Lord, It Is Good That We Are Here

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. People often ask for signs in moments of despair or hopelessness. No greater sign can be given than the Transfiguration. In order to strengthen the Apostles-specifically Peter, James, and John-and give the three of them a glimpse of His divinity, a sign of hope for what they believe in. Peter’s response to Jesus’ transfiguration and the appearance of Moses and Elijah is, “Lord, it is good that we are here.”

Lord, it is good that we are here. 

What a powerful statement! It is good that we are here. Not only in His glory, but at the foot of His Cross, as John was. The Transfiguration is a sign of what Christ’s suffering will bring about for the world: glory! However, that glory was not attained without suffering. Jesus endured the Passion to bring about our redemption. When we unite our sufferings to the suffering of Christ, we are filled with the hope of the glory of the Resurrection. That hope is what Jesus gives to us in the Transfiguration. He gives us the hope that will get us through whatever present suffering we might be experiencing and the hope that guides our faith.

May we remember that it is good that we are “here”…wherever “here” is. Be it with our families, with our friends, at work, at the grocery store. It is good that we are here and that we know the Glory of God. When “here” is a place of despair, loneliness, or suffering, may we remember the Transfigured Lord and pray, “Lord, it is good that we are here.”

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Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO and teaches English Language Development and Spanish to high schoolers. She is married to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com.

The Transfiguration

Both Roman and Eastern rite Catholics celebrate the Church’s feast of the Transfiguration today, August 6, on its traditional date for both calendars. The feast commemorates one of the pinnacles of Jesus’ earthly life, when he revealed his divinity to three of his closest disciples by means of a miraculous and supernatural light.Before his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Christ climbed to a high point on Mount Tabor with his disciples Peter, James, and John. While Jesus prayed upon the mountain, his appearance was changed by a brilliant white light which shone from him and from his clothing. During this event, the Old Testament figures of Moses and the prophet Elijah also appeared, and spoke of how Christ would suffer and die after entering Jerusalem, before his resurrection.Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record that the voice of God was heard, confirming Jesus as his son (Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:6, Luke 9:35). Peter and John make specific reference to the event in their writings, as confirming Jesus’ divinity and his status as the Messiah (2 Peter 1:17, John 1:14). In his address before the Angelus on August 6, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI described how the events of the transfiguration display Christ as the “full manifestation of God’s light.â€� This light, which shines forth from Christ both at the transfiguration and after his resurrection, is ultimately triumphant over “the power of the darkness of evil.â€� The Pope stressed that the feast of the Transfiguration is an important opportunity for believers to look to Christ as “the light of the world,â€� and to experience the kind of conversion which the Bible frequently describes as an emergence from darkness to light.“In our time too,â€� Pope Benedict said, “we urgently need to emerge from the darkness of evil, to experience the joy of the children of light!â€� For Eastern Catholics, the Feast of the Transfiguration is especially significant. It is among the 12 “great feastsâ€� of Eastern Catholicism.Eastern Christianity emphasizes that Christ’s transfiguration is the prototype of spiritual illumination, which is possible for the committed disciple of Jesus. This Christian form of “enlightenmentâ€� is  facilitated by the ascetic disciplines of prayer, fasting, and charitable almsgiving. A revered hierarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the late Archbishop Joseph Raya, described this traditional Byzantine view of the transfiguration in his book of meditations on the Biblical event and its liturgical celebration, titled “Transfiguration of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.â€�“Transfiguration,â€� Archbishop Raya wrote, “is not simply an event out of the two-thousand-year old past, or a future yet to come. It is rather a reality of the present, a way of life available to those who seek and accept Christ’s nearness.â€�

Blessed Frederic Janssoone

The greatest desire and prayer of Blessed Frederic Janssoone was to help others come closer to God. His ministry as a Franciscan help him to do that, and took him to many places, from Europe, to the Holy Land and then to North America, where he died.He was born in Flanders in 1838 as the youngest of 13 children in a wealthy farming family. Frederic was nine when his father died, and he dropped out of school to work as a traveling salesman in order to help support his family. His mother died when he was 23. He completed his studies and then entered the Franciscans. He was ordained in 1870, and served as a military chaplain during the Franco-Prussian War. He was then sent to the Holy Land, where he reinstated the Stations of the Cross in the streets of Jerusalem, built a church in Bethlehem, and negotiated an accord among the Roman, Greek and Armenian Christian churches concerning the sanctuaries of Bethlehem.He first came to Canada in 1881 on a fundraising tour, but eventually moved permanently to the country seven years later. He helped to develop the popular shrine of Our Lady at Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec. He wrote biographies of the saints, newspaper articles and sold religious books door to door.He died of stomach cancer in Montreal in 1916 and is buried in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, a city close to the Marian shrine he helped to develop. Pope John Paul II beatified Frederic in 1988.

