“The Cross is the way to Paradise, but only when it is borne willingly.”

— St. Paul of the Cross

**

“There was much in the Magdalen that she had never used, perhaps never dreamed of, until she came to our Lord. He revealed to her the secret of true self-development, which is another word for sanctity. And she found under His guidance that everything in her had henceforth to be used, and used in a fuller and richer way than she had ever imagined possible. It was in no narrow school of self-limitation, in no morbid school of false asceticism, that this poor sinner was educated in the principles of sanctity, but in the large and merciful school of Him who has been ever since the hope of the hopeless, the friend of publicans and sinners; who knows full well that what men need is not to crush and kill their powers, but to find their true use and to use them; that holiness is not the emptying of life, but the filling; that despair has wrapped its dark cloud around many a soul because it found itself in possession of powers that it abused and could not destroy and did not know how to use. Christ taught them the great and inspiriting doctrine ‘I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.'”

— Fr. Basil W. Maturin

**

“Father, there are ways in which I have grown quiet. Some hopes and dreams in my heart are too long-awaited, too sacred to be the stuff of idle chatter. Lord, I trust your faithfulness and your goodness and your love. I offer these dreams back to you and entrust them to your care.”

-from Who Does He Say You Are?

“Whoever expresses profound gratitude to God, even for the least benefits received, praises God wondrously, for He, who has granted these benefits, is supremely great. Hence, you ought not to look upon what the Most High has freely and lovingly granted you as something trifling or of little worth. God neither seeks nor asks anything more of us than that we willingly love Him, avoid all that offends Him, and always and everywhere to give Him thanks. God highly values the man who out of true humility belittles and forgets himself, judges himself unworthy of all gifts and benefits, does not flaunt them when received, and does not seek the praise of others. … Blessed is he who humbly accepts afflictions from the hand of God as did Job and offers and abandons himself totally to the divine will. Blessed is he who always seeks to follow that will and chooses whatever is more pleasing to God; he who accepts the worst as the best rejoices when he meets with insult and endures temporal afflictions, knowing they are for his soul’s benefit.”

— Thomas à Kempis

**

“One should not say that it is impossible to reach a virtuous life; but one should say that it is not easy. Nor do those who have reached it find it easy to maintain.”

— St. Anthony of the Desert

**

“Heroes are the ones who are willing to venture out of the safe harbor of what is comfortable and venture into the wild, untamable sea of God’s calling. In other words, the hero’s journey is one of deep virtue.”

-from Deep Adventure

**

“It is always a joyful experience for us to read and reflect on the Beatitudes! In proclaiming the Beatitudes, Jesus asks us to follow him and to travel with him along the path of love, the path that alone leads to eternal life. It is not an easy journey, yet the Lord promises us his grace and he never abandons us.”

-from The Spirit of Saint Francis

**

“The life of the body is the soul; the life of the soul is God.”  – St. Anthony of Padua

**

“Francis [de Sales] insists that true devotion must touch every area of our life. True devotion is not just a matter of spiritual practices but of bringing all our life under the lordship of Christ. Francis is known for his slogan: ‘Live, Jesus! Live, Jesus!’ What he means by this is an invitation to Jesus to ‘live and reign in our hearts forever and ever’ . . . In other words, for Francis, to live the devout life is to reach the point in our love for God and neighbor that we eagerly (‘carefully, frequently, and promptly’) desire to do His will in all the various ways in which it is communicated to us: in the duties of our state in life, in the objective teaching of God’s Word, in opportunities and occasions presented to us, in response to our interior inspirations.”

— Ralph Martin

“Worship is a spiritual weapon. When we worship God, we enter into His presence in a powerful way. Because demons tremble at His presence, they are reluctant to follow us there. No doubt the Devil is busy tempting us and trying to distract us even when we attend Mass. But if we give ourselves wholly to participating in the Mass, he has little room to operate. In fact, true worship focuses our attention on God: praising Him for who He is and thanking Him for what He has done. When our minds and hearts are centered on God, the Enemy’s provocations and enticements lose their power. Frequent Mass attendance, then, is an effective weapon of our warfare.”

