21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 27, 2017)

In today’s Gospel we experience Peter firmly identifying Jesus as the “Christ, the Son of the living God.” St. Francis de Sales has much to say about St. Peter:

God does not always choose the holiest to govern and to serve in His Church. Our Lord chose Peter as Chief of the Apostles even though he was subject to many imperfections. Peter, filled with much zeal, was apt to be impetuous. While he followed our Savior with his whole heart, he stumbled many times after his initial calling.

He boasted that he would never abandon Our Lord. Yet, he found himself cursing Him and saying that he never knew Him. That pierced our Lord’s heart!

Yet, Our Lord did not reject Peter, since He was sure that St. Peter had a strong and constant determination to correct himself. Peter ought to have relied on Our Lord’s power than to trust in the fervor that he felt. Peter’s natural disposition to cater to his feelings and desires was in part the cause of his lapses. When we experience certain lapses in our on-going conversion, we must not abandon our quest for holiness. Like Peter, let us have a strong and constant determination to take the measures needed to correct ourselves. Then we too will receive special favors and blessings on earth and in heaven.

What a great reason to anchor our hope and confidence completely in Our Lord! For even after spending one’s life in horrible crimes and iniquities, one can find forgiveness when one returns to the Source of our Redemption, Christ. We must not listen to the voice that tells us that our faults are unpardonable. We must say boldly that our God died for all. No matter how ungodly one is, he or she will find redemption in our Savior. Let us consider with what patience our divine Savior awaits those who reject Him. Then like Peter, we may say, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” our Redeemer.

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

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 20, 2017)

In today’s Gospel we experience the Canaanite woman’s deep faith in Jesus. St. Francis de Sales expands on her confident and persevering response of faith in Jesus.

If God gives us no indication of hearing our prayers or of promptly answering them, we lose courage. We cannot persevere in prayer. We quit it completely, then and there. This is not the case with the Canaanite woman. Our Lord at first was paying no attention to her prayer. Since He did not respond to her, He seemed to do her an injustice. Nonetheless, the woman persevered in crying out after Him, even after the apostles told Him to send her away.

She had great confidence when she made her request amidst squalls and tempests that ordinarily shake one’s certainty. Like the Canaanite woman we ought to have firm confidence in Our Savior’s power and will, particularly in tribulations. Will God, who makes houses for the snails and turtles, not have care and mercy for you, a child of God? Such confidence always accompanies attentive faith.

Attentive faith is what the Canaanite woman had. She stood among Jesus’ listeners, carefully observing Him. Her faith was great, not only because she was so attentive to what she had heard spoken about Him. But she also decided to believe what others said of Him. We make our faith in God livelier by reflecting attentively on the mysteries of our Savior. These reflections make our heart desire the innumerable virtues of Jesus.

Perseverance is a virtue that flows from a faith attentive to the mysteries that Scripture and Tradition teach us. Our happiness is grounded on perseverance. If Our Lord seems not to hear us, it is to compel us to cry out louder and to draw us closer to God who gives us our power to persevere. Courage then! Like the Canaanite woman, let us walk faithfully with confidence in the way of our Savior and we will eternally be happy.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially Sermons, ed. L. Fiorelli).

Assumption of the Blesses Virgin Mary (August 15, 2017)

Today, we celebrate the Assumption of Mary. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Holy Tradition teaches us that Mary died and was assumed into heaven in her glorified body. Mary ascended for the honor of her Son and to arouse great holiness in us. She dedicated all of her actions so as to give glory to her Son. Mary also desires that all of our actions glorify her Son.

After her Son’s death, the Mother of Jesus was a reliable witness to the truth of His human nature, as well as a light for the faithful who were in deep affliction. With what devotion she must have loved her holy body, as it was the living source of our Savior’s body. Yet to serve God better, she too had to rest her weary body so as to restore her strength. Assuredly taking care of our bodies is a most excellent act of charity. As the great St. Augustine said, God’s holy love in us places an obligation upon us to love our bodies properly, since they are necessary for good works, constitute part of our person, and will share in eternal happiness.

Indeed, a Christian must love his or her body as a living image of their incarnate Savior, as having issued with him from the same stock, and consequently belonging to him in parentage and blood. Like Mary, we must know our human excellence so as to glorify God through the gifts that God places in us. At the General Resurrection, our mortal bodies will become immortal, and remade like that of Our Lord.

