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A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

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N.B. The Lectio Divina for the 28th Week in Ordinary Time is ready. You can access it by going to ARCHIVES "Year C - Series 20" (cf. above) and click on "Ordinary Week 28".

 

Please go to our website www.pddm.us and click on "PDDM Internet Library". It contains the Lectio Divina of all the readings for the Sunday Cycle (A, B & C) and the Weekday Cycle (I & II). A fruit of 12 years apostolic work, this pastoral tool is most useful for liturgy preparation.

 

This year is the 20th anniversary of the PDDM USA apostolic initiative, LECTIO DIVINA ON THE INTERNET. We invite you to read the enclosed article "The PDDM Apostolate: In the Spirit of Blessed Alberione and the Desiderio Desideravi of Pope Francis" . It is at the very end of the Lectio Divina weekly reflection below. Let us rejoice in the Lord for the grace of this apostolate and pray that we may reach out to more and more people to share with them "the bread of the Word".

 

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BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 20, n. 45)

27th Week in Ordinary Time: October 2-8, 2022

 

 

(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: September 25 – October 1, 2022 please go to ARCHIVES Series 20 and click on “Week 26 Ordinary Time”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY:

October 2-8, 2022.)

 

 

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October 2, 2022: TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Leads Us into the Miracle of the Trees

in the Sea”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Hb 1:2-3; 2:2-4 // 2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14 // Lk 17:5-10

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 17:5-10): “If you have faith.”

 

The story “A Son of Tears” is about Saint Monica’s love and care for her wayward son, Augustine, who would become one of the greatest saints and pastors in the Church (cf. Stories for the Heart, Multnomah Publishers, Sisters: Oregon, 1996, p. 185-187). It underlines the transforming power of an authentic faith that is at the service of God’s saving plan, which is the theme of today’s Gospel reading (Lk 17:5-10). St. Monica’s faith was so pure and limpid that it helped bring about the miraculous conversion of Augustine. He who wallowed in a life of sin and falsehood was later transported into the immense sea of God’s forgiving grace when he finally made a committed response to the love of Jesus. Cassandra Lindell retells the famous story of St. Augustine’s conversion and of St. Monica’s faith experience below.

 

Saint Augustine did not start out that way. His mother, Monica, taught him about Christianity carefully and she prayed, but his incredible mind had always troubled her. One day, in his teenage years, he announced that he was throwing aside her faith in Christ to follow current heresies. He went on to live a life of immorality … Monica prayed through her son’s sin and she prayed through her son’s heresy. She prayed her son through his fight with God … Those years were not easy for Monica, as any mother of a child lost in darkness knows. Those years hurt.

 

Finally, she went to the bishop, a devout man who knew the Scriptures inside and out, and asked him to talk to Augustine, to refute his errors. The bishop refused – Augustine had quite a reputation as an orator and debater by then. Instead, he wisely comforted Monica by saying that a mind so sharp would eventually see through the deception … Monica would not be consoled by those words. She continued to beg the bishop, and plead with him through rivers of tears. Finally, wearied by her tenacity but at the same time moved by the ache in her soul for her son, the bishop said, “Go, go! Leave me alone. Live on as you are living. It is not possible that the son of such tears should be lost.” Harshness was interwoven with kindness and compassion.

 

The son of such tears continued to run from his mother and from his God. He ran for many more years. Then, one day, Augustine listened to Saint Ambrose, bishop of Milan and the most eminent churchman of the day. Exhausted by the years of running, convicted and broken, he turned to embrace Jesus … Not too long after her prodigal Augustine came home for good, she told him that she had nothing to live for. Her lifelong quest had been to see him come back to Jesus. Nine days later, she was dead.”

 

            This Sunday’s Gospel reading begins with the apostles’ petition to the Lord: “Increase our faith” (Lk 17:5). This request needs to be seen against the backdrop of Jesus’ sayings on leading others astray (Lk 17:1-3) and brotherly correction (Lk 17:4). In order to avoid leading others astray by bad example and to be able to forgive the habitual offender in a spirit of charity, the disciples ask Jesus for greater faith. Jesus, however, does not answer that he will give them what they ask, but depicts what true faith can do: “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Lk 15:6).

 

Jesus expresses the extraordinary power of faith in evocative imagery. A mulberry tree is relatively large, with an extensive root system. It is extremely difficult to uproot this tree and let it grow in deep water. True faith, however, even if it is the size of the mustard seed, will bring about the miracle of “a mulberry tree uprooted and planted in the sea”. True faith increases, blooms and grows. What matter are not the small mustard seed beginning and the littleness of our inchoative faith, but our personal response to God’s saving love offered to us in his savior son, Jesus. Indeed, genuine faith in the person of Jesus Christ brings about true miracles for life, healing and salvation. The image of “a mulberry tree uprooted and planted in the sea” thus points to an astounding phenomenon: the marvelous spreading of the good news of salvation throughout the whole world, and the multitudes of races, peoples, and nations won over to faith by the preaching and witnessing of the Christian apostles and disciples. In every situation of trial, difficulty and hardship in today’s world, life-giving miracles can be accomplished by the power of faith in Jesus.

 

            The next part of this Sunday’s Gospel reading (Lk 17:7-10) presents the parable of the dutiful servant who is expected to go about his ordinary tasks in a responsible, devoted and self-giving way. The parable of the dutiful servant underscores God’s unmerited graciousness to his disciples. It invites the worshipping community to become dutiful servants who serve the Divine Master faithfully in a totally disinterested manner, through love. As faith-filled servants of God, we should claim nothing for ourselves, not only because we have received all that we have from the Lord, but above all, in imitation of the Divine Master who came not to be served but to serve (Lk 22:27). In our own frailty and humble dedication as unprofitable servants is displayed the power of Christ.

 

Indeed, the generous ministry of faith-filled Christian disciples-apostles in today’s world brings about, what D. Rimaud calls, the miracle of “the trees in the sea”, which is characterized poetically by the following: “Beggars as kings, power overturned, hoarded gold shared with all! … Hangmen without work, rusted manacles, empty prisons! … buried guns, disbanded armies, dancing mountains!”

 

 

B. First Reading (Hb 1:2-3; 2:2-4): “The just one, because of his faith, shall live.”

 

When I was reading Frank Maurovich’s article, “Celebrating and Remembering” (cf. Maryknoll, July/August 2007, p. 18-19) about the persecuted Church and the Maryknoll mission in North Korea, I felt a great admiration for the Maryknoll missioners and the Church in Korea who, in the past and present, have been and continue to be animated by a steadfast and enduring faith that does not succumb to defeat and suffering. Frank Maurovich writes:

 

Many of the faithful who filled the Catholic cathedral in Seoul, South Korea, on March 18, were among the thousands who fled their homes when the communist government in the North began severe persecution of Christians in the late 1940s. Those older refugees were very much in the mind of Maryknoll Superior General John Sivalon when he spoke at the Mass of “Celebration and Remembrance”. The Archdiocese of Seoul, under Cardinal Nicholas Cheong, was celebrating the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Pyongyang in 1927, at that time a Maryknoll mission in the North, and remembering the tragic suffering. “This is really a celebration of the Korean people, and the Korean Church, and of your deep faith and history of suffering and martyrdom,” Sivalon said.

 

Many of those refugees had been taught and baptized by Maryknoll missioners, who had served in northwest Korea until they were forced out by World War II and blocked from re-entering afterwards by the new communist regime in the North. Two Maryknollers, Bishop Patrick J. Byrne and Sister Agneta Chang, were among the estimated 10,000 who died at the hands of their oppressors. Korean Bishop Francis Hong of Pyongyang died in prison. Although the communists had effectively shut down the Church in North Korea, the Vatican honored it in 1962 by raising the vicariate of Pyongyang to a diocese, making it a full-pledged local church. The Holy See placed the diocese temporarily under the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Seoul. “We especially look forward to the day when we might join you in returning and taking up where we left off.”

