Posted by Sharon Krause on Sep 18, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Sometimes, out of the blue, a person or event you have not thought about in a long time pops up in your memory. It might be hard at first to figure out what has triggered the thought. There are a number of possible explanations.

A certain word, location, scent or even melody can somehow connect your brain to a relevant moment in your life. The experience can be interesting and thought-provoking. It may also be a prompt for prayer. Maybe the Holy Spirit is suggesting you say a prayer for that person who is unexpectedly popping up in your mind. Perhaps it is time to slow down a little bit and just say a thank-you prayer for that blessing you are recalling or for the time the Lord gave you strength to weather a life storm.

Have you ever had the pleasant surprise of a favorite song that just happened to play just as you turned the radio on? How about the time an old friend crossed your path without notice? More occasions for thank-you prayers! We always hear, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you” when tragedies occur, but isn’t it a good idea to think and pray during those small blessing times, too?

In today’s world it is easy to get so used to instant responses whether on our computers and tablets or on our phones. It could be that these little pop-up incidents are opportunities to acknowledge our very creative Creator and his gifts to us.

It might be a good personal prayer exercise to ask the Lord to remind you of a particular event in your life in which you took for granted him or some gift he had given you. Gratitude is a wonderful bridge to prayer. It could be time for a bit of remedial self-reflection.

Certainly, there are times the pop-ups can remind us of sad events or a bad feelings, but even in those times we can acknowledge that we have had the strength of our faith and the availability of saving graces to encourage us and give us hope.

Let us pray and consider what St. Paul recommends in his first letter to the Thessalonians, verses 17-22:

Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.


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Topics: praying, Sharon Krause

"Hear the Word!" by Bill Ayres: Twenty-Fourth Sunday of the Year

Posted by Bill Ayres on Sep 16, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Sirach

(Chapter 27:30-28:7)

“Forgive your neighbor’s injustices; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord? Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek pardon for his own sins? If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? Remember your last days and put enmity aside, remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.”

Please read that again and let it sink in.

It is so easy to focus on minor injustices done to us, a seeming neglect or inappropriate words. Wonderful relationships can be ruined, families torn apart. Why? Cannot justice and love be restored through patience and forgiveness? These are the same gifts we ask from God for ourselves. Without them, we are at a loss and isolated. With them, we are renewed and enlivened.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12)

“The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.” Is that the God you believe in? I hope so. It is the only God that exists.

A reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans

(Chapter 14:7-9)

“Brothers and sisters: None of us lives for himself, and no one dies for himself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, if we die we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be the Lord of the dead and of the living.”

Let’s think about that for a moment. Jesus is with us throughout our lives, every day of our lives and at the time of our deaths—especially then. Have you ever had the opportunity and privilege to be with someone who is dying? It is a sad time, a challenging time, but also a blessed time with Jesus and our loved one. It is a time when gifts are given. We can call forth those gifts for the dying person, and they will come to us as well in faith.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 18:21-35)

“Peter approached Jesus and asked him, ‘Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times but seventy- seven times.’” Peter would know what Jesus meant. Seven was a powerful number in Jewish culture, and seven times seven would be heard to mean as many as needed.

But to make it clear, Jesus tells a parable of a king who forgives a servant who owed the king “a huge amount.” The servant had pleaded with the king: “Be patient with me and I will pay you back in full.” The master was moved with compassion, forgave the loan, and let the man go. However, then the servant found another man “who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison until he paid back the debt.”

Other servants saw what had happened and told their master. “His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

Jesus is using language and an example from his time, not ours, but the point is the same. We must forgive others if we want to ask God for forgiveness. Yes. Sometimes that is very hard, but it is what we are called to do.

Is there someone that you need to forgive? Ask the Holy Spirit who lives within you for the strength to forgive on whatever level you are able. Does it mean that you have to be best friends with the person? Sometimes it works out that way, but that is not always possible. What is possible for you? How can you take the first step or help a person you know to take that step toward reconciliation?



Photograph by Felix Koutchinski on Unsplash.

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. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: Bill Ayres, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, forgiveness, God's forgiveness

Feet of Jesus

Posted by Sharon Krause on Sep 11, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Jesus, when you were a baby lying in your mother’s lap,

   did she kiss your feet so precious, each small toe, both front and back?

When you helped in Joseph’s workshop, did sharp splinters pierce your toes

   from the scraps and jagged fragments as the crafts you came to know?

John the Baptist felt unworthy to loosen sandals on your feet:

   feet that never stopped when weary, feet that bore rough roads and heat.

