The Kingdom of God is at Hand

The phrase ‘the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, is at hand is mentioned one hundred and twenty-two times in the gospels. We heard it twice today. I had to pause and sit with this statement. I still struggle with what this means to me and what I am meant to do.

This phrase from morning prayer (on Monday) stayed with me. ‘You sent your Word as the sun of truth and justice shining upon mankind.’ Jesus’ word is truth and justice. Jesus shared his words with the apostles. He sent them out to proclaim that the ‘kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

Again my question surfaced, what am I meant to do? Who am I in His Kingdom?

I am called to build the kingdom of God in civil and everyday situations and activities. I am called to live with the Gospel as my template and guide, going seamlessly from the Gospel to life, and from life to the Gospel. I am called to be attentive to what is happening in the current situations of life all around me. I am to be present and aware of consistently sharing the Gospel message, the truth, and justice found in the Word and the Way. Most importantly, I am to be humble while sharing the Gospel in my actions and words as I live my life each day.

A great light left this world Tuesday when Ennio Morricone died at 91. Ennio was a composer who began his career arranging sacred music for radio broadcast in 1950. He had a love of Gregorian chant and sacred music. He was commissioned in 2012 to write a Mass to commemorate the Jesuit order to which Pope Francis belongs).

Ennio Morricone is better known for his more than five hundred film scores. I believe Mr. Morricone’s works illustrate the words of the psalm today, ‘sing to him, sing his praise, proclaim all his wondrous deeds.’ Ps 105  One of my favorite scores is for The Mission. This movie is at the top of Fr Casey Cole’s list of must-see Catholic movies. Ennio Morricone had a gift to take what was happening in a film and translate the environment, feeling, mood, and tension of the script and make it come alive to the viewers and all who listen to the music.

Part of my walk in the Kingdom is to write as a way to invite and share God’s Kingdom. Who are you in His Kingdom? What are you called to do today? How are you attentive to the Gospel as you see it played out in your life?

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

Your Sins Are Forgiven

I certainly don’t remember my first reconciliation (we called it ‘confession’ then). I do remember feeling really weird in a reconciliation room without a screen or divider for the first time. What does always stay with me after receiving the sacrament of reconciliation is the feeling of relief and acceptance, the freedom that comes from a weight of angst, guilt, shame that has been lifted from my conscience.

I bet the same was true of the paralytic that Jesus healed in today’s gospel. During Jesus’ time, those with disabilities, infirmities, or mental illness were believed to be carrying great sins and usually shunned by society. The people who brought the paralytic on the stretcher had great faith. Jesus told the man, “[y]our sins are forgiven.” He rose and went home and the crowds there were struck with awe and glorified God.

I put the brackets around the ‘y’ above because Jesus came to forgive all of our sins, not just one person. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains reconciliation in this manner:

CCC 615-616 “…By his obedience unto death, Jesus accomplished the substitution of the suffering Servant, who “makes himself an offering for sin”, when “he bore the sin of many”, and who “shall make many to be accounted righteous”, for “he shall bear their iniquities”. Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.

616 It is love “to the end” that confers on Christ’s sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew and loved us all when he offered his life…

The gospel passage also has Jesus addressing the scribes whose ‘evil thoughts’ he knew, which brings in the social aspect of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus didn’t keep his ministry private, it was out in the open for all to see and hear, just like our forgiveness of sin and our redemption.

I had not taken advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation for much of my adolescence and young adult life (the Church considers youth or young adults ages 18-39yr old). I did begin to receive the sacrament with regularity when I began to have my own children and do volunteer work for the church. I realized I had a lot of work to do to become a better person all around, a better role model for my children and those with whom I worked in ministry (which is with everyone). I needed to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. There are a couple of resources below if you haven’t been to reconciliation in a while.


Pope Francis wrote about forgiveness (love) and redemption in his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium:

“Our redemption has a social dimension because “God, in Christ, redeems not only the individual person, but also . . . social relations.” To believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in everyone means realizing that he seeks to penetrate every human situation and all social bonds. Accepting the first proclamation, which invites us to receive God’s love and to love him in return with the very love which is his gift, brings forth in our lives and actions a primary and fundamental response: to desire, seek and protect the good of others.”   (178)

Today’s gospel acclamation and the responsorial psalm work very well together supporting this theme. The psalm tells us,‘ the judgments of the Lord are true, all of them just.’ The acclamation God reconciles the world to himself in Christ, thus entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. The last sentence of today’s gospel states: ‘the crowds ..were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings.’ Through Christ, we were given the authority to forgive sins (through the apostolic Church: the apostles, bishops and priests).

