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FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

May 21-27, 2017

1 Peter 3: 15-18 is so heartening, it bears repeating here:

Beloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you

a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear,

so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ

may themselves be put to shame.

For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

For Christ also suffered for sins once,

the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God.

Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit.

It is hard to believe our rash and quick to anger Peter, could write such calm and gentle words.  However, his own experience of the denial of Jesus, certainly had a profound effect on him.  He was brought to his kneels so that he could stand humbly in his leadership of Christ’s Church.  We, too, can find this “gentleness and reverence” in our daily lives, because we can bow our heads with Peter and ask for mercy and forgiveness for our various sins.

Sometimes you may hear a priest say, “Jesus, the Christ,” in his preaching and wonder, if he made a mistake.  In the Jewish belief “the Christ,” was the savior, the Messiah, so, as we see in Acts 8: 5-8; 14-17, Philip used the expression, “…proclaimed the Christ to them.”  As time went on the name of Jesus was shortened to “Jesus Christ,” like saying “Jesus Savior” or “Jesus Messiah.”

The great Feast of the Ascension is celebrated this week Thursday or Sunday to come.  I often wonder what it was like to spend some forty days of instruction given by the Risen Savior.  The disciples probably had awe written on their faces, as they soaked in the words of this Jesus alive. What a letdown it must have been to see him leave.  However, Jesus made a promise, as we see in John 14: 15-21, when we hear him say, I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of Truth. We also have the gift, Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.  It may seem a little scary to believe that Jesus will reveal himself to us.  Isn’t that for saints?  Well, what are we anyhow, if we live in the grace of God and are forgiven?

St. Rita of Cascia is the Patron of impossible causes and hopeless circumstances.  She was forced to marry at twelve years of age and suffered a violent and abusive marriage. After the death of her husband and two sons, she entered the Augustinian nuns.  She received the stigmata by way of a thorn in her forehead.  Her body is incorruptible.  CatholicCompany.com

St. Philip Neri was called the Third Apostle of Rome in the 16th century after Peter and Paul.  He was a priest who was full of joy and brought that spirit to all whom he served.  Many said that they only needed to stand near his room after his death to feel peace and joy. Catholicsaints.com

St. Augustine of Canterbury was a Benedictine monk of Italian heritage in the 6th century.  He was appointed the first archbishop of Canterbury.  He is the Patron of the English and considered the founder of the English Church.  CatholicEncyclopedia.com

Live in the blessings of the Ascended Lord Jesus,

Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF, Director

 

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FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

April 23-29, 2017

“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”  John 20:29  In the amazing story of Jesus’ appearance to his disciples behind locked doors after his Resurrection, we eventually meet the doubting Thomas, one of the apostles. He was an impetuous person and encouraged the apostles to go with Jesus to Jerusalem. He was outspoken and seemed fearless.  We can be indebted to him for wanting material proof of Jesus’ rising from the dead.  It is because of him that we have received that most welcome blessing. It is believed that he preached as far as India and perhaps beyond.  Catholic.org

Like Thomas, we would like to place our fingers in the hands, side and feet of Jesus for re-assurance. However, have we not done that when we console the sorrowing, have mercy on the lost, visit the suffering and hold the dying?  All the good we do, no matter how small, we do with and in Christ. Jesus said in the story of the vine and the branches, “Live on in me, as I do in you…I am the vine; you are the branches. He who lives in me and I in him, will produce abundantly.” John 15: 4-5 What further support for our faith do we need, but his WORD?

Another gift of Thomas was his beautiful words, “My Lord and my God!” John 20: 28 In many places it is still traditional to hear a few voices at the elevation of the body and blood of Christ during the Consecration in the Mass say these words.  As a child, I can remember the congregation saying it loudly and clearly.  It was a breathe-taking moment. I always wondered at this strong response and knew something marvelous had just happened.  Why have we lost this beautiful practice? Maybe our students would be a little more attentive, if they participated in this sacred moment with these words on their lips.

This Sunday is also known as Divine Mercy.  Jesus gave us the great example of mercy – to give one’s life to save others.  Pope Francis has called for the spirit of mercy and forgiveness.  During this season of Easter, let us constantly remind ourselves to be merciful and compassionate.

