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Sunday, Sep 13, 2020 TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Share the wealth
Jesus tells the parable of the servant forgiven his large debt who then refuses to forgive a small debt owed him. How could we not forgive others, when God has forgiven us so much? Someone always raises the objection that you can’t let someone who kicked you once have another go at it. But that is not what Jesus is asking us to do. He’s not asking us to be fools. He’s reminding us we’re all deep in the red with a debt we can’t possibly repay. Be grateful we don’t have to.
TODAY'S READINGS: Sirach 27:30—28:7; Romans 14:7-9; Matthew 18:21-35 (130). “‘Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’”
Monday, Sep 14, 2020 FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS Cross purposes
It might seem strange to non-believers that the instrument of our savior’s torture and execution is the symbol of our faith. But believers know that the cross represents Christ’s defeat of death; the symbol is one of triumph. The entrance antiphon for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is: "We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection: through him we are saved and made free.” Reflect on how the crosses you’ve borne in your own life have also led to freedom.
TODAY'S READINGS: Numbers 21:4b-9; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17 (638). “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
Tuesday, Sep 15, 2020 MEMORIAL OF OUR LADY OF SORROWS Pray for us, Mother of God
Yesterday was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Today, in connection, we remember Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows. Many saints and poets have tried to convey the weight of Mary’s pain. But it’s Romanos the Melodist who, in the 500s, wrote the “Hymn of Mary at the Cross.” In it, Jesus reveals to his mother the redemptive power of his suffering—plus, her role as our intercessor. He says: “Run, Mother, announce to all that ‘By suffering he strikes the one who hates Adam, and as victor he is coming.’” How can Our Mother pray for you today?
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31a (444); John 19:25-27 or Luke 2:33-35 (639). “Behold, your mother.”
Wednesday, Sep 16, 2020 MEMORIAL OF CORNELIUS, POPE, AND CYPRIAN, BISHOP, MARTYRS Let compassion prevail
The third century was a terrible time of persecution for Christians, some of whom had either to deny their faith or face death. Some rather understandably denied the faith in order to survive, but when persecutions lifted, asked to return. Their desire for reconciliation caused an uproar. Pope Cornelius faced strong challenges because he believed they should be allowed to return after a period of penance. His friend and brother bishop, the learned Cyprian, sided with him in this decision. Their compassionate response prevailed. Both men ended up giving their lives for the faith as Cornelius died in exile in 253 and Cyprian was martyred under the Emperor Valerian in 258. Follow the lead of these two early Christians and let compassion have the last word.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Corinthians 12:31—13:13; Luke 7:31-35 (445). “Love does not brood over injury.”
Thursday, Sep 17, 2020 MEMORIAL OF ROBERT BELLARMINE, BISHOP, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH Live in peace to rest in peace
Today is the Memorial of Saint Robert Bellarmine, a Jesuit theologian and doctor of the church. His scholarly work inserted him into a number of the controversies of his day (late 1500s to early 1600s). One of his many works still in publication is The Art of Dying Well, whose advice starts with the concept that dying well (in peace, connected to God) depends on living well. Take a cue from this brilliant saint and contemplate whether you need to make changes to be living well by Christian standards. It’s never too late to get right with God.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 7:36-50 (446). “But he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”
Friday, Sep 18, 2020 Holy honey!
We don’t often think about snacks in the Bible, but surprisingly they’re there! While there were likely no cake pops or ice cream in the kitchens of our matriarchs and patriarchs in faith, they still had a sweet tooth—especially for honey! Do an online search of the Bible and read through more than 60 references to honey. Honey has become a symbol of God who can satisfy us with a most pure, joyful sweetness. The Jewish celebration of Rosh Hashana recalls the significance of honey, especially remembering how God cared for the Israelites in the desert by feeding them manna, which tasted like “wafers made with honey.” On this first day of Rosh Hashana, let us, with our Jewish friends, wish one another a good, sweet year ahead, trusting in the providence of God.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Luke 8:1-3 (447). “Accompanying Jesus were the Twelve and some women . . . and many others who provided for them out of their resources.”
