Do you love me?

Readings for Friday May 29, 2009

First Reading: Acts 25:13-21
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 103
Gospel: John 21:15-19

So when they came together here, I made no delay; the next day I took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought in. His accusers stood around him, but did not charge him with any of the crimes I suspected. Instead they had some issues with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed was alive. Since I was at a loss how to investigate this controversy, I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem and there stand trial on these charges. And when Paul appealed that he be held in custody for the Emperor's decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar." (Acts 25:17-21)

It seems that when Festus was brought Paul's case and heard it, he was baffled at how to judge it. It wasn't something that he had expected, he had though that Paul perhaps had stole something, or killed someone or some other crime of which he was familiar. Festus had no idea that what he was in the middle of would be a source of controversy for many years to come. It seems as though Jesus will always be a source of controversy for people. For the Jews today He is nothing more than a prophet. For other religions, Jesus was simply a great teacher. Even amongst Christians today Jesus becomes a source of controversy, only the question isn't whether to follow Him or not, but rather how. It is so sad that we let our own pride and opinions come in the way of seeing what Jesus really came to do, and that was to unite humanity, not divide.

However, Jesus in His wisdom knew that He would be the source of controversy (and not just in His time) and a cause of division. He knew that those who followed Him would come under fire, not just from the culture and social norms of the time; but even from those closest to us, our family and friends. I can personally attest that since my conversion, there has been much strife and conflicts within my family, but I know that in the end that I am choosing the right side, and that is the side of Jesus. Today's readings ask us the same question that Jesus asked Peter in today's gospel, "Do you love me?" We must ask ourselves this constantly, and remember that because of our love for Christ we choose Him and His will in all things. Because of our love for Him we will follow Him where ever He leads us to, even when those places are very hard and difficult.

If we choose to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength every day, then at the end of our lives we may be greeted into heaven with those wonderful words "Well done good and faithful servant!"

Father above we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, we know that your will is perfect, help us to trust in you and to go where you lead us. We pray that we can choose to love you each day and to show it. Lord, help us to see and love others as you do, even those who do us wrong. Lord, we pray that we may break the thing that tie us down to this world, and rather we wish to cling to you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Love of Christ

Readings for Thursday May 28, 20009

First Reading: Acts 22:30; 23:6-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 16
Gospel: John 17:20-26

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: "I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them." (John 17:20-26)

Today let us read and reflect on today's gospel reading. If there ever has or is any doubt about the love of Christ, let us read this passage and His prayer for us. Let us reflect on how much God wants us to be with Him, how much He loves us. Then let us reflect on all that Jesus gave up for His love of us. Jesus loved us so much, He didn't just talk about it, it showed us by sacrificing His life so that we can live. Let us never doubt the love that Christ has for us.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for this day. We thank you and praise you for your great love, a love that we do not deserve, but that you freely give. Lord help us to follow you where ever you lead and help us to see your perfect will in our lives. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The truth

Readings for Wednesday May 27, 2009

First Reading: Acts 20:28-38
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 68
Gospel: John 17:11-19

I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth." (John 17:15-19)

There is one thing in this world that has brought about the downfall of many people, businesses, kingdoms and cultures. This one thing sparks debate where ever you go, and can cause the blood of some people to boil. This one thing has been around since the beginning of creation, and will continue to cause problems on this earth until Jesus comes again in glory. This one thing is none other than ... the opinion. Opinions, we all have them, and we are usually all rooted in them until new evidence comes along causing us to form new opinions. Everyone has different personalities and experiences, therefore each of us has different opinions; some of which we may agree, others we will not. Most of the time we find ourselves judging others based on their opinions, we may not even really know the person, but because we heard one of their opinions on a topic we feel we have free range to stereotype and define that person. It is certainly not a bad thing for each of us to have our own opinions, we must be careful that we do not let our opinions guide our thoughts and actions, unless they are firmly grounded in truth.

While having opinions is not a bad thing, we must be sure that it is truth that we are following and not opinions. Jesus came to preach and show us the way, and the truth. Jesus makes it clear today that God's word is truth and that we are to consecrate ourselves to His truth. Jesus prayed for and consecrated Himself to us, so that we may also consecrate ourselves to the truth. We do not belong to this world, we belong to the God who loves us and wants us to be with Him forever.

