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Category Archives: Weekly Reflections

26 MAY

Pentecost Sunday

The Gift of Pentecost

Pentecost is God looking at us through the gift of the Spirit. I read that this week and it left me curious about what that means. At the Ascension, the disciples were literally told to not just stand there looking up to the sky, but to do something—to go out and make disciples of all nations. The promise of sending the Holy Spirit was to sustain them in their efforts.

When we prepared for Confirmation, most of us learned the gifts of the Holy Spirit: understanding, knowledge, counsel, courage, reverence, and awe in the presence of God. In the Scriptures for this weekend we hear “They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak…”

How are we using the gifts of the Spirit today? Do we engage those gifts in our speaking?  Are we speaking in ways that give evidence of those gifts in our lives? Are we speaking in ways that build up and enrich the Body of Christ?

In these days of uncertainty, we are too often barraged by disconcerting, divisive speech. We are witnessing the suffering of so many; perhaps we ourselves are suffering. St. Paul reminds us that where one suffers, we all suffer.  As we gather this weekend, at home with our families or elsewhere, let us pray that God infuses each of us with the gifts of the Spirit that we need most. And let us also pray in gratitude for those gifts of the Holy Spirit that we experience in each other, in our families, in our work and in our world. Pentecost is God looking at us through the gift of the Spirit.  May it be so.

19 MAY

The Ascension of the Lord Ascension

The Creativity of the Holy Spirit

What if Jesus had not ascended into heaven?  What if he never left the disciples? These questions offer me an opportunity to reflect on what we will experience at this weekend’s liturgies of the Mass.

If Jesus had not left, he would have been confined to a geographical area with only those who encountered him physically.  But by dying and rising, by spending another 40 days reinforcing his teaching, Jesus made it possible for an encounter with him to continue through his followers.  Jesus’ words before he ascended were “go…and make disciples of all nations….I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  Through the ages, that commission has endured as has the promise of God’s presence and care for us.  I call that Providence!

How are we experiencing the presence of Jesus in our parish and in the lives of our families?  It is time to imagine what is new about us and how we choose to dream for our parish.  Just one year ago, we completed our synodal listening sessions.  We listened to stories of how families are experiencing pressures and concerns in their lives.  We heard challenges to us of how we might begin to identify with those who are often not included and not given a voice. We heard and learned that not everyone is doing fine.  Perhaps we need to ask and listen; we need to be brave and vulnerable in admitting how we are suffering, how we are not doing fine.   Perhaps this is the gift of the Spirit that God is awakening in us.

In the mixing and mingling, in the listening and sharing, we might discover new places in the pews and new neighbors.  We will thank God for the ways in which we have learned to value what really matters in our lives, and what we can do without.  We can sit sharing a common table, at the altar with Father and at the table in our homes.

We share conversations that express our deepest longings—the prayers of the faithful, at church and at home. We answer the call to make disciples, to be disciples trusting that we are not alone.

We see signs all around us.  Newness is among us and within us.  Like many of the plants on our beautiful grounds, we are in various stages of growth– full bloom, opening and unfurling, and in some cases just buds. Thank God for the recent rains.   All are signs of something new—a dream God has for our parish.  Together, at church and at home, we discover that dream for us! We need each other.  We need God.

“I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  Jesus’ promise to his disciples then and to us today! Let us do more than survive!  Let us thrive!

12 MAY

Sixth Sunday of Easter

To Untie the Knots

Sometimes we just need some help! Jesus knew that we would need an advocate and he asked for the best—the Holy Spirit. And oh how we need the creative work of the Holy Spirit in our families, in our community and in our world!  Anne Osdieck opens our eyes and hearts to the power of the Holy Spirit in this quote from St. John Paul II.

(See https://liturgy.slu.edu/6EasterA051423/reflections_osdieck.html)

 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth. … ” According to Pope Francis—quoting St. John Paul II— is the Holy Spirit able to untie the most “knotted” human affairs? Is there some small way you can allow the Holy Spirit to use your creativity to help untie the knots of hunger, gun violence and climate change?

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: ‘The Holy Spirit can be said to possess an infinite creativity, proper to the divine mind, which knows how to loosen the knots of human affairs, even the most complex and inscrutable.’ (from St. John Paul II)

Evangelium Gaudium, 178

And so we pray for the grace to allow the Holy Spirit into our minds and hearts and to hear the call to untie the knots of hunger, gun violence, climate change and all the knots in our family life and in our workplaces, as well as in our church.  Listen here to Holy Spirit, We Are Calling You by Ed Bolduc.


