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Monday, Oct 11, 2021
He saw thee more clearly

The humble Pope John XXIII disliked the pomp and attention that came with his role, and he insisted on being called simply “the pope.” Nearly 60 years since his pontificate, he is remembered in Italy as il papa buono, “the good pope.” In the short time he was pope—less than five years before he died of cancer in 1963—he changed the Catholic Church like few others by convening the Second Vatican Council. On his deathbed, he said: “It is not that the gospel has changed; it is that we have begun to understand it better.” We can always use the intercession of “the good pope” as we keep seeking to understand better what the gospel means in our changing times.

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 1:1-7; 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 12, 2021
Our pillar of strength

Today is the feast day of Virgin Maria del Pilar, a Spanish devotion commemorating the first official Marian apparition of the Catholic Church. According to tradition, Mary first appeared—while still alive—to the apostle James in the year 40, as he preached the gospel to the people of Spain. Saint James, despondent over his progress, prayed for reassurance, and Our Lady appeared to him in a supernatural manner, standing upon a pillar held aloft by angels. Because October is the month of the Rosary, honor Maria with the beautiful Holy Queen prayer that’s part of that devotion.

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 1:16-25; Luke 11:37-41 (468). “I am not ashamed of the Gospel.”

Wednesday, Oct 13, 2021
God to humanity: Can’t buy my love

From at least the time of the Pharisees, important people in the eyes of the world often assumed they had the inside track on a pleasant afterlife. Pope Francis begged to differ in an Advent season homily several years back. At the Last Judgment, Francis said, Jesus will not say, “‘You, come with me because you have given so much money to the church. You are a benefactor of the church. Come, come to Heaven.’ No. You can’t buy your way into Heaven. And He won’t say: ‘You are very important, you have studied so much and earned so many honors, come into Heaven.’ No. Awards do not open the gate of Heaven,” Francis said. “What will Jesus tell us to open up the gates of Heaven? ‘I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat. I was homeless, and you gave Me shelter. I was sick, and you came to see Me. I was in prison, and you came to visit Me.’ Jesus is humility,” Francis said. Close your purse or wallet, and open your heart!

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 2:1-11; Luke 11:42-46 (469). “You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God.”

Thursday, Oct 14, 2021
Patron saint of second (or more) chances

Saint Callistus I is inspiration to anyone who has made major errors in life. Callistus seriously messed up, not once but twice. Born into slavery, his master put him in charge of a bank that Callistus criminally mismanaged. After a while in prison, he was freed to earn back the money he owed. Instead, he was arrested for brawling in a synagogue. Strike two. Nonetheless, Callistus reformed himself, served the early church as a cemetery manager, and was eventually elected pope! Consider saying a prayer of thanks for a church that offers redemption (even the papacy) to people who have fallen hard.

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 3:21-30; Luke 11:47-54 (470). “Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge.”

Friday, Oct 15, 2021
Don’t be afraid of the dark

The dark night of the soul, a term coined by Spanish mystic Saint John of the Cross, describes a period on the spiritual journey when one feels distant from God and suffers physical and emotional pain. Saint Teresa of Ávila, a close friend of John’s, actually felt like she was going mad as she pursued the contemplative life. But then, in 1567, while gazing at a statue of Jesus, she felt an ecstasy beyond description as she reached “union with God.” Teresa wrote much about her interior life, and she encouraged others to experience the “great gifts that come through abandoning everything to God and dying to oneself.” Pray for the patience and humility to stay the spiritual course.

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 4:1-8; Luke 12:1-7 (471). “Therefore, whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light.”

Saturday, Oct 16, 2021
I was hungry

World Food Day was established in 1979 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and is celebrated annually on this date in 150 countries. The theme for this year’s celebration is, “Safe food now for a healthy tomorrow.” The World Food Program (WFP) is the food-assistance branch of the organization. As of 2019, the WFP has served 97 million people in 88 countries, and it was awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to combat hunger and contribute to peace in conflict areas. Take a moment today to thank God for the food you eat and the people who produce it, and to support your local World Food Day celebration.

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 4:13, 16-18; Luke 12:8-12 (472). “I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.”

