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Sunday, November 12, 2017

23RD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOSTE (32nd S. Ord. Time)

Ecclesiastes, Chapter 9, Verse 2
Everything is the same for everybody: the same lot for the just and the wicked, for the good, for the clean and the unclean, for the one who offers sacrifice and the one who does not. As it is for the good, so it is for the sinner; as it is for the one who takes an oath, so it is for the one who fears an oath.

God seems to bestow divine favor or disfavor (love or hatred) indiscriminately on the just and wicked alike. More ominously, the arbitrariness and inevitability of death and adversity confront every human being, whether good or bad. Human reason and experience ends at death with its finality and annihilating power often cruelly negates the supreme value—life, and with it, all possibilities. Faith in eternal life has its foundation only in hope and trust in God’s promise and in God’s love. The author confesses his inability to imprison God in a fixed and predictable way of acting. Thus he ponders a practical and pragmatic solution: Seize whatever opportunity one has to find joy, if God grants it.[1] 

Be joyful in the Present[2]

If you want to win friends and influence people, don’t mention the cross. It is an unlikely enticement to attract us to someone, and yet, it is precisely what Jesus Christ offered us. “If anyone wishes to come after me he must deny himself” (Luke 9:23). Although the prospect of self-denial and suffering is repellent, the attraction to unite ourselves with Christ helps us to overcome our reluctance and even choose to deny ourselves in order to draw nearer to Him. Fr. Wayne Sattler, Missionaries of Charity; points out that we must put our spiritual lives in perspective by facing that our bodies will one day die but our souls live on for eternity. Thus, it is important to take good care of our soul by strengthening our internal spiritual muscles. He identified three ways in which we can do this: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

·         Prayer is to the soul as food is to the body,” “If you don’t pray every day, your soul will get weaker and weaker.” But prayer is only part of what is needed to take proper care of our soul.
·         Fasting is not just for Lent but something that should be done at least once a week in order to develop our interior muscles for doing God’s will. It is through self-denial that we strengthen our spiritual muscles, which serve to subdue our passions–much like the taming of a wild horse. As with the wild horse, taming happens gradually and through persistent work. “But we don’t want to kill the horse, we just want to tame him,” And so it is with our passions. We are called to be the master of our passions and self-denial gives us the discipline to do so, but be cautioned in overdoing with severe penances because it is like being so harsh that the horse bucks back. So begin where we are by simply increasing whatever we are doing now rather than striving for a drastic life change that our passions buck back. Acts of self-denial—which can include simply not eating in-between meals, giving up smoking or abstaining from any pleasure—can often tempt one to be irritable. In such a case, “If you can’t to do it for love, then don’t do it. If the fast is making you grumpy, then eat something and be kind.” Don’t give up fasting altogether, but work up to it and use it as a vehicle to holiness rather than endure with resentment and irritability. “It’s not the sack cloth and ashes and being miserable that is pleasing to God,” fasting is about healing our will to conform to God’s will, for in God’s will is our greatest happiness. Fasting ultimately brings us to a fuller enjoyment of life. Over-indulging in pleasures actually inhibits us from truly enjoying what our passions desire and we become slaves to them. Self-denial, however, opens a space for God in our lives, builds discipline, and increases our enjoyment of life’s pleasures. “By voluntarily denying ourselves pleasures, we also strengthen ourselves for resisting illegitimate ones, and, through sacrifice and self-denial, we begin to trust more in God’s Providence, that He will provide what we need.”
·         Almsgiving should not be considered optional. “We need to be a good steward of God’s gifts”; the early Christians understood how “Everything is from God and is given for the good of all.” “If we neglect alms, we will not be able to enter into the rest from our work that God invites us into, and will exhaust ourselves with financial worries.” Fr. Sattler cautions us against giving God our leftovers and suggested instead, to give him our first 10% and to trust he will take care of us. Sattler reminded everyone of the story of Cain and Abel. Both offered sacrifices to God but Abel gave God his first and best while Cain gave his leftovers. God accepted the gift of Abel and rejected Cain’s. Sattler pointed out that ironically, it’s often the case that the more God gives us, and the harder it is for us to be equally as generous. The larger our income, the larger our 10% becomes, and if God has decided to entrust to us more, shouldn’t we be just as eager to return the favor?

“We forget we are not here to stay,” Fr. Sattler said. “The temptation is to turn outward to the world and only trust what we see but we need to turn inward and trust the voice that is trying to speak from within.” Trusting that voice involves clearing space in our lives so that God can speak to us and we will take the time and be spiritually connected enough to hear his voice. Through our crosses—both those given to us and those we freely choose—we can remain with Christ by freely embracing them. For this reason, Sattler said, in spite of feeling repelled by suffering, we choose to deny our self, take up our cross daily and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).


32st Sunday in Ordinary Time

GOSPEL. Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable: "The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise ones replied, 'No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.' While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, 'Lord, Lord, open the door for us!' But he said in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.' Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost[3]

The focus of this Sunday is a reminder of the Book of Life and the resurrection of the body. 

GOSPEL. Matt, ix. 18-26[4]

At that time, as Jesus was speaking to the multitudes, behold a certain ruler came up, and adored Him, saying: Lord, my daughter is even now dead; but come, lay Thy hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus rising up, followed him with His disciples. And behold a woman who was troubled with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment. For she said within herself: If I shall touch only His garment I shall be healed. But Jesus turning and seeing her, said: Be of good heart, daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. And when Jesus was come into the house of the ruler, and saw the minstrels and the multitude making a rout, he said: Give place, for the girl is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed Him to scorn. And when the multitude was put forth, He went in, and took her by the hand. And the maid arose. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that country.