The fact is even though we may have a certain opinions that we feel very strongly about, if they do not line up with God's truth or the truth of His church, then they are wrong; plain and simple they are wrong. We must align ourselves to the truth that God gives to us, the truth that will lead us to Him and lead us to everlasting life. We must always remember that it is the truth that will set us free, not our opinions.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord Jesus help lead us to your truth so that we may not be blinded by the things of this world. Lord, help us to lay down our pride and our own beliefs that prevent us from seeing your truth. Lord, we praise you for all that we have and all that we can do. We pray for all those who are in need of conversion and all those whose hearts are hardened by your light and your truth. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen


Put God First

Readings for Tuesday May 26 ,2009

Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, priest

First Reading:  Acts 20:17-27
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 
Gospel:  John 17:1-11

But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem.  What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardship await me.  Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God's grace.  (Acts 20:22-24)

How many of you would knowingly walk into a bears cave?  Or how many of us would just stroll on into a gang's area and tell them that they are doing wrong?  How many of us would run into a burning building to save a stranger who was trapped in there?  The fact is that all of us have a fear and an apprehension of putting ourselves into dangerous situations.  This is typical of all of us, because we each believe that if we put ourselves in dangerous and risky situations that we can lose our lives.  We think about our loved ones and all those people that we would not see again.  We tend to place an importance on our own lives, and the importance that we put on our lives can really determine how much we are or are not willing to take chances and risks.  

I do not think that we realize how much we let the things of this world dictate the things that we do.  In today's first reading, Saint Paul knows that by going to Jerusalem he is going to face a difficult situation and most likely lose his life.  He knows that he will not see the faces of those that he loves and cares about again.  He unknowingly goes forward to Jerusalem, not fully knowing what is going to happen, but he goes with complete obedience and trust in God.  Saint Paul makes it a point to tell people that "I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus."  Saint Paul realizes that it is not our lives that are important, but instead doing the work that the Lord calls us to do.  He knows and understands that we cannot hold back anything when it comes to God, we must give of ourselves totally, even when that leads us to things and places that are uncomfortable even scary for us.    

By his words and his actions, Saint Paul truly shows us what it means to put God first.  It means that we are not concerned about our own interests or even our own lives, but rather the work that God calls us to.  May we all be blessed with the strength and courage to follow God no matter where that leads us.     

Father above, we  thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we thank you and give you praise for all that we have and all that we can do.  Lord Jesus, help us to cast away any fears and doubts that we have and to follow you with all our heart, soul mind and strength.  Lord we love you and only wish to serve you as we are called.  Help us to know your will in our lives and to do what is please to you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse

Catholic Book Review: The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse, by Art and Laraine Bennett

Being a newly married man, I had a great deal of appreciation for this book, The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse by Art and Laraine Bennett. This book provided me with something that I think every married woman and man should have . . . insight. Having insight on someone you care about does not mean that you know them completely inside and out, it does not mean that they fit into some perfect form or definition, and it certainly is not a self-fulfilling prophesy. Having insight on someone you care about means that you have some understanding of the person. You are able to connect with the things that make them the person that you love. You identify some of the personality traits that make them special and unique. Not only identifying traits that make that person special, but having insight also can shed light on some of the tendencies and character flaws that lead us to bad habits, or even worse ... sin. Having insight also provides a basis for improving communication, because each of us have ways in which we like, and are more effective in communicating. Having an understanding of the four temperaments that you and your spouse have can provide wonderful insight into the special personality and gifts that God has blessed you with and can provide a wonderful starting point in improving and strengthening your marriage.

The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse is the follow up book to The Temperament God Gave You. I personally have not read Art and Laraine's first book, and I did not find it necessary to read it first in order to grasp and understanding of the four temperaments or the concepts in this book. I do think however that reading the first book would provide additional knowledge and a greater understanding of the four temperaments. Listed below are the four temperaments and a brief description of each (excerpts from the book):
  • Choleric: "The choleric is your original 'Type A' personality: he wants to take charge and get things done. If that lead to conflict, so much the better! ... Cholerics exhibit quick, intense, sustained reactions to both external and internal stimuli. Cholerics are decisive, determined, and goal-oriented."
  • Phlegmatic: "The key to the phlegmatic is that he is a peacemaker: he hates conflict, especially interpersonal conflict. ... Phlegmatics are dependable, polite, and even-tempered. Phlegmatics tend to feel more comfortable in a small group of friends or even spending a quiet evening relaxing at home."
  • Sanguine: "The sanguine is your classic 'people person' - the life of the party, fun-loving, and talkative. Sanguines have quick, intense, but short-lived reactions. They live in the present moment, and prefer that moment to be full of company and activity."
  • Melancholic: "Melancholics are known for their deep introspection, the depth and vehemence of their sentiments, and their nobility of purpose. Critical perfectionists, melancholics are cautious, somewhat pessimistic, detail-oriented, and serious."
This book takes us into what the four temperaments are, and provides wonderful examples of saints and other important figures. There are also numerous examples of married couples and how the temperaments play out and shape their marriages. The book takes us through the strengths and weaknesses of each temperament. It shows us how we can play upon the strengths, and recognize and combat the weaknesses. Authors have included how each of the temperaments may manifest themselves in several different areas of our lives, such as: love life, parenting, and spiritual/prayer life. The book does a fabulous job of showing how when spouses of different temperaments are together, many fruits can come about by letting the natural strengths of the temperaments manifest and compliment each other. Naturally of course there is no perfect pair, and there is always things and dangers that we must be aware of. The authors are sure to address how when particular temperaments are together, there a certain tendencies and behaviors to look out for.