Our Holy Father  has said,

Being a Christian isn’t just following the commandments, but means being in Christ, thinking like him, acting like him, loving like him; it means letting him take possession of our lives and change them, transform them, free them from the darkness of evil and sin.

Make use of the sacrament of Reconciliation; it sets us free.

Three Minutes: Penance and Reconciliation

Catholicism in Focus: Reconciliation

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

Seeking

The prophet Elijah took shelter in a cave. We’ve taken shelter in our home. There were winds, fire, and an earthquake. There’s a pandemic, cyclones, flooding, economic and social unrest, emotional and personal traumas occurring on a global scale. Elijah heard the Lord’s voice and covered his face. We have covered our mouths and faces with masks. 

Are we listening to the Lord? Do we recognize His voice in our lives, our community, our world?

The responsorial psalm today has the author longing to see the face of the Lord. Where do you look to see His face?

Right now there are so many things vying for our attention that it can be very hard to focus on any one thing. I know my own mind is trying to process and pray about so many different situations that I can feel totally overwhelmed and ineffective. I am having many ‘duh’ moments and not enough ‘aha’ ones. Remember to take a breath, slow down, and focus on daily life, on the task at hand.

Case in point:
Me: my second screen is not working (I’m back in the office after a power outage at home, phone lines ringing off the hook while I’m hurriedly trying to assemble my workstation last Friday)
IT guy: really helps if you have the power cord attached.
Next morning, me: I cannot get to any of my e-mail or tabs and have both restarted and turned the computer off and on.
IT gal: If you turn on your second screen…you must have something open there.
Yes, I’m still laughing and groaning. If I let it, that will affect how I view myself, my esteem, and my self-worth.

The gospel acclamation tells us to shine like lights in the world while we hold on to the word of life. The Word of Life is the Gospel: Jesus’s teachings, his passion, his resurrection are our path as believers.

We must make the time seeking for the Lord a constant priority. Here are a few links to help you on the way. He is all around us. Jesus, we trust in You. Jesus, we trust in You. Jesus, we trust in You.

Praise You in This Storm Casting Crowns
Oceans (Where Feet may Fail) Hillsong UNITED
Seek You Evie May
Praying to hear God’s voice
Why can’t I hear God?

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

Be Persistent

“..be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching…But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work on an evangelist; fulfill your ministry….” 2 Tim 4:2,5

My heart is heavy and I’m losing focus more than I usually do (which is saying something!). There is turmoil in the USA on many levels. This affects each and every person in my country.

 To fulfill our ministry as the first reading says, each of us has a lot of work to do. None of it is easy. The work starts on a personal level. Educate yourself by expanding your usual reading. There are links to several fine articles below that have fantastic resources throughout; read the ones you can, especially those on white privilege if that is how you identify yourself.

Dive into your own gut reactions to what you have seen, heard, and read over the last week. Examine the phrases and terms you use when speaking and writing about racism (in its many forms). Racism is learned. You are either racist or anti-racist; period. No ifs, ands or buts, exclusions, or special situations. You are either racist or anti-racist. Sit with that; let it sink in. Pray about what you have done and what you have failed to do focusing on racial issues.

Performing the work of an evangelist leads us to systemic change on all levels of our society here in the United States of America. It is time to fix what is broken in our social structure and in policies at all levels of our neighborhoods, local, state, and national communities; each and every one. It will take courage, humility, knowledge, wisdom, love, and prayer to come together and address the necessary changes for each situation.

Let us pray the words of  Pope Francis to begin this great and necessary work.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Help us to recognize the evil latent in a communication that does not build communion.
Help us to remove the venom from our judgements.
Help us to speak about others as our brothers and sisters.
You are faithful and trustworthy; may our words be seeds of goodness for the world:
where there is shouting, let us practice listening;
where there is confusion, let us inspire harmony;
where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity;
where there is exclusion, let us offer solidarity;
where there is sensationalism, let us use sobriety;
where there is superficiality, let us raise real questions;
where there is prejudice, let us awaken trust;
where there is hostility, let us bring respect;
where there is falsehood, let us bring truth.  Amen.
May Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, intercede for all those who work for peace and justice in your land and throughout the world. Amen.

