SUNDAY READINGS 20 MAY, 2018 with Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God by Pope Francis

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PENTECOST SUNDAY

Reading 1 ACTS 2:1-11

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,
as well as travelers from Rome,
both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,
yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues
of the mighty acts of God.”

Responsorial Psalm 104:1, 24L 29-21, 34

R. (cf. 30) Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
How manifold are your works, O LORD!
the earth is full of your creatures;
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.
May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD be glad in his works!
Pleasing to him be my theme;
I will be glad in the LORD.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth

Reading 2 1 COR 12:3-1,12-13

Brothers and sisters:
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Sequence

Veni, Sancte Spiritus

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.
Alleluia.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God  (from January 2018) by Pope Francis

The year opens in the name of the Mother.  Mother of God is the most important title of Our Lady.  But we might ask why we say Mother of God, and not Mother of Jesus.  In the past some wanted to be content simply with the latter, but the Church has declared that Mary is the Mother of God.  We should be grateful, because these words contain a magnificent truth about God and about ourselves.  From the moment that our Lord became incarnate in Mary, and for all time, he took on our humanity.  There is no longer God without man; the flesh Jesus took from his Mother is our own, now and for all eternity.  To call Mary the Mother of God reminds us of this: God is close to humanity, even as a child is close to the mother who bears him in her womb.

The word mother (mater) is related to the word matter.  In his Mother, the God of heaven, the infinite God, made himself small, he became matter, not only to be with us but also to be like us.  This is the miracle, the great novelty!  Man is no longer alone; no more an orphan, but forever a child.  The year opens with this novelty.  And we proclaim it by saying: Mother of God!  Ours is the joy of knowing that our solitude has ended.  It is the beauty of knowing that we are beloved children, of knowing that this childhood of ours can never be taken away from us.  It is to see a reflection of ourselves in the frail and infant God resting in his mother’s arms, and to realize that humanity is precious and sacred to the Lord.  Henceforth, to serve human life is to serve God.  All life, from life in the mother’s womb to that of the elderly, the suffering and the sick, and to that of the troublesome and even repellent, is to be welcomed, loved and helped.

Let us now be guided by today’s Gospel.  Only one thing is said about the Mother of God: “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19).  She kept them.  She simply kept; Mary does not speak.  The Gospel does not report a single word of hers in the entire account of Christmas.  Here too, the Mother is one with her Son: Jesus is an “infant”, a child “unable to speak”.  The Word of God, who “long ago spoke in many and various ways” (Heb 1:1), now, in the “fullness of time” (Gal 4:4), is silent.  The God before whom all fall silent is himself a speechless child.  His Majesty is without words; his mystery of love is revealed in lowliness. This silence and lowliness is the language of his kingship.  His Mother joins her Son and keeps these things in silence.

That silence tells us that, if we would “keep” ourselves, we need silence.  We need to remain silent as we gaze upon the crib.  Pondering the crib, we discover anew that we are loved; we savour the real meaning of life.  As we look on in silence, we let Jesus speak to our heart.  His lowliness lays low our pride; his poverty challenges our outward display; his tender love touches our hardened hearts.  To set aside a moment of silence each day to be with God is to “keep” our soul; it is to “keep” our freedom from being corroded by the banality of consumerism, the blare of commercials, the stream of empty words and the overpowering waves of empty chatter and loud shouting.

The Gospel goes on to say that Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.  What were these things?  They were joys and sorrows.  On the one hand, the birth of Jesus, the love of Joseph, the visit of the shepherds, that radiant night.  But on the other, an uncertain future, homelessness “because there was no place for them in the inn” (Lk 2:7), the desolation of rejection, the disappointment of having to give birth to Jesus in a stable.  Hopes and worries, light and darkness: all these things dwelt in the heart of Mary.  What did she do?  She pondered them, that is to say she dwelt on them, with God, in her heart.  She held nothing back; she locked nothing within out of self-pity or resentment.  Instead, she gave everything over to God.  That is how she “kept” those things.  We “keep” things when we hand them over: by not letting our lives become prey to fear, distress or superstition, by not closing our hearts or trying to forget, but by turning everything into a dialogue with God.  God, who keeps us in his heart, then comes to dwell in our lives.