Saturday, Sep 19, 2020 MEMORIAL OF JANUARIUS, BISHOP, MARTYR Relate to the world’s suffering
Reading the gruesome details of tortures like that of fourth-century Januarius, martyred by Emperor Diocletian in 305, may make their suffering seem far removed from our daily experience. But it’s not a huge leap to consider more ordinary sufferings today: of the unemployed, the victims of racial hatred, trafficking, disease, or addiction. In the doctrine of the Mystical Body, all suffering is given meaning by Christ’s. His Passion means that no one agonizes in vain, that all is redeemed. Consider a gift of financial support to an organization like Catholic Charities, which helps alleviate the suffering of the refugee, the hungry, the trafficked person.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49; Luke 8:4-15 (448). “Some fell into good soil and . . . produced a hundredfold.”
Sunday, Sep 20, 2020 TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Grow your faith
Who gave you your first God lessons? On this Catechetical Sunday, we thank family members, preachers, teachers, RCIA teams, and others who brought the Good News to us. We’re also grateful for holy ones, like Venerable Mother Theresa Dudzik, who taught by their example. A remarkable seamstress, Dudzik arrived in Chicago at age 21 after the Great Fire of 1871. She took the destitute into her apartment and sewed to earn money to feed them. In time she founded the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago to run homes, schools, day-care centers, and an orphanage. What will your own example teach others?
TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 55:6-9; Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a; Matthew 20:1-16a (133). “Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near.”
Monday, Sep 21, 2020 FEAST OF MATTHEW, APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST Rise up
Nobody likes paying taxes or has warm, fuzzy feelings about the IRS, but it seems tax collectors in Jesus’ time had it especially rough—being lumped in with all manner of sinners. That is because tax collectors were Jews who worked for the Romans, the enemy occupiers of Jewish lands, so they were viewed as traitors by their people. Jesus sought them out for salvation anyway and led Matthew to a new position: apostle and evangelist. What does it take to get a promotion like that? Merely “get up and follow Jesus,” as Matthew did.
TODAY'S READINGS: Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13; Matthew 9:9-13 (643). “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
Tuesday, Sep 22, 2020 Trade stressed for blessed
Back-to-school September is such a stressful time for families. Add the reality of COVID-19—with parents trying to work from home, kids’ schedules often up in the air—and it gets all the messier. Even if you don’t have children at home, you probably know people who do and are stressing. How can we all find balance? Honor the sabbath in whatever way you are able, by hitting the pause button—even for a few hours. “Human life has a rhythm of work and rest,” says the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.” Plan ahead for this coming Sunday.
TODAY'S READINGS: Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13; Luke 8:19-21 (450). “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD.”
Wednesday, Sep 23, 2020 MEMORIAL OF PIUS OF PIETRELCINA, PRIEST Listen from the heart
Saint Pius of Pietrelcina (1887-1968) is better known by his nickname, Padre Pio. He is said to have borne the stigmata, the wounds of our Lord, for more than 50 years. To be sure, he was a man of prayer and suffering, a Capuchin Franciscan priest who lived in a small Italian friary nearly all of his life. However, the principal reason for his local fame was his ability to listen to those who came seeking his counsel, to “read their hearts” and to offer them the love of God in the sacraments. His frequent message to penitents, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry,” is a message for us to treasure and savor today.
TODAY'S READINGS: Proverbs 30:5-9; Luke 9:1-6 (451). “He sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Thursday, Sep 24, 2020 Find the balance between law and freedom
Today’s gospel notes King Herod’s interest in Jesus, whom Herod likely saw as a threat. The tension between political power and the moral and religious power of Christianity has been part of the faith since its beginning. In Dignitatis Humane, the Vatican II document on religious liberty, the Council “urges everyone, especially those who are charged with the task of educating others, to do their utmost to form people who, on the one hand, will respect the moral order and be obedient to lawful authority, and on the other hand, will be lovers of true freedom.” Sounds like a recipe for peace and progress.
TODAY'S READINGS: Ecclesiastes 1:2-11; Luke 9:7-9 (452). “But Herod said, ‘John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?’ ”
Friday, Sep 25, 2020 Keep the faith!
