Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us, too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
St. Michael the archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Prayer for our Nation (U.S.A)
God our Father,
Giver of life,
we entrust the United States of America to Your loving care.
You are the rock on which this nation was founded.
You alone are the true source of our cherished rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Reclaim this land for Your glory and dwell among Your people.
Send Your Spirit to touch the hearts of our nation´s leaders.
Open their minds to the great worth of human life and the responsibilities that accompany human freedom.
Remind Your people that true happiness is rooted in seeking and doing Your will.
Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate,
Patroness of our land,
grant us the courage to reject the "culture of death."
Lead us into a new millennium of life.
We ask this through Christ Our Lord.
The common theme is vocation. God calls us apart from what we intend to do with our life to give our lives to Him Who saved us.
When we look to the calling of the Old Testament prophets, we often see that they were ordinary people who had no plans of being called apart for the service of God. Just think of Moses [Exodus 3:1], Elisha [I Kings 19:16], or Jeremiah [1:5], to name a few. We can see this in the Prophet Amos when he complains to the priest Amaziah, "I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of fig trees.” In fact, we can go even further and say that the prophets were lured into following God, as when Jeremiah says, “You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed.” [20:7]. Perhaps it is with good reason that Jesus told Peter and Andrew, “Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men”, for God had been ‘fishing’ for centuries for prophets and followers.
Yes, God actually has to grant us an incentive to do something that is good for ourselves (diet & exercise?). It’s much like a parent bribing their child with a treat to do their homework or chores around the house, which should be a given [Lk 17:9-10] and not something that calls for treats like a pet. This just shows us that God wishes to grant us His grace much more than we are willing to receive it! We see the same in the New Testament. Peter, James, and John were mere fishermen. In fact, all the Apostles had their separate careers in life as well, at least until Our Lord called them apart to “Come follow Me!” So, we as ordinary people, much like the prophets and Apostles of old, oftentimes do not want to answer the call of the Holy Spirit to follow God in Christ Jesus.
We learn to follow Our Father’s calling by observing Jesus in the Gospels. In the Gospel today [Luke 9:51-62] we hear the words, “when the days for Jesus' being taken up were fulfilled.” In this instance “being taken up” is an obvious allusion to the cross. Luke is whispering that ‘the cross is near’. Indeed, the destination Jerusalem, of which Our Lord is resolutely determined to arrive at, has the synonymous meaning of: ‘Temple’, ‘Lamb’, ‘Sacrifice’, ‘Passover’, ‘Cross’, and finally, ‘Golgotha’ (the place of the skull). Indeed Jerusalem means the entire Paschal Mystery of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ. And yet again, our Lord is resolutely determined to arrive at His destination to fulfill His Father’s Will. This is what is at the heart of Jesus’ calling, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." We too must learn to be ‘resolutely determined’ in following The Father’s Will for us, just as The Son, Jesus, did. The Father’s Will is that there is no easy high road to heaven; we must all go by The Way of The Cross, via Jerusalem, to obtain the glory of the resurrection. We are all in it for the long run.
In the second reading [Gal 5:1, 13-18], St. Paul tells us something of the effort that is necessary to follow Christ when he says one should “…not gratify the desire of the flesh”. Technically speaking, there is something called the concupiscible and irascible goods. The concupiscible good (Latin ‘cupere’, to desire; akin to cupid, Roman god of love) is the immediately recognizable and easily obtainable goods of this world. It is easy to desire and attain these concupiscible goods; they are short term, relatively convenient, and they require little to no effort to obtain. These would be things like getting an ice cream cone, taking a nap, anything of immediate convenient satisfaction. In contradistinction to the concupiscible good is the irascible good (Latin ‘ira’, anger/fight). These are, in a sense, a mere extension of the concupiscible goods in that they are greatly desired; however, they are a long term good, difficult to obtain, and they require great effort. These would be things like getting a high school diploma, saving to buy a car or house, or the commitment of marriage.
What Our Lord is saying in the gospel today [Lk 9:51-62] is that we cannot go through our life living like little children, wanting immediate gratification and pleasure in the concupiscible goods of life. Rather, we must submit these, and seek primarily after the things that are above [Lk 12:31; Col 3:1], that which takes a greater commitment. We must be ‘resolutely determined’ to seek and persevere in those irascible goods that require labor, burden, time, and energy, for these are straight and narrow road [Mt 7:14], the necessary means to obtaining heaven. ‘Putting our hand to the plow’ is a great example because plowing is merely the first stage of harvesting the fruits, you’re doing the ground breaking of the earth. It’s going to require a great effort to see it through and get the grain to market and profit. We should all remember the story of The Little Red Hen? Or The Grasshopper and The Ant? However, there will always be those childish adults who do not want to accept the moral of the story.
Perhaps this is the reason that Christ was not accepted and welcomed by the Samaritans, because they did not like His destination point: Jerusalem (i.e. the cross). In a sense the Samaritans in the gospel represent the world, those without faith; those for whom the cross is not a destination but something entirely to avoid; those who want merely the concupiscible goods – the goods of immediate gratification – in life. The Samaritans’ lack of faith means lack of duty, lack of commitment. This is the reason why it is always safer to accept Jesus merely as a natural man, because a merely natural man can make no moral demands upon us! On the natural earthly level Jesus can always be accepted as a wise philosopher, a guru, a rebel, and revolutionary, for such an identity doesn’t demand anything of me. For the Christian, however, who has faith from Our Father above [Mt 16:17], Jesus is the Incarnation of The Second Person of The Blessed Trinity, Who as The Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world. Because Jesus is God, He can make demands of us in the moral realm. And this is what it takes to follow Christ.
To answer the call of Christ to ‘Come follow Me’ we must firmly believe in Him as being God. If we fail to grasp – through faith – that Jesus is the Incarnation of God Who commands our respect and directs with authority the heavens and the earth, then we will never be able to commit to the greater things that require perseverance (a resolute determination). Only in faith in Christ as God can we seek the long-term enduring irascible goods that are the straight and narrow path to eternal life. This is how the prophets and apostles of old were able to follow Christ without looking back from the plowshare. They had the certitude of faith that they were following what God wanted them to believe (faith), to say, and to do (morals). When they lacked faith, they prayed to be strengthened in it. For only with faith in Christ as Being God can we really see beyond the cross and the grave. To see supernaturally that, after all, the cross is not the final destination, but merely the necessary means to finally obtain God in heaven. This is our vocation – to love God as He has Loved us – meaning through thick and thin, in season and out. To be, like Our Lord Jesus, resolutely determined to seek and persevere in those irascible goods of heaven that require labor, burden, time, and energy, for they are the straight and narrow road that leads, through the way of the cross, to the everlasting life of resurrection in the kingdom of heaven!