Prayer for Charity: Prayer of the Day for Saturday, August 29, 2020

O my Jesus, Thou who art very Love,
enkindle in my heart that Divine Fire
which consumes the Saints and transforms them into Thee.

O Lord our God,
we offer Thee our hearts
united in the strongest and most sincere love of brotherhood;
we pray that Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
may be the daily food of our souls and bodies;
that Jesus may be established as the center of our affections,
even as He was for Mary and Joseph.
Finally, O Lord, may sin never disturb our …

Buying Oil

I’ve always been fascinated by the image of ten virgins in the dead of night, each nursing a solitary flame. They are waiting, as women tend to do, for a bridegroom to appear. When he does, he’s just as mysterious as they, welcoming the first five women into the feast, but turning a cold shoulder to the last five who arrived late because the oil for their lamps had run out.

The seemingly insignificant detail of the oil in the women’s lamps makes all the difference in this Gospel reading. What is this oil, and how does it affect us? How do we “buy” enough of it before the night overtakes us and time runs out?

Like every good parable, this story’s treasures are hidden in its use of symbolism. The primary symbol here is the lamp which holds oil that fuels a flame. In Scripture, there is something, or rather someone, who is constantly symbolized as both oil and flame: The Holy Spirit.

I think it’s interesting how the Catholic Church has come to understand from scripture that the Holy Spirit isn’t just Person #3 in the Trinity; he is actually the bond of love between the Father and the Son. Therefore, those who possess the Holy Spirit have an intimate knowledge of Jesus and the Father. Jesus would not be able to say to them, as the bridegroom said to the foolish virgins, “I do not know you.”

The main function of the oil is to establish a connection between the women and the bridegroom. According to the Old Testament, the Messiah promised by the prophets had divine characteristics and would “marry” the nations just as God had “married” Israel when he renewed his covenant with them (Ex: 19-24). In Matthew 9:15, Jesus actually referred to himself as “the bridegroom.” The heavenly communion of Christ with the Church at the end of time represents the ultimate fulfillment of these prophesies.

So, if Jesus is the bridegroom and the Holy Spirit is the oil/flame, it would seem that the women represent the people (us) who are destined to live in covenant with Christ in the eternal, heavenly wedding banquet.

The next piece to the puzzle is this notion of “buying oil.” Even though the grace of salvation is a free gift, scripture repeatedly speaks of Jesus “paying the price” for that gift. According to 1 Peter 2:21, we are called to “follow in [Christ’s] steps” and to offer our own sufferings in union with his perfect sacrifice. As St. Paul said, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col. 1:24).

The Catechism explains: “The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the ‘one mediator between God and men.’ But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man,’ the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery’ is offered to all men” (CCC 618).

So, when we suffer in the darkness of this world, we are actually partnering with our heavenly bridegroom. We are preparing for our future with him by receiving “his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” not just once, but every time we choose to believe in Christ and to love as he loved. This is how we “buy oil” – this is how we light our lamps.

The last key detail is that after the women “slumbered and slept,” all of their subsequent efforts to buy oil were rejected. Jesus frequently used sleep as a metaphor for death. If he was doing the same here, it would mean that once we die, our efforts to “buy oil,” to receive the Holy Spirit by suffering in union with the Savior, no longer carry eternal weight. If we have extinguished the life of God in our hearts, it cannot be rekindled after death. That fits right in with current Church teaching.

This is sobering stuff, but I can see why Jesus told this story: Life isn’t always pretty and knowing how much our sufferings matter can help us get through the long night ahead.

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Nikol M. Jones is in her final year at Franciscan University’s Master’s in Theology and Christian Ministry program where it has been her joy to learn how to integrate the tools of modern biblical scholarship with the principles of biblical interpretation set forth by the Catholic Church in the service of the Word of God. She also has a passion for creating artwork and children’s books that honor the life and teachings of Christ. When she’s not studying or painting, she utilizes her writing and organizational skills as an administrative assistant. You can connect with her on LinkedIn at

St. Augustine of Hippo: Saint of the Day for Friday, August 28, 2020

St. Augustine of Hippo is the patron of brewers because of his conversion from a former life of loose living, which included parties, entertainment, and worldly ambitions. His complete turnaround and conversion has been an inspiration to many who struggle with a particular vice or habit they long to break.

