Readings & Reflections: Thursday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time & St. Francis Xavier Seelos, October 12,2017

Readings & Reflections: Thursday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time St. Francis Xavier Seelos, October 12,2017

Jesus asks: Surprise a friend of yours come begging for food at midnight for a guest newly arrived? If we are like God – who is like any real friend and “listens attentively” – we will help him. Our reverent asking brings out al that is fatherly in God: “I will have compassion on them, as a man has compassion on his son.” It is through our persistence in prayer that we discover what God always promised: “They shall be mine – my own special possession.”

AMDG+

Opening Prayer

“Heaven Father, you are merciful, gracious and kind. May I never doubt your love nor hesitate to seek you with confidence in order to obtain the gifts, graces, and daily provision I need to live as your disciple and child.” In the Name of Jesus,, your Son, I pray. Amen.

Reading 1
Mal 3:13-20b

You have defied me in word, says the LORD,
yet you ask, “What have we spoken against you?”
You have said, “It is vain to serve God,
and what do we profit by keeping his command,
And going about in penitential dress
in awe of the LORD of hosts?
Rather must we call the proud blessed;
for indeed evildoers prosper,
and even tempt God with impunity.”
Then they who fear the LORD spoke with one another,
and the LORD listened attentively;
And a record book was written before him
of those who fear the LORD and trust in his name.
And they shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts,
my own special possession, on the day I take action.
And I will have compassion on them,
as a man has compassion on his son who serves him.
Then you will again see the distinction
between the just and the wicked;
Between the one who serves God,
and the one who does not serve him.
For lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
And the day that is coming will set them on fire,
leaving them neither root nor branch,
says the LORD of hosts.
But for you who fear my name, there will arise
the sun of justice with its healing rays.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6

R. (Ps 40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,

That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Gospel
Lk 11:5-13

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,’
and he says in reply from within,
‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.

For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit
to those who ask him?”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – His persistence in prayer

“I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.”

The thought that comes to my heart given today’s gospel reading is persistence, meaning one’s consistency in seeking God and His ways in a prayerful devotion. At times it can be quite discouraging amidst our frailties and shortcomings and the countless times we have started, yet failed. But such human predicament should also be a way for us to humble ourselves, recognize our weaknesses and incessantly ask God to help us to once more rise and begin again.

Because our human nature is so unstable, our persistence may consist in continually beginning again. Persistence is what we should have as we all depend on God’s grace and help. We do not have the power to free ourselves from our unstable nature therefore we have to avoid slackening in virtue.

God through His grace gives us the power to correct ourselves as soon as we perceive that we have failed. This is the kind of persistence-consistency – that God demands of us. And when we practice it faithfully, seek Him and his ways in prayer and are always prompt in rising every time we fall, God will bless us and grant us the grace to be steadfast and firm in His ways no matter how hard and strong the winds of temptation may be. He will in His gracious love pour on us the supreme blessing of perseverance.

In today’s gospel, Jesus teaches that we should be persistent and consistent in our prayers for God’s transforming grace. Not that He wants the Father to give us a difficult time and would like Him to lengthen our agony of waiting for His blessings but because our prayers most often would like to change God and let Him be aligned with our ideas and plans. Most often we cannot accept God’s light. We are blind to God’s ways because they are not always easy and pleasant to what we are so accustomed to.

Our prayers will never change God. Prayers will only modify our hearts and such transformation is not normally instant. To arrive at an interior acceptance of God’s will and see our life with His eyes, we need to be persistent and consistent with our prayers. We need to pray to God for a longer time.

Our regular and consistent fellowship with God can only bear us the right amount of fruit we need to subsist and sustain our spiritual walk. Because of our relationship and the rapport we have with Him, God will never fail us and He will give us as much as what we need. He will bless us all the days of our lives.  “So I say to you, ‘Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.’ “For whoever asks, receives; whoever seeks, finds; whoever knocks, is admitted.” 

In prayer let us ask God the strength to persevere and for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, as He will never forsake those who seek him. “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

Direction

In regular prayer and study of His Word ask God to help us to persevere in our daily struggle to do good and abide by His will.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, like a tree planted near running water make me yield the fruit of perseverance. In Jesus I continue to hope and pray. Amen.

