A Simple Choice

Readings for Thursday December 30, 2010

First Reading: 1 John 2:12-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96
Gospel: Luke 2:36-40

Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever. (1 Jn 2:15-17)

In each of our lives, we have a very important choice to make; follow God or follow the world. God offers eternal life, peace and joy; the world offers nothing but death and destruction. Seems like a pretty simple choice, right? Unfortunately along our journeys we get distracted and things get very confusing for us at times. In Saint John's letter today, he recognizes those who are seeking the Father, and he warns them and us to love God only and to not love this world. He reminds us all that "who ever does the will of God remains forever." This is a very important thing to always keep in our hearts, because whenever things get confusing and we are not sure what decisions to make in our lives, we must always remember that we should be seeking to do the will of God.

I pray that we can all be devout followers of God, like Anna, that we read about in today's gospel. She was a faithful servant of the Lord who spent her last years with God in prayer and fasting, and after meeting Jesus as a child, she proclaimed the glory of God to all, and spread the message of the great hope that we should have in God.

May we all continue to follow God's will for our lives with complete faith and hope, and may God continue to be in us forever. Remember, even though it is hard, it really is a simple choice.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, help us to serve you more fully and to not hold anything back from you. Lord we pray for an increase in faith and hope so that we will not hesitate in following you. Lord you are our God and our creator, you know what is best for us and you have a plan for our lives. May we trust in you now and always. We pray for all those seeking meaning and truth in their lives, may they be brought to you and your light. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Walk This Way

Readings for Wednesday December 29, 2010

First Reading: 1 John 2:3-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96
Gospel: Luke 2:22-35

Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. And yet I do write a new commandment to you, which holds true in him and among you, for the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall. Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 Jn 2:7-11)

In college I was blessed enough to go on a recreational trip to the smoky mountains. We back packed for a week in the Smokey Mountains; and let me tell you that I saw first hand some of the amazing work our Divine creator. Now most of us on the trip were beginner or novice back packers, but thankfully we had some great trip leaders who really knew their stuff. They helped us with what to pack, things to wear, food to bring, everything. Probably one of the most important things that they showed us was the way to go. The trip leaders were our guides, they helped us on the trails and helped lead us to our final destination. While that trip will never leave my memory, I certainly know that it would not have been possible without the help and leadership of the trip leaders.

In the first reading today Saint John tells us that "to know Jesus is to keep His commandments," and that if we are going to abide in Him then we need "to walk as He walked." Like my backpacking trip, in life we need a guide, some one to help us and lead us to our final destination. Jesus is our guide in life, and He wants us to know Him, and for us to open ourselves to His love and help. He wants to lead us to heaven, if we will only turn from this world and follow Him. Saint John warns us that if we allow ourselves to be blinded by sin, then we cannot see Jesus in our lives, and we will not be able to walk as He did.

Following Christ is not easy, it is a hard life, but it is also a life full of joy and peace. Many of us want to be more holy and closer to Christ, but do not think that it is possible. If we rely on ourselves in these situations, then we are right, it is not possible. BUT, if we rely on Christ, then anything is possible. Let us not lose sight of Christ in our lives, let us pray for focus and clarity of how God wants to use us and how He wants to work in us. Let us never think that we are alone, God puts all kinds of other guides in our lives to show us how and where to walk. In today's gospel Mary and Joseph show us the importance of following God's commandments. Not only can we learn much from their great examples, but they are also in heaven ready and willing to pray for us and to help continue to guide us towards Christ, may we all seek their intercessions.

Let us each walk as Christ did, and listen to Him when He tells us in life, to walk this way.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this way. We thank you for the many blessings you have bestowed in our lives. Lord, we pray for increased faith and hope in you so that we may be better and more worthy followers of you. Lord, we pray for a heart full of your love, that will help us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We pray for all those who serve the church, and all those who are being persecuted for their faith. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Live in His Truth

Readings for Tuesday December 28, 2010

Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs

First Reading: 1 John 1:5-2:2
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm124
Gospel: Matthew 2:13-18

This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ and proclaim to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world. (1 Jn 1:5-2:2)

Have you ever known someone who told some pretty big "fish stories" about themselves? These are people who stretch the truth about accomplishments that they have had, abilities they possess, or things they have done. Usually when speaking to these types of people, I cannot help but wonder why they are deliberately lying all to make themselves look better. I often think that they should just tell the truth, sure it may not seem as exciting, but then at least you are not pretending to be someone you are not.

Saint John warns us of dangers of not being truthful, especially about our flaws. He tells us that if we say that we are without sin, then we "deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." As Christians we must constantly acknowledge our shortcomings and our failings; because in acknowledging when we fall, we allow God to pick us back up. We cannot continue to deceive ourselves, we just need to understand that we are human, and if we try to do things our way, then we will fail and we will fall short of reaching heaven. But if we choose to live in the truth, and acknowledge that by ourselves we fall short, but with God we can overcome anything; then we live in the truth. It is His truth that we should live in and that will lead us to heaven.

Today we celebrate the feast day of the Holy Innocents, the children who lost their lives because of a king who was paranoid and power hungry. These child martyrs were completely innocent, and had not even lived to commit a sin. We are far off from these Holy martyrs, and we must acknowledge the times that we fall short; but it is okay because we have hope. Today, reflect on the words of Saint John:
"My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world."