A sinful woman was repentant when she washed your tired feet

   with her long and flowing tresses and her tears of sorrow sweet.

Jesus, when you walked on water, did it feel so fresh and cool

   as you gently beckoned Peter to trust and walk on water, too?

You washed the feet of your disciples, though, at first, they did protest.

   You taught the worth of service to those who follow in your steps.

Three times your feet gave out beneath you as the heavy cross pressed down;

   What pain you must have suffered when they drove the nails so long!

Jesus, when you hung there dying, did your mother come and bless

   the feet she knew before they walked, that now had climbed the road to death?

When you appeared, on Easter morn, to the women on their way,

   they caressed your risen feet and worshipped Savior Jesus, that holy day!

Your feet, Jesus, now in heaven, your feet, Lord, that walked with men,

   are the feet that lead to glory. Guide us to our Father. Amen.


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Topics: Sharon Krause

"Hear the Word!" by Bill Ayres: Twenty-Third Sunday of the Year

Posted by Bill Ayres on Sep 9, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Ezekiel

(Chapter 33:7-9)

God calls Ezekiel. “You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.” In those days the “watchman” had a most important job. He stood on the top of the wall of the city and looked in all directions to determine if an enemy was approaching and then called out to warn the people. All the prophets were like moral watchmen, warning the people of dangers, not only those from foreign enemies but also those from within. Ezekiel had warned the people of the danger from the Babylonians, but they did not listen and now, when this prophesy is being recorded, they are in exile in Babylon. God tells Ezekiel not to give up trying: “But if you warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way, he shall die for his guilt but you shall be saved.”

Have you ever tried to warn someone about an impending danger only to have your warning fall on deaf ears? You tried to be the “watchman” or the “watchwoman,” but you were not heard. Sometimes, you can try again using different words or a friendlier attitude. If you are still not heard, ask yourself why you missed the mark. Were you wrong in voicing your concern, or did the problem lie with the person who has ears yet could not hear?

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9)

“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Maybe our problem is not that we have hardened our hearts but that we do not hear God’s voice—or, perhaps, do not listen for it. Try to take some time each day, when you pray, to just listen. This is not a one-off experience. Build silence into your daily prayer life and listen for that still, small voice that God is known for.

A reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans

(Chapter 13:8-10)

Jesus said that the two great commandments were to love God and to love our neighbors. Paul makes that clear to the Christians in Rome: “Brothers and sisters: Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Then he writes, “Whatever other Commandments there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Imagine if all of us Christians really believed that and practiced it, no matter who our neighbor is, whatever his race, whatever her religion or politics. As Paul concludes this reading, “Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfilment of the law.”

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 18:15-20)

The last paragraphs of this reading are extraordinary: “Again, amen, I say to you’ if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”

So, every time we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, Jesus is there in our midst. And every time we pray as a family or with friends, or even when we are not praying but celebrating with each other in love, Jesus is there as well.

I don’t know about you, but I do not think of that presence often enough; and yet, it does not take much to deepen the experience by shutting out other distractions and concentrating on Jesus’ presence. He is here.



Al fresco painting of the prophet Ezekiel, Michelangelo Buonarotti, Sistine Chapel, Rome.

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. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: Bill Ayres, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, God's presence

The Everyday Gospel: In Search of Mary

Posted by Charles Paolino on Sep 4, 2023 6:00:00 AM

While we were visiting Turkey recently, we followed in the footsteps of Popes Leo XIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI to the place reputed to be the last home of Mary, the mother of Jesus. This is now a small stone chapel on Mount Koressos near the ancient town of Ephesus. The chapel was erected on the original foundation of a structure said to have been the house that the apostle John constructed for the Blessed Mother.

The history of this place is too complicated for me to repeat here, but one might say that it begins with the episode reported in the Gospel of John in which Jesus, from the cross, tells the apostle, “There is your mother,” and the narrative adds that from that moment John took Mary “into his home.” From that exchange and the fairly reliable tradition that John was banished by Roman authorities to Patmos in Greece, many have surmised that he brought Mary with him and settled her on the mountainside, away from Romans and other troublemakers. Residents of a nearby village have believed that for centuries, and they have venerated the spot as Mary’s last home.

The weight of expert opinion on subjects like this, however, leans toward the idea that Mary spent her last years in Jerusalem and was buried there on a spot now marked by the Church of the Dormition. The Vatican has approved the chapel near Ephesus as a place for Catholic devotion—witness the visits by four popes—but the Church has not taken a position on the authenticity of the site.