Fifth Sunday of Easter

Making Room

Living as a synodal church!  Those are the words on a magnet on the front of our staff refrigerator door.  It’s a daily reminder to us that the content of the listening sessions we conducted in our parish were only the beginning of our work.

What is synodality? Synodality means journeying together as the People of God. It indicates a way of listening to each individual person as a member of the Church to understand how God might be speaking to all of us. It’s about both listening and acting!

Our readings for this weekend remind us that we have inherited a tradition of seeing, judging (discerning) and acting from the Scriptures, from the stories recounted in the Acts of the Apostles.  Who were the persons being neglected? What was the need, a process of naming and discerning how the community was going to respond to that need?  And what would the community do to meet that need; how were they going to change in order to meet that need?

If we live as the early Christian community did, the apostles identified other leaders and anointed them to do what Jesus taught them to do—to attend to the needs of those being neglected, to reach out to them and do something about their situation. They were regular people, lay men and women, called into the service, anointed and blessed and commissioned to do the work. How can we all be in that chosen group, both men and women? How can each of us use our gifts in creative ways to meet the needs in our community? How can our priests and deacons call, delegate and send us into service? This is the call of this weekend’s Gospel—to fill those many rooms, to make room, to welcome all into the kingdom, on earth as it will be in heaven. All are welcome to the comfort of those many rooms!

28 APR

Fourth Sunday of Easter

On Shepherding

What happens to you, how do you feel when someone surprisingly calls you by your name?  Sometimes we even ask, “How do you know my name?”

In this Sunday’s Gospel, it’s all about the behavior of the sheep AND the shepherd! The shepherd walks ahead of the sheep and the sheep follow because they recognize the voice. The shepherd knows the sheep.  And the sheep know the shepherd. The shepherd calls each by name.

Leading and following, knowing each other, calling each by name!  When are we shepherds and when are we sheep? And how do we live both roles? How do we come to know each other?  How do we learn names?

As we continue to live as a synodal church, listening to each other’s stories and walking, accompanying, companioning one another, we are recognizing what great need we have of shepherds and sheep.  We want to belong.  We want someone to listen.  We don’t want to be alone.  We long to hear the gentle voice of the one who knows our name and desires to know all about us.  How wonderful it is to be known!

As we listen to each other, we realize that not all is well with us.  We come to know how violence of every kind is affecting us and our families. We long for safe space and a community that cares. We yearn for unity in our families, in our city, in our country and in our world.  We want healing.

Anne Osdieck says it well when she asks the Good Shepherd to gather us in all the ways we have strayed. “We so need your shepherding now. No more wars, trafficking, no more hunger and school shootings.  Never again.  Let our hearts follow your healing.”

Let’s listen for the voice of the shepherd and respond to being known and called by name.

And for a musical version of this message, listen here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPBxYJ7iQ7M

For a woman’s preaching about this Gospel:



21 APR

Third Sunday of Easter

Let’s Take A Walk

Some of my earliest memories of formation in convent living, in religious life are the walks we took after evening chores.  Everyone would go out in front of the buildings at 515 SW 24th Street—that long block of buildings that make up Our Lady of the Lake Convent and University– for a stroll.  We had lots to talk about because most of our day was spent in learning the discipline of silence. We would share joys and sorrows, hopes and dreams and most of all, our great desire to go out and be actively engaged in mission!

Maybe it’s because I am moving to that address, the walk to Emmaus story in this Sunday’s Gospel is particularly meaningful.  I know what I am leaving; I am not so sure what Providence will bring to my life as I return to the place of my initial formation.  I do know that it will be about walking and talking—sharing new mysteries of life with all who accompany us, the Sisters of Divine Providence, on our continuing faith journey and our living in mission.

Pope Francis reminds us regularly that our mission as Catholics is to accompany, to walk with others.  He encourages us to go beyond our fears of persons who are different from us, persons we would call strangers.  It is in conversations, in walking side by side, in sitting across the table and talking, seeking understanding, that we recognize that we are all the Body of Christ.  Conversations can dispel confusion and grace us with the recognition that Jesus is among us, alive in each person we encounter.  Like the apostles, we can come to understand and to want to spend more time in community with others. We can meet others who are on their way, perhaps in ways that we don’t yet understand.

