By Jan Rombouts (Metropolitan
Museum of Art, ) [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Saturday, May 28, 2016
By Melanie Rigney
(Melchizedek) blessed Abram with these words: Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hand.” (Genesis 14:19-20)
You are a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedek. (Psalm 110:4b)
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:26)
Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, (Jesus) said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. (Luke 9:16-17)
We proclaim Your death, O Lord, and profess Your resurrection until You come again.
It was the first time I’d ever hosted a home Mass, and there were more people than we expected.
I’d been back at this Catholic thing for about a year and a half, and at the end of an eight-week session for those considering a similar return to the faith, I was privileged to host a home Mass for the dozen or so people who had attended the sessions.
Except we ended up with more like two dozen.
One woman brought her parents and two siblings, who were visiting from out of state. Someone else brought her husband and three children. Others brought friends or significant others. In any event, there were enough chairs and plenty of food. But I had forgotten to tell the celebrant.
He didn’t seem concerned, just looked at the group and said, “Nice crowd.”
I made sure I was first in line when Communion came and crossed my hands over my chest. Since he was also my confessor and I’d received the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation a few days before, he looked at me with a cocked eyebrow.
“I don’t think you’ve got enough,” I said in what I hoped was a whisper.
“We’re fine,” he said in a stage whisper.
“I don’t think so,” I hissed.
He stopped and laughed, and then said, loud enough for everyone to hear, “Don’t worry. I’ve done this before.”
What else could I do but take a piece of host and pray he was right?
And of course, he was. There was exactly enough.
I think of that incident and the apostles at the miracle of the loaves and fishes. They could eyeball a crowd. They knew five loaves and two fishes couldn’t feed five thousand men, not to mention the women and children.
Except it did—with food to spare.
The incident taught me never to doubt an experienced priest when it comes to Holy Communion. I pray it also taught me never to doubt the Lord’s ability to satisfy our true needs… with food to spare.
Identify a situation where you’re not quite ready to let the Lord do His thing. Pray for the faith to have confidence that He’s got it covered. Pray for the faith to let go of the control you believe you have.
Friday, May 27, 2016
Build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh. Jude 20-23
Thursday, May 26, 2016
By Colleen O’Sullivan
As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (I Peter 4:10-11)
The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry. Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs. And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!” And his disciples heard it. They came to Jerusalem, and on entering the temple area he began to drive out those selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves… “Is it not written: ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples? But you have made it a den of thieves.’” Early (the next) morning, as they were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered to its roots. Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” (Mark 11:12-15, 17b, 20-21)
I chose you from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord. (John 15:16)
What on earth got into Jesus in today’s Gospel reading? Did he totally get up on the wrong side of the bed that day? Could his foul mood be explained by low blood sugar fueled by extreme hunger? It makes little sense to me to be furious at a fig tree that had no fruit when it wasn’t even the season for fig picking! Even after reading several commentaries on this passage in Mark’s Gospel, I found no truly satisfying answer. One scholar wrote that because the tree was in leaf, Jesus might have thought he would find some early figs. But fruit trees have green leaves long before the fruit ever visibly begins to grow.
Putting that incongruity aside, maybe the context of these verses will shed a little light on Jesus’ ill humor. Just the day before, he had entered Jerusalem to the sounds of loud hosannas and much festive waving of palms. But Jesus knew he was approaching the end of his time here on earth and that the Palm Sunday shouts of acclamation would soon morph into cries of “Crucify him. Crucify him.” He had ticked off too many of the Pharisees and scribes to think otherwise.
He must have felt discouraged in addition to being angry. Everything we have and everything we are comes from God. Jesus had walked from village to village for three years, embodying that message. For 36 months he had trudged the roads day after day, pouring himself out for others, so that we might know how loved and gifted we are by God. Instead of fruitfully using what God gives us to “serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace,” some people are more like barren fruit trees, doing nothing in response to God’s love. Also, on Palm Sunday Jesus had gone into the Temple, so he knew good and well what was going on in his Father’s house, pure sacrilege Many in the Temple were conducting themselves with disdain for all God had given them and as though they, not God, were running the show.
These Scripture readings might lead us to self-examination. Seen from God’s perspective, just how fruitful is my life? Do I feel gratitude for all that God has given me, for the unique gifts God has bestowed on me? If so, God should be able to see the fruits of those gifts used in service to others. What is my attitude toward God? Do I revere, love and serve God or am I like the moneychangers in the Temple, attempting to use God for my own gain?
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, Priest
By Beth DeCristofaro
By Beth DeCristofaro
Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5)
Jesus said to (Bartimaeus) in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 1:51-52)
Ever creative God, your imagination has no limits.
Where I see black or white, you paint a rainbow of options. …
I want you to expand my imagination to see possibilities that at present I just can’t see - possibilities not tried before.
I want you to also open my ears so that should another see a way forward that I do not,
I can be receptive to that voice.
Even if it is spoken by the one I least want to hear right now.
