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

One - Two - Three

Posted by Sharon Krause on Aug 14, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Have you ever noticed how often things happen three times in a row? Sometimes it is on purpose. Sometimes it is by chance. And I suppose sometimes it has to do with when you start noticing and counting. For example, I used to watch a television show about a medical center, and when the “doctors” were moving a patient from a gurney to a bed, they would always say, “On three: one, two, three,” as the lift occurred.

Remember the nursery rhymes and stories with three little pigs, Goldilocks and her three bears, three blind mice, and the three little kittens who lost their mittens? In baseball, three strikes and you are out! There’s the expression: “Three time’s the charm,” which means that success comes on a third try. In Sacred Scripture we read of the Magi, the three astrologers from the Orient. We also read that on the road to Calvary, Jesus fell three times. At Mass we pray, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts.” After the consecration, we pray the Agnus Dei or Lamb of God three times.

What got me thinking about all these threes? Well, being retired, my husband and I enjoy going out to restaurants for breakfast, and a lovely “three-time” experience occurred for us in just a week’s time. We were sitting in a small diner and waiting for our food, and I noticed that the two women sitting at a nearby table had just received their breakfasts. Before they ate, they silently joined hands, closed their eyes, and said a brief prayer.

A few days later, we were in a different restaurant and a young couple was sitting near us. When their food came, they joined hands, and each said a silent prayer. In that same restaurant about two days later, a little girl, a man, and an older man were seated at a booth. It seemed as if they were all family members. When their plates of food came, they all quietly said a blessing together before they ate.

What lovely faith witnesses! I hear so much in the media about God being left out of our lives. Three times in one week I saw evidence that that isn’t true! I know they were only short religious pauses in those peoples’ lives, but they were good pauses, and inspirational reminders to anyone who happened to notice.

What if we tried to thank God for our meals, or even our snacks, every day? What if we picked out three specific things each day that we usually take for granted and thanked God for creating them or for creating the inventors or manufacturers or designers?

Just like those thank-you prayers for breakfasts, prayers don’t have to be extremely long. If the prayers are sincere and remind us of who is always there to hear us and love us, then they are valuable. Prayers can be made up on the spot, in our own loving words, and can draw us closer to God and to fellow pray-ers. It can be as easy as 1-2-3!

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Topics: gratitude, saying grace, Sharon Krause, daily prayer

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

Posted by Bill Ayres on Aug 12, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the first Book of Kings

(Chapter 9:9a, 11-13a)

How and when do we experience God in our everyday lives? I have written a book about that experience. It is called

“At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter. The Lord then said to him, ‘Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by.’”

So, Elijah stood outside and along came a heavy wind that crushed rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not there either. Next came fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. “After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.”

That’s right, God was not in any of the powerful forces of nature, but rather in a tiny whisper. Of course, God does communicate to us in extreme or troubled times, but what about the quiet whispers that might come at any time, in any place—in prayer, and also during the everyday, ordinary times when we may least expect it. Has that ever happened to you? God is full of surprises if we have open hearts.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 85:9, 10, 11-12, 13-14)

“Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.” When have you experienced the Lord’s kindness recently? Was it through the kindness of another person toward you or someone you love? Was it a physical or emotional or spiritual healing? How have you expressed your gratitude?

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

(Chapter 9:1-5)

Paul was a devout Jew before his conversion and had a deep sorrow in his heart for his fellow Jews. “Brothers and sisters: I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises: theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”

Paul expresses a powerful, heartfelt emotion. He would give up everything for the conversion of his people. Of course, many Jews did follow Christ. They were among the first who did. Yet, others did not, and that was heartbreaking for Paul.

Many of us have also had heartbreaking moments when our children or grandchildren seem to have lost their faith or moved to a different faith. But we continue to love them and pray for them, believing that the Spirit of God continues to live in each of them, whatever we may think and however we may feel.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 14:22-33)

Have you ever been out in a boat in very bad weather? Jesus has just fed the multitudes, and now he is with the apostles who are going to fish. Jesus goes off by himself to pray.

“Meanwhile, the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came towards them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost,’ they said and they cried out in fear. At once, Jesus spoke to them, ‘Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid.’ Peter said to him in reply, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’”

The impetuous Peter starts off okay, but then he becomes frightened by the waves and starts to sink. “He cried out, “‘Lord, save me.’ Immediately, Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’”

This is not the only time that Peter lost his courage. As we know, he denied Jesus three times the night that Jesus was arrested. Yet, Jesus forgave him again and made him the leader of the apostles. Imagine that—a man with a big heart and a deep faith in Jesus, who was trusted by Jesus, failed him, and still Jesus called him to be the leader of the early Church.

Throughout the history of the Church, many of its leaders, including popes, have failed to live up to the trust given them; and yet, others have come forward in true leadership and the Spirit has guided them and us. We must have faith in the Spirit, especially in these challenging times.



