Freedom to Pursue God’s Plan

As we commemorate our nation’s independence this Tuesday, two thoughts come to my mind. The first is a reminder of my recent trip to Ghana which is celebrating their 60th year of independence from Great Britain in 1957. They have done so much to be a developed and stable country in such a short amount of time! The second thought is about the spiritual and moral state of the USA. I was going to lay out some of my own reflections, but found similar (and much more profound) thoughts from Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. The following are excerpts from an interview he did in March 2017 with cruxnow.com.

We know that our country is not perfect, but the main thing that we honor and celebrate on July 4th is the freedom as individuals and as a nation to pursue perfection, to be who we really want to be, and who God wants us to be. On Tuesday, thank God for our freedom, and pray for all Americans!

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

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Lots of bishops publish books, but often they’re pretty churchy. (Your new) book is really an exercise in cultural criticism.

“I’m very pleased, of course, by other things and cultural developments…we certainly live in a world where people can be healthier and happier than in the past. One thing in my mind is that I have many friends who have children with disabilities, and it’s obvious over the course of these last many decades that our country, our society’s care for people with disabilities has gotten much better. People are much more included in the life of our communities.

But at the same time, it’s a culture that kills people with disabilities in the womb in ways that never happened before. Very few children today who were born with Down Syndrome because people can detect that early on and children are aborted.

So the same society, with the same kind of technology, can use it in ways that serve us more radically generously or ways that are more radically selfish and sad. So that’s the kind of confusion that I write about in the book…

In terms of Church practice the numbers of people attending Christian services on Sunday whether they’re Protestants or Catholics is much less than it was in the past. The Gospel principles in terms of family life are not as embraced as they were in the past. I think that we live in a much more diverse society in the United States than before in terms of people accessing other forms of religious faith. It used to be that we defined our country as a Judeo-Christian country in terms of our heritage, but there’s a resistance to even talk that way among some of the elites of today…”

You write that the election of Barack Obama in 2008 was a watershed moment for America, the advent of a new way of conceiving American society no longer based on a shared set of values rooted in Biblical faith.

“… (Leading our country to a different direction vis-a-vis legalized gay marriage, imposing contraceptive practice on insurance programs, and the focus on transgenderism) demonstrate a watershed that is going in the direction that is contrary to traditional Christian moral principles…”

You’ve been sharply critical of some early moves by the Trump administration, for example on refugees and immigrants.

“I certainly will continue to do that…”

If we live in a culture that’s in some ways post-Christian, what’s the Church supposed to do?

“Well, first of all we need to be aware of what’s going on in the world around us. Many people of my generation are somewhat anxious about what’s going on, but they haven’t really analyzed in a serious way how we got from where we were to where we are today, and in the book I try to point out some of the factors that were active in our culture that led to where we are today. We have to be aware of it, but then we also have to have hope that we can live in this culture in a way that we can be full-throated, committed Christians and pass that on to our children…”

How?

“The answer is, you have to be personally converted into the faith. You can’t pass it on if you don’t have it. Parents are going to be more important in the life, the faith life of their children than they have been in the past, because in the past the culture supported that faith life. The schools basically supported that faith life. The Christian communities were strong. People would go to church and that would support that faith life.

It’s really going to be the family that’s going to be the primary tool that God will use to evangelize, beginning with their children of course. But then families associating

together in smaller groups, support groups of one another will be very important in the future as well. As parishes are supposed to be, but they’re institutions now rather than support groups.”

My Flesh for the Life of the World

All of the signs are there

You’ve seen the crowds grow larger by the day, following one man. You’ve seen him heal the blind, the deaf, and the mute. You’ve seen him cure the sick. You’ve heard his great teachings. You’ve seen him walk on water. All of the signs are there: Jesus of Nazareth is the one to follow. You’ve been sure for weeks now. Your heart is pumping. You’re talking about him with everyone. You have been reading the Scriptures more frequently, reviewing what Isaiah and the other prophets wrote about the Messiah.

