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Wednesday, Jul 21, 2021 Choose wisely and well
Good preachers know that if they tell a story as part of a sermon, their people are more likely to remember the message. Such preachers take their lead from the master storyteller. Jesus used stories, often parables with a lesson, to help listeners then and now understand what really matters in his Father’s kingdom. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, “the simple images of the parables . . . confront the hearer with a radical choice (about) entering the kingdom of God.” Do not get lost in the details, but rather see the choice the stories provide. Will you be the seed that grows in good earth? Or will you die among the thorns? Choose love and bear much fruit.
TODAY'S READINGS: Exodus 16:1-5, 9-15; Matthew 13:1-9 (397). “But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit.”
Thursday, Jul 22, 2021 FEAST OF MARY MAGDALENE Grace under pressure
Mary Magdalene is often referred to as “Apostle to the Apostles.” The gospels attest to the fact that she did not abandon Christ on the cross, and in several gospel accounts she is the first witness to the Resurrection, bringing the news to the other apostles. Despite her loyalty and stature, ironically she is not mentioned in the Holy Week liturgies. However, the church in 2016 set a feast day in her honor. On that feast today, reflect on your own loyalty to Christ: Can you be unwavering even under pressure, as was Mary Magdalene?
TODAY'S READINGS: Song of Songs 3:1-4b or 2 Corinthians 5:14-17; John 20:1-2, 11-18 (603). “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord.’”
Friday, Jul 23, 2021 MEMORIAL OF BRIDGET, RELIGIOUS Love, embodied
It’s great to have a deep connection with another person no matter what kind of relationship it may be. Birgitta Petersson (later known as Saint Bridget of Sweden) found this in Ulf Gudmarsson, whom she married while both were very young. Early on in their relationship they were focused on raising a family of eight with each maintaining a job outside the home. Their relationship and love grew over time with each other and with God. A major bonding experience came when together they made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, a popular religious destination in northwestern Spain. Years later when Ulf died, Birgitta reportedly said that she had “loved him like my own body.” Take time to strengthen the bonds of your own loving relationships.
TODAY'S READINGS: Exodus 20:1-17; Matthew 13:18-23 (399). “The seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit.”
Saturday, Jul 24, 2021 MEMORIAL OF SHARBEL MAKHLŪF, PRIEST A quiet mystic speaks to our age
Saint Sharbel Makhlūf (1828-98) was a Maronite monk and priest in Lebanon, renowned for his quiet holiness. On the occasion of his beatification in 1965, the Eastern Catholic hermit was described by Saint Pope Paul VI as “a new, eminent member of monastic sanctity,” who “through his example and his intercession is enriching the entire Christian people.” In the midst of busy, noisy life, make some time to hear the still, quiet voice. Recite the Prayer revered by the Eastern Church for centuries, now gaining adherents in the West, including Saint Pope John Paul II, who compared the meditative quality of the Jesus Prayer to the Rosary: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
TODAY'S READINGS: Exodus 24:3-8; Matthew 13:24-30 (400). “If you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest.”
Sunday, Jul 25, 2021 SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Celebrate mom-and-pop operations
However few dollars there are, parents make them stretch until payday. However uncertain the way ahead, they shoulder the decision-making for their brood. However dark the night and scary the storm, parents hug their little ones through it. Today our nation celebrates Parents' Day, honoring the grownups who make children's lives safer, happier, and healthier. While they may not multiply loaves and fishes quite like Jesus, parents do perform minor miracles of sufficiency every day across this country. They take imperfect human love and weave a blanket of protection and possibility for their tribe. Support your local parents!
TODAY'S READINGS: 2 Kings 4:42-44; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 6:1-15 (110). "Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted."
Monday, Jul 26, 2021 MEMORIAL OF JOACHIM AND ANNE, PARENTS OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY Family ties
Jesus’ ancestry through Joseph is extensively traced in two of the gospels, but there’s nothing there about his maternal line. The names of his grandparents—Mary’s parents—aren’t mentioned in scripture, but tradition has dubbed them Joachim and Anne. Whatever their names were, they had to have been remarkable people to have raised the mother of God. The courage and faith they passed on to Mary is a precious gift all parents can pass to their children. Treasure your own intergenerational bonds.