Painting: Walking on Water by Ivan Ayvazovsky (1817-1900). 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


Posted by Sharon Krause on Aug 7, 2023 6:00:00 AM

During the course of a day, we rely on our personal definitions of things to determine our actions. We know what “breakfast” means, what “work” means, what “recreation” means. Our definitions are precipitated by what we have been taught by others, our life experience, our physical makeup, our belief system, and/or environmental influences. Of course, numerous other factors can come into play, and our definitions can change many times over the course of our lives.

Through the fourth grade, I attended public school. I was dismissed with a few other Catholic students an hour early on Fridays for “release-time instruction” at the nearby Catholic elementary school. After fourth grade, I was enrolled in a Catholic grammar school full time and also attended a Catholic high school. I learned a lot about the Mass and sacraments and Catholic definitions.

Not long ago, I heard that there were fewer attendees at weekend Masses at my local church. This suggested to me that perhaps many of us need to review definitions of Catholic rites and rituals. Maybe “release-timers” especially would benefit from going over some of the truths and explanations associated with our Church. There are so many websites on our phones and computers now, we can look up words and find the Catholic Church’s explanations and definitions. We can be reminded of the wonderful things available at Mass and through our sacraments. Many of the words we might look up have more than three syllables and not used often in everyday conversation.

I suggest that for refreshment and renewal, we might look up the following words at a Catholic website and savor their definitions:

Eucharist           Consecration         Transubstantiation

Reconciliation     Penance      Responsorial Psalm

Liturgy     Epistle       Evangelist       Contrition     Grace

 In light of the increasing shortage of priests, we might try to reintroduce ourselves to many of the opportunities for sacramental grace and religious practice while we still can with relative convenience. We might need to redefine our religious life practices and what is really important and valuable for our earthly and eternal lives.

 Sacred Scripture is a vast source of knowledge and inspiration. Let us consider what St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:11:

    When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child;

   when I became a man, I put aside childish things.

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Topics: spiritual grouth, Sharon Krause

"Hear the Word! by Deacon Charles Paolino: Feast of the Transfiguration

Posted by Charles Paolino on Aug 5, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Daniel

(Chapter 7:9–10, 13–14)

In this passage from Jewish Scriptures, we encounter an image—“Son of Man”—that is familiar to Christians because it is repeated many times in the Gospels. Specifically, it is a term that Jesus applied to himself. Some scholars believe that Jesus used the title, rather than calling himself “Son of God,” because it did not have a connotation that would immediately trigger opposition from his critics among the Jewish religious establishment. Perhaps people who were not instantly drawn into a theological argument with Jesus would listen to him long enough to discover, on their own, that his identity was more than the human being they perceived with their senses. All these centuries later, we understand that Jesus had the nature of God but also shared our human nature, making him our most intimate link to the divine.

Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 97:1–2, 5–6, 9

The psalm reminds us of God’s preeminence but notice that it mentions in particular that God is “exalted above all other gods.” That reference reflects the fact that belief in multiple gods was commonplace when this psalm was written. The reference still has meaning for us, though, because anything that captures our attention to the extent that it becomes more important to us than our worship of God is, in our lives, a lesser god that should be put in its proper place or exorcized altogether.

A reading from the Second Letter of Peter

(Chapter 1:16–19)

This letter, while it may not have been composed directly by the hand of Peter, certainly has its origins in the apostolic age and, therefore, in the faith that has been handed down to us from Peter and the other apostles. This letter reminds us that our faith is rooted not in ancient mythology but in the lived experience of those who traveled with Jesus, learned from him, and witnessed first-hand the evidence of his divinity, including the mysterious event we celebrate today.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 17:1–9)

How reassuring it would be if we could “see” God every day as the apostles saw him in the blazing light in the event described in today’s gospel reading. But Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that in this life our relationship with God is a matter of listening, not of seeing. Our path in this life, the pope wrote, is illuminated by “the interior light that is kindled in us by the Word of God.’’

For an example, the Benedict turned to Mary, who was closest to God among all human beings and yet “still had to walk day after day in a pilgrimage of faith,” constantly meditating on God’s word in Scripture and on the events in the life of her son, Jesus.

It is Mary who first told us regarding her son, “Listen to him,’’ the words that would be spoken by the Father during the epiphany on the mountaintop.

This, Pope Benedict said, “is the gift and duty for each one of us. … to listen to Christ, like Mary. To listen to him in his Word, contained in Sacred Scripture. To listen to him in the events of our lives, seeking to decipher in them the messages of Providence. Finally, to listen to him in our brothers and sisters, especially in the lowly and the poor, to whom Jesus himself demands our concrete love. To listen to Christ and obey his voice: this is the principal way, the only way, that leads to the fullness of joy and of love.’’



