- We are Not the Only One Who Weeps ("Helpful Hints of Life" and Catholic Website of the Week)
- Catholics Continue to Aid Victims of Hurricane Laura (Diocesan News and BEYOND)
- Angel of God Prayer (under the Praying Hands at end)
Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
Angels of God
`He will give his angels charge of you,' and, `On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'"
On September 29, the Church honors and called upon the archangels Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. And then on October 2, the Church will honor and call upon Guardian Angels. Let’s here it for angels! Yeah!!!
There are almost 300 references to angels in the Sacred Scriptures, but what are they, what do they do, and what does the Church through which Christ speaks say about them?
An angel is a pure spirit being with no body. They were created ‘before’ humanity. They were given a choice at the moment of their creation to serve God or not serve God. Fallen angels, also called devils, chose not to serve God and were separated forever with no possibility of change because their choice is forever.
They are depicted with wings because everything they do, they do ‘instantaneously.’ Every human person at the moment of their conception is assigned a guardian angel. “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels always see the face of my Father in heaven.” -Matthew 18:10-11
When we die, we do NOT become angels. Our soul goes either to Heaven, Purgatory, or Hell and waits to be reunited with our bodies at the Last Judgment when our bodies will be resurrected. If we have loved ones in heaven, they are saints and are "like the angels (Luke 20:36),' but not real angels.
The Church teaches much more on the Holy Angels of God. But the most important is that we should cooperate with our Guardian Angel to get to heaven. Our Guardian Angel is always with us to protect if we let our angel, obtain for us grace if we let our angel, helps us be good if we let our angel. SCROLL DOWN TO THE END TO READ MORE ABOUT ANGELS.
Peace and prayers in Jesus through Mary, loved by Saint Joseph,
P.S. 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time Sunday - >> Readings
P.S.S. More below on the Holy Angels from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
P.S.S.S. Sunday Readings with commentary and reflection questions are near end.
a) because one has to get up so early to do it
b) because we can only do it in silence
c) because we deal with ourselves, our surroundings, and especially the devil
d) because it is something we will on our own
573. What are some objections to praying?(CCC 2726-2728, 2752-2753)
a) people think they do not have the time
b) some think praying is useless
c) some find it difficult or not having effect
d) all of the above
574. What are the difficulties in prayer? (CCC 2729-2733, 2754-2755)
a) being distracted
b) being too happy
c) getting all we want
d) none of the above
angel (both from Late Latin angelus, from Greek angelos, literally, “messenger”)
- a spiritual being created by God superior to humans in power and intelligence;
- [In medieval angelology, angels constituted the lowest of the nine celestial orders: seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominations, virtues, powers, principalities, archangels, and angels.]
-“who is like God” (The title given to one of the chief angels (Dan. 10:13, 21; 12:1). He had special charge of Israel as a nation. He disputed withSatan (Jude 1:9) about the body of Moses. He is also represented as warning against "that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveththe whole world" (Rev. 12:7-9).
-“strength of God” (Dan. 8:16, 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26.)
-“remedy of God” (one of the archangels; the angel of healing and the guardian of Tobias (Tobit 3:17; 5--12).
(-el means “of God”)
We are Not the Only One Who Weeps
The tears of the Mother of Sorrows fill the Scriptures and flow down across the centuries.
All of the weeping mothers, widows and virgins will add nothing to this copious outpouring that would suffice to cleanse the hearts of ten thousand desperate worlds.
All those who are hurt, destitute or oppressed, the sad tide of humanity that choke the fearful paths of life will find succor in the ample folds of the sky-blue cloak of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows.
Each time that someone falls weeping, whether in a throng of people or alone, she is there weeping too, because all tears belong to her as the Empress of Beatitude and Love.
Mary’s tears are the very Blood of Jesus Christ, but differently shed, just as her compassion was a sort of internal crucifixion for the divine humanity of her Son.
-Léon Bloy (1846-1917)
"Just as Jesus prays to the Father and gives thanks before receiving his gifts, so he teaches us filial boldness: "Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will." Such is the power of prayer and of faith that does not doubt: "all things are possible to him who believes." Jesus is as saddened by the "lack of faith" of his own neighbors and the "little faith" of his own disciples as he is struck with admiration at the great faith of the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman."
