Posted in LENT, MORNING Prayers, Papa FRANCIS, The WORD

LENTEN REFLECTION – The Second Week of Lent – Thursday 16 MARCH

LENTEN REFLECTION – The Second Week of Lent – Thursday 16 MARCH (Today’s Gospel Luke 16:19-31)

The Holy Father’s reflection on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Lk 16:19-31)

HOLY FATHER-LENT2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death.   This season urgently calls us to conversion.   Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us.   Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).

Lent is a favourable season for deepening our spiritual life through the means of sanctification offered us by the Church: fasting, prayer and almsgiving.   At the basis of everything is the word of God, which during this season we are invited to hear and ponder more deeply.   I would now like to consider the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Lk 16:19-31). Let us find inspiration in this meaningful story, for it provides a key to understanding what we need to do in order to attain true happiness and eternal life. It exhorts us to sincere conversion.

1. The other person is a gift

The parable begins by presenting its two main characters.   The poor man is described in greater detail: he is wretched and lacks the strength even to stand.   Lying before the door of the rich man, he fed on the crumbs falling from his table.   His body is full of sores and dogs come to lick his wounds (cf. vv. 20-21).   The picture is one of great misery; it portrays a man disgraced and pitiful.

The scene is even more dramatic if we consider that the poor man is called Lazarus: a name full of promise, which literally means God helps.   This character is not anonymous. His features are clearly delineated and he appears as an individual with his own story. While practically invisible to the rich man, we see and know him as someone familiar.   He becomes a face and as such, a gift, a priceless treasure, a human being whom God loves and cares for, despite his concrete condition as an outcast (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).

Lazarus teaches us that other persons are a gift.   A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value.   Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance but a summons to conversion and to change.   The parable first invites us to open the doors of our heart to others because each person is a gift, whether it be our neighbour or an anonymous pauper.   Lent is a favourable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ.   Each of us meets people like this every day.   Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love.   The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable.   But in order to do this, we have to take seriously what the Gospel tells us about the rich man.

2. Sin blinds us
The parable is unsparing in its description of the contradictions associated with the rich man (cf. v. 19).  Unlike poor Lazarus, he does not have a name; he is simply called “a rich man”.  His opulence was seen in his extravagant and expensive robes.   Purple cloth was even more precious than silver and gold, and was thus reserved to divinities (cf. Jer 10:9) and kings (cf. Jg 8:26), while fine linen gave one an almost sacred character.   The man was clearly ostentatious about his wealth and in the habit of displaying it daily: “He feasted sumptuously every day” (v. 19).   In him we can catch a dramatic glimpse of the corruption of sin, which progresses in three successive stages: love of money, vanity and pride (cf. Homily, 20 September 2013).

The Apostle Paul tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Tim 6:10). It is the main cause of corruption and a source of envy, strife and suspicion.   Money can come to dominate us, even to the point of becoming a tyrannical idol (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 55). Instead of being an instrument at our service for doing good and showing solidarity towards others, money can chain us and the entire world to a selfish logic that leaves no room for love and hinders peace.

The parable then shows that the rich man’s greed makes him vain.   His personality finds expression in appearances, in showing others what he can do.   But his appearance masks an interior emptiness.   His life is a prisoner to outward appearances, to the most superficial and fleeting aspects of existence (cf. ibid., 62).

The lowest rung of this moral degradation is pride.   The rich man dresses like a king and acts like a god, forgetting that he is merely mortal.   For those corrupted by love of riches, nothing exists beyond their own ego.   Those around them do not come into their line of sight.   The result of attachment to money is a sort of blindness.   The rich man does not see the poor man who is starving, hurting, lying at his door.

Looking at this character, we can understand why the Gospel so bluntly condemns the love of money: “No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money” (Mt 6:24).

3. The Word is a gift
The Gospel of the rich man and Lazarus helps us to make a good preparation for the approach of Easter.   The liturgy of Ash Wednesday invites us to an experience quite similar to that of the rich man.   When the priest imposes the ashes on our heads, he repeats the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.   As it turned out, the rich man and the poor man both died and the greater part of the parable takes place in the afterlife.   The two characters suddenly discover that “we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it” (1 Tim 6:7).