Image: Transfiguration by Alexander Ivanov, 1824. 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.

Pope Benedict XVI made the remarks quoted here during the Angelus in St. Peter's Square on March 12, 2006.
Charles Dominick Paolino is managing editor at RENEW International and a permanent deacon of the Diocese of Metuchen.

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Topics: transfiguration, humanity and divinity of Christ, divinity of Jesus


Posted by Sharon Krause on Jul 31, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Although it was decades ago, a memory fragment of mine pops up now and then. I must have been about four or five years old when my mother brought me to our parish church, St. Joseph’s, in Middletown, New York. I recall her leading me up the aisle toward the sanctuary so I could get a close look at the altar and its immediate surroundings. I remember asking her, “Where are we going?” That is all I remember, but I assume she was just getting me used to the environment, because she had decided I was old enough to start attending Masses with her and would be quiet and well-behaved. Perhaps it is a good question for each of us to reflect upon in our spiritual life journey: “Where are we going?” or even better as we mature: “How are we growing?”

In gospel passage read at today’s Mass, Matthew 13:31-35, Jesus refers in his parables to the tiny mustard seed and remarks how it produces a large bush; and he refers to yeast and how it makes the flour mixture grow. Experience teaches that we can grow in good ways and not-so-good ways. Unlike certain, natural anatomical growth that happens spontaneously, spiritual growth is something we can nurture and pursue.

 My mother took me near the holy place in the church, the sanctuary, so I could get a close look. It is important to take a little detour now and then from our normal routine and take a close look at our path to holiness. Could it be that holiness itself is a stepping away from the familiar, normal, material world so that we can come closer to the Lord? That is one reason why daily prayer time is important.

It is so easy to become distracted and caught up in mundane habits. I look around and see people walking with what looks like a growth on their chin and it is really their cell phone being held up to their mouth as they continue their walk or other activity. I hear people seemingly talking to themselves, but really they have earbuds in their ears as they talk to others who are not near them. There can be several people seated at a restaurant table all staring down at their cell phones and not socializing with the diners so physically close to them. If we get out of touch with people near us, how are we growing closer to our Savior who is actually closer and more lovingly available than anyone?

Just like the parables’ seeds and yeast, we can start small in our quest of spirituality. So long as we water the prayer seeds and stir in the little biblical yeast tablet, day by day we can promote growth. Here is a good scripture passage to consider:

      For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,

     virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance,

     endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with

     love. If these are yours and increase in abundance, they will keep you from

     being idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:5-8).

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Topics: praying, spiritual grouth, Sharon Krause, distractions from prayer

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

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jul 29, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the first Book of Kings

(Chapter 3:5, 7-12)

Have you ever heard the phrase “the Wisdom of King Solomon”? This is where it originated.

“The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, ‘Ask something of me and I will give it to you.’ Solomon answered, ‘Give your servant … an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?’ The Lord was pleased that Solomon made this request. So God said to him: ‘Because you have asked for this—not for a long life for yourself, not for riches, not for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right—I do what you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.’”

Solomon could have asked for anything, but he asked for the one really important quality that would make him a great ruler, the wisdom to serve the people.

When you pray, what do you ask of God? Is it a series of things that seem important at the time, or is it what is truly important in your life and in the lives of those around you?

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130)

“Lord, I love your commands.” Really? Do we always love God’s commands—not only the Ten Commandments but personal callings from God at different points in our lives?

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

(Chapter 8:28-30)

There is a provocative statement in this reading: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God.” Do you believe that? Always? Sometimes, the “good” is hard to see in the moment, but eventually, you get it or at least accept it. But there are other things, other occurrences that you never seem to understand. Why did this person that you loved die at such a young age? Why were you treated so unjustly at work? Why did a person that you loved leave you? How can a horrible disease like cancer be a part of God’s plan? What good can come out of it?

Where is God amid so many disappointments and tragedies? God is always there, somehow, somewhere, in the love of supportive people, in the wisdom and care of people who somehow appear in our lives at crucial times, in our conversations with the Holy Spirit who lives within us. Yes! “All things work for good for those who love God.” The road is often bumpy and the journey painful, and still we travel on our everlasting journey into the mystery of God’s everlasting love.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 13:44-52)

Jesus preached a Kingdom but not of this world. To explain it, he used parables that the people could understand. “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and then hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” Jesus also talks, in this discourse, about fisherman separating the good fish from the bad.

The point of all these parables is that the kingdom of heaven is a gift to each of us, not something we have earned. We need to accept the gift and experience it as what is most important in our lives. Let us behold the gift of new life, eternal life, that we have been given and live and share it joyfully, especially in our times of greatest challenge and need.



Image: The parable of the hidden treasure (left) paired with the parable of the pearl on a stained-glass window in Scots' Church, Melbourne 

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, parables, parable of the pearl, parable of the hidden treasure

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