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with and for all that you do. Lord, you are our God and our rock, may we never veer from your will or your ways. Lord, teach us how to be better disciples, and to love as you love. We pray for all the Christians who are suffering and are being persecuted, may they persevere during what might seem like a dark time. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Faith That Moves Us

Readings for Monday December 27, 2010

Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist

First Reading: 1 John 1:1-4
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 97
Gospel: John 20:1a, 2-8

On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. (Jn 20:1a, 2-8)

How is your faith? Is it so much that you believe in the resurrection? Does it make you want to go out and share the gospel with others? Does it move you to believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?

Today we celebrate the feast day of Saint John, the "one whom Jesus loved." When Jesus had died, John, like the other apostles were grief stricken. They couldn't believe that He was gone, and I am sure that they were really questioning things. But once John stepped inside that empty tomb, all doubts and fear disappeared, because we are told "he saw and believed." In that instant John's faith moved him to believe and to trust in all that Christ had told them. This new found faith also moved him to spend the rest of his life spreading the good news about Christ and the hope that comes with serving Jesus. We read in the first reading today that this sharing the faith and fellowship is what made his joy complete.

Each of our lives has a purpose. Our most basic purpose is to love God and one another. We can show great love to each other by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and by proclaiming His great love and mercy to all those we come into contact with. May our faith in God move each of us to share the good news as John and all the other apostles did.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, help us to serve you with all that we are. We praise you and thank you for the great gift of life, help us to be good stewards of the life you have entrusted to us. We pray for all those who have fallen away, may they be brought back to your safe and loving arms. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Christmas Eve

Readings for Friday December 24, 2010

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 89
Gospel: Luke 1:67-79

Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
for he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hand of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Lk 1:67-79)

Father above, we thank you and praise for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for becoming one of us to save us from our sins, and for giving us a way back to you. Lord, your love and mercy are endless, help us to never leave or veer from your arms. Lord, you have plans for each of us, plans beyond our wildest dreams, helps us to submit to your perfect will. We pray for spiritual growth and renewal at the close of this Advent season and the start of this Christmas season. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Magnificat

Readings for Wednesday December 22, 2010

First Reading: 1 Samuel 1:24-28
Responsorial Psalm: 1 Samuel 2:1
Gospel: Luke 1:46-56

Today let us take time to read and reflect on the words of Mary in the Magnificat. Let us reflect on God's strength and might; and His faithfulness to those who serve Him. One final thought, if the blessed Mother took time to recognize and praise Him, shouldn't we do the same?

And Mary Said:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever." (Lk 1:46-55)

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou 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.


Truth, Brought to You By the Holy Spirit

Readings for Tuesday December 21, 2010

First Reading: Song of Songs 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33
Gospel: Luke 1:39-45

Mary set out in those days 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." (Lk 1:39-45)

How refreshing Elizabeth's words must have been to Mary at this time. Here she was with the son of God in her womb, and she knew of course that no one would believe her. When she went to visit Elizabeth, however, Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit was given the special insight into who the child was in Mary's womb. Elizabeth knew that she was blessed that Mary came to visit and knew that Mary was special because of her belief and trust in God.

This scene that we read about in today's gospel reading is of course the visitation, the second joyful mystery that we meditate on during the Holy Rosary. I think that there are some key insights that we can take away from this mystery. One is that God will always send us signs that we are doing His will. They may be subtle or they may be quite obvious (as was the case for Mary), but He does send us these signs especially at times when we need them the most.

The other insight that we can take from this mystery is that it is the Holy Spirit who reveals truth about God and about our lives. In today's reading, Elizabeth had no prior knowledge about Mary and Jesus, but it was the Holy Spirit who revealed the truth about them to her. We too can benefit from the knowledge and wisdom that the Holy Spirit seeks to give each one of us. It is through the Holy Spirit that we can come to know Christ better in our lives and to know His truth.

As we come to the end of this Advent season, may we continue to grow closer to Jesus in both love and knowledge through the Holy Spirit. May we look to the great example of the Holy Family for the way in which we are to trust and follow God in our own lives.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Thank you for all that you give to us and for all that you bless us with. Lord please send your spirit so that we may be full of zeal and life, and that we may come to know the truth about you more fully in our lives. Lord, we pray that your will be done in our lives and that we can humble ourselves before your greatness. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Just Say 'Yes'

Readings for Monday December 20, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 24
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (Lk. 1:26-38)

Has God ever asked anything that seemed impossible of you? Have you ever been afraid of something that God has put on your heart? I think that it is only natural to feel this way when we are called, but let us always remember to imitate our Blessed Mother in these situations, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Mary trusted in what God was calling her to, and she knew that by following Him, she would not be abandoned. We are also never abandoned by God, for He is always here to help and love us no matter what.

Don't be afraid of saying yes to God, rather be afraid of not fully experiencing the peace and joy that come from knowing, loving, and serving the Lord.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are so good and merciful to us, so much more than we deserve. Lord, we praise you and thank you for the gift of our lives, help us always to be good stewards of this great gift. Lord, we pray that we can make room for you in our hearts this advent season, help us to cling to you ever more and to never veer from your path. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Thursday December 16, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 54:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 30
Gospel: Luke 7:24-30

When the messengers of John the Baptist had left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. “What did you go out to the desert to see B a reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine garments? Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously are found in royal palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom Scripture says: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you.
I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.” (All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God; but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves.) (Lk 7:24-30)

In today's gospel Jesus speaks of John the Baptist. In the end, the sinners and tax collectors who were baptized by John acknowledge the "righteousness of God" and they believed in Jesus' words; but the Pharisees and scholars did not believe. Why did they not believe? Was it because they felt shunned for not being baptized? Did they think of themselves as more intellectual than sinners? Perhaps they just weren't listening. What is most likely the cause of their unbelief is pride. Their pride was so great that they would not believe or see God's beautiful plan for salvation, they were too wrapped up in their own beliefs and opinions. Pride has this dangerous way of leading us away from God and His plan for us. If we allow our hearts to become swelled with pride, then there is not room for God, and all we will believe in is ourselves.