Many years ago, I was conducting reviews for two women who volunteered for my non-profit organization. I will call them Judy and Linda. Each was a long-term volunteer, giving many hours and each had been at the organization longer than I, a paid-staff program manager. They were committed and loyal although each had been frequently absent for a variety of reasons. Linda was pleasant and engaging while Judy was brusque, spending time in the office only long enough to accomplish her duties and be on her way; this did not affect her work in any way. My eyes were abruptly opened when Judy challenged my review of her work: “You downgraded me on fulfilling my duties because I was gone so often but you did not penalize Linda who missed as many days as I have."
Busted! She was close to right as to the facts and entirely right in essence. The differences in attendance were so slight that my “review” was clearly biased toward the volunteer with whom I was more comfortable and who was “family.” While I did not cry out “help me see” as had Bartimaeus, I had always worked to be a good and continually improving volunteer manager. Only by listening and acknowledging could I “see.” My faith called me to accept the criticism, make it right, and learn. Looking back, it was an opportunity to follow the footsteps of Christ. I became conscious that I must be aware of my prejudices and make use of criticism. The gift of humility opens me, opens us, to greater faith and builds up our spiritual house.
Pray to be open to see and hear, even if it comes from an unwelcome voice. The next time you hear critique or advice, consider how God might be building you into His spiritual house.
You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God, for: “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts; but the word of the Lord remains forever.” This is the word that has been proclaimed to you. 1 Peter 1:23-25
Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45
QUERY: Shall one then return
To the womb of his mother, reborn?
JESUS: As you said. Earth, old basket-born
Wants you for egg.
I hereby (he scrawled
Inside his shell)
Attest to my first
Will & Testament.
I shall go forth
Bare assed as a new moon,
Stellar as baby Jesus.
Everyone’s sight and scandal.
Yes & No &
The vast milky Perhaps between.
"Unless the See Falls: Underground" By Rev. Daniel Berrigan, SJ, from Chapter 10, To Dwell in Peace: An Autobiography, p. 241.
The recent passing of Rev. Daniel Berrigan, SJ, the various obituaries inspired me to add his autobiography -- “To Dwell in Peace” -- to my reading list. The account of his boyhood on the Minnesota Iron Range and in the cold winters of upstate New York introduces us to his parents and five brothers. His father was a gruff and powerful man in the family although not in civil society. His mother, though, was the epitome of the humble servant raising her sons in the German and Irish traditions of their ancestors.
Fr. Dan often remarks how his mother was happy not to be raising a daughter in the harsh conditions of her own life. Today’s Gospel passage reminds me of the many mothers and grandmothers of that generation who served in silence, passing along a quiet faith to their children.
My grandmother lived with us, intermittently, for years. She and my mother had devised a kind of conspiracy of survival. Busy about some task, they would converse for hours together, always in German, a language that served them, to all intents, as both comfort and cover.
Against whom? Against almost everything that, in such times and locales, made up the lives of women…[B]esides bearing large families, [they] washed and ironed clothing by hand, with water drawn from wells or springs or, when we were at the cabin, from a stream nearby. The water was heated over fires that had to be built and stoked. And because often as not, the clothing of the men had grit and filth ground into the fabric by their hand labor, the clothing had to be boiled in a copper cauldron, for hours. [i]
No one would mistake the Berrigan childhood for an easy life…add to the fact that the boyhood years were spent living in rustic cabins that were located in northern climates during the hard years of the Great Depression.
And yet, and yet. My mother rebelled. She rebelled in her own sweet way and place and time. Not a leap into the void, but calculated, the results and risks weighed to a farthing.
It was a slave rebellion. She created, within the strait limits set by husband and church (she, being a believer, clung to both), a kind of slave culture; within it she breathed free; to its secret place she, on occasion, escaped.[ii]
The prevailing forces of this theological-political power structure forced members of immigrant families into a status quo existence. Despite this harsh reality, these experiences also formed members of this greatest generation. It is amazing to consider how and why this environment did not breed more priests, prophets and kings who rebelled in his or her own sweet way like Dan Berrigan and his mother. We certainly could have used more to guide our path on the way to peace.
Who has served in silence in your life? Parents, grandparents, siblings, spouse? Teachers, coworkers, priests, politicians?
Who has served in a vocal, prominent leadership role? Parents, grandparents, siblings, spouse? Teachers, coworkers, priests, politicians?
Monday, May 23, 2016
|Peter Paul Rubens [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
By Melanie Rigney
Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, . (1 Peter 1:13:16)
The Lord has made known his salvation. (Psalm 98:2a)
Peter began to say to Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.” (Mark 10:28-31)
Lord, I am a coward. Show me what I must give up to follow today… not tomorrow or next month or next year. Hold my hand to guide me.
“We have given up everything and followed you.”
Peter surely believed that. Of course, he still had his wife, not to mention his mother-in-law. He still had his brother Andrew, and his frenemies, the sons of Zebedee and the others. And yet—he had given up so much. His livelihood. His time.
And yet… Peter would give up so much more. His self-loathing for denying Jesus three times. His literalness. His way of attempting to take charge without being a servant leader as the Master was. His very life.