You Can’t Put Your Finger on It

You haven’t talked with Jesus yet, but you feel a connection there. The words he uses, the way he speaks, the manner in which he conducts himself. He has such a powerful way about him. But you haven’t been able to put your finger on it just yet. You just know you want to be near him and learn from him. He is different, a man set apart from the rest. This man has stirred your heart and mind like no other person has ever done.

It’s So Confusing

And, now, he is introducing a brand-new teaching. “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6:51). He is telling everyone that the bread to which he is referring is his flesh. While you begin to process this, those around you quarrel. People are outraged but are mainly confused. So, Jesus gets more specific and emphatic. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life… My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (53, 55). Whoa! Jesus of Nazareth wants to give his flesh and blood as food and drink.

Too Hard to Accept

This realization spreads through the crowd. It is such a large gathering, and it takes a while for everyone to hear what’s been said. Slowly, people start to leave. “This is a hard teaching…who can accept it?” (60) is what you hear some of them say as they turn away from Jesus. And, you agree, this is a hard teaching. But, you haven’t moved, and aren’t planning on leaving just yet.

You look over at Jesus’ closest disciples. You notice a very perplexed Peter. Jesus asks them if they are leaving, too. Peter says, with probably a dazed and confused look, “Lord, where are we going to go? You have the words of eternal life” (68). When you hear these words come from Peter’s lips, your heart skips a beat. You are thinking, ‘Has Jesus just been speaking the words of eternal life? Is this, in fact, a message from heaven? Could this be true? Is he really going to give us his flesh to eat? And, will it get us to heaven? Is this the newest, most radical teaching from God? Do I believe what I am hearing?’

What Would You Do?

This is the beginning of the pamphlet I wrote years ago, “C.O.O.L.,” which has been in the vestibule of our church for a while. My goal was to place you (and any reader) in the scene of John 6 which is the Gospel for today’s feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). You’ve heard this Gospel passage many times, but what would it have been like to be there when it was first heard by anyone? Would you have been with the crowd, and rejected the “hard” teaching? Or, would you have been with the Apostles and stayed with the Lord because Jesus has the “words of eternal life”? Please meditate on this.

Two significant points from this scene which is known as the Bread of Life Discourse

  1. The Jewish crowds took Jesus’ teaching about the Eucharist literally. They had a pretty visceral reaction to all the talk about flesh and blood – they quarreled, grumbled, etc. When Jesus heard this, he didn’t back off; in fact, he went deeper. He repeatedly referred to his flesh and blood: “flesh” five times, and “blood” four times. And, when he said we must eat his flesh, he actually used the word, “gnaw” (“whoever gnaws on my flesh”). After hearing all of this, the crowds decided to leave the Lord. They rejected the Savior. They walked away from salvation. They did all of this over the teaching of the Eucharist. How many Catholics have done the same whether knowingly or not?
  2. Jesus didn’t stop them from leaving. He didn’t say, “Wait, hold on. I wasn’t speaking literally.” In John 3, he does this with Nicodemus. When Jesus teaches Nicodemus about baptism and being “born from above,” Nicodemus thinks this means for a man to literally “reenter his mother’s womb and be born again.” The Lord basically said, “No, I wasn’t speaking literally. I meant to be ‘born of water and Spirit.’ He doesn’t make this correction with the crowds in John 6 because he was speaking literally about the Eucharist.

Both of these points help us considerably to interpret John 6 as a literal teaching. So, what we celebrate today and every time at Holy Mass is really and truly the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ!

As we honor our fathers today and thank God for all the daily bread they have provided us, we thank our Heavenly Father for the greatest sustenance which is the Bread of Life.

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

More About the Third Person of the Trinity

I’ve been talking much about the Holy Spirit the past few Sundays which is always a good thing. But, I’ve been wondering if some of you might be thinking what a friend of mine said years ago: “I have a hard time understanding the Holy Spirit as the third ‘person’ of the Trinity.” He asserted that some of the images that the Bible gives seem to present the Spirit as “a force (reminds me of Star Wars).” If you feel this way or just struggle to grasp the personhood of the Holy Spirit, this article from catholic.com should really help.

