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Tuesday, Aug 06, 2019 FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD Be transformed
Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a mountain to pray. But it was not a typical prayer time for these friends as they watched Jesus’ appearance change, saw him talk to the long-dead Moses and Elijah, and heard a voice from a cloud tell them to listen to the chosen Son. Whether this is a mystical experience, a symbolic story, or a misplaced Resurrection account is open to interpretation. It is clear that Jesus was unlike all others and they—and we—are to follow him. Today’s memorial of Hiroshima provides the opportunity to “transfigure” our world through prayer and the practice of peace as we follow our Lord.
TODAY'S READINGS: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Luke 9:28b-36 (614). “While he was praying his face changed in appearance.”
Wednesday, Aug 07, 2019 MEMORIAL OF SIXTUS II, POPE AND MARTYR Where everyone belongs
Before his martyrdom in 258, Pope Sixtus II faced a leadership dilemma that Jesus had also faced during his public ministry. Who belonged in the fold of believers and who did not? For Sixtus, it wasn’t a case of Canaanites versus Israel. It was a worldwide controversy over Baptism: whether those baptized by heretics could be welcomed as true Christians—or whether they needed to be re-baptized. The Asian and African church insisted on a do-over, while the Roman church said no. Sixtus upheld the Roman view but mended fences with the other—allowing both. There’s wisdom in the old hymn “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy.” How wide is your own?
TODAY'S READINGS: Numbers 13:1-2, 25-14:1, 26-29a, 34-35; Matthew 15:21-28 (409). “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”
Thursday, Aug 08, 2019 MEMORIAL OF DOMINIC, PRIEST We all need guidance at some time
A sect of Christian leaders in the south of France in the 13th century stumbled into gnostic and dualist heresy. The Cathars, as they were called, argued that human beings were inherently evil. Therefore, Jesus, the Son of God, couldn’t possibly have been fully human. Dominic de Guzman, a Spanish priest, preached convincingly against the error. Sadly, when his efforts failed, church leaders followed with brutal suppression. As for Dominic, he focused on building up the Order of Preachers, known as the Dominicans, dedicated to preaching and praying the Rosary. Renowned for his holiness and eloquence, he was elevated to sainthood a mere 13 years after his death in 1221. Guiding the misguided was full-time work for Saint Dominic. What’s your saintly work?
TODAY'S READINGS: Numbers 20:1-13; Matthew 16:13-23 (410). “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
Friday, Aug 09, 2019 The good in group think
Today is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the kind of new commemoration that tends to get overlooked. Catholics have a long and sometimes fraught history with native peoples, however, so we may want to give pause. Many aspects of indigenous culture fit snugly within a Christian worldview, particularly the emphasis on the group (Catholics call it the “common good”) and on sharing available resources (“feed the hungry”). Learn one thing today about the native peoples from your corner of the world.
TODAY'S READINGS: Deuteronomy 4:32-40; Matthew 16:24-28 (411). “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”
Saturday, Aug 10, 2019 FEAST OF LAWRENCE, DEACON, MARTYR Take nothing for granted
Often we take faith for granted, especially our ability to practice it freely. Today’s feast reminds us that there have been times in our history when such was not the case. Lawrence, one of the most widely remembered martyrs of early Christian history, was killed on August 10, 258 when Emperor Valerian decreed all clerics be put to death. Lawrence lived a long time ago, and the stories about him—his care for the poor and his manner of death—come from an oral tradition that has inspired the faithful for generations. Say a prayer of thanks for the ability to practice your faith free of persecution.
TODAY'S READINGS: 2 Corinthians 9:6-10; John 12:24-26 (618). “Unless a grain of wheat fall to the ground.”
Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Ready, set, jump!
In a secular age, some believers feel the need to “prove” the credibility of religion. If only we could dig up Noah’s Ark, produce Jesus’ swaddling clothes, or locate Martha’s dishes! Even better, if only consecrated hosts would bleed before the eyes of skeptics. Archeological evidence and miraculous interventions aside, a life of faith requires neither and isn’t bolstered by either. Faith is grounded in the future, not the past, and is more about where we place our hope rather than where we misplaced the Holy Grail. Faith is a flying lesson. Let go!
