A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.37)

WEEK 18 IN ORDINARY TIME: August 5-11, 2012 ***

 

(N.B. The pastoral tool BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD: A LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY LITURGY includes a prayerful study of the Sunday liturgy of Year B from three perspectives. For reflections on the Sunday liturgy based on the Gospel reading, please scroll up to the “ARCHIVES” above and open Series 1. For reflections based on the Old Testament reading, open Series 4. For reflections based on the Second Reading, open Series 7. Please go to Series 10 for the back issues of the Weekday Lectio.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: August 5, 2012 to August11, 2012. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

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August 5, 2012: 18th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME   

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Bread of Life”       

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ex 16:2-4,12-15 // Eph 4:17,2-24 // Jn 6:24-35

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

This Sunday’s liturgy of the Word continues to underline God’s abounding compassion and care for his people. The recipients of God’s love, however, are not always grateful and faithful. In the Old Testament reading, the newly liberated Israelites – distressed by the desperate situations in the wilderness – have forgotten the wonderful works of God. They begin to grumble against Moses and Aaron. Full of hunger and discontent, they languish and yearn for the old fleshpots of Egypt. Unable to trust in divine providence, they prefer the chains of bondage in exchange for daily bread. How fickle they are and slow to trust in their Redeemer!

 

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus multiplies the loaves as a sign of a greater gift, but the crowd – eager to have a breadbasket king and a Messiah political liberator – refuses to perceive its meaning. Jesus, however, patiently catechizes the people concerning the bread that endures forever. He reveals himself as the bread of life. Jesus is the Father’s gift to satisfy our deepest hungers for things beyond food: for forgiveness and reconciliation, for kindness and healing, for justice and harmony, for joy in place of bitterness and cynicism, for peace and unity. The Eucharistic Lord is the bread of renewal and the food for eternal life. To receive him as the true bread of life entails renewal of heart and mind. We must get rid of the “old self” and put on the “new self” that is created in God’s likeness and revealed in a life of holiness.

 

The following article by John Feister, “The Eucharistic Faith of Actor Clarence Gilyard” illustrates the spiritual renewal of Clarence and how the Eucharist became a bread of life for him (cf. ST. ANTHONY MESSENGER, April 2009, p. 23-26).

 

Sometimes all that it takes for a person to find the Eucharist is the invitation of a friend – and the grace of God. That’s what happened to Hollywood celebrity Clarence Gilyard. Raised in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, he left religion behind during the years he became famous acting alongside Jim Carrey (The Duck Factory), Tom Cruise (Top Gun), Bruce Willis (Die Hard) and on TV, most famously co-starring with Andy Griffith (Matlock), then Chuck Norris (Walker, Texas Ranger). (…)

 

In spite of his success, or perhaps because of it, there were problems. Clarence’s behavior was not proper for a married man: “My wife left me because I started to have an affair”, he admits. She took the children and wanted a divorce. Clarence got a wake-up call. “I was speaking a different language than the language of truth and accountability”, he says. Now he was sleepless: “Sure, I was hot as far as television was concerned. But I didn’t have my two babies. I didn’t have my wife. I was in Dallas; they were in Marina del Rey, California. She was filing for divorce.”

 

It was as much as he could do to go to work each day, he recounts. He ended the extramarital affair and got into a therapy group. “The only thing that was comforting was being in the presence of somebody where I could talk about my pain, then being with a group of people who were talking of their pain”, he remembers. Someone in the group invited Clarence to go to Mass with him. “So I went to a 5:30 Mass at St. Rita’s in Dallas.” Sunday evening was a hard time for him to be at church, because he was so mindful of everything from the weekend and days, even years, preceding that. He had spent a lot of time on his knees, alone, in his anguish. Now he had to go to his knees in the presence of everyone. “I was in the assembly with everyone, acknowledging …” His voice trails off.

 

“I don’t know how many Catholics are aware of why we are on our knees in the presence of Jesus”, he continues. “That’s where I needed to be. Mother Church allows that and informs us that way”, he says. “It is one of the great gifts.” Being near the Eucharist made Clarence intensely aware of the presence of God, he explains. “It’s all about the presence of God in the consecrated host. Otherwise, it’s just a building. If Jesus is not present, it’s a sham”, he says. But Jesus is present, he knows: “I experienced it that day and to this day. To this day, it is what sustains me.”

