Monday, March 30, 2020

April 5, 2020 Holy Week - Easter

Reading I: Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Psalm 118
Reading II: Colossians 3:1-4
Gospel: Luke 24:13-35

We are Easter people and "Alleluia" is our Song. Let us sing "Alleluia" 
here and now in this life, even though we are oppressed by various 
worries, so that we may sing it one day in the world to come, 
when we are set free from all anxiety.
-St. Augustine of Hippo

(On Easter Sunday, there are choices given to the priests regarding the Scriptures to be read. Therefore, if you have heard a different Gospel from the one I have chosen, realize that it is just a different choice. I chose it since it seems to include what is contained in the others.)

In today's Gospel from Luke, we find the risen Jesus joining two of his disciples on their way to Emmaus. When Jesus asked them what they were conversing about, they where talking about the recent crucifixion and death of Jesus. They were confused and troubled because they knew Jesus' body was no longer in the tomb. Had some people removed it? They had witnessed Jesus' miracles. Why had he not saved himself? 

Jesus responded: "Oh how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" Jesus then interpreted the prophets for them.

As evening approached, the disciples invited Jesus to stay with them. As they sat down for an evening meal, Jesus said a blessing and took bread, broke it and gave it to them. They then recognized Jesus and exclaimed,"Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?" 

They returned to Jerusalem where they found the eleven and others who exclaimed that Jesus had appeared to Simon. Together they proclaimed that Jesus had risen. It was the appearances of Jesus in his risen body that had assured them that promise of a Savior had been fulfilled.

There are two parts of the Easter Liturgies which are special to them.

1. An ancient hymn called a "sequence" used to be sung to add to the ceremony of the gospel procession. Today it can be sung or recited at the Easter Masses. Let us take time to reflect on the beautiful words:

Praise the Pascal Victim

Christian, to the Pascal Victim
Offer your thankful praises!
A Lamb the sheep redeems;  
Christ, who only is sinless,
Reconciles sinners to the Father
Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous: 
The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.

Speak, Mary, declaring what you saw, wayfaring.
The tomb of Christ who is living,
The glory of Jesus' resurrection;
Bright angels attesting, the shroud and napkin resting.

Yes, Christ my hope is arisen; 
To Galilee he goes before you.
Christ indeed from death is risen,
our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Amen, Alleluia.

2. It is important to meditate on Renewal of Baptismal Promises so that they become more meaningful. Usually, this happens after the reading of the Gospel.

The Celebrant will say:
Dear brothers and sisters, through the Paschal Mystery we have been buried with Christ in Baptism, so that we may walk with him in newness of life.
And so, now that our Lenten observance is concluded, let us renew the promises of Holy Baptism, by which we once renounced Satan and his works and promised to serve God in the holy Catholic Church. And so I ask you.

1. Do you renounce Satan? I do.
And all his works? I do.
And all his empty show? I do. 

2. Do you renounce sin, so as to live in the freedom of the children of God? I do.
Do you renounce the lure of evil, so that sin may have no mastery over you? I do.
Do you renounce Satan, the author and prince of sin? I do.

Since we are weak human beings, we need to ask the Lord's help to keep our promises. With his grace, we can be faithful.


Let us pray for those who are sick from the Coronavirus-19, their families, care takers, all our government leaders, health-care providers,  and scientists who are searching for cures.

May you and your loved ones have a blessed, happy, and healthy Easter! 

Spanish Translation

(El domingo de Pascua, se dan opciones a los sacerdotes con respecto a las Escrituras para ser leídas. Por lo tanto, si ha escuchado un Evangelio diferente al que yo he elegido, tenga en cuenta que es solo una elección diferente. Lo elegí porque parece incluir lo que está 
contenido en los demás.)

En el Evangelio de hoy de Lucas, encontramos al Jesús resucitado uniéndose a dos de sus discípulos en su camino a Emaús. Cuando Jesús les preguntó de qué estaban conversando, ellos hablaron sobre la reciente crucifixión y muerte de Jesús. Estaban confundidos y preocupados porque sabían que el cuerpo de Jesús ya no estaba en la tumba. ¿Algunas personas lo habían eliminado? Habían presenciado los milagros de Jesús. ¿Por qué no se había salvado a sí mismo?

Jesús respondió: "¡Oh, qué tonto eres! ¡Cuán lento de corazón para creer todo lo que los profetas hablaron! ¿No era necesario que el Cristo sufriera estas cosas y entrara en su gloria?" Entonces Jesús interpretó a los profetas por ellos.