“Jesus himself drew near and walked with them.”  Who will I draw near to and walk with this week?

For courage, we pray:  Jesus, come walk with us and be with us now!  Show us the new life that you are.  Open our eyes and make our minds and hearts blaze!  For this, let us all work and pray!

Listen here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eExBStKG3kA

Follow with the lyrics here:

“In the Breaking of the Bread” by Michael Philip Ward

1) In the walking on the road, we saw Him.
In the telling of our hopes, we saw Him.
In the burning of our hearts, we saw the Lord.
At the meal He took the bread and then He blessed it, broke it, offered it.
In the breaking of the bread, we saw Him!
Suddenly our eyes were opened, and we knew He was alive!

2) We set out to find His friends to tell them.
We went to Jerusalem to tell them;
and with joy we told them, “We have seen the Lord!”
And as we were speaking there, He stood among us, blessed us, said to us,
“Now my peace I leave with you.” We saw Him!
Suddenly our eyes were opened, and we knew He was alive!

3) But then we became afraid without Him.
In the darkened room we stayed without Him,
waiting for the One He said that He would send.
Then the Spirit of the Lord came down upon us,
filling us, changing us, giving us the strength to say:
We saw Him! Suddenly our eyes were opened, and we knew He was alive!

4) We ran out into the street to tell them,
everyone that we could meet, to tell them,
“God has raised Him up and we have seen the Lord!”
We took bread as He had done and then we blessed it, broke it, offered it.
In the breaking of the bread, we saw Him!
Suddenly our eyes were opened.

There within our midst was Jesus, and we knew He was alive.
In the breaking of the bread, He is here with us again,
and we know He is alive.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

14 APR

Second Sunday of Easter – Sunday of Divine Mercy

New Life, New Living

We are an Easter people!  That means that our “Alleluias” are bold, loud and frequent! We sing for joy! We celebrate Resurrection! That’s Easter Sunday! And then we revisit the Acts of the Apostles and we learn what it means to be followers of Jesus on our own. Communal life–sharing meals, holding all possessions in common, distributing resources according to need, praising God with exultation—these were the actions and ways of being among the Apostles.

These acts of the apostles offer a great challenge to us during this time of re-connecting and re-engaging in parish life.  Anne Osdieck offers us this poetic interpretation:

Come right through
our fear of locked doors;
breathe your Holy Spirit into us.
Give us please your peace
that comes from

to hoard
such treasure,
we want to give it out
to everyone who would believe.

Make us instruments
of the power
of your


To be instruments of the power of Jesus’ resurrection is to live as Jesus taught us. “Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.” What is the awe that we are experiencing? Jesus is alive and well in all the medical personnel—the angels of mercy—who live their vocation to care for the ill and the dying in difficult conditions. Jesus is alive and well in those who feed the hungry, who share rather than hoard possessions. Jesus is alive and well in our being the domestic church, just like in the days of the apostles. Jesus is alive in our commitments to act for justice. Jesus is alive and well in the peace we offer to others.

Many of us are becoming aware of signs and wonders—awed in fact—by the beauty of creation, the signs of new life. Mother Earth is breathing fresh air, mountain tops are visible, bird chirps are louder, and animals are roaming freely. Re-creation is occurring everywhere. We are amazed and filled with awe! We are passionate about sharing this beauty of God’s creation for generations to come!

He is alive! He is among us! There are many, many more stories about Jesus that only you can tell because you are living them today! Praise and thank God for the “wonders and signs” you are experiencing in yourself, your family, and our parish community. Tell about them! We can all be instruments of the power of Jesus’ resurrection! Let us love each other well!

Resurrection is about the change that is happening in each of us, in all of us! Can we see it? Can we name it?


The Resurrection of the Lord

The Easter AWE!

“The community of believers was of one heart and one mind…” I know without a doubt that all of us learned something about ourselves during this past year. We learned it about ourselves as individuals, as couples, as families, as a parish community, as a compassionate city, as a country and as world citizens, as explorers of the universe. Did we get closer to being of “one heart and one mind” as Jesus envisioned life after His resurrection?

