Monthly Archives: January 2018

On that journey, as I drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone round me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
(Acts 22:6-7)

Lord, when have I seen your light and heard your voice? When have I been stunned by your mercy and love?

There may be a beginning to conversion, but there is no end. It is ongoing. Though I can list occasions when I felt certain of your guidance, it has been a constant since “the hour I first believed.”

Two incidents come to mind as I reflect on this passage. As a teenager, I made a general confession during a retreat, and felt for the first time truly forgiven. I began then to search earnestly for my vocation.

Many years later, I was in an airplane, going to visit the convent where I had spent peaceful years. It was raining, but we ascended above the clouds, white and beautiful underneath. Suddenly there appeared a rain circle, not just a bow, lying flat on the cloud below. Within that ring of vibrant color was the shadow of our plane. The passenger next to me said, “I work for the airline and I’ve never seen that before.” This was before cell phones with cameras; so I had no way of recording it, but I have since found images of similar phenomena.
I felt so protected. Does the fact that there is a scientific explanation negate the miracle of seeing it just when I felt such a longing for your peace and comfort?

What miracles will you give me today? How will you guide me? What will remind me to praise, thank, and serve you? I await your message. Convert me, again and again.

The sower sows the word.
(Mark 4:14)

You, Lord, are both the sower and the seed, for you are the Word. It is yourself that you broadcast, in the original sense of that word. You strew the Word far and wide, over dry, beaten soil, rocky soil, weed infested soil, and soft, tilled soil. Please prepare my soul that you may grow in me.

I beg you to till and water it. I place myself at your disposal. Let me not protest when you turn me over, pull out the rocks that hinder me and the weeds that smother me. All I have to do is get out of your way, and out of my own way. Do with me what you will.

And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.
(Mark 3:34-35)
If we serve you, Lord, we are your relatives. By that token, we are related to one another. If I am your mother and sister, I will nurture and support all who belong to you.

You did not dishonor Mary, your mother, by your statement. Indeed, it is she who teaches us, not merely to do your will, but to let it be done unto us. It is her “Fiat” that we strive to emulate. We let go of ourselves so that you might work through us. It is note just doing your will, but becoming it.

Yesterday, I spent hours on the phone, mostly listening. It was not on my agenda, and I felt that I wasn’t accomplishing anything, but it is not for me to know whether or how I serve. I have to give up my schedule, my plans, my control. I am not a robot if I turn myself over to you. Instead, I am free. Please teach me to trust you more completely.

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
(Mark 3:24-25)

Lord, it seems that we are more divided now than we have been since I was born. That was between the two world wars. As a country, we were united against our political enemies. Today, there is war everywhere, declared or not. It is in our cities, our streets and our families. Even as individuals, we can be divided against ourselves. How can we learn to live in unity with you and with one another?

How can I do my part in this little life? Lent is coming, and with it a chance to pray and discern with my parishioners. I will take some of the street cards for Friends of the Homeless and give them to anyone who might be interested. I will contribute whatever time and effort I can to building community among my family and friends. Most of all, I will keep praying and trusting you. Bring us together.

Jesus said to them, “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
(Mark 1:17-18)

Their nets, Lord were their livelihood, but, even more, their family ties, their lifestyle, everything familiar. They were their network.

What do I have to abandon to follow you? I might move farther from family and friends, but in this age communication reaches far. I will have to change some routines and dispose of possessions, but how freeing it will be to start again, in a different place, to make new connections and renew old ones. I want to go where I can walk to daily Mass and be among people who will know how to use what skills and talents I still have. It does not feel at all like sacrifice.

Did the Apostles feel that freedom when they followed you? They were drawn irresistibly. Your call must have filled them with fervor. Please, Lord, wherever I am, whether I go or stay, give me that fervor.

Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
(Mark 3:20-21)

Lord, your relatives thought you were out of your mind, I suppose because you didn’t set limits. Yet you knew how to go off to deserted places to pray. Still, when you appeared in public, you refused to send the crowds away. On an earlier occasion, you had to have a boat ready so as not to be crushed. Another time, the paralytic’s friends opened the roof to get to you. Your love and mercy have no bounds. Of all your children, little and grown, you say, “Let them come to me.”

I want to be out of my mind if that means entering into your will. Please help me to serve you even when I think I am too tired.

He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.
(Mark 3:14-15)
“Apostle” comes from a Greek word meaning ‘to send away.” You commissioned twelve original disciples to spread your Word, Lord, and to “drive out demons.” In Messianic predictions, you would come to unite the twelve tribes of Israel, but you came to unite us all.

We are not all leaders, but we each have a mission. What is mine, Lord? Where will you send me? How will I know? This is a year of waiting for me. Help me to prepare and to rid myself of anything that encumbers me. In the meantime, show me what is wanted and needed, wherever I am. Teach me your will. Be it done unto me.

He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him.
(Mark 3:9-10)

They have come from as far away as the word has spread, my Jesus. They are Jews and gentiles, jostling to touch you and be healed. I place myself among them. Like the woman with the hemorrhage we meet in Matthew 9:21-22, I am unclean, and yet, like her, I will be bold enough to approach you, trusting that you will heal me.

