Saint of the day 20150321

21 March


SAINT BENEDETTA CAMBIAGIO FRASSINELLO 

(1791 – 1858)

        Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frasinello was born on 2 October 1791 in Langasco (Genoa) Italy; she died on 21 March 1858 in Ronco Scrivia in Liguria. She was wife, religious and foundress. She let the Holy Spirit guide her through married life to the work of education and religious consecration. She founded a school for the formation of young women and also a religious congregation, and did both with the generous collaboration of her husband. This is unique in the annals of Christian sanctity. Benedetta was a pioneer in her determination to give a high quality education to young women, for the formation of families for a “new Christian society” and for promoting the right of women to a complete education.

Call to marriage, then to religious life

        From her parents Benedetta received a Christian formation that rooted in her the life of faith. Her family settled in Pavia when she was a girl. When she was 20 years old, Benedetta had a mystical experience that gave her a profound desire for a life of prayer and penance, and of consecration to God. However, in obedience to the wishes of her parents, in 1816, she married Giovanni Frassinello and lived married life for two years. In 1818, moved by the example of his saintly wife, Giovanni agreed that the two should live chastely, “as brother and sister” and take care of Benedetta’s younger sister, Maria, who was dying from intestinal cancer. They began to live a supernatural parenthood quite unique in the history of the Church.

Congregation founded by wife, who is supported by her husband

        Following Maria’s death in 1825, Giovanni entered the Somaschi Fathers founded by St Jerome Emiliani, and Benedetta devoted herself completely to God in the Ursuline Congregation of Capriolo. A year later she was forced to leave because of ill health, and returned to Pavia where she was miraculously cured by St Jerome Emiliani. Once she regained her health, with the Bishop’s approval, she dedicated herself to the education of young girls. Benedetta needed help in handling such a responsibility, but her own father refused to help her. Bishop Tosi of Pavia asked Giovanni to leave the Somaschi novitiate and help Benedettain her apostolic work. Together they made a vow of perfect chastity in the hands of the bishop, and then began their common work to promote the human and Christian formation of poor and abandoned girls of the city. Their educational work was of great benefit to Pavia. Benedetta became the first woman to be involved in this kind of work. The Austrian government recognized her as a “Promoter of Public Education”.

        She was helped by young women volunteers to whom she gave a rule of life that later received ecclesiastical approval. Along with instruction, she joined formation in catechesis and in useful skills like cooking and sewing, aiming to transform her students into “models of Christian life” and so assure the formation of families.

Benedictine Sisters of Providence

        Benedetta’s work was considered pioneering for those days and was opposed by a few persons in power and by the misunderstanding of clerics. In 1838 she turned over the institution to the Bishop of Pavia. Together with Giovanni and five companions, she moved to Ronco Scrivia in the Genoa region. There they opened a school for girls that was a refinement on what they had done in Pavia.

        Eventually, Benedetta founded the Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of Providence. In her rule she stressed the education of young girls. She instilled the spirit of unlimited confidence and abandonment to Providence and of love of God through poverty and charity. The Congregation grew quickly since it performed a needed service. Benedetta was able to guide the development of the Congregation until her death. On 21 March 1858 she died in Ronco Scrivia.

        Her example is that of supernatural maternity plus courage and fidelity in discerning and living God’s will.

        Today the Benedictine Nuns of Providence are present in Italy, Spain, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Peru and Brazil. They are at the service of young people, the poor, the sick and the elderly. The foundress also opened a house of the order in Voghera. Forty years after the death of Benedetta, the bishop separated this house from the rest of the Order. The name was changed to the Benedictines of Divine Providence who honour the memory of the Foundress.

        She was canonized by John Paul II on May 19, 2002.

– Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana




Other saints: Saint Enda (- 530)

He founded a monastery on the pagan island of Aran Mor in Galway Bay, which remained a centre for sanctity and learning for the next 300 years. See the article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia.