A medida que se acercaba la noche, los discípulos invitaron a Jesús a quedarse con ellos. Mientras se sentaban a cenar, Jesús dijo una bendición y tomó pan, lo partió y se lo dio. Entonces reconocieron a Jesús y exclamaron: "¿No ardían nuestros corazones dentro de nosotros mientras nos hablaba en el camino y nos abría las Escrituras?"

Regresaron a Jerusalén donde encontraron a los once y otros que exclamaron que Jesús se había aparecido a Simón. Juntos proclamaron que Jesús había resucitado. Fue la aparición de Jesús en su cuerpo resucitado lo que les aseguró que se había cumplido la promesa de un Salvador.

Hay dos partes de las liturgias de Pascua que son especiales para ellos:

1. Un antiguo himno llamado "secuencia" solía cantarse para agregar a la ceremonia de la procesión del evangelio. Hoy se puede cantar o recitar en las misas de Pascua

2. Es importante meditar en la Renovación de las Promesas Bautismales para que sean más significativas. Por lo general, esto sucede después de la lectura del Evangelio.

Como somos seres humanos débiles, debemos pedir la ayuda del Señor para cumplir nuestras promesas. Con su gracia, podemos ser fieles.

Oremos por aquellos que están enfermos por el Coronavirus-19, sus familias, cuidadores, todos nuestros líderes gubernamentales, proveedores de atención médica y científicos que están buscando curas.

¡Que usted y sus seres queridos tengan una Pascua bendecida, feliz y saludable!


Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
This past November I took a mini vacation to Savannah, Georgia. The trip was my first real get-away in forty years, so needless to say I was very excited. Savannah was no exception to the extreme weather conditions that most cities along the east coast were experiencing. I departed Philadelphia in blustery rain only to find it cold and stormy in Savannah. It poured three out of the four days I visited. Sunday, however, was a glorious day and I spent every daylight hour exploring the city. I was greeted by a resident who was walking her dog in one of the town’s historic squares. She quickly assessed that I was a tourist because I was taking pictures of everything. She commented that the one photo I must absolutely take was of the “Resurrection” trees lining the path. She went on to tell me that if these trees are deprived of water for just a few days, their lush green draping foliage turns brown and dries out. If I had visited the prior week, I would be observing dead looking trees. Thus, the blustery cold rain that dampened my sightseeing and lead to turbulent flights “resurrected” these trees to vibrant life. 

Naturally, I was thinking spiritually principles as this hometown lady related the nature of the trees. After all, we go through a similar transformation with every dark period we experience. If we invite Jesus to tread with us through the rainy days of life, we too will emerge renewed like the unique trees of Savannah.

Lent is a time dedicated to reflection and prayerfulness. Acknowledging my sinfulness, I petition God for mercy and strength. During these “examination of conscious” moments I recognize patterns of behavior that deplete my spirit, deadening it to my soul’s needs. When in this withered state, I am incapable of noticing the needs of others. Worse, I am apathetic to the suffering of others.

Unless I refresh myself with “Living Water,” my soul remains parched. This life giving water, of course, is Jesus. I look to the cross and see there the greatest love of all time. Total gift of Self, given that I will have life. We are showered with abundant grace when we meditate upon Christ’s passion and death. Such contemplation puts things in perspective, opens the heart to forgiveness, and reignites within us the desire to move forward as a dedicated disciple of Jesus.

Raised from the depths of my self-imposed separateness from God, self and others, I am restored to life. My “resurrected” self reflects the light, love and oneness of Christ radiating in and through me.

Once again, I celebrate the joy of my belovedness. It is Easter!

Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita 
Only one disciple on the road to Emmaus – Cleopas – is named; you might be the other. Does your heart burn when reading on listening to the Word of God? Does your soul sing “Alleluia” when you receive the Body and Blood of your Savior? How can you deepen your response to God’s Presence? A few quiet moments spent in gratitude, contrition, praise and petition might help to quiet our restless spirit and allow us to rest calmly in God’s loving embrace.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Mar 1 - The First Sunday of Lent & The Feast of St. Katharine Drexel

Reading I: Genesis 2: 7-9
Psalm 51
Reading II: Romans 5:12-19
Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11

There are many meanings of the word "Lent" in the English language, but the one we are focusing on is "springtime." When I think of spring, I think of growth, renewal, and resurrection.

First, I think of an awakening of the vegetation as it makes a path through the soil, pushes obstacles out of its way, and seeks nourishment for growth. All this enables it to provide food and beauty for our world.

