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Monday, Jun 20, 2022
The only measure that matters

When you were a kid, did your parents measure you by marking your height on a wall each birthday? Perhaps later report cards and sports trophies were a measure of your progress. In adulthood, do you measure yourself by rungs you’ve climbed on a corporate ladder, or by the increasing figures in your bank account? Some measures are less quantifiable—and far more important. Are you becoming more forgiving, more patient, more giving, more humble, more faithful? Are you getting closer to God? Comparison to others is no measure at all when God knows your heart completely and is helping you grow.

TODAY'S READINGS: 2 Kings 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18; Matthew 7:1-5 (371). “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.”

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2022
Find the happy medium

Young Aloysius—eldest child of a powerful Italian Renaissance family—was scandalized by all the excesses around him. In his corner of the world, corruption and promiscuity abounded. So impressionable was the boy that, as he began to contemplate religious life, he increasingly added penitential practices that promoted the opposite extreme, excessive mortification. Later, as he entered the Society of Jesus, he admitted “I am a piece of twisted iron” and “I entered religious life to get twisted straight.” Are there habits in your own life, no matter how holy, that might benefit from the virtue of moderation?

TODAY'S READINGS: 2 Kings 19:9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36; Matthew 7:6, 12-14 (372). “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”

Wednesday, Jun 22, 2022
Make some noise

Paulinus of Nola was a fourth-century Roman poet before he converted to Christianity and became a bishop, which might hint at what inspired him to take the imaginative step of introducing the ringing of bells into church services. The psalms—sacred poetry—encourage us to “make a joyful noise to the Lord” (Ps. 98:4) and that is what bells bring to the life and liturgy of the church. A medieval handbell came to be known as a nola and steeple bells as campanas, from Campania, the region of Italy Paulinus oversaw as bishop. The clear, crisp tones of a bell at liturgy remind us that something sacred is in the air. Consider incorporating a bell into your own life of prayer and contemplation.

TODAY'S READINGS: 2 Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3; Matthew 7:15-20 (373). “By their fruits you will know them.”

Thursday, Jun 23, 2022
Give birth to possibilities

Today is the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, one of the earliest feast days established in the church. John the Baptist is the only person outside of Jesus and Mary whose birth is honored with a feast day, indicating his importance. His unlikely birth to the aged Elizabeth has long been a popular subject for artists. It has miraculous parallels to the birth of Isaac (born to the aged Sarah and Abraham) and to the birth of Christ himself (born to a virgin). Let John’s birth remind you that God continuously brings forth life out of seemingly impossible situations.

TODAY'S READINGS: Day: Isaiah 49:1-6; Acts 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66, 80 (587).  “‘Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’”

Friday, Jun 24, 2022
Don’t lose heart

It’s tempting to ditch traditional religious images because they can feel so unrelatable today. They can leave us uttering “meh” instead of “amen.” But what happens when we look beyond the artistic style and focus on the symbolism itself? Take the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is never portrayed as a perfectly pristine heart, untouched and unaffected. Instead, we see a heart that knows both deep suffering and sacrifice (the crown of thorns) and great love and passion (flames). Now that’s relatable! You can surf the web and find an image of the Sacred Heart that speaks to you and make it part of your prayer today.

TODAY'S READINGS: Ezekiel 34:11-16; Romans 5:5b-11; Luke 15:3-7 (172). “The love of God has been poured out into our hearts.”

Saturday, Jun 25, 2022
Look to your heart

Today’s memorial focuses on Mary’s heart, a way of speaking of her profound internal life as depicted in scripture. Images of Mary’s heart often show it pierced by seven swords, representing the different sorrows she endured, from having to flee into Egypt with her infant son to having to witness his crucifixion and burial. Each of us has our own list of sorrows accumulated over a lifetime—griefs and losses we carry with us in our hearts. But Mary’s heart reflects much more than sorrow. It reflects her love for Jesus, her courage in accepting her calling, her resilience in the face of hardship. These qualities also live in your heart. In honoring Mary’s heart, you honor your own heart, too.

TODAY'S READINGS: Lamentations 2:2, 10-14, 18-19; Luke 2:41-51 (573). “And his mother kept all these things in her heart.”

Sunday, Jun 26, 2022
Respect your freedom

The Statue of Liberty is the symbol of our nation's reverence for personal freedom. Yet too many of us lose our liberty to substance abuse and other addictive behaviors, including gambling, pornography, overeating, and compulsive consumerism. More subtle than these overt practices are patterns of thinking and feeling we may be losing control over: anxiety, depression, rage, racism. Today is the World Day Against Drug Abuse and Trafficking. Prayerfully reflect on behaviors or emotional states that make you feel less free, and take a step today toward liberty.

TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21; Galatians 5:1, 13-18; Luke 9:51-62 (99). “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”

Monday, Jun 27, 2022
Everyone needs a mother’s love

Saint Cyril of Alexandria died on this day in 444. He is remembered for many things—admittedly not all of them good—as the archbishop of his city, which was at the height of its influence over the Mediterranean world during his time. One of his most enduring legacies was his hard-fought teaching on Mary as the “Mother of God,” which created the basis for all other theology about Mary. Saints aren’t perfect, and neither was Cyril—the man who helped connect us to a tender, loving mother in Mary also committed acts of violence and injustice. Perhaps his deep flaws illustrate just how much all of us—even saints who champion Mary—need her intercession.

TODAY'S READINGS: Amos 2:6-10, 13-16; Matthew 8:18-22 (377). “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

Tuesday, Jun 28, 2022
Come alive with faith

For Irenaeus, the Incarnation says as much about the redeemed as it does our Redeemer. Yes, Christian doctrine teaches that Jesus Christ is both fully human and fully divine. And, yes, Irenaeus battled the heresy known as Gnosticism—which emphasized the divine nature of Jesus at the expense of his humanity. But for Irenaeus, the Incarnation also meant that the “glory of God is a human being fully alive.” He believed that God became human so that humans might become divine. How will you choose to be “fully alive” today, in order to glorify God?

TODAY'S READINGS: Amos 3:1-8; 4:11-12; Matthew 8:23-27 (378). “The men were amazed and said, ‘What sort of man is this?’ ”

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2022
Rest in peace

You might think that the two foundational giants of the Christian tradition who share a feast day would have been best buddies, but in fact Peter and Paul had their differences, especially around the question of whether people who weren’t Jews needed to observe Jewish Law in order to become followers of Jesus. It is not entirely clear whether they fully reconciled their differences before they were both martyred in Rome (on the same day, tradition says), though it is clear that Paul’s position carried the day over time. Perhaps there’s a message for today’s divided church—we can disagree with one another, even on matters of great importance, and still rest together in the same great tradition.

TODAY'S READINGS: Day: Acts 12:1-11; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18; Matthew 16:13-19 (591). “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Thursday, Jun 30, 2022
Keep their memory alive

It is a deeply human act to remember the dead, especially those who died as result of acts of violence. Today’s memorial for the First Martyrs of the Church in Rome places the church squarely within this tradition of remembrance. We recall innumerable Christians who were put to death in gruesome ways by the emperor Nero, who blamed Christians for a devastating fire in Rome in the year 64. Nero did not crush the church, and neither has the memory of those early martyrs been erased. Your reading these words keeps alive their memory and their sacrifice.

TODAY'S READINGS: Amos 7:10-17; Matthew 9:1-8 (380). “He then said to the paralytic, ‘Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.’ ”

Friday, Jul 01, 2022
Mixed legacies

On April 1, 2022, Pope Francis offered an historic apology to Inuit, Métis, and First Nations delegations for the church’s role in harming Canadian Indigenous Peoples in Catholic residential schools. This is no small thing to do—for the church or for us individually. It is difficult to admit that we, and members of the church we call our own, have at times harmed others. Yet it is essential to begin the journey of healing. With Pope Francis, let us commit to an honest reevaluation of the church’s colonial-era missionary efforts, such as those of Junípero Serra in what is now California. Let us also be aware of our own shortcomings, seeking forgiveness with humility and making meaningful amends wherever possible.

TODAY'S READINGS: Amos 8:4-6, 9-12; Matthew 9:9-13 (381).  “Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land!”

Saturday, Jul 02, 2022
Woe is me

The Pharisees get a bad rap in the gospels, typically portrayed as Jesus’ antagonists, narrow-minded and legalistic, focused on outward ritual rather than inner renewal. And surely there are elements that ring true. At the same time, some of their beliefs were quite compatible with Christianity as it evolved, including the belief in life after death, the resurrection of the body, keeping the Sabbath holy (i.e., Sunday Mass obligation), and the priority to spread the faith. It’s easy to see the blind spots and shortcomings of others. Harder to see our own. Are you aware of your own inner Pharisee?

TODAY'S READINGS: Amos 9:11-15; Matthew 9:14-17 (382). “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?”

Sunday, Jul 03, 2022
We are blessed

This land is a favored patch of Earth. "From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam," as Irving Berlin's anthem goes, may God bless this place we call the United States of America. Berlin's song is both patriotic and prayerful, which is why it's sometimes sung in church. He originally wrote it for a play, then set it aside for 20 years, resurrecting it as the Third Reich came to power and the world needed an inspirational song. (Woody Guthrie didn't like it and wrote "This Land Is Your Land" in response.) However you choose to sing it, croon a song of gratitude for your country.

TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 66:10-14c; Galatians 6:14-18; Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 (102). “Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent.”

Monday, Jul 04, 2022
Red, white, blue, and Catholic

Catholics were a small minority in America’s colonial period—at the end of the Revolutionary War, there were only about 25,000 Catholics in the United States out of a total population of 3 million. Catholics faced persecution, first in the original colonies, and then in the new country that was ironically founded in part on freedom of religion. Today there are 70 million Catholics in the United States, or 22 percent of the population, and for many years Catholics have made up about a third of the U.S. Congress—more than any other denomination. With the values of our faith, Catholics have made countless contributions to the betterment of our country through myriad kinds of service—what’s yours?

TODAY'S READINGS: Hosea 2:16, 17b-18, 21-22; Matthew 9:18-26 (383). “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.”

Tuesday, Jul 05, 2022
Sweet is the rose

Saint Elizabeth of Portugal belongs to a saintly tradition called a “miracle of the roses.” Elizabeth was caught smuggling provisions from the family larder to give to the poor, food hidden under her cloak to elude disapproving relatives. When confronted by a suspicious husband and ordered to reveal what she was hiding, roses tumbled from her wrap instead of bread. Many saints, including Juan Diego, Dorothy, and Rita of Cascia also had miraculous encounters with roses. Pope John Paul II once pointed out that the thorns of these roses remind us of worldly trials—but their enduring fragrance represents the love of Christ.

TODAY'S READINGS: Hosea 8:4-7, 11-13; Matthew 9:32-38 (384). “The crowds were amazed and said, ‘Nothing like this has ever been seen.’”

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2022
Tap into the riches of diversity

On this day in 2017, the most recent gathering of the National Black Catholic Congress (NBCC) began in Orlando, Florida. The NBCC was founded by African-American Catholics as a successor to Daniel Rudd’s Colored Catholic Congress movement, which had been dormant since 1894. Since 1987, the NBCC has gathered black Catholics from around the United States every five years for fellowship and to discuss a pastoral plan to be published by the Congress after each meeting. The NBCC is governed by the nation’s black bishops, a group active since the first ones were appointed in the late 20th century. May we all draw deeply from the wellspring of our cultural heritage to enrich the church.

TODAY'S READINGS: Hosea 10:1-3, 7-8, 12; Matthew 10:1-7 (385). “You descendants of Abraham, his servants, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! He, the LORD, is our God.”

Thursday, Jul 07, 2022
Adventures in pursuit of the reign of God

Today’s gospel begins with Jesus’ command that his apostles declare the “kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Pope Francis has noted that seeking the reign of God involves boldness and adventure. Seeking the Kingdom, he once told a Sunday Angelus audience, is the “opposite of a dull life: it is a treasure that renews life every day and leads it to extend towards wider horizons.” Those seeking the reign of God, he continued, “have a creative and inquisitive heart” leading them to “new paths” for loving God, neighbor, and themselves. Has your quest for the Kingdom taken you on unexpected journeys?

TODAY'S READINGS: Hosea 11:1-4, 8c-9; Matthew 10:7-15 (386). “Jesus said to his Apostles: ‘As you go, make this proclamation: “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”’”

Friday, Jul 08, 2022
Branch out

Chances are you’re spending some time outside this summer, enjoying the glories of nature. One ancient tree worth noting is the cedar, which has deep spiritual roots in Hebrew and Christian tradition. The height and breadth of the mighty cedar of Lebanon are associated with the greatness of God. It is long-lived, evergreen, fruit-bearing, and a place of refuge—all characteristics of Yahweh and Mary, in her role as Mother of God and protectress of the church. The next time you feel vulnerable or distant from God, call to mind the grand cedar and know that divine comfort awaits if only you seek its reach.

TODAY'S READINGS: Hosea 14:2-10; Matthew 10:16-23 (387). “He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots.”

Saturday, Jul 09, 2022
Creed and culture are not the same

European missionaries were pouring into China during the 19th century, bringing with them not only the Christian religion, but also the European culture that they believed was part and parcel of the practice of the faith. Chinese reception of Christianity was mixed. Many Chinese saw it as a cultural invasion since some missionaries condemned customary Chinese practices like veneration of ancestors as demon worship. Augustine Zhao Rong represents 87 Chinese Catholics and 33 Western missionaries who were killed during a period of anti-foreigner resentment that followed. Be mindful that your evangelizing always be accompanied by respect and sensitivity.

TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 6:1-8; Matthew 10:24-33 (388). “It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher.”

