Clay on the Wheel

Readings for Thursday July 29, 2010

Memorial of Saint Martha

First Reading: Jeremiah 18:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 146
Gospel: John 11:19-27 or Luke 10:38-42

This word came to Jeremiah from the LORD: Rise up, be off to the potter's house; there I will give you my message. I went down to the potter's house and there he was, working at the wheel. Whenever the object of clay which he was making turned out badly in his hand, he tried again, making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased. Then the word of the LORD came to me: Can I not do to you, house of Israel, as this potter has done? says the LORD. Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel. (Jer. 18:1-6)

In today's first reading, we see that the Lord sends Jeremiah off to admire the artistry of the potter on his wheel. When the clay was not working out as planned, the potter would begin to rework the clay into something else. The Lord said to Jeremiah, "Can I no do yo you, house of Israel, as this potter has done?" The Lord is telling Jeremiah, as badly as the clay has turned out, it still has value and can still have a purpose if it is willing to let the Lord rework it.

And so too it is like our lives no matter what we have done or no matter how much we have messed up, the Lord still wants to rework us for a purpose. The Lord sees value in all His children, even if we do not. He has plans for each of us, but sometimes we go against His will and follow our own instead. That is when, like the potter, the Lord just keeps working with us and tries to guide us into what He has planned for us. It is funny that so many people resist the Lord, and what they are really resisting is the only thing that will bring them true peace and joy in their lives.

Today, we celebrate the memorial of Saint Martha, someone who allowed themselves to be reworked by the Lord. One of Martha's early encounters with Christ, she complained that her sister would not help with the labor. Jesus corrected her letting her know that Mary had chosen the better thing which is to be with the Lord. We see in the reading about Martha from the gospel of John, how far Martha had come. When with her guests, and upon hearing that Jesus was coming, she dropped everything and came to Him. Martha is a great example of a Saint who allowed God to reword them on the wheel.

So, what is it in your life that holds you back from God? What is the thing that needs reworked in you? I pray brothers and sisters that we can all be given the courage and strength to allow God to rework each of us and to bring us closer to holiness and closer to Him.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for the many blessing and gifts in our lives. Lord, help us to be good stewards of all that you have entrusted to us, and help us never to take any gift for granted. Lord, humble and soften our hearts, so that we might be workable as the clay is on the potters wheel. Help us to be open to your will, increase our faith so that we might follow you no matter where it is that you lead. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Wheat or Weeds?

Readings for Tuesday July 27, 2010

First Reading: Jeremiah 14:17-22
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 79
Gospel: Matthew 13:36-43

Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." He said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear."(Mt 13:36-43)

Most of us remember in gym class the importance of being on the team that was most likely going to win. I remember when choosing teams, that I hoped that I would be on the team with the best athletes for that particular sport. Obviously, no one wanted to be on the team that would most likely lose, we wanted to be on the team that gave us the best chance for success.

Today's gospel, explains the parable of the weeds among the wheat. Jesus is telling His disciples how the one who sows good seed is the son of man, and the one who sows the weeds is the devil. At the end of the age, the harvesters (angels) will go through and collect the weeds, bind them up and throw them into the furnace. Those who bore good fruit in their life and lived for God will be welcomed into Heaven with open arms. One can think of this as being a parable among a winning team (wheat) and a losing team (weeds). Here is the only difference between our gym class example and the parable ... we get to choose which team we are on! When it comes to whether or not we are on God's team, and whether not we will be bound for heaven, the choice is ours. We have a choice, we can either say yes to God's plan and live our life totally for Him; or we can say no, and choose to live our life for ourselves. We get to choose whether we are the wheat or the weeds.

Like we said before, it is important to make sure that we are on the winning team. In this instance, we know that being with Christ is being on the winning team; and the devil is on the losing team. Those who choose Christ not only choose the winning team, but the eternal reward that comes from being on the winning team.

"Those who have ears ought to hear."

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you give to us and for you great blessings in our lives. Help us to be good stewards of all that you entrust to us. May we never take this life, or any life for granted, and may we always seek your perfect will in all things. Lord, we belong to you, help us to never stray from your path. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Meant for Heaven

Readings for Monday July 26, 2010

Memorial of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

First Reading: Jeremiah 13:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Deuteronomy 32:18-19
Gospel: Matthew 13:31-35

Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds. "The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'"
He spoke to them another parable. "The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened."
All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world. (Mt. 13:31-35)

Today we see Jesus address the crowds in parables; which would make one ask the question, why? Why did Jesus go to such great lengths to teach by parables? Why didn't He give the people all the theology about God, Heaven, salvation, angels, etc? Why did He give them all the detailed, technical information that He could have given to the people to really make the understand? So why parables? I think that He used parables to help paint a picture for them. He didn't go there to give them theology 101, He went there to help them see what it is that they are missing out on.