Mary asks us to have her Son reign in our heart. Let us examine the affections of our heart to see that they are in tune, so that like Mary, we can sing of the great things God is doing in us. In all dangers, in all tempests, “Look at this star of the sea, invoke her.” With her favor your ship will arrive at port without disaster and without shipwreck.

(Adapted from Sermons of St. Francis de Sales, L. Fiorelli, Ed.)

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 13, 2017)

In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges us to take the risk of following Him with ever deeper faith as we are tossed about in the storm of life. St. Francis de Sales speaks similarly:

When fearfully faced with tempests and earthquakes, we make acts of faith and hope. Yet, there is another kind of fear where we find everything difficult and trying. We think more of future difficulties than what we have to do at present. Rise and do not be frightened by the day’s work. It is natural that the night is for rest and the day for work.

Let us do three simple things, and we shall have peace. Let us have a very pure intention of seeking, in all things, the honor and glory of God. Then let us do the little we can toward this end. Finally, let us leave to God the care of all the rest. I have seen few people make progress without experiencing trials, so you must be patient. After the squall, God will send the calm. Children are afraid when they are out of their mother’s arms. They feel nothing can harm them if they are holding her hand. Hold God’s hand and God will protect you from all, for you are armored with truth and faith.

If you lack courage, be like Peter and cry out, “Lord save me!” Then resume your journey quietly. Often we think we have lost peace because we are afflicted. Yet we have not lost it if we remain totally dependent on God’s will, and in no way abandon our responsibilities. Let us carry out our tasks courageously, and you will see that with God’s help we will go beyond the reaches of the world, beyond its limits. Trust then in God, and all things will be rendered easy, although at first they may frighten you a little.

Our Lord is called Prince of Peace in the Scriptures. Where He is absolute master, He holds everything in peace. To be at peace in the midst of warfare, to live serenely amid trials: this, indeed, is to imitate the “Prince of Peace.”

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially Sermons , ed. L. Fiorelli).

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (August 6, 2017)

St. Francis de Sales challenges us to be transfigured in Christ through our daily activities:

At the Transfiguration Jesus showed us a spark of eternal glory. While the Prophet said, “I will never forget you…I have carved you on the palm of my hand,” Jesus went further and said, “I will never forget you, since I bear your name engraved in My Heart.” At the Transfiguration Jesus shows His flaming Heart of love for us.

Like the apostles who wanted to remain in Jesus’ presence, we too must do likewise. So little by little let us leave behind all our affections for lowly things and aspire to the happiness that Our Lord has prepared for us. Where could we give better witness to our fidelity to God than in the midst of things going wrong?

There is a real temptation to become dissatisfied with the world and depressed about it when we have of necessity to be in it. Yet we will always encounter difficulties in the “busyness” of the world. To think that we can be holy without suffering is a delusion. Where there is more difficulty, there is more virtue. However, if we stumble, with trust and confidence in God’s mercy, let us put ourselves back on the path of virtue.

Be like the honeybee. While you are carefully making the honey of holiness, at the same time make the wax of your worldly affairs. If our Lord finds honey sweet, so does the wax honor Him, since it is used to make the candles that give light to those around us. Let us focus on always being transfigured in Christ. What we will do and become as we experience the lovable Heart of our Master aflame with love for us!

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

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 30, 2017)

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of heaven is worth pursuing at any cost. St. Francis de Sales gives us some practical advice on how to keep advancing in our pursuit of the Kingdom:

All we have to do is nothing more than what we are doing: adore the lovable providence of God, and throw ourselves into God’s arms and keeping. Oh, how blessed are they who choose to place themselves in God’s hands! To renew and conform ourselves to this choice, we merely need to say that we love only God and love all else for the love of God. This continual aspiration is very helpful in applying all our works to love; it is especially useful for our ordinary little actions in everyday tasks. The tasks required for each person’s calling increase divine love, and gild a work of holiness.

Let us be like the valiant woman of the Old Testament. “She puts her hand to strong, generous, and exalted things and yet does not disdain to spin and turn the spindle.” Put your hands to strong things, by training yourself in prayer and meditation, receiving the sacraments, bringing souls to love God and infusing good inspirations into their hearts. Perform important works according to your vocation. But never forget your spinning and spindle. That is, practice those little virtues of simplicity, patience, humility and gentleness that grow like flowers when we do little deeds with great love.

