All the Alleluia’s – Daily Mass Project Holy Week Edition

I may have set the bar a tad too high this past week. I had all the intentions of attending 5 different parishes during the week but it just. didn’t. happen. But instead of sitting here feeling pity for myself, I am REJOICING (see what I did there?) in the fact that I DID attend some beautiful services this past week. The message was clear: It’s about HIM, not a project. So I took the pressure off myself and tried my best to be in the moment of Holy Week as best as I could. Enjoy!

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St. Joan of Arc – Chagrin Falls – Monday April 10th 8am

Celebrant: Fr. Gary J. Malin, Pastor

Gospel: JN 12:1-11

Holy Moments: Heard a different Penitential Act than the usual “I confess…” In fact, this was the third or fourth time hearing this version and I finally understand what everyone is saying:

Priest: Have mercy on us, O Lord.

People: For we have sinned against you.

Priest: Show us, O Lord, your mercy.

People: And grant us your salvation.

I get the feeling this is an older version because I have been hearing it at more traditional parishes, although I could be wrong? I’m sure one of my super Catholic readers will comment and tell me for sure.

Homily Reflection: The Gospel was about Mary who anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive oil. Judas makes the comment that it could have been sold and given to the poor. Fr. Gary mentioned that anointing takes a special place in our Church. We anoint the sick, the newly baptised, the confirmed, and use the oil during ordination of holy orders. Our oils are called “chrism” which is named after Christ. This week begins Holy Week. It’s not called Holy just because we label it that way. It’s holy because it’s who we are called to be. More like Christ. We are reminded, especially because of the Coptic Christians recently martyred in Egypt, of this call to holiness. Their blood splattered on the walls reminds us of the one who’s blood was splattered for us.

Bonus Material: Upon leaving the Church, my eye caught this:

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Anything TOB catches my eye so I was pretty jazzed this morning to see this. (For information on how to subscribe to Catholic Update, visit their website: http://www.liguori.org/god-s-gift-to-us.html


Church of the Holy Angels – Good Friday and the Easter Vigil

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In case it’s not obvious from the forthcoming bragging, this is MY parish that I’ve belonged to since moving back to Cleveland in the fall of 2009.  I officially joined in the summer of 2010 and continue to tell everyone I know, that “Yes I do in fact belong to a parish 25 miles from my house. Why? Ummm….because it’s awesome!? That’s why.”

How about that Paschal Candle? Is that not beautiful? Our TEENS make that candle. TEENS! How awesome to attend mass and every time you see the candle you can say, “I helped MAKE that!”

Friday Morning Prayer – I couldn’t make it to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday night so after beating myself up for missing it, I made sure to attend Friday mornings prayer service. This was just Morning prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours but it was so nice to say the prayers of the Church in an actual group instead of by myself as I so often do. We sang a few verses of Were you there, when they crucified my Lord, which ALWAYS makes me tear up. How can you sing that and not get the least bit emotional?

Good Friday – Communion Service – The one day of the year when we don’t celebrate mass.

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What a service! The homily was beyond fantastic and I told my buddy Deacon (soon to be priest) Anthony that he knocked it out of the park. I will just share a few lines from it:

His Love for YOU is just as real & passionate today as it was at that moment of His Ultimate Final Sacrifice.

Know, there is NOTHING we can do that will sway Christ’s Love for us.

Jesus wants us to know that This Act of Love Was Personal

When we kiss and touch the cross in just a moment, we are venerating the place & time when Jesus took His final vows to lay down His life for us and love us until the end of time. Let’s take a moment together to gaze upon the cross. To see Love in it, and not stop looking UNTIL ALL we see is Love…then Keep Looking.

There was also stellar chanting by Dcn. Anthony as the cross was processed in. It was probably one of the best services I’ve ever attended at my parish. I just felt such respect and awe and wonder at what Jesus has done on the cross for all of us. I finally had that Holy moment of holy week that I think I was waiting for. Prior to it I think I was just so focused on tasks that needed to be done and appointments that needed to be kept and the overall business of life that somehow made me forget what I should have been focused on.