 

Today’s Old Testament reading (Hb 1:2-3; 2:2-4) is about a faith that is tested and God’s gracious help to make that faith endure. With a vision of hope, Yahweh tries to reinforce the faith of the prophet Habakkuk, deeply distressed at the misery, destruction and violence all around him. Bewildered by God’s seeming indifference to the anguish of a deeply persecuted and tortured nation, he demands an explanation for God’s silence and inaction.

  

God does not disdain, but rather looks kindly upon the question and complaints of Habakkuk. The prophet’s intense cries are not expressions of lack of loyalty and trust, but an agonized plea for divine intervention. The cries of Habakkuk are a form of prayer emanating from an enfeebled heart that seeks courage in the face of the triumphant appearance of evil. God’s magnificent response is both an affirmation of his loving faithfulness and a call to patience and greater trust on the part of the threatened “believer”. Indeed, the just man lives by faith. Whatever happens and whether the present situation may be painful and distressing, the ever faithful God is on our side.

 

 

C. Second Reading (2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14): “Do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord.”

 

In the Second Reading (2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14), Saint Paul underlines the obligations of Christian faith. Paul was martyred at Rome in the year 67. His second letter to Timothy represents his last will and testament. Paul exhorts the young pastor Timothy to exercise serving faith. The “gift of God” that Timothy received at ordination implies dutiful service to the faith community. Paul reminds Timothy that the divine gift received through “imposition of hands” needs to be continually exercised and rekindled for the common good. Timothy is likewise called to an enduring faith. Timothy needs to give witness to our Lord. He must endure sufferings for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.

 

Harold Buetow comments: “Faith is never definitively acquired; it must ceaselessly be reanimated … Today’s advice to Timothy begins by reminding him – and us – to stir into flame the gifts God had given. Because Timothy is young and heresies and other dangers great, he must keep his courage high. He is given a version of the message of Habakkuk: Bear hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God. In your efforts, be strong, in order to have the power to cope; be loving, especially for the sake of those with whom you will deal; and be wise – with saintliness keeping control in the face of temptations to panic. (…) Faith, the greatest force in the world, is the richest deposit possible, and the most sacred of trusts. Paul had entrusted his work and his life to God. While a criminal in a Roman jail, treated at best indifferently by his barbarous keepers, he did not change his faith, or his loyalty and steadfastness to God’s plans for him. Why? Because it was inconceivable to him that God, whom he had come to know intimately, would let him down. God’s message to Habakkuk and Paul and the apostles is just as important to us now as ever in history.”

 

The following inspiring article illustrates what it means to remain “in the faith and love that are ours in union with Christ Jesus” and how a Christian disciple could exercise a serving faith and an enduring faith in today’s world (cf. David Aquije, “The Bicycle Disciple” in Maryknoll, April 2010, p. 24-31). Fr. McCahill manifests his faith and shares this wonderful gift as he serves the sick poor in Bangladesh.

 

The day Maryknoll Father Robert McCahill arrived in Narail it was raining. The thin, 72-year old priest was physically exhausted and tired of looking for the place where he could begin a new phase of mission. Narail “was kind of miserable”, says the missioner who for more than 35 years has been living in different villages of Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, with a population of 150 million in a land the size of Iowa. Narail, a small, underdeveloped village without infrastructure in the southeast of the country, seemed to the missioner like “a good place to make a mark of Christianity, not for the purpose of conversion but simply for the idea of showing what a Christian is and does.”

 

McCahill was one of five Maryknoll priests who arrived in Bangladesh in 1975 to begin a ministry of Christian witness. For eight years, the missioners lived together, forming a Christian fraternity in Tangail, near Dhaka, the capital. Afterward, McCahill focused his mission on traveling to the interior of the country to help people, particularly children, who were in urgent need of medical assistance. Finding a place to begin his next stay can take McCahill months of research. He has his own criteria: the place should be poor, have no other foreigners or Christians and some of the people must be willing to allow him free use of a small piece of land where he can build his own shack.

 

A disciple of our times, McCahill arrives alone – with only a bag with a change of clothing and the essential elements to celebrate his own Mass – in any community where he might live for the next three years. There he sits in any tea shop – “tea stalls” he calls them – where men generally congregate to drink cha, sweet tea with milk that is the national drink, the way coffee is in the United States. Noting the presence of a foreigner, the rustic shop quickly fills up with people and McCahill responds honestly to all their questions. “I am Brother Bob, a Christian missionary”, the priest from Goshen, Indiana, tells them. “I am here to serve seriously sick people who are poor.” In the predominantly Muslim nation with a large Hindu minority, the questions that McCahill receives are many: has he come to convert, how does he finance the help he offers and why had he no family? He responds that the medical help he offers depends completely on the financial donations of his extended family and not on an organization; that his purpose is to live among people who are not Christian and treat them with love, respect and brotherhood; and that his family is all of humanity. McCahill describes the three years that he lives in each town this way: “The first year many are suspicious of me. The second year trust begins to build. The third year people’s affection is felt. They say, ‘He said he only came to do good and that is what he does’.”

 

In Narail, a short while before finishing his three years, McCahill continues getting up very early in the morning to dedicate time for prayer and meditation before beginning his mission work. This morning in October, he leaves his shack of jute-stick walls, a dirt floor and a corrugated roof and mounts his bicycle that will carry him over windy dirt roads through the beautiful countryside of Bangladesh’s fertile farmland, where ironically millions of people live in extreme poverty. The missioner pedals some miles to the next village of Bolorampur, where he visits Mehenaz, a 3-year-old girl who suffers from cerebral palsy as a result of a poorly handled delivery by a midwife in the village. Mehenaz’ grandmother brings the girl out of her hut and puts a mat on the ground. The missioner squats down in the style of the Bangladeshis and observes and assists the grandmother with the recommended physical therapy for the child. The girl’s mother isn’t there and McCahill is happy that someone else in the family has learned the exercises.

 

Afterward, amid the songs of wild birds and the smell of burning firewood, McCahill again mounts his bicycle and pedals several more miles to the village of Buramara. In Buramara, McCahill visits Liza, a 2-year-old who suffered serious burns on her left arm before her first birthday. The burns were so grave that her entire hand was fused to her forearm. McCahill was able to take the girl to a hospital in Dhaka where surgeons separated her hand from the forearm. Liza wears a brace so that the hand stays straight. The missioner explains that the child needs another surgery to straighten out two fingers that are bent. Liza cries easily and McCahill thinks it is because she is still in pain, but he tries to console her and make her laugh.

 

That is McCahill’s ministry. He mounts his bicycle and rides miles to his destination. It doesn’t matter if the roads are full of mud during the monsoon season in this tropical Asian land, east of India, on the Bay of Bengal. He arrives in a village and looks to help people who would otherwise be disabled and burdened for a lifetime by their physical conditions. With a small camera he takes photos of their conditions: cerebral palsy, burns, muscular dystrophy, cleft lips, hernias, tumors and broken bones caused by accidents. Every week he goes to Dhaka, traveling the same as the poor, in the old buses that are part of the complicated and dangerous Bengali transportation system. At a hospital in the capital, McCahill shows the photos to doctors who make their provisional diagnosis. With this information the missioner arranges for free treatment at one of the government hospitals in the city and eventually makes the eight- or nine-hour trip again with the children and their parents. “Not a great expense”, McCahill says. “I afford them their tickets. I usually provide the medicine. It’s not a matter of money; it’s a matter of love, the heart.”

