Branching-Out

Mother Mary

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 24, 2021 6:00:00 AM

There was a news story not too long ago about a Malian woman who gave birth to nine babies. Nine! They all survived, and it may be a world record. I cannot imagine caring for nine newborns; I would need lots of helpers! Today we celebrate Mary as the Mother of the Churchall those people that are the Church! Being the Mother of God, Mary is certainly qualified for the task!

I remember teaching Sunday school years ago and explaining to my second graders that we Christians are one big family called “the Church.” I told them that when we speak of “the Church” of Christ, we are not talking about a building, but about the people who love Jesus and sometimes go into buildings to worship. We are the Mystical Body of Christ. Seven and eight-year-olds may not have understood what that all means, and sometimes we adults don’t quite get it either. However, I think most of us have a good idea of what a blessing it is to have a loving, protective mother watching over our big family.

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Topics: Mary mother of God, Mary's intercession, Meet Mary in Prayer, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Pentecost

Posted by Bill Ayres on May 22, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 

(Chapter 2:1-11)

Among the ancient Jewish people, Pentecost was a harvest festival but was also associated with the occasion when God gave the Law to Moses on Mount Sinaiin a sense, the birth of Judaism.

Pentecost is also considered the birth of the Church, because it was during that feast that the Holy Spirit came down upon the apostles as we read in this passage. Did you ever wonder how the apostles had the courage to preach this new faith when everyone else seemed to be against it, and they were in constant danger of a violent death? The Pentecost event made the difference. The apostles and everyone with them were changed and found a new courage. Something powerful happened that bound them together in a new way in the power of the Holy Spirit. That same Spirit is in each of us personally and with all of us together now.

Imagine that! The very Spirit of God lives within youright now and always. The Holy Spirit of God is your life-long partner, forever. Have you been aware of that? Do you talk to the Holy Spirit in your prayer times? In your times of distress and anxiety? In moments of great joy or accomplishment? The Spirit is always there within you.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 104)

“Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.” This is a continuing process of the power of the Spirit renewing our wonderful planet. Right now, we really need that presence.

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Topics: Pentecost, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, feast of pentecost, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Special Rosaries

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 21, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Since May is dedicated to our heavenly Mother, Mary, I’ve been recalling that I was one of the students in our parochial school who would walk across the driveway to the church and begin each school day afternoon in May by praying the rosary. I remember saying the Mission Rosary sometimes; the beads in each decade are a different color, symbolic of praying for a different part of the world. We prayed for Africa (green), the Americas (red), Europe (white), the Pacific Islands (blue), and Asia and the Middle East (yellow).

 

In this second year of the Coronavirus pandemic, I thought we might ask Mary’s help as we pray the “Recovery Rosary.” For each of the five decades, no matter which traditional mysteries we use for the day, we could have a special preface prayer and special intention related to healtha topic of concern every day.

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, The Rosary, Special Rosaries, Marian Prayer

A Buddhist Response to Laudato Si’

Posted by Brother Phap Man on May 20, 2021 3:09:32 PM

“Every one of us can do something to protect and care forour planet. We have to live in such a way that a future will be possible for our children and our grandchildren. Our own life has to be our message.”
—Thich Nhat Hanh, The World We Have

"Let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."
—Amos 5:24

The publication of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ wonderful encyclical, touched me deeply.

I'm a Buddhist monk, born in the United States as a Christian. I was baptized at age 28 after being inspired by the teachings of the Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh to reconnect with my Christian roots. As the years went by, however, I felt powerfully drawn to Buddhist teachings and to the incredible gift they represented to me. Five years later, Thich Nhat Hanh initiated me at my monastic ordination ceremony by touching my head with water, surrounded by our community invoking the name of Avalokiteshvara—the bodhisattva, or awakened being, of great compassion. I have lived my life since then as a Buddhist monk, spending many years at our community in France.

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Hey! Wait a Minute!

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 17, 2021 6:00:00 AM

It was five o’clock in the morning and I was half asleep and half awake. All of a sudden, the hymn “Shall We Gather at the River” by Robert Lowry came to my mind along with a humorous memory. It was announced one Sunday at my church that the congregation would sing that hymn as a recessional. I had recently heard the hymn sung in an old western movie shown on television. For some reason, I half expected some cowboys to come riding in to help us sing that song. Hey! Wait a minute! Why am I thinking about all this today at 5 a.m.? Perhaps I should write a blog post.

Well, it got me thinking about other Hey! Wait a minute! happenings that we read about in the gospels. Allow me to elaborate.

Hey! Wait a minute! In Matthew, Chapter 5:38-42, Jesus tells us to offer our other cheek if someone strikes us on our right cheek! And if anyone takes our coat, offer him our cloak as well! We are supposed to go two miles if we are asked to go one mile? What? How selfless should we be?

Hey! Wait a minute! In Matthew 18, we are told to forgive another who has sinned against us not only seven times, but seventy-seven times! Just how generous are we supposed to be?