Having an understanding of the four temperaments allows us to not only have insight into our own traits and tendencies that guide our behavior, but also allows us to gain insight into the traits and tendencies that guide our spouses and even our children. Having this sort of insight is a powerful tool in improving and strengthening a marriage. The authors have done a great job in making sure that we remember that even though we all have certain tendencies and natural behaviors, this book or any understanding of the temperaments should not be used to justify any sort of negative or immoral behavior. While the temperaments bring about many positive attributes, too much of any good thing can be bad. We must recognize and understand our natural temperament and the negatives that can come about from them. We must be continuously seeking God's will in our lives and follow His plan for us, instead of where our own desires lead. We must be seeking and maintaining a strong prayer life and asking for God's mercy and help in combating any negative behavior that is manifesting in our lives.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to gain more insight into themselves and into their spouse. It is a great read and a great tool to help improve and strengthen any marriage.

**For more information about the Catholic Company or The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse please feel free to click on one of the links below.


Anguish and Joy

Readings for Friday May 22, 2009

First Reading: Acts 18:9-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 47
Gospel: John 16:20-23

Jesus said to his disciples: "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,while the world rejoices;you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;but when she has given birth to a child,she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish.But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,and no one will take your joy away from you.On that day you will not question me about anything.Amen, amen, I say to you,whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you." (John 16:20-23)

In today's gospel, Jesus discusses His upcoming passion, death and resurrection. Jesus used an analogy of a woman giving birth to describe the joy that is brought about after the labor and birth. I can certainly relate to this analogy, as about seven weeks ago our first child was born. I remember the anguish that my wife went through in going through a very long labor. She was up all night with no food or sleep, and finally the next afternoon God blessed us with a very healthy and beautiful baby girl. The moment we saw her any tiredness or soreness went away as at that moment we held her there was nothing but pure joy. It was one of the most memorable and spiritual moments that I have ever had the opportunity to witness.

I think Jesus used this analogy not only because of His hour coming, but also because we too go through much worrying and anguish in this world. We need to remember that Jesus is always here and providing for us. There is no need to worry or to be afraid, for if we are striving to follow Him and to serve Him in our lives, then we will certainly see Him again. And like the moment that a mother sees her newborn baby, there will be nothing but joy at that moment when we see Jesus.

During labor, I kept reminding my wife that with each labor pain and each thing that comes that is one step closer to seeing our child. We too need to remember that with each trial and each day, we are just one step closer to seeing and being with Christ in heaven.

Mother Mary, pray for us!

Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.


Readings for Thursday May 21, 2009

Ascension of the Lord

First Reading: Acts 1:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 47
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:17-23
Gospel: Mark 16:15-20

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.But they went forth and preached everywhere,while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs. (Mark 16:19-20)

Praise the Lord God Almighty! I think that so many times we look at Jesus as a teacher or a good role model; many times we fail to realize just how mighty and glorious our Lord Jesus is. We do not always realize the significance of what Jesus did, we fail to comprehend the magnitude of His life, death and resurrection. Today on this ascension of the Lord, let us stop and think about the amazing gift of life that Jesus has given us. Let us just stop and be in awe of glory, as I am sure that the apostles were at His ascension into heaven.

Jesus who is both God and man gave himself for this world so that we might experience freedom. In the movie Braveheart, the main character William Wallace says "every man dies, not every man really lives." Because of Jesus and His victory over death, we are given life, the living bread, the living spring of water. We do not have to live in the bondage of sin, we can be risen up to more. I am so thankful for Him in my life and from freeing me from the life of sin that I once was living. Let us give thanks to our Lord, and go and "proclaim the gospel to every creature"!