The parables, helped them to see what was previously unknown to them. The parables that He gave today were in regards to heaven. I am sure that many people wondered what heaven was like, and before Jesus, no one talked about it because no one had ever been there. But Jesus, being God, was able to talk about it, He was able to give them examples and images to help them get a basic understanding of what heaven was like and what He was offering them. The parable that I liked the best was that of the mustard seed. In our world, faith and even something like heaven may seem like nothing more than a small thing, something insignificant. But if allowed to flourish in ones life, it can become something great. Heaven is like the large bush described today, where the "birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches." Heaven is the place with no more suffering, no more pain, no more tears. Heaven is our destiny, we are meant for heaven. God has an invitation out to each of us, will we trust Him and accept or try our own way, which leads away from heaven?

These parables today show us that our place is with God, and that we are meant to be with Him in Heaven. That is a message that we should all take to heart.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all of your blessings in our life. Thank you for the many blessings and gifts that you have given us, help us to be good stewards of all that you give. Lord, you are our God and our salvation, help us to never stray from your loving arms. We pray for all those in need of conversion, may they find peace and rest in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Best Chance for Success

Readings for Friday July 23, 2010

First Reading: Jeremiah 3:14-17
Responsorial Psalm: Jeremiah 31:10
Gospel: Matthew 13:18-23

Jesus said to his disciples: "Hear the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold." (Mt. 13:18-23)

In today's gospel, Jesus explains the parable of the sower. In the parable we have four different types of seeds, which can be likened to four different types of people. It is clear from this parable that a life with Christ is certainly no easy task, and that they can be many challenges and obstacles that we will face during this journey of "growth." This parable shows us that it is not simply enough just to hear the word of God, but we also must live it out and put ourselves in the right environment. Essentially what this parable is saying is that once we believe, we need to do things that are going to give us the best chance for success.

When we are talking about the best chance for success, what we are talking about is things that are going to give us the best opportunity to live out our faith. One of the reasons why the seeds that fell on rock sprang up fast and then died quickly, is because they did not have a firm foundation. We can liken this to not being grounded in God. He must be our foundation and the center of our lives if we are going to succeed in a strong faith life, and in reaching our goal of heaven. One of the other seeds fell to the ground and was choked up by the thorns. We can liken this to not surrounding ourselves with the right people or things. When we let the worldly people and things influence us, it leads us away from God, it leads us away from our true calling of love. Think about it, if one of our goals was to be an Olympic athlete, would it be a good idea to only hang around pessimistic couch potatoes all the time? Of course not, because that would not give us the best chance for success in our goal.

The seeds that fell on good soil were like the people who heard the word of God and understood it, their life went on to bear much fruit. The key to their success was that they were in good soil. They had strong roots and were grounded in God. They understood His word, meaning that most likely they spent time in prayer asking for guidance and wisdom. The soil they were in was good, meaning they most likely surrounded themselves with people and things that helped build them up, not tear them down.

In our faith life, it is all about giving ourselves the best chance for success. That means making sure that we are grounded in God, and that we surround ourselves with people and things that lead us to Holiness, not away from it.

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.

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.


Stop Holding On

Readings for Thursday July 22, 2010

Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene

First Reading: Jeremiah 2:1-3,7-8,12-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 36
Gospel: John 20:1-2,11-18

Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken my Lord, and I don't know where they laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" She thought it was the gardener and said to him, "Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni," which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and then reported what he told her. (Jn. 20:11-18)

In today's gospel, we read about how Mary Magdalene encounters the risen Lord. After recognizing that it is Jesus who is standing before her, Jesus says to her, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father." Now why would Jesus say this? Was Mary clinging to His clothes? Was she tugging at His tassels? Was she grabbing onto His legs like a little kid? Most likely she was not physically holding on to Him, so why would Jesus say this? I think it is because Mary was holding on to the past, of how she knew Jesus.

You see, Mary, like all of Jesus' followers only knew Him as God on earth; they did not know Him as God in heaven. They only knew Him from a limited perspective, they did not know Him in all His glory. They did not know His power over sin and death, and how there were still so many things that He came to do. They did not have the understanding of how He came to suffer and die for all of us, and to be risen in victory over sin and death. They were holding on to what they knew, and by doing this they were placing limits on God. They were bringing God down to their level and fitting Him into something that they could grasp. What they needed to do, and what we need to do in our lives, is let God be God. There are no limits on God, and we should not be trying to limit Him or reduce Him to anything. We all need to let go and let God be God.