Jesus was so present to his disciples. He showed them the way. To reinforce the witness he had given, the teaching he had done, the ways of being with them, he spent even more time with them. He had them experience the power that they had to heal, to show mercy, to care for all. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles does just that. They held all things in common and everyone had all they needed.

This “holding all things in common” is a real struggle for us. Holding al things in common might include doing our part to contribute to parish life—being present In the church pews is minimal—active participation includes service as liturgical ministers—as singers, greeters, communion ministers, lectors, altar servers.  It means being the Body of Christ, living as the Body of Christ everywhere we go after our participation in the Sunday liturgy.

As we enter the time of recognizing signs of “new life”—the meaning of resurrection—we are being given opportunities to name the ways that we can be of “one heart and one mind” and to “hold all things in common.” During this time of Jesus’ reinforcement of his teachings, the boosters that he gave his disciples, we too are entering into a new journey, a new way of being community.

We don’t know exactly what that looks like or feels like. All we know is that we have been waiting, we have been learning, God has been working in our lives. It is time as we journey to Pentecost to open our minds and our hearts to how we want to be with each other in the future.  We can’t go back to the past, the way it was. It is a different time. We are different.  We have the opportunity to re-connect, to renew relationships, and to form new ones. What are we willing to do, who are we willing to be when we too have the opportunity to live and to be as the community described in ACTS?

This is our call to be witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus. Only then can we call ourselves disciples. Only then do we enter into the dance of discipleship:  Accompany, Welcome and Encourage—the very real AWE of Resurrection!

May we all be filled with AWE!

31 MAR

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

The Journey To The Cross

The Hosanna’s that greet Jesus in his procession through Jerusalem are celebrations of all the wondrous deeds, the merciful and compassionate acts of Jesus throughout his ministry.  Jesus acted in response to the other “hosannas” that asked “Please, Lord, please save us!  Please Lord, give us success!” Jesus heard their cries and laments.  Jesus healed and restored dignity to those who were kept away, shunned, discounted, excluded, mocked and bullied.

Is it no wonder then that those who were marginalized, but seen and healed by Jesus, are exactly the ones who accompany Jesus on his journey to the cross, on his way to his death? These companions included the women, and Simon, and the good thief.  What does this tell you about Jesus?  Those who needed him most, those who did not have daily or weekly access, were the ones who stayed and ministered to him.  They did not run, fall asleep or cower in fear!  They stayed!

The women who weep, the women who stand at the foot of the cross, who provide the burial anointing and who experience Jesus’ first appearance after his resurrection are all  staying companions on the journey.

This week, spend some time thinking about people who are experiencing their own crosses,  the suffering of the most desperate kind—torture, helplessness, rape, mutilation, domestic violence, gun violence, death and destruction all around them. What are the Ukrainians saying to us as they confront injustice?  What are parents of children who died in mass shootings saying to us?  What injustice do we feel strongly about?  What are we willing to do to make it right?  Jesus went to the cross because he challenged the status quo.  Isaiah says “Morning after morning, he opens my ear that I may hear.”  What cries are we hearing? The cries of Ukraine? Of starving people?  Of our planet in crisis?  Of racial injustice?


24 Mar

Fifth Sunday of Lent

This week I have been facilitating a meeting of the leaders of all the religious orders in the U.S. who have Providence in their name, like my community, the Sisters of Divine Providence. Yes, transition work is well underway both at the parish and in my new ministry beginning in June. In the next few weeks, I will introduce you to resources that might help you to reflect on the Sunday readings. This week, my resource is teamrcia.com. This is their reflection on the raising of Lazarus, that deeply felt loss of a brother and the compassionate response of Jesus. That response is provoked by the faith of Mary and Martha.  How does our faith do the same?

Background: Like those preparing for the Easter sacraments, Mary and Martha already have faith in Jesus. Their challenge is to grow in that belief. Can he really do the impossible right here and now—for me? Can he really bring the dead to life—even me? Have we asked him?

  1. What part of your life makes you feel as if you were living in a tomb? What old habits or perspectives make you feel trapped and lifeless?
  2. What part of society or the church makes you feel the same way?
  3. What do you experience a call to come forth from your tomb? To liberation?
  4. How has Jesus been restoring you to life? When do you feel his new life in you?

Practice: Some people live in tombs—through chronic illness, disability, mental or emotional challenge, age, etc. Look around at your own life, and discover whom you can bring to life simply by reaching out to them. Then do so.

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