That is what "lent" is about. We take time to examine our relationships with God, our brothers, and sisters. We ask the Lord to help us to discern what needs to happen to allow our spirits to grow. We seek to know the obstacles in our path and how to remove them. We also look to ways of nourishing our souls for greater growth.

What are obstacles in my path? 1) Am I unwilling to forgive? Ask the Lord and/or a spiritual friend for help. 2) Am I spending too much time watching TV or with social media, or something else so that I do not pray enough? What can I give up in order to spend more time with the Lord? 3) Do I enrich the soil by studying the Bible, doing spiritual reading, listening to spiritual songs or sermons, or engaging in faith-sharing circles, etc.? Ask the Lord what he wants of you.

In the spring, we also see renewal. Trees,which seemed to be dead in the winter, begin to bud forth and gift us with their beauty and welcomed shade. It may be that the Lord simply wants me to renew a holy practice which I have let go because of busyness or other reasons.

All this is in preparation for the new life which we will celebrate at the Easter Vigil and Masses with Alleluias and renewal of our Baptismal Vows. Then, we will be able to bring the light of Christ to our world in such need of hope and love.

The Feast of St. Katharine Drexel - March 3

St. Katharine Drexel, was the first canonized Saint to be born a United States citizen. She was a daughter of a wealthy Philadelphia banker, Francis Anthony Drexel. She and her whole family became philanthropists because they believed that their wealth was a gift to be shared with the needy.

As a child, Katharine helped her stepmother, Emma Bouvier, to distribute food, clothing, and rent assistance to needy. especially to the recently emancipated African Americans. Her sisters Elizabeth and Louise also helped. They were aware that these former slaves, although very capable, lacked the education to find good jobs.

From this experience, Katharine recognized the need for a good education to enable people to improve their lives. Later, when she became a Religious Sister and founded her a new Community, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, she stressed education as a way of improving the lives of the oppressed, especially, but not exclusively, among the Native Americans and African Americans.

Today, St. Katharine Drexel is the patroness of Philanthropists and Racial Justice. The following information is taken from an article by Brook Gregory found in

Five Times St. Katharine Drexel Won Against Racism 

1) When construction began for the convent St. Katharine was building for her new Community in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, people began to make threats. A stick of dynamite was found at the construction site of the Motherhouse. One of her first schools was destroyed by arson. These incidents did not deter St. Katharine from her work.

2) Needless to say, St. Katharine was not popular in the South during the early 1900's. Officials in Macon, Georgia, tried to prevent the Sisters from teaching at one of her schools. They simply did not want white women teaching and interacting with black students and their families. St. Katharine fought the law, won, and the school is still open.

3) Then, St. Katharine purchased a building with the intention of opening a Catholic Institution of Higher Education in New Orleans, Louisiana. When her plans became public knowledge, vandals broke in and smashed all the windows. St. Katharine made little of it and pursued her dream. Today, Xavier, a historically Black Catholic University, is still thriving and providing many professionals for the area and beyond.

4) A prayer response to a threat from the KKK of the Beaumont, Texas Chapter, is striking. On the door of a parish church, connected with one of her schools, a note was nailed which read, "We want an end to services here. Suppress it in one week or flogging with tar and feathers will follow." A few days late, nature responded in the form of a tornado that completely destroyed the Klan headquarters and killed two of its members. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Beaumont were never bothered again.

5) St. Katharine outsmarted racist laws by designing the churches she built in the South in a special way. The people had to be segregated if a service was to be held legally. St. Katharine didn't like the idea that the Black people were roped off and relegated to the back of the church. Since St. Katherine couldn't change the laws, she changed the arrangement of the pews. St. Katharine had two front to back rows of pews in her churches. The law couldn't attack her or the people. The pews were still technically segregated, but the people of color were not forced to sit behind the white people. They were seated side by side.

St. Katharine advanced the legal protection of Native Americans and people of color through persistent letter-writing campaigns. Also, she was a vocal advocate of early civil rights legislation.

St. Katharine died at age 96 in 1955 on the eve of the Civil Rights Movement that she helped to advance long before its existence was even considered. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, their Associates, Partners, Alumni, and friends carry on her Mission today. She left us much needed words of wisdom for today.

"Have a cordial respect for others in heart and mind; 
if there is any prejudice in the mind, we must uproot it, 
or it will tear us down."

Reflection Question: Ask the Lord to help you to know in what area/s he wants you to grow during this Lenten Season.


Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
I was truly enlightened by your blog this week. Your description of the spiritual processes of growth, renewal and resurrection, using the example of how nature removes obstacles in its path as it seeks nourishment for sustenance is so relate-able. We can use this illustration, along with your questions that help us identify some of the obstacles that stand between us and our relationship to God, to offer others an understandable explanation of the importance of Lent in our spiritual development. 

Additionally, the information you shared on Saint Katharine Drexel was really interesting. St. Katharine Drexel’s courage and steadfast faith in the face of so many obstacles encountered in her mission is inspiring. She is a wonderful model of loving God and serving our brothers and sisters in Christ. I particularly enjoyed reading of Mother Katharine’s brilliant creativity in rearranging the pews in her churches to get around the racist law. Those of us fortunate enough to know any of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament get to witness her spirit in the activities, prayers and stories of these dedicated women.

Sadly, racism continues to plague our society and demoralize our youth. An article in The New York Times, by Amy Horman, on January 20, 2020, told of the experiences of 101 black teenagers in Washington, DC over a two-week period. Their stories were tracked by researchers who reported that the teens encountered more than 5600 instances of racial discrimination, averaging more than 5 instances per day for each teen.

The researchers reported that the magnitude of the discrimination faced by black adolescents affects how they feel, noting symptoms of depression, difficulty sleeping, loneliness and anxiety. Violence continues to escalate in our cities claiming precious lives and breaking the hearts of families. Recently in Philadelphia, police officers were fired for posting derogatory racist remarks on social media. St. Katharine’s words, “if there is any prejudice in the mind, we must uproot it, or it will tear us down,” are as true today as when she penned them.

In his book, Life of the Beloved Henri Nouwen writes that we are the ”Beloved” (of God). Not only are we the Beloved, we also “have to become the Beloved.” “Becoming the Beloved means letting the truth of our “Belovedness” become enfleshed in everything we think, say, or do…As long as ‘being the Beloved’ is little more than a beautiful thought…nothing really changes. What is required is to become the Beloved in the commonplaces of daily existence and, bit by bit, to close the gap that exists between what I know myself to be and the countless specific realities of everyday life.”

It is my intention to create time during the Lenten Season for meeting daily with God to let this “Belovedness” take root; to try to “become more fully who I already am.” If I were to fully accept this truth I would live differently – much more in alignment with the teachings of Jesus. I would forgive more and judge less, love more and fear less, give more and take less. It is only in claiming the gift of our own Belovedness that we can give to others the gift of their own Belovedness. That is a gift I would absolutely love to offer to another.

Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita
We often have great plans for big improvements. But to get to big changes, it is sometimes best to start with little ones. Mother Katharine noted that there is nothing small in God’s service. We can start to renew ourselves this Lent with small steps; maybe these will grow into big improvements. Can you find 5 minutes a day to sit quietly with God? Maybe read a Psalm, maybe sing/read/listen to a favorite hymn. Is there a line or refrain that jumps out, that asks you to re-read it, to think about it? God may be speaking to you in those words today. As you practice this, you may find yourself comfortably sitting with God for 10 minutes, or longer. Lots of medical experts have recently discovered the healing power of meditation. We have been blessed with this healing power for a long time.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Feb. 23, 2020: The Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - Ash Wednesday, Preparing for Lent

Reading I: Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18
Psalm: 103
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 3:16-23
Gospel: Matthew 5:38-48

Sunday Gospel
One of the stories I remember from my religion classes when I was a child is the following: There was a little boy who had just made his First Communion and was saying the evening rosary with his family. He responded to every 'Hail Mary' loud and clear. However, when the 'Our Father' was prayed, he remained silent. After the rosary was finished, his mother asked him why he didn't respond to the 'Our Father.' Sheepishly, he answered, "I am mad at my brother because of something he did, and I don't want to forgive him, but I still want God to forgive me when I do something bad."  He was referring to the words in the Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us."

The little boy had understood the message that Jesus gave in today's Gospel from Matthew: "You have heard it said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your heavenly perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."
No matter what age one is, forgiveness is one of the greatest challenges we experience as Christians.  It is easy to be good to those who love us, but to be good to our enemies requires God's grace and sometimes help to deal with the circumstances and emotions involved.

A requirement for one of my pastoral ministry courses was to observe a group process session at a mental hospital. The patients and students sat silently in a circle with a facilitator. The mother of one of the patients was there also. The young woman began by thanking her mother for coming to the therapy session for her. Then she expressed to her mother that she was hurt because she believed that the mother had always loved and favored her brother rather than her.