He is in charge, we will never fully understand Him, and the reality is that God is a mystery, and will never be fully revealed to us while we are on earth. Our simple intellects cannot even begin to grasp all that is God. The sooner we realize that we are the ones who are limited, and Jesus is Lord, the better.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you for the gift of our lives and for the many blessings in our lives. Lord, you are our rock and our salvation, we praise you and thank you for all that we have and all that we are. Help us to never veer from you path and your ways. Lord, we are the ones who are limited, help us to never try to reduce you or limit you. We praise you for your many gifts in our lives, may we each be good stewards of all that you entrust to us. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Life is a Gift

Readings for Wednesday July 21, 2010

First Reading: Jeremiah 1:1,4-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 71
Gospel: Matthew 13:1-9

The word of the LORD came to me thus: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. "Ah, Lord GOD!" I said, I know not how to speak; I am too young." But the LORD answered me, Say not, "I am too young." To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD. Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying, See, I place my words in your mouth! This day I set you over nations and over kingdoms, To root up and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant. (Jer. 1:4-10)

I have a fifteen month old daughter, and there are so many times when I am just watching her that I realize what a great gift she is. I have had this thought many times, from the moment my wife and I first found out we were pregnant, to her first step, and even now; at each stage I recognize what a gift she is from God. Each day and at each stage I have truly learned so much from her, but I think that one of the greatest lessons I have learned is what a gift life is.

In today's first reading by the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord tells him; "before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you." We see here that God had a plan for Jeremiah even before he was born. God gave him the gift of his life for a purpose, and this purpose was to be a great prophet to the nations, and to help "build and plant" for the glory of God. Today's reading teaches us a great deal about our own lives. We were each created for a purpose, our life is a great gift that is meant to be used to do great things for the Lord. Now these things that we do may not seem like much to the world, or they may even go unnoticed, but they will not go unnoticed by God.

Our lives are a gift from God, that is one thing that we should always be sure of. He has a plan and a purpose for each of us. We are meant to help "build" up the Church and the kingdom of God; we are meant to help "plant" seeds of faith and hope in our families and in all those we come in contact with. We are also meant to fight for life and the dignity of each person, because we never know what great purpose God may be calling someone to.

Life is a precious and wonderful gift, however it is also a great responsibility. Let us each be good stewards of the life God has blessed us with and to never be afraid of God's purpose for our life.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Thank you for the gift of our lives, and for all that you bless us with. Lord, we pray for all those you are pregnant and expecting, may they realize the precious life that is inside their womb. Lord, we pray for an end to abortion and euthanasia, may our world come to value life and to condemn any practices which seek the destruction of life. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Welcome to the Family

Readings for Tuesday July 20, 2010

First Reading: Micah 7:14-15,18-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 85
Gospel: Matthew 12:46-50

While Jesus was speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him. Someone told him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you." But he said in reply to the one who told him, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Mt 12:46-50)

One desire that we all share is the desire to be a part of something special. Each of us wants to know that we belong, that we have a place in this world. The truth is that God invites each of us into His family. He does not need us to be a part of this family, but He wants us to be a part of it. We are His children, and He wants everyone to loved and cherished as only He can. Sadly, many people reject this invitation, and they never realize all the joy and peace that they are missing out on all because they are rejecting being a part of God's family.

So if God wants us to each be a part of His family, then one of course must ask the question, "how does one become a part of God's family?" Jesus tells us simply in the gospel reading today. When told that His mother and brothers were outside wanting to talk to Him, Jesus uses this as a teachable moment. He asks, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" Then goes on to give us these words of wisdom; "whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother." So there is it, the answer to our question; how do we become a part of God's family ... by doing His will out of love for Him. There is no contract to sign, no lawyers needed; just a desire to do His will over our own. And what is God's will for us? While God's will for each person is different, we each share this basic purpose: to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and our neighbor as our self. This is God's will, if we can do this, then we will be welcomed into the family with open arms.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Thank you for the gift of our lives, and for all the blessings that you give to us. Lord, you are our rock and our salvation, help us to never veer from the path you have set for us. Lord, help us to have courage in this world, and to persevere until the end. Help us to run a good race and to seek out the prize of eternal life by following your will each day. Lord, we pray for all life, for pregnant mothers, and for an end to abortion. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Walk Humbly with God

Readings for Monday July 19, 2010

First Reading: Micah 6:1-4, 6-8
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 50
Gospel: Matthew 12:38-42

With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow before God most high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriad streams of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my crime, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Mi. 6:6-8)

Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries; these are typically times where we buy people gifts for those special occasions. During these times of gift giving, most of us are presented with the difficult task of buying a gift for someone who really doesn't need anything. We all have those people, who every year for either Christmas or their birthday, we struggle with what to get that person. We think about a new gadget, but then ask would they even use it? We think about clothes, but then remember that for the past five years we have been buying them sweaters ... interestingly that you have never seen them wear. You consider a gift card, but don't like how impersonal it is. And so it goes on and on, and we go crazy and become consumed with what to buy the person who doesn't need anything.

