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With all the talk about social distancing, I got thinking about the company we still can joyfully and safely keep. We don’t have to spiritually distance ourselves; being mindful of our privilege of praying for others in the presence and nearness of God should give us great reassurance. We are not alone.
 
You may have heard the adage that people can be judged by the company they keep. Whether we pay attention daily or not, we all are in the presence of the Holy Trinity with all of our Triune God’s wonderful attributes. God, the Father, is the kind of company that comes to dinner and brings the food—-and even prepares the meal. The Father, our Creator, is full of mercy and strength. Jesus is the Living Bread who came down from heaven, to be with us always. He relates to us with fullness of understanding, and his shoulder is always next to us if we need to cry. He saves us over and over again. The Holy Spirit is a motivating and consoling companion who gives us nudges to pray and extend love to others. The Spirit prays for us and with us, even when we cannot find the words. This Holy Trinity is a divine Light and Power Company, and any brown-outs are from our lack of attention.
 
I suggest to you a little exercise to help you to be more aware of your divine Companions. Make the Sign of the Cross or say the “Glory Be” prayer with additions like these: “Glory be to the Father, who is Abba, and to the Son, who saves me, and to the Holy Spirit, who fires me up, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be. Amen.” You can even change the attributes you praise each day!
 
Even when we are not out and about with others as we are used to being, our Blessed Mother, the Communion of Saints, and our friends and families are spiritually there offering prayers for us. I add to this company some other companions with whom I like to fraternize. I refer to them as the “Tudes.” A very important “Tude” is gratitude. When I focus my attention on all the blessings in my life, past and present, my mood easily changes for the better. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, fortitude, is another “Tude” I seek out. Fortitude helps me to get through any pain or adversity. It makes me strong and positive. Solitude is another friend that gives me mindfulness to clear my head and adjust my thinking. With solitude, I quiet myself to pray and reflect.
 
I know we all have friends and associates on Facebook, Twitter, and other computer groups. To me, the most important things about the company we keep are our keen awareness of that company, our relationship with that company, and how, ultimately, that company leads us to holiness.
 
Ephesians 4:4 reminds us:
 
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (NRSV)
 
Image: St. Catherine of Siena Parish, West Simsbury, Connecticut
 
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, CT. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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Jesus, through the gift of the Eucharist,
you have promised to share with us
your own life in the Father.
This mystery is deep,
help us to understand and believe in you.
We ask this through you, our Bread of Life. Amen.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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Today, the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Anthony of Padua. The story goes that St. Anthony, an excellent preacher and teacher—now honored as a Doctor of the Church—prayed for the return of a special book that was stolen from him by a novice at the Franciscan hermitage where Anthony taught. The book was returned, and Anthony eventually became the patron saint of lost articles.
 
I am sure many of us have prayed to St. Anthony when we have lost something important or necessary to us. Often, we subsequently find the lost item. How do we understand that? When we pray to the saints, what are we really doing?
 
I am reminded of a few experiences I had when I was employed as a salesperson at a Christian bookstore. Occasionally a customer would come in looking for a little statue of St. Joseph to bury in their yard to assure success in selling a house. My wide-eyed non-Catholic Christian would wonder how we Catholics could be so superstitious! I would try to explain what the customer might have thought, but I wondered how many times any of us have given the wrong impression. Statues are not lucky charms or idols. They are reminders of holy people who will come to our aid, who can help us as we pray, whose examples we can follow.
 
When we pray and ask St. Anthony, St. Joseph, our Blessed Mother, or any other saint to help us, we are not looking to those saints as gods or goddesses. We are asking them to intercede for us with God, to pray for us and for our intentions. We are requesting their special prayerful help.
 
In the reading from Isaiah today (61:1-3d), we are reminded that there are many people who are suffering: the lowly, the broken-hearted, the captives, prisoners, and those who mourn. Especially now, with the coronavirus weighing so heavily, we can pray extra prayers and teach others about intercessory prayer. St. Anthony, pray for all of us who feel lost in some way!
 