Father above, we thank you and praise you for this day. Lord Jesus you are the king of kings and the lord of lords, we know and believe that you are seated at the right hand of the Father. Lord Jesus, give us strength and courage to follow you anywhere you lead us. Help us to do your will on this earth until the day of our death. Lord may we love you with all that we are and hold nothing back. We pray for all those who are in need of conversion in their lives, may they come to know your truth. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


For in Him we live

Readings for Wednesday May 20, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 17:15,22-18:1
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 148
Gospel:  John 16:12-15

The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything.  Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.  He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us.  For 'In him we live and move and have our being,'  (Acts 17:24-28)

Have you ever noticed how clingy kids are to their parents.  This is especially true when they are afraid or in trouble, they rush over to one of the parents and wrap their arms around any part of their body they can latch on to, and they just hold on for dear life.  This same clingy behavior can also be experienced during times of great joy, perhaps an encouraging word, a nice gift, or just a good day can inspire an emotional burst in a child.  They cling because they know that with that parent they are safe, they can receive comfort, they are where they belong.  This of course all changes once kids get older and then are "too mature" or too cool to do that hugging and clinging nonsense.  

We see in the book of Acts today that Saint Paul tells the Athenians about the greatness of God and that through His glory, power and might that people might seek Him out, maybe even grope for Him.  It is this same type of groping, reaching for God desperately, that is like the child who runs and clings to his or her parent.  We need to do more than just seek God in our lives, we need to cling to Him.  He is our heavenly Father and it is in Him that we will find comfort, protection and peace.  We need to remember how limited we are, and how mighty God is.  Let us make sure that we do not think that we are too mature or too cool for God.  We need to humble ourselves like children, and go and cling to our Lord who loves us and takes us in no matter what.    

Let us always remember the words used by Saint Paul today:  "For in Him we live and move and have our being."  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, help us to humble ourselves like children; after all we are your sons and daughters who you created.  Help us to let go of this world, and cling to you.  Help us to see clearly your love and mercy in our lives and to have the faith of a child.  Lord, we thank you for all you bless us with, and we ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Pray and Sing!

Readings for Tuesday May 19, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 16:22-34
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 138
Gospel:  John 16:5-11

"The crowd in Philippi joined in the attack on Paul and Silas, and the magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be beaten with rods.  After inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison and instructed the jailer to guard them securely.  When he received these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and secured their feet to a stake.
About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened" (Acts 16:22-25)

I recently heard in a homily that "happiness is 10% circumstance, and 90% character."  I find this saying to be very interesting because most of the time we think that it is the circumstances that decide whether we are happy or not; but in reality it is our reaction and attitude to our circumstances that determine our happiness.  In today's first reading from the book of Acts, we read about Paul and Silas, who after being beaten are thrown in jail.  So what is their reaction to this unfortunate set of circumstances?  To pray and sing hymns!  Now I don't know about you, but my initial reaction is to think that they are crazy, I mean they are in jail and they have just been beaten; talk about having a bad day!  But when we stop and think about it, we realize that their reaction to suffering is the same as it would be to as a joyous occasion:  stopping to give praise and worship to the Lord.  Paul and Silas do not let their happiness be dictated solely by their circumstance, it is dictated by their love of God and the peace found in Him.  They are not bound by this world, only lifted up by the power and promises of God.  

We have many things in this world that can bring us down:  a terrible economy, a high unemployment rate, an extremely pro-choice president, diseases and epidemics, threats to marriage and family, even persecution; but let us look at the example of Paul and Silas.  Let us not let our happiness be dictated by this world or our own self-pity; but instead by the love, mercy, and faithfulness of God, who calls us to something much higher.  So the next time you find yourself in a bad situation, just pray and sing!  And the next time you find yourself in a joyous situation, pray and sing!  In all things let us give thanks to God!

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we praise you in all things, help us to have the courage and strength to find joy in you when things seem bad.  Lord, your power and glory are greater than anything on this earth, helps us to put our faith solely in you and not the things of this world.  Lord, we praise you for your love, we praise you for your mercy, we praise you for calling us to you.  We pray for all those who are in need of conversion, we pray for all of our political leaders and that they may all seek to uphold dignity and life at all stages.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Head or Heart?

