Saturday, June 21, 2008

“Why are you anxious?”


“Why are you anxious?”

Saturday, June 21

Scripture: Matthew 6:24-34

"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day.

Meditation: What does the expression “serving two masters” and “being anxious” have in common? They both have the same root problem – being divided within oneself. The root word for “anxiety” literally means “being of two minds.” An anxious person is often “tossed to and fro” and paralyzed by fear, indecision, and insecurity. Fear of some bad outcome cripples those afflicted with anxiety. It’s also the case with someone who wants to live in two opposing kingdoms - God's kingdom of light and truth or Satan's kingdom of darkness and deception - following God's standards and way of happiness or following the world’s standards of success and happiness. Who is the master in charge of your life? Our “master” is whatever governs our thought-life, shapes our ideals, and controls the desires of our heart and the values we choose to live by. We can be ruled by many different things – the love of money and possessions, the power of position and prestige, the glamor of wealth and fame, and the driving force of unruly passions, harmful desires, and addictive cravings. Ultimately the choice of who is our master boils down to two: God or “mammon”. What is mammon? “Mammon” stands for “material wealth or possessions” or whatever tends to “control our appetites and desires.”

There is one master alone who has the power to set us free from slavery to sin, fear, pride, and greed, and a host of other hurtful desires. That master is the Lord Jesus Christ who alone can save us from all that would keep us bound up in fear and anxiety. Jesus used an illustration from nature – the birds and the flowers – to show how God provides for his creatures in the natural order of his creation. God provides ample food, water, light, and heat to sustain all that lives and breathes. How much more can we, who are created in the very image and likeness of God, expect our heavenly Father and creator to sustain not only our physical bodies, but our mind, heart, and soul as well? God our Father is utterly reliable because it is his nature to love, heal, forgive, and make whole again. Jesus taught his disciples to pray with confidence to their heavenly Father: Give us this day our daily bread. What is bread, but the very staple of life and symbol of all that we need to live and grow. Anxiety is neither helpful nor necessary. It robs us of faith and confidence in God’s help and it saps our energy for doing good. Jesus admonishes his followers to put away anxiety and preoccupation with material things and instead to seek first the things of God – his kingdom and righteousness. Anxiety robs the heart of trust in the mercy and goodness of God and in his loving care for us. God knows our needs even before we ask and he gives generously to those who trust in him. Who is your master – God or mammon?

“Lord Jesus, free me from needless worries and help me to put my trust in you. May my first and only concern be for your glory and your kingdom of peace and righteousness. Help me to live each day and moment with trust and gratitude for your providential care for me.”

Friday, June 20, 2008

"REJOICE AND BE GLAD"


"REJOICE AND BE GLAD
BLESSED ARE YOU, HOLY ARE YOU
REJOICE AND BE GLAD, YOU ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD."

REJOICING IS THE RIGHT WORD TO
DESCRIBE HOW I FEEL;
MY FELLOW NOVICES
AND MYSELF HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED
FOR FIRST RELIGIOUS PROFESSION.
WITH THE SALESIANS OF DON BOSCO


I AM REJOICING FOR THEM AND FOR MYSELF



MARY HELP OF CHRISTIANS
PRAY FOR US.....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

“Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven”.


“Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven”.

Friday, June 20

Scripture: Matthew 6:19-23

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Meditation: What kind of treasure and wealth are you looking for? Jesus offers a treasure of imcomparable value and worth, but we need healthy eyes – good spiritual vision – to recognize it. What Jesus said about seeking treasure made perfect sense to his audience: keep what lasts! Aren’t we all trying to find something we treasure in the hope that it will bring us happiness, peace, and security? Jesus contrasts two very different kinds of wealth – material wealth and spiritual wealth. Jesus urges his disciples to get rich by investing in wealth and treasue which truly lasts, not just for a life-time, but for all eternity as well. Jesus offers heavenly treasures which cannot lose their value by changing circumstances, such as diminishing currency, material degradation, lose, or physical destruction. The treasure which Jesus offers is kept safe and uncorrupted by God himself.

What is this treasure which Jesus offers so freely and graciously? It is the treasure of God himself – the source and giver of every good gift and blessing in this life – and a kingdom that will endure forever. The treasure of God's kingdom produces unspeakable joy because it unites us with the source of all joy and blessings which is God himself. God offers us the treasure of unending joy and friendship with himself and with all who are united with him in his heavenly kingdom. In Jesus Christ we receive an inheritance which the Apostle Peter describes as imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us (1 Peter 1:4 ). Paul the Apostle describes it as a kingdom of everlasting peace, joy, and righteousness in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

How realistic and attainable is this heavenly treasure? Can we enjoy it now, or must we wait for it in the after-life? The treasure of God’s kingdom is both a present and a future reality – like an investment which grows and matures, ever increasing, and multiplying in value.

