THE WEEKLY DIGEST
OF REGNUM CHRISTI
Week of November 5-12, 2023
Sunday, November 5, 2023 - Follow Me; I Am Meek and Humble of Heart
Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Introductory Prayer: Jesus Christ, where else can I turn each day but to you? One day, I will make that final turn to you, and it will last for all eternity. Yet as in everything else, you set the pace, you take the initiative, and you are the protagonist. You will turn and look my way first and I, as I strive daily to do, will respond and gaze back into your eyes. This moment of prayer is a rehearsal for that final turn to you. Amen.
Petition: Lord Jesus, teach me to be humble as you were humble.
- True Greatness: Jesus Christ, the lord of history and the world, came to show us what it means to be humble. His divinity did not keep him aloof, but rather he emptied himself, stripping himself of all glory to serve us humbly, eventually dying for us on the cross. Such humility is astonishing. Who could ever imitate such lowliness? We have trouble tolerating even minor offenses against our person or reputation. Christ voluntarily assumed our human nature and subjected himself to shame, insult and torture in order to save us.
- Authority Not Their Own: The Pharisees were in a position of authority, having been lifted up from the mere dust from which God made them to the noble position of arbiters and interpreters of the law. For that reason, Christ tells his listeners to obey what they say—not on account of their own authority, but because of the authority given them by God. However, many of the Pharisees were more interested in the honors and privileges of their position than in being the link between souls and God. Contrast their example with the model of humility set by Christ.
- Promise of Freedom: Christ came to earth to liberate us. He freed us from sin and death and has given meaning to human suffering. He did this not in a proud way but as a humble servant. As a lamb led to slaughter, he took upon his shoulders the punishment for our sins. Far from coming to judge us, he came to free us and let the judgment fall on himself. How does my concept of freedom mesh with that of Christ setting us free from sin? Am I convinced that the freest person in this life is the person who has striven to form virtue and thus can joyfully and easily choose to do good and not evil? Do I humbly ask Our Lord for the grace to act rightly, knowing I cannot do anything good without his help?
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus Christ, you chose the path of humble service to attract souls to your heavenly Father. Help me continue the work of calling souls to him. Remind me that my proud behavior can do nothing to gain these souls. Inspire me with your grace so that I may love you more than myself.
Resolution: I will refrain from boasting about my personal achievements. Instead, today I will seek to praise three other people for something they have done well.
Monday, November 6, 2023 - Our Invitation List
Monday of the Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. He said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Introductory Prayer: O God, thank you for allowing me to come into your presence. Your love enlarges my soul. I long to see your face! I come to this prayer with a thirst just to be in your presence, to relax under your loving gaze. May my presence here be an expression of my love for you.
Petition: Lord, grant me the grace to put your interests before my self-interest.
- “You Scratch My Back… And I’ll Scratch Yours.” Unique is the individual who doesn’t keep at least one eye on his own self-interest at all times. For many, life is about leverage, and good deeds are investments that will reap future profits. In this parable, Jesus invites us to think outside that human box and more in the divine one. God derives no personal benefits through showing us immeasurable love. We can’t, after all, give him anything that he doesn’t already have. Maybe we should be expanding our list of dinner invitations?
- The Poor, the Crippled, the Lame, the Blind: Saint Mother Teresa lived this Gospel verse in exemplary fashion. The story is told of a dying man, found lying in the street and brought to the Missionaries of Charity’s House of the Dying. They gave him dignity that he had never known: “I have lived like a dog all my life. But now I will die like an angel.” Sometimes we also have opportunities to help others in dire need. Sometimes, more often, we can come to the aid of the person who is spiritually poor or crippled. Perhaps it is that person who is always in a foul mood, or that other who once spread a rumor about me. “Blessed will you be because of their inability to repay you.”
- Self-Interest vs. Resurrection: Fr. Joe always used to say this about his priesthood: “The pay is lousy, but the retirement benefits are out of this world.” Self-interest is about getting the positive payback here and now. True love and charity do not keep a score card to make sure that “it’s worth it.” No, we are living for eternity. Let’s ask the Lord to give us a better sense of the big picture, to see that those unrequited good deeds are the best ones. So, you parents of the world, take heart! Your sacrifices will indeed find their reward, “in the resurrection of the righteous.”
Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, how often I am thinking, “What’s in it for me?” Help me to reach out to others beyond the limits of my group. Help me to see that you are in every soul, not just the ones that in some way gratify me.
Resolution: I will do an act of charity for someone who doesn’t like me.
Tuesday, November 7, 2023 - RSVP’ing the Lord!