 

Because he lives in a poor and predominantly Muslim country, McCahill relies on only a modest budget that comes from donations by his extended family for his ministry. “If I had lots of funds at hand to use, and lived apart (in a parish), people’s attitude to me would differ”, he says, adding the people would be tempted to wheedle money out of him. “People here understand I’m using more money for their needs than I use for my own needs.  No one can look at my life of service and say ‘he can only do that because he’s a rich American’.” For that reason McCahill shares the donations he receives through Maryknoll with other Christian communities that serve the poor in Bangladesh, especially communities of apostolic Sisters.

 

His is a life of service that he says began on Oct. 31, 1956. He was 19 years old and was interested in a career in political science. But that day as he was returning home from Seattle University, where he was studying, “I received – I can’t even describe it – an attraction to God like I had never felt before nor have needed since. The motivation I received in that moment was sufficient to keep me for life, as long as I continue to remember it.”

 

For years, McCahill has described his mission in a journal that he types every month on an antique Olivetti typewriter and shares with friends and family. “My mission”, he says, “is to show the love of Christ, the love of God for all people of all faiths; to be with them as a brother, to establish brotherhood by being a brother to them.”

                 

 

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

 

In the challenges of daily Christian living, do we humbly cry out to the Lord, “Increase our faith”? Does our faith work wonders? Animated by the power of faith and the grace of God, are we able to bring about the miracle of “the trees in the sea”? In our personal dedication to the kingdom ministry, are we always ready to avow: “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we are obliged to do”

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

together with your apostles,

we cry out to you: “Increase our faith” (Lk 17:5).

We are fragile and vulnerable to temptation,

and we ask you to assist us

in our task of Christian witnessing and forgiving.

O Divine Master,

you assure us

that as long as we personally respond to your loving initiative,

our mustard-size faith will be sufficient

for moving mountains and uprooting trees.

Help us to cultivate the gentle budding of our faith within.

Let the power of our faith in you

enable us to achieve the miracle of “the trees in the sea”.

With the strength that comes from you,

we resolve to toil

for the coming of God’s kingdom in today’s world

and to say at the completion of our kingdom ministry:

“We are merely servants;

we have done what we were obliged to do”.

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 week. Please memorize it.

 

 “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea’ and it would obey you” (Lk 17:6).

 

 

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

 

Carry out your daily tasks with the dutiful attitude of God’s faithful servant. To help bring about the miracle of “the trees in the sea”, offer your personal service for the poor and the needy in your community.         

 

 

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October 3, 2022: MONDAY – WEEKDAY (27)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Be a Neighbor … He Reveals Himself to Paul the Apostle”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Gal 1:6-12 // Lk 10:25-37

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 10:25-37): “Who is my neighbor?”

 

Tim Montanari’s story, “Saving Melissa” in Guideposts magazine (July 2004) is notable in that it shows what it means to be a neighbor to one in need. Tim, a police officer in charge of the anti-vice squad at St. Petersburg, Florida, met Melissa Collora, the sweet little girl he used to babysit, after thirteen years as a crack-addicted prostitute, caught in a drug deal in an alley of a notorious neighborhood. Tim remembered being at the Collora’s home on steamy summer days when he was 15 or so, playing football in the yard with her brothers. Melissa, about three, would sit on the swing-set clutching her teddy bear, watching them with big brown eyes, so sweet and innocent. When she was eight, Mr. Collora died and her mother remarried. Melissa’s stepfather abused her. In 1993 her mother committed suicide. Melissa went to live with relatives outside New York City, where she discovered crack cocaine and life on the street. Tim, a man of faith who tries to see the best in people, made every effort to help Melissa, to no avail. “That girl’s a lost cause,” the officers in his squad said. “Why do you keep trying?” One day, Melissa was ready for a change and appealed to him for help. Tim’s court testimony on her behalf was instrumental in having Melissa’s imminent ten-year sentence at a state prison commuted to treatment at the Walter Hoving Home in New York. Now Melissa is doing well and recovering. Tim Montanari asserted, “What I did for her wasn’t much, but I think it was the best thing I could have done.”

 

            The Gospel reading on the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37), which is set in the context of Jesus’ paschal journey to the cross, underlines an important element of Christian discipleship: love of neighbor. The parable of the Good Samaritan delineates the Christian exigency of active service. Together with the story of the two pious disciples, Martha and Mary (Lk 10:38-42) on the pre-eminence of listening to the word of Jesus, the parable of the Good Samaritan helps depict Luke’s comprehensive image of discipleship as love of Jesus present in our neighbor (active charity) and in his living Word (contemplative prayer).

 

The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us that the concept of “neighbor” is not a matter of blood ties, nationality, or religious communion. There is no theoretical definition of neighbor or practical limits to those whom we could consider a neighbor. Our “neighbor” is the one to whom we draw near because he or she is in need of our help and evokes our compassion. Harold Buetow, moreover, sees in this thought-provoking parable a new definition of neighbor: “In the Book of Leviticus, the neighbor was one to be loved, such as a countryman. The new definition of neighbor is one who loves.”

 

Furthermore, Luke’s parable helps us to focus on the figure of Christ, our ultimate “neighbor”. The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 6, p. 129, write: “He is the Good Samaritan par excellence, beyond all comparison. No one has been or will ever be so completely the neighbor of each person. He did not encounter them by chance on the road. He voluntarily came to seek them, he, the Word of God who has taken flesh. He not only did everything for them, but he handed himself over for them; he died and rose that they might have everlasting life.”

 

 

B. First Reading (Gal 1:6-12): “The Gospel preached by me is not of human origin but through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

 

Today we begin the semi-continuous reading of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The recipients of this letter are the predominantly Gentile converts in north Galatia who are of Indo-Aryan origin and related to the Celts. Paul writes the letter around 54-55 A.D. from Ephesus during his 3rd missionary journey. The dominant motif of the letter is: salvation through Christ according to the Father’s plan. Paul opposes all those who refute or jeopardize this reality.

 

In today’s reading (Gal 1:6-12), after greeting the Galatians, Paul does not make an act of thanksgiving as he often does in his letters, but goes directly to the point. He berates them for allowing themselves to the influenced so quickly and easily by those who have distorted the Gospel. The culprits are the “Judaizers”, that is, Christians who believe and insist that converts to Christianity should also observe Jewish practices, such as circumcision and dietary restrictions. The situation is so serious that he condemns anyone who perverts the Gospel proclaimed by him. The troublemaking “Judaizers” have likewise challenged Paul’s authority as an “apostle” on the grounds that his commission did not come from Christ personally. Moreover, they have also accused him of opportunism.

 

Thus Saint Paul promptly defends his position as an apostle. He contends that his authoritative commission comes from the Risen Lord himself. He asserts: “The Gospel I preach is not of human origin. I did not receive it from anyone, nor did anyone teach it to me. It was Jesus Christ himself who revealed it to me.” For Paul, there is no other good news except the Gospel of salvation in Christ that he proclaims. His open attitude towards non-Jews is not currying favor nor to be interpreted as opportunism. He is simply a servant following the divine will.

 

The following story illustrates in a humorous vein the foolish stance of the gullible Galatians (cf. Anthony De Mello, Taking Flight: A Book of Story Meditations, New York: Image Books, 1988, p. 70).

 

A Guru promised a scholar a revelation of greater consequence than anything contained in the scriptures. When the scholar eagerly asked for it, the Guru said, “Go out into the rain and raise your head and arms heavenward. That will bring you to the first revelation.”

 

The next day, the scholar came to report: “I followed your advice and water flowed down my neck. And I felt like a perfect fool.”

 

“Well”, said the Guru, “for the first day that’s quite a revelation, isn’t it?”

 

 

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

 

1. Did we ever ask the Divine Master the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” If yes, in what spirit or attitude did we pose that question? Are we truly neighbors to those in need? Do we respond to them with compassion? Do we trust that Jesus is the Good Samaritan par excellence and our true neighbor? 