TODAY'S READINGS: Exodus 32:15-24, 30-34; Matthew 13:31-35 (401). “The birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.”
Tuesday, Jul 27, 2021 Parables for the people
Jesus is famous for his use of parables—short metaphorical stories featuring people, places, and things utterly familiar to ordinary listeners—to get his often-countercultural point across. Typically, his parables are about the kingdom of God, which stands in stark contrast to the current world of his audience. For example, Matthew 13—which contains more parables than any other chapter in the Bible—contradicts conventional wisdom by pointing out how small things in this life—seeds and weeds, for example—are actually very big things. The parables of Jesus still teach us. Choose one to meditate on, rediscovering something wise to enlighten your day.
TODAY'S READINGS: Exodus 33:7-11; 34:5b-9, 28; Matthew 13:36-43 (402). “Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Wednesday, Jul 28, 2021 Stay the course
Father Stanley Rother is one step away from canonization and being named publicly as a saint of the Catholic Church. Born in Oklahoma in 1935, ordained a priest in 1963, missioned to Guatemala in 1968, Rother immersed himself among the Tz’ufujil Mayan communities. When civil war broke out and his name appeared on a death list, after briefly departing he decided to return, saying, the “shepherd cannot run." On July 28, 1981, three men entered the rectory where he lived and killed him. Now recognized as a martyr for the faith, Rother was beatified by the Vatican in 2016. As we await the canonization of this first American martyr, pray that you, too, might be a sign of Christ’s love to the people close to you, even when it comes at a cost.
TODAY'S READINGS: Exodus 34:29-35; Matthew 13:44-46 (403). “When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”
Thursday, Jul 29, 2021 MEMORIAL OF MARTHA Lesson learned
Any memorial honoring Saint Martha includes a well-deserved nod to those who quietly serve. But Martha's role in salvation history goes well beyond her hospitality to Jesus and lies in the example of her maturing faith. When Jesus admonished her about her anxiety, Martha listened. She grew in wisdom and understanding, so much so that when her brother Lazarus dies, she runs to meet Jesus and declares: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Martha provides an inspiration to all of us to persevere in knowing God, loving Christ, and serving others.
TODAY'S READINGS: Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38 (404); John 11:19-27 or Luke 10:38-42 (607). “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing.”
Friday, Jul 30, 2021 Open the door to your own ministry
Do you ever think about your daily activities as a ministry? No activity is outside the realm of a possible ministry. Take Blessed Solanus Casey, for example. One of Solanus’ jobs was as a porter, that is, a door keeper. Open/shut case, right? Not at all! Solanus understood his simple job as being a true ministry, service of God through service of others. He did not merely answer the door; he opened his heart to everyone who entered. In doing so, Solanus was able to reflect God’s love and healing to others in a way that truly made a difference. How do you open your heart to others during your daily routine?
TODAY'S READINGS: Leviticus 23:1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34b-37; Matthew 13:54-58 (405). “Is he not the carpenter’s son?”
Saturday, Jul 31, 2021 MEMORIAL OF IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, PRIEST Book your biblical excursion
Never underestimate the power of a book to change lives or history. Ignatius of Loyola was a young Spanish soldier from a prominent military family. While recovering from a serious war injury, he came upon Vita Christi, a spiritual biography of the life of Christ by 14th-century German Catholic monk Ludolph of Saxony. In the book he found the meditative technique of immersing oneself in a biblical scene from the life of Jesus. The book changed Ignatius’ life, and the technique became foundational to the development of Ignatian spirituality and the famed Spiritual Exercises. Try the technique: Open a gospel, read a story, and place yourself at the scene. Really be there. See what happens.
TODAY'S READINGS: Leviticus 25:1, 8-17; Matthew 14:1-12 (406). “This fiftieth year you shall make sacred by proclaiming liberty in the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you.”