We glorify the three divine persons of the Most Holy Trinity- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

The Holy Spirit allows us to become the light of Christ in a dark world

Happy feast of Pentecost! As we celebrate the birthday of the Catholic Church today with the Coming of the Spirit upon the Apostles, the following reflection from my spiritual father and mentor, the late Msgr Thomas Wells, is illuminating and inspiring.

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg

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May 18, 1997

Sometimes I find that, if I want to work without interruptions, it is best to do it very early in the morning. And, if I am trying to compose something, I will often find myself staring out of the window waiting for inspiration to strike. In the dark mornings of winter, I have found myself preoccupied on several occasions by the office building across the street, about one-third of which I can see from my desk. I find myself fascinated as, one by one, lights come on in the darkness, until finally, every window reflects the decision of whoever turned on the switch that day.

Faith tells us that in Baptism and Confirmation we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the very life of God Himself. Like the building across the street, that Spirit allows us to become lights of Christ in the darkness of the world. Perhaps my greatest satisfaction as a priest is that of knowing so many people who do so reflect the light of Christ. Just last weekend, for example, two couples, themselves best friends, both of whose weddings I had ten or so years ago, invited me to dinner. I guess I should have told them, but it really did not dawn on me until I was driving home, how inspired I was by the effects of their commitments to marriage, faith, and family, and by the obvious joy that enlivens them. Financially, especially, neither of these couples has an easy time, and in different ways, each has had to struggle in their surrender to the call of faith. But their decisions to live the life of the Spirit is reflected in their love of life! (And, incidentally, how little they would recognize themselves in this “holy talk.”) But, as I say, any priest can name countless numbers of such people who are obvious signs that the Holy Spirit can make us proofs of the gift of faith.

Two thoughts come to me as we celebrate this day of the Holy Spirit: Pentecost. The first is to ask the Spirit to use us so that, because of the way we live our faith, we might be the light of Christ for at least one other person. Secondly, I more and more come to understand why the Lord saved a people, not just a bunch of individuals. We need each other, if only to find encouragement in a world that so often does not believe in the apparent absurdity of the Gospel message. My prayer this Pentecost is that the Spirit will give to each of us, as He has so generously given to me, people whose lived faith in Jesus will inspire us to deeper faith in our own lives.

Until a Cloud Hid Him from Their Sight

Happy Feast of the Ascension! I hope you enjoy this spiritual reflection on the Ascension by Sister Wendy Beckett in this month’s Magnificat.

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg

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The accounts of the Ascension, in three of the Gospels (not John’s) and the Acts of the Apostles, differ slightly, but the gist is very clear: Jesus gave them a final blessing and a commission, and then rose into the air, “until a cloud hid him from their sight”. It is not an easy scene to make visible. The medieval painters managed by showing the Apostles looking upward and two feet at the very top edge of the picture representing Jesus passing from earth to heaven. Unfortunately, the feet are not impressive, aesthetically, and one can see that this image did not appeal to the painter Duccio. What he gives us in his painting of the Ascension is rather indeterminate. It shows Jesus before he makes any movement upward. He is speaking with that unearthly authority that so riveted all who heard him. It is their word that will convert the waiting nations. It is they, up to now only followers, listeners to Jesus, who are now to take the pulpit and teach others, baptize others, do for them what Jesus has done in their own lives.

Duccio has Peter and another Apostle (Matthew the Evangelist?) holding a book. This small and reluctant group, bunched together for support, is already accepting the need to write down what they have witnessed and to accept this terrifying vocation with the utmost devotion to duty. They are standing very straight, their eyes fixed firmly on Jesus for the last time in this life, and he seems half of tiptoe, ready for that dissolving of material ties in the glory of his Father.

Jesus had longed for this day. When he spoke to the Apostles at the Last Supper, he spoke of them being in the world, and how he would send them his Spirit, the Paraclete, to do within them what they could not do alone. To believe in the coming of the Spirit is one of the most emphatic messages. Yet, an undercurrent to the recognition that they are “in the world” is the quiet statement, made in prayer to the Father, “I am coming to you”. Coming to the Father has been the great driving force of Jesus’ life. That is where he is at home, that is where he belongs. He left the Father and all that heaven means so as to draw us out of our darkness and into his light, but how hard it must have been….

