Prayer for the Sick: Prayer of the Day for Thursday, May 19, 2022

Father of goodness and love, hear our prayers for the sick members of our community and for all who are in need. Amid mental and physical suffering may they find consolation in your healing presence. Show your mercy as you close wounds, cure illness, make broken bodies whole and free downcast spirits. May these special people find lasting health and deliverance, and so join us in thanking you for all your gifts. We ask this through the Lord Jesus who healed those who believed. Amen.

St. Celestine: Saint of the Day for Thursday, May 19, 2022

When the father of this Italian saint died, his good mother brought up her twelve children well, even though they were very poor. “Oh, if I could only have the joy of seeing one of you become a saint!” she use to say. Once when she asked as usual, “which one of you is going to become a saint?” little Peter (who was to become Pope Celestine) answered with all his heart, “Me, mama! I’ll become a saint!” And he did. When he was twenty, Peter became a hermit and …

Remaining in Him

Do you ever feel like there is a general state of discontent in your household? One kid is  complaining about every little thing, the other doesn’t want to do his school work, the other has decided that copying every word that comes out of our mouths is funny, and they are all begging for new toys and video games that are not in our budget. 

I have tried getting them outside to get some Vitamin D and a change of attitude and they complain about that too. “I used to spend all day outside when I was kid!” I tell them, to no avail. I wonder why I was so excited to move to a house with a big fenced-in backyard when they don’t even want to step foot outside the door. 

At moments like these I recall something my brother mentioned telling his kids when they got whiny: “You don’t suffer enough.” And perhaps it’s true. Perhaps they can do without the individualized meals, the 50 stuffed animals, the weekly ice cream cone and the abundant hours of screen time. They are used to getting what they want and could use yet another lesson about sacrifice. 

In today’s Gospel Jesus states: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.” Our Father prunes and refines us, just as we seek to prune and refine our children by teaching and directing them. Because in the end, we all could use a little pruning and we all could stand to sacrifice just a tad more. 

There is so much beauty in this process. When we allow ourselves to be pruned and adhere to the true vine, we will bear much fruit. “Remain in me, as I remain in you… If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” 

What an incredible promise! That is enough to turn any frown upside down! Remaining in Christ is not easy. It requires a continual focus and a periodic pruning, but when we do, Christ promises to be with us and respond to our every request!

Maybe I am not so different from my kids after all. Maybe I want certain things just as much as they do and get grumpy when I don’t get them. Maybe I don’t suffer enough either. Join me in remaining in Christ today so that we may bear much fruit and watch His many blessings unfold. 

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Tami Urcia grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. She loves tackling projects, finding fun ways to keep her little ones occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby and finding unique ways to love. She works at for Christian Healthcare Centers, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for over 20 years.

Feature Image Credit: Sven Wilhelm, https://unsplash.com/photos/2cRXSWyMHA8

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Reading I Acts 15:1-6

Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers,
“Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice,
you cannot be saved.”
Because there arose no little dissension and debate
by Paul and Barnabas with them,
it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others
should go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and presbyters
about this question.
They were sent on their journey by the Church,
and passed through Phoenicia and Samaria
telling of the conversion of the Gentiles,
and brought great joy to all the brethren.
When they arrived in Jerusalem,
they were welcomed by the Church,
as well as by the Apostles and the presbyters,
and they reported what God had done with them.
But some from the party of the Pharisees who had become believers
stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them
and direct them to observe the Mosaic law.”

The Apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter.

Responsorial Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5

R.        (see 1)  Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
I rejoiced because they said to me,
            “We will go up to the house of the LORD.”
And now we have set foot
            within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R.        Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
Jerusalem, built as a city
            with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
            the tribes of the LORD.
R.        Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
According to the decree for Israel,
            to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
            seats for the house of David.
R.        Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
or:
R.        Alleluia.

