Minute Meditation – Is This Not The Fast I Wish?

An early follower of Francis was not able to sustain the extreme fasting that Francis himself practiced. Rather than shaming the man, Francis broke his own fast so that his hungry brother could eat. Religious practices can never become more important than the end to which they lead: love of God and love of neighbor. Jesus makes this point again and again in the Gospels. It’s a good lesson at the beginning of Lent. What we do for Lent is far less important than why we do it. The time-honored traditions of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are less to benefit us than to draw us closer to God and improve the lives of those around us. 

—from the book Lent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections by Diane M. Houdek

The Rhythm of Life – 21 Questions that will Change Your Life – Question #6: What Makes You Feel Alive?

“Welcome back to 21 questions that will change your life.

Question #6 is about the things you can’t live without. Most of us can live without actual materials things, but there are “things” we cannot live without. A bird cannot live without flying and a fish cannot live without swimming. These things are so much a part of who they are that their life is inextricably linked.

Question #6: What is something you have to do, because if you don’t your soul will start to die?

Musicians say they cannot live without music. Artists say they cannot live without art. Parents say they cannot live without their children. Inventors say they cannot live without the chance to invent again. My grandmother said she couldn’t live without her garden. Some can’t live without golf. Many of the saints could not live without prayer, reflection, silence, and solitude. And none of us can live without God. It is in Him that we live and move and have our being.

What do you need that you don’t have? What is it that you cannot live without? In what way is your soul withering and dying? And what can you do about it?”

Saint of the Day – August 30 – Saint Fiacre

St. Fiacre (d. 670 A.D.) was born in Ireland and was raised from childhood in an Irish monastery. There he grew in knowledge as well as holiness, and became a priest. He retired to a hermitage to live in prayer and solitude, but men began to flock to him to imitate his way of life and become his disciples. To escape them, Fiacre left Ireland to establish a new hermitage in France. He went to the bishop and asked for land to plant a garden to grow food as well as herbs for medicinal healing, a science which he studied in the monastery. The bishop agreed to give Fiacre as much land as he could entrench. Fiacre picked a plot of land and walked around its perimeter, dragging his shovel behind him. Wherever his spade touched the ground, the land was miraculously cleared and the soil became entrenched. St. Fiacre lived a life of great mortification in prayer, fasting, vigils, and manual labor in his garden. Disciples gathered around him again, and soon formed a monastery. St. Fiacre then built an oratory in honor of the Virgin Mary, a hospice in which he received strangers, and a cell for his own dwelling. His fame for performing miracles became widespread, and his garden became a place of pilgrimage for centuries for those seeking healing. St. Fiacre is best known as the patron of gardeners, florists, and cab drivers. His feast day is August 30th.

St. Fiacre, pray for us!

//Catholic Company//

Sermon Notes – November 20, 2022 – “You Can Create Your Own Chapter in the ‘Lives of the Saints’”

“You Can Create Your Own Chapter in the ‘Lives of the Saints’”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 November 19-20, 2022

Gospel:  Luke 23:35-43

35 The people stayed there watching. As for the leaders, they jeered at Him with the words, ‘He saved others, let Him save himself if He is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’  36 The soldiers mocked Him too, coming up to Him, offering Him vinegar, 37 and saying, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’  38 Above Him there was an inscription: ‘This is the King of the Jews’.  39 One of the criminals hanging there abused Him: ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us as well.’  40 But the other spoke up and rebuked him. ‘Have you no fear of God at all?’ he said. ‘You got the same sentence as He did, 41 but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this Man has done nothing wrong.’ 42 Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’  43 He answered him, ‘In truth I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.’

One of my favorite things to read about is the lives of the saints because it gives me great hope.  The saints cover a wide range and multitude of vocations, lifestyles, and difficulties.  That gives me hope that someday I also might be a saint.   I was reading about one this week.  During World War II, a bomber pilot was flying a mission over Italy and was about to release his bomb when he saw a flying monk – not the flying nun – at 17,000 feet in the air.  The monk was pointing at something.  The boom window opened, and the bombs dropped but not where they were supposed to drop.  Later, when the pilot did his after-action report, he told the commanding general what happened.  The general said, “That’s nice.”  The pilot was put in the Army’s “nut hut” for a while.  He’d been on one too many flights.  But other pilots kept seeing the same thing and also missing the target for their bombs.  Finally, an Italian general, an ally, saw the flying monk.  After the war, he went to that tiny Italian town and while he was there looking around, he saw the monk that he had seen while flying at 17,000 feet.  You know who that was?  Padre Pio.  The general, who was Protestant, became Catholic.  Padre Pio was given the gift of bilocation (the ability to be present in more than one place at the same time).   Padre Pio promised his people that the allies would not bomb the town . . . and they didn’t.  Saint Martin de Porres, a Dominican brother from South America, was also given the gift of bilocation.   I had the gift of bilocation, a twin, but that usually just got us into trouble.  Before I’d go home, I would ask my twin brother, Paul, if he had ticked anybody off.  I was getting too old to smack people around.  But there have been all sorts of saints.  They had extraordinary gifts given to them.  Saint Teresa of Avila levitated while in prayer.  Saint Junípero Serra was known as the flying priest.  Saint Therese de Lisieux and Saint Francis of Assisi both saw their guardian angels.  These great gifts were given to the saints, and they are wonderful.  The temptation of the devil is for you to think, “Oh, I can’t be like them.”   Yes, you can.  We have the same means they had to achieve what they did.  They were given all these great graces – the ability to levitate, bilocate, and to fly at 17,000 feet – but they were given to them for the good of others and not as a reward or an “atta boy.”    So how did they achieve those graces that they would bring to others?  Through a life of prayer. 