 

2. Do we cling to the true meaning of the Gospel or do we allow ourselves to be swayed by false teachings that pervert the spirit of the Gospel? How are we faithful to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Master,

we no longer wish to ask,

“Who is our neighbor?”

But rather, we examine our heart and ask,

“Are we neighbors to those in need?” 

You are the Good Samaritan, our ultimate neighbor.

With you living in us and we living in you,

may we incarnate your love

and serve those in need.

Give us the grace to perceive and to live out

the true spirit of the Gospel you have share with us.

We love you and adore 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.

 

           “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Lk 9:23) // “The Gospel came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Gal 1:12)

 

  

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

 

Pray for all of our neighbors in need of love and compassion. By your kind words and deeds be a Good Samaritan and a true neighbor to those in need. At Mass, pay particular attention to the proclamation of the lectionary text from the Galatians.

 

 

 

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October 4, 2022: TUESDAY – SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Welcome His Word … Saint Paul Proclaims His Gospel to the Gentiles”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Gal 1:13-24 // Lk 10:38-42

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 10:38-42): “Martha welcomed him into her house. Mary has chosen the better part.”

 

One thing I have in common with Sr. Mary Adele Tozzi, now deceased, is a love for pasta. One day as we were enjoying a delicious serving of spaghetti cooked “al dente” and topped with dense tomato sauce and grated Parmesan cheese, she narrated a modern version of the Lord’s visit to Martha and Mary.

 

Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening attentively to his words. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord replied, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. A plate of pasta and a glass of wine will do.”

 

 

           We hear in today’s Gospel (Lk 10:38-42) that in the course of his paschal journey to Jerusalem, Jesus stops in Bethany to rest in the home of Martha and Mary. They receive him with solicitude and hospitality. Martha’s type of hospitality, however, is full of anxiety and her concern misdirected. She is more concerned with the serving than the one served. Hence, Martha’s misguided hospitality provokes a good-natured reproach from Jesus. He invites her to sort out her priorities and examine her concerns. Jesus wants her to set aside the anxieties of a fretful hostess bent on preparing a perfect meal. It is important advice given by the Divine Master journeying toward the Easter glory. Martha’s desire to prepare a perfect meal and her anxiety for the “details of hospitality” detract from what really matters: to listen to Jesus, the life-giving Word.

   

            In the context of the total paschal event in which Jesus becomes the Bread broken and shared for the life of the world, we can perceive that the true host in the Bethany home is Jesus himself. He breaks the bread of the living Word for Mary, whose spiritual hunger is satisfied as she peacefully sits beside the Lord at his feet, listening to him speak. As the host of the spiritual feast, Jesus also wants the hardworking Martha to be nourished by the bread of the Word. He seeks from her the hospitality that really matters – the one that her sister lavishes upon him. Indeed, Mary of Bethany is an image of a true disciple. She chooses the better part - the primary one - to listen to the Lord’s saving Word in order to act upon it.

 

 

B. First Reading (Gal 1:13-24): “God was pleased to reveal his Son to me so that I might proclaim him to the Gentiles.”

 

The reading (Gal 1:13-24) is a personal account of Paul’s conversion, vocation and mission. He narrates to the Galatians that from a bold persecutor of “the church of God”, he was chosen by the gracious God to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. He reminds the Galatians that he was ultra-devoted to the Jewish religion and traditions. But God in his grace destined him even before he was born to be his servant. God graciously revealed his Son to him so that he might proclaim him to the nations. Paul’s response to God’s call is immediate, radical and intense. Because of his radical “conversion”, the persecuted communities of Judea rejoice. Although it is God himself who chose him for a mission to the nations, Paul sought contact with other apostles as well. Indeed, Paul wants to prove to the Galatians that his mission of evangelization is legitimate in the eyes of God and in the minds of the Church authorities in Jerusalem.

 

The following modern-day account gives insight into Saint Paul’s experience of radical conversion (cf. Elizabeth Sherrill in Guideposts 2014, p. 373).

 

Mitsuo Fuchida, Japanese Commander: I flew to Japan to meet a man I’d hated for thirty years – the commander who led the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor.

 

Mitsuo Fuchida, a small, erect man of seventy-two, met me at my hotel in Kyoto. As a translator repeated his words, I saw a boy dreaming of serving his divine emperor by driving Western colonial powers out of Asia. “When we lost the war, most of my officers committed suicide. But I had a wife and children.” He moved them to a farm where, as he worked the fields, news of the war crimes trials in Tokyo came over the radio. “It was then I learned about atrocities in our prisoner-of-war camps.” In his eyes, I read the horror and disillusionment of this patriotic man.

 

It was in a train station that someone handed him a leaflet written by an American ex-prisoner of war. “But … the American wrote that he loved us! The Japanese who’d tortured him!” This was because, the leaflet said, Jesus did.

 

Fuchida recognized that name: Jesus was one of the gods of the enemy. Fuchida purchased a Bible and, alone in the farmhouse, discovered there were not many gods but One, Who loved all people; Who came to earth not as an emperor but a common workingman; Who said as he was tortured and killed, “Father, forgive them, for they know what they do.”

 

“Why then … this Jesus had prayed for me too!” Tears trembled in his eyes as he said this. By now I was fighting tears too.

 

To his countrymen, conversion made him a traitor; he and his wife received death threats. “We do not care. It is better to die and be with Jesus.”

 

 

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

 

1. Are we hospitable? Why or why not? In what ways are we Martha? In what ways are we Mary? Is our Christian discipleship characterized by receptivity and true listening to the Word of God? 

 

2. How does Paul’s experience of conversion impact us? Do we believe that we too have been set apart by God for a particular mission in his compassionate saving plan?

 

 

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

(Adapted from a prayer composed by Blessed Alberione for the PDDM Sisters)

 

Come, Jesus Master,

deign to accept the hospitality

we offer you in our heart.

We want to prepare for you

the comfort and the reparation,

which you found in Bethany,

with your two loving disciples, Martha and Mary.

In the joy of welcoming you,

we pray that you may grant to us in our contemplative life

that intimacy which Mary enjoyed,

and the acceptance of our active life

in the spirit of the faithful and hard-working Martha.

Cherish and sanctify us,

as you loved and sanctified the family of Bethany.

In the friendly hospitality of that house

you spent your last days on earth,

preparing for us the gifts of the Eucharist,

of the priesthood,

of your own life.

Jesus Master, Way and Truth, and Life,

grant that we may correspond to this great love

by sanctifying our apostolic services

for the glory of God and the salvation of humanity.

You live and reign forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

(Cf. Opening Prayer, Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul)

God our Father,

you taught the Gospel to all the world

through the preaching of Paul your apostle.

May we who celebrate his conversion to the faith

follow him in bearing witness to your truth.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, 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.

 

“Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10:42) // “God set me apart and called me through his grace.” (Gal 1:15)

 

 

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

 

Thank the Lord for the gift of himself and his life-giving Word. Endeavor to translate the Word you have received into your daily living. Continue to meditate on the conversion and mission of Saint Paul the Apostle and let his personal experience impact your life.

 

 

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October 5, 2022: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (27)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Pray … His Grace Is Bestowed Upon Saint Paul”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Gal 2:1-2, 7-14 // Lk 11:1-4

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 11:1-4): “Lord, teach us to pray.”

 

Today’s Gospel (Lk 11:1-4) presents Jesus praying in a certain place. When he had finished, one of his disciples asks, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” It is the custom of a rabbi to teach his disciples to pray and John the Baptist has done it. Jesus, the Divine Master, is happy to do it. Prayer is turning the heart toward God. When we pray we enter into a living relationship with God. The Christian disciples intuit that right relationship to the Father and to Jesus can be sought in prayer.

