Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 30, 2018
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 137

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

At that time, John said to Jesus,
"Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us."
Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.
For whoever is not against us is for us.
Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings call us to be totally committed and dedicated to God. St. Francis de Sales tells us that we do this by cultivating a life of holy love.

The supreme happiness of the world consists in loving many things as one’s own. Such affections easily spring up again and again in us. But we must make a clear distinction between inclinations and attachments. If our feelings come from inclinations, we should not be concerned. For instance, a thousand times a day I may feel enraged against someone who has slandered me. But if I turn to God and make an act of charity for the one who outraged me, there is nothing wrong, for it is not in my power to calm my natural feelings, especially when faced with a lion.

With our attachments it is a different story. What makes us so attached to what is ours is the exaggeration of our self-importance. While we may subdue our inordinate self-centeredness, it will never die as long as we live here on earth. Yet, if we wish to calm the feelings that dominate our actions that cause us regrets, we need to nurture holy love. To do this we must move from our inordinate self-centered loves to a love that seeks only God’s glory in all things. Holy love begins to grow in us as we begin to let go of all that does not lead us to God’s goodness. “Letting go” (holy detachment) is such a difficult virtue to acquire that in a monastery it takes ten years of cultivation. Yet the virtue is not as terrible as it sounds, for it gives us the liberty of spirit to love the world around us as God loves it. So let us follow reason and not our tendencies or dislikes of difficult virtues. While our attachments are very precious things, we must use them to love God, our one true Possession, to whom we dedicate and commit our lives.

(Adapted from Carneiro, Spiritual Conferences of St. Francis de Sales)

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 23, 2018
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 134

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 9:30-37

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee,
but he did not wish anyone to know about it.
He was teaching his disciples and telling them,
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men
and they will kill him,
and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.”
But they did not understand the saying,
and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house,
he began to ask them,
“What were you arguing about on the way?”
But they remained silent.
They had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest.
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Taking a child, he placed it in their midst,
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel challenges us to be child-like servants of God. Simplicity of heart marks a loving child, and is also a “little virtue” that St. Francis de Sales emphasizes:

Like an infant whose one desire is to be fed by its mother, our heart is simple when we have only one desire and that is to love God. We allow our Lord to carry us as we walk according to the desires of God and not our own preferences. A truly simple person spends time with the Lord. They are like the little child who desires only to rest in his mother’s arms because here is where he is nourished and cared for.

Simplicity requires that our interior self match our exterior self. Yet, we do not lack simplicity when we put on a smiling face while we feel upset. It is true you are agitated within when you are facing some difficulty. This is natural for our misery tends to follow an extreme course. Although we admit the feeling, we do not have to consent to it. Thus when we are troubled by something and smile, it means we accept our difficulty in a good, wholesome, simple way that helps us to flourish as a child of God.

Walk simply and you will walk confidently. If you are with someone who is moody, don’t be concerned about what to do. Simply be your cheerful self. Just now she is sad, but at some other time you will be like her. Help her and yourself to enjoy the time you have together. And at another time she will help you do the same. In this way you are a child-like servant of God to others. We come closer to God’s love the more we detach ourselves from things that hinder us from loving God and others. Simplicity places every event in God’s hands. Happy are they who no longer journey with their own feet, that is, according to their own thoughts, desires, preferences and inclinations, but according to those of their God! For in their simplicity of heart they will find God’s love and peace.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales.)

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 16, 2018
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 131

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 8:27-35

Jesus and his disciples set out
for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
Along the way he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that I am?"
They said in reply,
"John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets."
And he asked them,
"But who do you say that I am?"
Peter said to him in reply,
"You are the Christ."
Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.
He spoke this openly.
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the gospel will save it."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings remind us that to follow the teachings of Jesus involves suffering. St. Francis de Sales has a very interesting understanding of suffering:

I don’t think we should ask for suffering, as did our Lord, for we aren’t able to handle it as He did. It is quite enough if we endure it patiently.

However, do not limit your patience to great deeds of courage. The truly patient and true servant of God bears up equally under the little as well as the great events in life. To be despised, criticized and accused by our friends and relatives is the test of virtue. The sting of a bee is much more painful than that of a fly. So likewise the wrongs and attacks we suffer from those we love are far harder to bear than those we suffer from others. Yet it often happens that two good and well-intentioned persons, because of conflicting ideas, stir up great persecutions and attacks on one another.

If an evil happens to you choose a remedy agreeable to God. If you are falsely accused of something, you have a duty to respond with the truth. If the accusation continues after you have given a legitimate explanation, don’t try to make them accept your explanation. Gently stir up your courage. Arm yourself with the patience we ought to have toward ourselves. Often raise your heart to God so you may be on guard against a surprise attack. Yet we need to always watch out for our bad-tempered self that is good at thinking up things. But don’t be upset if this touchy self causes you to totter and stumble. Within us, the Spirit of Jesus is transforming us so that we seek in all things the honor and glory of God.