Pride is one of the most dangerous of sins, in fact some believe that it is the most dangerous. Pride is what led to the fall of Lucifer, and it is the cause of the fall of many men and women. Let us ask God today for an increase in faith and trust in Him and in His plan. As we go about this Advent season, let us continue to make room in our hearts for Christ, not pride.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with and all that you give. Lord, you are our God, and there is no other like you. May our lives be centered around you and may you fill our hearts with your love and mercy. Lord, we pray for all those who are struggling with pride, may they be released of this sin and come into your loving arms. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Teach Me Your Ways, O Lord

Readings for Monday December 13, 2010

Memorial of Saint Lucy, virgin and martyr

First Reading: Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 25
Gospel: Matthew 21:23-27

When Jesus had come into the temple area, the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them in reply, “I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things. Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?” They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we fear the crowd, for they all regard John as a prophet.” So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.” He himself said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Mt. 21:23-27)

In today's gospel the religious leaders confront Jesus asking where His authority comes from. Jesus decides that He will tell them if they can answer His question. After being asked, they tell Him that they do not know the answer; showing that they cannot speak with authority. Since they were unwilling to share their authority with Jesus, neither was He willing to share His with them. Through all of the many confrontations that Jesus had with the religious leaders, He always had a way of reducing them to silence; or asking them questions they did not understand or couldn't answer. When reading about situations like this, we might tend to be swelled with pride and say in our heads, "Wow Jesus! You sure got em good with that one!" While these situations certainly put the scribes and pharisees in their place, they are meant to show us that Jesus came with the authority of God.

The religious leaders of the time did not believe in who Jesus was, therefore they did not accept the authority that He had. We are very blessed to have this special insight into the gospels and to see it from an outsiders perspective. It is important for us to remember that Jesus was God in the flesh, who came to teach, preach, heal, and save; all with God's authority! There is no greater power to be found anywhere, and we should be striving to grow in His love and mercy each day of our lives. Let us pray the words of the psalmists today, "Teach me your ways, O Lord." May the Holy Spirit grant us the fruits that He desires to bring into our lives each day, and may we grow stronger each day in faith, hope, and love.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We praise you for the many gifts in our lives, and for all that we are capable of. Lord, we offer this day up for you, and for your glory. Lord, you are the source of all that is good and all that is right, help guide us as we continue on our journey of faith in you. We pray for all those who are are seeking you in their lives and all those looking for meaning and purpose, may they find it in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Against the Current

Readings for Friday December 10, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 48:17-19
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1
Gospel: Matthew 11:16-19

Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by her works.” (Mt. 11:16-19)

They played their flutes, but you did not dance, they sang a dirge but you did not mourn. These are some of the words that we hear in today's gospel. Jesus compares this generation to children at the market place. He then goes straight into the things that people were saying about John the Baptist and Jesus as well. At first glance this can be a very confusing passage; but what I immediately started thinking about was the demands of the world. There are so many times that we feel pressure from those around us to "dance" and "mourn." The world tells us to relax and join in the fun, and to just be like everyone else. John the Baptist did things God's way, and he was labeled as possessed. Jesus went about fulfilling His mission, and He was labeled as a glutton and drunkard. When we choose to go against the current of our culture, we can expect some resistance and some name calling. But if we hold tight to Christ, we can swim against any current the world throws at us.

In the first reading from Isaiah today, we are told; "I, the LORD, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go. If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea." (Is. 48:17-18) It is God that we should strive to follow and listen to, not the world.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you bless us with and all that you do. Lord, help us to remember that all good things come from you, and that we are your children. Lord, even though it can be very difficult to run this race of life, we know with you that all things are possible. Give us the strength and perseverance to continue on not matter what the costs. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Thursday December 9, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 41:13-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145
Gospel: Matthew 11:11-15

I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.” Fear not, O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel; I will help you, says the LORD; your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. I will make of you a threshing sledge, sharp, new, and double-edged, To thresh the mountains and crush them, to make the hills like chaff. When you winnow them, the wind shall carry them off and the storm shall scatter them. But you shall rejoice in the LORD, and glory in the Holy One of Israel.
The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain, their tongues are parched with thirst. I, the LORD, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open up rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the broad valleys; I will turn the desert into a marshland, and the dry ground into springs of water. I will plant in the desert the cedar, acacia, myrtle, and olive; I will set in the wasteland the cypress, together with the plane tree and the pine, That all may see and know, observe and understand, That the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it. (Is 41:13-20)

Many times in this life, the world tells us that we must be great and successful. So many people strive to make themselves great, and sadly on their journey towards greatness they neglect so many other aspects of their life. The reality is that our job on this earth is not to be great, but rather to show God's greatness. I think that the Lord properly puts people in their place when using the descriptions of "worm" and "maggot" from today's first reading. Even Jesus talks about someone like John the Baptist being lower than the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. This kind of talk is not meant to lower our self esteem, but instead it is to help us realize that we are not as great as we think that we are.

