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Year B-S7 - Year A-S6  - Year C-S5 - Year B-S4 - Year A-S3  - Year C-S2 - Year B

 

A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

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N.B. The Lectio Divina for the Pentecost - 10th Week in Ordinary Time is ready. You can access it by going to ARCHIVES "Year C - Series 20" (cf. above) and click on "Pentecost/Ordinary Week 10".

 

Please go to our website www.pddm.us and click on "PDDM Internet Library". It contains the Lectio Divina of all the readings for the Sunday Cycle (A, B & C) and the Weekday Cycle (I & II). A fruit of 12 years apostolic work, this pastoral tool is most useful for liturgy preparation.

 

As the Pauline Family celebrates the 50th Death Anniversary of our Founder Blessed James Alberione (April 4, 1884 - November 26, 1971), we graciously invite you to discover his marvelous contributions to the Liturgical Movement of the Church. Please go to our website www.pddm.us and click on "Pauline Pastoral Tools".

 

Let us be united with the Pope in praying for peace in Ukraine. We also pray for the courage to be "peaceful".

 

POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER FOR PEACE IN UKRAINE

Almighty God, through Jesus’ Divine Name and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we humbly ask you for mercy to obtain peace in the land of Ukraine. May all the people of that country, especially kids and elders, remain safe from danger. Please do not let chaos and war reign in the land of Ukraine, but only a forever peace that comes from you. Amen.

 

 

 

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BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 20, n. 27)

Easter Week 7: May 29 – June 4, 2022

 

 

(The pastoral tool BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD: A LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY & WEEKDAY LITURGY includes a prayerful study of the Sunday liturgy from various perspectives. For the Lectio Divina on the liturgy of the past week: May 22-28, 2022 please go to ARCHIVES Series 20 and click on “Easter Week 6”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: May 29 – June 4, 2022.)

 

 

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May 29, 2022: THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Makes Us His Witnesses to the Ends

of the Earth”

 

(N.B. Where the Seventh Sunday of Easter is celebrated, cf. PDDM INTERNET LIBRARY for the Lectio Divina of that Sunday’s Bible Readings.)

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 1:1-11 // Heb 9:24-28 // Lk 24:46-53

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 24:46-53): “As he blessed them, he was taken up to heaven.”

 

            I remember the beautiful afternoon I went to the convent of the Congregation, Sister Disciples of the Divine Master (PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI), located on the scenic hills of Antipolo, in the Philippines. I was a college student when I received from the Lord the grace to respond to my religious vocation. Then I felt ready to make a decisive step. My mother was with me the day I made my formal application to enter the convent. The Mother Superior accepted me as an aspirant and gave me the date of entrance to the congregation. When my mother and I were making our way back to the gate, we saw some Sisters having recreation outdoors. They looked so happy and joyful as they relaxed in the midst of a peaceful verdant garden, lined with blooming bougainvillaes ablaze in enchanting colors. It was a glimpse of heaven here on earth. The Sisters who were conversing among themselves along the pathway greeted us with warm smiles. One of them, Sr. Mary John congratulated my mother and assured her: “You are not losing a daughter, Mrs. Tapang! She will be ever close to you in prayer.” What Sr. Mary John told my mother was true. In my life of consecration to the Lord, I have been present to my father, my mother and my brothers spiritually, in a more intense and real way than mere physical presence.

 

            Today, we celebrate the feast of the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord’s ascension into heaven is a farewell event to Christ in his earthly mission, yes, but even more. It is a celebration of his new presence. Aelred Rosser comments: “The ascension means that Christians have always believed that Jesus, having completed his earthly mission, returned to God, from whom he was sent, and now takes up his continuing role as priest, prophet, and king. That is the meaning of the words took his seat at God’s right hand. There is no implication that Christ is no longer present in the world or is inactive. Christ has not gone to a specific place any more than God can be said to be in a particular place; rather, Christ has taken on the role of intermediary in a new and spiritual way.”

 

Indeed, in the Church’s contemplation of the Lord’s ascension, there is no lamentation, but rather joy, for with this event we are given a glimpse of heaven and a pledge of the marvelous destiny prepared for us by the Risen Christ enthroned in glory. The early Church Father, St. Leo the Great remarks: “The ascension of Christ thus means our own elevation as well; where the glorious Head has gone before, the Body is called to follow in hope. Let us therefore exult, beloved, as is fitting, and let us rejoice in devout thanksgiving. For on this day not only have we been confirmed in our possession of paradise, but we have even entered heaven in the person of Christ.” Indeed, the feast of the Lord’s ascension, as a celebration of Christ’s new and wonderful presence, is a celebration of the mystery of hope. It is a celebration of what we are and the glorious destiny we are called to become in the Risen Lord ascended into heaven.

 

The astounding and continuing presence of the glorified Christ challenges his disciples, then and now, to bear authentic witness to the paschal mystery he had accomplished. In his last instruction to the apostles, Jesus says: “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this” (Lk 24:46-48). The Risen Lord thus spells out the content of our witnessing, that is, the saving event of the life and works of Jesus, the Christ and Son of God. Difficulties and trials assail the lives of those who witness to Christ to the ends of the earth, but they have the inner strength to be true followers for they are empowered by the Holy Spirit, in accordance with Jesus’ words: “And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you, but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Lk 24:49). Indeed, Christian witnessing demands great openness and receptivity to the presence and action of the Holy Spirit – the ultimate and enduring manifestation of the Risen Lord’s presence in the world.

 

 

B. First Reading (Acts 1:1-11): “As the apostles were looking on, Jesus was taken up.”

 

In Acts 1:1-11, Luke inserts the “forty days” of Easter apparition and instruction before the event of the Ascension. This significant number evokes Jesus’ forty days and Moses’ forty days sojourn in the desert, which is a period of preparation for his important mission and saving ministry. With this fantastic detail of “forty days” of Easter apparition, the evangelist reinforces the truth that the Risen Lord is preparing the disciples for an important beginning, that is, the mission of the Church and their ministry as his witnesses to the ends of the earth.

 

The new age of the Church’s intense and expansive mission is associated with the special outpouring of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Church that is unfolding from the aftermath of the Easter mystery is animated and powered by the Risen Lord’s gift of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus, ascended into heaven, has inaugurated the age of the Spirit, the power of evangelization, and the fulfillment of the Father’s promise. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples become courageous witnesses. Today’s liturgy of Ascension calls us also to be bold witnesses of Gospel joy to the world. We have a mission from Jesus. The presence of the Holy Spirit assures us that in the evangelizing work we are not alone, but enlivened by the Holy Spirit.

 

The digital media are powerful means of evangelization which need to be harnessed by today’s Christian disciples. The social networks are “new spaces of evangelization” that we need to explore and use. Pope Benedict asserts: “Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important. The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young … Social networks, as well as being a means of evangelization, can also be a factor in human development … In the digital world there are social networks which offer our contemporaries opportunities for prayer, meditation and sharing the word of God … There should be no lack of coherence or unity in the expression of our faith and witness to the Gospel in whatever reality we are called to live, whether physical or digital. When we are present to others, in any way at all, we are called to make known the love of God to the furthest ends of the earth.” (Cf. Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the 47th World Communications Day)

 

Our celebration of the Lord’s Ascension as well as of the World Communications Day inspires us to use the most efficacious means to proclaim the Gospel. Today’s Christian disciples are getting more and more “hi-tech” in their work of evangelization. The following story, circulated on the Internet, will tickle our funny bone for it imagines how it would be when heaven itself goes “hi-tech”.

