Sunday, December 20, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Advent


Today, on this fourth Sunday of Advent, we enjoy hearing the familiar story of the Annunciation, when God sends the angel Gabriel to ask Mary to be the Mother of God.  As I prayed this morning, I was struck by the thought how could it possibly be the fourth Sunday of Advent already?  Where did the time go?  Advent felt like it flew by this year for me.

Today’s Gospel is a favorite of mine and I am always touched by Mary’s “Yes.”  A young woman, betrothed to Joseph, has an incredible experience when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her and asked her to be the mother of the Messiah.  When I watched the Mass on television this morning the singer sang the familiar song “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman.”

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women and blest is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of death.  Amen.

Gentle woman, quiet light, morning star, so strong and bright, gentle Mother, peaceful dove, teach us wisdom; teach us love.

You were chosen by the Father; you were chosen for the Son.  You were chosen from all women and for woman, shining one.

Blessed are you among women, blest in turn all women, too.  Blessed they with peaceful spirits. Blessed they with gentle hearts.

I remember learning this song many years ago and always enjoyed singing it during the Advent season.  When it was sung this morning, I found myself singing along with it.  These words summarize for me in a special way who Mary is for me.  She was chosen and responded.

As we prepare for Christmas in five short days let us remember that we too are called and chosen and need to continually respond as Mary did.  May we have the courage and perseverance of Mary in all we do

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Gaudete Sunday


Our week begins with “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin.  It comes from the first word of the Entrance antiphon on Sunday.  The spirit of joy that begins this week comes from the words of Paul, “The Lord is near.”  This joyful spirit is marked by the third candle of our Advent wreath, which is rose colored, and the rose-colored vestments often used at the Eucharist.

We prepare this week by feeling hope and joy.  We move through this week feeling a part of the waiting world that rejoices because our longing has prepared us to believe the reign of God is close at hand.  And so, we consciously ask:  Prepare our hearts and remove the sadness that hinders us from feeling the joy and hope which his presence will bestow.

Each morning this week, in that moment we are becoming accustomed to, we want to light a third inner candle.  Three candles, going from expectation, to longing, to joy.  They represent our inner preparation, or inner perspective.  In this world of “conflict and division,” “greed and lust for power,” we begin each day this week with a sense of liberating joy.  Perhaps we can pause, breathe deeply, and say, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

Each day this week, we will continue to go through our everyday life, but we will experience the difference our faith can bring to it.  We are confident that the grace we ask for will be given us.  We will encounter sin - in our own hearts and in our experience of the sin of the world.  We can pause in those moments, and feel the joy of the words, “You are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

We may experience the Light shining into the dark places of our lives and inviting us to experience God's mercy and healing.  Each night this week we want to pause in gratitude.  Whatever the day has brought, no matter how busy it has been, we can stop, before we fall asleep, to give thanks for a little more light, a little more freedom to walk by that light, in joy.

Our celebration of the coming of our Savior in history, is opening us up to experience his coming to us this year and preparing us to await his coming in Glory.  Come, Lord Jesus.  Come and visit your people. We await your coming.  Come, O Lord.


Sunday, November 29, 2020

First Sunday of Advent


Jesus said to his disciples:  “Be watchful! Be alert!  You do not know when the time will come.  It is like a man traveling abroad.  He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.  Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.  May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”   Mark 13:  33 - 37

Today we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent.  The old liturgical year has ended and we begin a new liturgical year, the Gospel reminds us that our time on earth is not permanent.  We are told three times that we must “Stay awake”! As members of the household of God, left in charge of the Church, each with our own task, we are called to take up our task and be ready.

It is so easy to miss the whole point of the Advent Season.  We watch and wait for the coming of the Messiah while at the same time we are bombarded by all the commercial messages we receive about shopping, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  During these short four weeks we are invited to journey to the manger.  We are invited to get in touch with our deepest yearnings.  Like Mary, we wait patiently, preparing for the birth of Christ.

We need to stay awake to what is truly important to us and prepare our hearts to be open to the coming of Christ.  This truly is my most favorite time of the year and I wish it were longer.  As we journey this Advent let us do so with great hope and trust.  Let us  create these spaces by clarifying what we are watching for during the Advent Season with the simple prayer: "Come, Lord Jesus, help me to grow in a greater awareness that you are my Savior. You have saved me from endlessly searching for the meaning of life. You have saved me from turning against myself by your forgiveness. You have saved me from endlessly searching for signs of your presence because you touch me through your Sacraments. You have saved me from thinking that the possessions or positions I have will save me and make me loved. Thank you for continuing to save me."

