A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy



Week 19 in Ordinary Time: August 9-15, 2020



(The pastoral tool BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD: A LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY & WEEKDAY LITURGY includes a prayerful study of the Sunday liturgy from various perspectives. For the Lectio Divina on the liturgy of the past week: August 2-8, 2020 please go to ARCHIVES Series 18 and click on “Ordinary Week 18”.




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 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Masters the Raging Seas”



1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-13a // Rom 9:1-5 // Mt 14:22-33





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 14:22-33): “Command me to come to you on the water.” 


The need for deeper faith permeates today’s Gospel reading (Mt 14:22-33). The biblical scholar, Eugene Maly comments: “To appreciate Matthew’s account fully, we must have some background information. To the best of our knowledge the evangelist was writing for a Christian community composed to a large extent of Jewish converts. At the time of his writing (about 80 A.D.) there was an increasing estrangement between the Jewish people and their former associates in the faith. Christian converts were being more often and more resolutely shunned by members of the synagogue. Matthew’s community was greatly affected by this. Some apparently, in the face of this pressure, renounced their Christian faith. Others were wavering. Matthew wrote his Gospel to bolster their faith … Even Peter, who is the ‘prince of apostles’ in Matthew’s Gospel, wavers in his faith.”


Today we hear of the impetuous Peter in distress. During the “fourth watch of the night”, i.e. the three hours of night before dawn, Jesus comes toward the boat walking on the sea. Wishing to ascertain the Lord’s identity, Peter cries out to Jesus to bid him come over the raging waters. Jesus obliges and commands him to come. Peter thus experiences walking on the waters. But Peter starts to doubt and allows the power of the sea to daunt him. He starts to sink. Jesus draws him out of the water. The raging sea that engulfs Peter represents the perils that assail our vocation as Christian disciples. Peter’s desperate cry for help “Lord save me!” is a manifestation of faith in the Lord of all creation. Like the imperiled Peter, we need to affirm our belonging and trust in Jesus, who saves him from sinking.


Sr. Mary Agape Saccone, PDDM, now deceased, was a missionary for 60 years, mostly in USA. Here is her personal account of a faith experience in 1965, during her second trip back to the United States after visiting her family in Italy.


We had a reservation on the ship NUOVA RAFFAELO, a beautiful ship traveling to America. (…) After sailing for five days, at around 2:00 P.M., I went to the upper balcony to contemplate the sea and the immensity of the ocean and enjoy the beautiful view. All of a sudden, I heard a noise, like an explosion. After a short while, I became aware that the crewmembers were hurrying back and forth, and seemed to be worried. Later I learned that one of the engines of the NUOVA RAFFAELO had caught fire. The captain was forced to advise the passengers that the ship had to return to port for mechanical reasons.


When the crew began the maneuvers to turn around, there were other noises and the ship began to shake. Everyone was worried. I sought to help the others remain calm and to encourage them during those terrible moments. I recall that I took the Gospel and read the passage about the calming of the sea to the other passengers.


Finally, on November 6, we arrived safely at the port in Genoa. From there we left for New York once again, this time in an airplane. Once again we thanked God for his help.



B. First Reading (1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-13a): “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord.”


The Old Testament reading (1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-13) is a part of some of the most fascinating passages in the Bible (cf. chapters 18-19 of 1 Kgs). It depicts the Lord Yahweh manifesting his saving presence to Elijah, a persecuted and fugitive prophet. Elijah is in full flight from the enraged Jezebel, the wife of Israel’s King Ahab. Queen Jezebel vows to kill Elijah for publicly embarrassing her and her pagan god Baal, and for the killing of hundreds of Baal’s prophets. Fragile, despondent, fearful and powerless to sustain himself, Elijah escapes southward to Judah where he begged God to take his life. An angel of God appears to nourish and protect him. Just as the Israelites wandered forty years in the desert, Elijah journeys through the desert forty days and forty nights toward Mount Horeb (also known as Mount Sinai, the place where Moses had an intimate encounter with God and where the covenant with the Israelites was sealed).


Responding to Elijah’s pitiful predicament, the Lord Yahweh reveals his loving presence to the beleaguered prophet, not in the fiery manifestation of heavy winds, earthquake or fire, but in a “tiny whispering sound” – in the soft voice of a gentle breeze. The perils and dangers of his prophetic vocation seem less menacing in the context of the gentle presence of God, manifested in the whispering breeze. Indeed, the soft whisper of the almighty God is more powerful than the threats of wicked Jezebel. The saving God, who called Elijah to proclaim his word, energizes him anew for his prophetic ministry.


The following story gives insight about the gentle way in which God can be present to us and we to him (cf. Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight: A Book of Story Meditations, New York: Image Books, 1988, p. 29).


An old man would sit motionless in church for hours on end. One day a priest asked him what God talked to him about. “God doesn’t talk. He just listens” was his reply. “Well, then what do you talk to him about?” “I don’t talk either. I just listen.”


The four stages of Prayer:

I talk you listen,

You talk I listen.

Neither talks, both listen.

Neither talks, neither listens: Silence.



