Monthly Archives: March 2016

Peter said to him, “Master, 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? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”
(John 13:37-38)

Peter is always so eager to defend you, my Jesus, and to carry your words to the extreme. “No, you will not wash my feet…..Oh, then, wash all of me.” He is sincere in his offer to lay down his life, and later he will, indeed, be martyred, but first he must be chastised. His boast becomes his humiliation. If even Peter can deny you, Lord, how can we hope to follow you? It is only by your grace.

Will I deny you when others demand to know what I believe? School children were shot at Columbine after affirming their faith. I will probably not face that crisis. What, then, can keep me from proclaiming you? Is there something I fear more than death? How shameful it would be to remain silent because I didn’t want to be criticized! I don’t need to preach a sermon, but I do need to uphold the truth.

Please help me this week to be open and honest in all my conversations, to take the risk, when necessary, of being misunderstood. Only you can understand me, even when I don’t understand myself. Spirit of God, give me whatever words I need, or to be quiet if that is wiser. Never, though, let me keep still because of human respect.

Mary took a liter of costly oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair: the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
(John 12:3)

In this verse, Mary anoints your feet, my Jesus. Soon, you will wash the feet of your disciples, but here you accept her tribute to your divinity. The fragrance fills the room; all can appreciate it.

When Judas objects, you state that she is preparing for your burial, and that you are here for only a short while. Later you will show us that we honor you by serving one another, but Mary serves you directly.

I adore you, my Jesus. Next week I will be able to visit you daily in the Blessed Sacrament. Would that I could be like the prophetess Anna, spending all her days in your temple. But you have made me your temple and dwell within me, this earthen vessel.

Thank you for helping me to get ready for this visit. Stay with me, Lord. Keep me in your Presence and cognizant of you.

When he arose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.”
(Luke 22:45-46)

When we are overwhelmed, sleep is one of our defenses. Help us, Lord, to remember that nothing can penetrate us when you are our shield. Instead of escaping, let me “get up and pray.”

As we begin this sacred week, help me to pay attention to your Word. From the glory of the Eucharist to the depths of passion at your passion and death, sustain me that I may witness your Resurrection and know that I will rise with you when my time here is over.

I will be busy preparing for a trip, but if I remember that the trip is an opportunity to be more deeply involved in the liturgy of the Triduum, with your grace I will be able to work and pray simultaneously. Like St. Paul, I will “press on toward the goal.” (Philippians 3:14)

Feast of St. Joseph

When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
(Luke 1:24)

Joseph was a just man and a merciful one. He was not going to expose Mary, but, until you directed him, Lord, he could not stay with her. How he must have agonized before you reassured him!

When I am torn while trying to discern your will, remind me of Joseph’s faith. Make me merciful while I await your guidance.

If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe e; 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.
(John 10:37-38)

When you were twelve years old, my Jesus, you said, “I must be about my Father’s work.” Though it would be almost twenty years before your public ministry began, you knew then why you had come and what you were to do. From the changing of water into wine until the raising of Lazarus and finally your own Resurrection, you proved that you are not just the Son of God, but one with God. If that is too much for us to grasp, you will remind us of your deeds and through them draw us into your mystery.

“Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief.” When I cannot see you, let me notice what you do. You show me not only in your teachings, but in my daily struggle to follow you. How often do I puzzle over something, only to hear the answer in the words of a neighbor, an unexpected event, or in the silence you provide? How can I miss your hand when you reach out to guide me?

When I am afraid, it is because I have forgotten to trust you. I see our country approaching ideological divisions more dangerous than ever before. I am close to despair, but if persecution comes, you will still be here. I need to read again Eli Wiesel, Anne Frank and other stories of those who were tortured and martyred during my lifetime. There have always been exiles. There have always been plagues. I think of the line from Hamlet, “Why seems it so particular with thee?”

Only you see the outcome, Lord. In our own blindness, we cry out to you. Your work continues. Let us grope through our fears, through our tears, relying on your way, your truth and your light. My Jesus, I trust in you.

So the Jews said to him, “you are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.
(John 9:57-59)

The last time you described yourself using the words, “I AM,” my Jesus, we are told that many came to believe in you. (John 8:28) Now, they accuse you of blasphemy. What would I have done?

Now that you have risen, I believe. If you were to come again today, would I accept your word? How will I know you? I am so quick to judge though I understand so little. Please open my mind and my heart.

Mary Magdalene will recognize you when you pronounce her name. Someday, you will call to me. Prepare me, Lord. Keep me faithful in praise and love.