 

In response to their legitimate request, Jesus teaches his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. It begins with a distinctive address for God – “Abba” – which means “Father”. “Abba” is a term of endearment used by Jewish children for their fathers. The word expresses the most intimate and personal relationship we could imagine of God. In the Jewish scriptures, “Abba” contains also something of what the word “Mother” signifies to us: tenderness, mercy and love. Jesus teaches us to pray first for the glorification of God’s name on earth (“Hallowed be your name”) and the full establishment of his kingdom (“Your kingdom come”). Then he shows us how to present to God our needs – our need for his continual protection and providence day by day and our need for his strength in the “final test”, so as not to succumb to temptation. Jesus underlines, moreover, that our petition for divine forgiveness is deeply linked to our resolve to forgive everyone in debt to us.

 

The following story illustrates the power of the Lord’s Prayer (cf. Helen Tutt, “A Gentle Prompt” in Guideposts, September 2012, p. 39).

 

It was nearly midnight. The halls of the hospital were quiet as I started my nursing shift. I flipped through the dayshift report to see which of the patients I would be handling as the charge nurse that night. When I got to one name on the list I froze. Mrs. C. Jackson. It had been years since I heard her name, but I had never forgotten it.

 

Mrs. Jackson taught second grade in our small Texan town. To my shy, sensitive daughter, Dana, she was a tyrant. Dana had always been a timid little girl. In a group of strangers she could usually be found hiding behind my skirt. But Mrs. Jackson had no patience for shyness. Often when Dana got home from school she would collapse right into my arms, sobbing over some harsh words from her elderly teacher. By the end of the year I disliked Mrs. Jackson just as much as Dana did.

 

But Mrs. Jackson was my patient now. I was determined to give her the same care I gave everyone else. But as I made my way to her room, all of my old anger came back, worse than ever. What kind of care did Mrs. Jackson ever show Dana? I thought. I stopped outside her door and put a smile on my face. I would show Mrs. Jackson the caring respect I gave to all of my patients, but I certainly wouldn’t have to feel it!

 

I pushed open the door. Is that really Mrs. Jackson? I wondered. The woman in the bed was so tiny and frail, nothing like the ogre in my memories. I was shocked at the change in her. She had frightened my little girl so much – now she looked completely helpless. Moving to her side, I heard her softly speaking. “And forgive us our …” she whispered. “And forgive us our …” Her forehead creased in frustration. She struggled to remember the words, but remained stuck on the same line.

 

Instinctively I took both of her hands in mine. “And forgive us our trespasses”, I said. “As we forgive those who trespass against us.” We finished the prayer together. Mrs. Jackson lay back into her pillows. I felt lighter too. My anger and bitterness was gone, carried off with the words I had just spoken. I hadn’t realized how heavy a burden I had carried until God took it away with a simple prayer.

 

 

B. First Reading (Gal 2:1-2, 7-14): “They recognized the grace bestowed upon me.”

 

In today’s First Reading (Gal 2:1-2, 7-14), Saint Paul continues his personal account to the Galatians. Prompted by God and accompanied by Barnabas and Titus, Paul goes back to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas/Peter and other Church leaders fourteen years after his previous visit. In a private meeting with them, he explains the Gospel message that he proclaims to the Gentiles. The leaders recognize that God has given him the task of preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, just as he has given Peter the task of preaching the Gospel to the Jews. James, Peter and John acknowledge the grace that God has bestowed upon Paul. They shake hands with him and Barnabas as a sign that they are partners in the Gospel. The leaders in Jerusalem do not make any requirement regarding following Jewish prescriptions. All they ask is that the needy in their group should be remembered, which is exactly what Paul is eager to do. Indeed, solidarity with the poor is a mark of new life in Christ.

 

Paul accomplishes his objective in Jerusalem, but not all difficulties are resolved.  While visiting Antioch, Peter succumbs to the influence of Judaizers and acts in a way that contradicts the universal meaning of the Gospel. Paul rebukes Peter who is clearly wrong. Thus Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, upholds that salvation won through the mediation of Jesus Christ is for all nations. Christians are not required to follow the Mosaic law on circumcision and dietary practices. In order to be saved one does not need to become a “Jew”.

 

The following story gives insight into Paul’s difficult endeavor to let Christian disciples understand the universal meaning of the Gospel of salvation (cf. Anthony De Mello, Taking Flight: A Book of Story Meditations, New York: Image Books, 1988, p. 74-75).

 

An ancient philosopher, dead for many centuries was told that his teachings were being misrepresented by his representatives. Being a compassionate and truth loving individual, he managed, after much effort, to get the grace to come back to earth for a few days.

 

It took him several days to convince his successors of his identity. Once that was established, they promptly lost interest in what he had to say and begged him to disclose to them the secret of coming back to life from the grave.

 

It was only after considerable exertion that he finally convinced them that there was no way he could impart this secret to them, and told them that it was infinitely more important for the good of humanity that they restore his teaching to its original purity.

 

A futile task! What they said to him was: “Don’t you see that what is important is not what you taught but our interpretation of what you taught? After all, you are only a bird of passage, whereas we reside here permanently.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we treasure the Lord’s gift of prayer and do we allow the power of the Lord’s Prayer to transform our life?

 

2. Like Saint Paul do we realize that God is at work in us by his power and that his grace has been bestowed upon us for a particular mission in God’s saving plan?

 

 

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

 

Father,

hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread

and forgive us our sins

for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,

and do not subject us to the final test.

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.

 

“Lord, teach us to pray.” (Lk 11:1) // “They recognized the grace bestowed upon me. “ (Gal 2:9).

 

 

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

 

Thank Jesus for teaching us to pray the Lord’s Prayer and make a conscious effort to translate into life the contents of this prayer. Be deeply aware of the grace bestowed upon you by the Risen Lord for the service of his Gospel of salvation to all nations.

 

 

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October 6, 2022: THURSDAY – WEEKDAY (27)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us Persevering and Trusting Prayer … He Bestows Upon Us the Spirit”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Gal 3:1-5 // Lk 11:5-13

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 11:5-13): “Ask and you will receive.”

 

In today’s Gospel (Lk 11:5-13), Jesus Master exhorts us to persevere in prayer and to trust that our prayer to the “Abba” is answered. In the parable of the Friend at Midnight, he tells us that a homeowner locked in for the night and already in bed with his children, obliges to give loaves of bread to an imploring and persistent friend. Through this parable Jesus teaches us to humbly present our needs to God. In contrast to the “sleeping friend” inconvenienced by a midnight request, our Father in heaven never sleeps and is ever ready to help us. God does not have to be cajoled into giving us what we need, but it is fitting that we acknowledge intensely our needfulness for his grace. The exaggerated case of a father giving his children snakes or scorpions drives home the absurdity of thinking of the heavenly Father as harsh and cruel whenever our prayers are not answered. God always responds to our prayers in ways that are best for us, though not always according to our expectation or liking. The loving God wants the best for us - to the point of bestowing upon us the Holy Spirit, his ultimate blessing. Jesus thus encourages us: “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

 

Mother Angelica of EWTN gives insight into the meaning of persevering and trusting prayer (cf. Mother Angelica with Christine Allison, “Mother Angelica’s Answers, Not Promises”, New York: Pocket Books, 1987, p. 102-104).

 

There is such a thing as a persevering prayer, and I want to mention it now so that you can get your head out of “gimme” mentality with God. I’m not saying, “Don’t ask him for things”. I’m simply saying that you might need to ask and ask and ask, and that this might be His way of drawing you closer to Him or of building your faith or of increasing your holiness.

