The Passion in Real Time: A Triduum Reflection in a Global Pandemic

By Sr. Clare Walsh, MHSH

Holy Week is more palpable this year than most of us imagined possible. We are experiencing the passion played out in real time.

We are confined, masked, distanced as health care workers offer themselves so others may live, while essential workers help to carry the cross thus making the way less burdensome. Neighbors being neighborly, looking out for the most vulnerable. A Holy Week where we “keep watch”.

This is an anxious time, “a night different from all other nights”. Questions arise from deep inside our being. Throughout scripture, Jesus posed questions to engage us, perhaps none with more urgency than those questions asked during his passion and death.

His questions probe, drawing from life as it emerges, and looking for a response hidden within us. The questions of Jesus are where prayer has always been valid. The initiative is always His. The graced response is ours. In his questions, Jesus holds us within his gaze.

We cannot use Holy Week to escape COVID19…this global pandemic calls us to solidarity as we share suffering with our sisters and brothers around the world.

Jesus’s deepest desire is to be in relationship with us.

Would you want to spend some time these days allowing Jesus to lovingly ask you the questions he voiced in the darkest of times?

Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?

 

  Do you know what I have done for you?

 

 And, what shall I say?
Father, save me from this hour?

 

 Whom are you looking for?

 

 Shall I not drink the Cup given to me by my Father?

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

 

God Bless us all these holy and frightening days. We wait in faith-filled Hope.

A Reflection for the 6th Sunday in Lent

By Sister Dolores Glick, MHSH

As our Lenten Journey continues on this Palm/Passion Sunday, we look back to the beginning of our journey—the promises and resolutions we made on Ash Wednesday (almost like our New Year’s resolutions). We promised to spend more time in prayer, entering into a deeper relationship with Jesus. That relationship would lead us to others—to feel the hurts and pain of those around us. Perhaps we promised to help others by almsgiving—sharing our gifts of plenty with a homeless shelter, a food pantry, an aging neighbor, one suffering an addiction.

journey travelHow are we doing with those promises? Have we learned that fasting is so much more than just not eating or drinking certain things? Have we thought about fasting from unkind thoughts about another person, or fasting from buying something for ourselves so that we might contribute financially to those in need?

Pope Francis designated this Lent as a time to foster mercy through the traditional corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Try one on each day and live it. Now that’s a challenge!

As Jesus walks through his passion this week, let us join him as he enters Jerusalem with loud jubilation. Let us be present with him at the last supper as he shares his very self with the disciples and with us. Let us be with him in his prayer and agony in the garden, in his cruel sufferings, and in his death on the cross. Let us be among his friends as they received his body. And let us know that all this was done for love of us.

jesus-walkingREFLECTION:

Sit with Jesus today as you would with someone you know is dying. Experience the heartache of Jesus as he leaves his mother and dearest friends and followers.

Fasting becomes a prayer when I intentionally let it draw me to change my ways so that I am more in touch with the mind and heart of Jesus.

Pope Francis calls us to “fast from ‘globalization of indifference’ and begin feasting in the ways of Jesus: nonviolence, forgiveness, solidarity, social justice and active, compassionate love for all who suffer.” We have only just begun…

 

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 6

2015_WPCU_Poster_inner_240x349Day 6, Jesus said : The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:14)

SCRIPTURE:

  • Exodus 2:15-22, Moses at the well of Midian
  • Psalm 91, The song of those who take refuge in the Lord
  • 1 John 4 :16-21, Perfect love casts out fear
  • John 4 :11-15, A spring of water welling up to eternal life

 

MEDITATION:

The dialogue that begins with Jesus asking for water becomes a dialogue in which Jesus promises water. Jesus will again ask for a drink. “I thirst,” from the cross, and from the cross Jesus becomes the promised fountain of water which flows from his pierced side. We receive this water from Jesus in baptism, and it becomes a water, a life that wells up within us to be given and shared with others.

Sister Romi, a nurse from Campo Grande, was a pastor in the Pentecostal tradition. One Sunday night, all alone in a shack, in Romi’s neighborhood a sixteen year old indigenous girl gave birth to a baby boy. She was found lying on the floor and bleeding. Sister Romi took her to the hospital. Enquiries were made – where was Simei’s family? They were found, but they did not want to know. Semei and her child had no home to go to. Sister Romi took them into her own modest home. Semei continued to have health problems, but Sister Romi’s great generosity brought forth further generosity from her neighbors. Semei named her son Luke Nathanial and in time they were able to move away from the city to a farm, but she did not forget the kindness of Sister Romi and her neighbors.