The coronavirus has taken quite a toll on Catholic parish and sacramental life. Nearly every bishop responding to a recent survey said the pandemic has seriously affected the celebration of the sacraments and rites and sacramental preparation programs in their dioceses. In addition, they report that the morale of priests, lay ecclesial ministers, deacons, and chancery staff has been damaged by the long shutdown, according to a survey out of University. People are hurting at all levels of church life because the very thing we thrive on—gathering together—has become problematic and potentially life-threatening. Be patient and work with your local faith community to find safe and creative pastoral responses. And keep faith alive in your own home and heart!
TODAY'S READINGS: Ecclesiastes 3:1-11; Luke 9:18-22 (453). “There is . . . a time for everything under the heavens . . . a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.”
Saturday, Sep 26, 2020 MEMORIAL OF COSMAS AND DAMIAN, MARTYRS Saints for this season
Today’s brother physicians are patron saints to a long list of healthcare workers, and also against plagues. A brief year ago, biblical references to plagues and epidemics seemed quaint and far removed. Our eyes have been opened to the enduring force of such outbreaks, however, and Cosmas and Damian truly become saints for our time. Perhaps even more so when we learn they were Arab physicians from the area now called Syria. Healing role models come from all backgrounds. Thank the frontline healthcare workers in your own town. They are likely from diverse backgrounds as well.
Sunday, Sep 27, 2020 TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Still time to change your mind
One of the lovely things about having a mind is that you can change it. A working brain takes in new information, reflects on it, and makes connections. Sometimes the result is a revised perspective on ideas you thought were chiseled in stone. People of faith also pray for wisdom and inspiration, which can be troubling prayers to have answered if you’re banking on the status quo. Jesus told his followers that folks they had counted out of the circle of grace were being counted in by God. A thoughtful faith will be able to absorb the divine curveballs.
TODAY'S READINGS: Ezekiel 18:25-28; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32 (136). “‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not.’”
Monday, Sep 28, 2020 MEMORIAL OF LAWRENCE RUIZ AND COMPANIONS, MARTYRS Make an offering of your life
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, patron saint of the Philippines and the first canonized Filipino martyr, died in 1637 and was elevated to sainthood in 1987. A Dominican-educated altar boy who grew up to become a clerk, marry, and have children, he was falsely accused of murder and fled on a ship to Japan in the company of missionaries. Once there, he was arrested and tortured for being a Christian, but he refused to recant his faith and was executed, saying, “Had I a thousand lives, all these to Him shall I offer.” What sacrifices are you willing to make for your faith?
TODAY'S READINGS: Job 1:6-22; Luke 9:46-50 (455). “Whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
Tuesday, Sep 29, 2020 FEAST OF MICHAEL, GABRIEL, AND RAPHAEL, ARCHANGELS Pray for heavenly healing
Some Christians call today “Michaelmass,” for Michael the archangel. And indeed, among the three archangels the Catholic Church honors today, the mighty Michael—depicted in art battling Satan—is probably best known. Almost as well known is Gabriel, who announces to Mary that she will conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit and bear the Messiah. Raphael is least familiar. But, as the angel most known for healing—his name meaning “God’s medicine”—Raphael is arguably the heavenly help we need right now. Ask for Saint Raphael’s intercession today, to heal a world reeling from a pandemic.
TODAY'S READINGS: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 or Revelation 12:7-12a; John 1:47-51 (647). “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending.”
Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020 MEMORIAL OF JEROME, PRIEST, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH Being a saint doesn’t make you perfect
Saint Jerome (345-420) is a highly regarded scholar of the church who translated the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek into Latin. He was also a complex human being whose crabby nature sometimes complicated his life. In other words, he was fully human. In addition to his enduring Latin translation, called the Vulgate, there are many homilies, quotes, letters, and commentaries attributed to Jerome. This quote is one to contemplate on his feast day: “It is our part to seek, His to grant what we ask; ours to make a beginning, His to bring it to completion; ours to offer what we can, His to finish what we cannot.”
TODAY'S READINGS: Job 9:1-12, 14-16; Luke 9:57-62 (457). “Let my prayer come before you, Lord. Daily I call upon you.”
