Christian Detachment

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Christian Detachment

“Everything that exists is a gift from God.  Yet oftentimes we look to the things and creatures created by God for a satisfaction and fulfillment that only God Himself can provide.  When the soul wraps itself around the things and the people of this world, looking for satisfaction or fulfillment that only God can give, it produces a distortion in itself, and in others as well.  Many spiritual writers call the process of unwinding this possessive, self-centered, clinging, and disordered seeking of things and persons ‘detachment’.  The goal of the process of detachment is not to stop loving the things and people of this world, but, quite to the contrary, to love them even more truly in God, under the reign of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Things and people become even more beautiful and delightful when we see them in this light.  There are almost always painful dimensions to this process of ‘letting go’ in order to love more, but it’s the pain of true healing and liberation.  Christian detachment is an important part of the process by which we enter into a realm of great freedom and joy.”

– An excerpt from The Fulfillment of All Desire, Ralph Martin, p. 205

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As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Col 3:12-13)

“To God, the darkest depths of the human heart are as clear as the page of a book lying open in the sunlight. He knows us through and through—and loves us as deeply as he knows us! Rather than hide from him, let us put our life in the hands that fashioned us and allow him to lead us in the path of life eternal in the wake of Christ our Lord.” Magnificat, April 26, 2018

 

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Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.

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St. Mark the Evangelist

Oil painting:  Saint Mark by Valentin de Boulogne, c. 1624-26

St. Mark the Evangelist (1st c.) was born to Jewish parents living in Libya in North Africa, later settling in Cana of Galilee not far from Jerusalem. Mark became one of the 70 disciples of Jesus and the author of the Gospel that bears his name. According to tradition, St. Peter the Apostle was married to a relative of St. Mark’s father, and after Mark’s father died, Peter looked after him like his own son. Being a close disciple of St. Peter, the first Bishop of Rome, Mark’s Gospel is addressed to Gentile converts to the Christian faith living in Rome. Most of what we know about his life and missionary activity is recorded in the New Testament. He traveled to Egypt and founded the Church there, and was martyred c. 68 A.D. by being dragged through the streets of Alexandria until his body was torn to pieces. St. Mark is the patron of lawyers and prisoners. His feast day is April 25.

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From the treatise Against Heresies by Saint Irenaeus, bishop

Preaching Truth

  The Church, which has spread everywhere, even to the ends of the earth, received the faith from the apostles and their disciples. By faith, we believe in one God, the almighty Father who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them. We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became man for our salvation. And we believe in the Holy Spirit who through the prophets foretold God’s plan: the coming of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, his birth from the Virgin, his passion, his resurrection from the dead, his ascension into heaven, and his final coming from heaven in the glory of his Father, to recapitulate all things and to raise all men from the dead, so that, by the decree of his invisible Father, he may make a just judgement in all things and so that every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth to Jesus Christ our Lord and our God, our Saviour and our King, and every tongue confess him.
  The Church, spread throughout the whole world, received this preaching and this faith and now preserves it carefully, dwelling as it were in one house. Having one soul and one heart, the Church holds this faith, preaches and teaches it consistently as though by a single voice. For though there are different languages, there is but one tradition.
  The faith and the tradition of the churches founded in Germany are no different from those founded among the Spanish and the Celts, in the East, in Egypt, in Libya and elsewhere in the Mediterranean world. Just as God’s creature, the sun, is one and the same the world over, so also does the Church’s preaching shine everywhere to enlighten all men who want to come to a knowledge of the truth.
  Now of those who speak with authority in the churches, no preacher however forceful will utter anything different – for no one is above the Master – nor will a less forceful preacher diminish what has been handed down. Since our faith is everywhere the same, no one who can say more augments it, nor can anyone who says less diminish it.

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Jesus said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” (cf. Mk 16:15)

“To many it is given to travel the world or the small circle of home and workplace to proclaim the Good News in word and deed. To four only was it given to collect and cast that news in the unique written books to which we give the title “Gospel.” For this message that continues to reach the four corners of the globe, let us give thanks and praise today.  –  Magnificat, April 25, 2018

Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.

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Good Shepherds

Christ the Good Shepherd oil painting by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, c. 1660

Good Shepherds by Jean Vanier

Shepherds are the ones

who lead those who have been entrusted to them

to inner freedom—

the freedom to make good choices, to take initiative,

and to grow to greater maturity and love.

In biblical language, to know someone by name

implies a growing understanding of a person,

of his or her unique gifts and weaknesses,

needs and mission in life.

That means taking time with that person, listening,

and above all creating a mutual relationship of

communion,

revealing to that person that he or she is loved,

has value and is precious.

One can only guide someone

if there is no desire to possess, control,

or manipulate the other,

if mutual trust, respect, and love have been born

between the two.

Trust is the basis for all shepherding and all education.

A man working with street kids told me

that he is unable to help any of them until trust is born,

trust that he is there because he cares for them

more than for his salary.

Trust can only come if the shepherds are good models,

living what they teach,

showing the way by the way they live, act, and love.

Double messages, whereby a person does not live

what they say,

break trust.

Real shepherds give of themselves freely;

their love and caring communicate life to those

who are weaker

and immature….

Jesus loves us abundantly and wants to give us

all we need to grow in wisdom

and greater human and spiritual maturity.

Being a good shepherd does not mean being perfect,

for no one is perfect.

Instead, it is being humble and open,

recognizing one’s faults and compulsions,

and asking for forgiveness when one has

not acted justly.

Jean Vanier is the founder of L’Arche, an international network of communities for the developmentally disabled.

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (10:1-10)

Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

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

The Gospel of the Lord

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Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor 3:17).