— Paul Thigpen

**

“Considered valid complements to the Church’s liturgical worship, the sacraments carry the faithful to the threshold of the sacred and help to mediate the process of conversion of mind and heart that is central to the Catholic faith and its ongoing call to discipleship.”

-from Prayer in the Catholic Tradition

**

“Humility, obedience, meekness, and love are the virtues that shine through the Cross and the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. O my Jesus, help me imitate you!”

– St. Anthony Mary Claret

“So when we pray, we must stand in His presence, on His level. We must see His suffering in the same way that we see His greatness, and as we picture His compassion. But we must also remember that that suffering, that greatness and that compassion will one day judge us. We shall be weighed in the balance by them; and if we are found wanting in any way, we shall hear the words: ‘Depart from me. . .’ ‘Go elsewhere; go to those who refused to be my friends.'”

— Dom Augustin Guillerand

**

“I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but rather, I believe in order that I may understand.”

— St. Anselm of Canterbury

**

“Good physical workouts should strengthen the heart. Spiritual workouts should do that too. The Bible talks about “the heart” over a thousand times! But Scripture isn’t talking about the physical organ that pumps blood in our chest. It is referring to our hidden center, the dwelling place where we live. One great way to strengthen our hearts is the prayer of thanksgiving and praise.”

-from A 40-Day Spiritual Workout for Catholics

**

 

“Optimism and hope are radically different attitudes. Optimism is the expectation that things-the weather, human relationships, the economy, the political situation, and so on-will get better. Hope is the trust that God will fulfill God’s promises to us in a way that leads us to true freedom. The optimist speaks about concrete changes in the future. The person of hope lives in the moment with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in good hands.

All the great spiritual leaders in history were people of hope. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Mary, Jesus, Rumi, Gandhi, and Dorothy Day all lived with a promise in their hearts that guided them toward the future without the need to know exactly what it would look like. Let’s live with hope.”

-Henri Nouwen

Understanding the King Holiday: A Reflection and a Poem

 

It is my contention that Martin Luther King Jr. lived and died with same this hope.

Today on Catholic365.com, I have published an excerpt from my master’s thesis, Making All Things New: The Redemptive Value of Unmerited Suffering In the Life and Works of Martin Luther King Jr.” (master’s thesis), Wake Forest University, 2000.

Please remember that the King Holiday is a call to action, to help others and to draw together as people, not a day to play.

 

“Through the sacrifice of the Mass, we have the opportunity to join our sufferings to Christ’s sufferings, to fill up that which is lacking in his afflictions for the sake of the Church. If we can attach meaning to our suffering, if there is some value in what we are experiencing, we can endure anything. Think about it: Nothing in life has meaning unless we attach meaning to it.”

-from When You Suffer

**

“And above all, be on your guard not to want to get anything done by force, because God has given free will to everyone and wants to force no one, but only proposes, invites and counsels.”

— St. Angela Merici

**

“We have difficulty understanding this, just as a blind man has difficulty understanding color, but our difficulty doesn’t alter this fact: God’s omnipotence and omniscience respects our freedom. In the core of our being we remain free to accept or reject God’s action in our lives—and to accept or reject it more or less intensely. God wants us to accept him with all our ‘heart, soul, mind, and strength’—in other words, as intensely as possible. But he also knows that we are burdened with selfishness and beset by the devil, so it will take a great effort on our part to correspond to his grace. … Every time our conscience nudges us to refrain from sharing or tolerating that little bit of gossip, every time we feel a tug in our hearts to say a prayer or give a little more effort, every time we detect an opportunity to do a hidden act of kindness to someone in need, we are faced with an opportunity to please the Lord by putting our faith in his will.”

— Fr. John Bartunek

“Like the apostles who were sent forth from the Upper Room out into the world, each week, each one of us is sent forth from our parish church to the world to be witnesses to Jesus’s saving love. Pope Francis writes “every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love.”

