Jesus’ Passion, Our Passion

A Reflection for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
By Sr. Marilyn Dunphy, MHSH

Readings:
https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/032821.c

This Sunday is often referred to as Palm Sunday, but more completely it is Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.  The triumphant procession and entry into Jerusalem give way to the betrayal, arrest, torture, and death of Jesus. His Passion is in full view in these accounts.

When we ponder the Passion of Jesus during this Holy Week, can we imagine him fully experiencing the physical pain, emotional distress, isolation, and abandonment that are described in the Scripture readings?  Or do we assume that Jesus’ divinity somehow shielded him from these experiences?

In “The Ignatian Adventure”, his guide to the Spiritual Exercises, Kevin O’Brien SJ says that “in order to know Jesus, we must take his humanity seriously. We must not forget that while he is fully divine, he is also fully human.  To gloss over Jesus’ humanity is to miss one of the central meanings of the Incarnation: Jesus shows us that the way to our divinity (or holiness) is through our humanity, not around it. In other words, Jesus teaches us how to be fully human”.

Our world has undergone its own passion during this last year, as Covid 19 has wrought illness, death, isolation, depression, and financial ruin.  Each of us can tell stories of our personal passion and/or the passion of family and friends.   It is raw, and it is real.  The Jesus who suffered so horribly himself, and loved us to the end, understands and is present to us with consoling love.

During this Holy Week, let us also bring into our prayer the suffering of others in our world who endure poverty, displacement, discrimination, oppression, marginalization, and other burdens.  To truly stand in solidarity with them in their plight is to stand with the suffering Jesus.

 

 

 

The Stations of the Cross Chaplet: Journeying Together During Holy Week

By Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH, D. Min.

 

Several years ago, while in Assisi, Italy with my University of Dayton students, I encountered the Stations of the Cross Rosary, or Chaplet, as it is to be called.  We were waiting to enter the Carceri (St. Francis’ Hermitage in the mountains above Assisi).  There on the side of the road was a stand vending religious articles.  There, on the mountain, I discovered the beautiful Chaplet that has become central to my daily prayer particularly during Covid-19.  

 Covid-19 is preventing us from being physically present for our Catholic Services and particularly our Lenten Traditional Stations of the Cross. I remember when growing up that no one in the parish ever missed 7:30 Friday evening Stations Devotion during Lent.  The entire parish was present. This Lenten Catholic Tradition was woven into the fabric of our Catholic spiritual lives.  

Today, more than ever, the Stations or Way of the Cross prophetically speak to us as we listen or view daily news. We are experiencing a living Way of the Cross in the lives of millions of people around the world. It is imperative now for us to daily embrace afresh journeying the Way of the Cross as a means of daily connecting with and supporting one another.

 During the 2000 Jubilee Pope John Paul II guided us through a moving Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum for Good Friday. It can be found with this link: http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/speeches/2000/apr-jun/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20000421_via-crucis.html

 I treasure praying the Stations of the Cross Chaplet each day as a way toward connecting spiritually with all who are experiencing effects from Covid-19, related illnesses, suffering from angst, distress, ambiguity, despair, and death of loved ones in their lives. Each one of us is journeying through our own personal difficulty brought on by Covid-19. Yet, together, especially during this Holy Week, while we are isolated in our own personal spaces, we can spiritually reach out supporting one another along each of our Way of the Crosses with Jesus by our side.

 For how to pray the Stations of the Cross Chaplet, click on this link:

https://www.blessedbeadsrosaries.com/stations-of-the-cross-chaplet-prayers

 Throughout this Holy Week, we invite all to join our Mission Helper of the Sacred Heart family united in prayer for recovery and end of Covid-19. Our Sisters hold each of you in prayer.

 

 

The Sounds of Silence

A reflection for the Triduum

By Sr. Clare Walsh, MHSH

 

Each of these three days – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday –  brings us face to face with the intimacy of being with Jesus at his most vulnerable. Sometimes words diminish, and silence is the only appropriate response.

What if this year we don’t try to “keep up” with all the events of this sacred week?  Instead, we could allow the enormity of the experience to wash over us until we are led to the center of quiet within ourselves where we come face to face with Jesus.

What if we choose one of the silences of each day and let it envelop us?

On Thursday…

Perhaps the humbling silence that must have followed the foot washing… or the tense silence after Judas’ betrayal?

Maybe the awe that led to silence as Jesus gives himself in bread blessed, broken, and shared.

Arguably, most challenging of all, the silence in the garden after Jesus begged, “Watch with me while I pray.”

On Friday…

Let Jesus catch our eye as he is arrested, brought before the Sanhedrin, and is brought low by Peter’s denial. Stay with the gaze.

In the silence of accompanying Jesus on the way of the cross, we each ask, “what makes my heart tremble”?