 

Heaven Gone Hi-Tech”: We have all learned to live with voice mail as a necessary part of modern life. Have you ever wondered what it would be like if God decided to install voice mail? Imagine praying and hearing something like this: “Thank you, for calling my Father’s house. Please select one of the following options: Press 1 for requests. Press 2 for giving thanks. Press 3 for complaints. Press 4 for all other inquiries.”

 

What if God used the familiar excuse: “I’m sorry; all of our angels are busy helping other sinners right now. However, your prayer is important to us and will be answered in the order it was received; so please stay on the line.”

 

Can you imagine getting these kinds of responses as you call God? “If you would like to speak to Gabriel, press 1; Michael, press 2; for a directory of other angels, press 3; if you would like to hear King David sing a psalm while you hold, press 4. To find out if a loved one had been assigned to heaven, press 5. Enter his or her Social Security Number then press the # key. If you get a negative response, try area code 666. For reservations at my Father’s house, enter JOHN followed by 3:16. For answers to nagging questions about dinosaurs, the age of the earth, and where Noah’s Ark is, please wait until you arrive in heaven.”

 

What about getting responses like these? “Our computers show that you have already prayed once today. Please hang up and try again tomorrow. This office is closed for the weekend to observe a religious holiday. Please pray again Monday after 9:30 A.M. If you need emergency assistance when this office is closed, contact your local pastor.”

 

 

C. Second Reading (Heb 9:24-28; 10:19-23): “Christ has entered into heaven itself.”             

Today’s Second Reading (Heb 9:24-28; 10:19-23) delineates the meaning of Christ’s enthronement and the benefits of the Lord’s exaltation and ascension into heaven. We now have access to God himself in the heavenly sanctuary through the sacrifice of Christ. The priestly offering of Jesus surpasses that of the high priest entering the sanctuary of the Holy of Holies at the Jewish feast of the Atonement. Through his “once-for-all” sacrifice Christ has effectively made salvation available in the here and now, although the full blossoming and fruition will be at the end time.

 

The biblical scholar Albert Vanhoye explains: “Christians possess the right to enter the true sanctuary by the blood of Christ, that is to say, thanks to his violent death transformed into a generous offering. In order to have access to the sanctuary they now have a new and living way that is the glorified humanity of Jesus. Moreover, Christians have the very person of Christ, their priest, as guide. They are invited to remain in the dispositions corresponding to the dynamism of their privileged situation: sincere faith in relation to baptism, unwavering hope based on the promise of a faithful God, and effective love in generous deeds and regular participation in ecclesial assemblies.”

 

The saving event of the Lord’s ascension is a mystery of hope. We cling to his promise of salvation because he is trustworthy. The saving hope is at the root of the apostolic mission and witness. Jesus calls us to lead others to him that we may all share in the glory of eternal life. In the following story, a Christian believer gives an example of openness to divine will and courageous witnessing – of an attitude sustained by faith, hope and love in Jesus Christ ascended into heaven (cf. Jeff Cavins, “Refueling with God” in Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart, ed. Jeff Cavins, et. al.,  West Chester: Ascension Press, 2004, p. 250-252).

 

My heart leaped with joy upon learning I had just landed a job as manager at a gas station in Pella, Iowa. To some, it might seem like an odd vocation for a college graduate, but for one seeking to evangelize, a gas station was fertile ground. People from all walks of life – Christian and non-Christian – would be walking through the door of the station. I would be there to meet them, get to know them, and look for opportunities to lead them to Christ. I had just recently quit my job as an announcer at a Christian radio station. Instead of preaching to the choir, I yearned to get out into the world and evangelize among people who did not know Christ.

 

The job turned out to be everything I had hoped it would be. By being friendly and interested in people, I got to know many of the regular customers. There had been many opportunities to befriend people, listen to their problems, and often lead them closer to Christ. I came to enjoy the early morning routine at the station. Arriving at 5 a.m. to do the inventory each morning provided me with quiet time to pray and reflect before opening at 6 a.m. One such morning, I was surprised to see a customer at the pump station just after I opened.

 

As I watched the young man pump gas into his car, I suddenly had the strong impression that I should say something to him about Jesus when he walked in to pay. Now, even though this was the reason I was working at the gas station, it was not my style to hit people with Christianity in such a direct manner. I had worked there three months and had never done anything like that. I usually befriended people over time and got to know them before sharing my faith with them.

 

When the thought first came to me, I said to the Lord: “I don’t want to do this. It’s not the normal way to greet people. I don’t want to seem weird.” Yet, as I watched this professional looking man in business suit, the feeling grew stronger that God wanted me to say something to him such as, “Sir, Jesus loves you.” I argued with God: “Let me get to know him first, then I’ll say something.” But the feeling only grew stronger. I had the impression that if I did not do this, I would be disobedient to what the Lord was asking of me. Although I am not the nervous type, I started getting nervous. The man looked “no-nonsense” and appeared to be in a hurry. He paced about while he waited for his tank to fill. I thought, “If this feeling is from the Lord, there is only one way I’m going to know and that is to go ahead and say something.” (…)

 

The guy finished filling his car and made his way to the station. I swallowed hard as he opened the door. Forcing myself to look him in the eyes, I took a deep breath and said, “Sir, Jesus loves you.” There was a silent pause that seemed to last an eternity. The man looked puzzled but then anger clouded his face. I became even more nervous imagining that he might come across the counter and knock me out. But then, he stopped and shook his head back and forth as if to say, “What is going on here?” The man proceeded to tell me that even though it was only six in the morning, already four people had told him that day that Jesus loved him. “What is going on?” he asked. “Well”, I answered, “maybe God is speaking to you.” He then softened and explained that he had stopped walking with the Lord some time ago and perhaps God was calling him back home. We stood there in silence for a moment before he thanked me and said, “This has given me something to think about.” He then turned and left.

 

I never saw him again but I prayed that the hound of heaven would continue to chase him until he gave his life to Christ. I may never know what happened in the end but I do know that he encountered the love of God that day. I pray that I will meet him one day in heaven. God gives us all opportunities to preach the gospel and share His love, but with that opportunity there comes risk. If we will respond to that risk in faith and love, we will be surprised what God can do through us.

    

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO 

 

Do we give ourselves time and opportunity to contemplate the mystery of the Lord’s ascension? What is the significance of this mystery in our own daily life? Do we personally feel a deep participation in the Lord’s exaltation and in the Church’s mission to be witnesses of Christ to the ends of the earth? Do we trust that in the Church’s age of mission, we are filled, empowered and energized by the Spirit of Jesus, the glorified Lord?  How do we carry out our task of Christian witnessing in the Holy Spirit?  

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

Lord Jesus, you ascended into heaven.

Make us your faithful witnesses

and bearers of the Gospel

to the ends of the earth.

Grant us the wisdom of the Holy Spirit

so that we may efficaciously harness

the power of the mass media

for the service of the Gospel.

Guide us as we explore and utilize the social networks,

the new spaces for evangelization.