 

A woman from Louisiana called the live show one evening when our guest was Sister Breige McKenna, who has a healing ministry. The woman had an eleven-year-old boy who was paralyzed from the neck down. “For five years I have prayed for his healing, Mother, and I’ve asked for the courage to stick with it. I’ve received more strength than I ever knew was possible, and I know and believe in my heart that my son is a perfect human being. But should I keep praying for his recovery?”

 

Sister Breige answered with a story. She told the woman about a family of seven from the Midwest. Their youngest child was a little boy who had a brain tumor. In her beautiful Irish accent, she explained, “The doctors had thrown up their hands. ‘No hope. No hope,’ they said. But the family continued to pray for the boy’s recovery. “Every night before bed they would gather in Tommy’s room and pray for him together. Two years passed, and the boy grew worse. ‘God’s made up His mind’, the father said, and he stopped praying completely. But the mother and the children persevered. Slowly, Tommy started showing improvement. Day by day, he started to get better. And today, he is as normal and healthy a child as you have ever seen. It was the father who told me this story”, Sister Breige continued. “’If Tommy had been healed instantly’, he said, ‘the other children would never have known about the power of prayer and the need for sticking with it. And neither would I.’”

 

God permitted this child’s condition only because He knew that this family – all seven of them – would be transformed by it. So always keep praying for your needs no matter what. Never, ever stop asking God for His intervention and His mercy. (…)

 

We all have worries and concerns about ourselves and other people. When there is pain, especially another person’s pain, we want a resolution immediately, and we see only one course of acceptable action. “Take the pain away.” “Help me find a job.” “Bring my wife back.” “Heal my son’s drug problem.” But God is answering your prayer for this resolution in many ways, through many voices and even through Silence. Listen to Him. His answer may not be the answer you want or expect right now, but He is telling you something at this very moment. Open your heart to Him and let Him in.

 

 

B. First Reading (Gal 3:1-5): “Did you receive the Spirit from works of the law or from faith in what you heard?”

 

In today’s First Reading (Gal 3:1-5), Saint Paul continues his efforts to make the Galatians see the absurdity of going backward after the experience of “new life” in the Spirit. By a series of rhetorical questions, the apostle wants them to reflect on their past and present lives. The Galatians have already been justified by faith and blessed by God; and all of that independently of the Law. Having received the Gospel of Jesus, the crucified Messiah, they received the Spirit, experienced great things and even performed miracles. Has that “experience” come from legal observance or from faith? The only way Paul can understand how they could turn against their own experience is that they must have been bewitched. The Galatians are indeed foolish to exchange the experience of new life in the Spirit by allowing themselves to be subjugated by the “law of the flesh”, a direct allusion to circumcision.

 

The following story gives insight into the absurdity that the “foolish Galatians” manifest by succumbing to the influence of the “Judaizers” - those who believe that Gentile converts should observe the Mosaic law (cf. Anthony De Mello, Taking Flight: A Book of Story Meditations, New York: Image Books, 1988, p. 66).

 

“What a pretty baby you have there!”

 

“This is nothing! You should see his photographs!”

 

Words (and concepts) are indicators, not reflections of reality. But, as the mystics of the East declare, “When the Sage points to the moon, all that the idiot sees is the finger!”

 

 

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

 

1. Do we respond positively to Jesus’ teaching on persevering and trusting prayer? What is our reaction when our prayers do not seem to be answered?

 

2. Do we allow ourselves to be swayed by false teachings? Are we like the “foolish Galatians” who are absurd in embracing the enslaving message of false teachers?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

we thank you for teaching us

persevering and trusting prayer.

Even when our prayers seem unheeded,

we desire to persevere in them.

We trust in you for you act in ways that will be best for us

and for our greater good.

Help us never to reject our “new life” in the Spirit,

the ultimate blessing.

You are our loving Savior, 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.

 

            “For everyone who asks receives.” (Lk 11:10) // “Did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you have heard?” (Gal 3:2)

  

 

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

 

Today be very conscious of the power of persevering and trusting prayer and of God’s awesome response to our prayer. Carry out a ministry of intercession for the people around you and for today’s fragmented society. Pray for the grace not to be bewitched or seduced by false teachings.

 

 

*** *** ***

 

October 7, 2022: FRIDAY – OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Exorcises by the Finger of God … He Fulfills Abraham’s Faith”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Gal 3:7-14 // Lk 11:15-26

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 11:15-26): “If it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.”

 

In today’s Gospel episode (Lk 11:15-26), Jesus drives out a demon from a mute man and cures him of his affliction. But his compassionate act is perceived very negatively. Some accuse him of exorcising through the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons. Others ask for a further sign to make them believe. Jesus argues that Beelzebul is not so foolish as to allow “infighting” and self-destruction. But rather, the Lord Jesus routs out demons by “the finger of God” and brings about the “in-breaking” of God’s kingdom. Jesus exorcises demons victoriously. He is the “stronger one” who vanquishes the forces of evil. He is the mighty one who deserves our loyalty. With regards to our relation with Jesus, there is no middle ground. Those who are not for him are against him and they scatter. The example of the wandering unclean spirit that brings back seven more wicked spirits to the place originally possessed reinforces the need to commit wholeheartedly to Jesus. If the place vacated by the demon is not incorporated into the kingdom of God, it is still Beelzebul’s and even more susceptible to his domination. To be totally free from “inner demons” we need to belong wholeheartedly to Jesus, who reigns over us.

 

Mike McGarvin (“Papa Mike”) of the Poverello House in Fresno gives insight into the human struggle to be free from “inner demons” (cf. Poverello News, August 2011, p.1-2).

 

When a friend handed me an out-of-print book entitled Skid Row Beat, by Loren Christensen, my curiosity was piqued. When my friend explained the author was an ex-cop and a black belt in three martial arts, I was pretty much sold. I started reading and couldn’t put it down. I’m not necessarily recommending the book; it’s definitely not for the faint-of-heart. The author worked a police beat in Portland’s extensive skid-row district for many years. As a rookie policeman, he was shocked by what he saw. In later years as a veteran on the force he was more callused. However, his book makes it clear that he was able to grasp the humanity behind the debris and see humor in some of the revolting situations. (…)

 

Christensen divided his book into four sections: Sex, Violence, Excretions and Characters. Those categories sum up what I’ve seen down here over the course of almost forty years. Homelessness isn’t pretty, and I’ve gagged many times at the sights and smells I’ve encountered.

 

There’s only one category that I think the author omitted: Jesus. My entry into Christianity was through the Franciscan perspective. My early training in San Francisco encouraged me to believe that in every food line on skid row, Jesus is mysteriously present.

 

As Poverello grew, I came into contact with more and more Protestant and Evangelical volunteers. Like the Franciscans, these people believed that Christ was out there among the prostitutes, winos and addicts, but they also were confident about Jesus changing the hearts and minds of people who seemed beyond hope. Some of them were disappointed when they faced the stubborn reality of hopeless resistance to change; others hung in there and nurtured along some miracles.

 

Finally, I began meeting people from Twelve-Step programs who had faith in a Higher Power. For some of them, that Power was Christ. A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) and N.A. (Narcotics Anonymous) are spiritual programs, and have been responsible for helping countless addicts find recovery, against all odds. Many people who were down and out at Poverello House now have homes, jobs, and happy, purposeful lives thanks to Twelve Step programs. (…)

 

The Catholics, Protestants and people in A.A. and N.A. changed how I viewed the human destruction of homelessness. Believe me, the ugliness is real, and it’s something that repels many people with good intentions. However, beyond the ugliness, the deeper reality is spiritual. The spiritual reality helps me to realize that each person walking into Poverello House, no matter how physically degraded or emotionally tortured, is a precious child of God. Without that belief, I doubt that I’d have the heart to continue showing up here each day.

