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                          Prayers and Reflections  

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March 31, 2024 - Easter Sunday
Gathering  -       Jesus Christ Is Risen Today  #172

Presentation -    The Strife is O'er  #577
Communion -       This Day Was Made By The Lord  #574
Sending Forth -    Alleluia!  Alleluia!  #175

  8am Mass Only Alleluia! Alleluia! Let the Holy Anthem Rise # 180 
Responsorial Psalm

 This is the day the lord has made;

                                          let us rejoice and be glad.

                                  

                                    

                     Gloria – # 915 from the Mass of Christ the Savior

                     Water of Life- sung during the season of Easter # 946

                                     Mass parts: Mass of Christ The Savior

                                             #918, #919, #922, #923

        

               

                  Opportunity for Confession:
Monday  -  March 25  /  2:00 - 4:00 and 6:00 - 9:00
   Lenten Communal Penance Service at 7:00 pm.

   Thursday - March 28  -  9:15 am Morning Prayer
                                        7:00 pm Mass of Our Lord's Supper

   Friday - March 29      -  9:15 am Morning Prayer 
                                        3:00 pm Passion of Our Lord
                                        7:00 Stations of the Cross

  Saturday - March 30   -  9:15 am Morning Prayer
                                        7:00 pm Easter Vigil Mass

  Sunday - March 31     -  8:00 am Easter Sunday Mass
                                       10:00 am Easter Sunday Mass
                                       12 noon Easter Sunday Mass  

 

                    Stations of the Cross
                   every Friday evening during Lent at 7:00 pm.
                      2/23  -  3/2  - 3/8  -  3/15  -  3/22  -  3/29
                     Friday - April 5  -   Stations of the Resurrection

      Family Lenten Retreat
       Saturday - March 2nd 
        10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Click here for the   lLink to USCCB Mass readings- click on appropriate day.  
Act of Spiritual Communion prayer can be found on our opening page

     The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it

                                           John 1:5

Welcome to the Parish of Saints Philip and James



Our Parish Office is open for your needs - Monday - Wednesday 9 am - 7 pm.  Thursday 9 am - 5 pm.  Closed - Friday-Saturday-Sunday
Mass Intentions and Altar Memorials are available.  You may request in person, via phone message, e-mail, or drop your request in the mail slot at the side of our office entrance door. You will receive a call back verifying dates and times requested.  Mass Cards may be picked-up - or we can mail the card directly to the family.  You may also leave a message to have a name added to our prayer list.

Our Food Pantry, under Parish Social Ministry, is operating.  We are meeting the needs of those in our parish and community.  You can find a list of pantry items needed in our bulletin. If you know a family who is in need of support, please have them contact us and we will be happy to assist in any way we are able.  
 
Mass is celebrated on Saturday at 5 pm.  Sunday at 8 am., 10 am., and 12 noon.
 
If you are in need of a priest you may call the office and select the option for Emergency After Hours.
 
Our bulletin goes to print weekly.  The publications can also be found on our website. sspj.org

Our parish runs on donations, contributions and offerings made through the generosity of our parishioners. If you are able to continue financial support,
offerings may be mailed to 1 Carow Place.  They may also be dropped into the mail slot at the side of the office entrance door. 
You may choose to sign-up with Faith Direct, there is a link on our opening webpage.  

 
Parish Rectory Office   -  631-584-5454
General email                  info@sspj.org
Business Manager           vportanova@sspj.org
 
We are grateful for your generosity and support. 

Click Here: 

Memorial Day - prayer

GRACIOUS GOD, ON THIS MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND,
WE REMEMBER AND GIVE THANKS
FOR THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN THEIR LIVES
IN THE SERVICE OF OUR COUNTRY.
WHEN THE NEED WAS GREATEST,
THEY STEPPED FORWARD AND DID THEIR DUTY
TO DEFEND THE FREEDOMS THAT WE ENJOY,
AND TO WIN THE SAME FOR OTHERS.

O GOD, YOU YOURSELF HAVE TAUGHT US
THAT NO LOVE IS GREATER THAN THAT
WHICH GIVES ITSELF FOR ANOTHER.
THESE HONORED DEAD GAVE THE MOST PRECIOUS

GIFT THEY HAD, LIFE ITSELF,
FOR LOVED ONES AND NEIGHBORS,
FOR COMRADES AND COUNTRY – AND FOR US.

HELP US TO HONOR THEIR MEMORY BY CARING FOR THE FAMILY MEMBERS THEY HAVE LEFT BEHIND,
BY ENSURING THAT THEIR WOUNDED COMRADES ARE PROPERLY CARED FOR, BY BEING WATCHFUL CARETAKERS OF THE FREEDOMS FOR WHICH THEY GAVE THEIR LIVES, AND BY DEMANDING THAT NO OTHER YOUNG MEN
AND WOMEN FOLLOW THEM TO A SOLDIER’S GRAVE UNLESS THE REASON IS WORTHY AND THE CAUSE IS JUST.

HOLY ONE, HELP US TO REMEMBER THAT FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.
THERE ARE TIMES WHEN ITS COST IS, INDEED, DEAR.
NEVER LET US FORGET THOSE WHO PAID SO TERRIBLE A PRICE TO ENSURE THAT FREEDOM WOULD BE OUR LEGACY.

THOUGH THEIR NAMES MAY FADE WITH THE PASSING OF GENERATIONS, MAY WE NEVER FORGET WHAT THEY HAVE DONE.
HELP US TO BE WORTHY OF THEIR SACRIFICE, 
O GOD, HELP US TO BE WORTHY.

– J. VELTRI, S.J.

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Click Here: April 30, 2022 Word on Fire 

Second Week of Easter

John 6:16-21

Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus demonstrates his authority over nature by walking on the sea. Water is, throughout the Scriptures, a symbol of danger and chaos. At the very beginning of time, when all was a formless waste, the spirit of the Lord hovered over the surface of the waters. This signals God’s lordship over all of the powers of darkness and disorder.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites are escaping from Egypt, and they confront the waters of the Red Sea. Through the prayer of Moses, they are able to walk through the midst of the waves.

Now in the New Testament, this same symbolism can be found. In all four of the Gospels, there is a version of this story of Jesus mastering the waves. The boat, with Peter and the other disciples, is evocative of the Church, the followers of Jesus. It moves through the waters, as the Church will move through time.

All types of storms—chaos, corruption, stupidity, danger, persecution—will inevitably arise. But Jesus comes walking on the sea. This is meant to affirm his divinity: just as the spirit of God hovered over the waters at the beginning, so Jesus hovers over them now
.

Click Here: April 29, 2022 

Reflection on the Book Page

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Catherine of Siena, who was born in 1347. She was

the 25th child, and her mother was 40 years old when she was born. Siena at the time was

hit by an outbreak of the plague.  Catherine did not enter a convent, but instead she joined

the Third Order of St. Dominic, which allowed her to associate with a religious society whilst

living at home. She lived a life of prayer and contemplation, during which she had regular

mystical experiences, culminating in an extraordinary union with God granted to only a few

mystics, known as a 'mystical marriage'.

Our Gospel reading today speaks of Jesus thanking his Father ‘for hiding these things from

the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children’. Catherine had this purity of

heart and child-like innocence where she approached her faith in God in wonderful openness

and receptiveness. Jesus calls us to be child-like, not childish, an entirely different thing. Jesus

thanks his Father for actively participating in keeping the truth from those who think they are

smart. He thanks God for revealing the hidden truth to ‘little children’, people who are open

and willing to learn, just like Saint Catherine of Siena.

Our artwork is a very early book on Saint Catherine of Siena published by Wynkyn de Worde.

He was a printer and publisher in London, and is recognised as the first to popularise the products

of the printing press in England. We see a woodcut illustration of Saint Catherine holding her heart

in her left hand, stigmata in both hands, being infused by the Holy Spirit descending from

God the Father.

Saint Catherine was only 33 when she died. And I leave you with one of her many poignant and

beautiful quotes:

 

"Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire."

- Saint Catherine of Siena

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Click Here: April 28, 2022 

Daily Inspiration from JesuitPrayer.org

April 28, 2022

 

Jn 3:31-36

The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to

the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above

all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony.

Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God

has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father

loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has

eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches

of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB

approved.

Don’t Ration Love

God holds nothing back but gives all of his love. In this vein, the Gospel is telling us not to ration anything but to give constant love to others as God gives constant love to us. At the same time, we also live in a society where often the most we can give is still considered not enough. We need boundaries to make sure that we can give to the best of our abilities. Yet God is the one that can continue to give us more without losing anything. He is rather an overflowing cup, that is constantly filling other cups with his love. This is the one great thing about love, that in giving away more and more of it, we find ourselves filled up with love even more. In this Easter season, let us keep our boundaries and ration our energy, but never ration the love we show to our neighbors. —Alex Hale, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Midwest Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

O master, grant that I may not seek so much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love with all my soul. For it’s in giving that we receive, in pardoning that we are pardoned, and in dying that we are born to eternal life. —Excerpt of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis

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Click Here: April 27, 2022 Jesuit Post

I spent my early childhood in Vietnam, and one of the things I remember quite

vividly is the frequent blackouts. Imagine a huge chunk of the metropolis going

dark, succumbing to the night. The darkness seemed to have power over us. It

literally stopped everything in its tracks, from us children playing on the street to

the vendors by the roadside; everyone packed up and went home because without

light, we were powerless against the dark.

Every household had to have a secondary source of light, and during the late 1980s,

the most economical form of backup lighting was the oil lamp; a flickering flame

with its continuous stream of black smoke hiding behind a glass bubble.

As a child, I had a fear of darkness. Imagine what a power blackout could do to a child

who is afraid of the dark. There is always a feeling of something prowling in that dark

abyss, and my first instinct is to get away. Perhaps this is the reason why I remember

so well all those nights spent fixing my eyes on the burning glass lamps, their soft and

dim glow driving away the ever-consuming darkness, closing in from all directions.

This tiny warm bloom was able to keep the seemingly infinite darkness at bay, never

yielding even an inch.

I am enamored by this theme of light in the darkness. A lot of what I like to paint tends to revolve around the contrast of light and dark. Whether it be the moon slicing through the dark cloudy night or the hopeful radiance in a gloomy forest, the light warding off the

darkness always draws my attention. 

That same light may not garner much attention on a sunny day, but in the dark or a forest or a nighttime sea or a powerless metropolis, the light shines forth brilliantly. Regardless of how hard the darkness tries, it can never overcome the light. The resilience of the light sends forth sparks of hope within me. No matter how scary the darkness may be, by clinging to the light we can overcome our fear of it. Regardless of how dreary things may appear, there is light somewhere that can guide us through to the end.

We see the same image of the light in the darkness being used at the beginning of the Gospel of John: “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn 1:5). Here we are, trapped in the darkness of our own web of ignorance and despair, yet liberated by the light that is Christ. Regardless of how far we may stray from Him, Christ finds a way to bring us back. Sure, the darkness is still there, but it is not the main attraction of the show; the main protagonist will always be Christ. Christ is the light that shines through the dark, and our focus will always be on that light hope.

It may sound trite to hammer home the theme of hope when so much of the news around the world seems to perpetuate the ever-present veil of despair. For precisely this reason we need to never let go of that light of hope. We have to cling to it like our lives depend on it, because we need hope. 

As a child, I fixed my eyes on the burning oil lamp for comfort against the scary darkness, and never once did that light yield to the darkness. Growing up both in age and in faith, I try to keep my gaze on Christ because the light of Christ can cast away all the darkness, “and the darkness has not overcome it.” Our eyes will always orient toward that bright spot in the dark, the hope in the midst of the gloom.

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Click Here: April 26, 2022 
Of Creighton University's Online Ministries

April 26, 2022
by Barbara Dilly
Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter
 

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Our Hope for Everlasting Life

Easter Joy in Everyday Life

Most Christians do not take the passage in Acts 4 for today literally. But we should all take it seriously. St. Paul noted that this early community of Christian believers was of one heart and mind. What did that mean, and must we conduct our lives in Christian community to such an extent that we hold all things in common? This intentional community was powerfully effective in bearing witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus because they made sure there was no needy person among them.

That is certainly one way to do it. But communalism is not considered the only way to meet human needs by most people. There are many debates regarding the best ways to make sure there are no needy persons in our societies in terms of the rules of engagement in economic activity. How do our economic practices bear witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus? These questions can be deeply troubling.

I look often to the intentional communities of the Amish for practices that bear witness to the resurrection. Yet, even the Amish, who will give generously to help each other in times of need, do not own property in common. And while they have rules about what kinds of economic activities they will engage in, they are far more innovative that their non-Amish rural community neighbors in developing profitable economic niches that celebrate individual initiative. And it works well for them. Apart from the excessive costs of cancer treatment expenses, they do not have any problem meeting the needs of their members through their self-insured system of stepping up according to their circumstances in times of need of their members. Their spirit of generosity is motivated by love as much as obedience.

Taking up collections and sharing food in times of need has always been a practice in the communities to which I have belonged. In most rural and urban communities, Lutherans work together with Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, and other churches to help each other in times of disasters and great need. But we share out of possessions that we call our own. It gets more difficult when we must step up for famines in Africa and war in Ukraine, but we all do it. In one week, my congregation collected $10,000 for Ukraine administered through Lutheran Disaster Relief. Even together with all the other Christians who participate, it is a drop in the bucket. Despite our faithful intentions and generosity there are still too many needy persons among us on the planet and even in our own communities.

This great need is weighing us down. And then we read that “the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” There is a lot of heavy lifting that needs to be done to witness to the resurrection. Even if Christians everywhere give everything we have to the poor and stand on the corner preaching day and all night, we cannot do it. We are certainly humbled by our need for Christ to help us. I stand today with Nicodemus. What must I do? Jesus tells us we must be born of the spirit. It is not about what we do with our material things. It is about what happens to unify our hearts and minds when the spirit guides us. How will that unified Christian community of faith give us the power to witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus in our times? I pray today that we will each find renewed purpose in our faith response through our Christian communities.

Click Here: April 25, 2022 

Reflection on the Illuminated Miniature

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Mark the evangelist. Our illuminated manuscript miniature was

executed circa 1503 by Jean Bourdichon (1456-1521), one of Europe’s most accomplished miniature

painters. It is taken from the book of hours ‘Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany’, Queen of France to

two kings in succession. In the history of illuminated manuscripts, this is a very late book. The miniature

in fact looks more like a painting than a book illustration. The highly intricate detailing, especially in the

gilding is particularly exquisite.

We see Saint Mark depicted at his desk, writing his Gospel. Mark was a companion of Saint Peter and

is said to have survived being thrown to the lions, which is why  he is shown with a lion. He is often also

shown with a winged lion, as another legend has it that Mark, while taking refuge from a storm in the

city of Venice, was visited in a dream by an angel in the form of a winged lion.

In addition to writing his Gospel, Saint Mark is credited with founding the Church of Alexandria in

Egypt, one of the original Apostolic Sees of Christianity (along with Rome, Antioch, Constantinople,

and Jerusalem). I always find it fascinating that already at the time, people such as Mark evangelised

the word of Christ by traveling such great distances. The Gospel of Mark is the oldest of the four

Gospels (Matthew and Luke based a lot of their writings on Mark; these three Gospels of Mark, Luke

and Matthew are also called the ‘Synoptic Gospels’).

Mark doesn’t include a Christmas story. What is striking in the Gospel of Mark is that Jesus is portrayed

as a man of action who hits the ground running, with no time to waste. The start of today’s Gospel

reading ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation’ reflects this sense of

urgency… An urgency we are all called to act upon.

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Click Here: April 24, 2022 

Divine Mercy Sunday: The Greatness of God’s Mercy | One-Minute Homily
 

by Matthew Zurcher, SJ | Apr 24, 2022 | One-Minute HomilyVideos

In the story of “doubting Thomas,” Jesus shows compassion and mercy on him by showing Thomas his wounds. Matthew Zurcher, SJ, reflects on the vastness of God’s mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday. Based on the readings for Sunday, April 24, 2022.

 

Christ is risen and nothing, and I mean nothing, is bigger than the ocean of his mercy. 

My name is Matthew Zurcher, and this is my One-Minute Reflection.

Today the Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday, hearing once again the familiar story of Thomas, who had to touch and see before he believed. If, like Thomas or like me, you struggle to comprehend the resurrection, it’s because it’s like trying to fit the sky in a jar.

Jesus understood this. He has mercy on us in our doubts, in our fragile need to see for ourselves. When he returned to that locked room, it wasn’t for the ten who had already seen him, it was for Thomas––the one who had not. Jesus always pursues his lost sheep. As he said to St. Faustina, the great apostle of today’s feast, “the greater the sinner, the greater the right they have to my mercy.”

Today, picture God’s ocean of mercy, imagine yourself dropped in as a little rock of salt, and dissolve in those faithful words: “My Lord and my God, I trust in you.”

Click Here: April 23, 2022 

Saturday within the Octave of Easter

Mark 16:9-15

Friends, in today’s Gospel, the risen Lord commissions the eleven Apostles to proclaim the Good News to everyone. And this commission to evangelize the people of the world extends to all baptized Christians.

To evangelize is to proclaim Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead. When this kerygma, this Paschal Mystery, is not at the heart of the project, Christian evangelization effectively disappears, devolving into a summons to bland religiosity or generic spirituality. When Jesus crucified and risen is not proclaimed, a beige and unthreatening Catholicism emerges, a thought system that is, at best, an echo of the environing culture.

Peter Maurin, one of the founders of the Catholic Worker movement, said that the Church has taken its own dynamite and placed it in hermetically sealed containers and sat on the lid. In a similar vein, Stanley Hauerwas commented that the problem with Christianity is not that it is socially conservative or politically liberal, but that “it is just too damned dull”!

For both Maurin and Hauerwas, what leads to this attenuation is a refusal to preach the dangerous and unnerving news concerning Jesus risen from the dead.

Click Here: April 22, 2022 

Friday within the Octave of Easter

John 21:1-14

Friends, today’s Gospel tells of the appearance of the risen Jesus to seven disciples by the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Peter and six other Apostles were in a boat on the sea. Seeing Peter and the disciples in a boat, we are meant to think of the Church, and the peculiar number of seven—evocative of completion or fulfillment—is meant to make us consider the eschatological Church, the community of Jesus approaching the end of its journey.

On the shore (though they don’t recognize him at first) is the Lord Jesus. At his command, they lower their nets and bring in an extraordinary catch. Well, this is the work of the Church until the end of the age: to gather in souls and to bring them to Christ.

When they empty their nets they discover 153 large fish. Many theories as to the meaning of this figure have been proposed. My favorite is the one put forward by St. Augustine. According to the science of that time, Augustine argued, there were 153 species of fish in the sea, and therefore, this extraordinary number is meant to signal the universality of the Church’s salvific mission.

Click Here: April 21, 2022 Word on Fire

Luke 24:35–48

Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus appeared alive again to his followers. Upon seeing him, “they were startled and terrified.” They are terrified because the one they abandoned and betrayed and left for dead is back—undoubtedly for revenge!

Luke’s risen Jesus does two things in the presence of his shocked followers. The first thing is that he shows them his wounds. This move is a reiteration of the judgment of the cross: don’t forget, he tells them, what the world did when the Author of life appeared.

But he does something else; he says, “Shalom”—“Peace be with you.” In this, he opens up a new spiritual world and thereby becomes our Savior. From ancient creation myths to the Rambo and Dirty Harry movies, the principle is the same: order, destroyed through violence, is restored through a righteous exercise of greater violence.

And then there is Jesus. The terrible disorder of the cross (the killing of the Son of God) is addressed not through an explosion of divine vengeance but through a radiation of divine love. When Christ confronts those who contributed to his death, he speaks words not of retribution but of reconciliation and compassion.

Click Here: April 20, 2022 Christian Art

Reflection on the Old Master Drawing

Today’s drawing by Giovanni Antonio Guardi captures beautifully the mystical nature of the

breaking of bread . Using brown ink, pen, pencil and watercolour, Guardi almost makes light

flicker over the surface, giving the sheet of paper a luminous quality. This is a study for an

altarpiece painting that Guardi was commissioned in Venice, where, in the mid 18th century,

there was an insatiable demand for religious subject paintings. We see Jesus, surrounded by

a burst of light, being recognised by the two disciples. As in our gospel reading today ‘their

eyes were opened and they recognised him’.

On this Easter Wednesday we are told of the two disciples walking away from Jerusalem.

They walked away from the grief and disappointment that Jerusalem had brought to them.

They were grief-stricken. The city had killed their friend, Jesus, and had killed their hopes with

it. It is exactly in that moment of disappointment and disillusionment that Jesus walked with

them. He journeyed with these two disciples to make them see that Jerusalem was not a place

where only his crucifixion and death took place... but also where he rose from the dead.

In our own lives, we often want to walk away from places and situations that have brought us

disappointment and hardship. We feel that we want to close such chapters in our lives. Fair

enough. But are these places or situations of disappointment not exactly the very places where

the seeds of hope and fresh life are found? Jesus journeys with us in our moments of difficulty…

and makes us see that a past situation which we experience as negative may actually be the

very seed of new life.

by Patrick van der Vorst

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Click Here: April 19, 2022 Christian Art

Reflection on the painting

Jesus tells Mary Magdalene in today’s reading: ‘Don’t cling on to me’, or in Latin ‘Noli me tangere’,

the title of our painting by Abraham Janssens and Jan Wildens. So ‘Noli me tangere’ means much

more than ‘don’t touch me’. I means don’t hang on to me or don’t cling to me as in our Gospel

translation. ‘Cling’ is actually a good word to use, as it implies that we would cling to something in

its physical form. So Jesus tells Mary not to hang on to him in his physical form… as soon he will

ascend into heaven.

This is the single most important event in Mary Magdalene’s life. She is depicted in our painting in

a graceful pose, gently reaching out to Jesus, but yet in a reserved manner. Kneeling, she is in awe

after having recognised the gardener as Jesus. He is depicted in a blood red open cloak revealing

his side wound. He is holding a spade (as is usual in paintings depicting this topic), the only sign of

his humanity. The tip of the spade is touching the earth.

Christ works the garden in which our spiritual lives grow and blossom. Look at all the fruit behind

him! We too can generate such abundant fruits if we let Jesus be the gardener to our souls.

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Click Here: April 18, 2022 Jesuit Prayer.org

Mt 28:8-15

So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’

If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Transformed by Something Marvelous

Having borne the unbearable together over several traumatic days, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary return to the tomb of Jesus crucified. Whatever drew these devoted women there that morning – love, sorrow, fidelity, emptiness, curiosity, a steadfast spirit of accompaniment – these unwavering disciples experienced an earth-shaking, dramatic inversion of reality as they had previously known it. Something entirely new is dawning. By steering in the direction of loss and emptiness, emptiness itself (theirs and the tomb’s) becomes an inexplicable encounter with faint hopes dramatically fulfilled. Fearful, yet overjoyed, they run and tell Jesus’s disciples that something marvelous is about to happen. They run until something even more marvelous happens directly to them. Jesus meets them along their way, and they embrace.

When has Jesus embraced my emptiness and transformed it to something new and joy-filled?

With whom am I called to share the hope and promise of this exceptionally Good News?

—Patricia Feder serves as the administrator of the Office of Ignatian Spirituality for the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province.

Prayer

Therefore, my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too, abides in confidence; Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world, nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption. You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.”

—Psalm 16:9-11

Click Here: April 17, 2022 

A Feast of Hope

 

 In a homily offered on Easter Sunday 2019, Father Richard Rohr shared the good news of the resurrection:

The Brazilian writer and journalist Fernando Sabino (1923–2004) wrote, “In the end, everything will be [all right]. If it’s not [all right], it’s not the end.” [1] That’s what today is all about, “Everything will be okay in the end.”

The message of Easter is not primarily a message about Jesus’ body, although we’ve been trained to limit it to this one-time “miracle.” We’ve been educated to expect a lone, risen Jesus saying, “I rose from the dead; look at me!” I’m afraid that’s why many people, even Christians, don’t really seem to get too excited about Easter. If the message doesn’t somehow include us, humans don’t tend to be that interested in theology. Let me share what I think the real message is: Every message about Jesus is a message about all of us, about humanity. Sadly, the Western church that most of us were raised in emphasized the individual resurrection of Jesus. It was a miracle that we could neither prove nor experience, but that we just dared to boldly believe.

But there’s a great secret, at least for Western Christians, hidden in the other half of the universal church. In the Eastern Orthodox Church—in places like Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Egypt—Easter is not usually painted with a solitary Jesus rising from the dead. He’s always surrounded by crowds of people—both haloed and unhaloed. In fact, in traditional icons, he’s pulling people out of Hades. Hades is not the same as hell, although we put the two words together, and so we grew up reciting in the creed that “Jesus descended into hell.”

Instead, Hades is simply the place of the dead. There’s no punishment or judgment involved. It’s just where a soul waits for God. But we neglected that interpretation. So the Eastern Church was probably much closer to the truth that the resurrection is a message about humanity. It’s a message about history. It’s a corporate message, and it includes you and me and everyone else. If that isn’t true, it’s no wonder that we basically lost interest.

Today is the feast of hope, direction, purpose, meaning, and community. We’re all in this together. The cynicism and negativity that our country and many other countries have descended into show a clear example of what happens when people do not have hope. If it’s all hopeless, we individually lose hope too. Easter is an announcement of a common hope. When we sing in the Easter hymn that Christ destroyed death, that means the death of all of us. It’s not just about Jesus; it’s to humanity that God promises, “Life is not ended, it merely changes,” as we say in the funeral liturgy. That’s what happened in Jesus, and that’s what will happen in us. In the end, everything will be all right. History is set on an inherently positive and hopeful tangent.

Click Here: April 16, 2022 

Today's Readings

 

Holy Saturday:
Wounded by Beauty’s Absence
By Cecilia González-Andrieu, Ph.D. 

War rages. Christ dies. The earth trembles under the pounding of bombs. The sky darkens as his body is taken down from the Cross. Children, grandparents, and soldiers, perish under the weight of our rejection of God’s vision for who we can be. Christ waits in the tomb and the rock shelters him. God’s gift of God’s self is spurned and destroyed, and yet in spite of this God still loves. The women will come to the tomb to anoint Christ’s body. A nurse will gently bind a wound. The women will not find him in the tomb, because Christ lives and a teacher will teach in a refugee camp. Because Christ lives, strangers will bring food and offer shelter. Because Christ lives, the wounds of the world will move us to act. Because Christ lives, we will live as light bearers, as peace makers, as the ones who know God’s heart. Christ lives because God is love and the tomb is the very moment and place where that wounded love explodes into all reality, sending small shards of its light into each of us.

We will awaken—not just to the dawn, but to the hope that the starkness of the tomb urges us to create. We have been wounded by beauty’s absence, and standing at the door of the empty tomb recommit ourselves to reimagine, reclaim, rebuild, and rejoice, because… Christ lives.

For Reflection: 

  • Is there a tomb keeping me from stepping out to live the fullness of God’s vision for me?

  • In what way, however small, can I be a source of light and hope to those in my midst? 

  • Can I make it a practice to listen intently to my heart each day to hear God’s gentle voice guiding me?

Share your thoughts

[Image: Christ, Bianca Badillo, for Meeting Christ in Faith & Art, LMU 2022]

Click Here: April 15, 2022 


Good Friday:
Our Denial of Suffering
By Ellie Hidalgo

“I am not.” 

I twinge each time during the Good Friday service when Peter denies being Jesus’ disciple with the words, “I am not.” Peter and Jesus have been through so much together, and yet on Good Friday Peter denies having been a close disciple. Three times Peter betrays his friend, his own integrity, and his own belief that a better world is possible. 

I twinge because who could fault Peter for wanting to protect himself during a violent, vulnerable moment, when the cause he has pledged himself to appears to be unraveling completely. I twinge because I’ve been there, and I know you’ve been there. We’ve all denied Jesus hundreds of times in order to avoid suffering as a Christian. 

Good Friday is raw. This day invites us to look at the suffering we deny, the suffering we can’t bear to see and feel in a world fraught with sin, death, violence, war, hate, injustice, division, poverty, and illness.

The desire to escape suffering is all too human, all too understandable. It seems impossibly difficult sometimes that God would ask us to risk our own comfort, our own security, or perhaps even our own lives to accompany others in their pain. Do you ever become frustrated with God by the amount of suffering that pleads for accompaniment in our world today? Do you ever become frustrated with yourself for resembling Peter’s pattern of denial? I know I do. 

It is impossibly hard to deal with so much pain by ourselves, which is why I am grateful that our Ignatian spiritual tradition encourages us to pray for the graces we need. On Good Friday we can pray for the grace to remain at the foot of the Cross and be present with someone who suffers. We can pray for the grace of faith in the Paschal Mystery even before it unfolds. 

For Reflection: 

  • In what ways do you resemble Peter’s denial of suffering? 

  • What graces do you need to pray for to accompany someone in your life who is suffering? 

Click Here: April 14, 2022 

Holy Thursday of The Lord’s Supper

Jn 13: 1-15

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him.

And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Love in the Midst of Despair

Tonight we are presented with three options. We can turn on Jesus and our Christian family when it no longer fits our needs like Judas did. If we’re all honest, we’ve probably done this in some form at some time.

The more common route is to turn to Peter. We say everything with the best of intentions. We are bold in words but we run away out of fear as soon as we lose hope.

Finally, we could choose the way of John, who just gently lays his head on the chest of Jesus at the Last Supper. I imagine John heard that sacred heartbeat and feeling the love coming off of it gave him the ability to endure the pain and stand with Mary at the foot of the cross. It is through being loved that we are able to love in the midst of despair without counting the cost.

—Alex Hale, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Midwest Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Take my hand, I’ll lead you to salvation. Take my love, for love is everlasting. And remember the truth that once was spoken, ‘to love another person is to see the face of God.’

—From “Epilogue” from Les Miserables

Click Here: April 13, 2022 

Click Here: April 12, 2022 


Tuesday of Holy Week:
Fickleness and Frustration into Friendship with God
By Alyssa Perez

This is maybe one of the first passages where Jesus is being sarcastic (at least in my mind), and it caught me off guard. Simon Peter tells Jesus, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times." Jesus is saying: truly, will you? Because you are saying one thing and are about to do another. This got me thinking. 

When was the last time we were guilty of this? When is the last time that we may have said one thing, but done another? It is tempting, sometimes, to quickly judge Simon Peter for his denial of Jesus, yet sometimes the peer pressure and temptation is so strong that we all find our ways into the wrong situation or decision at times. 

This reading feels very timely for our Lenten journey as we move closer and closer towards Easter during this Holy Week. How many times have we been fickle in our commitment, or made exceptions out of convenience to our Lenten observance? I am for sure guilty of it, and Simon Peter's story is a good example for us to reflect on. It is easy to see other people's flaws and shortcomings, such as any of us reading today’s gospel about Judas or Simon Peter in 2022.  We may think to ourselves: How could Simon and Judas do that to Jesus? I would never.

And yet, how can we instead turn our prayer inward to refocus our energy and frustration into looking at our own lives? May those without sin throw the first stone. In choosing to admit our own fickleness and denials of Jesus, we are reminded that we are all sinners, no one person better than another. It humanizes each of us, so even when we don't agree with other people—politicians, leaders, colleagues, or friends—and they seem dissonant in their action, we are able to understand and show compassion.  We all have something to work on in terms of living out our values, and today's readings invite us into reflection about our own commitments and beliefs. Do we act in accordance with our beliefs and values every day, or do we have some things to work on moving forward into these last few days of Lent? 

It's a little scary to look inward and face ourselves, but we find peace and comfort in the loving kindness that God surrounds us with each day. No matter our situation, God is always there to catch us or put an arm around us to wrap in a warm embrace. God is calling each of us into friendship with Her. Our journey during Holy Week is the perfect time to answer that call.

Click Here: April 11, 2022 

Monday of Holy Week

John 12:1-11

Friends, in today’s Gospel, Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus’ feet with perfumed oil, preparing him for burial.

This gesture—wasting something as expensive as an entire jar of perfume—is sniffed at by Judas, who complains that, at the very least, the nard could have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Why does John use this tale to preface his telling of the Passion? Why does he allow the odor of this woman’s perfume to waft, as it were, over the whole of the story? It is because, I believe, this extravagant gesture shows forth the meaning of what Jesus is about to do: the absolutely radical giving away of self.

There is nothing calculating, careful, or conservative about the woman’s action. Flowing from the deepest place in the heart, religion resists the strictures set for it by a fussily moralizing reason (on full display in those who complain about the woman’s extravagance). At the climax of his life, Jesus will give himself away totally, lavishly, unreasonably—and this is why Mary’s beautiful gesture is a sort of overture to the opera that will follow.

Click Here: April 10, 2022 

Palm Sunday

Isaiah 50:4-7

The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to

sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens— wakens my

ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and

I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.

I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled

out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Being Present to Suffering

How quickly the mood changes on Palm Sunday.  Suddenly we go from the jubilation of Jesus being greeted with palms as he enters Jerusalem, to the brutality of the suffering servant passage of the first reading. This solemn theme continues with the reading of the Passion. 

How am I being called to be present to my own suffering and the suffering of others this Holy Week? As we look upon Jesus hanging on the cross as St. Ignatius suggests in the third week of the Spiritual Exercises, can we begin to appreciate Jesus’ tremendous love for us?  I believe he would have died for me even if I was the only one needing redemption. 

—Fr. Paul Macke, SJ, is the Jesuit Mission Coordinator at the Jesuit Spiritual Center in Milford, Ohio.  He co-leads a Spiritual Direction Training Program for the Cincinnati Region.  

 

Prayer 

O Christ Jesus 

May your death be my life, 

Your labor my repose, 

Your human weakness my strength, 

Your confusion my glory. 

—Saint Peter Faber, SJ

Happy-Palm-Sunday-1.jpg

Click Here: April 9, 2022 

Ez 37: 21-28

Thus says the Lord God: I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from every quarter, and bring them to their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all. Never again shall they be two nations, and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms. 

They shall never again defile themselves with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. I will save them from all the apostasies into which they have fallen, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God. My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes. 

They shall live in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, in which your ancestors lived; they and their children and their children’s children shall live there forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary among them forevermore. 

My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations shall know that I the Lord sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is among them forevermore.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. 

God’s Dream For the World

Have you ever felt sorry for God? Through Ezekiel, we sense God’s unrealized dreams and hopes and feel God’s deep yearning and desire to enter into a relationship with us. Like a couple on their wedding day, like a child imagining the perfect summer vacation, like one answering a call to religious life, initially, none can imagine anything ruining the dream. Today, God shares God’s dream for us: a life - a world - filled with unity and peace. So, what happened? 

Each generation is invited to live this dream. As we enter Holy Week, may we start by asking: 

Where is there division in my life?
What idols do I place before my relationship with God and others?
Who needs my forgiveness and from whom do I need to ask forgiveness?

Let us ask Jesus for the grace to create this everlasting covenant with God and with one another. 

—Sue Robb is the Pastoral Associate for Justice & Life at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Kansas City, Missouri.

Prayer 

May Your will be my will, O God.
May Your obedience be my obedience, dear Jesus.
May Your breath be my breath, Holy Spirit.
May your “Yes” be my yes, Mother Mary.
May your witness be my witness, Saints of Heaven.
And may Love and Peace reign forever in our hearts and in our world.
Amen.

—Sue Robb

Click Here: April 8, 2022 

A Reflection for the Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent   By Jim Keane

 

“If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me;

but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me,

believe the works, so that you may realize and understand

that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

Then they tried again to arrest him;

 

but he escaped from their power” (Jn 10:37-39).

 

Among the many wise things St. Ignatius Loyola wrote is a simple line from his famous “Contemplation on Divine Love” from the Spiritual Exercises: “Love ought to manifest itself in deeds rather than in words.” Given as a presupposition for a retreatant who has normally spent several weeks contemplating the working of God in human history and in the retreatant’s own life, it is a succinct summary of how St. Ignatius thinks we should respond to God’s gifts in our lives: not with pious talk or lofty promises but with concrete acts of devotion and love.

But the phrase is not only for those who can disappear from everyday life for a month; nor is it only about how we respond to God’s gifts. As Jesus notes in today’s Gospel, we can also recognize what is truly from God by the same principle: “Even if you do not believe me, believe the works.” Jesus tells those seeking to arrest him that they need not accept his words, but they can’t deny the works and deeds: the miracles, the conversions, the growing crowd of disciples following him. 

 

Note that the baptismal promises we will recite at the Easter Vigil reflect an understanding of this reality. When we say that we reject Satan, we also say that we reject “all his empty promises.” Satan offers words but not deeds—the easy way out, the false consolation, the Hallmark card, the thoughts and prayers with you at this time. Jesus offers the narrow gate, the hard saying, the camel through the eye of the needle—but he also assures us that his way won’t be all words; there will be deeds. It will not just be us offering our love to God but God offering love to us in deeds. Forgiveness. Fidelity. Resurrection.