And in the gospel today (Luke 10:1-9), as we read of Jesus sending out the seventy-two ahead of him, we rejoice that God’s kingdom is at hand. That is the wonderful news that enlivens our weary spirits with the desire to be less concerned about earthly things and more inspired to teach by correct example about the gift of the many kinds of prayer available to us.
 
Image courtesy of Pat Wiley Folk Art: Tales Told in Paint.
 
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, CT. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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Note: We can pray with the Sunday readings even if Sunday liturgies have been suspended due to the coronavirus.
Bill Ayres continues to offer his reflections to help our prayer.

A reading from the Book of Deuteronomy
(Chapter 8:2-3, 14b-16a)
 
Moses was the leader of the Hebrews as they escaped from Egypt into the horrors of the Sinai Desert where they suffered for forty years from extreme thirst, hunger, and attacks from poisonous serpents and scorpions. Here, he explains that this was a test. “Remember how for forty years now the Lord, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your attention to keep the commandments. He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to your fathers, in order to show that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.”
 
As they established their new homeland, the Hebrews had many battles with other tribes and nations, and the message was always that God was with them, even in their worst suffering and challenges.
 
It is most important to hear this message of “God With Us” now, as we suffer our own kind of exile, often separated from people we love and the work that sustains us in so many ways.
 
Do you take a little time each day to reconnect with the Spirit of God within you who will help you to get through the “desert” that we now travel?
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20)
 
“Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.” This psalm celebrates the blessings that God has showered on Jerusalem and on all of Israel. It helps us to remember all the blessings that God has given to our community and our country, lest we forget or take them for granted.
 
A reading from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians
(Chapter 10:16-17)
 
Paul wants his readers to know that the meal that they celebrate is not just any meal but rather the presence of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
 
“Brothers and sisters: The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”
 
If we have ever taken the Eucharistic Meal for granted, we certainly do not now, when most of us have not been able to celebrate together for months. Hopefully, we will come back soon and do so with caution and joy, remembering all our sisters and brothers who have died from the virus or any other cause and all those who are still afflicted.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 6:51-58)
 
The following words must have seemed dangerous to many who did not believe, including the Roman rulers, but the followers of Jesus knew what the words really meant.
 
Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jewish audience were shocked by these words. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” They knew from Moses about the manna that God sent from heaven when the people were starving in the desert, but this was very different. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day. … “This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
 
That is the same promise the Lord makes to us today. We will live forever! Amen!
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another
in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts
sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
(Colossians 3:16)

 
St. Ephrem, whom we celebrate today, a doctor of the Church, saw the great value of songs in our public worship. He has been given the title “Harp of the Holy Spirit.” He knew, as we all do if we think about it, that songs are useful teaching tools. He astutely used the melodies of heretics’ songs, replacing the original lyrics with orthodox teachings to educate the faithful.
 
Recently, songwriters have adapted certain songs to teach lessons; for example, the lyrics that mention ‘touching hands’ in Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” have been altered to ‘washing hands’ in light of the COVID pandemic. It is clear that songs convey stories, lessons, emotions, and celebration. Commercials on radio and television use songs or jingles to make consumers want to buy the advertised products. How would little children learn the alphabet without that “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” melody? Everyone likes to hear a story, whether it be a Christian witness story or a parable that a Jesus used in his teaching. A sung story is just the pleasant addition of music. We can listen and learn.
 
Thanks to St. Ephrem, who promoted songs in public worship in the fourth century, we have an array of spiritual songs that we sing at Mass. I take them for granted sometimes. Those songs often use psalms from the Bible, or quotations from gospel passages. The repetition of those songs in my head can be pleasant vehicles of prayer—-if I am paying attention to the lyrics. Nowadays it is also easy to find an assortment of Christian music on the internet.
 