May this most pivotal event of our Christian life – the Resurrection of Jesus – fill us with joy.  In the words of Jesus, “Peace be with you.” John 20: 19

Sister Rosemarie Goins, Felician Franciscan

Director of the Spirituality Center   

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FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

April 9-15, 2017

The most solemn time of the Church year is Holy Week.  It is commenced with the joyful words, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest” Matthew 21: 9  Unfortunately, this praise is very short lived.  People are swayed by the most popular position and soon they will be saying, “Crucify him.” Matthew 27: 22-23 We cannot stand in judgment of these people, because at times we may find ourselves silent in the face of issues that are not popular.  We tend to want to be part of the in group; it is not fun or advantageous to career or position to be on the outside. 

When a look is taken at the history of Catholics in the United States, many concessions have been made to popular opinion and even morality.  The Catholic Church was bitterly persecuted in the beginning years of this country.  Maryland was the only Catholic colony; Catholics were not welcome anywhere else. In the state of Oklahoma, in which I grew up, Catholicism was about 2%.  Even the Ku Klux Klan was after Catholics.  So, wanting to fit in and prove that Catholics were part of the status quo, we slowly slipped into the American way of life.  During this Holy Week we can ask ourselves what we have sacrificed in our faith to fit in.  Are we willing to be like the thief on the Cross who defended Jesus and asked to be “remembered when Jesus entered his kingdom,” Luke 23: 39-43 or the Roman soldiers who witnessed Jesus’ death and said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” Matthew 27: 54

In the story of creation it is seen how Adam and Eve wanted to be gods and such a desire has been repeated down through the ages.  In Philippians 2: 6-11 it says, “Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; …humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  This aspect of Christianity is not very desirable, but it is central to being a true follower of the Christ. A humble leader brings healing and peace; a grasping, full-of-self leader brings destruction and suffering. 

As an aside, I read an interesting article in the May/June 2017 SIERRA magazine called, “Code of Silence.” The announcement of a new documentary, “In Pursuit of Silence,” is coming in June on the damage done by constant noise to our physical, mental and emotional health. “In a cacophonous world, we’re losing our capacity for deep listening, and with it, our sensory connection to the natural world.”  I immediately added spiritual.  Is it possible that we have lost the ability to listen to God, because we fill our day with the noise of the cell phone, let alone all the other artificial noise around us?  Are we so numbed that we cannot participate in the services of this Holy Week, in which we quieten our minds, so as to engage with the momentous salvific actions of Jesus? It is rather frightening to think that we have lost the “listening” gift of our souls to the technological gift of the media.  It will take much strength to balance these two gifts, so as to grow more fully as complete human beings.

Wishing you a faith-filled Holy Week,

Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF

Director

      

          

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FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

March 5-11, 2017

This Sunday’s readings speak of the entrance of sin and death into the world.  We only need to look at ourselves to see how easy it is to want to be like gods and know all things. Genesis 2: 7-9; 3:1-7 The desire to be able to control everything and everybody around us is that sin of pride – the basis of all sin.  We don’t like to be told what to do or when to do it. Humility is a very difficult virtue to practice.  Obedience to God’s will is another hard practice. Lent offers us an opportunity to practice these virtues.  Jesus is the epitome of humility and obedience to the Father. He is the one who brought us “the gift of justification....acquittal and life….and righteous.” Romans 5: 12-19 We can also practice gratitude for the gift of salvation.

Matthew 4:4 relates the story of the devil tempting Jesus to sin.  The devil offered him power, position and possessions.  All those things to which we are tempted, too.  Jesus defeated the devil with Scripture and faithfulness to his Father.  “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” “Get away, Satan. The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”  After these trials the “angels came and ministered to him.” We can use these passages during our times of temptation. Angels also accompany us in life’s trials.

 Saints Perpetua and Felicity, were both mothers, one a noblewoman and the other a slave girl.  They were martyred in the Roman games around 203. We honor them on March 7 for their faithfulness to Christ.

St. John of God, born in 1495, lived a greedy and brutal life as an adult, but occasionally remembered the piety of his childhood, before he was kidnapped and reduced to poverty and hard living.  In his early forties he confessed his sins and embraced a life of penance. He opened his home to the sick, poor and homeless, establishing a hospital, homeless shelter and halfway house.  The Bishop of Granada gave him the name, John of God, and approved his work. 

In the fourteenth century St. Frances of Rome felt called to religious life, but was forced to marry.  She bore three children, losing two to the plague.  Besides caring for her family she served the poor and opened a wing of her home as a hospital.  She received the Pope’s permission to establish a society of women for charitable works.  After her husband’s death she lived with this society.

