Love your fellow man, or…

Here we let the Sacred Scripture do all the work. Strong. Sober. Clear.

1st Letter of John, chapter 3, verse 15.

Any one who hates  his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Now, maybe you think this does not apply to you. But let’s just make sure, going backwards through the principles at play.

Eternal Life: Not given to murderers.
Resolution: I want eternal life, so I can not be a murderer.

Murderer: Anyone who hates his brother.
Resolution: I do not want to be accounted as a murderer, so I will not hate my brother.

Hate: It is clear from the Scriptures that ‘hate’ doesn’t simply mean “strong displeasure and hard feelings”.  Hate is when I dismiss someone, think they are not worthy of my time, prize my own plans over another, think poorly in any way.
Resolution: I do not want to hate, so I will not dismiss others, bypass them, think down upon them, or mistreat them in any way.

Brother: It is clear from the Scriptures that ‘brother’ is not only my biological brother.  It extends to all of my family members, all of my civic encounters, those in my neighborhood.  In short, every single person I encounter or am around is to be my brother.
Resolution: I do not want to miss seeing Jesus, who is present in my brother. I will look upon every single person in front of me, in my mind, or around me as my brother in the Lord.

Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I can see the love in Your eyes
Laying yourself down
Raising up the broken to life
— “Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace),” Hillsong

This song is wonderful. Look at your Savior, who is love itself. Let His love fill you. Then be a bearer of His great love to the world.

Prisoner 16670

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In 1941 a Polish priest was arrested at his friary. The Nazis noticed his German name and offered to let him go. Wishing to be with his native people, the priest insisted on going with all the others who were arrested. After a brief stop in one of the smaller concentration camps, he was transferred to Auschwitz, where he was given the number 16670.

Though he was rather sickly and frail, the guards gave him some of the hardest work. Still, he persevered, always trusting in the love of Jesus and Mary. One day, some men were discovered to have escaped from camp. Of course, this infuriated the camp commander, so he decided to pick ten random prisoners to starve in a bunker as a way to deter any further escape attempts. Prisoner 16670 was not chosen. The final prisoner chosen, a man by the name of Franciszek Gajowniczek, begged for mercy from the guards because of his wife and children. Prisoner 16670 stepped forward, announced he was a Catholic priest, and volunteered to take the man’s spot. St. Maximilian Kolbe, who could have escaped imprisonment due to his German name, sacrificed his life so the other prisoner could have a chance to survive and return to his family! What love this priest of Jesus Christ had for God’s children!

In the bunker, there could be heard hymns sung and prayers recited to our Lord and His Mother. There were not cries of pain and anguish, but instead songs of joy and peace. St. Maximilian encouraged his fellow victims that soon they would be in Heaven with Jesus and His Mother Mary. Two weeks passed and still St. Maximilian remained alive, so the guards finally gave him a lethal injection.

As for Franciszek, he survived Auschwitz and reunited with his wife after the war (though his sons were killed). He was present at the canonization of St. Maximilian and spread the story of St. Maximilian’s heroic love as long as he lived.

Let’s strive to imitate the heroic virtue of St. Maximilian Kolbe! We will put others’ needs before our own. We will go where we can best serve the Lord and bring about His glory, even if it means a little extra suffering for us. We will encourage one another in times of extreme suffering so that we might not cry in pain and anguish, but instead sing out to the Lord in joy and peace. Perhaps we may even lay down our own lives so that others may live.

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“For Jesus Christ, I am prepared to suffer still more.”

Build the Fire [SERMON]

Listen to Deacon Bryan’s sermon from Sunday, August 3rd. Check out some important readings from Mass:

Romans 8:35, 37-39

Brothers and sisters:
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matthew 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late;
dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me, ”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over—
twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.

Psalm Response (Ps. 145: 16):

The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.

What is Simplicity?

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I’ve written in previous posts about simplicity and how it can assist us in remembering our mission to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, but I didn’t really offer a definition of simplicity. It’s a tough word to define, especially when seeking to satisfy the masses. I’ve had several conversations with the EvangelicalDisciple concerning the topic and we have yet to nail down a good definition of it. Well, I have good news for everyone: I think I have found a good definition!

St. Francis de Sales (whom I quoted last week) offers this:

Well, simplicity is nothing else than an act of pure and simple charity, having only one end, which is to acquire the love of God; and our soul is simple when we have no other aim in all that we do or desire.

To break open his definition, he brings into the discussion the example of Martha and Mary as they welcomed the Lord into their home. Mary was the one who understood simplicity, for she looked straight to God, without ever allowing any self-interest to creep into her motives for sitting at the feet of Jesus. Martha, meanwhile, was so focused on herself that she became anxious and weighed down by her work. Her life had become so self-interested that she lost all freedom to rest with Jesus.

rest

Consider the ramifications of what life might look like for one devoted to living a life solely founded on the virtue of simplicity: no more little indulgences after consuming enough food and drink, no more excessive TV watching, spending, hoarding… no more excess at all. What else might it entail? Well, resting on Sundays, spending more time in the peace and quiet of prayer, striving for holiness and inviting others to do the same, encountering great joy in detachment from self, realizing you don’t have to defeat Satan because Jesus already did it, calmness of spirit and freedom from anxiety. The pros outweigh the cons.

If you’re interested in living a life of true simplicity, ask yourself:

Do I want serve this person because I want to look good in the eyes of others, or because I want to show him/her God’s love?

Do I want to buy this car because it looks a certain way, or because it will help me glorify God?

Do I want to grow a good garden so I can show it off to my friends, or because a good garden will nourish me and remind me to thank God for my health, and beautiful flowers will remind me of all that God created?

Do I exercise only because it makes me look better to other people, or because I can serve God better with a healthy body?

Do I want to fast today because my friends might notice and think I’m a holy person, or because it will remind me of my soul’s hunger for God’s grace?

Am I focused on myself, or on God and his glory?

Do I think only of myself and how I look in the eyes of others, or do I think only of God and his love for his people?

Do I pray only because it makes me feel good, or because God deserves my worship, reverence, and love? Do I stop praying when the good feelings vanish, or do I persevere even through the times when I can’t feel God’s presence?

Ask yourself these questions – and similar questions about things that better relate to your life – frequently. Live a reflected life so you don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal, which is the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Be simple.

“…you are anxious about many things.” [SERMON]

A sermon from this morning about St. Martha in this passage (Luke 10:38-42):

Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

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