Sunday, Aug 01, 2021 EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME In it to win it?
Quid pro quo sounds like a pretty good deal. "This for that": the time-honored barter in which we swap resources or labor for room and board, if not a bit more. Consumer culture initiates all of us into the pursuit of the best trade. No surprise that early followers of Jesus imagined they were swapping their attention to his teaching for free food and even better opportunities down the road. Jesus seeks friends who share his vision, not churchgoers hoping for a celestial deal. When it comes to the religion quest, what's in it for you?
TODAY'S READINGS: Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15; Ephesians 4:17, 20-24; John 6:24-35 (113). "You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled."
Monday, Aug 02, 2021 MEMORIAL OF PETER JULIAN EYMARD, PRIEST The communion of saints awaits you
Saint Peter Julian Eymard was a 19th-century French priest with a devotion to the Eucharist. He founded two religious institutes with a focus on Eucharistic Adoration: the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament for men and the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament for women. The former prepared children for their First Communion and reached out to lapsed Catholics to bring them back to receiving Communion. He famously said, “You take Communion to become holy, not because you already are.” Perhaps you spent some time away from the Eucharist because of the pandemic. No matter how long you are apart, Christ eagerly awaits your return.
TODAY'S READINGS: Numbers 11:4b-15; Matthew 14:13-21 (407). “He said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples.”
Tuesday, Aug 03, 2021 We’re in the same boat
The “Barque (boat) of Saint Peter” is one of the oldest symbols of the Catholic Church. Early church fathers, like Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria, compared the church to a sailing vessel. Saint Boniface wrote: “The church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship, but to keep her on her course.” As Peter learned, the trick is to place our trust in Jesus. Pray for Pope Francis—successor to Peter—that he can guide the church through today’s troubled waters.
TODAY'S READINGS: Numbers 12:1-13; Matthew 14:22-36 or Matthew 15:1-2, 10-14 (408). "Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus."
Wednesday, Aug 04, 2021 MEMORIAL OF JOHN VIANNEY, PRIEST Ministry for the ministers
The unique lives of Catholic priests and religious sometimes give rise to stressful times and difficult transitions that need the help of a healing hand. The Saint John Vianney Center in Downingtown, Pennsylvania serves Catholic clergy and religious struggling with behavioral and emotional issues, addictive and compulsive disorders, weight management, and other challenging issues that arise during their vocational journeys. The JVC employs modern therapeutic support along with traditional prayer, spiritual practices, and the intercession of today’s saint to restore these dedicated men and women to active and fruitful ministry. Pray for your religious sisters and brothers, priests, deacons, and bishops. They need your love.
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 05, 2021 MEMORIAL OF THE DEDICATION OF THE BASILICA OF MARY MAJOR Legend-worthy Madonna
Legend has it that a freak snowstorm in August was a sign that urged a Christian couple to build an enormous Roman church dedicated to the Virgin: the Basilica of Mary Major, founded in the 400s. Yet this story is like many others that church historians call “legends.” Our legends are not to be disdained; they usually uphold truths as interesting as the facts. In this case, the larger truth is that Mary is a key member of the communion of saints who helps us on our path to God. During this month when Mary is particularly venerated, ask for her intercession.
TODAY'S READINGS: Numbers 20:1-13; Matthew 16:13-23 (410). “Then, raising his hand, Moses struck the rock twice with his staff, and water gushed out in abundance for the people and their livestock to drink.”
Friday, Aug 06, 2021 FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD Shhh . . .
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply,” says leadership guru Stephen Covey.When we fail to listen, we miss the messages necessary for growth in ourselves and others. Listening builds a well of wisdom that helps the listener and the speaker get to know themselves better. “Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality,” says Henri Nouwen, and Pope Francis calls listening a form of “self-sacrifice” as we put another person above ourselves and “share questions and doubts.” God commanded Jesus’ disciples to listen to him. We are called to do the same.
