EASTER SUNDAY

Posted April 19, 2019 by in All Posts, Spirituality

Gospel: (John 20:1-9)
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb…When Simon Peter went into the tomb and he saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

Reflection:
Even on this day when the gospel announces the risen Lord, we feel the contradictions that the resurrection mystery arouses—seeing and believing on the one hand, misunderstanding and confusion on the other. This mystery defies all human understanding. The Easter stories tells us that the resurrection isn’t something we understand, but believe and live. The challenge really lies in seeing and believing the resurrection comes through our own lives of self-sacrifice that bring new life to others. (Living Liturgy, p.108)

Vincentian Meditation:
On Easter Sunday Jesus rose gloriously from the tomb and in doing so He has given us, who believe in Him, an assurance that we, too, will, by His power, rise from the dead. There are people who say that there will be no resurrection, that there is nothing after death. When next you hear this, think of springtime. During the long hard winter, you wonder “Will spring ever come this year?” The ground was frozen hard and there was not
a sign of life in the fields or on the trees. But now everything is changing. Flowers are appearing, the wheat is growing in the fields and leaves are beginning to appear on the trees. No human power can keep back springtime. Since the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead, the first signs of an eternal springtime have begun to appear. Each of us has met Christians who, despite great suffering that cannot be explained, have continued to
believe that death is not the end. These people are signs for us that Jesus Christ has really risen.(McCullen, Deep Down Things, p. 220)

Discussion: (Share your thoughts after a moment of silence)
Who are the “Easter” people you have known?

Closing Prayer:
Lord, in your resurrection, you turned unbelief to belief,
-increase our faith.
Lord, in your resurrection, you brought joy to the disciples,
– fill us with joy.
Lord, in your resurrection, there is hope for a suffering world,
-enliven our hope. Amen

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PALM SUNDAY

Posted April 10, 2019 by in All Posts, Spirituality

Gospel: (Luke 19:28-40)

 Jesus proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem… And his disciples who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them.  As they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying this colt?” They answered, “The Master has need of it.”  So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount.  As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; …the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.”

Reflection:

This Sunday we begin the holiest of Christian weeks, and we carry palms in procession with the atmosphere charged with both expectation and contradiction, with joy and soberness. For most of us Holy Week unfolds like many other weeks; we still contend with work, school, preparing meals, doing laundry, cranky folks, the usual triumphs and set backs.  The readings for Palm Sunday invite us to make this an extraordinary week—a week that concentrates in a few days the ultimate meaning of our whole lives. We must slow down and make choices so that this week doesn’t go by without our taking the time to enter into its meaning. The real pity of this Holy Week would be that we miss the opportunity to empty ourselves, take up our own cross, and follow Jesus through death to new life. (Living Liturgy, p.94)

Vincentian Meditation:

All Christian spirituality focuses on the crucified and risen Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through him.  The cross is the symbol of what is at the core of Jesus’ person: “The way we came to understand love was that he laid down his life for us; we, too, must lay down our lives for one another.” (1Jn 3:16) The crucified Jesus proclaims that self-giving love is at the heart of being God and at the heart of being human. St. Vincent often recommended to us to meditate on the cross as the symbol of God’s love. It is most important that we ourselves experience the love God reveals through the cross, that we have a deep confidence in a personal loving God who works actively in our lives. (Maloney, Seasons in Spirituality, p.58)

Discussion: (Share your thoughts after a moment of silence)

 What will you do to find the deeper meaning of Holy Week this year?
        

Closing Prayer:

            As we enter into the mystery of the passion of Christ, we pray:

                        -Christ, our Savior, hear our prayer

            That this Holy Week may deepen our understanding of the cross,

                        -Christ, our Savior, hear our prayer.