Greatness come from the Lord. It is He who is the giver of life and all that we have. It is only through Him that greatness comes. The prophet Isaiah speaks of the impossible things that only God can do; such as turning desert into a marshland, or planting trees where no human could make them grow. He can do all things, and nothing is too big or too small for God to handle; "for nothing will be impossible for God." (Lk 1:37)

There is nothing wrong with achievements and success, but we must realize that greatness comes from God. Even though He may be dong great things in our life, we know that there are still more amazing things to come; because God is not through with us yet.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with. Help us never to take credit for your works, but rather to realize your love and mercy in allowing greatness into our lives. Lord, increase our faith so that we might trust in you so much more, and that we may have the courage to lay down our lives for you. We pray for all those who are unemployed, may they grow closer to you during this storm. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Immaculate Conception

Readings for Wednesday December 8, 2010

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

First Reading: Genesis 3:9-15
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 98
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

Brothers and sisters: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ. (Eph 1:3-6, 11-12)

Brothers and Sisters, today we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother and Queen. In today's readings we see God's plan for Mary unfold, from the fall of our first parents Adam and Eve to the Annunciation, where Mary said her great yes to the Lord. We see that even from the beginning that God had a plan for us and that no matter what wrong our original parents did, the Lord had a plan for us to still have a way to Him. We read today from Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus, that from the beginning of time, God had a plan for our salvation, and for each one of us. From this letter, we should realize that each of us has a purpose in this life, that purpose is to love the Father with all our heart and to do His will in our lives. For we can only find fulfillment and happiness when we have conformed our will to His.

In Paul's letter, we realize that each of us has a purpose, and so did our Blessed Mother. Mary was given the grace by God to be born without sin so that she could fulfill her purpose of bringing the savior of all of us into this world. Her purpose was to love Him, and care for Him, and to be His greatest disciple while on earth. Yet, even having done all those things, God still has a purpose for Mary, and to this day her purpose is to lead each one of us to her son, Jesus.

Mary was called by God to be the mother of Christ, this was His plan from the beginning. On the cross, Jesus gave her to all of us to be our mother as well.

During this season of Advent, may we all ask for the blessed mother's intercessions and to be lead even closer to her son.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou 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, to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be a world without end. Amen.


Comfort In God

Readings for Tuesday December 7, 2010

Memorial of Saint Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church

First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96
Gospel: Matthew 18:12-14

Jesus said to his disciples: “What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” (Mt. 18:12-14)

I remember that one time when I was younger, my mom and I was at the grocery store. I began to wonder around by myself; and after a while of playing in the isles, I realized that my mom was no longer with me and was no where to be found. I immediately started searching all of the isles, but with no luck. I started becoming very afraid that I would never find her and that I would stay lost in that store. I then found my way to the service desk; alone and afraid with tears down my cheek I asked the clerk if they could page my mom to the desk. When I heard them page her to the desk, I began to be comforted, because I knew that once the announcement was made, she would be on here way. Sure enough, moments later, there was my mom coming towards the desk; with a rather angry look on her face for me having drifted off, but I didn't care how angry she was, I had been found. You had better believe that for the rest of that trip she couldn't have lost me if she had tried.

There is certainly a lot of joy when something is lost and then is found. Jesus speaks of this in today's gospel, when He tells the parable of the lost sheep. This type of joy is certainly the same type of joy that I found when I had my conversion. I was so happy to have been found by God, that He took the time to find me; it still amazes me how much He loves me and all of us. It is so awesome that no matter how low we seem to go in our life, or how far we veer; He always find us and is willing to bring us back.

The prophet Isaiah tells us of the comfort that we can find from the Lord. If we want to find true peace and comfort, then we need to put our faith and hope in Christ. For if we do, He will carry us and lead us to everlasting life. I pray that we may all turn to the Lord, and allow Him to carry us and lead us in our lives, and then we can find the comfort that we all seek.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you and give you thanks for all that we have and all that we are. Help us to serve you with all our heart. Lord, we pray for a humble heart, and a faith that is unbreakable. Lord, be with all those who are striving to do your will. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Readings for Monday December 6, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 85
Gospel: Matthew 5:17-26

One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.”

Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– he said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.” (Mt. 5:17-26)


The Lord is My Light and My Salvation

Readings for Friday December 3, 2010

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, priest

First Reading: Isaiah 29:17-24
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 27
Gospel: Matthew 9:27-31

As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!” When he entered the house, the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him. Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread word of him through all that land. (Mt. 9:27-31)

In today's first reading, Isaiah speaks of the great works of the Lord, and the impossible situations that the Lord can heal and take care of. Making the deaf hear, the blind to see, and rising up the lowly ... these all seem like impossible situations, but not to God. God has the power to rise us up from these worldly lives of sin, and to save us from the world and ourselves. But this saving grace requires faith and trust. If we are willing to follow our Lord, and to trust Him with all our hearts He will begin to work wonders in our lives.