This weekend, you will come to me in the Eucharist. Let me see just a glimpse of your glory; let me hear you beckoning. When there are quiet times, let me contemplate this encounter with joyful anticipation.

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, “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.
(John 8:31-32)

The Jews will protest that they were never slaves, though we know they were exiled and oppressed throughout history. But you, my Lord, are talking about slaver sin, and all of us have experienced that. Only your truth can free us of our addictions and idolatry. Indeed, if we love anyone or anything more than you, we are worshipping false gods. How can we escape, then? Your Word will deliver us.

I am not wealthy. My apartment is small. Still, when I look around, I see so many possessions, furnishings, and decorations. With how many of them am I willing to part? How much time do I spend watching television, using my computer, enjoying the coziness and maybe even the clutter? How can I free myself when these things clamor for my attention?

In the morning, when I am rested, it is easier to focus on you, Lord. As I tire, I lose my awareness and motivation. How can I persevere in prayer?

It is night now, and the television is off, though I admit I am taping something to watch later. It has been a busy day and I still have one more chore, but, for now, I am quiet. I see only the words I write, hear only the clock ticking. My stomach is comfortably full, my body supported and relaxed. I can forget about time. My mind, which so often races, is ready to listen. I want to cling to this calm.

In order to prepare for this peace, I had to first pay bills, make phone calls, cook and clean and put things away. It seems sometimes that the more I pray, the more time I have to work, and the more work I accomplish the more disposed I am to pray. Please show me how to pray always, to be conscious of you in everything I do. Thank you for this solitude. Draw me to you.

I treasure my time alone with you and I will use even my weakness to provide it. If I am too tired to do anything else, let that be a blessing, but help me to remember how vital prayer is and schedule it regularly.

When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me.
(John 8:28)

In the desert, Moses lifted up a seraph, mounted to shape a cross, to heal the serpent bites. Now you tell us, my Jesus, that when you are lifted up, we will know that You Are Who Are. We will be healed, even from the most evil of serpents, Satan himself. How can we thank you?

Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Creator, Savior, Paraclete; we worship you. We fall at the foot of the cross, in adoration, not despair, for you will lift us up – to your cross and to your resurrection.

As Holy Week approaches, draw me into your passion, your unfathomable love. I have finished my appointments, my commitments, and most of my tasks. I am free to enter into this most sacred time of the year. Please draw me closer to you, Lord. I will do whatever I can, with your grace, to remove whatever obstacles and distractions remain. Thy will be done.

But Susanna cried aloud, “O eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be: You know that they have testified falsely against me.”
(Daniel 13:42)

Yesterday, we reflected on the woman caught in adultery; today we read about Susanna, who was willing to die rather than sin against you, Lord. You saved both of them, the innocent and the guilty, but the lecherous men who had accused Susanna were sentenced to death. The men who had shamed the adulterous woman were themselves shamed.

Susanna was God-fearing, while the other woman had turned her back on you. Only you could read their hearts, upholding one, forgiving the other. With you there is justice and mercy.

How can I act justly and with mercy in my daily life? If I see something that needs correcting, let me address the person responsible instead of complaining and gossiping to others.

But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
(John 8:7)

In the center I
Stand
An object, an example,
Brought here, not because my sin
Scandalizes them,
But just so they can trap this
Teacher.

What is he writing in the
Dirt?
He says nothing.
“Answer us!”
They shout at him. His words
Accuse them:
“Let the one who is without sin…”
My sin
Is public, theirs hidden
But he knows.
They walk away.

He and I remain. I
Tremble, not from
Fear.
He rises. What tenderness,
What mercy
In his eyes, in his voice.
I weep.

“I do not condemn you. Go…”
I am free,
Yet captured in his gaze.

“And do not sin any more.”
No, I won’t.
I can’t. I have seen
And felt
Love
That sees my soul,
And I am his.

So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not bring him?” The guards answered, “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.”
(John 7:45-46)

My Jesus, you speak, not as a prophet but as the Word Incarnate. The people hear you when the authorities cannot. The latter are educated in the law and self-assured in its interpretation. They are not open to anything new, even though it has been predicted in the books they study.
Those who are needy are disposed to listen, and your works among them reward their faith. It is not easy to heal those who do not know they are sick. In order to trust in you, we have to admit that we are incomplete without you. We cannot find ourselves until we lose ourselves in you.

Please help me to set aside my preconceptions, see with fresh eyes and hear with fresh ears.

