Posted by: RAM | March 6, 2017

Tuesday (March 7): “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of St. Joseph
Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs (Memorial)
Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
Lectionary: 225

First Reading: Isaiah 55:10-11
Psalms 34:4-7, 16-19From all their distress God rescues the just.
Gospel: Matthew 6:7-15
Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

“If you forgive men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” Top of Form
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/03717.cfm

Reflection:  Do you believe that God’s word has power to change and transform your life today? Isaiah says that God’s word is like the rain and melting snow which makes the barren ground spring to life and become abundantly fertile (Isaiah 55:10-11). God’s word has power to penetrate our dry barren hearts and make them springs of new life. If we let God’s word take root in our heart it will transform us into the likeness of God himself and empower us to walk in his way of love and holiness.

Let God’s word guide and shape the way you judge and act
God wants his word to guide and shape the way we think, act, and pray. Ambrose (339-397 AD), an early church father and bishop of Milan, wrote that the reason we should devote time for reading Scripture is to hear Christ speak to us. “Are you not occupied with Christ? Why do you not talk with him? By reading the Scriptures, we listen to Christ.”

We can approach God our Father with confidence
We can approach God confidently because he is waiting with arms wide open to receive his prodigal sons and daughters. That is why Jesus gave his disciples the perfect prayer that dares to call God, Our Father. This prayer teaches us how to ask God for the things we really need, the things that matter not only for the present but for eternity as well. We can approach God our Father with confidence and boldness because the Lord Jesus has opened the way to heaven for us through his death and resurrection.

When we ask God for help, he fortunately does not give us what we deserve. Instead, God responds with grace, mercy, and loving-kindness. He is good and forgiving towards us, and he expects us to treat our neighbor the same. God has poured his love into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5). And that love is like a refining fire – it purifies and burns away all prejudice, hatred, resentment, vengeance, and bitterness until there is nothing  left but goodness and forgiveness towards those who cause us grief or harm.

The Lord’s Pray teaches us how to pray
Consider what John Cassian (360-435 AD), an early church father who lived for several years with the monks in Bethlehem and Egypt before founding a monastery in southern Gaul, wrote about the Lord’s Prayer and the necessity of forgiving one another from the heart:

“The mercy of God is beyond description. While he is offering us a model prayer he is teaching us a way of life whereby we can be pleasing in his sight. But that is not all. In this same prayer he gives us an easy method for attracting an indulgent and merciful judgment on our lives. He gives us the possibility of ourselves mitigating the sentence hanging over us and of compelling him to pardon us. What else could he do in the face of our generosity when we ask him to forgive us as we have forgiven our neighbor? If we are faithful in this prayer, each of us will ask forgiveness for our own failings after we have forgiven the sins of those who have sinned against us, not only those who have sinned against our Master. There is, in fact, in some of us a very bad habit. We treat our sins against God, however appalling, with gentle indulgence – but when by contrast it is a matter of sins against us ourselves, albeit very tiny ones, we exact reparation with ruthless severity. Anyone who has not forgiven from the bottom of the heart the brother or sister who has done him wrong will only obtain from this prayer his own condemnation, rather than any mercy.”

Do you treat others as you think they deserve to be treated, or do you treat them as the Lord has treated you – with mercy, steadfast love, and kindness?

“Father in heaven, you have given me a mind to know you, a will to serve you, and a heart to love you. Give me today the grace and strength to embrace your holy will and fill my heart and mind with your truth and  love that all my intentions and actions may be pleasing to you. Help me to be kind and forgiving towards my neighbor as you have been towards me.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/mar7.htm copyright (c) 2016 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

Saint of the Day: Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, Patron saints of mothers, expectant mothers, ranchers and butchers (d. 230)
Sts. Perpetua and Felicity were Christian martyrs who lived during the early persecution of the Church in Africa by the Emperor Severus.

With details concerning the lives of many early martyrs unclear and often based on legend, we are fortunate to have the actual record of the courage of Perpetua and Felicity from the hand of Perpetua herself, her teacher Saturus, and others who knew them. This account, known as “The Passion of St. Perpetua, St. Felicitas, and their Companions,” was so popular in the early centuries that it was read during liturgies.

In the year 203, Vivia Perpetua, a well-educated noblewoman, made the decision to follow the path of her mother and become a Christian, although she knew it could mean her death during the persecutions ordered by the Emperor Severus. Her surviving brother (another brother had died when he was seven) followed her leadership and became a catechumen as well, meaning he would receive instruction from a Catechist in the Catholic Christian faith and be prepared for Baptism.

Her pagan father was frantic with worry and tried to talk her out of her decision. At 22-years-old, the well-educated, high-spirited woman had every reason to want to live — including a baby son whom she was still nursing. We know she was married, but since her husband is never mentioned, many historians assume she was already a widow.

Perpetua’s answer was simple and clear. Pointing to a water jug, she asked her father, “See that pot lying there? Can you call it by any other name than what it is?”

Her father answered, “Of course not.” Perpetua responded, “Neither can I call myself by any other name than what I am — a Christian.”

This answer upset her father and he attacked her. Perpetua reports that after that incident she was glad to be separated from him for a few days — even though that separation was the result of her arrest and imprisonment.

Perpetua was arrested with four other catechumens, including two slaves, Felicity and Revocatus, and Saturninus and Secundulus. Their instructor in the faith, Saturus, chose to share their punishment and was also imprisoned.