Alleluia Jn 15:4a, 5b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord;
whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

World Peace

The acquisition of peace, from a secular framework, is a tricky topic. So many roads appear to lead to peace based on the sayings:

“If you want peace, prepare for war.”

“If you want peace, work for peace.”

“If you want peace, end poverty/hunger/homelessness/racism/social inequality.”

“If you want peace, stop fighting.”

“If you want peace, work for justice.”

How can all of these be true at once? While I’m not about to contradict a pope (that last observation belongs to Pope Paul VI), our Gospel today offers a very different understanding of where peace comes from. And spoiler alert, it’s not something that’s the fruit of our labors as these previous sayings imply. 

As Jesus is preparing His disciples for His Ascension, He explains another gift He is leaving them. Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” 

The world teaches us that peace must be earned before it can be received. “If you want peace, then you must do something.” This isn’t what Jesus expressed to His apostles. The peace that Jesus offers is something even greater than world peace. It is the state of a soul in right relationship with God the Father.

When we find ourselves out of relationship with God, it becomes very challenging to be in right relationship with our neighbors. There is a reason the first Great Commandment Jesus gave us is about our relationship with God. Then the second deals with everyone else. The world cannot give us this kind of peace. 

The world is concerned, and rightly so, with the peace between peoples. There are many avenues to peace, like the sayings I dictated earlier. There are many places where peace seems unavailable or impossible to achieve. Peace often is seen as a compromise where no one side wins and everyone is sacrificing something for a balance of peace. Peace of this kind takes work.

If only the world could see that the work would not be so arduous we first received the peace Jesus freely offers. Living in harmony with God naturally brings people into harmony with one another. We discover the unity in Christ that binds us together as part of the family of God. We are not all the same, but our differences are not meant to be divisive. 

I love this image from Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement. Chiara says,

“Let us imagine that God is like the sun. A ray from the sun falls on each one of us. Each ray is the divine will for me, for you, for everyone. Christians and all people of good will are called to move towards the sun, keeping to their own ray of light which is unique and distinct from all the others. By doing so, they will fulfill the wonderful and particular plan that God has for them. If you do the same, you will find yourself involved in a divine adventure you never even dreamed of. You will be, at the same time, both actor in and spectator of something great that God is accomplishing in you and through you in humanity” 

Doing the will of God, receiving the peace He has to give. These are the ways we will bring about world peace that is meaningful and lasting for all people.  

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Kate Taliaferro is an Air Force wife and mother. She is blessed to be able to homeschool, bake bread and fold endless piles of laundry. When not planning a school day, writing a blog post or cooking pasta, Kate can be found curled up with a book or working with some kind of fiber craft. Kate blogs at DailyGraces.net.

Feature Image Credit: Burak Kebaber, https://www.pexels.com/photo/scenic-view-of-the-sunrise-11715604/

Tuesday of Fifth Week of Easter

Reading I Acts 14:19-28

In those days, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium
arrived and won over the crowds.
They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city,
supposing that he was dead.
But when the disciples gathered around him,
he got up and entered the city.
On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

After they had proclaimed the good news to that city
and made a considerable number of disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.
They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the Kingdom of God.”
They appointed presbyters for them in each Church and,
with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord
in whom they had put their faith.
Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia.
After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed to Antioch,
where they had been commended to the grace of God
for the work they had now accomplished.
And when they arrived, they called the Church together
and reported what God had done with them
and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
Then they spent no little time with the disciples.

Responsorial Psalm 145:10-11, 12-13ab, 21

R.        (see 12)  Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
            and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
            and speak of your might.
R.        Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
Making known to men your might
            and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages,
            and your dominion endures through all generations.
R.        Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
May my mouth speak the praise of the LORD,
            and may all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
R.        Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
or:
R.        Alleluia.