For all who suffer injustice and abuse, may we help them carry their cross,

-Christ, our Savior, hear our prayer. Amen   

 

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FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT

Posted April 5, 2019 by in All Posts, Spirituality

Gospel: (John 8:1-11)
The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” In response, they went away one by one…So he was left alone with the woman before him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Reflection:
A story that begins with deathly accusation ends with divine mercy. Where the community’s condemnation would have led the adulterous woman to death, Jesus’ mercy leads her to new life. A story that begins with exposing the sin of an individual ends with exposing the sinfulness of all. Where the community begins with awareness of the woman’s sinfulness, they are transformed through encountering Jesus into awareness of their own sinfulness. A story that begins with human testing of the divine ends with divine invitation to repent. Jesus reveals a new order in which all are called to repentance and the experience of divine mercy. Jesus’ desire for us is not death but new life. (Living Liturgy, p.90)

Vincentian Meditation:
God’s loving presence is cleansing, as baptism and penance remind us. God’s love labors to break down the resistance that it finds within us. It is a creative love that works toward change, transformation, new beginnings. God wants to make a home within us. The recurring Lenten season nudges us each year toward self-denial. The real point of ascetical practices is not merely to “give up” objects, but to reconstruct one’s deepest self so that God might take fuller possession of our home. Jesus asks that the same energy we might have used in accumulating riches, consolidating power, or pursuing personal pleasure be channeled toward the building up of a “new person” as a dwelling place for God. (Maloney, Go! On the Missionary Spirituality of St. Vincent de Paul, p. 99-100)

Discussion: (Share your thoughts after a moment of silence)
Do you hold unjust prejudices and judgments of the poor?

Closing Prayer:
Jesus, model of compassion and kindness,
-free our hearts from unkind judgment of others.
Jesus, model of meekness and mildness,
-make us meek and humble of heart.
Jesus, model of forgiveness and mercy,
-open our hearts to all people. Amen

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FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT

Posted March 25, 2019 by in All Posts, Spirituality

Gospel: (Luke 15:1-3,11-32)
Jesus told this parable: “A man had two sons, and the younger said to his father, ‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself …to tend swine. …Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; make me one of your hired servants.”

Reflection:
It is the father in the parable who models for us the mercy of our heavenly Father. The prodigal son is brought to repentance because he was “dying from hunger.” There is nothing he does to deserve the response of the father except to repent and to return. What leads us to decide to repent? Like the prodigal son, “changing our minds” is probably precipitated by some specific catalyst—probably not physical hunger, but possible by spiritual hunger. The penance of Lent can be the external factor that brings us to realize our life is much richer when we turn from our sinful ways and turn to God who gives life.
(Living Liturgy, p.84)

Vincentian Meditation:
This parable tells us most about the meaning of conversion, and is found in two verbs. The request the younger son makes to his father is this: “Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.” Toward the end of the parable, when the younger son returns home, the request he makes of his father is this: “Father, make me one of your hired servants.” Between the “give me” at the beginning and the “make me” at the end lies the story of conversion. There is an altogether different attitude of mind expressed in the “give me my money” and “make me one of your hired servants.” In the story of conversion you will find that the starting point is a selfish demand, and the finishing point is a readiness to be a servant. (McCullen, Deep Down Things, p.698)

Discussion: (Share your thoughts after a moment of silence)
Have you experienced a conversion from “give me” to “make me your servant?”

Closing Prayer:
As we abandon ourselves to God’s will,
-Father, we come to you.
As we allow prayer to change our lives,
-Father, we come to you.
As we move from “give me” to “make me your servant,”
-Father, we come to you. Amen

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THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT

Gospel: (Luke 13: 1-9)
Jesus said, “Those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” And then he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardner, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ The gardner said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not, you can cut it down.’”

Reflection:
The parable of the non-fruit-bearing fig tree describes the fate of those who do not repent. Even though God gives us everything we need for our journey toward salvation, we ourselves need to “cultivate and fertilize” our spiritual lives. We “grumble” our way through life—we judge others, fail to live up to our baptismal commitments, do not heed all the warnings given us. Jesus is quite clear in his message: “bear fruit or be “cut down.” The “fertilizer” is the charity, fasting, and prayer of our Christian penance. Repentance is “cultivating” the soil so we can bear fruit. Repentance is changing one’s mind, letting go of the narrowness of our own perception of how life should be and embracing the expansiveness of God’s plan for salvation. Repentance is really conversion. And God waits everyday of our lives for us to bear fruit. (Living Liturgy, p.78)