                                                                                                            Catholic News Agency

We have these wonderful Christian examples to give us encouragement in our journey to God.  Thanks be to God.

Just a reminder that all Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat.

Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF

Director

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FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

February 12-18, 2017

This Sunday’s readings have strong references to “freedom of choice.”  We are made in image of the Creator; one of the gifts is “free will.”  What an awesome gift; we are free to choose against the Creator, but we must remember the consequences.  As we look at our world, we see the extensive misuse of this gift and all the violence, hate, anger and misdeeds that follow. In Sirach: 15: 15-20 the passage begins, “If you choose…”  Of course, if we choose in favor of God’s law, Jesus’ teachings as Christians, we will be saved.  It seems like such an easy directive.  However, we only need to examine our own lives to see our basket of choices is not always commendable.

St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 2: 9 paraphrases Isaiah 64:3 “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him, this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.” What a promise with which to proceed on our journey to our Creator.

It gives us more reason with which to use our “free will” properly. This means to “trust in the wisdom of God” by constantly striving to educate ourselves in righteousness and praying unceasingly.

You may ask, “How can I pray unceasingly? I have much to do.”  Aw, but if you live a righteous life you are praying.  There are also many moments throughout the day, when we can formally pray – putting dressing, brushing hair, driving, changing classes, preparing a meal, exercising, etc.  One I like to say during these moments is, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son, Savior have mercy on me a sinner.” This is an ancient Christian prayer, often called, “The Jesus Prayer.”  It is also very powerful, when you are afraid or threatened.

In Matthew’s Gospel 11: 25 Jesus further expands on some of the Ten Commandments. “You have heard it was said to your ancestors, “You shall not kill…I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.”  We may be proud that we have not killed anyone and, therefore, kept the commandment, but the deeper meaning includes anger. Have we, then, broken this commandment?  A re-examination of the Ten Commandments may reveal deeper meanings and directives to a righteous life.

February 14, Valentine’s Day, gives us an opportunity to repair our relationships.  Perhaps, it is a way for a husband or wife to say, “I’m sorry!” - friends who have been apart because of a misunderstanding or a child to thank a parent or just because we love one another and want to show it.

Actually, Valentine’s Day is a way in which the Church Christianized a pagan situation. Licentiousness

was strongly rampant around this time of year in pagan rites.  Also, the emperor forbade marriage among young people because a married soldier was not good for the military. (Can you guess why?)  St. Valentine, a priest of the Third Century, encouraged Christian marriage and gave instructions on this vocation.  He was arrested and martyred for disobeying the law. He is the patron of marriage and love. Christian Broadcasting Network, CBN

Saints Cyril and Methodius, brothers from Greece, became priests and were asked to go to the Slavic nations and preach because they knew the language.  They created a Slavic alphabet, translated the Bible and said Mass in that language.  There were many protests about saying the Mass in the language of the people, but Pope Adrian II approved the practice in the ninth century. They are patrons of Europe. holyspiritinteractive.net

The Order of Servites was founded in the thirteenth century for the sanctification of its members, preaching of the Gospel and spreading of devotion to Mary. The founders, seven young men of wealthy families in Florence, Italy, formed a confraternity, called the “Praisers of Mary.”  The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to them and asked them to form a religious community, using the Rule of St. Augustine. Catholic Encyclopedia

Sister Rosemarie Goins, Director

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FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

January 29-February 4, 2017

Blessings are a wonderful part of our Christian faith.  Blessings are received during all the sacraments and during special occasions, like birthdays, anniversaries and holidays (holy days). In the Hispanic cultures many parents bless their children when they go to school or go to bed.  Jesus gave us the best blessings of all in the Beatitudes. Matthew 5: 1-12

In 1 Corinthians 1: 26-31 St. Paul reminds us that we have nothing for which to boast of our own merits. We can only “boast in Christ Jesus who became… wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption” for us. We stand humbly before God and offer thanks for these free gifts. Much rejoicing can go on because we are so loved.  We can show the face of this love through our own lived and loving presence to others. 

St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesians in the nineteenth century Turin, Italy, was a priest of great humility with an abounding love of Mary and the Blessed Sacrament.  He lived his whole life in poverty, but spent millions on those he served, especially young boys, who needed food, clothing, housing, education and spiritual nourishment. Besides providing regular education, he established trade schools.