Sunday, Jul 10, 2022
Right neighborly of you

Mister Rogers sang to children daily about the pleasure and importance of being a good neighbor. A Presbyterian minister, Fred Rogers was aware of the biblical power in identifying others as neighbors—rather than competitors, outsiders, or enemies. Jesus flips the traditional meaning of the word when he claims the true neighbor not as one who is geographically near to us, but one who is dear to us and merits our compassion. We recognize our neighbors not by who they are or where they live, but who we are and how we treat them. Choose to be a neighbor to everyone you meet.

TODAY'S READINGS: Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37 (105). “Because he wished to justify himself, [the scholar] said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ "

Monday, Jul 11, 2022
Worth pondering, as a rule

Saint Benedict, the “Father of Western Monasticism,” established Christian monasticism as we know it with the founding of the Benedictine order in the sixth century, making it the oldest religious order in the Western Church. For 1,500 years, Benedictine women and men have been living communally in monasteries all over the world according to the Rule of St. Benedict, a succinct guide that emphasizes prayer, work, simplicity, and hospitality. They take unique vows of stability and ongoing conversion. Draw from the ancient wisdom of the Benedictines by reading the Rule yourself and see how this way of life might enrich your own.

TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 1:10-17; Matthew 10:34-11:1 (389). “Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward.”

Tuesday, Jul 12, 2022
Education for everyone

The United Nations has decreed today International Malala Day—after the Pakistani activist, Malala Yousafzai, who wowed the world with her address to the U.N. on July 12, 2013, which also happened to be Malala’s 16th birthday. Only the year before, the young woman was shot in the head by the Taliban for her advocacy of young girls getting an education. Malala was later an attendee at the 2015 U.N. General Assembly, listening as Pope Francis gave his first address there and insisted that the “right to education—also for girls, excluded in certain places”—be “ensured first and foremost.” Learn how Caritas Pakistan continues Catholic advocacy for women and children.

TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 7:1-9; Matthew 11:20-24 (390). “Take care you remain tranquil and do not fear; let not your courage fail.”

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2022
Let nothing hold you back

On this day in 1918, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago was born into a Catholic family in Puerto Rico. While two of his siblings entered religious life, he was unable to achieve his goal of becoming a priest due to poor health. Even so, he maintained a fervent devotion to promoting the faith, running a magazine and discussion groups covering Catholic liturgy. Illness prevented him from completing college, but he nevertheless became a musical master and anticipated the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council by promoting active lay participation and vernacular celebrations. He died at age 44 from cancer in 1963, shortly after the Council began, and was beatified in 2001. May Blessed Carlos ever intercede for us to persevere in faith and inspire greater devotion among the faithful!

TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 10:5-7, 13b-16; Matthew 11:25-27 (391). “Although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the childlike.”

Thursday, Jul 14, 2022
Make cultural connections

Today’s saint, Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), suffered the distrust of both of the cultures she belonged to. Many among her tribe of Mohawks rejected her embrace of Christianity. French Canadians, who dominated the Montreal church that she joined, sometimes held her at arm’s length—when she and a devout companion, also indigenous, proposed founding a religious order, church authorities nixed the plan. But as a woman with a foot in both worlds, Kateri is seen today as a bridge between indigenous and European cultures in North America. Reconciliation between different groups is sorely needed today: Saint Kateri, pray for us!

TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 26:7-9, 12, 16-19; Matthew 11:28-30 (392). “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Friday, Jul 15, 2022
Know your net worth

“If you do not know your own dignity and condition, you cannot value anything at its proper worth,” says the wise Saint Bonaventure, noted 13th-century Franciscan theologian and doctor of the church. Take time to think about that admonishment today. Tally your credits and debits—the good and bad you’ve wrought, your accomplishments and failures. Then remember that nothing goes unnoticed by God: “Even the hairs of your head are all counted” (Matt. 10:30). Why? Because you are God’s alone. Let that knowledge shape your understanding of everything. As Bonaventure puts it: “Every creature is a divine word because it proclaims God.”

TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8; Matthew 12:1-8 (393). “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

Saturday, Jul 16, 2022
Choose a path of devotion

The Third Order of Carmel is an association of lay persons who live according to the spirit of the Carmelite Order and share in its mission. Their charisms are prayer, community, and ministry. Lay Carmelites attend a monthly meeting in which they wear the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel as a sign of their dedication to the Virgin Mary. If possible, they participate in daily Mass and try to spend a half hour in meditation each day, reflecting on scripture. Lay Carmelites also pray the Morning and Evening Prayer of the Divine Office. Though they are not professed religious, they practice the virtues of poverty, chastity and obedience. Pray to Our Lady of Mount Carmel to inspire your own spiritual practice.

TODAY'S READINGS: Micah 2:1-5; Matthew 12:14-21 (394). “Many people followed him, and he cured them all.”

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