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, gospel challenges

'Hear the Word!' by Deacon Charles Paolino: Solemnity of the Ascension

Posted by Charles Paolino on May 15, 2021 6:15:00 AM

Note: In some dioceses, the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is moved from Thursday to replace the Seventh Sunday of Easter.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 

(Chapter 1:1-11)

This reading describes the episode in which the risen Jesus, who had appeared alive to his apostles on several occasions, finally disappearing. The author reports that “he was lifted up and a cloud took him from their sight.’’ The apostles, as one might expect, were dumbfounded, having never witnessed or even imagined such a thing. Then, the account goes on, two men in white confronted the apostles and asked, “Why are you standing there looking at the sky?” The men went on to say that Jesus would return, which is part of our faith. That abrupt question—“Why are you standing there looking at the sky?”—didn’t imply that they should go back to their former trades and wait for Jesus to reappear. On the contrary, it implied that they should get busy spreading the word that Jesus had conquered sin and death, was alive, and was inviting all people to encounter him and carry on his work of healing, generosity, and justice. It’s the same invitation he extends to us.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 47)

This is an exuberant psalm that urges those who believe in God, “clap your hands, shout to God with cries of gladness.” God has given us existence itself, life, the earth and everything in it, and he has given us spirits that will live forever. Do we believe this? No wonder we should clap and shout!

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Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, spread the Gospel, The Ascension

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Seventh Sunday of Easter

Posted by Bill Ayres on May 15, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 

(Chapter 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26)

There were originally 12 apostles seen by some as representing the 12 tribes of Israel that Jesus wanted to reunite. With the tragic suicide of Judas, there were only eleven. The apostles knew that the mission of Jesus was to proclaim the reign of God over Israel, and they wanted to have the same number of apostles moving forward. Notice that Peter once again is the leader as they choose a man named Matthias by lot.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 103)

“The Lord has set his throne in heaven.” The Jewish people thought of God as a benevolent king with a throne someplace above them. We learned in the ministry of Jesus that God lives not only in heaven but also in us and all around us.

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Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, God is love, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Seventh Sunday of Easter

Hopeful Commissioning

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 14, 2021 6:00:00 AM

In the last chapters of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, we read of the last interactions of Jesus with his apostles. We see apostles doubting, being admonished for doubting, worshipping, being commissioned, and being given hopeful promises for the future.

In the midst of coping with their fear of some of their fellow Jews, the 11 apostles had to deal with believing accounts of appearances of the risen Jesus and questioning the meaning of the scriptures and their own faith. When Jesus did appear to them despite the locked doors, they must have been a bit rattled. Grief or relief? Doubt or belief?

Just think about it. The apostles’ beloved friend, teacher, and healer was crucified like a criminal, and then, three days later, was raised from the dead by God the Father, and began appearing to them and others. That was a lot to take in! When they saw Jesus, they worshipped him. Jesus opened their minds to understanding the scriptures. He was always teaching them by challenging them, by his example and by parables. These common fishermen, and even a tax collector, were now being challenged to completely change careers; they were to make disciples everywhere as they taught about Jesus’ commands and the Kingdom of a loving God.

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, Jesus' call, The Ascension, The Apostles

Signs of Love

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 10, 2021 6:00:00 AM

As my husband and I drive around our town running errands and shopping, we pass many residences that have signs either on their doors or windows or on posts in their front yards. The signs often consist of drawings or cutouts of hearts, and usually words of thanks to healthcare workers. The signs are not elaborate, but they are wonderful examples of recognition and appreciation for the sacrifices and hard work of those on the front line of providing medical care, especially to pandemic patients.

St. Damien de Veuster, whose memorial is celebrated today, would certainly have merited such signs if they had been in vogue in the Kalaupapa Peninsula leper colony in the mid 1800’s. As a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Damien was sent to Hawaii in 1866 and to the leper colony at Kalaupapa in 1873. For 16 years he worked to get houses, schools and even a church constructed; he also ministered to the spiritual and medical needs of the lepers, until leprosy claimed his own life.

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, St. Damien, Acts of love

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Sixth Sunday of Easter

Posted by Bill Ayres on May 8, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 

(Chapter 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48)

The first great internal crisis that the early Church faced was the question of inclusion or exclusion—who could be in the Church? Almost all of the first disciples were Jews, and Peter at first believed that new members who were not Jews had to be circumcised and keep other Jewish religious laws. Paul, who preached mostly to gentiles, disagreed. He wanted the Church to be inclusive, reaching out to non-believers. Here we have a great example of how Peter, who we consider to be our first pope, changed his mind and said, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.” This was a major breakthrough for the young Church. It meant that it was to be a universal church, a catholic Church, not merely a sect or offshoot of Judaism—a Church where everyone is welcome.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 98)

“The Lord has revealed to the nations his power.” God first revealed his power through the people of Israel. Today, he reveals his power through all of us who believe in him and in his Son, Jesus Christ.

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Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, God is love, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Sixth Sunday of Easter

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