Thursday, Oct 01, 2020 MEMORIAL OF THÉRÈSE OF THE CHILD JESUS, VIRGIN, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH Love greatly in small ways
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is one of the most accessible role models ever canonized. Her spirituality, affectionately known as the “Little Way,” is a path anyone in any walk of life can follow because its central tenet is simple (though not easy to follow!): “What matters in life is not great deeds, but great love.” She lived a short, quiet life as a French Carmelite nun, modeling the conviction that people can live in profound union with God simply by carrying out our daily tasks with a loving spirit. Choose one task today that you can carry out with loving kindness.
TODAY'S READINGS: Job 19:21-27; Luke 10:1-12 (458). “Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.”
Friday, Oct 02, 2020 MEMORIAL OF THE HOLY GUARDIAN ANGELS Watching over you
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear about the existence of angels. “The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls ‘angels’ is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.” In Genesis 16, Hagar’s angel rescues her. In Exodus 23, when God told Moses to lead the people, he said, “My angel will go before you.” In Numbers 22, an angel kept the oracle Balaam from the mistake of cursing Israel. Psalm 91 says that God “commands his angels . . . to guard you wherever you go.” In the Book of Tobit, young Tobias is accompanied by the Archangel Raphael. Angels are the loving care of God personified in celestial beings, God faithfully standing at our side. You can call on angelic support in your time of need.
TODAY'S READINGS: Job 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5 (459); Matthew 18:1-5, 10 (650). “Their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”
Saturday, Oct 03, 2020 Divinely inspired
Job is a famous biblical character many of us can admire from a distance but few would take the opportunity to imitate up close. During a pandemic, however, all of us get to taste some of what Job experienced. Job’s story invites us to examine a central question: In whom or what do I place my trust? In a time of crisis, we’re invited to dig down to a deeper truth underneath the shifting conditions—the unconditional love of God for all of us, regardless of the circumstances. Try offering your own love to others unconditionally and learn something about how God operates.
TODAY'S READINGS: Job 42:1-3, 5-6, 12-17; Luke 10:17-24 (460). “I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you.”
Sunday, Oct 04, 2020 TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Celebrate the joy of new life
In a happy collision of observances, October is dedicated to respecting life, supporting fair trade, employing the differently abled, and praying the Rosary. Today is not only Respect Life Sunday but also, in memory of Francis of Assisi, an occasion to bless the animals who share our lives. If you’re seeking an integrated moral code, here’s your chance to champion the spectrum of life. The Rosary’s Joyful Mysteries lead the way: embrace new life, encourage mothers, support child-affirming laws, recognize the gifts of all God’s children, and respect the wisdom of young people.
TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 5:1-7; Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 21:33-43 (139). “Finally, [the landowner] sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’”
Monday, Oct 05, 2020 MEMORIAL OF BLESSED FRANCIS XAVIER SEELOS, PRIEST A saint for this season
As we’ve lately learned, it’s hard to be happy during a health crisis, but Redemptorist Father Francis Xavier Seelos was called the “Cheerful Ascetic,” even while serving the sick during a disease outbreak. Known for his kindness and missionary zeal, this German-born priest kept his sermons simple for everyone to understand and was sought out as a compassionate confessor. He was an itinerant preacher throughout the Eastern and Midwestern United States, before being sent to New Orleans where he died of yellow fever. Those seeking healing can submit their petition to the National Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos.
TODAY'S READINGS: Galatians 1:6-12; Luke 10:25-37 (461). “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart . . . and your neighbor as yourself.”
Tuesday, Oct 06, 2020 MEMORIAL OF BLESSED MARIE ROSE DUROCHER, VIRGIN When Mary receives a Martha job
Jesus said his friend Mary was right to cease activity, to simply sit at his feet and listen. But the church may ask you to be more like Martha—to reach out to the world, as Jesus also called on his followers to do. Such was the dilemma of Marie Rose Durocher. This quiet and frail young woman preferred the quiet life but was pressed into pastoral service by her brother, a Montreal priest in the 1830s. Then her bishop asked her to start a new religious community to help educate the young. How is God asking you to move beyond your own comfort zone today?
TODAY'S READINGS: Galatians 1:13-24; Luke 10:38-42 (462). “A woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.”
