Readings & Reflections: Wednesday of Holy Week & St. Hugh of Grenoble, April 1,2015

Readings & Reflections: Wednesday of Holy Week & St. Hugh of Grenoble, April 1,2015

“Judas is neither a master of evil nor the figure of a demoniacal power of darkness but rather a sycophant who bows down before the anonymous power of changing moods and current fashion. But it is precisely this anonymous power that crucified Jesus, for it was anonymous voices that cried, ‘Away with him! Crucify him!’” (Pope Benedict XVI).

Please click this link to watch the video on Judas and the Eucharist

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Opening Prayer

“God our Father, we are exceedingly frail and indisposed to every virtuous and gallant undertaking.  Strengthen our weakness, we beseech you, that we may do valiantly in this spiritual war; help us against our own negligence and cowardice, and defend us from the treachery of our unfaithful hearts; for Jesus Christ’s sake.”   AMEN. (Prayer of Thomas A Kempis)

Reading 1
Is 50:4-9a

The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right;
if anyone wishes to oppose me,
let us appear together.
Who disputes my right?
Let him confront me.
See, the Lord GOD is my help;
who will prove me wrong?

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 69:8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34 

R. (14c) Lord, in your great love, answer me.
For your sake I bear insult,
and shame covers my face.
I have become an outcast to my brothers,
a stranger to my mother’s sons,
because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak,
I looked for sympathy, but there was none;
for consolers, not one could I find.
Rather they put gall in my food,
and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving:
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.”
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Gospel
Mt 26:14-25

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?”
He said,
“Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
‘The teacher says, My appointed time draws near;
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.'”
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
“Surely it is not I, Lord?”
He said in reply,
“He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – The betrayal of Judas

The betrayal of Jesus by His very own disciple is a powerful reminder of the horrific possibilities within every human heart. There is much to learn from Judas, a man who studied under Jesus Christ Himself and yet betrayed Him with the unmitigated gall of a kiss.

Why was Judas able to do this to Jesus and betray Him for thirty pieces of silver? Did Judas really belong to Jesus? From all indications, Judas never belonged to Jesus. He may have verbally aligned himself to Jesus but never really believed and followed Him. His relationship with Jesus was very superficial. This is why it was quite easy for him to exchange Jesus for silver. Man may claim allegiance to God yet never submit his life and soul to Him.

What Judas witnessed to us reveals that one can be in Christ’s service and still not know Him and acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord. When we seek Him for own purposes and attempt to make Him something we want Him to be, when we do not allow Him to prevail in our lives and when we make Him only as an afterthought, when the totality of the world’s possessions and treasures are more valuable to us than our relationship with Him, when we compromise our values and refuse to turn away from sin, we become a replica of Judas Iscariot and are destined towards total destruction

The story of the betrayal of Jesus still resonates in the hearts of men today, not only because of the audacity of Judas’ evil deed but it highlighted the weakness and wickedness of our flesh. We may attend church regularly and give Jesus intellectual assent but not our hearts, our lives and our total being. We could call Him King but only to assume our own thrones over His.  We may approach Jesus with a symbolic kiss but never dare embrace Him. We may proclaim all our praises and worship and choose to be His disciple, yet not embrace a life of humble witnessing, self-denial and sacrifice. We may project to be loyal and faithful disciples but opt to be lukewarm and indifferent to Him when life becomes difficult and being loyal to Him becomes more of a burden than a way of showing love for God and His people.

Most of us say that betrayal is the cause for friendships to fail. Friends do not always have to agree but they have to be loyal to each other.  The other disciples of Jesus failed Him in a lot of ways but they remained loyal to Him. But only one of them failed Him and had the imprudence to turn his back and sell Him.  That was Judas Iscariot.

Jesus gave Judas every chance to reconsider his plans and redeem himself yet he could not do it. He could not get out from the stronghold of Satan which had its beginnings when he pilfered the money box of the apostles and later on reached its peak when he sold Jesus to those who wanted to persecute Him.

As friend and brother of Jesus, have we given some thought on how we have failed Him? Was there ever an occasion that we truly betrayed Him and turned our back on Him?

