“The quality of mercy is not strain’d, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes: ‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes The throned monarch better than his crown; His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, The attribute to awe and majesty, Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; But mercy is above this sceptred sway; It is enthroned in the hearts of kings, It is an attribute to God himself; And earthly power doth then show likest God’s When mercy seasons justice.” ― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
This is one of my favorite selections of Shakespeare. May we all come into the blessed experience of such mercy and receive it from our hearts; and then may we in turn, from our hearts, give it to one another in this Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The month of May honors Mary, our Mother, given to us from the Cross by the Beloved. We also honor St. Joseph the Worker, whose feast is on May 1. This quote describes something of their daily life in Nazareth and what it can mean for our daily life in this present time, sanctifying us day by day. God desires to make us holy through our daily duties, not in spite of them.
“…there occurs in Mary’s heart a wonderful ascent in love. This very obscure work [her manual labor in Nazareth]…totally directed…toward God and totally in the service of fraternal charity, is as it were the daily food which enables this ascent in charity to be realized in such a divine and simple, but also …steady way. If charity transforms work by ordering it to God and neighbor, by giving it a new meaning, the work accepted out of love is at the same time a sort of fuel which keeps this divine fire of love burning, which offers it some human penal matter to enable it to be more and more hidden….It is in this light that we should understand how charity transforms all the tedious labor connected with the duties of our state in life and how this labor enables our divine life to remain more hidden and pure.” ~Marie-Dominique Philippe, O.P.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.” I Peter 1:3-9
March 2016 A Smattering of Thoughts for Your Lenten Reflections
“Do not let the false delights of the deceptive world deceive you.” ~St. Clare of Assisi
“The most deadly poison of our times is indifference. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits.” ~St. Maximilian Kolbe
“If we would advance in virtue, we must not neglect little things, for they pave the way to the greater.” ~St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus
“Do not give your heart to that which does not satisfy your heart.” ~St. Poemen
“Let us strive for purity of heart, for the Holy Spirit dwells in candid and simple minds.” ~St. Phillip Neri
“God says you were made good, but why do you believe you have to jump through hoops to become lovable?” ~Deacon Ralph Poyo
“Christ isn’t troubled by your wounds.” ~Fr. Mick Schmitz
February Quote 2016
Pope Francis’ Prayer for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy
Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him. Show us your face and we will be saved. Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman: “If you knew the gift of God!”
You are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified. You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.
Let us make it our habit to pray this prayer regularly as we journey through Lent as a means of asking for a deeper, fuller heart of mercy.
January 2016 Quote
“The destiny of every person is symbolized in this journey of the Magi of the East; our life is a journey, illuminated by the lights which brighten our way, to find the fullness of truth and of love which we Christians recognize in Jesus, the Light of the World…. [in] “following a light,” [the three kings actually sought] the Light.”
“The star appearing in the sky kindled in their minds and in their hearts a light that moved them to seek the great Light of Christ…. [In our own journey searching for this light, the Pope emphasized that like the Magi.] “every person has two great ‘books’ which provide the signs to guide this pilgrimage,…the book of creation and the book of sacred Scripture….”
[What is most important, noted the Pontiff,] “is that we be attentive, alert, and listen to God who speaks to us; listening to the Gospel, reading it, meditating on it and making it our spiritual nourishment especially enables us to encounter the living Jesus, to experience him and his love.” –Pope Francis. Epiphany, 2014
October 2015 Quote
“God’s presence in our lives never leaves us tranquil: it always pushes to do something. When God comes, he always calls us out of our house. We are visited so that we can visit others; we are encountered so as to encounter others; we receive love in order to give love.” -Pope Francis’ Homily in Santiago, Cuba, Sept. 23, 2015
June 2015 Quote and Reflection
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
I read a reflection from the Office of Reading in the 6th Week of Easter that brought this quote to mind. We are living in unprecedented times as Christians where our religious freedoms are attacked as they have not been since the Middle Ages, the Dark Ages, and before that in the first three hundred years after the Ascension. When I read Austin Ruse of C-Fam, the continual Catholic presence and voice in the UN, he now ends his updates with, “Be brave!” We are called to ask the Lord to strengthen the moral virtue of Fortitude within us, for we will need it as never before in the challenges we face. I want to share with you this excerpt for the Late Second-century Epistle to Diognetus from Mathetes.