The nightingale has no less love for its song when it pauses than when it sings. Similarly, the devout heart has no less love when it turns to external duties than when it prays. In such hearts their silence and their speech, their work and their rest equally sing with joy-filled love. Their daily prayer life overflows into their daily actions. They seek the Kingdom of God at all cost and it is revealed to them.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales

especially his Treatise on the Love of God).

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 23, 2017)

In today’s readings we are reminded how God’s justice and mercy work together to care for the human family. St. Francis de Sales notes:

God is Goodness itself. This infinite goodness of God has two hands: one is mercy, the other is justice. Justice and mercy can only thrive where there is goodness. God uses mercy to have us embrace what is good. Justice uproots whatever prevents us from experiencing the effects of God’s goodness. It makes us shun evil.

Those who have a true desire to serve our Lord and flee from evil should not torment themselves with the thought of death or divine judgment. The holy fear of those who love God is a filial reverence for God. They fear displeasing God simply because God is their most kind and loving father. A good child does not obey his father because of his power to punish or disinherit him, but simply because he is his loving and caring father. Holy fear strengthens our human spirit. It is full of confidence in the goodness of God. God’s mercy, seeing that we are clothed in “flesh, a wind” that comes and goes, never casts us into total ruin. Our Savior’s infinite mercy always bends towards us.

When sinners are most hardened in sin and are living as if there is no God, it is then that our Savior allows them to find His heart full of pity and kind mercy towards them. David, though he offended God, was always nourished in the Heart of leniency and divine mercy. Let us reflect how from eternity God’s goodness tenderly cherished us and provided for us all the means to progress in sacred love. Now God provides us the opportunity to do the good that presents itself and to persevere in the present trial that is upon us. The greatness of God’s mercy shines forth in the awe-inspiring deeds of Jesus. What a great reason to anchor our hope and confidence completely in God’s mercy!

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

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 16, 2017)

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that if we understand His word with our heart, it will bear abundant fruit. St. Francis de Sales expands on this thought:

God’s word is so powerful and efficacious that it gives life to those in need. What a good sign it is for a Christian to take pleasure in listening to God’s word, and to belong totally to God! Those who come to abandon all to God without any reserve are like the sunflower that is not content with turning its flowers, leaves and stem toward the sun, but by some hidden wonder, it also turns its underground root. To love God completely means we love God who commands, and we love the thing commanded.

Jesus, who died for love of us, wants us to listen to His word so as to make it our own. After we have listened attentively to the Word of God, let us open our hearts and be receptive to understanding what we hear. Understanding well God’s word helps us to keep it. Our actions ought to be congruent with our words. That is, the carrying out of our good resolutions ought to immediately follow our words. Let us implore the Divine mercy to strengthen us to make effective what our heart desires and approves.

Our Lord makes it very clear that His word is effective in us when we embrace His will for us. This does not mean that we feel “good” or “holy” in doing God’s will. What matters is that we hold in reverence God’s word and keep to the intention of profiting from it. Divine Goodness is satisfied with this. God is content with little, and focuses on the intentions in our heart, not our feelings. However, those, who listen to the word of God with a particular attention and desire for it, speak of the victories over themselves and their weaknesses. Our entire good consists in accepting the truth of Our Savior’s word. Let us persevere in living that truth so we may have life in abundance.

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

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 9, 2017)

Today’s Gospel speaks of our need to be gentle and humble of heart. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Take care that gentleness and humility are found within your heart. Little by little, bring your quick mind around to being patient, gentle, humble, and affable in the midst of the pettiness, childishness and imperfections of others. Humility and gentleness are true and good when they preserve us from the inflammation and swelling that injuries usually cause in our hearts.

One of the best exercises in gentleness that we can perform is in ourselves. Reason requires that we must be displeased and sorry whenever we commit a fault. Yet when we do so, we must refrain from bitter, gloomy, spiteful and emotional displeasure with ourselves. We correct ourselves much better by calm, steady repentance than by harshness. These fits of anger against ourselves spring from our self-centered love that is disturbed and upset at seeing it is imperfect. If I had seriously committed a fault, I would correct my heart in a reasonable, compassionate way and 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. Let us start out again on the way by trusting in God. God will help us and we will do better.”

