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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Genesis, Chapter 50, Verse 21
So now, do not fear. I will provide for you and for your children.” By thus speaking kindly to them, he reassured them.

Again, Joseph is a precursor of Christ is an example of love and forgiveness of God; therefore mirroring the message of Paul, “Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

Christ further advises us in Mathew’s gospel that if we have a brother who sins against us we should

1) Go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother

2) If he does not listen; take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses’ and
3) If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church and
4) if he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. (Mt. 18:14-17)

One wonders what it means to treat someone as a gentile or tax collector. So, exactly how did Jesus treat Gentiles and tax collectors?  Jesus heals the daughter of the Canaanite woman. He eats with sinners and tax collectors. He heals the Centurion’s servant. He calls a tax collector to be his disciple. Jesus repeatedly invited tax collectors and Gentiles into the kingdom of God. To “let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” doesn’t mean wash our hands of them. It means we need to continue to reach out to those with whom we have a conflict.  We must continue inviting them into the fellowship of the kingdom of God.[2]

Saint Francis de Sales[3]

Today is the traditional start of the January thaw; let us therefore take the advice of St. Francis and prepare ourselves for every communion.

Preparation for Communion


St. Francis de Sales says that Our Savior can never be seen more amiable and more tender, in all that He has done for us, than in Holy Communion, in which He, so to say, annihilates Himself and becomes food, that He may unite Himself to the hearts and bodies of His faithful. Therefore the learned Gerson used also to say, that there was no means more efficacious than Holy Communion whereby to enkindle devotion and the holy love of God in our souls. And, indeed, if we speak of doing something agreeable to God, what can a soul do more agreeable to Him than to receive communion? St. Denis teaches us that love always tends towards perfect union; but how can a soul be more perfectly united with Jesus than in the manner of which He speaks Himself, saying: “He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in him” (John vi. 57) St. Augustine says that if every day you receive this sacrament, Jesus will be always with you, and that you will always advance in divine love. Again, if there be question of healing our spiritual infirmities, what more certain remedy can we have than Holy Communion, which is called by the sacred Council of Trent a remedy whereby we may be freed from daily faults, and be preserved from mortal sins? Whence does it come, asks Cardinal Bona, that in so many souls we see so little fruit with such frequent communions, and that they constantly relapse into the same faults? He replies: The fault is not in the food, but in the disposition of him who receives. Can a man, says Solomon, hide fire in his bosom, and his garments not burn? (Prov. vi. 27.) God is a consuming fire. He comes Himself in Holy Communion to enkindle this divine fire; how is it, then, says William of Paris, that we see such a diabolical miracle as that souls should remain cold in divine love, in the midst of such flames? All comes from the want of proper dispositions, and especially from want of preparation. Fire immediately inflames dry but not green wood; for this latter is not disposed to burn. The saints derived great benefit from their communions because they prepared themselves with great care. St. Aloysius Gonzaga devoted three days to his preparation for Holy Communion, and three days he spent in thanksgiving to his Lord. To prepare well for Holy Communion, a soul should be disposed on two main points: it should be detached from creatures and have a great desire to advance in divine love. In the first place, then, a soul should detach itself from all things, and drive everything from its heart which is not God. He that is washed, saith Jesus, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly (John xiii. 10); which signifies, as St. Bernard explains it, that in order to receive this sacrament with great fruit, we should not only be cleansed from mortal sins, but that our feet also should be washed, that is, be free from earthly affections; for being in contact with the earth they excite a sort of repugnance in God, and soiling the soul prevent the effects of Holy Communion. St. Gertrude asked Our Lord what preparation He required of her for Holy Communion, and He replied I only ask that thou shouldst come empty of thyself to receive. In the second place, it is necessary in Holy Communion to have a great desire to receive Jesus Christ and His holy love. In this sacred banquet, says Gerson, only those who are famishing receive their fill; and the most Blessed Virgin Mary had already said the same thing: He hath filled the hungry with good things (Luke i. 53). As Jesus, writes the venerable Father Avila, only came into this world after He had been much and long desired, so does He only enter a soul which desires Him; for it is not becoming that such food should be given him who has a loathing for it. Our Lord one day said to St. Matilda: No bee flies with such impetuosity to flowers, to suck their honey, as I fly to souls in Holy Communion, driven by the violence of My love. Since, then, Jesus Christ has so great a desire to come into our souls, it is also right that we also should have a great desire to receive Him and His divine love by Holy Communion. St. Francis de Sales teaches us that the principal object which a soul should have in view in communicating should be to advance in the love of God ; since He Who for love alone gives Himself to us should be received for love.

51st World Communication Day (Pope Francis)

I am convinced that we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on “bad news” (wars, terrorism, scandals and all sorts of human failure). This has nothing to do with spreading misinformation that would ignore the tragedy of human suffering, nor is it about a naive optimism blind to the scandal of evil. Rather, I propose that all of us work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits. Moreover, in a communications industry which thinks that good news does not sell, and where the tragedy of human suffering and the mystery of evil easily turn into entertainment, there is always the temptation that our consciences can be dulled or slip into pessimism.

We must trust in the Good News. This good news – Jesus himself – is not good because it has nothing to do with suffering, but rather because suffering itself becomes part of a bigger picture. It is seen as an integral part of Jesus’ love for the Father and for all mankind. In Christ, God has shown his solidarity with every human situation. He has told us that we are not alone, for we have a Father who is constantly mindful of his children. “Fear not, for I am with you” (Is 43:5): these are the comforting words of a God who is immersed in the history of his people. In his beloved Son, this divine promise – “I am with you” – embraces all our weakness, even to dying our death. In Christ, even darkness and death become a point of encounter with Light and Life. Hope is born, a hope accessible to everyone, at the very crossroads where life meets the bitterness of failure. That hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts (cf. Rom 5:5) and makes new life blossom, like a shoot that springs up from the fallen seed. Seen in this light, every new tragedy that occurs in the world’s history can also become a setting for good news, inasmuch as love can find a way to draw near and to raise up sympathetic hearts, resolute faces and hands ready to build anew.

Our hope based on the good news which is Jesus himself makes us lift up our eyes to contemplate the Lord in the liturgical celebration of the Ascension. Even though the Lord may now appear more distant, the horizons of hope expand all the more. In Christ, who brings our human nature to heaven, every man and woman can now freely “enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh” (Heb 10:19-20). By “the power of the Holy Spirit” we can be witnesses and “communicators” of a new and redeemed humanity “even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7‑8).

Novena for Purification

This novena prayer, although short is sufficient. It would be better of course to add, if time permits, three Hail Marys or say five times the Our Father, Haily Mary and Glory be to the Father, or to use some of the many well-loved novena prayers from other sources. Remember that prayers must be said with the lips in order to gain the indulgences. This novena starts on January 24 and ends on February 2.


Prayer:


O Blessed Mother of God, who went up to the Temple according to the law with your offering of little white doves, pray for me that I too may keep the law and be pure in heart like you. Sweet heart of Mary, be my salvation.

300 days. Plenary, under usual conditions, if said daily for a month. S. C. Indulg., Sept. 30, 1852.

Prayer Source: All Day With God by Blanche Jennings Thompson




[2] https://conversationinfaith.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/treat-them-like-gentiles-and-tax-collectors/
[3]Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.

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