TODAY'S READINGS: Wisdom 18:6-9; Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; Luke 12:32-48 (117). “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”
Monday, Aug 12, 2019 MEMORIAL OF JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL, RELIGIOUS Make peace with the world
Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” But at other times, he’s not so clear. What’s more, it’s not always clear what’s a worldly concern and what’s a godly one. No doubt Jane Frances de Chantal wrestled with this ambiguity. Left a widow in 1601, with four children to care for and an estate that she’d rescued from ruin, she found solace under the spiritual direction of Saint Francis de Sales. But even after her worldly affairs were put in order, Francis dissuaded her from jumping too quickly into the life of a nun. There was much good she still needed to do in the world. What in the world are you called to do?
TODAY'S READINGS: Deuteronomy 10:12-22; Matthew 17:22-27 (413). “The highest heavens belong to the Lord, your God, as well as the earth and everything on it.”
Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 MEMORIAL OF PONTIAN, POPE, AND HIPPOLYTUS, PRIEST, MARTYRS No finger-pointing, please
There is a lesson for us today in looking at the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire that led to the deaths of Pontian, Hippolytus, and many more. When Rome burned, Nero blamed the Christians. As the city fell on hard times, Christians were easy targets. A minority group, with unfamiliar religious customs—what more was needed to scapegoat them? Accused of being disloyal foreigners, things got so out of hand that Christians were suspected of incest for calling each other brothers and sisters and even of cannibalism because they consumed the “body and blood” of their Savior. Next time a demagogue points a finger to vilify a whole group, ask if one day that finger might be pointed at you.
TODAY'S READINGS: Deuteronomy 31:1-8; Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14 (414). "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 MEMORIAL OF MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, PRIEST, MARTYR Make a difference
Maximillian Kolbe (1894-1941) was a Polish priest whose devotion to Mary was a central part of his life. He was a writer whose monthly columns expressed that devotion to a sizeable readership. Human like the rest of us, Maximillian sometimes was a difficult colleague, and initially his publications reflected some of the anti-Semitic rhetoric of his time and place. However, he never abandoned the work of promoting faith, citing indifference as the poison of the time. Sentenced to Auschwitz in 1941, he ultimately gave his life to save another prisoner. His was a martyrdom of love. Be mindful today of the toxin of indifference within and around you.
TODAY'S READINGS: Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Matthew 18:15-20 (415). “For where two or three are gathered together in my name . . . there I am in the midst of them.”
Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY Don’t assume faith is easy
The Assumption of Mary is often portrayed in art in a blissful scene of cherubs transporting Mary, eyes cast upward and robes flowing majestically, up into the heavens. Beneath this image, however, is a life of grit and grace in which Mary lived the fullness of Christian discipleship. Mary hears, ponders, challenges, and receives the Word of God, allowing it to permeate her whole being. Her Assumption then is a symbol and a promise to each of us that our journey of discipleship is one destined for ultimate wholeness in God.
TODAY'S READINGS: Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab; 1 Corinthians 15:20-27; Luke 1:39-56 (622). “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Friday, Aug 16, 2019 MEMORIAL OF STEPHEN OF HUNGARY Hail, holy order
To some, Stephen of Hungary was an iron-fisted monarch who punished any hint of paganism among his people. To others, he was a grieving father who—having outlived his immediate family—spent the rest of his days washing the feet of paupers. Either would be great fodder for the high drama of a Hollywood screenplay. The reality? Stephen’s legacy stems from being an administrator. He created local dioceses for the successful establishment of the church in his country. His rule provided such a lasting peace that a route through Hungary became the preferred way for pilgrims to visit the Holy Land. We tend to bristle at “rules and regulations,” but when the motive behind them is good, more appreciation is perhaps in order.
TODAY'S READINGS: Joshua 24:1-13; Matthew 19:3-12 (417). “Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”
Saturday, Aug 17, 2019 A tribute to touch
Today’s gospel has Jesus placing his hands on children and praying for them. The simple gesture of “touch and prayer” can be profound because all humans crave a kind touch. Examples of “touch and prayer” abound. The sacraments are built on this combination. Some Christians hold hands during grace. In many Latin countries children routinely ask for a blessing from elders, who trace a cross on the child’s forehead as they pray. Can you bless somebody in your life today through the power of “touch and prayer”?
TODAY'S READINGS: Joshua 24:14-29; Matthew 19:13-15 (418). “Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray.”
Sunday, Aug 18, 2019 TWENTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Get fired up!
Author Jack London told the chilling tale of a brazen traveler who failed to take the peril of extreme weather conditions seriously. Building a proper fire in the right place might have kept him alive during a blizzard. Absent such a fire, the man’s fate was sealed. Jesus assures his friends that his mission in this world is to set such a blazing, saving fire in the hearts of believers. If we carry this passionate flame, no circumstances can endanger us. Contemplate an image of the Sacred Heart, and stoke the fire in your own!