Then, girls began to beseech his help, thus the Sisters of Mary Help were founded. Laredo, Texas is proud of the presence of the Salesian men and women who serve here. catholiconline.com

Though February 2 is the famous Groundhog Day, it has a much greater meaning in the Christian faith.

It is the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Forty days after the birth of a male child in the Jewish faith, the mother had to be purified and the ceremony for the redemption of the male child had to be performed.  Thus, being poor, Joseph and Mary offered two turtle doves, instead of a lamb.  Of course, we know that Jesus was the Lamb of God who would be sacrificed on the cross for our redemption. It is on this occasion that Anna predicted that a sword would pierce Mary’s heart.  Simeon gave praise that he was promised by God to not die until he saw the Christ.  This Jesus was the fulfillment. Luke 2: 22-35

St. Blasé was a physician and bishop in Armenia in the sixth century.  He was known as a healer of both people and beasts.  Throats are blessed on this day, because of the story of his saving a child, choking on a chicken bone. He was martyred for his faith. catholicsaints.info

The theme of Catholic Schools Week, January 29 to February 4, is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”  Let us pray for the parents who sacrifice so much to put their children in a Catholic school. Keep the teachers and other school personnel who strive to give these children a strong Christian foundation and academic education.  Bless the students in their goal to become the best possible person they are meant to be after the example of Jesus.

Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) set the foundation for what would become the Black History Month in February in 1926. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard.  He said, “If a race has no history, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” …In 1964 James A. Baldwin, a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet and social critic, reflected on the fact that his education was lacking because American history “was not cognizance if his existence.” time.com

We have much for which to pray and a long road to travel to bring about justice and peace.

Sister Rosemarie Goins, Felician Franciscan

Director

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FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

January 22- 28, 2017

Monday is a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.  Scripture this Sunday speaks of the prophesy of Isaiah 8:23-9:3 in Matthew 4: 12-23 about Jesus, “…the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.”  Our land of the U.S.A and the entire world is “overshadowed by death” today.  Millions of human beings have been killed before they even had a chance to breathe the precious air God created. Much of humankind still sits in “darkness.” Perhaps this is why God came as a tiny baby to show the beauty of a new born child.  This Jesus was human at the moment of his conception.  The Angel Gabriel said, “He is the Son of the Most High…” Luke 3:25   Even Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, said, “…blest is the fruit of your womb…but who am I that the Mother of my Lord should visit me?” Luke 1: 42-43 These passages speak loud and clear that the child in the womb is human from conception.

We can only pray with mercy and love in our hearts for those who do not value the life of the unborn.

This attitude and ignorance has led to all manner of disrespect and de-valuing of life at all stages – the elderly, the disabled, the dying, the “different” and all the other people who stand in the way of “selfishness.” Offer all the daily aggravations and disappointments as penance for these sins.  May the Light of Jesus enter all our hearts and bless us with knowledge and generosity.

The Catholic Online, Catholic Encyclopedia continues to provide us with facts about the saints.   St. Vincent of Saragossa, Spain, deacon, was a martyr of the third century.  He refused to burn the Bible or deny his faith in Jesus Christ.  His jailer was converted at seeing Vincent’s tranquility and patience during his terrible torture.

St. Marianne Cope, a Sister of St. Francis of Assisi of Syracuse, was a child immigrant to the United States from Germany.  For a time she was a teacher in New York. Then, she opened the first two hospitals in Central New York in the latter part of the nineteenth century.  She permitted the students from the Geneva Medical Center of New York to work in the hospitals, but said that the patients could refuse their care. This was one of the first times a patient was given the right to refuse medical care. As Superior General of her order, she accepted the invitation to work with lepers in Molokai. She established a hospital and clinics to work with the lepers.  She became known as Marianne of Molokai.

St. Francis de Sales, a Bishop in Switzerland in the seventeenth century, was very strong in his teaching that holiness was for everyone.  He combated the attitude and belief that only priests and religious could be holy.  He laid the basis for Vatican II’s proclamation of the universality of the vocation of holiness in the 1960’s.

The famous Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles and author of many epistles in the Bible,

is an encouragement to all of us to get down off of our “high horse” and follow God’s will. Remember this great teacher and saint on Wednesday.

Saints Timothy and Titus, beloved disciples of St. Paul, travelled with Paul on some of his journeys.

Timothy later became Bishop of Ephesus and Titus, Bishop of Crete.