This Lenten season, Jesus wants us to examine our hearts and repent for all our sins. If we pray to Him with a contrite heart, He will never forsake us. He is our help forever and we will never be disgraced.

Direction

As we approach the passion and death of our Lord Jesus, let us all give time to our God by closely scrutinizing our hearts and examining how we have betrayed Him.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, give me the grace to be truly loyal and faithful to You in Word and Deed. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Reflection 2 – Judas, the Sycophant

“Judas is neither a master of evil nor the figure of a demoniacal power of darkness but rather a sycophant who bows down before the anonymous power of changing moods and current fashion. But it is precisely this anonymous power that crucified Jesus, for it was anonymous voices that cried, ‘Away with him! Crucify him!’” (Pope Benedict XVI)

“Jesus knew that among the Twelve Apostles there was also one who did not believe: Judas. Judas could have gone away too, as did many of the disciples; indeed, perhaps if he had been honest he would have been bound to leave. Instead he stayed on with Jesus. He did not stay out of faith or out of love, but rather with the secret intention of taking revenge on the Teacher. Why? Because Judas felt let down by Jesus and decided that he, in his turn, would betray Jesus. Judas was a zealot and he wanted a victorious Messiah who would lead a revolt against the Romans. Jesus had not measured up to these expectations. The problem was that Judas did not go away, and his greatest sin was his deceitfulness, which is the mark of the devil. For this reason Jesus said to the Twelve: “One of you is a devil” (Jn 6:70). Let us pray to the Virgin Mary to help us believe in Jesus, like St. Peter and always to be sincere with him and with everyone” (Pope Benedict XVI).

Answering the call of Christ is a radical decision. No one who puts his hand to plow and looks back is worthy of the Kingdom. You must deny your very self. You must hate your own life. You must renounce all your possessions. Jesus made it clear he wants it all. How can we make such sacrifices? How can we keep from betraying him? Are we asked to do the impossible?

It is essential to recognize that Judas’ greatest sin was not that he failed to love Jesus, but that he refused to believe that Jesus loved him. The story of Judas is not meant to fill us with fear, but to awaken within us the realization that we are God’s beloved, the apple of his eye, the one for whom he is willing to die. The lesson of Holy Week is less about our love of God but more about God’s love for us. As we recall the life and death of Jesus we come face to face with the incomprehensible love which God has for his people.

Judas’ ultimate betrayal was not in his handing Jesus over to the chief priests; it was rather in his refusal to accept God’s love for him. Sometimes we may sound just like Judas when we ask “Is it I, Lord? Can you really love me?” One who truly believes in God’s love can never be guilty of betraying him.

As we approach the passion and death of our Lord Jesus, let us all give time to our God by closely scrutinizing our hearts and examining how we have betrayed Him.

“Heavenly Father, give me the grace to be truly loyal and faithful to You in word and deed.”

Reflection 3 – The Sin of Judas

“Now we have consider still another class of sinners, toward whom Christ was harsh and unrelenting. Such are the Pharisees, and such is Judas, the traitor.

“We might wonder why Christ can all of a sudden put aside his usual mildness and mercy and become so severe. We find this to be true to every time our Lord is dealing with the Pharisees. And why is that? Because the Pharisees are not sinners out of frailty or passion, but rather me who against their better judgment shut their eyes to the truth, men who pretend to be pious and holy but are thoroughly depraved, men who indeed know what is right but close their hearts to the truth.

“Following the cure of the man born blind, our Lord said: For judgment I come into this world, that they who see not, may see, and they who see, may become blind (Jn 9:39). The Pharisees’ sin is the sin of arrogance, the sin of unbelief, the sin against the Holy Spirit. This sin is a complete turning away from God. It is untruthfulness to oneself, and engenders in man a state which excludes him from God’s friendship, a crime which even Christ cannot pardon. That is the thoroughly evil man who will not be converted, a classic example of whom we find in Judas. Whenever our Lord refers to him he is harsh and intolerant. Have not I chosen you Twelve? And one of you is a devil. Now he meant Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon; for this same was about to betray him, whereas he was one of the Twelve (Jn 17:12). Judas was the type of man, evil and degenerate to the core, in whom grace could find no point of contact.