TODAY'S READINGS: Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10; Hebrews 12:1-4; Luke 12:49-53 (120). “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”
Monday, Aug 19, 2019 MEMORIAL OF JOHN EUDES, PRIEST God cares through your hands
During the plagues of 1627 and 1631, John Eudes cared for the sick, sleeping in a field to avoid infecting his fellow priests. Similar efforts made today are honored by World Humanitarian Day, commemorating 22 United Nations staff killed by a terrorist attack in Baghdad in 2003. Since then, more than 4,000 aid workers have been injured, kidnapped, or killed, targeted as they served more than 65 million people displaced from their homes and more than 26,000 civilians killed or injured in six countries. Learn more at Humanitarian Day and ask yourself how you can help contribute to a more humane world today and every day.
TODAY'S READINGS: Judges 2:11-10; Matthew 19:16-22 (419). “The Lord would be moved to pity by their groaning.”
Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019 MEMORIAL OF BERNARD, ABBOT, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH Saintly? It’s complicated
Bernard of Clairvaux was a brilliant and charismatic leader of the Cistercian monastic reform that encouraged a return to the original Benedictine life of prayer and manual labor. At the same time he was friend and mentor to powerful church leaders and was drawn into the geopolitical struggles embodied in the Crusades. How to reconcile the image of the prayerful monk with that of spiritual cheerleader to a militant army of Crusaders? Church history is filled with contradictions—as is each one of us. We have the simple contemplative and the militant crusader living in our own heart. Which one shall we nurture?
TODAY'S READINGS: Judges 6:11-24a; Matthew 19:23-30 (420). “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019 MEMORIAL OF PIUS X, POPE Be a warm-hearted believer
Pope Pius X pastored the universal church from 1903 to 1914, a tumultuous period in world history, which saw traditional ways of life giving way, whether in the natural sciences, politics, or economic life, to new ways of thinking, organizing, believing. Though most commonly remembered as a staunch traditionalist and “anti-modernist,” Pius should also be remembered for his simple, unpretentious lifestyle (he never lost sight of his poor roots), his personal warmth and love of children, and his generous charitable outreach. After the horrific Messina earthquake of 1908, the most destructive earthquake ever recorded in Europe with some 100,000 casualties, Pius is said by one source to have filled the Apostolic Palace with refugees long before the Italian government acted. Make sure a warm heart is front and center in your own life of faith.
TODAY'S READINGS: Judges 9:6-15; Matthew 20:1-16 (421). “Are you envious because I am generous?”
Thursday, Aug 22, 2019 MEMORIAL OF THE QUEENSHIP OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY The sky is not the limit
Lumen gentium, Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, declares the “Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all guilt of original sin, on the completion of her earthly sojourn, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen of the Universe.” Going to Orlando, Florida anytime soon? Visit the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, a 2,000-seat church dedicated to the Queenship of Mary and established to serve the 30 million tourists who visit the Orlando area every year. Wish to be reminded of Mary’s connection to the whole universe, and why that will matter into the future? Visit nearby Cape Canaveral.
TODAY'S READINGS: Judges 11:29-39a; Matthew 22:1-14 (422). “The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike.”
Friday, Aug 23, 2019 MEMORIAL OF ROSE OF LIMA, VIRGIN Care of the soul
Life isn’t easy. It’s good and beautiful, yes, but stressful, chaotic, and sometimes even devastating. Wouldn’t it be great to “get away from it all”? One might think that this is what Saint Rose of Lima did when she became practically a recluse in her parents’ house. She dedicated her life to solitude and a profound sense of solidarity with Jesus the Christ, especially the Suffering Christ. Yet within this calling, Rose found a spaciousness within herself to open a nearby room in the house to care for people in need. How do you experience this sacred dynamic of contemplative quiet and compassionate care?
TODAY'S READINGS: Ruth 1:1, 3-6, 14b-16, 22; Matthew 22:34-40 (423). “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind . . . . You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Saturday, Aug 24, 2019 FEAST OF BARTHOLOMEW, APOSTLE Caught up in prayer
If you met Jesus face-to-face and he saw right through you—straight into your soul—and told you exactly what you had been doing before meeting him, what would he see and what would he say? Would he judge that you were honest and good? That you had spent the prior moment in prayer? That’s what happened to the Apostle Bartholomew upon being introduced to Jesus. Let’s always be ready to be “caught in the act” of communing with God, with a pure heart, recognizing our King when he greets us.