God is kind of like that person who doesn't need anything. Sometimes we try very hard to think of what will please God the most. So we try and give some money to the parish or the poor. We volunteer for various ministries. We show up to mass every Sunday dressed nicely and on time. Now, don't get me wrong, these are all wonderful things, and we should be trying to do all of them, but while doing these things, we cannot lose our focus of what the most important thing is ... to know God personally. We can spend lots of time trying to do things, but doing all of these things will mean nothing if we do now know God and if we are not doing them out of love for God.

The prophet Micah today has great words of wisdom for those only seeking to do something: "You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do the right and love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God." The people of the old testament became so consumed with what to do for God, what to sacrifice, that they completely forgot and lost sight of their love for Him, their relationship with Him. As we all know, a relationship will not last if the people involved do not spend time just being with each other. It is the same for our relationship with God, if we are to have a good, thriving relationship with Him, then we need to spend time with Him; to walk humbly with our God.

In the midst of our busyness, may we never lose sight of what should be the most important thing in our lives ... our Lord.

Father above, we thank you and give you praise. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with, thank you for all that you give to us. Lord, thank you for the gift of our lives, help us to be good stewards of the gifts that you give to us. Lord, you are our rock and our salvation, help us never to veer from your path. Lord, increase our faith, so that we may cling to you and walk closer by you, as a child does with their parent. We pray for all of those in need of conversion, may they be brought into your loving arms. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


He Desires Mercy

Readings for Friday July 16, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 38:1-6,21-22,7-8
Responsorial Psalm: Isaiah 38:10,11,12,16
Gospel: Matthew 12:1-8

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath." He said to the them, "Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath." (Mt 12:1-8)

"I desire mercy, not sacrifice." These are some of the words that Jesus uses to justify His disciples behavior. It was clear that the Pharisees were not too interested in having mercy on a bunch of hungry men, instead they were only out to uphold their version of the sabbath. Jesus points out that they are quick to condemn, and instead they need to be quick with mercy.

We must remember that love is the greatest of all virtues, it should be the paradigm of which we work out of. If the Pharisees had been working with the mindset of love, then they would have had mercy for the disciples; and we can bet that a whole lot of other things would not have happened as well. Because their hearts were closed off to love they were not able to have mercy, nor were they able to recognize that God, who is love, is right before them.

We are here on this earth to love and be loved, that is our purpose. While there is nothing wrong with sacrifice (Lord knows we could all stand to do a little more of it), it cannot supersede love and mercy.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all of your blessings in our lives. We were created by you and for you, help us to always recognize our need for you. Help us to always remember that everything we have is yours, help us to be good stewards of this life that you give us. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Take my Yoke

Readings for Thursday July 14, 2010

Memorial of Saint Bonaventure, bishop and doctor of the Church

First Reading: Isaiah 26:7-9,12,16-19
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 102
Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus said: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." (Mt 11:28-30)

The cold hard truth is that this world can really do a number on us. Sometimes we get beat up, knocked down, kicked, and pushed around (and I am not just talking physically physically). Sometimes in this life we can go through so many hardships and challenges that it really makes us lose focus of what's important. When we try to only survive in this world, it can be very easy for us to become restless in our hearts. All praises be to Him who came to take away that restlessness; instead He offers us His peace.

Jesus offers us a chance for peace, a chance away from the turmoil and devastation that the world brings. Until we embrace His yoke, we will only find restlessness, and we will never find peace and rest. Today let us reflect on today's gospel and the words of Saint Augustine: "Our heart is restless until it rests in you."

Our lives are meant to be a reflection of God's love, may we model our lives after the Lord.

Father above, we thank you and give you praise for this day. Lord, please give us the courage to live for you, and to have a meek and humble heart. Lord, you are our rock and salvation, help us to never veer away from you. Lord, we pray for all of those who are restless, may they find peace and love in your arms. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Meet the Family

Readings for Wednesday July 14, 2010

Memorial of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, virgin

First Reading: Isaiah 10:5-7, 13-16
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 94
Gospel: Matthew 11:25-27

At that time Jesus exclaimed: "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him." (Mt 11:25-27)

I remember the first time that I introduced my wife (girlfriend at the time) to my family. We met at a restaurant, and I had invited her and only told my parents that I was going to bring a guest. It is always an interesting thing when you first introduce a significant other to your family. You always wonder how they will interact with each other. You might fear that someone will say the wrong thing and offend another person. You want the family to see the same spectacular qualities that you see in the person. Meeting the family is an important step in a relationship, because it is the family that is an extension of that person. If we want to really know the person, then we must get to know the family.