C. Second Reading (Rom 9:1-5): “I could wish that I were accursed for the sake of my own people.”


The Second Reading (Rom 9:1-5) delineates the apostolic anguish of Saint Paul. He is overwhelmed with sorrow for the rejection of the Gospel of Christ by the chosen people Israel. By recalling God’s irrevocable gifts to Israel, Paul’s faith is strengthened. The liturgical scholar Adrian Nocent remarks: “They have been given the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the law, the worship, and the promises of God. The patriarchs belong to them, and above all, it is from their race that the Christ has been born. Israel has all it needs in order to understand the word of God and to become part of Christ’s new people. Yet all that has not kept them from not receiving Christ. For Paul, this is reason for an immense feeling of sadness. The Christian cannot refuse to acknowledge the riches of the Jewish people, whom God has so loved, and to be saddened, with Paul, that they have not believed in Christ. We must be united with them at least through love and prayer.”


Paul’s sorrow for his fellow Jews is intense. He is willing to be accursed, that is, to undergo the worst possible fate, in imitation of Christ’s suffering, so that the obstinate chosen people may experience life and salvation. Harold Buetow remarks: “Why did the Jews reject Jesus as Messiah? In part, at least, because they had their own preconceived ideas of how God should act; they especially could not accept the scandal of the cross. Paul’s reaction, like God’s most likely, was not one of anger, but of heart-broken sorrow over the people’s rejection.”


The following story, circulated through the Internet, gives us an idea of the graciousness of God, as well as the awfulness of ingratitude and of our ugly refusal to embrace fully the love of God manifested in his Son Jesus Christ.


There was a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind. She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She told her boyfriend, “If I could only see the world, I will marry you.”


One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages came off, she was able to see everything, including her boyfriend.


He asked her, “Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?” The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind. The sight of his closed eyelids shocked her. She hadn’t expected that. The thought of looking at them the rest of her life led her to refuse to marry him.


Her boyfriend left in tears and days later wrote a note to her saying, “Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before they were yours, they were mine.”





1. 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”?


2. Do we seek God in serenity and simplicity … and in silence … and in the daily events of life?


3. Do we have compassion for others and experience sorrow and anguish on their behalf? What do we do that God may be blessed always and forever?





O loving Father,

we thank you, we love you and we praise you.

Your presence is as gentle as the cooling breeze

that we welcome in summer’s heat.

We listen attentively

as you speak tenderly your saving word

and we cherish it in our heart.

We turn to you in our need.

We trust that you listen to the cry of the poor.

Help us in our distress and never let us despair.

Through the raging waves of today’s world,

let not fear engulf us.

Let your Son Jesus reach out to us with his saving hand.

God the Father, you are great and almighty.

May you be blessed now and forever.






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


“And beginning to sink, Peter cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Mt 14:33)





Pray for those whose lives are in a “raging sea” and beset with trials and difficulties. By your charitable deeds, enable those who are in despair to experience the saving hand of Jesus. That you may be a more efficacious instrument of God’s redeeming hand, make an effort to spend some moments before the Blessed Sacrament in silent prayer.


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“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Grain of Wheat

that Dies and Bears Fruit … He Is a Cheerful Giver”



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





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 (Jn 12:24-26) 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”.


Today’s First Reading (2 Cor 9:6-10) as we celebrate the feast of Saint Lawrence is an excellent description of his life. He is a cheerful giver. He sows the spirit of love bountifully and reaps its fruits bountifully. He gives to the poor and his righteousness endures. Saint Lawrence manifests his good-natured and cheerful self-giving even in martyrdom.


The following notes circulated on the Internet will help us understand that, like Jesus, Saint Lawrence is a “grain of wheat” that falls on the ground and dies to bear abundant fruit and that he is a “cheerful giver”.


Lawrence of Rome (Latin: Laurentius, Lit, “Laurelled”: c. 225–258) was one of the seven deacons of ancient Rome serving under Pope St. Sixtus, who were martyred during the persecution of Valerain 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, “Behold in these poor persons the treasures which I promised to show you; to which I will add pearls and precious stones, those widows and consecrated virgins, which are the Church’s crown.”


The prefect was so angry that he had a great gridiron prepared, with coals beneath it, and had Lawrence’s body placed on it (hence St. Lawrence’s association with a gridiron). After the martyr had suffered the pain for a long time, he made his famous cheerful remark: “It is well done. Turn me over!”


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.





1. 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?


2. Are we cheerful givers?





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.





we thank you for Saint Lawrence

and his witness of cheerful giving.

Your gifts are infinite.

Teach us to open our hearts to your bounty.

Give us the grace to sow generously

the seeds of goodness wherever we go.

Make us cheerful even when self-giving hurts

and comfort us with the thought

of the abundant harvest of righteousness.

You live and reign, forever and ever.






            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) //“God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9:7)





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. // When things are rough and challenging, especially with regards to caring for others, try to smile and be a cheerful giver.


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August 11, 2020: TUESDAY – SAINT CLARE, Virgin

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Wants Us to Be Childlike and To Care for the Little Ones … His Words Are Sweet as Honey”



Ez 2:8-3:4 // Mt 18:1-5, 10, 12-14





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 18:1-5, 10, 12-14): “See that you do not despise one of these little ones.”