When you are inwardly peaceful, perform as many acts of gentleness as you can, no matter how small and do all you can to develop a spirit of compassion. As long as reason rules and peaceably chastises, corrects, and warns, even though firmly and exactly, everyone loves and approves it. If we find ourselves aroused to anger we must call for God’s help like the apostles when the wind and the storm tossed them about. This life is only a journey to the happy life to come. We must march as companions united in gentleness, peace and love.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially, J. Power & W. Wright, Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal, Paulist Press.)

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 2, 2017)

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us how we must love Him if we are to be His disciples. St. Francis de Sales notes:

God willed that Adam should love Eve tenderly, yet not so tenderly that to please her he should violate the command God had given him. Love of our family, friends, and benefactors is what God desires. Yet, we can love them to excess. This also may be the case with our vocation, no matter how spiritual, and even with our devotions, when we love them as if they were our last end. We must remind ourselves that they are only a means to our final intention, which is love of God.

Why does our excessive love of persons and things arise? It arises because the very things we ought to love according to God’s Will, we love for other causes and motives. These motives may not be contrary to God but are apart from God. That is, they focus more on our desires than what God desires for us.

Yet, there are souls who love only that what God wills and whatever way God wills it for them. These souls are truly blessed for they love God, love their friends in God, and even love their enemies for God. It is God whom they love not only above all things, but even in all things. Rare and singular are these souls. They are like pearl fishermen who do not say they are fishing for oysters but rather for pearls. These great souls find the pearl of God’s loving presence in all persons and things, and this is the cause of their joy.

In today’s Gospel Jesus urges us to love, as God desires us to love. To will what God wills for us, we must let go of all that is not of God in our desires and affections. Then we are free to love all persons and things in Christ and for Christ. It is the presence of Christ’s divine love in us that empowers us to become His disciples.

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

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (June 25, 2017)

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us to fear those who try to destroy our souls and to place our trust in God who cares for us. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Everyone desires to embrace the good and fly from what is evil. When we experience an evil, we become sad and desire to free ourselves of this sadness. We are right to seek a means to get rid of this sadness. Fear and anxiety can come from an inordinate desire to be freed from a present difficulty or to realize a hoped for goal.

Whenever you urgently hope to realize a certain good or to escape from a certain uneasiness, you must be especially careful to put your mind at rest and be at peace. When you see that you are becoming anxious, place yourself in God’s presence. Resolve to do nothing that your desire insists on until your mind has regained peace. Be careful to make calm judgments based on the authentic values found in Jesus’ teachings. Then try, without hurry, trouble, or anxiety, to accomplish your desire. Perform the action, not according to your desire, but reason.

When we seek to escape from our troubles, we must do so patiently, gently, and calmly. We must look to God for help rather than our own efforts. If we look to ourselves only, we will wear ourselves out. Walk simply in the way our Lord shows you and don’t worry. Sing songs of praise and thanksgiving. Involve yourself in a variety of healthful activities. Also, revealing the cause of your anxiety to your confessor or a reliable person empowers you to find relief. If we always tend toward God’s love, neither tribulation nor fear of future troubles will separate us from this love. Our love is founded on Jesus Christ, who cares for us and never betrays us. Great indeed is the confidence our Savior wants us to have in His care. All who trust in this confidence reap great fruit.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially Introduction to the Devout Life)

Body and Blood of Christ (June 18, 2017)

Today we celebrate the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Here are some of St. Francis de Sales thoughts on the Eucharist.

So that we might intimately be united with God’s goodness, Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. Our Savior desires us to be united to Him by a union so strong and close that we are marked with His features. In receiving the Eucharist our Lord carries us and does in us works altogether performed by Him. Whoever turns to the Eucharist frequently, and in a holy manner, builds up his or her spiritual health. If fruits that are tender and most subject to decay, such as strawberries, can easily be preserved a whole year in sugar and honey, it is no wonder that our hearts, no matter how frail and weak, are preserved by the spiritually real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

After you have received our Lord in the Eucharist, talk with Him about your inmost concerns. Reflect that He is within you and has come there for your happiness. Make Him as welcome as you possibly can. Conduct yourself in such a manner that by your actions all may know that God is with you.

Receive the Eucharist often. Two kinds of people ought to receive the Eucharist often: the strong and the weak. The strong, lest they become weak, and the weak that they may become strong. The sick that they may be cured, those in good health, that they may not fall sick. Persons who are involved in many worldly affairs need it. Those who labor much and are heavily burdened need to eat solid food and often.