 

 

B. First Reading (Gal 3:7-14): “Those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham who had faith.”

 

In today’s First Reading (Gal 3:7-14), Saint Paul continues his argument against the “Judaizers” by citing the Scriptures. Paul has perceived, through the concrete experience of life, the futility of the Law petrified in traditions and institutions, but no longer in the hearts. Jesus has been condemned by the Law to die on the cross and was considered “accursed”. Paul himself in his zeal for the Law persecuted innocent people and approved the stoning of Stephen. Hence, for Paul, salvation and justification cannot come from the Law.

 

The apostle now presents the story of Abraham to illustrate that the righteousness of the patriarch consists in faith and not in the works of the Law. The true descendants of Abraham are those who, like him, live by faith, and not simply those bound to him by racial ties. All nations will be blessed in him. Those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham. Paul likewise underlines the “curse” that the Law imposes – the state of slavery, the fear and dehumanization experienced by those who try to observe the detailed legal prescriptions. By dying on the cross, Jesus Christ frees us from the “curse” of the Law. In Christ, the promise of God to Abraham is fulfilled, namely that the nations will be blessed. Through faith in Christ, we receive the Spirit promised by God.

 

Two stories here follow: one to illustrate “non-faith” (cf. Anthony De Mello, Taking Flight: A Book of Story Meditations, New York: Image Books, 1988, p. 62-63) and the other “living faith”, from a message circulated on the Internet.

 

An atheist fell off a cliff. As he stumbled downward, he caught hold of the branch of a small tree. There he hung between heaven above and the rocks a thousand feet below, knowing he wasn’t going to be able to hold on much longer.

 

Then an idea came to him. “God!” he shouted with all his might. Silence! No one responded. “God!” he shouted again. “If you exist, save me and I promise I shall believe in you and teach others to believe.”

 

Silence again! Then he almost let go of the branch in shock as he heard a mighty Voice booming across the canyon. “That’s what they all say when they are in trouble.”

 

“No, God, no!” he shouted out, more hopeful now. “I am not like the others. Why, I have already begun to believe; don’t you see, having heard your Voice for myself. Now all you have to do is save me and I shall proclaim your name to the ends of the earth.”

 

“Very well”, said the Voice. “I shall save you. Let go of that branch.”

 

“Let go of the branch!” yelled the distraught man. “Do you think I’m crazy?”

 

***

From Carol, “Nativity Group Prayer Circle”, Nativity Church, Burke, VA, posted on October 1, 2014:

 

A friend just got a text message from her brother asking her to shower him and his parish in prayer. He is part of a mission and ISIS has taken over the town they are in today. He said ISIS is systematically going house to house to all the Christians and asking the children to denounce Jesus. He said so far not one child has. And so far all have consequently been killed. But not the parents. The UN has withdrawn and the missionaries are on their own. They are determined to stick it out for the sake of the families - even if it means their own deaths.

 

He is very afraid, has no idea how to even begin ministering to these families who have seen their children martyred. Yet he says he knows God has called him for some reason to be his voice and hands in this place at this time. Even so, he is begging prayers for his courage to live out his vocation in such dire circumstances. And, like the children, accept martyrdom if he is called to do so. She asked me to ask everyone we know to please pray for them. These brave parents instilled such a fervent faith in their children that they chose martyrdom. Please surround them in their loss with your prayers for hope and perseverance.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we trust in the power of Jesus to drive away demons? Do we commit ourselves totally to Jesus and allow him to deliver us from all evil?

 

2. What does it mean to have the faith of Abraham? Do we try to live by that faith in our daily life?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

we thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus Christ

who liberates us from the power of sin and evil.

Let your beloved Son-Savior reign in our hearts

that we may be delivered from all that could harm us.

In Jesus Christ we are victorious

and we rejoice in the glory of his name.

Help us to imitate the faith of Abraham

and let us rejoice in the fulfillment of that faith

through your Son Jesus, who died for us on the cross.

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.

 

“It is by the finger of God that I drive out demons.” (Lk 11:20) // “Those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham who had faith.” (Gal 3:7)

 

 

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

 

Humbly turn to Jesus for deliverance from all that could harm us. Be an instrument of compassion and liberation for those in the bondage of sin and evil. Imitate the faith of Abraham by trying to surrender to the divine saving will every moment of your life.

*** *** ***

October 8, 2022: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (27); BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: His Mother Is Greatly Blessed … Through Faith in Him We Become God’s Children”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Gal 3:22-29 // Lk 11:27-28

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 11:27-28): “Blessed is the womb that carried you. Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

 

In today’s Gospel episode (Lk 11:27-28), in contrast to Jesus’ detractors who hurl indignities upon him, whom they falsely accuse of diabolic connivance, a woman in the crowd esteems him. She indirectly shows her admiration for Jesus by uttering words of praise for his mother. Jesus delights in her praises, but wants to make their meaning complete. Mary is undoubtedly blessed for having carried him in her womb and for nursing him at her breasts. But in the context of Christian discipleship, in which spiritual relationship is above physical relationship, Jesus asserts that those who hear the word of God and observe it are more blessed. Mary is blessed to be his mother, but as the first and true disciple, she is even more blessed for listening to the word of God and acting upon it.

 

We too are blessed to have Mary as our mother. Mary continues to teach us conversion of heart and obedience to God’s saving word. The following story circulated on the Internet shows how Mother Mary aids her children in distress.

 

The Rosary Converts Pompeii from Satanic Influence, Late 1800's

 

Bartolo Longo was born in 1841 to a devout Catholic family. When Bartolo grew up he decided to study law. Naples at that time was undergoing a tremendous spiritual crisis. Paganism and Satanism of all sorts were abounding. Bartolo was not immune to these influences and became a satanic priest, much to the chagrin of his family who tried their hardest to get him to convert.

 

As Satanism began to torment his mind, his family convinced him to make a good confession. Alberto Radente, a saintly Dominican priest, helped lead him back to the Catholic faith and encouraged his devotion to the rosary. Bartolo had a miraculous conversion and in 1870, he became a third order Dominican and chose to live a life in penance for all the terrible sins he had committed against the Church.

 

One day, he nearly succumbed to the sin of despair, feeling that God could never forgive the tremendous sins he had committed against the church.  At that moment he received divine inspiration and remembered the Blessed Virgin’s promise that she would help in all their necessities those who propagate her rosary.

 

He set out to restore the dilapidated chapel at Pompeii and promote the rosary to whoever would listen. Pamphlets about the rosary were distributed to help the people learn to pray this powerful devotion. He tried to find an image of Our Lady of the Rosary worthy of hanging in the chapel, but was only offered a worm-eaten painting with an image that he felt was coarse and not worthy of veneration, however he accepted it from the convent in which it was stored.

 

As Bartolo continued his work of propagating the rosary, the chapel’s membership grew tremendously and many miracles began to be associated with Our Lady of Pompeii. Cures and spiritual conversions occurred due to the devotions through this new shrine. The people pledged their support to have a large church built that would properly honor Our Lady of the Rosary.

 

In 1894, Bartolo and his wife gave the church over to the care of the Vatican. The original image found in the convent was restored for the last time in 1965 and Pope Paul VI crowned the heads of Jesus and Mary with diadems given by the people of Pompeii. On October 26, 1980, Bartolo Longo was beatified by John Paul II who called him “the man of the Madonna” and the “Apostle of the Rosary”.

 

Pray the rosary to receive Our Holy Mother's heavenly aid in saving souls!

