Stressed Out

Posted on May 10, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Midweek Reflection: Stressed OutFor Sunday, May 14, 2017,
5th Sunday of Easter

Acts 6:1-7
1 Peter 2:4-9
John 14:1-12

Stress! On May 1, USA TODAY headlined that Americans are breaking records for being stressed. What is happening to us? Americans have a long history of being resilient, strong, free, and brave. Our history is filled with a vast array of experiences and events that should have led to record-breaking periods of stress. Two World Wars, threats of nuclear war, riots, assassinations, 9/11, just to name a few. But 2017 is the record-breaking year. Again, what is happening to us?

According to psychologist Melanie Greenberg, author of The Stress-Proof Brain, “Changing the way you think about stressors can eliminate this phenomenon.” So, it isn’t our fast-paced life, our political turmoil, the world threats that are causing stress, but our reaction to these stressors that has caused the American Psychological Association’s new evaluation. (more…)

Hidden Figures

Posted on March 7, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, March 12, 2017, 2nd Sunday of Lent

Genesis 12:1-4a
2 Timothy 1:8b-10
Matthew 17:1-9

Hidden Figures is a box office success! After the blunders at the Oscars, one could wonder if there wasn’t another in the omission of Hidden Figures. Perhaps there should be a category for the most “inspiring film.” The story of three brilliant black women mathematicians and their pivotal contributions to the NASA program encourages all to look beyond externals, to look beyond accepted stereotypes and prejudices, to think outside the box. Isn’t this a much needed message in our post-election world? (more…)

Choosing Joy

Posted on January 17, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, January 22, 2017, 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

The call to repentance flew from the lips of John the Baptist and into our ears during Advent. Now, after our Christmas trees have been picked up from their inglorious positions on the curb; now, when the confetti of New Year’s Eve has been swept up; now, when we have witnessed an inauguration, we again hear the call to repentance, this time from the lips of Jesus. Is there a difference in those calls? What is God urging us to do? Urging—is there an urgency in these calls?

To begin with, there is a difference. John asks for a change of heart to prepare the way of the Lord. Level the hills! Fill in the valleys! He, the long-awaited one, is coming! Subsequently, Jesus urges repentance because “the kingdom is at hand.” It is here! (more…)

A Prophetic Vision

Posted on November 29, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, December 4, 2016, 2nd Sunday of Advent

A Dream…

I am walking. It’s only been a few days now. But I am tired. There is no place to sit in this desert, in this wilderness. I look out ahead and can barely see the goal. I must keep going. My heart and my hope drive me on. As I look ahead, I stumble. Another’s hand pulls me up.

We are walking. It seems for only a few minutes. A finger points toward the goal and we trudge ahead with heads higher. No longer alone, there is more energy in the quest. Is the vision ahead sharper? As it clears, I turn and share what I see. And beside me (more…)

Praying For Justice

Posted on October 11, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, October 16, 2016, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Taxation without representation”—a battle cry for justice before the Revolutionary War! But it isn’t the late 1700s! Why would that be a bumper sticker in 2016? The answer depends not on the date, but the place. We were driving in Washington, DC. After seeing that bumper sticker this summer, the discussion that followed brought up many questions. There must be some way that the voice of the people can be heard in the center city of our democratic government. There must be a mayor. There must be a city council. Are these citizens paying taxes to the federal government with no representation? Driving behind this car with its bumper sticker certainly brought our attention to their situation … at least for a few minutes. (more…)

Humble Words

Posted on August 23, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, August 28, 2016, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

There was thunder and lightning. It was quite a light show that God put on last night! But this morning at 6:00 am the world is quiet again. The eastern sky is washed in a pinkish peach with receding dark clouds reminding the world of the passing turmoil. Above all of this is the morning star, quietly present, always there after the night storm passes.

Our American world seems to be in the storm stage politically. There is still thunder and lightning, but it will pass as it always has. It will march off into history and a new day will dawn. Strange as it may seem, the quiet of the morning star will be there … a personage who is not “donner and blitzen.” Have you seen him? With the storms and rising light of a new president on the horizon, you may not have noticed the quiet star. It, he, is quietly there by the name of “Sully.”