Perhaps it could be time to introduce a bit more of a variety into our prayer time. Songs reminding us how God is always present with his mercy, love, and power can be very reassuring in these troubled times. Singing or listening to songs about our grateful love for Jesus can lift us up when we are feeling anxious and give us opportunities for reflection. Why not share a favorite spiritual song with some family members or friends? Instead of paying it forward, we can pray it forward in song!
 
No matter in what key we sing, we can get into the spirit St. Paul urged on the Colossians (3:14): Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
 
(Resource: franciscanmedia.org)
 
The scripture verses are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, CT. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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Father, we give you thanks
for loving our world enough to give us your Son.
Through the light of the Spirit, help us to judge clearly
as we seek to make informed and unselfish decisions
for ourselves and for others.
This we ask through Jesus Christ, your Son
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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Note: We can pray with the Sunday readings even if Sunday liturgies have been suspended due to the coronavirus.
Bill Ayres continues to offer his reflections to help our prayer.

A reading from the Book of Exodus
(Chapter 34:4b-6, 8, 9)
 
“Early in the morning Moses went up Mount Sinai as the Lord had commanded him, taking along the. two stone tablets. Having come down in a cloud, the Lord stood with Moses there and proclaimed his name, ‘Lord.’ Thus the Lord passed before him and cried out, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.’ Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.”
 
This is one of the truly monumental moments in the history of Israel, Moses receiving the Ten Commandments from God and pleading with God, “O Lord, do come along in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins and receive us as your own.”
 
The false gods that Moses knew of at that time did not have the wonderful qualities that Moses attributes to the one true God: merciful, gracious, slow to anger, full of kindness and fidelity. That is the God that we believe in today.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56)
 
“Glory and praise forever.” Yes, especially today, amid the horrors that we face in our society and in our world. In these times, it may be harder for some to believe in this one true God, but it is ever more important.
 
A reading from the Second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians
(Chapter 13:11-13)
 
Here is a beautiful blessing from Paul to a people in crisis and great danger. “Brothers and sisters, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the love of God and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
 
Here we have a trinitarian blessing has been used from the beginning of Christianity.
 
I remember being taught as a child in Catholic school that we are all created “in the image and likeness of God” and that God was not an isolated being but a community of persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That being true, then we are all communal beings, starting with our families and moving out from there to friendships, various communal groups, and the community of our church. Of course, each of us is an individual, and we can and should pray to God in our own solitude, but praying in community is also something in our very nature. So, we miss our communal celebrations of the Eucharist. Let us pray for one another while apart and hope for our coming together again soon.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 3:16-18)
 
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
 
Many people think of God as “up there” or “out there somewhere,” but the true God, shared his life with us in Jesus, and his Holy Spirit lives within every one of us. Sadly, right now we cannot experience that presence in community. We may have become separated from several other communities that give us joy. Let us do our best through the various electronic means to stay in touch with so many people who make up our community until we can see them in person and rejoice in the love and presence we share with them.
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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I have an office/workroom upstairs in my old house. There are two windows, side by side, offering a treetop view. One day as I was doing some ironing—yes, I am one of those people who still irons clothes—I saw what I thought was a clump of brownish leaves at the very top of a 90-foot fir tree down the street. All of a sudden, those “leaves” took flight and flapped away! What I had thought were leftover dead leaves from the preceding autumn were small birds, full of life and energy. I was pleasantly surprised. How did those birds all balance on that little top limb?
 
How often have I made incorrect, pessimistic assumptions about life circumstances and not prayerfully looked up with hopeful expectations? After all, Psalm 212:1-2 says: “I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” If I go out on a limb, my Lord, my Creator, will hold me up and support me.
 
Another day, my attention was seized by a commotion just outside my windows, in the cedar tree next to our garage. A big—and I do mean big—flock of starlings flew in wonderful synchronization and landed in that cedar tree! Apparently, a large number of the birds somehow got the message that that tree was the place to be together at that moment. It was a sight to behold! As quickly as they arrived, they departed in one fell swoop! It got me thinking about my flock. I have so many family members and friends with whom I am blessed. I must not leave out my guardian angel or the Communion of Saints, on earth and in heaven, who pray for me.
 