How Long O Lord, Ps 13

White people let’s do our homework

I am tired

White privilege and what we can do about it

Reading James Baldwin can help heal wounds

El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz, Black Lives Matter

Pope Francis speaks about the death of George Floyd

youTube: Systemic Racism Explained

youTube: Let’s get to the root of racial injustice | Megan Ming Francis | TEDxRainier

How to raise an anti-racist white kid 

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

Complete Joy

Last Saturday, I was able to participate in a friend’s ordination into the transitional diaconate via live feed. It brought me great joy to see his immediate family as well as a few priests who have been mentors taking part in the celebration of this sacred rite and liturgy. I was part of the community of saints who prayed with him on his journey and who chuckled and smiled when the vestments were tangled during his robing of deacon attire. The joy was palpable as the Bishop (while masked) laid hands, welcoming him into a new part of his journey, ordained life.

The first reading today speaks about the community in Ephesus helping a brother learn more about the Way and teachings of Jesus. That is exactly what happens for our seminarians. The beautiful thing is that it also happens for all who wish to learn more about faith, God, and receiving the sacraments. There is joy in listening to and learning about the gospel, the Way of Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis, in his encyclical The Joy of the Gospel said:

“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord” (#3).

Our psalm today has us shouting to God in gladness as the great king over all the earth. Pope Francis goes on in #167 of the encyclical to say:

“ Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendour and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties…” (#167)

Think of the joy you felt when you were able to successfully ‘log in’ to a live liturgy (or a recorded one) during this pandemic. There is joy and community in that shared experience. We were able to see the faces of our clergy and hear the gospel proclaimed by those we care about. Pope Francis wrote in his opening: 

“The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” (#1)

As I look forward to being at the table for a physical encounter with Jesus through the reception of the Eucharist, I have His words of the gospel, which fill my heart with joy and hope at all times. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

Repair and Healing

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Jn 14:6

In today’s gospel reading, Thomas voices something that has gone through my mind many times these last several weeks during the pandemic and stay at home orders here in the USA. So many aspects of my life changed in a very short span of time. The apostles’ world was also greatly changed after the passion and rising of Jesus. Each of us has had to work through a different way of relating to and living our lives in a new reality.

I felt a sense of loss, grieving for people and things I took for granted while being quickly ushered into a new way of daily life. It has made me and every aspect of the human world learn a new way of being. The pandemic has forced the Church into the 21st century by making available more digital resources. Since we haven’t been able to gather at our usual Masses, I am now able to participate in daily Mass via live stream and have many options to do so. I have learned more about spiritual communion. I make the time throughout my day to pray more often while I work or do things around my home.

In my solitude at home, I’ve been sorting through areas of my life that I thought I was done dealing with: past hurts, losses, and behaviors that I believed were resolved. This pandemic has triggered some of my grief again. Many of these things I had dealt with, some I set aside by avoidance: loss in mindless tasks, movies, or books to distract me from really facing those important issues and make some necessary changes in my life. I had to face some new realities that I didn’t know how to cope with at the time the situations originally occurred. I felt shame and guilt because of this. I was afraid of sharing these feelings with family or friends. It’s brought forth the longing for deeper relationships with family, friends, a future (unknown) spouse, and with my heavenly spouse, Jesus. I didn’t know how to surrender these things to Jesus and His loving Father, even though I was attending Mass and praying.

I now realize that being vulnerable is part of a healthy life. I need to know my strengths and my weaknesses and of the world in which I live. Past experiences can be triggered by our current life experiences. It’s how we deal with them in the present, by noting what is stirred up and continuing on a path forward, that keeps us moving on the way in a new day. In this new reality, I have heightened awareness of the many who don’t have access to the digital world, who don’t have a home to shelter in nor any jobs to pay their bills. I know there are very necessary changes to be made in all aspects of our societies.

An interview Pope Francis gave a month ago spoke about taking up the challenge during this time. He said:

“…This crisis is affecting us all, rich and poor alike, and putting a spotlight on hypocrisy. I am worried by the hypocrisy of certain political personalities who speak of facing up to the crisis, of the problem of hunger in the world, but who in the meantime manufacture weapons. This is a time to be converted from this kind of functional hypocrisy. It’s a time for integrity. Either we are coherent with our beliefs or we lose everything….