St. John Mary Vianney

On August 4, the Church celebrates the feast day of St. John Vianney, patron of priests.  John Vianney, also known as the Holy Curé de Ars, was born May 8, 1786 in Dardilly, near Lyon, France to a family of farmers. He was ordained a priest in 1815 and became curate in Ecully. He was then sent to the remote French community of Ars in 1818 to be a parish priest. Upon his arrival, the priest immediately began praying and working for the conversion of his parishioners. Although he saw himself as unworthy of his mission as pastor, he allowed himself to be consumed by the love of God as he served the people.  Vianney slowly helped to revive the community’s faith through both his prayers and the witness of his lifestyle. He gave powerful homilies on the mercy and love of God, and it is said that even staunch sinners were converted upon hearing him.  In addition, he restored his church, formed an orphanage, “La Providence,� and cared for the poor. His reputation as a confessor grew rapidly, and pilgrims traveled from all over France to come to him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Firmly committed to the conversion of the people, he would spend up to 16 hours a day in the confessional. Plagued by many trials and besieged by the devil, the St. John Vianney remained firm in his faith, and lived a life of devotion to God.  Dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament, he spent much time in prayer and practiced much mortification. He lived on little food and sleep, while working without rest in unfailing humility, gentleness, patience and cheerfulness, until he was well into his 70s. John Vianney died on August 4, 1859. Over 1,000 people attended his funeral, including the bishop and priests of the diocese, who already viewed his life as a model of priestly holiness.The Holy Curé of Ars was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925.  He is the patron of priests.  Over 450,000 pilgrims travel to Ars every year in remembrance of his holy life.In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI, commemorating the 150th anniversary of St. John Vianney’s death, declared the Year for Priests.  The Pope wrote a Letter to Clergy, encouraging all priests to look to the Curé of Ars as an example of dedication to one’s priestly calling.

St. Nicodemus

St. Nicodemus was a secret disciple of Jesus. As a member of the Sanhedrin, he would meet Jesus by night so that the others would not see him with Jesus. Eventually, it was Nicodemus who reminded the Sanhedrin that Jesus had the right to a trial. Together with St. Joseph of Arimathea, he prepared Jesus’ body and placed him in the tomb. Tradition holds that St. Nicodemus was martyred, though no record remains.

Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Is 55:1-3

Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
Come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18

R. (cf. 16) The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,    
    slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
    and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
The eyes of all look hopefully to you,
    and you give them their food in due season;
you open your hand
    and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
The LORD is just in all his ways
    and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
    to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.

Reading 2 Rom 8:35, 37-39

Brothers and sisters:
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Alleluia Mt 4:4b

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.  
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late;
dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me, ”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over—
twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.

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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. Peter Julian Eymard, whose feast the Church celebrates on August 2, helped many Catholics – both clergy and laypeople – to rediscover the importance of the Eucharist. He is also considered a pioneer in involving laypeople more actively in the life of the Church.Peter Julian Eymard was born near Grenoble, France, in 1811. He had wanted to enter the priesthood as a youth, but his father forbade him because he wanted Peter Julian to take over the family business.Finally, at the age of 18, he was permitted to join the Oblate novitiate. However, he became very ill, so ill that he was sent back home to die. However, Peter Julian made a remarkable recovery and entered the seminary once again after his father passed away. He was ordained to the diocesan priesthood in 1834, but later joined the Marists. In 1851, he answered a call to establish a community of men dedicated to Eucharistic Adoration, called the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament. Its mission was to promote the importance and significance of the Eucharist. The congregation also worked with the poor and helped them to prepare for first Communion. The founder died in 1868 and was canonized in 1962.

Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Reading 1 Jer 26:11-16, 24

The priests and prophets said to the princes and to all the people,
“This man deserves death;
he has prophesied against this city,
as you have heard with your own ears.”
Jeremiah gave this answer to the princes and all the people:
“It was the LORD who sent me to prophesy against this house and city
all that you have heard.
Now, therefore, reform your ways and your deeds;
listen to the voice of the LORD your God,
so that the LORD will repent of the evil with which he threatens you.
As for me, I am in your hands;
do with me what you think good and right.
But mark well: if you put me to death,
it is innocent blood you bring on yourselves,
on this city and its citizens.
For in truth it was the LORD who sent me to you,
to speak all these things for you to hear.”

Thereupon the princes and all the people
said to the priests and the prophets,
“This man does not deserve death;
it is in the name of the LORD, our God, that he speaks to us.”