The mother's eyes filled up as she explained that the father had never accepted the son and that she had tried to make up to the son for the father's rejection. The mother assured her daughter that she was very much loved also. At the end of the session they were crying in each other's arms. The lesson for all of us was to realize that we seldom know the motives of those who hurt us. It makes a big difference when we understand them.

Many Saints have followed the example of Jesus by praying for and forgiving those who tortured and martyred them. It is only by God's Grace that we can love our enemies as He does.

Ash Wednesday

Lent is a very special time during which we prepare to be baptized or to renew our baptismal promises at Easter. It begins this Wednesday with the marking of our foreheads with ashes. This sign of repentance has its origins in the Hebrew Traditions.

The word "lent" is a shortened form of an old English word "Lenten," which means springtime. Spring reminds us of growth and new life. Flowers bloom and trees, which appeared to be dead, put forth buds and leaves.

During Lent, we attempt to die to our selfishness and sinfulness and grow in our relationship with the Lord and generosity toward others. We hope to be morally stronger people when we pledge to renounce Satan and all evil at the Easter Vigil or on Easter Sunday.

It used to be that the emphasis was put on giving something up for Lent, usually some favorite food, etc. While that still is an option, today we are encouraged to do something positive. Is there someone from whom you are estranged? Make an effort to reconcile. If it doesn't work out, at least God knows that you tried.  Is there someone who is lonely, make contact as best you can. Is there someone hungry? Provide food in some way. Jesus said, "Whatever you did for the least of my brethren you did for me."

Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita
Traditionally, people make “New Year’s Resolutions” in January to improve their lifestyle in some way. Ash Wednesday is a chance to “re-boot” resolutions to improve our spiritual lifestyle. St. Katharine reassures us that God does not ask for a “finished work;” He does ask for our “continued effort and is pleased with our desire to please Him.” How can we please God? Think of the Beatitudes. How can you be a Peacemaker in your family or in your community? Small steps can be a good start.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
This week’s reading from the Book of Leviticus speaks to my heart. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelite community and tell them: Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy…You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart…Take no revenge and cherish no grudge…You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.’ “
One of the featured articles in this week’s edition of my local community paper read, “Father of slain football player pleads for peace.” The man’s 19 year old son was a passenger in a car when a stray bullet went through the window of the car and hit him in the head. At least a dozen bullets were fired and the boy who was killed was not the intended target. The young man played football for his high school, had many friends and would have graduated this June. The father addressed the 1400 students and pleaded for the violence to stop. The young man’s mother reported that she was just too angry in the moment to talk, though after her husband’s appeal to the student body, she did comment, “My son is not here anymore and these things have to stop.” As a mother of two sons, I know that the depth of her pain is unmeasurable. Sadly, this is a regular occurrence on the streets of our cities. The boy’s football coach stated that he is not sure what the answer is, but feels that the answer has to start in the schools.  I believe the answer is in Leviticus – our communities need to return to holiness. God needs to be returned to the schools, made more visible in our communities and be reestablished in our hearts. 
You referenced the challenge of forgiveness in your post. My heart aches for the parents who lose a child through violence, and I would probably struggle with forgiving such a senseless act. Ultimately I know that forgiveness is the only life affirming, God honoring response, but I would only be able to arrive at that decision through the grace of God. I am deeply touched at the ability of grieving parents who rise above the tragedy and initiate programs that address the deep rooted needs of the individuals who pull the triggers.
The Presence of God is strongly felt when people come together in their brokenness, consoling one another and uniting in hope to make their neighborhood a better place.  Communal prayer is often a part of these gatherings and the support and consolation of the community nurtures the healing process. Imagine how transformative the vigil would be if the spiritual leader preached the message of Leviticus? Something like, OK friends, let us use this tragic event to commit to holiness, to forgive one another of any and all perceived wrongs, and to love one another as unconditionally as the Lord loves us. Let us together engage in the battle against the powers of darkness that engulf our youth by reminding them and reinforcing every day that they are children of God, created in His image and likeness.
Our kids need to hear this message from every adult in their life because they are being crushed by the world that only values the smart, the healthy and the beautiful. In the depth of my heart, I believe that many of these young people committing such cruel crimes are hurting inside because they feel as though they don’t fit in or can’t measure up to standards that are superficial to begin with. They need to know they are loved, valued, they matter, and that they are the beloved of God. This is the foundation upon which the solutions to violence need to be based. Our moaning, groaning, suffering communities will heal when we invite God back into our daily lives…when we choose holiness. 

