Human Fraternity

The themes in today’s readings, beginning with the prophet Abraham saying, ‘through you shall all the nations be blessed’ and the Alleluia, ‘I will draw all to myself, says the Lord’,  have been pulling me to Pope Francis’ new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti.    

Why? The subtitle of the document, Fraternity and Social Friendship, ring true in my heart, just as it did during my first reading of the Gospel. ‘Whoever is not with me is against me, whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Lk 11:23

The Grand Imam, Ahmed el-Tayeb and Pope Francis signed a document in February of 2019 on human fraternity and world peace. The Grand Imam described this joint document as: “… a document that invites all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters.”

Fratelli Tutti is a document that needs to be read slowly to allow yourself to go deeper into the familiar story of the Good Samaritan, which is the framework of Pope Francis’ writing. John Carr, Director of Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at GU wrote a summary of the Twelve Themes on Sunday and Georgetown University held a forum on the encyclical on Monday.

The Alleluia acclamation today states: ‘I will draw all to myself, says the Lord.’ I believe this is what Pope Francis calls us to throughout Fratelli Tutti. The relationships we have with all of humanity and creation are sacred and entrusted to us through the Divine.

This recurring theme delights my Franciscan heart and soul. Click on the links above, read the documents, and find what is yours to do. Pray with me the words of Pope Francis as we begin this journey 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.

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Beth Price 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.

An Appointed Time For Everything

Time. An interval that constantly ticks forward, one second, one blink, one breath, to the next. There is no judgement or bias, right or wrong. It just continues on.

The lines from Ecclesiastes in today’s reading are lyrical. There is an appointed time for everything. Why then, am I so resistant to something I cannot control? Time moves forward yet I sometimes believe I can hold on to it as a child holds a beloved stuffed animal. There is a time for hugging and also a time for letting go.

As a child who stomps her foot while saying, ‘stop, stop, stop,’ I cannot stop the death of a grandparent or a beloved friend. There is a time to die and there is a time to be born. I cannot stop the rotation of the sun across the sky or how the wind blows over the earth.

The passage goes on to say that God has appointed tasks for mankind to carry out at the appropriate time, into our hearts without our knowing it. We all are called to use the gifts and talents that we’ve been given to do those tasks.

It is a new day. Let us thank God ahead of time, for the gift of this day. Let us do what needs to be done today. Amen.

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Beth Price 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.

Light Of The World

The Gospel reading today says  “…the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” Lk 5:35

It certainly feels like it’s been a time of fasting. Our church, family, school, local and national communities are still grappling with the pandemic and its effects on many of the systems that are part of daily life. The last five months have not been like any others in recent history.

The good news is some things never change. God is always with us. He loves each and everyone of us unconditionally. He is waiting for us to turn to Him. We can receive Jesus spiritually, at any time throughout the day. My favorite prayer for spiritual communion is from Blessed Solanus Casey

Dear Lord, please come to me in spiritual communion.

Send your Body and Blood gushing through my veins.

Send your love into my heart, my soul and my mind.

Lift me up to your bosom and infuse me with your Divine Love. Amen

The first reading today reminds us that we are stewards and servants of God. We are not to “make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts.” We are the ones who are called to share His light in this world because we are filled with the light of His life.

As we head into this Labor Day weekend I have two items for reflection. Please listen to Jesse Manibusan’s song We are the Light and ponder these words of St. Francis of Assisi: “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.”

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Beth Price 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 Are You At in Your Journey?

The readings today are rich with imagery: sheep, shepherds, landowners, laborers, the earth, pastures, valleys, and vineyards, marketplaces and wages. Sit with those images for a few moments. Read them again. What comes to mind?

The accompanying words of scripture ask us to be aware of our thoughts and actions. The gospel acclamation from Hebrews states, “The word of God is living and effective, able to discern the reflections and thoughts of the heart.” (4:12)

My mind keeps flipping back and forth between the shepherds who were taking advantage of their sheep, the landowner and the laborers. The Lord God says he will look after and tend His sheep. He will come against the shepherds who did not protect their flock but looked after themselves alone. I hear words labeling the shepherds; exploitation, greed, injustice, and neglect. I picture images illustrating these words during my own life and throughout history. Am I listening to and following the Good Shepherd’s voice?

I read the Gospel again. Jesus tells his disciples that all who work in his vineyard, no matter when they begin the task, will be given their reward, “the last shall be first and the first shall be last.”

A memory comes to mind of a youth lamenting the conclusion of a game where she got to heaven, but those there before her had taken down the celestial celebration because of all the work to clean up.