Help us to be witnesses of your saving love

both within the physical and the digital world.

We love and serve you.

We extol and glorify you,

now and forever.

Amen.     

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the day. Please memorize it.

 

            “You are witnesses of these things.” (Lk 24:48)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO    

 

Resolve to discover in what way we can proclaim the Gospel of Christ both in the physical and digital world.

 

 

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May 30, 2022: MONDAY – EASTER WEEKDAY (7)

MEMORIAL DAY (USA)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Take Courage … His Holy Spirit Came Upon Them”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 19:1-8 // Jn 16:29-33

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

A. Gospel Reading (Jn 16:29-33): “Take courage, I have conquered the world.”

 

In the Gospel reading (Jn 16:29-33), we hear that the disciples unwisely presume they have totally understood Jesus. The Divine Master exposes their misunderstanding and confronts their presumption by predicting their failure to stand by him to the end. The disciples are to desert him in the hour of trial. But Jesus will not be alone because God the Father is with him. During the paschal “hour” the disciples will scatter. Jesus thus exhorts them to take courage for he has already overcome the world. Their victory is assured in his own victory. His saving love triumphs over our weaknesses, trials and sufferings. In Jesus we find peace and strength to endure.

 

The following incident narrated by Archbishop Van Thuan shows how Christian disciples of today take courage in the Lord and experience the Easter peace he brings (cf. Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, Testimony of Hope, Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2000, p. 65-66).

 

The Catholics in the prison of Phu Khanh had secretly brought in a copy of the New Testament. They divided the book into small pieces and distributed these pieces among the Catholics who began to learn the passage by heart. Since the cells had floors of sand, when they heard a guard’s footsteps, they would hide the Word of God by burying it in the floor.

 

In the darkness of night, the prisoners would recite in turn the part of the New Testament each had already memorized. It was an impressive and moving experience to hear the Word of God proclaimed in the silence and darkness of the prison … to be in the presence of Jesus the “living Gospel” spoken by the prisoners with all strength of soul; to hear the priestly prayer and the passion of Christ …

 

The non-Christians also listened with respect and admiration to what they called the “Sacred Word”. Many said they felt the Word of God to be “spirit and life”.

      

 

B. First Reading (Acts 19:1-8): “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?”

 

In the reading (Acts 19:1-8), we hear that Saint Paul returns to Ephesus, led by the Spirit, and meets “believers who were baptized with the baptism of John”. Their faith is inchoative and they have not even heard that there is the Holy Spirit. True to his vocation, Paul takes every opportunity to proclaim the radical character of Christian faith to all peoples of the earth. He reminds them that John the Baptist urged people to believe in Jesus, “the one who is to come after him”. The Ephesian “believers” open their hearts fully to the apostle’s Gospel proclamation and are baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus”. Paul lays his hands upon them and they receive the gifts of tongues and prophecy. Like the “twelve” apostles that are the nucleus of the Christian community in Jerusalem, there are about “twelve men” who constitute the nucleus of the Christian community in Ephesus.

 

The role of the apostle Paul and the vitality of the Church in Ephesus give insight into the role of Pope Francis and the vitality of the Church in Korea today (cf. “Church in Korea” in Alive! April 2014,  p. 4).

 

Pope Francis will visit South Korea from August 14th till the 19th to participate in a Catholic youth festival, preside over a beatification ceremony for 124 Korean martyrs, and bring a message of peace to the war-divided peninsula.

 

South Korea is a truly incredible place for the Catholic Faith. Consider the statistics.

 

Every parish has from 200 to 400 baptisms of converts from Buddhism each year. Most of the converts are city dwellers. Each year there are 130-150 new priests, one for every 1,110 of the baptized.

 

In 2009, the number of people baptized reached 157,000 and 149 priests were ordained, 21 more than in 2008. More than two-thirds of the priests are under the age of 40.

 

Over the past 10 years the Catholic Church in Korea has gone from three to five million faithful. In 1960, there were 250 Korean priests; today there are 5,000.

 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

 

1. When we experience trials and adversities, pain and suffering, do we take courage in the Lord?

 

2. What role does Saint Paul play in leading the “believers” in Ephesus closer to Christ? What role do you play to help increase the vitality and deepen the faith of your community?

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

Lord Jesus,

you are our Savior.

You are victorious over the unbelieving world

and in your decisive victory on the cross

our own victory over sin and death is assured.

We take courage in you.

Help us to challenge the desperate and the hopeless

with your words: “Take courage. I have conquered the world.”

Give us the grace to promote the growth and vitality of the Church.

You live and reign, now and forever.

Amen. Alleluia.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

           

            The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the week. Please memorize it.

 

“Take courage. I have conquered the world.” (Jn 16:33) // “The Holy Spirit came upon them.” (Acts 19:6)

 

  

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

Resolve to share the Good News with a people that, in this secularized world, tend to live without faith and hope. Pray for the pastoral ministry of the Pope in the Church and in the world.

 

 

 

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March 31, 2022: TUESDAY – THE VISITATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Fruit of Mary’s Womb and Is Present in Her Visitation”

  

 

BIBLE READINGS

Zep 3:14-18a or Rom 12:9-16 // Lk 1:39-56

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 1:39-56): “And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

 

Today we celebrate the feast of the visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Christ-bearer, into the home of Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1:39-56). It is a profound meeting between two wonderful women, each carrying a very special baby with a vital role in salvation history. Mary’ son, Jesus, is the Messiah, while Elizabeth’s son, John, is the Messiah’s precursor. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit at Mary’s greeting and the child in her womb leaps for joy at the coming of Jesus, the fruit of Mary’s womb. This grace-filled event foreshadows the joyful outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Jesus Christ’s glorification.

 

Mary’s visit to assist Elizabeth exemplifies the spirit of service that marks Christian discipleship. But more remarkable than her assistance to a needy pregnant cousin, Mary’s incomparable service and ministry in salvation history is her divine motherhood. Her “FIAT” to the saving plan made possible the incarnation of the Son of God. Saint Bede the Venerable remarks: “Above all other servants, she alone can truly rejoice in Jesus, the Savior, for she knew that he who was the source of eternal salvation would be born in time in her body, in one person both her own son and her Lord.” United with the saving mission of her Son and Lord Jesus, Mary of Nazareth is truly the servant of God – the handmaid of the Lord.

 

Today’s feast also invites us to be truly concerned with a social issue that militates against the service of life that the Mother of God exemplifies. Abortion is a negation of a person’s right to life … a direct attack against an innocent human being, who is a gift of God. The following words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta are insightful (cf. Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart, ed. Jeff Cavins, et. al., West Chester: Ascension Press, 2004, p. 228-231).

