Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Sower and the Seed



On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.  Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore.  And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
“A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.  It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots.  Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.  But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.  Whoever has ears ought to hear.”  Matthew 13: 1 – 9

In today’s Gospel we hear the familiar story of Jesus getting into a boat leaving the shore to teach those who had gathered.  This is one of my favorite Gospels as we hear Jesus instructing those who had come to follow.  Jesus was sharing the parable of the Sower and the Seed.  Each of His words emphasized the intention of each one of us receiving the Word of God.  Jesus lets us know that it is not enough to hear the Word we need to live it out and let it take root in our lives.  Our lives can become difficult and complex at times but we must allow the word of God to fill it and live out of that reality.  Jesus challenges us to look at ourselves and examine those parts in our hearts where there may be rocky soil.  In what areas do we need to allow Jesus to touch our hearts?  Let us take time to reflect on this Gospel today and allow ourselves to be open to Jesus’ healing touch.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Come to Me


At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.  Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father.  No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Matthew 11: 25 – 30

Over the years in ministry this scripture passage has taken on incredible meaning for me. Having worked with every age level in education I have seen firsthand how young people appreciate the simple things of life.   It is heartwarming to watch children especially at this time of year.  Watching children watch firework displays is an incredible sight.  They watch in wonder and awe as the fireworks burst in colorful displays.    In our gospel today, Jesus speaks here of His intimate connection to the Father revealing Himself to be both the way of love and mercy. Having carried the weight of the world, He asks for us to merely trust him with our daily load.

We are asked to allow Jesus to be in control yet we do not easily allow Him to.  If we allow Jesus to lift our burdens we would feel so much better.  As we go through each day let us remember that even the desire to pray is the beginning of prayer.  Each time we come to prayer our soul finds rest in our loving God.  Let us be open as we recall, “Only in God will my soul be at rest, from God comes my hope, my salvation.”

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Leadership Transition Prayer


Today the Ursulines Community celebrates the transition to a new Leadership Team for the Ursulines of the Eastern Province. It is also an opportunity to express our gratitude to the Ursulines who have served as the Province Leadership Team for the past six years. As we gather today, at this significant moment, we recall the words of Sr. Susan Flood, our Prioress General, at the conclusion of the General Chapter:

We have made a commitment to work together towards New Life...And always, this new life will be for the sake of the world, so that the Good News might be shared more effectively.
We have so many reasons to be confident. We recall that Jesus promises life in all its fullness.

We stand in the footsteps of so many who have walked this path before us, women who responded generously and with commitment to the signs of their times as they discerned them, women who continued to make the path begun by Angela as she pointed towards Jesus.

How, then, can we not set forth on this next stage of our journey together as women filed with joy and hope, a joy and a hope which will ignite an energy for life in everyone we meet along the way.

God our Creator, we come today to express our gratitude for our outgoing and new provincial teams: Sisters Jane Finnerty, Ann Peterson, Pat Russell, Maureen Welch, Brenda Buckley, Pat Schifini. Bless them with the gifts of the Spirit that are needed to serve our province and its mission. Help them to undertake the work of our province with energy and hope. Help all of us, members to embrace them with support, love and prayer. Guide these Sisters to lead with integrity and prudence. Give them wisdom to make intelligent decisions. Give them courage to undertake the tough decisions with grace and fortitude. Help all of us to be supportive, welcoming and hope filled people. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Happy Father's Day


Today we celebrate Father’s Day.  The presence of fathers in the lives of children is important to their growth, development, and wellbeing. Fathers serve as role models to their children, exemplifying hard work, devotion to family, self-confidence, and faith. Through their character, determination, strength, and direction, they guide our futures toward happiness. Thus, it is no surprise that research increasingly shows involved fathers can help foster self-esteem, success in school, empathy, and positive behavior in their children.

By raising children to be happy, productive, and responsible adults, fathers play a critical role in shaping our society. Our fathers set an example for us of how to be our best in every aspect of our lives. The lessons they teach us guide us as we strive to care for our families, succeed at school and at work, serve others, and contribute to our communities.

Today we celebrate all those who have been or are fathers and those who have served as father figures for children.  May all fathers and father figures know the love and gratitude of their children.  Happy Father's Day to all!