As the holy season of Lent begins, perhaps we can pray for our hurting communities, and if possible maybe can listen to the young people in our life and remind them that they are loved by us and by God. That encouragement may open up a much needed conversation of how God is present in their lives.

Monday, January 20, 2020

January 26, 2020 - 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Times

Reading I: Isaiah 8:19-9:3     
Psalm 27
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17
Gospel: Matthew 4:12-23

On September 30 of last year, Pope Francis issued a letter declaring that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time was to be set aside every year as the "Sunday of the Word of God." The Holy Father longs for us to listen attentively to the Words of Scripture, so we may hear God’s voice speaking to our hearts.   

Today’s Gospel tells of the account of Jesus inviting Simon, Andrew, James and John to join Him in teaching and proclaiming the Gospel of the kingdom. Jesus says to them “Follow after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately follow Him, trusting His word, spreading the light of hope to all who struggle with the circumstances of life. Do we trust God’s Word as written in the Bible, or do we view the Bible as a story to be read?

With every encounter with Scripture we are encouraged to begin with inviting the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to God’s Living Word. In doing this, we will receive God’s personal message for our life that will inspire us to spread His Word within our community. We, like the apostles, are asked to join Jesus in shining His light within our community, to be encourages for all those who are suffering.

Everyone at Mass will hear the same readings. Then the work of the Holy Spirit lies in the personal message each of us will encounter. When these deeply personal messages are revealed through the Scripture readings at Mass, our hearts will long for more. The desire for an intimate relationship with Jesus will lead us to daily Scripture meditation. By opening our hearts and minds, we will understand God’s plan for our daily lives.

When we are healed by His Word, we will be inclined to spread His Good News through the Scriptures. In sharing our personal encounters with the Living Word, we will draw others to Him. In the busyness of our daily lives, do we take the time to sit in silence with the Scriptures, calling on the Holy Spirit to bring to life God’s personal message to us through His Word?

By accepting Jesus’ invitation to follow Him, our lives are forever changed. We are made new by His Word, and sharing the Good News of Christ becomes our mission.

Reflection Question: In what ways do we share the Good News of Christ that have transformed our lives?  How do we bring hope to those who seek Him?

~Michele Ann Konicki – ASBS Emerita

Spanish Translation

Reading I: Isaiah 8:19-9:3     
Psalm 27
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17
Gospel: Matthew 4:12-23

El 30 de septiembre del año pasado, el Papa Francisco emitió una carta declarando que el Tercer Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario se reservaría cada año como el "Domingo de la Palabra de Dios". El Santo Padre anhela que escuchemos atentamente las palabras de las Escrituras, para que podamos escuchar la voz de Dios que habla a nuestros corazones.

El Evangelio de hoy habla del relato de Jesús invitando a Simón, Andrés, Santiago y Juan a unirse a Él para enseñar y proclamar el Evangelio del reino. Jesús les dice: "Síganme, y los haré pescadores de hombres". Ellos inmediatamente lo siguen, confiando en su palabra, extendiendo la luz de la esperanza a todos los que luchan con las circunstancias de la vida. ¿Confiamos en la Palabra de Dios como está escrita en la Biblia, o vemos la Biblia como una historia para ser leída?

Con cada encuentro con la Escritura, se nos anima a comenzar invitando al Espíritu Santo a abrir nuestros corazones y mentes a la Palabra Viva de Dios. Al hacer esto, recibiremos el mensaje personal de Dios para nuestra vida que nos inspirará a difundir Su Palabra dentro de nuestra comunidad. A nosotros, como los apóstoles, se nos pide que nos unamos a Jesús para iluminar Su luz dentro de nuestra comunidad, para alentar a todos los que sufren.

Todos en la misa escucharán las mismas lecturas. Entonces la obra del Espíritu Santo yace en el mensaje personal que cada uno de nosotros encontraremos. Cuando estos mensajes profundamente personales se revelen a través de las lecturas de las Escrituras en la misa, nuestros corazones anhelarán más. El deseo de una relación íntima con Jesús nos llevará a la meditación diaria de las Escrituras. Al abrir nuestros corazones y mentes, entenderemos el plan de Dios para nuestra vida diaria.