While we work to bring forth Christ in us, we must let go of our inordinate self-sufficiency that causes us to suffer. Yet we will experience peace if we remain resigned to God’s Will, remembering that God desires most our fidelity.

(Adapted from St. F. de Sales, Introd. to a Devout Life, Ryan, ed.; Letters of Spiritual Direction, Power & Wright, eds)

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday September 9, 2018
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 128

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 7:31-37

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” —
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel, we experience God in Jesus who, through healing the deaf man, brings hope of a New World to the whole human family. St. Francis de Sales remarks:

Hope, like an arrow, darts up to the gate of Heaven, but it cannot enter there because it is a virtue wholly of earth. Hope is possible because God places in our hearts the desire for eternal life and then assures us that we can attain it. God places hope in our heart through the many promises made in the Scriptures. God’s assurance that we can achieve a life of eternal joy infinitely strengthens our desires and calms our heart. This calm is the root of the virtue of hope. Assured by faith that we can enjoy the promises God made to us, we wait in hope as we grow in God’s love with one another.

While our hopes and expectations bring joy to our heart, they also may bring sadness to fervent souls. Not finding ourselves the saints we hoped to be, we are often discouraged in the pursuit of virtue that leads to holiness. Have patience, lay aside that anxious care of yourself, and have no fear that anything will be wanting to you.

We need not hurry so fast. However, we must use the means that are given to us according to our vocation, and then remain in peace. We need to walk ardently, yet tranquilly, carefully but confidently. That is to say, we must have more confidence in Divine Providence than in our own work. When all human aid fails us, God takes over and cares for us. We have God, who is our All. Let us trust in God who will make us holy in time. For God, under whose guidance we have embarked, will always be attentive in providing us with whatever is necessary for our perfection. Let us begin to live well, according to our vocation: patiently, gently, and simply. For no one who hoped and trusted in God’s Goodness and Providence has ever been disappointed.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales.)

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday September 2, 2018
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 125

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals
with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.
—For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,
do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders.
And on coming from the marketplace
they do not eat without purifying themselves.
And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed,
the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. —
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,
"Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?"
He responded,
"Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.
You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition."

He summoned the crowd again and said to them,
"Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.

"From within people, from their hearts,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings beg us to live the commandments, the word of God, in a way that allows us to be wise and have a pure heart before God. St. Francis de Sales speaks of God’s commandments in light of living and loving God’s will:

There are some matters in which it is clear what God’s will is, such as the commandments or the duties of one’s vocation. To live according to God’s will is to love. The just are not truly just unless they have holy love, which forms a pure heart.

True love always strives to please those in whom it has found pleasure. God’s word becomes most pleasing when ordained by love. By often taking delight in what God commands, we become what God desires us to be, and our will is transformed into that of the divine will. The greater the pleasure we take in God’s will for us, the more perfect is our transformation in holy love, the true source of divine wisdom. Happy the soul who no longer journeys with its own feet but according to the desire of its God!

To arouse in us a holy, salutary love of God’s commandments, we must contemplate their wondrous beauty. Like the visible sun that touches all things with its life-giving warmth, and gives them the vigor needed to produce their proper effects, so God’s goodness enlivens all hearts to love God’s word. To love the divine commandments, God gives us means that are not merely sufficient. Rather, God gives us a rich abundance of ways to fulfill this divine desire implanted in our hearts.

The commandments are worthy of love because they give goodness to those who lack it and increase goodness in those who have it. There is no toil in what we love, or if there is any, it is a beloved toil. Thus, while the divine law imposes a necessity to obey God’s will it also converts this necessity into holy love, and all difficulty into delight.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales.)

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday August 26, 2018
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 122

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
JN 6:60-69

Many of Jesus' disciples who were listening said,
"This saying is hard; who can accept it?"
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, "Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending
to where he was before?
It is the spirit that gives life,
while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe."
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him.
And he said,
"For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father."

As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel, Jesus urges us to remain faithful to Him and to live in the “spirit that gives life.” St. Francis de Sales notes:

Our Savior came to recreate humanity. When we live in the Spirit of Jesus, we transcend our ordinary life in order to live a loftier life. We are so filled with divine love that we are like the stars whose light is totally absorbed in the sunlight. God lives in us, and our only desire is to unite our will to God’s Will.