Sr. Ann Shields, SGL
See that You Do Not Refuse Him Who is Speaking
Saturday May 30, 2015
Portion of Late Second-century Epistle to Diognetus from Mathetes
Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities from their own or speak a strange dialect, of follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based on reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.
And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them, their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others they marry and have children but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days on earth but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law.
Christians love all men but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death but raised to life again. They live in poverty but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do, they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.
To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates Christians, not because they have done anything wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.
Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.1
Read also: Revelation 21:1-8
1Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. II, (Catholic Book Publishing Corp.) Wednesday, Fifth Week of Easter, Office of Readings.
May 2015 Quote and Reflection
“Jesus Christ loves you; He gave His life to save you; and now He is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.” ~Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudiam (The Joy of the Gospel)
This is the message of Easter. We know that Jesus Christ loves us not only because He died for us, taking on every one of our sins upon Himself, but because He rose from death for us, freeing us from eternal death and giving us the living hope of eternal life through Him, with Him, and in Him. Each Sunday we proclaim, “I believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” How powerful is that?! Each one of us is a new creation. In Baptism we died and were raised up with Christ. This life is passing. When we enter eternity, we are. So many people long to hear what we have heard and to have what we have been given. Let us go forth and proclaim this Good News to all in word and in deed. Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
April 2015 Quote
“And now brothers [and sisters], I will ask you a terrible question, and God knows I ask it also of myself. Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without him is the real death, that to die with him the only life?” ~ Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat
March 2015 Quote
“Life himself came down to be slain; Bread came down to suffer hunger; the Way came down to endure weariness on his journey; the Fountain came down to experience thirst. Do you, then, refuse to work and to suffer?” ~ St. Augustine of Hippo
January 2015 Quote and Reflection
“Celebrate the feast of Christmas every day, even every moment in the interior temple of your spirit, remaining like a baby in the bosom of the Heavenly Father.” ~St. Paul of the Cross
This image offers so many doors and rooms in which we might enter and ponder with Mary as she must have and perhaps continues to do as she contemplates the Child, her Child, resting in her arms. One room would be the temple that we are, a tabernacle where Jesus rests within us, and in a particular way at His birth. His life had a particular beginning in you. It began at your Baptism, and at that moment Jesus came to you in a similar way that He came to Mary, to make His home within you. We are but little caves, not much to offer our Saviour. Yet, He offers us eternal life. In John 15:4 He says, “Abide in me, and I in you.” In the Jerusalem translation it runs, “Make your home in me as I make my home in you.” It is difficult to find an invitation more intimate than that. Jesus invites you to seek Him so that you might discover that He is already seeking you. So celebrate this feast of the Incarnation every day. It is ever new.
November 2014 Quote and Reflection
“Let us throw ourselves into the ocean of His goodness, where every failing will be canceled and anxiety turned into love.” ~St. Paul of the Cross
As we seek to follow the Lord, to grow in discipleship, we often find ourselves coming up short. In fact we tend to perseverate on our lacks, the negatives, the failures. Then they overshadow everything else. Our Father looks at us differently. He invites us always to return to His loving embrace. There is where we will ever find the “ocean of His goodness.” That return is called repentance, a humbling of self rather than a beating of self. It is to return to the One we have wounded with our own selfishness and pride, to seek the Mercy which will always be given if we are willing to own up to our own choices. The Father’s arms are wide open to us. He longs to draw us to Himself, and we see it best in the outstretched arms of His Son. “How much do I love you? I love you that much – forever and for always.”
September 2014 Quote and Reflection
“We do not all have in us the stuff of sages or heroes. But by God’s grace we do have the stuff of saints.” -Fr. Jacques Philippe
This month we honor and honored our grandparents through our Grandparents Day where we celebrated their marriages through the years, and Deacon Larry Randolph from Christ the King preached an inspiring and encouraging homily on Marriage – its amazing place in the whole Body of Christ and in the world. With that in mind I share a quote from Pope Francis which was on the cover of our Grandparents’ Day Program.
