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Friday, May 19, 2023
Lessons in hope
Christians are a hopeful people—an Easter people, if you will. In encouraging young people to hold on to hope, Pope Francis advises: “Dream of a world still not seen, but will certainly come one day. Think of those who sailed oceans, scaled mountains, conquered slavery, or made life better for people on earth.” Hope allows us to trust in Christ’s promises that his Holy Spirit lives within us, that our lives have purpose, and that we can make a difference. Start small. As Saint Augustine advises: “You aspire to great things? Begin with little ones.”
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 18:9-18; John 16:20-23 (295). “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice.”
Saturday, May 20, 2023
Preaching to the heart
Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444), a Franciscan priest, lived at a time in Italy when most preachers proclaimed their sermons from the pulpit during the liturgy and to cloistered clerics. Bernardine was among the first to preach to the public. He was so effective a preacher that cynical civil authorities would invite him to their towns because of the money to be made from the large crowds that gathered to hear him. No matter, Bernardine touched hearts and minds in a priceless way. Seek out preaching that feeds your soul.
MEMORIAL OF BERNARDINE OF SIENA, PRIEST
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 18:23-28; John 16:23b-28 (296). “Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”
Sunday, May 21, 2023
Consume media with care
He couldn't have foreseen the technological advances the 21st century would bring. Yet in 1967, Pope Paul VI appreciated the need for a World Communications Day. He established the Sunday before Pentecost as an annual reflection on the opportunities and challenges of presenting the gospel message to a global society. The press, movies, radio, and television all commanded great attention in his generation. The internet and cell phones exponentially increase the range today. What are we saying and absorbing through all this media? Be a discerning steward of words and images.
SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER OR SOLEMNITY OF THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 1:12-14; 1 Peter 4:13-16; John 17:1-11a (59). "The words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them."
Monday, May 22, 2023
Support vulnerable women
Rita of Cascia is the patron saint of abused wives because she herself was one. She endured years of verbal and physical abuse from her husband, and after he was murdered by a feuding family member, Rita became a nun. Read the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ statement against domestic violence. On the USCCB website, you can also find downloadable “When I Call for Help” resource cards in English and Spanish that list signs of an abusive relationship and include the number of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. These are ideal for parish pamphlet racks, for placing in parish restrooms, and to raise awareness about domestic abuse. We owe it to Saint Rita to act.
MEMORIAL OF RITA OF CASCIA, RELIGIOUS
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 19:1-8; John 16:29-33 (297). “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
Peace I leave with you
Twenty-five years ago today, citizens on both sides of the Northern Ireland conflict agreed—by referendum—to honor the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, ending nearly 30 years of bloodshed that took the lives of more than 3,500 Catholics and Protestants. For his dogged commitment to the work of peace and reconciliation, Catholic politician John Hume was named co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize. Hume, who also received both the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Martin Luther King Award—the only person ever to receive all three peace awards—said, “Bloodshed for political change prevents the only change that truly matters: in the human heart.” Pray for peace today, and consider reading the U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter The Challenge of Peace, which turned 40 this month.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 20:17-27; John 17:1-11a (298). “They know that everything you gave me is from you.”
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us
Today marks the sad one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Let us pray for the 21 people who died that day, including 19 children. Let us pray for their families. Let us pray for anyone who would ever entertain even the slightest thought of causing such devastation. Today is also the feast of Mary, Help of Christians—a good day to pray for an end to gun violence. Consider this prayer to Mary, which begins: “Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin, Help of Christians, we place ourselves under your motherly protection. Throughout the Church's history you have helped Christians in times of trial, temptation, and danger. Time and time again, you have proven to be the Refuge of sinners, the Hope of the hopeless, the Consoler of the afflicted, and the Comforter of the dying.”
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 20:28-38; John 17:11b-19 (299). “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One.”
Thursday, May 25, 2023
Marching in unison
A doctor, a pope, and a mystic walked into a bar... no, actually, today’s trio of saints all lived at different times but landed on the same day in the liturgical calendar. Although the number of saints far outstrips the number of days in the year, each saint is assigned a date to be honored, usually the day of their death. Many saints remain obscure, but the many books, articles, traditions, and websites devoted to saints ensures that somewhere the faithful are taking note. That’s the point, to be inspired by saints to be saintly in our own lives in our own way.
MEMORIAL OF BEDE THE VENERABLE, PRIEST, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH; GREGORY VII, POPE; MARY MAGDALENE DE' PAZZI, RELIGIOUS MYSTIC
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 22:30; 23:6-11; John 17:20-26 (300). “Father … I made known to them your name.”
Friday, May 26, 2023
The saint with an inclusive perspective
We sometimes have a difficult time holding together opposites and contradictions. Either joy or sorrow, good or bad. But what would it be like to replace either/or with the humble conjunction and? And serves to connect things, to show relationship. Saint Philip Neri exemplifies someone who embraced the and. He was deeply committed to individual prayer devotions and to experiencing God at the heart of community. He encouraged people to faith and joy and to persevering in a struggling church. What either/or is becoming a both/and for you?
MEMORIAL OF PHILIP NERI, PRIEST
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 25:13b-21; John 21:15-19 (301). “And when [Jesus] had said this, he said to him, 'Follow me.' ”
Saturday, May 27, 2023
Hang in there
There are times in our lives when, facing adversity, we are tempted to throw in the towel, turn back, give up. Augustine of Canterbury, sent by Rome in 596 to evangelize Anglo Saxons in England, turned back after hearing of the dangers ahead. Persuaded by Pope Gregory to persevere, Augustine completed the mission. Though progress was slow and setbacks occurred, Augustine’s steadfastness paid off, and he is rightfully called the “Apostle to England.” Stay the course!
