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I enjoy writing and am very conscious of words and letters. I enjoy word play, poetry, and the study of words. It is not a surprise, therefore, that I noticed the repetition of the letter P in recent news reports. For example, lately I see the words and initialisms: pandemic, protesters, protocol, politics, prejudice, PPE (personal protection equipment), and PPP (payroll protection plan). I don’t make light of the sad challenges our world is experiencing at the moment, but my brain started thinking of other uses of the letter P

for more positive words.

 
P is the first letter in prayer, and prayer is our personal and sometimes communal communication with our loving God. It should not be our last resort when all our other means of control come up short. Prayer should be our first and ongoing conversation with God, whether it is to express our love and gratitude or our cries for help.
 
P is the first letter in a title of Jesus: Prince of Peace. In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah (9:6) declares that a child to be born—now understood to be the Messiah—would be called the Prince of Peace. While this verse is often repeated around Christmas, we know Jesus is our Prince of Peace all of the time. In fact, now is a perfect time to pray to Jesus and invoke him by that special name as we ask for peace in our hearts and in our societies.
 
P is the first letter in psalms The Book of Psalms in the Old Testament is a collection of songs of praise, thanksgiving, history, and supplication. The psalms can be great springboards for prayer: helpful starts to personal prayer time. A favorite of mine is Psalm 111 from which I take this quote:
 

Great are the works of the Lord,
    studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work,
    and his righteousness endures forever.
(v. 2-3)

 
The Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, begins with p, and the Spirit came with many gifts for us at Pentecost. Wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord are very positive, holy tools with which to carry out our evangelical mission of sharing God’s kingdom.
 
One more use of p that comes to my lettered mind is in the word praise. Every day we have so many opportunities to praise the Lord. Despite our difficulties, there is so much of God’s created beauty in nature, in our personal families, in our church families, in our own great potential, and in our hopeful hearts for which to praise him. For Jesus’ saving sacrifice for us, for giving us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, for His guidance, patience, and mercy—the list is endless, we rightly give praise!
 
Pray, praise, and prepare the way daily for the Prince of Peace….please!
 
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, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.
 
The passage from Psalm 111 is 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.

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When my parents and I picked up my belongings from my spring semester at Loyola University in Maryland, I could not help but notice the emptiness around campus. While I returned my key and walked across the quiet bridge, I recalled the liveliness of the campus when we all had returned from spring break in March.
 
Although I could not visit the bookstore or say hello to the dining hall staff, I asked my parents if I could stop by the quad, the center of Loyola’s Evergreen campus. My favorite spot on campus, I have many fond memories on the quad: eating lunch with friends on the Humanities building porch, leading campus tours, spring concerts, and the activities fair. As I took a moment to take it all in, the statue of St. Ignatius Loyola stood out to me. It reminded me of the passion for community that the early Jesuits created, inspired by Jesus and his disciples. I’ll always remember learning about care for the whole person, one of Loyola’s core values, at my orientation. Like the Jesuits, Loyola encourages every individual to grow in mind, body, and spirit. A rising junior, I still feel the power of community through the relationships that I have made with friends, professors, fellow campus ministry interns, and peers.
 
Even though the spring semester did not finish the way I expected, the Loyola community remained strong despite physical distance. Both students and staff came together in creative ways: virtual meetings with the career center, campus ministry gatherings on Zoom, livestream masses, and Facetimes with friends. I was especially touched by the tributes and virtual send-offs for the 2020 graduates. I was happy for them that the university recognized all their hard work and accomplishments. Despite disappointments, through the pandemic we have learned to adapt and to not take for granted the gift of human connection.
 
Without a doubt, campus life will be different in the fall through virtual classes, dining hall restrictions, event cancellations, and inability to travel from campus until Thanksgiving. But I am so thankful that I will safely return to my “home away from home” in August. I got to say goodbye to my friends in March knowing that I have two years left at Loyola. I know that I will come back to campus with a deeper appreciation for my family, friends, and the wonderful community that helps me find God in everyday situations.
 
Samantha Howath, a summer intern at RENEW International, is a rising junior at Loyola University Maryland where she studies Communications and Marketing. She is a lector for Campus Ministry. Samantha is also a marketer for Loyola’s chapter of Spoon University, a food blog, and a Greyhound Ambassador for Admissions.

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Doors are a big part of our lives. We use many kinds of doors every day. We lock doors, knock on doors, hold doors for others, see who is at our door, and open and shut doors more times than would want to count. Doors symbolize opportunity, protection, freedom, new beginnings, separation, privacy, and potential. We remember that in the story of the Three Little Pigs, there was a wolf at their door!
 
We can find numerous references to doors, gates, and other entrances in the Old and New Testaments. For example, in Psalm 100, verse 4 we are told how to enter through the temple door:
 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.

 
We should try to remember to praise and thank the Lord whenever we go through the entry of our parish church. How blessed we are to have our churches!
 