 

And God loved the world so much that he gave his son. God gave his son to the Virgin Mary, and what did she do with him? As soon as Jesus came into Mary’s life, immediately she went in haste to give that good news. And as she came into the house of her cousin, Elizabeth, Scripture tells us that the unborn child – the child in the womb of Elizabeth – leapt with joy. While still in the womb of Mary, Jesus brought peace to John the Baptist, who leaps for joy in the womb of Elizabeth. (…)

 

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts. By abortion, the mother does not learn to love but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

 

 

B. First Reading (Zep 3:14-18a): “The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst.”

 

On this feast of the visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the First Reading is from the book of the prophet Zephaniah (3:14-18a). He, who prophesied under King Josiah of Judah, is both the prophet of the “day of wrath” and the harbinger of the promise of salvation. His foreboding of doom merely underlines the consoling message that God is in our midst – to bring salvation out of a painful situation. The enigmatic prophet Zephaniah makes an ardent appeal to trust in the mighty Lord who is “in our midst”. The prophet’s words underline the transforming effect and the joy that the presence of the Lord brings. This passage adds special meaning to the feast of the visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the “Christ-bearer”. In a deeper sense, Mary’s visitation is actually the Lord Jesus’ visitation. In Mary’s visitation to her cousin Elizabeth, she makes possible for the Savior to be “in our midst”. The Son that Mary carries in the womb is the one who will rejoice over us and renew us in his love.

 

Our joy as a faith community is based on the Lord’s presence. Hence, even in trials and distress, it is possible to rejoice because our life is secure in the hands of God. There is joy in sufferings as long as we open ourselves to the mystery of the Lord’s visitation and the love of Mary, the Mother of our Savior. The following story, circulated on the Internet, gives insight into the mystery of the Lord’s visitation and the triumph of love over affliction.

 

My Italian Grandmother was a wonderful woman. "Nanny" had a loving, vibrant soul that she carried around in a short, heavyset body. She had a passion for life that expressed itself in so many ways. It was in the hugs she gave, the meals she cooked, and the flowers she grew. It was even in the temper she lost from time to time. I think one of the reasons I was never taught Italian by my Dad was he was afraid I might learn the meaning of some of those words Nanny said when she was upset.

 

Nanny raised four sons and then helped my Mom and Dad raise me and my two brothers as well. I always felt blessed growing up in her home as a boy. She worked hard, laughed loud, and was never afraid of what life threw at her. Life wasn't that easy on her either. She suffered from health problems all her life and even survived an operation for a brain tumor. When she fell and broke her hip in her eighties, my Dad was forced to admit that he could no longer take care of her at home.

 

It was with a heavy heart that Dad moved Nanny into a nursing home. She lost weight and was confined to a wheelchair. Yet, even as her body shrunk and withered, her spirit stayed strong. The nurses there loved her and her zest for life. Even her Italian temper brought smiles to them as they learned a few "choice" words of Italian from her as well. Our whole family gathered together for her 90th birthday in the nursing home dining room. It was a wonderful celebration of her life and the love we all had for her.

 

Shortly after that birthday, however, life gave her the toughest challenge of all as age and illness started to take her mind from her too. The dementia grew worse and worse over the last few years of her life. At times when I visited her she didn't know who I was. It was heartbreaking to see her this way. She spoke less and less and stayed in her bed more and more. Sometimes all I could do was just sit by her bed and hold her hand.

During one of these visits I was holding her hand while she slept and remembering the person she used to be. My soul was in mourning that life could take everything from her like this. At that moment she awoke. Her eyes gazed up at me and I could tell she didn't recognize me. She looked down at my hand holding hers and instead of pulling hers away, she smiled at me. Then she closed her eyes and went peacefully back to sleep. I could see then that even though her mind didn’t remember me, her spirit still remembered love and that was enough.

 

 

C. Alternative First Reading (Rom 12:9-16): “Contribute to the needs of the holy ones; exercise hospitality.”

 

The alternative reading (Rom 12:9-16) consists of a series of instructions or maxims about charitable acts. To serve the Lord is what motivates Christian conduct and the desire to meet the needs of believers. The charitable works of the faith community is founded on the love of Christ experienced to the utmost extent. Like Mary who visited Elizabeth to assist her in her need, the Christian disciples are called to respond to the needs of others.

 

The following story illustrates the fulfillment of Paul’s maxim: “Contribute to the needs of the holy ones; exercise hospitality” (cf. Gilbert Roller, “More Than Coincidence” in GUIDEPOSTS, February 2014, p. 31).

 

My mother wasn’t impulsive, especially regarding her finances. That’s why I was shocked when she said she’d donated most of her life savings to two missionaries who had knocked at her door in Texas. “You did what?!” I sputtered. “When?” “A few months back”, she said. “These nice young people needed money to build a chapel in Mexico.” No, they hadn’t given her any documentation. No, she hadn’t heard from them since. I didn’t want to upset her, but I had to tell her that I thought she’d fallen for a scam. “I don’t think the Lord would have moved me to help if it wasn’t for real”, she said.

 

At the time, I was a young professor at Asbury University in Kentucky, teaching music theory, and my wife and I weren’t on the best financial footing. We could have used that money. For years – even after I got my tenure and we raised three sons – I imagined finding the drifters who had swindled Mom, though I wasn’t sure what I’d do if I did. Only when Mom died and my sons became missionaries – real ones – did I let the matter go.

 

I retired in 1993. My wife and I took a cross-country trip to California, staying at campgrounds along the way. One evening, somewhere in Missouri, I’d just set up our tent when a man wandered over from his RV. “I see by your license plate you’re from Kentucky”, he said. “What do you do?” “Retired now”, I said. “But I used to teach music theory.” “Music”, the man said. “Hmm. You know anyone by the name of Roller?” How’d he know that? “Yes, actually, my name is Roller”, I said.

 

The man smiled. “Many years ago, my wife and I met a woman in Texas named Roller. She had a son in Kentucky who taught music. She gave us quite a lot of money. Viola Roller.”

 

My mom. My blood ran cold. Here I was, finally face-to-face with one of so-called missionaries!

 

“Hang on”, the man said, ducking into his RV before I could react. He came out and handed me a photo. A simple adobe building with a cross on the roof, and a sign in front: Roller Capilla. “Roller Chapel”, the man said. “Named for the woman who made it possible.”

 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

 

1. Do we imitate Mary’s neighborly concern for her cousin Elizabeth as well as her maternal devotion and apostolic zeal as Christ-bearer?

 

2. Are we grateful for the many occasions of the Lord’s visitation in our life?

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

Jesus Lord,

we thank you for sharing with us

the ineffable goodness of Mary, your blessed Mother.

Help us to imitate Mary

in her maternal devotion, faithful discipleship and apostolic zeal.

Grant that in the spirit of Mary,

the handmaid of the Lord,

we may be instruments of your grace-filled “visitation”

to the poor and the needy,

the weak and the marginalized,

the “anawim” and the chosen people of God.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen. Alleluia.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

            The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the week. Please memorize it.

 

“And how does this happen to me that the mother of the Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43) // “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty Savior.”  (Zep 3:17) // “Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality.” (Rom 12:13)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

Be an instrument of the Lord’s visitation. Like Mary, the “Christ-bearer”, bring the Lord’s healing love to a person who needs his saving presence, e.g. the sick, the homebound, the lonely, the grieving, etc. 