Today’s Gospel (Mt 18:1-5, 10, 12-14) tells us that the disciples’ response to the Divine Master’s patient endeavor to help them understand his messianic mission and paschal destiny is disappointing. They fail to understand. They even put a question that is tinged with a power struggle: “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Their narrow vision degenerates into an authority issue. Jesus therefore teaches them the meaning of true greatness. He calls a child and puts him in front of them saying, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”


A child represents complete dependence. The heavenly kingdom is for those who are completely dependent on God and, in the spirit of a child, trust fully in him. An authentic Christian follower relies totally on God. The greatest in the heavenly kingdom are those who imitate Jesus in his complete trust and dependence on the Father’s will. Jesus also warns us not to despise the “little ones”, that is, the humble and lowly, all those who put their faith in God with childlike trust. He teaches us that it is not the will of the heavenly Father that any of the “little ones” be lost. By his pastoral ministry, Jesus invites us to promote the well-being and salvation of the poor and vulnerable.


The following inspiring story gives us insight into how to care for the “little ones” in our midst (cf. Rick Hamlin’s reflections in Daily Guideposts 2010, p. 260).


My father gets around with a walker these days, and he doesn’t get around much. But he was there when the whole clan – twenty and counting – gathered for a week at the beach, staying at a rental on the sand. We sailed, we surfed, we rode bikes on the boardwalk, swam out to the buoy and kayaked in the bay. Dad seemed to enjoy having everybody together, but even from under the umbrella on the porch, he got frustrated at not being able to do half of what he once could.


Late one afternoon, I suggested a walk. “I’m not sure how I can do it with this walker on the sand”, he said. “Let’s try”, I said. “You can hold my hand if you need to.” He made his way down the beach, leaning on the walker or me. We stopped to watch some sailors bring their boats to shore and take down their sails. “Hey, Mr. Hamlin!” one of the guys called. “How are you doing?” “Just fine”, he said, his hands on the walker.


We trudged back next to the water, choosing the hard sand. A pelican dipped past us and plunged into the bay, picking up dinner. A kayak cut across the smooth water, a fish leaping in its wake. The shadows of the palms lengthened across the sand in front of us. “The shadows lengthen”, he observed.


They do, I thought. The years go by, and you don’t know where they went. Age brings us struggles. But at the end of the day there are still beauties to be found in a setting sun and a slow walk on the beach, father and son.



B. First Reading (Ez 2:8-3:4): “He fed me with scroll and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth.”


Today’s Old Testament reading (Ez 2:8-3:4) depicts the vocation of the priest Ezekiel to be a prophet. By the River Chebar in Babylon where the Jews are exiled, Ezekiel receives a powerful vision of God and is commissioned to proclaim the divine word. God enjoins him not to be rebellious and commands him to eat the scroll that is filled with “lamentation, wailing and woe”. Ezekiel obediently eats the scroll and it tastes as sweet as honey in his mouth. The “eating” signifies Ezekiel’s total assimilation of God’s message so that his whole being is permeated by it. Nourished and animated by the divine word, the prophet follows God’s command to go to the people of Israel and say to them whatever God tells him to say.


The obedient stance of the prophet Ezekiel to the divine word that needs to be proclaimed is a good background for the following modern-day story (cf. Mark Mallett, “Stay and Be Light” in Amazing Grace for Survivors, West Chester: Ascension Press, p. 92-93).


One of the messages that burned in my heart was the terrible silence over the abortion in Canada. And so, one day at home, I penned a letter to the newspapers criticizing us “journalists” for being willing to cover every graphic murder, domestic violent crime, or war scene, but refusing to publish the pictures that clearly showed the reality of abortion. I signed my name as a producer of the TV station I worked for.


The backlash was immediate. The newspaper chains wanted to do follow-up stories, but only to sensationalize my stance, not to address the issue. My company warned me that to say anything more would put me in jeopardy. Memos were fired off, some sent to the entire news staff attacking my position and me.


A month later, I was laid off, and my show was cut. The station manager insisted it had nothing to do with my letter. As I stood looking out upon the familiar landscape of unemployment, I turned to my wife and said: “There’s nothing for me to do now but ministry.” This time, there was a tremendous peace. Still, how on earth was I to support a family? But what mattered was God’s will. This time, a burning desire for ministry was replaced with fear and trembling. (…)


Since my secular work has ended, my ministry has grown to extraordinary measure. My wife and I have traveled to three different continents and ministered to tens of thousands of souls. My ministry includes concerts, parish missions, and school evangelization. More recently, I’ve returned to my roots of leading people into an “encounter with Jesus”, but this time, through Eucharistic Adoration. In all these years of ministry, we’ve never missed a meal. We have since been richly blessed with three more healthy children, with one more on the way. More importantly, we’ve learned through the trials and crosses that come with serving the Lord (Sir 2:1), that he will never, never abandon us.





1. Do we heed Jesus’ teaching that unless we become like children, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven? Do we care for God’s “little ones”?


2. Like Ezekiel, do we allow ourselves to be nourished by God’s word in order to proclaim it to those for whom we are sent?





Loving Jesus,

you revealed to us

that only those who become like children

will enter the heavenly kingdom.