To progress in living in the Spirit of Jesus, we must first of all accept ourselves as being less than perfect. Don’t lose heart, be patient, wait while joyously carrying out your daily activities. Do everything you are taught in a spirit of gentleness and fidelity. Develop a spirit of compassion. After we have planted and watered, we must realize that it is for God to give the increase to the trees that are our good inclinations and habits. For this reason we must wait to obtain the fruits of our desires and labors from divine Providence.

If we are not progressing, as we desire, let us not be disturbed. In living a holy life our whole life is destined to be a practical testing. Let us remain at peace so that calmness always reigns in our hearts. It is up to us to cultivate our souls well, and we must faithfully attend to them. But as for a plentiful harvest, let us leave the care of that to our Lord. The laborer will never be blamed for not having a fine harvest, unless he or she did not carefully till and sow his or her field. Our unwavering dependence on God assures us that we are solidly planted where God wants us to be.

I have no doubt that our Savior is holding you by the hand. If you stumble, it is only to let you know that if you let go of His hand you would fall rather than stumble. For those of us who love and hope in God, our weakness is not as great as God’s mercy.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday August 19, 2018
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 119

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
JN 6:51-58

Jesus said to the crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings tell us what we need to remain spiritually healthy on our journey through life: live wisely, address one another in spiritual song, try to understand the will of the Lord, be filled with the Spirit, praise God, give thanks, and feed on the eternal life-giving Bread of Christ. St. Francis de Sales notes that this advice aids us in living God’s Will for us:

Even the heart, where we wish to begin, must be instructed as to how it should model its outward conduct and bearing so that other people can see not only holy love but also great wisdom and prudence. Since God has stamped in us an infinite desire for truth and goodness, our soul wisely sees that nothing in this world gives it perfect contentment until it rests in the things of God.

While God’s overflowing love only gives, our frailty has need of God’s divine abundance. God takes great pleasure in giving us graces that lead to eternal life. Our hearts, no matter how frail and weak, are preserved from the corruption of sin when nourished by the incorruptible flesh and blood of the Son of God. Therefore, whoever turns to the sacrament of the Eucharist builds up their soul’s health.

Our Lord loves with a most tender love those who are so happy as to abandon themselves wholly to His care. They let themselves be governed by His divine Providence. They believe that God sends them only events and things that profit their spiritual well being. God wills that we live a life of truth and goodness and that we be saved. Therefore, when your distress is at its height, very gently put your heart into the hands of our Savior, who will help you be healthier. Let us then give our entire will to God who wisely instructs and enlightens our heart so that we as well as others come to know and live the will of God.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday August 12, 2018
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 116

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
JN 6:41-51

The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said,
"I am the bread that came down from heaven, "
and they said,
"Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?
Do we not know his father and mother?
Then how can he say,
'I have come down from heaven'?"
Jesus answered and said to them,
"Stop murmuring among yourselves.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,
and I will raise him on the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They shall all be taught by God.
Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.
Not that anyone has seen the Father
except the one who is from God;
he has seen the Father.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven
so that one may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s first reading, St. Paul begs us to exchange our life of anger and malice for a life of kindness, compassion and forgiveness that mark us as the children of God. St. Francis de Sales tells us how to move from anger to kindness or gentleness:

One of the best exercises in gentleness that we can perform is with ourselves. To allow gentleness to reign in our hearts we must not fret over our own faults. While reason requires that we be displeased and sorry when we commit a fault, we must not keep our hearts drenched in bitterness and spitefulness that spring from our self-centered love, which is disturbed at seeing that it is imperfect. This constrains our ability to love.

All angry people think their anger just. Believe me a father’s gentle, loving rebuke has far greater power to correct a child than rage and passion. So too when we have committed some fault, if we rebuke our heart with more compassion for it than passion against it, repentance will penetrate more effectively. If we fall into anger let us say: “Alas my poor heart, here we are, fallen into the pit we were so firmly resolved to avoid! Well, we must get up again and leave it forever.” With great courage, confidence and trust in God’s mercy return to the path of virtue. When your mind is tranquil, build up a stock of gentleness. Speak all your words and do all your actions in the mildest way you can. Remain in peace. No one is so holy as not to be subject to imperfections.

However, we are called to practice the freedom of the children of God who know they are loved. They freely choose to follow the known will of their heavenly Father who nourishes them with the Bread of Life, his Son Jesus. We must walk on then, as brothers and sisters united in gentleness, compassion and forgiveness. God always loves us even in our weakest moments. We, too, must do likewise, first with ourselves than others.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday August 5, 2018
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Lectionary: 113

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
JN 6:24-35

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there,
they themselves got into boats
and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
And when they found him across the sea they said to him,
"Rabbi, when did you get here?"
Jesus answered them and said,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
you are looking for me not because you saw signs
but because you ate the loaves and were filled.
Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you.
For on him the Father, God, has set his seal."
So they said to him,
"What can we do to accomplish the works of God?"
Jesus answered and said to them,
"This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent."
So they said to him,
"What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:
He gave them bread from heaven to eat."
So Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world."