Explanation

The ruler and the woman here mentioned teach us that in diseases of body or of mind we should have recourse to Jesus with faith and confidence; and even when the malady continues, and seems to be incurable, we should not suffer our courage to sink.

ON MOCKERY AND RIDICULE

When Jesus entered the house of Jairus, and said, The girl is not dead, but sleepeth, the multitude laughed Him to scorn, because they understood neither the meaning of His words nor what He was about to do. Similar treatment sensual-minded men of the world often give to those servants of God who, by word and example, preach the contempt of honors, riches, pleasures, and the love of poverty, humility, and mortification. Permit not yourself to be led astray by those who ridicule your zeal for virtue; pay no heed to them, according to the example of Jesus, and trust in Him Who was Himself derided for your sake. Say to yourself: I know, O dearest Jesus, that the servant is not greater than his master. When Thou wast so often mocked, why should it appear strange to me to be jeered at and called senseless for endeavoring to practice devotion and virtue? I would not fare differently from Thee, my Lord and my God.

Saint Josaphat[5]


Josaphat Kuncewitcz was born about the year 1580 at Vladimir, Volhynia, [part of the Polish province of Lithuania at the time] and given the name John at baptism. While being instructed as a child on the sufferings of our Savior, his heart is said to have been wounded by an arrow from the sacred side of the Crucified. In 1604 he joined the Ukrainian Order of Saint Basil (Basilians), lived as a monk in a very mortified life, went barefoot even in winter, refrained from the use of wine and flesh-meat, and always wore a penitential garb. In 1614 he was appointed archimandrite of Vilna, Russia and four years later archbishop of Polotzk; in this position he worked untiringly for Church reunion. He was a great friend of the poor, once even pledged his archepiscopal omophorion (pallium) to support a poor widow. The foes of union decided to assassinate him. In a sermon, he himself spoke of his death as imminent. When he visited Vitebsk (now in Russia), his enemies attacked his lodging and murdered a number of his companions. Meekly the man of God hastened toward the mob and, full of love, cried, "My children, what are you doing? If you have something against me, see, here I am." With furious cries of "Kill the papist!", they rushed upon him with gun and sword. Josaphat's body was thrown into the river but emerged, surrounded by rays of light, and was recovered. His murderers, when sentenced to death, repented their crime and became Catholics.


National Pizza Day[6]

National Pizza Day is dedicated to appreciating pizza, a baked flatbread that is topped with tomato sauce and cheese.  Many toppings and sauces can be added to pizzas, including vegetables, meats and seafood.  Pizza was invented in Naples, Italy around the 10th century, and has since grown to become one of the most popular foods in America. In 1905, America’s first pizzeria, Lombardi’s, opened in New York.  Since then, pizza consumption in America has increased greatly and many pizza chains, such as Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Papa John’s have emerged. The origin of National Pizza Day is not well understood although accounts of National Pizza Day began to emerge around the 2000s.

National Pizza Day Facts & Quotes

·         The world's largest pizza, named Ottavia, was made on December 13, 2012 in Rome, Italy.  With a surface are of 1,261.65 m², the pizza was made by Dovilio Nardi, Andrea Mannocchi, Marco Nardi, Matteo Nardi and Matteo Giannotte.  To spread a message of good health, the pizza was made entirely gluten-free.
·         According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2014 Food Survey report on the Consumption of Pizza, 13% of Americans consume pizza on any given day!
·         According to a study done in 2013 by food delivery provider Foodler, 37% of North American consumers order plain cheese pizza, 52% order meat toppings and the three most ordered pizza toppings are: pepperoni, mushrooms and onions.
·         According to gross sales earned by pizza chains, the top 5 American pizzerias are:
1) Pizza Hut, gross sales of $13.4 Billion
2) Domino’s, gross sales of $8.9 Billion
3) Little Caesars, gross sales of $3.4 Billion
4) Papa John’s, gross sales of $3.3 Billion
5) Papa Murphy's, gross sales of $7.85 Million
·         If I could eat whatever I wanted every day, I would have Domino's pizza with pasta carbonara inside every slice. And at night, I would have Neapolitan ice cream until I felt absolutely toxic. And then I would drift off telling myself, 'It's going to be O.K... It's going to be O.K. you're going to train in the morning'. - Robert Downey, Jr., Actor



National Pizza Day Top Events and Things to Do

·         Visit your favorite pizzeria.  Most pizzerias will offer discounts and specials to celebrate National Pizza Day.
·         Attend a pizza festival!  Here are some of our favorites to consider:
1) Cleveland Pizza Fest
2) Phoenix Pizza Festival
3) Pizza Festival - Los Angeles
4) Chicago Pizza Fest
5) Pizza Fest Seattle: Annual Punk Festival+Pizza-Eating Contest
·         Make your own pizza at home from scratch. Make the dough, perhaps gluten-free or whole wheat, make the sauce using tomatoes and spices, grate the cheese and finally cover it up with all of your favorite toppings.
·         Try a pizza with unique toppings.  Here are some of our favorites:
1) Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza
2) Beer Battered Fried Calamari Pizza
3) Butternut Squash and Sage Pizza
4) Fried Chicken Pizza
5) Brown Butter Lobster and Spinach Pizza with Bacon and Fontina
·         Make it a pizza and a movie kind of night.  Watch the Academy Award nominees for ‘Best Picture’ (2016):
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight



Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood

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