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Trinity Sunday

From the Archdiocese of New York


“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” From today's Gospel JN 3:16-18

Spring is a beautiful reminder of new life, where everything blooms. Summer is a beautiful reminder of joy, where we get to enjoy the beauty we saw blooming before. Then follows fall and winter, a time where the same beauty we once appreciated and enjoyed comes to an end and perishes. This could be the case with everything around us, just like flowers don't last forever, many of the things we buy and try to hold on to, pass away, even ourselves. Today’s Gospel reminds us of something that is beautiful and everlasting, faith in Jesus. He has promised that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but instead shall live in an eternal spring of everlasting life.

As we believe in the Son of God and accept Him as our savior, how do we live in this world of perishable things? The answer is time. Let’s take time to invest in things that do not perish, let’s make time to grow in our relationship with God. How to do that? Our prayer life for example, it is there that we can have a glimpse of eternal life when we come into contact with the Father. Reconciling with others, is also a very important part of having a healthy relationship with God.  By forgiving we are set free of grudges and resentments. Even if there is a justifiable reason for us to feel that way, these feelings weigh us down and take the space in our hearts where God wants to dwell.  And lastly, having a peaceful life, and this does not mean a problem-free life, but on the contrary to embrace our problems with love and faith. Living this way will make us emissaries of peace, men and women who know that even the biggest problem shall pass like everything else, but the peace will remain.

A good example of someone who lived a life trying to increase in “non-perishable assets” was Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She had nothing that she could call her own, but her relationship with God.  She poured out her love for God through her work with the poor, and she was full of peace.  Her way of life, her Christian example, made her a model of peace. When she died, she didn't take anything with her, she died poor and weak, yet wealthy and strong in the love of God, and as a saint of heaven she will not perish.  Nor will the things that she did for others in the name of God, that are still bearing fruit in the world today.
Let us reflect on the things we do and give, and how these things are helping us grow in relationship with God, perhaps how these things will bring us a step closer to heaven. Just like Mother Teresa said: “Is not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts”, and this love can only be given if we truly believe in the resurrected Christ.

On this day, when we have witnessed weeks of turmoil in our cities, as believers in the One True God, who created all men and women in His image, we pray for peace, for an increase in faith and a fuller conversion of hearts for us all. Amen.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day 2020


Today we celebrate Memorial Day.  While it often signifies the official beginning of summer it is much more than that.  It is the day when we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to defend our nation throughout history.  Let us pray with gratitude and honor for all those who gave their all: 

Gracious God, on this Memorial Day weekend, we remember and give thanks for those who have given their lives in the service of our country.  When the need was greatest, they stepped forward and did their duty to defend the freedoms that we enjoy, and to win the same for others.

O God, you yourself have taught us that no love is greater than that which gives itself for another.  These honored dead gave the most precious gift they had, life itself,
for loved ones and neighbors, for comrades and country - and for us.

Help us to honor their memory by caring for the family members they have left behind,
by ensuring that their wounded comrades are properly cared for, by being watchful caretakers of the freedoms for which they gave their lives, and by demanding that no other young men and women follow them to a soldier's grave unless the reason is worthy and the cause is just.

Holy One, help us to remember that freedom is not free.  There are times when its cost is, indeed, dear.  Never let us forget those who paid so terrible a price to ensure that freedom would be our legacy.  Though their names may fade with the passing of generations, may we never forget what they have done.

Help us to be worthy of their sacrifice, O God, help us to be worthy.  J.Veltri, S.J.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Laudato Si


Today we celebrate the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si.  Five years ago Pope Francis appealed for an inclusive dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. Pope Francis called the Church and the world to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges and to join him in embarking on a new path. This encyclical was written with both hope and resolve, looking to our common future with candor and humility.

The title is taken from the first line of the encyclical, "Laudato si', mi Signore," or "Praise be to you, my Lord." In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. The encyclical is divided into six chapters which together provide a thorough analysis of human life and its three intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor, and with the earth. At noon today Christians around the world are called to pray:

Loving God, Creator of heaven and earth and all that is in them, You created us in your image and made us stewards of all your creation, of our common home.  You blessed us with the sun, water and bountiful land so that all might be nourished.  Open our minds and touch our hearts, so that we may attend to your gift of creation.  Help us to be conscious that our common home belongs not only to us, but to all future generations, and that it is our responsibility to preserve it.  May we help each person secure the food and resources that they need.  Be present to those in need in these trying times, especially the poorest and those most at risk of being left behind.  Transform our fear, anxiety and feelings of isolation into hope so that we may experience a true conversion of the heart.  Help us to show creative solidarity in addressing the consequences of this global pandemic, Make us courageous to embrace the changes that are needed in search of the common good, Now more than ever may we feel that we are all interconnected, in our efforts to lift up the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.  We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen

Let us pray in solidarity with people all over the world for our common home – the earth.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Love


Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him.  But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.  Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.  And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”  (John 14: 15 – 21)

The weather this weekend has been spectacular and it has been nice to take some time outside.  It was amazing to see the number of people outside and most were keeping social distancing.  After a morning of participating in a social distance friendly food drive to benefit a senior citizens complex we went for a ride and purchased sandwiches and then went to eat them by the water.  As we approached Davenport Park we saw the number of cars and said if there was a parking space then we were meant to be there. I pulled in and low and behold there was a spot directly facing he water.  We sat in the car and ate and just enjoyed the beauty of the water.  I believe that this is what Jesus is saying to us today. If we love Him, if we want to know Him more, we must keep His commandments. Sometimes it’s going to be hard, or even awkward. It might not be what we feel like doing or it could stretch us in a way we haven’t stretched before. But, the more we keep His commandments, the more we will learn to love Him. And the more we learn to love Him, the better we will keep His commandments.

We need to always remember that we are never alone and that our God is always there for us.  Let us remember to be kind to one another and follow Jesus’ example.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mother's Day


Today we celebrate Mother’s Day.  Suffragist and writer Julia Ward Howe first suggested the idea of Mother's Day in the United States in 1872. Howe was a pacifist and saw the holiday as a chance to unite women and rally for peace. For several years, she held an annual Mother's Day meeting in Boston.  However, West Virginia activist Anna Jarvis is credited with creating the holiday that is celebrated today.

In 1908, Jarvis campaigned for a national observance of the holiday in honor of her mother, who was a community health advocate. Her mom had organized several Mother's Day Work Clubs that addressed child rearing and public health issues, and Jarvis wanted to commemorate her and the work of all mothers.  However, Jarvis later became disillusioned by how floral and greeting card companies commercialized the holiday and said she regretted starting it.

It became an official US holiday in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as a day of "public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country." 

Let us pray A Prayer in Gratitude for all Mothers

Good and Gentle God, we pray in gratitude for our mothers and for all the women who have joined with you in the wonder of bringing forth new life. You who became human through a woman, grant to all mothers the courage they need to face the uncertain future that life with children always brings.

Give them the strength to live and to be loved in return, not perfectly, but humanly.
Give them the faithful support of husband, family and friends as they care for the physical and spiritual growth of their children.

Give them joy and delight in their children to sustain them through the trials of motherhood. Most of all, give them the wisdom to turn to you for help when they need it most.  Amen.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Third Sunday of Easter


Third Sunday of Easter Reflection from the Archdiocese of New York

“Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.”   From today's Gospel LK 24:13-35

Today’s gospel passage is often referred to when teaching about the Eucharist and how Christ is truly present in this sacrament.  We are all yearning for the Eucharist and for our parish community. During this time of social distancing, we may be taking time to pray and to come closer to the Lord, perhaps God is asking us to take that yearning and to transform it into something holy.

Today more than any other year He calls out to each one of us. It is indeed a calling almost too personal for us to resist. It has become personal because the crucifixion was as personal to our Lord as it is for us to hear of a family member who is ill or suffering.  This is why we can join into the mystery of hope that comes from a heart that knows He is truly risen, that death doesn't have the last word, that everything shall pass but His word endures. It is a calling to cooperate in God’s plan for the salvation of the world as we are the current carriers of the faith that we are also called to transmit it to everyone.
How do we do this?

It is true that at the moment we may not be able to go anywhere and that may make us feel like we are not doing anything. Yet we can, and we are. In Matthew’s gospel we read the greatest commandment that Jesus gives us “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it:You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37). Let’s take a moment and reflect: how are you loving God above all things? Are you speaking with Him more? Are you trusting Him more? Are you listening more during your prayer time? As a result of these changes, have your actions towards others changed?  Are you encouraging others when you speak to them over the phone? Are you praying for all the sick and for the souls of those who have left this world? Are you listening more to your family members when they share their thoughts with you? Are you seeing more of the goodness in your family members?

