Meditation for the Day

Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, June 16

Being Clothed with the Virtue of Humility Fosters a Deeper and Truer Relationship of Love Between Ourselves and the God Who Loves Each of Us.

In our Gospel today, we hear our Lord repeating, “And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

When we look at all the awards ceremonies that are televised, especially those which give accolades to actors and actresses who are recognized for their achievements, whether it be television, stage or the big screen, it is no wonder that the virtue of humility is almost non-existent in their world.

They have the Oscars, the Tonys, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actor’s Guild awards, the Emmys, the Grammys, the People’s Choice awards, and so many others which I cannot even recall.

Even politicians seem to go out of their way to take credit for bills they introduce, or projects they back, or for some kind deed given to one of their constituents.

Granted, everyone likes to have a “pat on the back” from time to time, but when accolades begin to become that which is most important in our lives, then something in our way of thinking has sadly gone very, very wrong.

And it is the weakness of the flesh, and its desire for recognition and accolades, which our Lord is addressing in today’s Gospel. For it is when our desire for the proverbial “pat on the back” begins to influence our way of thinking and acting, then we begin to diminish our closeness with a God who prefers humility over pride, a God who prefers a humble heart over personal ego.

Saint James tells us in his Letter, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble…Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.”  And we read in the psalms that God will not spurn a “…contrite, humbled heart.”

And Jesus tells us repeatedly in today’s Gospel, “And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” Jesus was impressing upon His listeners, and upon you and me today, for His words are timeless, the importance of being private in our acts of mortification, in our acts of kindness and almsgiving, and in our prayer life. In essence, with the examples which our Lord gave to His disciples and to us, Jesus was teaching His followers the importance of being humble of heart.

When clothed with the virtue of humility, we find within it a purity and selflessness of thought, word and deed – a virtue which enables us, through the grace of God, to avoid ambition and pride. And true humility helps detach us from those worldly elements which tend to separate us from God’s Love.

And when we can look at life through the eyes of a truly “…contrite, humbled heart”, then humility becomes the foundation for our prayer life, for we freely acknowledge that we need God’s help in our strivings to be a holier and a more virtuous people. Humility helps us to empty from ourselves our own ego, our own pride and selfishness which separates us from God.

And it is this form of humility which fosters a deeper and truer relationship of love between ourselves and the God who loves each of us – the God who opens His Heart to us.

And when we deepen our relationship with Jesus, we find within ourselves a deepened desire to return that Love which He freely gives to us. We begin to find ourselves freely loving as He loves, freely giving as He gives, for it is His Spirit of Love which becomes alive and generously living and working within us and through us.

As Saint Paul tells us in our First Reading today, “The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.”

When our hearts become open to all that God wishes to give, the grace which we receive increases to the point where we cannot help but become an extension of Christ to others.

And Saint Paul goes on to say, “You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us produces thanksgiving to God.”

Our enrichment with God’s grace, the selfless giving of ourselves for the needs of others, the Love with which God fills us and which we, in turn, freely share with others – all this is a result, all this is a consequence of our first embracing the virtue of humility.

In the selfless and compassionate giving of ourselves, God will not forget our generosity. He will not forget those who open their hearts and embrace a life of virtue. For there is a special place in God’s Heart and in His Eternal Home for His children who freely choose to live as His Divine Son asks of us.

With a truly humbled and contrite heart, may we always be open to all that the Spirit of Truth inspires each of us to be in our daily lives.

And may He imprint upon our hearts and our souls His own humility, so that we may be filled with a selfless love and true compassion for others, especially those in need, so that we may respond with true Christian charity and generosity, in imitation of all the holy souls who have gone before us.

For this is what it means to be truly Christ-like!

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Scripture for the Day

  • “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 6:1)
  • “When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do…do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret…When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray…so that others may see them…go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret…When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites…But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden…your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” (Matthew 6:2a, 3b-4a, 5a, 6a, 16a, 17-18a, 6b)
  • “A contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.” (Psalm 51:19b)
  • “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6c)
  • “Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10)
  • “The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 9:10)
  • “And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: ‘God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.’ So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5b-6)
  • “…live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love.” (Ephesians 4:1b-2)

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Prayer for the Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that You may fortify me
with the grace of Your Holy Spirit,
and give Your peace to my soul,
that I may be free from all needless anxiety and worry.