 

He describes “needing” to go to daily Mass, and when he slips, he recommits himself to the practice. He had known God’s mercy, God’s grace. Back in the early 90’s, when his religious awakening had occurred, he soon got himself to a priest: “I dumped everything out” and after it was all over, he was “in a state of grace”, he says. The priest told him, “You’re in a great place, kid.” “I’ve never forgotten that.” That Jesuit counseled Clarence into an RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) program for joining the Catholic Church and gave him some booklets for daily prayer.

 

His friend from therapy, whose privacy Clarence protects, invited Clarence to come to be with his family on Sundays when Clarence wasn’t invited back to be with his own family in California. “I would spend Sunday afternoon, then we’d go to Mass. They taught me the Rosary.” Then he would drive back to work for the week.

 

Over the course of the RCIA, Clarence developed a hunger for the Eucharist. “I so much wanted the Body of Christ”, he recalls. Since he was traveling overseas that Easter, he delayed his reception into Church until the following Christmas, the day after his own birthday, eight years ago. (…)

 

Along his life’s journey, Clarence Gilyard, the dramatist, has discovered a role, he says, “attracting people to God’s presence in my life”. The Eucharist is his food along the way. With a grateful heart, he adds, along with so many Christians who found their way home before him, “We are the Body of Christ.”

 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO 

 

What are the various hungers we are experiencing personally and as a community? What are the deepest hungers of humanity today? How do we respond to Jesus’ declaration and invitation: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst?”

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

Lord Jesus, bread of life,

we long for the fullness of life.

Fill our hearts with your presence

and help us to look forward to the joy of eternal feasting.

Thank you for nourishing us

at the table of the Word and the Eucharist.

Grant us the grace to be personally involved

in alleviating the hunger pangs of today’s poor.

You are the heavenly food

to nourish us in our pilgrimage to eternal life.

We yearn for the blessed day

when we will be united with you and the Father,

in the love of the Spirit.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the day. Please memorize it.

 

            “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (Jn 6:24-35)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO   

 

Identify the most painful “hunger” that your community is experiencing. Beg the Lord to give you the grace to help alleviate this “hunger”. 

 

 

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August 6, 2012: MONDAY – THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is Transfigured in Glory”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Dn 7:9-10,13-14 // Mk 9:2-10

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

Shortly after his conversion, the young man, Mike McGarvin, the future founder of the Poverello House in Fresno, volunteered to help out at a huge home for elderly people in San Francisco. The job kept him depressed, but it was there that he had a “vision of glory”. He narrates:

 

The very last time I went to Mass there, I had an upsetting experience that brought about a good change in me. I had wheeled a couple of ladies to the service, and I sat by them. The Mass came to the point at which we turned and greeted each other, shook hands, and said, “Peace be with you.” A woman turned around, and she was the most grotesque person I’d ever seen. She apparently had the same disease as John Merrick, “The Elephant Man”. I had never seen anyone so horribly disfigured, even at Poverello. I tried hard not to react, shook her hand, and quickly said the peace greeting. Afterward, I was haunted by the fact that despite her deformity, she had the most beautiful smile that I had ever seen. It was disturbing, to see that disfigurement and that smile all in the same person. I said a little prayer for her, because I couldn’t imagine how hard it was for her to go through life like that. She must have truly felt God’s joy, because her smile was so radiant. One of the things I’ve tried to do since then is to get people to smile, no matter what their circumstances. A smile is a gift, and it erases misery, if only for a few seconds.

 

God gives us glimpses of his beloved Son’s Easter glory to strengthen us in our weakness. The vision of the Lord’s transfiguration puts the paschal suffering in proper perspective. Today’s feast invites us to meditate on the radiant glory that flows forth from Christ’s passion and death. Forty days before the feast of the Triumph of the Cross (September 14), we celebrate his transfiguration (August 6) as an event that illumines the enigma of the cross.

  

The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 7, underline the role of the Lord’s transfiguration in the life of his disciples: “All Christians must summon up from their innermost depths the memory of this revelation whenever they see the Son of God dead on the cross, or the Church in agony, or when they are overwhelmed by personal tribulations, or on the edge of despair, or of losing faith. If they do, they will find the strength to pull themselves up from these depths and climb to the heights of the mountain, no matter how difficult the way. Through mists and tears, they too will be graced with a glimpse of the figure of the resurrected Christ surrounded by light.”

