has none. He is constantly on the move with His disciples, counting on the hospitality of their families or others. If there is any geographical center of gravity to His ministry it is Jerusalem, where He is crucified.

For us, the homelessness of Jesus has three ramifications. First, we live in a society where it is increasingly difficult to have a sense of belonging—due to increasing technological isolation and a ‘culture of narcissism.’ Second, as Christians we are always called to be pilgrims—never too attached to our earthly home, always on a journey to heaven. Third, Christ’s own homelessness should instill in us a renewed commitment to comfort those who are physically homeless in our society.

No honor in His home. At one point in His ministry, Jesus is rebuffed by his hometown of Nazareth. “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house,” Jesus remarks in Mark 6:4. Jesus’ rejection has a special relevance for us today as many faithful Catholics are facing increasing ostracism from so-called acceptable society—in large measure because of the Church’s prophetic voice on matters of sexuality.

Jesus wept. One of the more memorable expressions of Jesus’ human emotions comes in John 11:34-35. Jesus has just learned of the death of His friend Lazarus. “Where have you laid him?” He said. “They said to him, ‘Sir, come and see.’ And Jesus wept.” This reaction is all the more striking because Jesus then turns around and raises Lazarus from the dead. But He allowed Himself to experience human grief first. God saves us, but He does not necessarily spare us our griefs.

Lament over Jerusalem. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling!” Jesus says in Luke 13:34. And again later, in Luke 19:41, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem. The impenitence and faithlessness of our society is certainly a cause for lament among Christians in the United States today.

Gethsemane. Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane is at the peak of His sorrows (Luke 22:39-46). On the cross he took on Himself the whole weight of man’s sin and suffering as a result of the Fall. It was at Gethsemane that the full dread of this event filled Jesus. His response is instructive for us when we are facing any kind of existential struggle.

First, Jesus prays that not His will but that the Father’s will be done. For us this has a twofold meaning. First, whatever grief or pain we are experience is part of God’s plan, His will for our lives. Accepting that is essential to enduring whatever we may be going through. Second, for those of us struggling with any kind of sin or temptation we ought to pray for healing of our will so that it might be aligned with His will and not our selfish desires.

Second, Jesus prays. He prays through the grief and pain that He is experiencing. He does not close Himself off from God.

Third, Jesus is in such deep agony that God sends an angel to comfort Him, according to the account in Luke. We should not be afraid to seek comfort from others. Jesus also asks the disciples to remain with Him—the traditional basis for spending a Holy Hour in Eucharistic Adoration. This suggests yet a further approach to dealing with whatever might be afflicting us.

Betrayal with a Kiss. It is striking that the agony is immediately followed by Jesus betrayal by Judas. The betrayal is of the deep piercing kind that comes when someone who was formerly an intimate friend turns against you. As Jesus puts it, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48).

Jesus will go on to experience ever widening circles of betrayal by his own people. First, His disciples flee after Gethsemane. Their abandonment is driven home by the betrayal of Peter, which Jesus personally witnesses (Luke 22:61). Next, the chief priests and elders reject him. Then the crowd of Jews—standing in for the nation of Israel—does when they cry out for His crucifixion. Then, in a sense, the judgment of the whole Roman Empire is brought to bear on Jesus when He is crucified under its authority.

Every human relationship that Jesus experienced is severed—first, those of friend and follower. (Those of his local community, at Nazareth were long ago sundered.) Next, ties of nationality are severed. And His membership in the broader political community of Rome is terminated by His execution. In the end, Jesus even loses His own mother due to his death. (This is indicated in the scene where He entrusts Mary to John.)

Recall the biblical principles that ‘by His wounds we are healed’ (1 Peter 2:24, Isaiah 53:5). What was broken in Jesus’ body, mind, and life, is healed in ours. Therefore there is no relationship that Jesus cannot heal because every type of relationship was broken in His life.