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Saint of the day 20150311

11 March


SAINT EULOGIUS 

Martyr 

(+ 859)

        St. Eulogius was of a senatorian family of Cordova, at that time the capital of the Moors in Spain. Our Saint was educated among the clergy of the Church of St. Zoilus, a martyr who suffered with nineteen others under Diocletian. Here he distinguished himself, by his virtue and learning, and, being made priest, was placed at the head of the chief ecclesiastical school at Cordova. He joined assiduous watching, fasting, and prayer to his studies, and his humility, mildness, and charity gained him the affection and respect of every one.

        During the persecution raised against the Christians in the year 850, St. Eulogius was thrown into prison and there wrote his Exhortation to Martyrdom, addressed to the virgins Flora and Mary, who were beheaded the 24th of November, 851. Six days after their death Eulogius was set at liberty. In the year 852 several others suffered the like martyrdom. St. Eulogius encouraged all these martyrs to their triumphs, and was the support of that distressed flock.

        The Archbishop of Toledo dying in 858. St. Eulogius was elected to succeed him; but there was some obstacle that hindered him from being consecrated, though he did not outlive his election two months. 

        A virgin, by name Leocritia, of a noble family among the Moors, had been instructed from her infancy in the Christian religion by one of her relatives, and privately baptized. Her father and mother used her very ill, and scourged her day and night to compel her to renounce the Faith. Having made her condition known to St. Eulogius and his sister Anulona, intimating that she desired to go where she might freely exercise her religion, they secretly procured her the means of getting away, and concealed her for some time among faithful friends.

        But the matter was at length discovered, and they were all brought before the cadi, who threatened to have Eulogius scourged to death. The Saint told him that his torments would be of no avail, for he would never change his religion. Whereupon the cadi gave orders that he should be carried to the palace and be presented before the king’s council. Eulogius began boldly to propose the truths of the Gospel to them. But, to prevent their hearing him, the council condemned him immediately to lose his head. As they were leading him to execution, one of the guards gave him a blow on the face, for having spoken against Mahomet; he turned the other cheek, and patiently received a second.

        He received the stroke of death with great cheerfulness, on the 11th of March, 859. St. Leocritia was beheaded four days after him, and her body thrown into the river Guadalquivir, but taken out by the Christians.

Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]




Other saints: Saint Aengus (- 824)

He was born near Clonenagh and educated there at the monastic school founded there by St Fintan, not far from the present town of Mountrath. He lived for some time as a hermit and then joined the monastery of Tallaght, near Dublin, under St Maelruain. He was a co-author of a martyrology (written in 790 and the oldest in Ireland) and wrote a long poem, the Feliré, or Festology of the Saints, which he finished in about 805. After St Maelruain’s death he returned to his hermitage, where he died on 11 March 824. See the article in Wikipedia.

You will see these texts in a more readable format and with a better layout (especially for verse) if you use the free Catholic Calendar app from Universalis.

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Catholic Calendar is free.


You may also be interested in the full Universalis app.

  • The official Grail translation of the Psalms.
  • The readings at Mass are in both the Jerusalem Bible/Grail and the NAB translations.
  • The “Mass Today” page contains the exact liturgy for today all in one place, both the Order of Mass and the prayers, antiphons and readings.
  • A perpetual liturgical calendar covering all years.
  • Local liturgical calendars for over 20 countries and dioceses.
  • A choice of views: either scrolling like a web page or page-turning like an e-book.
  • Access to all texts for all dates, past, present and future. 
  • Complete independence from the Internet. Everything is stored within the application itself.

AppStore link

Universalis costs £9.99 / $13.99 / €12.99 from the App Store.

Alternatively you can pay nothing to start with and then subscribe for £0.69 / $0.99 / €0.89 per month. To do this, get the free Catholic Calendar app and press the “Try or buy” button in the calendar.


Readings 20150305

http://www.legrc.org/regnum_db/archivos_db/podcast-en/med050315.mp3


The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

What sustains you when trials and affliction come your way? The prophet Jeremiah tells us that whoever relies on God will not be disappointed or be in want when everything around them dries up or disappears (Jeremiah 17:7-8). God will not only be their consolation, but their inexhaustible source of hope and joy as well.