 Clearly, the crowd we found at the chapel was not concerned about this controversy. They—and we—were part of a constant stream of pilgrims who find their way to “Mary’s house” where they are ushered through the single room in a matter of moments. It takes so much effort to get there, and it’s over so quickly, that some might wonder if it’s worth it.

Perhaps that question answers itself, at least for those who are motivated by devotion to the mother of the Savior. Perhaps it is enough that they take time out on their journeys to find this remote spot where, in their hearts, they are close to Mary.

As the visitors stand in the long queue, they naturally chat with members of their own parties and with strangers. We did that too, striking up a conversation with a young couple from Piscataway. Imagine! We’re from Whitehouse Station, and they’re from Piscataway, and we meet in this place, five thousand miles away. Yet, considering the attraction, spending a moment, in our hearts, in the intimate surroundings of Mary’s home, perhaps such meetings are inevitable.

As folks finally reach the entrance to the chapel, they stop chatting. There is a hush as they step into the room almost gingerly, as though afraid to break something. Most touch the stones, assuring themselves that they are really there. Most, in their own ways, may have something to say to the Blessed Mother.

Did Mary live here? Whether or not she did, her love for us and our love for her was enough to bring us to this mountain, to leave the world outside even briefly, and to pray, “Hail Mary, full of grace!”

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Topics: Marian devotion, RENEW International, The Everyday Gospel: Deacon Charles Paolino, Mary's House

"Hear the Word!" by Bill Ayres: Twenty-Second Sunday of the Year

Posted by Bill Ayres on Sep 2, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Jeremiah

(Chapter 20:7-9)

Being a prophet of God has never been easy for anyone, but for Jeremiah it was excruciating: “I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.” Wow! Talk about suffering and unhappiness, and this is only one of Jeremiah’s lamentations. Jeremiah had much to be unhappy about. God asked him to deliver a powerful message of repentance to the people in a time of crisis. Jeremiah did, and the people hated him for it and tortured him, imprisoned him, and tried to murder him. No wonder he was so angry with God and vowed to stop speaking about him; and yet, he stayed on message, faithful to his call.

Have you ever had a difficult call from God? Maybe it did not entail such a dangerous undertaking, but it had a painful effect on you. Perhaps it was the loss of someone you loved, a long illness, another kind of tragedy. Or perhaps it was having to stand up for truth and love in the face of rejection and condemnation. Whatever it was, you need not be alone in your suffering. A willing listener may not heal your pain but may lighten your load.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9)

“My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.” This is the prayer of a man who lived in the desert and knew what it meant to be thirsty every day. Equating physical thirst with longing to feel God’s presence in our lives makes a powerful metaphor. If we thirst for God’s presence, especially in a secular world that tries hard to replace him in our lives, we have only to find a quiet time and place and open our hearts to him. He will be there.

A reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans

(Chapter 12:1-2)

“Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that you may discern what is the will of God.” Rome, in Paul’s time, was a very sophisticated, cosmopolitan city. The Romans had brought clean water through a series of aqueducts as well as the best roads and architecture of the time, but they had also brought many false gods, a violent tyranny, and repression of Jews and other minorities. However, since the overall material standard of living was better than it was in most places in the ancient world, Christians could easily fall away from the deeper truth.

I think Paul would see a parallel in our society today with all its modern wonders but also with the over-the-top graphic violence, extreme injustice, distortions of sexuality, and worship of the false god of greed. He would ask us again to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 16:21-27)

In gospel passage read at last Sunday’s Masses, Peter gets it right. He identifies Jesus as the Son of God, and Jesus calls him the rock upon which Jesus will build his Church. Here, Peter gets it wrong. He can’t believe that Jesus will be killed: “Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him. God forbid, Lord! No such thing should ever happen to you.” But Jesus replies, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” So now Peter is not being called a rock, but rather an obstacle, a “stumbling stone.” Why? “Because you are thinking not as God does but as human beings do.” That is certainly a great deal to ask of Peter—to think as God does—but it is necessary if Peter is to lead the Church. Be steadfast, like a rock not a stumbling stone.

Have you ever tried to think as God does? Suppose someone treats you unjustly and tries to make it feel as if it is your fault. You’re furious, and rightfully so, but what do you do? Do you focus your righteous anger on the offender and go after him or her? Or do you step back, ask someone you trust for advice, and then move forward, not seeking revenge but rather truth and justice? Suppose someone betrays your trust on a very important matter in such a way that your reputation is at risk? Or think of something that has actually happened to you. Did you respond in God’s way or in your way?

