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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 2:14, 22-33)
 
Let’s start with a little background for this reading. The Acts of the Apostles, written by Saint Luke is an extension of his Gospel and was written some sixty years after the death of Jesus. Luke was a Gentile convert, so he has Saint Peter especially addressing Jews who were potential converts. He wants them to see the connection between Jesus and King David. Just as God was on David’s side, so “Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God” and “God raised him up.” Finally, “he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured him forth, as you see and hear.”
 
The point here is that David was loved by God in a special way but with Jesus the connection is so powerful and intimate that the Father gives him the Holy Spirit which Jesus then gives to his followers. Each of us today shares this gift of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. Have you ever thought of the Holy Spirit as your life partner? I never learned that through all my years of Catholic school, but later, when I finally “got it,” it changed my life forever. In this frightening time, it is both comforting and empowering to know that the Spirit of God lives within each of us. Many of us now have more “downtime” than before. It can now be a special “Spirit time.”
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11)
 
“Lord, you will show us the path of life.” Do you know what your path of life is? Is it something you have consciously chosen, or is it a path that you stumbled onto? In either case, do you feel that you are on the right path, God’s path for you? If so, stay faithful to the journey. If not, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the way.
 
A reading from the first letter of Saint Peter
(Chapter 1:17-21)
 
The author says clearly “you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors.” This is a powerful sentence. Jews believed that salvation came from obedience to the Law of Moses. Peter and all the apostles believed that salvation came from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is what we believe as well. Our salvation does not come primarily from observance of the commandments and the laws of the Church, as important as they are. It is a gift given to us by Jesus. We need only to accept the gift and live in the gift of God’s grace and mercy.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
(Chapter 24:13-35)
 
The Roman Empire was the most powerful force in the history of the world up to that time. Luke is writing to potential converts to this new faith and he wants them to see that faith in the resurrected Christ is now the most powerful force on earth—but a different kind of power, the power of the Holy Spirit given to all during the experience of Pentecost
 
This is the famous story of the two disciples who meet a stranger on the road to a small town called Emmaus. We know the name of one of the disciples, Cleopas, who tells the story of the risen Christ. It has always been interesting to me that the first people to experience the empty tomb were women and that the men did not believe them. These men are also confused about what really happened, and they do not recognize Jesus until he breaks bread with them. For the early Christians, meeting Jesus in the breaking of the bread was essential. It certainly was a Jewish tradition to break bread together and of course, the most important occasion was when all the apostles were together at the Last Supper.
 
You and I can come to know Jesus a little more deeply every week in the breaking of the bread at the Eucharist. That does not happen automatically. It is easy to get caught up in the routine of the Mass, but the gift is there every time for us if we can open our hearts and minds to Jesus. It is also a time when we can come to know ourselves on a whole other level and open our hearts to those with whom we share life.
 
Like the two disciples, we are on a lifelong journey that I believe is a journey into the mystery of God’s all-powerful and all-encompassing love. They had come from Jerusalem and heard the resurrection stories, yet they still could not recognize Jesus until “While he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.”
 
Let us see our weekly Eucharistic experience as a stop on the journey as it was for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, a stop that brings us closer to Jesus and to our truest, most authentic selves. Of course, we have temporarily lost our weekly Eucharist. In the meantime, let us reflect on what, at times perhaps, we have taken for granted. We have met the resurrected Jesus at our celebration of the Eucharist in the breaking of the bread. Let us pray that we will soon have that experience once again.
 
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.
 
Image courtesy of www.LumoProject.com and is available at freebibleimages.org.
 
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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The current pandemic has definitely challenged all of us to adapt our expressions of faith in new ways.
 
At my parish—the Church of the Holy Eucharist in Tabernacle, New Jersey—a group of men get together for overnight adoration every Holy Thursday evening/Good Friday morning. We pick a time, usually 3 or 4 a.m. on Friday, and we spend an hour together adoring our Lord. Then we go to a local 24-hour diner and have breakfast together. Meatless of course! We’ve been doing this for five years.
 

During the Triduum in 2019, before restrictions brought about by the Covid 19 pandemic, men of the Church of the Holy Eucharist gather for an early-morning breakfast after their Holy Hour.


 
We were all very disappointed that this year we couldn’t take part in our tradition. So, we came up with an idea. Our Blessed Sacrament Chapel, where the Eucharist is housed in the tabernacle, is on an outside wall of the church, right next to one of the parking lots. Realizing how many times Jesus appeared to the apostles while they were behind locked doors, as in this past Sunday’s gospel reading, we knew that a church wall couldn’t keep him away from us. We knew he is not bound by any physical structure. So, we decided to take our cars to adoration!
 

Men of the Church of the Holy Eucharist assemble in their cars for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on the night of Holy Thursday to Good Friday. The tabernacle in the church is located inside the wall on the right.


 
At 4 a.m., we all met in the parking lot in front of the wall where the tabernacle is, and we sat in our cars and had our Holy Hour of adoration. Some of us brought prayer books, Bibles, our iPads to watch virtual adoration online in different parts of the world, and silently prayed. Some of us got out of our cars alone and approached the wall for some private prayer. It was a beautiful night with an almost full moon, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with the Lord, a time full of graces and blessings.
 
Here at RENEW, we have challenged ourselves to create new and relevant ways to practice the faith, offering webinars for you and virtual faith sharing sessions for your small groups. Learn about all our upcoming webinars and faith sharing sessions. We are also offering our new online program Baptism Matters for free until June 30, and we are offering our Sunday faith-sharing resource PrayerTime as a PDF for individual or small-group use. Also, browse our new online store where we have some specials running. We hope we can be a valuable source for you to continue your small faith communities online until we can all be together again.
 
Rich Vosler is a sales consultant at RENEW International. Contact him at 908 769 5400 x149 or [email protected]

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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 https://new.renewintl.org/events

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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,
Amen.

 
Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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