Today we see in the gospel reading the power of God. When the blind men called out to Jesus, they called Him "Son of David", a term that was very significant, and a term that was reserved for the Messiah. Although they could not see, they blind men were guided by their hearts, for they had no doubts about who Jesus really was. In some ways, you could say that as blind men they "saw" better than most. Jesus had mercy on them because of their faith in Him, and they were rewarded with the gift of physical sight. These men teach us about the healing power of Jesus, and how if we call upon Him, He will give us sight in many situations. There are many times in my life where I have problems or issues that do not have a clear answer. It is in these times that I am blind to the situation; and I have recognized that the times that I am thriving in my prayer life, Jesus makes these answers very clear. This is one of the reasons why it is so important for us to keep a good prayer life, or relationship, with our Lord. We need His guidance, and for Him to light the way on our path. If we commit to giving Him time each day to listen, then we will continue to thrive in this life, and not just survive.

Today, let us remember the words of the psalmist: The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, increase our faith so that we can be better servants of you. Lord, we are nothing without you, may we always remember your saving power in our lives. We pray for all those who are suffering, and all those who are lost. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Be Prepared

Readings for Thursday December 2, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 26:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 118
Gospel: Matthew 7:21, 24-27

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” (Mt. 7:24-27)

I remember over ten years ago when our world was obsessed with the Y2K scare. Everyone thought that the new millennium would be a complete catastrophe, or even worse the end of our civilization. Before the new millennium began, people began preparing for the worst; they were stocking up on food, water, generators, etc. I will have to admit that even I was a little curious and anxious to see what would happen when the clock struck midnight on New Years Eve. Much to many people's surprise nothing happened, except for the start of a new year.

It is funny how as people we try to be prepared for the worst. While many people try to prepare for disastrous things, how many of us are preparing for the typical challenges and hardships of our lives? The reality is that we all struggle with something (or many things). How do we respond to adversity? How do we get through the storms of life? In today's gospel, Jesus makes it clear to us that we have two choices in life: build our life upon a weak foundation of sand, or build it upon a strong foundation of solid rock. When we build our lives upon Christ, the strong foundation, then we create a stability in our life that prepares us for the worst. When we put all of our faith and trust into God, then we are never left disappointed. This does not mean that we will not experience the "rains and floods" of life, but when we do, we can be sure that we will still be standing strong with our Lord.

Many times in life we are told to prepare for the worst, and the worst is a life without God. Let us seek to grow closer to Him, to find the healing and comfort that only He can provide to us. Remember, this life will throw many things at us, but one thing that we can be sure of is that when our lives are built upon solid rock, we can survive and stand strong against anything.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you bless us with. Lord, you are so loving and merciful, please help us to share in this great love and mercy. Help us to be the disciples that we are called to be, trusting and always seeking your will. Lord, be our rock that we rely on at all times, and help us to never grow weary and veer from your path. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Greatness of God

Readings for Wednesday December 1, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 25:6-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23
Gospel: Matthew 15:29-37

At that time: Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel. (Mt. 15:29-31)

Today the prophet Isaiah speaks of the greatness of God and the promise of salvation. He speaks about how God's people will one day rejoice; "Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us!" I am sure that the people who came to Jesus in today's gospel shared this exact same thought. Imagine being given your sight back if you are blind, or being able to walk if once crippled. Not only did Christ cure many that day, but He also spoke and ministered to them and He used a few loafs of bread and some fish to feed all the people! Even still more amazing, after they had all eaten, there was such an abundance left over. These amazing acts truly speak to us about God's mercy and His greatness!

We serve a truly awesome and great God. He is greater than any person and more powerful than any force. And we should always remember that He is with us, and with Him nothing is impossible! Let us all serve the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and then one day we may be blessed enough to live in the house of the Lord all of our days!

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We praise you for your many blessings that you bestow upon us Lord. God, help us to become better servants for you, increase our faith, hope, and love so that we might be better servants. We pray for all those suffering in the world, and all those seeking you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Are You Listening?

Readings for Tuesday November 30, 2010

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

First Reading: Romans 10:9-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19
Gospel: Matthew 4:18-22

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. (Mt. 4:18-22)

Imagine you are sitting at your desk one day or in your home and a stranger walks by and says, "Come and follow me." You would probably be thinking "yeah right, do you know how much work I have?" Or you might be thinking, "I don't even know you, and you want me to leave what I am doing and follow you?" This would be the response of most people, but it was not the response of the Apostles when Jesus walked by. They did not stop to think it over, they did not look at the pros and cons, they did not worry more about what they were doing. They simply got up and followed Christ.

The Apostles like Saint Andrew (who's feast day we celebrate today) give us a great example of true faith. As Saint Paul says in his letter to the Romans: "Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes from Christ." (Rom. 10:17) The Apostles heard the calling of Christ, and they followed, thus demonstrating true faith. Which begs us to ask the all important question; are we listening for Christ in our own lives? Are we seeking out His calling for us? Are we too busy in the things that we are doing to follow the Lord?

He is here with us at all times, and if we would just take moments throughout our day to stop and listen, then we will hear Him speak. Remember, one cannot follow if they do not hear the guide.

Saint Andrew, pray for us.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with. We are sorry for all of your gifts that we take for granted and do not use for your glory. Lord, help us to always be listening for your voice in this busy, chaotic world. Lord, you are the only one who can bring us true peace and joy, may we always strive to be with you. We pray for the conversion of all those who do not believe, and who are unwilling to follow. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Only Say the Word

Readings for Monday November 29, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 4:2-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 122
Gospel: Matthew 8:5-11

When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 8:5-11)

Does today's gospel reading sound strangely familiar? Well it should since we reference the line of the centurion soldier at each mass. At each mass, before we receive Jesus through the Eucharist, we say; "Lord I am not worthy to receive you, only say the word and I shall be healed." These words almost echo those said by the centurion to Christ in today's gospel; "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant shall be healed." One of the things I love about the Church and about the mass is all the rich tradition and wisdom that has been passed to us over the years. This example is one of many that we have today.