This famous son of St. Monica was born in Africa and spent many years of his life in wicked living and in false beliefs. Though he was one of the most intelligent men who ever lived …

Hymn to Saint Rita of Cascia: Prayer of the Day for Friday, August 28, 2020

Come, virgins chaste; pure brides, draw near:
Let Earth exult and Heaven hear
The Hymn that grateful accents raise,
Our song of joy in Rita’s praise.

By fast her sinless frame is weak;
Her livid flesh the scourges streak.
In pity for her Savior’s woes,
Her days and even nights are closed.

The thorn-wound on her brow is shown,
The crimson rose in winter blown,
And full-ripe figs on frozen tree
At Rita’s wish the wonders see.

The widowed spouse …

Wake Up Your Faith

Before you read any further, pause. Take a few minutes to evaluate your spiritual life.

How is your relationship with God? Are you on fire, full of zeal for the Lord? Are you keeping the Lord at arm’s length? Or are you just trudging through, day by day?

What about your prayer life? Are you committing to prayer and dialogue with God every day? Or just when it’s most convenient to you?

Have you followed the Ten Commandments and lived out the Beatitudes? Or is your life muddled by sin and shortcomings?

Well, consider this your wake-up call. I’m considering it to be mine.

Today’s Gospel reminds us of the need to be vigilant, “for you do not know on which day your Lord will come” and “for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Our faith teaches us that Jesus Christ will come again. In fact, we profess it each Sunday at Mass when we say “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.” Whether or not those words truly sink into our heads and hearts is a different story but it is true. There will be a second coming.

With this knowledge in mind, using the self-evaluation you just did, are you ready? Are you ready for the second coming? Or, in another sense, are you ready for your judgment day, when you meet your Creator? The life that we live right now, the decisions that we make, determine where we will spend life after death. If we have freely chosen God and loved Him, we are rewarded with eternal life in heaven. If we’ve done the COMPLETE opposite of that, well, we are subject to eternal separation from God in hell. If we’re somewhere in between, the state of purgatory will purify and prepare us for heaven.

The good news is that we have a chance to get ready. We have the chance to change our way of life, to repent of our sins and work hard for the eternal reward of heaven.

So, are you ready?

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Erin is a Cleveland native and graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. Following graduation, she began volunteering in youth ministry at her home parish of Holy Family Church. Her first “big girl” job was in collegiate sports information where, after a busy two years in the profession on top of serving the youth, she took a leap of faith and followed the Lord’s call to full-time youth ministry at St. Peter Church. She still uses her communication arts degree as a freelance writer and statistician, though. You can catch her on old episodes of the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter @erinmadden2016.

St. Monica: Saint of the Day for Thursday, August 27, 2020

Saint Monica, also known as Monica of Hippo, is St. Augustine of Hippo’s mother. She was born in 331 A.D. in Tagaste, which is present-day Algeria.

When she was very young, she was married off to the Roman pagan Patricius, who shared his mother’s violent temper. Patricius’ mother lived with the couple and the duo’s temper flares proved to be a constant challenge to young Monica.

While Monica’s prayers and Christian deeds bothered Patricius, he is said to have respected her beliefs.

Three …

Prayer for Choosing a State of Life: Prayer of the Day for Thursday, August 27, 2020

From all eternity, O Lord, You planned my very existence and my destiny. You wrapped me in Your love in baptism and gave me the Faith to lead me to an eternal life of happiness with You. You have showered me with Your graces and You have been always ready with Your mercy and forgiveness when I have fallen. Now I beg You for the light I so earnestly need that I may find the way of life in which lies the best fulfillment of Your will. Whatever state this may be, give me the grace necessary to …

Wednesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 2 THES 3:6-10, 16-18

We instruct you, brothers and sisters,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to shun any brother
who walks in a disorderly way
and not according to the tradition they received from us.
For you know how one must imitate us.
For we did not act in a disorderly way among you,
nor did we eat food received free from anyone.
On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked,
so as not to burden any of you.
Not that we do not have the right.
Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you,
so that you might imitate us.
In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that
if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.