What we are living now is a place of metanoia (conversion), and we have the chance to begin. So let’s not let it slip from us, and let’s move ahead….This is what we all have to do now, today: to take with us the roots of our traditions, and make for the mountain.”

Let us begin today the journey up the mountain together. Let us act boldly and pray intentionally for the changes that need to occur throughout our world. We each have a part in the repair and healing of lives affected in this crisis. Let us walk on the way that Jesus has taught us. We know the way. Pope Francis said, “If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.”

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

Jesus, I Trust in You

My heart is telling me I should trust in my Lord, Jesus Christ, whose Divine Mercy we celebrated last Sunday. Alleluia! Still, my head struggles for control, trying to challenge and push aside His truth and His ways. Confusing? It sure is. I’m in good company though; it’s in today’s readings.

The first reading tells us that Peter and the Apostles must obey God rather than man, and then were given the Holy Spirit because they obey Him. Each of us is created in God’s image. Naturally, He is in our hearts. As children, we innately recognize His presence in every aspect of creation. 

As we mature, our hearts frequently become jaded and untrusting of His Divine Love and Mercy. We need to overcome the struggle that confronts us each day, moment by moment. We have to remember the call placed in our hearts to be a united part of creation, seeing the world through His love.

I feel an urgency placed in my heart to share this with you today. As we continue to build community digitally, we are united in our one faith. I am compelled to share with you the Litany of Trust, written by Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, SV.  Please pray with me.     

The Litany of Trust

From the belief that
I have to earn Your love
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear that I am unlovable
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the false security
that I have what it takes
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear that trusting You
will leave me more destitute
Deliver me, Jesus.

From all suspicion of
Your words and promises
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the rebellion against
childlike dependency on You
Deliver me, Jesus.

From refusals and reluctances
in accepting Your will
Deliver me, Jesus.

From anxiety about the future
Deliver me, Jesus.

From resentment or excessive
preoccupation with the past
Deliver me, Jesus.

From restless self-seeking
in the present moment
Deliver me, Jesus.

From disbelief in Your love and presence
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being asked
to give more than I have
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the belief that my life
has no meaning or worth
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of what love demands
Deliver me, Jesus.

From discouragement
Deliver me, Jesus.

That You are continually holding me,
sustaining me, loving me
Jesus, I trust in You.

That Your love goes deeper than my
sins and failings and transforms me
Jesus, I trust in You.

That not knowing what tomorrow
brings is an invitation to lean on You
Jesus, I trust in You.

That You are with me in my suffering
Jesus, I trust in You.

That my suffering, united to Your own,
will bear fruit in this life and the next
Jesus, I trust in You.

That You will not leave me orphan,
that You are present in Your Church
Jesus, I trust in You.

That Your plan is better
than anything else
Jesus, I trust in You.

That You always hear me and in
Your goodness always respond to me
Jesus, I trust in You.

That You give me the grace to accept
forgiveness and to forgive others
Jesus, I trust in You.

That You give me all the strength
I need for what is asked
Jesus, I trust in You.

That my life is a gift
Jesus, I trust in You.

That You will teach me to trust You
Jesus, I trust in You.

That You are my Lord and my God
Jesus, I trust in You.

That I am Your beloved one
Jesus, I trust in You
Amen.

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

FROG

We mixed up our posts. This is the correct post for 4/3. You can find today’s reflection here: https://diocesan.com/and-we-continue/

God Bless!


I’m in my second week of shelter in place and remote work. It’s taken me several days to get into a routine that allows me to be productive on the job. I have come to realize how much more I need to lean into God for support, for focus, and for inspiration. I have forgotten the acronym I learned during my days as a youth minister. FROG: Fully Rely On God.

I wasn’t doing that at the beginning of the shelter in place order. I was too caught up in the juggling of assembling a remote setup for work, checking my cabinets for food and prescriptions, reaching out to family and friends, the slight panic and fear due to the quickly changing world events. My prayer was as similar as in my youth. It was scattered throughout the day, sure, but not in the routines I’ve come to rely on. The prayer routine that helps to keep me focused on God working in and through my life on a daily basis. (If you haven’t developed a good prayer routine, now is a great time to establish one especially if you have some extra time in your days; see the resources below).

The verse before the Gospel today, “Lord, you have the words of everlasting life,” has been in my mind since I began praying with these readings. The bible is our guide to the words of life, strength, love and hope.

Where I can really be challenged is in the words of today’s Gospel. Jesus says, “believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.”