So they said to him,
"Sir, give us this bread always."
Jesus said to them,
"I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel we experience Jesus confronting the crowd with the purity of their intention in following Him. While the crowd seeks perishable food, He desires that they seek Him, the ‘Bread of Life’, ‘food that endures for eternal life’. St. Francis de Sales tells us how we can prepare ourselves to have the ‘Bread of Life’ come into our lives:

The greatest intimate union that Our Savior is able to share with us is His divine life. To prepare ourselves for this union we must first clear our memory of our worldly concerns, and all that is not lasting. After we make the decision to put aside our worldly-mindedness, we must adorn our memory with all the gifts that God has given us: creation, divine providence and redemption.

Next, we must purify our will by getting rid of our disordered affections, even for good things. We need to look at what and on whom we are fixing too ardently our affections. Little by little we must order these affections so that we can say to Our Lord with David: “You are the God of my heart and my eternal lot.” The excessive love and affection for children, parents, friends, possessions, and material things become obstacles for the Holy Spirit, who desires to flood our hearts with divine love that is not perishable.

Our Savior comes to us, so that we may be all in him. You have only to be thankful for the simplicity of faith that God has given you. Ask God to continue to give you this very precious and desirable gift. Nourish yourself the whole day long with holy thoughts on the infinite goodness of our God. Rest in the providence of God, for God will never fail to supply what is necessary for your wellbeing. Praise God in this life, and you will glorify God with all the blessed in Heaven.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday July 29, 2018
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 110

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
JN 6:1-15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
A large crowd followed him,
because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.
Jesus went up on the mountain,
and there he sat down with his disciples.
The Jewish feast of Passover was near.
When Jesus raised his eyes
and saw that a large crowd was coming to him,
he said to Philip,
"Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?"
He said this to test him,
because he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him,
"Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough
for each of them to have a little."
One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
"There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?"
Jesus said, "Have the people recline."
Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.
So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples,
"Gather the fragments left over,
so that nothing will be wasted."
So they collected them,
and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves
that had been more than they could eat.
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said,
"This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world."
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off
to make him king,
he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today St. Paul urges us to love one another with humility, gentleness and patience. St. Francis de Sales refers to these virtues as the “little virtues”:

Let us try to acquire those little virtues such as patience, humility and gentleness toward our neighbor. Know that patience is the one virtue that gives greatest assurance of our reaching holiness. While we must have patience with others, we must also have it with ourselves. Patience helps us to possess our own soul so that we may do the will of God, the source of our greatest happiness. Those who want to aspire to the pure love of God need to be more patient with themselves than with others.

Patience with ourselves leads to humility. Deep interior humility begins with recognizing the multitude of blessings God has bestowed on us. We will enjoy and rejoice in them because we possess them, but we will glorify God because God alone is the author of them. We must use our gifts and talents in the service of God and our neighbors. Those who are humble are all the more courageous because they place their whole trust in God. Turn to our Lord who has given His life for you. Humility perfects us with respect to God and gentleness with respect to our neighbor.

Little by little bring your quick mind around to being patient, gentle, humble, and affable in the midst of pettiness, childishness and the imperfections of others who are weak. These little virtues, ones to be exercised in our daily life, in our household, our place of work, with friends and with strangers, any time and all the time—these are the virtues for us. God, who is infinitely kind, is satisfied with the small achievements of our heart. When we nurture our heart with virtue and good projects that allow us to serve God and our neighbor, our heart performs marvels.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales.)

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday July 22, 2018
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 107

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 6:30-34

The apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings remind us that our God is a God of compassion. St. Francis de Sales frequently stresses God’s loving care for us especially in adversity:

Our God is the God of the human heart. When our heart is in danger God alone can save and protect it. Just as God is the maker of all things, so also God takes care of all things, and sustains and embraces the whole of creation. Consequently, God wishes to make all things good and beautiful. Especially then, let us believe that God watches over our affairs, even in adversity. We do not always know the reason for our trials but we must admit that in our own affairs, we are sometimes the source of our afflictions.

While we must be careful and attentive to matters that God has committed to our care, we must not be anxious, uneasy or rash about them. Worry disturbs reason and good judgment, and prevents us from doing well the very things we are worried about. Gentle rains make open fields fruitful in grain, but floods ruin fields and meadows.

Thus, undertake all your affairs with a calm mind and do them in order one after the other. If you try to do them all at once or without order, your spirit will be so overcharged and depressed that it will likely sink under the burden without achieving anything. In all your affairs strive quietly to cooperate with God’s plan for you.