Abandonment on the Cross. Gethsemane does not break Jesus. But He is truly ‘broken’ on the cross (all the while never ceasing to be God or losing the fullness or innocence of His humanity). In terms of His interior distress, the decisive moment is when He cries out to God the Father, asking why He has been abandoned (see Matthew 27:46). To feel abandoned by God when one has known Him is certainly the worst imaginable spiritual torment. Many of us have experienced this to some degree as a result of sin or dryness in our devotions or an onslaught of doubt. Jesus too has been here. He is Emmanuel—God-with-us—with us even in those times of seemingly divine abandonment.

On the cross, Jesus experienced the deepest level of interior sorrow imaginable. This means that there is no sorrow we can suffer that is beyond Jesus’ reach. And if we can’t sense His touch, if the light of faith seems to falter, if we have passed our breaking point, if we can’t bring ourselves to pray our usual way, then just simply cry out to God.

Finding God’s Beauty in the Sock Drawer

Catholic Exchange Articles - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 22:05

Over the years I’ve tried a number of organizational systems. They’ve all promised to miraculously transform my home into a paradise of order and tranquility, to free me from the shackles of housework, so that I could spend more of my time doing what I wanted to do, whether needlepoint, quilting or just playing with the kids. They all sounded so wonderful–too good to be true.

All I needed to do was to create a 3 x 5 file system or fill in a highly structured calendar and “poof” like Mary Poppins everything would fall into place. To be fair, I have incorporated a number of helpful tips from the organizational experts into my household management, so it was never a complete waste of time to learn more.

However, for the most part, their overall concept didn’t work. Why? Some were too complicated, others too structured and still others too much information. “Would you just get to the point and tell me how to fix my problem!” I wondered, exasperated.

When a friend mentioned Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I added it to my reading list. After all, it had an intriguing title and I was always open to picking up a few tips on tidying up, especially since I have three little boys whose main task in life seems to be search out and destroy.

Even better yet, I was happy to see it listed in our library catalog, so I could read it for free. Naturally, the frugal person that I am, I requested it.

Little did I know how truly amazing this little book is.

Why do I like Marie Kondo’s book and how does it differ? It is a quick read for the busy mom, it is a simple system for the person who is easily overwhelmed and it is tailored to the individual. Three very good reasons! On top of that, she writes in an entertaining manner, which makes it easy to read, she respects the fact that I may want to hold on to some things that other authors (organizational experts) would say to trash and lastly she comes from a perspective of joy and gratitude.

This by no means explains her system of tidying. You will have to read her book to find out how tidying can really be life-changing and since I have only recently read it, I have a long way to go before I will have completed the task.

What I have noticed immediately is that the joy and beauty of order is highly infectious. After one area is transformed, I am eager to start with another area. I look forward to organizing the next drawer, closet, or shelf. I can say that I have rarely experienced the same joy and satisfaction after completing an organization project in the past. Why is that?

Marie Kondo uses the word “joy” repeatedly. She talks about only keeping things which bring you joy and if it doesn’t bring you joy, maybe it has a purpose and we should be grateful for the function it serves. For example, the knives in the kitchen don’t bring us joy like a vase of lovely flowers or a sentimental family portrait, but without them we couldn’t prepare our meals and we should be grateful for the job they do.

Although she doesn’t mention it, I have noticed that while creating order in a particular space, whether a bathroom cabinet, bedroom closet, or kitchen drawer, although the task is ultimately to create order, I naturally clean the area too. You may say, “So what?!” When the goal is to clean, at least for me, the mental image of a chore clutters my mind. When the idea of beauty in order is the goal, cleaning is a means to get there and it doesn’t appear as tedious. At the same time, while in the past as I was cleaning, I would move aside something that was no longer used, broken, or stained and continue cleaning. When I have a purpose of “joy” in order, I become keenly aware that there are some things that can be thrown out, disposed of properly or given away: medications expired, towels that are tattered, or clothes too small.

