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THE TRUE DISCIPLES OF JESUS HAVE NOTHING BUT JESUS

He had not whereon to lay his head.

“‘Master,’ said a doctor of the law, addressing Jesus – ‘I will follow you, wherever you go.’ ‘The foxes have their dens, and the birds of the air their nests, but the Son of Man has not whereon to lay His head.’

Alas! This man thought to find, in following Jesus, a more honourable and easy life. Hence this answer which reveals to us in what poverty Jesus continued to live during the three years of His public life, and at the same time, on what conditions we can become His disciples.

It is as He said: ‘In vain do you hope to find in following Me, honours, riches, delights. Even as I, the Master and the Model of perfection, have practised poverty, so far as to be born in a stable, and to lack even a stone on which to rest My head, so must My disciples accept poverty with all its austerities.’

‘The true disciples of Jesus,’ said Saint Jerome, ‘have nothing and hope for nothing, absolutely nothing, but Jesus.'”

– Mgr. Dupanloup

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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FATHER, GRANT THAT WE MAY TAKE JESUS CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS AS OUR MODEL

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, to provide an example of humility for mankind, you ordained that our Saviour should become man and submit to the cross; in your goodness grant that we may take his sufferings as our model and so share in his resurrection. Through the same Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 
 

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TODAY’S BIBLE READING (PROVERBS 30:5-9)

(Week 25 of the year: Wednesday)

GIVE ME NEITHER POVERTY NOR RICHES, GRANT ME ONLY MY SHARE OF BREAD TO EAT.

Every word of God is fire tried: he is a buckler to them that hope in him.

Add not any thing to his words, lest thou be reproved, and found a liar:

Two things I have asked of thee, deny them not to me before I die.

Remove far from me vanity, and lying words. Give me neither beggary, nor riches: give me only the necessities of life:

Lest perhaps being filled, I should be tempted to deny, and say: Who is the Lord? or being compelled by poverty, I should steal, and forswear the name of my God.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Prayers for Ordinary Time

 

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“JESUS CHRIST SHARED NOBLY THE HUMBLE LOT OF HIS FAMILY”

“JESUS THE WORKMAN

Jesus as a workman! There is a secret of the little house of Nazareth. A single word, almost lost in the Gospel, reveals to us, and thus brings us down to the most obscure details of the humble subjection to which the Saviour condemned Himself during the greater part of His life.

The Son of working people, He would not live as a pious dreamer under the paternal roof, but chose to share nobly the humble lot of His family.

We see Him, on His return from the Temple, undergo a laborious apprenticeship under the instruction of Saint Joseph. He consented to make by slow stages that which He could have created by a single word.

The Inspirer of all the arts, He seemed to devote Himself to a common trade. His dear Hands were bruised, like those of poor people’s children, from handling rough tools; and when He was fully grown, He bent for whole hours over a piece of wood, doing His day’s work, and gaining His bread by the sweat of His brow.”
– R. P. Monsabre

 

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“NO MAN’S CROSS IS LAID UPON HIM FOR HIMSELF ALONE, BUT FOR THE HEALING OF THE WHOLE WORLD”

“Look at this cross, so much bigger than the man whose body will be stretched to fit it. So much higher than the height of the man who will be lifted up above the earth on it and who, being lifted up, will draw all peoples to himself. Christ receives it with joy because he knows that this is the dead weight that must have crushed humankind had he not lifted it from their backs. This is the dead wood which at his touch is transformed to a living tree. At his touch, the hewn tree takes root again, and the roots thrust down into the earth, and the tree breaks into flower…

THE TREE BREAKS INTO FLOWER

Because Christ is to be stretched to the size of the cross, those who love him will grow to the size of it, not only to the size of man’s suffering, which is bigger than man, but to the size of Christ’s love that is bigger than all suffering. Because Christ is to be lifted up on the cross, all those who love him will be lifted up above the world by the world’s sorrow. He, being lifted up, will draw all men to himself.

CHRIST CHANGED SUFFERING TO REDEMPTION

Because Christ has changed death to life, and suffering to redemption, the suffering of those who love him will be a communion between them. All that hidden daily suffering that seems insignificant will be redeeming the world, it will be healing the wounds of the world. The acceptance of pain, of old age, of the fear of death, and of death will be our gift of Christ’s love to one another; our gift of Christ’s life to one another.