God gives us a rich abundance of means proper for our salvation. By a wondrous infusion of God’s grace into our hearts, the Spirit makes our works become God’s work. Our good works like a little grain of mustard seed have vigor and virtue to produce a great good because they proceed from the Spirit of Jesus. You may be sure that if you have firm trust in God’s compassionate love and care for you, the success that comes to your work will always be that which is most useful for you and the believing community.

(Adapted from St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God, Introduction to a Devout Life).

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday July 15, 2018
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 104

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 6:7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey
but a walking stick—
no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals
but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel we experience Jesus giving authority to carry out His work to the Apostles, and how their faith in Him leads to good works. St. Francis de Sales notes:

A living faith produces many great and good works. However, we see that strong and healthy persons must often be stirred up to put their strength and skill to proper use. The hand must lead them to their work. While a soul that is heavily burdened has the power to believe and hope in God’s love, it does not have the strength to see clearly if it does. Its distress has such a hold on it. Yet, our Savior never lets us go out on the road alone. The Spirit of Jesus is always with us, urging us on and appealing to our hearts and driving them forward so as to use well the holy love He places in us.

A tender mother leads along her little child, helps him and holds him up as long as she sees a need for it. Now she lets him take a few steps by himself in places that are very level and not too difficult. Then she takes him by the hand and holds him steady. At times she takes him up in her arms and carries him. It is also the way that our Savior takes constant care to lead forward His children. He enables them to walk before Him. He holds their hand in difficulties. Therefore when all things fail us, when our distress is at its height, our abandonment into the hands of our Savior cannot fail us. He will carry us along in hardships that He sees as being unbearable to us, if we let Him.

In many ways, God’s care preserves those who have faith in the teachings of Jesus. Our entire good consists not only in accepting the truth of God’s word, but also in persevering in it. Hence, we ought to have great courage and trust that God will assist us in all that we do for God’s glory. Let us rouse our faith. Give it life in believing fully in God’s love and care for us. Then all our works will bear fruit like those of the Apostles.

(St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God; Sermons of St. Francis de Sales, L. Fiorelli, Ed.).

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday July 8, 2018
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 100

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 6:1-6

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, “Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel we see Jesus experiencing rejection and being amazed at the lack of faith people have in Him. St. Francis de Sales speaks of faith as consenting to God’s love:

There is often a long period between our first awakening from unbelief and the final resolution we make to believe fully in God’s love and care for us. There are many difficulties that occur between the first movement of faith in the God of Jesus Christ and our full consent to believe. St. Augustine delayed for some time before consenting fully to the teachings of Jesus Christ. But St. Ambrose said to him: “If you do not believe, pray in order that you may believe.”

During this period we pray like St. Augustine who cried out: “Lord, I do believe, but help me in my unbelief.” That is to say, “While I am no longer in the dark night of unfaithfulness, for the beams of your faith light up the horizon of my soul, I still do not believe as I ought. The knowledge that comes to me through faith is still weak and mingles with unbelief.”

God continually draws our hearts until we find the teachings of Jesus pleasing. Till we reach this stage, God’s goodness never fails to reach us through inspirations. However, we are free to consent to God’s loving appeals or reject them. Mighty rivers, coming upon open plains, spread out and take up ever more space. Similarly, if we do not reject God’s holy love, it goes on expanding with continual increase in us until we are entirely converted. Holy love guides us through our journey of forgiveness. It consoles us, animates and strengthens us in our difficulties. Hence faith includes a first start of love that the heart feels for the things of God. Let us not reject this gift of faith.

(Adapted from St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God.)

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday July 1, 2018
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 98

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 5:21-43 OR 5:21-24, 35B-43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat
to the other side,
a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.
One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
"My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live."
He went off with him,
and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.
Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and touched his cloak.
She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured."
Immediately her flow of blood dried up.
She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,
turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?"
But his disciples said to Jesus,
"You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,
and yet you ask, 'Who touched me?'"
And he looked around to see who had done it.
The woman, realizing what had happened to her,
approached in fear and trembling.
She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you.
Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."

While he was still speaking,
people from the synagogue official's house arrived and said,
"Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?"
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
"Do not be afraid; just have faith."
He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside
except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,
he caught sight of a commotion,
people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them,
"Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep."
And they ridiculed him.
Then he put them all out.
He took along the child's father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum,"
which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!"
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.
He gave strict orders that no one should know this
and said that she should be given something to eat.

