Invest just five minutes a day, and your faith will deepen and grow—a day at a time.
Sunday, May 09, 2021 SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER See through God’s eye
God does not see as we see, the prophet Isaiah reminds us. To harness the divine perspective, native peoples of western Mexico wove yarn on crossed sticks to represent the eye of God (ojo de Dios), which sees in four directions and in all elemental mediums: earth, wind, fire, and water. A God’s eye became the portal through which God views the supplicant, or through which those who pray might share the divine vision. Sharing a God’s-eye perspective on the world remains the goal of every believer. Practice seeing others as our compassionate God sees them.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17 (56). “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever . . . acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”
Monday, May 10, 2021 MEMORIAL OF DAMIEN DE VEUSTER, PRIEST Pray for those who heal
The story of Saint Damien de Veuster, a Belgian priest who missioned to quarantined lepers in Hawaii and died of the disease, is extraordinary—although often echoed these days as legions of medical professionals all over the world put themselves in harm’s way to treat the sick and dying of COVID. Father Damian is a “martyr of charity,” and we’ve been blessed with multitudes of fearless, generous heroes like him who’ve expended themselves physically and emotionally to get us through this pandemic. Give thanks to God for our modern martyrs of charity and ask for Father Damian’s intercession to keep them safe and send them spiritual strength.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 16:11-15; John 15:26-16:4a (291). “And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.”
Tuesday, May 11, 2021 EASTER WEEKDAY Cultivate an appreciation of rural traditions
Though they’ve disappeared from most modern calendars, two older Catholic observances converge today. One is the petitioning of the “Ice Saints”—Boniface of Tarsus, Pancras, and Servatius—so named because their feasts fall during what were believed in some northern nations to be the last days of spring when a cold snap might damage spring plantings. The other observance, beginning on the Tuesday before Ascension Thursday, is known as the Minor Rogation Days. These two, along with the Catholic observance of Ember Days, are religious celebrations more commonly tied to the rhythms of rural life. They include the blessing of fields for a good harvest and prayers for good weather.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 16:22-34; John 16:5-11 (292). “His household rejoiced at having come to faith in God.”
Wednesday, May 12, 2021 MEMORIALS OF NEREUS AND ACHILLEUS, MARTYRS; PANCRAS, MARTYR Religious freedom is a timeless concern
Sometimes it is difficult to relate to the martyrs of the early church because their lives are so different from our own. Nereus and Achilleus were Roman soldiers who had participated in carrying out persecutions of Christians. In a “miracle of faith,” they were converted and died their own martyred deaths in the late first century. Pancras was a 14-year-old martyr of the same era who was beheaded because he publicly affirmed his faith in Jesus Christ. On this Easter weekday, give thanks for the ability to freely worship and pray for those around the world who do not enjoy such freedom.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 17:15, 22—18:1; John 16:12-15 (293). “But when he comes, the Spirit of truth . . . will guide you to all truth.”
Thursday, May 13, 2021 SOLEMNITY OF THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD Rise to the occasion
Today’s Feast of the Ascension gives wide recognition to a rather complex idea—that Christ both ascended to heaven and remains with us. In fact, we get a taste of heaven when we unify ourselves with Jesus in spirit and action. Saint Augustine taught “although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace.” From attending Mass to aiding the needy, on this feast day we can all take a step toward unity with Christ.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 4:1-13 or Ephesians 1:17-23; Mark 16:15-20 (58). “So then the Lord Jesus . . . was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.”
Friday, May 14, 2021 FEAST OF MATTHIAS, APOSTLE Abstinence makes the faith grow stronger
Although self-denial is celebrated in all major religions as a virtue, the value isn’t so much in the practice as in the motivation. For Christians the virtuous motivation for abstinence of food, drink, or particular desires comes from love. We deny ourselves for God’s sake and for the sake of others. Saint Matthias, patron of alcoholics, encouraged abstinence as a way to grow closer to God. He kept his focus on his vocation to spread the gospel and let little distract him from his purpose. What can you do today to keep your focus on love?
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; John 15:9-17 (564). “This I command you: love one another.”
Saturday, May 15, 2021 EASTER WEEKDAY Honor the forces of reconciliation
Pope Saint John XXIII taught that wars are never justified. Pope Saint John Paul II wrote to President George W. Bush that the Iraq War was unjust. Pope Benedict XVI questioned whether any war could be called just. Pope Francis, speaking in Hiroshima during his 2019 visit, repeated the positions of the previous popes. Christians face a dilemma, wanting world peace but also needing some protection from those who don't think the same way. The church recognizes a need for the military. But the task of the military should be to maintain peace and set the conditions for reconciliation. On this Armed Forces Day, pray for all our military service members. They have a difficult job.