This afternoon, I will do more than touch you. I will hold the Host in my hands and you will enter and stay with me as I receive you. Only say the word, Lord. Prepare me. Fill me with joy and thanksgiving.

They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him.
(Mark 3:2)

Why, Lord, were the Pharisees so threatened by you? You saw through their hypocrisy. You ignored the social structure, championed the poor, the sick, the weak, women and children, and even sinners whom you brought to repentance. So they set traps for you and waited.

Do I sometimes wish that those who oppose me, annoy me, or disagree with me might be embarrassed, shown up? How can I rid myself of negative, critical thoughts? Let me remember that you said, “Let whoever is without sin cast the first stone.” Let me concern myself with my own motives and failures. When I am tempted to judge or seek revenge, remind me that I must die to myself so that I can live in you. Today, I will pray for all who dislike me. You are my courage. In lieu of martyrdom, let me welcome the little insults that are bound to occur.

Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is Lord even of the sabbath.”
(Mark 2:27-28)

Lord, all of your commandments were given to help us love you and our neighbor. In your infinite wisdom, you set aside a day for prayer and rest. The legalistic Pharisees, though, were so afraid of making a mistake that they set up rigorous laws to avoid even the semblance of disobedience. Thus, stripping grain from a stalk became, in their eyes, reaping.

You did not deny the observance of the sabbath but pointed out its true purpose. When you added that you are “Lord of the sabbath,” you proclaimed your divinity. It is not what you do that leads up to the Crucifixion so much as Who You Are, and whether you are believed. You came as one of us in order to manifest your love, to teach us, and most of all to save us. How can I live my faith in you at this point in my life? Help me to love you more and to thank you by honoring the commandments as signs of your providence and mercy. Help me to see beyond the trivial habits and distractions to the whole that is you.

But Samuel aid, “Does the Lord so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the Lord? Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams…”
(1 Samuel: 22)
Lord, I think of myself as a listener because I seek to hear your will for me. Yet now I realize that the distinction between listening and hearing is significant. Hearing is passive, not something we choose, as I am so often reminded by loud voices in the hall or thumping overhead. Listening is active and deliberate. When my father said, “Listen to your mother,” he was not talking about the words she used. He meant that I must obey her.

I will continue to strive to discern your will for me now and in the future. Meanwhile, I have your commandments. If I ignore those, no amount of prayer and sacrifice can avail. I will listen as I seek.

Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi,” which translated means “teacher, “where are you staying?”
(John 1:38)

What am I looking for, Lord? You know better than I do, but you want me to own it. Am I following you just out of curiosity? I cannot identify the first time I encountered you, for I was taught to pray long before I could read or write. Every Sunday I heard the Gospel and the homily. I memorized The Baltimore Catechism.

Today, Monsignor Tillman asked what your name for us might be, and what our personal name for you is. I remembered a name I had considered for my daughter, “Willow.” At that time it was a combination of my husband’s first name and mine, but I have always associated it with a song lyric, “I’m not an oak; I’m a willow. I can bend.” I do want to bend to your will. I want to be flexible and spontaneous.

One of my favorite names for you is “The Word.” It is your Word that moves but does not break me. You speak and the universe is created. Your Word is the manifestation of your will. What you say is done. You are Who Are, why and how everything is.

Show me where you stay. Let me stay with you. Your will be done. Be it done unto me, your Willow.

Jesus heard this and said to them, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have come not to call the righteous but sinners.”
(Mark 2:17)

The Pharisees grumbled that you ate with “sinners and tax collectors,” Lord. In another passage, you remark that these Pharisees wash the outside of the cup only. They focus only on externals. Public sinners were to be shunned like lepers, as unclean who could soil anyone who touched them. Yet how much more deadly were their hidden sins of pride and greed.

You were eating with Levi, who had left his custom post and followed you. Instead of sitting and waiting for the Roman subjects to come to him, he would come to you. You were now his master. You had called him to be healed.

What is the post from which you are calling me? What must I leave behind? Where will I go? How easy it is for me to sit and watch from the comfort of my little niche. Lead me, Lord. Here I am.

“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth,” he said, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”
(Mark 2:10-11)

Healing is for the sake of the afflicted, Lord, but also for the sake of those who witness it. People believe the miracles they see. Only you know our sins, and only you can forgive them. The scribes were truthful when they thought, “Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Did they realize afterwards that you were not blaspheming, but are, indeed, God? They must have, for they glorified you.

When the Priest says to me in Confession, “Your sins are forgiven,” I know that it is you who forgive me. You already know all my faults, but by naming them, I acknowledge that I have offended you and that I trust in your mercy.

Please help me to seek you in all things, that I might know Who You Are and who I am.

The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
(Mark 1:45)

My Jesus, you had told the healed leper to say nothing, and yet he would not or could not keep silent. Yet, Father, you used this development to draw people out to “deserted places.” It is there that I find you today, in quiet and solitude.

You use even our disobedience to disperse your grace. I want only to obey you, but when I fail, you will still use me. Only you see everything as now. Only you know the outcome. I trust you, Lord. Please help me to listen and seek you with all my heart.