Sunday, February 28, 2010

Prayers for today: Remember your mercies, Lord, your tenderness from ages past. Do not let our enemies triumph over us; O God, deliver Israel from all her distress. (Psalm 24: 6.3.22)

God our Father, help us to hear your Son. Enlighten us with your word, that we may find the way to your glory. We ask this through Christ our Lord in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

Blessed Daniel Brottier (1876-1936)

Daniel spent most of his life in the trenches—one way or another. Born in France in 1876, Daniel was ordained in 1899 and began a teaching career. That didn’t satisfy him long. He wanted to use his zeal for the gospel far beyond the classroom. He joined the missionary Congregation of the Holy Spirit, which sent him to Senegal, West Africa. After eight years there, his health was suffering. He was forced to return to France, where he helped raise funds for the construction of a new cathedral in Senegal. At the outbreak of World War I Daniel became a volunteer chaplain and spent four years at the front. He did not shrink from his duties. Indeed, he risked his life time and again in ministering to the suffering and dying. It was miraculous that he did not suffer a single wound during his 52 months in the heart of battle. After the war he was invited to help establish a project for orphaned and abandoned children in a Paris suburb. He spent the final 13 years of his life there. He died in 1936 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Paris only 48 years later.

The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke (9.28~36)

About eight days after Jesus said this, He took Peter, John and James with Him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus. They spoke about His departure, which He was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to Him, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters— one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah. (He did not know what he was saying.) While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him. When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no-one at that time what they had seen.

(Homily by Fr. E.J Tyler)

Perhaps the most striking thing about reality is its variety. Everywhere there are differences. Look at a garden, look at the animals in a zoo, look at any group of persons, look at a family, look at even a pair of twins. One sees many differences. The differences among the things that make up visible creation are not only of kind but of degree within the various kinds. Though all men are of the one kind, who could calculate the number of differences among individuals within humankind? Particularly notable are the differences in talent, in capacity. All his life one man does the most humdrum of things and, though he may be happy, never achieves anything beyond the ordinary. Another man arises from obscurity and is in sight of becoming, even if briefly, nearly the master of the world. Where did Napoleon Bonaparte come from? He was an obscure Corsican from off the coast of Italy and yet by the age of 35 was Emperor of the French and within five more years was master of Europe. He fell, but his talent was extraordinary. Eighty years after the birth of Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler was born in obscurity in Austria. By the age of 44 was head of the German state and on his way to a despicable career of carnage and blood that brought death and injury to untold numbers all over the world. He had extraordinary talent. We can think of numerous high achievers in history, including some who were saints, and others who were filled with evil intent. In all high achievers there is once common element: hope. They had high hopes. Now, hope is not exclusive to high achievers who have great talent, for even in those of very ordinary talent it is essential that there be hope. Hope is a fundamental human requisite. The ordinary person who in his obscurity lives a beautiful life, humbly raising his several children, day by day engaged in a tedious round of humdrum activity such as delivering bread or stacking provisions, and ending his days having done his best at his uninteresting tasks, must live in hope. Were he not to have hoped, he would have long since given up on life. If there is not hope, all is hopeless.

There is, however, a grand undertaking that is ahead of every man and woman, be he high or low in talent. The distinguished and the ordinary must make this undertaking his own. What he makes of it will depend on his calling and his spiritual talent, but make it his own he must. That undertaking is the work of personal holiness in Christ. It is the common undertaking of all who are baptized. Now, in this, just as with everything, hope is a fundamental prerequisite. Each must have a high hope of attaining this goal if he is ever to attain it. If he has little hope of it, he will not give it the energy and dedication it requires. This hope is a God-given virtue, imparted at our baptism, by which we desire the kingdom of heaven that our Lord announced and established. By means of this supernatural hope we desire eternal life as our happiness, and the virtues that are necessary for it. The foundation of this hope, a hope that has to be high indeed, is the trust we place in Christ’s promises rather than our own strength, together with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Only the grace of Jesus Christ can take us to holiness, but we must apply ourselves to the work — and for this application we need to have a great hope. This hope is the gift of God, as is our faith in Jesus Christ and as is our love for him. This virtue that is God’s gift responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man and woman. We naturally hope for happiness and this natural hope drives our efforts and decisions during life. The hope that is supernatural and specifically Christian is the gift of the Holy Spirit. It completes and gives focus to the natural hope of every human heart. Buoyed up by this hope, we are kept from sin and selfishness and led to holiness, which is the true happiness of man. Abraham hoped, and we are his children in the faith. In the beatitudes of Jesus Christ (in Matthew and Luke) our hopes are raised to heaven, and the grace won for us by the Passion and Death of Christ sustains our hope. Thus hope becomes the steadfast anchor of the soul and our weapon in our spiritual struggle.

Our Gospel today (Luke 9: 28-36) places before us the transfiguration of Christ, manifesting his glory. It shows forth what we are called to hope for. With the grace of God for which we ought pray, let us maintain high hopes of attaining our true end, which is union with Christ in his glory. This we attain by obeying the will of God in union with Jesus who attained his glory through suffering. We hope for union with the Bridegroom in the glory of heaven. As St Teresa of Avila wrote, “Hope, O my soul, hope.” Let us pray for the virtue of hope, and never let it fade away.

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