   

 

 

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June 1, 2022: WEDNESDAY – SAINT JUSTIN MARTYR

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Prays Father, Consecrate Them in the Truth … He Builds the Church Up

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 20:28-38 // Jn 17:11b-19

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

A. Gospel Reading (Jn 17:11b-19): “May they be one just as we are one.”

 

Jesus’ perfect love for the disciples and his deep concern for their fate after his departure are contained in the Priestly Prayer. In today’s Gospel (Jn 17:11b-19), he prays the Father to take care of his disciples that they may be delivered from the evil one. The evil one is real and will tempt them to lose their faith in Jesus when faced with trials and persecutions. Hence, they will need the divine protection in a special way. Jesus thus asks the Father to consecrate the disciples in the “truth”. By the power of the Holy Spirit, they will be confirmed in their faith. They will put their trust in the word of God given to them by Jesus and imitate his sacrificial and healing love on the cross. Consecrated and strengthened, the disciples will be able to continue through time and space the saving mission of Jesus.

 

The following article, written by Amy Goodman and circulated on the Internet, gives us insight into the life of one who is “consecrated in the truth”.

 

The body bag marked “Victim 0001” on Sept. 11, 2001, contained the corpse of Father Mychal Judge, a Catholic chaplain with the Fire Department of New York. When he heard about the disaster at the World Trade Center, he donned his Catholic collar and firefighter garb and raced downtown. He saw people jump to their deaths to avoid the inferno more than 1,000 feet above. At 9:59 a.m., the South Tower collapsed, and the force and debris from that mass of steel, concrete, glass and humanity as it hit the ground is likely what killed Father Mychal. His was the first recorded death from the attacks that morning. His life’s work should be central to the 10th anniversary commemorations of the Sept. 11 attacks: peace, tolerance and reconciliation.

 

One of the first vigils held this year was in honor of Father Mychal. About 300 people gathered Sunday in front of the St. Francis Church where Judge lived and worked, just down the block from the Ladder 24/Engine 1 Firehouse. The march followed Father Mychal’s final path to Ground Zero. The man behind the annual remembrance is Steven McDonald, the former New York police detective who was shot in 1986. He was questioning 15-year-old Shavod Jones in Central Park. Jones shot McDonald, leaving him paralyzed for life.

 

I caught up with McDonald as he led the procession, rolling down Seventh Avenue in his wheelchair. He talked about what Father Mychal meant to him: “He, more than anything ... reaffirmed my faith in God, and that it was important to me to forgive the boy who shot me. And I’m alive today because of that.” Father Mychal had managed to get Jones on the phone with McDonald and his wife. He apologized from prison. Taking the lessons of reconciliation, McDonald joined Judge in a trip to Northern Ireland, where they worked together to try to help end the violence there.

    

 

B. First Reading (Acts 20:28-38): “I commend you to God who has the power to build you up and give you inheritance.”

 

In today’s First Reading (Acts 20:28-38) we continue to hear the apostle Paul’s Farewell Discourse to the leaders of the Church in Ephesus. He charges them to watch over themselves as well as over the flock which the Holy Spirit has entrusted to their care. He bids them to be watchful and to be faithful to the true message about Jesus. Finally, Saint Paul commends the elders to God. Indeed, the word of God is the font of blessing and grace for the building up of the Church. The apostle Paul is truly a model for what a Christian bishop or presbyter should be. Like Paul, who feels that death is imminent, they must care for the flock generously and perseveringly to the point of sacrifice.

 

The spirit of intimate communion with God and pastoral care can be verified in the life of the Sicilian priest Father Pino Puglisi (cf. Katia Di Roucco, “Father Pino Puglisi Embodies in Himself the Word and Death of Christ”, in Il Rosario e la Nuova Pompei, September/October 2012, p. 8-11).

 

Giuseppe Puglisi was born on September 15, 1937, in Palermo, in the infamous neighborhood of “Brancaccio”, characterized by poverty, high moral degradation and organized crime. He himself was of humble origins, the son of a cobbler and a dressmaker. He was ordained a priest on July 2, 1960, and on the stampita-souvenir he condenses his program: “O Lord, that I be a valuable tool in your hands for the salvation of the world.” Since then his life has been a continuous commitment: collaborator of various parishes, chaplain of the Roosevelt orphanage, parish priest in Godrano, a village ravaged by a fierce battle between Mafia families, where Don Pino can bring reconciliation and peace by practicing the power of forgiveness, addressing himself especially to the wives, the mothers, to the children. (…)

 

He is interested in the social problems of the most marginalized districts of the city. He follows closely the proceedings of Vatican II and spreads quickly its documents among the faithful, with special regard to the renewal of liturgy, the role of the laity, the values of ecumenism and of the local churches. His desire was always that of embodying the message of Jesus Christ in the territory.

 

In 1990, he was entrusted with the parish of St. Gaetano, within the Brancaccio quarter where he himself was born. That area was then controlled by the Mafia. (…) A few months after taking over in the parish of St. Gaetano, Don Pino opened the Our Father center entrusted to the Sisters of the Poor, whose primary purpose is that of human promotion and evangelization … When going against the tide, Don Pino was aware that he was being required the sacrifice of his life to follow Christ. (…)

 

The Mafia decided to eliminate him. And in 1993, on the day of his 56th birthday, he was murdered with a bullet in his nape … His pastoral work was the only motive for the killing. For this, many voices were raised to seek the recognition of martyrdom and, five years after his assassination, Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi established the ecclesiastical Court to start the investigation that ended in 2001, and the dossier is now under review by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican.

 

Here is the motivation of the crime in the written judgment of the Court of Assises: “The figure of a priest emerges who worked tirelessly in the territory, out of the shade of the bell-tower … The work of Don Puglisi became a snare and a thorn on the side of the emerging criminal group that dominated the area, because it was an element of subversion in the context of the conservative, oppressive Mafia order which had been imposed in the area, against which the priest appeared to be one of the most tenacious and brave opponents. All projects and initiatives started by the priest, which have been reported in detail by his collaborators and people close to him, crown the figure of an austere and rigorous religious man, not a contemplative one but fully inserted in the social field, immersed in the difficult neighborhood reality, lucid and disenchanted but not bitter and disillusioned, defeated or weakened by threats, intimidations and open conflicts with the men of the local Mafia establishment. Don Puglisi had chosen not only to “reconstruct” the spiritual and religious sentiments of his faithful, but also siding, concretely, without veils of ambiguity and complicit silence, on the part of the weak and marginalized.”

 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

 

1. What is the implication for you of Christ’s prayer, “Father, consecrate them in the truth”?

 

2. Do we realize that God wants us to participate in the pastoral care of the Church? What do we do to help the ordained ministers in their special ministry to God’s flock?

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

O loving Jesus,

you prayed to the Father

to guard us from the evil one.

You begged him to consecrate us in the truth.

We believe in the power of your prayer.

We trust in the love that triumphs over all.

In the hour of trial,

we cling to your life-giving word.

In adversities and persecution,

we find strength in divine protection.

Help us to live fully

our consecration and mission in today’s world.

Help us to shepherd and nourish your flock,

and to lay down our life for your sheep.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen. Alleluia.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the day. Please memorize it.

 

“Consecrate them in the truth.” (Jn 17:17) // “I commend you to God and to that gracious word of his that can build you up.” (Acts 20:32)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

When faced with trials and difficulties, be strengthened by Christ’s prayer of intercession for all his disciples. By your words and deeds of charity, endeavor to be a vital part of the Church’s pastoral care. 