Cuando seamos sanados por Su Palabra, estaremos inclinados a difundir Sus Buenas Nuevas a través de las Escrituras. Al compartir nuestros encuentros personales con la Palabra Viviente, atraeremos a otros hacia Él. En el ajetreo de nuestra vida cotidiana, ¿nos tomamos el tiempo para sentarnos en silencio con las Escrituras, invocando al Espíritu Santo para dar vida al mensaje personal de Dios a través de Su Palabra?

Al aceptar la invitación de Jesús para seguirlo, nuestras vidas cambian para siempre. Su Palabra nos hace nuevos, y compartir las Buenas Nuevas de Cristo se convierte en nuestra misión.

Pregunta de reflexión: ¿De qué maneras compartimos las Buenas Nuevas de Cristo que han transformado nuestras vidas? ¿Cómo traemos esperanza a quienes lo buscan?

Pat Chiaffa - ASBS Emerita
I am always amazed at how the disciples were able to follow Jesus immediately. What about their “To-Do” lists? They were probably expected to pick up bread and wine on the way home to go with their fish dinner. What would their family do without them?

My silly musing reveals just how attached, and possibly chained, I am to my lists and the things of this world. I ask myself if I make sufficient time in my day for reflective, uninterrupted time with God.I think that the spirits of these chosen men were yearning for more, and they recognized the “more” that Jesus was inviting them to experience.

The hopeful message contained in this reading for me is that Christ speaks to us in the midst of ordinary activities of daily living. The more in-tune I am to His Word, the more apt I am to be open and receptive to following His invitation to move beyond my usual routines and notice opportunities to extend His love to others. It could be as simple as sharing a smile, a gentle touch or a conversation. Heart to heart contact – that is what Jesus’ mission is all about. I see such dynamics routinely when I walk through Paul’s Run. I see Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (SBS) heading toward some destination and halting their steps to

acknowledge residents along the way. I’ve seen simple caring gestures such as hugs, hands held, and whispers into ears, produce smiles as well as tears. Someone’s dull day was brightened and made extraordinary because a SBS chose to share the presence of Christ with them. Many of the Sisters who are less mobile, due to health issues, take time to write notes and send cards to individuals to remind them that they are thinking of them and that they are loved by God. All the Sisters pray for us, our country, and our world. Sharing the Good News of Christ is their mission. It’s my mission too.

Today’s Gospel is a reminder to recommit to listening attentively to God’s Word and actively listening to hear His loving message to discern what is mine to do to spread His Word throughout my community. 

Thank you, Michele, for your beautifully crafted reflection.

Sr. Annette Marie O’Donnell, SBS

I regret that it is necessary for me to discontinue the weekly blog due to the need for time to attend to other commitments and my chronic health issues. I wish to thank Cheri Wenger, Sr. Therese Mary Warner, SBS, Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Emerita, Pat Chiaffa, ASBS Emerita, Michele Konicki, ASBS Emerita, and Kristen Keane for your contributions through the years. There are other on-line weekly blogs containing reflections on the Sunday Gospel readings available. 

I shall continue with a monthly blog beginning on February 23rd, "Preparing for Lent."

Blessings on you and yours,
Sr. Annette Marie O’Donnell, SBS

Monday, January 13, 2020

Jan. 19, 2020 The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time A

Reading I: Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6
Psalm 40
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 1: 1-3
Gospel: John 1: 29-34

In today's Gospel, we find John the Baptist pointing out Jesus and calling him the "Lamb of God." I have always admired John and viewed him as a wonderful example for us as we strive to introduce people to Jesus and help them to focus on him.

I also love the title John gives Jesus. A lamb is a gentle animal and very lovable. We find Jesus to be a gentle, compassionate man eating with and welcoming sinners. He must have also been very lovable or he would not have drawn crowds to listen to him. Jesus is truly a "Lamb."

Also, from early times, lambs were the sacrifices offered to God in the spring as part of the first fruits, to acknowledge his sovereignty and man's complete dependence on him. They would even put the blood of the lamb they had offered on entrance of their house to show that they had made the sacrifice.

Later, when celebrating their rescue from slavery in Egypt, again a lamb was sacrificed in grateful remembrance of God deliverance from their oppressors. This Lamb would also save his Jewish people and all others from the oppression of sin by his sacrifice of himself on the cross.

Today at each Mass we commemorate Jesus' sacrifice as the Lamb or God in the breaking of the Bread. The following prayer is recited or sung:

Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, 
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world,
grant us peace.

Finally, when the priest holds up the Host and invites us to communion with Jesus and one another, John the Baptist's words are again proclaimed:

Behold the Lamb of God,
Behold him who takes away the sins of the world.
Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.