The centurion in today's gospel demonstrates a faith and a knowing in the power of Christ that seems to be uncommon. This is why Jesus is so amazed at his faith! The centurion understands that he has no power to save himself or his servant, but that saving grace comes from God alone. Nothing that we can ever do or say is going to make us worthy of Christ's love, we must simply humble ourselves and ask Jesus to only say the word for us to be healed and to have everlasting life. I pray that each of us can have the faith in Christ that the centurion soldier displays in today's gospel. May the Lord increase our faith and hope along this journey.

Reflection on Advent:
Since we have entered into the season of advent, a time of great excitement and expectation. I would like to share a reading that I came across recently in hopes that you will be inspired as I was:
"Dearest Brothers and Sisters: With today's first Sunday of Advent, a new liturgical year begins. The Church takes up her journey again, and invites us to reflect more intensely on the mystery of Christ, a mystery that is always new and that time cannot exhaust. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Thanks to Him, the history of humanity proceeds as a pilgrimage toward the fulfillment of the Kingdom which He inaugurated with His incarnation and victory over sin and death.
-John Paul II, Angelus, December 2, 2001


Complete Trust

Readings for Wednesday November 24, 2010

Memorial of Saint Andrew Dũng-Lac, priest and martyr, and his companions, martyrs

First Reading: Revelation 15:1-4
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 98
Gospel: Luke 21:12-19

Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” (Lk 21:12-19)

Imagine one day at work, your boss comes to you and says "I want you to give a presentation to the board. And even though they will not want to hear this presentation, it is still very important for the company. Oh, and by the way, I don't want you to prepare for this presentation at all." How many of you would consider turning in your resignation, or consider making up an excuse as to why you cannot make the meeting that day? This is essentially that task that the disciples were given, only it was much bigger and they were informed that their lives were at stake. When brought before the kings and governors they were not to prepare a defense, only let the Lord work through them. The Lord also tells them that by persevering through this pain and hardship, they will not be losing their lives, but they will be gaining an eternal prize in heaven and securing their lives.

The disciples teach us today about having complete trust in Jesus. For after hearing this they did not walk away from their task, but we know that they went forward, forward with Christ, trusting in Him and following Him completely ... even until their deaths. I pray that each of us in our faith journey can learn to trust in Jesus like this.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, increase our faith and hope so that we might have complete trust in you and in your ways. Lord help us to follow you no matter what, and to persevere with you through this life here on earth. Lord, we pray for all those searching for meaning in their lives, may they find it in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


It's Not the "When" That Is Important

Readings for Tuesday November 23, 2010

First Reading: Revelation 14:14-19
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96
Gospel: Luke 21:5-11

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.” (Lk 21:5-11)

I wonder how many discussions have happened in the world in regards to when the world is going to end. I know that there have been many occasions when I have been in the grocery store line only to read a headline in the Weekly World News about predictions of the end of the world (that and a blurb about Elvis being spotted pumping gas at a Seven 11). There are many theories and groups that believe that they know exactly when the world is going to end and when the supposed "rapture" will happen. Every time I hear these stories or see these articles, I just smile and go about my business, because I realize that it is not the "when" that is important. It is not my concern of when Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead, or even how it is going to happen, all that I need to know is that it will happen and that my faith and works is what will matter when the time comes.

Let us not fear the horrible evils that happen in this world, for as Jesus said these things must happen first. Let us instead fear an eternity separated from God. I pray for each one of us on our journey of faith, and that one day we will all rejoice for eternity in heaven with our Lord.

Father above, we thank you for our lives and we thank you for the journey that each of us have been called to. Lord, increase our faith and hope in you, help us to not fear the evils of this world, but instead fear a life without you. Lord, we thank you for being so merciful and good to us, help us to serve you all the days of our lives and to seek your will at all times. We praise you for your glory, and we pray for all those searching for meaning in their lives. May they find it in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Monday November 22, 2010

Memorial of Saint Cecilia, virgin and martyr

First Reading: Revelation 14:1-3, 4b-5
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 24
Gospel: Luke 21:1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” (Lk 21:1-4)

I remember learning about today's gospel reading as a boy in Sunday school. My teachers were illustrating the point of the importance of tithing, and not holding back from God. This story has certainly always stuck with me, and today I still believe that tithing is a very important thing. However, while being good stewards of our money is certainly important, there is much more going on in this reading. This poor widow illustrates an important concept which Jesus praises ... self-donation. As Jesus says in the gospel, she "has offered her whole livelihood." This widow has emptied herself for her Lord, and does not think twice about giving all that she has. This widow is not afraid to give to God and to leave her life in His hands.

As Christians, we are called to follow Christ where ever He leads us to. I think that one of the reasons that Christ praises the act of this woman was because she models this self-donation, an act that Christ models for us on the cross. To be true disciples, we are to model ourselves after Christ, and that means being willing to empty ourself for God and for others. This is our calling.

Self-donation is certainly not easy, in fact is demands a letting go of the self-centeredness that pulls at each and every one of us. But if we remember to cling to Christ, the Lamb of God; then we too can offer our whole livelihoods for our King.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with and for the many gifts in our lives. Lord, be at our center, dwell in our hearts, so that we may only seek you. Lord, you are our King, may we follow no one or nothing else besides you. Help us to offer our entire lives to you, and to be good stewards of the many gifts that you give us. Lord, you are our rock and our salvation, in you alone do we trust. Amen.