 

 

B. First Reading (Gal 3:22-29): “Through faith you are all children of God.”

 

In the First Reading (Gal 3:22-29), Paul explains to the Galatians the meaning of the Law. Like the pedagogue in the ancient times, the Law provided discipline and restraint until the individual reached the age or gains the skill of self-discipline and self-restraint. The Law was in charge until Christ came to justify us with God through faith. Now that the time for faith is here, the Law is no longer in charge. It is through faith that we are all children of God. Saint Paul makes a beautiful assertion that we are baptized into union with Christ and clothed with the life of Christ himself. So fully are we transformed into Christ that there is no longer the difference between Jews and Gentiles, slave and freeman, male and female among us. We are all now one in Christ Jesus. And if we belong to Christ then we are heirs of Abraham and inherit the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham.

 

Against this Pauline vision, which is yet to be fully realized in the family of nations, the initiative of Pope Francis to gather the Israeli and Palestinian Presidents and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomaios I in the Vatican Gardens on June 8, 2014, to pray for peace brings us hope. The following are excerpts from the prayers for peace that representatives of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities recited in that encounter (cf. L’Osservatore Romano, June 13, 2014, p. 8).

 

Jewish Community: Lord of Peace, Divine Ruler, to whom peace belongs! Maker of Peace, Creator of all things! May it be Your will to put an end to war and bloodshed in the world, and to spread a great and wonderful peace over the whole world, so that one nation shall not lift a sword against another nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. Help us and save us all.

 

***

Christian Community: Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, harmony; where there is error, truth; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

***

Muslim Community: Praise to God, merciful, compassionate, king, holy, peace, faith, sovereign, precious, mighty, proud, creator, maker, former. O God, You are peace, and peace is from You, and to You peace returns. You are blessed and You are glorified. O Master of splendor and honor, inspire us, O Lord, with peace and reveal to us peace and make us dwellers in the realm of peace, among those who do not live in fear or sorrow.

 

 

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

 

1. What role does Mary carry out in our life? Do we look upon her as truly blessed as the Mother of God and as a true disciple who hears the word of God and keeps it?

 

2. Do we believe that through faith we are all children of God? What do we do to promote the unity of God’s children?

 

 

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

 

O loving Father,

we thank you for Jesus,

your beloved Son and Word made flesh.

We thank you for Mary,

who carried him in her womb

and nursed him at her breasts.

We thank you for her beatitude

as the mother of Jesus and the disciple of the Word.

Help us to imitate Mary

in hearing the Word and acting upon it.

Let Mary guide us in our quest for peace and unity.

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 week. Please memorize it.

 

           “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”  (Lk 11:28) // “Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:26)

 

 

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

 

Practice daily Bible reading and meditation that, like Mary, we may learn to hear the word of God and observe it. Pray for the unity of God’s children and do what you can to promote interreligious dialogue.

 

 

 

*** *** ***  

 

 

Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM

 

 

PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER

3700 North Cornelia Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722 (USA)

Tel. (559) 275-1656

Website: WWW.PDDM.US

 

 

 

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50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE “DIES NATALIS”

OF BLESSED ALBERIONE (April 4, 1884 - November 26, 1971)

Delving into the Legacy of a Founder # 10

 

 

THE PDDM APOSTOLATE:

IN THE SPIRIT OF BLESSED ALBERIONE AND THE DESIDERIO DESIDERAVI OF POPE FRANCIS

 

 

The Apostolic Letter Desiderio Desideravi of Pope Francis was issued on June 29, on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. The Pope declared: I would like this letter to help us to rekindle our wonder for the beauty of the truth of the Christian celebration, to remind us of the necessity of an authentic liturgical formation, and to recognize the importance of an art of celebrating that is at the service of the truth of the Paschal Mystery and of the participation of all of the baptized in it, each one according to his or her vocation” (DD n. 62).

 

Pope Francis invites us to continue to be astonished at the beauty of the Liturgy because it is the celebration and actualization of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, the Beauty that saves the world. Indeed, true Beauty is the love of God that is definitively revealed in Christ’s Paschal Mystery. That we may be deeply permeated by this “beauty” - by the beauty of the Liturgy, Pope Francis invites us to rediscover the meaning of the liturgical year and of the Lord’s Day (cf. DD n. 63-65). The liturgical year helps us grow in our knowledge of the mystery of Christ. Through this annual celebration which is a spiritual itinerary, we are immersed into the very mystery of Christ’s death and rising. Thus, our life is progressively conformed and configured to him. Pope Francis also underlines the importance of the celebration of the Lord’s Day, the event of our salvation. The Sunday celebration offers to the Christian community the possibility of being formed by the Eucharist.

 

These inspiring thoughts of Pope Francis confirm the spirituality of the PDDM that is expressed in their Rule of Life, n. 17: “The Paschal Mystery of the Lord Jesus is at the heart of our apostolic spirituality. We live it in communion with the Church, following the itinerary of the liturgical year and in all areas of our daily life. Gathered by the love of Christ, we joyfully celebrate Sunday, the weekly Easter. As we await the Lord’s return we announce his death and proclaim his resurrection, while renewing our strength at the banquet of the Word and of the Bread.”

 

The Eucharistic-liturgical and apostolic spirituality of the PDDM is deeply rooted in Blessed Alberione’s charismatic intuition and spirit. Regarding the liturgical year, our Founder remarks: “The liturgical year is really meant to help us grow, that we may understand our redemption and our response to the graces of redemption. Hence, to grow each year. That we may never be in the same level … that it truly be: donec formetur Christus vobis, which is expressed by Saint Paul as: Vivit vero in me Christus – Jesus Christ lives in me!” (cf. APD 1964, p. 433). Cognizant that the Lord’s Day is the original feast day and that it is the foundation and kernel of the whole liturgical year, Blessed Alberione exhorts us to honor the Lord’s Day: “Sunday must be completely dedicated to God and to good works, charity, love of neighbor. Sundays are always to be peaceful. In this we behave as children of God in the Father’s house. Therefore, the songs, rites and everything done on Sunday is to be done for the Lord as part of worship. This is a special day” (cf. APD 1955/1956, p. 337).

 

This year 2022 is the 20th anniversary of the PDDM USA apostolic initiative, LECTIO DIVINA ON THE INTERNET, cf. www.pddm.us. When I was transferred from the Philippines to the United States in September 2002, our Mother General, Sr. Maria Paola Mancini, gave the mandate: to do in English what the PDDM Sisters in Spain were doing in Spanish – posting the Lectio Divina of the Sunday liturgy on the Internet, the new forum for evangelization. By God’s grace and with the help of Novice Anh Therese Nguyen, who built our website, and Sr. Mary Lucille Van Hoogmoed, who edited my articles, our humble effort to nourish people with “the bread of the Word” has reached out to the five continents of the world. Recently, one reader from Harvard University (Boston) who evaluated some of our Lectio Divina articles for COURSE HERO, an American education technical website, gave us a rating of 100%.

 

In the Philippines, in 2015, Fr. Gil Alinsangan, SSP biblical scholar and editor, initiated the publication of the Lectio Divina of the Sunday Gospel readings. In 2018, the PDDM in the States enhanced the apostolate of “breaking the bread of the Word” by publishing the Lectio Divina of the First Reading/Second Reading of the Sunday Masses in English and in Spanish. In September 2022, we hope to print our new book, “A Lectio Divina Approach to the Mass Readings: ADVENT – CHRISTMAS”. This is the first in the series of Lectio Divina books on the liturgical year. With humble pride and with gratitude to God, we can declare that our apostolic effort to help the faithful understand the treasures of the Sunday liturgy and the liturgical year is in consonance with the liturgical spirit of our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, and with Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Desiderio Desideravi.

 

 

 

*** *** ***

 

Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang, PDDM

3700 North Cornelia Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722, USA

July 29, 2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

*** *** *** 

 

Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM

 

 

PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER

3700 North Cornelia Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722 (USA)

Tel. (559) 275-1656

Website: WWW.PDDM.US

 


PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER
3700 North Cornelia Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722 (USA)
Tel. (559) 275-1656
Website: 
WWW.PDDM.US


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