 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

 

Do we perceive in the event of the Lord’s transfiguration a glimpse of hope that will enable us to overcome our troubles? Are we ready to perceive the vision of Christ’s paschal glory? Are we open to receive the hope that Jesus, the Suffering Messiah, brings into our lives? Do we believe that suffering is an itinerary to glory?

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

Lord Jesus,

in your transfiguration on the mountain,

you have given us a glimpse of your Easter glory.

Help us to summon from our innermost depths

the memory of this revelation

to give us strength and hope in all our trials and afflictions.

Renew in us the consoling vision of your Easter glory

whenever death dealing forces weigh upon us,

the world’s afflictions torment us,

and our personal tribulations push us to the edge of despair.

Help us to trust that our suffering in this life

is an itinerary to glory.

We trust and believe in you

for you are both the Suffering Messiah and the Risen Christ shining in glory,

now and forever.

Amen.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the day. Please memorize it.

 

“He was transfigured before them.” (cf. Mk 9:2)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

Pray for all those whose present afflictions are great so that they may experience a vision of Christ’s Easter glory and be strengthened by it. Be aware of the glimpses of glory that God grants to you gratuitously every day of your life. Through your care, love and attention, enable a suffering person to have a glimpse of the glorious God and of his Risen Christ at work in their lives.

 

 

 

***

 

August 7, 2012: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (18); SAINT SIXTUS, pope, AND COMPANIONS, martyrs; SAINT CAJETAN, priest

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Walks on the Water”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 30:1-2,12-15,18-22 // Mt 14:22-36 or Mt 15:1-2,10-14

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

 

The need for deeper faith permeates today’s Gospel reading. Peter, impetuous as ever, asks to come to Jesus on the waters, but his faith fails him. After a tentative beginning, he begins to sink. Jesus saves him, but rebukes him for his feeble faith. Even Peter, the “prince of apostles”, wavers in his faith.

 

St. Augustine exhorts us to contemplate this Gospel episode so that, when beset with the turmoil of temptations, we could put our faith Jesus, who for our sake suffered death in order to save us: “Look at Peter, who in this episode is an image of ourselves; at one moment he is all confidence, at the next all uncertainty and doubt; now he professes faith in the immortal One, now he fears for his life … Think, then, of this world as a sea, whipped up to tempestuous heights by violent winds. A person’s own private tempest will be his or her unruly desires. If you love God you will have power to walk upon the waters, and all the world’s swells and turmoil will remain beneath your feet. But if you love the world, it will surely engulf you, for it always devours its lovers, never sustains them. If you feel your foot slipping beneath you, if you become a prey to doubt or realize that you are losing control, if, in a word, you begin to sink, say: Lord, I am drowning, save me! Only he, who for your sake died in your fallen nature, can save you from the death inherent in that fallen nature.”

 

The following lovely story illustrates that those who love God and have faith in him have power to walk upon the waters (cf. Anthony de Mello, The Song of the Bird, New York: Image Books, 1984, p. 72-73).

 

When the bishop’s ship stopped at a remote island for a day, he determined to use the time as profitably as possible. He strolled along the seashore and came across three fishermen mending their nets. In pidgin English they explained to him that centuries before they had been Christianized by missionaries. “We Christians!” they said, proudly pointing to one another.

 

The bishop was impressed. Did they know the Lord’s Prayer? They had never heard it. The bishop was shocked. “What do you say, then, when you pray?” “We lift eyes in heaven. We pray, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us.’” The bishop was appalled at the primitive, the downright heretical nature of their prayer. So he spent the whole day teaching them the Lord’s Prayer. The fishermen were poor learners, but they gave it all they had and before the bishop sailed away next day he had the satisfaction of hearing them go through the formula without a fault.

 

Months later the bishop’s ship happened to pass by those islands again, and the bishop, as he paced the deck saying his evening prayers, recalled with pleasure the three men on that distant island who were now able to pray, thanks to his patient efforts. While he was lost in the thought he happened to look up and noticed a spot of light in the east. The light kept approaching the ship and, as the bishop gazed in wonder, he saw three figures walking on the water. The captain stopped the boat and everyone leaned over the rails to see this sight.

 

When they were within speaking distance, the bishop recognized his three friends, the fishermen. “Bishop”, they exclaimed. “We hear your boat go past island and come hurry hurry to meet you.” “What is it you want?” asked the awe-stricken bishop. “Bishop”, they said, “we so, so sorry. We forget lovely prayer. We say, ‘Our Father in heaven, holy be your name, your kingdom come …’ then we forget. Please tell us prayer again.”

