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If we stop and think, we all can pinpoint certain turning points in our lives. It is surely an understatement to say that there are numerous life-changing events taking place in this virus-ridden, protest-filled world of ours. When something drastic and traumatic explodes in our lives, life’s puzzle pieces might not fall back to configure as once they did.
St. Paulinus of Nola, whom we remember today, had many pieces to his life story. Biographical summaries tell us that he took an early retirement from his practice of law and public office only to turn from this whole luxurious way of life after his newborn child died. Subsequently, he and his wife were baptized and chose a very austere life filled with charity and love for the poor. He was ordained a priest, founded a monastic community, and eventually became the bishop of Nola, in Campania, Italy. He had many famous and influential friends and was a notable prose writer and poet. Ultimately, many people benefited from St. Paulinus’s alteration of lifestyle.
St. Paulinus followed the message in the gospel passage read at his memorial mass:
“Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33-34)
We are bombarded with advertising promotions and gimmicks. We are encouraged to want and buy more and more products. The ads don’t encourage us to buy for the poor or downsize our own wardrobes or the contents of our cupboards and donate the proceeds to those in need. It would be quite a turning point in our economy if, instead of trying to get businesses flourishing again by buying more extravagantly, we were to sell our possessions and give our excesses away. Granted, we don’t want to see businesses go under, but what if we were to try, little by little, to refocus our perceptions of and responses to those people less fortunate than we are? Drastic changes can cause trauma and drama, but one small calculated turn can lead to another.
Recent pandemic experience has brought to light the fact that many people live from paycheck to paycheck. On the other hand, it highlighted for me how much I spend on eating at restaurants and shopping recreationally for items I really don’t need. Perhaps enlightened turning points are at hand.
Just as we do when we turn a car at an intersection, it is wise to slow down and look around. Maybe it is time to reassess our treasures, check our hearts, and invite God into our individual challenges. As we pray for peace, justice, and health in our troubled world, may we find renewed strength in the knowledge that God’s masterful timing and presence are always with us.
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 Gospel Passage 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.

(Resources: , Catholic Encyclopedia, and

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Lord, your love for us is overwhelming.
The very hairs on our head are counted,
yet we ignore the needs of others.
You have guided us toward goodness and life
despite our unfaithfulness.
The power of the world often is the voice
to which we turn.
We are a fearful people, often lacking in faith
and trust in you.
Lord, give us the courage
to speak and act in your name.
You are our loving Father.
We rejoice in your compassionate concern for us.
Help us to show compassion to the people in our world.
With the help of your Holy Spirit,
we will be your witnesses.
We pray in Jesus’ name.

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

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A reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah
(Chapter 20:10-13)
Being a prophet at any time is challenging, but Jeremiah had an especially difficult time fulfilling his calling. He said, “I hear the whisperings of many: ‘Terror on every side! Denounce! Let us denounce him!’ All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. ‘Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail and take our vengeance on him.’” Jeremiah trusts in the Lord: “But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.” Then he says a prayer of thanksgiving. “Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, for he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked.”
Jeremiah had amazing trust in God during horrible persecution and near death. Whatever our trials during this pandemic, let us maintain trust in our loving Father.
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35)
“Lord, in your great love, answer me.” Have your prayers ever been answered? How did it happen? Did it take a long time, or was it a quick response? Did you think that God had forgotten about you? Later, did something else appear that was not what you asked for but turned out to be what you really needed?
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans
(Chapter 5:12-15)
Rome was the largest city in the world in the first century, and it was home to many different religions. Paul wanted the Roman Christians to know that their religion was new, and that Jesus was in a sense the new Adam.
“Through one man, sin entered the world.” By that, Paul meant Adam.
“For if by the transgression of the one the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.”
Because of Jesus, sin no longer rules the world. Of course, the people all knew that evil did rule their world in the form of the Roman Empire, but there was now a more powerful force that can overcome even death because of Jesus Christ. Paul wanted to give the Romans hope even in the face of an oppressive regime, the hope of everlasting life.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
(Chapter 10:26-33)
Jesus said to the Twelve: “Fear no one.” What? Many of the temple leaders hated them and even wanted to kill them. Shouldn’t they be afraid? “Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light, what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”
This was good and necessary advice for people who had to face danger from the state and those who did not believe in Jesus.
Today, we have dangers from all sorts of “soul killers”: greed, selfishness, prejudice, dishonesty, materialism in subtle forms, and narrow mindedness that does not listen to the voices of others.
In the midst of all that may send us off course, especially in these challenging times, let us remember the words of Jesus here: “Fear no one.”
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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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.

Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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