TODAY'S READINGS: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Mark 9:2-10 (614). “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Saturday, Aug 07, 2021 MEMORIAL OF SIXTUS II, POPE, AND COMPANIONS, MARTYRS The courage to teach
Today's teachers have a tough job (which the pandemic only made more difficult). But imagine risking your life to teach about your faith. That's how it was "back in the day." In the year 258, Roman soldiers burst into the room where Sixtus was teaching, dragged him from the chair, and beheaded him in the street. Six deacons joined him in martyrdom that day. Many bishops, priests, and deacons were murdered during that persecution by the Roman Emperor Valerian. Next time you’re in the pew, find Sixtus in Eucharistic Prayer I, the first one printed in your missalette. He’s in the list that includes “Linus, Cletus, Clement,” and other notables of the early church. When you get to the name Sixtus II, pause and remember his courageous sacrifice to pass on the faith.
TODAY'S READINGS: Deuteronomy 6:4-13; Matthew 17:14-20 (412). “[I]f you have faith the size of a mustard seed . . . . Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Sunday, Aug 08, 2021 NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Let living water flow
Jesus said, "Whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink" will be rewarded (Matt. 10:42). How much more so if we champion clean water rights for all. Have you ever tried to run a bath, only to have sludge emerge from the pipes? Have you visited a familiar lake and found its normally clear water unfit for swimming? Have you gotten sick from drinking from a contaminated spring, or developed a rash from washing in your own sink? Folks around the world and in parts of our own country have had this experience often. Take time to learn what you can do locally and globally to ensure access to what Pope Francis calls a “basic and universal human right"—safe drinking water.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Kings 19:4-8; Ephesians 4:30—5:2; John 6:41-51 (116). “Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water.”
Monday, Aug 09, 2021 MEMORIAL OF TERESA BENEDICTA OF THE CROSS, VIRGIN, MARTYR Pick up a page-turner of faith
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was born Edith Stein in 1891 and was killed at Auschwitz in 1942. She was a German Jewish philosopher who had been an atheist, although she had admired Christians she knew. She shocked everyone by becoming Catholic and, 11 years later, a Carmelite nun. Her conversion was prompted by an all-night reading of the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Ávila, a 16th-century Carmelite also of Jewish origins. Pick up a copy of the autobiographies of both these riveting saints—and see how they contribute to your own ongoing conversion.
TODAY'S READINGS: Deuteronomy 10:12-22; Matthew 17:22-27 (413). “And they were overwhelmed with grief.”
Tuesday, Aug 10, 2021 FEAST OF LAWRENCE, DEACON, MARTYR Find your way to serve
Lawrence was one of seven deacons martyred in Rome under Emperor Valerian in 258. The word deacon—from the Greek word for service—describes the work of these early ministers: beginning with the first seven deacons mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, appointed to serve the everyday needs of the flock while the apostles busied themselves with evangelization. Today’s Catholic deacons are ordained; permanent deacons can preach at Mass and preside over weddings, Baptisms, and funerals—while transitional deacons later become priests. Learn more at .org.
TODAY'S READINGS: 2 Corinthians 9:6-10; John 12:24-26 (618). "Where I am, there also will my servant be."
Wednesday, Aug 11, 2021 MEMORIAL OF CLARE, VIRGIN Hope lights the way
Saint Clare, founder of the Poor Clare order of nuns, is part of a long line of women and men who gave up everything for the sake of following Christ, and, in turn, inspired others to join them on their holy journey. Often meeting significant resistance, these brave souls persevered, driven by a passion to bring God’s Good News to the world. “Like a shooting star against the dark sky of injustice and ignorance, founders of religious communities lit up the landscape with a burst of hope,” says Precious Blood Father Joe Nassal. Saint Gaspar, the founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, like Saint Clare hoped to free people from the chains of societal conformity. Clare chose to do it within the confines of a cloister; Gaspar, as an itinerant preacher. Both were being true to themselves and the gospel. Follow your own path toward hope.
TODAY'S READINGS: Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Matthew 18:15-20 (415). “His eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated.”