We can be thankful that none of us is alone, and we have the promise that we will never be alone; we will have a home for eternity. Psalm 84:3-4 reminds us, “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.”
 
One afternoon I shared a few minutes with a nice plump robin who came to rest in that same big cedar tree in my yard. I had a good view from my upstairs window. The robin landed on a wide branch and just sat there…and sat there…and sat there. I expected him to leave and flit from one neighborhood tree to another. No, he just sat there in all his robin glory for at least ten minutes. Of course, I started thinking about my personal benefit of just sitting still and praying or meditating…or just being. Psalm 46:10-11 says: “‘Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.’ The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
 
Being my best self, my true self, and not my rushed, distracted self is a good idea. Thank you, Mr. Robin, for that reminder! Perhaps my upstairs reflections may help you take flight from this troubled world for a little while.
 
(Bible quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version.)
 
Image: Lynn Curwin/Truro Daily
 
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, CT. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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Come Holy Spirit, come!
Open our eyes to those whose minds are locked in fear,
whose hearts still cling to what was.
Direct us to those who need a sign of your love.
Show us how to heal our world, one person at a time.
This we ask through Jesus Christ
who abides with us through you.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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Openings and reopenings…comings and goings…home and not home! How are we supposed to know if we are coming or going in our troubled world? To remain calm and control our anxiety, it is helpful to take time to pray and remember who is really always in control.
 
I have been thinking about some of the numerous comings of God in the Old and New Testaments. Remember when Adam and Eve heard God coming in the garden right after they had sinned, and they felt the need to hide? (Genesis 3, 8-10) Recall when God came to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4:17) and again to Moses with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). How about when God came to Elijah at Mt. Horeb, not in the wind, the earthquake or fire, but just in a quiet voice? (1Kings 19:11-13) Such variety in those few examples! That should not be surprising. After all, God is the Creator!
 
Let’s consider the comings of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Look at the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:6-7). The Son of God came to earth and was laid in a meager manger in a stable. In his ministry, he walked through Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. Jesus’ wonderful sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) should give us cause to be so grateful that he came to the multitudes! Once, he even came walking on the sea (Matthew 14:25)! Yet again, after Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to the apostles despite locked doors (John 20:19). Who would expect that? How wonderful when we stay unlocked and keep a lookout for God among us! When the eleven apostles came to the mountain in Galilee where Jesus was present but about to ascend into heaven, he blessed them and commissioned them to make many more disciples; he promised to be with them always (Matthew 28:16-20.) The apostles—and we—have a mission, but it comes with a reassuring promise of help!
 
Now, in the afterglow of the celebration of Pentecost, we can meditate on the great coming of the Holy Spirit with all the spiritual gifts, refreshment, comfort, healing, guidance, and zeal that could come only from a God who is love. We are fortified for our mission of coming and going to small and even great lengths to spread that love.
 
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, CT. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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With only three days left in this month of May in which we honor our Blessed Mother, Mary, it is fitting that today we remember Pope St. Paul VI who ardently encouraged devotion to her. In fact, Pope Paul wrote several documents concerning Mary and the prayers with which we, her Church, express our love for her and ask for her intercession.
 
Paul VI, who has been called: “Defender of the Rosary” (Catholic Exchange), promoted recitation of the rosary and opposed changes to the devotion. He officially gave Mary the title of “Mother of the Church” as the Second Vatican Council concluded.
 
Mary has many beautiful titles, all given to her by others, but she described herself as the Lord’s “lowly servant” (Luke 1:48). The namesake of Paul XI—St. Paul the Apostle—displayed similar humility by calling himself “a slave to all,” (1 Corinthians 9:19), fulfilling his vocation to preach the word of God “free of charge.” Paul added, “I have become all things to all, to save at least some.” (v. 22.) Paul seeks to identify with the people to whom he is preaching in order to bring them the good news of salvation. It seems that, in his humility, he understands the importance of his spreading his message which supersedes any need for recognition as a titled preacher.
 
