Little children repeat and repeat and repeat songs. Why? Because of the experience connected to the song. The song is fun, its words funny, it has actions easy to remember and delightful to do. Adults repeat songs, too. Is there a funeral that doesn’t sing “Amazing Grace” or “How Great Thou Art” or “On Eagle’s Wings”?

Healing and comfort exude from the words and melody. We find community in the singing of such songs.

As summer approaches, church musicians are searching for substitutes so they can get a well-deserved vacation or attend a workshop. But there are few musicians around. What can parishes do about this lack?  Invite youth to jam, offer free music lessons, advertise “Come volunteer, and we will ruin you for life,” have a flash choir that practices and immediately sings the next Mass all within two hours. Select songs that rock their world.

Sometimes Jesus Christ invites us:  “Remain in my love.”  Sometimes he gives a command:  “Love one another as I love you.”  These words are from the Gospel for today’s feast, that of Saint Matthias, Apostle. Fifteen years ago today my father died. Because my father’s middle name was Matthias, the death date is easy for me to remember. My dad was a quiet man; he let my mom do the talking. I didn’t have too many conversations with him until he was in a nursing home. But as I look back to my childhood, Dad’s invitations and commands were the same. Both were gentle, quietly spoken reminders for me to be better. His typical counsel was “Be nice.” I imagine Jesus inviting his disciples on his last days on earth to do what he commands, speaking gently, lovingly, calling them “friends.” Jesus looked at Peter and John and James and the others, the ones he had chosen, and gave them this parting gift:  “Whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” And after this invitation to pray in his name, there’s the command:  “Love one another.” Command from Friend to friends is an invitation to open themselves to joy: 
“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.”

Only 1% of nones attend Mass weekly. 9% attend once a month.  When analyzing this situation, some claim the nones want identity and stability.
Pope Francis’ most recent exhortation Rejoice and Be Glad claims
The Beatitudes give us our identity.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit. . . the peacemakers. . . those who suffer for the sake of righteousness.”
The Beatitudes point us outward toward the Body of Christ, in which each individual is united to the Lord.
If Church leaders and teachers put more attention on social issues like racism, poverty,
and all other forms of injustice,
then perhaps the nones would be drawn within the walls of a church building
where the world is invited to enter with them.
Perhaps the nones would see themselves.


Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:3-10




 

Sister Maria Aloysia Wolbring
Foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame


On May 6, 1889, the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame, died of tuberculosis in Cleveland, Ohio. Due to extreme heat, she needed to be buried quickly, thus not allowing more than a few Sisters to be present at her burial in a common plot in St. Joseph Cemetery. Since the time of her death the Sisters have continued the charism which was her gift to the People of God; namely, trust in God’s goodness and provident care. We are blessed to have eight postulants and 20 novices in Bataan, where we have a House of Formation. These sisters are from Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines. There are also several sisters in initial formation in the Western Hemisphere, especially the United States and Brazil.
Please pray today to Sister Maria Aloysia that more women will answer the call
to
proclaim God’s goodness and provident care.

From the earliest years after Jesus rose from the dead, the tomb has been a symbol of the baptismal font. Just as the women carrying spices wondered how they would ever roll back the stone, the earliest Christians wondered whether they could surmount the impediments to new life in Jesus Christ. Could they roll back their fear of persecution, rejection, and the comfort of a religious path they had known all their lives?

The newly baptized are a month old now. 

At the Easter vigil they faced death as they were baptized into the death of Jesus.
Water dripping from their heads, they rose to new life in Christ.

 

What does that new life mean now?
Is it a new way to spend Sunday mornings perhaps with some inconvenience?
Are they missing their old friends from their former church?
Do they feel welcomed?
Are they learning parishioners’ names?

The reality is that all obstacles have been removed by the power of Jesus’ resurrection.
Let us help the newly baptized and one another feel that nothing separates us from Christ.