We too see what happens in the afterlife.   There the rich man speaks at length with Abraham, whom he calls “father” (Lk 16:24.27), as a sign that he belongs to God’s people. This detail makes his life appear all the more contradictory, for until this moment there had been no mention of his relation to God.   In fact, there was no place for God in his life. His only god was himself.

The rich man recognizes Lazarus only amid the torments of the afterlife. He wants the poor man to alleviate his suffering with a drop of water.   What he asks of Lazarus is similar to what he could have done but never did. Abraham tells him: “During your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus had his fill of bad.   Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony” (v. 25).   In the afterlife, a kind of fairness is restored and life’s evils are balanced by good.

The parable goes on to offer a message for all Christians.   The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, who are still alive.   But Abraham answers: “They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them” (v. 29). Countering the rich man’s objections, he adds: “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead” (v. 31).

The rich man’s real problem thus comes to the fore.   At the root of all his ills was the failure to heed God’s word.   As a result, he no longer loved God and grew to despise his neighbour.   The word of God is alive and powerful, capable of converting hearts and leading them back to God.   When we close our heart to the gift of God’s word, we end up closing our heart to the gift of our brothers and sisters.

Dear friends, Lent is the favourable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbour.   The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take.   May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need.   I encourage all the faithful to express this spiritual renewal also by sharing in the Lenten Campaigns promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world and thus to favour the culture of encounter in our one human family.   Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor.   Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in NOVENAS

Novena to St Joseph – Day Six – Patron of Families

Day Six
PATRON OF FAMILIES

Saint Joseph, I venerate you as the gentle head of the Holy Family.   The Holy Family was the scene of your life’s work in its origin, in its guidance, in its protection, in your labour for Jesus and Mary and even in your death in their arms.   You lived, moved and acted in the loving company of Jesus and Mary.   The inspired writer describes your life at Nazareth in only a few words: “And (Jesus) went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them” (Luke, 2:51). Yet these words tell of your high vocation here on earth and the abundance of graces which filled your soul during those years spent in Nazareth.

Your family life at Nazareth was all radiant with the light of divine charity.   There was an intimate union of heart and mind among the members of your Holy Family.   There could not have been a closer bond than that uniting you to Jesus, your foster-Son and to Mary, your most loving wife.   Jesus chose to fulfill toward you, His foster-father, all the duties of a faithful son, showing you every mark of honour and affection due to a parent.   And Mary showed you all the signs of respect and love of a devoted wife.   You responded to this love and veneration from Jesus and Mary with feelings of deepest love and respect.   You had for Jesus a true fatherly love, enkindled and kept aglow in your heart by the Holy Spirit. And you could not cease to admire the workings of grace in Mary’s soul and this admiration caused the holy love which you had consecrated to her on the day of your wedding grow stronger every day.

God has made you a heavenly patron of family life because you sanctified yourself as head of the Holy Family and thus by your beautiful example sanctified family life.   How peacefully and happily the Holy Family rested under the care of your fatherly rule, even in the midst of trials.   You were the protector, counselor and consolation of the Holy Family in every need.   And just as you were the model of piety, so you gave us by your zeal, your earnestness and devout trust in God’s providence and especially by your love, the example of labour according to the Will of God.   You cherished all the experiences common to family life and the sacred memories of the life, sufferings and joys in the company of Jesus and Mary.   Therefore the family is dear to you as the work of God and it is of the highest importance in your eyes to promote the honour of God and the well-being of man.   In your loving fatherliness and unfailing intercession, you are the patron and intercessor of families and you deserve a place in every home.

Saint Joseph, I thank God for your privilege of living in the Holy Family and being its head. As a token of your own gratitude to God, obtain God’s blessing upon my own family.   Make our home the kingdom of Jesus and Mary — a kingdom of peace, of joy and love.