These, then, are the secrets of the Mother of God: silently treasuring all things and bringing them to God.  And this took place, the Gospel concludes, in her heart.  The heart makes us look to the core of the person, his or her affections and life.  At the beginning of the year, we too, as Christians on our pilgrim way, feel the need to set out anew from the center, to leave behind the burdens of the past and to start over from the things that really matter.  Today, we have before us the point of departure: the Mother of God.  For Mary is exactly what God wants us to be, what he wants his Church to be: a Mother who is tender and lowly, poor in material goods and rich in love, free of sin and united to Jesus, keeping God in our hearts and our neighbor in our lives.  To set out anew, let us look to our Mother.  In her heart beats the heart of the Church.  Today’s feast tells us that if we want to go forward, we need to turn back: to begin anew from the crib, from the Mother who holds God in her arms.

Devotion to Mary is not spiritual etiquette; it is a requirement of the Christian life.  Looking to the Mother, we are asked to leave behind all sorts of useless baggage and to rediscover what really matters. The gift of the Mother, the gift of every mother and every woman, is most precious for the Church, for she too is mother and woman.  While a man often abstracts, affirms and imposes ideas, a woman, a mother, knows how to “keep”, to put things together in her heart, to give life.  If our faith is not to be reduced merely to an idea or a doctrine, all of us need a mother’s heart, one which knows how to keep the tender love of God and to feel the heartbeat of all around us.  May the Mother, God’s finest human creation, guard and keep this year, and bring the peace of her Son to our hearts and to our world.

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The Blessed Virgin Mary Compared to a Window (Thomas Merton Marian Poetry)

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The Blessed Virgin Mary Compared to a Window

Because my will is simple as a window
And knows no pride of original birth,
It is my life to die, like glass, by light:
Slain in the strong rays of the bridegroom sun.

Because my love is simple as a window
And knows no shame of original dust,
I longed all night, (when I was visible) for dawn my death:
When I would marry day, my Holy Spirit:
And die by transsubstantiation into light.

For light, my lover, steals my life in secret.
I vanish into day, and leave no shadow
But the geometry of my cross,
Whose frame and structure are the strength
By which I die, but only to the earth,
And am uplifted to the sky my life.

When I became the substance of my lover,
(Being obedient, sinless glass)
I love all things that need my lover’s life,t

Look with no fear:
For the torn storm lets in, at the world’s rim,
Three streaming rays as straight as Jacob’s ladder:

And you shall see the sun, my Son, my Substance,
Come to convince the world of the day’s end, and of the night,
Smile to the lovers of the day in smiles of blood;
For though my love, He’ll be their Brother,
My light – the Lamb of their Apocalypse.

Painting : Our Lady, Star of the Sea ©2018 Alfred Eaker

SUNDAY READINGS 13 MAY, 2018 WITH MARY UNTIER OF KNOTS BY POPE FRANCIS

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Seventh sunday of easter

Reading 1 acts 1:15-17, 20-26

Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers
—there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons
in the one place —.
He said, “My brothers,
the Scripture had to be fulfilled
which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand
through the mouth of David, concerning Judas,
who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus.
He was numbered among us
and was allotted a share in this ministry.“For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
May another take his office.“Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men
who accompanied us the whole time
the Lord Jesus came and went among us,
beginning from the baptism of John
until the day on which he was taken up from us,
become with us a witness to his resurrection.”
So they proposed two, Judas called Barsabbas,
who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
Then they prayed,
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,
show which one of these two you have chosen
to take the place in this apostolic ministry
from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”
Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias,
and he was counted with the eleven apostles.

Responsorial Psalm 103:1-2.11-12,19-20

R. (19a) The Lord has set his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord has set his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
R. The Lord has set his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the LORD, all you his angels,
you mighty in strength, who do his bidding.
R. The Lord has set his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 1 jn 4:11-16

Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also must love one another.
No one has ever seen God.
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,
that he has given us of his Spirit.
Moreover, we have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God.
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.God is love, and whoever remains in love
remains in God and God in him.