-from Meeting God in the Upper Room

**

“We have received baptism, entrance into the Church, and the honor of being called Christians. Yet what good will this do us if we are Christians in name only and not in fact?”
– St. Andrew Kim Taegon

**

“Many people seem to worry themselves a great deal more over the things they cannot help than over the things that they can. . . . This want of proportion is doubtless observable in myself. Do I think more of the accidents of birth, fortune, and personal appearance than of the self that I have created? For I myself am responsible for myself. ‘To be born a gentleman is an accident; to die one is an achievement.’ Other things, then, I may not be able to help, but myself I can. As I am at this very moment, as my character is—truthful or untruthful, pure or impure, patient or impatient, slow to wrath or quick-tempered, eager, enthusiastic, energetic, or lazy and dull and wasteful of time—I have no one to thank but myself . . . the fact remains that I myself alone am responsible for my own character; for character is an artificial thing that is not born, but made.”

— Fr. Bede Jarrett

“To figure out how we want to spend our time is our birthright. To develop our imagination is our sacred responsibility. To continue on the path we know is right for us—not necessarily for anybody else—with very little, if any, encouragement or validation is our primary task.”

-from Loaded: Money and the Spirituality of Enough

**

“If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master’s presence. And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back and place it again in Our Lord’s presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.”

— St. Francis de Sales

**

“Resist anything that leads to moodiness. Our prayer each day should be, ‘Let the joy of the Lord be my strength’. Cheerfulness and joy were Our Lady’s strength. This made her a willing handmade of God. Only joy could have given her the strength to go in haste over the hills of Judea to her cousin Elizabeth, there to do the work of a handmaid. If we are to be true handmaids of the Lord, then we too, each day, must go cheerfully in haste over the hills of difficulties.”

— St. Teresa of Calcutta

 

“He took what is mine in order that He might impart to me what is His. He took it not to overturn it but to fill it.”
– St. Ambrose

**

“A hidden and obscure life affords great security to those who sincerely desire to love God. Our Divine Master Himself deigned to teach us this by His own example, for He spent thirty years in the obscurity of Nazareth and the workshop of a humble carpenter. In imitation of their Divine Model, many saints withdrew into the desert and lived in remote caves to escape the esteem of men. The desire to put ourselves forward and merit the plaudits of men, to be regarded as very successful in our undertakings, is, according to St. Vincent de Paul, and evil that causes us to forget our God; it vitiates our holiest actions and more than anything else impedes our progress in the spiritual life. To be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God, we must therefore banish from our hearts the desire to appear before men to win their approval and applause and especially the desire to rule over others.”

— St. Alphonsus Liguiori

**

“The point is to forgive quickly and allow God the space to work in you and in your enemy. We may also need that same forgiveness and mercy someday.”

-from Mother Angelica: Her Grand Silence
**

Saint of the Day: Saint Hilary of Poitiers

This staunch defender of the divinity of Christ was a gentle and courteous man, devoted to writing some of the greatest theology on the Trinity, and was like his Master in being labeled a “disturber of the peace.” In a very troubled period in the Church, his holiness was lived out in both scholarship and controversy. He was bishop of Poitiers in France.

Raised a pagan, he was converted to Christianity when he met his God of nature in the Scriptures. His wife was still living when he was chosen, against his will, to be the bishop of Poitiers in France. He was soon taken up with battling what became the scourge of the fourth century, Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ.

The heresy spread rapidly. Saint Jerome said “The world groaned and marveled to find that it was Arian.” When Emperor Constantius ordered all the bishops of the West to sign a condemnation of Athanasius, the great defender of the faith in the East, Hilary refused and was banished from France to far off Phrygia. Eventually he was called the “Athanasius of the West.”

While writing in exile, he was invited by some semi-Arians (hoping for reconciliation) to a council the emperor called to counteract the Council of Nicea. But Hilary predictably defended the Church, and when he sought public debate with the heretical bishop who had exiled him, the Arians, dreading the meeting and its outcome, pleaded with the emperor to send this troublemaker back home. Hilary was welcomed by his people.

Reflection

Christ said his coming would bring not peace but a sword (see Matthew 10:34). The Gospels offer no support for us if we fantasize about a sunlit holiness that knows no problems. Christ did not escape at the last moment, though he did live happily ever after—after a life of controversy, problems, pain and frustration. Hilary, like all saints, simply had more of the same.

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