Readings for May 18, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 16:11-15
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 149
Gospel:  John 15:26-16:4

"I have told you this so that you may not fall away.  They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.  They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.  I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you."  (John 16:1-4)

In the gospel today, we find Jesus warning the disciples of death and persecution.  It seems as though the persecutors will believe that they have good intentions and actually think that they are honoring God.  The problem is, is that there people only know of God in their heads, and not in their hearts.  Knowing God in our heads is easy, we can know a lot about Him and even think that we know His rules and how He wants us to live.  But unless we know God in our hearts, then we will not really know Him at all.  Knowing God in our hearts allows us to love Him and to want to honor Him.   Knowing God in our hearts helps us to let go of who we think God is and to let Him reveal Himself to us.  Knowing God in our hearts helps us to follow His will, instead of what we think His will is.  

I believe that there are many things which we can do to know God in our heart.  One is a strong devotion to Mary.  If we have a strong devotion to the blessed mother, then she will show to us the heart of her son, Jesus.  Praying the "Our Father" with sincerity and with a deep meditation on the part of "thy will be done."  Asking the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and to let His fruits manifest.  

I pray that each of us will seek to know God better in our hearts, not just our heads.  May we go out this day and all days loving and serving the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, help us to really know you with our whole hearts.  Lord, we pray for all those who are seeking truth, we pray for all those who are being witnesses to the faith, and we pray for all our politicians who are not upholding the dignity of the person, may they be brought to your truth.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.    



Love one another

Readings for Friday May 15, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 15:22-31
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 57
Gospel:  John 15:12-17

Jesus said to his disciples:  "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing.  I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another."
 (John 15:12-17)

Do you have someone at work or school that just really annoys you?  Someone who just seems to push all of your buttons and get on your last nerve?  I think that we all have people like that in our lives, people who just for whatever reason seem to do all the things that we cannot stand.  Most of the time it is these little annoyances and our own pet peeves that seem to prevent us from loving these people.  We often forget that these same people who drive us mad are also children of God, just like us.  The fact is that none of us are perfect, and none of us do all the right things; but the one thing that unites us all is that God loves each of us unconditionally.  From the hardened criminal in jail to the righteous missionary priest, it doesn't matter who you are or what you do, God loves each of us the same.  And if God can get past the petty annoyances, shouldn't we as well? 

Jesus calls us all to love each other as He loves us, that is unconditionally, not just when it is easy.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we thank you and give you praise for your great love of all of us.  Lord, fill our hearts with love of you and love of each other, so that we might go our and fulfill your commandments.  Lord, we praise you for the great works in our life and pray that we can continue to do your will.  Lord, we pray for all those who are in need of conversion, and all those who are seeking truth and meaning in their life.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen. 


Real Friendship

Readings for Thursday May 14, 2009

Feast of Saint Matthias, apostle

First Reading:  Acts 1:15-17, 20-26
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 113
Gospel:  John 15:9-17

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another."
 (John 15:12-17) 

I, like many people, used to think that friendship was based upon interests and common traits.  While these are still great things to have in a friendship, it is not the only thing that it should be based upon.  In these beautiful words by Jesus, we are given the meaning and example of what a real friend is.  We are showed how to be friends with Christ, our Lord, by living our His commandments and by loving each other as He loves us.  Can you imagine how much of a better world this would be if we all really tried to be friends with Christ and friends with each other?  Imagine if we loved one another as Christ loves us; then friendship would not be based solely on interests and common traits, it would be based on love and sacrifice.  Jesus calls His disciples friends because He loves them, not out of any selfish desire, but purely out of love.  Jesus is willing to lay down His life for His friends, and even though they do not know it yet, they are going to all lay down their life for Him.  Real friendship is based upon sacrifice and love, not upon anything that we can get out of the relationship.  

For a wonderful example of real friendship, I encourage you to look at the example of David and Jonathan (1 Samuel, beginning in Chapter 18).  This is a wonderful example of a friendship that is based upon love and sacrifice.  

May God bless all of us this day, and may He open all of our hearts to love each other as He loves us.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, help us to be gifts to each other, and to not seek our own selfish desires in our relationships, but only seek to love as you love.  Lord, we thank you and praise you for the many blessings that you bestow on us everyday, help us to live this day for you and with you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Good Fruit

Readings for Wednesday May 13, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 15:1-6
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 122
Gospel:  John 15:1-8

I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."
 (John 15:5-8)

Have you ever seen a withering plant?  It just looks so pathetic, very shriveled up and just a pale comparison of what it once used to be.  In the end, all plants that get too withered end up dying and must be thrown out.  In today's gospel, Jesus gives us great hope as well as a great warning.  He tells us that those who remain in Him will bear much fruit, and that this is what our Father plans for us.  I don't think that we realize how much God wants to be with us, and how much He wants us to succeed on this earth.  Most of the time we think that God really has it in for us or that He is just out to make our lives miserable.  The truth is that God wants us to have all the gifts that He has planned, and He wants us to live full joyous and peaceful lives, and to go out and bear good fruit in this world.  Our God, is a God of abundant love and mercy, more than we can ever understand.  May we always remember that God is here to help us bear good fruit, it is all a matter of whether we are willing to open ourselves up and surrender to Him.  