They were a feeble little band, but there was no more Jesus could do. He leaves them because they have all they need, and the Spirit will bring it to mind. But they themselves must do it. How God must long to do it for us, and make sure it is done! But that is never his way. We are independent moral beings, and if we use the abundance of grace that flows down upon us, we can become what Jesus is – a true child of God, someone who can echo these words: I am coming to you.

-Sister Wendy Beckett is a South African-born British art expert, consecrated virgin, and contemplative hermit who lives under the protection of a Carmelite monastery in Norfolk, England

Have you been Confirmed?

“Confirmation …brings a deepening of baptismal grace. It strengthens our relationship to God the Father as adopted children, draws us nearer to Jesus, and increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit within us. Confirmation intensifies our bond with the Church to help us spread and defend the faith”.  – Fr. Oscar Lukefahr, “We Believe”, p. 96.

Have you been confirmed? If so, are you living it out? Are you spreading and defending the faith with the help of the Holy Spirit?

The quote above is from the book we use for RCIA and adult formation. The sacrament of Confirmation is all about what we do. It is about doing God’s Will. It is about going out on mission for Christ and the Church. It is about living virtue with the help of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (e.g., courage, wisdom, fear of the Lord). It is about bearing the fruits of the Spirit (e.g., love, joy, peace).

If you have not been confirmed, we will have a six-week summer series that you can attend in order to receive the sacrament. The series will run from May 31 – July 5, and be held at the rectory on Wednesday nights from 7-8 p.m. Please register by May 29 by calling me at the rectory (202-561-4178) or emailing me at frgreg@nullassumptiondc.org.

Confirmation is referenced in the readings for today. In the first reading (Acts 8), the Apostles “laid hands on (people who only had been baptized) and they received the Holy Spirit”. This is the sacred action in the sacrament of Confirmation. The current Apostles – the bishops – lay hands on people who are being confirmed, and then they bless them with oil saying, “be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit”. That bestows the sacrament on them. This is what Acts 8 is referring to when it says that the Holy Spirit “had not yet fallen upon them”. They had the Spirit within them through Baptism, but had not had the Spirit come over them fully. It’s like with the Apostles: the Spirit came upon them as “tongues of fire” at Pentecost which was their Confirmation. And, what did that do for them? It sent them out. They had been baptized and received the Eucharist, but it wasn’t until they were confirmed that they went out and spread the Good News.

The Lord Jesus refers to Confirmation also in the Gospel (John 14). “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth”. When He says immediately after this that “you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you”, he seems to be indicating the same thing as the first reading – that this is for people who already have the Spirit in them from Baptism. And, it was not long after the Lord said this in John14 that the Spirit was sent upon the Apostles at Pentecost. So, again, He is promising to send the Spirit upon those who had been baptized in a new and fuller way. We now call this the sacrament of Confirmation.

If you still need the sacrament, please know that it is a good thing if you do the series and get confirmed. Our parish family will celebrate your Confirmation! It will take humility and courage because it will not be an easy thing to admit as an older adult that you have not been confirmed. But, through today’s readings and hopefully this column, the Lord is speaking to you about being confirmed. It is never too late to be confirmed! We are never retired from spreading the Gospel! And, of course, there will be additional graces and gifts that the Lord will give you in the process that we can’t imagine right now. If you take this bold step, I promise you that He will bless you abundantly. God is never outdone in generosity!

One final reminder: a pastor at a nearby parish made the same offer to his parishioners with a brief series for Confirmation, and 20-30 older adults signed up and were confirmed. Do not be afraid!