Reflection 2 – Resilience

Dr. Robert Wicks is a clinical psychologist who lives in Baltimore and teaches at Loyola University there. A prolific writer of books on both prayer and psychology, his latest book is Bounce: Living the Resilient Life. His basic premise is that each of us can learn to put things into a healthy perspective. But he recommends a protocol of daily activity that can help to free us from anxiety. Exercise. Cultivate friendships. Pray, he would say to one who is religious. Eat well. Find enjoyable things to balance the hard things. And so on. In a word, don’t just sit there stewing in your anxiety; take some action to “de-stress” and to re-center your life. Be resilient.

“I tell all of you,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel: Ask, and you will receive, seek, and you will find, knock, and the door will be opened for you.” Jesus’ message for us is to get out of our chairs and do something, or, as he says elsewhere in the gospels, to pick up our mats and walk. In short, don’t just sit there waiting for God to do something; rather, start doing the right things and continue with the grace of God. That’s a kind of divine resilience.

No, the Gospel is not a self-help program – it is anything but that! But we’re not completely off of the hook, either. In the old “faith versus works” argument that’s haunted the church from the beginning, we have to have faith – but, when the door is opened for us, we need to walk through the doorway, crossing a threshold into a “God-help: program. (Source: John Feister, Weekday Homily Helps. Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, October 7, 2010).

Reflection 3 – God answers me

How long do you pray and not give up praying? God anticipates our needs for He is a loving Father. Here’s a story of Theresa and Sue. Theresa left Sue a message that she had some great news. Sue was convinced that her friend had received Jesus as Savior. After all, she had been praying for Theresa’s salvation for 30 years. What could be greater news!

A few days later, Theresa revealed her “great news”: She had a new boyfriend and was moving with him. Sue cried out in desperation, “Lord, what makes me think that You answer me after 30 years of praying?” She proceeded to have a pity party for herself about God’s seeming reluctance to answer her. Some of our hardest struggles are those deep desires that go unmet – when no response comes from heaven for what seems like forever.

A month after Theresa’s “great news,” she called and left another message: “I have wonderful news! I trusted Jesus as my Savior! I don’t know why I didn’t do it long ago.” Now Sue is praying that Theresa will grow in the Lord and seek to please Him with her life. Therefore, keep praying. In His time, God will answer.

In today’s gospel, Jesus teaches that we should be persistent and consistent in our prayers for God’s transforming grace. Not that He wants the Father to give us a difficult time and would like Him to lengthen our agony of waiting for His blessings but because our prayers most often would like to changed God and let Him be aligned with our ideas and plans. Most often we cannot accept God’s light. We are blind to God’s ways because they are not always easy and pleasant to what we are so accustomed to.

Our prayers will never change God. Prayers will only modify our hearts and such transformation is not normally instant. To arrive at an interior acceptance of God’s will and see our life with His eyes, we need to be persistent and consistent with our prayers. We need to pray to God for a longer time.

Our regular and consistent fellowship with God can only bear us the right amount of fruit we need to subsist and sustain our spiritual walk. Because of our relationship and the rapport we have with Him, God will never fail us and He will give us as much as what we need. He will bless us all the days of our lives. The Lord Jesus assures us, “I tell you, ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Lk 11:9-10).

In prayer let us ask God the strength to persevere and for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and He will never forsake those who seek him as the Lord Jesus assures us, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Lk 11:13).

“Dear Lord, I know You hear me, and that You are powerful and wise. Help me to wait patiently and to trust You for Your good and perfect answers to the needs of those I love. Amen.”

Reflection 4 – How much more will the heavenly Father give!

What can we expect from God, especially when we recognize that he doesn’t owe us anything and that we don’t deserve his grace and favor? Jesus used the illustration of a late-night traveler to teach his listeners an important lesson about how God treats us in contrast to the kind of treatment we might expect from our neighbors.

