READING OF THE DAY: 28 FEBRUARY, 2013

open_bible

“Jesus said to the Pharisees: «There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.

And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.

Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.

When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’

Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.

Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’

He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house,
for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’

But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’

He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'” -Luke 16:19-31.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 28 FEBRUARY, 2013

oswald_worcester

Saint Oswald
Archbishop of York
(† 992)

Oswald was of a noble Saxon family; he was endowed with a very rare and handsome appearance and with a singular piety of soul. Brought up by his uncle, Saint Odo, Archbishop of Canterbury, he was chosen, while still young, as dean of the secular canons of Winchester, at that time very lax.

His attempt to reform them was a failure, and he saw, with that infallible instinct which so often guides the Saints in critical times, that the true remedy for the corruption of the clergy was the restoration of monastic life.

He therefore went to France and took the habit of Saint Benedict. When he returned to England it was to receive the news of Odo’s death. He found, however, a new patron in Saint Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, through whose influence he was nominated to the see of Worcester.

To these two Saints, together with Ethelwold of Winchester, the monastic revival of the tenth century is mainly due.

Oswald’s first care was to deprive of their benefices all disorderly secular clerics, whom he replaced as far as possible by religious priests. He himself founded seven religious houses.

Considering that in the hearts of the secular canons of Winchester there were yet some sparks of virtue, he would not at once dismiss them, but rather reformed them through a holy artifice.

Adjoining their cathedral church he built a chapel in honor of the Mother of God, causing it to be served by a body of strict religious. He himself assisted at the divine Office there, and his example was followed by the people.

The canons, finding themselves isolated and the church deserted, chose rather to embrace the religious life than continue to injure their own souls, and be also a mockery to their people, through the contrast offered by their worldliness and the regularity of their religious brethren.

Later, as Archbishop of York, Saint Oswald met a like success in his efforts.

God manifested His approval of his zeal by discovering to him the relics of his great predecessor at Worcester, Saint Wilfrid, which he reverently translated to the church of that city.

He died while washing the feet of the poor, as he did daily during Lent, on February 29, 992.

READING OF THE DAY: 27 FEBRUARY, 2013

jesus teachingb

“As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way,
Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached him with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.

He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”

Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?”

They said to him, “We can.”

He replied, “My cup you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left (, this) is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers.

But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt.

But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;

whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.

Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” -Matthew 20:17-28.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 27 FEBRUARY, 2013

saint_gabriel_of_our_lady_of_sorrows

Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows
Passionist
(1838-1862)

Saint Gabriel was born at Assisi in 1838. He was guided by Our Lady into the Passionist Order founded by Saint Paul of the Cross, and became a veritable Apostle of Her Sorrows.

He was a very great and truly contemplative soul, whose only preoccupation was to unite himself to God at all times.

He allowed no distractions to enter his spirit, and even though Italy, his country, was in a state of ferment when he entered religion, he wanted to know nothing of it.

The way to attain union with our Saviour and our God was, for Saint Gabriel, as for Saint Louis de Montfort, his Heavenly Mother.

He wrote home to his father, from the first month of his noviciate, “Believe your son, whose heart is speaking by his lips; no, I would not exchange one single quarter of an hour spent near the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, our consolatrix, our protectress and our hope, for a year or several years spent in the diversions and spectacles of the earth.”

Among his resolutions was that of visiting Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament each day, and praying for the gift of a tender and efficacious devotion to His Most Holy Mother. H

e wrote a beautiful Credo, worthy to be printed in letters of gold, expressing all that he believed of the Mother of God.

At twenty-four years of age Saint Gabriel died of tuberculosis, having already attained heroic sanctity by a life of self-denial and great devotion to our Lord’s Passion and the Compassion of His Mother.

Although his life was without any miraculous event, after his death in 1862 many miracles occurred at his tomb in Isola di Gran Sasso, Italy.

He was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920, and his feast was extended to the entire church by Pope Pius XI in 1932.

He is the patron of youth, and especially of young religious.

(NOTE:On leap years, the feast day of this Saint is celebrated on February 28.)

GROW IN GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE….A SERMON….

monk2
A friend sent me this Sermon when I was first studying how to write a sermon of my own…and I believe the context of this sermon should be HEARD BY ALL….so…I give this to you…

~Grow in Grace and Knowledge~

A Sermon on 2 Peter 3:18
(by John M. Frame)

This sermon is from the heart in a special way, because, after a lot of talking to God and searching his word, it is what I think we most need to hear, today.

It isn’t necessarily our greatest area of need, but among the subjects which I think I can handle profitably, this is the one that seems most to cry out for attention today.