We celebrate the solemnity of the apostles Peter and Paul today. In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles (12:1-11), Peter is locked in prison, and guards keep watch at his prison door. Despite that, an angel comes and leads Peter safely out the door—an iron gate, that opened of its own accord—to leave the city. Another passage in this book records that Paul and his companion, Silas, were in prison in Philippi when an earthquake knocked down the gates. They did not flee the prison, and that led to the conversion of their jailor and the two disciples’ safe passage out of the city (16:25-40).
 
In Matthew’s Gospel (16:13-19), we read that the Church Jesus established upon the rock, Peter, will be strong; “…and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (v. 18b).
 
There is no question about it: doors or entrances will not stop the love and power of our Almighty God and Father. That is very reassuring! We often hear of standing before the “pearly gates” of heaven and hoping we can be admitted. We will need God’s tender mercy when we knock on heaven’s door.
 
In Deuteronomy 6, God commands Israel to love him above all things, with all of their strength, to teach the children those words, “and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (v.9). That verse inspired some simple everyday prayers that maybe we could all attach to our doors.
 
Front door prayer: Lord, bless me and my family, friends coming through this door; delivery persons doing their jobs, any strangers, rich or poor. Help me welcome everyone and pass along your peace, and whether I’m coming or going, may my love for you increase.
 
Back door prayer: Sometimes I’m not so formal; I’m more “back door” than the front! But, Lord, no matter how I am, help me be just what you want!
 
Medicine cabinet door prayer: I see toothpaste, floss and brushes, multivitamins and pills. I thank you, Lord, for healing me of my many little ills. Help keep me clean in every way, and make it always clear how I reflect your image when I look into this mirror.
 
Refrigerator door prayer: Lord, help me to be careful, to wisely stop and think, of how you want me to love myself in what I eat and drink. Thank you for my tastebuds, my senses and appetite. Help me to be generous with anyone who is hungry day and night.
 
Car door prayer: Lord, as I go for a ride in this car, keep me safe and secure, no matter how far. Protect me from danger and keep me alert, so I and my passengers will not get hurt. Thank you for all the fun journeys I’ve made, those rescues from close calls when I was afraid. Be the King of my car and the Lord of my tires. Remind me when my emission sticker expires!
 
(Bible quotes from the NRSV).
 
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, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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We are loved by our God,
yet we often love poorly.
Show us the way, Lord.
 
You have made us your sisters and brothers,
yet we often ignore the crosses
of our sisters and brothers
in God’s human family.
Show us the way, Lord.
 
Although you accept us as we are,
we often do not accept others or ourselves.
Show us the way, Lord.
 
You have showered upon us life’s blessings,
yet we often refuse to help the needy.
Show us the way, Lord.
 
Dear God, give us a new perspective.
Help us look at the world
through the eyes of Jesus the Christ,
and be truly willing to take up
our crosses and follow him.
Amen.

 
Adapted from PrayerTime, Cycle A: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels © RENEW International.

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A reading from the second Book of Kings
(Chapter 4:8-11, 14-16a)
 
The prophet Elisha was traveling to a town named Shunem where he was invited for dinner with the family of a “woman of influence.” This became the place for a meal whenever Elisha traveled in that direction. The woman suggested to her husband that they prepare a room for the prophet to stay overnight. Elisha was grateful for her generosity and asked, “Can something be done for her? His servant, Gehazi, answered, “‘Yes! She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years.’ Elisha said, ‘Call her’ When the woman had been called and stood at the door, Elisha promised, ‘This time next year you will be fondling a baby boy.’”
 
This is one of many instances in the Jewish scriptures of the power of God to bring forth new life unexpectedly, a power that would take on new meaning in the Christian era.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 89:2-3, 16-17, 18-19)
 
“Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.” Sometimes it is hard to see the “goodness of the Lord,” especially during times of overwhelming tragedy and sadness. We are in such times now; yet, the “goodness of the Lord” still shines forth. Where and when have you experienced this goodness? How have these experiences of love and friendship and support helped you through hard times?
 
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans
(Chapter 6:3-4, 8-11)
 
Here is this deep and powerful reading from the letter to the Christian community in Rome:
 
“Brothers and sisters: Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more, death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all, as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.”
 
Paul wanted his readers to know that their baptism was not just one more event in their lives; it was a life-changing event. Of course, most of the people that he was talking to were baptized as adults. Today, almost all of us were baptized as babies, so it is harder for us to realize the power of our baptism, how it unites us with Christ even before we are conscious of who he is. What does it mean for you to be “living for God in Christ Jesus”? The Spirit of God lives in each one of us. Do you ever think about that?
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
(Chapter 10:37-42)
 
The apostles had families, and there were conflicts between the all-consuming ministry of following Jesus and family obligations. Jesus knew how hard it was for the apostles to leave their families. That is the context for what appear to be very harsh requirements for being an apostle: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
 
But then, listen to this powerful statement: “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” Jesus knows that his time on earth is short, so he wants to make sure that the apostles understand how hard their mission really is and how important it is.
 
What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus today? What qualities and teachings of Jesus do we live every day? How should we bear witness to the teachings of Jesus in our everyday lives, especially facing many of the evils we experience that harm individuals and whole groups of people?
 
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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