I would venture to say that in seeking joy in order, we are also striving for the beautiful. When we think of something beautiful, we describe it as delightful, charming, or lovely. I would add that something beautiful brings joy. If order for something to be truly beautiful, it possesses certain essential qualities: order, proportion, harmony, and symmetry. Without covering the philosophical constructs of beauty, Kondo continually strives for beauty in order, although she emphasizes, seeking joy. After achieving the beauty of order, a person desires to then maintain that order through tidying and cleaning. Once having glimpsed the joy of beauty in order, we desire more!

When we contemplate the goodness and greatness of God, who is Beauty, we see his magnificence in the order and beauty of creation. In some small way, when we bring order and beauty into our lives, that faint reflection of God’s order brings joy to our lives. As Rev. Aloysius Rother, S. J. says, “The closer a beautiful object approaches its Divine ideal, the more beautiful it is” (101, Beauty: A Study in Philosophy).

In his book, Rother concludes with the final statement, “Man lives then in a world of beauty, but this beauty is from above, from the infinite, uncreated Beauty of God, the All-Beautiful” (132).

When we imitate that beauty, even though it is a faint reflection in our homes through order and beauty, our lives are more joyful.

My home is not going to be seen any time soon on HGTV, but I am s-l-o-w-l-y working my way through the house to bring pockets of joy even behind the hidden doors and drawers.

Even in the little projects of our daily lives, we can contemplate the goodness and greatness of God and give thanks.


Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness

Catholic Exchange Articles - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 22:02

Dr. Peter Kwasniewski’s newest book, Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness: Why the Modern Age Needs the Mass of Ages, is timely, necessary, and refreshing for traditional Catholics and those interested in the traditional teachings of the Church on liturgy in this ten-year anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s motu prorio Summorum Pontificum. The genius of the book is that it is not written for only one group of people. It is for the laity, for the ordained hierarchy, and for consecrated religious—even those who are new to the traditional movement can pick up this book and read it with understanding.

In a way, this book is a fulfillment of what Benedict wrote in the letter accompanying his motu proprio, that he sought to come “to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church.” Because of the damage done after the Second Vatican Council—even if it was not the Council Fathers’ original intention—with the insistence that the Mass of Paul VI was the only Mass that could be celebrated, many Catholics have been ostracized and even abused for their devotion to the Tridentine Rite. With Dr. Kwasniewski’s book, however, we find that, even if traditional Catholics are still in the minority, they have a voice and good reasons for holding to the traditional practices of the Catholic Church. Kwasniewski’s book affirms that the ancient Roman Rite is necessary for the Church, and he offers much-needed encouragement for traditional Catholics who may be feeling discouraged. The very fact that he writes this book from his personal experience in parishes and as a professor at Catholic schools should be enough to encourage traditional Catholics: the author himself is a living testament to the beauty and fruit of the ancient Rite.

This book consists of articles and essays surrounding the question, in the author’s words, “Why is the traditional understanding and practice of liturgical worship right in itself, and therefore crucial to recover in our day, when it has been largely abandoned?” In order to answer that question, Kwasniewski touches on a variety of subjects, including the Liturgical Movement for the New Evangelization, Marian attitudes in the Roman Rite, active participation in the liturgy, a comparison of the old and new calendars, and the way to move forward. Kwasniewski’s careful treatment of the history of the Mass and due attention to the mode of its celebration reveals not only his deep love for the Mass, but also the critical importance of the theology, spirituality, and culture embodied in the ancient Roman Rite. Each of these chapters in themselves are worth pondering over and meditating, in such a way that both our knowledge and our love increases for the ancient Rite.

First, how does Kwasniewski’s book increase our knowledge about the traditional Roman Rite? One of his great themes is that the ancient Roman Rite has slowly and organically developed over many centuries, whereas the Mass of Paul VI was a very quick change, and thus, we are now experiencing the problems associated with such a change. In the chapter entitled, “Different Visions, Contrary Paths,” on the differences between Benedictine and Jesuit theology of liturgy, Kwasniewski explains, “It is a fact of history that the liturgy changes over time, it develops, but this it usually does slowly, absorbing surrounding influences in an organic process” (p. 120). Furthermore,

The essence of the liturgy was there from the beginning, as the oak tree in the acorn, but the fullness of its expression, the richness of its meaning and beauty, took many centuries to unfold before the eyes of Christian man, until he could behold the tree in all its glory and majesty, and taste the sweetness of its fruits most abundantly (p. 121).