Vincentian Meditation:
Conversion for us as followers of Vincent and Frederic will mean allowing Jesus and the poor to invade the citadels of our minds and of our hearts. Our minds and hearts are like fortresses. We live within them, but are reluctant to admit Jesus and his poor into the very center of them. We will allow Jesus in just so far, but we often by our action or inaction show him that we don’t wish Him to take us over completely. He is continually asking us to surrender to him. He is asking us continually to let go, and we insist on holding on. Conversion or repentance is about surrender. (McCullen, Deep Down Things, p.698)

Discussion: (Share your thoughts after a moment of silence)
What conversion do you need, so that you can “bear fruit?”

Closing Prayer:
The discipline of Lent calls us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus,
-may your love guide us to conversion.
Lord, you came to give sight to the blind,
-open our eyes to see beyond our own selfishness.
Lord, you came to bring good news to the poor,
-may our actions bring hope to those we serve.
Lord, give us the grace to “fertilize and cultivate” our spiritual life,
-so that we may bear fruit. Amen

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FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

Posted March 11, 2019 by in All Posts, Spirituality

Gospel: (Luke 4:1-13)

 Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. …The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered: “It is written:, One does not live on bread alone.”…The devil then said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and glory…All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus replied: “It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” …Then the devil said to  him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says: You shall not put the Lord, you God, to the test.”  When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.

 Reflection:

Try as the he might by offering every attractive thing—wealth, power, esteem—the devil couldn’t prove stronger.  The gentle persuasion of prayer and fasting kept Jesus stronger and able to resist temptation.  Not even the Son of God was exempt from being tested!

Temptation, then, isn’t necessarily a sign of great sinfulness.  It is an occasion for showing that our lives are turned to God, for remaining steadfast in the faith that we profess. Lent isn’t simply our desert time to overcome temptation.  It is also a springtime of renewed relationship to God. It is a time when we are strengthened, with the gentle warmth of God’s Spirit leading us, to overcome even temptations to wealth, power, and esteem.  (Living Liturgy, p.70)

Vincentian Meditation:

 I urge you to reflect, during Lent, on the temptations that we inevitable meet as the Spirit guides us through the desert.  None of us is spared these.  The Spirit is a pillar of fire to lighten our path on the journey, but daily events  allure us to follow other pillars of fire as we wander through the desert.  But we find our hunger satisfied, our thirst quenched, only in the person of a loving, provident God who walks with us always.  This Lent all of us must ask ourselves: what is the greatest temptation I face as a follower of St. Vincent?

(Maloney, Go! On the Missionary Spirituality of St. Vincent de Paul, p. 95)

Discussion: (Share your thoughts after a moment of silence)
What is the greatest temptation you face as a follower of Vincent and Frederic?

Closing Prayer:

For the grace to be detached from wealth,

            –Jesus we turn to you.

            For the grace to be detached from power,

            –Jesus we turn to you.

            For the grace to be detached from esteem,         

Jesus we turn to you.   Amen 

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EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Posted March 4, 2019 by in All Posts, Spirituality

Gospel: (Luke 6:39-45)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Why look at the speck in your brother’s eye when you miss the plank in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck from your eye,’ yet fail yourself to see the plank lodged in your own? Hypocrite, remove the plank from your own eye first; then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Reflection:

Most of us think that we have more forgiveness to give than to receive.  We like to think that more people are unfair or unjust to us than we are to them.  Because we think in that way, we find it hard to offer forgiveness, real forgiveness, to others.   We think much more of how hard it is for us to forgive than we do about the difficulty that others have in forgiving us.  We measure out our forgiveness like money, very carefully and with much calculation.  I doubt if we use the same care when we come to measuring the cost of that forgiveness which we expect and receive from others.  If we spent more time thinking about what it costs others to forgive us, rather than about what it costs us to forgive others, we would be more successful in taking resentment out of our hearts.  (McCullen, Deep Down Things, p.566)

Vincentian Meditation:

For Vincentians, who think much about the poverty and hunger in our country, and of what we could do to alleviate it, how much thought have we given to forgiveness? It is probably true that the very fact of the present unequal distribution of wealth in the United States causes resentment in the hearts of many of our poor brothers and sisters.  Where there is resentment, there is need for offering forgiveness.  So we, who have more of the world’s goods, may be more in need than we realize of receiving forgiveness. St. Vincent is quoted as saying that “it is only because of our love, only our love, that the poor will forgive us the bread we give to them.” Today, as in Vincent and Frederic’s day, people do  not  live  by  bread  alone.    The  bread  we  offer  must  be  seasoned  well  with  the condiments of justice and love. (McCullen, Deep Down Things, p.566-567)

Discussion: (Share your thoughts on the readings after a moment of silence)

How have you found that the poor indeed “forgive us” when we serve in love?

Closing Prayer:

When we feel resentment in our hearts,

-Lord, give us the grace to forgive.

When we see the speck in our brother or sister’s eye,

-Lord, give us the grace to see the plank in our own.

When we serve our poor brothers and sisters,

            –Lord, give us the grace to serve with love. Amen

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SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Posted February 21, 2019 by in All Posts, Spirituality

Gospel: (Luke 6:27-38)

Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear, I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other as well, and from the person who takes you cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you…Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap; because the standard you use will be the standard used for you.”

Reflection:

We have here, for those “who hear,” the deeper challenge beyond the Beatitudes. Not everyone can hear and live this challenge; this is why it is so difficult to establish God’s reign. Jesus lays out the concrete conduct that establishes the kingdom, and it truly is extraordinary in its demands. True this extraordinary way of relating to others isn’t normal! It is divine! God has acted toward us already with extraordinary kindness and mercy, already giving us a full measure of blessedness. Can we afford not to hear? (Living Liturgy, p.62)

Vincentian Meditation: All our lives we are preparing and choosing the sort of judge we will have at the end of our lives. It is the compassionate and understanding judgments which we make about others which are fashioning the judge we ourselves will meet at the moment of death. If our judgments have been harsh and unsympathetic toward others, then the judge we are choosing for ourselves at the end of our lives will be a harsh and unsympathetic one. We must draw that conclusion from our Lord’s own words: “…because the standard you use will be the standard used for you.” And so we can say, “With the judgment you pronounce you will be judged.” (McCullen, Deep Down Things, p.191)

Discussion: (Share your thoughts after a moment of silence)

What is the greatest challenge for you: To stop judging or condemning; or to be forgiving?

Closing Prayer:

When we are weighed down by burdens, -Give us the grace not to judge others. When we need hope and peace, -Give us the grace not to condemn others. When we forget your presence among us, -Give us the grace to forgive. Amen

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Quote of the Month December

Posted December 5, 2016 by in All Posts, Spirituality

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. Luke 12:33

Invest in our Bed, Breakfast, and Beyond program.

St. Vincent de Paul is a faith-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving the Greater Dayton Area. We aid the homeless and impoverished by providing emergency shelter, transitional and permanent supportive housing, food, clothing and household items, and guidance on the path to leading a self-sustaining life. The Dayton District Council is made up of a variety of programs and services including 35 chapters, or Conferences, with volunteers operating out of local parishes and universities. We provide help to individuals and families who are on the brink of losing their housing, those who are currently homeless, and those working to secure and maintain permanent housing.

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Quote of the Month November

Posted November 7, 2016 by in All Posts, Spirituality

Dear brothers and sisters, the Church loves you! Be an active presence in the community, as living cells, as living stones. Pope Francis

Become active in our Bed, Breakfast, and Beyond program.

St. Vincent de Paul is a faith-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving the Greater Dayton Area. We aid the homeless and impoverished by providing emergency shelter, transitional and permanent supportive housing, food, clothing and household items, and guidance on the path to leading a self-sustaining life. The Dayton District Council is made up of a variety of programs and services including 35 chapters, or Conferences, with volunteers operating out of local parishes and universities. We provide help to individuals and families who are on the brink of losing their housing, those who are currently homeless, and those working to secure and maintain permanent housing.

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