Discalced Carmelite Friars

Semi Province of St. Therese

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Eighteenth Stunday in Ordinary Time

Aug 07, 2020
Readings: 
1st Reading: Isaiah 55:1-3 
Resp. Psalm: Psalm 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18
2nd Reading: Romans 8:35-39
Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21 

It is a trick of the devil to try to make us think and believe that nobody loves us – that God does not exist. That God is always ready to punish us and watches our every move so that He can get us back. This is not true at all. God loves us. He gives us all Guardian Angels to keep us from danger – we should always ask our Angels for help everyday!

In today's Gospel – Jesus was concerned for the people who had been following Him to a deserted place to pray while He was curing the sick, but they had nothing to eat. In the first reading, God asks everyone to come to Him heedfully, so that they will have physical life and everlasting (spiritual) life. God did not create the universe and just forget about everything He had created as some who have chosen not to believe in God or question His existence suggest or assert. If someone doesn't heed what God says, the world seems Godless. If one does believe, the world becomes a place where His marvels are seen and detected. Faith is a gift which must be used in order to overcome the things St. Paul mentions in the second reading. Yes, life on this earth is a test. Where do you want to spend eternity?

Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD

Homily - Friday 16th Week in Ordinary Time

Jul 30, 2020
James Tissot / Public domain
Of the different kinds of soil presented in the parable of the sower I would like to focus on the rocky ground.  This is the person who welcomes the Word of God and it begins to sprout in his heart, but because of lack of perseverance in the face of challenges it cannot grow deep roots and dies.  This is a fairly common scenario.  We have an encounter with God at a retreat, for example, and we are on fire for him.  At the beginning we experience great satisfaction in prayer, attending Mass, reading the Bible, etc.  But as time goes by the gratification we experience in these practices diminishes more and more and with it also does our perseverance, until we finally give up.  And we ask:  “What happened?  Why did I lose the taste for spiritual practices?”  Surprisingly, through our diminishing satisfaction in them God invites us to allow his Word to grow deep roots in us.  This is what St. John of the Cross calls the movement from the realm of sense to the realm of spirit.  When we live our spiritual life in the realm of sense we act on the basis of gratification, that is, we do what feels good and avoid what doesn’t, acting thus like infants.  When consolation is withdrawn from our religious practices an important opportunity emerges, to grow up and begin living the spiritual life of an adult, of a true disciple.  That is, to follow Christ not on the basis of gratification, but in faith, hope and love, which are not bound to feelings.  These three virtues are similar to the muscles in our body.  When we want to develop our muscles we expose them to resistance by lifting weights.  Similarly the virtues of faith, hope and love become strong when they experience resistance.  This is the road from slavery to our appetites to freedom and true union with God.  Therefore, what feels like an obstacle has the potential to be a great grace and opportunity.


The diminishment of spiritual consolation serves another important purpose, it puts us in touch with our reality.  We frequently assume that the reason we experience great satisfaction in acts of piety is our high degree of holiness and love for God.  In reality these experiences don’t say much about how holy we are, but about how good and merciful God is.  The subsequent experience of spiritual dryness puts us in touch with our poverty and total dependence on God.  It helps us realize that when we thought we were loving God through our acts of piety we were really seeking the gratification they gave us.  We were using our religious practices to satisfy our spiritual appetites.  Thus, we were pursuing the gift and not the Giver.

Therefore, in order for us to become fertile ground in which God’s Word bears abundant fruit it is crucial that we persevere.  Only then will God’s Word grow deep roots in our hearts and we can experience the freedom that he grants to those who are determined to be true servants of love as his Son was.  As our Gospel acclamation stated:  “Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.”

Written by Fr. Jorge Cabrera, OCD

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jul 28, 2020
unknown, originally uploaded by User:Alex Bakharev / Public domain
Readings:
1st Reading: 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12
Resp. Psalm: Psalm 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130 
2nd Reading: Romans 8:28-30
Gospel: Matthew 13:44-52

Today's Gospel is a continuation of last week's Gospel. Last week, Jesus talked about the good plants and the bad weeds. Both will be allowed to grow until harvest time, at which time the weeds will be cast into the fire and the good plants will be harvested and put to good use. So, Jesus was giving us a warning. We might think that those who give warnings are mean or cruel, but it is better to warn, to say "Please don't do this or that because it will hurt you," than to just strike and condemn without any warning. Even someone who is in a bad mood and says 'stay out of my way' does show some form of compassion. Now, I'm not at all encouraging any one of us to act like that, but again I want to make the point that Jesus warns us in order to stop us from harming ourselves.

Jesus said:

Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. 

Again, Jesus is telling us that we have a choice to make. We either live according to what He says, through the teaching of His Church, the Catholic Church, or we run the risk of being lost forever. And the perilous thing about this is that we individually make the decision. That's why we who are on earth need more prayers than those in purgatory, even though we may not be aware of it. At least those who are in purgatory know that they will get to Heaven someday, after they are purified, but down here on earth, we can will, through mortal sin, to separate ourselves from God forever-- something that Jesus warns us in today's Gospel that is possible.

At the end of the Gospel, Jesus asked: "Have you understood all this?" YES, THEY REPLIED. In the same way, Jesus through His Church on earth asks us too, HAVE YOU UNDERSTOOD ALL THIS? Do we understand that we must give up all that we have, all that we cherish like the man in the Gospel who when he found the treasure in a field, he sold all he had in order to buy the field? That treasure is the kingdom of God, everlasting life! In other words, whoever truly understands the value of what Jesus offers will not hesitate to get rid of everything on his own to become poor in spirit, and in pure faith, in order to obtain what has been offered. BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS THEIRS. Those who deny themselves on earth in order to gain Heaven will succeed. We do this by the grace of God. He is the One who makes everything good possible.

Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD
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