Wednesday, Oct 07, 2020 MEMORIAL OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY Protect us from harm
The Rosary has been a favored Catholic form of prayer for centuries. Inviting us to pray five Our Fathers, 50 Hail Marys, and five Glory Be’s while meditating on gospel stories from Mary’s and Jesus’ lives, this spiritual practice has helped generations of Catholics ask for Mary’s intercession. In October 1571, Catholic soldiers prayed the Rosary to prepare for battle with Turkish soldiers in the Gulf of Corinth. When they won that battle, Pope Pius V claimed that October 7 would be known as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory. Two years later, his successor, Gregory XIII, changed the name to the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. As our world faces the challenge of the COVID-19 virus, we again ask for Mary's intercession. Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
TODAY'S READINGS: Galatians 2:1-2, 7-14; Luke 11:1-4 (463). “Jesus was praying in a certain place.”
Thursday, Oct 08, 2020 Persistence pays off
Prayer is not like an ATM whereby requests are entered and dispensed. Ultimately our model is Jesus. Christ’s persistence in prayer united him with God but did not erase his suffering. He sweated blood, he was crucified. When we do not receive the answer we are hoping for to our prayer request, we may suffer too, but, like Jesus, we can open ourselves to deeper union with God. Take time today to offer God your needs, trusting that God’s strength and presence always suffices.
TODAY'S READINGS: Galatians 3:1-5; Luke 11:5-13 (464). “If you . . . give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
Friday, Oct 09, 2020 God casts out evil
Although Hollywood has popularized exorcism with such movies as The Exorcist (1973) and more recently The Conjuring series, exorcism is a legitimate rite in the church. An exorcism is actually a form of prayer. It is used in situations where the faithful experience a force of evil or the “powers of darkness,” which we call the devil or demons. Recognizing the place of exorcism in the prayers of the church is important because it reminds us that God has already freed us from the snare of evil. As you encounter various “demons” in your life, remember to pray: Call upon God to be with you and to separate you from all that is evil and to surround you with God’s love.
TODAY'S READINGS: Galatians 3:7-14; Luke 11:15-26 (465). “But if it is by the finger of God that [I] drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Saturday, Oct 10, 2020 Put on your dancing shoes!
On this day, the Jewish community celebrates Simchat Torah. This joyous harvest festival marks the beginning and end of the annual Torah reading, and culminates in dancing with the sacred texts. In a similar sense of celebration, Jesus says to his disciples, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” Choose scripture as your companion, and get ready to shimmy, shake, rock and roll, and trip the light fantastic all for the greater glory of God.
TODAY'S READINGS: Galatians 3:22-29; Luke 11:27-28 (466). “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.”
Sunday, Oct 11, 2020 TWENTY-EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Seek wisdom’s light
If we learned nothing else this year, it’s that circumstances change. Societies come together and shatter apart. Wellness comes and goes. Markets rise and fall. War and peace exchange places. We climb up and down the ladder of success. If we’re wise, we learn what Saint Paul observed: Spiritual flexibility beats insisting and resisting. Today the Rosary’s Luminous Mysteries guide us to wisdom: Partner with the Holy Spirit, trust grace to supply what’s needed, seek the Kingdom’s paradox, recognize Jesus in the faces of the poor, and know that God is present at every table.
TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 25:6-10a; Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20; Matthew 22:1-14 (142). “I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance.”
Monday, Oct 12, 2020 The past calls us to a more just future
Indigenous Peoples’ Day is celebrated in many communities to honor Native Americans and their histories and cultures. Today is also a U.S. federal holiday, Columbus Day. Many want the former to replace the latter, while others are dismayed by the growing trend. We can acknowledge the complicity of colonial church leaders in the exploitation and abuse of native peoples (though there were notable exceptions like Bartolomé de las Casas). At the same time, we can work to right those wrongs in the present and forge a more just future together, building the reign of God here and now.
TODAY'S READINGS: Galatians 4:22-24, 26-27, 31—5:1; Luke 11:29-32 (467). “Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.”
Tuesday, Oct 13, 2020 Ponder the mystery
For centuries the Catholic Church has honored Mary in both May and October. So perhaps it wasn’t surprising that Our Lady of Fatima reportedly began to appear once a month to three children in Portugal in 1917—beginning on May 13 and ending on this day, October 13. On the last day, with more than 70,000 people gathered in anticipation, many reported seeing an unusual heavenly phenomenon that has been called the “dance of the sun.” Ponder today what Pope John Paul II identified as Fatima’s significance: “conversion and repentance, the nucleus of the message of the gospel.”