Easter Vigil

Speaking of awe and wonder, there’s nothing like the Mother of All Vigils, is there? I only recall attending a few Easter Vigil services as a kid. I’m sure our parents didn’t think we could handle such a long service without being bored or acting out. So I only vividly recall one where people were submerged in the baptismal font at my childhood parish. I don’t think I quite understood that an adult could be baptized. I remember thinking, “But aren’t all babies baptized? Did their parents just forget to take them?” I was clearly very naive to the real world.

The Holiest of Holy Moments: The entire liturgy is a holy moment! The music, the candlelight, the readings and the outstanding job by all the lectors. There’s so much I could write about but for me, personally, my favorite part was seeing someone I got to know become initiated in the Church.

I volunteered as a Catechist for our RCIC (Rite of Christian Initiation for Children) program where we had one lovely little girl named Aurora. She was an absolute delight to teach. I only had a few lessons with her but each time she was engaged and eager to learn and had quite the entertaining remarks to make which threw me for a loop at times. She made things interesting, as any 9 year old would. 🙂  It felt good to see someone enter into the Church and to know that in some very small way, I helped.

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Although I had high hopes of attending more than just two Churches during this past Holy Week, I know it’s not about how many places I get to. It’s pretty obvious that unless I clone myself, there’s not way I can possibly get to all of the churches by January. But that’s alright. I’m still amazed at the amount of comments and messages I get from all of you saying how much you enjoy following along. That’s motivating in itself for me to keep it going as long as I am able.

*A few folks have asked if they could donate money to the DMP to help me finish this, and while I am totally humbled and thankful for the requests, I don’t see how I can possibly accept money for doing this. If you’d like to make a donation, I would request you make it to The Prodigal Father. I love volunteering for Fr. Denk’s ministry and I’d feel better if any extra money you have could go towards his efforts. Simply put “Michelle from the Daily Mass Project sent me!” or something to that effect in the “Message” window so he knows who sent you. He has a lot to offer in return for your donation whereas I don’t have anything to offer except my thanks and prayers of gratitude. 🙂

Next blog post: Church of the Resurrection in Solon, St. Mathias in Broadview Heights and St. Albert the Great in North Royalton.

Daily Mass Project: West Side Welcoming

I made the trip to the far west side for one of my many jobs and was really excited to add a few more churches to the DMP. In addition to the parishes listed below, I also attended Adoration at St. Anthony of Padua in Lorain and Benediction/Adoration as well as Evening Prayer at St. Peter’s in North Ridgeville.


back_windowSt.Thomas the Apostle  Sunday March 19th 11am

Celebrant: Fr. Stephen Shields

Gospel: The woman at the well, my all time favorite Gospel story. John 4: 5-42

That window! Gorgeous and ginormous. Even though it had the numbers for a larger daily mass, (maybe 70 people) it made for a more intimate Sunday mass. St Thomas is part of a cluster parish including St. Teresa of Avila and St. Anthony of Padua. We recited the parish prayer at the beginning and the prayer to St Michael at the end.  No kneelers but since it’s carpeted, everyone kneels regardless.

Homily Reflection: On Ash Wednesday, we say, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” The Samaritan woman had repented after meeting with Jesus at the well. As she left him to go tell others about him (I’ve heard it said she was the first evangelist) she was starting to believe in the Gospel. During this time in Lent, are we starting to believe? Or do we still need to repent?

Holy Moments: Since there isn’t really a gathering space, Father waved hello to many of us before he processed in. As he preached his homily, he walked up and down the aisles and shook hands with all of the kids who were there. And as he processed out with the servers, he motioned for a few of the kids to join him as well. They all genuflected and walked out holding hands. Very sweet and tender moment!