 

 

 

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June 2, 2022: THURSDAY – EASTER WEEKDAY (7); SAINTS MARCELLINUS AND PETER, Martyrs

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Prays Father, May They All Be One … His Apostle Paul Bears Witness to Him in Rome

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 22:30; 23:6-11 // Jn 17:20-26

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

A. Gospel Reading (Jn 17:20-26): “May they all be one.”

 

In the Gospel (Jn 17:20-26) we hear that after praying for his first disciples, Jesus’ Priestly Prayer now focuses on future disciples – on the Church of all time. He prays to the Father for Christian unity: “May they all be one.” It is a unity based on the shared life and love of the Father and the Son. Without Christian unity, the Church is unable to carry out its mission in the world efficaciously. When there is clearer evidence of unity, the world is more disposed to believe. Indeed, the only Gospel some people will read is the way Jesus’ followers live. There are many divisions then and today, but the unity that Jesus wills us to have surpasses all barriers and fragmentation and brings about healing and grace. By virtue of this unity, the pilgrim Church can live the mission entrusted to her so that the world may believe in the Son and in the Father who sent him.

 

Our Lord Jesus greatly desires Christian unity. Hence, we too must work toward the attainment of this goal. The spirit of mutual respect and charity can lead us toward the path of unity. My personal experience illustrates this.

 

Gisbert was almost 12 years old when I left home and entered the convent in 1970. I had very little contact with him since then. In 1981 I was assigned abroad. When I returned to the Philippines in 1990, he had married Veron, a “Born Again Christian”. Gisbert had also become a “Born Again”. It was understandable that we would have fiery discussions on some elements of Catholic faith that he contested.

 

One day we went on an excursion. While Gisbert and I were relaxing in the cool shade of a mango tree, we finally had a cordial and mature faith sharing. He listened attentively when I explained to him about the role of saints as models of those who have participated fully in Christ’s paschal mystery of passion, death and resurrection. From that day on, we focused on what unites us in our Christian faith, that is, the Word of God that is purifying and life-giving.

 

Eventually Gisbert, with his wife and children, immigrated to Canada. When Gisbert was diagnosed with cancer in September 2008, I would call almost every day from the States to strengthen him. By phone I would cite a Bible passage and pray over him. I had the grace to be with him during his last days at the Palliative Care Unit in Brampton Hospital in Toronto. He passed away on May 20, 2009. When he breathed his last, he was enveloped with prayers and the Word of God both from me – a Catholic nun – and the pastor of their community. His death became a beautiful ecumenical event for us all.

 

 

B. First Reading (Acts 22:30; 23:6-11): “You must bear witness in Rome.”

 

The prediction about the sufferings that the disciples would endure for the sake of Jesus is realized in Saint Paul. Jesus told his disciples: “You will be arrested and persecuted; you will be handed over to be tried in synagogues and be put in prison; you will be brought before kings and rulers for my sake. This will be your chance to tell the Good News” (cf. Lk 21:12-13). In today’s First Reading (Acts 22:30; 23:6-11), after escaping the near-lynching in Jerusalem and the flogging from the Roman guards in the fort, Paul is brought to the Sanhedrin by the Roman commander. He wants to know why Paul has stirred up a riot. True to his vocation, Paul proclaims his faith before the Council: “I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.” This is not a ploy to extricate himself from a difficult situation. Paul simply declares the truth about the resurrection of the dead, of which the Risen Lord Jesus is the “first fruits”. A near riot ensues between the Sadducees, who do not believe, and the Pharisees who do. Paul is rescued by the Roman troops and brought back to the fort.  That night the Lord appeared to him with an assurance and a command to continue the witnessing that he gives in Jerusalem in Rome as well. This dream of consolation is very important in the life of Saint Paul. He must move on from Jerusalem to the ultimate witnessing that he will give at the center of the Roman Empire. Saint Paul’s martyrdom in Rome is foreshadowed.

 

The importance of Rome in Saint Paul’s apostolic ministry is likewise felt by Blessed James Alberione, Founder of the Pauline Family. Here is an account of the beginnings of the Pauline Family’s house in Rome (cf. Luigi Rolfo, James Alberione: Apostle for Our Times, New York: Alba House, 1987, p. 193-194).

 

The trip to Rome for the Holy Year in 1925 hastened the Founder’s resolve to open the first masculine and feminine branches of the Pauline community in the capital. And, with the rapidity with which he used to go from the idea of some project to its execution, Father Alberione entrusted the finding of a house suited for this purpose to Father Desiderio Costa, considered the most able negotiator not only because he had already traveled throughout Italy from top to bottom, but also because of his calm, clever way with words and his imposing figure. He found a place for the Paulines on the Ostien Way and for the Daughters and the Disciples some 1500 feet away on the Via Porto Fluviale.

 

News of the new foundation spread through the community in Alba around the end of 1925, and it excited a great deal of enthusiasm. Thereafter the Founder’s predictions quickly began to translate themselves into facts. Following that of Rome, there would soon rise other houses: there could be no doubt about it. And to go to Rome, a stone’s throw from the Pope, was an honor that many of the young Paulines would have paid for voluntarily with several years of their lives.

 

Father Joseph Giaccardo, whom all the Paulines were calling the “Teacher”, the man whom they all considered the most authentic interpreter of the thought of the Founder, was given the direction of the new house. And Father Giaccardo accepted the job with the docility and simplicity with which he would have accepted any other charge, from the most honorific to the humblest and least significant.

 

The house of Rome came into being almost as an extension of the Mother House, from which it took not only the personnel – Father Giaccardo and fourteen boys from the sophomore year of high school – but also the printing machines, type cases, parish bulletins to be printed monthly, the refectory tables, and the benches and books for study.

 

On the evening of the 14th of January 1926, in a brief function in the chapel of the community, Father Alberione said a few words, noting in a special way that he had chosen Father Giaccardo as the leader of the house of Rome because of his great love for the Pope … Father Alberione, truly moved, embraced his disciple, hastily made a gesture of farewell to the boys who accompanied them and reentered his office. The others remained there yelling and waving their good-byes until those leaving had disappeared around the corner.

 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

 

1. Do we contribute to the realization of the prayer and great longing of Jesus, “Father, may they all be one”?

 

2. Are we willing to give witness to the Risen Lord in every time, place, and situation? Do we look to Saint Paul as model of true Gospel proclamation and witnessing?

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

Jesus Lord,

you prayed for Christian unity

and you died on the cross to gather your flock.

Help us to overcome our divisions and fragmentation.

Make us whole

and let us be united in your love.

Let us be courageous in witnessing.

Save us from the hour of trial

and deliver us from evil.

You are our Savior whom we love and adore,

now and forever.

Amen. Alleluia.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the day. Please memorize it.

 

“I pray …that they may all be one.” (Jn 17:20-21) // “You must also bear witness in Rome.” (Acts 23:11)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO 

 

Be a promoter of Christian unity and compassionate acts of charity in our confused and divided world. Take notice of the universal character of our faith community and thank God for it.