Help us to be childlike in our dependence on God

and teach us to be fully trusting in him.

You exhort us not to neglect the “little ones”

but rather to care for them.

Let our ways be compassionate

on behalf of the poor and vulnerable in our midst.

Nourish us by your word

and grant us the grace to speak your word to the nations.

We praise and bless you, now and forever.






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


“It is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” (Mt 18:14) // “I ate it and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth.” (Ez 3:3)





Show God’s care and compassion for the “little ones” in our midst by your kind words and deeds. With childlike trust, ask God for the grace to be instruments of his pastoral care for the “little ones” in our society today. // Promote the practice of Lectio Divina, the prayerful reading of God’s word, among your family members, friends and loved ones.



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August 12, 2020: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (19); SAINR FRANCES DE CHANTAL, Religious

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us the Duty of Fraternal Correction … He Marks Us for Salvation”




Ez 9:1-7; 10:18-22 // Mt 18:15-20





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 18:15-20): “If your brother listens to you, you have won him over”


The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, remark on today’s Gospel reading (Mt 18:15-20): “The community for which Matthew collected and presented the Lord’s teachings was already a motley group. There were brothers and sisters who did not behave in an evangelical manner toward the little ones. There were leaders concerned more with honors than service. There were even disciples who lived in sin, publicly and scandalously. What to do about them? What should be the means by which they could be helped to become aware of their disorderly ways and be converted? Certainly there was no question to prematurely separate the weeds from the good grain (Mt 13:24-30). But in some cases, it became necessary to expel from the community brothers and sisters whose conduct could not be tolerated. These questions are still with us. The Gospel of Matthew shows us how to address them. The concrete modalities of the procedure outlined in Matthew cannot be followed to the letter, but we must remember their spirit and perspective. The sins of brothers and sisters cannot leave their kin and other members of the community indifferent. Charity and the spiritual welfare of others demand that we exert ourselves to bring back onto the right path whoever has wandered off. The parable of the lost sheep (Mt 18:10-14) immediately precedes Jesus’ words on charitable correction. The art of reprimand is certainly among the most difficult and delicate; yet this is no reason for us to evade our duty.”


The famous English ballerina, Margot Fonteyn, narrates an incident in which she experienced a sisterly correction from her best friend, Pamela May (cf. MARGOT FONTEYN: Her Own Best Selling Autobiography, London: Wyndham Publications Ltd., 1976, p. 98-99).


Pamela May was away from the ballet for quite a while having a baby. June Brae, the other member of our ‘triptych’, had met David Breeden at Cambridge at the same time that I met Tito and Pamela met Painton. June and David married early in the war and their daughter was born soon after Pamela’s son. I seemed to be the odd girl out.


Alone in No. 1 dressing room, without my closest friends, I developed a star complex, and for a time I was really impossible, imagining that I was different from, and superior to, those around me. Then Pamela came to see us. It was soon after she had been widowed. Completely broken up by her loss, and living as she did facing up to stark reality, she was in no mood to put up with my fanciful airs She told me outright that I had become a bore.


Thinking it over, I decided that I far preferred the company of my friends to the isolated pinnacle implied by the title Prima Ballerina Assoluta, which I had been trying to reach, so I climbed down. As a matter of fact, it had been partly the fault of what I call false friends – those who, with the best will, and believing themselves your warmest admirers, unwittingly destroy you with such talk as: “People didn’t realize how great you are”; “You are the greatest ballerina alive; people should fall back in awe when you leave the stage door”; “You should be treated like a queen.” All of which is, of course, rubbish.



B. First Reading (Ez 9:1-7; 10:18-22): “Mark a ‘Thau’ on the foreheads of those who moan and groan over all the abominations in Jerusalem.”


Today’s Old Testament reading (Ez 9:1-7; 10:18-22) deals with Ezekiel’s second vision of God. The leaders of the exiles from Judah are sitting in Ezekiel’s house in Babylon, when the power of the Sovereign Lord comes to the prophet. In this vision God’s spirit lifts him high in the air and takes him to Jerusalem. Ezekiel sees seven ministers: one to mark the foreheads of those who will be saved and the other six to kill and destroy. The massacre begins in the Temple’s sanctuary and throughout the city. Only those marked with a “Thau” (i.e. the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet and resembling an “x” or a cross) – the faithful ones who are distressed and troubled on account of the evil and abominations committed against the Lord – will survive. The punishment is relentless on account of Israel’s grave sins. After the slaughter of the idolaters and the destruction of the city, the glory of the Lord departs from the Jerusalem temple and the city.  Jerusalem is now without God’s protection.


The detail given in Ezekiel’s vision that only those marked with a “Thau” on their foreheads will be saved gives meaning and perspective to the following modern day account involving movie actress turned Benedictine nun, Dolores Hart (cf. Mother Dolores Hart OSB and Richard DeNeut, The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2013, p. 155-156).