So Ahikam, son of Shaphan, protected Jeremiah,
so that he was not handed over to the people to be put to death

Responsorial Psalm 69:15-16, 30-31, 33-34

R.    (14c)  Lord, in your great love, answer me.
Rescue me out of the mire; may I not sink!
may I be rescued from my foes,
and from the watery depths.
Let not the flood-waters overwhelm me,
nor the abyss swallow me up,
nor the pit close its mouth over me.
R.     Lord, in your great love, answer me.
But I am afflicted and in pain;
let your saving help, O God, protect me.
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving.
R.     Lord, in your great love, answer me.
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.”
R.     Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Alleluia Mt 5:10

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 14:1-12

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus
and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist.
He has been raised from the dead;
that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”

Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison
on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip,
for John had said to him,
“It is not lawful for you to have her.”
Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people,
for they regarded him as a prophet.
But at a birthday celebration for Herod,
the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests
and delighted Herod so much
that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for.
Prompted by her mother, she said,
“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests who were present,
he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison.
His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl,
who took it to her mother.
His disciples came and took away the corpse
and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

 

For the readings of the Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, please go here.

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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

St. Alphonsus Liguori

St. Alphonsus Liguori is a doctor of the Church who is widely known for his contribution to moral theology and his great kindness.He was born in 1696 in Naples to a well-respected family, and was the oldest of 7 children. His father was Don Joseph de’ Liguori, a naval officer and Captain of the Royal Galleys, and his mother came from Spanish descent. He was very intelligent, even as a young boy. As a boy of great aptitude, he picked up many things very quickly. St. Alphonsus did not attend school; rather, he was taught by tutors at home where his father kept a watchful eye. Moreover, he practiced the harpsichord for 3 hours a day at the heed of his father and soon became a virtuoso at the age of 13. For recreation, he was an equestrian, fencer, and card player. As grew into a young man, he developed an inclination for opera. He was much more interested in listening to the music than watching the performance. St. Alphonsus would often take his spectacles off, which aided his myopic eyes, in order to merely listen. While theatre in Naples was in a relatively good state, the young saint developed an ascetic aversion to perhaps what he viewed as gaudy displays. He had strongly refused participation in a parlor play. At the age of 16, he became a doctor of civil law on January 21, 1713, though by law, 20 was the set age. After studying for the bar, he practiced law at the age of 19 in the courts. It is said in his 8 years as a lawyer, he never lost a case. Although, he resigned from a brilliant career as a lawyer in 1723 when he lost a case because he overlooked a small, but important, piece of evidence. His resignation, however, proved profitable for the Church. He entered the seminary and was ordained three years later in 1726. He soon became a sought-after preacher and confessor in Naples. His so sermons were simple and well organized that they appealed to all people, both learned and unlearned. However, his time as a diocesan priest was short-lived: in 1732, he went to Scala and founded the Redemptorists, a preaching order.  He was a great moral theologian and his famous book, “Moral Theologyâ€�, was published in 1748. Thirty years later, he was appointed bishop, and he retired in 1775. He died just over 10 years later in 1787, and was canonized in 1839.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

On July 31, the Universal Church marks the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The Spanish saint is known for founding the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, as well as for creating the “Spiritual Exercisesâ€� often used today for retreats and individual discernment.St. Ignatius was born into a noble family in 1491 in Guipuzcoa, Spain. He served as a page in the Spanish court of Ferdinand and Isabella.He then became a soldier in the Spanish army and wounded his leg during the siege of Pamplona in 1521. During his recuperation, he read “Lives of the Saints.â€� The experience led him to undergo a profound conversion, and he dedicated himself to the Catholic faith.After making a general confession in a monastery in Montserrat, St. Ignatius proceeded to spend almost a year in solitude. He wrote his famous “Spiritual Exercisesâ€� and then made a pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy Land, where he worked to convert Muslims.St. Ignatius returned to complete his studies in Spain and then France, where he received his theology degree. While many held him in contempt because of his holy lifestyle, his wisdom and virtue attracted some followers, and the Society of Jesus was born.The Society was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540, and it grew rapidly. St. Ignatius remained in Rome, where he governed the Society and became friends with St. Philip Neri.St. Ignatius died peacefully on July 31, 1556. He was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622.The Jesuits remain numerous today, particularly in several hundred universities and colleges worldwide.On April 22, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI presided over a Eucharistic concelebration for the Society of Jesus. He addressed the fathers and brothers of the Society present at the Vatican Basilica, calling to mind the dedication and fidelity of their founder.“St. Ignatius of Loyola was first and foremost a man of God who in his life put God, his greatest glory and his greatest service, first,â€� the Pope said. “He was a profoundly prayerful man for whom the daily celebration of the Eucharist was the heart and crowning point of his day.â€�“Precisely because he was a man of God, St Ignatius was a faithful servant of the Church,â€� Benedict continued, recalling the saint’s “special vow of obedience to the Pope, which he himself describes as ‘our first and principal foundation.’â€�Highlighting the need for “an intense spiritual and cultural training,â€� Pope Benedict called upon the Society of Jesus to follow in the footsteps of St. Ignatius and continue his work of service to the Church and obedience to the Pope, so that it’s members “may faithfully meet the urgent needs of the Church today.â€