The rule of hospitality in biblical times required the cooperation of the entire community in entertaining an unexpected or late-night guest. Whether the guest was hungry or not, a meal would be served. In a small village it would be easy to know who had baked bread that day. Bread was essential for a meal because it served as a utensil for dipping and eating from the common dishes. Asking for bread from one’s neighbor was both a common occurrence and an expected favor. To refuse to give bread would bring shame and dishonor because it was a sign of in-hospitality – showing a lack of friendship and generosity.

God awakens us from sleep that we may ask and receive
If a neighbor can be imposed upon and coerced into giving bread in the middle of the night, how much more hospitable is God, who, no matter what the circumstances, is generous and ready to give us what we need. Augustine of Hippo reminds us that “God, who does not sleep and who awakens us from sleep that we may ask, gives much more graciously.”

Ask, seek, knock – and it will be given
When you are in need who do you turn to for help? Jesus tells us that God is always ready to answer those who seek him and call upon him with expectant trust in his mercy and kindness. Jesus states very clearly and simply what we must do: Ask, seek, knock. God our heavenly Father waits upon us. Like a table waiter or friend who comes in the middle of the night, he is always ready to hear our plea and to give us what we need. Do you ask the Father with expectant faith and confident trust in his goodness? Do you seek his guidance and help in your time of need? Do you knock with persistence at his door of mercy and favor? If we treat our heavenly Father with indifference or neglect to ask with confident trust, we may miss the opportunity we have been given to receive his grace and favor and merciful help.

God gives more than we can ask or expect
In conclusion Jesus makes a startling claim: How much more will the heavenly Father give! The Lord is ever ready to give us not only what we need, but more than we can expect. He gives freely of his Holy Spirit that we may share in his abundant life and joy. Do you approach your heavenly Father with confident trust in his mercy and kindness?

“Heavenly Father, you are merciful, gracious and kind. May I never doubt your mercy and love nor hesitate to seek you with confident trust in order to obtain the gifts, graces, and daily provision I need to live as your beloved child and constant friend.” – Read the source: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/oct12.htm

Reflection 5 – Praying the scriptures

Jesus says in the Gospel reading for today: Ask in order to receive. Knock, and the way, the truth, and the life will be opened to you. He is, of course, talking about receiving the Holy Spirit. But remember: This includes the fullness of life that the Holy Spirit provides, the fullness of truth, and the fullness of making our way to heaven by uniting ourselves in holiness to God here on earth.

Obtaining all this occurs through one situation at a time in our everyday lives. One of the most excellent ways to pray is to use scriptures as a dialog with the Holy Spirit. Find any scripture that pertains to a current need and read it as a personal letter from God. Then answer that letter.

Let’s illustrate this with today’s first reading. Are you suffering hardships because of someone who believes that “it is vain to serve God” and thinks, “What do I profit by keeping his command?”

Use this scripture passage as a prayer to God, like so:

“Lord, they have defiled You in their words and in their evil actions. … You are listening attentively to my pleas for help. I trust You. Protect me as You have promised. Show me Your compassion, that all the world may see. … Destroy all the roots and the branches of evil in those who would harm me. … Help me recover in the healing rays of Your justice. Thank you! Amen!”

Now re-read this scripture as a dialog with the Holy Spirit, like so:

“Then they who fear the Lord spoke with one another, and the Lord listened attentively.” The Holy Spirit wants to remind you that when you seek the help of your Christian community, sharing your burden with Christ-centered friends, Jesus listens to you and ministers to you through them. Tell Jesus that you’re going to visit one of your Christian companions today and you’d like him to reveal something helpful through that person.

Notice this phrase: ” … on the day I take action.” A promise for you! (I’m skipping verses; please take time to read it thoroughly to discover all that the Holy Spirit is saying to you.) Tell Jesus how you feel about waiting for that day.

“You will again see the distinction between the just and the wicked; between those who serve God and those who do not.” You’ve seen God intervene against evil before. You will we see it again! Tell Jesus how much you appreciate the times past when he vindicated you and that you’ll trust him to do that again.

“The day is coming, blazing hot, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble … setting them on fire ….” Everyone sooner or later faces justice. Either the evildoers who’ve hurt you will regret it and burn with a desire to repent, or they will burn with the deeper fires of regret during purgatory when they discover how little room they had made for God’s love in their hearts, or they will burn where the fires are unquenchable because they’ve turned away from God forever. Ask Jesus to do everything possible to help them repent before it’s too late. And ask him how you can help him do that.