Tom Hanks is playing the role. The movie is out and being advertised on TV. Just plain Sully, no frills even in the title. Many of us remember his story. The image of an airliner floating in the Hudson with survivors standing on the wings still comes to mind when his name is mentioned. Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III was an instant hero after he successfully landed US Airways Flight 1549 off Manhattan Island on a cold January day in 2009. It was shortly after takeoff, when a flock of Canada geese collided with the plane. Because of Sully’s expertise all 155 passengers survived.

Do you remember the interviews with “Sully” after his amazing feat? He was modest about his acts of courage, crediting all to his training over the years. He shared, “One way of looking at this might be that for 42 years I’ve been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience, education and training. And on January 15 the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal.” These are humble words.

Modern society seems to think that humility is meekness combined with weakness. In Sully there appears a quiet core of strength. He speaks the truth with no frills or self-aggrandizement. That’s what Jesus talks about in his parable. That’s the manner in which Sully shared his experience when he emerged as a hero.

Pride is one of the most subtle and powerful tools of the devil. It has gradually shifted in our way of thinking to something that is good. “I’m proud to be an American.” “We are proud of our athletes in the Olympics!” “Hold your head up and be proud!” Yes, there is a good side to pride. But it’s the overemphasis on self that is dangerous. When we give trophies and stars for insignificant achievements to the very young, that’s dangerous. When we live life as though we are entitled to the “good life” without using our gifts to their fullest through hard work and application, that’s dangerous. When our life is centered around “me, me, me!” that’s dangerous. The superabundance of “selfies” is a dangerous sign of our self-centered society. It’s one way of taking the higher place at the banquet table. Ours is a “me first!” society.

Humility is truth. It is recognizing that God is the source of all our gifts. Everything we have and are is God-given. In America, the self-made entrepreneur is admired and held up as a model for all. But the talent and energy and drive that propels that person’s achievement is all God-given. There is absolutely nothing that we can claim as our own. A proud Christian, a follower of the humble Christ, is simply a living oxymoron. Christ, the Son of God, lowered himself to our level when he took our human nature. He took the lowest place at the table of intelligent creatures. It’s simply unthinkable that any of us would put ourselves above him.

As always, avoiding extremes is the name of the game. We are not to imitate Dickens’ Uriah Heep. His humility was false. Truth is what it’s all about. If I sing well and am praised, then I thank God. If I am a successful businessperson, I thank God. If I have natural beauty, then I thank God. No matter what I’m praised for, I recognize that God is the source. I may not say that out loud. I may respond as Sully did, with the facts, but interiorly, I thank God.

Living like this is not flashy. It’s living like the quiet, peaceful, always present morning star. Our first reading begins, “Conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.”

Patricia DeGroot, OblSB

PRAYER

Disturb us, Lord, when
we are too well pleased with ourselves,
when our dreams have come true
because we have dreamed too little,
when we arrived safely
because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
we have lost our thirst
for the waters of life;
having fallen in love with life,
we have ceased to dream of eternity
and in our efforts to build a new earth,
we have allowed our vision
of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
to venture on wider seas
where storms will show your mastery;
where losing sight of land,
we shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
the horizons of our hopes;
and to push into the future
in strength, courage, hope, and love.

“Disturb Us, Lord” prayer attributed to Sir Francis Drake, c. 1577.

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Faith in the Desert

Posted on August 2, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, August 7, 2016, 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

View of the Judean Desert

The situation seemed impossible! It had started out as a morning excursion to a nearby site, The Springs, in the Judean Desert. Since we had an average temperature of over 100 degrees for the last two months, The Springs drew us with visions of “cool, clear, water.” Little did we realize the road, then the trail, then the rocky inclines and declines would leave us sitting in a dried up wadi under a thorny skeleton of an acacia tree. Ahead of us was an incline. Behind us lay an even steeper decline. The one ahead had a forty-five degree curve about one third of the way up. Jim tried it. The engine roared. He tried it again and again and again and spun out every time. I prayed to El Shaddai, the Hebrew God of mountains and wind. I stretched out my arms as Moses did for victory in the time of battle. I sang aloud so El Shaddai would hear me. I pleaded with Abraham who had walked in this Israeli desert. Nothing. Nothing but the wind. My mind reminded me of the gentle breeze that spoke to Elijah in one of the caves surrounding this same desert. Nothing. I asked God to send at least two angels to help us. Nothing. We started walking. It was 1:30 PM, the hottest part of the day. Avoiding the road that had not a single tree offering shade, we trekked down the wadi conserving our water and resting often in the scattered shade of dried out trees.