In the Eucharist our Savior advances, strengthens and nourishes us with His self-giving love. Since Christ gives Himself totally to us in this Divine Sacrament, ought we not to give ourselves totally to Him, who is at once both Gift and Giver?

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

The Most Holy Trinity (June 11, 2017)

Today we celebrate the Trinity, the three Persons in One God. St. Francis de Sales notes:

The love of the Three Persons in the Trinity overflows into creation and especially the human family. Humanity was united to the person of God the Son so that humanity might eternally enjoy the treasures of His infinite glory. Only in and through Christ are we able to participate in the Trinity’s union of pure love.

Our Savior does not call us to the identical union of the Three Persons, but we ought to be united together as purely and perfectly as possible. When we respond to His call, our Redeemer so completely transforms us into His image. It almost seems as if there is no longer any difference between Him and us. He repairs us all equally. Without exception He makes us like Himself. Through the strength of His sacred love, He succeeded in forgetting Himself but not His creatures. How great was the flame of love that burned in the heart of our gentle Savior! We too are capable of such heart-felt love.

Jesus spoke of our union of hearts in daring terms. The quality of our love for one another must be similar to that of the love of the Three Persons. This seems too good to be true. Yet, it is impossible to love God and not love the image of God in our neighbor. Our Savior loves us so dearly that He makes us His adopted children. We too must show that we are truly His children, by loving one another dearly in all goodness of heart.

The children of this culture, who live only for their material treasures, are all separated from one another because their hearts are in different places. But the children of God, have their hearts ‘where their treasure is’. Having but one treasure that is the same God, they are always joined and united together. How much at peace and free we will be if our love for one another reflects the overflowing love of the Trinity!

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

Pentecost (June 4, 2017)

Today we read of Jesus giving His Spirit to the disciples. They are given the power to continue His saving mission for the whole human family. St. Francis de Sales notes:

The Holy Spirit is like a fountain of living water that flows into our hearts so as to spread divine love in us. Divine love is something infinitely more than all other forms of love. The love that the Spirit gives empowers us to serve God. Our works that flow from the Spirit’s love are vigorous and virtuous, and grow like the mustard seed. It is a wonderful thing that this Divine Spirit does not hesitate to dwell in us.

Still the Holy Spirit has no wish to enter into us unless it is with our free consent. God asks first for our heart. To the extent we open our heart to God’s love, so God continues to increase sacred love in us. Our Savior has promised that if you take the trouble to row your boat, He will lead you to another place full of life. He desires infinitely that you take the oar in hand and row. He makes every effort to make you do it. He commands, excites, and goads us. If we wish to sail on the little boat of the Church amidst the bitter waters of this world, He will lead us to eternal life. Yet, He refuses to lead us there without our help because by nature, we are made to be His cooperators.

It is not enough to feel an inspiration from God. We must give it our consent. Even if we give just a little of our consent to it, what happiness results! The divine inspiration, given to us by the Sprit, catches hold of us, mingles its action with our consent, animates our feeble movements, and enlivens our frail cooperation. God’s loving inspirations leave us complete freedom to follow or reject them. Yet, God’s love makes water flow from rocks, and makes persecutors into preachers. Let us do then what lies in our power to do. Let the Holy Spirit direct our actions and affections to forgiveness, which leads to our spiritual wholeness. Then we may spread the Good News to those we encounter each day.

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

The Ascension of the Lord (May 25/28, 2017)

Today we experience Jesus in His risen body ascending into the fullness of God’s kingdom. St. Francis de Sales notes:

The mystery of the Ascension astounds us. If we understand the Ascension, the most abundant treasure of Jesus’ gifts will be given to us. His body, no longer physical but spiritual, penetrates the heavens and is present in the Eucharist. He gives Himself to all those who wish to receive and embrace Him. In a hidden way, He is transforming all.

God’s love is continually divinizing our humanity. Our life of divine love places an obligation on us to love our bodies properly. They constitute part of us as a human person, and will share in eternal happiness. We as Christians must love our bodies as living images of our incarnate Savior. We must also love this divine image in each other.

When we begin to live a life “hidden in God with Jesus Christ,” we live out of our true interior self. We live a new life of divine love. Our selfish loves are in the service of divine love. How did we achieve this? Strong sunlight causes the light of the stars to disappear. Similarly, when we set up a stronger affection for imperishable, eternal things, we extinguish our inordinate love of ephemeral things. The stronger more powerful fire of God’s love extinguishes our excessive love of lesser things.