OR

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat
to the other side,
a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.
One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
"My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live."
He went off with him,
and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official's house arrived and said,
"Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?"
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
"Do not be afraid; just have faith."
He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside
except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,
he caught sight of a commotion,
people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them,
"Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep."
And they ridiculed him.
Then he put them all out.
He took along the child's father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum,"
which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!"
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.
He gave strict orders that no one should know this
and said that she should be given something to eat.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings remind us of God’s desire for human wholeness as God forms us, not for death, but for eternal life through faith in Christ. Through this life-giving faith, God calls us to share the abundance of our gifts with those in need. Francis speaks similarly:

God’s desire that we be made whole has been shown to us in so many ways. God shows us that we are made for eternal happiness: first by creation and then by Jesus’ coming. In becoming human, He has taken on our likeness and given us His. Is it any wonder that this beloved Lover of us wants us to love one another as He has loved us?

Nothing urges on a man’s heart so much as love. Our Lord suffered death with so much love in order that the whole human family may become divine. The self-giving love of Jesus presses down on us in a special way. He desires that we live in Him. To God’s glory then we must bring home all our works, actions, thoughts and affections.

God wills for all humans to be eternally happy. Our will must correspond to God’s will. Thus we must will our own wholeness just as God wills it. To the extent that God gives us the means to make ourselves whole, we must accept all the graces God has prepared for us and offers to us. How earnestly we ought to summon up our courage to live according to what we are. We ought to imitate as perfectly as possible Him who came into this world to teach us what we need to do to preserve in ourselves this beauty and divine resemblance which He has so completely repaired and embellished in us! It is this divine resemblance that we ought to recognize and help to preserve in our neighbor who is also God’s child. Let us walk then in the way of love as God’s most dear children.

(L. Fiorelli, ed. Sermons; St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God).

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Sunday June 24, 2018
Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Mass during the Day
Lectionary: 587

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
LK 1:57-66, 80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
"No. He will be called John."
But they answered her,
"There is no one among your relatives who has this name."
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name,"
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
"What, then, will this child be?"
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Nativity of John the Baptist

Today we celebrate the Birth of John the Baptist. He was noted for his zeal in preparing the way of the Lord. Here are some thoughts of St. Francis de Sales on the value of zeal:

True zeal makes use of anger to help it correct an evil. At the same time, true zeal always honors and respects the dignity of the person being corrected. It never turns the hatred of evil into hatred of the evildoer. Nor does zeal turn charity into raging cruelty.

Anger is used by grace to put into effect the work we are called to do. Yet, if anger makes itself master, it overthrows the authority of reason, and it constricts zeal tempered by holy love. Like a fire that in an instant consumes a solid building, excessive anger destroys the zeal coming from a very good soul. Properly used anger is an aid given by our nature to move us to reason, as well as reflect and make good judgments.

Great saints, who have regulated their emotions through prayer and practicing virtue, can also direct their anger at will and put it out or draw it back as seems good to them. Such was St. John the Baptist who through his zeal suffered a martyrdom of love of God. For the most of us, however, our horse is not so well disciplined that we can make it gallop or come to a stop at will. Thus, we must take care not to needlessly stir up anger within ourselves.

In seeking to develop our spiritual well-being, we must not love anything too much, not even virtues, which we can sometimes lose by our misplaced zeal. All God wants is our heart. Zeal is simply ardent love. Yet zeal can be a good or evil love. Since zeal is ardent, impetuous love, it requires prudent direction. True zeal is a child of charity and thus is patient, kind, without hatred and rejoices in the truth. Let us calm our impetuous ardor for truth and goodness by inflaming our zeal with sacred love.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales.)

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday June 17, 2018
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 92

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and through it all the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.”

He said,
“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings help us to keep things in perspective. Make no mistake – we are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. While we are charged with a tremendous duty - advancing the kingdom of God - the most effective means to accomplishing this great calling is to pay attention to detail – that is, buy doing little things with great love.

In his Introduction to the Devout Life, Francis de Sales made the following exhortation:

“Put your hand to strong things, by training yourself in prayer and meditation, receiving the sacraments, bringing souls to love God, infusing good inspirations into their hearts and, in fine, by performing big, important works according to your vocation. But never forget…those little, humble virtues that grow like flowers at the foot of the cross: helping the poor, visiting the sick, taking care of your family, with all the responsibilities that accompany such things and with all the useful diligence which prompts you to not stand idle.”

“Great opportunities to serve God rarely present themselves, but little ones are frequent…you will profit greatly in God’s sight by doing all these things because God wishes you to do the.” (III, 35, pp. 214 – 215)

God gives us a rich abundance of means proper for our salvation. By a wondrous infusion of God’s grace into our minds, hearts, attitudes and actions the Spirit makes our works become God’s work. Our good works - like planting miniscule mustard seeds here or like scattering small seeds there - have vigor and virtue enough to produce a great good because they proceed from the Spirit of Jesus.

