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Ember Saturday AUTUMNAL EQUINOX 1 Corinthians, Chapter 14, Verse 32-33 32 Indeed, the spirits of prophets are under the prop...

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Friday, August 3, 2018


First Friday

Galatians, chapter 4, verse 11
I am afraid on your account that perhaps I have labored for you in vain.

Have you ever when you have sinned and failed, asked Christ, please do not let me suffer the loss of your sacrifice for me. Has your fear been that Christ has labored for you in vain? This is what Paul was saying to the Galatians; he was crying for them not to throw the freedom that Christ had earned for them away by living in worldly ways. Our call is to be in the world but not of the world.

This is the message of the gospel.

Jesus said to his disciples:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Mt 5:13-15)

Thank God there is a cure for our failures it is the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist; seek use of them today and never stop praying.

Amoris Lætitia[1] Love in Marriage Love is not rude (99-100)

To love is also to be gentle and thoughtful, and this is conveyed by the next word, aschemonĂ©i. It indicates that love is not rude or impolite; it is not harsh. Its actions, words and gestures are pleasing and not abrasive or rigid. Love abhors making others suffer. Courtesy “is a school of sensitivity and disinterestedness” which requires a person “to develop his or her mind and feelings, learning how to listen, to speak and, at certain times, to keep quiet”. It is not something that a Christian may accept or reject. As an essential requirement of love, “every human being is bound to live agreeably with those around him”. Every day, “entering into the life of another, even when that person already has a part to play in our life, demands the sensitivity and restraint which can renew trust and respect. Indeed, the deeper love is, the more it calls for respect for the other’s freedom and the ability to wait until the other opens the door to his or her heart”. To be open to a genuine encounter with others, “a kind look” is essential. This is incompatible with a negative attitude that readily points out other people’s shortcomings while overlooking one’s own. A kind look helps us to see beyond our own limitations, to be patient and to cooperate with others, despite our differences. Loving kindness builds bonds, cultivates relationships, creates new networks of integration and knits a firm social fabric. In this way, it grows ever stronger, for without a sense of belonging we cannot sustain a commitment to others; we end up seeking our convenience alone and life in common becomes impossible. Antisocial persons think that others exist only for the satisfaction of their own needs. Consequently, there is no room for the gentleness of love and its expression. Those who love are capable of speak­ing words of comfort, strength, consolation, and encouragement. These were the words that Jesus himself spoke: “Take heart, my son!” (Mt 9:2); “Great is your faith!” (Mt 15:28); “Arise!” (Mk 5:41); “Go in peace” (Lk 7:50); “Be not afraid” (Mt 14:27). These are not words that demean, sadden, anger or show scorn...we must learn to imitate Jesus’ own gentleness in our way of speaking to one another.

First Friday[2]

In Phoenix our artist community celebrates open studio tours which are a good way to experience art and artists. Every first Friday evening of each month you can take a free self-guided tour of downtown Phoenix galleries, studios and art spaces. It's called First Friday. First Friday is organized by Artlink, a nonprofit organization "...dedicated to bringing together artists, the public, and businesses for a greater understanding, appreciation, and promotion of the arts and the development of a strong and vital downtown Phoenix arts community."[3]

This is a great way to celebrate first Friday's but I wish to offer you an even greater gift. 

The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus . . . which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins."

To those who show him love and who make reparation for sins, however, our Lord made a great pledge: "I promise you in the unfathomable mercy of my heart that my omnipotent love will procure the grace of final penitence for all those who receive communion on nine successive first Fridays of the month; they will not die in my disfavor, or without having received the sacraments, since my divine heart will be their sure refuge in the last moments of their life."

 To gain this grace, we must:

·         Receive Holy Communion on nine consecutive first Fridays.
·         Have the intention of honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of reaching final perseverance.
·         Offer each Holy Communion as an act of atonement for offenses against the Blessed Sacrament.

Considerations

The fullness of God is revealed and given to us in Christ, in the love of Christ, in Christ's heart. For it is the heart of him in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily." Were one to lose sight of this great plan of God-the overflow of love in the world through the Incarnation, the Redemption and Pentecost-he could not understand the refinement with which our Lord deals with us. So, when we talk about the heart of Jesus, we stress the certainty of God's love and the truth of his commitment to us. When we recommend devotion to the Sacred Heart, we are recommending that we should give our whole selves to Jesus, to the whole Jesus-our souls, our feelings and thoughts, our words and actions, our joys. That is what true devotion to the heart of Jesus means. It is knowing God and ourselves. It is looking at Jesus and turning to him, letting him encourage and teach and guide us. The only difficulty that could beset this devotion would be our own failure to understand the reality of an incarnate God. But note that God does not say: "In exchange for your own heart, I will give you a will of pure spirit." No, he gives us a heart, a human heart, like Christ's. I don't have one heart for loving God and another for loving people. I love Christ and the Father and the Holy Spirit and our Lady with the same heart with which I love my parents and my friends. I shall never tire of repeating this. We must be very human, for otherwise we cannot be divine. . ..