Sunday, Oct 17, 2021
Come face-to-face with Jesus

Spiritual truths often sound mysterious and paradoxical. God is a Trinity; Jesus is human and divine; the last will be first. But not everything in the life of faith is a mystery. Take poverty. It's where Jesus said we'd always see him face to face. Poverty's roots are well understood: malnutrition, limited healthcare, unsafe housing, dangerous work conditions, unequal access to justice, and no political voice. In founding today's Poverty Eradication Day, French priest Joseph Wresinski dared us to rewrite these terms of modern civilization. Pray the Rosary's Sorrowful Mysteries and commit to undercutting poverty's roots.

TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 53:10-11; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45 (146). "Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant.”

Monday, Oct 18, 2021
First in line for Marian devotion

As the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, Luke the Evangelist penned over a quarter of the New Testament—more than anyone else. The Virgin Mary has a special place in his gospel—it is only here that we find the story of the Annunciation, her visit to Elizabeth, the Presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple, and the finding of the child Jesus preaching in the temple. In art, Luke is sometimes depicted painting images of Mary (and he is the patron saint of painters). Revisit the richness of what we know about Mary thanks to Luke by giving his gospel another good read.

TODAY'S READINGS: 2 Timothy 4:10-17b; Luke 10:1-9 (661). “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”

Tuesday, Oct 19, 2021
Learn the language of God’s love

In 1642, Jesuit missionary John de Brébeuf penned “The Huron Carol.” Drawing from the experience of indigenous Americans, it lauds a babe born into modest means—wrapped in a “ragged robe of rabbit skin.” Instead of shepherds and Magi, Native American hunters and chiefs arrive to pay homage to “Jesus, your King.” While the famous Canadian carol comes under some cultural scrutiny in modern times, it also gets credit for preserving the Huron/Wendat language it was written in. Mostly, it reminds us to speak other people’s languages—figuratively, if not literally—when sharing the Good News.

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 5:12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21; Luke 12:35-38 (474). “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.”

Wednesday, Oct 20, 2021
Need some passion in your life?

“Passion” is a fiery word with various meanings, from an intense love relationship to an activity that we give our all to. Christians also have a unique understanding of “passion” as the suffering and death of Jesus. Saint Paul of the Cross was so fired up by this that he founded a religious community dedicated to the Passion of Jesus. But wait a minute, how did we get from intense love to suffering? Paul makes the connection for us—the Passion is about Jesus’ great love, a love so great that he was willing to suffer and die for us. Take a moment to reflect anew what you live—or would die—passionately for.

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 6:12-18; Luke 12:39-48 (475). “But thanks be to God that . . . you have become obedient from the heart.”

Thursday, Oct 21, 2021
God at work

Summer vacations are now a faded memory as workplaces and schools operate at full swing. The Catholic Church has a rich tradition of seeing work as more than a necessity and duty. Through work we transform nature—a creative act, just as God’s ongoing creation of the world is a creative act. A job that contributes to well-being can also be a path toward personal fulfillment. Whatever your work involves today, offer it up to God and take note of how God is able to work through you.

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 6:19-23; Luke 12:49-53 (476). “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!

Friday, Oct 22, 2021
Reasonable faith

In this era of “alternative facts,” it is challenging to find the truth. Saint John Paul II gave us good counsel on seeking truth. In the encyclical letter Fides et Ratio (“Faith and Reason”) he wrote, “. . . believers do not surrender. They can continue on their way to the truth because they are certain that God has created them ‘explorers,’ whose mission it is to leave no stone unturned, though the temptation to doubt is always there. Leaning on God, they continue to reach out, always and everywhere, for all that is beautiful, good and true.” How might you be an “explorer” in situations where truth is difficult to find?

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 7:18-25a; Luke 12:54-59 (477). “Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?”

Saturday, Oct 23, 2021
You get as good as you give

Jesus, his disciples, and the early evangelists were all clear about one thing: “the wages of sin is death.” Beyond physical death, the selfishness of sin cuts off our relationship with God and the opportunity for true peace and joy. Paying attention to the needs of others as well as yourself keeps us alive in Christ. Study after study shows that happiness comes from social connectedness and a spirit of generosity. Franciscan Saint John Capistrano says of the faithful: “The brightness of their wisdom must make them like the light of the world that brings light to others.” Ponder the ways that you can acquire wisdom to share with others.

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 8:1-11; Luke 13:1-9 (478). “The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace.”