JOY AND SUPERNATURAL LIFE

No man’s cross is laid upon him for himself alone, but for the healing of the whole world, for the mutual comforting and sweetening of sorrow, for the giving of joy and supernatural life to one another. For Christ receives our cross that we may receive his. Receiving his cross, the cross of the whole world made his, we receive him. He gives us his hands to take hold of, his power to make it a redeeming thing, a blessed thing, his life to cause it to flower, his heart to enable us to rejoice in accepting our own and one another’s burdens.”
– Caryll Houselander

 

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“EVEN A FEEBLE LENT OF BROKEN RESOLUTIONS MAY BY GOD’S GRACE BRING ABOUT A CHANGE IN ME”

“THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING THE TEMPTATIONS OF JESUS

Jesus’ own period of 40 days in the desert introduces us to the meaning of Lent, for the experience of Jesus can itself only be understood in relation to the Israelites’ 40 years in the desert. Exodus recounts the story of how, by a gratuitous act of love on God’s part, in fidelity to a promise he made long ago – a promise which would seen to be all empty by reason of the years and the suffering which have intervened – God allows Israel to escape from the slavery of Egypt to worship him in the wilderness. There the Lord offers them a covenant on Sinai. He feeds them miraculously and even overlooks their worshipping a golden calf to bring them at last to the Promised Land.

NOT SEEKING TO ISOLATE OURSELVES FROM GOD BY MATERIAL SECURITY

Now we have the key to understanding the temptations of Jesus: the temptation to worship the Devil, the temptation to turn stones into bread, the temptations to power. These would all be temptations like those of his ancestors, to somehow want to be self-reliant, whereas the wilderness experience is about discovering the only true freedom: a total reliance on God expressed in worship of him, fidelity to his law and an essential love of poverty, of a depending on him for my how am I to live, not seeking once to isolate myself from him by material security.

THE ONLY TRUE FREEDOM: TOTAL RELIANCE ON GOD

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are all to teach me reliance on God and solidarity with those who suffer. They are to make space in me for knowledge of my poverty and tame my ego a bit. Even a feeble Lent, a Lent of broken resolutions, might by God’s grace bring about a change in me if I am forced to admit how weak is my will, how shallow my religiosity, and how deep and real my need for God’s mercy. Remember that wonderful Chesterton paradox used to describe a saint: ‘A saint can be recognised by the fact that he knows himself to be a sinner.’

‘LOOK NOT ON OUR SINS, BUT ON THE FAITH OF YOUR CHURCH’

Just as Jesus needed to immerse himself the story of Israel, the story of God’s miraculous saving in history, so Lent is a time of identifying myself more fully with the Church, to experience in this time the miraculous effects the saving God wishes to bring about in my own history, particularly through the miraculous signs and wonders of the sacraments. This is not merely a personal journey, but also a collective one for the whole Church, a time to remember the prayer which precedes Communion which asks God to look ‘not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church’. It is also a time to remember that however weak or sinful I may feel I am supported by the merits and intercession of the whole Church. Together as part of the Chosen People we will rejoice in the arrival at the Promised Land of Easter.

LOOK TO THE HORIZON AND JUST KEEP GOING

We will welcome the newly baptised at Easter and share in the joy of the salvation they have been promised. Exodus also reminds us that salvation has a history: it does not happen all at once. We are on a journey. The direction of travel is all-important, and the wonderful promise of the destination allows one to lift the eyes to the horizon and slog on, even when the going is touch and we lament what must be left behind.”
– This is an excerpt of “Diary of a City Priest”, by Pastor Iuventus, (available from Amazon) which was published in “The Catholic Herald” issue March 14 2014. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link).

 

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PRAISE THE LORD! – IF GOD DOES “SEND” SUFFERING, IT IS MORE LIKELY TO BE TO A SAINT THAN TO A SINNER, BECAUSE THE SAINT IS BETTER “QUALIFIED”

And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me (Mat 1:38).

“THE POWER OF PAIN

Pain is one of our great supernatural resources. That statement is out of line with our usual pattern of thought. We are accustomed to viewing pain as an unmitigated evil. For some persons, the existence of pain even is a source of temptation against their religious faith. ‘If God is good,’ they ask, ‘why does He permit suffering, particularly so much innocent suffering?’