If you are not happy with your answers to the questions above, know that forming a relationship with God takes time, effort and persistence, just as a human relationship does. God can work with and through us, especially during this difficult time.
Let us thank God for all the ways He is working in our lives because by striving to love God above all things, and to love others as we love ourselves we are evangelizing.  Hence a great reason to be encouraged, and persevere in prayer like the first apostles who bore fruits. We are the fruit of their prayers.

Let us also be grateful for the people in our lives who evangelized us: parents, grandparents, teachers, youth ministers, neighbors, aunts, uncles, and our priests, we all have one particular person who came into our lives and introduced us to the beauty of prayer and a friendship with God. Let us pray in gratitude for all those who also made disciples out of us, and let us pray that we can always strive to do the same, and one day all together joyfully sit with the Father who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Second Sunday of Easter


Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter which is called Divine Mercy Sunday!   In our Gospel today we have the familiar story of Thomas who needed proof that the apostles had seen the Risen Christ.  He was the sort of man who needed to see the marks of nails in Jesus’s hands and put his fingers right into the wound in His side before he could believe that Christ had risen from the dead. When the other disciples told Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.”  He could not trust their tale. He could not be convinced.

Thomas believed after he had seen, after he had experienced the Risen Christ.  Our faith is one that is an experiential one.  Each one of us is given many different opportunities to experience our faith.  It is truly a matter of the heart.  We develop our relationship with God over our lifetime.  We do not have it all together at a certain point.  For each Christian the journey is unique.

As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday we ritualize one of God’s greatest gifts – mercy. To understand mercy is to look into the depths of the heart of God and see His great love for each one of us. It is to know that there is nothing that any one of us could do that would make God love us any less or any more. To understand mercy is to allow ourselves to be loved right where we are, right as we are.  Take some time today to reflect on God’s great mercy and love.  Are you able to accept and respond to God’s abundant love for you? 




Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter Sunday


Sharing Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi message of Hope.  Happy Easter to all.

Pope’s Easter Urbi et Orbi message: “The contagion of hope”

Pope Francis’ 'Urbi et Orbi message on Easter Sunday challenges us to ban indifference, self-centeredness, division and forgetfulness during this time of Covid-19 – and to spread the “contagion” of hope.  By Se├án-Patrick Lovett

No banner hung from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica. No bands played the Vatican anthem. No floral arrangements decorated St Peter’s Square. Nearby streets were empty and silent, as Italy continues to respect a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

Inside the Basilica, surrounded only by his closest collaborators, Pope Francis delivered his traditional Easter Urbi et Orbi message to the city of Rome and the world.

A different “contagion”

Millions of people watched and listened on various media platforms as the Pope repeated the Easter proclamation: “Christ, my hope, is risen!” He called this message “a different ‘contagion’”, one that is transmitted “from heart to heart”.

This Good News is like a new flame that springs up “in the night of a world already faced with epochal challenges, and now oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family”, said the Pope.

Christ’s resurrection is not a “magic formula that makes problems vanish”, he continued, “it is the victory of love over the root of evil”. This victory “does not ‘by-pass’ suffering and death, but passes through them, opening a path in the abyss, transforming evil into good”, he added.

Comfort for those affected by the coronavirus

The Pope’s thoughts turned immediately to those directly affected by the coronavirus. “For many, this is an Easter of solitude, lived amid the sorrow and hardship that the pandemic is causing, from physical suffering to economic difficulties”, he said.

“This disease has not only deprived us of human closeness, but also of the possibility of receiving in person the consolation that flows from the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Reconciliation”, said Pope Francis.

“But the Lord has not left us alone”, he added. “United in our prayer, we are convinced that He has laid His hand upon us”.

Gratitude to those providing essential services

The Pope then expressed his gratitude and affection to doctors and nurses, and “to all who work diligently to guarantee the essential services necessary for civil society, and to the law enforcement and military personnel who in many countries have helped ease people’s difficulties and sufferings”.

Encouragement to work for the common good

Pope Francis acknowledged that “this is also a time of worry about an uncertain future, about jobs that are at risk”. He encouraged political leaders “to work actively for the common good”, providing the means “to enable everyone to lead a dignified life and, when circumstances allow, to assist them in resuming their normal daily activities”.

