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August 28, 2008 Edition

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Word to Life
This week's readings
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Prayers for Those Suffering from the Floods
Prayer to St. Raphael

Deny yourself, take up His cross,
follow Him

Word to Life 

By Sharon K. Perkins 

Having begun a doctoral program relatively late in life, I've discovered a "love-hate relationship" with higher education.

That's a term often used to describe strong but ambivalent feelings about a person or situation, and it's quite appropriate to express the simultaneous pleasure and pain of reading hundreds of pages of assigned texts, researching papers, and taking exams. Why would anyone with a family and a full-time job voluntarily put themselves through the rigors (and sleep deprivation!) of a degree program? It defies logic and flies in the face of common sense.

But when I consider the alternative, I always conclude that I can't not do it. While the situation is paradoxical, it's precisely in the paradox that I find my personal mission and the drive to push forward when the day-to-day exertions of graduate school don't always make sense.

August 31, 2008
22nd Sunday
in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 20:7-9
Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9
Romans 12:1-2
Matthew 16:21-27

Jeremiah's situation in today's first reading is a classic paradox: He's in a "love-hate relationship" with his call to give prophetic utterance to God's message. Although he is subjected to constant ridicule and contemplates not speaking God's name any longer, he finds that he cannot hold inside the "fire burning in my heart" and "imprisoned in my bones." While conventional human wisdom would advise him to stifle the prophetic impulse, God's calling is too powerful to renounce.

The exchange between Jesus and Peter in today's Gospel reveals the ultimate paradox, however. What can be more nonsensical than the Son of Man surrendering himself to torture and certain death?

But Jesus is very clear that the same paradox that compels him to embrace the cross is at the heart of discipleship: "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

For reflection:

In what ways are you struggling between self-preservation and following Christ?

Conventional wisdom would advise one to do whatever is necessary for self-preservation. Jesus' call doesn't make sense - even to his closest followers - and it's absolutely ridiculous to nonbelievers. But therein lies its saving power.

This column is offered in cooperation with the North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.

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This week's readings

Week of Aug. 31 - Sept. 6, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I: Jer 20:7-9
Reading II: Rom 12:1-2
Gospel: Mt 16:21-27

Monday, September 1, 2008
Reading I: 1 Cor 2:1-5
Gospel: Lk 4:16-30

Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Reading I: 1 Cor 2:10b-16
Gospel: Lk 4:31-37

Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, pope and doctor of the Church
Reading I: 1 Cor 3:1-9
Gospel: Lk 4:38-44

Thursday, September 4, 2008
Reading I: 1 Cor 3:1-9
Gospel: Lk 5:1-11

Friday, September 5, 2008
Reading I: 1 Cor 4:1-5
Gospel: Lk 5:33-39

Saturday, September 6, 2008
Reading I: 1 Cor 4:6b-15
Gospel: Lk 6:1-5

Pope's Prayer Intentions

September General Intention

Refugees. That Christians may defend and protect refugees.

September Mission Intention

Christian Families. That every Christian family may be a small evangelizing community which is responsive to the needs of others.

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Prayers for Those Suffering from the Floods

Diocese of Madison
Summer 2008

God of Mercy,
Look kindly on us in our suffering.
Ease our burdens and make our faith strong
That we may always have confidence and trust
In your fatherly care.

We ask this through Christ, Our Lord.

From the Sacramentary, Masses for Various Needs: For Any Need (B)

God our Father,
you set the earth on it foundations
and separated the land from the water.
Look upon all affected by this flood.
Ease their suffering, strengthen their faith,
and increase their love of you and neighbor.

Inspire all people of good will
to serve you by serving others
so that, from the darkness of this disaster,
the light of Christ may shine even more brightly in the world,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.


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Prayer to St. Raphael

photo of Pilgrim Icon of St. Raphael

Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners.

We beg you, assist us in all our needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the "medicine of God" we humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of our souls and the ills that afflict our bodies.

We especially ask your guidance of our diocese as we journey toward the rebuilding of a cathedral bearing your name, and the great grace of purity to prepare us to be temples of the Holy Spirit. As our intercessor, beg the Blessed Trinity to prosper the work of our hands and, above all, to bring us, face-to-face, into their Holy presence.


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Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
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