Alleluia See Lk 24:46, 26

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead,
and so enter into his glory.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 14:27-31a

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me tell you,
‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’
If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe.
I will no longer speak much with you,
for the ruler of the world is coming.
He has no power over me,
but the world must know that I love the Father
and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Whoever Follows God’s Commands Loves Him

In today’s Gospel, Jesus told His disciples: “Whoever has My commandments and observes them is the one who loves Me. Whoever loves Me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” 

This is so very true! If we love God, we will follow His commandments—without hesitation and without complaint. For without God, we have nothing. And we can do nothing.

Yes, we may be able to be happy for a short period. We may have good fortune. Things may go well for a time. But if we don’t have God, if we don’t love Him, if we don’t follow His commands, we ultimately have nothing.

The goal of our lives is to spend eternity with God. Everything we do on earth should lead us down that path. If not, we are doing something wrong. It may feel right for a short time, but it will not actually be right.

He is the vine, and we are the branches. We grow through His goodness. And we must then take that goodness and allow it to bear fruit in our own lives as we spread His word. In other words, in all that we do, we must use the blessings He has given us to bring others to Him.

How do we do that? According to the Church, there are 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit. These are the “observable behaviors of people who have allowed the grace of the Holy Spirit to be effective in them.” These include charity, generosity, joy, gentleness, peace, faithfulness, patience, modesty, kindness, self-control, goodness, and chastity.

These characteristics are the fruits of a life rooted in Christ and that grow from His love and goodness. We just need to allow them to flow from us. 

All of these fruits are important, of course, but I think right now the most important are peace, charity, and faithfulness, for when we live a life filled with those three tenets, the others will naturally flow.

So let us think of the things we can do in our daily lives to produce these fruits in our families, in our communities, and at work. Let us spend today thinking about our actions and remember this: Before we act, let us ask ourselves whether these actions demonstrate that we are following God’s commandments. Let us also ask ourselves if God would be proud of the action we’re about to take. If not, that should tell us something.

When we live a life rooted in following God’s laws and commands, we will not only grow in holiness, but we will help others grow as well. And that is what God wants of us.

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Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 19 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Thirteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the executive editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program—an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students. You can reach her at slochner0.wixsite.com/website.

Feature Image Credit: Susana Saldivar B, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/15952-welcome-home-my-daughter

Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Reading I Acts 14:5-18

There was an attempt in Iconium
by both the Gentiles and the Jews,
together with their leaders,
to attack and stone Paul and Barnabas.
They realized it,
and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe
and to the surrounding countryside,
where they continued to proclaim the Good News.

At Lystra there was a crippled man, lame from birth,
who had never walked.
He listened to Paul speaking, who looked intently at him,
saw that he had the faith to be healed,
and called out in a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet.”
He jumped up and began to walk about.
When the crowds saw what Paul had done,
they cried out in Lycaonian,
“The gods have come down to us in human form.”
They called Barnabas “Zeus” and Paul “Hermes,”
because he was the chief speaker.
And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city,
brought oxen and garlands to the gates,
for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice.

The Apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their garments
when they heard this and rushed out into the crowd, shouting,
“Men, why are you doing this?
We are of the same nature as you, human beings.
We proclaim to you good news
that you should turn from these idols to the living God,
who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.
In past generations he allowed all Gentiles to go their own ways;
yet, in bestowing his goodness,
he did not leave himself without witness,
for he gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons,
and filled you with nourishment and gladness for your hearts.”
Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds
from offering sacrifice to them.

Responsorial Psalm 115:1-2, 3-4, 15-16

R.        (1ab)  Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give the glory.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
Not to us, O LORD, not to us
            but to your name give glory
            because of your mercy, because of your truth.
Why should the pagans say,
            “Where is their God?”
R.        Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give the glory.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
Our God is in heaven;
            whatever he wills, he does.
Their idols are silver and gold,
            the handiwork of men.
R.        Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give the glory.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
May you be blessed by the LORD,
            who made heaven and earth.
Heaven is the heaven of the LORD,
            but the earth he has given to the children of men.
R.        Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give the glory.
or:
R.        Alleluia.