“I am the vine. You are the branches.” Not a horticulturalist, I never stopped to think about what this really meant. I always thought the vine was the more important  structural part of the plant, and the branches were less important—just leaves and stems. But the vine IS the branches. Beatrice Bruteau reminds us that Jesus doesn’t call himself the trunk and we the twigs. Rather she writes: “He is the whole vine, and the vine is its branches, the

branches make up the vine. And his Blood—the wine—flows through the entire system as a unifying stream, a single life principle.” The close union between Jesus Christ and us/me escapes me. I believe He and I are one. I believe that everyone is the extended Body of Christ, that what I do to my neighbor I do to Christ. I get it. It’s just that I don’t really get it. I am almost embarrassed how God has raised me/us up to equality with Him—as christified.

 

 

 

Within the past couple weeks have you eaten ham or jellybeans or Easter eggs? Those foods have now become yourself. The ham is no longer in the refrigerator or the jellybeans in the candy dish. They are no longer just in us either; they are us. This might not be the most exciting thought for us, but it is profound when we realize how much life-sharing Jesus Christ desires for us. “He wants to mingle his life thoroughly with ours—and of course, ours thoroughly with his” (Bruteau, The Easter Mysteries). And so Jesus gave us the food of the Eucharist, so that he could claim “I am in you and you are in me.” Through the Eucharist we have become the extension of Jesus Christ. Beatrice Bruteau continues: “But when this has happened to each of us, when each of us is engaged in life-sharing with Jesus, then he is living in the whole community of us: his Body has been intimately joined to the body of every person in the community. And since his Body is the most vital and the most vitalizing—the most life-giving—element in any of us, all of us together constitute a kind of extension of his Body.  And that enlarged Body acts as any living body does: it grows and unifies and develops; it supports diversity within itself by being secure in its unity; it operates as a system, without superiors or inferiors.”

Spend some time today reflecting on this:  We are the Body of Christ.

 

Beatrice Bruteau writes in The Easter Mysteries that we like to keep the roles straight, something Jesus didn’t do when he washed the feet of his horrified apostles. The Lord and Master was acting out of character. Aghast at the improper role undertaken by Jesus, Peter may have said (in Bruteau’s words), “You’ll upset the whole social order by this kind of behavior. We can’t have this. If you start acting like a servant, what are the rest of us supposed to do?  If I let you wash me, why I might even be expected to wash my wife’s feet! People won’t know their place anymore, what their station in life is.” Of course, we know Jesus’ answer: “Go along with this, or don’t be my disciple.” Two thousand years after that famous night when the activity of a servant became inextricably tied to Eucharist and fifty years after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, we still cling to our roles, our prestige, our elitism. We really should know our place and keep everyone else in their places—the least ones of whom the Kingdom of Heaven is comprised.

I love the stories during the Octave of Easter. My favorite is the story of the two disciples walking to Emmaus, scoffing at a Stranger who “does not know of the things that have taken place” but soon becoming quite impressed by the wise Stranger’s understanding of the Scriptures. I like this story so much that I have on file that this story should be read at my funeral, if the occasion lands during the Easter Season. I never tire of the story. I could hear over and over again Jesus’ trick of pretending to go on farther, their discovering Jesus’ identity in the breaking of the bread, and the two apostles’ recognition that each had their hearts burning within them.  Best of all, “they set out at once” to spread the news—the Good News.

Where did you discover Jesus today?  In which stranger? At which meal? And did you spread this Good News?

Good Friday

Darkness. Emptiness. There is nothing left. That is how it must have been for the disciples. For his friends. Dark. Empty. He was dead. All their hopes were shattered. . . . On Good Friday no one thought about Easter, because Easter hadn’t happened yet, and no one could dream of such an impossible reality.” (Madeleine L’Engle, The Irrational Season)

During my childhood on Good Friday any time not spent in church during the three hours had to be spent in quiet. My parents knew that it was good for us kids to get the feel of darkness, emptiness, sorrow. We learned to “feel with Jesus.” But we knew the end of the story. Fullness.  Light. Life. Hope. We knew the hour of darkness would give way to the dawn of Christ’s day. We were eager to hear: “Come now!  The Risen Lord calls us into his marvelous light!”