Liturgy is meant to develop slowly, and the Novus Ordo was a sudden change to a liturgy that remained practically unchanged for 500 years. This theme, which is spread throughout the book, helps readers to understand why it is so critical to the spiritual life to attend the ancient Roman Rite—not only because it offers the fullness of the Church’s liturgical tradition, but also because it is the Mass of Ages, for it is the Mass of the vast multitude of the saints.

Kwasniewski is not only concerned with increasing our knowledge about the liturgy. He also desires that our love for and commitment to the ancient Roman Rite increases. Citing what he calls “Mosebach’s Paradox,” he writes, “The more circumstances compel me to become an armchair expert in the nature, structure, and history of the sacred liturgy, the more inclined I am to become a spectator and critic when I assist at Mass” (p. 170). There are many traditionalists who have faced this problem before, most especially when attending the Novus Ordo Mass. For this reason, Kwasniewski says,

If we can do it, if the conditions of our life allow for it, we ought to make a decisive break with pluralism, excessive variety, options galore, speaking out of both sides of our mouths, juggling with both hands, and give ourselves simply, completely, and bravely to the traditional worship of the Catholic Church (p. 171).

If this prospect seemed frightening before reading Kwasniewski’s book, his words and wisdom reveal that it is certainly possible, and not just possible, but also the best option for a Catholic who desires to live in the fullness of the Church’s liturgical tradition.

What is the future of the traditional Roman Rite? Kwasniewski does not mince words when he writes,

As long as the Novus Ordo and the usus antiquior co-exist, they are a standing challenge to one another, and they could not not be…Either the philosophy of Summorum Pontificum will bridge the enormous abyss between the two forms by bringing the modern Roman Rite into a more obvious harmony with the preceding liturgical tradition, or we will see over time a dramatic intensification of internecine conflicts (p. 163).

Something that becomes obvious by reading Kwasniewski’s book is that there is a disconnect between the ancient Roman Rite and the Mass of Paul VI. These two forms cannot continue to exist as they are, and Kwasniewski is very much in favor of a return to the traditional liturgical practices of the Church—bringing back what we have lost. While in the final chapter he explains that we can never simply “go back,” but rather must continue to move forward, he firmly supports the revival of ancient Church practices in order to continue with the project of the New Evangelization. After all, if someone discovers he is walking in the wrong direction, the most sensible thing is for him to turn around, retrace his steps, and head in the right direction. Even since the publication of Benedict XVI’s motu proprio, the liturgy of the Church remains under attack—forces within the Church are insistent on driving people back to the celebration of the liturgy as it was in the 1970’s; they are even insistent on practices that are opposed to the Council Fathers themselves. With this continued attack on the liturgy, Kwasniewski’s words could not be timelier. We need to be constantly aware of the juxtaposition between the Old Rite and the New Rite, and how reconciliation and mutual enrichment of the two forms is still far from our reach.

In summary, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski’s book is for those who are passionate about the ancient traditions of the Church and for those who are desiring to learn more about them in a Church that is being removed more and more from her traditional practices and teachings. This book offers nourishment and encouragement for those who are becoming discouraged by the onslaught of attacks and opposition. Fundamentally, this book is for the “remnant,” as described by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—the remnant of the Church that will adhere to her traditional teachings and continue to uphold them even when everyone else ignores them or persecutes those who adhere to them. May Kwasniewski’s book be a source of strength in continuing the fight for the Church’s ancient liturgy and in keeping the Faith.

“There are two spheres of

Catholic Exchange Articles - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 22:00

“There are two spheres of knowledge in which everyone who is endeavoring after any growth in the spiritual life must be making some advance: the knowledge of God and the knowledge of self.” 