God does not have it in for us, He doesn't want us to wither away and be thrown into the fire.  Let us not be like the pathetic, withering plant that has been cut off from the vine.  Let us be open to God in our lives, let us say "yes" to Him everyday that we live, and let us pray for His will to be done in our lives, instead of our own.  Then, let the good fruit come forth.    

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, help us to be more open to you in our lives and to not hold anything back.  Lord, we pray for your will to be done in our lives and not our own.  Lord, we thank you and give you praise for all you have done and all you will do in our life, may the good fruit that comes from you manifest in our lives.  Lord, you are our rock and our salvation, let us not follow any other things but you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


True Peace

Readings for Tuesday May 12, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 14:19-28
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 145
Gospel:  John 14:27-31

Jesus said to His disciples:  'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give it to you.  Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.' "  (John 14:27)

In today's gospel we are told to not let out hearts be troubled or afraid; and why?  Because Christ gives us His peace.  He tells us He gives us His peace.  Oh, think about how much better our lives would be and much more joy we would experience if we truly let Christ's peace into our lives totally.  We would all worry less about the things of this world, and we would be able to just be in the peace of the Lord.  

So if Christ gives us his peace, then how are we to take it in and to let it take hold of our life?  We can accomplish this by letting go of the things of this world and by doing the will of our heavenly Father.  In today's first reading, we continue on in acts and of the early church and the first disciples.  While the first disciples certainly had a challenging and rough time building up the early church, we see that God provided all the tools that they needed for their calling.  He took care of them and gave them strength and courage to persevere.  I have no doubts that the disciples had true peace in their lives.  We took can have this same type of peace, and when we decide to continuously pray, "Lord, not my will, but thy will be done" , then we too will find this amazing peace that Jesus freely gives to us.  

True peace can and will only be found in doing the will of God.  

Father above, we thank you and praise you for this day.  Lord grant s strength and courage to persevere against this world as you gave your first followers.  Lord, help us to let go of the things of this world and to just let your love and peace flow through us.  Lord, we praise you for all that you bless us with, and we pray that we can be the disciples that you created us to be.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Don't just say it

Readings for Monday May 11, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 14:5-18
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 115
Gospel:  John 14:21-26

"Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me."  (John 14:23-24)

"I love you!"  How many times is this phrase thrown around in a day (especially on Valentines Day)?  This single phrase is said so often, and yet out of all of those times it is said, how many people really mean it?  A co-worker might say it after you have helped out with a big task.  Or a buddy might say these words to you jokingly.  A child might say these words to get out of trouble.  This very powerful phrase may be said many times in one day without any real sincerity or meaning behind them.  Think of how many times we have robotically said "I love you" to a loved one when saying goodbye?  While we may mean it, we are not really thinking of the meaningful words that we are actually saying.  

The truth is, simply saying "I love you" is not enough, we must actually prove that we love someone and show it.  Jesus, knowing human nature all too well, and knowing how quick our tongue is to say things, but how slow we are to follow with a true sincere action that backs up our words, hits upon this topic in today's gospel.  He tells us that "whoever loves me will keep my word."  Many of us will claim to love God and to say that He is important in our lives, but how many of us show it?  We may be able to fool our fellow parishioners into thinking that we love God, but we can never fool our Lord.  He knows our hearts and our minds, He knows all our intentions and our acts, there is no fooling Him.  We must realize that loving God is not burdensome or something that should feel forced; it is a beautiful thing that will put our lives into perspective and something that will give us true peace and joy.  

We need to love Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength ... not just say it.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we praise you for all of the blessings in our lives and we pray for your continued mercy on us and the whole world.  Lord, we praise you for all that you are and all that you have done for us.  Lord, help us to be good faithful servants who do not just say that we love, but actually go out and show it by keeping your word.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


The only way

Readings for Friday May 8, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 13:26-33
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 2
Gospel:  John 14:1-6

"Thomas said to Him, 'Master, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?'  Jesus said to him, 'I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.' "  (John 14:5-6)

Simplicity.  In our world, this is not always something that comes easy for us.  It seems as though we tend to make many things in our lives long and complicated.  However, knowing this about human nature, Jesus makes it very clear for the disciples and for us in today's gospel.  Thomas becomes confused about what Jesus is saying about where He is going (I am also wiling to bet the other disciples had the same question, just unwilling to speak up).  Jesus makes it very clear to Thomas and the others; He doesn't draw them a map, lay out a strategic plan, or give them a 12 step program.  He simply tells them that He is the way and the truth and the life.  