Alleluia jn 14:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord.
I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel jn 17:11-19

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”
 Pope Francis on Mary, the Untier of Knots

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This event of the Year of Faith is devoted to Mary, the Mother of Christ and the Mother of the Church, our Mother. The statue of Our Lady which has come from Fatima helps us to feel her presence in our midst. It is a fact: Mary always brings us to Jesus. She is a woman of faith, a true believer. But we can ask: What was Mary’s faith like?

1. The first aspect of her faith is this: Mary’s faith unties the knot of sin (cf. Lumen Gentium, 56). What does that mean? The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council took up a phrase of Saint Irenaeus, who states that “the knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by the obedience of Mary; what the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith” (Adversus Haereses, III, 22, 4).

The “knot” of disobedience, the “knot” of unbelief. When children disobey their parents, we can say that a little “knot” is created. This happens if the child acts with an awareness of what he or she is doing, especially if there is a lie involved. At that moment, they break trust with their parents. You know how frequently this happens! Then the relationship with their parents needs to be purified of this fault; the child has to ask forgiveness so that harmony and trust can be restored.

Something of the same sort happens in our relationship with God. When we do not listen to him, when we do not follow his will, we do concrete things that demonstrate our lack of trust in him – for that is what sin is – and a kind of knot is created deep within us. These knots take away our peace and serenity. They are dangerous, since many knots can form a tangle which gets more and more painful and difficult to undo.

But we know one thing: nothing is impossible for God’s mercy! Even the most tangled knots are loosened by his grace. And Mary, whose “yes” opened the door for God to undo the knot of the ancient disobedience, is the Mother who patiently and lovingly brings us to God, so that he can untangle the knots of our soul by his fatherly mercy. We all have some of these knots and we can ask in our heart of hearts:

What are the knots in my life? “Father, my knots cannot be undone!” It is a mistake to say anything of the sort! All the knots of our heart, every knot of our conscience, can be undone. Do I ask Mary to help me trust in God’s mercy, to undo those knots, to change? She, as a woman of faith, will surely tell you: “Get up, go to the Lord: he understands you”. And she leads us by the hand as a Mother, our Mother, to the embrace of our Father, the Father of mercies.

2. A second aspect is that Mary’s faith gave human flesh to Jesus. As the Council says: “Through her faith and obedience, she gave birth on earth to the very Son of the Father, without knowing man but by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit” (Lumen Gentium, 63). This was a point on which the Fathers of the Church greatly insisted: Mary first conceived Jesus in faith and then in the flesh, when she said “yes” to the message God gave her through the angel. What does this mean? It means that God did not want to become man by bypassing our freedom; he wanted to pass through Mary’s free assent, through her “yes”. He asked her: “Are you prepared to do this?” And she replied: “Yes”.

But what took place most singularly in the Virgin Mary also takes place within us, spiritually, when we receive the word of God with a good and sincere heart and put it into practice. It is as if God takes flesh within us; he comes to dwell in us, for he dwells in all who love him and keep his word. It is not easy to understand this, but really, it is easy to feel it in our heart.

Do we think that Jesus’ incarnation is simply a past event which has nothing to do with us personally? Believing in Jesus means giving him our flesh with the humility and courage of Mary, so that he can continue to dwell in our midst. It means giving him our hands, to caress the little ones and the poor; our feet, to go forth and meet our brothers and sisters; our arms, to hold up the weak and to work in the Lord’s vineyard, our minds, to think and act in the light of the Gospel; and especially to offer our hearts to love and to make choices in accordance with God’s will. All this happens thanks to the working of the Holy Spirit. And in this way we become instruments in God’s hands, so that Jesus can act in the world through us.

3. The third aspect is Mary’s faith as a journey. The Council says that Mary “advanced in her pilgrimage of faith” (ibid., 58). In this way she precedes us on this pilgrimage, she accompanies and sustains us.

How was Mary’s faith a journey? In the sense that her entire life was to follow her Son: he – Jesus – is the way, he is the path! To press forward in faith, to advance in the spiritual pilgrimage which is faith, is nothing other than to follow Jesus; to listen to him and be guided by his words; to see how he acts and to follow in his footsteps; to have his same sentiments. And what are these sentiments of Jesus? Humility, mercy, closeness to others, but also a firm rejection of hypocrisy, duplicity and idolatry.