Thursday, Aug 12, 2021 MEMORIAL OF JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL, RELIGIOUS Love lifted her higher
Jane Frances de Chantal, a French widow who founded the Visitation Nuns in 1610, was a well-off, educated woman with administrative talent and deep faith who was widowed at age 28. Obliged to live with a cruel father-in-law, she coped by pouring herself into charity work and spiritual development, eventually teaming up with Saint Francis de Sales to found a religious community. Have you ever coped with difficulties by trying to become a better person? What trial in your life could nudge you toward greater goodness?
TODAY'S READINGS: Joshua 3:7-10a, 11, 13-17; Matthew 18:21—19:1 (416). “Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.”
Friday, Aug 13, 2021 MEMORIAL OF PONTIAN, POPE, AND HIPPOLYTUS, PRIEST, MARTYRS What unites is greater than what divides
Pope Pontian and Hippolytus were both imprisoned in Sardinia during Roman persecutions. Before their deaths in 235, Pontian and Hippolytus reconciled, because for a time the two were archenemies. Indeed, Hippolytus had been elected antipope by his followers who were in stark opposition to Pontian’s tolerant stance on reconciling returning Christians to the church. In the end, Pontian and Hippolytus realized that their shared love of Christ far surpassed any differences. Finding one common element with an enemy is the first step toward reconciliation. Perhaps we can start with our shared humanity and work our way from there.
TODAY'S READINGS: Joshua 24:1-13; Matthew 19:3-12 (417). “I gave you a land that you had not tilled and cities that you had not built, to dwell in.”
Saturday, Aug 14, 2021 MEMORIAL OF MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, PRIEST, MARTYR Give a piece of your heart
Maximilian Kolbe shook up the rules for saint-making. At Kolbe’s 1982 canonization, Pope John Paul II named him a “martyr of charity.” No longer could one become a martyr only by being killed because of “hatred for the faith.” Now one killed because of charitable work, as Maximilian was, could also be a martyr. This opened the door to sainthood for others who were murdered for their good work, like Notre Dame Sister Dorothy Stang of Brazil, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ sisters of Liberia, or the Maryknoll sisters of El Salvador. We are all called in some way to be martyrs, even if we give away only a part of our lives. Give away a piece of your life today.
TODAY'S READINGS: Joshua 24:14-29; Matthew 19:13-15 (418). “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Sunday, Aug 15, 2021 SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY Some assumptions prove true
Catholicism acknowledges twin sources in scripture and tradition. While our faith is biblically rooted, we embrace an expanding truth discerned by saints and mystics, church doctors, and popes. Mary's Assumption isn't narrated in the gospels and wasn't taught dogmatically until 1950. It evolved from the second-century appreciation of Mary as the New Eve: preserved from sin at conception and therefore not subject to sin's effects in death. Liturgists, saints, and theologians promoted the Assumption for centuries, and devout Catholics championed this understanding. Finally, Pope Pius XII bowed to the "sense of the faithful" and made it official in 1950.
TODAY'S READINGS: Vigil: 1 Chronicles 15:3-4, 15-16; 16:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:54b-57; Luke 11:27-28 (621); Day: Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab; 1 Corinthians 15:20-27; Luke 1:39-56 (622). “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet.”
Monday, Aug 16, 2021 MEMORIAL OF STEPHEN OF HUNGARY Concern yourself with the greatest Kingdom
Royal families are typically concerned about succession and making sure they have an heir. They want their lineage to survive them. Many monarchs eventually failed at that, including King Saint Stephen I of Hungary, who founded the country in the year 1000 and made it Christian. Only one of his sons lived to adulthood but died before Stephen did. What Stephen did leave behind is a country that is still majority Catholic. We might not be remembered for sowing faith long into the future here on Earth—but if we remain faithful, we could end up with royal treasure in heaven.