“My dear Christians, these are the sinners over whom Christ weeps, as the Gospel narrates, whom he threatens with hell’s eternal punishment. May the Lord deliver us from this dreadful state of soul! (Source: Fr. Pius Parsch, +1954, Magnificat, Vol. 17, No. 1, Holy Week 2015, pp. 78-79).

Reflection 4 – St. Hugh of Grenoble (1052-1132 A.D.)

Today’s saint could be a patron for those of us who feel so overwhelmed by all the problems in the world that we don’t know where to begin.

Hugh, who served as a bishop in France for 52 years, had his work cut out for him from the start. Corruption seemed to loom in every direction: the buying and selling of Church offices, violations of clerical celibacy, lay control of Church property, religious indifference and/or ignorance. After serving as bishop for two years, he’d had his fill. He tried disappearing to a monastery, but the pope called him back to continue the work of reform.

Ironically, Hugh was reasonably effective in the role of reformer—surely because of his devotion to the Church but also because of his strong character. In conflicts between Church and state he was an unflinching defender of the Church. He fearlessly supported the papacy. He was eloquent as a preacher. He restored his own cathedral, made civic improvements in the town and weathered a brief exile.

Hugh may be best known as patron and benefactor of St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusian Order.

Hugh died in 1132. He was canonized only two years later.

Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1897

SAINT OF THE DAY
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here

The final hours of Pope John Paul II

The final hours of Pope John Paul II

Published on Mar 31, 2015

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Ten years have passed since the death of the Polish pontiff.

This was the last time that Pope John Paul II appeared in St. Peter’s Square. It wasWednesday, March 30, 2005.

He was very weak and unable to speak. Two months earlier, doctors performed a tracheotomy on him. That was followed by two serious infections.
Locals knew that his hours were numbered. Many decided to spend the night outdoors in Saint Peter’s Square to show support and be near him. The end was imminent. Inside his room, the Pope said goodbye to his closest confidants.
JOAQUIN NAVARRO-VALLS
Spokesman, John Paul II
“”It was a silent farewell, there was no need for words. He looked at us in the eyes, everything was already said. It wasn’t necessary to try to say anything. The next day, less than 24 hours later, he died.”
On the night of April 2nd, the faithful prayed the rosary under the Pope’s window in St. Peter’s Square.
When the room’s lights were turned on, it became clear that the inevitable had occurred.
The first official confirmation came a few minutes later.
“May our prayerful silence accompany these first moments of our Holy Father, John Paul II, in Heaven with Christ.”
That’s when John Paul II received his first posthumous tribute: an endless applause.
JOAQUIN NAVARRO-VALLS
Spokesman, John Paul II
“The first prayer recited in the room at the time of his death was not the prayer the Church usually does, which is a prayer for the soul’s salvation. No, it was a prayer of gratitude. Naturally, not because of his passing but because of his rich life that ended at that historical moment.”
The next morning, his remains were taken to the Apostolic Palace, so that members of the Roman Curia could pay their respects.
A day later, his body was transferred to St. Peter’s Basilica. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims came to give thanks and say farewell.
JOAQUIN NAVARRO-VALLS
Spokesman, John Paul II
“Less than 24 hours before his death, people began to arrive at St. Peter’s Square. It continued to fill up over the following days. At first, Romans came, then from all over Italy. Then people from throughout Europe and around the world came in those days before the funeral and burial of John Paul II.”
The Pope’s main collaborator, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, celebrated the funeral Mass in front of dozens of world leaders. Strong winds blowing through St. Peter’s Square added to the ceremony’s sad mourning.
At the end of Mass, hundreds of people began asking: Would Pope John Paul II be declared a saint soon? Time gave them their answer.

