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September 16, 2004 Edition

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Living the Scriptures
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This week's readings
Pope's Prayer Intentions

Setting priorities: Be sure to put God first

photo of Marilee Perri
Living the Scriptures 

with St. Paul University 
Catholic Center 

Marilee Perri 

"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 both God and mammon" (Luke 16:13).

We are told throughout scripture that we cannot serve both God and mammon. Mammon in this case refers to money, but this can be substituted with material possessions, other people, jobs, and countless other aspects of this world.

As Christians we are commonly told that we must serve God first; He must be above all other things. Yet often times unknowingly or unintentionally we fail in this seemingly simple command.

25th Sunday
in Ordinary Time
(Sept. 19, 2004)
Am 8:4-7
Ps 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8
1 Tm 2:1-8
Lk 16:1-13 or 16:10-13

As a student, I find myself stressed throughout the semester about papers and exams, and unfortunately sometimes the consequence is that my daily prayer time is skipped. When I do this, I am giving in to societal temptations that tell me school is more important, and as a result I am saying that God is first in my life only when it is convenient for me.

I sometimes forget that God is the most important thing in my life always. We are told to pray always. Why? When I make prayer a daily commitment and priority in life, God comes to my aid in calming my anxiety and fear towards the things in my day.

If I pray at the start of every day, my focus begins with God. As a result, it is much easier to put God first in my life.

When we only make God a priority on Sundays, we are not acknowledging the importance of God in our everyday lives.

There are many simple things we can do in our day to recognize God and our devotion to Him. We can say grace before meals, wake up 10 minutes early and spend time in prayer, and read the daily readings for Mass. These simple things only take moments of a day, yet when we make them a priority, we acknowledge God as the center and focus of all things in our lives.

I know that for myself, even the thought of adding one more thing to my daily routine will cause me anxiety. Yet we are promised in Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

We can be comforted in knowing that God does not desire us to suffer from anxiety and He will protect us if we ask Him.

Reflection questions

• What are the things in your day that come between you and God?

• What are some ways you can make God the first priority in your life?

We are warned in Luke as well as other Gospels that it is impossible to serve two masters. We must make a personal decision to serve God first. We must put the Lord before our family, friends, and jobs.

When we do this, our relationships with the other parts of our lives will be enriched and strengthened. In order for our lives as Christians to be strong and devout, we must first make it a priority to put the Lord first through daily prayer.

Marilee Perri is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in elementary education. At St. Paul University Catholic Center she serves as a peer minister and has worked on the Catholic Student Union Leadership for three years.

St. Paul's Web site is www.stpaulscc.org

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Faith Alive!

Faith Alive! logo

In a Nutshell

  • Using the Bible as a tool for discerning God's will calls for a synthesis of study and prayer.

  • A good way to make the Bible a vital part of one's faith life is to share readings with others in parish Scripture groups.

  • The Lord's Prayer, according to the catechism, summarizes "the whole Gospel" and is "at the center of the Scriptures."

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  •  Food for Thought
    I saw a movie when I was in college that I thought was very shallow in meaning, though being shallow obviously hadn't been the filmmakers' intent. Decades later I saw the film again on television and was shocked. I then felt it was a profound exploration of one person's human and spiritual struggle.

    I think something similar to this happens again and again with the Bible. What we read or hear in a biblical passage may be understood on one level when we are very young. Later we hear it again, but notice something in the passage that we entirely overlooked before. Much later in life we may hear it yet again and feel that we comprehend it for the first time.

    The parable of the Prodigal Son is an obvious example of a biblical story that is likely to be digested differently by us at different ages. With the benefit of decades of life's experiences -- times of disappointment, times of celebration -- we view the son anew while gaining fresh, rewarding insight into his father's feelings and responses.

    My point is simple: The Bible can be revisited again and again; it won't get old.

    full story

    Why Would I Want to Read the Bible?
    By Scott J. Rutan

    Catholic News Service

    As a religious educator who has been involved in parish-based faith formation programs, I've had the opportunity to use the Bible in a number of ways and settings.

    One of the first things I do is help people to listen to the Scriptures. To listen well, I advise developing two skills:

    full story 

    Excited About the Bible
    By Father Herbert Weber

    Catholic News Service

    Miguel, a refugee from wartorn El Salvador, lived with me for nearly a year while awaiting his political asylum hearing. During that time he taught himself to read (in Spanish) by studying the Bible.

    One day he came to dinner late, but very excited. He had just finished reading a story in the Gospel of Matthew about a servant who was forgiven a huge debt while that same servant failed to forgive a smaller amount (18:23-35). Miguel retold the entire story with delight. He never had read or heard the story before. He couldn't wait to put into practice the lesson it taught.

    full story 

    Injecting the Bible Into Your Spirituality
    By Carl E. Olson

    Catholic News Service

    I grew up in an Evangelical Protestant home, and the Bible was at the heart of my prayer life. I spent many hours reading Scripture passages, praying over them and applying their principles to my life. In particular, I regularly read the Psalms, committing many to memory. (I entered the Catholic Church seven years ago.)

    Scripture shows us how to pray, why we pray and to whom.

    full story

    Faith Alive! logo
     Faith in the Marketplace
    This Week's Discussion Point:

    Why do you read the Bible? How do you draw upon it?

      Selected Response From Readers:  
    Copyright © 2004 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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    This week's readings

    Week of September 19 - 25, 2004

    Sunday, Sept. 19, 2004
    Reading I: Am 8:4-7
    Reading II: 1 Tm 2:1-8
    Gospel: Lk 16:1-13 or 16:10-13

    Monday, Sept. 20, 2004
    Reading I: Prv 3:27-34
    Gospel: Lk 8:16-18

    Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2004
    Reading I: Eph 4:1-7, 11-13
    Gospel: Mt 9:9-138

    Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2004
    Reading I: Prv 30:5-9
    Gospel: Lk 9:1-6

    Thursday, Sept. 23, 2004
    Reading I: Ecc 1:2-11
    Gospel: Lk 9:7-9

    Friday, Sept. 24, 2004
    Reading I: Ecc 3:1-11
    Gospel: Lk 9:18-22

    Saturday, Sept. 25, 2004
    Reading I: Ecc 11:9--12:8
    Gospel: Lk 9:43b-45

    Pope's Prayer Intentions

    September General Intention

    Old people, an asset for the society: That old people may be considered an asset for the spiritual and human growth of society.

    September Mission Intention

    Growth and development of the ecclesial communities in Africa: That in Africa a true brotherly cooperation may develop among all those who work for the growth and development of ecclesial communities.

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