TODAY'S READINGS: Judges 2:11-19; Matthew 19:16-22 (419). “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”
Tuesday, Aug 17, 2021 Pray for the persecuted
On this day in 1798, Our Lady of La Vang first appeared to Vietnamese victims of persecution. When Vietnam’s emperor outlawed Catholicism, inciting brutality and martyrdom, believers fled to the rain forest of La Vang. They sought Mary’s consolation, gathering beneath a large tree to pray the Rosary. They began seeing an apparition of Mother and Child, flanked by angels. She comforted them and is said to have pointed out nearby healing plants. Our Lady of La Vang is honored in the United States with a chapel at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Ask her to intercede for victims of racist hate.
TODAY'S READINGS: Judges 6:11-24a; Matthew 19:23-30 (420). “We have given up everything and followed you.”
Wednesday, Aug 18, 2021 Let’s work on making work better
The U.S. Catholic Bishops have spoken on The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers, saying in part: “The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living . . . . If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected—the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages . . . .” Food for thought at a time when workers’ reluctance to return to low-paid, unfulfilling jobs is much in the news. Is the problem with the worker—or the workplace?
TODAY'S READINGS: Judges 9:6-15; Matthew 20:1-16 (421). “'Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Thursday, Aug 19, 2021 MEMORIAL OF JOHN EUDES, PRIEST Take this devotion to heart
The Sacred Heart of Jesus image is ubiquitous in the Catholic world, and today we celebrate one of the people who helped create a devotion to it, John Eudes, a French priest (1601-80), who also founded the Eudists, the Congregation of Jesus and Mary. The Sacred Heart image is a heart encircled by a crown of thorns often depicted with radiating rays of light and placed on the chest of Jesus. The image is physical and mystical, a reminder of Christ’s bodily sacrifice and mysterious in its supernatural appearance. Seek out this image and allow it to shape your prayer today.
TODAY'S READINGS: Judges 11:29-39a; Matthew 22:1-14 (422). “Everything is ready; come to the feast.”
Friday, Aug 20, 2021 MEMORIAL OF BERNARD, ABBOT, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH All hail Doctor Mellifluous
No, Mellifluous is not the newest superhero villain; it’s a title for one of the greatest heroes of the Roman Catholic faith. Bernard of Clairvaux earned the nickname because his writings were eloquent, as suggested by the Latin root of his nickname: “flowing honey.” This gift was founded on his deep love of God, scripture, and the church’s tradition. His description of the Holy Spirit as the “kiss” between God the Father and Jesus the Son gives us a beautiful example of how to image the relationship of love among the three persons of the Trinity. Following in the good doctor’s footsteps, how have you experienced the kiss of the Holy Spirit in your own relationships?
TODAY'S READINGS: Ruth 1:1, 3-6, 14b-16, 22; Matthew 22:34-40 (423). “For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”
Saturday, Aug 21, 2021 MEMORIAL OF PIUS X, POPE The year of living humbly
Prior to COVID-19, plagues mentioned in history books seemed like remote disasters that only happened in times and places where rats roamed streets filled with sewage. Now that we’ve been humbled by our continued vulnerability to unseen agents of disease and death, perhaps we can bring a renewed appreciation to Pius X, who endeared himself to the people of northern Italy because of his efforts tending the sick during the cholera plague of the early 1870s. Take a moment this week to thank someone who has tended the sick during our very modern plague.
TODAY'S READINGS: Ruth 2:1-3, 8-11; 4:13-17; Matthew 23:1-12 (424). “The greatest among you must be your servant.”
Sunday, Aug 22, 2021 TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Who do you serve?
Songwriter Bob Dylan had a come-to-Jesus moment in 1978 in a hotel room in Tucson, Arizona. More accurately, it seemed like Jesus came to him, as he felt “a presence in the room that couldn’t have been anybody but Jesus.” For four years, Dylan wrote songs critics panned as "God-awful gospel," and fans mourned the loss of what they'd come to expect from him. By 1981, Dylan had returned to his Jewish and folk-rock roots. Yet he never retracted his vision: "Well, it may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody." The choice remains ours.
TODAY'S READINGS: Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69 (122). "If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve."