As it turns out, little things do really mean a lot in the eyes of God. In fact, they mean everything!

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday June 10, 2018
Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 89

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 3:20-35

Jesus came home with his disciples.
Again the crowd gathered,
making it impossible for them even to eat.
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him,
for they said, "He is out of his mind."
The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said,
"He is possessed by Beelzebul,"
and "By the prince of demons he drives out demons."

Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables,
"How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself,
that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself,
that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan has risen up against himself
and is divided, he cannot stand;
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man's house to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder the house.
Amen, I say to you,
all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be
forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will never have forgiveness,
but is guilty of an everlasting sin."
For they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."

His mother and his brothers arrived.
Standing outside they sent word to him and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him,
"Your mother and your brothers and your sisters
are outside asking for you.”
But he said to them in reply,
"Who are my mother and my brothers?"
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,
"Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In his Introduction to the Devout Life, Francis de Sales does not equate happiness with self-centeredness, self-absorption or self-obsession. However, Francis does equate happiness with what he calls self-possession. The Gentleman Saint writes:

“It is man’s great happiness to possess his own soul, and the more perfect our patience the more completely do we possess our souls.”

What happiness it is to know and accept yourself for who you are in the sight of God! What delight it is to be comfortable – without being complacent – in your own skin! What joy it is to be essentially at home – to be at peace – with the person that God made you to be! Why, it’s the next best thing to Paradise.

Tragically enough, the ability to be at home with ourselves became the first – and the most fundamental – casualty of The Fall. No sooner had Adam and Eve eaten from the fruit of the tree of knowledge than their natural state – their nakedness, their transparency – became a reproach. They were embarrassed – they were ashamed – of who they were. Literally, they were no longer comfortable in their own skin. Suddenly sullied by self-alienation and self-loathing, Paradise was lost…and life became a burden.

As we know all-too-well, so much of the misery, sin and sadness that plagues the human family to this very day comes from either (1) the inability to be who we really are, or (2) the fruitless attempt to become someone we’re not.

In his Treatise on the Love of God, Francis de Sales exclaimed:

“God has signified to us in so many ways and by so many means that he wills all of us to be saved that no one should be ignorant of this fact. For this purpose, through Creation God made us ‘in his own image and likeness’, whereas through the Incarnation God has made himself in our image and likeness.”

The redemptive grace of the Incarnation makes it possible for us to experience once again the happiness that comes from possessing our own souls. The restorative power of the Incarnation makes it possible for us to experience once again the joy of being essentially at home with who we are in the sight of God. Wounded as we are by sin, our practice of devotion – our quest to possess our own souls – no longer comes effortlessly as it originally did in Paradise. It requires perpetual practice; it demands tremendous patience.

That said, God not only promises us the joy and peace born of this heavenly self-acceptance; God also shows us how to achieve it on this earth in the person of his Son.

Jesus embodies the power of self-possession. Jesus exhibits the joy of self-acceptance. Jesus exudes the peace of self-direction. Who better than Jesus shows us what it looks like to be comfortable in one’s own skin? Who better than Jesus demonstrates what it looks like to invite - and to empower - others to do the same?

Not unlike what he did with our first parents, The Evil One hits us where it hurts. Sometimes Satan tempts us to believe that we can’t possibly be happy by being who we are. Other times, Satan tempts us to believe that we’d be happier if we were someone else – perhaps anybody else – other than who we are. In very deep, dark places within our minds and hearts, each and every one of us is tempted to ask this question:

Sinner as I am, weak as I am, wounded as I am and imperfect as I am, why should I believe that God wants me to be comfortable – at home - in my own skin?

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Sunday June 3, 2018
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Lectionary: 168

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
Mk 14:12-16, 22-26

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
when they sacrificed the Passover lamb,
Jesus’ disciples said to him,
"Where do you want us to go
and prepare for you to eat the Passover?"
He sent two of his disciples and said to them,
"Go into the city and a man will meet you,
carrying a jar of water.
Follow him.
Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house,
'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest room
where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"'
Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.
Make the preparations for us there."
The disciples then went off, entered the city,
and found it just as he had told them;
and they prepared the Passover.
While they were eating,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, gave it to them, and said,
"Take it; this is my body."
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them,
and they all drank from it.
He said to them,
"This is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed for many.
Amen, I say to you,
I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Body and Blood of Christ

In today’s Gospel we experience Jesus telling His disciples of His real presence in the Eucharist. St. Francis de Sales notes that the Eucharist strengthens us and the community.