In the gospel reading for this memorial, (Mt 16:13-19, 22-23), Jesus asks who people say he is. Simon Peter already knows that Jesus is not John the Baptist, Elijah, or Jeremiah. The apostle declares that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the living God. Then Jesus calls his disciple Peter, the rock on which Jesus will build His church. Certainly, the name, “rock” suggests great strength and power.
 
Ah, the importance of names! Let us consider today: with what names or titles do we identify? Do we live up to the expectations that accompany those designations? We can delight in the fact that we are: “children of God,” “Christians,” “disciples,” and “brothers and sisters in Christ.” In John’s Gospel, (15:15), Jesus even says we are his “friends” if we love one another as he commands. Clearly, we have work to do.
 
We will celebrate the feast of Pentecost in two days. We are reminded that the Holy Spirit, also named the Advocate, has given us many spiritual gifts to help us to live up to our names and love others while sharing the good news of the Kingdom of God. Of course, as always, we pray in Jesus’ name!
 
(Resource: St. Pope Paul VI: Defender of the Rosary, Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, October 19, 2018.)
 
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, CT. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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Note: We can pray with the Sunday readings even if Sunday liturgies have been suspended due to the coronavirus.
Bill Ayres continues to offer his reflections to help our prayer.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles
(Chapter 2:1-11)
 
If you wonder why there were so many people from so many countries in Jerusalem on the occasion St. Luke describes in this passage, it was because Pentecost was a Jewish feast when pilgrims from all over the near world would come to Jerusalem to worship. But Luke tells us of strange happenings: “a noise like a strong wind” and “tongues of fire” images that recall the time God established the original covenant with the Jewish people. Luke wanted his audience to understanding that this was God confirming a new covenant with a new, diverse people—hence the people of many languages understanding the apostles from Galilee. Of course, Luke wrote this a few decades after the actual events, and he wanted people to know that this was the beginning of something new that had its roots in a previous tradition—and fulfilled that tradition. Today, we say that Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles, was the birthday of the Church.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 104: 1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34)
 
“Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.” Here is a common thread between Judaism and Christianity, the Spirit of God. The difference for us Christians is that we believe that the Spirit of God is not just “out there” somewhere but rather lives in each one of us. That is one of the major breakthroughs of Christianity. God is not some distant being but absolutely close to each of us, even when we might not feel that presence. We are never alone.
 
A reading from the letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians
(Chapter 12:3b-7, 12-13)
 
St. Paul tells us that we may each have different gifts and forms of service, but what unites us all together is the one Spirit. And, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”
 
You and I each have different gifts from the Spirit. Do you believe that? What are your spiritual gifts? How do you use them, share them? Can you appreciate the gifts of someone else, even though you might disagree with that person on one or more issues? That is particularly important today when our country and even our Church are often divided in many ways.
 
As we read the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of St. Paul, it becomes clear that there were a series of major differences within the early Church with so many groups coming in and out of focus, each believing that their version of the truth about Jesus was the right one. This has continued for some two thousand years and been the cause of wars and numerous unjust actions. It is only when we listen to the Spirit and act in the loving power of the Spirit that we have peace and true communion.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 20: 19-23)
 
Jesus says to the apostles, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so also I send you.” Then, “he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’”
 
These few sentences written at the end of the first century, long after the events described, are meant by John to validate the connection between the Church after Jesus with the powerful words of Jesus before he ascended into heaven. He conferred gifts, starting with the Holy Spirit and then the power to forgive sins. Remember, John is writing his Gospel during a time of persecution, and he wants to make sure that his readers know how blessed they are and how they are strengthened amid endless trials and dangers. The Holy Spirit is with them, just as it is with us today.
 
What are the special gifts that you have received in your life? How have you used them, especially the gifts of forgiveness and healing?
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.
 