Sunday, May 16, 2021 SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER Good things come from unlikely places
It may bring a smile to our lips to hear the argument for why we’re obliged to love others: because God loves us first. And if God can love us (be honest here!) then clearly love need not be earned. This World Communications Day, Pope Francis invites us to consider how future-apostle Nathaniel once dismissed Jesus because of his origins: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” To really love people, we have to begin by not categorizing them: by gender or race, nationality or religion, native language or political party. Even Nazareth holds surprises!
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26; 1 John 4:11-16; John 17:11b-19 (60). “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.”
Monday, May 17, 2021 EASTER WEEKDAY Solitude and solidarity
Many have experienced more solitude than they care for during the pandemic, but it’d be a shame to lose the lessons of the experience once it’s over. Catholics have a strong tradition of finding the sacred in solitude. The monastic life, for example, is all about withdrawing from society to draw closer to God and ultimately to each other. Turning inward is an opportunity for growth. Ritualizing the routines of life—in the midst of grief and stress and fear—helps to maintain inner stability and clarity. At the same time, far too many haven’t had the luxury of solitude to remove themselves from danger—let this fact light a fire in all of us to fight for justice for those who have risked all to serve society this past year.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 19:1-8; John 16:29-33 (297). “I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”
Tuesday, May 18, 2021 MEMORIAL OF JOHN I, POPE, MARTYR Define your terms
In 2011, the Nicene Creed in English changed from the poetic-but-imprecise “one in being”—recited at Mass for more than 40 years—back to a seemingly unusual, clunky Latin word: consubstantial. We learned that consubstantial was a critical distinction hammered out at various church councils to clarify that Jesus was divinely co-eternal with God. It was a pronouncement specifically designed to refute the Arian heresy that denied Christ's divinity. The struggle against Arianism cost Pope John I his life in 526. Words matter. Take time to choose the right ones.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 20:17-27; John 17:1-11a (298). “Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.”
Wednesday, May 19, 2021 EASTER WEEKDAY Going home
Final farewells are difficult. While there can be grace in the chance to express love and gratitude, there also can be great pain at the thought of never again seeing a face, touching a hand, hearing a voice. There is true heartache in accepting that there will be no more shared meals, meaningful discussions, shared futures planned together as we surrender the companionship of a loved one. It is a bittersweet time because the grief of anticipated loss is proof of an equally deep love. Yet it is not the end—faith promises us more. On this Easter Wednesday, with trust in the promise of new life, give thanks to God for someone whose love and faithfulness has enriched your life.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 20:28-38; John 17:11b-19 (299). “They were all weeping loudly . . . for they were deeply distressed that (Paul) had said that they would never see his face again.”
Thursday, May 20, 2021 MEMORIAL OF BERNARDINE OF SIENA, PRIEST, RELIGIOUS, MISSIONARY History will be our judge
Church history is filled with admirable figures who stand out for their tender love and compassion. Bernardine of Siena was not that kind of saint. A fire-and-brimstone preacher with a moralizing temperament, he encouraged “bonfires of the vanities” where townsfolk pitched household items suggestive of luxury or leisure—mirrors, perfumes, games—into the fire. Seen from our vantage point, many of his sermons had antisemitic, misogynistic, and homophobic overtones. Though a commanding preacher who lived a life of devotion, Bernardine—like all of us—was a product of his times, limited by the pastoral and theological perspectives handed down to him. His innovations in vernacular preaching continue to inspire, yet his limitations in compassion and inclusion serve as a cautionary tale. None of us has a monopoly on moral purity. Kindness and compassion, however, never go out of style.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 22:30; 23:6-11; John 17:20-26 (300). “And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one.”
Friday, May 21, 2021 MEMORIAL OF CHRISTOPHER MAGALLANES, PRIEST, MARTYR, AND COMPANIONS, MARTYRS Live fully
Each of us is called to give our lives fully on behalf of our love for and commitment to God. Most of us will not die a martyr’s death, but some of us will. Christopher Magallanes was one such person. Christopher’s call to be a martyr was lived every day through his prayer and ministry as a priest: founding schools, providing work opportunities, and even constructing a dam to help the people. He was killed because of his love for the people, a love emanating from his deep faith. How does our faith inspire us to give of ourselves fully?
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 25:13b-21; John 21:15-19 (301). “ ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ ”
Saturday, May 22, 2021 MEMORIAL OF RITA OF CASCIA, RELIGIOUS Hope is a perennial
We all could use a friend like Saint Rita of Cascia. Wed against her will at the tender age of 12, she somehow survived abuse and family feuds to become a reconciling force in a violent region of 15th-century Italy. She has acquired a following, along with Saint Jude, as the patron of hopeless causes. On her deathbed, it is said she asked for a rose from her garden. Though it was winter, we are told a single blooming rose was found and brought to her. Never lose hope—no cause is hopeless!
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 28:16-20, 30-31; John 21:20-25 (302). “There are also many other things that Jesus did.”