Perpetua was baptized before taken to prison. She was known for her gift of “the Lord’s speech” and receiving messages from God. She tells us that at the time of her baptism she was told to pray for nothing but endurance in the face of her trials.

The prison was so crowded with people that the heat was suffocating. There was no light anywhere and Perpetua “had never known such darkness.”

The soldiers who arrested and guarded them pushed and shoved them without any concern. Perpetua had no trouble admitting she was very afraid, but during all this horror, her most excruciating pain came from being separated from her baby.

The young slave, Felicity was even worse off, for Felicity suffered the stifling heat, overcrowding, and rough handling while being eight months pregnant.

Two deacons who ministered to the prisoners paid the guards to place the martyrs in a better part of the prison. There, her mother and brother were able to visit Perpetua and bring her baby to her.

When she received permission for her baby to stay with her she recalled, “my prison suddenly became a palace for me.” Once more her father came to her, begging her to give in, kissing her hands, and throwing himself at her feet. She told him, “We lie not in our own power but in the power of God.”

When she and the others were taken to be examined and sentenced, her father followed, pleading with her and the judge. The judge, out of pity, also tried to get Perpetua to change her mind, but when she stood fast, she was sentenced with the others to be thrown to the wild beasts in the arena.

Perpetua recanted how her brother spoke to her, “Lady sister, you are now greatly honored, so greatly that you may well pray for a vision to show you whether suffering or release is in store for you.” Perpetua, who spoke to the Lord often, told her brother she would tell him what happened the next day.

While she prayed, Perpetua was shown a golden ladder of the highest length, reaching up to heaven. On the sides of the ladder were swords, lances, hooks and daggers so that if anyone did not climb looking up on Heaven, they would be severely injured. At the bottom of the ladder laid a large dragon to try to scare those journeying up away from Heaven.

Perpetua first saw Saturus go up. After he reached the top of the ladder he said, “Perpetua, I wait for you, but take care that the dragon does not bite you.” To which she replied, “In the name of Jesus Christ, he will not hurt me,” and the dragon put his down his head.

Perpetua traveled up the ladder and saw a beautiful vast garden with a tall man with white hair dressed like a shepherd and milking sheep. ‘Thou art well come, my child,” he said to Perpetua, giving her some of the curds from the milk. She ate and all those around her said, “Amen.”

Perpetua woke from her dream with a sweet taste still in her mouth. At once, she told her brother what happened and together, they understood they must suffer.

Meanwhile, Felicity was also in torment. It was against the law for pregnant women to be executed. To kill a child in the womb was shedding innocent and sacred blood. Felicity was afraid that she would not give birth before the day set for their martyrdom and her companions would go on their journey without her. Her friends also didn’t want to leave so “good a comrade” behind.

Two days before the execution, Felicity went into a painful labor. The guards made fun of her, insulting her by saying, “If you think you suffer now, how will stand it when you face the wild beasts?” Felicity answered them calmly, “Now I’m the one who is suffering, but in the arena, another will be in me suffering for me because I will be suffering for him.”

She gave birth to a healthy girl who was adopted and raised by one of the Christian women of Carthage.

The officers of the prison began to recognize the power of the Christians and the strength and leadership of Perpetua. In some cases, this helped the Christians: the warden let them have visitors — and later became a believer. But in other cases, it caused superstitious terror, as when one officer refused to let them get cleaned up on the day they were going to die for fear they’d try some sort of spell.

Perpetua immediately spoke up, “We’re supposed to die in honor of Ceasar’s birthday. Wouldn’t it look better for you if we looked better?” The officer blushed with shame at her reproach and started to treat them better.

There was a feast the day before the games, so that the crowd could see the martyrs and make fun of them. But the martyrs turned this all around by laughing at the crowd for not being Christians and exhorting them to follow their example.

The four new Christians and their teacher went to the arena (the fifth, Secundulus, had died in prison) with joy and calm. Perpetua in usual high spirits met the eyes of everyone along the way. We are told she walked with “shining steps as the true wife of Christ, the darling of God.”

When those at the arena tried to force Perpetua and the rest to dress in robes dedicated to their gods, Perpetua challenged her executioners. “We came to die out of our own free will so we wouldn’t lose our freedom to worship our God. We gave you our lives so that we wouldn’t have to worship your gods.” She and the others were allowed to keep their clothes.

The men were attacked by bears, leopards, and wild boars. The women were stripped to face a rabid heifer. The two were thrown out and attacked, but the crowd cried out they had had enough. The women were removed and clothed again. Perpetua and Felicity were thrown back into the arena to face the gladiators.

Perpetua called out to her brother and other Christians, “Stand fast in the faith, and love one another. Do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you.”

Perpetua and Felicity stood side by side and were killed by sword at Carthage in the Roman province of Africa.

Sts. Perpetua and Felicity are the patron saints of mothers, expectant mothers, ranchers and butchers. Their feast day is celebrated on March 7. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=48

More Saints of the Day:
St. Ardo
St. Deifer
St. Drausinus
St. Enodoch
St. Esterwine
Sts. Perpetua and Felicity
Bl. John Ireland
Bl. John Larke
St. Paul the Simple
St. Paul of Prusa
St. Paul the Simple

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

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