If we don't learn from Jesus, we will never love. If, like some people, we were to think that to keep a clean heart, a heart worthy of God, means "not mixing it up, not contaminating it" with human affection, we would become insensitive to other people's pain and sorrow. We would be capable of only an "official charity," something dry and soulless. But ours would not be the true charity of Jesus Christ, which involves affection and human warmth. In saying this, I am not supporting the mistaken theories-pitiful excuses-that misdirect hearts away from God and lead them into occasions of sin and perdition. . ..

But I have still a further consideration to put before you. We have to fight vigorously to do good, precisely because it is difficult for us to resolve seriously to be just, and there is a long way to go before human relations are inspired by love and not hatred or indifference. We should also be aware that, even if we achieve a reasonable distribution of wealth and a harmonious organization of society, there will still be the suffering of illness, of misunderstanding, of loneliness, of the death of loved ones, of the experience of our own limitations.

Faced with the weight of all this, a Christian can find only one genuine answer, a definitive answer: Christ on the cross, a God who suffers and dies, a God who gives us his heart opened by a lance for the love of us all. Our Lord abominates injustice and condemns those who commit it. But he respects the freedom of each individual. He permits injustice to happen because, as a result of original sin, it is part and parcel of the human condition. Yet his heart is full of love for men. Our suffering, our sadness, our anguish, our hunger and thirst for justice . . . he took all these tortures on himself by means of the cross. . .. 

Suffering is part of God's plans. This is the truth; however difficult it may be for us to understand it. It was difficult for Jesus Christ the man to undergo his passion: "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." In this tension of pleading and acceptance of the Father's will, Jesus goes calmly to his death, pardoning those who crucify him.

This supernatural acceptance of suffering was, precisely, the greatest of all conquests. By dying on the cross, Jesus overcame death. God brings life from death. The attitude of a child of God is not one of resignation to a possibly tragic fate; it is the sense of achievement of someone who has a foretaste of victory. In the name of this victorious love of Christ, we Christians should go out into the world to be sowers of peace and joy through everything we say and do. We have to fight-a fight of peace-against evil, against injustice, against sin. Thus, do we serve notice that the present condition of mankind is not definitive. Only the love of God, shown in the heart of Christ, will attain our glorious spiritual triumph.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is of great antiquity in the Church. It was St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, however, who made this devotion widespread. In 1675, within the octave of the feast of Corpus Christi, our Lord appeared to her and said: "Behold this heart which, notwithstanding the burning love for men with which it is consumed and exhausted, meets with no other return from most Christians than sacrilege, contempt, indifference and ingratitude, even in the sacrament of my love [the Eucharist]. But what pierces my heart most deeply is that I am subjected to these insults by persons especially consecrated to my service."

The great promise of the Sacred Heart is most consoling: the grace of final perseverance and the joy of having Jesus' heart as our sure refuge and Infinite Ocean of mercy in our last hour.


First Friday Stations

Pope Benedict XVI Stations of the Cross[4]

·         Friday around 9 am

meditate on the SIXTH STATION

SIXTH STATION

Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns


From the Gospel according to Saint Matthew. 27:26-30
Then Pilate, having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spat upon him and took the reed and struck him on the head.
MEDITATION Inhumanity reaches new heights. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns. History is full of hatred and wars. Even today we witness acts of violence beyond belief: murder, violence to women and children, kidnapping, extortion, ethnic conflict, urban violence, physical and mental torture, violations of human rights. Jesus continues to suffer when believers are persecuted, when justice is distorted in court, corruption gets rooted, unjust structures grind the poor, minorities are suppressed, refugees and migrants are ill-treated. Jesus’ garments are pulled away when the human person is put to shame on the screen, when women are compelled to humiliate themselves, when slum children go around the streets picking up crumbs. Who are the guilty? Let us not point a finger at others, for we ourselves may have contributed a share to these forms of inhumanity.

PRAYER Lord Jesus, we know that it is you who suffer when we cause pain to each other and we remain indifferent. Your heart went out in compassion when you saw the crowds “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd”. Give me eyes that notice the needs of the poor and a heart that reaches out in love. “Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.” Most of all, may we share with the indigent your “word” of hope, your assurance of care. May “zeal for your house” burn in us like a fire. Help us to bring the sunshine of your joy into the lives of those who are trudging the path of despair.