The water that Jesus gives, the water that Sister Romi received in baptism, became in her a spring of water and an offer of life to Semei and her child. Prompted by her witness, this same baptismal water became a spring, a fountain, in the lives of Romi’s neighbors. The water of baptism springing into life becomes an ecumenical witness of Christian love in action, a foretaste of the eternal life which Jesus promises. Concrete gestures like these practiced by ordinary people are what we need in order to grow in fellowship. They give witness to the Gospel and relevance to ecumenical relations.

PRAYER:

Triune God, following the example of Jesus make us witnesses to your love. Grant us to become instruments of justice, peace and solidarity. May your Spirit move us towards concrete actions that lead to unity. May walls be transformed into bridges. This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Source: Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

A Sense of New Life

Background: On April 27, 2011, a category EF4/EF5 tornado struck Tuscaloosa, Alabama, killing 45 people and destroying homes and livelihoods in a six-mile-wide area in the heart of the city.  The hardest hit communities—such as Alberta City and Rosedale Court—were predominantly poor, black and Latino and included public and low-income housing.  The business district, which employed many neighborhood people, was also destroyed. In total, an estimated 7,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed.

 FEMA, the Red Cross, Catholic Social Services and state and local government agencies were on the scene assisting the victims, many of whom were homeless.  But for undocumented Latinos, and households sheltering them, the “establishment” agencies were not an option.  The people feared future investigation by the INS if they sought help from mainstream organizations.  (This occurred following Hurricane Katrina.)

 These Latinos, as well as others in the poor neighborhoods, turned to the nearest Catholic Church—Holy Spirit Parish—and Sister Celeste Burgos, MHSH, who is Pastoral Associate for the Hispanic Community.

By Sister Celeste Burgos, MHSH

Rosedale Court destruction

Alabama is noted for its tornadoes, but it has never experienced a tornado of this magnitude.  It is ironic that this happened during the first week after Easter, because Easter means rebirth, and suddenly there was total devastation and death.  It was a very sad and very traumatic thing, but at the same time, out of that chaos a sense of new life has arisen in the people who were affected.

The people came to the church, telling us that they had lost their homes, all their possessions and that the only things they had were the clothes they were wearing.

They lost loved ones; they all knew someone who had died and people who were in the  hospital.  All of this grief affected them; it affected me, also, as I listened to the stories of every person who came for help.

But something else affected me, too.  The parish hall was set up as an emergency shelter, where about 200 people spent the night.  They gathered together as a family to help one another.  People who were not affected by the tornado came; they shared food, clothes, everything that they had.

The unity there so impressed me.  We had Hispanics, African Americans as well as Anglos—everyone came.  There were people from other parishes and other religious groups that came to help.  This was a beautiful experience that has stayed in my mind and my heart.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 4

Today (Friday, January 21) marks the fourth day in the eight day Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  During this week, daily scripture references, meditations and prayers are offered for readers’ reflection.  (Material provided courtesy of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute, Garrison, New York.)

Day 4, Devoted themselves to… fellowship…
Scripture

Isaiah 58:6-10, Is it not to share your bread with the hungry?
Psalm 37:1-11, Trust in the Lord and do good.
Acts 4:32-37, Everything they owned was held in common.
Matthew 6:25-34, Strive first for the kingdom of God.

Meditation
The sign of continuity with the apostolic Church is “devotion to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers.” The Church of today, however, points us to the practical consequences of such devotion — sharing. Today’s reading links such radical sharing with the powerful
apostolic “testimony to the resurrection of Jesus.”

Such a sharing of resources characterizes the life of Christian people. It is a sign of their continuity with the first Christians. It is a sign and a challenge to all the churches. It links proclamation of the Gospel, the celebration of Eucharist and the fellowship (or communion) of the Christian community with radical equality and justice for all. As such sharing is a testimony to the resurrection of Jesus, and a sign of continuity with the apostolic Church of Jerusalem, it is equally a sign of our unity with one another.

There are many ways of sharing. There is the radical sharing of the apostolic church where nobody was left in need. There is the sharing of one another’s burdens, struggles, pain, suffering, joys and achievements, blessings and healing. There is also an “ecumenical gift exchange” in the sharing of gifts and insights from one church tradition to another even in our separation from one another. Such generous sharing is a practical consequence of our devotion to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship; it is a consequence of our prayer for Christian unity.

Prayer
God of Justice, your giving is without bounds. We thank you that you have given what we need. Inspire us to be instruments of love, sharing all that you give us, as a witness to your generosity and justice. As followers of Christ, lead us to act together in places of want. We pray in the name of Jesus, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.