Somehow, my heart never faltered. God would not have brought me to Israel to die in the desert. I thought of Abraham who went forth as God called. He has been my guide for the three summers I’ve volunteered in Israel. He “went out, not knowing where he was to go.” This experience in the same location helped me realize the strength of Abraham’s faith. Did he have enough water? Did he have enough food? He was not only responsible for himself, but for the entourage of people and animals traveling with him. Over and over, the Scripture passage says, “by faith”! What is faith? “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” Abraham, the great father of multiple religions was the man of faith, par excellence.

Faith and hope are brother and sister. In the desert, we “walked by faith and not by sight” as our water dwindled. The hope that an angel would rescue us also dwindled as the sun moved westward casting shadows … delicious shadows. The inner core of my strength weakened and I began to be afraid we would be trapped by the night. Yes, the wadi was full of animal tracks, signs both consoling and frightening. Somehow, I still had tracks of hope in my heart that God would send help. I prayed with every step. I became aware of my breathing. Stop and rest. Stop and rest. I ate a few dried blossoms from a tree. They wet my mouth. There were no cell phone connections. Only God! Somehow, we trekked on.

At 6:30 we found Hwy 227 and sat on roadside rocks. A car going the opposite direction stopped. Evidence of faith? They poured water into Jim’s empty container. Ah! Our first angel but still no rescue! There were no cars going in our direction at all. Dusk was falling. God, another angel, please? An old truck with a red flag standing straight up in back, stopped. A ride, please? A ride? Hope rose! Our second angel gave us more water and it was cooler. Would God send a third angel? We continued to walk. According to a road sign, we had twenty kilometers to go. Darkness. Piercing my exhaustion a tiny glimmer of hope survived. God’s sheltering hand was still hovering over us. Through the darkness, I spied a truck with a red flag off the road about fifty feet. The Bedouin driver was on his knees, head touching the ground. He was praying. As we walked past, he stood up and waved. My mind called out, “Yes. Hello! And thank you for the water!”

But then, he got into his truck and drove out to us! He signaled us to get in. He spoke no English. He got out and opened the back door for me. A gentleman! A big smile. God sent our second angel back to us! All I could say was, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” When we arrived back, I pressed shekels into his hand, but he pressed them right back into my hand. “No, no.” Jim handed him American dollars, receiving the same response. God bless this Muslim Bedouin, this son of Abraham, who saved two Christians who were trusting in the same God who just has a different name.

The next day after showers and gallons of cold water, we were strengthened. But the ordeal was ongoing. Our vehicle was still resting under an acacia tree in that deep wadi. Faith and hope still stood in my heart. Who to call? Who spoke English? Where to get phone numbers? At noon, finally a connection! And God sent a third angel. This time, Jewish. We finally contacted an Israeli park ranger. His dark good looks were heightened by a smile and open attitude. He spoke beautiful English! He drove us back to our “waterloo.” Would his 4×4 truck be strong enough? Again, faith and hope joined hands in my heart. I prayed as he towed us up that steep incline, slowly, slowly, slowly! Alleluia! Success! Success! Thank you, God! God of the mountains. God of the wind. God of the wadi. God who keeps his promises.

The ranger said he wasn’t supposed to do this, but… All he accepted was our thanks.

We were not prepared for this experience. It came like a “thief in the night”. We didn’t expect to be stranded in 100 plus heat with no cell phone service and only about two liters of water between us. The situation seemed impossible. We were in desperate straits! Our flimsy faith and hope were rewarded. God watched over us as promised again and again and again. What do we need to fear? God, help me remember who you are!