 

The bishop felt humbled. “Go back to your home, my friends”, he said, “and each time you pray, say, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us!’”

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

When we are buffeted by howling winds and violent storms in the sea of life, how steadfast is our faith? Do we dare walk on the “raging waters” on the basis of our faith in Jesus? When we sin and falter, what do we do? Do we have recourse to Jesus and cry out: “Lord, save me”?

 

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

Loving Jesus,

you walk on the water

and you master the raging sea.

When we are buffeted

by howling winds and violent storms in the sea of life,

help us to have steadfast faith in you.

Hold us by the hand

and we too will walk with you

upon the raging sea.

But when our faith falters,

save us and do not let us perish.

We love you for you are kind and merciful.

You come to our aid always.

You live and reign,

forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the day. Please memorize it.

 

“He came toward them, walking on the sea.” (Mt 14:25)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

Pray for those whose lives are in a “raging sea” and beset with trials and difficulties. Assist them in any way you can. Pray for fishermen and seamen and all those engaged in ministering to their material, moral and spiritual needs.

 

 

***

 

August 8, 2012: WEDNESDAY – SAINT DOMINIC, priest

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Extols the Woman’s Faith”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 31:1-7 // Mt 15:21-28

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

Today’s Gospel episode of the healing of the non-Jewish woman’s daughter (Mt 15:21-28) contains the fascinating dialogue of faith between the Gentile mother and Jesus. Indeed, this faith encounter between an irrepressible intercessor and the source of healing would encourage the Church in its mission to the Gentiles after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Although, in the divine plan of salvation, pride of place belongs to the Jews, the “bread of salvation” that is Jesus would be offered to assuage the hunger of all nations, prefigured in the faith-filled Canaanite mother. The universal mission to the Gentiles would primarily be the work of the Spirit-propelled missionary Church, born in the wake of the Easter event.

  

The Canaanite woman epitomizes the remarkable attitude of the recipients of the Good News through time and space. The faith of the Filipino people is of the same sterling quality as the Canaanite woman. As recipients of the Church’s evangelizing work, they show what great things can be achieved through faith in Jesus Christ. The following “Open Letter of Steve Ray to the Filipino People” is a tribute to their Christian faith. Steve Ray authored many best-selling books, among which are Crossing the Tiber (his conversion story), Upon This Rock (on the papacy), and just recently John's Gospel (a comprehensive bible study guide and commentary). 

 

We stepped into the church and it was old and a bit dark. Mass had just begun and we sat toward the front. We didn't know what to expect here in Istanbul, Turkey.  I guess we expected it to be a somber Mass but quiet and somber it was not - I thought I heard angels joyously singing behind me. The voices were rich, melodic and beautiful. What I discovered as I spun around to look did not surprise me because I had seen and heard the same thing in other churches around the world. It was not a choir of angels with feathered wings and halos but a group of delightful Filipino Catholics with smiles of delight and joy on their faces as they worshiped God and sang His praises. I had seen this many times before in Rome, in Israel, in the United States and other countries.


Filipinos have special traits and they are beautifully expressed as I gazed at the happy throng giving thanks to God. What are the special traits which characterize these happy people? I will share a few that I have noticed - personal observations - as I have traveled around the world, including visits to the Philippines.


FIRST, there is a sense of community, of family. These Filipino Christians did not sit apart from each other in different isles. They sat together, closely. They didn't just sing quietly, mumbling, or simply mouthing the words.  No, they raised their voices in harmony together as though they enjoyed the sense of unity and communion among them. They are family even if they are not related.


SECOND, they have an inner peace and joy which is rare in the world today. When most of the world's citizens are worried and fretful, I have found Filipinos to have joy and peace and a deep sense of God’s love that overshadows them. They have problems too, and many in the Philippines have less material goods than others in the world, yet there is still a sense of happy trust in God and love of neighbor.

 

THIRD, there is a love for God and for his Son Jesus that is almost synonymous with the word Filipino. There is also something that Filipinos are famous for around the world - their love for the Blessed Mother.  Among the many Filipinos I have met, the affectionate title for Mary I always hear from their lips is "Mama Mary".  For these gentle folks, Mary is not just a theological idea, a historical person, or a statue in a church - Mary is the mother of their Lord and their mother as well, their "mama".