Catechism of the Catholic Church #2610
The Purgatory Project exists to aid the souls in purgatory. Anyone can register the names of people who have died. It costs nothing to register and will benefit those you add to the registry. Perpetual Masses are said for all souls in the Purgatory Project. The site also offers articles and links.
TEACH AND REMIND PEOPLE OF THEIR GUARDIAN ANGELS (as the pandemic allows)
From Catholic Schools and PSRs to parish groups, teach and speak about the presence and power of Guardian Angels in each person's life.
An awareness of this friend of God in our lives and in the lives of each person help us keep a better awareness of God and truly following Him.
Pray the "Angel of God" prayer after each class or parish group meeting. Speak and teach about Guardian Angels. Cultivate an awareness of praying to one's guardian angel for daily help, and to pray to the guardian angel of another to help them and help them to be open to interactions with them.
Jim Graves NationSeptember 26, 2020Hurricane Laura made landfall in the Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana, in the early morning hours of Aug. 27. Its 150 mph winds seriously damaged and destroyed homes and businesses, uprooted trees and downed power lines, and it has been described as the worst storm to hit the state in recorded history.
Residents were forewarned, and most left the area for the duration of the storm; hence, there was little loss of human life, but the community still faces a long period of rebuilding. Local Catholic leaders appealed for aid to help the battered region rebuild, a process which could take many years.
Sister Miriam MacLean serves as director of Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana, which serves the Lake Charles Diocese. She has lived in Lake Charles for two years as part of a community of five Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan. She evacuated during the storm, but when she returned, she was astonished by what she saw.
“It was unbelievable,” she told the Register. “The city had been devastated. Debris was everywhere: signs down, telephone poles down, trees down.”
While her own St. Hubert’s Convent building still stood, “the building across the street had crumbled to the ground. Its roof is gone, as are most of its brick walls. I’d say only a quarter of it remains. It’s the same all over the city. Doors, roofs and walls are gone, and you can see the insides of buildings everywhere.”
Fallen trees blocked the sisters’ path to their convent when they returned hours after the storm, but a local diocesan priest, Father Joseph Caraway, used a chainsaw to create a path to the convent before heading off into the neighborhood to distribute emergency relief. The Catholic Charities building where Sister Miriam works 2 miles away also survived, but the buildings around it, she said, are “totally devastated.”
Six of 39 Parishes Totally Destroyed
The Diocese of Lake Charles reports that six of its 39 parish churches have been totally destroyed, with another dozen severely damaged. The diocese’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which had finished a major renovation in 2019, had major roof damage and was without electricity. The cathedral’s grounds were covered by fallen trees; bulldozers had to cut a path so that Bishop Glen John Provost could reach his house.
Christ the King parish was among the hardest hit Lake Charles parishes, reported Father Rojo Koonathan, the pastor. The church had extensive roof and water damage, and its pews will have to be replaced. The parish office, hall and CCD classrooms are a total loss. Masses for the parish are currently being celebrated at a neighboring parish.
Father Koonathan had initially intended to stay in the rectory during the storm, but left at the last minute when he heard that it would reach Category 4-level status or more. He stayed the night in a parish in the less affected north end of the diocese, but “even there it was a terrible, sleepless night.” When he returned the following day, “It was heartbreaking.”
He lived in the parish rectory for the next two weeks without power or water. Work has begun rebuilding the parish, but “it will be a long process.”
Priest Displaced, Schools Closed
One-third of the diocese’s priests in active ministry were displaced, and five of its six Catholic schools had to temporarily close. One of the hardest hit was St. Louis Catholic High School, the only Catholic high school in the diocese, which saw its administration building roof blown off, windows blown out and major damage to its commons area, cafeteria, gymnasium and storage facilities.
Other Catholic facilities, such as three homes of the Nigerian nuns of the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Mercy, are uninhabitable. The chancery office is closed, as its roof suffered severe damage and is covered by a tarp.