TODAY'S READINGS: Revelation 21:9b-14; John 1:45-51 (629). “You will see greater things than this.”
Sunday, Aug 25, 2019 TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Shortcuts take longer
Some friends are famous for their shortcuts—the kind that always take them longer than if they had stuck to the main routes. Cutting corners rarely winds up with satisfying results. Bakers know that if you use inferior ingredients, you can expect inferior outcomes. Thrown-together carpentry work tumbles apart in short order. Failing to warm up before exercise puts us at risk of injury. Doing things right takes more time and care, but it gets the job done. In moral living, the narrow gate is the most direct route to where we’re going. Avoid easy. Choose marvelous.
TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30 (123). “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.”
Monday, Aug 26, 2019 Be steadfast in the face of hypocrisy
Jesus had nothing good to say about hypocrites. He rebuked them often. So does Pope Francis, who recently said it was better to be an atheist than a hypocritical Catholic, calling out those who lead double lives of going to Mass and then exploiting others. It’s easy to look around and see people and institutions doing just that—including the church. It would be easy to turn your back on them altogether. But then wouldn’t you be letting hypocrisy easily win? Make it hard for hypocrites to take away the faith that is, by right of your Baptism, yours.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 8b-10; Matthew 23:13-22 (425). “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.”
Tuesday, Aug 27, 2019 MEMORIAL OF MONICA Persistence pays off
A violent, unfaithful husband, a cranky mother-in-law, an immoral son—all in the same household. Monica could’ve been canonized simply for surviving. Instead, she pursued her unruly son Augustine from Africa to Rome to Milan when he was 29 (helicopter parenting, anyone?), fasted and wept over his lack of faith. Not quite the way young adults today are parented, but a bishop finally told her, “It’s impossible the son of so many tears should perish.” He converted, thrived, wrote brilliantly, and told her story in his Confessions. Today, compliment the efforts of a mother or son.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 23:23-26 (426). “Our coming to you was not in vain.”
Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 MEMORIAL OF AUGUSTINE, BISHOP, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH Dig deeper
Among the many works that the towering Saint Augustine is remembered for, his work On the Trinity is considered by many to be his masterpiece, his most significant contribution to the Western church. Yet a legend arose that as he struggled with his great work, he took a walk on the seashore and came across a young boy who said he was pouring all the ocean water into a small hole in the sand. Augustine replied that it was impossible to fit the ocean in a small hole, to which the boy replied, “It’s just as impossible that understanding the Trinity would fit in your small mind.” And then the child was gone—an angelic visitor. Approach the mysteries of faith with humility.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Matthew 23:27-32 (427). “On the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.”
Thursday, Aug 29, 2019 MEMORIAL OF THE PASSION OF JOHN THE BAPTIST Be careful what you promise
According to the gospel accounts of the beheading of John the Baptist, Herod immediately regretted the promise he made to Salome that led to John’s beheading. Whether John met his death for this reason or simply because Herod regarded him as a threat and wanted him out of the way, the story serves as a cautionary tale to think twice before you promise to fulfill the wishes of another. Would you be willing to violate your internal sense of right or wrong or your conscience in order to fulfill a promise? If not, be slow to make promises without first checking your conscience.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Thessalonians 3:7-13 (428); Mark 6:17-29 (634). “When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.”
Friday, Aug 30, 2019 Leave your light on for Christ
A Catholic church is never completely dark—as long as the Blessed Sacrament is present. You’ll always see at least a small red flicker before the tabernacle, while it contains the Eucharist, the Body of Christ. The tradition goes back to the Book of Exodus, when God told Moses to perpetually burn a lamp filled with pure oil in the Tabernacle. Thousands of years later, Christ is always there, burning with a light and love that never goes out. Likewise keep the flame for him in your soul steadfast and bright.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; Matthew 25:1-13 (429). “The wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.”
Saturday, Aug 31, 2019 Tame your tongue
Sometimes our daily readings get down to brass tacks. “Don’t be a busybody” seems to be the blunt message in Paul's advice to the Thessalonians. It’s not an ethereal command to do noble deeds; rather it’s the kind of practical advice that makes life in the Christian community (or any community) work. Pope Francis frequently passes along similar wisdom. Put today’s citation to immediate use by keeping your silence the next time you’re tempted to disparage a neighbor, relative, or coworker.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Thessalonians 4:9-11; Matthew 25:14-30 (430). “Nevertheless we urge you, brothers and sisters, to progress even more, and to aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs.”