Jesus’ parable about the afflictions of the poor man Lazarus brings home a similar point. In this story Jesus paints a dramatic scene of contrasts – riches and poverty, heaven and hell, compassion and indifference, inclusion and exclusion. We also see an abrupt and dramatic reversal of fortune. Lazarus was not only poor, but sick and unable to fend for himself.  He was “laid” at the gates of the rich man’s house. The dogs which licked his sores probably also stole the little bread he got for himself. Dogs in the ancient world symbolized contempt. Enduring the torment of these savage dogs only added to the poor man’s miseries and sufferings. The rich man treated the beggar with contempt and indifference, until he found his fortunes reversed at the end of his life! In God’s economy, those who hold on possessively to what they have, lose it all in the end, while those who share generously receive back many times more than they gave way.

The name Lazarus means God is my help. Despite a life of misfortune and suffering, Lazarus did not lose hope in God. His eyes were set on a treasure stored up for him in heaven. The rich man, however, could not see beyond his material wealth and possessions. He not only had every thing he needed, he selfishly spent all he had on himself. He was too absorbed in what he possessed to notice the needs of those around him. He lost sight of God and  the treasure of heaven because he was preoccupied with seeking happiness in material things. He served wealth rather than God. In the end the rich man became a beggar!

Do you know the joy and freedom of possessing God as your true and lasting treasure? Those who put their hope and security in heaven will not be disappointed (see Hebrews 6:19).

“Lord Jesus, you are my joy and my treasure. Make me rich in the things of heaven and give me a generous heart  that I may freely share with others the spiritual and material treasures you have given to me.”


The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com  

HARD HEART, BURN

  “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if one should rise from the dead.” —Luke 16:31  

The human heart is so twisted and deceitful (Jer 17:9) that most of us, even in a world of instant communication, do not notice hundreds of millions of starving people at our doorsteps (see Lk 16:20). We have made our hearts so hardened that, even if someone were raised from the dead to warn us, we would not repent (Lk 16:31). If we ever change, it will be through God’s Word — from Moses’ Pentateuch to the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament (see Lk 16:31). 

Jesus dramatically practiced what He preached in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. On the afternoon of the day in which He rose from the dead, He knew that His Resurrection would be only the beginning of opening humanity’s hardened heart. So the risen Jesus spent the first resurrection afternoon and evening interpreting “every passage of Scripture which referred to Him” (Lk 24:27) and opening His disciples’ “minds to the understanding of the Scriptures” (Lk 24:45). 

At each Mass, the risen Christ continues to proclaim the Scriptures. Daily Mass is our best opportunity to let God change our hearts. Then we will love the poor and love the Lord. Expose your heart daily to God’s Word proclaimed by the risen, eucharistic Lord.

  Prayer: Father, may my heart burn and melt when I hear Your Word (see Lk 24:32). Promise: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.” —Jer 17:7-8 Praise: The leaders of Brian’s youth group regularly organize Confession and Eucharistic adoration “parties” for their members.    
  Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from February 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 2014. 
 
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements

Readings 20150303

http://ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/15_03_03.mp3


The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

 

THE DELUGE OF GUILT

  “Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord.” —Isaiah 1:18 

In our secular humanistic culture, many people, even Christians, have unformed and deformed consciences. They have not been “trained by practice to distinguish good from evil” (Heb 5:14). “One sees in them men without conscience, without loyalty, without affection, without pity” (Rm 1:31). These people commit many serious sins, but do not feel guilty because they are so spiritually blinded and immature. 

However, this condition of serious sin, minimal guilt, and undeveloped consciences will not last indefinitely. Reality finally sets in, and they come to realize that they have sinned grievously. At this point, the guilt that has been dammed up for years floods them. They feel more guilty in one week than they have in their whole lives. They feel doomed, hopeless, and hell-bound, when previously they hardly even thought about the existence of hell. Overwhelmed and nearly crushed by guilt (see Hos 14:2), they cry out to the Lord. He forgives, frees, and heals them by assuring them: “Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool” (Is 1:18). 