 

 

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June 3, 2022: FRIDAY – SAINT CHARLES LWANGA AND COMPANIONS, Martyrs

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Asks Us to Tend the Sheep … The Apostle Paul Bears Witness to His Resurrection”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 25:13b-21 // Jn 21:15-19

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

A. Gospel Reading (Jn 21:15-19): “Feed my lambs; feed my sheep.”

 

Today’s Gospel reading (Jn 21:15-19) depicts a lovable portrait of Peter as a reconciled disciple and as a Christ-designated community shepherd. By the shore of the Sea of Tiberias where he initially received Jesus’ call: “Come, follow me; I will make you a fisher of men”, Peter is given a chance to redeem himself. The Risen Lord evokes a threefold protestation of love from him to nullify his threefold betrayal at the “hour” of trial. Peter’s weakness and failure, having made him more compassionate and humble, could now be positively integrated into his total destiny as Christ’s follower and in his apostolic mission as Church shepherd. The Risen Lord, who has sought his love and forgiven him, asks him in a threefold manner and with greater intensity to take care of the sheep. Bereft of braggadocio and trusting no longer in himself but in the grace of God, Peter will be able to follow Jesus Christ all the way – even to the point of laying down his life for the sheep.

 

The following account by Archbishop Van Thuan illustrates what true pastoral ministry means today (cf. Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, Testimony of Hope, Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2000, p. 56-57)

 

When under house arrest in the village of Cay Vong, I was under police surveillance day and night, and this thought became obsessive: “My people! My people that I love so much: a flock without a shepherd! How can I contact my people at a time when they have most need of their pastor? The Catholic bookstores have been confiscated, the schools closed, the religious dispersed. Some have gone to work in the rice camps and others find themselves in the ‘region of new economy’ in the midst of the general population, in the villages. This separation is a shock that destroys my heart.”

 

I told myself, “I will not wait. I want to live in the present moment, filling it with love, but how?” One night a light came to me: “Francis, it is very simple. Do as St. Paul did when he was in prison. Write letters to the different communities.”

 

The following morning while it was still dark, I signaled to Quang, a seven-year old who returned from Mass at 5:00 A.M. I said to him: “Tell your mother to buy old calendars for me.” That night, once more in the dark, Quang brought me the calendars. Every single day in October and November of 1975, I wrote messages to my people from prison. Each morning Quang came to take the papers and bring them home so that his brothers and sisters could recopy the messages. That is how the book, The Road of Hope, came to be written and has since been published in eleven languages.

 

When I was finally released from prison in 1989, I received a letter from Mother Teresa. It contained these words: “It is not the number of our works that are important, but the intensity of the love that we put into every action.”

     

 

B. First Reading (Acts 25:13b-21): “Jesus was dead whom Paul claimed to be alive.”

 

In the reading (Acts 25:13b-21), after the near-lynching in Jerusalem and the violent argument that he created between the Pharisees and the Sadducees at the Council meeting, Paul is kept in custody at the Roman governor’s headquarters in Caesarea. After two years have passed, Portius Festus succeeds Felix as governor. Under the instigation of the chief priests and Jewish leaders, Festus orders Paul to be brought to court in Caesarea and face the Jews who have come from Jerusalem to accuse him. Paul defends himself from false accusations. However, to gain favor with the Jews, Festus asks Paul to go to Jerusalem and respond to the charges of his enemies there. Paul wisely refuses and makes an appeal to Caesar. Governor Festus needs to make a written report in accordance with the Roman law before he could send Paul to Rome. In view of this, Festus takes the opportunity of the visit of King Agrippa and Bernice to Caesarea to present Paul to them. King Agrippa is intrigued to meet this man who claims that Jesus, once dead, is alive.

 

The prediction of Jesus about his disciples being brought into synagogues and before governors and kings, on account of his name, is accomplished in Saint Paul. The faithful apostle follows closely in the suffering footsteps of Jesus. Before King Agrippa and Governor Festus, Paul makes his last public defense in which he underlines the meaning and identity of Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. He narrates to them his experience of conversion and his mission to open the eyes of others and to bring them from darkness to light. Hearing his defense, they realize that he is innocent and conclude that Paul could have been freed if he has not appealed to Caesar.

 

Saint Paul is the model witness to Jesus’ resurrection. The famed naturalist John Muir has, in a sense, a conversion experience like Saint Paul. Having experienced a kind of “resurrection”, Muir dedicates himself to opening the eyes of people to the wonders of creation (cf. Linda Lawrence Hunt, “The Wild Places” in Guideposts, May 2013, p. 32-36).

 

Muir was the founder of the Sierra Club and best known as the father of our national parks, most notably Yosemite and Yellowstone. His eloquent words inspired Americans to visit those places. Hobnobbing with Teddy Roosevelt and congressional leaders, he succeeded in getting them to protect these great unspoiled lands. (…)

 

Muir studied botany in college, but figured his love of nature could only be a hobby, something to do on weekends. He pursued a career as a machinist and inventor. Then one evening Muir was tightening a new belt drive when sharp filings sprang up, blinding him in his right eye. Eventually he lost sight in the left eye as well. He feared being “closed forever on all God’s beauty”, as he lamented in his journal.

 

His sight did return – “It felt like a resurrection”, he wrote – and he was determined to leave his inventions behind and “devote the rest of my life to the study of the inventions of God”. At age 29, John Muir planned a pilgrimage to see the tropical plants of the southern United States, hoping to continue on to South America and Africa. (…)

 

“Led by the Spirit”, he wrote and began his journey. He walked 18 to 20 miles a day, rejoicing in the “splendid vision of pines and palms and tropic flowers in glorious array, not however without a few cold shadows of loneliness.” (…) Humbled by his own limits, still recovering from malaria, Muir detoured from his original plan to go to South America. Instead he traveled to the drier and milder climate of Yosemite Valley, where he found his true home. For the next 30 years he wrote persuasively about the need to preserve our wilderness, places where people could find inspiration and renewal, as he had. “Nothing can take the place of absolute contact, of seeing and feeding at God’s table for oneself”, he wrote … The hand of God is never more evident than in the splendor of nature.

 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

 

1. Are we willing to follow Christ’s commission to Peter, the Church and to each disciple: “Feed my lambs … Tend my sheep … Feed my sheep”?

 

2. Are we willing to give witness to Jesus as the Risen Lord in every aspect of our life? Do we open our hearts to the many signs of “resurrection” and the wonders of God around us?

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

Jesus Lord,

when you rose from the dead

and appeared to Peter by the Sea of Tiberias,

you commissioned him to care for your flock

and to nourish your sheep.

We fully embrace the pastoral task

you have given to Peter,

and through him, to the whole Church.

Give us the grace

to care lovingly and tenderly for your flock

even to the point of self-sacrifice.

Make us faithful witnesses of your resurrection.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen. Alleluia.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the day. Please memorize it.

 

“Feed my lambs … Tend my sheep.” (Jn 21:15-16) // “Paul claims Jesus is alive.” (Acts 25:19)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

Pray for the Pope, bishops, priests, deacons, etc. who are directly involved in Church pastoral ministry. In the context of the culture of death that afflicts our society, endeavor to promote the message of life, and to imitate Saint Paul in his mission to proclaim the Good News about the Risen Christ. 