That subject is the one which is summarized in the last verse of our
text: “But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (2 Pet. 3:18).

Christian growth, that’s the subject; that’s our need.

Babies are cute and delightful in many ways. But if a person were to
remain a baby for ten years, twenty years, something would be terribly wrong. We would find in that “baby” something pitiful, something grotesque.

Now, in a literal, physical sense there are no twenty-year-old babies. But there are twenty-year-olds, forty-, sixty-year-olds who often act like babies.

And what do we say about them? That they are cute and delightful? Think of a grown man coming to church with a flower in his lapel that squirts water at you. You mutter, “Joe, why don’t you grow up?!”

After a while, Joe might find himself without any friends, because people like that are unpleasant, a real pain in the neck.

Immaturity is hard to tolerate.

I’m afraid that God is similarly annoyed by some of us, for there is a lot of spiritual immaturity among Christians today in the church. This is not necessarily a bad thing — much of it results because God has blessed our evangelism. The church has many young Christians whom we expect to be immature.

That’s great, that’s wonderful.
But we’ve got to keep encouraging the young Christians to grow. And older Christians too, for we never outgrow the need to grow. We need to emphasize the basics of the gospel: salvation by the death and resurrection of Christ, by God’s grace (his free gift), by faith (not by anything we can do to earn it).

That is quite proper. But let nobody misunderstand: there is a lot more to learn in God’s word beside these basics. And it’s sad when someone who has been a Christian for a long time knows nothing else than the simple gospel.

And sometimes you get into a situation when you just have to grow
up, and grow up fast. Someone attacks your faith, or gets to one of your children in college. You have to grow up fast. The little book of 2 Peter deals with this kind of emergency situation. Let’s look at it together.

These are the apostle Peter’s last written words to the church, and
he seems to know that he is getting near the end of his life. In 1:12-15 he talks about departing from his body, going to be with the Lord. To hear of Peter’s departure might not only have saddened the church, but also frightened it — for a crisis was coming, an emergency.

In chapter 2, Peter says that the church will be invaded by false teachers. These are bad news: “They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them — bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.”

How will the church survive this attack? How will the Christians be
able to tell right from wrong in an age of theological confusion so much like our own? Well, they can follow Peter! In 1:12 Peter says he will keep reminding them of the truth, and in 1:16-18 he points out that his teaching is reliable: “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Pet. 1:16).

But someone says, “Wait a minute, Peter. You’re not going to be here forever. You yourself have said that you’re getting near the end of your life. Where do we go for guidance after you die?” Peter’s answer: “Go to the Bible!” Verse 19: “And we have the word of the prophets (the Bible) — something more certain — and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until
the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

Now in chapter three, Peter gives them an example of the kind of
debate they will have with false teachers. And he tells them how to use the Bible in that debate. He wants to stimulate the church to “wholesome thinking” (3:1) as they recall the teachings of the prophets and apostles, what we call the Old and New Testaments. Now, the false teachers will deny the second coming of Christ: “They will say, where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has been since the beginning of creation” (2 Pet. 3:4).

That’s an ancient heresy, but also a modern one. Lots of people today are saying exactly that. Oh, it sounds a little different. Today people say ”There will never be a return of Christ or final judgment, because the world operates according to scientific laws or at least statistical regularities; and there is no scientific evidence that any cataclysmic judgment is in the works.”

Can you refute that argument? Can you show what is wrong with it?
If you can’t, you need to grow!

Look what Peter says: “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.” Did you know that? Did you know that the world was made, not only by God, but by God’s Word?

That’s important. Did you know that the world was formed out of water, and that the Word of God kept the water and the dry land apart? Peter goes on in verse 6, “By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.” Noah’s flood. Verse 7: “By the same Word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

See what Peter is saying? He’s saying that the most basic principle
in the world is not scientific law, not statistical regularity, but the Word of God. The Word of God is what made the world in the first place. The Word is what brought the great past judgment of Noah’s flood (the language almost suggests a de-creation). And the Word will bring the next judgment, by fire.

The implication is, we’d better listen to God’s Word, rather than to
unbelieving science or philosophy.

Peter tells us that when we live by the Word of God, we learn a whole different way of thinking: “wholesome” thinking. Everything becomes different. This is a frequent theme in the Bible. Proverbs teaches us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, so that in a sense unbelievers have no wisdom at all. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1-2 says that the wisdom of God is sharply opposed to the wisdom of the world. Peter agrees.