Catholic Charities Jumped Into Action
The day following the storm, Catholic Charities jumped into action, said Sister Miriam. Catholic Charities gathered and began distributing 420 pallets of supplies, including food and water, tarps, toiletries and cleaning supplies. Lay volunteers were slow to come, so local priests, religious and even Bishop Provost used forklifts to load supplies into trucks that were driven to parish distribution sites around the community and engaged in other relief efforts. Priority was given to parishes serving poorer communities and to rural areas which might be overlooked by rescuers.
Neighboring dioceses and Catholic Charities organizations have also joined in the effort to help victims.
Ben Broussard of Catholic Charities of Acadiana in Lafayette, Louisiana, noted that his organization was operating in “lockstep” with Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana. He noted that in addition to fallen trees and structural damage caused by the winds, a storm surge of up to 20 miles inland has left the area covered in mud and marsh grass. He noted that Catholic Charities’ current focus is removing fallen trees from roadways and putting tarps up in place of missing and damaged roofs.
As he told the Register, “The damage is so extensive, it is too much for our local contractors to do alone.”
Sister Miriam is appealing for donations to fund relief and rebuilding efforts, asking the public to make donations to the Diocese of Lake Charles’ Hurricane Laura relief fund.
Broussard echoed the need for donations, as he believes the recovery will take up to a decade, and insurance will not cover all costs, adding that many in the region will have difficulty having access to the resources they need to rebuild. As Broussard said, “Even a small amount of money can help people get their roof back on, get the muck out of their homes and replace their floors.”
Sister Miriam is grateful for the donations that have already come in. “It’s been beautiful to see the tremendous outpouring of support by the Catholic community already, both from other dioceses in Louisiana and Texas, as well as nationally. And there is certainly a pressing need.”
1) Go to MassRyan Scheel explains that “studies have found that only one-third of men attend Mass weekly.”
He continues, “One of the things that gives men identity is a sense of duty.
“Number one: Mass is fulfilling. It’s spiritually nourishing and you’re communing with the Body of Christ. But there’s also a sense of fulfilling your duty. You have a duty as a Catholic to attend Mass every week. There’s few things that edify a man more than the ability to consistently fulfill his duty.
“You look at soldiers, you look at fathers of past generations–of course, you wake up, you do your job, you do it well. As a Catholic man, your job is to go to Mass every week.
“The sense of accomplishment that you can have a sort of structure in your life to go to Mass every week–number one, it provides a structure to your week. Number two, it provides a sense of accomplishment of your duty as a Christian.
“To me, the most important part is number three: the impact of what happens to the families of Catholics where the man does not go to Mass.”
Click here find out what happens to families when the male does not go to Mass.
2) Pray the Rosary and Perform Consecration to Jesus Through MaryScheel explains that “you cannot understate the importance of manliness, but still having the subjugation to Our Mother…there’s something to be said for a real devotion to the tender love of Our Lady that absolutely nurtures a man to be what he should be.”
Fr. Rich Pagano adds, “Mary is the perfection of femininity. She is the New Eve.”
“When I went through my reversion…the very first contact that I had was with the Blessed Mother and her Sorrows–the Seven Sorrows of Mary.
“Learning the Rosary, praying the Rosary–and it’s the manifest femininity of the Blessed Virgin Mary that drew me out to make me want to become more of a man,” Fr. Pagano says.
3) Participate in the Parish “Male participation in parish life, councils, etc., and creating a masculine presence is necessary for the life of parishes,” Scheel explains.
“Male participation has been seated in many cases to women, and men no longer find a real home in the parish because they’ve been somewhat feminized by the nature that women are the ones making those decisions,” Scheel explains.
“And rightly, they’re making decisions from their own genius, so they do things that make sense to them. But they don’t have the complimentary male perspective to then be adding to what they’re doing. This is not to say that female participation in parishes make them overly-feminized, it’s saying that it’s lacking male participation to balance that to make it a full-functioning place.”
Scheel adds that male participation in parish life “brings the Church into the community where it can actually have an impact on society,” and faith and parish life no longer becomes the view that religion is merely something personal–it’s communal.
“You don’t have to set up the tent or anything, but just go to something, and shake hands with somebody else and just get to know them.” Ryan DellaCrosse adds.
4) Spend time with other Catholic menBecoming involved in parish life allows men to spend time with other men, Scheel explains.
The four guys then explain the importance of Christian brotherhood.