As we stand with the women at the foot of the cross, and hear Jesus forgive those condemned with him, is our silence challenged or disturbed?

 On Saturday…

How can we console Jesus for what we do to one another?  Will the silence of these holy days lead us to action for justice for our sisters and brothers who Jesus calls us to accompany in his name?

An Examen for Holy Week

The Word

While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

—Mark 14:22-26

Reflect

When we receive the Body and Blood of the Redeemer with reverence, we enact a holy yearning. Our reverence and devotion do not make us worthy to have Him under our roof. Yet He comes. So our way of welcoming Him is to keep good order in what’s under the roof.

1. Give Thanks. I thank God for this day, for my life, for all I am and have, and for His Word.

2. Pray for Light. I ask the Father to let me see my day as the Holy Spirit sees it, and to show me what I need to see.

3. Find God. I look at my day in the light of the Spirit.

I look at what I have done and not done.
Am I putting up with a bad habit?
Have I found God in the quiet?

4. Anything Wrong?

Have I ignored God? Have I neglected God’s gifts?
Where have I pleased others instead of pleasing God?
Before the crucifix, I express my contrition to God and repent of my sins.

5. What Now?

I look forward in hope.
What am I to do now? What do I have to avoid?

Prayer

That You would narrow down Your love,
Lord God of heaven and earth,
and find Your way into a billion souls
singly, to visit there and even stay,
amazes me and makes me wonder
whether my mind and heart
can stretch enough to grasp
that You are here, and to keep alive
to Your steady, unremitting love.
My heart is intermittent at best, Lord,
so I beg You to help me
keep loving You longer and longer,
until my whole mind and heart are filled
with You, even before You come.
Amen.

Source. “From Ashes to Glory”, Ignatianspirituality.com.  Joseph Tetlow, SJ

 

These Holy Days

A Reflection by Sr. Clare Walsh, MHSH

wi0821bi_4c1[1]Pange Lingua, the smell of incense, The Stabat Mater, ” Were you there…?”, crucifixes draped in purple cloth…. just a few of the sights and sounds of a Holy Week long embedded in memory.

When we are familiar with something, it can lose its edge, its ability to disturb us, move us to action, or rest in its solace. The scriptures of Holy Week are not immune from this familiarity. We know the narrative, we know how it ends. At least, we think we do.  Familiarity can lead us to dismiss the mystery, to fail to let it engage us, and to escape from “going the distance” with Jesus.

When Columbian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez was asked about his relationship with his wife, Mercedes, he replied, “I know her so well that I have not the slightest idea who she really is.”  For Marquez, rather than dismiss, familiarity contained an invitation. An invitation to adventure, intimacy, and mystery.

Marquez’s words challenge us to enter these holy days more porous, more vulnerable, more willing to render our hearts.   Do we know Jesus so well that we have not the slightest idea who he really is?

How can we accompany Jesus through Holy Thursday and Good Friday? How can we experience these days as if for the first time? How can we console Jesus for the betrayal, the loneliness, the feeling of abandonment? How can we be with Jesus at the table, walk with him in his suffering, and companion him in death?

As scripture scholars remind us – Jesus’ passion for the Kingdom of God led to the passion of his death. We cannot separate them.

Does my life story reflect the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Caesar?  With whom does Jesus stand today? Are we at his side?

What if, as Jesus did, we let the stranger break our heart and enter our prayer? The refugee, the prisoner, the person brought low by poverty, the neighbor who annoys us, the one burdened by life?  What would it take for us to wash the feet of the stranger, to accompany the one forsaken, to be Simon of Cyrene?

What if our prayer these Holy Days led us from the beauty of a Holy Week liturgy to the streets where Jesus lives?

ANTICIPATING EASTER – A Holy Week Reflection

By Sr. Donna Fannon, MHSH

What are you doing this Saturday?
          Are you filling Easter Baskets?
                   …planning the Easter meal?
                             …decorating the Church?
                                      …cleaning the house?

Is there any time left for quiet reflection on the Paschal Mystery and the death of Jesus in particular?

Can you imagine yourself being with Mary Magdalene, sad, heartbroken, empty, in the garden wondering where the body of Jesus is?  Can you engage in a conversation with her about the difference Jesus has made in her life…and in yours?  Can you just be silent and grateful for Jesus’ friendship over the years?

Image result for mary magdalene at the empty tombPerhaps the tomb is too close.  Maybe you see yourself in the Upper Room with the disciples, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the others in fear of the Romans.  How does the silence speak to you there?  Whom might you choose to engage in conversation?

Or maybe you find yourself with the travelers on the Road to Emmaus, having found hope in Jesus and now in shock that Jesus has left them dejected and hopeless and lost.  Have you ever felt that way?  How does Jesus’ appearance (and vanishing) speak to you and strengthen your hope?