We were created by and meant for God. We were meant to know Him and form a personal relationship with Him. If we are to know God, then we must get acquainted with His family. We must know the trinity; one God, three persons: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. We must know and follow Jesus, the beloved Son. We must ask to know the Father, who Jesus tells us in today's that the Father is revealed by the Son. We must also know the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. The Holy Spirit is the advocate, who brings about gifts and fruits in our lives. Let us pray to the Holy Spirit for a deepening of our faith, the ability to love and for a greater understanding of the Father's will for us.

Along with knowing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; we should also get to know some of the other family members. Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was given to us as our mother by Christ on the cross (Jn 19:25-27). Mary is both Queen of Heaven and Earth, as well as our Mother. She loves each of her children, and seeks only to bring them closer to her Son Jesus. Let us pray for her intercessions and model our life after hers. Another part of God's family is the Saints and Angels who are in heaven with God. We know that God works through His angels, let us ask for their protection and ministry in this life. Let us ask for the prayers of the saints in heaven and for special graces from God.

By knowing God's family, we realize something very important ... we are never alone. This world may try to beat us down, but we come fighting back with the strength of almighty God and our family. As sons and daughters of God, it is time for us to get acquainted with the family of God.

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.

Father above, we are your sons and daughters. Made by you and for you, help our lives to reflect your love for your family. Lord, thank you for the gift of this day and for the many blessings in our lives. Lord, you are our rock and our salvation, help us to never veer from you. We praise you for all that we are and all that we have. May we always be good stewards of this life, and may we give you glory in all things. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Firm Foundation

Readings for Tuesday July 13, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 7:1-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm
Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24

Then the LORD said to Isaiah: Go out to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway of the fuller's field, and say to him: Take care you remain tranquil and do not fear; let not your courage fail before these two stumps of smoldering brands the blazing anger of Rezin and the Arameans, and of the son Remaliah, because of the mischief that Aram, Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, plots against you, saying, "Let us go up and tear Judah asunder, make it our own by force, and appoint the son of Tabeel king there."
Thus says the LORD: This shall not stand, it shall not be! Damascus is the capital of Aram, and Rezin is the head of Damascus; Samaria is the capital of Ephraim, and Remaliah's son the head of Samaria.
But within sixty years and five, Ephraim shall be crushed, no longer a nation. Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm! (Is 7:3-9)

Imagine you are building a house. You have the plans all drawn up, you have all the materials, you have all the help you will need, and of course the perfect space for your house to built upon. Now obviously, since you are building a house, the first thing that you want to do is lay a foundation. What would you use for a foundation ... sand, gravel, marshmallows? Of course not, you would use concrete to lay a solid foundation. Because without a firm foundation, your house will not stay standing.

"Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm!" These are the words of the prophet Isaiah in today's first reading. We recognize the importance of a firm foundation when it comes to building a house, but when it comes to our lives, sometimes we don't see the importance of a firm foundation. And what is it that the foundation of our lives should be built upon? One of the things is faith. If our faith is strong, then we will be strong. It is our faith in Christ that keeps us going, it is our faith that helps us to have courage and to persevere in this life. If we do not know where we stand, then we will fall for anything. We must stand with the Lord, we must build our lives around Him.

If we are willing to build our life around the Lord and to truly believe in Him and to follow Him no matter what; then we will have a firm foundation. If we have a firm foundation of faith, then we ourselves will be firm.

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. Lord, help increase our faith so that we will not hesitate to follow you where ever you may lead us. Help us to be firm in this life by having a firm foundation. Lord, you are our rock and our salvation, help us never to stray away from you. We pray for all those who are spiritually lost and fallen away, may they find peace in your arms. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Answer the Call

Readings for Monday July 12, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 1:10-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 50
Gospel: Matthew 10:34-11:1

Jesus said to his Apostles: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be those of his household."
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
"Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple–amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward." (Mt 10:34-42)

After injustices and attacks on one's country, many men and women will typically enlist in the military to fight these injustices. Two big instances in the United States were Pearl Harbor during World War II, and after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Both of these events saw great destruction and the loss of many lives, and because of these injustices, many American men and women stepped up to answer the call to defend their country.

In today's gospel, Jesus is addressing His disciples asking them to answer the call. He is telling them that it will not be easy, for He did not come to bring peace, but rather the sword. This calling to life as a disciple will bring about many hardships; it will put them at odds with those closest to them, it will ask that they put God above everything else, and that they take up their cross daily and follow Christ. As you can see, this calling is not for the faint of heart. We can only imagine what was racing through the disciples minds at that time. I am sure that many of them at the time had thoughts of running away, but thankfully, by God's grace, they stayed and answered the call.