“Help me to desire always that
which is pleasing and acceptable to You,
so that Your will may be my will.

“Grant that I may be free from unholy desires,
and that, for Your Love, I may remain
obscure and unknown in this world,
to be known only to You.

“Do not permit me to attribute to myself
the good that you perform in me and through me,
but rather, referring all honor to You,
may I admit only to my infirmities.

“So that, renouncing sincerely all vainglory
which comes from the world,
I may aspire to that true and lasting glory
that comes only from You. Amen.”

Saint Frances Cabrini

DAILY PRAYER REQUESTS

Please feel free to post your prayer request for today as a comment to this post. Your needs and intentions will be included in our daily offerings throughout the day and at the 3 o’clock hour for Divine Mercy, and your requests will be personally offered to our Heavenly Father, having faith in the words our Lord spoke to Saint Faustina, “Through the chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will.” (Diary, § 1731)

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“Lord Jesus, from Your Holy Cross, and even in the midst of great suffering, You gave to each of us, Your children, a true example of forgiveness and mercy;

– as we continue our pilgrimage through life, and with the help of Your Divine grace, may we emulate Your Love by showing kindness and forgiveness towards all who offend and hurt us deeply; for it is only when we embrace and truly live the virtues of selfless love and mercy in our own lives that we shall find Your peace within our hearts, all in Your Most Holy Name. Amen.”

Mercy Minutes with Jesus (from Saint Faustina’s Diary)

June 14 ~ Through the Heart of Jesus

Theme:  The United Hearts of Jesus and Saint Faustina

“On Friday during Mass, when my soul was flooded with God’s happiness, I heard these words in my soul: ‘My mercy has passed into souls through the divine-human Heart of Jesus as a ray from the sun passes through crystal.’ I felt in my heart and understood that every approach to God is brought about by Jesus, in Him and through Him.” (Mercy Minutes with Jesus/Diary, 528)

“In this retreat, I shall keep you continually close to My Heart, that you may better know My mercy, that mercy which I have for people and especially for poor sinners.” (Mercy Minutes with Jesus/Diary, 730)

My prayer response:

Lord Jesus, may the rays of Mercy that come from Your Heart shine upon the world and especially upon poor sinners. Jesus, have mercy on us and on the whole world. (Mercy Minutes with Jesus)

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Mercy Minutes (from Saint Faustina’s Diary)

June 14 ~ A Martyrdom Beyond Description

Theme:  Suffering

“I will enclose myself in the chalice of Jesus so that I may comfort Him continually. I will do everything within my power to save souls, and I will do it through prayer and suffering.” (Mercy Minutes/Diary, 735)

“O my Jesus, I understand well that, just as illness is measured with a thermometer, and a high fever tells us of the seriousness of the illness, so also, in the spiritual life, suffering is the thermometer which measures the love of God in a soul.” (Mercy Minutes/Diary, 774)

“I desire only God himself, and yet I must live. This is a martyrdom beyond description. God imparts Himself to the soul in a loving way and draws it into the infinite depths of His divinity, but at the same time He leaves it here on earth for the sole purpose that it might suffer and die of longing for Him.” (Mercy Minutes/Diary, 856)

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Meditation for the Day

Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, June 14

May Each of Us Pay God’s Love Forward, Imitating the Selfless Nature of His Love for Us in Our Relationship with Others.

We begin this Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time with the Scriptural verse which we have all heard before, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

In contrast, our Lord is telling us in today’s Gospel, “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well…Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles” – ideas which appear so foreign and unrealistic in the world which we live today.

It seems that every time we turn on the television or open a newspaper, the news headlines are filled with acts of violence, especially the horrendous killings in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, and Turkey, as well as terrorist attacks in the United States, London, England, Paris, France and other parts of the world. Whether violence is perpetrated in the name of religion, or for personal acts of revenge or greed, individuals, society and nations tend to legitimize their actions by justifying them as a means to a necessary end.

Our faith teaches us that this is in direct contradiction to God’s Law. And our Lord, in today’s Gospel, goes to great lengths teaching us what God expects of us!

The age old expression, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, can be found in the Book of Leviticus from the Old Testament. In our language, and the way we apply it to life today, it signifies revenge and retaliation.

However, in the old Law of the Jewish people, it was an attempt to limit retaliation. The Law was created to urge restraint and limit acts of violence, so that they would not escalate beyond the original harm done. In essence, the Law was telling the Jewish people, “An eye for an eye, no more! Do no worse to your enemy than what he has done to you.”