‘IF GOD IS GOOD,’ THEY ASK, ‘WHY DOES HE PERMIT SUFFERING?’

Thoughtful people realise that we could not have the world we do have, without suffering. A great amount of suffering is caused by man’s own inhumanity to man. To prevent this, God would have to make man a puppet, with God pulling the strings on each man’s actions. Being no longer free, man would cease to be human.

FREE WILL AND CREATION AS WE KNOW IT

Similarly, to eliminate all pain caused by nature, God would have had a different kind of world. Fire burns. Coal tars initiate cancer. Gravity crushes. Electricity kills. The world could not be our world, as we know it, without pain.

Still, after all possible explanations of pain have been made, there does remain a large element of mystery in this question of suffering. For example, why deadly microbes, why poisonous reptiles?

THERE DOES REMAIN A MYSTERY

It helps a little to remember that God’s plan for the universe encompasses billions of years. Our own world with its pain is but one pinpoint in that vast plan and only one moment in those uncounted eons. How the phenomenon of pain may eventually contribute to God’s over-all design, we must await to discover.

‘GREATER LOVE THAN THIS NO MAN HAS, THAT ONE LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS’

The really important truth about pain, for the Christian, is the fact that it does have a meaning in the here and now. In Eden God gave to suffering its value as an atonement for sin. On Calvary Jesus Christ gave to suffering its ultimate nobility as He expressed, in the language of pain, God’s infinite love for man. ‘Greater love than this no man has, that one lay down his life for his friends.’

SHARING THE SUBLIME FRUIT OF SUFFERING

Jesus did not hoard to Himself this sublime fruit of suffering, this ability to make one’s pain count for others. In His scheme of salvation, our Lord has chosen to share with us His redemptive work. Each of us who has been baptised in Christ has the privilege of helping Him to carry His cross. Each of us has the power to atone by our sufferings for the sins of others and to crack the locks on hearts that have been closed to God’s grace.

‘WHO NOW REJOICE IN MY SUFFERINGS FOR YOU, AND FILL UP THAT WHICH IS LACKING IN THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST IN MY FLESH FOR HIS BODY’S SAKE, WHICH IS THE CHURCH’ (Colossians 1:24)

Whatever pain may be our lot, in honesty we must admit, ‘I deserve this for my sins.’ Only an innocent child can truthfully say, ‘I do not deserve to suffer.’ If God’s justice were not tempered with mercy and if we had to pay the full price of our infidelities, we should be living our whole lives in pain.

However, when suffering does come to us, it would be a mistake to conclude, ‘I am being punished for my sins.’ God is not a vindictive God. He may permit us to suffer for our spiritual good and to better assure our eternal happiness, but He does not send suffering to ‘get even’ with us for our offences against Him.

MOST SUFFERING IS THE INEVITABLE RESULT OF LIVING IN THE KIND OF WORLD THAT IS OURS

In fact, it probably is quite rarely that God positively ‘sends’ suffering to anyone. Most suffering, such as disease or accident, is simply the result of natural causes; or, it is the result of the evil will of fellow humans. Most suffering, in other words, is the inevitable result of living in the kind of a world that is ours.

If God does ‘send’ suffering, it is more likely to be to a saint than to a sinner. The saint is better qualified to use suffering unselfishly for the salvation of others.

‘I OFFER THIS CROSS, BELOVED JESUS, IN UNION WITH YOURS’

Suffering comes in all styles and sizes. It may be a simple headache, a slight cold or a minor disappointment. It may be the excruciating agony of cancer or of acute arthritis, or the mental distress of deep despondency or loneliness.

Whatever our particular pain may be, it will be a tragic waste if we refuse or forget to say, ‘I offer this cross, beloved Jesus, in union with Yours. I offer it for my own sins and especially in atonement for the sins of others. Let my suffering bring another soul to You!'”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966 (text within the inverted commas; capital headings added afterwards).

(see also Mt 5:2-12)

 

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PRIDE, AVARICE, STUBBORNNESS, ANGER – THE MEANING OF THE WORD “ROOF” IN THE BIBLE

They stripped the roof and lowered the stretcher with the man sick of the palsy in front of Jesus, who was in the house.