Jesus is asking us to answer the call as well. The truth is that our world is hurting, their is brokenness and injustices everywhere. We need to step up and answer the call to a faithful Christian life. It will be hard, and their will be many challenges and hardships along the way, but in the end will be a great reward. Jesus is quick to follow up His conditions of discipleship with the rewards that will come to those who step up and answer the call. It is the great reward of eternal life in heaven, which should be the goal of each of us.

We are each called to follow our Lord, may the Holy Spirit grant us the courage to step up and answer God's call each and every day of our lives.

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 in our lives. Thank you for this great calling Lord, help us to step up and to be the faithful Catholics that you call us each to be. Lord, we praise you with all that we are, help increase our faith and to never hold back from you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Endure to the End

Readings for Friday July 9, 2010

First Reading: Hosea 14:2-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51
Gospel: Matthew 10:16-23

Jesus said to his Apostles: "Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes." (Mt 10:16-23)

"Sending out like sheep in the midst of wolves" ... being handed "over to courts and scourged in the synagogues" ... "led before governors and kings" ... "brother handing over brother, father his child, children rising up against parents" ... "being hated." Do these descriptions of the role of a disciple sound very enticing, or do they make you want to run? To be honest, these descriptions make most of us want to run. I mean, who really wants to be beaten, put to trial and hated? Not many of us do, but we must realize that this choice to follow Christ is not an easy one, and it is certainly not a life filled with ease, but rather a difficult journey.

One thing that we should always keep in perspective is why we should follow Christ. In today's gospel, Jesus is upfront with His disciples and tells them all that they must endure for His sake; but He also make an important point to tell them why they should go through all these things. He tells them that the ones who are willing to endure all these things until the end will be saved. This is the same thing that we should remember whenever we are going through difficult things, we are enduring this so that we can spend eternity in heaven. We are doing this so that we can be saved from an eternity in hell, or better put an eternity without God's love. I think that when we keep this in mind, it puts things in perspective for us and makes things seem more doable; not that it makes it easier, just more doable.

Christ was and always will be up front with us, He does not sugar coat things or tell us one thing only to give us another. We will all be okay if we are willing to keep this one thing in mind: living a life for and with Christ is never easy, but it is worth it.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you and thank you for our lives, help us to continue to persevere in this life for you. Lord, we give you glory for all that we are and all that we have. Help us to stay straight on the path that you have laid before us, help us to endure until the end. Lord, we pray for an end to abortion, and that all youth might come to value life and realize their special dignity. We also pray for all the poor souls in purgatory. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Just Trust

Readings for Thursday July 8, 2010

First Reading: Hosea 11:1-4, 8-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 80
Gospel: Matthew 10:7-15

Jesus said to his Apostles: "As you go, make this proclamation: 'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you. Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town." (Mt. 10:7-15)

In today's gospel, we see Jesus is asking a lot from the disciples. Not only is He sending them on a mission to preach the good news and to heal people, but He is also asking something else ... that they trust in God. He was very clear with them that they were not to take any money, extra clothes, walking stick; and they were not to accept anything of value from the people they met. I can only imagine how the disciples were thinking about if they could survive this mission or not. Jesus was sending them into the unknown, on a mission unlike any other, and not only was He teaching about the power of God and how God works through His people, but He was also teaching them about trust.

Trust in God, this is much easier said than done. Many times we say that we are trusting, but many times our actions do not match up to our words. I think an area where many people have trouble trusting in God is with tithing. Too many times people are trying to stockpile their money, to buy the extra things that they "need" instead of giving to God. They don't give to God because they feel as though they do not have the extra money to. But what most people don't realize is that God will always provide, give to Him first and He will not overlook you. I know many people who are struggling financially, but continue to tithe all that they can, and the Lord blesses them and continues to see that they have all that they really need.

The reality is that God calls each of us to a specific purpose in this life, a specific mission, and we can choose to go about it in fear, or we can look out into the unknown and trust in our Lord.

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 always provide for us and we pray for an increase in faith. Lord, we trust in you, help us to remember that you will never fail us or abandon us. We pray for all priests and religious. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Wednesday July 7, 2010

First Reading: Hosea 10:1-3, 7-8, 12
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 105
Gospel: Matthew 10:1-7

Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. The names of the Twelve Apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus.
Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, "Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: 'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"

Have you ever watched an artist make something? Perhaps it was a potter on a wheel, or a sculptor with their chisel, or a painter with their brush. I am always in awe to watch people create art, whether they are professional or amateur, it is a treat to be able to see people use their God given abilities to create something new. One thing that I particularly find interesting is that each piece of art is unique. No matter how many times the potter throws the same bowl on the wheel, each bowl with be slightly different. No matter how many times the artist paints the same scene of the fruit bowl and wine bottle, each painting will have its own uniqueness. All art has similarities, but it is its uniqueness that makes it special.

