Twelve Catholic Things that Caught My Eye on St. Polycarp Day (2015)

1. Becoming Holy Like God Through the Perfection of Love for God and the Needy — homily notes and audio from Fr. Roger Landry (whose birthday is today) for the First Monday in Lent.
It’s a bit of an examination of conscience. Some examples (bold added):

When we see someone who’s hungry or thirsty, do we try to help get him food or do we tell him to go get a job? And if we know that Jesus identifies with the hungry, is it enough for us to wait for someone who is hungry to approach us for food — a somewhat frequent occurrence for someone in big cities, especially outside of Churches, but a relatively rare one here in Fall River — or do we go out in search of Jesus in the disguise of the man or woman or child with hunger pains?

Do we welcome strangers or do we resent their presence? There is a terrible xenophobia (a fear of the stranger) present in some parts of our country, including among Catholics, with regard to immigrants. Many of us don’t see them as brothers and sisters and we certainly don’t see them as Jesus Christ. If we did, would we ever ask to see Jesus’ green card? Would we ever fight to have Jesus deported? Yet this is what many Catholics clamor for with regard to immigrants who entered or stayed in our country illegally. Jesus tells us that they way we treat them is the way we treat him. We can see the same dynamic on a lesser scale happen in Catholic parishes. When a stranger comes to Church, do we welcome him or her the way we would embrace Jesus, or do we ignore the person, or even make the person feel unwelcome if he or she doesn’t know when to stand or sit or kneel at the appropriate times, or takes our pew, or has come from the street? If we know Christ identifies with the stranger, do we go out in search of people to provide a welcome?
Do we clothe the naked or do we take advantage of their nudity? Today we’re living in an age of rampant pornography where so many are trained not to clothe the naked but strip them with their eyes and minds. So many fuel and fund the porn industry despite the fact that Jesus identifies with every person violated and objectified in this way. Similarly when we see someone without proper clothing, do we seek to help or do we leave the person on his own? If we know Christ identifies with the naked, do we go out in search of people, for example, who do not have winter coats?
Do we a preferential care for those who are sick or do we ignore them lest we catch what they have? If we know Christ identifies with those who are ill, do we lovingly go out of our way to visit those who are in hospitals and nursing homes, rehab centers or homebound? Sickness is one of the most vulnerable times of life, a time not only of pain but also of occasional desperation when one has to suffer alone. Jesus had a special care for the sick and he wants all of us to do so remembering that when we see anyone ill, we should recognize that Jesus is saying to us, “I am ill and I need you to care for me.”
Do we care for prisoners at all or just think of them as a bunch of thugs of whom our only reaction should be fear? Not everyone is called to prison ministry to strangers, but when we know someone in prison, do we seek to write that person and visit? Do we pray for those who are incarcerated? Do we seek to send Rosary Beads or Bibles to help the time of imprisonment be a time of conversion rather than of hardening of hearts? When someone is released from prison and we meet the person in Church, do we continue to treat him mainly as an ex-con or do we try to help him get back on his feet?

There’s much more there. Set some time aside to read through it and reflect on it …

2. An abducted Jesuit priest in Afghanistan is released.

3. Today we remember St. Polycarp:

4. Fr. Steve Grunow writes:

many Christians do not live in a situation that either tolerates the Faith or allows its free expression. As massacres of Christians in Iraq, Egypt, and other nations of the Middle East have recently demonstrated, the experience of Saint Polycarp is not merely a matter of history. It continues today.
In this regard, Saint Polycarp reminds us of a truth that takes us beyond our own experience and brings us face to face with the Lord’s stinging words: “No slave is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you…”
May Saint Polycarp intercede for us and give us the strength and courage to bear witness to the Faith in the face of opposition and persecution.

5. The names of the 21 Egyptian Copts martyred this month in Libya will be entered into the Church’s calendar, Pope Tawadros II has announced.

6. From Saint Gregory of Nazianzen in the Liturgy of the Hours today:

Brethren and friends, let us never allow ourselves to misuse what has been given us by God’s gift. If we do, we shall hear Saint Peter say: Be ashamed of yourselves for holding on to what belongs to someone else. Resolve to imitate God’s justice, and no one will be poor. Let us not labor to heap up and hoard riches while others remain in need. If we do, the prophet Amos will speak out against us with sharp and threatening words: Come now, you that say: When will the new moon be over, so that we may start selling? When will the sabbath be over, so that we may start opening our treasures?

7.

8. Why we fast.

9. Helpful tweets:

10. Magnificat today has a meditation from St. Catherine of Siena. I don’t resist sharing it (I added bold again):

The good gentle Jesus, Love, dies of thirst and hunger for our salvation. I beg you for love of Christ crucified to keep your eyes on the hunger of this Lamb .…
I have no doubt that if you turn your understanding’s eye to look at yourself and realize that you are not, you will discover with what blazing love your being has been given you. I tell you, your heart and affection will not be able to keep from exploding for love. Selfishness will not be able to live there. You will seek yourself not for your own sake, for your own advantage, but for God’s honor. You will seek your neighbors not for your own sake, for your own advantage, but will love them and long for their salvation for the praise and glory of God’s name For you will see that God loves people above all else, and this is why God’s servants love other people so much—because they see that the Creator loves them above all else. I love what the person I love loves; that’s the nature of love. God’s servants, I say, love God not for their sake but because God is supreme eternal Goodness and deserves to be loved.

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11. Pope Francis: Safeguard your heart against the #DamnedDevil

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