“For you … there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.” Ahhh, what a wonderful way to end this letter of reassurance from God! What are you going to say to him now? – Read the source: http://gnm.org/good-news-reflections/?useDrDate=2017-10-12

Reflection 6 – You will receive

“It’s also necessary to begin with the assurance that if we don’t let ourselves be conquered, we will obtain our goal; this without a doubt, for no matter how small the gain, one will end up being very rich. Don’t be afraid that the Lord will leave you to die of thirst, for he calls us to drink from this fount.

“I have already said this and would like to say it many times, for the devil intimidates persons who don’t yet fully know the goodness of the Lord through experience, even though they know it through faith. But it is a great thing to have experienced the friendship and favor he shows toward those who journey on this road and how he takes care of almost all the expenses.

“I’m not surprised that those who have not experienced this want the assurance of some gain for themselves. Well, you already know there is the hundredfold even in this life, and that the Lord says, ask, and you will receive. If you don’t believe his Majesty in the sections of his Gospel that insure this gain, it will be of little benefit… for me to break my head in trying to tell you about it. Nevertheless, I say that should anyone have some doubt, little would be lost in trying the journey of prayer; for this journey brings with it the following good: more is given than is asked for, beyond what we could desire. This is absolutely true; I know. And those of you who know it by experience, through the goodness of God, can be my witnesses (Source: St. Teresa of Avila, +1582 A.D., Magnificat, Vol. 17, No. 8, October 2015, pp. 122-123).

Reflection 7 – Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos (1819-1867 A.D.)

Zeal as a preacher and a confessor led Father Seelos to works of compassion as well.

Born in southern Bavaria, he studied philosophy and theology in Munich. On hearing about the work of the Redemptorists among German-speaking Catholics in the United States, he came to this country in 1843. Ordained at the end of 1844, he was assigned for six years to St. Philomena’s Parish in Pittsburgh as an assistant to St. John Neumann. The next three years Father Seelos was superior in the same community and began his service as novice master.

Several years in parish ministry in Maryland followed, along with responsibility for training Redemptorist students. During the Civil War, he went to Washington, D.C., and appealed to President Lincoln that those students not be drafted for military service.

For several years he preached in English and in German throughout the Midwest and in the Middle Atlantic states. Assigned to St. Mary of the Assumption Church community in New Orleans, he served his Redemptorist confreres and parishioners with great zeal. In 1867 he died of yellow fever, having contracted that disease while visiting the sick. He was beatified in 2000.

Comment:

Father Seelos worked in many different places but always with the same zeal: to help people know God’s saving love and compassion. He preached about the works of mercy and then engaged in them, even risking his own health.

Quote:

“To the abandoned and the lost he preached the message of Jesus Christ, ‘the source of eternal salvation’ (Hebrews 5:9), and in the hours spent in the confessional he convinced many to return to God. Today, Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos invites the members of the Church to deepen their union with Christ in the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist” (John Paul II, beatification homily).

Read the source:  http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1159

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaRead more from the source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Xavier_Seelos

BLESSED FRANCIS XAVIER SEELOS, C.SS.R.
Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos.jpg
RELIGIOUS, PRIEST AND MISSIONARY
BORN January 11, 1819
FüssenKingdom of Bavaria,German Confederation
DIED October 4, 1867
New OrleansLouisiana,
United States
VENERATED IN Roman Catholic Church
(United States & Redemptorists)
BEATIFIED April 9, 2000, Vatican City, byPope John Paul II
MAJORSHRINE National Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, C.Ss.R.,St. Mary’s Assumption Church,New Orleans,Louisiana,
United States
FEAST October 5

Francis Xavier Seelos, C.Ss.R., (January 11, 1819 – October 4, 1867) was a German Redemptorist who worked as amissionary in the United States frontier.