I know the Father is in me because of my reception of the Eucharist and my digesting (reading and listening to) His words in the bible. I get hung up on the above quote. Do my works (my deeds, words, and actions) reflect that the Father is in me, and I am an extension of the Father?

I am thankful for the examination of conscience at the beginning of Mass. I consciously try to remember to review my day as I lay my head on my pillow at night. I need to make note of what I have done and what I have failed to do while not beating myself up about my mistakes. That’s why I need to FROG.

I also need to open my window in the evening, so I can hear the peepers. It reminds me that I, too, am a little voice in the wilderness, so very loved by God, my creator. He loves me and all the whole world.

Please pray with me the words below to help us remember to rely on Him this day and hopefully, each day going forward.

Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace,
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

Amen

Beginning Catholic

Four Womens’ Routine

Catholic Gentlemen’s Routine

Starting a Prayer Routine

Is There a Correct Way to Pray

Magnificat

Liturgy of the Hours

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

Where is your Focus?

I am constantly amazed by the patience and goodness of the Lord. Today’s readings highlight that for me. Why; because I believe in God, my Father. I believe in Jesus Christ, His Son. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I know He hears my voice. I know He is in the world around me.

How can I know that? Faith. I have the Word in Sacred Scripture to guide me. Scripture today is calling us to be obedient to His Word and teachings.

My pastor beautifully explains where our focus should be at this time.

“It seems that we are given new parameters for our gatherings and protocols for our personal interaction almost daily. Please be patient with this. Our public officials and medical leaders are evaluating the progress of the disease daily. They will give directions for public health and safely accordingly.

Please comply with the directives of the Governor and the National and County Departments of Health.

Don’t take on the attitude that you know better than them. It is easy to do. Remember, you are a member of the Body of Christ. It is not about you or me, it is about all of us. The directions we are being given may very well be more about “all of us” than about you personally. They may be personally and socially inconvenient and costly to you personally. It is easy to be dismissive of them. It takes a lot of humility to allow someone other than yourself to lead, to follow their directions. This does not mean that you don’t think for yourself. To this point the Governor and Health Department’s directions have been implemented and sound reasons for them have been set out for us. It is humility to listen to the reasons, to weigh them, and then to comply when there is sense to them.

Few people know how to make a Spiritual Communion. A Catholic would do this when they are justifiably prevented from participating in Mass on Saturday evening or Sunday. Here are the directions:

Making A Spiritual Communion
Set aside ten or fifteen minutes. You can gather with your children and lead them in this process.

Make the Sign of the Cross over yourself.

Pray:
I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have greatly sinned in my thought and my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

If you want you can read from one of the Gospels in your bible or read the readings of the day from a hand missal or on line at http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/

Spend a moment offering prayers of petition for those the world, for those you love or for those you know are in need.

Pray the “Our Father”

Pray:
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us (grant us peace). (3x)

Pray:
Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, But only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

Close your eyes, picture Jesus standing next to you and pray:
Jesus, I believe that you are truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things and I desire to possess you within my soul. Since I am unable now to receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart, I embrace you as already being there, and unite myself wholly to you. Never permit me to be separated from you. My beloved Jesus, inflame this heart of mine, so that it may be always and all on fire for you.

Amen

Pray the “Hail Mary.”
Holding you all in prayer,

Father Jim Chelich”

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

The Friday of the First Week of Lent

I had no understanding of what it meant to fast or what Lent was really all about as a child. The crucifix and painting of Jesus were covered with purple cloth in my grandparents’ house and at church. We didn’t eat meat on Fridays. That was about it.

I do have many memories of eating fish sticks, tuna noodle casserole, grilled cheese & tomato soup or creamed peas on toast, on many Fridays during my youth. My favorite meals were when we had a dinner of pancakes or waffles. There were no parish fish frys available where we lived or in any of the communities to which we moved during my childhood.

Today, I understand more about the universal Church, Lent, sacrifice and penance. I really like how the Catholic Bishops of Ireland describe penance:

“Penance is an essential part of the lives of all Christ’s faithful. It arises from the Lord’s call to conversion and repentance. We do penance: in memory of the passion and death of the Lord, as a sharing in Christ’s suffering, as an expression of inner conversion, and as a form of reparation for sin.