·         Friday around 10 am

meditate on the SEVENTH STATION

SEVENTH STATION

After Jesus is made an object of fun, he is led out to be crucified


From the Gospel according to Saint Matthew. 27:31
And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, and put his own clothes on him, and led him away to be crucified.
MEDITATION Jesus, at whose name every knee in heaven and earth bends, is made an object of fun. We are shocked to see to what levels of brutality human beings can sink. Jesus is humiliated in new ways even today: when things that are most Holy and Profound in the Faith are being trivialized; the sense of the sacred is allowed to erode; the religious sentiment is classified among unwelcome leftovers of antiquity. Everything in public life risks being desacralized: persons, places, pledges, prayers, practices, words, sacred writings, religious formulae, symbols, ceremonies. Our life together is being increasingly secularized. Religious life grows diffident. Thus, we see the most momentous matters placed among trifles, and trivialities glorified. Values and norms that held societies together and drew people to higher ideals are laughed at and thrown overboard. Jesus continues to be ridiculed!

PRAYER We have faith, Lord, but not enough. Help us to have more. May we never question or mock serious things in life like a cynic. Allow us not to drift into the desert of godlessness. Enable us to perceive you in the gentle breeze, see you in street corners, love you in the unborn child. God, enable us to understand that on Tabor or Calvary, your Son is the Lord. Robed or stripped of his garments, he is the Savior of the world. Make us attentive to his quiet presences: in his “word”, in tabernacles, shrines, humble places, simple persons, the life of the poor, laughter of children, whispering pines, rolling hills, the tiniest living cell, the smallest atom, and the distant galaxies. May we watch with wonder as he walks on the waters of the Rhine and the Nile and the Tanganyika.

·         Friday around 11 am

meditate on the EIGHTH and NINTH STATION


EIGHTH STATION

Jesus is helped by Simon of Cyrene to carry the Cross


 From the Gospel according to Saint Luke. 23:26

The soldiers led Jesus away, and as they were going, they met a man from Cyrene named Simon who was coming into the city from the country. They seized him, put the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus.
MEDITATION in Simon of Cyrene, we have the proto-type of a faithful disciple who takes up the Cross and follows Christ. He is not unlike millions of Christians from a humble background, with deep attachment to Christ. No glamour, no sophistication, but profound faith. Such believers keep rising on the soil of Africa, Asia and the distant islands. Vocations arise from their midst. Simon reminds us of small communities and tribes with their characteristic commitment to the common good, deep rootedness in ethical values and openness to the Gospel. They deserve attention and care. The Lord does not desire that “one of these little ones should perish”. In Simon we discover the sacredness of the ordinary and the greatness of what looks small. For the smallest has some mystic relationship with the greatest, and the ordinary with the most extraordinary!

PRAYER Lord, it is your wonderful plan to lift up the lowly and sustain the poor. Strengthen your Church in her service to deprived communities: the least privileged, the marginalized, slum dwellers, the rural poor, the undernourished, untouchables, the handicapped, people given to addictions. May the example of your servant, Mother Teresa of Kolkata, inspire us to dedicate more of our energies and resources to the cause of the “poorest of the poor”. May we one day hear these words from Jesus: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”

NINTH STATION

Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem


From the Gospel according to Saint Luke. 23:27-28
And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus, turning to them, said: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”
MEDITATION Before the weeping women, Jesus is self-forgetful. His anxiety is not about his pains, but about the tragic future that awaits them and their children. The destinies of societies are intimately linked to the wellbeing of their women. Wherever women are held in low esteem or their role remains diminished, societies fail to rise to their true potentiality. In the same way, wherever their responsibility to the rising generation is neglected, ignored, or marginalized, the future of that society becomes uncertain. There are many societies in the world where women fail to receive a fair deal. Christ must be weeping for them. There are societies too that are thoughtless about their future. Christ must be weeping for their children. Wherever there is unconcern for the future, through the overuse of resources, the degradation of the environment, the oppression of women, the neglect of family values, the ignoring of ethical norms, the abandonment of religious traditions, Jesus must be telling people: “Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”

PRAYER Lord, you are the Master of history. And yet you wanted our collaboration in realizing your plans. Help us to play a responsible role in society: leaders in their communities, parents in their families, educators and health-workers among those who need to be served, communicators in the world of information. Arouse in us a sense of mission in what we do, a deep sense of responsibility to each other, to society, to our common future and to you. For you have placed the destinies of our communities and of humanity itself into our hands. Lord do not turn away from us when you see women humiliated or your image disfigured in the human person; when we interfere with life-systems, weaken the nurturing power of nature, pollute running streams or the deep blue seas or the Northern snows. Save us from cruel indifference to our common future, and do not let us drag our civilization down the path of decline.

