Sunday´s Gospel (30C) for Oct. 27, 2013- together with the past two Sundays - form a trilogy on prayer, especially the greatest prayer: the sacrifice of the Mass. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.
A Trilogy on Prayer
Two week´s ago the Gospel focused on thanksgiving. Jesus praised the Samaritan leper because he returned to express thanks. In Greek, to thank someone is "eucharist." The Mass, the "Eucharist" is the great prayer of gratitude to the Giver of all good gifts. Then last Sunday we heard about another aspect of prayer: persistence, not growing weary, but keeping at it. Persistence also applies to the Mass. If the Mass is the highest form of prayer, we must keep at it - weekly or even daily.
And finally, this Sunday´s Gospel speaks about our posture at Mass. We are not talking about kneeling, standing and sitting. We are talking about a much deeper posture. We see it in the tax collector. Fr. Alex McAllister points out that this humble person is in what we can call right-relationship with God. This is an important point because prayer is not a reflection on one’s relationship with God. It is our relationship with God. How we pray is how we relate to Him.
The Sin of the Pharisee
Father Cusick asks the basic question: What is the Pharisees' sin? He attends the temple worship as he ought, does he not? To all appearances he performs outwardly all that God demands, and in fine form. His actions are deceiving to all but God, however, for his heart is far from the Lord. He is blinded by his pride and ends by making himself God's equal. He was "self-righteous" and he held "everyone else in contempt".
When we are unable to simply thank the Lord for our many unmerited gifts, and beg him for his mercy, seeking the grace to return His love for us, we make ourselves God's equal. This is the sin of the Pharisee. And like many of us today, he was pretty proud about his own correctness. Fr. James Gilhooley says if we ran our prayer through a computer, we would discover that oftentimes we pray not to God but to statues curiously resembling ourselves.
Humility, Ego, and Greatness
But the publican, the taxpayer, he was the humble one. While the Pharisee was exulting himself, the taxpayer sat in the back of the church. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. reminds us that to have humility is to be true to oneself. The man who knows himself to be a creature dependent on God humbles himself so much, and puts himself in his proper place before his Creator.
We should always be weary of pride, of egoism. But he who is truly humble will always see pride in himself. Fr. Ron Rolheiser clarifies that to have a strong, large ego isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, he says it is a needed thing, especially if we are ever to achieve anything of worth. False humility does not protect us against pride. Instead it prevents us from being warm and loving—and from ever achieving anything great.
And so this Sunday at our Eucharist, Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.urges us to ask that we be freed from illusions that we have fashioned about ourselves, and pray for the grace of sharing in Christ’s humility. Through His authentic humility, we will be able to stand before God in our own unique truth, and thus make it possible to receive divine mercy and go home justified.
And this seems to be the case with the story Fr. John Foley, S. J. shares about a most unassuming Jesuit brother who died a few years ago. Fr. Foley thinks this good man's prayer surely must have reached God because he served gladly. While college student Rachel Dratnol writes in her reflection, "Don’t Call Me a Saint.” She reminds us that we all make mistakes, but it is how we deal with the mistakes that matters the most. Hopefully, we can all learn to deal with them more frequently by trusting Jesus’ words, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
How We Pray
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB quotes Pope Benedict's thoiughts on prayer: "Praying means growing in this intimacy. So it is important that our day should begin and end with prayer; that we listen to God as the Scriptures are read; that we share with him our desires and our hopes, our joys and our troubles, our failures and our thanks for all his blessings, and thus keep him ever before us as the point of reference for our lives. In this way we grow aware of our failings and learn to improve, but we also come to appreciate all the beauty and goodness, which we daily take for granted and so we grow in gratitude. With gratitude comes joy for the fact that God is close to us and that we can serve him."
Catholicism is often accused of putting people on guilt trips. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says this is simply not true. Catholicism dares to invite people to consider their own participation in sin and seek forgiveness. It recognizes that our salvation is a process we are engaged in. We are not saved yet, we are being saved. It recognizes that we are human beings and that we can give in to temptation to sin. It tells us that the Lord was one of us.
And so we do not come to Mass to tell God how great we are. Fr. Phil Bloom reminds us that the Pharisee did that. We begin Mass by calling to mind our sins. It does not have be a detailed examination of conscience, but a simple recognition of the truth. And the truth is this: I have blown it. Before Communion we say, "Lord, I am not worthy." Who is? Only a Pharisee would think he deserves to receive something so incredible - the Body and Blood of Jesus.
College of Cardinals, New Evangelization
Jjust what is a Cardinal and what is the purpose of the college of Cardinals? Msgr. Charles Pope thought it it might be good to spend a brief time reflecting on thse two topics. He starts with a little history and then describes the present realities.
In a reflection on the Feast of St. Luke, Bishop Paul D. Etienne of the Diocese of Cheyenne talked about the New Evangelization. Fundamentally, he said, it is a call to every believer to come to a deeper awareness of the personal relationship they are called to in the person of Jesus Christ. Secondly, flowing from this vibrant relationship with Christ, each member of the Church is to find ways to speak of the significance of this relationship with Christ to others. Each of us are called to “proclaim the Good News” of Jesus Christ and the salvation He won for us to others.
Related to this, one of the six new saints canonized three years ago is now the model saint of the New Evangelization. Mother Giulia Salzano who died in 1929 intuited that the Lord was giving her a unique charism for her time: Catechesis. And she accepted this mission wholeheartedly, founding a congregation of catechists and teaching the faith till her death.
St. Teresa de Avila, Prayer & Marian Devotion
Marian Devotion is one of the pillars of our Church. Frank Weathers follows the thoughts of John C.H. Wu on 'Our Lady and the Catholic Church.' He talks about the epilogue of his book Beyond East and West, which he says is one of the best answers to the question "Why do Catholics venerate Mary and why is this important?"
Every year on October 15th, we celebrate the feastday of Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint and Doctor of the Catholic Church. We have listed the Top Ten Quotes from St. Teresa. Go over each one of them and find out which one is your favorite.
Also, it is rather well known that St. Teresa had to overcome numerous difficulties in the spiritual life. Among these difficulties, finding a good spiritual director was particularly challenging. Even today, we face the same challenge.Even if we admit the normalcy and occasional necessity of spiritual direction, there is yet the great difficulty of finding a spiritual director whom we trust. What are the characteristics of a good spiritual director? The Catholic Encyclopedia offers helpful guidance in this matter.
Second Thoughts on Sola Scriptura
This week we present a very moving testimony from a person who is seeking a personal response to the grace of God that has him in its grasp. Paul Dion prefaces this Protestant Christian's reflection by explaining that becoming a disciple of God in the Catholic Community is a very challenging call. We invite you to sit up, join the author, Caleb Roberts, and feel the pulse of his emotions as he pours his heart out to us by describing the shortcomings of one of the central beliefs of Evangelical Protestantism, “Sola Scriptura.”
Jobless Benefits Trumps Jobs
We just can't seem to get any break from the grim economic situation gripping the US. The official unemployment continues to hover at around 10% while the unofficial numbers in some states say it's as high as 20%. But for some people, jobless benefits oftentimes trump getting a job. You know the economy has become truly screwy when it pays more to collect jobless benefits than to get an actual job. Let's continue to pray for the jobless among us. and their families.
Another eventful world in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.
Keep the Faith. Peace.
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