I also pray for all Christian families.   Your help is needed in our day when God’s enemy has directed his attack against the family in order to desecrate and destroy it.   In the face of these evils, as patron of families, be pleased to help and as of old, you arose to save the Child and His Mother, so today arise to protect the sanctity of the home.   Make our homes sanctuaries of prayer, of love, of patient sacrifice and of work.   May they be modeled after your own at Nazareth.   Remain with us with Jesus and Mary, so that by your help we may obey the commandments of God and of the Church; receive the holy sacraments of God and of the Church; live a life of prayer and foster religious instruction in our homes.   Grant that we may be reunited in God’s Kingdom and eternally live in the company of the Holy Family in heaven.

DAY SIX-NOVENASTJOSEPH

*NOVENA PRAYER  *(prayer to be said at the end of each day’s devotion)

Saint Joseph, I, your unworthy child, greet you.  You are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you.   You know that I have special confidence in you and that, after Jesus and Mary, I place all my hope of salvation in you, for you are especially powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants.   Therefore, I humbly invoke you and commend myself, with all who are dear to me and all that belong to me, to your intercession.   I beg of you, by your love for Jesus and Mary, not to abandon me during life and to assist me at the hour of my death.

Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble, charitable mind and perfect resignation to the divine Will.   Be my guide, my father and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Divine Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death and the special grace I now implore:

(Mention your request)

Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel confident that your prayers on my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. Amen.

MEMORARE
Remember, most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, my loving protector Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked for your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you. Despise not my petitions, foster-father of the Redeemer but graciously receive them. Amen.

Posted in IGNATIAN/JESUIT - Reflections, Jesuit Saints and more, MORNING Prayers, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 16 March

Thought for the Day – 16 March

Potential martyrdom was a central component of the Jesuit missionary identity. Missionaries going to Canada knew they were at risk from harsh conditions, as well as from confronting alien cultures. They expected to die in the name of God; they believed the missionary life and its risks was a chance to save converts and thus be saved themselves.   The Jesuits Christophe Regnault and Paul Ragueneau provided the two accounts of the deaths of Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalement.   According to Regnault, the Jesuits learned of the tortures and deaths from Huron refugee witnesses, who had escaped from Saint-Ignace.   Regnault went to see the bodies to verify the accounts and his superior Rageuneau’s account was based on his report.   The main accounts of Brébeuf’s death come from the Jesuit Relations.   Jesuit accounts of his torture emphasize his stoic nature and acceptance, claiming that he suffered silently without complaining. Throughout the torture, Brébeuf was reported to have been more concerned for the fate of the other Jesuits and of the captive Native converts than for himself.   As part of the ritual, the Iroquois drank his blood, as they wanted to absorb Brébeuf’s courage in enduring the pain.   The Iroquois mocked baptism by pouring boiling water over his head.

Is it even a tiny iota of our faith to know and be prepared to die such a death for Christ?   When we suffer and are persecuted, in the smallest way compared to this, compared to the Cross of Christ, do we grow in faith and courage and pray for more?

St Jean de Brebeuf please pray that we may all grow in faith and courage!

STJEANDEBREBEUF-PRAY FOR US 2

Posted in IGNATIAN/JESUIT - Reflections, Jesuit Saints and more, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 16 March

One Minute Reflection – 16 March

All who believe………………have eternal life in him……….John 3:15

REFLECTION – “Faith is in no way a burden or a yoke imposed on humban beings.  Far from it! Faith is an immense benefit because it commences life in us even on this earth.”………….St Thomas Aquinas

PRAYER – Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me the gift of faith.  Help me to remain firm in my faith throughout my life and to strive, no matter to what suffering You call me, to increase in faith and love for You, day by day.  St Jean de Brebeuf, you have reached the glory of heaven and by your life and suffering for your faith, you taught us the true beauty of love for Christ the Lord, please pray for us all, amen.