Early life[edit]

Seelos was born in Füssen in the Kingdom of Bavaria on January 11, 1819, one of 12 children born to Mang Seelos and Franziska Schwarzenbach. He was baptized that same day in the Parish Church of St. Mang. He attended middle school at the Institute of Saint Stephen in Augsburg. Receiving his diploma in 1839, he went on to university in Munich, where he completed his studies in philosophy. Having expressed a desire for the priesthood since childhood, he entered the diocesan seminary on September 19, 1842.[1]

Seelos was touched by the letters published in the Catholicnewspaper Sion, from the Redemptorist missionaries describing the lack of spiritual care for the thousands of German-speaking immigrants. After visiting the Redemptorists in Altötting, he decided to enter the congregation, asking to be allowed to work as a missionary in the United States. He was accepted by the Redemptorists on November 22, 1842, and sailed the following year from Le Havre, France, on March 17, arriving in New York on April 20, 1843. On December 22, 1844, after having completed hisnovitiate and theological studies, Seelos was ordained a priest in the Redemptorist Church of St. James in BaltimoreMaryland.[2]

Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, St Mang Basilica, Füssen, Germany.

American missions[edit]

After being ordained, Seelos worked for nine years in the Parish ofSt. Philomena in PittsburghPennsylvania—first ascurate to St. John Neumann, who was the superior of the Redemptorist community, later as Superior himself, and for three years as pastor. During this time, he was also the Redemptorist Novice master. With Neumann, he also dedicated himself to preaching missions. Regarding their relationship, Seelos said: “He has introduced me to the active life” and, “he has guided me as a spiritual director and confessor.”[2]

Seelos’ availability and innate kindness in understanding and responding to the needs of the faithful quickly made him well known as an expert confessor and spiritual director, so much so that people came to him even from neighboring towns. His confessional was open to all: “I hear confessions in German, English, French, of Whites and of Blacks”.[1] He practiced a simple lifestyle and a simple manner of expressing himself. The themes of his preaching, rich in Biblical content, were always understood even by the simplest people.[2]Seelos was described as a man with a constant smile and a generous heart, especially towards the needy and the marginalized.[1]

A constant endeavor in this pastoral activity was instructing the little children in the faith. Seelos not only favored this ministry, he held it as fundamental for the growth of the Christian community in the parish. In 1854, he was appointed simultaneously Pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Baltimore; Pastor and Prefect of Students at Sts. Peter and Paul Church inCumberland, Maryland, in 1857; and Pastor and Prefect of Students at St. Mary’s Parish in Annapolis(1862). As Prefect of Students, he remained always the kind and happy pastor, always prudently attentive to the needs of his students and conscientious of their doctrinal formation. Above all, he strove to instill in these future Redemptorist missionaries the enthusiasm, spirit of sacrifice, and apostolic zeal for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the people.[3]

In 1860 Seelos was proposed as a candidate for the office of Bishop of Pittsburgh. Having been excused from this responsibility by Pope Pius IX, from 1863 until 1866, he dedicated himself to the life of an itinerant missionary preaching in English and German in the states of Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.[3]

After a year as Curate of St. Mary’s Parish in Detroit, Michigan, Seelos was assigned in 1866 as Pastor of the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption, New Orleans. However, his ministry in New Orleans was destined to be brief. In September of that year, exhausted from visiting and caring for victims of yellow fever, he contracted the disease. After several weeks, he died on October 4, 1867, at the age of 48 years and 9 months.[4]

Veneration[edit]

Pope John Paul II beatified Seelos in St. Peter’s Square on April 9, 2000.[3] In the beatification homily, the pope stated: “Today, Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos invites the members of the Church to deepen their union with Christ in the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. Through his intercession, may all who work in the vineyard for the salvation of God’s people be encouraged and strengthened in their task.” [5]

Seelos is commemorated in the Martyrology on October 5.

The National Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos is located in St. Mary’s Assumption Church, the first German Catholic Church in New Orleans and in the state of Louisiana. The Shrine contains the official portrait of Father Seelos, which was used in Rome for his beatification, as well as photographs that depict Father Seelos and his life as a missionary. The centerpiece of the Shrine is a sacred reliquary, which houses the remains of Father Seelos. St. Mary’s Church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places[4]

Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Catholic Church in New Orleans, Louisiana is named in his honor.[6]

Notes[edit]

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