Monday, Aug 23, 2021 MEMORIAL OF ROSE OF LIMA, VIRGIN Family finesse
Parents have expectations of their kids, and kids want to make their own choices—it’s part of the painful growing-up process. Rose of Lima was like a lot of teenagers who clashed with her parents about her future, and she was like a lot of saints who rankled family by refusing to marry. They never let her join a convent, but they didn’t force her to wed either, finally relenting to her choice of chastity. She lived out her brief life as she had wished, in prayer and penance. She is the patron saint of family problems. Everyone has them, so ask Rose for help.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 8b-10; Matthew 23:13-22 (425). “One who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God.”
Tuesday, Aug 24, 2021 FEAST OF BARTHOLOMEW, APOSTLE Play a stirring role
Bartholomew, also called Nathanael, was one of the original 12 apostles and later, a traveling missionary. He embodied what it means to become a missionary disciple—one who, upon being led to Jesus, wishes to lead others to him, too. As the U.S. bishops say in Go and Make Disciples, Jesus “gave the Church the unending task of evangelizing as a restless power, to stir and to stimulate.” Where can you stir interest in Jesus today?
TODAY'S READINGS: Revelation 21:9b-14; John 1:45-51 (629). “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Wednesday, Aug 25, 2021 The past is present
Today, we are becoming aware of the deep truth that wrongs committed in the past, even generations ago, can still perpetuate evil. Such is the sin of racism, which the U.S. Catholic Bishops have repeatedly called “an evil which endures in our society and in our Church” (and Sisters to Us). Each of us is called to help dismantle racism, to reject profiting from the oppression of others, and to listen to the voices of those who have been silenced too long—for the sake of our past, present, and future.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Matthew 23:27-32 (427). “You are like whitewashed tombs.”
Thursday, Aug 26, 2021 Be alert!
Wakefulness is a term often used in spiritual writing. In today’s gospel, Jesus tells his disciples, “Stay awake! You do not know on which day your Lord will come.” The of the Catholic Church contains at least 20 references to being awake, usually in regard to “awakening faith.” The church wants its members to be vigilant and tells us in the catechism that the “Holy Spirit constantly seeks to awaken us to keep watch!” Ask the Holy Spirit to help you awaken to God’s presence today.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Thessalonians 3:7-13; Matthew 24:42-51 (428). “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Stay awake!’”
Friday, Aug 27, 2021 MEMORIAL OF MONICA Hang in there
Sometimes it feels like all of our small choices and actions will never amount to anything. Go big or go home, we’re told. Yet the stuff of transformation, healing, and love is knitted together one small thing at a time. Our call is to have faith and persist. Take a look at Saint Monica, a laywoman from North Africa, who day in and day out offered “small” acts of kindness, love, and care for her beloved yet wayward son Augustine. She never tired of believing in him, even storming heaven on his behalf. Persisting in the small things that are good, beautiful, and true can make a big difference. What small things are you called to persist in?
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; Matthew 25:1-13 (429). “Stay awake.”
Saturday, Aug 28, 2021 MEMORIAL OF AUGUSTINE, BISHOP, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH Let happiness be your song
Like all larger-than-life historical figures, Saint Augustine and his legacy are subject to debate. Some find in his vast work reason to take a pessimistic view of humanity. But he was quite life-affirming in his conviction that the happiness found in following God is indeed the only worthy and lasting happiness. “Happy is [the one] who has God,” he succinctly put it. To “have” God for Augustine meant to love God, citing Psalm 72: “For me it is good to cling to God.” Or, as Pharrell Williams put it in his blockbuster song “Happy” a few years back, “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.”
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Thessalonians 4:9-11; Matthew 25:14-30 (430). “You yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.”
Sunday, Aug 29, 2021 TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Purity is not an abstinence test
Many of us who grew up in a moralizing culture were taught to imagine purity as having mainly to do with chastity. In which case, our aim was higher than the almost-but-not-quite perfection you might get from Ivory Soap, which years ago advertised itself as 99 and 44/100 percent pure. We may therefore be astonished that, according to the apostle James, purity in religion has something to do with how we respond to the abandoned in this world. Think charity, not chastity, to bump up your purity percentile.