-Fr. Basil W. Maturin, Christian Self-Mastery

The light, in today’s gospel, is

Catholic Exchange Articles - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 22:00

The light, in today’s gospel, is likened to Christ who came to earth to lead the way, to show the path. When Jesus was to talking to his disciples, he was talking about himself and he was saying that soon this prophecy of the Messiah would be realized and the truth will be out. Those who listened and followed will learn to understand yet those who thought they knew what they knew will soon realize the fallacy of what they believed in. Thus, they will be stripped of their spiritual authority and those who followed Christ will be given more responsibilities in spreading the Word.

Blessed Herman the Cripple

Catholic Exchange Articles - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 22:00

Herman was born to a poor farm family in Althausen, Germany, in 1013. Afflicted with many infirmities — cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and a cleft palate — Herman was abandoned by his parents to a Benedictine monastery when he was just seven years old. It was here that he would live out his entire life.

Unaware of the mighty genius masked behind his frail and debilitated body, the monks, while generous in their care for him, left Herman to his own studies. By the age of twenty, it was obvious to all that Herman possessed wisdom greater than the most educated of men. He became a Benedictine monk in 1033 and continued to amaze his fellow brothers with his writings on theology, history, astronomy and mathematics. He became fluent in 4 languages, designed and fashioned musical instruments, and built tools to study the stars. As if he had some foreknowledge of his eventual blindness, Herman produced enough literature and academic writings to fill a small library.

In the secular world he is known as the most famous religious poet of the day. Within the Roman Catholic Church, he is known as the great author of one of her most beloved hymns, the Salve Regina.

He died in 1054 at the Abbey in Reichenau from causes relating to his afflictions. He was beatified in 1863.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Finbar (Barry) (633), Bishop

St. Cleophas (1st Century)

First Reading: Isaiah 55:6-9

Daily Scripture Reading - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 00:00
6 "Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18

Daily Scripture Reading - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 00:00
2 Every day I will bless thee, and praise thy name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
17 The LORD is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.
18 The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.

Second Reading: Philippians 1:20-24, 27

Daily Scripture Reading - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 00:00
20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I shall not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
22 If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.
23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16

Daily Scripture Reading - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 00:00
1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place;
4 and to them he said, `You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went.
5 Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same.
6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, `Why do you stand here idle all day?'
7 They said to him, `Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, `You go into the vineyard too.'
8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, `Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.'
9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius.
10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius.
11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder,
12 saying, `These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.'
13 But he replied to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius?
14 Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you.
15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?'
16 So the last will be first, and the first last."

St. Pacific of San Severino

Catholic Exchange Articles - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 22:00

Pacificus Bruni never really got to know his parents, Antonio and Mariangela, both of whom died when he was three years old. He was born in 1653 in Severino and was raised by his uncle from age three until seventeen, when he decided to join the Franciscans.

He excelled in his studies and was ordained a priest when he was 25 years old. Pacificus became a professor of philosophy. He taught novices in his order and he gave parish missions.

When Pacificus (whose name means “peace”) was only 39 years old his health began to fail, so he had to spend his final 29 years of life lame, deaf, and blind. He therefore led a contemplative life filled with prayer, and — like St. Joseph of Cupertino — he received ecstacies. Pacificus also became known as a miracle worker.

He died on September 24, 1721, and was beatified 65 years later. Pope Gregory IX canonized him in 1839 and his feast day is September 24.

Other Saints We Remember Today

Our Lady of Ransom (1218)

First Reading: Galatians 2:19-20

Daily Scripture Reading - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 00:00
19 For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God.
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 16:1-2, 5-8, 11

Daily Scripture Reading - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 00:00
1 Preserve me, O God, for in thee I take refuge.
2 I say to the LORD, "Thou art my Lord; I have no good apart from thee."
5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; thou holdest my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
11 Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Gospel: Matthew 16:24-27

Daily Scripture Reading - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 00:00
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
26 For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?
27 For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Catholic Exchange Articles - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 22:00

For Catholics and non-Catholics alike, the spiritual and physical phenomena which surround the life of Padre Pio draws interest of great proportions. But for many others and certainly for the Church herself, it is the heroic virtue of this humble man that captivates and inspires. His life is one lived in full obedience to the virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice.