In this complicated world, it can become very easy for us to get confused about what we are to do and for us to feel pulled in many different directions.  It is through prayer that we need to simply let go of the complicated and to just remember that all we really need to do is follow Jesus, because He is the way and the truth and the life.  If we want to make it to heaven and to our heavenly Father then we must go through Christ.  

Christ is not just a nice thought, a fad, or a suggested way of living; He is the way ... the only way.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this life.  Lord, we thank you and give you praise for the many gifts in our lives.  Lord, help our hearts be formed to your will, so that we may be good and faithful servants of you.  Lord, we pray for all our political leaders, that they may come to value the dignity of all people and to protect life at all stages.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Servant Leaders

Readings for Thursday May 7, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 13:13-25
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 89
Gospel:  John 13:16-20

"When Jesus had washed the disciples' feet, he said to them:  'Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.' "  (John 13:16-17)

What does it mean to be a leader?  Does it mean having a take charge attitude?  Maybe it means giving great motivational speeches.  Better yet, perhaps being a leader is all about the specific title a person has.  Our world had many definitions and ideas of what it means to be a leader, but from the gospel today, we get a different idea of what it means to be a leader (as well as a follower).  Jesus shows us in the gospels that being a true leader means humbling yourself and washing the feet of those who serve you, even though you are greater than them, it is still a great act of love and the sign of a true leader.  This teaching of leadership was, and still is very astounding and so counter cultural.  I remember after my conversion, I finally began to get this passage and I began to apply it with my staff.  Even though I was the one with the more prestige and the higher up position, I realized that I still had a responsibility as their leader.  I had to show them that I was willing to do the things that they did and to be there to help them out and take care of them.  By being more humble and by having a "servant leadership" I noticed a great difference in myself as well as my staff.      

True leaders are not the ones sitting in the nice corporate office, leading their team to victory, or even running for political office; true leaders are the ones out their modeling the behavior that Christ modeled for His disciples and for us.  Jesus says "if you understand this, blessed are you if you do it."  None of us are too good for the things that Christ calls us to do.  I pray that we may all understand what it means to be grounded in humility and to go out and be the servant leaders that Christ calls us to be.  

Father above we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we praise you and give you thanks for our lives and all that we have.  Lord give us the strength and courage to go out and be servant leaders for you.  Help us to never think that we are too great for the jobs and things that you call us to do.  Lord, we pray for all those seeking truth and meaning in their lives, may they find it in you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.    


The Light

Readings for Wednesday May 6, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 12:24-13:5
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 67
Gospel:  John 12:44-50

"I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness."  (John 12:46)

Have you ever woke up in the middle of the night when it is completely dark only to find yourself lost and disoriented?  Being in the dark is a very frustrating and sometimes painful experience.  Now, God gave us amazing body parts when He created us; however, I do not think the purpose of our toes or shins is to find furniture when are trying to find our way around in the dark.  Being in the dark can be very frustrating because you do not know where things are, where you are going, or who is even there.  

Being in the dark is not only frustrating and painful physically, but spiritually as well.  When I look back on my past and how many years I spent away from God, I realized that I was in spiritual darkness.  I didn't know where I was going, I didn't even know that Jesus was right there waiting to pick me up and carry me through my life.  Also, being in the dark, I was so blinded to my own sins and wrong doings.  I am just so thankful now that I have asked God into my life and for His light to shine in heart, soul, mind and body.  I praise Him for taking me out of the darkness and into the light.  Being in His glorious light, I now know where I am, where I am striving for, who is right there with me, and just How good He is.  

I pray that we all stay in the light, and let the light of Christ shine through us and into this dark, dark world.  Let us always remember that the light will always conquer the darkness if we let it shine in our lives and in the world.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord we praise you for being the light in our lives and the light in this dark world.  Lord, we pray that your light may shine through us so that we may be powerful witnesses for you and your glory.  Lord, we thank you and praise you for our lives and all that you continue to bless us with.  Lord may we live our lives only for you and you alone.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.   