[The film] Lisa marked a reunion with Stephen Boyd … A romance between Dolores and Stephen began in the press, with gossip items suggesting that the two must surely be having a love affair. Photo layouts, following the fan-magazine formula, gave credence to the gossip. But indeed, something real was developing. Dolores’ relationship with Stephen Boyd would be her only professional relationship that would also become a romantic one. (…)


By the time we got to London, I knew that my feelings for Stephen had gone as far as they can go on the friendship level. I felt I had an obligation to indicate I was ready to move to a more personal one. Up to this point, there hadn’t been even a kiss. Not that I had never kissed Stephen, but it had never been that kind of a kiss.


One evening, returning from one of our walks in Saint James’ Park, we stopped in at the front door as we had on so many evenings, and I suddenly said, “Stephen, would you like to come in?” He looked at me and said, “Yes”. He leaned forward to kiss me, but the kiss was placed on the forehead. “Yes”, he repeated, but you’re marked. Don’t you know that?”


I was confused. I felt hurt. Had I exposed my vulnerability, my trust, only to be rejected? I wondered what he had meant by saying I was “marked”, but I didn’t ask for an explanation then. I never did. Our dinners and talks continued, but we never mentioned that evening. When the film was over, our lives moved apart. But I heard his voice – “You’re marked” – often.





1. What is my attitude to the erring members of the Christian community? Do we dedicate ourselves to the ministry of Christian correction? Do we believe that only God’s grace can change hearts and effect conversion? Do we allow ourselves to be instruments of grace for others?


2. Do we grieve over the evils committed in today’s world and carry out a ministry of prayer and reparation for the salvation of sinners?





(Cf. Commission Francophone Cistercienne, Tropaires des dimanches, 109, Fiche de chant U LH 68)

            When one human being wins another,

heaven rises on earth.

When two or three agree to implore the Father,

heaven surrounds them and unfolds at their bidding.

                        Earth and heaven are reconciled.

Jesus is in our midst.

            Love and truth meet;

glory will dwell on our earth.

Truth will sprout from the earth

and justice will lean down from heaven.

God himself offers happiness

and our earth will give its fruit.

Earth and heaven are reconciled.

Jesus is in our midst.



Loving Father,

the cross of Jesus Christ

is the “Thau” that marks us for salvation.

With the angels in heaven,

let us experience the awesome glory

of your eternal kingdom.

We praise and glorify you, now and forever.







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


            “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault …” (Mt 18:15) // “Do not touch any marked with the ‘Thau’.” (Ez 9:5)





Pray for the erring members of the community and for the grace needed by the Church to carry out its task of Christian correction. In a most humble and charitable way, exercise the duty of fraternal correction and forgiveness on behalf of erring members of your family and community. // When you make the sign of the cross, do it meaningfully our participation in Christ’s saving paschal mystery and in the life of the Most Holy Trinity.



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“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Forgive Seventy Times … He Teaches Us Not to Be Captives by Sin”



Ez 12:1-12 // Mt 18:21-19:1





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 18:21-19:1): “I say to you not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

(By Mario S. Estrella: Member of the Religious Congregation Opifices Christi, Philippines)


            When I was working as one of the training officers of the different training programs of the Department of Education, I had made a decision that was detrimental to the mandate of the Department to provide continuous service to teachers and principals. My immediate superior called it to my attention when he discovered my irresponsibility and incompetence. I thought I would be reprimanded and incriminated for negligence and my conduct, which was unbecoming to a government employee. The superior asked me if I was guilty of the offense and I replied affirmatively. He surprised me when he asked, “If I keep you in your present capacity, can I trust you in the future?” I replied, “I am sorry, sir. I have learned my lesson and you surely can trust me again.” He must have detected the sincerity of my repentance. “I am not going to press charges anymore and you can continue in your present responsibility,” he said. He told me then that he had once succumbed to the same situation, but he was given mercy and was asked to learn from it. His position now in the Department can attest how far he has gone because of the opportunity accorded to him.


Truly, according to Steve Goodlier, those who forgive best are those who are forgiven. The story is centered on the fruit of forgiveness. Forgiveness multiplies when freely given to the offender. Whether we like it or not, something good may come from the experience and could possibly change the person for the better.


There is another way of looking at why Jesus asked us to forgive seventy-seven times (cf. today’s Gospel reading, Mt 18:21-19:1). The number of times we exonerate is most likely equivalent to those who will have a change of heart for the better. The number of recipients who have been rehabilitated as a result of forgiveness is already a great contribution to the continuing proclamation of the Kingdom of God. If the recipients will do the same to their offenders, forgiveness multiplies until it reaches the core number that will make the world a better place to live in.



B. First Reading (Ez 12:1-12): “You shall bring out your baggage like an exile in the daytime while they are looking on.”

In today’s Old Testament reading (Ez 12:1-12), Ezekiel’s message is addressed to a rebellious people about God’s judgment on them and about the coming fall and destruction of Jerusalem. Upon God’s command, the prophet performs a symbolic act in front of them.  Ezekiel gathers what he can carry, digs a hole in the wall with his hands, goes out through the breach and leaves, with the pack on his shoulder and with eyes covered. His action is a sign that the inhabitants of Jerusalem will be refugees and captives. King Nebuchadnezzar fulfills this prophecy through his ultimate destructive blow against Jerusalem in 587 B.C. and the final deportation of the Jews to Babylon. The prophecy of doom concerning the ruler literally happens. King Zedekiah leaves Jerusalem at night by making a breach in the walls of the city, flees into the hands of the punitive Babylonians, is blinded by the captors and led in chains to Babylon. There he remains in prison until the day he dies.