5) Practice Asceticism "According to Baxter of Exodus 90, asceticism means “acts of self-denial,” or saying no to things we want so “we can say yes…to love–wherever the Lord calls us.”
He elaborated, saying that angels serve God by accompanying all people on the path to salvation. Each archangel has a specific role, he explained: protection, annunciation, and guidance.
“Michael is the one who fights against the devil,” he said. The archangel Michael aids our resistance against Satan’s temptations, and protects us when the devil tries to claim us as his own, Pope Francis said.
Gabriel is the bearer of good news, he continued. “Gabriel too accompanies us and helps us on our journey when we ‘forget’ the Gospel,” he said, noting the archangel’s message acts as a reminder that “Jesus came to save us.”
Raphael, he said, “walks with us taking care of us on our journey and helping us not take the wrong step.”
The Pope encouraged Catholics to call upon the help of the archangels, and concluded by invoking their intercession.
“Michael: help us in our battle – each of us has a battle to fight in our lives; Gabriel: bring us news, bring us the good news of salvation; Raphael: take us by the hand and lead us forward without taking the wrong turning,” the Pope prayed. “Always walking forward, but with your help!”
THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MOTHER TERESA'S LIFE
By Mary Rezac
Vatican City (EWTN News/CNA) - It’s been said that saints often come in pairs.
Sts. Peter and Paul, Mary and Joseph, Francis and Clare, and Louis and Zelie Martin are just a handful of such saints, coupled together through marriage or friendship.
Perhaps the best-known modern saintly pair of friends would be Mother Teresa and John Paul II, whose lives intersected many times during her time as Mother Superior of the Missionaries of Charity, and his pontificate.
When John Paul II came to visit Mother Teresa’s home in the heart of the slums in Kolkata in 1986, Mother Teresa called declared it “the happiest day of my life.”
When he arrived, Mother Teresa climbed up into the white popemobile and kissed the ring of the Bishop of Rome, who then kissed the top of Mother’s head, a greeting they would exchange almost every time they met.
After their warm hello, Mother took John Paul II to her Nirmal Hriday (Sacred Heart) home, a home for the sick and the dying she had founded in the 1950s.
Footage of the visit shows Mother Teresa leading John Paul II by the hand to various parts of the home, while he stops to embrace, bless, and greet the patients. He also blessed four corpses, including that of a child.
According to reports of the visit from the BBC, the Pope was “visibly moved” by what he saw during his visit, as he helped the nuns feed and care for the sick and the dying. At some points the Pope was so disturbed by what he saw that he found himself speechless in response to Mother Teresa.
Afterwards, the Pope gave a short address outside the home, calling Nirmal Hriday “a place that bears witness to the primacy of love.”
“When Jesus Christ was teaching his disciples how they could best show their love for him, he said: 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' Through Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity, and through the many others who have served here, Jesus has been deeply loved in people whom society often considers ‘the least of our brethren,’” the Pope remarked.
“Nirmal Hriday proclaims the profound dignity of every human person. The loving care which is shown here bears witness to the truth that the worth of a human being is not measured by usefulness or talents, by health or sickness, by age or creed or race. Our human dignity comes from God our Creators in whose image we are all made. No amount of privation or suffering can ever remove this dignity, for we are always precious in the eyes of God,” he added.
After his address, the Pope greeted the gathered crowds, making a special stop to greet the smiling and singing sisters of the Missionaries of Charity.
Besides calling the visit the happiest day of her life, Mother Teresa also added: "It is a wonderful thing for the people, for his touch is the touch of Christ."
The two remained close friends, visiting each other several times over the years. After her death in 1997, John Paul II waived the five-year waiting period usually observed before opening her cause for canonization. At her beatification in 2003, John Paul II praised Mother Teresa’s love for God, shown through her love for the poor.
“Let us praise the Lord for this diminutive woman in love with God, a humble Gospel messenger and a tireless benefactor of humanity. In her we honour one of the most important figures of our time. Let us welcome her message and follow her example.”
The Eastern churches that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church celebrate the Eucharist with great love. "These Churches, although separated from us, yet possess true sacraments, above all - by apostolic succession - the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are still joined to us in closest intimacy." A certain communion in sacris, and so in the Eucharist, "given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority, is not merely possible but is encouraged."