MEMORIAL OF AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY, BISHOP
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 28:16-20, 30-31; John 21:20-25 (302). “There are also many other things that Jesus did.”
Sunday, May 28, 2023
I, the Lord of wind and flame
The Spirit of holiness enters the gathering in driving wind and burning flame. It also comes more gently, as Jesus breathes on his friends and wishes them peace. How can the Spirit be so forceful, yet soft as a breath? The same way love is impassioned in some hours, light as a caress in others. Sometimes our loving presence is required in bold, dynamic, and powerful action. At other times, presence alone is enough: a hand held or silence shared. The more fully immersed in Spirit we are, the more we'll know what to do when the time comes.
SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13; Veni Sancte Spiritus; John 20:19-23 (63). “There came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind.... Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire.”
Monday, May 29, 2023
Waiting for your call
“Mother of the Church” is one of Mary’s many titles, first appearing in the writings of Saint Ambrose in the fourth century. But it wasn’t until 1964 that the title was made official by Pope Paul VI. Pope Francis made this title a movable feast in 2018, placing it the day after Pentecost, as a reminder that Mary was with the disciples as the Holy Spirit descended. As the mother of Jesus, the head of the church, and given to humanity as a mother by Jesus at the foot of the cross, her presence at the event that is known as the “birthday” of the church affirms her role as mother to the church as a whole and to each Christian individually. You can call on Mary.
MEMORIAL OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, MOTHER OF THE CHURCH
TODAY'S READINGS: Genesis 3:9-15, 20 or Acts 1:12-14; John 19:25-34 (572A). “Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ ”
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
A Christian’s job description
On this day in 1937, 10 unarmed demonstrators died in the Memorial Day Massacre in Chicago as police opened fire on a parade of workers and their families. Catholic writer Dorothy Day was there. “We look upon our work, our lives, and we say, ‘How do these things square with Christian teaching? Can we go on making money at the expense of our brother?’” she would later ask, echoing Catholic social teaching on the dignity of work and workers. “If we wish to follow Christ, we will be workers like Jesus, like Saint Joseph, like Saint Paul. We will think of the dignity of labor, we will respect the worker, will bear our share of responsibility toward making that new social order wherein justice dwelleth.”
TODAY'S READINGS: Sirach 35:1-12; Mark 10:28-31 (348). "To refrain from evil pleases the LORD, and to avoid injustice is an atonement."
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Mary in living color
Mary of Nazareth wears many different mantles—literally and figuratively. In images honoring Mary’s Immaculate Conception, Mary wears a baby blue cape evoking calmness and purity. As Our Lady of Mercy, Mary protects the people beneath a brilliant bold red cloak. As Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, Mary wears a cerulean tilmahtli emblazoned with gold stars, rebelling against death and oppression and promising hope and new life. Mary is all these things: quiet and comforting, strong and protecting, rebellious and lifegiving. As we celebrate the Visitation, let us reflect on the unique ways that Mary has visited us in our own lives.
FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
TODAY'S READINGS: Zephaniah 3:14-18a or Romans 12:9-16; Luke 1:39-56 (572). “Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.”
Thursday, Jun 01, 2023
Suffer for the Kingdom
Justin Martyr was a significant philosopher and Christian apologist who was not born Christian but experienced a conversion to Christianity. His writings are still published, and one of his better-known sayings—aimed at the Romans who persecuted and killed Christians—is, “You can kill us but you cannot harm us.” The blood of many courageous martyrs has strengthened the church. Do you know anyone who has suffered in order to follow Christ? Pray for them today.
MEMORIAL OF JUSTIN, MARTYR
TODAY'S READINGS: Sirach 42:15-25; Mark 10:46-52 (350). “So they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.’ ”
Friday, Jun 02, 2023
Little known but never forgotten
Not much is known about the fourth-century martyrs Marcellinus and Peter. Like other martyrs, stories about their faithfulness were remembered more so than hard data about their lives. Such stories were salve to a church suffering under an oppressive Roman empire, and martyrs often became saints by public acclaim. Though lacking the thoroughness of today’s canonization process, the Early Church recognized the importance of lifting up unknown martyrs as well as well-known ones. For in them, the people could see a reflection of their own suffering and faithfulness and know that they were not forgotten by the church. What can you do to ensure that the martyrs of our own age are remembered by the church?
MEMORIAL OF MARCELLINUS AND PETER, MARTYRS
TODAY'S READINGS: Sirach 44:1, 9-13; Mark 11:11-26 (351). “Yet these also were godly; their virtues have not been forgotten.”
Saturday, Jun 03, 2023
You don’t need permission to act for justice
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in 1963 in response to a “Call for Unity” statement from white clergy of Birmingham criticizing King’s nonviolent protests for civil rights, encouraging him to settle things in the courts, not take to the streets. Those in authority do not like folks who don’t follow the rules they themselves have established to protect their authority. But faith-filled prophetic leaders, from biblical times down to the present, act on higher authority. The God of justice calls us to question authority.
TODAY'S READINGS: Sirach 51:12cd-20; Mark 11:27-33 (352). “By what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do them?”
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