The following modern day event in the Middle East gives insight into the sufferings that the people of Judah experienced from their oppressors.


Iraq's Christians have perhaps suffered more than any other group since the Islamic State formerly known as ISIS rose to power, but Christianity is in decline all over the Middle East. Just 5% of the region's population identifies as Christian, and that figure is dropping still. The Christian residents of Mosul, Iraq, are under blatant attack, as the Islamic State distributed flyers in July giving the three options: convert to Islam, pay a fine, or be killed. Many of their abandoned homes now say in black lettering, "Property of the Islamic State."


Canon Andrew White also known as the "Vicar of Baghdad," is the Chaplain of St George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad, Iraq. He estimates that his flock used to number around 6,000 people, but in the last decade over 1,200 have been been killed according to CNN’s Arwa Damon.


"One of the things that really hurt was when one of the Christians came and said, 'For the first time in 1,600 years, we had no church in Nineveh,'" he told Damon. White refuses to leave Baghdad despite the danger, as St. George's is Iraq's last Anglican Church.





1. Do we ever forgive? Do we set limits and conditions on Christian forgiveness? Do we imitate God in his willingness to forgive? Do we respond positively and fully to God’s healing and forgiving love? In our daily life, do we act like the merciless and unforgiving steward?  If so, what do we do about it?


2. Do we take care to cultivate our personal relationship with God so that our sin and weakness will not “exile” us from him?





Jesus Lord,

thank you for your forgiving love!

We have a duty to forgive

for you have been truly merciful.

Heal us totally of our resentments

that we may be able to forgive seventy times seven.

Let our hearts be open to your saving grace

that we may be instruments of your peace and benediction

to a wounded world in need of healing and reconciliation.

Let us never be separated from you.

We adore you and glorify you,

now and forever. Amen.





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


            “I say to you forgive, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Mt 18:22) // “As captives they shall go into exile.” (Ez 12:11)





Seek to extend God’s forgiving love to those who have wronged you. In a spirit of contrition, beg forgiveness from the people you have wronged that you may truly experience God’s forgiving and healing love. // Pray for those in various situations of alienation and marginalization and do an act of charity for them.  



*** *** ***


August 14, 2020: FRIDAY – SAINT MAXIMILLIAN KOLBE, Priest, Martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches That What God Has Joined Together, No Human Being Must Separate …

He Is Our Everlasting Covenant”




Ez 16:1-15, 60, 63 // Mt 19:3-12





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 19:3-12): “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so”


A young couple we know recently divorced. The ex-husband came to visit us at our convent. His eyes were glazed with anguish. We tried to offer consoling words, but the depth of his suffering was beyond understanding. Indeed, divorce inflicts terrible pain on its victims. In his book, Life on the Edge, Dr. James Dobson writes: “A Russian woman who was my guest on the radio talked about her years in a Nazi extermination camp. She had seen mass murder and every form of deprivation. After the war, she came to America and married, only to have her husband be unfaithful and abandon her a few years later. Unbelievably, she said that experience of rejection and loss was actually more painful than her years in a German death camp. That says it all.”


In today’s Gospel reading (Mt 19:3-12), Jesus rejects divorce and underlines the permanence of marriage. When a man and woman become one in marriage, they enter into a covenant relationship that is never to be broken. In the divine plan, marriage is indissoluble and no human agent could end such a union. The sacredness and integrity of marriage could be understood in the context of God’s faithful relationship with his covenant people, whom he has espoused to himself forever. Though the Mosaic Law allows divorce, it is only a concession to human weakness and not really the divine will. The radical nature of Jesus’ teaching on marriage leads his disciples to question whether it is advisable to marry at all. They naively contend that the single state is preferable to an indissoluble difficult marriage. The Divine Master responds by helping them to see celibacy as a gift of God and not an aversive option to a binding marriage. Indeed, it is possible for a Christian disciple to renounce marriage in view of the kingdom. The grace of God enables that person to embrace chastity and celibacy for the sake of the heavenly kingdom.


The Catholic Church today is confronted with an increasing number of divorced and remarried persons. Every member of the family suffers when a marriage shatters. Divorce is painful for all those involved. It is thus necessary to state here the Catholic position and the pastoral work concerning divorced and remarried persons.


Catechism of the Catholic Church 1650: Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” – the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was.


If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesiastical responsibilities.


Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented from having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.


Catechism of the Catholic Church 1651: Toward Christians who live in this situation, and who often keep the faith and desire to bring up their children in a Christian manner, priests and the whole community must manifest an attentive solicitude, so that they do not consider themselves separated from the Church, in whose life they can and must participate as baptized persons.


They should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to the works of charity and to community efforts for justice, to bring up the children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace.



B. First Reading (Ez 16:1-15, 60, 63): “You are perfect because of my splendor which I bestowed on you; you became a harlot.”