Seekers of great treasure will go to any length to receive their reward. They direct all their energies and resources to obtain the treasure. We instinctively direct our energies and resources – an even our whole lives – towards that which we most value. To set one’s heart on heavenly treasure is to enter into a deeper and richer life with God himself. It is only by letting go of false treasure that one can eter into the joy of a heavenly treasure that is immeasurable and worth more than we can give in exchange. Do you seek the treasure which lasts for eternity?

Jesus also used the image of eyesight or human vision to convey an important principle of God's kingdom. Blurred vision and bad eyesight serve as a metaphor for moral stupidity and spiritual blindness. (For examples, see Matthew 15:14, 23:16 ff.; John 9:39-41; Romans 2:19; II Peter 1:9; and Revelations 3:17.) Jesus describes the human eye as the window of the “inner being” – the heart, mind, and soul of an individual person. How one views life and reality reflects not only their personal vision – how they view life, reality, and the world around them – it also reflects their inner being and soul – the kind of moral person and character they choose for themselves. If the window through which we view life, truth, and reality is clouded, soiled, or marred in any way, then the light of God's truth will be deflected, diminished, and distorted. Only Christ can free us from the spiritual darkness of sin, unbelief, and ignorance. That is why Jesus called himself the light of the world – the one true light that can overcome the darkness of sin and the lies of Satan.

What can blind or distort our “vision” of what is true, good, lovely, pure, and eternal (Philippians 4:8)? Certainly prejudice, jealousy, and self-conceit can distort our judgment of ourselves and others and lead to moral blindness. Prejudice and self-conceit also destroys good judgment and blinds us to the facts and to their significance for us. Jealousy and envy make us despise others and mistrust them as enemies rather than friends. We need to fearlessly examine ourselves to see if we are living according to right judgment and sound principles or if we might be misguided by blind prejudice or some other conceit. Love is not jealous ...but rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:4-6). Do you live your life in the light of God’s truth?

“Lord Jesus, you have the words of everlasting life. May the light of your truth free me from the error of sin and deception. Take my heart and fill it with your love that I may desire you alone as my Treasure and my All."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him”


“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him”

Thursday June 19th

Scripture: Matthew 6:7-15

"And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Meditation: Do you pray with joy and confidence? The Jews were noted for their devotion to prayer. Formal prayer was prescribed for three set times a day. And the rabbis had a prayer for every occasion. Jesus warns his disciples against formalism, making prayer something mechanical and devoid of meaning, with little thought for God. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray he gave them the disciple’s prayer, what we call the Our Father or Lord’s Prayer. This prayer dares to call God “our Father” and boldly asks for the things we need to live as his sons and daughters.

It is through the gift of the Holy Spirit that we can know God personally and call him “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). We can approach God our Father with confidence and boldness because Jesus Christ has opened the way to heaven for us through his death and resurrection. When we ask God for help, he fortunately does not give us what we deserve. Instead, he responds with grace and favor and mercy. It is his nature to love generously and to forgive mercifully. When he gives he gives more than we need so we will have something to share with others in their need as well.

God is kind and forgiving towards us and he expects us to treat our neighbor the same. Do you treat others as they deserve, or do you treat them as the Lord would treat you with his grace and favor and mercy? Jesus’ prayer includes an injunction that we must ask God to forgive us in proportion as we forgive those who have wronged us. Ask the Lord to free your heart of any anger, bitterness, resentment, selfishness, indifference, or coldness towards others. Let the Holy Spirit fill you with the fire of his burning love and compassion and with the river of his overflowing mercy and kindness.

“Father in heaven, you have given me a mind to know you, a will to serve you, and a heart to love you. Give me today the grace and strength to embrace your holy will and fill my heart with your love that all my intentions and actions may be pleasing to you. Give me the grace to be charitable in thought, kind in deed, and loving in speech towards all."

St. Dominic Savio

ST. DOMINIC SAVIO

THE YOUNGEST NON MARTYRED SAINT OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

Dominic was born on 2nd April 1842 at San Giovanni di Riva, near Chieri (Turin). When he made his first Holy Communion, at the age of seven, he wrote down the following as his plan of life: "I will go to confession very often and go to communion as often as my confessor gives me permission. I will celebrate Sundays and feast days as holy days. Jesus and Mary will be my friends.

"Death rather than sin."

When he was twelve he was accepted by Don Bosco to go to the Oratory in Turin, and he asked Don Bosco to help him 'become a saint'. He was a gentle lad, always calm and cheerful, and he put great efforts into his studies and into helping his companions in every way, teaching them their Catechism, tending the sick, sorting out quarrels, etc.

One day he told a boy who had just arrived at the Oratory: "You ought to know that here we find holiness through being very happy! We try to avoid sin, which robs us of God's grace and our peace of mind, and we carry out our duties as well as we can."