Consider just a few examples of other saints who thought they had given up plenty… and then were called to give more:
- Katherine Drexel had considered the religious life in her teens, but then decided she couldn’t part with the luxuries befitting a Drexel, regardless of the philanthropy she and her family had shown. But when she asked the pope to send missionaries to the United States to help Native Americans, he suggested she become a missionary herself. She prayed over it… then followed.
- Frances Xavier Cabrini, frail though she was, believed she had a vocation to be a missionary to China. The pope, cognizant of the dire physical and spiritual conditions of Italians who had recently moved to the United States, told her she was not to go to the East, but to the West. She prayed over it… then followed.
- Marie Guyart was widowed with a twelve-year-old son, living with family members when she felt the call to become an Ursuline nun. She prayed over it… then followed, even though her heart must have been heavy as her son shouted outside the convent for his mother’s return.
Sometimes, what God asks of us seems so huge as to be almost unbearable—almost being the critical word, of course, for with Him, the large and the small are possible. We delude ourselves when we get too comfortable in our faith and believe we are ready for whatever life throws at us. Without Him, girding up the loins of our minds is next to impossible. With Him, we can triumph over anything.
Don’t take credit for anything you accomplish today. Give up the praise and sense of accomplishment and pride… and follow.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement, his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Mark 10:20-22
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:3-7
Can you handle the truth? Give up your treasure and you will have treasure. Sounds counter-intuitive. Jesus almost sounds like a Zen Master delivering a koan to a doting student. Yet Christianity is a faith of seeming contradictions.
“The cross is a symbol of death and of life, of suffering and of joy, of defeat and of victory. It’s the cross that shows us the way. It will always remain very hard for us to embrace our suffering, trusting that it will lead to new life.” Henri Nouwen
The young man tried to butter up Jesus with flattery. Oh, Good Teacher! Jesus rejects the endearing term “good” and gives that attribute only to God. He follows up those words with words that also repudiate him being good. He provides a stiff prescription for attaining heaven. However, before the prescription, Jesus looks at the young man and loves him.
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” Packed into these two sentences are five commandments.
- Go. Attaining friendship with Jesus is not something you get by hanging onto Him or by sitting at His feet. Or by sitting in a pew with your rosary beads. Or by sitting in a First World school, or office, or your own den or Man-Cave. We must take our love for Jesus out into the world: From the Seminary to the Sanctuary, from the sanctuary to the streets.
- Sell. Get rid of anything that ties you down to your comfortable way of life – especially anything of material value. You can sell it and give away the proceeds or give it away directly to the poor who need the material goods more than you do.
- Give. If you sell your worldly goods, give away the proceeds to serve the poor.
- Come. Only when you are not tied down can you be free to come back to Jesus. Like the old 1960’s poster, if you love something, set it free. Jesus loves us and sets us free to blaze a trail back to him.
- Follow. Thus freed, you are now at liberty to pick up your cross daily and follow Jesus.
Following Jesus leads right back to the first command: “Go!” To truly follow Jesus, we have to consider carefully the words of St. Ignatius Loyola: “Go forth and set the world on fire.” You cannot do that sitting at the Master’s feet or in a pew. Just when you get to Park Place and Boardwalk, you have to pass go and, always, begin again. As you go, Jesus, looking at you, loves you, too.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
By Beth DeCristofaro
Brothers and sisters: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith … the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5: 1, 5)
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5: 1, 5)
Jesus said to his disciples: "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. … Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you." (John 16:12, 15)
Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; to God who is, who was, and who is to come. (Gospel Acclamation for the Mass of the Day.)
Throughout his ministry, Jesus takes time out to be in prayer with God, to call upon God, to witness before the crowds to God, to publicly thank God. When he performs signs and wonders or when he is tired he brings himself before God and in this unity is divinity revealed to the awed crowds. Oneness with God and oneness in the Spirit is what the disciples witnessed. Jesus’ is not a solitary journey as we see when he gathers his friends around him and he intends that ours not be either. The divine animating flow will be visible in the church he established.
Richard Rohr states that “We could say, ‘In the beginning was the relationship’ or the original blueprint for everything else that exists. John’s word for that was Logos (John 1:1). In other words, the first blueprint for reality was relationality. It is all of one piece. … Thus, we must read the whole Bible as a school of relationship. The word trinity, by the way, is never found in the Bible. In time, it became our way to explain how God gradually came to be seen as a communion of persons, a perfect giving and a perfect receiving, an inter-face, a mutual indwelling, or as Charles Williams beautifully called it, ‘co-inherence.’ The Bible is slowly making humanity capable of living inside of such lovely co-inherence.” [i]
Jesus modeled the relationship of his oneness with God by healing, feeding, consoling, teaching people. He did not retire into the inner sanctum of the temple, he met people where they lived and invited them into oneness with the Father then gifted all with the Spirit. How do I meet others and manifest the presence of this divine relationship? Pray for the Women now on Cursillo weekend that they, too, are experiencing the relationship of a close, personal and relational God.