Not a time for indifference

This is not a time for indifference, said the Pope, “because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic”. He prayed that the risen Jesus may grant hope “to all the poor, to those living on the peripheries, to refugees and the homeless”.  Pope Francis also called for the relaxation of international sanctions and for “the reduction, if not the forgiveness, of the debt burdening the balance sheets of the poorest nations”.

Not a time for self-centeredness

This is not a time for self-centeredness, continued Pope Francis, because “the challenge we are facing is shared by all”. Europe, in particular, was able “to overcome the rivalries of the past” following the Second World War, “thanks to a concrete spirit of solidarity”. It is urgent “these rivalries do not regain force”, the Pope continued. We all need to recognize ourselves “as part of a single family and support one another”. Selfishly pursuing particular interests risks “damaging the peaceful coexistence and development of future generations”, he added.

Not a time for division

This is not a time for division, said the Pope, as he appealed for “an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world”. Criticizing the vast amounts of money spent on the arms trade, Pope Francis called for a solution to the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon. He said he hoped Israelis and Palestinians might resume dialogue, that the situation in eastern Ukraine might be resolved, and that “terrorist attacks carried out against so many innocent people in different African countries may come to an end”.

Not a time for forgetfulness

This is not a time for forgetfulness, continued Pope Francis, referring to the humanitarian crises being faced in Asia and Africa. He prayed for refugees and migrants “living in unbearable conditions, especially in Libya and on the border between Greece and Turkey”. The Pope prayed also that solutions may be found in Venezuela, allowing “international assistance to a population suffering from the grave political, socio-economic and health situation” there.

Christ dispels the darkness of suffering
“Indifference, self-centeredness, division and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time”, said the Pope. These words “seem to prevail when fear and death overwhelm us”, and we want to ban them forever, he added.

Pope Francis concluded his Urbi et Orbi message with a prayer: “May Christ, who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of His glorious day. A day that knows no end”.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Palm Sunday


Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week – the holiest week of the Liturgical Year. Some thirty five days ago we began our Lenten journey together as a community of faith.  In a few short days we will reach the end of Lent.  This is a week that one does not want to race through for it is a beautiful reminder of our God’s love for us.   

Today, on Palm Sunday, we read through the Passion narrative which is a rather lengthy reading.  It recounts the events of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, His betrayal by Judas Iscariot, His Last Supper with His disciples, the Washing of the Feet, the Institution of the Eucharist, His arrest, trial and ultimately His Crucifixion.  There is so much to absorb in this Gospel that it at times boggles my mind.  I find my mind wanting to skip over parts of the story.

As we move into Holy Week, I invite you to set aside some time to journey with Jesus. Take some time to place yourself into the gospel scene. Take on the roles of the different people who are there.  Were you waving palm branches as Jesus rode into Jerusalem?  Were you one of the disciples at the Last Supper?  Were you there when He was arrested or had you fled?  Did you stay with Jesus all the way to Calvary?   Take the time to listen to Jesus’ message for you during these days as we approach Easter.



Sunday, March 29, 2020

Fifth Sunday of Lent


Today's Gospel for the fifth Sunday of Lent, is the well-known story of the Raising of Lazarus.  Every time I hear this Gospel proclaimed or read it I am always struck by something new.   We hear that Jesus receives word that His friend Lazarus is ill – near death.  Jesus sets off at once to go to His friend in his time of need.  Before Jesus arrives Lazarus dies and is place in the tomb.  Lazarus’ grieving sister meets Jesus and says, “If you had been here our brother would not have died.”  Jesus assures her that Lazarus was not dead merely sleeping.

In today's Gospel Jesus responds to our grief. We see Jesus both in his humanity as he grieves for his friend, Lazarus, and as he mourns with his friends Martha and Mary. We also see Jesus' divine power to raise Lazarus from the dead. Jesus himself shows us that grief is a deep expression of love, not a lack of faith or trust.

How does Jesus respond to our grief? He is with us, comforting us, as he did Martha and Mary. He helps us, as he did them, to grow in our belief that death (or loss of something that we love) is not the end for any of us.  In this most unsettling time Jesus is right there with us, encouraging us and comforting us.