Dominic kept faithfully to this plan, strengthened by the sacraments and his devotion to Mary, and accepted hardships gladly. God blessed him with special gifts. When Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception on 8th December 1854, Dominic consecrated himself to Mary and began to make even greater progress in holiness. In 1856 he set up the 'Sodality of Mary Immaculate' with a group of his friends, to carry out apostolic work together. Mamma Margaret (Don Bosco's mother), who had come to Turin to help her priest son, said one day: "You have many good boys, but none can match the good heart and soul of Dominic Savio. I see him so often at prayer, staying in church after the others; every day he slips out of the playground to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. When he is in church he is like an angel living in Paradise."

Dominic died in Mondonio on 9th March 1857, just under a month before his fifteenth birthday. His remains are in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians. He was canonized on 12th June 1954.

Pope Pius XI described him as "small in size, but a towering giant in spirit." He is the patron saint of boy choristers.

* BE A FRIEND OF JESUS

* DO WHAT YOU SHOULD DO, AS WELL AS I CAN

* HELP OTHERS

* DO IT CHEERFULLY.

These are the four things that St. John Bosco asked from Dominic Savio, when he asked him. How can I become a Saint?

"If we believe in Sanctity, these are the steps to follow.

God Bless

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

“When you pray, fast, and give alms”


“When you pray, fast, and give alms”

Wednesday, June 18

Scripture: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

"Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. "Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Meditation: Why did Jesus single out prayer, fasting, and almsgiving for his disciples? The Jews considered these three as the cardinal works of the religious life. These were seen as the key signs of a pious person, the three great pillars on which the good life was based. Jesus pointed to the heart of the matter. Why do you pray, fast, and give alms? To draw attention to yourself so that others may notice and think highly of you? Or to give glory to God? The Lord warns his disciples of self-seeking glory – the preoccupation with looking good and seeking praise from others. True piety is something more than feeling good or looking holy. True piety is loving devotion to God. It is an attitude of awe, reverence, worship and obedience. It is a gift and working of the Holy Spirit that enables us to devote our lives to God with a holy desire to please him in all things (Isaiah 11:1-2).

What is the sure reward which Jesus points out to his disciples? It is communion with God our Father. In him alone we find the fulness of life and happiness, truth and beauty, love and joy. Saint Augustine, the great fourth century bishop of Hippo, wrote the following prayer in his Confessions: When I am completely united to you, there will be no more sorrows or trials; entirely full of you, my life will be complete. The Lord rewards those who seek him with humble and repentant hearts. He renews us each day and he gives us new hearts of love and compassion that we may serve him and our neighbor with glad and generous hearts. Do you want to grow in your love for God and for your neighbor? Seek him expectantly in prayer, with fasting, and in generous giving to those in need.

“Lord Jesus, give me a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, and a great love for you. Take from me all lukewarmness in meditating on your word, and dullness in prayer. Give me fervor and delight in thinking of you and your grace. Fill my heart with compassion for others, especially those in need, that I may respond with generosity.”

Monday, June 16, 2008

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”


“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

Tuesday, June 17

Scripture: Matthew 5:43-48

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

Meditation: What makes Christians different from others and what makes Christianity distinct from any other religion? It is grace – treating others, not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated – with loving-kindness and mercy. God is good to the unjust as well as the just. His love embraces saint and sinner alike. God seeks our highest good and teaches us to seek the greatest good of others, even those who hate and abuse us. Our love for others, even those who are ungrateful and selfish towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to us. It is easier to show kindness and mercy when we can expect to benefit from doing so. How much harder when we can expect nothing in return. Our prayer for those who do us ill both breaks the power of revenge and releases the power of love to do good in the face of evil. How can we possibly love those who cause us harm or ill-will? With God all things are possible. He gives power and grace to those who believe and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit. His love conquers all, even our hurts, fears, prejudices and griefs. Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment and gives us the courage to return evil with good. Such love and grace has power to heal and to save from destruction. Do you know the power of Christ’s redeeming love and mercy?

Was Jesus exaggerating when he said we must be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect? The original meaning of “perfect” in Aramaic is “completeness” or “wholeness – not lacking in what is essential.” God gives us every good gift in Jesus Christ so that we may not lack anything we need to do his will and to live as his sons and daughters. He knows our weakness and sinfulness better than we do. And he assures us of his love, mercy, and grace to follow in his ways. Do you want to grow in your love for God and for your neighbor? Ask the Holy Spirit to change and transform you in the image of the Father that you may walk in the joy and freedom of the gospel.

“Lord Jesus, your love brings freedom and pardon. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and set my heart ablaze with your love that nothing may make me lose my temper, ruffle my peace, take away my joy, nor make me bitter towards anyone.”

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St. John Bosco

St. John Bosco
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Port Chester, New York, United States
Salesian Novice living in Port Chester, NY.