Tuesday of the Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time
One of those at table with Jesus said to him, “Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.” He replied to him, “A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many. When the time for the dinner came, he dispatched his servant to say to those invited, ‘Come, everything is now ready.’ But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves. The first said to him, ‘I have purchased a field and must go to examine it; I ask you, consider me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen and am on my way to evaluate them; I ask you, consider me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have just married a woman, and therefore I cannot come.’ The servant went and reported this to his master. Then the master of the house in a rage commanded his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ The servant reported, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out and still there is room.’ The master then ordered the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled. For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.’”
Introductory Prayer: O God, thank you for allowing me to come into your presence. Your love enlarges my soul. I long to see your face! I come to this prayer with a thirst just to be in your presence, to relax under your loving gaze. May my presence here be an expression of my love for you.
Petition: Lord, help me to put aside all excuses when invited to your banquet.
- Valuing the Invitation: Some of the happiest moments of our lives are spent around a banquet table. Milestones are celebrated there, friendships grow deeper, and relationships are renewed. Could this be why Jesus so frequently used this image to describe heaven? Let’s spend a moment thinking about the joy of heaven, of this never-ending feast. We cannot fathom what it will be like to see God and the inexhaustible beauty of his Triune majesty. And the company will be great! In the heavenly banquet it doesn’t matter where you sit: you’ll be next to a saint, and the conversation will be wonderful!
- Legitimate RSVP? Going to a banquet takes some effort. You need to get a babysitter, pick out something to wear and possibly alter previous plans. If the invitation isn’t valued, that effort won’t be forthcoming; instead, you will make excuses. They may express a reality—those oxen are ready to go!—but they camouflage the real issue: that particular banquet doesn’t seem worth it. This should make us reflect on the excuses we have about our spiritual lives. Do they mask a growing spiritual mediocrity?
- The House Will Be Filled: The master of the house is upset because the people that should have been the first to accept his invitation turn him down. But everything is purchased, and the party is ready to go. Someone will have a chance to enjoy it. Here perhaps is another angle for reflection: We are that master’s servants. He wants his house to be filled, and he needs us to make it happen. The servants are quick and agile, and they understand what the master wants: “There’s still room!” So too, let’s ask the Lord to give us apostolic hearts that won’t rest until the house is full. What a feast that will be!
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I am looking forward to the day when we will be with you at the feast of the Kingdom of Heaven. Help me to understand that the joy and happiness of that banquet are worth the sacrifice of any worldly priority. So often I have excuses. Give me strength never to be pulled away from you.
Resolution: I will accept God’s invitation and not put anything in front of my prayer life today.
Wednesday, November 8, 2023 - Discipleship: Neither Cheap nor Easy
Wednesday of the Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time
Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord God, I believe that you are present here for this moment of prayer. Even if I have not really longed for this time together, I know that you have been waiting for me. As an expression of my gratitude and love, I truly wish to give myself totally to you during this meditation.
Petition: Lord, help me to realize that holiness is worth the effort!
- A Capital Campaign for Holiness: Our Lord remarks on the need to calculate the costs and estimate the amount of resources needed in a building project. That sounds like a “feasibility study,” the first step of any capital campaign. Whether a parish is trying to build a new hall, or a school is trying to put up a new building, there’s no way to avoid a great deal of work in order to make the endeavor successful. The Lord is saying something similar about our spiritual lives. We have to know what it will take to achieve the goal. His answer to this question? Much sacrifice. This can sound daunting. But just like the thrill of cutting the ribbon when the building is all paid for and ready to be used, the effort to grow in holiness will result in a magnificent eternity!
- A Battle Plan’s First Goal? The answer is simple: Don’t get beat! This second image of Our Lord makes another important point about discipleship. War is tough, and if getting beat is a likely prospect, you’d better find other tactics to achieve the goal. So too with our discipleship. In our efforts to grow holy, some “battles” will be won easily; others will need to be avoided completely. So, let’s not get beat by foolishly overestimating our capacities. This happens especially when we don’t avoid the occasions of sin, thinking ourselves strong enough to handle them. At times, the best battle strategy is not to fight, but to flee!
- What Place for Our Relationships? In all this reflection about plans and resources, the Lord has some extremely radical words about our relationships. In the hyperbole of “hating father and mother” a very important teaching emerges: As vital as these relationships are, they cannot take the first place in our heart. That place belongs to the source of our entire existence, the one who loves us with a tender and passionate love— God himself. This is why the cross is so important. When we see how thoroughly Jesus embraces the will of God above everything and everyone, he gives us a pattern to follow. But the divine irony is that by following Christ in the way of the cross, this “hatred” actually results in a greater and more self-sacrificing love in those very relationships that have to take a back seat to the Lord.