 

 

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June 4, 2022: SATURDAY – EASTER WEEKDAY (7)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Word of Life … The Apostle Paul Proclaims His Kingdom”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 28:16-20, 30-31 // Jn 21:20-25

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

A. Gospel Reading (Jn 21:20-25): “This is the disciple who has written these things and his testimony is true.”

 

The Gospel reading (Jn 21:20-25) depicts Peter and John, the Beloved Disciple of Jesus, as the embodiment of two aspects of Church ministry. Peter embodies the pastoral ministry in response to the Risen Lord’s commission: “Feed my lambs … Tend my sheep.”  The Beloved Disciple embodies the ministry of the proclamation of the Word and asserts: “This is what we proclaim to you; what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked upon and our hands have touched – we speak of the word of life” (I Jn 1:1). As the Son of God can reveal the Father, since he is at the bosom of the Father, so the Beloved Disciple can reveal the Son since he rested at the Son’s bosom on the night of the Last Supper. The special mission of John is to give witness to the Word of God made flesh. The evangelist wrote his eyewitness accounts that those who read them may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through faith in him they may have life. The Gospel according to John is meant to lead people to a deeper faith in Christ.

 

Like the apostle-evangelist John we proclaim and give witness to the Word of Life in the here and now. The Maryknoll missionary, Fr. Joseph Fedora, narrates an experience from his AIDS ministry in Lima, Peru (cf. Maryknoll, March 2007, p. 34-35).

 

Olga, her body ravaged by HIV, is in mourning. So much loss in such a short life – 28 years old, going on 82. Gone is the luster in her long black hair, and her cheeks, deep craters surrounded by bony ridges, no longer blush. Too anemic for that. Her dark eyes, made darker by shadows and dimmed by pain, glow less brightly. Gone too are her once full lips, now stretched thin by chronic malnourishment, her teeth impossibly large in a face wasting away.

 

Olga smiles when she sees me approaching her bed. I bend down and kiss her forehead. “How are you?” I ask. “My back hurts,” she says. “Could you turn me on my side?” It seems easier than it should be; she weighs so little. “Hmmm,” she purrs, “much better.” Blessed respite, I think, but just then a coughing fit – like a spiteful taskmaster – cuts the respite short. Her body convulses, and with each cough one can almost hear her bones rattle. When the attack subsides, Olga moans. I gently rub her back, feeling every contour of every vertebra. Within moments she begins to purr once more. “That feels so good,” she says. She closes her eyes and smiles. We don’t talk for a while, comfortable in the silence and in the healing touch – healing for her, healing for me. No simple massage this, I think. Something much greater is afoot – something holy. After a moment, with eyes still closed, Olga invites me to apply more pressure, “but only if you’d like,” she says. “My pleasure,” I respond …

 

I close my eyes and pray my touch – like Jesus’ – comforts and heals this wounded woman now sleeping. She’s at peace, as I am.  I savor the moment silently, then open my eyes. “No need for holy oils now,” I muse. “Better she sleeps. Besides, was not that backrub a sacrament?” I kiss Olga on her forehead and whisper goodbye. There’s a spring in my step as I make my way to another patient in mourning, to another encounter with the Word Made Flesh wasting away. It pains me to see pain, but, oh, the comfort in comforting others.

 

 

B. First Reading (Acts 28:16-20, 30-31): “Paul remained at Rome, proclaiming the Kingdom of God.”

 

Today’s concluding episode from the Acts of the Apostles (28:16-20, 30-31) presents Paul as having reached Rome, where he continues to proclaim the kingdom of God and to teach about the Lord Jesus Christ. Although he is under house arrest and “bound in chains”, the great apostle preaches and teaches with boldness and freedom. He welcomes all who come to see him in the place he rents for himself. He is always there for them. He has proclaimed Jesus the Messiah to the leaders of the Jews in Rome. Some of them believe in his words, while others would not believe and leave. Saint Paul has given witness to the Risen Christ, both to Jews and Gentiles, in Rome, the symbolic capital of the inhabited world. The Acts of the Apostles ends on a high note, that is, the ongoing proclamation of the Kingdom of God and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ … in Rome … and from Rome to the ends of the world!

 

Like Saint Paul, we too are called to preach about the kingdom of God and to teach the nations about our Lord Jesus Christ. A modern-day example of one who imitates Saint Paul in teaching and in witnessing about Jesus Christ is Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (cf. Dr. Scott Hahn, “Forward March: in Breaking the Bread, March 2013, p. 1 & 3).

 

Pope Benedict XVI: He has always been there for us. He has always been present. At the Second Vatican Council, he was there, and he played an active role, not as a bishop, but as an expert adviser to one of Europe’s most influential bishops. Young Joseph Ratzinger played an important role in the drafting of two key council documents. Through the 1960s he was present as one of the world’s leading theologians. It was Joseph Ratzinger who emerged as the most articulate voice of the authentic teaching of the Council.

 

He never tried to steal the spotlight, but he was always there for us. As a professor, he was there for his students, too. He was a theologian who raised a generation of brilliant theologians. And he has remained a fatherly presence in their lives, extending his influence through their work, and now through the work of their students as well.

 

It was a life he loved, but he gave it up when Pope Paul VI called him to be bishop and then created him a cardinal. While he had been a powerful presence to his fellow theologians, in the 1970s and 1980s, he became a universal churchman – a presence for the whole Church, speaking plain sense at a time when nonsense abounded. He was there for all of us, speaking up, with the gentleness of true authority.

 

He was always there for Blessed John Paul II. He was that pope’s most trusted adviser and his dear friend. Repeatedly the Polish pope refused the German cardinal’s resignation. When John Paul went to glory, the identity of his successor seemed self-evident to the cardinals who met in conclave. Since then, Pope Benedict has been a presence in the world – a witness, a judge, a counselor, a father. Our Holy Father.

 

When I awoke on February 11, the thought that he would no longer be there seemed unbearable. Yet he will be there … He’s retiring to a monastery to give the rest of his days to prayer – for us. For you and me … How can I begrudge the man his decisive movement into the contemplative life, which is an anticipation of life in heaven? He will be there for us. He will be there for me.

 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

 

1. Do we value the Gospel accounts written to deepen our faith and help us share in Christ’s gift of eternal life?

 

2. Do we imitate Saint Paul in proclaiming and teaching the Gospel of Christ freely and courageously?

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

O Risen Lord,

we thank you for the various ministries in the Church.

We thank you for Peter

who exemplifies the pastoral ministry.

We thank you for the Beloved Disciple John

who exemplifies the ministry of the Word.

Grant us the grace

of truly savoring the rich fare of the Gospel.

Help us to translate into life your life-giving word.

Let us be efficacious like Saint Paul

in the work of evangelization in today’s world.

As an Easter people,

make us limpid witnesses of your gift of eternal life.

You live and reign, now and forever.

Amen. Alleluia.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

            The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the week. Please memorize it.

 

“It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them.” (Jn 21:24) // “He proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 28:31)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

By your acts of charity and kindness to the people around you, enable them to experience the beauty and power of God’s life-giving word.

  

 

 

*** *** ***  

 

 

Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM

 

 

PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER

3700 North Cornelia Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722 (USA)

Tel. (559) 275-1656

Website: WWW.PDDM.US

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

*** *** *** 

 

Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM

 

 

PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER

3700 North Cornelia Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722 (USA)

Tel. (559) 275-1656

Website: WWW.PDDM.US

 


PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER
3700 North Cornelia Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722 (USA)
Tel. (559) 275-1656
Website: 
WWW.PDDM.US


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