FAITHIS IN NO WAY-ST THOMAS AQUINASST JEAN DE BREFEUF PRAY FOR US

Posted in LENT, MORNING Prayers, PRAYERS of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY

Our Morning Offering – 16 March

Our Morning Offering – 16 March

PRAYER of St JEAN de BREBEUF SJ (1593-149)

“Jesus, my Lord and Saviour,
what can I give You in return
for all the favours you have first conferred on me?
I will take from Your hand the cup of Your sufferings
and call on Your name.
I vow before Your eternal Father and the Holy Spirit,
before Your most holy Mother
and her most chaste spouse,
before the angels, apostles and martyrs,
before my blessed fathers –
Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis Xavier–
in truth, I vow to You, Jesus my Saviour,
that as far as I have the strength,
I will never fail to accept the grace of martyrdom,
if someday You in Your infinite mercy should offer it to me,
Your most unworthy servant…
My beloved Jesus,
here and now I offer my body and blood and life.
May I die only for You, if You will grant me this grace,
since You willingly died for me.
Let me so live that You may grant me
the gift of such a happy death.
In this way, my God and Saviour,
I will take from Your hand the cup of Your sufferings
and call on Your name: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!”

PRAYER OF ST JEAN DE BREBEUF

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 16 March – St Jean de Brebeuf SJ

Saint of the Day – 16 March – St Jean de Brebeuf SJ (1593-1949 aged 55) Priest, Martyr, Missionary “Apostle to the Hurons” – Patron of Canada.   Additional Memorial – 19 October as one of the Martyrs of North America.

St Jean was a French Jesuit missionary who traveled to New France (Canada) in 1625.  There he worked primarily with the Huron for the rest of his life, except for a few years in France from 1629 to 1633.   He learned their language and culture, writing extensively about each to aid other missionaries.   In 1649, Brébeuf and another missionary were captured when an Iroquois raid took over a Huron village (referred to in French as St. Louis). T ogether with Huron captives, the missionaries were ritually tortured and killed, being martyred on March 16, 1649.   Brébeuf was beatified in 1925 and among eight Jesuit missionaries canonised in 1930.

brebeuf

In 1649, Brébeuf and another missionary were captured when an Iroquois raid took over a Huron village (referred to in French as St. Louis). Together with Huron captives, the missionaries were ritually tortured and killed, being martyred on March 16, 1649. Brébeuf was beatified in 1925 and among eight Jesuit missionaries canonized as saints in the Roman Catholic Church in 1930.

St. John de Brébeuf was large and handsome, his presence commanded attention.   A brilliant student, gifted linguist and competent manager, he could make things happen.  He was willing to endure anything if only he could thank Christ by giving his life for the salvation of others.

Even though weakened by tuberculosis, John joined the Canada mission in 1625.   For a quarter of a century with only a four-year interlude, he evangelised the Hurons in Quebec. He lived with them, embraced their customs, mastered their language,and wrote a catechism for them.

At first he had little success because the odds were stacked against him.   The Indians viewed him as member of a conquering race.   They also blamed him for rampant diseases and everything else that went wrong.   But John persevered with the good humour you see in this letter inviting other Jesuits to join the mission:

“When you reach the Hurons, you will find us with hearts full of love.   We shall receive you in a hut, so mean that I have scarcely found in France one wretched enough to compare it with.   Fatigued as you will be, we shall be able to give you nothing but a poor mat for a bed.   Besides you will arrive when fleas will keep you awake most of the night.

Instead of being a great theologian as you may be in France, you must reckon on being here a humble scholar and then good God! with what masters—exposed to the laughter of all the savages.   The Huron language will be your St. Thomas and your Aristotle.   Glib as you are, you must decide for a long time to be mute among the barbarians.

Without exaggeration, you will pass the six months of winter in almost continual discomforts—excessive cold, smoke, the annoyance of the savages who surround our fireplace from morning until evening looking for food.

For the rest, thus far we have had only roses.   As we have Christians in almost every village, we must expect to make rounds throughout the year.   Add to all this that our lives depend upon a single thread.   Your cabin might burn down at any moment or a malcontent may cleave your head open because you cannot make it rain.

Here we have nothing that incites toward good.   We are among peoples who are astonished when you speak to them of God.”

In 1649, the Iroquois attacked the Huron village where John was living.  They brutally martyred him, Gabriel Lalement, his companion and their converts . Their suffering is indescribable: bludgeoned, burned with red-hot hatchets, baptised with boiling water, mutilated, flesh stripped off and eaten, hearts plucked out and devoured.   But John de Brébeuf had his prayer answered.   He traded his life for the seven thousand souls he had converted and baptised.