Conversation with Christ: O Jesus, following you is not easy. You ask me to put everything in second place to you and pick up my cross every day. I won’t be able to do this without your grace. I am weak and frail, but I believe that you will give me the strength I need.
Resolution: I will take some time and think about my priorities to make sure that God is always coming first.
Thursday, November 9, 2023 - The Indestructible Temple
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his Body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are here with me, and I hope in your boundless mercy and love. Thank you for watching over me and keeping me in your friendship. Thank you for the precious gift of our Mother, the Church.
Petition: Lord, increase my zeal!
- The Indestructible Temple: Today we celebrate the dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica, known as the “mother and head of all the churches.” Going to Rome and visiting this wonderful church, now some seventeen centuries old, one gets a sense of the durability of Catholicism. The Catholic Church has been around for a long time, and it will be around for a lot longer—until judgment day, to be exact. No matter how hard the world has tried, it hasn’t been able to destroy the temple of the Church. This should give us a deep confidence that the Lord is with us as we journey through history.
- Purification: Being indestructible doesn’t mean, however, that the Catholic Church does not need constant purification. When Our Lord came to the temple in Jerusalem, he found many things that marred the spirit of prayer and devotion that was to characterize that sacred building. His vigorous reaction serves to underline the high vocation of holiness that God had given to the Chosen People. We Catholics have inherited that call; yet all too often, the ways of the world creep into our souls. Each one of us needs to submit to the Lord’s purification. He will challenge us in our conscience, and sometimes that will sting like the whip of cords. But if we are sincere in our desires, we accept this with humility, aware that our souls must be living temples of God’s presence.
- Consuming Zeal: When the Apostles contemplated Our Lord’s action in the temple, “zeal” was the word that summed it all up. Jesus is zealous because he doesn’t accept the status quo of entrenched mediocrity. The day he arrives it is no longer business as usual: His Father’s house WILL be respected. Too often we let the barnacles of laziness and the accretions of apathy weigh down and extinguish our zeal. Every day we must pray that the Lord will once again “enkindle in our hearts the fire of his love.” Our zeal in living the faith is part of the way God works to make this temple of his Church indestructible. Don’t we want to cooperate with his love, so that the “gates of hell will not prevail?”
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I love your Church. I thank you for the priceless gift of my Catholic faith. Protect the Church from all her enemies and help me to be an effective apostle filled with authentic zeal.
Resolution: I will offer myself to collaborate in a parish ministry or other Catholic apostolate out of love for the Church.
Friday, November 10, 2023 - What Is This I Hear About You?
Memorial of Saint Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ Then to another he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than the children of light.”
Introductory Prayer: Jesus Christ, where else can I turn each day but to you? One day, I will make that final turn to you, and it will last for all eternity. Yet as in everything else, you set the pace, you take the initiative, and you are the protagonist. You will turn and look my way first and I, as I strive daily to do, will respond and gaze back into your eyes. This moment of prayer is a rehearsal for that final turn to you.
Petition: Lord, help me to respond better to your love.
- What Is This? “What is this I hear about you?” Of course, this is just a parable. In actuality, God doesn’t need to “hear” anything about us since he is all-knowing. Yet, he may very well say to us, “What is this?” as he looks over the record of our lives and reminds us that we are accountable for all our free actions. Let us take a look, in our prayer now, at the face of this Father who asks, “What is this?” Does it perhaps express concern over a wound in our soul, over something that has marred the beauty of our image as sons and daughters of this Father?
- A Full Account: Yes, we will have to give that full account. The sacrament of reconciliation, prepared by thoughtful and prayerful examinations of conscience, affords us the opportunities to give that account, piece-by-piece, as a preparation for the final audit. What a grace! Are we taking advantage of it?
- Squanderer: Could the Good Lord accuse us of being squanderers? This isn’t the only place in the Gospels where the word appears. Recall that the Prodigal Son was accused of squandering his father’s wealth. Certainly, to squander is to misuse, to use unwisely, to waste, or to use extravagantly. What about all the graces that God has given to us: our faith, our Catholic Church, the sacraments, the scriptures, the example of the saints, the rich deposit of Catholic tradition, the means that have been placed in our hands today, the time we have been offered, the talents we have been given? Are we squanderers? How can I respond better to the many gifts Our Lord has given me? How can I better “invest” my talents for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven?
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus Christ, awaken me to your gifts and make me zealous and generous in using them for the good of the brothers and sisters you have put at my side. Through my daily examination of conscience, help me to be a good steward so that one day I may arrive with you and enjoy you in paradise as my eternal reward.
Resolution: I will employ the time of my examination of conscience today to thank God for all the graces and blessings he has bestowed upon me. I will make a careful accounting of what God has placed in my hands.
