Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father
in my name he will give you.
This almost sounds like a genie in a bottle. Too often, I think we treat God like a genie in a bottle, a celestial being who exists to fulfill our wishes and desires. Early in the book, “Huckleberry Finn”, the Widow Douglas tells Huck about the power of prayer. Huck decides to try it out. First he tries it out on something small. He prays for a fish hook. Sure enough, he finds a fish hook. Then Huck tries prayer on something a little bigger. He prays for a fishing pole. Well, time passes and he does not acquire a fishing pole. In the text, Mark Twain mentions that Huck doesn’t have any more use for prayer from then on. I find this literary anecdote amusing because this is an example of how many people treat God and prayer. I will try God and religion for a while and see what happens. God is the divine who dwells in our hearts, in the world, and in the universe. God does not grant wishes, or prevents bad things from happening to us. God is love and life who cares for us in God’s own way and time. What we need to do is trust.
Rev. Timothy Guthridge, C.PP.S.
Kansas City Province
Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father
St. Philip Neri
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.
We are nearing the end of the Easter season. But the joy is still with us! The joy that the disciples experienced on the day of the Resurrection lives on. To me joy is something that permeates one’s whole being. It is not something that comes and goes. Rather it is always with us. Sometimes the joy may be tempered by a problem or a sorrow, but underneath it all is joy. In his encyclical, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis tells us that “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” (#1) In paragraph 5 he reminds us, “The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice.”
Today is also the feast of St. Philip Neri. As I went online to find out more about the life of Philip, I found this as the opening line on his page on Catholic Online. “If one had to choose one saint who showed the humorous side of holiness that would be Philip Neri.” Sort of fits the theme of the day! He sounds like a joyful, holy man. He seemed like someone who was fun to be with and who shared the joy that he knew by knowing Christ.
I would hope that the joy of knowing Jesus would be as evident in me as it was in Philip Neri, I would hope that the redeeming love of Jesus would permeate my whole being.
Sr. Ann Clark, C.PP.S.
The Gospel reading for the Ascension of the Lord speaks about a mountain top experience for the 11 disciples. They saw Jesus and they worship Him even though deep inside they could not believe. On a scale from one to ten I ask myself how much do I believe in a loving and forgiving God. Why is it harder some days than others? What can I do to believe even more?
Matthew Kelly in one of his books, Rediscover Jesus, says that to know Jesus we need to spend more time in sincere prayer and learn about Him by reading the Gospels. A short read from one of the 4 Gospels everyday puts us in contact of who Jesus is. I started doing that several months ago reading a paragraph or two each day, learning all kinds of things about Jesus that I glossed over before. Spending time in reflection not only helps me to know Him but to experience Him in my daily life. And yet most days when my prayer time is over and I get busy with life duties I let Jesus behind. And it is at those times when I don’t feel high with Jesus, and my faith falters.
Reading just short versions of most of the Doctors of the Church it was clear to me that dryness of faith was a struggle for most of them. And it goes back to when we were young we heard that anything worthwhile comes with a struggle. And we can’t forget that faith is a gift from God and the portion we receive is freely given by Him. It is up to us to take up the struggle and learn to believe when we can’t believe anymore.
The disciples were on a high receiving the command from Jesus to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all that I command and reminding them that I am with you until the end of ages.
The real work comes with the struggle to believe when doing what we think Jesus wanted of us has poor results. People do not always want to hear the good news and that pulls us down. Pope Francis speaks to us about the joy of the gospels. Let us turn to the gospels and find the joy and strength to do His will each day.
Br. Nick Renner, C.PP.S.
The God who made the world and all that is in it . . . gives to everyone life and breath and everything.
As the flowers of Spring burst forth around me, I am called to reflect on our care of the universe. God has given us “life, breath, and everything.”
What is my response as I strive to live in a manner that will preserve God’s creation for the generations still to come?
I rise each morning with hope as I recite the Morning Offering and my vows. As the rainy clouds spawn a rainbow which melts into sunshine, I am encouraged to be cheerful, live simply, and greet each person I meet as Christ. As I walk to Mass I savor the trees’ new growth, feel the bite of the morning breeze, and appreciate the activity of life awakening around me.
As the day progresses, I thank God daily for the gift of retirement that gives me time to pray as I color mandalas, do research on sustainable practices, be mindful of living simply and caring for the use of water and energy, and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation around me.
Sr. Marcella Parrish, SSMO
Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart
…your right hand saves me.
Imagine Paul, Silas and the other prisoners in today’s reading from Acts (16:22-34) praying these words upon finding themselves unharmed after the earthquake which demolished the prison. And surely the jailer is thanking the gods that his charges are still in place in the earthquake-ridden jail. That saved his head! But then a conversation changes his perceptions about who really saved them, and his whole life is transformed into more than he ever imagined possible through Baptism, quite a different sort of “earthquake!”
Baptism is unimaginable grace, newness that can’t fully be expressed or understood. The grace of God comes with urgency to hearts open and ready; a free gift which really frees, liberating and opening the person to fullness of life in Christ.
Sixty-nine years ago today this baptismal grace flooded my soul and, like the jailer and his family, my life has never been the same because of God’s love and the faith of my parents who brought me to these saving waters. Perhaps today you might reflect on the day of your Baptism and the graces and blessings that have been yours since then…simply because of those waters, those who brought you to them, and God’s gracious gift. Then, together with Paul, Silas, the other prisoners and the jailer and his family, we might make the words of Psalm 138 our own.
Sr. Toni Longo, ASC
On the Sabbath, we (Paul and his companions) went outside the city gate to the river where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshipper of God.
As we celebrate this Easter season, it is encouraging to read the accounts of the early missionaries of the Church recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. In the passage quoted above, Paul has arrived in Philippi, a key city in the Macedonian region of what is now Greece. It is quite apparent from Paul’s later letter to the Philippians, which is written when he is imprisoned, that he had a great love and affection for the believers in this city and had great faith that they could withstand whatever future persecutions might come their way for believing in Christ. At its inception, the community must have been small as they were not allowed to meet in the city itself. The reason they had to meet outside the city gate was because there was a prohibition, written on the arches of the city, that forbade bringing any unrecognized religion into the city. Much like Jesus who was crucified outside the gates of Jerusalem, those who were unwelcomed in Philippi had to congregate outside the gates as well. Adapting, as a good missionary would, sensitive to those whom others may have discarded or written off, and never allowing cultural or gender boundaries to deter his evangelistic spirit, Paul and his companions find a place conducive to prayer where they proclaim the good new of Jesus Christ to a group of women! The one mentioned is an influential merchant, who most likely was able to convince those in authority to give the fledgling Christian community some leeway. She most likely had a wealthy clientele, as purple was expensive back then and worn by the nobility. As Missionaries of the Precious Blood Men and Women today, we must emulate Paul’s example of going where the gospel needs to be heard, engaging with all segments of society, but especially the most neglected, abandoned or judged. We must work together and help support one another in moments of trial and difficulty and look for opportunities to make Christ more known and loved. For when we do so, the Holy Spirit will work in us to extend the nets of God’s kingdom ever wider.
Rev. Sam D’Angelo, CPPS