Spiritual Thought for Today Archive Week #18


Feast of St. Blase
Bishop and Martyr
I awoke this morning with a scratchy throat and expected that it was a sign of an impending cold. But it has already left me and I cannot help but think of the irony of it happening on a better day.

When I think of rituals of Catholic Church for some reason the one that always captured my attention was the blessing of the throats on the feast of St. Blase.

On the day following Candlemas the priest would have recently blessed candles tied to together with red ribbon and would go up and down the communion rail intoning "Through the intercession of St. Blase, Bishop and Martyr may you be protected from every ailment of the throat and every evil," as he placed the candles against my throat and made the sign of the cross over my head.

From a cynical point of view I can't say that it was ever that effective, at least until this morning. Usually in my youth I spent the winter with an endless stream of sore throats and colds.

About ten years ago I visisted Dobrovinik in what was then Yugoslavia. St. Blase was embedded in the city walls there. For some reason it was like visiting a long lost friend.

I feel sorry for the saints who do not have a ritual attached to their feast, they loose out.

Here is hoping that through the intercession of St. Blase you might be protected from all ailments of the throat and every other evil, in the name of the Father and + of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen!

Presentation of the Lord

And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they (Joseph and Mary) brought Him (Jesus) up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord").

Today is the traditional day for candles to be blessed. Candles that are symbolic of Christ and the light he brings to the world.

It is also a day in this country where we celebrate Groundhog Day where people who suffer in the cold of winter hope that there will be enough light so that the groundhog will see its shadow signaling the approach of the conclusion of winter.

It strikes me they are all similar in their own way. Today light a candle and allow Jesus to dispel the darkness of your life but also ask Jesus to dispel the darkness that you are not aware of.

Present yourself entirely to God.

St. Jude

"In the final age there will be those who mock at religion and follow their own ungodly lusts."

Jude reports that this was the prediction of the Apostles concerning the last days. Certainly we could apply this to our age and most who have gone before us might have applied it to their age also.

What strikes me about the passage is more of a self-judgment.

Do I mock at religion? Do I use my faith to cover-up my transgressions? Or is my religion a road that is leading me away from self-indulgence and damnation?

Secondly do I follow my own personal ungodly lusts?

We all have our own slant on this and can discern what are own personal set of "ungodly lusts" are by making a list of things that we think we cannot live without. God is the only being that we cannot live without everything else is an illusion. "I felt compelled to write a letter to you to urge you to engage upon the struggle to defend the faith which was once and for all delivered to God's consecrated people."

Jude writes his letter as an encouragement to those who he hopes will defend the faith that has been given to them.

Faith comes from hearing. We all received whatever faith we have because someone told us the story of salvation and we accepted it. But faith can also come under attack and it is a struggle as Jude says to defend it.

There is a central truth to the faith that remains unchanging. We certainly adapt our faith to our circumstances in life but the core of our belief is not something that we or anyone else is free to toy with.

Something to reflect upon today might be to ask ourselves what does my faith mean to me? "Mercy, peace and love be yours in fullest measure."

Over the next couple of days I am going to quote from probably the least read book of the New Testament; A Letter of Jude.

If St. Jude is the Saint who is often forgotten than his letter is right up there in obscurity. My guess is that many people (even fundamentalists) would be surprised that Jude even has a letter in the canonical New Testament.

As a friend of mine would quip, "its a good one!"

Jude's letter begins with a pleasant greeting quoted above.

Since most of us know what peace and love are I will leave that part of Jude's greeting as it is but the mercy that he wishes upon us needs further explanation.

The word that is translated, as mercy is best understood as the loyalty that a friend has to another. God's mercy means that God is loyal to us, that God embraces us as his own. We have nothing to fear if we are under the mercy of God. Our salvation is this relationship, our hope is this relationship, indeed without it our existence is impossible.

So what Jude is wishing that we have in full measure is a relationship with God from which peace and love will flow.

Endurance

"Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised."

Evidently it takes time for God's will to be done but we live in a culture that demands immediate results.

I know because I live in this culture and am very much a part of it. I pray and I look for an immediate answer.

Sometimes I get it but I grow impatient when it doesn't happen. The Letter to the Hebrews counsels us not to throw away our confidence in God's faithfulness but to endure.

May God grace us with this endurance!

The Dumb Ox

"We call Brother Thomas 'dumb-ox'; but I tell you that he will yet make his lowing heard to the uttermost parts of the earth." St. Albert

St. Thomas Aquinas might be the patron of all those who are misjudged. Because of his considerable weight and silence when he first enrolled as a student at the University of Paris he was nicknamed the "dumb-ox". Dumb because he was often mute in discussions; ox because of his weight and the way that his head seemed to permanently hang low.

St. Albert's statement recorded after Thomas had finished taking a test was prophetic for Aquinas was to be to the Church in the second millennium what Augustine was to the first.

Yet an experience that happened near the end of Aquinas' life has always fascinated me. While celebrating Mass on the feast of St. Nicholas he received a revelation after which he stopped writing his famous work the Summa Theologiae.

When his brothers tried to encourage him to finish it he said, "The end of my labors is come. All that I have written appears to me to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me."

May we all have that revelation that would put the things of this life into perspective!

Will of God

"Whoever does the will of God is My brother, and sister, and mother."

The truth of this statement of Jesus poses only one problem and it is a big one for most believers. What is the will of God?

Many well intentioned people think that it means emulating someone else who they admire as a virtuous person. The problem with this is that God did not create us as someone else and oftent he person we want to emulate is our opposite.

Doing the will of God requires an inventory of our gifts and talents and using them to the greater glory of God. DeCuassade's book "Abandonement to Divine Providence" is an excellent guide to knowing what God's will is for us in this life. A simple summary of DeCuassade might be to simply accept the intrusions and moments of this day as opportunities to do God's will.

In this view of life there will be no curses today only opportunities for blessings. Try to spend today receiving these blessings....