SAINT OF THE DAY: 31 MAY, 2013

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The Visitation
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Feast of the Magnificat of the Mother of God

The Archangel Gabriel, at the time of the Annunciation, informed the Mother of God that Her cousin Elizabeth had miraculously conceived and was soon to be the mother of a son, the destined precursor of the Messiah.

The Blessed Virgin in Her humility concealed the wonderful dignity to which She Herself was raised, through the Incarnation of the Son of God in Her womb, but in the transport of Her holy joy and gratitude, determined to go to congratulate and assist the mother of the Baptist.

“Mary therefore arose” Saint Luke says, “and with haste went into the hill country into a city of Judea, and entering into the house of Zachary, greeted Elizabeth.”

What a blessing did the presence of the God-Man bring to this house, the first which He in His humanity honored with His visit!

But it is Mary who is the instrument and means by which He imparts His divine blessing.

He intends to show us that She is the channel through which He delights to communicate to us His graces, and encourages us to ask them of Him through Her intercession.

At the voice of the Mother of God, by the power and grace of Her divine Son in Her womb, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit; and the infant in her womb, sanctified at that moment, conceived so great a joy as to leap and exult.

By the infused light of the Spirit of God Elizabeth understood the great mystery of the Incarnation which God had wrought in Mary, whose humility prevented Her from disclosing it, even to a Saint and an intimate friend.

In raptures of astonishment Elizabeth pronounced Mary blessed above all other women, and cried out, “How is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

The Virgin, hearing Her own praise, sank yet lower in the abyss of Her nothingness, and melting in an ecstasy of love and gratitude to God, She burst into Her admirable canticle, the Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and My spirit rejoices in God, My Saviour.”

What marvels of grace and light God reveals to us in the souls of His Saints!

Mary stayed with Her cousin almost three months, after which She returned to Nazareth.

READING OF THE DAY: 31 MAY, 2013

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“During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.

He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.” -Luke 1:39-56.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 30 MAY, 2013

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Saint Joan of Arc
Virgin, Martyr
(1412-1431)

Who today does not know the history of the Maid of Orleans, who saved France from the foreign domination of the English, only to be betrayed by the legitimate prince whom her efforts had crowned at Rheims, then burnt at the stake on May 30, 1431?

Both in the French and English languages, many books and articles have honored her since her canonization in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

The Holy Father spoke before the bishop of Orleans and others present for the reading of the decree which approved her two final great miracles, needed to proceed with the canonization.

He said, We find the memory of Joan of Arc so apt to enkindle love in the French people for their mother country, that we regret being French only in our heart!

Many others could say the same, and confirm the exactitude of the proverb: Every Christian has two mother countries — the one where he or she first saw the light of day, and France!

Two years later, Pope Pius XI declared Saint Joan patroness of France with the Most Blessed Virgin, placing her second only to the Mother of God.

In that year Monsignor Baudrillart, French historian, wrote that Saint Joan of Arc may be proposed as an example to all young children by her perfect piety; as a model of fidelity to the call of heaven, to all young persons. For artisans, scholars, writers, teachers, she gives excellent example by her respect for truth and her remarkable prudence.

Those dedicated to the works of mercy should find inspiration in her charity, visible when she consoled and wept for her wounded and dying enemies.

All agricultural workers can invoke her with confidence, for when Joan, with the archbishop of Rheims, rode through the rich fields in the month of August and saw the reapers at work, she expressed a wish, despite the honors she then enjoyed, to die in the midst of the country-folk of France whom she loved.

Her illness in prison, her martyrdom in the flames, recommend her intercession to the sick, as also to all who pray for loved ones in purgatory.

Finally, Monsignor Baudrillart concluded, we pray our new Patroness to intercede unceasingly with God and the Most Blessed Virgin that France, its thoughts turned towards the true liberty of God’s children and its own ancient dignity, may truly be today as before, the firstborn daughter of the Church.

For centuries that title — conferred because of the early conversion of King Clovis and three thousand of his noble soldiers, baptized on Christmas day of 496 — was the glory of Christian France.

It was later magnificently renewed and embellished by the heroic virgin, Joan of Arc.

(SOURCE: Almanach Catholique Français pour 1923)

READING OF THE DAY: 30 MAY, 2013

Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus Mark 10:46-52

“As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.

On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”

And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.

But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, he is calling you.”

He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.

Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”

The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”

Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”

Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.” -Mark 10:46-52.