·         Friday around NOON

meditate on the TENTH STATION

TENTH STATION

Jesus is crucified


From the Gospel according to Saint Luke 23:33-37 and according to Saint Matthew. 27:46
There they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”, that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
MEDITATION The sufferings of Jesus reach a climax. He had stood fearlessly before Pilate. He had endured the mistreatment of the Roman soldiers. He had preserved his calm under the scourge and the crowning with thorns. On the Cross itself, he seemed untouched by a shower of insults. He had no word of complaint, no desire to retort. But then, finally, a moment comes when he breaks down. His strength can stand no more. He feels abandoned even by his Father! Experience tells us that even the sturdiest man can descend to the depths of despair. Frustrations accumulate, anger and resentment pile up. Bad health, bad news, bad luck, bad treatment – all can come together. It may have happened to us. It is at such moments we need to remember that Jesus never fails us. He cried to the Father. May we too cry out to the Father, who unfailingly comes to our rescue in all our distress, whenever we call upon him!

PRAYER Lord, when clouds gather on the horizon and everything seems lost, when we find no friend to stand by us and hope slips from our hands, teach us to trust in you, who will surely come to our rescue. May the experience of inner pain and darkness teach us the great truth that in you nothing is lost, that even our sins – once we have repented of them – come to serve a purpose, like dry wood in the cold of winter. Lord, you have a master design beneath the working of the universe and the progress of history. Open our eyes to the rhythms and patterns in the movements of the stars; balance and proportion in the inner structure of elements; interrelatedness and complementarity in nature; progress and purpose in the march of history; correction and compensation in our personal stories. It is this harmony that you constantly keep restoring, despite the painful imbalances that we bring about. In you even the greatest loss is a gain. Christ’s death, in fact, points to resurrection.

·         Friday around 1 PM

meditate on the ELEVENTH STATION

ELEVENTH STATION

Jesus promises his Kingdom to the Good Thief


From the Gospel according to Saint Luke. 23:39-43
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
MEDITATION It is not eloquence that convinces and converts. In the case of Peter, it is a look of love; in the case of the Good Thief, it is unresentful serenity in suffering. Conversion takes place like a miracle. God opens your eyes. You recognize his presence and action. You surrender! Opting for Christ is always a mystery. Why does one make a definitive choice for Christ, even in the face of trouble, or death? Why do Christians flourish in persecuted places? We shall never know. But it happens over and over again. If a person who has abandoned his faith comes across the real face of Christ, he will be stunned by what he actually sees, and may surrender like Thomas: “My Lord and my God!” It is a privilege to unveil the face of Christ to people. It is even a greater joy to discover – or rediscover -him. “Your face, O Lord, do I seek. Do not hide your face from me.” 

Theophilus of Alexandria: 'Crucifixion and the Good Thief'.[5]

The sun of righteousness appeared in the east and gave light to those who were in the darkness and in the shadow of death (Lk. 1:79) ...The powerful lion sprang up out of the wood; all the wild beasts hid in their dens…This, if you like, is the way of Our Lord Jesus Christ, when he saw the real enemy of the whole human race, who is the devil. For the devil invaded the whole earth, and afflicted everyone with many kinds of sins, which he spreads with these great scourges, namely, idolatry, robbery, vanity, fornication, theft, murder, slander, licentiousness, envy, hatred, contempt, anger, sorcery, pollution, fraud, arrogance, perjury, falsehood, corruption, prostitution, deceit and whatever is similar in them. These are the traps which the devil set for humanity, until he brought it to perdition and dispersed it. Well now. Let us consider in what way Christ the king made war against the devil until he released our souls from him and set them free. Let us begin, then, to penetrate the great treasure house full of the fruits of life.