Related imageEach of these stories can offer us opportunities to contemplate the full spectrum of human emotion and experience, and they all have a joyful (and challenging) ending.  Each one invites us to be real (yes, Jesus did suffer and die for us), to ponder: what does this mean in my life; how do I follow someone who died and is risen and is present everywhere?

This Saturday—Holy Saturday—can you take some time to contemplate and put yourself into one of these scenes, imagining a conversation, then asking God to help you integrate the experience into your life?

  • What did you notice?
  • What do you appreciate about Jesus’ presence in your life?
  • What are you grateful for about being called to be a follower of Christ?

This Holy Week, prepare well and enjoy many Easter Blessings.

This Week with Jesus

A Reflection for Holy Week by Sister Agnesine Seluzicki, MHSH

Holy Week is the most sacred time in the Church year.  It is the week in which we celebrate the paschal mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

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Each year, in the remote villages of Manzanita, the Mission Helpers work with the young people as they re-enact the Passion, beginning with the Hosannas of Palm Sunday.

Beginning with Palm Sunday and its exultant hosannas, it propels us into the very heart of God as it reveals a love that, in the celebration of a Passover meal, will give of its life and, its “Do this in remembrance of me,” makes itself available to all generations.

In this week, the mystery and paradox of life and death escalate to reveal the depths of darkness that can emanate from the human heart as the hosannas of Palm Sunday are replaced with equal intensity, in demanding cries of “Crucify him.” And yet, even as with bowed head Jesus gives up his spirit, a new life is born.  Jesus lives.

Jesus lives.  Even as we join Jesus in a profound remembering of his passion and death, the invitation is to walk with Jesus this week in a spirit of resurrection joy and hope.  Holy Week is best spent simply being at the side of Jesus as the past events of his last days are unfolded in rituals that make these events break through time and space and become a dynamic and vibrant present.

bread & goblet # 3As you join Jesus in this his 2014 reminiscing, stand by him as his heart is moved by the populace that greets him with branches of palms and hosannas.  Be with him in the supper room as he rises from washing the feet of his disciples.  Hear him as he reminds his disciples to follow his law of love.  See the hurt in his eyes at the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter and the cowardice of his disciples.

Listen to the joyful note of redemptive hope affirmed as he turns to the criminal on the cross and promises, “Today, you will be with me in paradise….”

cross 2If there are tears to be shed, may they be those saturated with the balm of gratitude.  The power of sin and death has been overcome.  Jesus lives.  The earth quakes, the dead rise, and through the ages the acclaim of the centurion echoes:  “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

Waiting for Resurrection

By Sister Joanne Frey, MHSH

Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Jn 10:1-9 

We live much of our lives in waiting, most of it waiting in hope:

…For the birth of a first child, or of a second child
…For white smoke over the Vatican
…For word we’ve been accepted at our preferred college
…To hear we got the job
…To be tenured in our position

All these periods of waiting can be completed in joy, in exultation; in a fullness of life that we had hoped for. All positive waiting is seeking new life, enriched life, fulfilled life.

The celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection is all about life—life that overcame the greatest of losses—death of the self—of his very being.

Looking at Jesus’ life among us in one way is all about causing resurrections:

  • The man blind from birth is given sight; surely he rises to a new life.  He knows, he experiences resurrection. (John 9:1-41)
  • The woman touches the garment of the Lord with faith in what Jesus can do for her and she is cured of a hemorrhage she has suffered for years and years.  Surely she rises to a new life among her family and friends.  She experiences resurrection. (Luke 8:44-49)
  • The paralytic takes up his bed and walks at the word of Jesus.  Surely he rises to a new life among his comrades.  He experiences resurrection. (Matt 9:1-8)
  • The woman at the well, searching with a determined perseverance for happiness, she feels deeply that happiness is her right.  The Lord offers her “living water” and she accepts discipleship.  She surely experiences resurrection.

Alright, Jesus, we get the message. It isn’t meant that we wait until this body “gives up the ghost.”  We are meant to experience resurrections as we travel the journey of this life.

I experience a taste of resurrection when the word comes that my friend’s pathology report finds “no cancer.”  The word is shared among family and friends, life is shared and resurrection is experienced.

My friend phones after a long wait.  She has been overly busy.  I hear her voice and loving greeting.  She has missed me as much as I have waited for her call.  I delight in new life.  I experience resurrection.

All of this waiting and all the joys of resurrection won’t hold a candle to the great day of our rising to new life in Christ.  In the meantime, let’s wait in joyous expectation.

For your reflection:

It may be a good start to take your New Testament and read the stories in the sections mentioned in the above text.

Now, just sit quietly and recall the experiences of resurrection to new life that you can truly call your own.