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Some other beautiful things to look at in this parish…

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St. Jude – Elyria – Monday March 20th – 7am – Chapel

The Feast of St. Joseph

Initial thoughts: As I was driving to mass, I noticed how the sun hadn’t come up yet so it was really dark. I was actually feeling a little sick that morning and thought of skipping it and trying to find an evening mass instead. But I thought I should just tough it out and go. Because any time I think, “Well maybe I just won’t go,” I always notice that there’s a REASON I am there. And this time was no different as you’ll see.

Homily Reflection: The priest mentioned how St. Joseph was declared to be the Defender of the Family and someone we can pray to as the spiritual father of Jesus. Whenever I hear defending the family, for me personally, I always think of how the family and marriage is under attack right now. I also think of the unborn being attacked physically thru abortion. So I must admit, my mind did tend to wander into that realm as Father preached. But I do recall the end as he said we must be obedient to God as Jesus was obedient to his parents before he began his ministry.

As I did more research on St. Joseph I found this prayer from JP2 in Redemportis Custos

“Most beloved father, dispel the evil of falsehood and sin…graciously assist us from heaven in our struggle with the powers of darkness…and just as once you saved the Child Jesus from mortal danger, so now defend God’s holy Church from the snares of her enemies and from all adversity.”

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As I was admiring this beautiful replica of the Pieta there, a man came up to me and hugged me out of the blue! He was hugging everyone goodbye as they left. What a sweet man! He then proceeded to tell me all about their stained glass here. He introduced himself as we walked out by saying his name was Henry, “Henry the hugger,” he said. after I got done talking and hugging Henry, I felt so much better! As we walked out to our cars, I noticed how the sun had come out and it was a beautiful spring day. Very much divine timing. Probably one of the best ways to start a Monday morning.


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Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary-Lorain  Wed- March 22nd – 6:30pm

Celebrant: Fr. Robert Glepko

Gospel: Matthew 5:17-19

Initial thoughts: Just pulling up to this Church from the street, you notice how it stands out. I am not that familair with Lorain in general so driving through it I wasn’t sure what to expect. But as I turned the corner and drove down the street and saw the Church, it’s such a stark contrast to the other buildings around it. It felt like I was just in a completely different world.

Homily Reflection: The priest noted that as we gathered, we had heard on the news about the London terrorist attack. Interestingly enough, it was the feast day of Nicholas Owen, an England born saint. He became a carpenter/builder and served the Jesuit priests in England for two decades by constructing hiding places for them in mansions throughout the country, called priest holes. He is believed to have saved the lives of many priests during the 16th century.

Holy Moments:  The mass itself was largely attended for a daily mass. I realized later it was probably because they were going to do Stations of the Cross right after mass, which unfortunately, I couldn’t attend. For this mass, not only did they have a Deacon assisting, they had 4 adult servers (1 was lector and I believe the other was EM).

My favorite part of this church has to be the giant crown of thorns hanging from the ceiling. I tried to get a picture of it as best I could – IMG_6756

It’s somewhat hard to tell from this picture but I promise you it’s there. For more pictures of this gorgeous 120+ year old church, go to their website photo gallery. 


For those that have been following along, you may recall I went out to Valley City to visit the historic St. Martin of Tours.  I heard, what I referred to at the time, as one of the best homilies given by the priest there, Fr. Dunphy. I was told from one of the parishioners that I should make a point to come out on St. Patricks Day to hear Father sing. I made a note in my calendar that I would do this.

I went on Facebook for just a few minutes a couple weeks ago and saw that Fr. Dunphy passed away on March 11th at the age of 86. What a tremendous loss for the community of Valley City and the parish of St. Martin. 

I thought it was incredibly fitting that he was buried just a day before St. Patricks Day. And I feel so very blessed that I was able to hear this man preach and be at St Martin’s when I normally would never have been there if it hadn’t been for this project God put on my heart. May he rest in peace.