However, Jesus was telling us that we must show even more restraint if we are to live a life of virtue, lives which are filled with love, mercy and compassion.

And the love which God is asking each of us to live in our daily lives is to be a selfless love – an unselfish, total giving of self for the needs of others. And it is this act of total selflessness about which Paul is writing in our First Reading for today.

“We cause no one to stumble in anything, in order that no fault may be found with our ministry; on the contrary, in everything we commend ourselves…through much endurance…”

“…in everything we commend ourselves…” Paul was no slacker! He never procrastinated in doing God’s work, and he was spiritually, emotionally and physically driven to give His all, to be all that Christ was asking of Him – for the sake of building up the Kingdom of God here on Earth.

And Christ asks no less of us, for our Lord tells us in the Book of Revelation, “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth.”

In other words, for those of us who have been given the gift of the Spirit at Baptism and strengthened at Confirmation, for those of us who are fed at nourished with the Bread of Life at the Eucharistic Table, God expects much of us, because He has given us much!

To embrace the god of the marketplace, to be selfish in the way we live out our lives, to be judgmental over the faults or shortcomings of others, to give in to the temptations of the flesh – all separate us from the selfless Love of Christ; and all such actions reject the Sacrificial Act of His Passion and Death on Calvary which Christ freely embraced for our sake.

Paul tells us that He has given everything for the sake of Christ, and our Lord tells us to be much more than just lukewarm in the living out of our faith. He teaches us today to go that “extra mile” for the sake of our brothers and sisters – for the sake of a total and unselfish giving of love.

It is in this total selfless giving of ourselves wherein we imitate the self-sacrificing nature of Eternal Love which we see embodied on the Cross.

And if Christ loves us that much, can we do no less? If He was willing to lay down His very life for you and me, can we not do just a little bit more for others?

I am sure many of us remember a movie that came out several years ago. It was called “Pay It Forward”, and it was a story based upon a fictional novel, in which a young boy became determined to change the world into a better place for all to live, through the premise that if someone does you a good turn, you do not repay the favor done; rather you pay it forward, doing something nice for someone else.

As a result of the novel and the movie, a real-life social movement was formed titled the “Pay It Forward Foundation”, which educates and inspires students worldwide to think and act selflessly for the good of others.

And it is through their acts of selfless love, which fly-in-the-face of the cultural selfishness which we find in many of our world’s societies, which has made a positive difference in many people’s lives. It is through their acts of selfless love which emulate the Love which Christ showed for us on the Cross.

Again, the question begs to be asked, “Can we do no less? And, if we can do more, then when?” Saint Paul tells us today, “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

As God proved His Love for both you and me by stretching His arms out wide upon His Cross, may each of us pay God’s Love forward, imitating the selfless nature of His Love for us in our relationship with others, for now is a very acceptable time to love selflessly, to love others as Christ loves us.

Now is the day of our salvation!

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Scripture for the Day

  • “Anyone who inflicts an injury on his neighbor shall receive the same in return. Limb for limb, eye for eye, tooth for tooth! The same injury that a man gives another shall be inflicted on him in return.” (Leviticus 24:19-20)
  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.” (Matthew 5:38-41)
  • “We cause no one to stumble in anything, in order that no fault may be found with our ministry; on the contrary, in everything we commend ourselves as ministers of God, through much endurance, in afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils, fasts.” (2 Corinthians 6:3-5)
  • “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16)
  • “…we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says: ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.’ Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (1 Corinthians 6:1-2 ~ Isaiah 49:8abc)
  • “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? …So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead…Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.” (James 2:14, 17, 18b)
  • “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
  • “Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance.” (Colossians 3:23-24a)
  • “…your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16)

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Prayer for the Day

“Gracious and loving God,
You call us to walk with Your Son,
Jesus Christ, in this, our journey of faith.

“Help us to grow to become more like Him
in overcoming temptations to be self-centered,
to attend only to our own needs.

“Help us to recognize the dignity
of every human being, welcoming, accepting
and understanding others as Christ did,
never being judgmental or condescending.

“Help us to see the pain within others
and to respond with Christ’s compassion and mercy.
Unite us in our efforts to uphold the life and dignity
of all from conception to natural death.

