Thursday, March 4, 2010

Morning Offering: O Jesus, through the most pure heart of Mary, I offer you all the prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your divine heart, in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass. I offer them especially for the Holy Father's intentions:

Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for February is: "That by means of sincere search for the truth scholars and intellectuals may arrive at an understanding of the one true God".

His mission intention is: "That the Church, aware of her own missionary identity, may strive to follow Christ faithfully and to proclaim His Gospel to all peoples".

Prayers for today: Test me, O God, and know my thoughts; see whether I step in the wrong path, and guide me along the everlasting way. (Ps 138: 23-24)

God of love, bring us back to you. Send your Spirit to make us strong in faith and active in good works. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,...

St . Casimir (1458-1483)

Casimir, born of kings and in line (third among 13 children) to be a king himself, was filled with exceptional values and learning by a great teacher, John Dlugosz. Even his critics could not say that his conscientious objection indicated softness. Even as a teenager, Casimir lived a highly disciplined, even severe life, sleeping on the ground, spending a great part of the night in prayer and dedicating himself to lifelong celibacy. When nobles in Hungary became dissatisfied with their king, they prevailed upon Casimir’s father, the king of Poland, to send his son to take over the country. Casimir obeyed his father, as many young men over the centuries have obeyed their government. The army he was supposed to lead was clearly outnumbered by the “enemy”; some of his troops were deserting because they were not paid. At the advice of his officers, Casimir decided to return home. His father was irked at the failure of his plans, and confined his 15-year-old son for three months. The lad made up his mind never again to become involved in the wars of his day, and no amount of persuasion could change his mind. He returned to prayer and study, maintaining his decision to remain celibate even under pressure to marry the emperor’s daughter. He reigned briefly as king of Poland during his father’s absence. He died of lung trouble at 23 while visiting Lithuania, of which he was also Grand Duke. He was buried in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The first reading from the Book of Jeremiah (17.5~10)

Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a barren bush in the desert
that enjoys no change of season, But stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat when it comes,
its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit. More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart, To reward everyone according to his ways,
according to the merit of his deeds.

(Reflection by Fr. E. J. Tyler)

It is a very sad thing to come across a person who has lost hope. It is the most natural and normal thing to have hope, and we thrive when we have plenty of hope. But the question is, in what do we place our hope? It may be that, without realizing it too clearly, we have been placing our hope in things that in the final analysis will let us down because of their inherently contingent nature. They are "things of flesh". In what are we placing our trust in life — financial success, physical health, plenty of friends? If these fail us, where then will our life and happiness find its support? The prophet Jeremiah tells us that "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD". Such a person’s life will never cease to bear fruit — the fruit that God wants. So we must select and choose what we shall trust in. Let it be the Lord. If however, and perhaps largely unknown to ourselves, we have come to trust in things that we then discover fail us (such as business success, health, friends, or whatever), let that discovery be the occasion for detaching ourselves from that object of trust. Let us then trust more deeply in the Lord. Let that occasion become a great opportunity, a moment of grace when we abandon ourselves more completely to the Lord. Trust in the Lord by deliberate choice and by policy. When what is dear fails us, let us trust in the Lord the more.

The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke (16.19~31)

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.' He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'

The poor
(Homily by Fr. E. J. Tyler)

If we were asked to provide in a single snapshot the state of the world in every age, I wonder what snapshots would be produced. There would be many who would, naturally, claim that it is utterly impossible to give in a single image the state of mankind and human society not only in its current situation, but in the broad sweep of history. If a great artist were commissioned to do just this — to come up with a painting that captured the state of human society and its most obvious issues — I wonder what that artist would paint. I suggest that our Lord in our Gospel passage today (Luke 16:19-31) has provided such an image. It is of the “rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.” In every age there has been luxury and misery and a range of conditions of life between these two. In our Lord’s own time there were the blind beggars, the groups of ostracized lepers, the sick and the forgotten, and at the same time there were those wealthy who neglected the needy. We read in the Gospel that when Herod held his birthday party the nobles of the court attended, together with the leading men of Galilee. I wonder whether some of them fitted into the category of the rich man of our Lord’s parable who neglected the poor man Lazarus. It is remarked in another passage of the Gospels that the Pharisees loved money and they scoffed at our Lord’s warning against this love. One might wonder about how they too fitted into this parable. In any case, the world might well be described in terms of this opening image of the parable. There are those who have, and there are those who have not. Those who have not would love to partake of what might fall from the table of those who have, but are unable to. They must lie at the gate, with the dogs coming to lick their sores. Thus they pass their lives in misery.

There are admirable and significant initiatives constantly taken to alleviate the condition of the poor. One only has to think of the likes of Mahatma Ghandi to appreciate the natural goodness of the human heart, broken by sin though it is. History is dotted by numerous examples of marvellous dedication to those in need, and an admirable sharing of wealth with the many Lazaruses at the gates of those who have. Such examples show that the spark of goodness remained in the heat of man despite his catastrophic moral fall at the beginning. He is profoundly inclined to selfishness and sin, but at the same time he is drawn by an even deeper law of his being summoning him to a moral grandeur that strives to better the lot of his fellows. Nevertheless the lamentable situation stands. There is wealth and there is penury within countries and between countries. Evil afflicts very many people. Consider the centuries of slavery and the countless children of God who suffered lives of misery as a result. There were few to help them, and we may imagine great numbers who lived lives shrouded in an unchanging darkness. We may take another parallel instance in our own day, the instance of abortion. Millions of human beings at the start of their life’s journey are attacked, injured, destroyed precisely in the location where they are meant by the providence of God to be safest — in their mothers’ wombs. It is the first shelter God gives them, and they quickly become the Lazarus of our parable today. The point I am making is that our Lord’s opening image in today’s parable may be taken to be a true snapshot of the world as it has been during much of its history, and as it is today. What to do about it — that is the burning question. The answer lies in the rest of the parable. We must help and this imperative comes from Christ. If we do not we shall be placing ourselves in danger of sharing in the lot of the rich man of the parable. He died and was buried, and in his torment in Hell he could not pass from his side to the other. A great chasm existed between them.

The Christian has a most notable motive for helping the poor, and for overcoming his ingrained and fallen reluctance to part with his possessions for the sake of the needy. Whatever he does to the least and to the neediest, he will have done to Jesus the Lord of lords and the King of kings. It is a principal way of showing love for Jesus. There is as well a tremendous sanction. At the judgment, Christ will remember and bring forward what was done and what was not done to the least of his brothers. We shall be rewarded or punished accordingly. The saints have been distinguished for their love for Jesus as present in the poor. Let us love and serve the poor, then!

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