It is hard to believe that it is already the fifth Sunday of Lent.  Time is seemingly flying by.  Each year the Lenten readings seemingly are on target and are what we need to hear.  We can trust in Jesus even when he seems to be absent. Jesus weeps with us. Jesus is fully human. And in that we have hope.  May we take time this day to praise our God for His continuous blessings upon us.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Laetare Sunday


Today we celebrate Laetare Sunday.  It is the fourth Sunday of Lent, in the Western Christian liturgical calendar. Traditionally, this Sunday has been a day of celebration, within the austere period of Lent. This Sunday gets its name from the first few words of the traditional Latin entrance (Introit) for the Mass of the day. "Laetare Jerusalem" ("Rejoice, O Jerusalem") is Latin from Isaiah 66:10 (Rejoice, Jerusalem, all you who love her…) Today the celebrant will wear rose colored vestments and the atmosphere is much more uplifting.  We are at the midpoint of the Lenten journey and today is meant to be one of rejoicing to encourage the faithful for the final push to Easter.

In the Mass readings, Psalm 23 promises us that we will lack nothing with the Lord as our Shepherd. Some of us are at home right now, experiencing still waters for the first time in a long time. We pray God is restoring your soul. Others are serving on the front lines of hospitals and doctors' offices or at home with extra demands. We pray God is giving you everything you need. May we all hold on to the hand of our Good Shepherd.

In the lengthy Gospel we hear the familiar story of the man born blind.  There is much to reflect on in this story – you have the man born blind who is healed by Jesus, the Pharisees who are eager to condemn Jesus for healing him, the man’s parents who are too afraid to get involved and Jesus.  Who do you see yourself relating to in this story?  Which person is God calling you to be?

We are living through a rather dark time right now as we embrace our new normal -- living through the restrictions of the coronavirus.  Now is the time to turn to our faith knowing that our God of love and compassion is walking with us.  As we continue to live the journey toward what promises to be a different Easter let us remember that our God desires us to be filled with light, love and peace.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Woman at the Well


Today’s Gospel, I believe is one of my favorites.  I love the story of the Woman at the Well.  In this story Jesus goes to the well during the day and discovers the woman who is there drawing water.  There are many things wrong with this scene.  First the woman should never have been at the well during the day, she was supposed to go to the well in the early morning or the early evening.  No woman was to be out alone during the day.  Secondly, Jesus should never have spoken to this particular woman for she was a Samaritan – the enemy of the Jewish people at that time.  It was an encounter that never should have taken place yet it changed a woman forever.

Jesus invited this woman to talk. She finds Him engaging all right, but this man shouldn’t be talking to her.  The woman knew what was at stake and probably thought that Jesus had no idea of what was wrong with this picture.  She tried to get Him to leave and not speak to her but Jesus had another plan.  Jesus knew what truly mattered and was determined to help her to see His perspective.  Ultimately she drops her agenda and begins to listen to Him.  For some reason she was not threatened by Jesus and begs Him to give her the life giving water He spoke of. 

She doesn’t cower in fear rather she listens to Him as He reveals her life in detail.  He gently stripped way all that held her back from feeling like a valued person.  As Jesus revealed her life she experienced His healing touch. 

As I think about this Gospel during Lent I think about what is Jesus desiring for me?  What do I need to let go of to receive His healing touch?  Can I let go of the things that hold me back from receiving His healing touch?  May we always try to be open to the amazing grace of our God.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

International Women's Day


Women’s rights and gender equality are taking center stage in 2020.  The UN observance of International Women’s Day is Sunday, March 8, 2020.  Twenty-five years have passed since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action—a progressive roadmap for gender equality. 

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day (8 March) is, “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”.  The Generation Equality campaign is bringing together people of every gender, age, ethnicity, race, religion and country, to drive actions that will create the gender-equal world we all deserve.

Together, we want to mobilize to end gender-based violence; we are calling for economic justice and rights for all; bodily autonomy, sexual and reproductive health and rights; and feminist action for climate justice. We want technology and innovation for gender equality; and feminist leadership.

Around the world and through the decades, we have all shared in the global struggle for gender equality. Regardless of our age, country, background or gender, the fight for equal rights has collectively defined our lives and we must take action together to achieve it. This International Women’s Day, UN Women’s multi-generational campaign, Generation Equality, brings together past and present advocates to demand gender equality in this generation.