Saturday, November 11, 2023 - The Choice Between God and Mammon
Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop
Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him. And he said to them, “You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.”
Introductory Prayer: Father in heaven, I come to you today to praise and worship you. In my faith, I reach out to you, knowing that you love me and are leading me to heaven. I trust in your mercy and boundless love.
Petition: Lord, help me to break the disordered attachments in my life.
- Earning Trust: Parents know well what this means! Discovering that your teenage child’s story about being at a friend’s house studying was just that—a story—makes for a very unpleasant realization. Trust has been broken. After the “grounding” takes effect, the speech is then delivered: “Here’s what you do if you want to earn back our trust…” Certainly the family car won’t be lent out again until progress in the small things has been seen. That’s the message Jesus has for us today. Our sins are like the trust-breakers of the teenage kid. They show we aren’t ready for God’s greatest gifts, so we have to start with the small things. Each grace we respond to opens the door to receiving another grace. If we are trustworthy in very small matters, we can be trusted with the greater. Following through on the everyday graces will someday lead to the grace of graces: the Beatific Vision.
- God and/or Mammon: Part of earning trust with God is getting our priorities straight. Taking a God-AND-mammon approach to life is similar to trying to say the rosary while watching television. The Hail Marys may come out, but they do so with as much reflection as is put into breathing. We simply can’t have our cake and eat it too. Foolishly entertaining any bad habits (our personal version of mammon) that erode our commitment shows God that we are not spiritually mature enough to be fully trusted. On the other hand, when we take a determined step to break these attachments, we take a big step forward. God must come first!
- Human Eyes See Only Part of the Story: Naturally, this effort to live a God-centered life is going to generate mixed reactions. The Pharisees scorn Jesus for this: To them, he seems totally naïve about money. Like them, if we see things only from a human perspective, big chunks of reality elude us. Jesus is the one who has the complete picture. We can trust him completely to lead us in the right direction. We won’t need to hedge our bets with human props for our sense of security.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you for helping me realize that your grace is more important than anything I could ever have in this world. Break the hold of mammon in my life so that I might serve you with greater purity of intention.
Resolution: I will make that sacrificial donation to charity that I have been putting off.
Sunday, November 12, 2023 - The Heart’s Oil
Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that you are here calling me to prayer. I believe in the reality and strength of your love, poured out for me. I trust that I can enter into this love now through prayer and find all the courage I need to seek you actively. I love you, Lord. May this prayer serve as a sincere act of my love for you.
Petition: Lord, prepare my heart for Love.
- Called to Meet the Bridegroom: God became man to encounter each one of us in a human way. Yet the encounter is not distant, brief or superficial. It is intimate; God presents himself as a “bridegroom.” He is the reason for joy and celebration. The ten bridesmaids represent the bride, sharing in her joy. Their sole mission is to greet and accompany the bridegroom into the wedding feast. No one can take their place. How seriously they take their role will determine how well they fulfill it. The Church is Christ’s bride. Like the bridesmaids, must I not have a deeper understanding of Christ and his love for the Church, if he is to be my joy and reason to celebrate?
- Life Is a Preparation: Time is one of God’s most precious gifts. Once lost, it can never be restored. We realize that the most important moment of life is in fact the moment of death. Yet, that last hour will be in some way the result and summary of all the hours we have lived until that moment. Every moment is a preparation to meet the Lord who loves us and has given his life to win our salvation. We will not be able to improvise when the moment of truth comes. Each act of faith, trust and love—every effort to sacrifice and do God’s will—establishes a relationship with the Bridegroom. My life is a search to know and love him, to be with him. How ready, open and surrendered will my heart be? Will I still want to greet him?
- Does He Know Me? What words could be more desperate than, “Lord, open to us”? And what more tragic than “I do not know you”? The Bridegroom certainly knows the bride, the one for whom he has given his life. But he knows us in love, what his love calls us to be. So he cannot know us only if we “fall out of love.” Our disposition while we await the Bridegroom—which sums up faith, hope and love—is gratitude. The Lord, who loved us first, will look to find a grateful heart that has been transformed by the graces of baptism, repentance, and charity. A grateful heart does not forget him. Not a day goes by without a loving remembrance and acts of thanksgiving. Little wonder he left us the Eucharist, the thanksgiving sacrament, through which to prepare for his coming.
Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, help me to anticipate your coming by finding you in each person on my path. May I never fail to prepare my heart to love you and share the joy of your Kingdom. Reveal to me the depths and qualities of your love so that I can prepare to give you a ready, sincere, and worthy response.
Resolution: I will take time to resolve or put aside the worries or hardships of the day in order to recognize and love Christ in those I love.