TODAY'S READINGS: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 (125). “Religion that is pure . . . is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction.”
Monday, Aug 30, 2021 Remember your name
After being baptized with water, Catholics are anointed with oil and these words are said over them, “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body . . .” That means we share in those offices of Christ. Those are big roles—how to live up to them? Priests worship and make offerings to God, prophets speak the truth and live the gospel, royalty leads and takes care of others. If you remind yourself regularly of the sacred titles you were given at Baptism, how might that help you fulfill your promise?
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Luke 4:16-30 (431). “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021 Hope works
Today, in Poland, it’s the Day of Solidarity and Freedom—a modern Independence Day celebration after years of oppressive Soviet rule. In the 1980s, labor activist Lech Walesa helped stoke the flames of democratic social change. But it was Poland’s favorite son, Pope John Paul II, who provided the spark. In his 1979 papal visit, John Paul II gave the people an electric hope that change was possible. “Let the Spirit descend and renew the face of the Earth. This Earth,” he said. With Labor Day nearly here, remember how solidarity and workers’ rights are cornerstones of Social Teaching.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11; Luke 4:31-37 (432). "They were all amazed and said to one another, 'What is there about his word?'"
Wednesday, Sep 01, 2021 Living waters run deep
The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation celebrated today “offers to individual believers and to the community a precious opportunity to renew our personal participation in this vocation as custodians of creation,” says Pope Francis, who elevated this day in 2015 with the publication of his encyclical on the care of creation, Laudato Si’. As we move past August, Water Quality Month, be particularly mindful of your stewardship over the precious resource of clean drinking water. May all of us “come to the water” together as we care for our common home.
TODAY'S READINGS: Colossians 1:1-8; Luke 4:38-44 (433). “I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.”
Thursday, Sep 02, 2021 Get unstuck
In today’s gospel Simon Peter is so overcome by his own sinfulness, he tells Jesus to go away from him. What exactly is “sinfulness”? Lots of actions and inactions fall into that category, but the essence of Catholic teaching on sin is that it separates us from God. Selfishness, violence, and other sins drive a wedge between us and God. Peter knew that instinctively. Remove that wedge by asking God for forgiveness, and ponder what you can do to free yourself to reconcile a relationship that has become estranged.
TODAY'S READINGS: Colossians 1:9-14; Luke 5:1-11 (434). “Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’”
Friday, Sep 03, 2021 MEMORIAL OF GREGORY THE GREAT, POPE, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH Keep it all in balance
It’s never easy to find the right balance between sitting quietly and attentively on the sidelines and joining in the scrum of life’s adventures. Our life of prayer helps us to discern how best to hold these together and to respond with love for ourselves and the common good. Gregory was a Benedictine monk of the late sixth century and loved his life as a contemplative. Yet, when called upon to take the helm of a church suffering from the fall of Rome and the plague, he stepped up and found his calling expressed in new ways through prayer, caring for those in need, and leading compassionately. Find the right balance between action and contemplation.
TODAY'S READINGS: Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 5:33-39 (435). “In him all the fullness was pleased to dwell.”
Saturday, Sep 04, 2021 The fruits of creation for all of creation
It’s interesting to note that in the story of Jesus’ hungry disciples eating the grain from a farmer’s field, the objection raised by the Pharisees is not that they took the grain, but that they did so on the Sabbath. In fact, eating grain or produce from a neighbor’s farm while passing through was permitted by Jewish law (Deuteronomy 23:25-26), provided one did not carry off any surplus. It was considered a common courtesy and obligation of charity to share the abundance of creation with one’s neighbor. Perhaps we can embrace that same ethic in our own stewardship of the abundance God has entrusted to us.
TODAY'S READINGS: Colossians 1:21-23; Luke 6:1-5 (436). “While Jesus was going through a field of grain on a sabbath, his disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them.”