“Those who celebrate the sacrament say, “I promise to be true to you, in joy and in sadness, in sickness and in health; I will love you and honour you all the days of my life.” At that moment, the couple does not know what will happen, nor what joys and pains await them. They are setting out, like Abraham, on a journey together. And that is what marriage is! Setting out and walking together, hand in hand, putting yourselves in the Lord’s powerful hands. Hand in hand, always and for the rest of your lives. And do not pay attention to this makeshift culture, which can shatter our lives.” -Pope Francis
This is the stuff of saints. As Fr. Fortunato said over and over again, “Be a saint!”
Summer 2014 Quote and Reflection
“We can transmit…joy simply, with a kind gesture, with some small help, with forgiveness. Let us give this joy, and the joy given will be returned to us. Let us seek in particular to communicate the deepest joy, that of knowing God in Christ. Let us pray that this presence of God’s liberating joy will shine out in our lives.”
Pope Benedict XVI
The Joy of Knowing Christ, The Word Among Us
Joy is one of the hallmarks of the life of the Christian – not because we are without trial, challenge, deep suffering, even unto death; but because we belong to Christ. We are in Him and He is in us. Through Him we have become “God’s children.” (I John)
“Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (I John 3:2)
Who we are and our eternal life is not dependent on our circumstances, no matter what they may be. That is why people like Pastor Saeed and Mariam can cling to their faith in the midst of such suffering and continue to have joy in their hearts. We pray for their freedom, but we know that whatever the outcome, their salvation is sure, for in their circumstances they will die a martyr’s death, the death of a faithful witness. For Jesus is faithful. It is His essence to be faithful.
In these summer months I pray that none of us be robbed of our joy. He who is within us is so much greater than he who is in the world. Jesus told us, “In the world you have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b)
“The Bible tells us that Jesus was like us in all things but sin. For this reason we can say with confidence that we can be like Jesus even when we’re doing mundane things. All the work of keeping ourselves financially stable, healthy, and happy can be part of our spiritual life. Our union with God depends on how we do the things we do.”
Fr. Jonathan Morris
Alumna of Huron Valley Catholic School
God Wants You Happy
Ash Wednesday and the holy season of Lent are upon us. It is so easy for us to focus on the What. What am I going to give up this Lent? Isn’t that often our biggest question? I know it sure has been mine! Let us make it our goal to be more like Jesus and focus on the “how” question in the daily events of our life. How is Jesus calling me to “Enter In?” – to enter into His Kingdom, His Person? How can I do that in my daily life? Perhaps it isn’t so much to change what I do from day to day; rather to change how I do those whats.
“Lord Jesus, enlighten our minds, reveal to us the thirst within us, that we might seek you, the Fount of Living Water in this Lent of 2014. Amen.”
“He said, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.’” (Matt.22:36-40)
“Jesus made it so easy for us to love one another. If we only remember, whatever we do, we do it for Him.”
Blessed Mother Teresa
Where There Is Love, There Is God
“When we put His will, His way, before all else, we will find what we have been created for. Being a disciple will be our greatest honor. And then we will be empowered to truly love those God has given us.”
Sr. Anne Shields, S.G.L.
To Be Like Jesus, Servant Books
Following Jesus is all about discipleship. In this context, Jesus reaches out to
each of us as our Shepherd and reveals to us Who He is, the Obedient Son of the Father.
Jesus has gone ahead of us in obedience. He trusted the Father implicitly and explicitly in everything He said and did. “I do the Father’s work.” “Father, remove this cup. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” He lived a life of true discipleship and through His life lived and surrendered, He won for each one of us the possibility of eternal life, a life of joy and peace in the heavenly kingdom, a life that never ends.
Today He speaks to your heart. He says, “I know longer call you servants, but friends. A servant does not know what his master is doing: but I have called you friends, for all that I heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (Jn. 15:15) He invites you; yes you, to be His disciple, to follow Him, the Lamb, wherever He goes. He says, “Do not be afraid. I lead you on the path to life that is forever, life that is abundant and joy-filled. In the dark valleys I will not abandon or forsake you. Rather I will lead you safely through them. Follow me.”