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Week 6 Daily Mass Project

Before we get to the DMP, I have to share just a few thoughts about this past weekend:

I had the honor of being chosen among 24 other women to be flown to D.C. to be trained in all forms of media as a Spokeswoman on the issues of marriage, dating, sex, religious freedom, abortion and contraception, all courtesy of a grass roots movement called Women Speak for Themselves.  It was incredible and I’ll spend another blog post discussing all that took place. In the meantime, a shortened (much better) version of my previous post about the Women’s March/Planned Parenthood has been published by WSFT.  A huge honor. I do hope to blog for them again soon!

Meanwhile, I took the DMP “on the road” and found an adorable church called Holy Rosary. According to their website, they are the only national Italian parish in Washington, D.C. The Italian side of me was beaming with pride as I walked in to this little historic church…


Holy Rosary Church – Washington D.C. – 1st Sunday of Lent

Celebrant: Fr. Ezio Marchetto (How’s that for an Italian name?)

Gospel: MT 4:1-11

Homily Reflection: I know I took notes on the homily on a small pad of paper. But unfortunately I’m pretty sure I left the pad in the hotel lobby or in my hotel room. So some random person somewhere in D.C. is probably attempting to read my chicken scratch about the 3 temptations of the devil to Jesus in the desert. Oops.

Holy Moments: Be still my heart, I loved it all! From the bilingual bulletin, to the Italian missal, to the teenage lector with the most adorable accent I’ve ever heard, I didn’t ever want to leave. You could tell just by walking in that this place was rich with history. Even though it’s not very large, it had all the aspects of a Catholic mass: chimes, communion plates, a pipe organ, 2 side altars and one of those winding staircases for the pulpit and of course, a Facebook page. Check out this beautiful song being sung for the victims of the earthquake that hit Italy last year.

My favorite part was going to leave the church and coming eye to eye with this beautiful sculpture of Our Lady and Jesus in her arms. IMG_6643

I finally Googled “Stabat Mater Dolorosa” and figured out that it means: “the sorrowful mother stood.” The Stabat Mater is an ancient hymn sung at the liturgy on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

 


St. Clement – Lakewood – 5:15PM – 3/6/17

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Celebrant: Fr. Joe Workman

Gospel: MT 25:31-46

Homily Reflection: The priest told us about an encounter he witnessed at a recent funeral: The man who died was a Navy veteran. (Any time a veteran passes, representatives from the branch come and perform a flag ceremony and usually play taps a recorded version, usually not live.  It’s really beautiful and moving if you have ever witnessed one.) At the cemetery, the priest saw a few of the friends of the deceased man walk over to the 3 sailors who had performed the flag ceremony and thanked them one by one for coming to the funeral. The priest thought this was a small but very powerful example of the gestures we can perform everyday to make someone’s day a little better. The Gospel mentioned “when I was naked you clothed me, when I was hungry you fed me, etc” and the lesson for us is simply gratitude. The little extra things we do, like a smile and a thank you to someone at the grocery store or saying thank you for good customer service, can go a long way to being a loving neighbor.

Holy Moments: The Preface/Eucharistic Prayer were really beautiful and different. If you go to mass during Lent (I would HOPE you do/are) be sure to listen to the prayers said at the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It’s the most sacred part of the mass and the words the priest says really strike your heart. I don’t know if this was his exact prayer but here’s an example from what’s called Preface IV of Lent. For reference, this is after “It is truly right and just…”

For through bodily fasting you restraint our faults, raise up our minds, and bestow both virtue and its rewards, through Christ our Lord. Through him the Angels praise your majesty, Dominions adore and Powers tremble before you. Heaven and the Virtues of heaven and the blessed Seraphim worship together in exultation.


St. John Neumann – Strongsville – 3/8/17 –Chapel Mass*

Celebrant: Fr. Robert Kraig, Pastor

Gospel: LK 11:29-32

Homily Reflection: The people ask Jesus for a sign, but he’s not in the sign-making business. During Lent, the best sign we can look to is the crucifix. If all we do during Lent is sit at the foot of the cross and look to Jesus, we’ll know that we are valued and loved.

Holy Awkward Moment: So here’s a question for you: When the priest sits down after the opening prayer and it’s time for the 1st reading and he just sits there in silence and no one comes up to read…What do you do?