TODAY'S READINGS: Galatians 5:1-6; Luke 11:37-41 (468). “Through the Spirit, by faith, we await the hope of righteousness.”
Wednesday, Oct 14, 2020 MEMORIAL OF CALLISTUS I, POPE, MARTYR Differences of opinion are nothing new
Callistus I was elected pope by the clergy and laity of Rome in 217. The election results did not sit well with that election’s runner-up, Hippolytus. The two men disagreed on church doctrine and Hippolytus accused Callistus of leniency in enforcing church rules. Callistus’ tolerance imitated Jesus’ compassion but Hippolytus did not see it that way. He became the first anti-pope in church history, a schism that lasted 18 years. Eventually, Hippolytus reconciled with the church but not before Callistus I was martyred in a local Roman disturbance in 222. This piece of history is a reminder that differences will occur among church leaders, but the promised Holy Spirit remains with us. Pray for peaceful resolution of differences, in church and in society.
TODAY'S READINGS: Galatians 5:18-25; Luke 11:42-46 (469). “If you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
Thursday, Oct 15, 2020 MEMORIAL OF TERESA OF JESUS, VIRGIN, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH Seek some mystic reform
Today we honor one of the great women of the church, Saint Teresa of Ávila, also known as Teresa of Jesus. Teresa’s life seemed rather routine on the surface—she was a cloistered nun in the 1500s. But as her mystical encounters with Jesus emerged, along with her desire for a simpler, less “worldly” way of being, she began to write about the spiritual life and advocated for reform of her religious order, against strong opposition. Declared a doctor of the church in 1970, Teresa’s reforms and enduring spiritual insights still carry weight. What reform, small or large, can you work toward today that can help bring about peace and spiritual growth for yourself and others?
TODAY'S READINGS: Ephesians 1:1-10; Luke 11:47-54 (470). “Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge.”
Friday, Oct 16, 2020 MEMORIAL OF MARGARET MARY ALACOQUE, VIRGIN Put your heart into it
From stained glass windows to tattoos, the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been an enduring, powerful symbol to many people from all walks of life. In the 17th century, particular attention to the heart of Jesus began to be promoted. Saint Margaret Mary Alocoque, a French Visitation nun, had a special tenderness for Jesus’ Sacred Heart and often shared her prayers and visions of it. In the heart of Jesus—imaged as pierced with thorns, flames, and a cross atop—she experienced the burning love of Christ for all people and the trust that Jesus held all of our joys and suffering in his heart. With Margaret Mary, what joys and sufferings might we entrust to the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
TODAY'S READINGS: Ephesians 1:11-14; Luke 12:1-7 (471). “In Christ we were . . . chosen.”
Saturday, Oct 17, 2020 MEMORIAL OF IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH, BISHOP, MARTYR Journey with courage
Map the distance between Antioch, Syria, and Rome: 3,716 kilometers, 39 hours by car—without traffic. Now imagine traveling that distance in chains around the year 107, with hungry lions awaiting your arrival. Even with all that, Ignatius of Antioch, approaching a brutal martyrdom, writes from the road to the Ephesians: “I do not issue orders to you, as if I were some great person. For though I am bound for His name, I am not yet perfect in Jesus Christ.” His focus is on the privilege of dying for God’s glory: “Being blessed in the greatness and fullness of God,” he sends readers “abundant happiness through Jesus Christ, and His undefiled joy.” Call on Ignatius when you face the really frightful realities life confronts us with at times.
TODAY'S READINGS: Ephesians 1:15-23; Luke 12:8-12 (472). “I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints.”
Sunday, Oct 18, 2020 TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Share the suffering, ease the burden
People in love behave differently. They “never stand still,” Pope Francis declares. “They’re drawn out of themselves; they’re attracted and attract others in turn.” Believers are lovers in this way, feeling the irresistible urge to share the blessings of faith. That is why, the pope concludes, we must all be missionaries. On this World Mission Sunday, we embrace the call to be lovers of our suffering world. The Rosary’s Sorrowful Mysteries hold the keys: Bring global suffering to prayer, be willing to suffer for the truth, bear wrongs patiently, share the burdens of others, and know what’s worth sacrificing for.
TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 45:1, 4-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b; Matthew 22:15-21 (145). “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and the Spirit and with much conviction.”
Monday, Oct 19, 2020 MEMORIAL OF JOHN DE BRÉBEUF AND ISAAC JOGUES, PRIESTS, AND COMPANIONS, MARTYRS Heal the breach
Jean de Brébeuf was a French Jesuit missionary who worked with the Huron in what is today Canada and was martyred in an Iroquois raid. Brébeuf was a skilled linguist and not only learned the Huron language but also the spiritual beliefs already held by the Huron. His fellow Jesuits wrote about how easily Brébeuf adapted himself to the Huron way of life. While he was not always respectful of Huron culture, we can emulate his effort to create bridges of mutual understanding, as our own country is today torn by differences.
TODAY'S READINGS: Ephesians 2:1-10; Luke 12:13-21 (473). “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”
Tuesday, Oct 20, 2020 MEMORIAL OF PAUL OF THE CROSS, PRIEST How deep is your love?
Paul of the Cross, Italian mystic and founder of the Passionist religious order in 1725, was taught by his mother to look to the crucified Jesus as a way to make sense out of suffering. Most of his siblings died; his father’s business barely scraped by. But no matter what hardships the family endured, his mother said, they were nothing compared to God’s deep love. What a seed she planted in her son! “The holy sufferings of Jesus is a sea of sorrows, but it is also a sea of love,” wrote Paul. “Ask the Lord to teach you to fish in this sea.”
TODAY'S READINGS: Ephesians 2:12-22; Luke 12:35-38 (474). “Be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open.”
Wednesday, Oct 21, 2020 People, get ready
“Be Prepared” is a motto for the Boy and Girl Scouts that is explained in this way: “You are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty.” That motto could very well be a motto for Christian life. Jesus expects his followers to be alert to the assistance of the Spirit and to act in ways that bear witness to Christian duty. It is a Christian’s duty to use the gifts of time and talent to build up Jesus’ kingdom of love. When you review the past week, can you find evidence that you are doing your Christian duty by responding to Jesus' call to love unconditionally?
TODAY'S READINGS: Ephesians 3:2-12; Luke 12:39-48 (475). “You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Thursday, Oct 22, 2020 MEMORIAL OF JOHN PAUL II, POPE Small acts can have great impact
Saint John Paul II’s quarter-century as pope greatly influenced both church and state. Many times his personal witness is what moved people’s hearts. Christians and those of other faiths alike were moved by his willingness to meet with his would-be assassin, Mehmet Ali Ağca. While most people’s lives are not lived on the world stage, each of us can bear witness through acts of love, forgiveness, and reverence. What gesture of yours today can bear witness to God?
TODAY'S READINGS: Ephesians 3:14-21; Luke 12:49-53 (476). “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”
Friday, Oct 23, 2020 MEMORIAL OF JOHN OF CAPISTRANO, PRIEST Fly back when the time is right
The cliff swallows of San Juan Capistrano, California depart the mission town on or around this date, the Memorial of Saint John, the town’s namesake. They return every spring after their 6,000-mile winter migration to Argentina. Pray that, like the swallows of Capistrano, everyone will be able to safely come back to the place they call home, after war, famine, natural disaster, or separation due to pandemic.
TODAY'S READINGS: Ephesians 4:1-6; Luke 12:54-59 (477). “Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.”
Saturday, Oct 24, 2020 MEMORIAL OF ANTHONY MARY CLARET, BISHOP Let your light shine!
As a young man, Anthony Claret was torn between his talent in the textile business and the emerging call he felt to religious life. Seeing his talent, his father offered to share leadership of the family business with him. Anthony was famously short of stature, and he pointed out that workers likely would resist taking orders from him. His father suggested they could hide Anthony behind a desk to come up with ideas and put a larger man in charge of the workers. That sealed the deal for Anthony—he wasn’t interested in hiding. Thereafter he was a tireless and talented preacher, confessor, author, and publisher in the service of God. Don’t hide your own gifts—they are God-given and the world needs them!
TODAY'S READINGS: Ephesians 4:7-16; Luke 13:1-9 (478). “It may bear fruit in the future.”