Church Militant Headlines : March 31, 2015

Church Militant Headlines : March 31, 2015

Published on Mar 31, 2015

Today’s Headlines:
1.Kansas to Ban Dismemberment Abortions
2.English Bishop Condemns Dissident Liberal Group
3.Italian Bishops Slam Civil Unions
4.Slovenia Rejects “Gay Marriage” Referendum
5.Filipino Archbishop Emeritus Slams Divorce

Resource page: http://cmtvnews.com/2015/03/31/top-st…

 

Readings & Reflections: Tuesday of Holy Week & St. Stephen of Mar Saba, March 31,2015

Readings & Reflections: Tuesday of Holy Week & St. Stephen of Mar Saba, March 31,2015

“We have grown accustomed to make a clear distinction between Peter the rock and Peter the denier of Christ – the denier of Christ: that is Peter as he was before Easter; the rock: that is Peter as he was after Pentecost, the Peter of whom we have constructed a singularly idealistic image. But, in reality, he was at both times both of these…. Has it not been thus throughout the history of the Church that the Pope, the successor of Peter, has been at once Petra and Skandalon – both the rock of God and a stumbling-block? In fact, the faithful will always have to reckon with this paradox of the divine dispensation that shames their pride again and again.” (Pope Benedict XVI).

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Reading 1
Isaiah 49:1-6

Hear me, O islands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
Yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
That Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
And I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 71:1-2, 3-4a, 5ab-6ab, 15 and 17
R. (see 15ab) I will sing of your salvation.

In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, and deliver me;
incline your ear to me, and save me.
R. I will sing of your salvation.

Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
R. I will sing of your salvation.

For you are my hope, O Lord;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.
R. I will sing of your salvation.

My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R. I will sing of your salvation.

Gospel
John 13:21-33, 36-38

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.
One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,
was reclining at Jesus’ side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him,
“Master, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.
So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.
Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him,
“Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor.
So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

When he had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself,
and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” Peter said to him, “Master, why can I not follow you now?  I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – Pride the first sin

Today is a good time to think about those things we struggle with every day… those which may periodically put us down and cause us to be away from the Lord.

What comes to heart is PRIDE which to some was the first sin. It was the sin of Lucifer that led to his fall from heaven. It was the sin of Adam and Eve who wanted to be like God. It was the sin of the builders of the tower of Babel (The tower was intended to connect heaven and earth–literally:  “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.” Gen. 11:4).  It was, in other words, a symbol of man’s attempt to reach God by his own strength and his own abilities.). It is a sin condemned at least fifty times in the Bible.

According to C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity Chapter 18) pride is: “The essential vice, the utmost evil, is pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison. It was through pride that the devil became the devil. Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

What would best describe pride?

A young woman once approached her pastor and said, “Pastor, I have a besetting sin, and I want your help. I come to church on Sunday and can’t help thinking I’m the prettiest in the congregation. I know I shouldn’t think that, but I can’t help it. Help me with this sin.” The pastor replied, “Don’t worry about it. In your case it’s not a sin. It’s just a horrible mistake.”

The matter of pride is always an atrocious mistake. Pride is too much focus on self that we tend to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. It is a failure to see our true selves and to lose touch with reality. We spend more time in the “I” rather than the “you.” It is supportive of the worldly claim that we must always feel good about ourselves even at the expense of others. At times we begin to think of pride as a virtue more than a sin.

Pride is the excessive belief in one’s own abilities which interferes with the individual’s recognition of the grace of God or the worth which God sees in others. It has been called the sin from which all others arise.

Pride can be a sin of one but can also be a collective sin. This can happen even in a church setting when we overrule the prayerful sentiments of people. Given some authority, we begin to think that we are in full control of God’s church that we abuse our anointing. We begin to believe that God speaks only through us in utter disregard of the will of God as expressed through His people.

Pride among others has separated people from God. What then is one good way to address it? Jesus provided the answer in today’s gospel when He posed the question, “Will you lay down your life for me?”

Our Heavenly Father may not necessarily give us the opportunity to physically die for Him and His cause but on a daily basis provides us ways by which we can lay down our lives for Him. God has never failed in reiterating to everyone that for us to live the life of His Son, we should be humble and be able to die to our own selves, our pride and arrogance. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Mark 8:34

One way God calls us to die for Him is by treating others with same loving attitude and disposition He has for all of us. Amidst our superiority or other gifts He has blessed us with, we should be able to die to self and accept that we are all made in His likeness and we are the same to Him, rich or poor, schooled or not. God wants us to die to our selves by listening to others and give every concerned member of His church due consideration. If we have been tasked to care for His flock, we should be able to give the same love and care He gives His people, not for shameful profit but for the general good of His people. We should be able to swallow our pride and be able to eat our very own words if the need arises.