Patricia DeGroot, OblSB

PRAYER

The LORD is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me;
he restores my soul.
He guides me along right paths
for the sake of his name.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me.

II
You set a table before me
in front of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me
all the days of my life;
I will dwell in the house of the LORD
for endless days.

—Psalm 23. Scripture text taken from the NABRE © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 CCD, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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Answering the Call

Posted on June 21, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, June 26, 2016, 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Volunteer Jim constructing a welcome sign at Biblical Tamar Park.

“When was the last time you volunteered your time to try to help your community?” That was the question this past week on The Book of Questions Calendar that I purchased at the beginning of 2016. Hmm, I thought to myself, volunteering… I pictured myself raising my hand at some committee meeting.

Every morning around breakfast time, Jim and I share a reading for the day from his devotional and the Scripture passage referenced. We discuss it and then ask “the question of the day from the calendar.” From breakfast we go about our work. We are at Biblical Tamar Park in the Arava Desert in Israel. Volunteers! Jim is from Texas and I’m from Wisconsin.

As I read “the question” last Tuesday, I asked Jim, “When was the last time you or I ‘unvolunteered’?” And we laughed. This is my third summer spent in the heat of the Israeli desert. Jim has been here multiple times. Jim decided, when he retired, that he would spend the rest of his life volunteering. He’s helped build a playground by the source of the Amazon in Peru and worked in Cameroon as well as Nigeria. Both of us have volunteered in our local churches in the US. Our discussed common goal is to help any way we can to spread the kingdom.

Is volunteering like answering the call in this Sunday’s readings? We would hope so! Spreading the kingdom today is both similar and dissimilar to scriptural times. Most of us don’t have a prophet throwing the cloak of his ministry over us or Jesus himself inviting us. In that way, the call may be dissimilar. But similar in so many ways, one of them being questioning its genuineness.

How do we know when a call comes? How do we know if it is from God or is just a crazy idea popping up in our heads? Jim can attest that some of those crazy ideas are genuine calls. If it won’t go away, that may be one sure sign it is genuine. We can’t always expect a confirmation of our call from the people around us. Just reading about Elisha’s sacrificing all his oxen seems foolish at first glance. Can you imagine what his family, friends, and coworkers thought about that? How they must have talked during the great feast that followed his sacrifice! He really burned his bridges along with his plows! He gave all he had to follow his call.

Excuses. Jesus invited and got excuses. Just questioning the idea can be an excuse for not responding to the call. The idea is just too crazy! What I heard from some friends and acquaintances was that going to Israel is walking into the lion’s den. Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria are much too close for comfort. And then there are the constant threats of conflict between Jews and Palestinians. But then, who would have guessed that going to a club in Orlando could be so disastrous? (We are praying for all involved!)

What are our excuses for not answering the call? An older lady from Saskatchewan stopped here with a tour last week. She asked about volunteering, but had no idea how to do it? What about visas? Is there a lot of red tape? I assured her that it was an easy process. Was she too old? No, I’m seventy-seven and can still do all the tasks I’m asked. Jim started volunteering at seventy-one and you should see him go! He says, “God has blessed me all my life. I want to give him all that is left.” No excuses!

What is God calling you to do? Listening for God’s ideas can be the hardest part. They may seem really crazy! But so was following a wandering Jew who had nowhere to lay his head. Is there a crazy idea in the back of your head? Might it be from the Spirit? What excuse is holding you back? Come!

Pat DeGroot, OblSB

PRAYER

Lord Jesus,
we thank you for the wondrous gift of Your Incarnation.
Just as the Blessed Virgin Mary was used to bring You into this world,
help us to use our time and talents to bring the Good News into the world.
May we never forget the love You have for all of us,
and may we never forget to share that love with others.
Amen.

-Closing Prayer from the Stations of the Nativity from the Institute on Religious Life.