It's a verb

Readings for Tuesday May 5, 2009

First Reading: Acts 11:19-26
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 87
Gospel: John 10:22-30

"For a whole year they met with the Church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians."  (Acts 11:26)

It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.  This is where there started to be a real difference between the Jews and the followers of Jesus, now they were even called by a different name.  Why did the other people begin calling them Christians in the first place?  Was it a certain hat or shirt that they all wore?  Perhaps they all had a certain piece of jewelry on that distinguished them.  Maybe there was a secret handshake that these Christians had that made them stick out.  While all of these things may be good guesses, I can guarantee you that it wasn't because of anything these disciples had or anything about them that made them Christian ... it was because of who they followed and the things that they did that made them Christian.  

The same should hold true for us today.  Being a Catholic is not about the things that we have or the way we look, it is about what we do.  I once heard a priest say during a homily that "being Catholic is not a noun or nationality, it is a verb."  Being Catholic requires action on our part, it means living for Christ and not ourselves and going out in this world and modeling the same exact behavior that Christ did and told us to.  If we can do that then we too can proudly call ourselves Catholic.  

Being Catholic is a verb.  

Father above thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord Jesus give us the strength and perseverance to run and finish this earthly race that you call us to.  Lord, help us to go out and serve you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Lord, we thank you and give you praise for all that you bless us with.  Be with all those who are in need of conversion and truth in their lives.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.   

Who will you follow?

Readings for Monday May 4, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 11:1-18
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalms 42 and 43
Gospel:  John 10:1-10

"So Jesus said again, "Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep.  
All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  
I am the gate.  Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.  
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly."  (John 10:7-10)  

In today's gospel we hear from Jesus, the good shepherd, and about the gate to which we are to enter.  Jesus makes it clear that in order to be saved and to get to those eternal pastures, we must go through Him.  There are many things in this world that tell us to follow it or them.  Power, money, greed, lust, even other people can even try to attract our attention away from Christ.  Christ makes it quite clear in this gospel passage that He is the good shepherd that we should be following and in order to have eternal life we must go through Him.  

Many times people will try to make their own way.  I have heard some people say that they will worry about that "church and God stuff" when they are older, but for now they are going to just go out and have fun with life.  The only problem with that is that no one can know how long they are going to live, and it could be to late.  The other problem with that is that if we are not following God then our life here on earth is not complete and as it should be.  God has a wonderful plan for us on earth, and an even better one ahead in heaven if we are just willing to sacrifice the things that we think that we want for the treasures that He has to give.  We cannot make out own way to heaven, we can only go God's way and that way is right through Christ.  

So who will you follow?  The things of this world, or yourself?  Or will you follow Christ; who came down from heaven to give us abundant life?  There is only one way to enter heaven, make sure that you are following the right path.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Thank you for all the joys and blessings that you bring in our life.  Lord, thank you for all the blessings that we have not recognized in our lives and for all you continue to do.  Jesus, you are our Lord and giver of life, help keep us strong and wise so that we may follow you without any hesitation.  Lord you give us more love and mercy than we could ever deserve, we thank you for this.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.   



Readings for Friday May 1, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 9:1-20
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 117
Gospel:  John 6:52-59

Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. 
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. 
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. 
This is the bread that came down from heaven.  Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."
 (John 6:53-58)

It is such a shame that many of our protestant brothers and sisters seem to skim over this passage ... I know that I used to.  I remember at this one church that I used to go to before my coming home to the Catholic Church, I participated in one of their "communion services."  It was a nice event, we passed around some crackers and little cups of grape juice.  The pastor read some readings and made it a spiritual event.  However, I remember leaving thinking, "okay, so that was communion."  There certainly wasn't much to that service, and as I have become catholic, I now realize why, because we didn't have the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  I remember that it was just about a ear ago at the Easter Vigil when I officially came into the Catholic Church and received my first communion.  I remember how it felt to really and truly receive our Lord, body and blood in that Holy meal.  Ever since then I have had a strong desire to receive the Eucharist and to receive our Lord inside.  

The next time that you present yourself before the Eucharist, think of this passage.  Jesus is not just giving us a meal to eat, He is giving us His body and blood so that we can have eternal life ... then give thanks and praise for this amazing gift.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we thank you for the Sacrament of the Eucharist, may we always present ourselves before you as a sacrifice and may we always receive you with open hearts.  Lord, we thank you and praise you for giving us your body and blood at every mass so that we may be strengthened and so that we may go out into the world and serve you better.  Lord Jesus we ask this all in your name.  Amen.  


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