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Feast of Christ the King


Today we celebrate the end of the Liturgical Year with the Feast of Christ the King.  As a young child I remember singing the hymn, To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King.

To Jesus Christ, our Sovereign King, Who is the world’s salvation, all praise and homage do we bring, and thanks and adoration.

Christ Jesus Victor, Christ Jesus Ruler! Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer!

Thy reign extend, O King benign, to every land and nation, for in Thy kingdom, Lord divine, alone we find salvation.

To Thee and to Thy Church, great King, We pledge our hearts’ oblation, until before Thy throne we sing, in endless jubilation.

This hymn somehow did not capture my image of a King at the time.  Now this day has a greater meaning for me.  In our reading today we hear the description of the final judgement when all will be separated as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  The judgement of the Son of Man will be based on our acts of mercy shown to the least among us.  Jesus teaches that when the Son of Man comes in glory, he will judge the nations, separating the sheep from the goats.

Last week’s parable of the talents taught us that the gifts that we have been given are intended to be used for the service of others, especially the least among us. Our judgment before God will be based not only on how we have used these gifts and talents, but also on how we have extended ourselves in service to these least ones. Indeed, Jesus tells us that whenever we have served these least ones, we have served Christ himself.

As we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King and prepare for Thanksgiving.  Let us take the opportunity to make conscious efforts to share with the least among us.  May we share generously and remember that when we serve others we are serving Jesus too.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Being Nice and Kind

When I saw the above sign on Facebook it spoke deeply to me.  Perhaps it is all that has happened in our country this week or the loss of Alex Trebek.  This simple sign speaks to me of a world I would love to see.  Tim McGraw's song, Always be Humble and Kind evokes the same sentiment for me.  It seems so simple yet it is nearly impossible for us to do.  Perhaps taking one small step each day will bring us closer to a world of peace, joy, and hope.

Hearing the news of Alex Trebek's death today brought a real sense of sadness for so many people.  Many expressed their gratitude for this life well lived. In several interviews Alex credits his popularity from the reality that he just kept trying.  When he first announced that he had stage 4 cancer there was tremendous shock yet he vowed to fight it and he valiantly did.  Ten days ago he filmed his last Jeopardy show which will air near the end of 2020.   I learned so much watching his show and will miss his poignant messages and his zeal for life.  May we take a moment to celebrate his wonderful life and remember to never stop learning.


Sunday, November 1, 2020

All Saints Day


Today the Church celebrates the Feast of All Saints and so we pray in our opening prayer:  God, our Father, source of all holiness, the work of your hands is manifest in your saints, the beauty of your truth is reflected in their faith.  May we who aspire to have part in their joy be filled with the Spirit that blessed their lives, so that having shared their faith on earth we may also know their peace in your kingdom.  Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen

Every year the Church recalls the example, witness, and prayer of the holy women and men who have been identified by the Church as Saints. These saints are more than just role models; they are family members with whom we continue to share relation, in a bond of prayer, called the Communion of Saints. Every year when we celebrate this day, the Gospel we proclaim recalls for us Jesus' teaching about happiness, the Beatitudes. We quickly note in this reading that none of those Jesus names as “blessed” or “happy” are expected . . . the poor in spirit, the meek, and the persecuted. Jesus' blueprint for happiness reflects little of what the world might call happiness.

What does Jesus mean when he uses the word “blessed?” This word is sometimes translated as “happy” or “fortunate” or “favored.” In other words, Jesus is saying that divine favor is upon those who are poor, who mourn, and who are persecuted. This might have been welcome and surprising news to the crowds who heard Jesus that day.

The Beatitudes can be understood as a framework for Christian living, an attitude of being.  Because of this, it is natural that we proclaim this Gospel on the Feast of All Saints. Saints are people who lived the spirit of the Beatitudes as Jesus lived. As we live this day let us remember that we too are challenged to model our lives on the spirit and promises of the Beatitudes.   May we always have an attitude of being!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Loving Others


In the Opening Prayer of today’s Liturgy we hear, “Almighty ever-living God, increase our faith, hope and charity, and make us love what you command, so that we may merit what you promise. We make this prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”  This prayer truly sets the stage for today’s Gospel reading from Matthew where we have Jesus being a scholar of the law tested Jesus by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  Jesus’ response was, "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. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."  From today's Gospel Mt 22: 34-40.