To us he is the censure of our thoughts;/ merely to see him is a hardship for us,/ Because his life is not like that of others/ and different are his ways.
(Wisdom 2:14-15)

What is my reaction, Lord, when I encounter a holy person? Do I admire and try to emulate him or her? Or is there a part of me that feels threatened and rebuked?

I often hear people say, “But I do it this way.” I respond that we are all different, saying, “Well, this is what works for me. It might not work for someone else.” Do I take my own advice? Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “Why doesn’t he/she do this or that?” Please give me the grace to respect those who are different and to praise their virtues.

Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, “Is he not the one they are trying to kill? And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him. Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ? But we know where he is from. When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”
(John 7:25-27)

My Jesus, when the people saw you speaking freely in the temple, they began to wonder if you might be the Christ, but immediately they buried that idea because they thought they knew where you were from. They closed their minds.

In today’s first reading, the prophets are persecuted because they are different. In the Gospel, you are dismissed because you are familiar. We are never satisfied.

You will answer the people of Jerusalem that you are sent by God. They know you as the carpenter’s son, but not as God’s. When you explain, they will try to arrest you. You cannot please them, but it is not they who will decide when your time has come.

Please, Lord, open my heart so that I can hear and accept your Word. You who transcend me and yet draw me into yourself, show me how to rejoice in both your Divinity and your nearness. Today, when I change from one activity to another, I will offer praise to you. Please remind me when I forget.

How can you believe when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
(John 5:44)

Whom am I trying to please, Lord? Do I crave validation and comfort from you or from my friends? Or, even worse, do I strive to satisfy only myself?

I will never forget kneeling before the novice mistress, whining “Sister, what am I going to do about human respect?” Sadly, I do not remember what she answered. That was almost sixty years ago. Have I changed? Am I still trying to solve everything as though it were a math problem, instead of giving it up to you? I trust you to humble me, to save me from myself, to make me step aside and let you work through me.

This evening I went to deliver a message and ended up chatting for more than an hour with someone I rarely visit. I know that was your will, though I hadn’t planned it, and the few things I did plan could wait. All I had to do was be with my neighbor, sit with her and pass the time. I think it was good for both of us. I need to be more spontaneous.

Sometimes, I need an agenda, but even when I stick to my schedule I end up wasting time. When I let myself be interrupted, it isn’t that hard to catch up. You arrange everything. I will try hard to trust you wherever you lead me. I forgot what a relief it is, at times, not to have to think about what I should be doing. When I truly listen to another, I can forge to wonder what others think of me, or even what I think of myself. You are all that matters. Thank you.

Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.
(Isaiah 49:15)

Lord, when I first saw this passage this morning, I misread it, thinking “in her womb” instead of “of her womb.” I thought of abortion and how wrenching it must be for the woman. Could she help but love this tiny person who is in her, but not just a part of her? And yet, you love us even more than this.

Years ago, I had a miscarriage and the doctor told me there was “nothing to baptize.” I don’t remember whether that relieved or saddened me. I loved the child itself, not just the idea of it. I thought I had no right to grieve, but soon I discovered that it was difficult for me to witness a baptism and impossible to attend a baby shower. Later, when I met women who had lost babies, I advised them to let themselves grieve. Lord, comfort all those who have lost children in any stage of development.

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation,
but has passed from death to life.

(John 15:24)

My Jesus, you use the present tense, for eternal life has no past or future. If we hear you now, we live in you now. Already, we have “passed from death to life.”

Please help me to live in your Word today. Open my ears and my mind. How can I listen? As I write this, a cardinal is singing outside. A door closes in the hall. A clock ticks. I can hear my own breathing. I will spend most of this day without electronic distraction so that I can heed your “still, small voice.”

The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Therefore the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath.
(John 5:15-16)

When the Jews scolded the man for carrying his mat, he told them, Lord, that you had commanded him to do so. He did not, though, know your name. When you found him, he went back and reported to them who it was. Why did he not, like the Magi, go back a different way? I suppose he did not realize that they would attack you, for, surely, he was grateful to you and wished you no harm.

We, too, though well-meaning, make errors in judgment. Certainly, you want us to profess you, and, since you are risen, no one can hurt you. They can, however, hurt us, and thereby we participate in your persecution. You told the disciples to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) In that same speech, you assure them that the Holy Spirit will supply the words we need. Let us not rehearse, then, when we are called to give witness, but pray for your guidance.

The next time I am asked a difficult question, I will hold my tongue long enough to pray, “Thy will be done.”