There is hope and healing for the guilt-ridden. On Calvary, Jesus took our sins and guilt on Himself (Is 53:5-6). Therefore, we can be thoroughly washed from guilt and cleansed from sin (Ps 51:4). Thank You, Jesus.

  Prayer: Father, may I go to Confession, be healed, and be totally freed from guilt this week. Promise:“The greatest among you will be the one who serves the rest. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, but whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” —Mt 23:11-12 Praise: St. Katharine gave away millions to the poor and gave her life to Jesus as a religious sister.    
  Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from February 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 2014. 
 
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements 


The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

Who doesn’t desire the praise and respect of others? We want others to see us at our best with all of our strengths and achievements – rather than at our worst with all of our faults and shortcomings. God sees us as we truly are – sinners and beggars always in need of his mercy, help, and guidance.

The prophet Isaiah warned both the rulers and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah to humbly listen and submit to God’s teaching so they could learn to do good and to cease from evil (Isaiah 110,17). Jesus warned the scribes and Pharisees, the teachers and rulers of Israel, to teach and serve their people with humility and sincerity rather than with pride and self-promotion. They went to great lengths to draw attention to their religious status and practices. In a way they wanted to be good models of observant Jews. “See how well we observe all the ritual rules and regulations of our religion!” In their misguided zeal for religion they sought recognition and honor for themselves rather than for God. They made the practice of their faith a burden rather than a joy for the people they were supposed to serve.

True respect for God inclines us to humble ourselves and to submit to his wisdom and guidance. We cannot be taught by God unless we first learn to listen to his word and then obey his instruction.

One Father and Teacher 
Was Jesus against calling anyone a rabbi, the Jewish title for a teacher of God’s word (Matthew 23:7-8), or a father? The law of Moses in Scripture specifically instructed all fathers to be teachers and instructors for their children to help them understand and obey God’s instructions (Deuteronomy 6:7)? Why did Jesus rebuke the scribes and Pharisees, the religious authorities of the Jewish people, in the presence of his disciples? Jesus wanted to warn both his own disciples and the religious leaders about the temptation to seek honors and titles that draw attention to ourselves in place of God and his word. Pride tempts us to put ourselves first above others.

The Scriptures give ample warning about the danger of self-seeking pride: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall(Proverbs 16:18). God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble(James 4:6; Proverbs 3:24).

Origen (185-254 AD), an early Christian teacher and bible scholar, reminds those who teach and lead to remember that they are first and foremost “disciples” and “servants” who sit at the feet of their Master and Teacher the Lord Jesus Christ:

“You have one teacher, and you are all brothers to each other…Whoever ministers with the divine word does not put himself forward to be called teacher, for he knows that when he performs well it is Christ who is within him. He should only call himself servant according to the command of Christ, saying,Whoever is greater among you, let him be the servant of all.”

True humility 
Respect for God and for his ways inclines us to humility and to simplicity of heart – the willing readiness to seek the one true good who is God himself. What is the nature of true humility and why should we embrace it as essential for our lives? We can easily mistake humility as something demeaning or harmful to our sense of well-being and feeling good about ourselves. True humility is not feeling bad about yourself, or having a low opinion of yourself, or thinking of yourself as inferior to all others. True humility frees us from preoccupation with ourselves, whereas a low self-opinion tends to focus our attention on ourselves. Humility is truth in self-understanding and truth in action. Viewing ourselves honestly, with sober judgment, means seeing ourselves the way God sees us (Psalm 139:1-4).

A humble person makes a realistic assessment of oneself without illusion or pretense to be something one is not. A truly humble person regards oneself neither smaller nor larger than one truly is. True humility frees us to be ourselves as God regards us and to avoid falling into despair and pride. A humble person does not want to wear a mask or put on a facade in order to look good to others. Such a person is not swayed by accidentals, such as fame, reputation, success, or failure. Do you know the joy of Christ-like humility and simplicity of heart?