Catechism of the Catholic Church #1399
A bit of humor…
-My dog once ate all the Scrabble tiles. He kept leaving messages around the house for days.
----Wife asks her husband: “Did you like the dinner today?“-Husband replies: “Really, Shirley? Why are you always trying to pick a fight?”
-The first time I see a jogger smile, I will consider it.
-My dad always said fight fire with fire…that is probably why we got thrown out of the volunteer fire department.
-Little Johnny to his mom: “I shot 4 goals at the soccer match today!” Mom: “Wonderful, looks like your team won, right?” Little Johnny: “Not really, we tied 2:2.”
Teacher tells little Johnny, “You know very well you can’t sleep in my class, Johnny.” Johnny admits, “Yes, I know miss. But maybe, if you didn’t speak quite so loud, I could.”
Dentist's Hymn ................................Crown Him with Many Crowns
Weatherman's Hymn ......................There Shall Be Showers of Blessings
Contractor's Hymn ........................The Church's One Foundation
The Tailor's Hymn ...........................Holy, Holy, Holy
The Golfer's Hymn .........................There's a Green Hill Far Away
The Politician's Hymn....................Standing on the Promises
Optometrist's Hymn.......................Open My Eyes That I Might See
The IRS Agent's Hymn .....................I Surrender All
The Gossip's Hymn ..........................Pass It On
The Electrician's Hymn ....................Send The Light
The Shopper's Hymn ........................Sweet Bye and Bye
The Realtor's Hymn..........................I've Got a Mansion Just over the Hilltop
The Massage Therapists Hymn .......He touched Me
The Doctor's Hymn .............................The Great Physician
AND for those who speed on the highway - a few hymns:
45mph ....................God Will Take Care of You
65mph ...................Nearer My God To Thee
85mph ....................This World Is Not My Home
95mph .....................Lord, I'm Coming Home
100mph ..................Precious Memories
You May Choose 3
One Sunday a pastor told the congregation that the church needed some extra money and asked the people to prayerfully consider giving a little extra in the offering plate. He said that whoever gave the most would be able to pick out three hymns.
After the offering plates were passed, the pastor glanced down and noticed that someone had placed a $1,000 bill in offering. He was so excited that he immediately shared his joy with his congregation and said he'd like to personally thank the person who placed the money in the plate. A very quiet, elderly, saintly lady all the way in the back shyly raised her hand. The pastor asked her to come to the front.
Slowly she made her way to the pastor. He told her how wonderful it was that she gave so much and in gratitude asked her to pick out three hymns. Her eyes brightened as she looked over the congregation, pointed to the three handsomest men in the building and said, "I'll take him and him and him."
Angel of God, My Guardian Dear
to whom God's love commits me here.
Ever this day be at my side
to light and to guard
to rule and to guide. Amen.
Catechism of the Catholic Church #1073
326 ... Finally, "heaven" refers to the saints and the "place" of the spiritual creatures, the angels, who surround God.186
I. THE ANGELS
The existence of angels - a truth of faith
328 The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls "angels" is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.
Who are they?
329 St. Augustine says: "'Angel' is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is 'spirit'; if you seek the name of their office, it is 'angel': from what they are, 'spirit', from what they do, 'angel.'"188 With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they "always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven" they are the "mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word".189
330 As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness.190
Christ "with all his angels"
331 Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels: "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him. . "191 They belong to him because they were created through and for him: "for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities - all things were created through him and for him."192 They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?"193
332 Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham's hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples.194Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself.195
333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God "brings the firstborn into the world, he says: 'Let all God's angels worship him.'"196 Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church's praise: "Glory to God in the highest!"197 They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been.198 Again, it is the angels who "evangelize" by proclaiming the Good News of Christ's Incarnation and Resurrection.199 They will be present at Christ's return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.200
The angels in the life of the Church
334 In the meantime, the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels.201
335 In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God. She invokes their assistance (in the funeral liturgy's In Paradisum deducant te angeli. . .["May the angels lead you into Paradise. . ."]). Moreover, in the "Cherubic Hymn" of the Byzantine Liturgy, she celebrates the memory of certain angels more particularly (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and the guardian angels).