* * * * * * * * *

“YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN”

‘And they came to him, bringing one sick of the palsy, who was carried by four. And, when they could not offer him for the multitude, they uncovered the roof, where he was: and opening it they let down the bed whereon the man sick of the palsy lay’ [Mk 2:3-4].

Humility and poverty, patience and obedience, are the four who bring the soul to Jesus, as it lies helpless in carnal pleasure.

And because they cannot bring it because of the crowd of pressing desires of the flesh, they strip the roof and open it, and let down the bed with the palsied man in front of Jesus. The roof is a fourfold one: of pride, avarice, stubbornness and anger, the leaky roof spoken of by Ecclesiasticus [cf. Proverbs 19:13], blinding the eye of reason.

Isaiah says: ‘What aileth thee also, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?’ [Is 22:1];

and David: ‘Let them be as grass upon the tops of houses’, etc. [Ps 128:6].

This roof, covering and obscuring the face of the soul so that it cannot see the light of justice, the four virtues mentioned strip by contrition of heart, and open in oral confession; thus they let down before Jesus, trusting in Jesus’ mercy, both soul and body in the satisfaction of penance.

No-one can come to Jesus, unless he is carried by these four virtues. As the Gloss says, ‘He is carried by four, who is lifted to God by four virtues, with a trusting mind.

The Book of Wisdom says: ‘She teaches sobriety and wisdom and justice and virtue’ [cf. Wisd. 8:7], (which others call prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice).

ON FAITH: JESUS SEEING HIS FAITH.

‘And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son. Thy sins are forgiven thee.’

The Gloss says: ‘His own faith is strengthened by God, where only that of others had been strong; so that being healed within and without, the man arose, and his errors were forgiven him by the merits of others.

What wonderful humility!

Despised by men, helpless in all his limbs, he is called ‘son’, at any rate, he is certainly such because his sins are forgiven.’

Note these three points: seeing their faith, ‘Be of good heart, son’, and ‘Thy sins are forgiven’.

Faith without love is empty; a Christian’s faith is with love.

Take note: it is one thing to ‘believe God’, another to ‘believe that’ there is a God, and another to ‘believe in’ God.

To ‘believe God’ is to believe that what he says is true, which bad people may do; and we may believe a man, without believing in him. To ‘believe’ in the second sense is to believe in his existence, that he is God; and the devils do this.

To ‘believe in’ God is by believing to love him, to go to him, to adhere to him and be incorporated into his members [the Church, His body].

By this faith, the wicked man is justified. Where there is this sort of faith, there is trust in God’s mercy and remission of sin.‘And, behold, some of the scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth’ [Mt 9:3].

Because they do not believe Jesus to be true God, they say he blasphemes by forgiving sins. ‘And Jesus, seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts?’ [Mt 9:4].

The word is ‘cogitating’, a deliberate recalling to mind. Jesus sees their thoughts; as Hebrews says:

‘All things are naked and open to his eyes’ [Heb 4:13];

and Ecclesiasticus:‘The eyes of the Lord are far brighter than the sun,beholding round about all the ways of men,and the bottom of the deep,and looking into the hearts,into the most hidden parts.For all things were known to the Lord God before they were created:so also after they were perfected he beholdeth all things’ [Ecclus 23:28-29].

So, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’ The prophet Micah called down woe on those who pondered evil in their beds, and performed it at morning light [cf. Mic 2:1].

When we dwell with mental pleasure, and consent to evil, in our ‘beds’ (our hearts), we perform that evil in the morning light, before the Lord’s eyes, even if we do not in fact carry it out. He who looks on a woman to lust after her (that is, who looks on her in such a way that he lusts for her) has already committed adultery with her in his heart [cf. Mt 5:28].

The scribes could have known that he was God, from the very fact that he saw their thoughts. ‘Which is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk?’ [Mt 9:5].

The Gloss says, ‘Because you would not believe this spiritual truth, it is proved by a visible sign of no less power; that you might know the hidden power and majesty in the Son of man, in as much as he can forgive sins like God.’The second part of the Epistle is concordant to this second clause:

‘Putting away lying, speak ye the truth, every man with his neighbour; for we are members one of another. Be angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your anger. Give not place to the devil’ [Eph 4:25-27].