Jesus’ Resurrection-Ascension empowers us to live this new life of holy love that is contrary to all the opinions and rules of our materialistically oriented culture. Christ’s love is the wellspring of our love. Nothing urges on a person’s heart so much as love. Let us walk joyously among the difficulties of this passing life, since all is perfected and brought to perfection in the eternal beatitude of Heaven. Then Our Savior will glorify us with His splendor, for we loved all things, not for ourselves, but for the glory of God.

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

Sixth Sunday of Easter (May 21, 2017)

Today's readings remind us that to love Jesus is to keep His word and to think, feel and act in accordance with His word. St. Francis de Sales stresses that we learn to keep His word and live Jesus through a life of prayer and virtue.

Prayer places our mind in the brilliance of God's light and exposes our will to the warmth of God's love. Prayer is a stream of holy water that makes the plants of our good desires grow green and flourish. Each day set aside some time to meditate. If possible meditate early in the morning, when your mind is less distracted and fresher after a night's rest. To live Jesus, ask God to help you to pray from your heart.

When you meditate on Jesus' life, you will learn his ways and form your actions after the pattern of his life. Gradually accustom yourself to pass with ease and tranquility from prayer to your various duties even though your duties appear far different from the affections you received in prayer. The lawyer must be able to pass from prayer to pleading cases, the merchant to commerce, and the parent to the care of children. Out of our meditation experience must flow our daily actions, which involve a life of virtue.

Each person must practice in a special manner the virtues needed for the kind of life he or she is called to. In practicing the virtues we should prefer the one most conformable to our duties rather than the one most agreeable to our taste. As a rule comets seem bigger than stars because comets are closer to us. Hence, comets seem bigger to us. Similarly, we esteem certain virtues merely because they appear greater to us. Yet, we must choose the virtues needed to counteract our habitual failings and weaknesses so as to advance in holy love. For instance, if assaulted by anger practice gentleness, no matter how small this virtuous act may seem. True virtue has no limits. If we act out of reverence for God and in good faith, God will raise us up to heights that are truly great so that we may live Jesus even when we suffer for doing what is good.

Of course, the Good News in today’s Gospel is that we are not on our own – we are not left to our own devices – in our attempts to Live + Jesus. We have Christ’s promise of the help, the guidance and the companionship of the Holy Spirit!

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

Fifth Sunday of Easter (May 14, 2017)

Today Jesus implores us to believe in Him. He is the life-giving Truth who gives us strength to do great works. St. Francis de Sales notes:

There is nothing stronger than truth. To live in truth is to lead a life entirely conformed to simple faith. So great is the strength of faith that it fears nothing. People indeed have this strength of faith. Yet, because we do not always realize that this is in us, we often fear and become weak. The strength of faith consists partly in knowing its power that says we can do everything in God who strengthens us. Our strength of faith has us acknowledge the truth of our goodness and dignity as persons who are capable of being united to God, who is Truth. Our faith in being united to God sustains us amidst so many great weaknesses, and gives us strength to become authentic persons.

The aim of Christian authenticity is to transcend our own self-centered spirit and find our true spirit in Christ. Our Lord came into this world to give us life. Yet, as long as we live, we will have some self-seeking interests that deny us His life-giving way. Little by little, let us leave our affections of these lesser things and aspire to the happiness that God desires for us. The greater fervor we have in letting go of lesser loves, the more God’s love can do great works in us. The more we let go of our selfish desires and yield to God’s desire for us, the more our human spirit will be free from interior restlessness.

Bees are restless while they are without a queen. We too are restless until we give birth to Our Savior in our hearts. Let us remain very near to this sacred Savior who gathers us all around Himself so as to keep us always under His most holy protection. He is like the queen bee that cares so much for her swarm she never leaves her hive without being surrounded by all her little people. Great is the confidence that Our Redeemer wants us to place in His care for us. All who trust in Him always reap the fruits of this confidence. Imitating His truthful, life-giving way has us do great works indeed!

