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The other day, a friend of mine and I said the Divine Mercy Chaplet together over the phone as we prayed for her relative who is in the hospital. It took only a few minutes, but it got me thinking about creative uses of at-home time.
Wouldn’t it be a good idea to teach pre-teen children, for example, the practice of saying the rosary, maybe a decade at a time, during little break times away from online school work or playing games on electronic devices?
The Joyful Mysteries could be introduced with some small commentaries to which the children could relate. For example, the Annunciation could be prefaced with a few questions about announcements they had received, some good news they had heard, and then a brief explanation of Mary’s encounter. Then the Lord’s Prayer and just that decade could be said, just to take up a little break time.
Another time, the Visitation could be introduced with remembering, perhaps, a helpful visit to a friend or relative in the children’s life, and then a short description of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth followed by the Lord’s Prayer and a decade of Hail Marys.
The Birth of Jesus could be easy to talk about with children, and the Presentation of the Lord could be discussed in the context of the children’s own reception of baptism or attendance at the baptism of another child.
The Finding of Jesus in the Temple could be easily compared to parent-child experiences before explaining Jesus’ early ministry. Creating a little dialogue and thoughtfulness about the mysteries could help to make the praying not so rote, but more meaningful. Personal and meaningful prayer intentions could be added as well.
Of course, this idea could also be used with the Sorrowful Mysteries, the Glorious Mysteries, and the Mysteries of Light. With everything so fast and instantaneous in this world of computers and technology, short breaks of prayer might be good to incorporate into a child’s—or, for that matter, an adult’s—day at home.
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.
RENEW International is providing free online events and resources to nourish our faith lives during the pandemic. Here’s a link to Mary Foy’s recent webinar, Faith Sharing With Your Kids.” For upcoming opportunities, go to

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As we struggle to get past the bleakness of the virus pandemic, we find hope in the glow of Jesus’ glorious resurrection. We can plant seeds of renewal and joy along with, if we’re lucky, starting our backyard gardens.


I love pumpkins! I love decorating with pumpkins, but more than that, I love pumpkin pie and lots of pumpkin-flavored foods! I decided, a few years ago, to plant some pumpkin seeds in the springtime to see if I could raise a number of those plump orange masterpieces. I had a nice pumpkin patch starting in my backyard and was quite happy. Eventually, I saw some pretty flowers on the vines, and, after that, a few baby pumpkins started growing. I was so excited!


Then one day I went outside, and there  was an awful gray-colored mold on my vines. The mold overpowered my patch, and I could rescue only about three little pumpkins. What a disappointment!


Perhaps if I had read and followed directions for planting pumpkins, I would have known of the possible dangers and sprayed the vines with an eco-friendly herbicide or something to fortify them. I might have had more success.


The Scripture readings for the optional memorial feast day of St. Anselm, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, brought to mind my less than perfect gardening attempt. Maybe I should have gone a little deeper in my preparation and read the proper directions. It is possible my pumpkins would have been strong enough to survive the attack.


In the Letter to the Ephesians (3:14-19), for example, St. Paul prays for his Gentile listeners, that they might derive strength through our loving Father’s Spirit as they are being rooted and grounded in love. “I pray,” St. Paul writes, “that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. The divine dimensions of the fullness of God’s love shown to us by Jesus Christ surpass our comprehension.” And when I read the passage from the Gospel of Matthew (7:21-29), I am reminded of the importance of not just learning Jesus’ teachings, but also following and acting on his example of mercy, consolation, and justice. With God’s love as my foundation, my rock, my success in fruitfully spreading God’s love is guaranteed.


St. Anselm, philosopher, theologian, scholar and Benedictine monk, pray for us as we work as you did to teach others about our one true God and the breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love. Amen.


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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As the spring brings new life in nature,
Easter reminds us
of the new life Jesus has brought for us.
May we clean out what is old and unhealthy within us
and fill us with what is new and healthy,
positive and life-giving.
We ask this through Christ our Lord,