·         This is the great holy mystery of the wood of the cross, on which the True God, Jesus Christ, mounted out of love. When he descended into this world, he came to the people of Israel and preached to them saying: 'Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.' (Mt. 4:17)
·         But they paid no heed to his holy counsels. After this he performed all the signs of his divinity in their presence, miracles without number. He made the blind see, the lame walk and the deaf hear. He healed lepers. He brought the dead back to life. He drove out demons. He made paralytics stand on their feet and forgave their sins. He made tax gatherers repent. He straightened vainglorious hands. He evangelized the poor. He remitted the sins of adulteresses and purified them with his divinity, restoring them to a virginal state. It was because an adulterous woman was made worthy of this great grace that her hands anointed the feet of him who had created her. (Lk. 7 37-8) From the moment she participated in the purity of his divinity, the voice of God came to her. 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.' (Lk. 7:50)
·         In spite of all these things accomplished by him in their presence, they did not give him credence, but seized him and delivered him to be crucified. Having brought him into the court of the High Priest, they treated him with contempt rather than honor. Then the word of scripture was fulfilled. They brought evils upon me instead of blessings, and hatred instead of my love.' (Ps. 108:5)
·         What then are the evils which the people he created, the people who killed him, did to him? They are terrible to describe or to hear. My tongue trembles, my eye weeps, my spirit groans, my soul is distressed to utter them. It is God that they have seized, the Lord that they have bound. They have pierced with nails the hands of them who created them. They slapped the face of their Lord. They beat his head with their fists. They placed a crown of thorns on his head. They dressed him in a purple cloak. They gave him vinegar and gall. On this day they did all these things to him. They crucified him with two thieves. One of them, who was unworthy of the division of his divinity, said to the Lord, deriding him: 'If you are the Christ, save yourself and us.' (Lk 23:39).
·         The other replied rebuking him with indignation: 'Do you not fear God? We are receiving the reward of our sins which we have committed, but this man has done nothing wrong.' And he said, 'Jesus. remember me when you come into your kingdom.' And Jesus said to him with great joy: 'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.' The gate of Paradise has been closed since the time when Adam transgressed, but I will open it today, and receive you in it. Because you have recognized the nobility of my head on the cross, you who have shared with me in the suffering of the cross will be my companion in the joy of my kingdom. You have glorified me in the presence of carnal men, in the presence of sinners. I will therefore glorify you in the presence of the angels. You were fixed with me on the cross, and you united yourself with me of your own free will. I will therefore love you, and my Father will love you, and the angels will serve you with my holy food. If you used once to be a companion of murderers, behold, I who am the life of all have now made you a companion with me. You used once to walk in the night with the sons of darkness; behold I who am the light of the whole world have now made you walk with me. You used once to take counsel with murderers; behold, I who am the Creator have made you a companion with me. 'All these things I will pardon you because you have confessed my divinity in the presence of those who have denied me. For they saw all the signs which I performed, but did not believe in me. You, then, a rapacious robber, a murderer, a brigand, a swindler, a plunderer have confessed that I am God. That is why I have pardoned your many sins, because you have loved much (Lk. 7:47). I will make you a citizen of Paradise. I will wash your body so that it will not see corruption before I resurrect it with me on the third day and take you up with me. The other who has denied me will see you enveloped in glory, but he will be enveloped in pain and same. He will see you surrounded by light, but he will be surrounded by darkness. He will see you in a state of joy and happiness, but he will be in a state of weeping and groaning. He will see you enjoying ease and benediction, but he will be suffering oppression and malediction. He will see you refreshed by the angels, but he will be troubled by the powers of darkness. And in the midst of intense cold the worm that never rests will consume him. Not only did he not confess me, but after having denied me he reviled me. 'For this reason all will receive according to their works. For as I have already said to them explicitly and in public: Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.' (Mt. 10:32-3).

So now, brethren, what torment the man who denied the Lord brought upon himself? We should therefore watch over ourselves that we should not be led astray, that for the sake of things of this life, we should not be made strangers to him who has created us. Perhaps there is someone today who is denying God for the sake of riches because the love of money closes the eyes of those who are given to it. Such a person takes the part of Judas, He has sold the Lord for thirty pieces of silver. It is therefore good for us to direct our concerns towards the Lord since it is he who takes care of us. Let us now turn to the goal proposed to us by the cross. For the ladder which Jacob contemplated that was fixed to the ground and reached up to heaven on which the angel of the Lord ascended and descended (Gen. 28:12), is Our Lord Jesus Christ raised up on the wood of the cross.

PRAYER My cry to you today, O Lord, in tears is this: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” It is for this Kingdom that I fondly long. It is the eternal home you have prepared for all those who seek you with sincere hearts. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”. Help me, Lord, as I struggle ahead on my way to my eternal destiny. Lift the darkness from my path, and keep my eyes raised to the heights!