We are all aware that it is difficult to submit to others and be at peace with them, if we know their shortcomings.  It is doubly hard to subject our own affairs to the judgment and rule of others and to acquiesce to their decisions, if we have an attitude of being more superior. It is particularly difficult if those we work with and  deal with seem to be at least in some respects, our inferior in age, culture, experience, or ability.  But this is where God has called us to die for Him, to suppress our pride and arrogance. Dying to self is submission with filial humility. “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

As we decide to positively respond to God as He asks us if we are willing to lay down our lives for Him, let us reflect on the obedience of Jesus, and in it we shall see the attitude of humility carried to its utmost: although He was God, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men…. He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the Cross” (Phil 2, 7.8).

Today in true humility and let us examine our self-abasement, our submission to others compared to the profound humiliation of Jesus, who although He was God willed to become man, live as man, subjecting Himself to His own creatures.

Jesus is asking us once more: “Will you lay down your life for me?”

In Matthew 10:38, Jesus reminds us:  “whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.”

To be able to take up his cross and die for God is to be able to live for God!

To die is to live!

Direction

Living for God means a continuous dying to self. Live for God alone.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, as I decide to live for you, always give me the strength and the grace to suppress my pride, put to death my arrogance and be humble like Jesus, in Whose Name I always hope and pray. Amen.

Reflection 2 – Betrayal

“We have grown accustomed to make a clear distinction between Peter the rock and Peter the denier of Christ – the denier of Christ: that is Peter as he was before Easter; the rock: that is Peter as he was after Pentecost, the Peter of whom we have constructed a singularly idealistic image. But, in reality, he was at both times of these…. Has it not been thus throughout the history of the Church that the Pope, the successor of Peter, has been at once Petra and Skandalon – both the rock of God and a stumbling-block? In fact, the faithful will always have to reckon with this paradox of the divine dispensation that shames their pride again and again” (Pope Benedict XVI).

“The greater the good we possess, the deeper is our debt towards the Almighty, and the stronger reason have we to blame ourselves for not corresponding to such signal mercies by more generous service, and to greater graces with a warmer gratitude. He who is taught by divine truth attributes nothing to himself save his sins and his own nothingness. If all that God gave us at our creation, and which by his power he daily sustains, were withdrawn from us, there would remain only nothingness and we should return to the nothingness from which we mere formed. And if God took from us the grace which he bestows on us for the sake of Jesus Christ, what would the most holy among us be, but what Peter was when he denied our Lord, or Paul when he persecuted his Redeemer? We know but too well what we were before God touched our souls, and taking from us our old hearts gave us new ones in their stead.

“Justification is nothing but the resurrection of a soul which was dead in sin, and henceforth exists by the life which God infuses into it through the death of his blessed Son. It would be madness if the body attributed its animation and power of motion to itself and not to the spirit which dwells in it and quickens it; and the soul is as blind which thinks that its good works come from its own abilities, and not from the supernatural life divinely bestowed on it. Sometimes such presumption draws down chastisement from heaven, and the gifts possessed by the soul are withdrawn, so that it finds itself unable to see, to hear, to take pleasure in religious matters, or to perform the good actions it was wont to do. Thus the Christian soul discovers that it was another Being who gave it the spiritual life which it did but receive, and that without the grace of Jesus Christ it is like a corpse from which animation has fled” (St. John of Avila, 1569 AD).

Have you ever been betrayed? I mean someone to whom you gave your heart and soul, who walked away leaving you in utter darkness. Divorce, children who are estranged from their parents or a deep friendhip that dies because of jealousy or greed, these human events give us a little taste of the abandonment and betrayal in today’s gospel. But we would never do what Judas did!