 How ironic! Jesus faced a parade of dignitaries trying to trap him instead of asking how they could better care for the people surrounding him. Their very actions showed how blind they were to what it really meant to love God or their neighbor.  When we think of the word “love” we may immediately think of love as a feeling. This is understandable due to the strong influence of the media on our world that often illustrates love as a feeling. However, by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross it is revealed to us Christians that love is an action. Like all actions, love requires an initiative from our will. As human beings, we have been given the gift of free will, as such we are not forced to love our God or anyone for that matter. We are invited to love others and our decision to love comes from a place of freedom and reason.

 Let us take this week to reflect on our actions and our intentions behind them. Let us not be afraid to ask ourselves “why we do what we do each day? If you find yourself answering in a way you are not happy with, bring it to Jesus. Let us allow Jesus into our decisions and ask for His help.  Jesus, teach us to love others as you would have us.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The International Day of the Girl


Today we celebrate the Day of the Girl.  Progress for adolescent girls has not kept pace with the realities they face today, and COVID-19 has reinforced many of these gaps. This year, under the theme, “My Voice, Our Equal Future”, let’s seize the opportunity to be inspired by what adolescent girls see as the change they want, the solutions- big and small- they are leading and demanding across the globe.

In 2020, we commemorate 25 years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the global agenda for advancing the rights and empowerment of women and girls, everywhere. Generation Equality was also launched in early 2020 as a multi-year, multi-partner campaign and movement for bold action on gender equality. A clear narrative and actions related to the needs and opportunities of adolescent girls and their solutions is central to the Generation Equality mission.

On December 19, 2011, United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.  The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.

Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders. An investment in realizing the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.

Girls are breaking boundaries and barriers posed by stereotypes and exclusion, including those directed at children with disabilities and those living in marginalized communities. As entrepreneurs, innovators and initiators of global movements, girls are creating a world that is relevant for them and future generations.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015, embody a roadmap for progress that is sustainable and leaves no one behind.  Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is integral to each of the 17 goals. Only by ensuring the rights of women and girls across all the goals will we get to justice and inclusion, economies that work for all, and sustaining our shared environment now and for future generations.

Empowering women and girls and promoting gender equality is crucial to accelerating sustainable development. Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, but it also has a multiplier effect across all other development areas.  Taken from

May we always support the efforts of girls and empower them to continue to achieve their goals.

Sunday, October 4, 2020


Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.  As the Season of Creation comes to and end this Sunday let’s pray once more the Canticle of Creation written by St. Francis.  The Canticle of the Sun in its praise of God thanks Him for such creations as "Brother Fire" and "Sister Water". It is an affirmation of Francis' personal theology as he often referred to animals as brothers and sisters, rejected material accumulation and sensual comforts in favor of "Lady Poverty".: 

O Most High, all-powerful, good Lord God, to you belong praise, glory,
honor and all blessing.  Be praised, my Lord, for all your creation and especially for our Brother Sun,
who brings us the day and the light; he is strong and shines magnificently.  O Lord, we think of you when we look at him.  Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Moon, and for the stars which you have set shining and lovely in the heavens.  Be praised, my Lord, for our Brothers Wind and Air and every kind of weather by which you, Lord, uphold life in all your creatures.  Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Water, who is very useful to us, and humble and precious and pure.  Be praised, my Lord, for Brother Fire, through whom you give us light in the darkness:  he is bright and lively and strong.  Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Earth, our Mother, who nourishes us and sustains us, bringing forth fruits and vegetables of many kinds and flowers of many colors.  Be praised, my Lord, for those who forgive for love of you; and for those who bear sickness and weakness in peace and patience - you will grant them a crown. Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister Death, whom we must all face.  I praise and bless you, Lord, and I give thanks to you, and I will serve you in all humility.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Following Jesus' Way


Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:  "What is your opinion?  A man had two sons.  He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.'  He said in reply, 'I will not, ' but afterwards changed his mind and went.  The man came to the other son and gave the same order.  He said in reply, 'Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.  Which of the two did his father's will?"  They answered, "The first."  Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.  When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not  believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him."   Matthew 21: 28 - 32

 Once again, this Sunday. Jesus speaks to and teaches us through a parable.  Jesus uses the rich image of the vineyard to help us to understand His message. In Jesus’ time a vineyard would have been a prized possession, a sign of wealth.  He used the image to speak a profound message.   This parable is rather familiar to us as it is about two sons – one who obeys eventually and does his father’s will and the other who does not.  In this parable we are called to be like the first son who not only changed his mind, he also changed his heart.  We need to make choices and decisions that continue to help us to follow Jesus like the first son did.  We need to follow through on our intentions and remember that we have the ability to change.  May we always strive to walk in the light of Jesus and follow His call.