336 From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.202 "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life."203 Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.
350 Angels are spiritual creatures who glorify God without ceasing and who serve his saving plans for other creatures: "The angels work together for the benefit of us all" (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 114, 3, ad 3).
351 The angels surround Christ their Lord. They serve him especially in the accomplishment of his saving mission to men.
352 The Church venerates the angels who help her on her earthly pilgrimage and protect every human being.
188 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 103,1,15: PL 37,1348.
189 Mt 18:10; Ps 103:20.
190 Cf. Pius XII, Humani generis: DS 3891; Lk 20:36; Dan 10:9-12.
191 Mt 25:31.
192 Col 1:16.
193 Heb 1:14.
194 Cf. Job 38:7 (where angels are called "sons of God"); Gen 3:24; 19; 21:17; 22:11; Acts 7:53; Ex 23:20-23; Judg 13; 6:11-24; Isa 6:6; 1 Kings 19:5.
195 Cf. Lk 1:11,26.
196 Heb 1:6.
197 Lk 2:14.
198 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:13,19; 4:11; 26:53; Mk 1:13; Lk 22:43; 2 Macc 10:29-30; 11:8.
199 Cf. Lk 2:8-14; Mk 16:5-7.
200 Cf. Acts 1:10-11; Mt 13:41; 24:31; Lk 12:8-9.
201 Cf. Acts 5:18-20; 8:26-29; 10:3-8; 12:6-11; 27:23-25.
202 Cf. Mt 18:10; Lk 16:22; Ps 34:7; 91:10-13; Job 33:23-24; Zech 1:12; Tob 12:12.
203 St. Basil, Adv. Eunomium III, I: PG 29,656B.
SUNDAY MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
26th Sunday of Ordinary Time – September 27, 2020
The First Reading - Ezekiel 18:25-28
Thus says the LORD: You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!" Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, he does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
In context, we discover that the people of Israel whom Ezekiel addresses have adopted a kharma-like concept that one’s fate in life was already determined by the righteousness or wickedness of one’s parents. Thus they quoted a proverb: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” The people of Israel were using this concept to explain their current political, economic, and military setbacks as divine punishment for the faults of the previous generation. “We are experiencing the results of our parent’s behavior.” What is surprising to our modern sensibilities is that this supposed arrangement of reality was considered right and fair by the people of Israel. When Ezekiel tries to preach personal accountability, that each individual receives the punishment or reward for their own actions, the people complain: “Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?” (Ezek 18:19). In fact, it is the doctrine of personal accountability—each judged for his own sins or merit—that the people rebel against when they say: “The Lord’s way is not fair!” What seemed unfair to the people of Israel was particularly the idea that a wicked person could repent, turn to God, and in this way gain life and escape destruction. The possibility of repentance and salvation seemed to be a scandal. The oracle of Ezekiel proclaimed in this Sunday’s Mass is a wake-up call for us to stop blaming other people, particularly the previous generation, for the problems we are in—specifically, our spiritual problems. Ezekiel calls us to take responsibility for our actions, to repent of our sin, to turn to God and receive life.
Adults - Is there someone you tend to blame for your problems? How can you address this?
Teens - Why is it often hard to take responsibility for our own actions?
Kids - How can you work to not blame others for your problems?
Responsorial- Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
R.Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
The sins of my youth and my frailties remember not;
in your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
This Psalm calls us, the readers to reflect on the mercy and faithfulness of God.
-How has God been merciful in your life?
The Second Reading- Philippians 2:1-11
Brothers and sisters: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others. Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Reflection - Paul calls us to a participation in the “Spirit” which is characterized by “compassion and mercy.” This is the Spirit of the God who is eager to welcome back the sinner who repents, irrespective of his previous sins or those of his parents. We are called to imitate the selflessness of Christ, who never grasped anything for himself or was jealous of his own privileges, like the first workers from last week’s Gospel. In Christ's perfect and gratuitous gift of himself, even to the point of death, we see God’s abounding mercy perfectly demonstrated. Yet in Christ’s exaltation and glorification at the right hand of the Father, we see God’s justice perfectly displayed, since it is only just that Christ’s self-emptying should be answered with such honor. In this way God’s mercy and justice embrace.
-How can you be merciful as Christ is merciful?
The Holy Gospel according to Matthew 21:28-32
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: "What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.' He said in reply, 'I will not, 'but afterwards changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, 'Yes, sir, ‘but did not go. Which of the two did his father's will?" They answered, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him."
Reflection Here we are faced with two groups that correspond to the two groups described by Ezekiel in the First Reading: virtuous ones who turn away, and wicked ones who repent. The tax collectors and prostitutes who are entering the Kingdom of God correspond to the son who refused to go into the vineyard at first, but afterward did. The Pharisees correspond to the son who promised to go work, but did not. It’s important to emphasize that the “tax collectors and prostitutes” of whom Jesus speaks are those who repented and changed their lifestyle at the preaching of John the Baptist! Jesus is not saying that their previous lifestyles are compatible with the Kingdom of God. The Pharisees Jesus reprimands were people who had been trained in virtue from their youth, and gave lip service to the principles of morality expressed in the Scripture, but were skilled at finding legalistic loopholes that would permit a lifestyle of self-indulgence, even at the expense of others. Not every Pharisee was like this, however. Jesus indicates that the repentance of notorious public sinners (the tax collectors and prostitutes) should have been a sign of the authenticity of the ministry of John in the eyes of the Pharisees. They should have recognized the principle that “by their fruit you shall know them.” The fruits of repentance brought by John authenticated his ministry. Mother Church is raising her voice at us this Sunday to wake up and not be like the Pharisees. How not to be like a Pharisee? Don’t leave Mass thinking the Gospel wasn’t speaking about you. Maybe we haven’t practiced extortion or or equally heinous sins, but Jesus’ standards are much higher than this, and He knows our hearts. We too, must repent. The Good News is the “mercies” of God, that in order to forgive the repentant, he gives himself completely for us and to us, having taken on the form of a man, then the form of a slave, then the form of bread.
Adults - What do you need to repent of in your life?
Teens - Who do you know that is a good example of true repentance?
Kids - Why is it important to live in the way Jesus teaches?
LIVING THE WORD OF GOD THIS WEEK! - Looking However, we are still on earth, and while we are the door of God's mercy is wide open to us. If in the past we said, "I will not go into your vineyard", we still have time to reverse that sinful decision. Not only can we with God's grace turn over a new leaf, but we can completely wipe out the sinful pages of our life's story written up to now. We answered the call to God's vineyard by accepting baptism and membership of His Church. If we have grown lax in our fervor and refused to do the tasks allotted to us, we still have time, thanks to God's mercy and patience, to put things right. Today, look into your conscience and see how much of your past life you have given to God and how much you have kept for yourself. If you were called tonight to render an account to the Lord, would the balance sheet be in your favor? Is your corner of the vineyard producing abundant crops, or is it perhaps filling up with weeds, briers and brambles? If the latter, then we will say a heartfelt "Thank you, God, for not calling us to judgment today. We will begin right now to understand our sinful past, so that our corner of your vineyard will be in good order when you do call us. Thank you, Lord, for your mercy. God grant that we shall never abuse it." -Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.
572. Why is prayer a “battle”? c) because we deal with ourselves, our surroundings, and especially the devil
Prayer is a gift of grace but it always presupposes a determined response on our part because those who pray “battle” against themselves, their surroundings, and especially the Tempter who does all he can to turn them away from prayer. The battle of prayer is inseparable from progress in the spiritual life. We pray as we live because we live as we pray.
573. What are some objections to praying? d) all of the above
Along with erroneous notions of prayer, many think they do not have the time to pray or that praying is useless. Those who pray can be discouraged in the face of difficulties and apparent lack of success. Humility, trust and perseverance are necessary to overcome these obstacles.
574. What are the difficulties in prayer? a) being distracted
Distraction is a habitual difficulty in our prayer. It takes our attention away from God and can also reveal what we are attached to. Our heart therefore must humbly turn to the Lord. Prayer is often affected by dryness. Overcoming this difficulty allows us to cling to the Lord in faith, even without any feeling of consolation. Acedia is a form of spiritual laziness due to relaxed vigilance and a lack of custody of the heart.