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Wind and Fire

Posted on May 10, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, May 15, 2016, Pentecost Sunday

http://go.4lpi.com/rs/418-VMI-344/images/MR_May15.jpg

The house shook! Doors slammed! Curtains billowed! The winds screamed as they raced through the house! Was there a trace of smoke riding along? Even the patio screen door banged open! Our hearts began racing with fear of a tornado. Should we seek shelter? There was no basement in this summer lake house. There had been storm warnings, but no wailing sirens in the middle of the night. After about fifteen minutes, Mother Nature seemed to go back to sleep and so did we. The next day the media reported deaths and injuries from nearby tornadoes. Our short-lived fear had a basis.

Later that week, the winds roared through Fort McMurray in Alberta. Those winds whipped fire into that oil sand region causing 88,000 people to flee through tunnels of fire. They abandoned their homes and property, running for their lives. Many lost everything. This region, which produces a million barrels of oil per day, collapsed into chaos, victim of wind and fire.

Wind and fire leave chaos in their wake … disorder, destruction, and even loss of life, both human and animal. Chaos! We humans are left simply standing and staring, not knowing where to begin. But begin we must, just as nature renews after the devastation.

On that first Pentecost there was wind and fire in Jerusalem! Buildings were not destroyed. Property wasn’t burned, but there was chaos. That fire tornado blew through the whole known world. Everything was turned topsy-turvy. Lives were completely redirected. Long-standing institutions were faced with challenges never expected. There was fear … fear of change and fear of new directions. The Spirit of God, the very breath of God, blew mightily. It brought new life to our human race, just as the breath of God brought life to Adam, the first human, in the Garden of Eden.

Inevitably, the chaos of fire and wind brings fear. It also brings excitement and heightened awareness. The challenge of catastrophe brings out the best and the worst in people. If there are looters, there are also heroes. Fire Captain Adam Bugden of Fort McMurray emotionally stated, “I’ve met more heroes in this experience than I ever thought existed.” The same could be said of the fire and wind of Pentecost. Our heroes have names: Peter, Stephen, Paul, Barnabas, Mark, John. Down through the ages the number of heroes has grown into multitudes. How does this happen?

“The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” The Holy Spirit is, in reality, the very breath of God. According to the Ruah Woods website, “Ruah means both wind and breath – sometimes as subtle as the flap of the wings of a dove or a whisper at the mouth of a cave.” No chaos here. The breath of God brings peace and harmony. The breath of God brings courage to would-be heroes.

We need to be open to that breath. The winds of the Spirit, the fire of the Spirit, are with us, still. Chaos may be present in our world and in our lives, but we have the Spirit with us always! The Spirit of peace deep in our hearts.

“Breathe on Me, Breath of God” is a popular Gospel hymn by Edwin Hatch that prays:
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Till I am wholly Thine
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Patricia M. DeGroot

PRAYER

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
     Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
     Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
     Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
     Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
     And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
     Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
     Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
     Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
     In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
     Give them joys that never end. Amen.
     Alleluia.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus sequence from the Mass of Pentecost. Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 CCD. All rights reserved.

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Healing Our Woundedness

Posted on March 29, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, April 3, 2016, 2nd Sunday of Easter

A hand reaching out to help another.

Wounds! Wounds! Wounds! It seems that everywhere we look in our world today there are wounds! Last week’s horrendous happenings in Brussels brought back fresh memories of the tragedy in Paris not so long ago. That triggers the horrors of Boston and the more than three thousand lives that were lost September 11, 2001. These catastrophes—the most recent in America—our great wounds!

Simultaneously with the tragic events in Brussels, the media was covering the conviction of the former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, by a United Nations tribunal at The Hague. The atrocities he directed boggle the mind. Again, there are echoes. This time it’s the incomprehensible horror of the WWII Holocaust. At the same time, rumbling in the background of all this, is the multitude of Syrian refugees seeking asylum! Ethnic cleansing has not gone the way of past barbarian civilizations. It is still with us. Our world of 2016 rends the heavens with cries and groans from so many wounds.

Just last week we remembered the atrocity of Calvary. The heavens themselves were torn asunder at the wounds inflicted on the very Savior of our race. Did those wounds cry out for vengeance? Not really! Jesus brought a new way. Even as he was dying, he made a declaration of forgiveness. “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Mercy flowed like a balm from the wounds of Jesus. Forgiveness was the wellspring of that mercy. Jesus’ wounds bled mercy!