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg

We will see Him in the faces of each of these women

I’m sorry that I’m not able to say this in person, but Happy Mother’s Day to all of our mothers, grandmothers, spiritual mothers, and godmothers! The beauty of May reflects the beauty of our mothers, especially Mary, the Mother of God and our Heavenly Mother. As I am still away, I wanted to give you a thoughtful reflection by Ms. Leela Ramdeen at rcsocialjusticett.org. What is beautiful about her thoughts is that they include mothers in all types of situations and advise us too especially “not forget…single women who act as mothers to others.” Mother’s Day is an enormously popular day and rightly so. But, it can be tough for some who she mentions as well as those who have experienced abortion, miscarriage, or infertility. As she says, “we will see Him in the faces of each of these women; we will reach out in compassion to assist them; we will serve them.”

Everything we have in life is from God through our mothers. Thank you, Mothers!

Everything we have in Christ is from God through Mary. Thank you, Mary!

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg


Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers!

Motherhood is a gift from God and one of the most blessed of vocations. Let us truly celebrate, affirm and honor our mothers – not only today, but throughout the year…

For those of you whose mothers are still alive, express your thanks and appreciation to her each day; work on your relationship with her and cherish your time together as our lives are shorter than we think. If your mother has passed on, try to honor her memory by living your life in a way that will make her proud.

Archbishop Joseph Harris has urged us all to adopt a Missionary Project. Reach out to homeless women, struggling single mothers, elderly women in homes for the aged or those lying in hospitals with no one to visit them. Let us not forget the widows, grandmothers, guardians and the single women who act as mothers to others. If we truly love God, we will see Him in the faces of each of these women; we will reach out in compassion to assist them; we will serve them.

Zenit reports that on May 1 Pope Francis reflected on two traits of Christian identity, saying that Christianity is marked by its concrete presence in history and its focus on service. He said: “Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, inviting them to do as He has done: to serve.

Christian identity is service, not selfishness… We are called to service. Being Christian is not about appearance, or even about social conduct, it’s not a little make-up for the soul, because it should be a little more beautiful. To be Christian is to do what Jesus did: serve!”

Pope Francis invited us to ask ourselves, “In my heart, what more can I do? Do I have other people serve me; do I use others, the community, the parish, my family, my friends? Or do I serve, am I at the service of others?”

Service is not only about charity, but includes acting as advocates – lobbying our politicians to ensure that our economy is working for our mothers, e.g. in the areas of healthcare, education, housing, employment, social services, and poverty reduction. If we are to become servant leaders, we must not turn a blind eye to domestic violence that is destroying the lives of so many of our women – and men. The AEC Bishops rightly focused on this issue during their recent meeting. Let us help our men to be better fathers and husbands/partners.

Family life is under threat globally. Let’s strengthen family life by helping to nurture responsible parenting and create conditions that will allow families to flourish. And employers, play your part also by recognizing and planning for the diverse needs of women as mothers, e.g. by providing workplace crèches, better maternity/paternity entitlements, and a living wage. At a national level, we can serve our mothers by advocating for the development of good economic and social policies to promote the integral human development of mothers.

Mothers, we love you. Turn to Our Lady to intercede with her Son for you as you journey on.

Let us remember the words Pope Francis uttered during the celebration of the Mass of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God in January 2014:

“Our pilgrimage of faith has been inseparably linked to Mary ever since Jesus, dying on the Cross, gave her to us as our Mother, saying, ‘Behold your Mother!’ (Jn 19:27). These words serve as a testament, bequeathing to the world a Mother. From that moment on, the Mother of God also became our Mother…Mary becomes in this way a source of hope and true joy!

The Mother of the Redeemer goes before us and continually strengthens us in faith, in our vocation and in our mission…To her let us entrust our journey of faith, the desires of our heart, our needs and the needs of the whole world, especially of those who hunger and thirst for justice and peace, and for God.”

The strength of our nation depends, to a large part, on the strength of our mothers. We thank you, Lord, for the gift of our remarkable mothers, and for their steadfast love.

Share With Francis

Last week, we had a fruitful and stimulating conversation at our Young Adult Bible study. It is part of a worldwide conversation that the Church is beginning to have with Catholic youth and young adults in preparation for next year’s Synod which is explained below (from sharewithFrancis.org). This conversation was called a ―Listening Session, and our group was able to discuss all of the five-bolded questions below as well as a few others. Our YAs indicated that our parish is helping them to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ and that the Bible Study is assisting them in staying involved in their Catholic faith. They revealed that young adults want the Church to bring God, faith, and the things of Heaven down to earth in a way to which they can relate. Also, they and their friends want the Church to catechize! They want the faith to be explained, especially when it comes to what happens at Mass. You should be happy to know that they said that Assumption is giving them what they want in all these regards!