This week we encounter the angels and saints.  As we celebrate the Feast of St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, the Archangels, the Feast of St. Jerome, the Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Feast of the Guardian Angels.  We have many intercessors watching out for us this week.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Focus on the Goal


This Sunday, the readings speak of the generosity of God and of God’s amazing closeness to and involvement in His creation. Paul urges us to live our lives in keeping with this Divine involvement. The Gospel forcefully reminds us that God grants His generosity to whomever He wills and that such an act on His part is not an injustice to others since no one can earn or really deserve any favor from God. All such favors are free gifts of God.

Have you ever watched a race where there us a runner who is in the lead and almost certain to win?  All of a sudden the runner looks back to see if anyone is close to catching up.  Without warning there is a runner suddenly gaining on him and ultimately passes him to win the race.  Do you ever wonder if the first runner lost the race because they looked back?  We could say that they lost due to taking the time to adjust their mind's focus on scanning what's behind them and then readjust in looking forward. Yet in reality they lost when they decided to take their eyes off of their goal to look at someone else’s lane.

A similar situation occurred with the workers of today's gospel. Some of them became upset because the other workers labored for less hours and endured less sun than they did. What would have happened if they had not learned about the other workers' wages? Would they have also been upset? They may have been content with the agreed wage. Why do we compare our lives and our blessings to others? When we do, we may find ourselves glad and thankful with some parts of our lives, but in others, envious and resentful, and maybe even resentful of God.  

We are called to accept God's will, to be thankful for the way God provides, to trust that He is all knowing and all good, and therefore knows what's best for each one of us.   This is where the challenge comes in as we try and live this way each day.  Yet we are not alone, our God is always there for us and with us.  May we always remember to pray for others and ourselves, to think well of others and wish them only happiness and peace and above all be patient with one another during these turbulent times.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Forgive One Another


Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive?  As many as seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.  That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants.  When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.   Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.  At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’  Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.   When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount.   He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’  Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’  But he refused.  Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison until he paid back the debt.   Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair.  His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!  I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.  Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt.  So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:21-35.

Each time I hear this Gospel it causes me to pause and reflect.  We are called to forgive others and allow God’s abundant love to transform us.  If we are able to let go of our past wounds we are able to become freer to love and live in the image and likeness of God.  As Christians we are all called to love Jesus and to love like Him. It's a beautiful and challenging invitation put before each and every one of us. We are given this opportunity not because we have done good deeds but solely because of God's great love and mercy. Likewise, when we have the opportunity to turn the other cheek, to forgive, to tell the truth, to honor each other, to choose life, we are accepting Jesus' invitation.

Our lives and times are full of opportunities to forgive and to help others to do the same.  If each one of us took the opportunity to relish God’s love and share it with others our world would be a better place.  If we reach out to one another and continue to pay if forward people would experience the love and mercy of our God.  Let us pray for an openness to the Holy Spirit in our lives, for “only the Spirit by whom we live can make ‘ours’ the same mind that was in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Love One Another


Jesus said to his disciples:  “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’  If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.  If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.  Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18: 15 - 20

In this gospel reading, Jesus teaches his followers how to go about reconciling issues within the community. He begins with, “if another member of the community sins against you…” and then goes on to give some specific steps to bring about reconciliation.

Reconciliation is about regaining members of the community.  The process of reconciliation is about unity rather than guilt, blame, shame or getting even.  This Gospel reminds us of the importance of our relationships with one another.  As I read this Gospel I was reminded of my childhood.  Growing up as the youngest of four I remember the fights and arguments we had.  Our parents always encouraged us to settle things among ourselves.  It wasn’t always easy but we did it.  We always settled and were once again unified.

