The New Gasparian
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A journal dedicated to the life and mission of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, and to a life lived in response to the call and the cry of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our on-going mission is to share good news of hope and communion.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003
Mission Day Two

Today's mission talk will focus on the disappointments in life and how we hold them. It will ask for an experience of truth. In dealing with the difficulties and traumas of life it is important not to repress, deny or avoid the difficulty, especially when it is situations we have no control over. Here we may need to forgive ourselves for not being God.

The Book of Jonah is a great illustrator here. Jesus said that we seek signs and wonders, but that no sign will be given except the sign of Jonah. The sign of Jonah is more than about the whale. If the sign of Jonah was just about the resurrection then it would not have been a sign when Jesus spoke about it. It must have been something else.

Unlike the other prophetic books, the book of Jonah is not a collection of oracles announced by a historical prophet but a consciously composed story that attempts to entertain and instruct. Even if "the gift Christ has placed in your soul is so unique that you cannot run away," it is also part of human nature to try and run away from responsibilities that seem too heavy. Jonah does this by boarding a ship heading for the other end of the world.

But running away from God means running away from one's own heart and this can only lead to a dead-end, both for oneself and for others. Fortunately, even when forgotten, God remains present to bring the wanderer back to the truth of his or her existence. The author of the book shows with great imagination how God can use anything to lead human beings back to God: non-believers (the pagan sailors are much more "religious" than the Israelite prophet!) and even the forces of nature (the storm and the "big fish” which evokes the sea monsters depicted in the ancient stories as the greatest opponents of God.)

Jonah's disobedience seems to lead him to a death far from God. But this apparent calamity turns out in the end to be a direction the prophet has to take to get back to the right road. It is not surprising that the early Christians (and Jesus himself Mt.12:40) saw Jonah as a figure of Christ in his Passover from death to the fullness of life. It is also important to see this story as a type of Jesus who reached out to save the sinner and the outcast.

Jonah was a whining, disobedient prophet. Even in his obedience he did not do what God asked. He had no intention of doing God’s will and was even unhappy and angry when God’s desires were accomplished. Yet still God remained very tender with Jonah even as he challenged him to a little humility.

What did we learn about God in this story?

1. We learn about God’s generous love. It extends to all creation, including even pagans and cattle.
2. We learn about God’s unending patience. Jonah was focused solely on himself, and God was patient to the end.
3. Our God is a God of second chances, even third and fourth chances. His word remains consistent and constant even in the face of disobedience. The call and gift of God are irrevocable.
4. We learn the importance of truth and humility. Humility does not mean low self esteem. Humility means truth and really requires good self esteem.

For discussion or conversation:

• What can I do when tempted to run away from the responsibilities God entrusts to me?
• Has God used other persons and events to help me understand his call? Which ones?
• How might I learn to listen to the Lord and seek to do his will?
• How do I let the Lord hold me and assist me in the difficulties of life?

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 5:31 PM link
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To come to healing and reconciliation one must name the sorrow, the darkness, or the sin, offer it in lament to a merciful Savior and receive from him the gift of praise and healing.
The Blood of Christ is that expression of Christ’s love that reveals God closest to us where we hurt or are most in need of healing and refreshment.

Lamentation is the beginning of praise, and it seems in our day we have lost the gift of lamentation. Often we ignore our hurts or deny them and they stay with us and do us damage. We need to cry to the Lord in our need and receive the healing grace he has promised.

The following is taken from Psalm 6, Psalm 44, and the book of Lamentations. These prayers will be used as part of tonight's mission.

Do not reprove me in your anger, LORD,
nor punish me in your wrath.
Have pity on me, LORD,
for I am weak; heal me,
LORD, for my bones are trembling.
In utter terror is my soul—
and you, LORD, how long...?

Turn, LORD, save my life;
in your mercy rescue me.

For who among the dead remembers you?
Who praises you in the grave?

I am wearied with sighing;
all night long tears drench my bed;
my couch is soaked with weeping.
My eyes are dimmed with sorrow,
worn out because of all my foes.

Come, all you who pass by the way,
look and see
whether there is any suffering like my suffering,
which has been dealt me
when the LORD afflicted me
on the day of his blazing wrath.

From on high he sent fire
down into my very frame;
He spread a net for my feet,
and overthrew me.
He left me desolate,
in pain all the day.

He has kept watch over my sins;
by his hand they have been plaited:
They have settled about my neck,
he has brought my strength to its knees;
The Lord has delivered me into their grip,
I am unable to rise.

All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten you,
nor been disloyal to your covenant.
Our hearts have not turned back,
nor have our steps strayed from your path.

Awake! Why do you sleep, O Lord?
Rise up! Do not reject us forever!

The favors of the LORD are not exhausted;
his mercies are not spent;
They are renewed each morning,
so great is his faithfulness.

My portion is the LORD, says my soul;
therefore will I hope in him.
Good is the LORD to one who waits for him,
to the soul that seeks him;
It is good to hope in silence
for the saving help of the LORD.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 5:28 PM link
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Jonah Again

You may remember that I used the story of Jonah in the mission two weeks ago at St. Anselm Parish
Today we will take the story a little deeper.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 5:19 PM link
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Tuesday of the Fifth Week

The Readings
Numbers 21:4 9 Whoever looks at the bronze serpent recovers
Psalm 102 O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
John 8:21 30 When you lift up the Son of Man, you will come to realize that I AM.

"May our soul be like the dove near mystical waters and let us quench our thirst in Jesus and with Jesus. ... When I use the word always, I mean to say that, in addition to the time that is provided for us to be engaged in this religious adoration, our hearts should ever remain united to the Sacred Tabernacle, the center of peace and of salvation. Also, in no way at all should the reception of communion be set aside. It brings healing to our small infirmities and gives us strength. "

"I send a reply to your very esteemed letter on this third of May, the feast of the Holy Cross, the mystical ladder to heaven, the cathedra of truth, the tree of life, under whose shadow we are to find rest in the peacefulness of the just. Oh what a great book for us is the Cross! It is a summarization of the apologetics of our faith, a practical knowledge for our moral life, and the most tender lessons of love that the Lord has shown. From this book, every soul is encouraged to promote evermore the most important devotion to the Divine Blood, which I highly recommend to your zeal and charity, so that it will become known wherever possible."

The gospel states "many came to believe in him" because he spoke this way. In this week before Holy Week, our catechumens reflect on the many aspects of our community life that assisted them in coming to faith. They still live in a world caught in the drama of belief and unbelief. They are in the world and, with the rest of us, learning how not be "of the world."

We follow Jesus where he goes, doing what he does. We learn how to forgive as he forgives and to love as he loves. In this way it is revealed that we are part of his body, and that we identify with him as he identifies with his father. As healing comes to those in the desert who looked upon the bronze serpent, so does the healing light of truth come to those who come to Jesus when he is lifted up in the Eucharist. For St Gaspar, this forms the core of our heart and our identity, not only when we are at prayer, but at every moment of the day. Jesus identifies the cross as what will reveal him as he is. For Gaspar this is the totality of what we need to know and experience.

- What brought me to belief?
- How closely do I identify with Jesus?
- How closely do I identify with the cross?

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 12:06 AM link
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