The Philippines is a Catholic nation -- the only such nation in Asia -- and this wonderful country exports missionaries around the world. They are not hired to be missionaries, not official workers of the church. No, they are workers and educators, doctors, nurses and housekeepers that go to other lands and travel to the far reaches of the earth, and everywhere they go they take the joyous gospel of Jesus with them. They make a somber Mass joyful when they burst into song. They convict the pagan of sin as they always keep the love of Jesus and the Eucharist central in their lives.


My hope and prayer, while I am here in the Philippines sharing my conversion story from Baptist Protestant to Roman Catholic, is that the Filipino people will continue to keep these precious qualities. I pray that they will continue loving their families, loving the Catholic Church, reading the Bible, loving Jesus, His Mother and the Eucharist. As many other religions and sects try to persuade them to leave the Church, may God give the wisdom to defend the Catholic faith.  As the world tempts them to sin and seek only money and fame and power, may God grant them the serenity to always remember that obedience to Christ and love for God is far more important than all the riches the world can offer. May the wonderful Filipino people continue to be a light of the Gospel to the whole world! Be a proud Filipino and forward this to friends!

 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

 

Is our faith steadfast as that of the Canaanite mother? Does the faith of others move us to positive and compassionate action? In light of the Easter event, do we commit ourselves to share the saving work of Jesus, the “bread of salvation”, with all peoples of the earth?

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO 

 

Loving Jesus,

you extolled the faith of the Canaanite mother.

Help us to imitate her steadfast faith.

We thank you for revealing to us

that you are the “bread of salvation” for all nations.

Give us the grace to share the bread of your Word

to all peoples of the earth.

You are the universal Savior and giver of life.

You live and reign,

forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the day. Please memorize it.

 

            “Great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” (Mt 15:28)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

Pray for Christian missionaries who spread the Gospel beyond ethnic and cultural boundaries. Bring the healing touch of Jesus to the sick and needy. Contribute to the ecumenical effort of the Church and the task of inter-religious dialogue.

 

 

***

 

 August 9, 2012: THURSDAY – WEEKDAY (18); SAINT TERESA BENEDICTA OF THE CROSS, virgin, martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Gives Peter the Keys to the Kingdom”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 31:31-44 // Mt 16:13-23

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

Today’s Gospel reading is about the investiture of Peter with the keys to the kingdom. In response to Peter’s confession of faith in Jesus, whom he acknowledges as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” – a spiritual truth revealed by the heavenly Father – Jesus establishes him as the “rock” of the Church. He presents to him the “power of the keys”. The commissioning of Simon Peter is part of God’s benevolent plan for his chosen people. It is an important step in the realization of his saving design to provide them with trustworthy stewards and spiritual shepherds. Indeed, the “power of the keys” is a pastoral power meant to benefit God’s people.

 

Through time and space, the Church – the community of faith founded on the Risen Lord Jesus Christ and ministered to by Peter and his successors – experiences various crises, persecutions and trials. But the “gates of the netherworld” do not prevail against the Church because Christ is its leader. He has radically conquered the power of sin and death. He remains with his disciples until the end of time.

 

The ministry of the Pope is a vital expression of the pastoral office of Jesus who lives on in the Church. The following account of John Thavis, Catholic News Service (CNS) Rome Bureau Chief concerning Benedict XVI, illustrates the Pope’s effort to live up to the challenge of his pastoral ministry and as Christ’s trusted steward of faith for the present society (cf. Carrie Swearingen’s “PAPA-RAZZI: Following the Man who Follows the Pope” in ST. ANTHONY MESSENGER, July 2008, p. 16).

 

John Thavis found it stunning to see the Pope, during his tour of a Turkish mosque, turn toward Mecca and pray alongside his Muslim host. “In one gesture, he bridged the gap of misunderstanding that had arisen after his Regensburg lecture several months earlier”, says Thavis. “Of course, Christians and Muslims pray to the same God, so there was nothing really revolutionary about it. But after some media had labeled him ‘the Pope against Islam’, this was a clear illustration that Benedict was not about to play the role of anti-Islamic crusader.”