Let us give thanks for the countless women who have gone before us and may we always treasure those who have directly impacted our lives.  Take some time today go give thanks for those women and celebrate their lives in a special way.  May we never take for granted our abilities and talents as women of faith, hope and abundant love.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Ash Wednesday


Ash Wednesday begins our forty-day season of Lent that leads to Easter. On Ash Wednesday, we come together as the people of God to remind ourselves that we don’t always follow God’s ways and need to ask God for His mercy and forgiveness. Like God’s people in the time of the prophets, we wear ashes to show that we want to turn away from whatever keeps us from God, and to have a change of heart, so that we can live in right relationship with God and each other.

For Catholics, Ash Wednesday is also a day of fasting and abstaining from meat. Fasting reminds us that food alone cannot make us happy. We must also be fed with prayer, with God’s Word and by meeting Jesus in the Sacraments, especially Reconciliation and Eucharist. The small sacrifices we make during Lent makes room in our hearts to welcome the risen Christ at Easter.

This Lent let us look at things a little differently.  Instead of “What will I give up?”  Consider “What does God want to give you?”  Before you think about what you are going to give up think about what God might be inviting you to.  God wants us to be happy, caring and compassionate toward ourselves and others.  We are meant to be free and not burdened down.

Let us embrace this Lent with a spirit of hope and be ready for big surprises!



Sunday, February 16, 2020

One Step at a Time


There is a story of a coach who challenged his runners to run in a marathon.  As they trained each day they were encouraged to push themselves just a little bit further each day.  Soon several dropped out so that there were six runners and their coach left to run the marathon.  After six months of training the day for their marathon arrived.  All completed the thirteen mile marathon with their best times ever.  Recounting their success they attributed it to the fact that their coach had encouraged them to run further then they had the day before.
Our Scriptures today challenge us to go a step further.  Each of our readings call us to look deep within.  For the past two Sundays we have listened to the Sermon on the Mount that calls us to look long and hard at how we are living our lives.  As we pray this day let us all look deep into our hearts and see where we can go one step further, where we can grow closer to our God.  We are called to look beneath the surface and examine our hearts how we are living our lives.  May we always make the choice to choose life and make more room for God in our lives – moving closer to God one step more each day.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Salt and Light


Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  You are the light of the world.  A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”  (Mt. 5: 13 - 16)

Today’s Gospel from the Sermon on the Mount is one of my favorites.  In this story Jesus states clearly what we are called to do in life.  As luck would have it I attended two liturgies today one with our Ursuline sisters and the other at a local parish where our Honor’s Choir was signing.  The homilies the priest shared today were inspiring. 

The first one shared the story of a young boy who was living in a residential treatment facility in the 1960’s.  Each week the children would earn an “allowance” where they could use the money to buy some candy in the facilities store.  Week after week the young boy never received his “allowance” because of his behavior.  After several weeks he finally was going to receive it and was excited throughout the day.  Finally the moment arrived for him to go purchase his two Hershey candy bars.  After his purchase he went outside and noticed a boy who had just arrived.  He went over to the other boy and handed him his two prized Hershey bars.  When asked why he did this he simply responded, “Because he needed them more than I did.”  What an incredible statement and gift of sharing.

The second story was one about a young man who had lived in a homeless shelter and after he got back on his feet was hired to help out.  He did so with great enthusiasm.  His job was to clean the sidewalk outside the shelter.  While doing his job he always greeted those who passed him by.  Year after year he did his job well with pride and joy.  Ultimately he succumbed to AIDS and his funeral gathering scattered onto the street.  He died serving others and never felt sorry for himself.  The priest ended the homily with the statement, “He was Christ to all who he encountered.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the same could be said of us?”  Another profound statement.

As I reflected this afternoon on these homilies I realized that today was a true gift for me.  As I prayed I could feel the impact of the words I had heard earlier.  May we always remember to be Christ for one another.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Catholic Schools Week 2020


Each year the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) marks the last week of January as "National Catholic Schools Week."  The theme is "Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed." This theme encompasses the core products and values that can be found in Catholic schools across the country. Not only are we teaching students to become future servant leaders, faith-filled disciples and enriched citizens in our communities, we, as educators, are growing with them. In Catholic schools, we are all learners, servants and leaders. These shared qualities are what make Catholic schools work. They are what make Catholic schools succeed. We will celebrate the daily themes with prayer and different activities.