“Lead, kindly Light,
amid the encircling gloom.
Lead thou me on.
The night is dark, and I am far from home.
Lead thou me on.
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.”
·         Friday around 2 PM

meditate on the TWELFTH STATION

TWELFTH STATION

The Mother of Jesus and the Beloved Disciple at the foot of the Cross


From the Gospel according to Saint John. 19:25-27
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother: “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple: “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
MEDITATION In suffering we long for solidarity. Mother Mary reminds us of supportive love and solidarity within a family, John of loyalty within a community. Family cohesion, community bonds, ties of friendship – these are essential for the flourishing of human beings. In an anonymous society they grow weak. When they are missing, we become diminished persons. Again, in Mary we do not notice even the least sign of resentment; not a word of bitterness. The Virgin becomes an archetype of forgiveness in faith and hope. She shows us the way to the future. Even those who would like to respond to violent injustice with “violent justice” know that that is not the ultimate answer. Forgiveness prompts hope. There are also historic injuries that often rankle in the memories of societies for centuries. Unless we transmute our collective anger into new energies of love through forgiveness, we perish together. When healing comes through forgiveness, we light a lamp, announcing future possibilities for the “life and well-being” of humanity.

PRAYER Lord Jesus, your Mother stood silently at your side in your final agony. She who was unseen on occasions when you were acclaimed a great prophet, stands beside you in your humiliation. May I have the courage to remain loyal even where you are least recognized. Let me never be embarrassed to belong to the “little flock”. Lord, let me remember that even those whom I consider my “enemies” belong to the human family. If they treat me unfairly, let my prayer be only: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” It may be in such a context that someone will suddenly recognize the true face of Christ and cry out like the centurion: “Truly this man was the Son of God!”



·         Friday around 3 PM

meditate on the THIRTEENTH STATION

THIRTEENTH STATION

Jesus dies on the Cross


From the Gospel according to Saint Luke. 23:46
Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!” And having said this, he breathed his last.
MEDITATION Jesus hands over his spirit to the Father in serene abandonment. What his persecutors thought to be a moment of defeat proves, in fact, to be a moment of triumph. When a prophet dies for the cause he stood for, he gives the final proof of all that he has said. Christ’s death is something more than that. It brings redemption. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.” With that begins for me a mystic journey: Christ draws me closer to him, until I shall fully belong to him.

“As a deer longs for flowing streams,
So my soul longs for you, O God…
When shall I come and behold the face of God?”
PRAYER Lord Jesus, it is for my own sins that you were nailed to the Cross. Help me to gain a deeper understanding of the grievousness of my sins and the immensity of your love. For “while we were still weak, Christ died for the ungodly.” I admit my faults as the prophets did long ago:

“We have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly
and rebelled, turning aside
from your commandments and ordinances;
we have not listened to your servants the prophets….”
There was nothing in me to deserve your kindness. Thank you for your immeasurable goodness to me. Help me to live for you, to shape my life after you, to be joined to you and become a new creation.
“Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.”
·         Friday before sunset

meditate on the FOURTEENTH STATION

FOURTEENTH STATION

Jesus is taken down from the Cross and placed in the tomb


From the Gospel according to Saint Mark. 15:46
Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.
MEDITATION Tragedies make us ponder. A tsunami tells us that life is serious. Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain pilgrim places. When death strikes near, another world draws close. We then shed our illusions and have a grasp of the deeper reality. People in ancient India prayed: “Lead me from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality.” After Jesus left this world, Christians began to look back and interpret his life and mission. They carried his message to the ends of the earth. And this message itself is Jesus Christ, who is “the power of God and the wisdom of God”. It says that the reality is Christ and that our ultimate destiny is to be with him.

PRAYER Lord Jesus, enable us, as we press forward on life’s weary way, to have a glimpse of our ultimate destiny. And when at last we cross over, we will know that “death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more.” God will wipe away all tears from our eyes. It is this Good News that we are eager to announce, “in every way”, even in places where Christ has not been heard of. For this we work hard. We work “night and day” and wear ourselves out. Lord make us effective carriers of your Good News. “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and in my flesh I shall see God.”




International Beer Day[6] another hedonistic holiday

International Beer Day celebrates the taste of beer and the achievement of beer brewers. Beer is an ancient alcoholic drink brewed mainly from malted barley, hops, yeast and water although it is possible to brew it from other grains such as maize, wheat and rice. Records of beer date back to 4000 BC, making it one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the world. The three stated goals of the International Beer Day are to: appreciate brewers and servers, enjoy the taste of all beers from around the world, and to unite the world under the banner of beer.  Founded in 2007 by the Association of California Brewers, International Beer Day has become an international event that is observed in more than 50 countries worldwide.  It is held annually on the first Friday of August.