 

Thavis has been moved by Pope Benedict XVI’s simplicity and clarity when speaking to foreign groups. In May of 2007 the Pope and the press corps took a long bus ride through picturesque hills in central Brazil. “He addressed recovering drug addicts. It was a rousing welcome by a mostly young group of people and, when the Pope ended, they kept chanting his name. When he was getting into the pope-mobile, his aides telling him they had to hurry up and leave, he suddenly stopped, got out of the vehicle and walked back on the stage. He waved and gave them one last greeting. It was just a small kindness, but it meant so much to these people.” (…)

 

Thavis knew that this Pope would want to make an effort to be more engaging. “And he does. He makes eye contact, is always kind, and says a few words to each person he meets. The world had known him as a doctrine enforcer, but that was not on his mind as Pope.” The Pope’s main goal, Thavis explains, is to reawaken a sense of God in society and a deeper faith in Christ and the Catholic Church.

 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

 

How does Peter’s confession of faith affect us? Do we make an effort to understand the role of Peter and his successors in salvation history? Do we pray for the Pope and lovingly sustain him in his pastoral ministry and as “steward” of faith? 

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

O God, our Father,

we thank you for Peter’s faith confession

that Jesus is indeed “the Christ, the Son of the living God”.

We thank you for the Church,

the community of believers founded on the faith of the apostles.

We thank you for Peter’s successors,

whom you have established as stewards of Christian faith.

May they all be trustworthy and faithful!

O compassionate God,

we pray for our Holy Father, the Pope.

Guide Pope Benedict XVI in holiness

so that he may be an inspiring image

of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.

May he always give a fitting response

to the many yearnings and needs of the people of today.

We praise and bless you,

now and forever. 

Amen.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the day. Please memorize it.

 

“I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 16:19)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

Pray for the Pope that he may be strengthened in his pastoral ministry as chief steward of Christian faith. By your service to the poor and the needy, and through a life of holiness and personal dedication, let the love of Christ Shepherd touch a world in need of healing.

 

 

***

 

 August 10, 2012: FRIDAY – SAINT LAWRENCE, deacon, martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Grain of Wheat

that Dies and Bears Fruit”

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Cor 9:6-10 // Jn 12:24-26

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

Jesus is the “grain of wheat” that falls to the ground and dies to produce abundant fruit. God reveals and accomplishes his saving plan through him. Jesus’ “hour” of glorification entails a death and birthing process similar to that of a germinating seed. Eternal life is offered to the world by his passion and death. Buried like a seed and lifted up on the cross, Jesus draws all to himself and produces a rich spiritual harvest. 

 

The destiny of the Master is also the destiny of the disciples. Today’s Gospel is an invitation to walk with him the path to glory by imitating the sacrificial love of Christ. Readiness to suffer for the Gospel is part of the challenge of Christian discipleship. Saint Lawrence replicates the paschal destiny of the “grain of wheat”. The following notes circulated on the Internet will help us understand this.

Lawrence of Rome (Latin: Laurentius, lit. "laurelled"; c. 225–258) was one of the seven deacons of ancient Rome, serving under Pope St. Sixtus II, who were martyred during the persecution of Valerian in 258. After the death of Sixtus, the prefect of Rome demanded that Lawrence turn over the riches of the Church. Ambrose is the earliest source for the tale that Lawrence asked for three days to gather together the wealth. Lawrence worked swiftly to distribute as much Church property to the poor as possible, so as to prevent its being seized by the prefect. On the third day, at the head of a small delegation, he presented himself to the prefect, and when ordered to give up the treasures of the Church, he presented the poor, the crippled, the blind and the suffering, and said that these were the true treasures of the Church. One account records him as declaring to the prefect, "The Church is truly rich, far richer than your emperor." This act of defiance led directly to his martyrdom.

Tradition holds that Lawrence was burned or "grilled" to death, hence his association with the gridiron. Tradition also holds that Lawrence joked while he was burning on the gridiron, stating something along the lines of "Turn me over ... I'm done on this side".

Lawrence is one of the most widely venerated saints of the Roman Catholic Church. Devotion to him was widespread by the fourth century. St Lawrence is especially honored in the city of Rome, where he is one of the city's patrons. There are several churches in Rome dedicated to him, including San Lorenzo in Panisperna, traditionally identified as the place of his execution. He is invoked by librarians, archivists, cooks, and tanners as their patron. His celebration on August 10 has the rank of feast throughout the entire Catholic world. On this day, the reliquary containing his burnt head is displayed in the Vatican for veneration.

 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

 

Like Jesus, the “grain of wheat”, are we willing “to die” in order to live anew and bear abundant fruits? Are we willing to use our gifts and resources for the service of others? As Christian disciples, are we willing to share in the “hour” of Jesus’ passion and glorification and make it a personal experience of healing and redemption?