I lector at my own parish quite often and I was going to go up there but thought I’d better not. But then I thought, “Maybe this is why I’m here tonight?? God wants me to lector?!?” After the longest 45 seconds of my life, a man came up from the back and read. I was so relieved but also really confused. I kept thinking, “Is this typical protocol? Does the priest expect volunteers?” I think I have to go back just to see if it happens again.

Real Holy Moment: A little girl of about 5 years old was in the front row with (assuming) her parents had to sweetest voice. It’s always nice to hear the one YOUNG voice belt out the Our Father or the responsorial psalm amid the adult voices. It really feels like a community at that point because we’re all different. I even had a couple people behind me that spoke a different language. Just reiterates the point that we’re all part of the One Body of Christ.

*The only downside, so far, with the DMP is that many of these masses are held in chapels and not the main worship space. So I don’t get to see the architecture and design of them unless the lights just happen to be on and I can see in. The DMP may have to be the S(unday) Mass Project in coming years.


Next week: Although no plans are solid (are they ever?) chances are I’m going west for masses in North Ridgeville, Avon, Elyria and Sheffield Lake. Expect a post about my friend Fr. Michael Denk and his mission talk at St. Raphael in Bay Village as well. 

 

 

Week 2 – Daily Mass Project

This week:  St. Gabriel in Mentor, St. Joe’s in Strongsville, and St. Clare in Lyndhurst.

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No this is not a picture from the mass I attended but I wanted readers to see the altar and beautiful cross/design they have here.

Parish #3 – St. Gabriel – Mentor – Sunday January 8th – Feast of the Epiphany 5pm

1st Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6

2nd Reading: Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6

Gospel: Matthew 2: 1-12

Celebrant: Fr. Michael Denk

Assisted by: Deacon Bob Gurczik

Number of Attendees for a 5pm Sunday mass: Outstanding!

Immediately I feel like this parish is incredibly welcoming. Maybe it just appears to be larger than it is but all I know is I have never seen a 5pm mass on a Sunday so packed! It was awesome to witness. Everyone seemed pretty joyful and happy to be there. As soon as I sat down I noticed the choir was made up of a variety of people as well as a few young girls who happily announced where we could find the songs in the hymnal. I didn’t even care that the little girl pronounced Epiphany as “Effany.” Adorable!

Homily Reflection: Fr. Denk has his own website, The Prodigal Father, and he puts his homilies online. So I can “cheat” on this one and copy and paste my favorite part, which was this: Have you had some kind of experience in your life that makes you want to yearn for more? If you have, are you still seeking? Are you still seeking with all of your heart? Because, ultimately, if we are not thrill seekers or Christ seekers, we are going to lead very boring monotonous lives. If we are Christ seekers, we are going to discover the more and more we experience Him, the more and more we are going to long for Him.

If I’m not a Christ-seeker, I sure don’t know what the heck I am!  Because I think even a blind person could see that I’m seeking Christ everyday. And my life ain’t boring, that’s for sure. It’s truly amazing and I do wish everyone had this longing to seek Him out.

Holy Moments: I recognized one of the Eucharistic Ministers as a young man who was on the team for a TEC Retreat I made exactly a year ago. Totally random and a complete God-incidence.  Also, after every 5pm mass on Sundays, St. Gabriel has Eucharistic Adoration for an hour and 45 minutes followed by Night Prayer and Benediction. It became obvious not everyone knew this was happening, either because they didn’t read the bulletin or just never come to this particular mass. So you could see some confused looks on people’s faces. I am a relative newbie to Adoration (just about a year steady) so I’m happy to see parishes making a point to do this after mass/weekly for people to have some alone time with Jesus.

Our Father Orans Posture: I saw MANY Orans poses and MANY people holding hands. Looks like I’m in the minority once again as a “hands folded” poser.