St. Angela Merici, a Franciscan tertiary of the sixteenth century, was appalled at the neglect of the education of girls, especially in their religion.  Though nuns and unmarried women were not allowed to teach, Angela organized a group of women to teach in their homes, children who were gathered from the streets. This radical form of teaching took time to catch on.  Angela is credited with the foundation of the first group of religious women to teach publically.  They lived in their own homes and met for common prayer and support.  Angela wrote a rule of life for the Company of Ursula, though it was not approved in her lifetime.  We know them belovedly as Ursulines here in Laredo, Texas.  They were the first sisters to come to the United States.

Last but not least, is St. Thomas Aquinas, Dominican, on Saturday.  He is the great theologian on which much of the Church’s theology is based.  He is the patron of students and teachers.

When we see the accomplishments of both lay, priestly and religious of the past, we can rejoice.  We belong to a company of great people. We have the support and the power to accomplish great things in Christ Jesus.

Sister Rosemarie Goins, Felician Franciscan

Director

 

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FROM THE ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

January 15-21, 2017

The Gospel of John 1:29-34 is certainly worthy of a second reading, because it is full of all manner of revelation.

            John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who

                takes away the sin of the world.  He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me

                who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ I did not know him, but the reason

                why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel. …I saw the

                Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him.  I did not know him, but

                the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come

                down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen

                and testified that he is the Son of God.”

 

What a wonderful testimony to who Jesus is in a few words right at the beginning of his public ministry.

He was the lamb that was slaughtered as a sin offering.  He takes away the “sin” of the world – the rejection by the world down through the ages. John announces strongly the existence of the Holy Spirit.  The final testimony is that Jesus is the Son of God. You wonder if anyone was really listening to John. Perhaps, it was too much for them to comprehend.  Sometimes we act that way, too.  We take it all for granted, rather than being in awe of this surprising and awesome reality.  This Jesus is so special, but he somehow gets pushed aside for worldly concerns and activities.

This week we honor a man, Martin Luther King, Jr., who was willing to publicly fight for justice and die

For his Christian beliefs. There are many unsung heroes and heroines who have fought for justice. Let us remember all of them this day.

Though St. Anthony, Abbot and an Egyptian Desert Father, wished and tried to live the life of a hermit, many gathered around him to benefit from his holiness.  Hence, he is considered the father and founder of organized Christian monasticism in the third century.

St. Fabian was a Pope of the third century.  Though he was of noble Roman birth, he served the people of the countryside.  When it came time for the election of a new pope, none considered Fabian.  However, as the story goes a dove appeared above his head.  All took this as a sign of choice of Fabian, as pope, by the Holy Spirit, as they recalled Jesus’ baptism.

Another third century saint, Sebastian joined the Roman army and became a captain.  He ministered to those condemned by Diocletian, the Roman Emperor.  When it became known that he was a Christian, he was sentenced to death by becoming the target of arrow practice.  He is pictured in art with many arrows sticking in his body.  When his body was claimed, it was found that he was not dead.  He was nursed back to health.  He immediately went to admonish the emperor and was martyred by being beaten to death. 

St. Agnes, the little Lamb of God, is one of seven women mentioned in the Canon of the Mass.    She was about twelve years old, when one of her suitors, supposedly turned her in to Emperor Diocletian in the third century.  Many stories are associated with her being dragged through the city naked.  Some say her hair grew long and covered her; others say that anyone who tried to rape her was blinded or struck dead.  She was beheaded or pierced in the throat by the sword. She is patron of rape victims and virgins.

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Corinthians 1: 3

Sister Rosemarie Goins, Director

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THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

January 8-14, 2017

In the story of the birth of Jesus much is revealed about this special child.  The Messiah was to come from the royal house of David, the King and would be born in the City of David, Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread.”  Joseph and Mary were both descendants of David and had to go to Bethlehem for the Roman census. Luke 2: 1-5 Thus, the child fulfills two prophecies – he is born in Bethlehem and of the house of David.  If only the Jewish leaders would have dug a little deeper into Jesus’ background, but it probably wouldn’t have made a difference in the outcome of Jesus’ “trial.” People can be very stubborn when they feel threatened by someone. They look no deeper than the surface. Today’s world testifies to this reality.