In today's gospel reading, we read about the mission of the twelve apostles. In the gospel, we read each of their names, and for some we get a little sense of who they are. Some are tax collectors, some have been given new names, some are brothers, and one who betrays. Each have similarities in the fact that they are each apostles and followers of Christ, but each also is a individual, and unique person created by God for a specific purpose. We read of the mission of the twelve, which is to go out and proclaim the good news of the kingdom of heaven. We share in this same mission today, this is something which all Christians are called to do. What makes each of us unique is how we are to share this message. God gives each of us different gifts and abilities, and we are to use those gifts and abilities for His glory. No matter what our setting or situation in life, we can proclaim the good news either through word or example.

Today let us reflect on this passage from the Psalms: "I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew ... Your eyes forsaw my actions; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be." (Psalm 139:14, 16)

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for our lives, and for creating us with the gifts and abilities that we have. Help us to always use what we are given for your glory and to do your will. Each of us are made unique for your purpose, help us to truly take this to heart and to live in this way. Lord, we pray for all those in need of conversion and all those who do not know your love, may they be brought to your arms. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Moved with Pity

Readings for Tuesday July 6, 2010

First Reading: Hosea 8:4-7, 11-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm
Gospel: Matthew 9:32-38

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest." (Mt 9:35-38)

Sometimes when people view God, they view an impersonal God who sits up on His pedestal cooking up schemes to make people miserable. Or they view God as someone who likes whip up natural disasters or send down fire and brimstone to teach us a lesson. Sometimes people view God as someone who just doesn't even care, or has bigger things to worry about than our small problems. Well, if you have ever thought that, then take a look at today's gospel, and then take a look at the entire bible. It is filled with stories and examples of God's love and compassion for His people. We see from today's reading that after looking at His people, Jesus "was moved with pity for them." He was moved with pity for the people, because they were lost, they did not have hope nor did they know where they were going. That is why God came down from heaven, to teach them straight from His mouth, and to give us a way to heaven.

We should never view God as impersonal, as a bully, or as someone who just doesn't care; because these things couldn't be anything farther from the truth. When God sees our pain and suffering, He is not saying things like, "well you brought this upon your self!" He is hurting with us, His heart goes out to us and He is moved with pity for our pain. He loves us more than we can possibly know, that is why He came down from heaven to take on all of our sins. It is His sacrifice that shows us the love and compassion that God has for us.

We are His children, and the truth is that sometimes we get distracted and only want to view things from our own perspective. It is easy to feel lost and abandoned in this world, that is why it is so important to focus on Christ. He is the good shepherd who does not lead us to death, but leads us to eternal life in heaven.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you for all that we have and all that we are. Lord, you are our rock and our salvation, help us to humbly serve you with all of our lives. Lord, thank you for your great love and compassion, we pray that we can courageously go out and share this same love and compassion with all those we come into contact with. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Unshakable Faith

Readings for Monday July 5, 2010

First Reading: Hosea 2:16, 17-18, 21-22
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145
Gospel: Matthew 9:18-26

While Jesus was speaking, an official came forward, knelt down before him, and said, "My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live." Jesus rose and followed him, and so did his disciples. A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. She said to herself, "If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured." Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, "Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you." And from that hour the woman was cured.
When Jesus arrived at the official's house and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion, he said, "Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping." And they ridiculed him. When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose. And news of this spread throughout all that land. (Mt 9:18-26)

In today's gospel reading, we read of two different miracles performed by Jesus. We read of the healing of the woman with a hemorrhage and we read of the healing of the official's daughter. While both of these acts of healing leave us in awe and amazement of God's power, what is also amazing is the faith of the official and the woman. Both of them demonstrated an unshakable faith.

Think about the official for a moment, there was no way that anybody was going to change his mind. You couldn't convince him that all hope was lost, even when things looked the absolute worst. I mean, his daughter was dead, but even then you couldn't convince him that there was no hope. This man knew where to turn to, he knew deep down in his heart that if his daughter were going to live again, then there was only one place he could turn to ... Christ. This official knew who Christ was, this is why he humbled himself before him and knelt down before his Lord. His faith in Christ was absolutely unshakable, we too should take his example of when things look their worst, that we too should always turn to Christ.

The woman with the hemorrhage also displayed an unshakable faith before her miracle as well. She had such faith in Christ that she knew if only she could touch His cloak, that she would be healed. Even though this woman had lived in pain and suffering for many years, she found hope in Christ, and did not let anything stop her from reaching Him. After touching Him, Jesus knew what had happened, He addressed her and said, "Courage daughter! Your faith has saved you." Because of her unshakable faith, not only was she healed physically, but we can bet that that moment impacted her spiritually as well.