We said just now that there are four virtues that carry the paralysed soul to Jesus, humility, poverty, patience and obedience; by which we put away the four things spoken of by the Apostle.

By humility, we put away the lying of pride or vainglory, which lies by claiming to be something, whereas it is nothing. Lying is deceiving another’s mind.

‘Speak ye the truth’, by love of poverty. Why is it that nowadays almost everyone speaks falsely to his neighbour, if not from avarice? This is what divides from one another those who should be members of Christ.

‘Be angry’ with yourselves, by repentance, ‘and sin not’. The angry man thinks evil, and so the devil gets into him, to perform evil deeds. Patience is necessary, to drive out anger. Alternatively, ‘Be angry’ means, show such vehement indignation towards yourselves that you desist from sin. Let not the sun which is Christ set, by deserting your mind. He is obscured from us by anger, as by a mountain standing in the way.

Here, then, is why the Apostle invites us to have patience. He also invites us to obedience, saying ‘Give not place to the devil’. When the first man fell into disobedience, he gave place to the devil. You must obey, because obedience shuts out the devil, and he cannot get into the soul.

We ask you, then, Lord Jesus Christ, to put away the lying of our pride; to drive out our avarice by poverty; to break our anger with patience; and to crush our disobedience by the obedience of your Passion. By this, may we be presented to you, and receive the forgiveness of our sins; and be made fit to rejoice with you for ever. Grant this, you who are blessed for ever and ever. Amen. (by St Anthony of Padua)

 
 

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“THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS LIFTED MORE PEOPLE OUT OF POVERTY THAN ANY OTHER CIVIC INSTITUTION”

SERVING THE POOR AND PROMOTING SOCIAL JUSTICE ARE CENTRAL TO THE CHURCH’S IDENTITY AND MISSION.

“The Catholic Church has lifted more people out of poverty than any other civic institution, a former World Bank director has said.

Writing in the ‘New York Times’ Robert Calderisi said: ‘As a result of its work in basic health and education – and despite its obtuse views on birth control – in the last 50 years the Church has probably lifted more people out of poverty than any other civic institution in history.’ Mr Calderisi, who is a baptised Catholic, wrote: ‘In some African countries, as much as half of basic education and health services are provided by the Church. Catholic hospitals and clinics around the world distribute about a third of all the antiretroviral drugs received by people living with HIV and Aids, and in India, where Catholics are no more than two per cent of the population, the Church is the second-largest care provider in this area after the government.

Mr Calderisi, author of ‘Earthly Mission: the Catholic Church and World Development’, continued: ‘Many of the Pope’s statements have been highly arresting: he has attacked the ‘idolatry of money’ and called unchecked capitalism ‘a new tyranny.’ His trenchant critique of trickle-down economics has earned the ire of conservative commentators.

‘Francis has stressed that serving the poor and promoting social justice are central to the Church‘s identity and mission.

‘As the first pope from the developing world, Francis may help divert international concern about poverty away from imaginary geographical groupings like ‘north’ and ‘south’…

‘Pope Francis has renewed the hope of Catholic activists that faith and charity can go hand in hand.'”
– This article by Madeleine Teahan entitled “Former director at World Bank hails Church’s work on poverty” was published in “The Catholic Herald” issue January 10 2014. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link).

 
 

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“EVERYONE SAYS TO ME: ‘GO AWAY, DO NOT MAKE HAPPY PEOPLE SAD'”

POVERTY

“My God, I am hungry!” – “A little while longer, and you shall be satisfied.”

“I am in need of clothing!” – “A little while longer, and you shall put on the robes of glory.”

“My labour is fruitless!” – “A little while longer, and you shall be paid for your labour; I am the lord of the vineyard, and I reward a good workman a hundredfold.”

“Everyone says to me: Go away, do not make happy people sad!” – “What matter, if I support you and smile upon you.”

“Lord, I suffer; misfortune has crushed me.” – “I will sit by you, will lull you to sleep, and ease your bed of pain.”

“Blessed be thou, then, O my God, since thou hast made me poor!” – “My son, he only is poor who is without grace. You are rich, because you suffer and bless.”
– Laverty&Son (eds), 1905

 
 

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