“As we journey with Christ
through His Passion, Death and Resurrection,
may we learn from Him the meaning of selfless love.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

cf. Our Journey toward Selfless Love (Diocese of Tucson)

Saint of the Day ~ June 14

SAINT METHODIUS of CONSTANTINOPLE (?-846), patriarch

Today, the Church honors Saint Methodius, who worked for unity and reconciliation in the Eastern Church and served as the patriarch of Constantinople for the last four years of his life.

Methodius was born in Syracuse, Sicily, an island off the Italian coast, famous for its olives, wine, and marble. The schools there afforded him a good education, and he developed political ambitions. The capital of the surviving Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) was Constantinople, so Methodius packed his bags and traveled there, hoping for a post at court.

Instead, he met a monk who persuaded him to abandon his secular pursuits, and Methodius entered a monastery. The iconoclastic controversy was tearing the Eastern Church apart at the time – Should icons and images of Christ and the saints be honored? Methodius vigorously argued in favor of the icons. As a result, he was eventually noticed by Patriarch Nicephorus who gave him ecclesiastical responsibilities.

In his attempts to show the value of the icons as a means of bringing the faithful closer to God, Methodius traveled to Rome and obtained a letter of support from Pope Paschal I about the year 820. However, upon his return to Constantinople, he found himself on the losing side. Patriarch Nicephorus was deposed, and Methodius was condemned, flogged, and imprisoned in a tomb for seven years by the Byzantine emperor, Michael II.

In the year 828, Methodius was released, and even though greatly weakened by the harsh conditions under which he was imprisoned, he returned to Constantinople and took up the defense of the holy images as zealously as before.

He was summoned before the current Byzantine emperor, Theophilus, and was charged with heresy, but Methodius threw the charges back in the ruler’s face – “If an image is so worthless in your eye”, he reportedly thundered, “how is it you do not also condemn the veneration paid to representations of yourself?”

Emperor Theophilus died soon thereafter, and his widow, Theodora, took Methodius’s side. Those who venerated icons returned to the churches, exiled clergy returned to the empire, and within 30 days icons had been reinstated in all the churches of the capital.

Methodius was named patriarch of Constantinople and soon called a synod of the Eastern churches in Constantinople to endorse his decrees about icons, to reinstate the decrees of the Council of Nicaea II from the year 787, and to institute the Feast of Orthodoxy, celebrating the return of images to the Eastern Church.

Methodius ruled as patriarch for four years until he died as a result of complications due to edema (accumulation of excessive fluids in the body) on June 14, 846. He is recognized as a saint in both the Roman and Eastern Churches.

We commemorate his feastday on June 14.

(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com and newadvent.org)

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PRAYER

(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Pastors ~ bishop)

“Lord God, You counted Saint Methodius among Your holy pastors, renowned for faith and love which conquered evil in this world. By the help of his prayers, keep us strong in faith and love and let us come to share his glory.

“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

DAILY PRAYER REQUESTS

Please feel free to post your prayer request for today as a comment to this post. Your needs and intentions will be included in our daily offerings throughout the day and at the 3 o’clock hour for Divine Mercy, and your requests will be personally offered to our Heavenly Father, having faith in the words our Lord spoke to Saint Faustina, “Through the chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will.” (Diary, § 1731)

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“Lord God Almighty, in the wonders of Your Love for us, You opened our hearts to the marvels of Your Kingdom which await Your faithful children;

– please grant us the grace to always continue in our efforts to strive towards the fullness of Your Kingdom in this life, filling our hearts and souls with love for Your will for us, so that we may one day enjoy our oneness with You for all eternity.”

Mercy Minutes with Jesus (from Saint Faustina’s Diary)

June 13 ~ A Marvel to Angels and Man

Theme:  The United Heart of Jesus and Saint Faustina

(Continued)

“[Souls who love Me dearly] will be a marvel to Angels and men. Their number is very small. They are a defense for the world before the justice of the Heavenly Father and a means of obtaining mercy for the world. The love and sacrifice of these souls sustain the world in existence. The infidelity of a soul specially chosen by Me wounds My Heart most painfully. Such infidelities are swords which pierce My Heart.” (Mercy Minutes with Jesus/Diary, 367e)

My prayer response:

Lord Jesus, please raise up yet more souls who are faithful to Your Loving Mercy. The world desperately needs their defense of love, their prayers and their sacrifices. It is a marvel of Your Mercy that they sustain the world in existence. (Mercy Minutes with Jesus)

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