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Since so many parents and children have been staying home for long stretches of time, people have gotten creative with chalk drawings and challenges on sidewalks. I have seen the game of hopscotch in front of neighbors’ homes and have been reminded of the fun I used to have as a child playing outside.
 
Well, why not make hopscotch a learning game? And who says it has to be only for kids? We all need physical and mental exercise! As we hop from 1 to 10, let’s review some biblical facts? We can teach and rejoice together!
 

  • One: One God, the Father of all
  • Two: Two natures of Jesus, true God and true man
  • Three: Three Divine Persons make up the Trinity
  • Four: Four evangelists who wrote the four gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
  • Five: Five Books of Moses, the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch
  • Six: Six days of creation (Maybe review in the Book of Genesis what was created each day.)
  • Seven: Seven sacraments of the Catholic Church: baptism, sacrament of reconciliation, the Holy Eucharist, confirmation, holy orders, matrimony, the sacrament if the sick
  • Eight: Eight beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount
  • Nine: Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self- control (Galatians 5.)
  • Ten: Ten Commandments, the Decalogue, found in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy in the Bible (How many do you remember?)

 
How about challenging youngsters (or those young at heart) to come up with some “Me-attitudes” that would be helpful coping and learning tools? I can get you started.
 

  1. Happy are they who share with others, for they shall see others smile.
  2. Happy are they who express thankfulness for even small favors, for they shall be appreciated themselves.
  3. Happy are they who perform little acts of kindness, for they will be pleasantly surprised.
  4. Happy are they who are carefully curious, for they will learn many new things.
  5. Happy are they who say little prayers throughout the day, for they will feel God’s closeness to them.
  6. Happy are they who stay calm and count to ten, for they will find quiet comfort.
  7. Happy are they who pay attention to little daily blessings, for they shall see God’s love.
  8. Happy are they who are cheerful, for they will spread laughter to others.

 
Numbers, numbers everywhere! Let’s be sure to count on our own God-given resilience and creativity to start fresh every day with new hope and peace!
 
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, CT. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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God of inexhaustible freshness,
we thank you for the glory of these spring days
when all creation celebrates the mystery of resurrection.
Give us a little time to “waste” today
just to praise you with our whole being
and enjoy being part of the glory of spring.
This we ask through Jesus Christ, Your Son,
in whom we live and move and have our being.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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Sources I have read online tell me that St. Rita of Cascia, the saint remembered today (May 22) in our liturgy, is sometimes honored as the patron saint of the sick and bodily ills. She was a very prayerful and charitable woman who lived in Italy in the fourteenth century, A.D. Now, in the twenty-first century, many people are asking saints and saints-in-process for prayers as they have never asked before, especially because there are so many unknown aspects of the lethal virus threatening loved ones. The readings for the memorial of St. Rita give us what seem to be good prescriptions for combatting many problems humanity is experiencing.
 
Let’s look at Philippians 4:4-9. St. Paul was not a doctor, but he is prescribing wonderful ways to combat anxiety. He encourages us to rejoice and be grateful as we talk to God. He lists what we should think about: true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, praiseworthy things. We have his promise of the presence of the God of peace. So many of us can overdose on anxiety after listening to a news report! Time to change the channel!
 
Looking next at Luke’s Gospel (6:27-38), we see Jesus’ detailed how-to list for treating the deficiencies of true love among his children. He tells us to be generous, non-judgmental and forgiving. St. Rita was a such a generous forgiver: She even forgave those who were responsible for her husband’s death and worked to reconcile the family feud that ultimately was the cause of his murder. She worked hard to encourage her sons to be forgiving too.
 
So, shall we patiently start anew in our spiritual realm, just as we try to reboot our personal home and social lives? Jesus tells us to rethink the usual ways we might respond to situations. Change the indications on our prescriptions for human interactions. Be sure there is a high dosage of mercy in those relationships with others. Pray for the wisdom to be more selfless—even generous—in our expectations of reciprocity. As Jesus says in verse 38: “For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
 
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, CT. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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