The daily themes are:  

Sunday, Celebrating our Parish
Monday, Celebrating our Community
Tuesday, Celebrating our Students
Wednesday, Celebrating our Nation
Thursday, Celebrating Vocations
Friday, Celebrating our Faculty and Staff
Saturday, Celebrating our Families

Let us pray:  Loving God, we give you thanks for the gift of Catholic Schools.  As we begin to celebrate Catholic Schools Week, help us to be always aware of the blessing of your community and the chance for each of us to be members of it.  We thank you for the opportunity to attend a school where we can live out your Gospel, and be shaped as your disciples.  Amen

Take some time this week to look back over your Catholic education and thank a teacher who has had an impact on your life.  Cherish the memories that made your education great and pray for those who are receiving it today that their experience will be as rich as yours was.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day


Today we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of January. It celebrates the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., an influential American civil rights leader. He is most well-known for his campaigns to end racial segregation on public transport and for racial equality in the United States.

Martin Luther King was an important civil rights activist. He was a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States. His most famous address was the "I Have A Dream" speech. He was an advocate of non-violent protest and became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated in 1968.

In 1968, shortly after Martin Luther King died, a campaign was started for his birthday to become a holiday to honor him. After the first bill was introduced, trade unions lead the campaign for the federal holiday. It was endorsed in 1976. Following support from the musician Stevie Wonder with his single "Happy Birthday" and a petition with six million signatures, the bill became law in 1983. Martin Luther King Day was first observed in 1986, although it was not observed in all states until the year 2000. In 1990, the Wyoming legislature designated Martin Luther King Jr/Wyoming Equality Day as a legal holiday.

For the past twenty-five years people have used this day as a day of service and giving back to the community.  Many organizations utilize this day to make a special effort to instill the value of service on all.  As we celebrate this day may we always remember and live his words, “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Baptism of the Lord


Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.  John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”  Then he allowed him.  After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:14 - 17

Today we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. Jesus did not have to be baptized.  He submitted to baptism by John because He wanted to fully embrace our humanity.  Jesus is showing what kind of role model He desired to be.  By embracing baptism, Jesus who knew no sin took on our human frailty to save us from sin.  Jesus wants us to come to Him in every phase of our lives – in the good times as well as in the difficult ones.  He is always there for us if we are open to welcoming Him into our hearts and our lives.  Jesus was open to God’s desires and encourages us to do the same.  He chose to be baptized and after He was His action was affirmed by God.  His loving Father affirmed His pleasure with His Son.  Today is a good day to think about our own baptismal call.  We are called to continue to live out those promises that were taken for us when we are infants.  Let us do so with faith and hope.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Epiphany


Today we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany.  The visit of the Magi occurs in Matthew’s Gospel.  The visit of the astrologers, kings, noblemen or travelers is a story that we so associate with the Christmas Season.  We know little about the Magi. They come from the East and journey to Bethlehem, following an astrological sign, so we believe them to be astrologers. We assume that there were three Magi based upon the naming of their three gifts. The Gospel does not say how many Magi paid homage to Jesus. In Matthew’s Gospel, they represent the Gentiles’ search for a savior. Because the Magi represent the entire world, they also represent our search for Jesus.

We have come to consider the gifts they bring as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ role in salvation. We believe the meaning of the gifts to be Christological. Gold is presented as representative of Jesus’ kingship. Frankincense is a symbol of his divinity because priests burned the substance in the Temple. Myrrh, which was used to prepare the dead for burial, is offered in anticipation of Jesus’ death.  The word Epiphany means “manifestation” or “showing forth.” Historically several moments in Christ’s early life and ministry have been celebrated as “epiphanies,” including his birth in Bethlehem, the visit of the Magi, his baptism by John, and his first miracle at Cana. 

At most Liturgies today the song We Three Kings is sung.

WE THREE KINGS LYRICS

We three kings of Orient are Bearing gifts we traverse afar.
Field and fountain, moor and mountain, Following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect Light. 

Born a king on Bethlehem’s plain, Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never Over us all to reign.

O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding Guide us to thy perfect Light. 

Frankincense to offer have I.  Incense owns a Deity nigh.
Prayer and praising all men raising, Worship Him, God on high.

O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect Light.

Myrrh is mine: Its bitter perfume Breaths a life of gathering gloom.
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying, Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect Light.

As we reflect on this day and this song let us always remember to follow the star that continually leads us to Jesus.  Let us follow the star this day to the perfect light.