Alleluia Jn 14:26

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Holy Spirit will teach you everything
and remind you of all I told you.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 14:21-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him,
“Master, then what happened that you will reveal yourself to us
and not to the world?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine
but that of the Father who sent me.

“I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit
whom the Father will send in my name —
he will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

He Makes All Things New

The Scripture readings for the Fifth Sunday of Easter this year are jam-packed with so many great things. I feel as though we should celebrate this day and these words joyfully. In fact, I plan to celebrate later with a cake, and it might just have candles on it. But I digress.

Let’s start with the First Reading, from Acts of the Apostles. It seems like a greatest hits list of Paul and Barnabas, all the places they visited, all the disciples they made, all the success they saw. Lystra, Iconium, Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, Attalia — so many places to give a lector fits, but they show a pattern of success for these Apostles to the Gentiles. Still, Paul and Barnabas don’t see it that way, and neither should we. When they return to Antioch and report about their missionary trip, they didn’t tell the Church what they did. No, they “reported what God had done with them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” They put the credit firmly where it belongs, on God alone, doing the work through them. May we, in our discipleship, let God do His work through us.

Next, there’s the beautiful words from Revelation. It’s a book so often misunderstood or misinterpreted, but today’s message is very clear. “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be His people and God himself will always be with them as their God.” The line echoes several Old Testament passages where God called the Hebrews into covenant with Him. But now, it has a new twist — no more death or mourning, wailing or pain — because God “make(s) all things new.” May we, in our relationship with God, always remember his promise to be with us.

Then, in the Gospel from John, Jesus gives us his new commandment: love one another. We might ask, how can this be new? God has commanded us since the Old Testament to love others as we love ourselves. Again, God makes something new, taking the old commandment and transforming it. The key is in Jesus’ next line: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Our love is not to exist because the law tells us we have to, our love must exist because Jesus has loved us first. His love stems from a personal relationship, not a law. He cares for us and about us. May our love, then, be put into action for others, just the same way Jesus demonstrated his love for us, pouring out his very self for our sake.

It is a lot to ask. Paul recognized this, telling his new disciples, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Yet the reward is beyond our wildest dreams — beyond even the greatest birthday present a guy could ever hope for, unless that hope is to be with God forever. It’s definitely worth working for. Dear Jesus, help us, please.

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Mike Karpus is a regular guy. He grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, graduated from Michigan State University and works as an editor. He is married to a Catholic school principal, raised two daughters who became Catholic school teachers at points in their careers, and now relishes his two grandchildren, including the 3-year-old who teaches him what the colors of Father’s chasubles mean. He has served on a Catholic School board, a pastoral council and a parish stewardship committee. He currently is a lector at Mass, a Knight of Columbus, Adult Faith Formation Committee member and a board member of the local Habitat for Humanity organization. But mostly he’s a regular guy.

Feature Image Credit: James Coleman, https://unsplash.com/photos/tG6TwdeDMyI

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Reading I Acts 14:21-27

After Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the good news
to that city
and made a considerable number of disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.
They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the kingdom of God.”
They appointed elders for them in each church and,
with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord
in whom they had put their faith.
Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia.
After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed to Antioch,
where they had been commended to the grace of God
for the work they had now accomplished.
And when they arrived, they called the church together
and reported what God had done with them
and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13

R (cf. 1) I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R Alleluia.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
            slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
            and compassionate toward all his works.
R I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R Alleluia.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
            and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
            and speak of your might.
R I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R Alleluia.
Let them make known your might to the children of Adam,
            and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages,
            and your dominion endures through all generations.
R I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R Alleluia.

Reading II Rev 21:1-5a

Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.
The former heaven and the former earth had passed away,
and the sea was no more.
I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.
He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,
for the old order has passed away.”

The One who sat on the throne said,
“Behold, I make all things new.”
 

Alleluia Jn 13:34

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment, says the Lord:
love one another as I have loved you.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35

When Judas had left them, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him,
God will also glorify him in himself,
and God will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”

 

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.