Jesus never asked Peter to be perfect. He knew all too well that Peter was an impetuous, imperfect man, but he challenged Peter to think “as God does.” It did not always work for Peter, and it won’t for us either, but we can try, one step at a time, one decision at a time, one move, one word that is more loving, more compassionate than before.



Statue of St. Peter by Pierre Etienne Monnot, Basilica of St. John Lateran, Rome. Photograph © by Marie Lan-Nguyen/Wikipedia Commons.

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. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: Bill Ayres, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Saint Peter, Prediction of the Passion

New Dwarfs

Posted by Sharon Krause on Aug 28, 2023 6:00:00 AM

I recently heard that Disney may be coming out with an updated version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Wouldn’t it be interesting for those who work with little children to challenge them to come up with names for “holy” dwarfs and use those ideas to teach about good religious practices? I have some suggestions for dwarf names, but I am sure these are not the only possibilities.                                

Prayerful – This dwarf prays every day. Which prayers does he know? Does he make up his own prayers too? Prayers don’t have to be long and full of big words. They just have to be sincere, from our loving hearts.

Gentle – This dwarf is kind and treats others gently. He tries not to lose his temper or say unkind things. It isn’t always easy, but Gentle loves God and God’s creations.

Thankful – Thankful dwarf tells the Lord how grateful he is for his many daily blessings. Lots of time people pray for things they want but forget to take as much time in praying thank-you prayers for wonderful things they have received.

Sorrowful – This dwarf reminds us how important it is to be sorry and to tell God we are sorry for the sins we have committed. Jesus is always ready to forgive us as we try to do better. We all make bad choices now and then, but the sacrament of reconciliation is there for us to start over. And Sorrowful never holds grudges against anyone.

Joyful – This dwarf is always full of joy because he thinks about his sharing in God’s life through the reading of the Bible stories and the sacraments of the Church. What is your favorite Bible story?

Singer – This dwarf loves to sing hymns about our wonderful, generous God. He does not have to be in church to sing; he can sing in his room or with his friends. He even makes up his own songs sometimes.

Blabbermouth – This dwarf is not your normal “blabbermouth” who can be annoying and unstoppable. Blabbermouth loves to spread the word about the good news of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He talks about Jesus’ teachings and healings and other miracles. He tells everyone about the great gift of Holy Communion and even about the comforting sacrament of the sick.

It is important to teach little children and encourage their feedback. How about drawing pictures of what they think the new dwarfs might look like? And how about us adults? Do we take advantage of my fictitious dwarfs’ good attributes? Being young at heart is a good thing.


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Topics: praying, Sharon Krause, words

"Hear the Word!" by Bill Ayres: Twenty-first Sunday of the Year

Posted by Bill Ayres on Aug 26, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Isaiah

(Chapter 22:19-23)

This is the sad story of two men who, in turn, held a powerful position in the royal house, being master of the palace. “Thus says the Lord to Shebna, master of the palace: ‘I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station. On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority.”

That seems to be it. God choses a new man who will be faithful and do the right thing. Shebna has been a bad, self-absorbed leader, so God chooses Eliakim who will do better. But that is not the end of the story, because Eliakim turns out no better and abuses his power to enrich his relatives.

This passage prepares us for the gospel reading in today’s Mass in which Jesus promises the “keys to the kingdom of heaven” to Peter, who will faithfully carry out his responsibilities. Does God ask less of us?

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 138:1-2, 2. 3. 6-8)

“Lord, your love is eternal: do not forsake the work of your hands.” Another verse follows: “When I called, you answered me; you built up strength within me.” This is certainly a time when we need to call out to the Lord. He does not forsake us nor the millions of people who are in far worse condition than most of us and for whom we pray.

A reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans

(Chapter 11:33-36)

This is the way Paul ends his Letter to the Romans:

“Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgements and how unsearchable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has given the Lord anything that may be repaid? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever.”

Paul was always aware that all that we have and all that we are is all gift. We do not have a “deal” with God: “You do this for me God, and I will do this for you.” Our very lives and all that we have are gifts. Let us give thanks today and every day. Even on, no—especially on the days when we do not feel especially gifted.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 16:13-20)

This reading has a question from Jesus, an answer from Peter, and a calling from Jesus to Peter. Here is the question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The disciples tell Jesus what people are saying: “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Good guesses, but no. Finally, “Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ … Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.’”

Then comes Peter’s calling from Jesus: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you lose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Peter is the one chosen by God, but Peter is far from perfect. At a crucial time, he denies Jesus, and after Jesus dies Peter is on the wrong side of one of the first major decisions for the early Church—whether non-Jewish converts must be circumcised. Peter says yes, but Paul says no. Peter eventually agrees. He is not perfect, but he is always faithful.