How very blessed we are to have such a gentle, loving, and sacrificing Savior!
May the Lamb of God be praised and adored forever!

Reflection Question: How can I show my appreciation to our Lord as the Lamb of God?

~Sr. Annette Marie

Spanish Translation

Lectura I: Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6
Salmo 40
Lectura II: 1 Corintio 1: 1-3
Evangelio: Juan 1: 29-34

En el Evangelio de hoy, encontramos a Juan el Bautista señalando a Jesús y llamándolo el "Cordero de Dios". Siempre he admirado a John y lo vi como un maravilloso ejemplo para nosotros mientras nos esforzamos por presentar a las personas a Jesús y ayudarles a enfocarse en él.

También me encanta el título que Juan le da a Jesús. Un cordero es un animal gentil y muy amable. Encontramos que Jesús es un hombre gentil y compasivo que come y da la bienvenida a los pecadores. También debe haber sido muy amable o no habría atraído multitudes para escucharlo. Jesús es verdaderamente un "Cordero".

Además, desde los primeros tiempos, los corderos eran los sacrificios ofrecidos a Dios en la primavera como parte de los primeros frutos, para reconocer su soberanía y la completa dependencia del hombre sobre él. Incluso pondrían la sangre del cordero que habían ofrecido en la entrada de su casa para demostrar que habían hecho el sacrificio.

Hoy en cada misa conmemoramos el sacrificio de Jesús como el Cordero o Dios en la fracción del pan. Se recita o canta la siguiente oración:

Cordero de Dios, tú que quitas los pecados del mundo,
ten piedad de nosotros.
Cordero de Dios, tú que quitas los pecados del mundo,
ten piedad de nosotros.
Cordero de Dios, tú que quitas los pecados del mundo,
Dadnos la paz.

Finalmente, cuando el sacerdote levanta la Hostia y nos invita a la comunión con Jesús y entre nosotros, las palabras de Juan el Bautista se proclaman nuevamente:
He aquí el Cordero de Dios
He aquí el que quita los pecados del mundo.
Bienaventurados los llamados a la cena del Cordero.

¡Cuán bendecidos somos de tener un Salvador tan gentil, amoroso y sacrificado!
¡Que el Cordero de Dios sea alabado y adorado para siempre!

Pregunta de reflexión: ¿Cómo puedo mostrar mi agradecimiento a nuestro Señor como el Cordero de Dios?


Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita
Our Lord was sacrificed on the cross for me, for us. How can I begin to really appreciate the idea of Someone who suffered great pain and died in a brutal way, just to give me eternal salvation? The best I can do is to say “thank you” in prayer and by passing His kindness along to others. As St. Katharine told us, we don’t have to do extraordinary deeds, but we can do our ordinary acts is an extraordinarily charitable way. Smile. Listen to someone who is lonely or hurting. If we let the Lamb of God lead us, we will know how we can show our gratitude to God.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
My lifetime friend, Ceilie, is authentically a gentle being. Time spent in her presence leaves me with the sense that I spent time with the closest model of the Blessed Mother that I can imagine. Ceilie is nurturing, caring and radiates goodness (God-ness). The positive energy of our get togethers stay with me the entire week following our visit. I embrace these special times as indication of God’s immense love for me to have blessed me with such a friend. Ceilie is an open conduit of God’s love and peace. I depart committed to being such a presence for others, though I too often fall short.

When I meet up with Jesus in the New Testament, I am drawn to His gentleness. Jesus acknowledges this trait in Himself in Matthew 11:29. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

My gratitude for the gift of Self that Jesus freely gave, that I may have eternal life, is equally felt for His continual gift of Self in the Blessed Sacrament. I am humbled by such love, mercy and compassion.

Jesus was also a Shepherd who tenderly gathered and led the sheep, carrying lost ones back to the flock tucked in his bosom.

I show my appreciation by becoming as a lamb, following Jesus and taking adequate time to develop a relationship with him, so like his sheep, I’ll know and heed his voice. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

This leads to true discipleship, which according to Guidepost contributor, Sharon Hinck, requires “interacting with Him constantly; remembering His teaching, listening for His direction, opening our eyes to where He is at work in our home and community.” Jesus helps us adjust our activities and change course when necessary, so we can become the person God created us to be, and to live the life God created us to live.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, transform my thoughts, attitudes, and actions so that I may become an authentic reflection of Your love to others.