Born to a simple family in Pietrelcina, Italy in 1887, Francesco Forgione was put under the protection of his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, at his baptism. He joined Francis’ order at the age of 15 and was ordained a priest in 1910. Shortly after his ordination, Padre Pio began to experience the invisible stigmata, which was soon followed by other unique gifts that amazed even the most skeptical of believers. Many lives were converted by the grace of these extraordinary charisms — bilocation, prophetic visions, healing, reading of consciences — and the stigmata, which he bore with a calm manner, yet endured with great interior and mystical suffering.

Three years to the day from receiving the invisible wounds of Christ, the deep, bloody, and painful marks of the stigmata became visible on his body and stayed with him until his death. Doctors estimated that he may have lost a cup of blood every day during the 50 years he bore the wounds. Millions of people came to see Padre Pio because of these visible manifestations of holiness on his hands, feet and side. But his real virtue resounded in his heart while listening to millions of confessions over his lifetime. From all over the world and from all walks of life, people sought him for direction. The poor, in particular, held a special place in his soul. His spiritual insight and his merciful guidance converted even the hardest of sinners.

His example of long hours in prayer and meditation, vigilant fasting, and a life of interior and exterior suffering reminds us of the Passion of Our Lord and the glory of the Cross. In Pope John Paul II’s homily at Padre Pio’s canonization, he said, “Our time needs to rediscover the value of the Cross in order to open the heart to hope. Throughout his [Padre Pio’s] life, he always sought greater conformity with the Crucified, since he was very conscious of having been called to collaborate in a special way in the work of redemption. His holiness cannot be understood without this constant reference to the Cross.”

Wanting to be remembered as nothing more than a “poor friar who prayed,” Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968. Following his death, the tortuous wounds that were a part of his life for over half a century vanished from his flesh without even a scar. He was beatified on May 2, 1999, and canonized June 16, 2002. After Fatima and Lourdes, San Giovanni Rotondo, the location of the isolated monastery where St. Pio lived most of his life and where his tomb remains, is the most visited site for those in search of healing, hope, and renewal.

From Johnnette Benkovic’s Graceful Living: Meditations to Help You Grow Closer to God Day by Day

Click the image above to purchase your own copy of “Graceful Living.”

When a soul does everything possible and trusts divine mercy, why would Jesus reject such a spirit? If you have given and consecrated everything to God, why be afraid?

— From the writings of St. Padre Pio

The evil one seeks to discourage us through fear. But, as St. Pio reminds us, God calls us to trust. What one fear is the evil one sowing in my heart to discourage me? What does St. Pio recommend that I do? I will do it now and ask the intercession of St. Pio.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Linus (79), Pope, Martyr

St. Thecla (117). Virgin, Martyr, invoked for the dying

St. Constantius the Sacristan (1st Century)

image: villorejo / Shutterstock.com

First Reading: 1 Timothy 6:2-12

Daily Scripture Reading - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 00:00
2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brethren; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties.
3 If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness,
4 he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions,
5 and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
6 There is great gain in godliness with contentment;
7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world;
8 but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.
11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 49:6-10, 17-20

Daily Scripture Reading - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 00:00
5 Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me,
6 men who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches?
7 Truly no man can ransom himself, or give to God the price of his life,
8 for the ransom of his life is costly, and can never suffice,
9 that he should continue to live on for ever, and never see the Pit.
16 Be not afraid when one becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases.
17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him.
18 Though, while he lives, he counts himself happy, and though a man gets praise when he does well for himself,
19 he will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never more see the light.

The mission of St. Mary’s Parish is to proclaim and celebrate our salvation through Jesus Christ,our pilgrimage to the Father’s Kingdom enlivened by the Holy Spirit. Our Catholic faith community is nourished by our sacramental life, especially the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. With Mother Mary as our model, we demonstrate our faith through worship, education, vocations and service.

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