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg

Pope Francis has called a gathering of bishops across the world (called a Synod) in October 2018 on the topic of Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment, to discuss how the Catholic Church can better support young people in living their faith and discerning their mission in life.

To help Pope Francis and the Bishops prepare for this Synod they are asking both Catholics and non-Catholics across the world to share their experience.

Not only will this Listening Session help Pope Francis prepare for the Synod, it will also help our local Catholic Archdiocese of Washington discern how we can better support young people on their journey of faith.

There is an online submission form for those who were not able to make it today. Pope Francis wants to hear from not only Catholics but also non-Catholics as well. We ask that you share the online link with your friends who live in the DC and Maryland and ask them to share their experience with Pope Francis. The website is www.sharewithFrancis.org.

  1. What are a few of the biggest life-challenges (youth/young adults) in your area are currently facing?
  2. What are some of the positive things that (youth/young adults) can offer the Church or society today?
  3. Do you think that most Catholic (youth/young adults) have a strong personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Why or why not?
  4. How can our (parish/school/community) help (youth/young adults) to grow in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ? What would help?
  5. What are some of the Catholic gatherings you have attended that have been significant in your spiritual life? Why?
  6. (Young Adults) What would help more young adults grow and stay involved in their Catholic faith? OR (Youth) What would help more youth/teenagers grow and stay involved in their Catholic faith after Confirmation?
  7. Why do you think some (youth/young adults) drift away from the Church?
  8. What do (youth/young adults) want from the Church?
  9. Do you feel that the Church is good at listening to (youth/young adults)? Why or why not?
  10. Do you think that your parish relates well to (youth/young adults)? Yes, how? OR No, what would help?
  11. Does your parish engage and invite (youth/young adults) who aren’t involved in the Church? Yes, how? OR No, how could they start?
  12. What can our (parish/school/community) do to assist young people in discerning major life decisions (moral decision, job, college choice, marriage, priesthood, etc.)?
  13. If you could share with Pope Francis one thing what would it be?

Lectio Divina Explained

Are you familiar with Lectio Divina? It is an old form of prayer that has become popular again in the Church. The phrase is Latin for ―divine reading, and it means to pray with Scripture. Here is a nice description from ignatianspiritualty.com:

When a person wants to use Lectio Divina as a prayer form today, the method is very simple. When one is a beginner, it is better to choose a passage from one of the Gospels or epistles, usually ten or fifteen verses. Some people who regularly engage in this method of prayer choose the epistle or the Gospel for the Mass of the day as suggested by the Catholic Church.

First, one goes to a quiet place and recalls that one is about to listen to the Word of God. Then one reads the scripture passage aloud to let oneself hear with his or her own ears the words. When one finishes reading, pause and recall if some word or phrase stood out or something touched one’s heart. If so, pause and savor the insight, feeling, or understanding. Then go back and read the passage again because it will have a fuller meaning. Pause again and note what happened. If one wants to dialogue with God or Jesus in response to the word, one should follow the prompting of one’s heart. This kind of reflective listening allows the Holy Spirit to deepen awareness of God’s taking the initiative to speak with us.

Lectio Divina can also be an effective form for group prayer. After a passage is read, there can be some extended silence for each person to savor what he or she has heard, particularly noting whether any word or phrase became a special focus of attention. Sometimes groups invite members, if they so desire, to share out loud the word or phrase that struck them. This is done without discussion. Then a different person from the group would read the passage again with a pause for silence. Different emphases might be suggested after each reading: What gift does this passage lead me to ask from the Lord? What does this passage call me to do? The prayer can be concluded with an Our Father.

Whether one prays individually or in a group, Lectio Divina is a flexible and easy way to pray. One first listens, notes what is given and responds in a way one is directed by the Holy Spirit.