Painting: Peter the Apostle holding the keys to heaven and the pallium, by Peter Paul Rubens, 1610-1612. Museo del Prado. Public domain.

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. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: Bill Ayres, Jesus walks on water

Mary - Queen of Heaven

Posted by Sharon Krause on Aug 21, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Two times in this month of August, we are reminded in special ways in the liturgy of the wonderful mother we have in Mary. We celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the middle of the month and began the readings with the entrance antiphon from the book of Revelation 12:1:

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon

under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

Queens I have read about usually have crowns full of precious jewels and robes made of special silks and threads. Mary, the Queen of Heaven, has a cosmic wardrobe and Scripture even tells us how angels rejoice in her assumption. The twelve stars in Mary's crown suggest some of the wonders of the Lord she prayed about in her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). She mentioned these twelve “star” reassuring facts about our Lord:

*the greatness of the Lord;

*He is her Savior;

*He has looked upon her lowliness and ensured that all ages will call her blessed;

*He has done great things for her;

*Holy is his name;

*His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him;

*The Lord has shown might with his arm, dispersing the arrogant;

*He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones;

*He has lifted up the lowly;

*He has filled the hungry with good things;

*He has sent the rich away empty;

*He has mercifully helped Israel, according to his promise to Abraham and his


I suggest that each of us could list twelve “stars” or blessings the Lord has given to us in our lifetime. It may be a good exercise for a prayer time.

Mary, Queen of heaven, did not ride in a luxurious coach, but on the back of a donkey. She faithfully nurtured and raised our Prince of Peace. She heard his first words and saw him take his first steps. She witnessed his death on the cross and held His limp body in her lap. Mary, our queen and our mother, is strong and loving.  

At tomorrow’s Mass, we will celebrate the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is Queen of Heaven, the loving queen who intercedes for each of us. Just stop and think about how many times you have prayed, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” She is a regal example of Our Lord keeping his promises. While not worshipped as a goddess, Mary is our humble, solicitous heavenly mother who gave herself unselfishly as mother to the Savior of the world. May we never let a day go by without thanking her. Hail, Mary, our Queen Mother!

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Topics: praying, Sharon Krause, words

"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Twentieth Sunday of the Year

Posted by Bill Ayres on Aug 19, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Isaiah

(Chapter 56:1, 6-7)

The context for this passage is the return of the Jewish people from exile in Babylon in the sixth century before the birth of Jesus. Isaiah starts off with a call and a promise: “Thus says the Lord: Observe what is right, do what is just; for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed.” There were many foreigners who wanted to convert to Judaism. “Them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer…. For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” Isaiah is proclaiming a much more inclusive religion, one that welcomes foreigners.

Our Catholic Church in the United States has always welcomed immigrants and foreigners, including our own ancestors. Today, immigrants are still a growing part of our Church, and we welcome them.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8)

“O God, let all the nations praise you.” Imagine, if that really happened!

A reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans

(Chapter 11:13-15, 29-32)

Paul refers to himself as “the apostle to the gentiles,” and he is saying that both Jews and gentiles have a history of rejecting Jesus. Yet, from their disobedience has come reconciliation. “For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? … For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.”

God made a promise to the Jewish people and, even though many of them rejected Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God, the promise remains. “Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that , by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. … For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all,”

Have you thought very much about God’s mercy? Pope Francis has and has written about mercy because he experienced it many years after he made a decision that harmed some of his fellow Jesuits in Argentina.

Whatever you or I may have done, the loving mercy of God is always there for us. We need only ask for it and express genuine sorrow.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 15:21-28)

Matthew wrote his Gospel especially for his fellow Jews. So, at first, he has Jesus being reluctant to deal with a Canaanite woman because she was not a Jew. “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” The disciples were annoyed at her. “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” But the woman did not give up. “Lord, help me.” Then, Jesus said something that seemed to be a rejection: “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” The woman was desperate and not deterred. “‘Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.’ … Jesus said to her in reply, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ … And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.”

Matthew clearly sees the mission of Jesus as the savior of Israel and yet, he adds this story that expands the mission of Jesus to all people. The lesson for us is perseverance, even when we too are desperate, frustrated, and almost without hope. God hears us but not necessarily on our time.



Statue of St. Paul by Pierre-Etienne Monnot, Basilica of St. John Lateran, Rome. Photo © by Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons.

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. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: Bill Ayres, Jesus walks on water

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