Next an image surfaces of Jesus on the cross telling one of the criminals that they will be together in paradise. This criminal stands up for the truth by telling his companion, ‘this man did nothing wrong.’ Jesus’ reward to him in their dying moments is the promise of joining Him in paradise that day.

Where is your focus drawn? How does this illustrate where your journey with Jesus our Lord God finds you today? Take the time to note where you are led throughout your day. Listen for His voice, for the things and people which lead you to Him or away from Him. Learn to discern what the right Way is for you in your daily life. Be vigilant and keep your focus on His love for you and all of His creation.

Please pray with me: Jesus, I trust in you. I know you are with me. Help me to keep my steps and my thoughts going your Way, wherever that may lead. May your grace and mercy continue to bless my journey, especially since I don’t know where it may take me. Help me focus on your shepherd’s voice of comfort and love. 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.

Follow Me

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (MT 16:24) This is the first line from today’s Gospel. It always catches my attention. This sentence reminds me that I need to get out of the way, no matter what my current situation may be, and I must follow Jesus. It is my choice to make freely in each and every moment of my day.

I didn’t say this is something that comes easily to me. A cartoon I saw earlier this week sums up my daily challenge beautifully. Jesus is pictured with several followers (Bibles in hand). He says to them: ‘The difference between me and you is you use scripture to determine what love means and I use love to determine what scripture means.’ Wow, drop the mike!

Love is the answer! My cross must be looked at with eyes of Love! I must choose to carry on in my daily life through Jesus’ Way of Love.

At this point in life, my choices for the upcoming day are more easily made when I begin with prayer, scripture, or as my schedule now allows, morning Mass. I did not choose that as a youth or young adult. I typically made the choice to pray when in crisis or when reminded by a friend.

The Church honors today the love and choices of eight martyrs. Pope Saint Sixtus II (and his companions, all martyrs) chose the Love of Christ by defying the Emperor Valerian’s persecutions in the third century. Church services were forbidden, yet Pope Sixtus the Second held Mass in a cemetery chapel. The chapel was raided while the Pope was preaching. He was beheaded by soldiers along with four of his deacons. Three more deacons were executed later that day.

I am never sure how the next moment or day may unfold. I can, however, rely and count on the Lord, my God and Savior to be with me through each and every situation I find myself in.

As we begin this new day please pray with me the words of  Blessed Charles de Foucauld.

Father, I abandon myself into your hands,
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you;
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father. 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.

I Desire Mercy, Not Sacrifice

Yes, it is a Friday and today’s Gospel is about the sabbath law. The Catholic Catechism refers to sabbath law directly in number 2173:

“The Gospel reports many incidents when Jesus was accused of violating the sabbath law. Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this day. He gives this law its authentic and authoritative interpretation: “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” With compassion, Christ declares the sabbath for doing good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing. The sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God. “The Son of Man is Lord even of the sabbath” (Mt 12:8).

My focus has kept coming back to the dynamic of man imposing his will and interpretations on God’s kingdom and God’s law. We bicker and wage war about laws, institutional structures and rights while so many innocents suffer and are sacrificed. When does the realization occur that a paradigm shift must occur else the vicious cycle continues? When does mercy and love reign in our midst?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines mercy:

“1a: compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power : also : lenient or compassionate treatment : begged for mercy
b: imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder
2a: a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion : May God have mercy on us.
b: a fortunate circumstance : twas a mercy they found her before she froze
3: compassionate treatment of those in distress : works of mercy among the poor at the mercy of : wholly in the power of : with no way to protect oneself against”

Did any of the above definitions bring to mind current situations in the USA or internationally? The numerous challenges to our world are great: a global pandemic, racism, climate change and poverty have magnified the tremendous disparities in our communities and need for change.

I invite you to take the time to reflect and pray about what you are called to do to help provide a chance for a paradigm shift to occur. The alleluia verse says that we hear the Lord’s voice; he knows us and we follow him. Are you able to hear and listen to the Lord’s voice? Are you able to apply His voice to what is happening in your life today? 

Please pray with me: 

Creator Lord Jesus, I trust that your will be done in my life. Give me the eyes to see and the courage to do what you ask me to do for your kingdom on earth. Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you. Amen.

Here are some readings to ponder.

I desire mercy
I have blind spots
Georgetown U: The Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life
Feeding America Impact
Covid-19 and Global hunger
Covid-19 and Immigration
Break the cycle of distraction 
Can Catholics support black lives matter?
Covid-19 and disaster recovery workers
Covid-19 Who gets counted?
Parishioners ‘show up’ for racial justice work

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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 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.