One of the greatest gifts we have is our gift of suffering.  Our sufferings can be our greatest prayer.  Suffering can be transformative and be conduit of God’s gifts to others like the saints.  And as we gain the gift of old age, we have even more sufferings.  Our minds write checks that our bodies cannot cash. I was talking to a marine the other day was sick and in the hospital.  He didn’t want to ask for help because he believed that demonstrated weakness.  I told him, “No it takes courage to ask for help when you need it.”   When I had Covid, I told myself, “I’m going to say my prayers and say the Rosary while I walk.  I’m going to walk at night in the church and walk before Mass.  That didn’t work well.  It hurt, and I almost passed out several times.  But I rubbed the 101st patch and was determined to do it.  No.  It is not a sign of weakness to accept help.  Covid was my prayer.  Did I sit in my office every day?  No.  I couldn’t concentrate because I hadn’t been sleeping.  That suffering became my prayer. 

The saints suffered too.  They spent a lot of time in prayer.  They experienced a great deal of suffering which, again, can be transformative.  Look at the Good Thief on the cross.  He had a bad life and was sentenced to capital punishment.  Remember, later they broke his legs…not a fun way to go.  Yet he still went to Heaven through his sufferings.  Heaven was once stolen, and it can be stolen again.  God gave the saints great gifts – for others and not for themselves … because God’s love is in us not only to transform us but for the salvation of other souls. . .to transform them to be with Him and to cooperate with Him. 

I miss all the fun I had in the military. . . all the travel, the strange, exotic lands, all the excitement.  There’s nothing like being in 136 degrees and a sandstorm wearing a flak vest and helmet.  Those were the days!  It was very slimming.  But that experience now helps me with my work with veterans because they can talk to me.  I can help them understand.  There is no other priest in the diocese who can do that.  Although they are holy, veterans won’t talk to them unless they have the credentials.  So, your suffering is a good way to open up other souls to you and bring them to God.  No other person can talk to an alcoholic other than a recovering alcoholic, or to a drug addict by a former drug addict.  And the only one who can talk to sinners is a recovered sinner. . .one who is recovering each day by taking up their cross.

The most important thing we can do is to cooperate with God’s Will and allow God to use us through our sufferings, our talents, and our abilities to show His love so that others may come to know our Good Lord working in us.  Whatever field or time of life we may be in, this is our mission.  And it is how we create our own chapter in the lives of the saints.

How will you apply this message to your life? _____________________________

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” then “Sermon Notes.”  On a cell phone: click on “Blog” then “Menu” and then “Categories”

Not a Spiritual Person? Start Here!

Video Transcript: “The idea of developing a spiritual life can be intimidating. Daunting. But it needn’t be. People often ask how they can get started, so here are some thoughts…

A tree with deep roots can weather any storm. We all experience storms in our lives. It is not a question of whether or not we will experience another storm. That is not the question, but rather, when will the next storm be approaching? And when the storm arrives, it is too late for a tree to sink roots. When the storm arrives, it either has the roots or it does not.

I have been battered around in the storms of life in both scenarios. For some of life’s storms I was caught off guard and unprepared, and those storms damaged me significantly. But I have also encountered storms at times in my life when I was firmly committed to the daily routines of the spiritual life. These storms did nowhere near as much damage. The storms you have experienced in life have passed. You can do nothing to prepare for them or to change them. You may be still picking up the wreckage that those storms unleashed in your life.

There will be more storms in your life. I don’t know what and I don’t know when, but they will come for they are part of every person’s experience of life.

So begin to prepare today for the coming storms. Begin to develop deep roots by fostering a rich inner-life. Foster a rich inner-life by committing yourself to a daily routine of prayer and reflection.

I recommend three practices to ground your daily prayer and reflection:

1. The Prayer Process, which is explained in detail in the book I Heard God Laugh and the video series that accompanies it. It can also be found in the description below.

2. Daily Journaling, just write down whatever comes to your mind for a few minutes each day. Date your entries so you can come back to them over time and see how far you have come, how much you have grown.

3. Spiritual Reading, because books change our lives, because we become the books we read.

Why does it matter? Why is it important for each of us to establish a daily routine of prayer and reflection?

When Jesus was on the cross, he cried out, “I thirst.” In response to his desperate plea the soldiers gave him wine mixed with gall. This bitter combination would have only increased his dehydration and added to his misery.

I meet people every day who are crying out, “I thirst.” And the world gives them wine mixed with gall, which only increases their dehydration and adds to their misery.

We are each thirsty in our own ways today. You know your thirst, and I know mine. Your thirst may be different next week, and it may be the same. But the reality is our souls are thirsty. And we cannot satisfy a spiritual thirst with a worldly potion.

Dig The Well Before You Get Thirsty. I chose this title because our spiritual thirst is real and isn’t going away. Every day we are blessed to be on this earth, we will have a need to drink the living waters that God wants to freely give us. But we have to dig the well. How? By developing a daily practice of prayer and reflection. That’s how we dig the well. That’s how we gain access to the living water that Jesus spoke about.

Most people in our culture today are severely spiritually dehydrated. You may be in that place yourself. If you are, do not be discouraged, but don’t be a victim either. Start digging your well today. Find a quiet place, sit with God, and pour your heart out to him. He will comfort you in your afflictions and afflict you in your comfort. He will encourage you and challenge you, but most of all, he will love you. And his love and acceptance will hydrate your soul like never before.”