Mission Helpers join in call to the US presidential candidates to end demeaning rhetoric and use language that preserves the dignity of fellow citizens in the “tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.”
“Love ought to manifest itself more by deeds than by words.” –Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
As I grappled before God over the horrific and senseless mass shooting in Orlando, Ignatius’ words echoed within me. From centuries ago, Ignatius joins the anguished voices of today, crying, “Don’t just pray, do something!”
Perhaps prayer is most pleasing to God when our relationship with God leads us to see the face of God in another, to be the face of God to another.
Hate terrorizes. Guns kill. Prayer acts.
The act of prayer takes place when we act for justice. We pray when we sign a petition for gun control, or we vote to ban the sale of assault weapons. We pray when we accept and embrace the differences in our faith, in our expression of love, in our gender, and in our culture.
We pray when we recognize mental illness as a disease and provide proper care and funding. We pray when our hearts are free from judgment.
Our hearts are broken. Our prayer is broken. Something tells me that one won’t be healed without the other.
(Image created by and used with permission of the Society of the Sacred Heart)
By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH
Have you ever risen from the dead? If you’re an overworked, underpaid, weary-to-the-bone person who nevertheless hauls out every morning to take on another day, you have.
If you live in the eastern half of this country and have struggled with and struggled against the winter of 2016, you may be rising again just about now, finding your grimly-set jaw softening as you notice the blooms coming to life in your garden, or shiny maroon buds fattening on a tree.
Spouses, parents and others buy into resurrection when we choose a bit of amnesia relative to last night’s argument or bedtime tantrum, and speak a quiet “good morning” as the new day begins.
Resurrection is more common than believed—unless we’re speaking of “Jesus bustin’ through them rocks,” as a second grader in Mobile, Alabama, once defined it for me.
“Bustin’ through” is what’s significant in that description. Reflect for just a moment on what you may need to “bust through,” and ask our risen Lord to empower you to do it!
In our loneliness, the love of Christ embraces us
In our desire for love, the love of Christ overwhelms us
In our brokenness, the love of Christ heals us
In our emptiness, the love of Christ fills us
In our longing for community, the love of Christ gathers us
In our hesitation to reach out, the love of Christ missions us
In our need to minister, the love of Christ provokes us
In our desire to serve, the love of Christ compels us
In our witness to the Gospel, the love of Christ speaks to us
In our enthusiasm for the mission, the love of Christ impels us
–Tim Brown, SJ
He is Risen!
On behalf of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart,
Sr. Loretta Cornell, MHSH
A Reflection by Sr. Clare Walsh, MHSH
Pange Lingua, the smell of incense, The Stabat Mater, ” Were you there…?”, crucifixes draped in purple cloth…. just a few of the sights and sounds of a Holy Week long embedded in memory.
When we are familiar with something, it can lose its edge, its ability to disturb us, move us to action, or rest in its solace. The scriptures of Holy Week are not immune from this familiarity. We know the narrative, we know how it ends. At least, we think we do. Familiarity can lead us to dismiss the mystery, to fail to let it engage us, and to escape from “going the distance” with Jesus.
When Columbian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez was asked about his relationship with his wife, Mercedes, he replied, “I know her so well that I have not the slightest idea who she really is.” For Marquez, rather than dismiss, familiarity contained an invitation. An invitation to adventure, intimacy, and mystery.
Marquez’s words challenge us to enter these holy days more porous, more vulnerable, more willing to render our hearts. Do we know Jesus so well that we have not the slightest idea who he really is?
How can we accompany Jesus through Holy Thursday and Good Friday? How can we experience these days as if for the first time? How can we console Jesus for the betrayal, the loneliness, the feeling of abandonment? How can we be with Jesus at the table, walk with him in his suffering, and companion him in death?
As scripture scholars remind us – Jesus’ passion for the Kingdom of God led to the passion of his death. We cannot separate them.
Does my life story reflect the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Caesar? With whom does Jesus stand today? Are we at his side?
What if, as Jesus did, we let the stranger break our heart and enter our prayer? The refugee, the prisoner, the person brought low by poverty, the neighbor who annoys us, the one burdened by life? What would it take for us to wash the feet of the stranger, to accompany the one forsaken, to be Simon of Cyrene?
What if our prayer these Holy Days led us from the beauty of a Holy Week liturgy to the streets where Jesus lives?
By Sister Dolores Glick, MHSH
As our Lenten Journey continues on this Palm/Passion Sunday, we look back to the beginning of our journey—the promises and resolutions we made on Ash Wednesday (almost like our New Year’s resolutions). We promised to spend more time in prayer, entering into a deeper relationship with Jesus. That relationship would lead us to others—to feel the hurts and pain of those around us. Perhaps we promised to help others by almsgiving—sharing our gifts of plenty with a homeless shelter, a food pantry, an aging neighbor, one suffering an addiction.
How are we doing with those promises? Have we learned that fasting is so much more than just not eating or drinking certain things? Have we thought about fasting from unkind thoughts about another person, or fasting from buying something for ourselves so that we might contribute financially to those in need?
Pope Francis designated this Lent as a time to foster mercy through the traditional corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Try one on each day and live it. Now that’s a challenge!
As Jesus walks through his passion this week, let us join him as he enters Jerusalem with loud jubilation. Let us be present with him at the last supper as he shares his very self with the disciples and with us. Let us be with him in his prayer and agony in the garden, in his cruel sufferings, and in his death on the cross. Let us be among his friends as they received his body. And let us know that all this was done for love of us.
Sit with Jesus today as you would with someone you know is dying. Experience the heartache of Jesus as he leaves his mother and dearest friends and followers.
Fasting becomes a prayer when I intentionally let it draw me to change my ways so that I am more in touch with the mind and heart of Jesus.
Pope Francis calls us to “fast from ‘globalization of indifference’ and begin feasting in the ways of Jesus: nonviolence, forgiveness, solidarity, social justice and active, compassionate love for all who suffer.” We have only just begun…
By Sister Rita Lynch, MHSH
Isaiah 43:18-19 “Remember not the events of the past….see, I am doing something new”
Philippians 3:12-13 “It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained it, but I continue my pursuit….forgetting what lies behind, but strained forward to what lies ahead.”
Each year, we celebrate the season of Lent, Holy Week and Easter. It is full of special events—Ash Wednesday, Rites of Initiation, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil. We make personal choices of how to journey this most holy and spiritual time of the year. It is a time to remember again the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus, who was sent by God to show us the way to live in God’s presence. It reminds us of all that Jesus lived and died for: “US”!
The readings for this week encourage us not to forget, but also to remember that there is something new waiting for us to receive from our God with open minds and hearts. Each of us has traveled this same journey for as many years as we have had birthdays. Sometimes those years are a repeat of the prayers and liturgies of the previous ones.
Sometimes it seems that we are not called to do the same thing over and over every year. And, if we listen to the words of Isaiah and Paul, we are challenged to look for the deeper meaning, the expanded vision, the next deeper insights of what this time of the year is meant to be for us.
Our faith not only repeats the past words and events, but needs to bring us to “continue the pursuit” as Paul suggests. We are called to discover the “something new” that allows the season to change our hearts and lead us to new understanding of how this time affects our spiritual life and gives us the impetus to carry this season into the future in a new way.
2016 is not the same as 2015, or 2014, or any other year. We are different, have had many new experiences since we celebrated this holy time last year. Perhaps our lives have seen a new commitment—and so we are reminded of the commitment Jesus made with the Father when he came to earth and walked among us.