 

That last is of course the greatest gift, and the whole reason for Lent: to prepare ourselves for the great gift of the Resurrection. But elsewhere in our lives, can we look at the good things we receive, the gifts other people bring (or the gifts other people are), and see those, too, as God’s deeds? It can be a hard thing to trust in a world gone mad—God does not submit to the empirical method, after all—but Jesus asks us not to believe what we’re told, necessarily, as much as to believe because of what has been done.

Click Here: April 7, 2022 Ignatian Solidarity 


Day 37: A Problem too Big, A God too Small?
By Br. Mark Mackey, S.J. 

My image of God is too small. 

Or, I could say, my image of God is never big enough. This can have frustrating consequences.

Between teaching environmental science classes at Loyola Chicago, working with our Jesuit Green Team, collaborating on various Church environmental efforts, and trying to keep up with the latest writing and research regarding the state of our planet, I spend a lot of my time thinking about what we call our current ecological crisis. On a daily basis I can get pulled back to a familiar feeling of frustration and existential dread that first began to form almost 18 years ago as I started my higher education in environmental science.

Sometimes I catch myself in prayer thinking “How can you ask for trust and peace—do you know the state of the planet? Have you seen the latest science in the IPCC report? Do you know the state of biodiversity loss in the world?” Like those in today’s Gospel, I can find myself addressing Jesus simply as some man in first century Palestine. Unlike the prostrating Abraham in the first reading or a person in the first two steps of AA, I can lack the humility it takes to see God as God is.

On occasion and with grace, I remember to let my certainties and questions go. I find myself fixed by the loving gaze of Christ. My endless questions and uncertainties drop away, and I find Jesus, the one who was before anything was. Whoa.

In humility I realize it was God who inspired my desire for environmental justice in the first place. In humility I remember God is the source of Creation and Being itself. 

Can I trust God’s promises and covenant? Can I have hope in He who was, is, and will be?

Click Here: April 6, 2022 

A Reflection for the Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

By Joe Hoover, S.J.

 

“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:31).

 

The ancient Greek term aletheia, which appears at least 25 times in the Gospel of John, is central to the evangelist’s understanding of the messiah. It is best translated as “truth.” The Scripture scholar Bruce Vawter, C.M., writes that aletheia “represents, as indeed it did in the Old Testament, divine revelation (8:32), and therefore it is identified with Jesus himself.”

 

In today’s reading, Jesus is telling the Jews that if only they possessed aletheia, if only they knew the divine as revealed in him, they would be truly free. Christ goes on to explain that the Jews’ lack of freedom is not a political or physical bondage but slavery to sin.

 

And freedom, true freedom from sin, says Christ, is now at hand.

 

The concept of truth as freedom is a universal one that appears across many religions and philosophies. In Plato’s “allegory of the cave,” prisoners chained to a wall of a cave are constrained to see only shadows of real life, not reality itself. If these captives only knew that what they were seeing was not real, that they were in essence living a lie, they would break out of the cave. The truth would set them free.

 

The translation of Greek terms; the marshaling of theologians; the extending out to other philosophical traditions: This is all a very appropriate and important way to study our way into understanding Jesus and his exhortations.

 

But another kind of theology, another way to study the depth of this Scripture passage, is to just say, or even simply listen to the words: The truth shall set you free. Six words, six syllables that over the centuries have worked their way into our lives and culture. Not just because of what they mean—becoming fundamentally liberated by Christ—but because of the way the words fit together. Because the interlocking of consonants and syllables, four iambs, four thrumming phrases, the truth–will set–you free. The rhythm and chant and music is itself a theology, an effortless path to the divine. “The truth will set you free.” It just feels good to say.

 

We are all in bondage. No one is not. Or we have been. We are sinking under a ridiculous mortgage we can’t pay for, drowning in a toxic relationship we never imagined we would be in, chained by constant violent unheard mutterings to our sworn enemy on the shop floor. We are enslaved to a miserable idea of who we are.

 

And when we hear or say such words, “the truth shall set you free,” they create a desire to experience what they mean. To wrest ourselves from the abusive marriage, to pierce the numbing lie of an addiction, to accept the cold fact we are loved exactly as we are by our 9-year-old or a best friend. When we experience such freedom, the breath drops deeper, the voice is released, tension leaves the shoulders; we are able to sit before a crucifix and just dwell there, with a deeper knowing of Christ’s suffering and unmatchable gratitude for his redemption.

Click Here: April 5, 2022 

What Is Jesus Trying to Set Free?

Enslaved

Until I was 16, it consumed my days, my evenings, my weekends. It made me feel good about myself, connected me with others, and caused me a great deal of enjoyment. This activity was a fundamental part of me and defined so much of my (and my family’s) life. 

When I got sick during my junior year of high school, I realized I had become a slave to dancing. Any enjoyment had become overshadowed by the all-consuming commitment and the shame at never being good enough. Something life-giving had become a source of pain. Instead of drawing me closer to my true self, dance began to pull me deeper into despair.  

This is how the false spirit often works. We are lured into complacency, and these gifts that God has given us become the very center of our lives. Today’s readings remind us that we are enslaved by our own sinfulness. We become inordinately attached to things that have the potential for good: activities, social media, gossip, and perhaps even a beloved ministry. The good becomes the goal, and there is no room for God.

As we draw nearer to Holy Week, what might Jesus be trying to set free within me? 

—Jen Coito co-founded Christus Ministries, a young adult ministry endorsed by