International Beer Day Facts & Quotes

·         International Beer Day began in Santa Cruz, California, 2007.  It was founded by beer enthusiasts, Jesse Avshalomov and Evan Hamilton.
·         As far back as ancient Egypt, beer was a staple food.  Known as Hqt, heqet or heket, beer was a thick and sweet source of nutrition including vitamins, minerals and protein that was consumed daily by adults and children.
·         According to the Brewers Association, the Craft Brewing Industry contributed more than $55 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014 and provided more than 424,000 jobs.  The U.S. beer market for 2014 was more than $101 billion.
·         On average, a can of beer contains 100-150 calories and 10-15g carbohydrates.
·         I work until beer o'clock - Stephen King

International Beer Day Top Events and Things to Do

·         Visit your local watering hole and try a new beer that you have never had.
·         Attend a beer festival to taste beer from around the world and learn more about brewing and craft beers.   Some of the largest beer festivals in the United States are:
1) Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado
2) Oregon Brewers Festival in Portland, Oregon
3) World Beer Festival held across Durham, NC; Raleigh, NC; Columbia, SC; Cleveland, OH
·         Visit a local craft brewery in your state.  Here are our top US picks a visit to:
1) Dogfish Head, Milton, Del.
2) Stone Brewing Company, Escondido, Calif.
3) Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich.
4) Oskar Blues, Lyons, Colo. and
5) Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, Calif.
·         Watch a flick that pays tribute to Beer.  Our top picks: Oktoberfest (1987), Beer Wars (2009), Strange Brew (1983), Beerfest (2006)
·         Try an international award-winning beer.  The International Brewing Awards are recognizing outstanding achievements in the brewing industry.  The winners for 2015 include:
1.  Champion Dark Beer - Black Butte Porter, Deschutes Brewery Inc., Oregon, USA
2.  Champion Strong Beer - Brugse Zot Dubbel, Brouwerij De Halve Maan, Bruges, Belgium
3.  Champion Specialty Beer - Red Chair NWPA, Deschutes Brewery Inc., Oregon, USA
4.  Champion Keg Ale - Revisionist Rye Pale Ale, Marston’s PLC, Wolverhampton, UK




Fitness Friday[7] (12-ounce lifts don’t count)

APFT Aquatic Exercises


Source: Department of the Army Field Manual, FM 21-20 Physical Fitness Training

Side Leg-Raises. Stand in chest to shoulder-deep water with either side of the body at arm’s length to the wall of the pool, and grasp the edge with the nearest hand. Raise the outside leg sideward and upward from the hip. Next, pull the leg down to the starting position. Repeat these actions. Then, turn the other side of the body to the wall, and perform the exercise with the other leg. DURATION: 30 seconds (15 seconds per leg).

Leg-Over. Stand in chest-to shoulder-deep water, back facing the wall of the pool. Reach backward with the arms extended and grasp the pool’s edge. Next, raise one leg in front of the body away from the wall, and move it sideward toward the other leg as far as it can go. Then, return the leg to the front-extended position, and lower it to the starting position. Repeat these actions with the other leg and continue to alternate legs. DURATION: 30 seconds (15 seconds per leg).

Rear Leg Lift. Stand in chest-to shoulder-deep water with hands on the pool’s edge, chest to the wall. Raise one leg back and up from the hip, extend it, and point the foot. Then, pull the leg back to the starting position. Alternate these actions back and forth with each leg. DURATION: 20 seconds (10 seconds each leg).

Alternate Toe Touch. Stand in waist-deep water. Raise the left leg as in kicking while touching the elevated toe with the right hand. At the same time, rotate the head toward the left shoulder, and push the left arm backward through the water. Alternate these actions back and forth with each leg and opposite hand. DURATION 2 minutes.

Side Straddle Hop. Stand in waist deep water with hands on hips and feet together. Jump sideward and land with feet about two feet apart. Then, return to the starting position, and repeat the jumping action. DURATION 2 minutes.

Stride Hop. Stand in waist-deep water with hands on hips and feet together. Jump, moving the left leg forward and right leg backward. Then, jump again moving the right leg forward and left leg backward. Repeat these actions. DURATION 2 minutes.

The Bounce. Stand in waist-deep water with hands on hips and feet together. Jump high with feet together. Upon landing, use a bouncing motion, and repeat the action. DURATION: 1 minute.

Rise on Toes. Stand in chest-to shoulder-deep water with arms at sides and feet together. Rise up using the toes. Then, lower the body to the starting position. Repeat the action. DURATION: 1 minute.

Side Bender. Stand in waist-deep water with the left arm at the side and the right arm extended straight overhead. Stretch slowly, bending to the left. Recover to the starting position and repeat the action. Next, reverse to the right arm at the side and the left arm extended straight overhead. Repeat the stretching action to the right side. DURATION: 1 minute.
 