Keep Sacred What is God's

Readings for Friday November 19, 2010

First Reading: Revelation 10:8-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119
Gospel: Luke 19:45-48

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words. (Lk 19:45-48)

In today's gospel we read about Jesus going to cleanse the temple of the wickedness which was taking place there. Today's gospel teaches us about the importance of reverence for God and what belongs to Him. It is important that we take God and all that belongs to Him serious, and work to keep these things sacred at all times. This not only applies for God's house, but for all of His children as well. How many times do we sit on the couch and watch TV versus going for a walk? Or how many times do we help ourselves to that extra slice of cake versus telling our body "no" ? As it says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit ..." It is important for us to keep sacred all that belongs to God, including ourselves!

Today, let us ask our Blessed Mother for her prayers and intercession so that we may keep sacred what is God's and be drawn in even closer to her son, Jesus.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou 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.


In the Zone

Readings for Thursday November 18, 2010

First Reading: Revelation 5:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 149
Gospel: Luke 19:41-44

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Lk. 19:41-44)

Have you ever heard anyone at work, school, or in sports say that they were "in the zone?" It is a very interesting concept to be in the zone, your focus and concentration are just so intense and you are only completely involved in what you are doing. I have had these moments at work before, and it just seems as though I am on fire and getting so much of my work done, and before I realize it my work day has just flown by. While being in the zone can be good and have its advantages at times, there is also a potential downfall to being in the zone ... you don't notice anything or anyone else around you.

I think that this is why Jesus was so saddened by the town that He came across in today's gospel reading. The people were so blinded to the truth, and they did not recognize the greatness that was among them. They did not accept Christ and His ways, and due to that they will have to face the consequences. Perhaps if they had been paying more attention and having more faith instead of being in their own "zone," they might of noticed that their savior was there present and wanting to be with them.

Unfortunately, we like the people of the past become so "in the zone" in our own lives that we do not recognize when God is calling out to us. It is also in these times that we are just so pre-occupied with ourselves that we forget about who and what are the most important things in our lives. While it is okay to be in the zone at times (especially if we are talking about our faith), let us always remember to take time each day to stop and just be with our Creator.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, we pray for your will to be done in our lives and we ask for your forgiveness in the times that we stray. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Wednesday November 17, 2010

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, religious

First Reading: Revelation 4:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 150
Gospel: Luke 19:11-28

He replied, ‘I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. (Lk. 19:26)

Do you ever find yourself just asking the question "why" a lot? I am sure that we all ask this question many times in our life, and especially when it comes to God, we find ourselves asking "why?" Why did God choose to give us two arms instead of four? Why did God make the sky blue? Why did my neighbor who does not act faithfully win the lottery, while all I got were more bills? Why was the master in today's gospel so unkind to the fearful servant and to the people that he now ruled?

I find that many people in life seem to want to reject faith all because they do not understand God, and because they do not have an answer for the "why's." Well, as much as I wish I did, I do not have an answer for you in regards to why things are the way that they are. I cannot even begin to attempt to understand God's ways; I realize that I am simply too small and unable to do so. I cannot tell you exactly why Jesus tells us in today's gospel that "to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." I realize that this may seem kind of harsh and while we do not fully understand the rationale behind this, we must trust that it is what is right.

I realize that we all have two choices: 1) We can go our entire lives always questioning God and His ways, or 2) We can just trust Him completely and realize that His ways are perfect. Many times we think that we know the whole situation, but in reality we only know fragments of information. God knows all, and His ways are perfect, even if we don't see it at first.

Today, may our faith be strengthened so that we can trust more. Let us be like the the servants who did not question their master or his intentions, but did as instructed. For when we do this, our reward will be a glorious place in heaven, and we too may be blessed enough to see what Saint John saw.

Father above, we thank you for your love and mercy. Bless our days, so that we might serve you with all that we are. Lord, forgive us for questioning you and your ways. Lord hep us to always trust in you no matter what. Lord we pray for all those who are seeking you and all those who have fallen away from the faith. We ask this all through your name. Amen.


Climbing Trees

Readings for Tuesday November 16, 2010

First Reading: Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 15
Gospel: Luke 19:1-10

At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” (Lk 19:1-10)

Have you ever seen your boss climbing a tree? What about Bill Gates, ever seen him at the top of a crab apple tree? We typically do not see too many wealthy or high up executives climbing trees ... come to think of it, we don't see too many adults in trees either. But today we are told of a man of power and money who at just the chance to see Jesus Christ climbed up into a tree. Why does Zacchaeus need to be up in a tree anyways? Doesn't he have everything that he needs? Why does he just need to catch a glimpse of the Savior? Because Zacchaeus knows that there is something missing in his life, he knows that Jesus does not promise a great worldly life, but an everlasting one in heaven. Zacchaeus knows this and he is determined to do whatever it takes to get a look at God.