Unshakable faith, both the official and the woman had it, and because of it they found healing in their lives. May we always remember to look to God for comfort, answers, and healing; not only when things are good, but even when they seem their worst. As Christians we are called to have a faith that is unshakable, one that is built upon solid rock, not shifting sand.

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 thank you for the gift of our lives. Help us to see every life as a great gift, no matter how young or old. Lord, increase our faith and hope in you, so that we too may have an unshakable faith, one in which no one could bring us down. Lord, you are our God and we are your people; help us to serve and honor you all of our days. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Sex Au Naturel

Catholic Book Review: Sex Au Naturel: What It Is and Why It's Good For Your Marriage by Patrick Coffin

Sex Au Naturel ... the content of this book by Patrick Coffin is as intriguing as its title. This book is essentially a clearly articulated and straightforward explanation and defense of the Church's teaching against contraception and reproductive technology. The book draws the majority of its information from Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae, as well as other sources (i.e. Scripture, Catechism, Theology of the Body, etc). Through this book the author educates about the teachings of the Catholic Church in regards to sex, contraception, sterilization, and reproductive technologies. The author educates while weaving in his own journey of originally rejecting the Churches teaching, then coming to see the beauty and the truth of what the Church teaches.

Sex Au Naturel does a fantastic job or clearly articulating what the Church teaches ... and why! I think that one of its strengths is that it shows where we stood on the issues many years ago, and where we stand today. One interesting nugget of information from the book was this: "No protestant body accepted contraception before 1930." This means that not that long ago, contraception was not an acceptable thing in any church, and it was most likely that it was not acceptable in society either. It is very interesting to me that we have gone from a world where contraception was viewed in such a negative light, to today where people look at you crazy if you are not using it. The book goes on to address this, and the reasons why we have gone to a society that now embraces contraception as the way to true freedom. Unfortunately, so many people, and especially Catholics, do not realize that that sense of freedom is a false one; and that contraception leads us away from our true calling to love and be loved. Thankfully we have books like Sex Au Naturel that can be a part of helping people understand the truth about God's plan for us and for our marriages.

Some of other topics and issues that this book goes into are: the impact of Humanae Vitae on the world, the biblical arguments against contraception, the blessed trinity and the sexual union, information about the myth of the "population bomb", sterilization, the differences between birth control and Natural Family Planning, and information about reproductive technologies. These topics are all straightforward and easy to understand. The author also adds a great number of resources at the end of the book on many great organizations if one wishes to go further in their journey towards God's truth.

Whether you are some one who strongly believes in the Church's teaching against contraception, someone who would like to know more about what and why the Church does not approve of contraception, or simply someone who disagrees with the Church in this area; then this is the book for you. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more behind the what and the why of the Churches teaching on contraception.

**For more information about the Catholic Company or Sex Au Naturel please click on one of the following links below:


Follow Me

Readings for July 2, 2010

First Reading: Amos 8:4-6, 9-12
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119
Gospel: Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" He heard this and said, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners." (Mt 9:9-13)

Imagine you are sitting at work one day, and someone who you've never even seen before walks by your cubicle and says, "Come, follow me." Now even though you've never met this man before, there is authority in his voice, and your heart is screaming on the inside, "GET UP AND GO!" So without much delay, you get up and follow this man. Now it is this exact same scenario that actually happened to Matthew. In today's gospel, Jesus walks by and simply says to him, "follow me." Matthew, without question or hesitation gets up and follows Christ. We can only imagine what Matthew must have been going through his head, or what he must have been feeling at that moment. While we may not know what he was experiencing, we do know that his life was forever changed at that moment.

The words that Jesus spoke to Matthew are the same that He is speaking to us each and every day ... "follow me." He is calling out to each of us, the question is will we get up and go or will we stay behind in the comfort of what we know? Will we be afraid, or will we trust. By trusting in Jesus, Matthew went on to become an apostle of the Church, he wrote one of the Gospels, and became a saint who resides in heaven with the Lord. Just think if he hadn't gotten up and followed Christ when he was called, those other things might have never come.

Our goal in life should be to get to heaven, and the only way to get there is by following Christ. He is here, calling out to each of us, are you ready to get up and go?

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for your many blessings in our life, thank you for your great love and mercy. Lord, we praise you for all that we have and all that we are, let us never take advantage of our lives. May we seek to follow your will and to always love as you love. Lord, you are our God, we are your people, help us to never forget this important truth. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Readings for Thursday July 1, 2010

First Reading: Amos 7:10-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19
Gospel: Matthew 9:1-8

After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? 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 then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to men. (Mt 9:1-8)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallow be thy name. They kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.


Lighthouse Catholic Media CD of the Month Club