The first Christians had but one heart and one soul and preserved this union among themselves. What built that great union among them was none other than the celebration of the Eucharist. Later on, when reception of the Eucharist was discontinued or rarely received, holy love became cold among Christians, and totally lost both its strength and its alluring delight. In the Eucharist, God is at once both Gift and Giver who strengthens each of us in community.

The height of Our Savior’s self-giving love for us is the Eucharist. Infinite happiness is pledged to us in the Eucharist, the perpetual feast of divine grace. In the Eucharist, God becomes our food. How wonderful to be nourished on the Bread from heaven that Our Lord gave to us.

The more we are united to God, the more we are united to one another. Each time we receive Communion, our union will become more perfect. For being united with Our Lord, we shall also remain united to one another. That is why the holy reception of this heavenly Bread and of this sacrament is called Communion, that is, common union.

The Eucharist is the real and spiritual presence of Christ. When we receive the Eucharist, our Lord carries us and does deeds in us altogether performed by Him. In the Eucharist, all He asks is our co-operation in the practice of virtue and good works. Our Savior gives Himself totally to us in the Divine Sacrament. Ought we not to give ourselves totally to Him who advances, strengthens and nourishes us with His life-giving love in the Eucharist?

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales.)

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Sunday May 27, 2018
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Lectionary: 165

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 28:16-20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
"All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Trinity Sunday

Today, Trinity Sunday, the Church celebrates the three Divine Persons in God. St. Francis de Sales states that we, as a community, are called to a similar union of pure love:

The pure love of the Trinity overflows into the spiritual health of the whole human family. The Holy Spirit, in us during this mortal life, leads us to Christ, who is the way to the Father. It is the Trinity that has brought about the mystery of God becoming human. Our Savior has taken on our likeness and given us His. Only in and through Christ are we able to participate in the Trinity’s union of pure love.

Our spiritual health is founded on the Incarnation. Our Savior was too great a lover of truth and authentic goodness to be carried away by greed, ambition, and honors that harm us. Our Lord calls us to love one another and be united together as purely and perfectly as possible. It is only God’s image and likeness that we ought to love and honor in all. St. Paul recommends: “Beloved, walk the way of love for one another as very dear children of God.” Paul adds that he wants us to walk with giant strides as Jesus did: loving and forgiving all. We are truly God’s children when we love one another dearly in all goodness of heart.

The union of the three Divine Persons is really impossible to imagine. It would be presumptuous to hope to reach an identical union of love as found in the three Divine Persons. Yet we must be willing to approach this union in a manner consistent with our human condition. We are all called to become holy, but we must rely primarily on God’s grace, not our own human effort, to love divinely. Just as the love of the three Divine Persons overflows into the whole human family, may our love resemble the Trinity, and overflow into the hearts of those we encounter each day.

(Adapted from the Writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales, L. Fiorelli, Ed.)

Pentecost Sunday - Mass during the Day

Sunday May 20, 2018
Pentecost Sunday - Mass during the Day
Lectionary: 63

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, "Peace be with you."
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained."

Or

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 15:26-27; 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me from the beginning.

"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Pentecost Sunday

On the Feast of Pentecost, we experience the Spirit of truth empowering the disciples of Jesus to be authentic witnesses to Jesus’ words and deeds. St. Francis de Sales notes:

The holy love that the Spirit pours into our hearts is infinitely more than all other forms of love. The love the Spirit gives us redeems us and gives us eternal life. On the Feast of Pentecost the Holy Spirit reinvigorated and gave strength and virtue to Jesus’ disciples to carry on our Savior’s work through forming the true Church.

You too exercise an apostolic function by witnessing to your way of life as a Christian. The love of the Spirit empowers you to do our Lord’s work. Our works that flow from the Spirit’s love have vigor and authenticity, and grow like the mustard seed. This Divine Spirit does not hesitate to dwell in us. Hence we must make room in our hearts for the Holy Spirit. Now what must we do to make room? God asks first for our heart. The Spirit, who dwells in us, desires to open our hearts to divine goodness. The Spirit of Jesus wants us to experience the fruits of divine love. The Spirit does this by giving us gifts and blessings inseparable from holy love that leads us to eternal happiness.

Our desire, to attain the fullness of a holy life, is a spark of the divine flame and the work of the Spirit. If we wish to sail on the little boat of the Church amidst the bitter waters of this culture our Savior will glide us to eternal happiness. He makes every effort to encourage you take the oar in hand and sail. He has promised that if you take the trouble to row your boat, He will lead you to another place full of life. To the extent you allow the Spirit to enlarge your heart, the Spirit will increase your ability to love divinely. Happy, indeed, are those who decide to serve God even only a little! God will never let them remain barren and unfruitful!. Who, then, can resist the empowering love of the Spirit?

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal)