Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Thoughts on the lockdown

When this is over

When this is over,
may we never again
take for granted
A handshake with a stranger
Full shelves at the store
Conversations with neighbors
A crowded theater
Friday night out
The taste of communion
A routine checkup
The school rush each morning
Coffee with a friend
The stadium roaring
Each deep breath
A boring Tuesday
Life itself.

When this ends
may we find
that we have become
more like the people
we wanted to be
we were called to be
we hoped to be
and may we stay
that way—better
for each other
because of the worst.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Thoughts on goodness

While we are quite familiar with being disappointed by the worst we see in the world, we cannot deny the extraordinary heroism of which humanity is also capable. All around us, ordinary people are performing acts of sacrifice, giving up their own lives so that others may live. It is nearly impossible to look into the world and not see love overflowing at every turn. Science cannot explain it; logic doesn’t understand it. And yet, love emanates more powerfully than any substance we can measure. Truth transcends any instrument or equation. In moments of pessimism, when we find ourselves impatient with the world, do not grow hopeless, but trust in the unexplainable love lived by so many. Trust the goodness you see. Be still, and know that God is the source of all that is Good, Beautiful, and True, and that all love exists because God wills it.
—from the book Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship by Casey Cole, OFM

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Friday, April 24, 2020

Thoughts on peacefulness

There will always be false prophets and deceivers, “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” Jesus called them. But this does not mean that we are to go about criticizing and correcting; that only separates further. It is only necessary to be true to oneself; and if it is called for, to speak our own understanding of what the truth is without denigrating others. Peace is achieved more effectively by trying to bring out the best, not pointing out the worst, in others. And we bring out the best in others by being ourselves peaceful. Our own peaceful presence will do more than trying to persuade others that we are right and they are wrong. Peacefulness is its own persuasion. That is the best option, it seems to me, for those committed to living the Gospel. The Franciscan response to sin and division is to forgive myself and my neighbor, thereby becoming peaceful in my own center, and then to reach out to others and “work mercy” with them, even with those whom I find it difficult to love, who repel me in any way. We work together toward the good, or we perish as individuals, as societies and as civilizations.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Thoughts on prayer

In Prayer We Present our Thoughts to God
To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, nor does it mean spending time with God instead of spending time with other people. As soon as we begin to divide our thoughts into thoughts about God and thoughts about other things, like people and events, we separate God from our daily life. At that point God is allocated to a pious little niche in some corner of our lives where we only think pious thoughts and experience pious feelings. Although it is important and even indispensable for our spiritual lives to set apart time for God and God alone, our prayer can only become unceasing [prayer] when all our thoughts—beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful—can be thought in the presence of the One who dwells in us and surrounds us. By trying to do this, our unceasing thinking is converted into unceasing prayer, moving us from a self-centered monologue to a God-centered dialogue. To do this we want to try to convert our thoughts into conversation. The main question, therefore, is not so much what we think, but to whom we present our thoughts.

Henri Nouwen

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Thoughts on unbelief

On Easter night Jesus appears to his disciples, showing them the wounds in his hands and his side. He breathes the Holy Spirit on them and communicates the gift of peace, the fruit of Easter, but Thomas is not present. And his absence cannot be accidental: Jesus did not wait for his return to the Cenacle but appeared when Thomas had left, perhaps for some urgent task despite all the risks and dangers that entailed. Jesus appears as risen and alive to his disciples while Thomas is absent, perhaps to make Thomas experience the struggle of believing, of going from unbelief to faith, because that would be instructive for us too. The Fathers of the Church claim that Thomas’s unbelief is more useful for us than the faith of the other disciples. Let us listen to Jesus’s words to Thomas: “Do not doubt but believe.” It is a word that creates what it says. Jesus seems to be saying to Thomas, “Come forth out of your unbelief and come into faith.” This is the word we ask Jesus to speak over our lives, to rescue us from our unbelief. If we are still sinners, if we are often lacking and fail in our friendship with Jesus, it is because we are not yet sufficiently believers; something in our minds, our wills, or our affections is still unbelieving. Let us ask for this grace: “Rescue me, Lord, from my unbelief and bring me to faith.” May it be granted to us to unite ourselves to Thomas in asserting, “My Lord and my God!”
—from the book Encountering Jesus: A Holy Land Experience by Vincenzo Peroni

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Thoughts on mercy

God never gives up on his mercy, especially in our time where there exists the false perception of self-sufficiency and lack of awareness of one’s very sinfulness. These joint heresies endanger souls by creating the erroneous perception so prevalent in this day and age: that we have no need for mercy. Nothing could be further from the truth—and yet, for those who are willing to concede their need, nothing is simpler to remedy. Mercy is his loving face directed to the healing of the wounds of sin, the wounds that trigger a separation and distance in our relationship with God.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Thoughts on the road to Emmaus

Let us try to imagine the scene of the disciples who are walking with Jesus at their side for about seven miles. We can almost picture them in our minds: Initially focused on themselves with downcast faces, little by little they regain their strength, lift up their heads, return to an upright position, and breathe deeply again. Having reached the village of Emmaus, Jesus concretely checks to see if these two have understood and accepted all that he wanted to reveal to them during their journey. The disciples’ invitation shows that they accepted the extraordinary nature of their mysterious journey companion. Their invitation reveals the new feeling that is now in the hearts of these two. “It would be very good if you stayed with us. We have not yet understood who you are, but your presence is a source of consolation. Stay here with us.” They enter the place, and during the meal Jesus performs actions and repeats the very words of consecration for the Eucharist. He takes the bread and breaks it. The disciples—watching this take place and trained in listening to the word of God now being interpreted—are able to recognize him in the breaking of the bread. The Gospel reports that at the disciples’ invitation, Jesus “went in to stay with them.” As soon as they recognized him, however, “he vanished from their sight.” But why? Shouldn’t he have stayed with them? Because now he was still with them, because he had taught them to recognize him in the sacrament of his presence that he had left them: the body broken for them and the blood poured out for them.
—from the book Encountering Jesus: A Holy Land Experience by Vincenzo Peroni

Monday, April 13, 2020

Thoughts on faith

Trust Unreservedly That You Are Loved
The word faith is often understood as accepting something you can’t understand. People often say: “Such and such can’t be explained, you simply have to believe it.” However, when Jesus talks about faith, he means first of all to trust unreservedly that you are loved, so that you can abandon every false way of obtaining love. That’s why Jesus tells Nicodemus that, through faith in the descending love of God, we will be set free from anxiety and violence and will find eternal life. It’s a question here of trusting in God’s love. The Greek word for faith is pistis, which means, literally, “trust.” Whenever Jesus says to people he has healed: “Your faith has saved you,” he is saying that they have found new life because they have surrendered in complete trust to the love of God revealed in him.

Henri Nouwen

Sunday, April 12, 2020

More thoughts on Easter

Thoughts on Easter

Risen and Alive!

Minute Meditations | Pixabay
We are not content to say merely that Jesus is risen. We want to affirm that Jesus is risen and alive! He did not simply come back to life so that he could die again. He was not brought back to life like Lazarus, whom Jesus rescued from the tomb and would then have to die again. Jesus is risen and alive: He will no longer ever die. If Jesus is alive it means that he is our contemporary; we can dialogue with him and perceive his attentive and loving gaze on our lives; we can look at him and recognize in him the reality of our own lives. To know that Jesus is risen and alive means that he has truly defeated the power of death. He has rescued us from the mortal anguish that comes from the mystery of death that manifests itself as a kind of declaration of bankruptcy about life. The big problem with death is not only that it puts an end to life, but it also echoes that our existence is a kind of failure: All that we do or suffer or work at and all we have loved, experienced, or endured has been useless and seems to affirm death. The resurrection, life that is no longer subject to death, gives a fullness of meaning and beauty to the day-to-day nature of our existence; every effort, hope, suffering, and desire finds its true significance.
—from the book Encountering Jesus: A Holy Land Experience by Vincenzo Peroni

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Thoughts on Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday is kind of an “in between” day. Yesterday, Jesus was put to death. Tomorrow, he will rise from the dead. Today... not much happens. Try to imagine yourself there, in the Gospel, as one of Jesus’ followers. Your friend, your savoir, he is dead. You aren’t totally sure he’ll come back from the dead. You are confused and disoriented. Holy Saturday is a day to be disoriented; it's a day to be confused. Lean into those emotions. Then ask yourself, “What am I going to do about it?”

Matthew Kelly

Friday, April 10, 2020

Thoughts on Good Friday


JOHN 18:1 - 19:42

Friends, today’s Gospel is John’s wonderful narrative of Christ’s Passion.

On the cross, Jesus entered into close quarters with sin (because that’s where we sinners are found) and allowed the heat and fury of sin to destroy him, even as he protected us.

We can see, with special clarity, why the first Christians associated the crucified Jesus with the suffering servant of Isaiah. By enduring the pain of the cross, Jesus did indeed bear our sins; by his stripes we were indeed healed.

And this is why the sacrificial death of Jesus is pleasing to the Father. The Father sent his Son into godforsakenness, into the morass of sin and death—not because he delighted in seeing his Son suffer, but rather because he wanted his Son to bring the divine light to the darkest place.
It is not the agony of the Son in itself that pleases his Father, but rather the Son’s willing obedience in offering his body in sacrifice in order to take away the sin of the world.

St. Anselm said that the death of the Son reestablished the right relationship between divinity and humanity.

Bishop Robert Barron

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Thoughts on Palm Sunday

Eradicate Blame

We spend a lot of energy wondering who can be blamed for our own or other people's tragedies - our parents, ourselves, the immigrants, the Jews, the gays, the blacks, the fundamentalists, the Catholics....

But Jesus doesn't allow us to solve our own or other people's problems through blame. The challenge he poses is to discern in the midst of our darkness the light of God. In Jesus' vision everything, even the greatest tragedy, can become an occasion in which God's works can be revealed.

How radically new my life would be if I were willing to move beyond blame to proclaiming the works of God.... All human beings have their tragedies.... We seldom have much control over them. But do we choose to live them as occasions to blame, or as occasions to see God at work?
Prayer For Today

My God and my refuge, strip away my habit of blaming - either others or myself - for any big or little tragedies in my life. Challenge me to move beyond the "blame game" and to understand that these misfortunes and setbacks are not under my control. Teach me instead to live through these events and see them as fruitful opportunities for faith and love.


Henri Nouwen

Friday, April 3, 2020

Thoughts on trials

“Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV)

When crisis hits, you have to do the smart things necessary to get through it. You listen to what the experts say, you make good choices, and you keep moving forward, remembering at the same time that this will pass. It’s not going to last forever!

The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:12, "Dear friends, don't be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you" (TLB).

In this world, there will be times of trial and testing—it’s guaranteed! Since sin entered the world, nothing works perfectly. Everything on this planet is broken—the weather, the economy, your body, and even your best plans. Nothing works perfectly in this life because sin broke everything on earth.

Isaiah 24 says, “The land suffers for the sins of its people [for they] have twisted the laws of God and broken his everlasting commands . . . The earth has broken down in utter collapse" (v. 4-5, 19 TLB).

Everything is lost, abandoned, and confused. Even nature is groaning. We may wonder why God allowed sin and evil to enter the world, but it’s because he gives us a choice.

We're the ones that cause evil. We're the ones that are selfish and self-centered and cause problems in society and in our environment. This is why we're to pray the Lord's Prayer—"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"—because this is not heaven. Heaven is a perfect place with no sorrow, no sickness, no sadness, no stress, and we shouldn't expect heaven on earth. One day we'll get there, but we're not there yet.

We will get through this trial. One day the coronavirus crisis will be a part of our history. Soon enough we will marvel at all that God did in the midst of this trouble as we look at it from the other side.

And there will be more challenges to face and adversity to endure. This is part of our reality on this earth. But we always hope, because "our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV).

Rick Warren

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Thoughts on grace

A Season of Grace 
Lent is a season of penance. Now, that sounds terribly negative to our modern thinking, but it does not mean that God’s judgment is rising up out of spite or wrath. Rather, it means that this is a season of grace, where we are invited to put first things first and return to God. In Hebrew the word for repentance is shuv, and it means a turning back, a return to God. Lent should be a turning point where we start to prioritize the spiritual over the worldly. 

A Change of Thinking 
We can get overly focused on pursuing the comforts and entertainment of the world by seeking security in investments, retirement funds, government, and just about anything other than God. But in Matthew 6 in His sermon on the mount, Jesus warns that our treasure is not threatened with loss. The Greek word for conversion is metanoia, which means a change of thinking. Here we see that conversion is not just accepting a proposition—that God died for my sins—as true as that is, but metanoia restructures our whole mindset. All our worldly values are shaken up and turned upside down by true conversion. 

Please consider helping us in our mission to evangelize—to bring true conversion—throughout the world.

Tim Gray

Wednesday, April 1, 2020