A reading of John, chapter 20, will describe for you the Resurrection of our Savior. Spend time with Jesus to describe for him your experiences.


An Easter Prayer

Lord, we believe we are here to be light, to bring out God’s hue, God’s color, in the world. Imagine the transformation if we make a commitment to flood our world with God’s brightness, with positive energy, with hope and compassion. We want to stand in the light and spill the amazing and astounding light of God at the center of all that we can hope to be  for our world.  Amen  (Edith Prendergast)

Entry Into the Paschal Mystery – A Reflection for Palm Sunday

By Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH

Mk 11:1-10 (At the procession); Is 50:4-7; Ps 22:8-19, 17-20, 23-24; Mk 14:1-72; Mk 15:1-39

Palm Sunday ushers us into Holy Week.  As we receive our palm branch and listen to the opening Gospel we are transported in our imagination to the scene of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, seated on a donkey.

The crowds are still looking for a triumphant hero who will release them from the treacherous rule of the Romans.  But, as we hear the Passion narrative—this year it’s from Mark—we remember that Jesus was alone in his suffering and death. The crowds did not get what they were looking for.

It is significant that Mark’s Passion narrative begins with the story of a woman who manages to break into a dinner party where Jesus is present.  She anoints Jesus’ body with expensive oil.  We are told that the oil was worth a year’s wages.  She breaks the jar and pours the oil on Jesus’ head.  Her action was not appreciated by the dinner guests.  However, Jesus commends her.  Immediately after that, Judas goes off to look for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to the authorities.

This story can inspire us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. We might think of how we spend a year’s wages (a sharing of our gifts) to soothe the pain of those who make up the suffering Body of Christ in the world today.

As Holy Week unfolds and leads us to Easter joy, we come to a deeper realization that although there may not be many earthly rewards for us as disciples, Jesus promises to be with us now and “he prepares a place for us so that where he is, we also may be.” (Jn 14:3)

Questions for reflection:

  • Do you feel confident enough in your relationship with God to trust your life with him?
  • How does God trust you?  Who are some of the people that God entrusts to your care?
  • What graces do you need in order to live in this trust?

Our Life in Christ

By Sister Rosa Sofía Toledo, MHSH, Venezuela

Palm Sunday—the beginning of Holy Week and the celebration of the central mystery of our faith:  the Paschal mystery, the Passion, the death and Resurrection of Jesus.

Palm Sunday in the town of Manzanita, in the state of Lara, Venezuela.

On this day, let us pause to contemplate and commemorate the triumphal entrance of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem.  He rode on a donkey; the crowds spread their palm branches on the street and shouted: “Hosanna to the Son of David.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”  On this day we celebrate with joyful acclamations to Jesus, our victorious king, who enters Jerusalem to fulfill the will of his Father.

Yet, what today is a joyful acclamation, tomorrow will be betrayal and death. Palm Sunday invites us to contemplate the beginning of Jesus’ Passion and death.

Have you ever experienced a sense of betrayal and rejection after having a joyful encounter with someone?  Have you ever felt a bitter disappointment that took you by surprise?

Jesus endured everything we go through as human beings—except sin.  He experienced the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter, the abandonment of the disciples when he was most alone.  Jesus must have felt that his mission was a failure and that he had been forsaken by his Father during his darkest moments.  Yet, through it all, Jesus remained faithful and obedient to his Father out of love.  “There is no greater love than the one who gives one’s life for one’s friends.”

What does it mean to you to be faithful to Jesus through bad times and good times?  What is one of the greatest challenges you have faced? What speaks of God’s fidelity to you?

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul tells us: “Your attitude must be that of Christ” [2:5].

The saving power of God is being manifested in Christ, who humbled himself, obediently accepting death on the cross.  Because of that, God highly exalted him, and the glory of the Father was manifested in his Resurrection.

We are invited to put on the heart and mind of Christ Jesus, growing in the awareness of our false self to find our true self in him.  We are also invited to embrace the healing power of Christ to lift us up:  from sin to grace; from spiritual blindness to a new consciousness; from carelessness of our planet Earth to a new awareness that we are part of the Earth and that it is a part of us.  In this way, we can taste and see the joy of his rising from death to new life in us.

Our life in Christ invites us to experience his sufferings through  our brothers and sisters who are victims of domestic and institutional violence, addictions, illnesses, poverty, prejudice and injustice.  Ours is a world threatened by fear, insecurity, individualism, competition, consumerism and pleasures.

Having the same attitude as Christ Jesus is a response to a call to participate in his Mission:  “Touching lives, changing lives.”

What is your unique call to embrace the heart and mind of Christ Jesus?

How can you be a joyful witness to his Resurrection in a world crying out for redemption by Christ Jesus?

“See, I am doing something new!  Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

                                                                                                                       [Isaiah 44:19]