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Parish #4 – St. Joseph – Stronsgville – Monday January 9th – Baptism of the Lord – 6:30pm mass – Chapel

1st Reading: Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-7

Gospel:Matthew 3:13-17

Celebrant: Fr. Anthony Suso

Assisted by: Deacon Robert Lester

I LOVE chapel masses! It makes me think of when my Mom took me to daily mass as a toddler at St. Anthony’s in Parma, before they built the church that is there now. But it’s also nice to be in a small setting with just a couple dozen people.

Homily Reflection: Deacon Robert had the homily and mentioned there are actually 3 Epiphanies: The Epiphany Feast on Sunday of the Magi, the Baptism of the Lord that we celebrate today, and the third is Jesus’ first miracle of changing the water into wine at the Wedding at Cana. He also mentioned to use not just our words but our actions; that our actions are what matter most in trying to build up the kingdom of God. And that how we act is of paramount importance as Christians.

Holy Moments: There was a program for this mass! That’s always a nice touch. But then I realized they chant/sing the Entrance and Communion Antiphons. A very nice added touch, because usually, we just speak these, we don’t sing them. But these folks did a great job. Their chapel also serves as a perpetual adoration chapel, so I went there first for some adoring time beforehand. At 6pm people started to file in and before I knew it, I was praying a rosary with them! A pleasant surprise.


Parish #5 – St. Clare – Lyndhurst – Wednesday January 11th – 8:30am – School Mass

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1st Reading:Hebrews 2: 14-18

Gospel: Mark 1:29-39

Celebrant: Fr. Stanley Klasinski

Opening Song: Glory And Praise to Our God

Preparation Song: We Three Kings

Communion Song: Rain Down Your Love on Your People

Closing Song: Christ Be Our Light

What’s better than a Chapel Mass? A School Mass! I pull in to the parking lot with 5 minutes to spare but little did I know they began this mass about 5 minutes early, so I walked in to a bunch of kids singing “Glory and Praise to Our God.”  I’m telling ya, if you need a pick-me-up, go find a school mass. The kids will just melt your heart.

These kids, from Corpus Christi Academy, were on such great behavior. And the girls in the choir singing perfectly in tune, especially this adorable blondie enunciating every word. She was very dynamic and quite the singer.

Homily Reflection: The gospel included the line about Jesus going off by himself to pray. So the priest emphasized a prayer life with the children. But he also mentioned how priests pray the Liturgy of the Hours. I have been praying the LOH consistently for about 3 months now and it is awesome and wonderful and literally sets the tone for my day. It’s best to start your day with prayer than by checking your phone to go on social media, check email, or text someone. That stuff can wait! 

Holy Moments: I stayed in the church after mass and as the children were exiting, I made my way over to a kneeler in front of statues of the Blessed Mother and Joseph. All of a sudden the kids who were leaving the church became completely quiet. I think their teacher must have pointed to me as if to say “She’s praying, be quiet,” because I could hear a pin drop. I came to find out after I started to write this blog, that they have a chapel with adoration next door. Duh! I didn’t even bother to ask. Definitely could have used some quiet time but all in all it was a great mass and a great start to the day.

 

Up Next: Heading all the way out to Medina – An early Saturday morning mass at St. Francis Xavier, a weekday mass in the chapel at Holy Martyrs, and a Sunday mass at beautiful and historic St. Martin of Tours in Valley City.

 

Divine Mercy Sunday

The Sunday after Easter has been declared as Divine Mercy Sunday, based on Saint Faustina Kowalska reported as part of her encounter with Jesus. But what exactly is mercy?

We certainly read the word mercy in the Bible over and over. Here’s a small sample from part of Psalm 118.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,

his mercy endures forever.

Let Israel say:

his mercy endures forever.

Let the house of Aaron say,

his mercy endures forever.

Let those who fear the LORD say,

his mercy endures forever.

Mercy, according to definition is a suffering of the heart. God’s mercy in the Psalm above can be interpreted as “I suffer with.” A deep loving identification with people in their suffering. Because as we know, God is love.