Humility is the queen or foundation of all the other virtues because it enables us to see and judge correctly, the way God sees. Humility helps us to be teachable so we can acquire true knowledge, wisdom, and an honest view of reality. It directs our energy, zeal, and will to give ourselves to something greater than ourselves. Humility frees us to love and serve others willingly and selflessly, for their own sake, rather than for our own. Paul the Apostle gives us the greatest example and model of humility in the person of Jesus Christ, who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and… who humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8). Do you want to be a servant as Jesus loved and served others? The Lord Jesus gives us his heart – the heart of a servant who seeks the good of others and puts their interests first in his care and concern for them.

“Lord Jesus, you became a servant for my sake to set me free from the tyranny of selfish pride and self-concern. Teach me to be humble as you are humble and to love others generously with selfless service and kindness.”

Readings 20150120

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

THEY DO RUN, RUN, RUN…

“Our desire is that each of you show the same zeal till the end.” —Hebrews 6:11
Life in Christ is like running a race (see 2 Tm 4:7; Phil 3:12; 1 Cor 9:24). We must “show the same zeal to the end” and “not grow lazy” (Heb 6:11, 12). We are able to keep running no matter what because we are loved by God and fully assured of inheriting God’s promises (Heb 6:11-12). Love keeps us running for God (see 2 Cor 5:14), and we love because God first loved us (1 Jn 4:19). He sent His Son to die for us, gave us a new nature, adopted us into His family, and made us His heirs.

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God! Yet that is what we are” (1 Jn 3:1). The Lord “has bestowed on us the great and precious things He promised” (2 Pt 1:4), and He will continue to fulfill His promises perfectly. That’s what love is all about. Therefore, “do not grow lazy, but imitate those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises” (Heb 6:12).

Beloved, run fast for God all the way across the finish line to “life on high in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14). Run, beloved, run!

Prayer: Father, You are faithful to Your promises. You are Love (1 Jn 4:16). I love You. Promise: “The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” —Mk 2:28 Praise: Pope St. Fabian encouraged others to not give up on those lapsed from the Church but to encourage them and stand firm in the faith. (To spread God’s Word, be a Bible teacher. For encouragement, order our tapes on the Bible Teachers Series. Our six-tape audio series starts with AV 117-1. Our three-part video series starts with V-117.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 2014.
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
What does the commandment “keep holy the Sabbath” require of us? Or better yet, what is the primary intention behind this command? The religious leaders confronted Jesus on this issue. The “Sabbath rest” was meant to be a time to remember and celebrate God’s goodness and the goodness of his work, both in creation and redemption. It was a day set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on our behalf. It was intended to bring everyday work to a halt and to provide needed rest and refreshment. Jesus’ disciples are scolded by the scribes and Pharisees, not for plucking and eating corn from the fields, but for doing so on the Sabbath. In defending his disciples, Jesus argues from the scriptures that human need has precedence over ritual custom.
When David and his men were fleeing for their lives, they sought food from Ahimelech the priest (1 Samuel 21:1-6). The only bread he had was the holy bread offered in the Temple. None but the priests were allowed to eat it. In their hunger, David and his men ate of this bread. Jesus reminds the Pharisees that the Sabbath was given for our benefit, to refresh and renew us in living for God. It was intended for good and not for evil. Withholding mercy and kindness in response to human need was not part of God’s intention that we rest from unnecessary labor. Do you honor the Lord in the way you treat your neighbor and celebrate the Lord’s Day?

“Lord Jesus, may I give you fitting honor in the way I live my life and in the way I treat my neighbor. May I honor the Lord’s Day as a day holy to you. And may I always treat others with the same mercy and kindness which you have shown to me. Free me from a critical and intolerant spirit that I may always seek the good of my neighbor.”