SAINT OF THE DAY:29 MAY, 2013

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St. Mother Orsola (Giulia) Ledóchowska
Religious
(1865-1939)

“If only I knew how to love, to burn and consume oneself in love” – so the 24 year old Giulia Ledóchowska wrote before taking religious vows, novice in the Ursuline convent of Krakow. On the day of the religious profession she took the name ‘Maria Ursula of Jesus’, and the words stated above became the guide lines of her entire life.

In her mothers’ family (of Swiss nationality and of the dynasty of the Salis), as well as in her fathers’ (an old Polish family) there were many politicians, military men, ecclesiastics and consecrated people, who were involved in the history of Europe and of the Church. She was raised in a family of numerous brothers and sisters where affectionate and disciplined love was dominant.

The first three children, including M. Ursula, chose the consecrated life: Maria Teresa (beatified in 1975) founded the future ‘Society of S. Peter Claver’ and the younger brother Vladimiro became the general Preposito of the Jesuits.

M. Ursula lived in the convent at Krakow for 21 years. Her love for the Lord, her educational talent and sensibility towards the needs of youngsters in the changing social, political and moral conditions of those times put her at the centre of attention.

When women earned the right to study in Universities, she succeeded in organising the first boarding-house in Poland for female students where they not only found a safe place to live and study, but also received a solid religious preparation.

This passion, together with the blessing of Pope Pio X, gave her the strength to move into the heart of Russia which was hostile towards the Church. When, in civilian dress, she left with another Sister for Petersburg (where religious life was prohibited) she did not know that she was headed towards an unknown destination and that the Holy Spirit would lead her upon roads she had not foreseen.

In Petersburg the Mother with the steadily growing community of nuns (soon established as an autonomous structure of the Ursulines) lived secretly, and even though under constant surveillance by the secret police, they brought forward an intense educational and religious project which was also directed towards the encouragement of relationships between Polish and Russians.

When war broke out starts in 1914, M. Ursula had to leave Russia. She headed for Stockholm and during her Scandinavian travels (Sweden, Denmark, Norway) her activity concentrated not only on education, but also on the life of the local Church, on giving aid to the war victims and on ecumenical work.

The house where she lived with her nuns became a point of reference for people of different political and religious orientation. Her strong love for her country was the same as her tolerance towards ‘diversity’ and towards others. Once asked to speak of her political orientation, she promptly answered ‘My policy is love’.

In 1920 M. Ursula, her sisters and a vast number of orphan children of immigrants returned to Poland. The Apostolic Headquarters transforms its autonomous convent of the ‘Ursulines of the Sacred Agonising Heart of Jesus’

The spirituality of the congregation is concentrated on the contemplation of the salvific love of Christ and participation in His mission by means of educational projects and service to others, particularly to the suffering, the lonely and the abandoned who were searching for the meaning of life.

M. Ursula educated her sisters to love God above everything else and to find God in every human being and in all Creation. She gave a particularly credible testimony to the personal bond with Christ and to being an efficient instrument of both Evangelical and educational influence by means of her smile and serenity of soul.

Her humility and capacity to live the ordinary everyday routine as a privileged road towards holiness made her a clear example of this life style.

The congregation developed quickly. The communities of the Ursuline nuns in Poland and on the eastern frontiers of the country which were poor, multinational and multi-confessional were established.

In 1928 the Generalate was established in Rome along with a boarding-house for girls who were economically less well-off, in order to give them the possibility to come into contact with the spiritual and religious richness of the heart of the Church and of European civilisation.

The Sisters began to work in the poor suburbs of Rome. In 1930 the nuns accompanied girls in search of work and established themselves in France. Wherever possible M.Ursula founded educational and instructional work centres.

She sent the nuns to Catechise and to work in the poor parts of town. She wrote books and articles for children and youngsters.

She initiated and sustained ecclesiastical organisations for children (Eucharistic Movement), for youngsters and for women.

She actively participated in the life of the Church and State thus receiving great acknowledgement and decorations from both the State and the Church.

When her laborious and not easy life came to an end in Rome on May 29, 1939, people said of her: “She died a saint”.

John Paul II beatified M. Ursula on June 20, 1983 in Poznan and canonized her on May 18, 2003 at Rome.

(SOURCE: Libreria Editrice Vaticana….yes, THE VATICAN LIBRARY….close your mouth now… 🙂 )

READING OF THE DAY: 29 MAY, 2013

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“The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them.

They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.

Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them what was going to happen to him.

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 who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise.”

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”

He replied, “What do you wish (me) to do for you?”

They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”

Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.

Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

They said to him, “We can.”

Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.

Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt.

But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.

