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Showing posts from April, 2019

Easter Vigil - April 20, 2019

Genesis 1:1-2:2,26-31Genesis 22:1-18Exodus 14:15-15:1Isaiah 54:5-14Isaiah 55:1-11 Baruch3:9-15,32-4:4   Ezekiel 36:16-28   Romans 6:3-11   Luke 24:1-12
I signed on for the daunting task of reflecting on the readings given for the Easter Vigil. For reference, that is seven readings from the Old Testament, two from the New Testament, plus several responsorial psalms. The amount of material to digest is enormous. But I guess to fully understand the magnificence of the resurrection; you start from the beginning (Genesis 1:1) and work your way through. Could these readings from the Easter Vigil be the “cliff notes” of our faith?
We start with THE beginning, literally the beginning of all creation… “and it was good.” We move through a couple of poetic psalms, reminding us that “the earth is full of goodness.” We march forward, chariots and all (Exodus 14) with a reminder that with God’s help we can power through, from sea to dry ground. Slow and loud claps accompany Dave Ekerdt and those “hor…

Good Friday - April 19, 2019

Isaiah 52:13-53    Hebrews 4:14-16,5:7-9    John 18:1-19,42
Now it is finished.”This statement is read every Good Friday, with such silence throughout the church that you can hear a pin drop.I recall years ago a time with Father Rotert saying those words; he could hardly get through it, his voice quivering.
I was honored to be asked to write a reflection and a bit overwhelmed when given this particular day.As I read the gospel, I kept coming back to the statement, “Now it is finished”. I reflected on all those times I looked forward to “finishing” something, usually it wastied to work like finishing a project, getting to or meeting a deadline.However, the word can apply to many other things for all of us.
For example, our own twins are in 8th grade looking to “finish” this year and move on. Our Rockhurst junior is getting ready for his senior year and “finishing” high school.Our oldest, a gifted fifth grade teacher, is looking forward to “finishing” this particular school year.And as I w…

Holy Thurday - April 18, 2019

Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14   1 Corinthians11:23-26  John 13:1-15
Holy Thursday is the liturgical culmination of all the preparation of the previous six weeks.It is the beginning of the holiest three days in the church year. In the liturgy’s first reading, God gives Moses precise and detailed information on how to prepare for the Passover meal.
When I read tonight’s first reading from Exodus, I reflected on all the times in my life when I had to prepare. If I had to be ready for an event, I did not get there without practice, practice, practice. I ask myself as Lent comes to an end and we begin the celebration of the Triduum, am I prepared? Did I pay attention to the readings each day of Lent? Did I do what I needed to do this Lent? To be prepared, takes practice.
My first recollection of an adult in my life other than my parents occurred at age five. I took piano lessons. It was considered a privilege and a discipline in our home. Each week I had a lesson and I was to practice every day and c…

Wednesday of Holy Week - April 17, 2019

Isaiah 50:4-9  Psalm 69  Matthew 26:14-25
After quickly skimming the first reading, my immediate reaction was that I would focus on the gospel.Then… I read the gospel:Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. “Ah, I think I’ll give that first reading a more thorough review” I said to myself. It took reading only the first few words to make it clear that was the right choice: “The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.”
In my case, “them” are two sons and a husband.Well-trained may not apply to my public speaking skills, but I do feel that my calling is to be that voice for them--to have the words that will comfort them and lift them up.
Of course, that is not always easy, no matter my calling. They are human and individuals. There are times that they do not want to hear what I am saying. They let me know. Often, their resistance to my message is because I was not really listening to them. I did not fully understand their fe…

Tuesday of Holy Week - April 16, 2019

Isaiah 49:1-6 John 13:21-33,36-38
As I read today’s first reading from Isaiah, I wondered why did God make the prophet a sharp-edged sword and then conceal him under his arm? Why did he make him a polished arrow and then hide him?
It is interesting, and to an extent comforting, to see that although the times have changed, the questions and the need to know remain the same.We ask why? Annoying in its simplicity, this three-letter word has challenged the mind for millennia. Sometimes the answer is simple, yet so often it is complicated with uncertainty. As humans, we desire to put the pieces together and make sense of it all.
However, life is not that easy, it is not a puzzle where you are given the image before you start to assemble. With a puzzle, you can even make do with a missing piece or two. In life, all the information must be present to understand the grand design. So, we toil, searching for why a negative or positive event has occurred.  We blame others, ourselves, even God.
Fin…

Monday of Holy Week - April 15, 2019

Isaiah 42:1-7    Psalm 27   John 12:1-11
As a cradle Catholic born and raised in Brookside (St Elizabeth Class of '85), I am appreciative that the Faith Formation Team reached out to me for this year’s Lenten reflection booklet.  Like so many of us, my life at times is on overload.  The opportunity to reflect as the Lenten season approaches is an important and helpful thing for me to do as part of my faith journey. 
The part of my readings that stands out to me is found in the responsorial psalm: “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”  It continues, "When evildoers come at me...though an army encamp against me...though war be waged upon me, even then I will trust." This kind of faith has been particularly important (and necessary) for me as a Catholic.
As a St. Elizabeth parishioner for the first 30+ years of my life, although a very positive experience for me personally, being a parishioner there brought many challenges.For St. Elizabeth was a hotbed for priest abuse b…

Passion Sunday - April 14, 2019

Isaiah 50:4-7  Philippians 2:6-11  Luke 22:14-23,56
As parents of two little girls, we often ponder how best to instill faith and Christian values in our curious, growing girls. It seems natural to start with dinner blessings, bedtime prayers, and stories of the Nativity. Reminding a child to be grateful for, and to celebrate, their blessings is much easier than talking about servitude and self-sacrifice.

The Lenten season can be challenging to explain to a child. It is an innately sorrowful time as we confront and mourn Jesus’ suffering, but it is also a time to celebrate and serve. How can we teach our children to understand and celebrate the pain that comes from personal sacrifice?

As Christians, we are guided by examples of the power Christ’s servitude. This week’s readings from Isaiah, Philippians, and Luke’s gospel, provide comfort and courage in times of sorrow and hardship. Christ was aware of the immense sacrifices he would be forced to make and the consequences that would res…

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent - April 13, 2019

Ezekiel 37:21-28   John 11:45-57
Have you ever felt pressured into doing something that you knew probably was not in the best interests for you, your family, or your loved ones?Or maybe you said or did something that you knew you were doing just because it was the easiest solution, or you were only going along with the flow.Surely, at one point or another, you have been in a setting where you did not have the loudest voice in the room.Whether it be at the office or in a large group, being heard is not always the easiest thing to accomplish.Or maybe you are the type of person that is not as outspoken as everyone else is, so things you feel are sometimes left unsaid.
In today’s gospel, I get the sense that there were many who probably knew that the right thing to do was to follow and have faith in Jesus Christ.Leading up to this gospel passage, Jesus had been caring for the poor, healing the sick, and he had just raised Lazarus from the dead.However, there were those that were scared, tim…

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent - April 12, 2019

Jeremiah 20:10-13John 10:31-42
At first glance when reading today’s reading from John’s gospel, I was quickly caught off guard when I read Jesus’ words:“Many good deeds I have shown you from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” This quote really resonated with me because in my life it is quite relatable, especially in this Lenten season. As a junior in high school, life can be busy and stressful at times. With this, it is hard to find free time to practice the Catholic faith I have grown up around.
As time flies by I always get caught up in the world around me and I do not participate in simple things like prayer and going to mass. However, I never attempt to correct myself or do anything about it. Of course, since I go to a Catholic High School we do have certain times of prayer throughout the day, but it is quick and to the point. So this quote really spoke to me because of how I tend to cast a rock at Jesus, figuratively of course, because I am constantly straying away f…

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent - April 11, 2019

Genesis 17:3-9  John 8:51-59
Today’s reading from the book of Genesis (Chapter 17) describes the beginning of the covenant relationship between God and Abraham.God makes an everlasting pact with Abraham promising to be with him and his descendants forever.
Like many of you, when I hear stories of Abraham, I think about the famous story in Genesis 22 in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice his longed for and beloved son, Isaac.It is hard to imagine how God could have asked such a thing.I have known fathers who have been challenged in their faith just because of this scripture story. The thought of God asking someone to sacrifice his child to show him love and devotion--what kind of an ultimatum is that?
Thinking about this later Genesis story encouraged me to question the context, the hyperbole and the meaning of the Genesis readings in order to understand better my relationship with God. Abraham is asked for the extreme sacrifice.This is the same God who in today’s reading from Chapter 1…

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent - April 10, 2019

Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95   John 8:31-42
What a test of faith.For these three men have such a profound belief and dedication to their God that they were willing to die for it rather than be forced to worship another.This brings the thought of my own existence and mortality to the forefront.I ask myself this question:Am I willing to die for my belief in God?
It is easy to say yes to that question.But take the time to put yourself in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s sandals.When standing bound and peering into the white-hot furnace would you give in to the King’s wishes?These men had already made their decision.They asked God to save them but understood there was also the possibility of death.We live our lives knowing that death is imminent.To live life with the devotion of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s should be our goal.To live and die for God.
To answer that question with a yes, I shall live and I will die for God our Creator.The miracles of life that daily come to us through the Ho…

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent - April 9, 2019

Numbers 21:4-9   Psalm 102  John 8:21-30 
Somewhat excited to have been asked to contribute to our Lenten reflections, I immediately sat down and read all the day’s readings.Then I read them a second time.What are these words saying to me?Nothing.I was instantly frustrated with the words that did not say much in today's world, or so I thought.
Then it hit me.FRUSTRATION!The Book of Numbers puts the worn out Israelites wandering aimlessly in the desert.Eating magic food that was wretched to their tastes.They were absorbed by thoughts of defeat in their endeavor to escape the Egyptians.They cried out to God and Moses. Why did that word speak to me?Because I have recently faced frustration.
Chapter 1:Last month my cell phone crashed.After failed frustrating attempts to get into the phone, I visited the Apple Store.The solution was to reboot the phone.The short story is that I lost all my contacts, photos, etc.Defeated by the iCloud and all of Appledom, I cried out to God and Moses:THIS…

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent - April 8, 2019

Daniel 13:1-9,15-17,19-30,33-62    John 8:1-20 When asked in an interview, “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” Pope Francis (Bergoglio himself) humbly replied, “I am a sinner. This the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner."
In today’s gospel about the woman caught in the act of adultery, we are told the scribes and Pharisees “led a woman forward” and “made her stand in front of everyone.”I wonder how she felt at that moment.I imagine she felt humiliated, scared and full of shame. Just as our Holy Father is acutely aware of his own sinful nature, I suspect the woman was also aware of hers. In 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul says "The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost." St. Gemma Galgani once said, "Think of all the sins the greatest sinners have committed, I have committed as many."
Whether it is Paul, Augustine, Mother Teresa or Pope Fra…

Fifth Sunday of Lent - April 7, 2019

Isaiah 43:16-21Philippians 3:8-14John 8:1-11
Infinitein·fi·nite | \ˈin-fə-nətadjective 1. Without limits and impossible to measure or calculate
I love dictionaries. Most reference material, really. I might add that I have a respectable collection too. One could easily connect that unfortunate glitch to warm fuzzy childhood memories of my grandfather working his cross word puzzles in the furthest nether reaches of our living room. I would sit just waiting for him to look up at me over his spectacles and say something like “Hey Squirt, give me a three-letter word for blunder.”
“Do you not perceive it?” This line of today’s first reading tugged at something inside me. God’s new thing takes the shape of monumental hospitality. The Lord instructs his people to forget the former things and advises against dwelling in the past. The hand extended to you will not always be a miraculous parting sea. Memory creates expectation and expectation may prevent you from seeing the power of God in more su…

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent - April 6, 2019

Jeremiah 11:18-20  John 7:40-53
The Lenten readings for this week seem to reveal a straightforward theme: Trust in God, and He will protect us. Not only will He protect us but God will take care of our enemies or those who wish to do us harm in God’s own way.
It is hard for me not to take solace in this message. Not only is God on our side but He’s also ready to avenge anything that is not. I mean, this all sounds great, right?
I did oversimplify the message, however. It takes more than just trusting God. It takes trusting in God and being a just person who follows God’s word. This is how we get God on our team.“Do me justice O Lord, because I am just”. “A shield before me is God, who saves the upright of heart.” So, not only do we need to trust in God, but we also need to be so need to be a moral person to get the benefits of his protection and justice.
What I find comforting in these scriptures is the fact that if we control what we can control (and that is not much) God will take care …

Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent - April 5, 2019

Wisdom 2:1, 12-22   Psalm 34   John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
This reading from the Book of Wisdom seems to be a prescription for the wicked to persecute the just person – in fact, not just to disagree or ignore him or her, but to actively torture and kill. I had to read the preceding and following verses to put this bleak picture in some sort of perspective. The preceding verse, indeed the first lines of the book, begins “Love justice, you who judge the earth, think of the Lord in goodness, and seek Him in integrity of heart” and it goes on to describe how wicked men reject immortality and justice.
The last sentences of the reading lead into the next chapter (which I read thankfully): “But the souls of the just are in the hands of God.” Even if the just are punished in this world, they will be greatly blessed because God has found them worthy. Maybe the author of this book spent so much time describing the wicked so that I might examine my conscience and lead a better life as a person of justi…

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent - April 4, 2019

Exodus 32:7-14  John 5:31-47
I must admit I struggle with understanding the readings presented today. What does the church want me to understand by choosing these two readings together? I see two common themes throughout these scriptures--our own shortcomings of faith and God’s reliance on our learned peers to serve as our advocates or messengers in our lives.
The Exodus reading reminds me that there are undoubtedly times when I have profoundly gone off the rails, and that at those times I have to hope that there are people who still think I am worth supporting.These readings make me ask myself: Have I been a good neighbor to those around me? Have I demonstrated to others that I am a good person? Have I demonstrated it enough that they will feel it important to convince others to overlook my shortcomings? Who would stand up to God and defend me? I wonder. I should probably work harder on that.
In the reading from John’s gospel, I see Jesus once again pointing out how our own lack of fai…

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent - April 3, 2019

Isaiah 49:8-15  John 5:17-30
“The Son cannot do anything on his own.” This phrase sticks out to me in today’s gospel. Jesus speaks about his oneness with the Father: that Jesus is not acting alone; all things come from the Father and are given to Jesus the Son. That is to say that the Son depends on the Father. As a mother and father of a two-year-old and an eight-month-old, Katie and I also find ourselves saying, “I cannot do anything on my own.” Well, perhaps not anything but certainly, we depend on God as a married couple and as parents.
In today’s gospel, Jesus speaks of the relationship between Father and Son: “...the Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for what he does, the Son will do also. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything that He Himself does...”
As parents, what an awesome gift we have been given to be an influence over our children. It’s incredible that our two-year-old, Annabelle, is learning sentences, colors, numbe…

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent - April 2, 2019

Ezekiel 47:1-9,12   John 5:1-16
We are all looking for shortcuts in life: a pill that can help us lose weight, a get-rich-quick scheme or taking an elevator instead of the stairs. However, these short cuts do not always, or even often, provide the desired results. Sometimes they are more negative than positive.
We live our lives with the ultimate goal that we will be able to enter the kingdom of heaven upon our death. However, there is no short cut for this. We will not be able to do so unless we show up with our faith every day.We show up by attending church, following the Ten Commandments, engaging in daily prayer and trying each day to love God and our neighbor. We cannot choose just one of these things to do and expect the reward of eternity with our maker. We have to do them all.
The sick man in the gospel showed up to the pool every day for 38 years hoping to be cured by the stirred water.In a time without the benefits of today’s medical science, it was perhaps his way of finding …

Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent - April 1, 2019

Isaiah 65:17-21  John 4:43-54
We have all heard the term “I’ll believe it when I see it.” We are all probably guilty of having said it at some point in our lives; I know I am. In today’s gospel, Jesus says, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you do not believe.” Is this statement true?! Do we not believe unless we see?
In the gospel story, a miracle seeker is put to the test. Jesus asks the man to trust him without seeing anything. The man does as he is told and finds his faith is rewarded…his prayer to Jesus is answered and he becomes a believer. Some of you may think, well, the man SAW so he BELIEVED. However, I think the man always believed and that is why he went to Jesus in the first place. He believed his prayers would be answered, as long as he asked.
About a year and a half ago, my life was drastically changed. I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. It was a shock to me and to my family. It was a test of my faith. However, I believe, so I prayed. I believe, so I tru…