Though today’s Gospel seems like two separate incidents, they are actually related. Jesus enters each event through locked doors. The disciples were terrified of the Jews. When we are afraid and when we are wounded, doors are locked… doors to our hearts and minds. We especially lock the doors leading to our woundedness. They are not available for viewing or touching. Jesus comes to us, bringing peace. In the case of the disciples, his peaceful message had to be repeated. When we are afraid or wounded, we too need extra assurance. We need to hear Jesus’ words… and hear them again and again.

Jesus’ next action is so important. He shows them his wounds. His wounds did not disappear when he rose from the dead. Jesus carries his wounds into his new life. Jesus knows and understands the pain of wounds. There must be something we need to learn about carrying wounds into resurrected life. Until very recently in our American history, we kept our wounds behind locked doors. The maimed, the handicapped, the mentally challenged, and even pregnant women stayed in the privacy of their homes. Thank goodness that has changed. But even now, inner woundedness is still very private. The traditional British “stiff-upper lip” is still practiced in times of grief, depression, and trouble. We don’t “air” our troubles. We are expected to get through and over the grief of divorce and death, loss and failure quickly.

Jesus showed his wounds. He didn’t whine over them or exaggerate them or blame the disciples. He just showed them. He wasn’t looking for pity, just showing the truth. So many of us need to unlock the doors of our woundedness so that compassionate, willing people can help. One reporter on CBS News said that “for every injured person” in Brussels, “there was a hero.” By allowing others to see our wounds, they can show compassion, and care. They help us to carry our burdens. Even the “shadow” of their care can help heal.

This is Divine Mercy Sunday. We’re hearing so much about mercy this year. Can we open ourselves to that mercy? It is related to woundedness. Mercy flows like a healing balm but only as we open the locked doors of our inner selves and let others gaze upon our wounds. Some of us have locked those doors so tightly that we don’t even recognize and admit that we are wounded. We may be too afraid to look ourselves.

This Divine Mercy Sunday offers us the opportunity to have mercy on ourselves. The risen Jesus stands in front of us. He gives us the grace of his peace. He gives it again and shows his wounds. Now he asks us to open our doors to let his peace in. He reaches out his wounded hands and touches our wounds. His peace and merciful love flow into the rawness of our wounds. His mercy heals. Alleluia!

As we are healed, we hold up our wounded world to the healing hands of Jesus. We lift up the wounded of Brussels, of Paris, of Syria and Serbia, of Boston and New York. We lift up those terribly wounded in the past and those who will be wounded tomorrow. God’s loving mercy flows continually from the wounded heart of Jesus in rays of warm, healing love. Alleluia!

Patricia DeGroot, OblSB

PRAYER

Eternal God,
in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible,
look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us,
that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent,
but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will,
which is Love and Mercy itself.

—From the Chaplet of Divine Mercy

NOTICES

EASTER URBI ET ORBI MESSAGE
Pope Francis delivered the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing on Easter Sunday, following Mass in St. Peter’s Square. Speaking to pilgrims and tourists gathered in the Square for the occasion, Pope Francis especially remembered the suffering peoples of Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. To view the full text and video of the Urbi et Orbi message, visit http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-easter-urbi-et-orbi-a-message-of-hope.

PROVISIONAL SCHEDULE FOR WORLD YOUTH DAY
A draft of the schedule for Pope Francis’ trip to Poland from July 27 to 31 for the 31st World Youth Day was presented in Krakow on Saturday. The provisional schedule may be viewed at http://www.news.va/en/news/wyd-krakow-2016-draft-schedule-released.

MOTHER TERESA CANONIZATION DATE ANNOUNCED
The Holy Father announced the upcoming canonization of five new saints, including Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata (née Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu), whose work among the “poorest of the poor” won her worldwide acclaim. Hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, members of the religious order founded by Mother Teresa, are expected to be in Rome for her canonization, set for September 4, 2016.

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