The way of Jesus is the way of a love which is faithful to the end, even unto sacrificing one’s life; it is the way of the cross. The journey of faith thus passes through the cross. Mary understood this from the beginning, when Herod sought to kill the newborn Jesus. But then this experience of the cross became deeper when Jesus was rejected.

Mary was always with Jesus, she followed Jesus in the midst of the crowds and she heard all the gossip and the nastiness of those who opposed the Lord. And she carried this cross! Mary’s faith encountered misunderstanding and contempt. When Jesus’ “hour” came, the hour of his passion, when Mary’s faith was a little flame burning in the night, a little light flickering in the darkness. Through the night of Holy Saturday, Mary kept watch. Her flame, small but bright, remained burning until the dawn of the resurrection. And when she received word that the tomb was empty, her heart was filled with the joy of faith: Christian faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Faith always brings us to joy, and Mary is the Mother of joy! May she teach us to take the path of joy, to experience this joy! That was the high point – this joy, this meeting of Jesus and Mary, and we can imagine what it was like. Their meeting was the high point of Mary’s journey of faith, and that of the whole Church. What is our faith like? Like Mary, do we keep it burning even at times of difficulty, in moments of darkness? Do I feel the joy of faith?

This evening, Mother, we thank you for our faith, the faith of a strong and humble woman; we renew our entrustment to you, Mother of our faith. Amen.

LA SALETTE (Thomas Merton Marian Poetry)

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La Salette

(Thomas Merton)

It is a hundred years since your shy feet
Ventured to stand upon the pasture grass of the high
Alps,

Coming no deeper in our smoky atmosphere
Than these blue skies, the mountain eyes
Of the two shepherd children, young as flowers,
Born to be dazzled by no mortal snow.

Lady, it is a hundred years
Since those fair, terrible tears
Reproved, with their amazing grief
All the proud candor of those altitudes:
Crowning the flowers at your feet
With diamonds, that seized upon, transfigured into
nails of light
The rays of the mountain sun!-

And by their news,
(Which came with cowbells to the evening village
And to the world with church-bells
After not too many days,)
And by their news
We thought the walls of all hard hearts
Had broken down, and given in,
Poured out their dirty garrisons of sin,
And washed the streets with our own blood, if need
be –
– Only to have them clean!

And though we did not understand
The weight and import of so great a sorrow,
We never thought so soon to have seen
The loss of its undying memory,
Passing from the black world without a word,
Without a funeral!
For while our teeth were battling in the meat of
miracles and favors,
Your words, your prophecies, were all forgotten!

Now, one by one,
The things you said
Have come to be fulfilled.

John, in the might of his Apocalypse, could not fore-
tell
Half of the story of our monstrous century,
In which the arm of your inexorable Son,
Bound, by His Truth, to disavow your intercession
For this wolf-world, this craven zoo,
Has bombed the doors of hell clean off their hinges,
And burst the cage of antichrist,
And roused, with His first two great thunderbolts,
The chariots of Armageddon.

Painting: Our Lady Of La Salette © 2018 Alfred Eaker

SUNDAY READINGS 6 MAY, 2018 WITH HOMILY by FR. ANDREW GREELEY

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Sixth Sunday of Easter

Reading 1 acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48

When Peter entered, Cornelius met him
and, falling at his feet, paid him homage.
Peter, however, raised him up, saying,
“Get up. I myself am also a human being.”Then Peter proceeded to speak and said,
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.”While Peter was still speaking these things,
the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word.
The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter
were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit
should have been poured out on the Gentiles also,
for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God.
Then Peter responded,
“Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people,
who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?”
He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Responsorial Psalm 98:1-4

R. (cf. 2b) The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
or:
R. Alleluia.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 1 jn 4:7-10

Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Alleluia jn 14:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord,
and my Father will love him and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel jn 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.”I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”

andrew greely homily on today’s Gospel (2006)

Background:

St. John tries every metaphor he can think of to express his mystical insight into the relationship between Jesus and us – the good shepherd, the vine and the branches, a group of people who should be servants to a great lord but have in fact become a community of his friends whose joy he wants to be complete. Obviously is a reflection on the actual community that existed among Jesus and his immediate followers, a memory kept alive through the decades before John wrote his Gospel and strove to expand and deepen our understanding of the intimacy of our actual, here and now relationship with Jesus and the Father.

Story:

Once upon a time there was a certain bishop who was very proud of being a bishop. He was also very careful to see that everyone treated him with great respect because, after all, he was one of the successors of the apostles, wasn’t he? He didn’t seem to remember what a stubborn, pig-headed, and difficult crowd the apostles were. He was upset whenever the acolytes that the masses he said around the diocese were not trained to perfection. Some people thought he was a real jerk. Others thought he was a nice enough guy for a bishop but that he had a few obsessions that he would well get along without. So one day, the sixth Sunday of Easter to be exact, he was saying mass at a parish where a certain mother had warned her little girl not to offend the bishop. Well, the little girl was a feisty one and she wasn’t afraid of the bishop or anyone else (few six grade girls are). So when she was slow in bringing the towel for the washing of hands and he snapped his fingers impatiently, she stopped in her tracks. Bring me the towel the bishop ordered. The feisty little girl remembered the Gospel and shouted right back. Don’t give me orders, I’m not a servant, I’m a friend. Everyone laughed. So did the bishop. He hugged her and said of course she was a friend because she had the courage to tell him when he was making a fool out of himself. Then everyone applauded and the bishop had learned a valuable lesson about what the Church is.

 

May Magnificat (Gerard Manley Hopkins Marian Poetry)

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May Magnificat

(Gerard Manley Hopkins)

May is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season—

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?

Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?
Is it opportunest
And flowers finds soonest?

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is Spring?—
Growth in every thing—

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
Throstle above her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
With that world of good,
Nature’s motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring’s universal bliss
Much, had much to say
To offering Mary May.

When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
And thicket and thorp are merry
With silver-surfed cherry

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
And magic cuckoocall
Caps, clears, and clinches all—

This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.

*Painting: Picasso, Mother & Child in countryside, 1901

SUNDAY READINGS 29 APRIL, 2018 WITH HOMILY by FR. ANDREW GREELEY

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Fifth Sunday of Easter

Reading 1 Acts 9:26-31

When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples,
but they were all afraid of him,
not believing that he was a disciple.
Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles,
and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord,
and that he had spoken to him,
and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem,
and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.
He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists,
but they tried to kill him.
And when the brothers learned of this,
they took him down to Caesarea
and sent him on his way to Tarsus.The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace.
It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord,
and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.

Responsorial Psalm 22:26-28, 30-32

R. (26a) I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I will fulfill my vows before those who fear the LORD.
The lowly shall eat their fill;
they who seek the LORD shall praise him:
“May your hearts live forever!”
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the LORD;
all the families of the nations
shall bow down before him.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
To him alone shall bow down
all who sleep in the earth;
before him shall bend
all who go down into the dust.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
And to him my soul shall live;
my descendants shall serve him.
Let the coming generation be told of the LORD
that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born
the justice he has shown.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 1 Jn 3:18-24

Children, let us love not in word or speech
but in deed and truth.
Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth
and reassure our hearts before him
in whatever our hearts condemn,
for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence in God
and receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit he gave us.

Alleluia JN 15:4-5

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain in me as I remain in you, says the Lord.
Whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

FR. ANDREW GREELEY’S HOMILY ON TODAY’S Gospel READING (2012)

Background:
The last supper discourse of Jesus to his apostles is a mix of many consoling things Jesus had said to them in the course of their time together so that they might be sustained in hope after he had returned to the Father-in-Heaven. The consolation today is mixed with a challenge – a new commandment which sounds nice but which turns out to be very difficult. For as we know from the experience of our lives it is very had to love everyone, especially those who are closest to us, our colleagues, our families, our close friends, the people next door.
Story:
Once upon a time an older woman live next door to strange neighbors. Why is it that neighbors are always strange? Anyway these people were noisy, rude, and vulgar. Their televisions were always on full blast way into the night. They fought with one another at the top of their voices. Their kids played baseball in the yard and football on the street and ran over her lawn and flowers – and cursed a lot too, even the girls, though that is very hard to believe. All the other neighbors complained, called the police, threatened to get court orders. The loud crowd just laughed at them. Their daddy was a lawyer and he boasted he cold beat any complaint in a court of law. WELL, everyone else in the neighborhood refused to speak them. The lady we’re talking about was always polite and friendly. She had treats ready at Halloween, and cookies at Christmas, and she often salvaged their newspaper from the rain or snow. One night a little girl – the one who always had a runny nose – rang the doorbell about midnight. Our Mommy is dying and our daddy is out of town. Please help us. Well, the woman went over to the house and called 911and stayed their till the ambulance came (the mommy had an allergic reaction to some medicine) and stayed there until the daddy came home, and calmed the children down and told them there mother would be fine and got them all into bed. And they all became very good friends.

SUNDAY READINGS 22 APRIL, 2018 WITH HOMILY by FR. ANDREW GREELEY

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FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Reading 1 ACTS 4:8-12

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said:
“Leaders of the people and elders:
If we are being examined today
about a good deed done to a cripple,
namely, by what means he was saved,
then all of you and all the people of Israel should know
that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean
whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead;
in his name this man stands before you healed.
He is the stone rejected by you, the builders,
which has become the cornerstone.

There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

Responsorial Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26,28-29

R. (22) The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.
R. The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
R. The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD;
we bless you from the house of the LORD.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his kindness endures forever.
R. The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 1 JN 3:1-2

Beloved:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.

Alleluia JN 10:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my sheep, and mine know me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 10:11-18

Jesus said:
“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father.”

FR. ANDREW GREELY’S HOMILY ON TODAY’S Gospel READING (2015)

Background:
Today is often called Good Shepherd Sunday. Shepherds were at the very bottom of the status in the ancient world. They were uneducated, illiterate, dirty, smelly, rough and irreligious men. It is simply astonishing that the image of Christ as the Good Shepherd would be the favorite depiction of Jesus in the early days of the Church. The symbol has many different interpretations in the gospel narratives – Jesus knows us as the Sheperd knows his cheap, Jesus searches for the lost the way the shepherd searches for his lost sheep, Jesus wants there to be one fold and one shepherd. All, however, emphasize the intimacy between Jesus and his followers, an intimacy which continues even till this day.
Story:
Once there was a lieutenant who was assigned to replace a veteran platoon leader in a combat situation. The soldiers in the platoon worshipped the wounded veteran. Tough combat veterans they were suspicious of the new officier who was a young man just out of an ROTC college program. He surprised them by saying that he intended to bring every soldier in the platoon home, I hope alive but even if you’re killed, I’ll promise you that your body will go home to your families. He wasn’t concerned about winning the respect of his troops. Rather he was intent on taking care of them. He took no chances, and insisted that all the patrols were cautious and careful. He made sure their weapons were in good working order. He took the lead whenever they went into a potential combat situation. He was a taciturn and reserved man, though he always asked what the soldiers thought they should do in a tight spot.He went back for the wounded and brought them back to safety. Somehow he managed to lead the platoon through every dangerous situation. Many were wounded and evacuated, but everyone survived. Then on their last mission he was badly wounded as he carried a wounded kid back to the medics.Someone snapped a picture of him, before the helicopter off the ground. Ther rest of the men carried a copy of that photo with them for the rest of their lives. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for thim, they would tell people. He knew us better than we knew ourselves.
(painting : Mandala of the Good Shepherd by Jyoti Sahi ((India))

DAD, AUNT GRETA, SACRED HEART, and OUR LADY: A Tribute

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(Painting: “Extra, extra pickles: A Portrait of Alfred Eaker, Sr.” © 2017 Alfred Eaker)

Fr. Justin will be in Europe for a few months and although I am among those who regularly manage the Hermitage site, I thought while he is gone, I would share a personal reflection.