A Christian biology is radically different from a non-Christian biology.
A Christian economics is radically different from a non-Christian economics.
A Christian philosophy is radically different from a non-Christian
philosophy. We cannot simply accept the fashionable thinking of the world; we must think differently!

Not only must we think differently, but we must act differently. Peter says, “Look, if there really is going to be a second coming of Christ and a final judgment, how should we then live? Everything in this world will be burnt up. How should that affect our priorities?”

Verse 14: “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him.” The Christian life is radically different from the non-Christian life.

As Paul says (and Peter mentions that the false teachers twist Paul’s letters), “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation! Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

Peter’s conclusion: “Therefore, dear friends, since you already know
this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position” (2 Pet. 3:17). Does Peter write that to us?
To all of us, or just to the elders?

To all of us, you bet. For that, most of us need to grow, and grow a lot.

So finally we get to our special text in verse 18: “Grow in the grace
and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Grow in grace, grow in knowledge. The first phrase includes the second, I think. Growth in grace includes growth in knowledge.

But let’s look in general at growth in grace, then we’ll get more specific and talk about growth in knowledge.

Grow in grace: All growth is by grace; it’s God’s gift. We must
constantly ask him in prayer to make us grow. We need God’s grace, not only when we first believe in Christ, but we need it again and again, to become the people God wants us to be. Are you as loving and kind as you wish you were? If not, you need to grow in grace.

Are you hospitable?
Do you open your home and share your belongings with others who are in need? If not, you need to grow in grace.

Do you witness to the lost in some way? If not, you need to grow.

Do you support the ministry of your church with your time and resources as you promised when you became a member? If not, you need to grow.

Do you keep the Lord’s Day holy, a special day for God and away from your own work and play? If not, you need to grow.

Are you teaching your children, intensively, from the scriptures, giving them the knowledge they need to withstand false teaching? If not, you need to grow.

Do you love to worship Jesus, so that you seek out opportunities to praise him? If not, you need to grow.

Is the Lord Jesus the first priority in your life, so that to serve him you would count everything else as garbage? If not, you need to grow in grace.

Now the second phrase: The kind of growth in grace that Peter
especially singles out here is a growth in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God tells us we need to grow.

He offers us his grace in Jesus Christ to change our lives and to enable our minds to understand.

And he gives us the tools we need — his Word.

I’ll end, as Peter does, by ascribing to Jesus the glory both now and forever, Amen!

He is the one whom we seek to know, and he is the one who supplies the grace we need to grow.

READING OF THE DAY: 26 FEBRUARY, 2013

Jesus teaching at the Temple

“Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples,
saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.

Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example.

For they preach but they do not practice.

They tie up heavy burdens (hard to carry) and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.

All their works are performed to be seen.

They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.

They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’

As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’

You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.

Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.

Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Messiah.

The greatest among you must be your servant.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” -Matthew 23:1-12.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 26 FEBRUARY, 2013

saint_mechtildis_of_hackeborn

Saint Mechtildis of Hackeborn
Abbess
(1240-1298)

Saint Mechtildis, born in 1240 in Saxony, was the younger sister of the illustrious Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn. She was so attracted to religious life at the age of seven, after a visit to her sister in the monastery of Rodardsdoft, that she begged to be allowed to enter the monastic school there. Her gifts caused her to make great progress both in virtue and learning.

Ten years later, when her sister had transferred the monastery to an estate at Helfta offered by their brothers, Mechtildis went with her.

She was already distinguished for her virtues, and while still very young became the valuable Assistant to Abbess Gertrude. One of the children who in the monastic school were committed to her care, was the child of five who later became known as Saint Gertrude the Great.

Saint Mechtildis was gifted with a beautiful voice, and was choir mistress of the nuns all her life. Divine praise, it has been said, was the keynote of her life, as also of her famous book, The Book of Special Grace.

When she learned, at the age of fifty, that two of her nuns had written down all the favors and words of their Abbess, which she had become, she was troubled, but Our Lord in a vision assured her that all this has been committed to writing by My will and inspiration, and therefore you have no cause to be troubled over it.

He added that the diffusion of the revelations He had given her would cause many to increase in His love.

She immediately accepted the Lord’s bidding, and the book became extremely popular in Italy after her death.

Its influence on the poet Dante’s Purgatorio is undeniable, for she had described the place of purification after death under the same figure of a seven-terraced mountain.

The Donna Matelda of his Purgatorio, who guides him at one point in his vision, is Saint Mechtildis as she represents mystical theology.

She died in 1298 at the monastery of Helfta.

(note: On leap years, the feast day of this Saint is celebrated on February 27.)