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 Acts of the Apostles
(Chapter 2:42-47)
Most scripture scholars and our Christian tradition identify Luke, the disciple of Paul, as the author of the Gospel according to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Luke intended Acts to be a continuation of his Gospel to let people know what was going on in the first Christian communities. Today’s reading gives us a picture of what was important in the lives of our spiritual ancestors.
“They devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” It sounds wonderful, and so it was.
This was the very beginning of our Church, our faith. Most of these Christians were Jews, so they met for prayer “in the temple area,” but notice that they were “breaking bread in their homes.” They did not dare to break bread in the temple, because it would have caused a riot. They were trying to be good Jews and faithful followers of Jesus at the same time. All of this was during dark times in the shadow of the Roman rulers who had murdered Jesus and were already murdering the Christians. It was a fearful, challenging time, but it brought the believers together in a unique way to grow and protect one another in the face of continual danger.
Today, we too live in dangerous times and we are not able to “break bread together.” Let us stay together in prayer and help those who are in physical, emotional, and financial need.
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24)
“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.” How are you experiencing God’s love during this most treacherous time? How can you share God’s love with those who you are with every day and those whom you talk to only on the phone or online?
A reading from the first letter of Saint Peter
(Chapter 1:3-9)
The author knows that his audience lives in constant danger, and he wants them to know that even though “you may have to suffer through various trials …. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth in a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”
We know of no global pandemic that was threatening their lives, but they were threatened every day by an evil emperor. Over the years, many thousands of the early Christians died violently, including almost all of the twelve apostles, yet the community continued to believe and grow. May we learn from their bravery and their faith.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 20:19-31)
This is the story of the man we call “Doubting Thomas,” but it is also a story about the Holy Spirit. “Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you…. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when he had said this, 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.’”
Notice the progression of mission and power: from the Father to Jesus and then to the disciples and, of course, now to us. It all comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is in the power of the Holy Spirit that our sins are forgiven. The Holy Spirit is present in each of us. Amazing! We are never alone, never but especially in times of danger and stress as we are experiencing now.
But Thomas misses all of this, and when he is told he refuses to believe: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” So, there it is—a man who was with Jesus as a trusted disciple refuses to believe. Perhaps there were others who doubted, but here we have one true story of disbelief.
We know the rest of the story. Jesus invites Thomas to put his finger into his hand and his hand into his side “and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas doesn’t touch Jesus but simply says, “My Lord and my God.” Then Jesus says something so powerful that it still reverberates to us today: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” We have not seen, but we do believe. How is that possible? Because we have the very Spirit of God living within us—always, every moment of every day.
We did not earn it. It is a pure gift from our all-loving, all-merciful God. It is an especially important gift now, in our time of crisis.
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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“In the end, there are only two choices: resurrection or inexorable nothingness.” This is how the great German scriptural theologian Gerhard Lohfink begins his book Is This All There Is? On Resurrection and Eternal Life.
Is there anyone who has not asked, “What will happen to me when I die? Where will I go? Will I simply cease to exist?” Lohfink states what may not seem to us as obvious, but is it? If nothingness is the answer, then “countless victims of war, torture, and rape, will never experience life, justice, and love and will eventually be forever forgotten.” All the hatred and mass killings as well as individual acts of horror will reign in history without any response, only the darkness of an eternal abyss.
The other choice is resurrection, our resurrection, not just sometime in the future but beginning now. It has already started in Christ, through his resurrection. It is obviously not a natural event but rather a pure gift from God, an act of his creative love, a new creation in Jesus Christ. Resurrection is not an afterthought by God but what was intended from the beginning of creation. It is an everlasting process that exploded forth from the resurrection of Jesus. We are all part of that process, and Lohfink sees it as happening now in our lives, slowly revealing itself through generations. It is far from complete, but it is there every day for us through the presence of the Spirit within us. When Jesus lived on earth, he healed many people, not only of their physical sickness but also of their social isolation and marginalization as outcasts. Now, he can heal us of the emotional and social distress that comes from the anxiety and depression that may impact our lives at any time, and particularly during this pandemic.
There were times during Jesus’ public ministry when he seemed unable to heal, as in his hometown of Nazareth, because there was a lack of faith and willingness to repent. Healing has always been a gift to us from Jesus, but to work it must be accepted, not doubted. He never coerces us. Lohfink says that Jesus “had to suffer death powerlessly, helplessly, and to its darkest depth.” In death, every Christian, and, indeed, every human being, will at first, like Jesus, be thrown into an ultimate powerlessness. And at the very same time find “ultimate closeness to Jesus.” Imagine that! In our death we find “ultimate closeness with Jesus.” That puts a different and powerful light on our death. Yes, there is a darkness, and Jesus experienced that as well, but we are not alone. We die with Jesus, as we live with Jesus.
All of this starts with the resurrection of Jesus and continues with our own death and resurrection when we will encounter God forever. Lohfink writes, “Death is encounter with the living, holy God and none other.” Saint Paul wrote in his First Letter to the Corinthians that we will see God “face to face.” People have always thought of this as a time of judgement by God, and that is indeed a scary thought, but Lohfink calls it “a judgement that clarifies, purifies and heals everything in us.” Even a very good person who has chosen God and led a life of love, honesty, justice, truth, and mercy will have faults and weaknesses such as pride and a need for affirmation and honor. There is darkness in us all that needs to be healed in our final encounter with God “in the momentary transition between death and perfection,” as Lohfink describes it. It is not something we achieve but rather a gift, pure grace from God.
What happens in death to our whole lives and our relationships? Will all be gone forever? Lohfink says no: “Nothing is lost, not the tiniest memory. Everything that we have experienced in this life, painfully and joyfully, will become the material of eternal life with God- but worked through, purified, transformed.” Nor is anyone’s resurrection simply an individual act. It “cannot be separated from the resurrection of all the dead,” Lohfink writes. More than that, “the whole creation will be gathered together and receive its perfection in Christ.”
So often, when loved ones die, we pray that they may “rest in peace.” Suppose eternal rest is also accompanied by eternal life, an “unending dynamism” in the presence of God. For Lohfink, life goes on in a totally different and glorious way and, he adds, “the happiness of being together with all those one has loved only enhances the bliss of participation in the heavenly communion of saints.”
Bill Ayers 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.
Is This All There Is? By Gerhard Lohink is published by Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Maryland.

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