Pope Francis keeps stressing the divine mercy and just announced a year-long Jubilee of Mercy. According to America Magazine: For Pope Francis, mercy is the interpretative key to the Gospel of Jesus. Francis had his first profound experience of God’s mercy at age 17, when he went to confession and felt the call to the priesthood. Throughout his priestly ministry, he has sought to give concrete expression to God’s mercy by word and deed because he believes, as he wrote recently: “Mercy is not just a pastoral attitude; it is the very substance of the Gospel message.” He wants to bring the whole church, starting with the cardinals, bishops, priests and consecrated persons, to open themselves to God’s mercy and to find concrete, creative ways to put mercy into practice in their areas of ministry.

How did Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel show mercy? As he entered the room where his disciples were hiding in fear, he said, “Peace be with you.” Even after He showed them his hands and his side, he again said “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” This is when he breathed on them so they could receive the Holy Spirit and forgive the sins of people everywhere, as He had forgiven theirs.

What a gift these men received! And what a relief to them. Jesus didn’t appear to them to inflict revenge for what had happened to Him on the cross. No, he showed them mercy and then instructed them to show mercy to others.

Fit In Your Faith Today: As Pope Francis declares a Jubilee of Mercy, so too should we show mercy to others. But we can start off on the right foot by using a sacrament that has gone into “disuse” according to Father Robert Barron in recent years: Reconciliation. Even our Pope has gone to confession and describes himself as a sinner. What better way to “celebrate” this special day than to repent and be healed by His powerful mercy.

 

 

Your Son Will Live

John 4:46-54

Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum.
When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea,
he went to him and asked him to come down
and heal his son, who was near death.
Jesus said to him,
“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”
The royal official said to him,
“Sir, come down before my child dies.”
Jesus said to him, “You may go; your son will live.”
The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.
While the man was on his way back,
his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live.
He asked them when he began to recover.
They told him,
“The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon.”
The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him,
“Your son will live,”
and he and his whole household came to believe.
Now this was the second sign Jesus did
when he came to Galilee from Judea.

The royal official traveled a good distance to seek out Christ’s help. At least 20 miles! Think about the determination this man had to find Jesus to help cure his sick son. When Jesus tells him bluntly, “Your son will live,” the soldier has faith that He is right. Reflect on that for a moment – This man traveled a great distance to be told that his son is going to live. Jesus didn’t even need to see this young boy to cure him, He just told the father directly that he was cured. That must have meant this father had a large amount of faith that his boy was going to be okay.

Another great nugget of this story is that his faith GREW over this short period of time and it spread! First when he traveled to find Jesus, then when Jesus told him to go home and that his son was going to live, then when the slaves met him and told him his son was without fever, and then his entire household came to believe as well.

That’s how we can grow in our faith as well – by telling others about answered prayers and the good graces that God bestows upon us.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Think of a time when Jesus answered one of your prayers with a simple, “Go, your prayers are answered,” response to your requests. You may not have realized it at the time, but God hears our prayers and responds to all of them. It might not be in the way we had imagined, maybe it’s not immediate, but it’s there. Small miracles of faith. They occur everyday if you look hard enough.

 

Seven times Seventy

Matthew 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had him put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

From the New Life Study Bible: The rabbis taught that people should forgive those who offend them – but only three times. Peter, trying to be especially generous, asked Jesus if seven (the “perfect” number) was enough times to forgive someone. But Jesus answered, “Seventy times seven,” meaning that we shouldn’t even keep track of how many times we forgive someone. We should always forgive those who are truly repentant, no matter how many times they ask.

Fit In Your Faith Today: How quickly do you forgive someone who says they are sorry for hurting you? If they never say they are sorry, do you forgive them anyways? What if you know someone who is a repeat offender, someone who keeps wronging or hurting you. Do you forgive them or do you hold a grudge? It’s not easy to forgive others, especially when you think they aren’t even sorry. But holding a grudge and holding on to that pain will only make things worse. Do as Jesus has told us, and forgive them no matter what.

Bonus Material: 7×70 by Chris August – An awesome song by one of my favorite Christian singers.