Almost two years ago, I lost my father. Although he was practically illiterate and deeply flawed, he had old-world values, a giving heart, and late-in-life sense of humor that made his eyes literally twinkle at times and I wish he were here for me to talk to now. His final illness was fairly quick, but not quick enough and he suffered so and I wished, as I was there with him for a few days before his end, that I could have waved a magic hand and taken away his considerable pain.

Still, when I reflect on him, I focus on that twinkle and his naive, but giving spirit.

I grew up in a charismatic evangelical, iconoclastic church environment and it was in opposition to what I held dear, even at that age. In his limited understanding, Dad knew this. So, when my aunt Greta came to visit Indy (from Arizona), Dad okayed my spending the day with her while he and my brother went hunting and mother was away at a lady’s retreat.

Aunt Greta and I were going to visit the grave of a loved one and although we had only met once before that, she felt enough kinship with me to want to spend time together while she was here.

On the way to the grave sight, Greta and I stopped at Sacred Heart parish to light candles for our departed relative. I’d never been in a Catholic parish at all, let alone a pre-Vatican II one and the art there literally took my breath away.

For a moment, I was distracted because I saw a cowboy praying the rosary at the altar. Apart from him (and us) the church was almost vacant. On the previous night, having seen a Johnny Mack Brown western with Dad, I first thought this was that B movie actor at Sacred Heart (I was eight). Of course it wasn’t, but my attention quickly shifted to a sculpture of Our Lady. She even reminded me a bit of Johnny’s leading lady; Beth Marion. Immediately, I was attracted to the Mary image and she was quite the opposite of how I viewed the scary, unloving God of wrath and vengeance that I knew from mother’s church.

Seeing that I was stirred at Sacred Heart, whenever she came to town, Greta snuck me into that parish. It became a pilgrimage every few years. Dad didn’t understand his sister’s devotion and was so naive that he even asked Greta once: “What’s a mass?” What he did understand was that Greta offered something to me that neither he, nor mother could give. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but he knew that I was uncomfortable in mother’s Pentecostal religion, had a contentious relationship with her, was inherently artistic, and hyper-sensative. He couldn’t relate, but he knew I needed to be with aunt Greta. So, Dad being Dad; he came up with a lie of an excuse every few years to give mother in order to permit my Sacred Heart pilgrimages with Aunt Greta (mother would never have allowed my stepping foot in a Catholic parish filled with art). I’ve always been grateful to Dad for that because although we never spent much time together and didn’t relate well to one another, he put my needs above his understanding and that’s so authentically spiritual because I don’t know that he ever really believed per se. Of course, his belief or lack thereof doesn’t matter to me one bit.

When I got my first real job, pumping gas at a Philips 66 in Franklin, Dad would bring me White Castles with extra, extra pickles on Christmas Eve, which was his idiosyncratic tradition and he used to joke: “Aunt Greta wouldn’t do that, cuz she ain’t got the taste for ’em-living all the way out in Arizona.” It was a cute competitiveness that was entirely Dad.

Years later, after becoming immersed in Thomas Merton, Flannery O’ Connor, and meeting Fr. Justin, I converted to Catholicism. Dad still didn’t understand why I would want to, but he gleamed when saying: “When your mother’s outta the house, I’m gonna call your Aunt Greta and tell her.” I asked why he had to be so clandestine because I had told mother myself. He answered: “Cuz, I don’t want her to know that I covered for you and Greta back in the day.” After all these years, he still didn’t want mother to know that he had lied for me. When he called Greta, her response was: “I knew your son was going to become Catholic.” “How’d you know?” “Because he said he was going to.” “When?” “On that first day I took him to Sacred Heart when he was eight-years-old. He said that when he grew up, he was going to become a Catholic.” Dad shared that Greta conversation with me a short while later, after mother was safely out of the house. He got a kick out of the idea that he had, in a way, been instrumental in my covert conversion.

The next conversation he had regarding Greta was an ultimately sadder occasion, but a revealing one as well. While Greta had been in the hospital, her husband; Bill had died at home. When she found out, she told Dad on the phone; “I’m going to die too, now.” Dad protested with passion because he loved Greta dearly, but she told him: “Don’t put your fear of death on me, Alfred. I was married to Bill for 50 years and I don’t want to be here without him. I’ll meet him on the other side.” Two days later, she flew off this mortal coil.