Fridays hold a day of special intention during our Lenten journey. Some suggestions for penance to be done on Fridays include:

Abstaining from meat or some other food
Abstaining from alcoholic drink or smoking
Making a special effort at involvement in family prayer
Making a special effort to participate in Mass on Fridays
Visiting the Blessed Sacrament
Making the Stations of the Cross
Fasting from all food for a longer period than usual and perhaps giving what is saved to those in need
Helping the poor, sick, old, or lonely.”  

Pope Francis  reminds us in his Lenten message that prayer is very important during Lent, as it is an expression of our need to respond to God’s love which sustains us. Through our prayer, a dialog with God develops and our hearts are softened to help convert us to His will. Jesus’s passion, the Way of the Cross, is a way I can enter into sharing the journey with Christ who willingly accepted the Cross for my sinfulness and for yours.

The Stations of the Cross have been a great comfort to me during my own times of challenging life situations, through sickness, marital strife, job and financial insecurity, tragedy. Set aside some time to spend praying one of the Stations of the Cross listed below. May they lead you to a more open dialog with God as you continue on your Lenten journey.

Stations by Lebanese Young People led by Pope Francis at the Colosseum

youtube Stations of the Cross

Knights of Columbus Traditional & Modern Stations

USCCB Scriptural Stations of the Cross

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

Me; A Goat, A Sheep, A Sinner?

Yes, is my answer to all three of the above. The readings today are a reminder of the importance of self vigilance in our lives. 

The first reading has Moses listening to the Lord, giving him the ten commandments. The responsorial psalm tells us the Lord’s words are Spirit and life. Then, in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the Apostles that the Lord will separate the sheep from the goats, judging the goats as those who do not recognize Him in the world through others and because of our own biases

I, alone, am responsible for my words, my actions, and inactions, my bias and blindness.

I am so very thankful that I have the teachings of the Church, His Word in the bible, food in the Eucharist, and forgiveness of my sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation available almost in a blink of an eye. It’s all there for me, but it is still up to me to take the time to access these gifts and graces from God.

Lent is a great time to examine your conscience and make greater use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We don’t want to be like a goat that jumps around, chewing on things that aren’t good for us, and butting heads with those around us. Take two minutes and check out the links below for an examination of conscience to reflect on before your next confession. Set a date in your calendar, add it to your to-do list, or myParish app on your phone or tablet, and go to confession soon. 

Why? Today’s verse before the Gospel tells us, “now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2Cor 6:2B

Examination of Conscious based on the Commandments

Examination based on the Beatitudes

Examination by Pope Francis’ reflection on the beatitudes in “Gaudete et Exsultate”

Blessed is She Examination 

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

Partiality

“However, if you fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” (James 2:8-9)

If I show partiality, I commit sin; this phrase jumped out at me. I haven’t been able to dismiss it, nor the rest of the sentence in this quote, ‘and convicted by the law as a transgressor.’ Crud bunnies! What a lot to examine in one sentence.

I find myself looking forward to Lent beginning in a few days. These two sentences from James will probably be my focus this year. Why only probably? I need to leave room for confirmation from the Holy Spirit, as there are still a few days before Ash Wednesday. 

If I show partiality, I commit sin; man o man, what a phrase to deal with! I don’t think 40 days will be long enough to break me of habits, lack of awareness, bias, prejudice, and my obliviousness to my own racism that has been ingrained in my thought processes. I will continue to work on ridding myself of the biases that I have absorbed during my life and opening my eyes to how privileged I have been in all stages of life. I need to be vigilant to increase my awareness of all in the world around me; how my actions or inactions affect others.

Cardinal Blase Joseph Cupich sums this up beautifully in his keynote address at the Catholic Social Justice Ministry gathering, held January of this year. He begins by quoting Pope Francis’ words, “We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty” (Gaudete et Exsultate, [Rejoice and Be Glad] nos. 95, 101).

He continues, reminding us of our Catholic responsibility, “to bear witness to the Church’s commitment to a consistent ethic of life in every corner of our society. We are called to protect the life and dignity of all those who are vulnerable and embody Christ’s image, from the unborn to migrants, our brothers and sisters around the world whose lives are threatened by war, poverty, racism, or climate change, persons with disabilities, and persons on death row.”

What are you called to reflect and act on in the days ahead? Here are a few resources to help you on your way with this topic. I will be revisiting the Church documents “Open Wide Our Hearts” and Bishop Braxton’s “The Racial Divide in the United States.”

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.