May the Lord of peace himself
give you peace at all times and in every way.
The Lord be with all of you.

This greeting is in my own hand, Paul’s.
This is the sign in every letter; this is how I write.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.

Responsorial Psalm PS 128:1-2, 4-5

R. (1) Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.



Alleluia 1 JOHN 2:5

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever keeps the word of Christ,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 23:27-32

Jesus said,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside,
but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.
Even so, on the outside you appear righteous,
but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You build the tombs of the prophets
and adorn the memorials of the righteous, 
and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors,
we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’
Thus you bear witness against yourselves
that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets;
now fill up what your ancestors measured out!”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Has Anything Really Changed?

Today’s readings sound like a major slap in the face to those that it may apply to. But, there are times in our lives when that is exactly what we need.

In the First Reading, Paul is telling the Thessalonians not to “hang out” with those who are not living out and preaching the Catholic faith. For some of us, that would eliminate many of our friends. Why? It is no secret that over half of Catholics no longer attend Sunday Mass. This makes sense if we understand that less than 50% also do not believe that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Where has that hunger for the Eucharist gone? To make matters worse, the pandemic has taken many to a place further away from Eucharist, that awesome Gift. We need to pray that everyone will come back after the pandemic guidelines are lifted.

Paul speaks of hypocrisy in his letter to the Thessalonians. It is pretty easy to spot in others, but not so easy to see it in ourselves. I recall my youngest son telling, me a while back that I was a hypocrite. What? Me? Why did he say that? He remembered a time a few years ago when I had made a statement and then recently did the opposite. That was humiliating, but I told him he was correct. Secretly, I wished his memory was not so sharp.

Matthew, in the first line of today’s Gospel speaks of whitewashed tombs. Every Jew would have known what he was referring to. The roadside in Palestine was a common burial place. It would have been lined with tombs. Any Jew that touched a dead body or a tomb would be considered unclean and thus unable to attend the Passover celebration. The roads would have been lined with pilgrims heading to the Passover. Just before the celebration, the tombs would have been whitewashed to help keep the pilgrims from touching them. Jesus used the example of whitewashed tombs to tell the scribes and Pharisees what they were like: bright white and shining on the outside but full of dead bones on the inside. They knew exactly what Jesus meant.

Jesus was speaking to the Church hierarchy at that time. Moving forward 2000 years, the scandal in the Church today is hard to bear, yet it gives us an opportunity to reevaluate our own lives. This can be done by taking the 10 Commandments one by one and going through an examination of conscience. There are many guides available to help one do this if necessary. This way of preparing for confession has been taught for decades. If this is your first time doing it, you might struggle. Why? Because you might be faced with those things (sins) that you have not come to grips with for a long time. It’s okay, the Lord is waiting to hear from you. You already know what a freeing experience of this. And if you don’t, you will discover what a loving and forgiving God you have!

After reading those chastising words from Thessalonians and Matthew, the Lord has the antidote to bring us back. He asks two things of us. The first is to love him and the second is to love our neighbor. Loving God means allowing him to love us through the Eucharist, along with praying to him and praising him. Sitting before the Blessed Sacrament is a wonderful way to experience God. The graces are incredible! Coupled with this is love of neighbor. Who is our neighbor? Anyone that needs help. It seems that the latest generation has heard little of charity and sacrifice in helping their neighbors. You might read Matthew 25 to get an idea of what the Lord expects of us.

May God bless you all!

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Deacon Dan Schneider is a retired general manager of industrial distributors. He and his wife Vicki recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They are the parents of eight children and twenty-nine grandchildren. He has a degree in Family Life Education from Spring Arbor University. He was ordained a Permanent Deacon in 2002.  He has a passion for working with engaged and married couples and his main ministry has been preparing couples for marriage.

St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet Ibars: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Born in Catalonia, Spain, she overcame many difficulties in her youth and eventually became a teacher at Lerida. Desirous to enter the religious life, she failed to win entry into the convent at the advice of her spiritual director, decided to launch her own congregation. On January 27, 1872, at Barbastro, Spain, she began the Little Sisters of the Poor, called the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Age. Considerable zeal, she had founded by the time of …