Bishop and martyr of Vietnam. A native of Ellorio, Spain, he entered the Dominican Order and was sent to the Philippines. From there he went to Vietnam in 1858, serving as a vicar apostolic and titular bishop until betrayed by an apostate. He was martyred by beheading with St. Jerome Hermosilla and Blessed Peter Amato, by enemies of the Church. He was canonized in 1988 by Pope John Paul II.
Lord, have mercy on us.
CHRIST, have mercy on us.
LORD, have mercy on us.
CHRIST, hear us.
CHRIST, graciously hear us.
GOD, THE FATHER OF HEAVEN, have mercy on us.
GOD THE SON, REDEEMER OF THE WORLD, have mercy on us.
GOD THE HOLY GHOST, have mercy on us.
HOLY TRINITY, ONE GOD, have mercy on us.
HOLY MARY, pray for us.
HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, pray for us.
HOLY VIRGIN OF VIRGINS, pray for us.
ST. MICHAEL, pray for us.
ST. GABRIEL, pray for us.
ST. RAPHAEL, pray for us. …
Today, in the Gospel of Mark, we read that the scribes asked Jesus which was the first, or most important, of the commandments. To this, Christ responded: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Love of God and love of our neighbors aren’t simply abstract thoughts or feelings. In order to truly love, we must show that love with our actions. That means that we put Christ first all day, every day. We wake up with a prayer on our lips. We ask God for His help when we need it, but we never forget to whisper prayers of joy, of thanks, or of happiness throughout the day as well.
And part of showing our love for God is loving those we share the world with. We love our neighbor as we want to be loved. Our neighbors don’t just include the people we like. Our neighbors include every person we encounter. They’re the slow cashier at the grocery store. They’re the grumpy coworker in the next cubicle. They’re the irritable person down the street.
God didn’t instruct us to be kind and love only our friends. That’s easy! He wants us to be kind to everyone. And when we do, we have the beautiful opportunity to change hearts and minds, to inspire, or to help someone feel important. Too often, people express their sadness or loneliness through negative actions. They’re grumpy or irritable because of something inside that really bothers them or because of the way they’ve been treated by others. It can be very difficult for them to break this cycle when people react to their negativity with negativity.
Sometimes, in order to make a change, people need just one person to treat them with kindness.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch taught Scout an important lesson when he said that we never really understand someone until we “climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Isn’t climbing into someone’s skin—seeing something from his point of view—putting love into action?
When we do this, we show people that they matter.
As we approach the holidays and Advent, let us remember these two commandments, and let us reflect on the importance of loving others and treating them well.
We all matter to God. We are all loved by God. And He calls us to help shine His love to others.
So how will you put love into action today and every day?
Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 17 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Eleven of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program-an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students.
Feature Image Credit: Victor Rocha, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/11514-paisaje-atardece-jesus
Wolfgang (d. 994) + Bishop and reformer. Born in Swabia, Germany, he studied at Reichenau under the Benedictines and at Wurzburg before serving as a teacher in the cathedral school of Trier. He soon entered the Benedictines at Einsiedeln (964) and was appointed head of the monastery school, receiving ordination in 971. He then set out with a group of monks to preach among the Magyars of Hungary, but the following year (972) was named bishop of Regensburg by Emperor Otto II (r. 973-983). As …
most loving Virgin Mary,
never was it heard
that anyone who turned to you for help
was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence,
though burdened by my sins,
I run to you for protection
for you are my mother.
O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that any one who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help or sought thy intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of …
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, go and take the lowest place….”
Jesus is inviting you and me into the pattern of his own humility. The Son of the Father was born on this earth in poverty, his parents fleeing for his life, a lowly carpenter by trade in the tiny non-descript village of Nazareth.
As Jesus prepared to at last cast a fire upon the earth, the goal of his life and the passion of his heart, he not only took the last place at the Last Supper’s table, he knelt and washed the dirty feet of his closest friends and apostles, a slave’s work. And he distributed among these men—who all but one would shortly betray him and flee for their lives—himself in the Eucharist, that he might live as invisible, present, hidden light and love in his friends and followers for the rest of time.
In the book of Revelation Jesus knocks at the door of our heart. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20).
The last place is typically given to the one who has no power, no prestige, no position or possessions. To the one who is unable or who refuses to overwhelm others with force, but leaves them free. Thus Jesus waits for an invitation. He prepares those who will take the last place at the table by doing for them the service of the servant. He, in fact, becomes the very food of the Eternal Feast.