Sunday, Oct 24, 2021
Adopt an attitude of gratitude

Here's an intriguing take on a familiar commission: Thankful people become missionaries. "To be 'in a state of mission' is a reflection of gratitude," Pope Francis declares on this World Mission Sunday. Yet this “state of mission” belongs to the whole church, not just to those brave souls who pack up and go off to foreign lands. Jesus commissions his friends to take the Good News wherever we go. Grateful folks do this cheerfully. How can we keep from singing, when a song's been placed in our hearts? Pray the Rosary's Glorious Mysteries and live the mission of gratitude.

TODAY'S READINGS: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52 (149). “Immediately [the blind man] received his sight, and followed Jesus on the way.”

Monday, Oct 25, 2021
Good for what ails you

Research suggests that regular meditation may help reduce blood pressure, digestive problems, anxiety and depression, and insomnia, among other ailments. Prayerful meditation also heals your soul. Catholics have a lot of help at their disposal here—from the Rosary to Lectio Divina. “There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters. Christians owe it to themselves to develop the desire to meditate regularly,” says the catechism. “But a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus.” Take the best medicine of all!

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 8:12-17; Luke 13:10-17 (479). “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”

Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Care for the caregivers, too

In November 2017 European members of the World Medical Association convened at the Vatican for a conversation on ethical issues surrounding palliative care. Nearby, the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions was meeting to discuss inequalities in health care. Pope Francis addressed them all: “The categorical imperative is to never abandon the sick.” No matter the graveness of the medical condition, “we are called to show love and closeness.” Recognizing that “visit the sick” is one of the seven corporal works of mercy, how can you show or send care today—perhaps by supporting Catholic chaplains during this Pastoral Care Week?

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 8:18-25; Luke 13:18-21 (480). “Sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.”

Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
Gentle reminder: Pray today

Benedictine monk Father Godfrey Diekmann, O.S.B., a pillar of the liturgical movement of the last century, tells the story of picking watercress one day on his monastery’s grounds and landing in a swamp. Try as he might he couldn’t extricate himself. He was eventually rescued by his fellow monks. He wrote of the incident: “What now bothers me is that during the entire ordeal of about 25 minutes I didn’t have a single pious thought! What does that say of my more than 50 years of monastic life? Do I have to start all over again?” Forgetting to pray happens to the best of us. But it is never too late to start. A simple prayer of blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, or praise will suffice. Better yet, start with Veni, Sancte Spiritus!, “Come, Holy Spirit!"

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 8:26-30; Luke 13:22-30 (481). “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought.”

Thursday, Oct 28, 2021
Strive for decreasing returns

Saints Simon and Jude have countless images and namesakes, yet we know almost nothing about these apostles whose feast day is today. They were among the 12 apostles, and tradition has it they spread the Good News in Persia. We honor their memory anyway, knowing that for the faithful, “He must increase, and I must decrease,” as John the Baptist put it. To be remembered after death as a faithful apostle is not a bad legacy for any Christian! Do one small act today that makes you recognizable as a faithful apostle.

TODAY'S READINGS: Ephesians 2:19-22; Luke 6:12-16 (666). “Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.”

Friday, Oct 29, 2021
Tender mercies

Depression, anxiety, profound sadness, or grief—these can sometimes make us feel like we’re no good or God has abandoned us. But it is at these times especially when God tenderly draws close to us. Though it may be difficult to lift our hearts in prayer when we are suffering, we can pray this prayer for ourselves and one another (attributed to Saint Augustine): “Watch, O Lord, with those who wake or watch or weep tonight, and give your angels and saints charge over those who sleep. Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ. Rest your weary ones. Bless your dying ones. Soothe your suffering ones. Pity your afflicted ones. Shield your joyous ones. And all for love’s sake.” Amen!

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 9:1-5; Luke 14:1-6 (483). “I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart.”

Saturday, Oct 30, 2021
Room to grow

We’ve all heard that the “humble will be exalted.” Sounds nice, but where can we look for examples, for a role model? Look no further than Mary, Mother of God. Saturday is the traditional day of the week to recall Mary’s example of exalted humility. Mary was humble enough to “make room” for God—literally, in her womb. She was willing to trust God with everything—her reputation, her envisioned marriage, her very body. Do you trust enough to make room so that God can be born in you?

TODAY'S READINGS: Romans 11:1-2a, 11-12, 25-29: Luke 14:1, 7-11 (484). “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”






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