“Life could not exist in the primal waters of chaos. By his passage through the tomb, Christ has tamed the waters of death and transformed them into the waters of life, from which a new world is reborn in baptism. Our Good Shepherd leads us to these waters to drink our fill of his peace.”

– Magnificat, Apr 23, 2018


Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.

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Easter Morning:  Witnesses to an Empty Tomb

“Peter and John Running to the Tomb” by Eugène Burnand (1850 – 1921)

The full title is “The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection”. It is Burnand’s best-known work and a depiction of John the Apostle’s Gospel account (Jn 20:3).

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (20:1-9)

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she 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 don’t 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.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.

The Gospel of the Lord

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Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb (Mk 16:2).

“Faith in the Resurrection of Jesus says that there is a future for every human being; the cry for unending life which is a part of the person is indeed answered.  Through Jesus we do know ‘the room where exiled love lays down its victory.’  He himself is this place, and he calls us to be with him and in dependence on him.  He calls us to keep this place open within the world so that he, the exiled love, may reappear over and over in the world …. God exists; that is the real message of Easter.  Anyone who even begins to grasp what this means also knows what it means to be redeemed.”  (Pope Benedict XVI)

– Magnificat, Apr 1, 2018


Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.

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Lenten Reflections:  Prayer is the light of the soul

A homily of Pseudo-Crysostom

Prayer is the light of the soul

The highest good is prayer and conversation with God, because it means that we are in God’s company and in union with him. When light enters our bodily eyes our eyesight is sharpened; when a soul is intent on God, God’s inextinguishable light shines into it and makes it bright and clear. I am talking, of course, of prayer that comes from the heart and not from routine: not the prayer that is assigned to particular days or particular moments in time, but the prayer that happens continuously by day and by night.

Indeed the soul should not only turn to God at times of explicit prayer. Whatever we are engaged in, whether it is care for the poor, or some other duty, or some act of generosity, we should remember God and long for God. The love of God will be as salt is to food, making our actions into a perfect dish to set before the Lord of all things. Then it is right that we should receive the fruits of our labours, overflowing onto us through all eternity, if we have been offering them to him throughout our lives.

Prayer is the light of the soul, true knowledge of God, a mediator between God and men. Prayer lifts the soul into the heavens where it hugs God in an indescribable embrace. The soul seeks the milk of God like a baby crying for the breast. It fulfils its own vows and receives in exchange gifts better than anything that can be seen or imagined.

Prayer is a go-between linking us to God. It gives joy to the soul and calms its emotions. I warn you, though: do not imagine that prayer is simply words. Prayer is the desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not given by man but brought about by God’s grace. As St Paul says: For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself intercedes on our behalf in a way that could never be put into words.

If God gives to someone the gift of such prayer, it is a gift of imperishable riches, a heavenly food that satisfies the spirit. Whoever tastes that food catches fire and his soul burns for ever with desire for the Lord.

To begin on this path, start by adorning your house with modesty and humility. Make it shine brightly with the light of justice. Decorate it with the gold leaf of good works, with the jewels of faithfulness and greatness of heart. Finally, to make the house perfect, raise a gable above it all, a gable of prayer. Thus you will have prepared a pure and sparkling house for the Lord. Receive the Lord into this royal and splendid dwelling — in other words: receive, by his grace, his image into the temple of your soul.

From the Liturgy of the Hours, Divine Office of Readings

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This people draws near with words only and honors me with their lips alone, though their hearts are far from me (Is 29:13).

The most spectacular feats of asceticism mean nothing if they do not free us to offer true worship and obedience to God.  Let us seek the real meaning of Lenten fasts and acts of penance.

– MAGNIFICAT, Feb 16, 2018


Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.

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Christmas Reflection: The Alarming Message of the Bethlehem Angels

The Alarming Message of the Bethlehem Angels

Luke tells us that on Christmas night an angel appeared to shepherds keeping watch over their sheep.  Don’t get sentimental about angels, imagining them to be sweet and unthreatening.  Instead, keep in mind that the typical reaction to the sudden manifestation of a higher being from another dimension is, quite properly, fear.  Indeed, the Christmas messenger says to the shepherds, “Don’t be afraid,” which implies that they were!

The angel announces the Good News of Christ’s birth, and then we are told that “there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel praising God ….”  If one angel is terrifying, imagine what a multitude of them is like.  The Greek word that is translated as “host” is stratias, which means army.  Our words “strategy” and “strategic” are derived from it.  The most powerful man in the world at that time was Caesar Augustus, and his power was grounded in the fact that he had the biggest and best-trained army.  The rather subtle and subversive point that Saint Luke is making is this:  the newborn baby of Bethlehem has an even bigger and more frightening army.  Mind you, this angelic army doesn’t fight with the weapons of the world, but it can indeed overwhelm anything that is in the world.

–  Reverend Robert Barron

Bishop Robert Barron is the Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles; he is the founder of Word on Fire (www.wordonfire.org).

Angels Announcing the Birth of Christ to the Shepherds (1639), by Govert Flinck, Dutch painter of the Dutch Golden Age.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (2:1-14)

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest/ and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

The Nativity and the Annunciation to the Shepherds, Bernardino Luini (1480/1490-1532).

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Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.

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Silent Night: Christmas Eve

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In this night of reconciliation, let none be angry or gloomy. In this night that stills everything, let nothing threaten or disturb. This night belongs to the sweet One; let nothing bitter or harsh be in it. In this night that belongs to the meek One, let there be nothing high or haughty. In this day of pardoning, let us not exact punishments for trespasses.

St. Ephraem the Syrian

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Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.