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

O God,

Saint Lawrence shared in your Son’s paschal destiny

as a “grain of wheat

that falls to the ground and dies

to produce much fruit.

He showed forth the fire of his love for you,

both by his faithful service and glorious martyrdom.

Help us to be like him

in loving you and doing your work.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

            The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the week. Please memorize it.

 

“But if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (Jn 12:24) 

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

Pray for all deacons in the Church that they may imitate Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr, in his life of holiness and service to the poor. Let every moment of your life, especially the daily trials, be a participation in the paschal mystery of Christ.

 

***

 

August 11, 2012: SATURDAY – SAINT CLARE, virgin

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us the Power of Faith”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Hb 1:12-2:4 // Mt 17:14-20

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

After the Lord’s transfiguration on the mountain, he comes down with Peter, James and John. The father of a self-destructive “lunatic” approaches him prayerfully. Kneeling before Jesus, he pleads mercy for his suffering son. The Divine Master is exasperated at the inability of his disciples to help the boy. He berates them for their unbelief: “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you?” Jesus uses the same phrases that Moses had used, coming down from Mount Sinai, to describe the faithlessness of Israel. Jesus drives away the demon and the boy is healed. When the disciples come to Jesus in private to ask why they were not able to drive the demon out, Jesus answered that they did not have enough faith. True faith in Jesus, even if it is the size of a mustard seed, is efficacious and can move mountains. The Divine Master thus teaches us the power of faith and affirms that with faith, nothing will be impossible for us.

 

The following account concerning Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini illustrates the power of trusting faith in today’s world (cf. Patricia Treece, Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2011, p. 64-66).

 

Picture Mother Cabrini in a strange land where she knew no one but the only One you have to know to go into a city and penniless and soon put up a hospital (she did that in New York, Chicago, and Seattle), an orphanage (in Colorado, New York, and Los Angeles, to mention three), dozens of schools in various countries throughout the Americas and Europe, and other institutions to bring God’s loving care to others. She kept them running for decades too. At night she has to sleep in a room alone because the glory of God tends to light up the space and wake companions, which is of course offensive to the humility of one who no longer thinks of herself at all, so madly in love is she with Jesus.

 

Mother Saverio De Maria, assistant, secretary, and constant companion on Mother Cabrini’s travels for these undertakings, wrote a life of the saint. Mother Saverio recalls that many people offered Mother Cabrini financial help, but she accepted from very few. Among the reasons she did so is this utterly delightful one: “Her trust in divine providence was so limitless that I seemed unfair [to her] to seek other support.”

 

Now picture a day like many when this consummate businesswoman (as people who had dealings with her described Mother Cabrini) is told a tradesman is at the door, seeking payment of his bill. The saint hands to another of the sisters the key to the desk money drawer. “Empty!” she reports back to Cabrini.

 

Mother De Maris writes: “Mother [Cabrini] concentrates a moment, then, with serene tranquility said, ‘You did not look well, look again’. Sister opened the same drawer and found a small package of brand new bank bills – the exact amount required to pay the bill. Our dear Mother, while recounting this fact (just to her daughters) many years later with eyes full of gratitude and love used to add: ‘How many of these occurrences I could tell! Truly the Lord overwhelmed us with his benefits.’”

 

Another time a sister needed to pay off a bill, but there was no money. “Why don’t you put your hand in your pocket?” Mother suggested. Without thought, the sister did so. There, as before, was the precise amount needed.

 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

 

Do we trust in the power of faith that can move mountains? How do we cultivate that faith?

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

Loving Jesus,

we are a “faithless and perverse generation”.

Have mercy on us for our faith is wanting.

We are afraid to let go and trust in you.

We hesitate to exercise the efficacious power of faith

that is your gift to us.

Teach us to submit to you

in a loving personal response.

Help us to believe

that true faith can move mountains.

With faith in you,

nothing is impossible for us..

We love you, praise you and extol you,

now and forever.

Amen.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the day. Please memorize it.

 

“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed … nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mt 17:20)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

In every trial that comes your way, have faith in God. Believe that he is in control and ask him for the grace to bring about the divine saving will.

 

***

 

 

Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang  PDDM

 

 

PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER

60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314

Tel. (718) 494-8597 // (718) 761-2323

Website: WWW.PDDM.US

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