The two groups of people who visit the new born King, were not picked at random by God, the Father.  The shepherds represent the Jewish people, the poor, the outcast, the forgotten and the marginalized.The

three kings represent the non-Jews.  This is why the Feast of the Epiphany, meaning “to reveal or manifest,” is so important. A whole new concept about the Messiah was revealed in the presence of these foreigners.

As St. Paul tells us in Ephesians 3: 2-3, 5-6, “…the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Thus God, the Father proclaims that his Son, Jesus, has come for all people, not just for one nation.

One further point that is relevant for today.  The Holy Family had to flee to Egypt to escape Herod who wanted to kill the child.  He was well aware that this child threatened his throne.  Thus Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees.  The area from which they fled was known as Greater Syria and encompassed many areas and nations. This ancient Syria is the “cradle of civilization” and the land of
 “prophets and apostles.”
Catholic Encyclopedia   It is in Antioch, Syria that Jesus’ followers were first called “Christians.” So, Jesus was a refugee from Syria.  One wonders if his family would have been accepted into the United States.

The gifts that the Magi presented to Jesus have various meaning, but the most popular is as follows: Gold represents his kingship, frankincense his priesthood and myrrh his death and burial.  These were normal gifts of that time to present to a king.  Biblical Archeology Society

As we go about our daily lives, perhaps we can take some time to reflect on what gifts we bring to our God – an encouraging word to a child, a visit to a lonely person, a smile to a grumpy colleague, a prayer of gratitude, a hug and kiss to a spouse and a helping hand to the less fortunate.  Little non-violent actions are the signs of a Christian life.    

On Monday the Baptism of Jesus is celebrated.  Jesus did not need to undergo the baptism of repentance of John the Baptist, but submitted in order to usher in the baptism of water and the Holy Spirit.  “The clouds opened and Holy Spirit descended upon him.  A voice was heard to say, “You are my beloved Son.  On you my favor rests.” Luke 3: 21-22 Each baptized person receives the Holy Spirit and finds favor with God. 

Spread the Good News – Emmanuel – God is with us.

Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF

Director 

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THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

January 1-7, 2017

Happy and a Blessed New Year.  May Mary, the Holy Mother of God grant you the grace to reflect in your heart on all the events of the past year and weave them into a garland of mercy and thanksgiving. On Tuesday we can honor the Most Holy Name of her Son, Jesus.

We begin this year of 2017 with remembrance of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and in praise of her “yes” to this great mystery of God becoming a human. We say our own “yes” in the belief we express in this mystery and blessing of salvation. We cannot explain God’s generosity in creating this marvelous gift.  We, like Mary, can only say, “Thy will be done.”  It was not easy for her to accept this announcement, but she bowed her head and believed.  We, too, face events that challenge us, but we move forward with determination to bring about surprising results.

If anyone or anything should unite us with the Muslims, the Islamic religion, it is Mary.  She is mentioned some 34 times in the Quran and is considered the most righteous and holy woman in history.  She is greatly honored as the mother of the great prophet, Jesus. Of course, they don’t believe that Jesus was divine, but they respect him.  Here is where a mother’s life and love encompasses two great religions.  Why are we fighting and fearing each other?

St. Francis of Assisi is respected by the Muslims as a man of peace. He came to their leader, the Sultan of Egypt, al-Malik-al-Kamil, nephew of Saladin, in the 12th century and spent some three weeks, sharing about the mystery of God and life. Perhaps we can take a page from Francis’ life and wade into the battle, armed with love, mercy and generosity.

On this World Day of Peace Pope Francis is beseeching all to act with non-violence.  This does not mean that we stand around as doormats and hide in our hovels. No!  We take definite actions to bring about reconciliation, dialogue, understanding, positive change and respect.  We become involved in movements and organizations that challenge us to show the face of just resolutions and a friendly hand in sharing the world’s goods and prosperity. We teach our children to be disciples of non-violence.  When we enter the arena of non-violence we may face death and rejection, as our brothers and sisters in Syria and elsewhere.

However, Jesus on the Cross and his subsequent Resurrection is our bond of courage and success of non-violent behavior and choice.

We honor many saints this week, but St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. John Neumann are American citizens who are responsible for the Catholic School system in the United States.

So, as we enter this New Year of 2017, may the recognition of being a Christian, a child of Mary and the sons and daughters of God bring us into greater unity with all people.

Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF

Director

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1300 Galveston St. 

Laredo, Texas 78043

Tel: (956) 724-8131

Fax: (956) 724-8770

Email: info@st-augustine.org

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