Readings 20141209

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

Do you know what it’s like to lose your bearings and to be hopelessly adrift in a sea of uncertainty? To be alone, lost, and disoriented without a sense of direction is one of the worst fears we can encounter. What we would give to have a guide who would show us the way to safety and security, the way to home and family. Scripture comforts us with the assurance that God will not rest until we find our way home to him. The Scriptures use the image of a shepherd who cares for his sheep to describe what God is like. God promised that he would personally shepherd his people and lead them to safety (Isaiah 40:11). That is why God sent his only begotten son as the Messiah King who would not only restore peace and righteousness to the land, but who would also shepherd and care for his people with love and compassion. Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep (John 10:11).

What can we learn from the lesson of Jesus’ parable about a lost sheep? This parable gives us a glimpse of the heart of a true shepherd, and the joy of a community reunited with its lost members. Shepherds not only had to watch over their sheep by day and by night; they also had to protect them from wolves and lions who preyed upon them, and from dangerous terrain and storms. Shepherds often had large flocks, sometimes numbering in the hundreds or thousands. It was common to inspect and count the sheep at the end of the day. You can imagine the surprise and grief of the shepherd who discovers that one of his sheep is missing! Does he wait until the next day to go looking for it? Or does he ask a neighboring shepherd if he might have seen the stray sheep? No, he goes immediately in search of this lost sheep. Delay for even one night could mean disaster leading to death. Sheep by nature are very social creatures. An isolated sheep can quickly become bewildered, disoriented, and even neurotic. Easy prey for wolves and lions!

The shepherd’s grief and anxiety is turned to joy when he finds the lost sheep and restores it to the fold. The shepherd  searches until what he has lost is found. His persistence pays off. What was new in Jesus’ teaching was the insistence that sinners must be sought out time and time again.  How easy to forget and be distracted with other matters while the lost become prey for devouring wolves of the soul. The Apostle Peter reminds us that the “devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

God does not rejoice in the loss of anyone, but desires that we be saved and restored to friendship with him. That is why the whole community of heaven rejoices when one sinner is found and restored to fellowship with God. God is on a rescue mission today to save us from the destructive forces of sin and evil. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, watches over every step we take. Do you listen to his voice and heed his wise counsel? Do you follow the path he has set for you – a path that leads to life rather than death? “Lord Jesus, nothing escapes your watchful gaze and care. May I always walk in the light of your truth and never stray from your loving presence.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com  

COMFORT ZONE  

“Comfort, give comfort to My people, says your God.” —Isaiah 40:1   The Lord commanded His heavenly court to give comfort to His people on earth. This “comfort” does not mean feeling good and indulging in “creature comforts,” but being freed from slavery to a pleasure-seeking lifestyle (see Is 40:2). God’s comfort is not an exterior gratification of the senses but an interior freedom from sin and guilt (Is 40:2).

An angel obeyed God’s command to comfort His people by crying out: “Earthquake!” (That is probably what is meant by the reference to filling in the valleys and laying low the mountains in Isaiah 40:4.) A voice screaming “earthquake” does not seem comforting, but it shows that God’s idea of comfort is not based on circumstances.

Next, another voice, probably that of an angel, commanded Isaiah to cry out. Isaiah was understandably at a loss for what to say. He was told to cry out that “all mankind is grass” (Is 40:6). What a comforting thought! Obviously, God’s comfort is not based on human power.

Finally, Jerusalem is told to climb a high mountain and cry out at the top of her voice: “Here is your God!” (Is 40:9) Comfort isn’t a feeling, pleasure, circumstance, or human accomplishment. No matter what the circumstances, true comfort is being in the Lord’s presence and in a committed relationship with Him.  

Prayer: Father, give me Your kind of Christmas comfort. Promise: “It is no part of your heavenly Father’s plan that a single one of these little ones shall ever come to grief.” —Mt 18:14 Praise: St. Juan Diego’s humble obedience conquered the New World more than all the conquistadors combined.   (For a related teaching, order our tape Come to Me, You Who are Labored on audio AV 80-1 or video V-80.)   

Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015.†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 2014.  The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements