Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of Our Lady of Sorrows
Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
85 Days Before Christmas
First Reading: Job 42:1-3, 5-6, 12-17
Psalms 119:66, 71, 75, 91, 125, 130: Lord, let your face shine on me.
Gospel: Luke 10:17-24
The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing and said to Jesus,
“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power
‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy
and nothing will harm you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
Reflection: Do you know and experience in your personal life the joy of the Lord? The Scriptures tell us that “the joy of the Lord is our strength”(Nehemiah 8:10). Why does Jesus tell his disciples to not take joy in their own successes, even spiritual ones? Jesus makes clear that the true source of our joy is God himself, and God alone. Regardless of the circumstances, in good times and bad times, in success or loss, God always assures us of victory in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus assures his disciples that he has all power over all evil, including the power of Satan and the evil spirits (demons) – the fallen angels who rebelled against God and who hate men and women who have been created in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:29). Jesus told his disciples that he came into the world to overthrow the evil one (John 12:31). That is why Jesus gave his disciples power over Satan and his legion of demons (rebellious angels). We, too, as disciples of Jesus have been given spiritual authority and power for overcoming the works of darkness and evil (1 John 2:13-14).
Self-centered pride closes the mind to God’s revelation and wisdom
Jesus thanks the Father in heaven for revealing to his disciples the wisdom and knowledge of God. What does Jesus’ prayer tell us about God and about ourselves? First, it tells us that God is both Father and Lord of earth as well as heaven. He is both Creator and Author of all that he has made, the first origin of everything and transcendent authority, and at the same time, goodness and loving care for all his children. All fatherhood and motherhood is derived from him (Ephesians 3:14-15).
Jesus’ prayer also contains a warning that pride can keep us from the love and knowledge of God. What makes us ignorant and blind to the things of God? Sinful pride springs from being self-centered and holding an exaggerated view of oneself. Pride closes the mind to God’s truth and wisdom for our lives. Lucifer, who was once the prince of angels, fell into pride because he did not want to serve God but wanted to be equal with God. Through his arrogant pride he led a whole host of angels to rebel against God. That is why the rebellious angels (whom Scripture calls evil spirits, devils, anddemons) were cast out of heaven and thrown down to the earth. They seek to lead us away from God through pride and rebellion.
How can we guard our hearts from sinful pride and rebellion? The virtue of humility teaches us to put our trust in God and not in ourselves. God gives strength and help to those who put their trust in him. Humility is the only true remedy against sinful pride. True humility, which is very different from the feelings of inferiority or low self-esteem, leads us to a true recognition of who we are in the sight of God and of our dependence on God.
Humility is the only soil where God’s grace and truth can take root
Jesus contrasts intellectual pride with child-like simplicity and humility. The simple of heart are like “babes” or “little children” in the sense that they see purely without pretense or falsehood and acknowledge their dependence and trust in one who is greater, wiser, and more trustworthy. They seek one thing – the “summum bonum” or “greatest good” who is God himself. Simplicity of heart is wedded with humility, the queen of virtues, because humility inclines the heart towards grace and truth.
Just as pride is the root of every sin and evil inclination, so humility is the only soil in which the grace of God can take root. It alone takes the right attitude before God and allows him as God to do all. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6). The grace of Christ-like humility inclines us towards God and disposes us to receive God’s wisdom and help. Allow the Lord Jesus to heal the wounds of pride in your heart and to fill you with the joy of the Holy Spirit who transforms us into the likeness of Christ himself – who is meek and humble of heart (Matthew 11:29).
Nothing can give us greater joy than the knowledge that we are God’s beloved and that our names are written in heaven. The Lord Jesus has ransomed us from slavery to sin, Satan, and death and has adopted us as God’s beloved sons and daughters. That is why we no longer belong to ourselves – but to God alone. Do you seek to be like Jesus Christ in humility and simplicity of heart?
The Lord Jesus wants us to know him personally – experientially
Jesus makes a claim which no one would have dared to make: He is the perfect revelation of God – he and the Father are perfectly united in a bond of unbreakable love and fidelity. One of the greatest truths of the Christian faith is that we can know the living God. Our knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing something about God, but we can know God personally. The essence of Christianity, and what makes it distinct from Judaism and other religions, is the knowledge of God as our Father. Jesus makes it possible for each of us to personally know God as our Father. Saint Augustine of Hippo wrote: “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us to love.”
Seek God with expectant faith and trust
To see Jesus is to see what God is like. In Jesus we see the perfect love of God – a God who yearns over men and women, who cares intensely for them and who shows them unceasing kindness, mercy, and forgiveness. That is why the Father sent his only begotten Son who laid down his life for us on the cross. Jesus taught his followers to confidently pray to the Father with expectant faith, “Our Father who art in heaven …give us this day our daily bread.” Do you believe in your heavenly Father’s care and love for you and do you pray with confident trust and hope that he will give you what you need to live as his son or daughter?
“Most High and glorious God, enlighten the darkness of our hearts and give us a true faith, a certain hope and a perfect love. Give us a sense of the divine and knowledge of yourself, so that we may do everything in fulfillment of your holy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Prayer of Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226) http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/oct1.htm www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2016 Servants of the Word
Saint of the Day: St. Therese of Lisieux, Patron of Missions (1873-1897)
Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called her the “Little Flower”, and found in her short life more inspiration for their own lives than in volumes by theologians.
Yet Therese died when she was 24, after having lived as cloistered Carmelite for less than ten years. She never went on missions, never founded a religious order, never performed great works. The only book of hers, published after her death, was an brief edited version of her journal called “Story of a Soul.” (Collections of her letters and restored versions of her journals have been published recently.) But within 28 years of her death, the public demand was so great that she was canonized.
Over the years, some modern Catholics have turned away from her because they associate her with over- sentimentalized piety and yet the message she has for us is still as compelling and simple as it was almost a century ago.
Therese was born in France in 1873, the pampered daughter of a mother who had wanted to be a saint and a father who had wanted to be monk. The two had gotten married but determined they would be celibate until a priest told them that was not how God wanted a marriage to work! They must have followed his advice very well because they had nine children. The five children who lived were all daughters who were close all their lives.
Tragedy and loss came quickly to Therese when her mother died of breast cancer when she was four and a half years old. Her sixteen year old sister Pauline became her second mother — which made the second loss even worse when Pauline entered the Carmelite convent five years later. A few months later, Therese became so ill with a fever that people thought she was dying.
The worst part of it for Therese was all the people sitting around her bed staring at her like, she said, “a string of onions.” When Therese saw her sisters praying to statue of Mary in her room, Therese also prayed. She saw Mary smile at her and suddenly she was cured. She tried to keep the grace of the cure secret but people found out and badgered her with questions about what Mary was wearing, what she looked like. When she refused to give in to their curiosity, they passed the story that she had made the whole thing up.
Without realizing it, by the time she was eleven years old she had developed the habit of mental prayer. She would find a place between her bed and the wall and in that solitude think about God, life, eternity.
When her other sisters, Marie and Leonie, left to join religious orders (the Carmelites and Poor Clares, respectively), Therese was left alone with her last sister Celine and her father. Therese tells us that she wanted to be good but that she had an odd way of going about. This spoiled little Queen of her father’s wouldn’t do housework. She thought if she made the beds she was doing a great favor!
Every time Therese even imagined that someone was criticizing her or didn’t appreciate her, she burst into tears. Then she would cry because she had cried! Any inner wall she built to contain her wild emotions crumpled immediately before the tiniest comment.
Therese wanted to enter the Carmelite convent to join Pauline and Marie but how could she convince others that she could handle the rigors of Carmelite life, if she couldn’t handle her own emotional outbursts? She had prayed that Jesus would help her but there was no sign of an answer.
On Christmas day in 1886, the fourteen-year-old hurried home from church. In France, young children left their shoes by the hearth at Christmas, and then parents would fill them with gifts. By fourteen, most children outgrew this custom. But her sister Celine didn’t want Therese to grow up. So they continued to leave presents in “baby” Therese’s shoes.
As she and Celine climbed the stairs to take off their hats, their father’s voice rose up from the parlor below. Standing over the shoes, he sighed, “Thank goodness that’s the last time we shall have this kind of thing!”
Therese froze, and her sister looked at her helplessly. Celine knew that in a few minutes Therese would be in tears over what her father had said.
But the tantrum never came. Something incredible had happened to Therese. Jesus had come into her heart and done what she could not do herself. He had made her more sensitive to her father’s feelings than her own.
She swallowed her tears, walked slowly down the stairs, and exclaimed over the gifts in the shoes, as if she had never heard a word her father said. The following year she entered the convent. In her autobiography she referred to this Christmas as her “conversion.”
Therese be known as the Little Flower but she had a will of steel. When the superior of the Carmelite convent refused to take Therese because she was so young, the formerly shy little girl went to the bishop. When the bishop also said no, she decided to go over his head, as well.
Her father and sister took her on a pilgrimage to Rome to try to get her mind off this crazy idea. Therese loved it. It was the one time when being little worked to her advantage! Because she was young and small she could run everywhere, touch relics and tombs without being yelled at. Finally they went for an audience with the Pope. They had been forbidden to speak to him but that didn’t stop Therese. As soon as she got near him, she begged that he let her enter the Carmelite convent. She had to be carried out by two of the guards!
But the Vicar General who had seen her courage was impressed and soon Therese was admitted to the Carmelite convent that her sisters Pauline and Marie had already joined. Her romantic ideas of conventlife and suffering soon met up with reality in a way she had never expected. Her father suffered a series of strokes that left him affected not only physically but mentally. When he began hallucinating and grabbed for a gun as if going into battle, he was taken to an asylum for the insane. Horrified, Therese learned of the humiliation of the father she adored and admired and of the gossip and pity of their so-called friends. As a cloistered nun she couldn’t even visit her father.
This began a horrible time of suffering when she experienced such dryness in prayer that she stated “Jesus isn’t doing much to keep the conversation going.” She was so grief-stricken that she often fell asleep in prayer. She consoled herself by saying that mothers loved children when they lie asleep in their arms so that God must love her when she slept during prayer.
She knew as a Carmelite nun she would never be able to perform great deeds. ” Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.” She took every chance to sacrifice, no matter how small it would seem. She smiled at the sisters she didn’t like. She ate everything she was given without complaining — so that she was often given the worst leftovers. One time she was accused of breaking a vase when she was not at fault. Instead of arguing she sank to her knees and begged forgiveness. These little sacrifices cost her more than bigger ones, for these went unrecognized by others. No one told her how wonderful she was for these little secret humiliations and good deeds.
When Pauline was elected prioress, she asked Therese for the ultimate sacrifice. Because of politics in the convent, many of the sisters feared that the family Martin would taken over the convent. Therefore Pauline asked Therese to remain a novice, in order to allay the fears of the others that the three sisters would push everyone else around. This meant she would never be a fully professed nun, that she would always have to ask permission for everything she did. This sacrifice was made a little sweeter when Celine entered the convent after her father’s death. Four of the sisters were now together again.
Therese continued to worry about how she could achieve holiness in the life she led. She didn’t want to just be good, she wanted to be a saint. She thought there must be a way for people living hidden, little lives like hers. ” I have always wanted to become a saint. Unfortunately when I have compared myself with the saints, I have always found that there is the same difference between the saints and me as there is between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and a humble grain of sand trodden underfoot by passers-by. Instead of being discouraged, I told myself: God would not make me wish for something impossible and so, in spite of my littleness, I can aim at being a saint. It is impossible for me to grow bigger, so I put up with myself as I am, with all my countless faults. But I will look for some means of going to heaven by a little way which is very short and very straight, a little way that is quite new.
” We live in an age of inventions. We need no longer climb laboriously up flights of stairs; in well-to-do houses there are lifts. And I was determined to find a lift to carry me to Jesus, for I was far too small to climb the steep stairs of perfection. So I sought in holy Scripture some idea of what this life I wanted would be, and I read these words: “Whosoever is a little one, come to me.” It is your arms, Jesus, that are the lift to carry me to heaven. And so there is no need for me to grow up: I must stay little and become less and less.”
She worried about her vocation: ” I feel in me the vocation of the Priest. I have the vocation of the Apostle. Martyrdom was the dream of my youth and this dream has grown with me. Considering the mystical body of the Church, I desired to see myself in them all. Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was burning with love. I understood that Love comprised all vocations, that Love was everything, that it embraced all times and places…in a word, that it was eternal! Then in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: O Jesus, my Love…my vocation, at last I have found it…My vocation is Love!”
When an antagonist was elected prioress, new political suspicions and plottings sprang up. The concern over the Martin sisters perhaps was not exaggerated. In this small convent they now made up one-fifth of the population. Despite this and the fact that Therese was a permanent novice they put her in charge of the other novices.
Then in 1896, she coughed up blood. She kept working without telling anyone until she became so sick a year later everyone knew it. Worst of all she had lost her joy and confidence and felt she would die young without leaving anything behind. Pauline had already had her writing down her memories for journal and now she wanted her to continue — so they would have something to circulate on her life after her death.
Her pain was so great that she said that if she had not had faith she would have taken her own lifewithout hesitation. But she tried to remain smiling and cheerful — and succeeded so well that some thought she was only pretending to be ill. Her one dream as the work she would do after her death, helping those on earth. “I will return,” she said. “My heaven will be spent on earth.” She died on September 30, 1897 at the age of 24 years old. She herself felt it was a blessing God allowed her to die at exactly that age. she had always felt that she had a vocation to be a priest and felt God let her die at the age she would have been ordained if she had been a man so that she wouldn’t have to suffer.
After she died, everything at the convent went back to normal. One nun commented that there was nothing to say about Therese. But Pauline put together Therese’s writings (and heavily edited them, unfortunately) and sent 2000 copies to other convents. But Therese’s “little way” of trusting in Jesus to make her holy and relying on small daily sacrifices instead of great deeds appealed to the thousands of Catholics and others who were trying to find holiness in ordinary lives. Within two years, the Martin family had to move because her notoriety was so great and by 1925 she had been canonized.
Therese of Lisieux is one of the patron saints of the missions, not because she ever went anywhere, but because of her special love of the missions, and the prayers and letters she gave in support of missionaries. This is reminder to all of us who feel we can do nothing, that it is the little things that keep God’s kingdom growing. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=105
More Saints of the Day
St. Abreha and Atzbeha (Aizan and Sazana)
St. Aizan and Sazana (Abreha and Atzbeha)
St. Aretas and Companions
Bl. Caspar Fisogiro
Bl. Edward James
Bl. John Robinson
St. Nicetius of Trier
St. Ralph Crockett
Bl. Robert Widmerpool
Bl. Robert Wilcox
St. Romanus the Melodist
St. Therese of Lisieux
St. Verissimus, Maxima, and Julia