|Heart Full of Mercy
|I ask the Lord for the grace that our heart may be simple, bright with the truth He gives us, and this way we can be kind, forgiving, understanding with others, big-hearted with people, merciful. --Pope Francis
Blessed Mary Frances Schervier
This woman who once wanted to become a Trappistine nun was instead led by God to establish a community of sisters who care for the sick and aged in the United States and throughout the world.
Born into a distinguished family in Aachen (then ruled by Prussia but formerly Aix-la-Chapelle, France), Frances ran the household after her mother's death and established a reputation for generosity to the poor. In 1844 she became a Secular Franciscan. The next year she and four companions established a religious community devoted to caring for the poor. In 1851 the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis (a variant of the original name) were approved by the local bishop; the community soon spread. The first U.S. foundation was made in 1858.
Mother Frances visited the United States in 1863 and helped her sisters nurse soldiers wounded in the Civil War. She visited the United States again in 1868. When Philip Hoever was establishing the Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis, she encouraged him.
When Mother Frances died, there were 2,500 members of her community worldwide. They are still engaged in operating hospitals and homes for the aged. Mother Mary Frances was beatified in 1974.
In 1868, Mother Frances wrote to all her sisters, reminding them of Jesus' words: "You are my friends if you do what I command you.... I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another" (John 15:14,17).
She continued: "If we do this faithfully and zealously, we will experience the truth of the words of our father St. Francis who says that love lightens all difficulties and sweetens all bitterness. We will likewise partake of the blessing which St. Francis promised to all his children, both present and future, after having admonished them to love one another even as he had loved them and continues to love them."
Daily Prayer - 2015-12-15
My soul longs for your presence, Lord.
When I turn my thoughts to You,
I find peace and contentment.
Dear Lord, instil in my heart
the desire to know and love you more.
May I respond to your will for my life.
I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God.
I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them.
Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment.
I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness.
The Word of God
Thus says the LORD:
Woe to the city, rebellious and polluted,
to the tyrannical city!
She hears no voice,
accepts no correction;
In the LORD she has not trusted,
to her God she has not drawn near.
For then I will change and purify
the lips of the peoples,
That they all may call upon the name of the LORD,
to serve him with one accord;
From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
and as far as the recesses of the North,
they shall bring me offerings.
On that day
You need not be ashamed
of all your deeds,
your rebellious actions against me;
For then will I remove from your midst
the proud braggarts,
And you shall no longer exalt yourself
on my holy mountain.
But I will leave as a remnant in your midst
a people humble and lowly,
Who shall take refuge in the name of the LORD:
They shall do no wrong
and speak no lies;
Nor shall there be found in their mouths
a deceitful tongue;
They shall pasture and couch their flocks
with none to disturb them.
R. (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
The LORD redeems the
lives of his servants;
no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come, O Lord, do not delay;
forgive the sins of your people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
- - -
"What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.'
The son said in reply, 'I will not,'
but afterwards he changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, 'Yes, sir,' but did not go.
Which of the two did his father's will?"
They answered, "The first."
Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the Kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
- In this parable which Jesus speaks, the tax collectors and prostitutes - those most despised and rejected by society, are ahead of the self-righteous ones. They were the ones who were open to the word of God and to change.
- Lord, you continually invite me to fullness of life. I pray that through Sacred Space my faith in you may grow ever deeper and that it may be expressed by my desire to serve others.
What feelings are rising in me as I pray and reflect on God's Word?
I imagine Jesus himself sitting or standing near me and open my heart to him.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
3rd Week of Advent
Which of the two did his father's will? (Matthew 21:31)
"No!" That word can sound like a slamming door. Think about the last time you asked someone to help you. Maybe you asked your spouse to stop for a gallon of milk on the way home, or you asked if you could borrow a book from a friend. If they immediately said no, that would probably be the last time you'd ask them for anything. It would definitely put a strain on your relationship!
In the Gospel reading today, the first son's "no" put him on his father's bad side. Working in the vineyard was certainly within what was expected of him in the family. But his "no" wasn't the end of the story. He may have impulsively refused his father's request, but when he changed his mind, he was able to get back in line with what his father expected. It was as if he had never even refused. Even better, his relationship with his father was restored! If you think about it, it's not too different from the parable of the prodigal son in Luke's Gospel: when the son returned, the father ran out to take him back.
The same is true for us. "No" doesn't have to be our final answer!
Just because you have said no to God, he has not turned his back on you. You can always change your mind, repent, and say yes! There is always the chance for a new beginning. Just because you see sin in your life—that impulsive first "no" or that long-standing, obstinate "never"—you are not locked into it. Like the first son, like the prodigal son, you can always turn back to your Father. All vestiges of your "no" can be wiped away.
Have you been to Confession yet this Advent? If not, go! Take a few moments to read the examination of conscience on page 70 of this magazine, and ask the Spirit to help you see where your "no" can turn to "yes." Then go and confess. Turn back to the warm embrace of your heavenly Father. Let him wash you clean. Let him say, "Neither do I condemn you" (John 8:11). It's never too late to start over again!