When I was doing my Masters degree in theology, I helped care for Dad for about two years when he was in the beginning stages of Alzheimers. One of the cutest things about him during that period was a love for Spiderman, which was odd as Dad was always a Western kind of guy (Paladin being his all-time favorite). He would watch the Spiderman movies repeatedly with his dog Pixie on lap and would ask me to sit down and watch them with him. Once, when I was not in the mood to do so, I whined in order to try and get out of it: “I like Superman better,” to which he responded, “Superman’s old and Spiderman’s more realistic. Sit down, cuz your mother won’t watch it with me.” Once, when he cut his finger, he had to have a Spiderman band-aid, which took trips to half a dozen stores before we found one.

About two years after Greta’s passing, Dad was dying. I flew into Indy to be with him and one of the the first things he said when he saw me was: “Let’s order some White Castles with extra, extra pickles.” Despite the fact that he was eaten up with cancer, he wanted to have that last ritual with me and although it’s doubtful that he would have understood my saying so, that was profoundly Catholic of him.

(Painting: “Goodbye, Brave sweet Man: A Portrait of Alfred Eaker, Sr. ©2017. Alfred Eaker, which now hangs at the Franciscan Hermitage in Indianapolis)

SUNDAY READINGS 15 APRIL, 2018 WITH HOMILY by FR. ANDREW GREELEY

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third sunday of easter

Reading 1 acts 3:13-15, 17-19

Peter said to the people:
“The God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,
the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus,
whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence
when he had decided to release him.
You denied the Holy and Righteous One
and asked that a murderer be released to you.
The author of life you put to death,
but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.
Now I know, brothers,
that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did;
but God has thus brought to fulfillment
what he had announced beforehand
through the mouth of all the prophets,
that his Christ would suffer.
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”

Responsorial Psalm 4:2,47-9

R. (7a) Lord, let your face shine on us.
or:
R. Alleluia.
When I call, answer me, O my just God,
you who relieve me when I am in distress;
have pity on me, and hear my prayer!
R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Know that the LORD does wonders for his faithful one;
the LORD will hear me when I call upon him.
R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
or:
R. Alleluia.
O LORD, let the light of your countenance shine upon us!
You put gladness into my heart.
R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
or:
R. Alleluia.
As soon as I lie down, I fall peacefully asleep,
for you alone, O LORD,
bring security to my dwelling.
R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 1jn 2:1-5

My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.
The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep
his commandments.
Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments
are liars, and the truth is not in them.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.

Alleluia lk 24:32

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us;
make our hearts burn while you speak to us.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel lk24:35-48

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them
in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”

fr. andrew greeley homily on today’s Gospel reading (2006)

Background:

These words were written not only for the Apostles but for all Christians even up to our own time, especially for those who are nervous or who worry or who think that the Holy Spirit is about to abandon the church. It is a message of hope for those who think the situation is hopeless – which, as Gilbert Chesterton observed is the only time that hope is a virtue. Jesus is risen indeed as the Orthodox Easter greeting says. And He is still with us. And he will always take care of us and protect us no matter how many idiot things we may do.

Story:

There was this young army reservist who had attended college on a military program. After the served his term in the army, he was put on inactive reserve. He had fallen in love and married a wonderful woman. They had lovely, if contentious twins, and he was moving ahead rapidly in his job – financial services, what else? Then he was mobilized and with little training and inadequate equipment he was deployed to Iraq. He was a good officer and protected his men as best he could, though often he had no idea what to do He was wounded twice but returned to duty. Then his unit was redeployed back to America with assurance that he would never have to return to Iraq.The twins were bigger, more attractive, and more contentious. Someone had replaced him the fast track in his company. Then, when it was almost time for him to leave the reserved and, despite all promises, he was deployed to Iraq again. When that deployment was almost over, he was badly wounded. After months in a hospital and then in a rehabilitation center, he finally went home. The twins, now well behaved young persons celebrated. I guess God didn’t take good care of you, one of his friends said. Hey, the young man replied, I’m still alive!

(painting: “Easter Morning” by He Qi)