As Jesus accompanied the two disciples of Emmaus away from Jerusalem in their confusion and sorrow, he helped them gain clarity into God’s wisdom that included that his Christ must die and then be raised up on the third day. Jesus made as if to go on. He would have left, if the two disciples hadn’t pressed on him and twisted his arm to make him stay with them. Jesus came as guest, not as master of the table, and there he broke bread and gave it to them. And as he was now in them, he disappeared from their sight.
Jesus is still the One who knocks, the Guest who waits for an invitation, the Servant who does the work all else eschew, the One who willingly desires to give his Eucharistic heart to you at Mass. He has no power. He leaves you free. He will go on if you do not want him to enter. To stay. To serve. To give himself to you as Eucharist. Oh how he wept over Jerusalem. “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Lk 19:42).
Say YES to the One who takes the humblest place at your door, at your table, at the door of your heart. To the One who loves gently, vulnerably, truly. To the One who leaves you free. Say YES.
Kathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Website: www.touchingthesunrise.com Public Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/srkathrynhermes/ For monthly spiritual journaling guides, weekly podcasts and over 50 conferences and retreat programs join my Patreon community: https://www.patreon.com/srkathryn.
Feature Image Credit: Moisés Becerra, www.cathopic.com
Confessor and Jay brother, also called Alonso. He was born in Segovia, Spain, on July 25, 1532, the son of a wealthy merchant, and was prepared for First Communion by Blessed Peter Favre, a friend of Alphonsus’ father. While studying with the Jesuits at Alcala, Alphonsus had to return home when his father died. In Segovia he took over the family business, was married, and had a son. That son died, as did two other children and then his wife. Alphonsus sold his business and applied to the …
Breathe into me, Holy Spirit,
that my thoughts may all be holy.
Move in me, Holy Spirit,
that my work, too, may be holy.
Attract my heart, Holy Spirit,
that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit,
that I may defend all that is holy.
Protect me, Holy Spirit,
that I may always be holy.
There are so many lessons and real-life applications that we can find in Scripture, especially in Jesus’ life and teachings in the Gospels. Today’s Gospel, for me, contains a particularly important lesson – one that many may overlook.
The very first verse of today’s Gospel reads, “On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees…” Stop and read that again. Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the *leading* Pharisees. In case you’ve forgotten, the Pharisees are the group that has been out to get Jesus for the entirety of his public ministry – and now Jesus has gone to eat at the home of one of the people who probably was leading that charge. What lesson could we possibly learn from that very simple action?
Jesus didn’t avoid the Pharisees, even though he knew very well their thoughts toward him and their intentions. Rather, he often engaged them in conversation seeking to reveal the light of God’s truth to them and, now, he has sat around a table and shared a meal with them to do the very same. Eventually, Jesus teaches the Pharisees that it is lawful to heal on the sabbath, contrary to their beliefs.
How many of us would intentionally seek out our adversaries? How many of us would seek out those we know who hold beliefs contrary to our own and attempt to share the truths of our faith with them? How well do you think either of those things would go over? I think that, more often, we tend to avoid conflict and remain silent, choosing instead what seems culturally acceptable over the idea of potentially rocking the boat.
I can look at my own circle of family and friends, near and far, and see the wide range of opposing views that they hold on things like abortion, same-sex marriage, the death penalty, etc. How many times have I chosen to keep my own views silent so that I wouldn’t upset those that I love and my relationships with them? Too often, unfortunately. Instead, I need to ask God for the fortitude to carry out my God-given mission of evangelization and share the beliefs and truths of the faith, leaving the rest in God’s hands. He’s the one who can change hearts, not me. But I need to not be afraid to do the work that I have been tasked with doing.
This is what I hope and pray for you all today – that, when you find yourself in a similar situation, you will remember that Jesus was not afraid to sit down and eat with the Pharisees. Therefore, we need not be afraid to sit down and share the faith with those who might be Pharisees in today’s world. And, if you find yourself afraid, ask God for the courage to do so.
Erin Madden is a Cleveland native and graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is passionate about the Lord Jesus, all things college sports and telling stories and she is blessed enough to get paid for all three of her passions. You can catch her on old episodes of the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter@erinmadden2016.
Feature Image Credit: Thanos Pal, https://unsplash.com/photos/E8khlmPXHq8
St. Narcissus was born towards the end of the first century in AD 99. He was almost 80-years-old when he was placed at the head of the church of Jerusalem, making him the 30th bishop of that see.
In 195, he and Theophilus, bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, presided together in a council of the bishops of Palestine held at Caesarea regarding the time Easter is celebrated. It was then decreed that the feast of Easter is to be kept always on a Sunday.
Bishop and historian, Eusebius says this …