Our Gospel calls us to approach those who wronged us with love and acceptance.  We are called to make reparation for the times when we have caused harm.  This is the foundation of our faith and invites us deeper into the presence of God.  Let us always seek to gather in the presence of God.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Following God's Invitation


From today’s "Romans" reading: "Do not conform yourselves to this age; but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that you may discern what the will of God is; what is good and pleasing and perfect."

Every one of us is called to give to others.  We are called to be men and women of action.  Sometimes we are asked to go to the edge – to help others in ways we may not have thought of.  As followers of Jesus we are reminded in today’s readings that we may be called to carry the cross on occasion.  We may be called to help others in ways we never thought or imagined.

It is clear we can’t take the cross out of our religion. We can’t take it out of our daily consciousness either. We may not suffer on the same kind of cross Jesus did, or be martyred the way so many who have followed Him have been. But still, Jesus tells us we must each take up our cross and follow Him – and the cross costs. The cross is not simply something we wear as an accessory around our necks. The cross will cost us if we follow what St. Paul tells us today.

So, we ask ourselves:  Do I wear a cross around my neck or have one on the wall of a room at home?  Why? What does that visible symbol of Christ’s suffering mean to me?  How does it affect my daily life – what I do and the decisions I make?  Am I willing to give of myself even when it may be costly?

Let us be transformed each day by deciding to follow where Jesus leads without turning back.  May we have the courage and strength to seek to do the will of our loving God in all that we do.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Who Do You Say That I Am?


When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16:13-20).

Today’s Gospel is one of my favorite ones as it is the one I used for my religious profession some thirty-three years ago.  I remember that special day as if it were yesterday.  It is forever emblazoned in my heart and mind.  Many of the special people who were there are no longer with us and are in Heaven. 

In this Gospel Jesus asks his followers, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?  Their response is what would seem obvious as the opinions varied some 2000 years ago.  Then Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter’s response describes the full truth of who Jesus is.  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Peter’s courageous confession acknowledges Jesus as Christ, and in hearing it Christ declares his Church with Peter as its foundation. Peter’s life-giving profession begins a web of connection for all of us.  Jesus’ question was one that I reflected on often in my religious formation.  Being a follower of Jesus I have been stretched and have grown in my love for Jesus over these years.  May we always seek to see Jesus and understand His great love for us.  May we always be able to answer like Peter the questions:  Who do you say that I am? May we do this with faith and hope in the living Christ as He continues to guide and stretch us.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

God Never Disappoints



At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.   And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!   My daughter is tormented by a demon.”   But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.  Jesus’ disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”  He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”  He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”   She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”   Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith!   Let it be done for you as you wish.”  And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.  Matthew 15:21-28

In today’s Gospel Jesus performs a miracle, He heals a woman’s daughter. At a time when we are so aware of our own limitations we have a Gospel full of hope.  Jesus did not have to heal the woman’s daughter, he chose to.  The woman came to Him and was not going to leave without His assistance.  She was persistent in her pleading with Him.  The woman’s faith is what moved Jesus to responding to her need.  She simply said the words, “Lord, help me.”  These seemingly simple words changed everything.  She knew if she asked Jesus that He would answer her plea.

We have much to learn from this woman.  If we seek God in everything we do we can be truly free.  When we submit to God’s will we are truly free.  We have to make the choice each day and when we do we will feel the freedom of being a child of God.  God wants to work through us.  When we see someone struggling we can be messengers of hope.  We can pray for those in need, reach out to them in encouragement, and assure them that God is always with them.  Faith is the grace that has been given to us which allows us to utter the simple phrase “Lord, help me.”  God will help us because God never disappoints.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Taking Time

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.  Matthew 14: 13 – 21

Jesus had just received word that his cousin John had died.  He tried to go off by Himself and the crowd followed Him.  Jesus was moved by pity and He reached out to help them.  Rather than go away He healed their sick and felt genuine pity on them.  As they day drew on His disciples told Him to dismiss the crowd.  Jesus realizing that they much have been hungry asked the disciples what they had with them.  There was no way that the food would be enough but Jesus made sure that there was.  Not only were they all fed there were even leftovers.  Jesus in the midst of His own grief took care of the crowd even though He wanted to be alone.

Jesus’ strength and courage came from His daily prayer life and His relationship with God. These past six months have been hard for all of us.  The pandemic, civil unrest and political divisions have caused many of us to want to run away and hide.  Like Jesus we need to take time and pray.  We need to ask God to strengthen us and give us the courage to face the many difficult situations that come to us.

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


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.