Zacchaeus teaches us today about determination and humbling yourself for God. I pray that we can all be as active as Zacchaeus was in searching for Christ in our lives and surrendering all that we have to Him.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, strengthen us and increase our faith so that we might stand strong against the evil one and the pressures from this world. Lord let us always follow you and do what is right and what is asked of us. Lord God, we pray for all those actively searching for you, that they might come to know the peace and joy that comes from knowing you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As some of you may or may not know, my wife and I have felt a calling to start a non-profit organization that focuses on the health and well being of the entire person, as well as the health and well being of the family. Our non-profit is called the Christian Center for Youth and Family Health (CCYFH for short). The CCYFH is a non-profit organization that adheres to the teachings and guidance of the Catholic Church. Although we are still in the early stages of development, we are offering chastity education programs to youth groups and schools. We are in the process of planning a series of forums for parents to discuss various topics and issues facing parents today. In the future, we plan to offer marriage enrichment programs, family health and wellness programs, and resources for parents.

There are two reasons for this blog post. One reason is to make you aware of the opportunity to sign up for our free monthly e-newsletter called "The family Encourager." In this newsletter you will find insightful articles about marriage and family life, an update on what is happening at the CCYFH, as well as other fun facts and information. If you would like to receive this free e-newsletter please click here (you will be directed to our website where you can sign up for our email list).

The other purpose of this post is to ask for support. My wife and I hope that each of you will pray for us in this new venture. As many of you know that our youth, marriages, and the family are all under attack; and we desperately need to strengthen our youth, and support marriage and the family in any way we can. Please pray for us as our organization strives for its vision of, "Understanding that true joy and peace come from knowing, loving and serving the Lord; the CCYFH works to build: communities that invest in families, families that invest in marriages, and youth that invest in themselves."

Along with your prayers, I would also like to ask you to consider giving financially if you can and feel called to. We have a goal of raising $5,000 by the end of the year, and so far we have raised over $3,000! (63% to our goal) We have been blown away by the generosity of so many, and we hope that you will consider giving a financial gift to our organization to help get us started. We are happy and very thankful to receive any amount, whether it is $1 or $1,000 every little bit helps and will make a difference. If you would like to make a contribution, please click here (you will be directed to the "Support Us" page of our website, click on the "Chip In" button to make a contribution).

I thank each one of you for your prayers and support, and I pray that we each keep growing in our Lord, so that one day we may all come together into His Heavenly Kingdom. May the Lord bless you and your families abundantly.

God bless,

-Jimmie Davis

For more information about the CCYFH, please go to www.ccyfh.org.


Accept No Substitutes

Readings for Thursday November 11, 2010

Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, bishop

First Reading: Philemon 7-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 146
Gospel: Luke 17:20-25

Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus said in reply, “The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.”
Then he said to his disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. There will be those who will say to you, ‘Look, there he is,’ or ‘Look, here he is.’ Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.” (Lk 17:20-25)

When going grocery shopping, I just simply love the "off brands." Not only do they save you a lot of money, but they also taste just as good. Who needs "honey nut Cheerios" when you can have "honey nut toasted oats?" Who needs the fancy packaging of "wonder bread" when you can choose from a wide assortment of the "Kroger brand breads?" Who needs "poptarts" when you can have "toaster treats?"

While "off brands"might work out great for our food or household items, we must accept no substitutes for our faith and who we choose to follow. Jesus warns us today about how the disciples will not see His coming in His glory, but that they need to be wary because others will say "Look, look, there He is!" or "Look, look, He is over there!" Jesus is warning them and us to not be fooled into following a false promise and a lie. There will be many distractions and many people trying to veer us off the path that God has laid for us. We must be strong in our faith, and pray for the strength and the will to stay the course, to not veer, and to be steadfast in our journey. If we follow Christ first, and only Christ, then we will be blessed enough to see Him in His glory in heaven.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Help give us the strength this day Lord to follow you with a strong faith and hope, loving you first and all others that you put into our lives. Lord God, we pray for all those struggling in their faith journey and all those seeking you in their lives. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Wednesday November 10, 2010

Memorial of Saint Leo the Great, pope and doctor of the Church

First Reading: Titus 3:1-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23
Gospel: Luke 17:11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” (Lk. 17:11-19)

Mercy. Next to love, this is one of God's greatest gifts to us. He does not have to be merciful to us; He wants to because of His great love and desire to have all of His children with Him. How often do we recognize God's great mercy in our lives. How many of us take time to just stop and thank Him for everything, from the smallest of things like the air we breathe to the big things like miracles in our lives? Most of this time we just go about our day, letting so much time go in between our recognizing and thanking God for everything, especially His mercy. In the gospel today, we read of the healing of the ten lepers. When the ten lepers were cleansed, only one came back to thank Jesus for His mercy and healing. The rest did not seem to recognize the great act of love and mercy that took place. This leads us to the question, when God is merciful in your life, do you recognize it? Do you take time to stop and thank Him for all that He has done? Do you thank Him often for His amazing love? The first thing that we must do is recognize that God is working in our lives. We must take time to reflect on His love and mercy in our own lives; once we recognize His works, then we can truly be thankful for all that He does.

Today, reflect on the words by Saint Paul in his letter to Titus.
But when the kindness and generous love
of God our savior appeared,
not because of any righteous deeds we had done
but because of his mercy,
he saved us through the bath of rebirth
and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he richly poured out on us
through Jesus Christ our savior,
so that we might be justified by his grace
and become heirs in hope of eternal life. (Ti. 3:4-7)

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for your great love and mercy in our lives. Lord, you have given each of us so much, much more than we deserve, please help us to always have gratitude in our hearts and to keep mindful of you at all times. Lord, fill us with your love, help us to be you out in this world. May we have the courage and the perseverance to live a life of faith, now and always. Amen.


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