In today’s reading (Ez 16:1-15, 60, 63), we hear an allegory that relates God’s graciousness to Israel and announces an everlasting covenant.  The prophet Ezekiel narrates the figurative story of a faithless spouse so that Jerusalem may know her abominations and thus turn away from them. God takes care of Jerusalem, an unwanted and cast off orphan, and lets her grow. He makes a marriage covenant with her and she belongs to the Lord. Abundant riches, goods and ornaments are showered upon her. God makes her so lovely that she becomes famous for her perfect beauty. But she takes advantage of her beauty and fame and becomes a harlot. Jerusalem squanders the gifts of God, her spouse, to attract partners in illicit affairs. She prostitutes herself by being unfaithful to God and by adopting the other nations’ idolatrous practices.


The compassionate and merciful God, however, is conciliatory. Cast out by her lovers, despoiled and despised, Jerusalem finds forgiveness in God who seeks her out and espoused herself to him again. He remembers the nuptial covenant made with her when she was young and now he resolves to make a covenant with her that will last forever. Appreciative of such forgiving love, Jerusalem will be ashamed of her ungrateful and adulterous conduct and will turn to the Lord God in complete fidelity.


The life of Saint Mary of Egypt (as reported by Wikipedia) gives insight into the harlotry practiced by Jerusalem against God as well as the grace of renewed covenant bestowed upon that nation.

Mary of Egypt (ca. 344 – ca. 421) is revered as the patron saint of penitents, most particularly in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic churches as well as in the Roman Catholic.   

The primary source of information on Saint Mary of Egypt is the Vita written of her by St. Sophronius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem (634-638). Most of the information in this section is taken from this source.

Saint Mary, also known as Maria Aegyptica, was born somewhere in Egypt, and at the age of twelve ran away to the city of Alexandria where she lived an extremely dissolute life.[3] In her Vita it states that she often refused the money offered for her sexual favors, as she was driven "by an insatiable and an irrepressible passion," and that she mainly lived by begging, supplemented by spinning flax. 

After seventeen years of this lifestyle, she traveled to Jerusalem for the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. She undertook the journey as a sort of "anti-pilgrimage”, stating that she hoped to find in the pilgrim crowds at Jerusalem even more partners in her lust. She paid for her passage by offering sexual favors to other pilgrims, and she continued her habitual lifestyle for a short time in Jerusalem. Her Vita relates that when she tried to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for the celebration, she was barred from doing so by an unseen force. Realizing that this was because of her impurity, she was struck with remorse, and upon seeing an icon of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary) outside the church, she prayed for forgiveness and promised to give up the world (i.e., become an ascetic). Then she attempted again to enter the church, and this time was permitted in. After venerating the relic of the true cross, she returned to the icon to give thanks, and heard a voice telling her, "If you cross the Jordan, you will find glorious rest." She immediately went to the monastery of St. John the Baptist bank of the River Jordan, where she received absolution and afterwards Holy Communion. The next morning, she crossed the Jordan and retired to the desert to live the rest of her life as a hermit in penitence. She took with her only three loaves of bread, and once they were gone, lived only on what she could find in the wilderness.

Approximately one year before her death, she recounted her life to St. Zosimas of Palestine who encountered her in the desert. When he unexpectedly met her in the desert, she was completely naked and almost unrecognizable as human. She asked Zosimas to toss her his mantle to cover herself with, and then she narrated her life's story to him, manifesting marvelous clairvoyance. She asked him to meet her at the banks of the Jordan, on Holy Thursday of the following year, and bring her Holy Communion. When he fulfilled her wish, she crossed the river to get to him by walking on the surface of the water, and received Holy Communion, telling him to meet her again in the desert the following Lent. The next year, Zosimas travelled to the same spot where he first met her, some twenty day's journey from his monastery, and found her lying there dead.

According to an inscription written in the sand next to her head, she had died on the very night he had given her Communion and had been somehow miraculously transported to the place he found her, and her body was preserved incorrupt. He buried her body with the assistance of a passing lion. On returning to the monastery he related her life story to the brethren, and it was preserved among them as oral tradition until it was written down by St. Sophronius.




1. Do we try to see the meaning of marriage and celibacy in the context of the kingdom of God?  Do we strive to be faithful to our covenant fidelity with God and reflect his faithful love in whatever we do?  Do we help those struggling with the pain of divorce and assist the divorced and remarried persons to continue to live their vocation as baptized persons?


2. Have we been unfaithful to God and “prostituted” or covenant relationship with him?





Lord Jesus,

you teach the sacredness and integrity of marriage.

Bless all married couples

with the grace of faithful love.

Fill with courage and patience

all divorced persons struggling with loneliness and rejection.

Assist all divorced and remarried persons

to remain united with the Church

and faithful in their Christian duties of charity.

Grant your gift of chastity and celibacy

to those called for a special service of your kingdom.

We love you

and we surrender to your saving will.

You live and reign, forever and ever.




Loving God,

you have loved us with an everlasting love.

You have espoused us to yourself,

but we have been unfaithful.

Draw us back to you,

forgive our sins,

and renew your nuptial covenant with us.

We are sorry of our wrongdoings and detest our harlotry.

Give us the grace to be faithful.

Great is your love for us.

We glorify you and serve you, now and forever.