Our Tuesday Bible study group at Assumption uses Lectio Divina and it’s been very helpful to open all of us to the Holy Spirit vis-à-vis the Sunday readings. Here are some examples of Lectio from theologians, saints, and Fathers of the Church in regards to today’s Gospel (Lk 24:11-35):

Jesus asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast (v. 17).

  • St Thomas Aquinas: ―Of all the passions, sadness causes the most injury to the soul.
  • St. Augustine: ―They were so shattered when they saw him hanging on a tree that they forgot his teaching. They did not expect him to rise, nor did they hold on to what he had promised.
  • Pope Francis: ―We need a Church unafraid of going forth into their night. We need a Church unafraid of going forth into their night. We need a Church capable of meeting them on their way. We need a Church capable of entering into their conversation. We need a Church able to dialogue with those disciples who, having left Jerusalem behind, are wandering aimlessly, alone, with their own disappointment, disillusioned by a Christianity now considered barren, fruitless soil, incapable of generating meaning.

Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures (v. 27).

  • St. Gregory the Great: ―The reader of the Bible must raise himself from the story to the mystery.

And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him… (Vs. 30-31).

  • A Lapide: ―See here the power and effect of the Eucharist. It opens and illumines the eyes of the mind to know Jesus and to enter into heavenly and divine mysteries.

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg

Divine Mercy Sunday

Today the Church celebrates the second Sunday of Easter which, since 2000, is also Divine Mercy Sunday. The following are excerpts from the divinemercysunday.com which explain today’s feast. My door for Confession is open 24/7.

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg

The Feast of Divine Mercy

“Despite evil’s attempts at discrediting Catholic Priests, many fallen-away Catholics will soon be returning to the practice of their faith. The reason: the Church’s new feast on the Sunday after Easter. What new feast you might say? It is the “Feast of Divine Mercy”. The Catholic Church has been celebrating this feast ever since the Vatican had made it official on April 30th in the Jubilee year 2000. Why would every Catholic want to come back, you might ask? It is the promise that Jesus Himself made for a complete forgiveness of sins and punishment on that day, even to the most terrible sinner imaginable. God in His great mercy is giving mankind a last chance for salvation.

When did Jesus make this promise and how does one get it? Jesus left all the details in a diary that He commanded Saint Faustina to write in the 1930’s. It was her job to record everything that He wanted mankind to know about His mercy before He returns to judge the world. To get this great promise one has to go to Confession and then receive Holy Communion on that Feast of Divine Mercy, which has now been called Divine Mercy Sunday throughout the whole Church. Jesus said, “Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.” (Diary, 300) To receive Communion worthily one should be in the state of grace and without serious sin…

He meets us in the confessional

In Saint Faustina’s diary, she recorded that Jesus also indicated that He Himself is there in the confessional. He told her, “When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity.” (1602) Jesus knew that people would need to hear these words today, so He went on to say “Come with faith to the feet of My representative…and make your confession before Me. The person of the priest is, for Me, only a screen. Never analyze what sort of a priest that I am making use of; open your soul in confession as you would to Me, and I will fill it with My light.” (1725) “Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy.” (1602)

Many feel that their sins are unforgivable but, Jesus said, “Were a soul like a decaying corpse, so that from a human standpoint, there would be no hope of restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. In the Tribunal of Mercy (the sacrament of Confession) …the greatest miracles take place and are incessantly repeated.” (1448) “Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy.” (1602)

Every sin imaginable could be forgiven by Him!

On the evening of His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His Apostles and the first thing that He did was to give them the power to forgive sins (John 20:19-31). This is done through the power of the Holy Spirit. For sure it was not the Lord’s intention just for the Apostles to forgive sins but rather for that power to be passed down through the Holy Spirit to the priests of today. That is why Confession is so much of an uplifting experience; we are actually receiving heavenly graces and the forgiveness of sins from the Lord Himself!…

Remember these words of Jesus

I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all soul and especially poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.” (699) “Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy. If they will not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity…tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near.” (965) Wake up people of the World, and repent of your sins, this just might be our last hope of salvation!”