Walking Crawl. Walk in waist- to chest-deep water. Simulate the overhand crawl stroke by reaching out with the left hand cupped and pressing the water downward to the thigh. Repeat the action with the right hand. Alternate left and right arm action. DURATION: 2 minutes.
Bouncing. Stand in chest-deep water, arms at sides. Bounce on the left foot while pushing down vigorously with both hands. Repeat the action with the right foot. Alternate bouncing on the left and right foot. DURATION: 2 minutes.

Bounding in Place with Alternate Arm Stretch, Forward. Bound in place in waist-deep water using high knee action. Stretch the right arm far forward when the left knee is high, and the left arm is stretched backward. When the position of the arm is reversed, simulate the action of the crawl stroke by pulling down and through the water with the hand. DURATION 1 minute.

Poolside Knees Up, Supine. Stand in chest-to shoulder-deep water, back against the wall of the pool. Extend the arms backward and grasp the pool’s edge. With feet together, extend the legs in front of the torso, and assume a supine position. Then with the legs together, raise the knees to the chin. Return to the starting position and repeat the action. DURATION: 2 minutes (maximum effort).

Twisting Legs, Supine. Stand in chest-to shoulder-deep water, back against the wall of the pool. Extend the arms backward and grasp the pool’s edge. With feet together, extend the legs in front of the torso, and assume a supine position. Then, twist the legs slowly to the left, return to the starting position, and twist the legs slowly to the right. Repeat this twisting action. DURATION: 1 minute (2 sets, 30 seconds each).

Scissor Kick. Float in chest- to shoulder- deep water on either side of the body with the top arm extended, hand holding the pool’s edge. Brace the bottom hand against the pool’s wall with feet below the water’s surface. Next, assume a crouching position by bringing the heels toward the hips by bending the knees. Then, straighten and spread the legs with the top leg extending backward. When the legs are extended and spread, squeeze themback together (scissoring). Pull with the top hand, and push with the bottom hand. The propulsive force of the kick will tend to cause the body to rise to the water’s surface. DURATION 1 minute (2 sets, 30 seconds each, maximum effort).

Push Away. Stand in chest-to shoulder-deep water facing the pool’s wall and at arm’s length from it. Grasp the pool’s edge and bend the arms so that the body is leaning toward the wall of the pool. Vigorously push the chest back from the wall by straightening the arms. Then, with equal vigor, pull the upper body back to the wall. Repeat these actions. DURATION: 2 minutes (maximum effort).
Gutter Push-Ups. Stand in chest to shoulder- deep water facing the pool’s wall. Place the hands on the edge or gutter of the pool. Then, raise the body up and out of the water while extending the arms. repeat this action. DURATION: 2 minutes (4 sets, 30 seconds each with 5-second rests between sets).

Front Flutter Kick. Stand in chest to shoulder-deep water facing the pool’s wall. Grasp the pool’s edge or gutter and assume a prone position with legs extended just below the water’s surface. Then, kick flutter style, toes pointed, ankles flexible, knee joint loose but straight. The Iegs should simulate a whip’s action. DURATION 1 minute (2 sets, 30 seconds each).

Running. Move in a running gait in chest-to shoulder-deep water with arms and hands under the water’s surface. This activity can be stationary, or the exerciser may run from poolside to poolside. Runners must concentrate on high knee action and good arm movement. DURATION 10 to 20

The Engine. Stand in chest-to shoulder-deep water, arms straight and in front of the body and parallel to the water with the palms facing downward. While walking forward, raise the left knee to the left elbow, then return to the starting position. Continuing to walk forward, touch the right knee to the right elbow, and return to the starting position. Be sure to keep the arms parallel to the water throughout the exercise. DURATION 1 to 2 minutes (2 sets).


Novena in Honor of Saint John Marie Vianney[8]

Desire for Heaven

O Holy Priest of Ars, your precious remains are contained in a magnificent reliquary, the donation from the priests of France. But this earthly glory is only a very pale image of the unspeakable glory which you are enjoying with God. During the time you were on earth, you used to repeat in your dejected hours, 'one will rest in the other life." It is done, you are in eternal peace, and eternal happiness. I desire to follow you one day. Until then, I hear you saying to me:

"You should work and fight as long as you are in the world."

Teach me then to work for the salvation of my soul, to spread the good news and good example and to do good towards those around me in order that I will receive the happiness of the Elect with you. Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for ... (mention silently your special intentions).

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

O St John Vianney, Patron of Priests, pray for us and for all priests!

The Way[9]

"Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won't tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul."

40.  Faith, cheerfulness, optimism. But not the idiocy of closing one's eyes to reality.

Daily Devotions


·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Please Pray for Senator McCain and our country; asking Our Lady of Beauraing to intercede.
·         Peace Through Strength



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