For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” -Mark 10:32-45.

…..THEN SUDDENLY, ONE DAY…..

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….There He was.

So…time for me to “preach”….

I was sitting there, reading the Bible (AGAIN) when it suddenly struck me…IT COULD BE TODAY!

Indeed…it could be ANY TIME…day..night…during a shower… sitting on the porch…sleeping in bed…. HIS RETURN.

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” -Mark 13:32

It could happen at ANY TIME…IS YOUR SOUL PREPARED? I can say without a hitch in my voice “NO”..reason?…I am not deluded to think that just because I am a cleric, or that because I am a Christian, that my soul is “saved”. Dogma, Doxology, Rhetoric can say “YES”…but HOW DO YOU REALLY KNOW??? See….YOU DON’T.

That is why it is IMPORTANT to live your life, EACH HOUR OF EACH DAY, as if THAT HOUR was the one He returned.

Holding onto grudges, hatred, enmity, sorrow, sadness, past pains… those will NOT make your soul ready. By LIVING His Word, by obeying His laws EVERY HOUR OF EVERY DAY…THAT WILL.

I have pondered what WOULD happen if suddenly He DID return..would the masses embrace Him? I doubt it…the “Churches” would denounce Him immediately until they had proof He was who He said He was… the Evangelists would think it was a plot by the Churches to sway them…the non believers would scorn and scoff…the politicians would attack or even worse, arrest and detain without counsel… (LOL!!!, like THAT would work, eh? 😀 ) and those of other faiths would simply see it as some sort of political agenda….trying to keep them from becoming some industrialized nation ( 😀 )

Truly, the mind BOGGLES at the thought….your doing the dishes, or sitting on the toilet, or feeding the dog..then *WHAM*, there He is…

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” -Matthew 24:30

This is why I look over my shoulder whilst I walk… LOL…. seriously though, no one KNOWS….so…best to BE PREPARED, yes?

Another thought crossed my mind this morning whilst posting a cartoon..

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WHEN He comes to claim those who have followed His precepts, His laws, and walked in His shadow as He commanded, what will others do??

How do we know He is not ALREADY AMONG US?? How do you know that homeless man with his hand outstretched is not He?? He appeared MANY times in guises unknown to even His DISCIPLES…and they recognized Him NOT…

“Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” -Mark 16:14

“When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” -Matthew 28:17

“Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country.

These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.” -Mark 16:12-13

“After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. …” -1 Corinthians 15:6-7

How do you KNOW??? YOU DON’T…you CANNOT know…hence why it is SO VERY IMPORTANT to treat each person with love, kindness, understanding, tolerance, peace, and help them if they are needing it.

Jesus could be that homeless man…that woman needing help lifting her bags to cross the street….that child crying in the alleyway..that woman sitting there in despair..

“God talks and we listen. We then talk to God and then God listens.” -Saint Catherine of Siena

“In everything, whether it is a thing sensed or a thing known, God Himself is hidden within.” -St. Bonaventure

“One must see God in everyone.” -St. Catherine Laboure

Sure, you say, it is easy for YOU to say this because you are His servant….not so….it took a real LEAP OF FAITH for ME to believe.

It did not happen to me overnight either…the stark warning in the Scriptures is what changed me…literally THAT MINUTE…I realized, to my utter shock, that because I DID NOT KNOW WHEN HE WAS COMING my soul was (and still is) NOT prepared.

There are so many works I STILL need to do in order to even be able to stand in His presence should He decide NOW (yes, even before you finish reading this message) was His time to come, my soul was so STAINED with doubts, fears, anxiety…yes, even I HAVE THEM…and I am working on them minute by minute….yes, for THAT is what it takes..working EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of EVERY SINGLE HOUR to ensure that I TRY to walk according to His Word.

This is the very substance of BEING His servant….to set the example so that others may follow….

“Be sure that you first preach by the way you live. If you do not, people will notice that you say one thing, but live otherwise, and your words will bring only cynical laughter and a derisive shake of the head.” -St. Charles Borromeo

So…ready or not…HE IS COMING..maybe not THIS SECOND…maybe not THIS HOUR…maybe not even this YEAR…but then again, even MYSELF shudders at the thought of meeting Him unprepared…

So..still think that argument you THINK you won is worth it?? Still think that deed left undone can WAIT??

I pray you have the time…for that is all we have…BORROWED TIME.. we live by HIS grace…and should He, without warning, suddenly appear, can YOU face Him with a clear conscience??

If not, better get cracking…I know I AM…..

~Friar Jeff