"Father, I'm sorry for all the times I've said no to you. Wipe my slate clean, and help me to say yes today!"
Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13
Psalm 34:2-3, 6-7, 17-19, 23
His Father's Will
Today's 5 minutos ended with "Pope Benedict XVI teaches that "the hope of the world is always at the hands of a few that can give life to the rest" (Spe Salvi 15). "
From today's 1st Holy Scripture "But I will leave as a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly,Who shall take refuge in the name of the LORD: the remnant of Israel. They shall do no wrong and speak no lies". No longer would a single prophet shout from mountain tops, but now, little prophets would spread throughout the world, proclaiming a day of atonement, the day of reckoning, a day of allowing a conversion to take place deep inside the soul, a true metanoia, a conversion of mind, heart, and
soul, and what does this mean? Salvation. My fear, as I've travelled through the years, my fear now is not just for the unconverted, but for the so called believers that attend church and hate the Father. They say yes, but deep inside it is a no. They appear to be following the Lord but deep inside, there is a disconnect from the Father. They speak to the father, they say yes and are found fervently working for the Lord, but in actuality are planting seeds of hate and destruction. You see, this goes beyond works. This goes much further than many of us really care. And all we have to do is jump into the bandwagon of blindly serving the Lord and rightly so, are called hypocrites by the non-believers, because we say one thing and do another. The Imitation of Christ says in book 3 in interior conversation "love is submissive and OBEDIENT TO
AUTHORITY, mean and despicable in its own sight, devout and thankful to God. Love always trusts and hopes in God, even when it lacks fervor; for there is no living in love without some sorrow or pain." And from the mountain tops to your homes, the authority is JEsus Christ, the SOn and the Father through the Holy Spirit.
Today's Psalms pray "The Lord hears the cries of the poor". This is why the great prophet from the mountain must go down to the people and take care of them. And the greatest prophet is and always will be Jesus. Not because of His works but because of His Blood. Because His works brought about the blood it wasn't just for the people but for the Father, for the love of the Father. You see the difference? Works without love are useless and can actually detract from the Father. I remember a sacristan that quit our
parish before she left once had said to me "I'm so mean, I just need to quit". LOL, this is probably one of the sweetest ladies I've ever met, but she "couldn't handle" whatever problem and left. Fast forward nearly two years and we're still looking for a sacristan. Some have helped, mean ones even, but what can a church do but take what is offered? And the Holy Church is offering mercy.
In Comes the Lord of our Lives, Jesus, the sweet name and power from Heaven: "What is your opinion?" He asks, in a fatherly and loving manner. What this demands from us is the truth, because yesterday the elders knew the truth but wouldn't speak it. Today He asks again to everyone "What is your opinion?" As if it matters? Of course it does, every little thing you do matters. LOL, I just got up as I was writing to help a worker and on the
way back I told them "just follow the voice of the boss through here until you get to him" and they made their way through the building. It's the same here. I will ask you to follow the voice, the Holy Spirit to the ultimate Boss, the FAther. And the father says today "go out into the vineyard today" get to work. The first "NOPE!", and the other son said "ok". But what if the answer is "Later!" like yesterday, my 8 yr. old son came out upset with me at the back of the house. I asked him "why are you in trouble?", for his mom wanted him out with me. He wouldn't say. My mind began wondering the many things he could've done wrong and he wouldn't speak. Finally he spoke "it's cuz she told me to go do something and I told her to wait because I wanted to finish this level in a game". Ah Ha! I told him "ahh, you can't do
that, because YOU told HER what to do!...You can't tell HER what to do, you drop everything and obey!". Now, apply this to yourself. When we tell the Lord to wait, "I'll go when I'm older", or "I'll go when I supposedly "feel" like it" or "I'll go when I really get a sign from you" (like a kick in the rear LOL), well, no we can't do that. To say "maybe" is to sit in your tracks. To say "later" is to say not right now. Many people told Jesus "I'll go follow you after I do this or that". They put many things before Him, many excuses. But the first son in the parable had a conversion, a change of heart, mind and soul and obeyed, whereas the other that appeared to be a good son...was not. And this is what the parable is about...for sinners, for those that say no...there is mercy and hope. Thank God you are a sinner because He came to save
you from sin and what else? Death. The more you can be saved, the better, but not just for you, but for the whole world. The Imitation of Christ read on "Those who are not always ready to suffer and to stand disposed to the will of their Beloved are not worthy to be called lovers (of the Lord); for lovers must gladly embrace all hardship and bitter things for their Beloved (Jesus), and never allow themselves to turn away from Him by adversity". On the following page there is a picture of Jesus looking to a woman in the crowd and the caption below says "Proof of True Love" and then says "A woman in the crowd called out to Him and said "Blessed is the womb that bore You...."Jesus replied "Blessed, rather, are those who hear the word of God and obey it" Lk11:27)
And His command is first love; love of the Father and the rest to
actual pic I took from the book Imitation of Christ
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