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My Catholic Life! presents the beauty and splendor of our Catholic faith in a down to earth and practical way. These daily audio reflections come from the "Catholic Daily Reflections Series" which is available in online format from our website. They are also available in e eBook or paperback format.

May these reflections assist you on your journey of personal conversion!

Catholic Daily Reflections John Paul Thomas

    • Cristianesimo

My Catholic Life! presents the beauty and splendor of our Catholic faith in a down to earth and practical way. These daily audio reflections come from the "Catholic Daily Reflections Series" which is available in online format from our website. They are also available in e eBook or paperback format.

May these reflections assist you on your journey of personal conversion!

    Thursday of the Second Week of Ordinary Time - Single-Minded Devotion

    Thursday of the Second Week of Ordinary Time - Single-Minded Devotion

    He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. Mark 3:9–10

    It’s fascinating to ponder the enthusiasm that so many people had toward Jesus. In the passage above, we see Jesus asked His disciples to have a boat ready for Him so that He would not be crushed as He taught the crowd. He had been curing many who were sick, and the crowd was pressing upon Him to try to simply touch Him.
    This scene provides us with an illustration of what must happen within our interior lives regarding our Lord. The people can be said to have been single-minded in their devotion to Jesus and fervent in their desire for Him. Granted, their desire may have been somewhat selfishly motivated by the desire for physical cures of their ailments and those of their loved ones, but nonetheless, their attraction was real and powerful, driving them to put their complete focus upon our Lord.
    Jesus’ choice to get into a boat and distance Himself a bit from the crowd was also an act of love. Why? Because this act allowed Jesus to help them refocus upon His deeper mission. Though He did miracles out of compassion and so as to manifest His almighty power, His primary focus was to teach people and to lead them into the full Truth of the message He was preaching. Therefore, by separating Himself from them, they were invited to listen to Him rather than just try to touch Him for the sake of a physical miracle. For Jesus, the spiritual wholeness He desired to give the crowd was of much greater significance than any physical healing He also gave.
    In our own lives, Jesus may “separate” Himself from us in somewhat superficial ways so that we will be more open to the deeper and more transforming purpose of His life. For example, He may remove certain feelings of consolation or permit us to encounter some trial through which He seems to be less present to us. But when this happens, it is always so that we will turn to Him on a deeper level of trust and openness so as to be drawn more deeply into a relationship of love.
    Reflect, today, upon how single-minded your devotion is to our Lord. From there, ponder, also, if you are more attached to the good feelings and consolations you seek or if your devotion is deeper, focused more on the transforming message our Lord wants to preach to you. See yourself on that shore, listening to Jesus speak, and allow His holy words to transform your life more deeply.
    My saving God, I turn to You, this day, and seek to be single-minded in my love and devotion to You. Help me, first and foremost, to listen to Your transforming Word and to allow that Word to become the central focus of my life. Jesus, I trust in You.

    Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.com
    Copyright © 2021 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed

    • 4 min
    Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time - Grieved at the Hardness of Heart

    Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time - Grieved at the Hardness of Heart

    Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. Mark 3:4–5

    Sin damages our relationship with God. But hardness of heart is even more damaging because it perpetuates the damage done by sin. And the harder one's heart, the more permanent the damage.
    In the passage above, Jesus was angry with the Pharisees. Oftentimes the passion of anger is sinful, resulting from impatience and a lack of charity. But at other times, the passion of anger can be good when it is motivated by love of others and hatred for their sin. In this case, Jesus was grieved by the hardness of heart of the Pharisees, and that grief motivated His holy anger. His “holy” anger did not cause irrational criticism; rather, it drove Jesus to cure this man in the presence of the Pharisees so that they would soften their hearts and believe in Jesus. Sadly, it didn’t work. The very next line of the Gospel says, “The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death” (Mark 3:6).
    Hardness of heart should be greatly avoided. The problem is that those who are hard of heart are usually not open to the fact that they are hard of heart. They are obstinate and stubborn, and oftentimes self-righteous. Therefore, when people suffer from this spiritual ailment, it is difficult for them to change, especially when confronted.
    This Gospel passage offers you an important opportunity to look into your own heart with honesty. Only you and God need to be part of that interior introspection and conversation. Begin by reflecting upon the Pharisees and the poor example they set. From there, try to look at yourself with great honesty. Are you obstinate? Are you hardened in your convictions to the point that you are unwilling to even consider that you may be wrong at times? Are there people in your life with whom you have entered into a conflict that still remains? If any of this rings true, then you may indeed suffer from the spiritual ill of a hardened heart.
    Reflect, today, upon your own soul and your relationships with others with as much honesty as possible. Do not hesitate to let your guard down and be open to what God may want to say to you. And if you detect even the slightest tendency toward a hardened and stubborn heart, beg our Lord to enter in to soften it. Change like this is difficult, but the rewards of such a change are incalculable. Do not hesitate and do not wait. Change is worth it in the end.
    My loving Lord, this day I open myself to an examination of my own heart and pray that You will help me to always be open to change when necessary. Help me, especially, to see any hardness I may have within my heart. Help me to overcome any obstinacy, stubbornness and self-righteousness. Give me the gift of humility, dear Lord, so that my heart can become more like Yours. Jesus, I trust in You.

    Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.com
    Copyright © 2021 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    • 5 min
    Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time - Keeping Holy the Sabbath

    Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time - Keeping Holy the Sabbath

    As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” Mark 2:23–24

    The Pharisees were greatly concerned about many things that were distortions of the law of God. The Third Commandment calls us to “Keep holy the Sabbath Day.” Furthermore, we read in Exodus 20:8–10 that we are not to do any work on the Sabbath but are to use that day for rest. From this Commandment, the Pharisees developed extensive commentary on what was permitted and what was forbidden to do on the Sabbath. They determined that picking the heads of grain was one of the forbidden actions.
    In many countries today, the Sabbath rest has all but disappeared. Sadly, Sunday is rarely set aside any longer for a day of worship and rest with family and friends. For that reason, this hypercritical condemnation of the disciples by the Pharisees is hard to relate to. The deeper spiritual issue seems to be the hyper “nitpicky” approach taken by the Pharisees. They were not so much concerned about honoring God on the Sabbath as they were interested in being judgmental and condemning. And though it may be rare today to find people overly scrupulous and nitpicky about the Sabbath rest, it’s often easy to find ourselves becoming nitpicky about many other things in life.
    Consider your family and those who are closest to you. Are there things they do and habits they have formed that leave you constantly criticizing them? Sometimes we criticize others for actions that are clearly contrary to the laws of God. At different times, we criticize others on account of some exaggeration of fact on our part. Though it is important to speak charitably against violations of the external law of God, we must be very careful not to set ourselves up as the judge and jury of others, especially when our criticism is based on a distortion of the truth or an exaggeration of something minor. In other words, we must be careful not to become nitpicky ourselves.
    Reflect, today, upon any tendency you have in your relationships with those closest to you toward being excessive and distorted in your criticism. Do you find yourself obsessing over the apparent minor faults of others on a regular basis? Try to step back from criticism today and renew, instead, your practice of mercy toward all. If you do, you may actually discover that your judgments of others do not fully reflect the truth of God’s law.
    My merciful Judge, give me a heart of compassion and mercy toward all. Remove from my heart all judgmentalness and criticalness. I leave all judgment to You, dear Lord, and seek only to be an instrument of Your love and mercy. Jesus, I trust in You.

    Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.com
    Copyright © 2021 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    • 4 min
    Monday of the Second Week of Ordinary Time - To Fast or Not to Fast

    Monday of the Second Week of Ordinary Time - To Fast or Not to Fast

    “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. Mark 2:19–20
    The passage above reveals Jesus’ response to the disciples of John the Baptist and some Pharisees who question Jesus about fasting. They point out that the disciples of John and the Pharisees follow the Jewish laws on fasting, but Jesus’ disciples do not. Jesus’ answer goes to the heart of the new law on fasting.
    Fasting is a wonderful spiritual practice. It helps to strengthen the will against disordered fleshly temptations and helps to bring purity to one’s soul. But it needs to be pointed out that fasting is not an eternal reality. One day, when we are face-to-face with God in Heaven, there will no longer be any need to fast or do any form of penance. But while on earth, we will struggle and fall and lose our way, and one of the best spiritual practices to help us return to Christ is prayer and fasting combined.
    Fasting becomes necessary “when the bridegroom is taken away.” In other words, fasting is necessary when we sin and our union with Christ begins to fade. It is then that the personal sacrifice of fasting helps open our hearts once again to our Lord. This is especially true when habits of sin form and become deeply ingrained. Fasting adds much power to our prayer and stretches our souls so as to be able to receive the “new wine” of God’s grace where we need it the most.
    Reflect, today, upon your approach to fasting and other penitential practices. Do you fast? Do you make regular sacrifices so as to strengthen your will and help you to turn more fully to Christ? Or has this healthy spiritual practice been somewhat neglected in your life? Renew your commitment to this holy endeavor today and God will work powerfully in your life.
    Lord, I open my heart to the new wine of grace that You wish to pour forth upon me. Help me to be properly disposed to this grace and to use every means necessary to become more open to You. Help me, especially, to commit to the wonderful spiritual practice of fasting. May this act of mortification in my life bear abundant fruit for Your Kingdom. Jesus, I trust in You.

    Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.com
    Copyright © 2021 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    • 3 min
    Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B - Newness of Life

    Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B - Newness of Life

    Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas”—which is translated Peter. John 1:42

    In this passage, the Apostle Andrew brings his brother Simon to Jesus after telling Simon that he has found the Messiah. Jesus immediately receives them both as Apostles and then reveals to Simon that his identity will now be changed. He will now be called Cephas. “Cephas” is an Aramaic word that means “Rock.” In English, this name is usually translated as “Peter.”
    When someone is given a new name, this often means that they are also given a new mission and new vocation in life. For example, in the Christian tradition, we receive new names at Baptism or Confirmation. Additionally, when a man or woman becomes a monk or a nun, they often are given a new name to signify the new life they are called to live.
    Simon is given the new name of “Rock” because Jesus intends to make him the foundation of His future Church. This change in name reveals that Simon must become a new creation in Christ in order to fulfill his high calling.
    So it is with each one of us. No, we may not be called to be the next pope or a bishop, but we are each called to become new creations in Christ and live new lives fulfilling new missions. And, in a sense, this newness of life must happen each and every day. We must daily strive to fulfill the mission that Jesus gives us in a new way every day.
    Reflect, today, upon the fact that God invites you to live a new life of grace in Him. He has some new mission for you to daily fulfill, and He promises to give you all you need to live it. Say “Yes” to the call He gives you, and you will see incredible things happen in your life.
    Lord Jesus, I do say “Yes” to You and to the calling that You have given to me. I accept the new life of grace that You have prepared for me, and I willingly accept Your gracious invitation. Help me, dear Lord, to daily answer the glorious vocation to the life of grace I have been given. Jesus, I trust in You.

    Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.com
    Copyright © 2021 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    • 3 min
    Saturday of the First Week of Ordinary Time - Discerning the Will of God

    Saturday of the First Week of Ordinary Time - Discerning the Will of God

    As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed Jesus. Mark 2:14
    How do you know the will of God for your life? In his spiritual classic, The Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius of Loyola presented three ways in which we come to know the will of God. (See mycatholic.life/ignatius for more.) The first way is the clearest and most definitive way. It is a time in which the person experiences a “clarity beyond doubting” as a result of a special grace of God. In describing this experience, Saint Ignatius mentions the passage quoted above as an illustration of this experience.
    There is little said about this call of Levi in the Gospel of Mark, which is also recorded in Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 9:9). Levi, who is also known as Matthew, was going about his occupation of collecting taxes at his customs post. It appears that Jesus spoke only these two simple words to Levi: “Follow me.” As a result of these two words, Levi abandons his former life and becomes a follower of Jesus. Why would Levi do such a thing? What was it that convinced him to follow Jesus? Clearly there was much more than just a two-word invitation from Jesus that convinced him to respond.
    That which convinced Levi was a special grace of God which produced within his soul a “clarity beyond doubting.” Somehow Levi just knew that God was calling him to abandon his former life and embrace this new life. There was no long discussion, no weighing of the pros and cons, no prolonged thinking about it. Levi just knew, and he responded.
    Though this form of clarity in life is rare, it’s important to be aware of the fact that sometimes God does act this way. Sometimes God speaks with such clarity that our conviction is certain and we know we must act. This is a great gift when it happens! And though this depth of instant clarity is not always the way God speaks to us, it’s important to acknowledge that God does speak to us this way at times.
    Reflect, today, upon this call of Levi. Ponder this inner certitude he was given in that moment. Try to imagine what he experienced and what others may have thought of his choice to follow Jesus. Be open to this same grace; and if you ever feel as if God speaks to you with such clarity, be ready and willing to respond without hesitation.
    My dear Lord, thank You for calling us all to follow You without hesitation. Thank You for the joy of being Your disciple. Give me the grace to always know Your will for my life and help me to respond to You with total abandonment and trust. Jesus, I trust in You.

    Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.com
    Copyright © 2021 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    • 4 min

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