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


“What God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (Mt 19:6) // “I will set up an everlasting covenant with you.” (Ez 16:60)





By your prayers, words and actions, promote the sacredness and integrity of Christian marriage in society today. // Pray for a more committed covenant relationship with God.



*** *** ***


“JESUS SAVIOR: His Mother Mary Is Raised to Heaven

Body and Soul” 



Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab // 1 Cor 15:20-27 // Lk 1:39-56





Today’s feast of the Assumption celebrates the fruit of Christ’s paschal sacrifice - eternal life and joy in God’s kingdom - bestowed upon his mother Mary in fullness. The Blessed Mother Mary points to our own glorious destiny with God. The French liturgical scholar, Louis Bouyer, remarks: “Mary should be looked on as the living pledge of Christ’s promises to the Church: that where he is, we also shall be; then the glory given him by the Father, he will give to us, as he received it.”


The First Reading (Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab) depicts a “great sign in the sky” – a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. The image of a woman in childbirth is used to describe creative acts that involve time and sacrifice in order to be brought to full maturity. The heavenly vision of the woman in labor in the Book of Revelation evokes the painful and challenging process of the birth of Christ in the hearts of the faithful, as well as Mary’s vital role in the birthing of the Church.


From the Second Reading (1 Cor 15:20-27a) we can deduce that the power of Christ’s own resurrection makes the mystery of Mary’s assumption possible. Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the “firstfruits” of those who have fallen asleep. In Jewish cultic terms, the offering of “firstfruits” symbolizes the dedication of the whole harvest to God. As “firstfruits”, the Risen Lord Jesus pledges the resurrection of us all, of which Mary is the exemplar of a promise fulfilled. Indeed, God triumphs over death. Death is ultimately vanquished through the power of Christ’s resurrection. It is no longer a dismal end. In Christ, the “firstfruits”, death becomes a passage or passing over to eternal life. Though Christ’s victorious Passover is complete, ours is not yet. As Church, we need to open ourselves to the effects of Christ’s saving works and offer the “fruits” of redemption to the fragmented humanity of the “here and now”.


Mary’s assumption is a powerful sign that in our intimate union and full response to Christ, the Paschal Mystery is brought to fruition. Likewise, Mary, in her Magnificat (cf. Lk 1:39-56), invites us to praise the Lord for the great things he has done for her and to proclaim with her the final victory of God, of which she is a full recipient. With Mary assumed into heaven, we glorify the Lord!


The following story inspires us to have recourse to Mary, assumed into heaven, as a patroness of a happy death (cf. Susan Mountin, “Homecoming” in America, February 15, 2010, p. 19).


On the day my mother died, she entered into a state that hospice caregivers know well – the body’s oxygen supply diminishes. She was unable to communicate with us from about noon that day until about 3. Then, to our amazement, she calls for my dad and reached out to hold his hands. She became quite anxious and thrashed about (another expected pattern in the death process).


But what happened next will be etched in my heart and soul forever. About an hour before her death she reached out her arms and began distinctly saying, “push me, pull me, push me, pull me”. Mom was not speaking to any of us in the room. I had no doubt that she was being greeted by angels and her deceased sisters and brother, whom she missed so much (she was the oldest of eight children born in close succession, and they were very close).


Those were her last words, “push me, pull me”. Then she became quiet. I felt her soul slipping from her body. We gathered my siblings and dad around the bed and began to pray: Our Father; Hail Mary. We all touched her. I put my arm around dad’s shoulder as he sat on his walker next to the bed, and had one hand on mom’s foot. I instinctively began praying the Memorare, a prayer that had been renewed as a deep part of my own spiritual journey when I struggled with some issues years earlier. Then from the deepest recesses of my memory I prayed aloud the novena prayer to the Mother of Perpetual Help. Mom took five or six deep breaths and died.  If there is such a thing as a peaceful death, we were blessed with one for mom … I remember and relive day after day the journey to my mother’s death because it brought all of us closer to our own destiny and to God.





How did Mary participate in Christ’s paschal sacrifice as well as in the victorious event of “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”? How do you participate in these saving events, personally and as a community? How does the meaning of the Blessed Mother’s assumption into heaven affect you personally? 





Loving Father,

in Mary’s assumption into heaven,

body and soul,

we see our own beauty and glorious destiny in Christ.

But the Blessed Virgin is also a model

of intimate participation in Christ’s paschal mystery.

Her Son Jesus Christ rose from the dead

and became the “firstfruits” of those who have fallen asleep.

She is the exemplary recipient of the “fruits” of redemption.

Teach us to be receptive to grace.

Grant that we may truly experience the power of the resurrection

and relish the “firstfruits” of salvation.

United with Mary assumed into heaven,

we glorify you and exult in your goodness,

now and forever. Amen.





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


 “He has lifted up the lowly.” (Lk 1:52)





Pray that Mary, assumed into heaven, may intercede for us as we endeavor to spread the “firstfruits” of Christ’s redemption to the fragmented humanity of our modern society. By our preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, let us allow the people of today to have a glimpse of our glorious destiny in heaven. 





Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang  PDDM





60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314

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

Website: WWW.PDDM.US

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