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

Fourth Sunday of Easter (May 7, 2017)

Today we experience Jesus as the Good Shepherd. He invites us to hear His voice so that we “might have life and have it in abundance.” St. Francis de Sales notes:

Our Good Shepherd gathers us all around Himself to keep us always under His protection. He tenderly nourishes us with His love. So loving is God’s hand as it handles our heart, bringing it strength without depriving us of freedom. Those who hear well His voice never lack holy inspirations in order to live life in abundance and to fulfill in a holy way their responsibilities.

To hear well we must listen. To hear the word of God, we must first be attentive to it by having an open heart. To listen to God’s word we must learn it well and carry out what we are taught. When manna fell from Heaven, the Hebrews rose each morning to collect it before sunrise. They ate and swallowed it so as to be nourished and strengthened. We too must digest well God’s word to make it part of our own being.

Thus, each day nourish yourself with a little spiritual reading that affirms God’s word and sends you on your way to your everlasting welfare. Let the word of God that you hear, speak to you throughout the day. Put that into practice and leave the rest to Our Savior, who nurtures your true needs. If we are to have life in abundance eternally, we must hear the voice of Our Shepherd, who guides us if only we let Him.

Since we easily mismanage ourselves, Our Shepherd wants to teach us how to have life in abundance through loving His voice rather than the voice of strangers, who easily lead us astray. True love is when we live in light of Our Savior’s love, rather than the selfish loves that the culture stresses. How happy we will be if we remain in the Shepherd’s presence, faithfully listening to and living His voice!

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

Third Sunday of Easter (April 30, 2017)

Today, two of Jesus’ disciples experience the dawning of faith in the risen Jesus as they meet Him on the road to Emmaus. St Francis de Sales notes:

Jesus, appearing as a pilgrim, encounters two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. He questions them about their conversation on His resurrection but they do not recognize Him. After they confess the doubt they are experiencing concerning His Resurrection, Jesus is able to instruct and enlighten them with His words. Then as Jesus breaks bread with them, they recognize their risen Savior and believe in Him.

It is a very good sign when a person listens willingly to the divine word. We are in continual communication with God, who never ceases to speak to our hearts through inspirations and sacred movements. God gives to each of us the inspirations needed to live, work, and preserve our life in the spirit.

When God gives us faith, God enters into our soul and pleasantly proposes what we must believe through inspiration. Yet our soul amid obscurity and darkness only gets a glimpse of those truths. It is like the earth when covered with fog. We can’t see the sun, but we see a little of the sun’s light. This obscure light of faith enters into our spirit, and step by step brings us to love the beauty of God’s truth in Jesus Christ, and believe in it.

Faith is the best friend of our human spirit. Faith assures us of God’s infinite goodness and thus gives us sufficient reason to love God with all our power. We must nurture well what we hear inwardly and outwardly of the divine word so that it strengthens us. Be devoted then to the word of God whether you hear it in familiar conversation with spiritual friends or in sermons. Be like the disciples. With joy, let the words of Our Savior nourish your heart as a precious hope-filled healing ointment.

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

Second Sunday of Easter (April 23, 2017)

Today as Jesus appears to His Disciples after His resurrection, we experience Him in His glorious immortal body. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Alas how the faith of Jesus’ Apostles is shaken after His crucifixion! Assembled in a room with closed doors, they are filled with fear. Then Jesus enters, stands in their midst, and greets them: Peace be with you. Showing them the signs and marks of the reconciliation of humanity with God, He says see my hands and my side. Why does He do this? To bolster their vacillating faith. Without the presence of our Savior, they felt timid and lacked strength. Such is the case when one is without God. They were afraid. Like a ship tossed in a storm without a pilot, such was this poor boat. Our Lord appears to his disciples to bring relief to their fear.

What joy and celebration the Apostles experience when hey see their Master in their midst. Jesus affirms their vacillating faith, assures their daunting hope and illumines their sacred love of God. Faith, hope, and holy love are necessary while we remain on earth. In heaven only holy love lives on. Especially with his Disciples during these days after his resurrection, and particularly in the apparition recounted today, Our Savior only does one thing: teach us that it is necessary to believe, to hope and to love.

He comes to bring safety in this place besieged of fear. He takes our miseries and ennobles them. Do you have need of strength? Here are my hands. Do you have need of a heart? Here is mine. His power gently gives us power. A living faith knows its power. Vivified by holy love, a living faith serves God as a faithful servant. May we be rooted in faith, joyful hope and fervent in holy love, in which we will rejoice for all eternity.

(Adapted from Saint Francis de Sales Oeuvres: Sermons)