Jesus’ disciples were put to the test as Jesus prepared to make the final and ultimate sacrifice of his own life for their sake and for the entire world. What was different between Peter and Judas? Judas deliberately betrayed his Master while Peter, in a moment of weakness, denied him with an oath and a curse. Judas’ act was cold and calculated. Peter, however, never meant to do what he did. He acted impulsively, out of weakness and cowardice. Jesus knew both the strength of Peter’s loyalty and the weakness of his resolution. He had a habit of speaking with his heart without thinking through the implications of what he was saying. The treachery of Judas, however, is seen at its worst when Jesus makes his appeal by showing special affection to him at his last supper. John says that Satan entered into Judas when he rejected Jesus and left to pursue his evil course. Satan can twist love and turn it into hate. He can turn holiness into pride, discipline into cruelty, and affection into complacency. We must be on our guard lest Satan turn us from the love of God and the path which God has chosen for us. The Holy Spirit will give us grace and strength in our time of testing. If we submit to Jesus we will walk in the light of his truth and love. If we turn our backs on him we will stumble and fall in the ways of sin and darkness. Are you ready to follow Jesus in his way of the cross?

“Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart which no unworthy thought can drag downwards; an unconquered heart which no tribulation can wear out; an upright heart which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.  Bestow upon me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”  (Prayer of Thomas Aquinas)

Reflection 3 – St. Stephen of Mar Saba (d. 794 A.D.)

A “do not disturb” sign helped today’s saint find holiness and peace.

Stephen of Mar Saba was the nephew of St. John Damascene, who introduced the young boy to monastic life beginning at age 10. When he reached 24, Stephen served the community in a variety of ways, including guest master. After some time he asked permission to live a hermit’s life. The answer from the abbot was yes and no: Stephen could follow his preferred lifestyle during the week, but on weekends he was to offer his skills as a counselor. Stephen placed a note on the door of his cell: “Forgive me, Fathers, in the name of the Lord, but please do not disturb me except on Saturdays and Sundays.”

Despite his calling to prayer and quiet, Stephen displayed uncanny skills with people and was a valued spiritual guide.

His biographer and disciple wrote about Stephen: “Whatever help, spiritual or material, he was asked to give, he gave. He received and honored all with the same kindness. He possessed nothing and lacked nothing. In total poverty he possessed all things.”

Stephen died in 794.

Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1895

SAINT OF THE DAY
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. 

Pope Francis gives tribute to Christian martyrs, during Palm Sunday Mass

Pope Francis gives tribute to Christian martyrs, during Palm Sunday Mass

Published on Mar 30, 2015

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The Pope also called on Christians to embrace humility and service.

It’s one of the most solemn Masses of the year. Wearing red and carrying a woven palm, Pope Francis started off Palm Sunday by leading a procession through St. Peter’s Square.

On the day that gives way to Holy Week,  Pope Francis talked about persecuted Christians, who are targeted specifically because of their faith. He went on to describe them as martyrs of our own time.
POPE FRANCIS
“They refuse to deny Jesus and they endure insult and injury with dignity. They follow Him on His way. We can speak of a could of witnesses.’”
Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, just days before His crucifixtion, death and Resurrection.
With the Square decorated accordingly with roughly 2,000 palm and olive branches, pilgrims from all over the world attended the Mass.
The Pope reminded Christians that Jesus was a humble God and with humility comes service, both in significant moments and in every day life.
POPE FRANCIS
“We are helped and comforted by the example of so many men and women who, in silence and hiddenness, sacrifice themselves daily to serve others: a sick relative, an elderly person living alone, a disabled person, the homeless.”
The Pope then called on Christians to leave vanity and pride aside and instead to embrace humility and service.

Mic’d Up : Breakdown of a Meltdown, March 25, 2015

Mic’d Up : Breakdown of a Meltdown, March 25, 2015

Published on Mar 26, 2015

On this week’s episode of Mic’d Up, Michael Voris tallies the damage of this past St. Patrick’s Day and examines the root cause of the disaster. Guests include Dr. Chris Manion, C.J. Doyle, David Carlin, Brian Camenker, and former Congressman Robert K. Dornan.

Church Militant Headlines : March 30, 2015

Church Militant Headlines : March 30, 2015

Published on Mar 30, 2015

Today’s Headlines –
1.Cdl Muller Responds to Dissident Cdl Marx
2.Swiss Cardinal Rebukes German Bishops Pushing for Change
3.NY Assembly Expands Late-Term Abortion
4.CA One Step Closer to Legal Suicide
5.Illegals Taking Jobs from US-Born Males

6 Lessons from Pope Francis’ First Holy Week 2013

6 Lessons from Pope Francis’ First Holy Week 2013

Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square - Wikipedia

1. Chrism Mass Homily

A good priest can be recognized by the way his people are anointed. This is a clear test. When our people are anointed with the oil of gladness, it is obvious: for example, when they leave Mass looking as if they have heard good news. Our people like to hear the Gospel preached with “unction”, they like it when the Gospel we preach touches their daily lives, when it runs down like the oil of Aaron to the edges of reality, when it brings light to moments of extreme darkness, to the “outskirts” where people of faith are most exposed to the onslaught of those who want to tear down their faith.

Published on Mar 28, 2013

http://en.romereports.com On Holy Thursday, Catholics worldwide celebrate the Chrism Mass. At St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis presided the Mass.

The day has an added significance for priests. During the Mass, they renew the vows they took the day of their ordination.

Because of this, the Pope celebrated with cardinals, bishops and hundreds of priests from the Diocese of Rome, in all about 1600 men.

He encouraged them to reach out to the poorest, and those that are sad or lonely. .

2. Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service. But it is a duty that comes from my heart and a duty I love. I love doing it because this is what the Lord has taught me. But you too must help us and help each other, always. And thus in helping each other we will do good for each other.

Published on Mar 28, 2013

http://en.romereports.com The Mass for Holy Thursday recalls the Last Supper with f Jesus Christ. Normally the Pope would celebrate it at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, but Pope Francis decided he would officiate it at a juvenile detention center in Rome. .

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Good Friday

3. Passion of Our Lord Sermon

In Christ dead and risen, the world has reached its final destination. Human progress is advancing today at a dizzying pace and humanity sees new and unexpected horizons unfolding before it, the result of its discoveries. Still, it can be said that the end of time has already come, because in Christ, who ascended to the right hand of the Father, humanity has reached its ultimate goal. The new heavens and new Earth have already begun. Despite all the misery, injustice, the monstrosities present on Earth, he has already inaugurated the final order in the world. What we see with our own eyes may suggest otherwise, but in reality evil and death have been defeated forever. Their sources are dry; the reality is that Jesus is the Lord of the world. Evil has been radically defeated by redemption which he operated. The new world has already begun.

Published on Mar 29, 2013

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ROME REPORTS, www.romereports.com, is an independent international TV News Agency based in Rome covering the activity of the Pope, the life of the Vatican and current social, cultural and religious debates. Reporting on the Catholic Church requires proximity to the source, in-depth knowledge of the Institution, and a high standard of creativity and technical excellence.

As few broadcasters have a permanent correspondent in Rome, ROME REPORTS is geared to inform the public and meet the needs of television broadcasting companies around the world through daily news packages, weekly news programs and documentaries.

4. Via Crucis

One word should suffice this evening, that is the Cross itself. The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness. It is also reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us. Remember this: God, in judging us, loves us. If I embrace his love then I am saved, if I refuse it, then I am condemned, not by him, but my own self, because God never condemns, he only loves and saves.

Published on Mar 29, 2013

http://en.romereports.com It’s a way to honor and remember the Passion of Jesus. Every year, thousands of pilgrims go to the Colosseum to take part in the ‘Way of the Cross.’

As Pope Francis overlooked the crowds of faithful, the 14 stations of the Cross were carried out by priests, friars, sisters and laypeople from different parts of the world.

The ceremony included a series of prayers to reflect on Jesus’ Passion and his message. .

Easter

5. Vigil Homily

Dear brothers and sisters, let us not be closed to the newness that God wants to bring into our lives! Are we often weary, disheartened and sad? Do we feel weighed down by our sins? Do we think that we won’t be able to cope? Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence, let us never give up: there are no situations which God cannot change, there is no sin which he cannot forgive if only we open ourselves to him.

Published on Mar 31, 2013

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6. Urbi et Orbi

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Easter!
What a joy it is for me to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons …
Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious!