|God is All Love
God is all love. This gentle Savior pleads with us from the Host: "Love Me as I have loved you; abide in My love! I came to cast the fire of My love on the earth, and My most ardent desire is that it should set your hearts on fire."
—St. Peter Julian Eymard
St. Angela Merici
Angela has the double distinction of founding the first teaching congregation of women in the Church and what is now called a "secular institute" of religious women.
As a young woman she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order), and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among poorer children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela's charming manner and good looks complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving regular instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood.
She was invited to live with a family in Brescia (where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community). Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals.
She eagerly took the opportunity for a trip to the Holy Land. When they had gotten as far as Crete, she was struck with blindness. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going through with the pilgrimage, and visited the sacred shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way back, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost.
At 57, she organized a group of 12 girls to help her in catechetical work. Four years later the group had increased to 28. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula (patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women) for the purpose of re-Christianizing family life through solid Christian education of future wives and mothers. The members continued to live at home, had no special habit and took no formal vows, though the early Rule prescribed the practice of virginity, poverty and obedience. The idea of a teaching congregation of women was new and took time to develop. The community thus existed as a "secular institute" until some years after Angela's death.
In a time when change is problematic to many, it may be helpful to recall a statement this great leader made to her sisters: "If according to times and needs you should be obliged to make fresh rules and change certain things, do it with prudence and good advice."
Daily Prayer - 2016-01-27
"I stand at the door and knock," says the Lord.
What a wonderful privilege
that the Lord of all creation desires to come to me.
I welcome His presence.
It is so easy to get caught up
with the trappings of wealth in this life.
Grant, O Lord, that I may be free
from greed and selfishness.
Remind me that the best things in life are free.
Love, laughter, caring and sharing.
Knowing that God loves me unconditionally,
I look honestly over the last day, its events and my feelings.
Do I have something to be grateful for? Then I give thanks.
Is there something I am sorry for? Then I ask forgiveness.
The Word of God
That night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
"Go, tell my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD:
Should you build me a house to dwell in?
I have not dwelt in a house
from the day on which I led the children of Israel
out of Egypt to the present,
but I have been going about in a tent under cloth.
In all my wanderings everywhere among the children of Israel,
did I ever utter a word to any one of the judges
whom I charged to tend my people Israel, to ask:
Why have you not built me a house of cedar?'
"Now then, speak thus to my servant David,
'The LORD of hosts has this to say:
It was I who took you from the pasture
and from the care of the flock
to be commander of my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you went,
and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.
And I will make you famous like
the great ones of the earth.
I will fix a place for my people Israel;
I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place
without further disturbance.
Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old,
since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel.
I will give you rest from all your enemies.
The LORD also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you.
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his Kingdom firm.
It is he who shall build a house for my name.
And I will make his royal throne firm forever.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
And if he does wrong,
I will correct him with the rod of men
and with human chastisements;
but I will not withdraw my
favor from him
as I withdrew it from your predecessor Saul,
whom I removed from my presence.
Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.'"
Nathan reported all these words and this entire vision to David.
R. (29a) For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
"I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn to David my servant:
I will make your dynasty stand forever
and establish your throne through all ages."
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
"He shall cry to me, 'You are my father,
my God, the Rock that brings me victory!'
I myself make him firstborn,
Most High over the kings of the earth."
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
"Forever I will maintain my love for him;
my covenant with him stands firm.
I will establish his dynasty forever,
his throne as the days of the heavens."
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;
all who come to him will live for ever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea.
- - -
A very large crowd gathered around him
so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down.
And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land.
And he taught them at length in parables,
and in the course of his instruction he said to them,
"Hear this! A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and the birds came and ate it up.
Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.
And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it
and it produced no grain.
And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit.
It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."
He added, "Whoever has
ears to hear ought to hear."
And when he was alone,
those present along with the Twelve
questioned him about the parables.
He answered them,
"The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you.
But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that
they may look and see but not perceive,
and hear and listen but not understand,
in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven."
Jesus said to them, "Do you not understand this parable?
Then how will you understand any of the parables?
The sower sows the word.
These are the ones on the path where the word is sown.
As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once
and takes away the word sown in them.
And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who,
when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy.
have no roots; they last only for a time.
Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
they quickly fall away.
Those sown among thorns are another sort.
They are the people who hear the word,
but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches,
and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word,
and it bears no fruit.
But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it
and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
- I try to 'take to heart' the words of Jesus - and Jesus is more eager still for that that message to take root in my heart. Sometimes, perhaps, I may just admire his teaching from a distance, treat it as a novelty. Or there can be days when I'm easily diverted by some other attraction or competing values and interests in my life. I pray for the grace to allow the Word of God to take root in my heart, and bear fruit in my words and actions.
Jesus you speak to me through the words of the gospels.
May I respond to your call today.
Teach me to recognise your hand at work in my daily living.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Saint Angela Merici, Virgin (Optional Memorial)
Hear this! (Mark 4:3)
When a naval commander issues urgent or serious information, he barks out, "Now hear this!" It means stop what you're doing, and listen carefully to what follows.
Jesus uses strikingly similar words in today's Gospel reading. He wants everyone listening to pay careful attention to what he is about to say: "A sower went out to sow ..." (Mark 4:3).
Perhaps you've wondered which group you belong in: the footpath, rocky ground, thorny soil, or rich soil. But Jesus wasn't establishing a hierarchy of spirituality. All three of the first types of soil proved equally unhealthy to the seed. No, Jesus wanted to tell his hearers that in the kingdom of God, everyone's life can be rich soil. Those outside the kingdom receive everything "in parables," God's gentle nudges intended to move them toward the kingdom (Mark 4:2). But those who have entered the kingdom have the capacity to receive insights about God that remain hidden from those who have yet to embrace the Lord.
Your life is rich soil! It has been prepared—by your training in the faith, your reception of the sacraments, and your prayer life—to receive the "seed" that falls on it, and to produce fruit. Do you hear the word of God? Well, accept it wholeheartedly the best you can, and allow the Holy Spirit to make it bear fruit in your life. When you become aware of how you may fall short, declare: "My life is rich soil." Then ask the Holy Spirit to fertilize that area of your life so that it begins to bear fruit.
Ask the Lord to sow seeds of patience, gentleness, or peace in you. Ask him to provide you with whatever will cause these seeds to grow. Moments of kindness, flashes of wisdom or understanding, impulses to show hospitality—these are not random events. They are evidence that your life is good soil.
So when any Scripture passage resonates in you or stirs your heart, hear this. Heed it and dwell on it. You are more than capable of bearing rich fruit!
"Jesus, help me to hear your word and accept it with all my heart so that I will bear fruit for you."
2 Samuel 7:4-17
Psalm 89:4-5, 27-30
Hear The Word
King David was worried about himself, and about God "I need to build Him a temple!" He thought. The Lord asks for more than that, as if we could house Him in a little building on the earth He created. The Lord fights for us and with us. He makes paths straight and leads the way through storms. He keeps on keeping on and the world? Your nation? Your city? Your community? Your house? Your....temple? Where is the Lord? Shall you build Him His own temple and you have yours? LOL. NOPE! He comes and can reside anywhere and is asking to reside inside ours today. This is a love opportunity that
has nothing to do with looks, nothing to do with powers, nothing to do with anything but what God is offering. Let us proceed.
The Psalms we pray today say "Forever I will maintain my love for him; my covenant with him stands firm." LIsten to this. Who is speaking? Is it the Lord speaking words of love? Or am I reading this to my love...the Lord? The Lord makes a covenant, a pact, a promise, a swearing, an oath, an allegiance even with His people. The seed is there, His part...His heart. His part stands firm and forever? The other part is our heart.
In comes the Lord our God our Father, the Holy Spirit Jesus speaking from a boat, as the best ampitheatre the world can offer, with the winds carrying His voice to the people, the mist, the waters He is standing on and He proclaims the mystery of Heaven to every single soul
present. Many heard, several took it to heart, and a few actually made a difference. Because if the Word, His seed, comes into my life, with how much distraction have I received it? I know as I was reading the Gospel, the phones were ringing off the hook, people piled up around my desk and all this while I tried to read about the Gospel, where it speaks of the seed being scattered and how it falls on the path and it can be choked by distractions...other loves. You see, this covenant of love then, it aims to focus our attention. I told the guys at the safety meeting, "look, when you're at work, you leave your family problems and other problems at home, and you focus on the task at hand, for your own good (safety)". And in life, our spirit, our souls, if we don't watch it, we'll wind up like the cooked frog analogy which I used at the meeting this morning at 6
a.m. as well; "if you get complacent, if you start relaxing your fear, then that's the day you'll probably get cooked like the frog placed in a cool pot of water that was slowly put on fire, hotter and hotter until it died". Same with us. If we don't watch it, if we don't get on our toes of our spirituality, we will slowly get distracted more and more, fall off the path to the Lord and lose our lives on the journey. You see, you don't die when you're body dies, it happens way before in our souls. And mortal sin is death to God. If you have a doubt about your mortality, better go see a doctor of spirits and souls, a Holy Catholic Priest. How hard is it to go see a priest? I'm an avid Catholic, and I'm supposed to have spiritual direction for my life, and I don't. A saint once said that a person without a spiritual director has a fool for a
spiritual director, oneself. What kind of soul receives God's grace? Because He sows all over the world, to everyone. That's what is important. "But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold." First, be open to receive, and then accept. This acceptance is a large part if not all. Accepting the truth. What's it going to take? Miracles you ignore. Advise you don't listen. I keep talking and you keep deflecting the message as if it is for someone else and applies to others but not self. What's it going to take? Rich soil means prepared soil. Rich soil means fertilizer, mixed with manure even, and He dares to offer Himself to this wretched soul? The soil is there under the hard surface. Let yourself be ripped to shreds and
expose your fertilized soul. Fertilization has occured at conception. You have been watered by baptism and He stands over the waters to bring on the new dynasty you will leave...your love of the Father.
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