Weeks 541-550

Oratory Reflection 550: The Church of Living Stone: Reflection on 1 Kings 8:22-23, 27-30

“Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, and stretching forth his hands toward heaven, he said, ‘Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below; you keep covenant and love toward your servants who walk before you with their whole heart. Is God indeed to dwell on earth? If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this house which I have built! Regard kindly the prayer and petition of your servant, Lord, my God, and listen to the cry of supplication which I, your servant, utter before you this day. May your eyes be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you said, My name shall be there; listen to the prayer your servant makes toward this place. Listen to the petition of your servant and of your people Israel which they offer toward this place. Listen, from the place of your enthronement, heaven, listen and forgive.’” -1 Kings 8: 22-23, 27-30

 

At Genesee Abbey, we recall the solemn dedication of the abbey church. We gather within walls made up of stones of various shapes and sizes, and we recall how these stones were anointed with holy oil, and likewise, how each of us has been anointed when we became members of the Body of Christ at baptism. We call to mind how the brazier was placed on the altar and filled the sacred space with a cloud of aromatic smoke. With the incense, all our prayers ascend before the throne of God as a sacrifice of praise. Dedication candles were affixed to the consecrated stones to remind all of us that we are called to be the light of the world, bringing the Light of Christ to a world wrapped in darkness. Finally, a linen cloth was spread over the altar, preparing it for the Sacred Rites. This act reminded us that we are to clothe ourselves in garments of righteousness.
 
It is awe-inspiring and humbling to think that God, whom the heavens cannot contain, has chosen to make his dwelling place in this house of stone, and even more humbling to consider that he makes a home in us. Because of the One who makes the church holy, it stands as a haven of hope for a world that is torn by suffering, confusion, and uncertainty. According to the account of one of our brothers, when the church building was dedicated, the contractors had not yet been able to install windows. Special antiphons had been written for the occasion, one being: The sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest in which she puts her young, your altar, O Lord God of hosts.” As the choir sang the anthem, the birds that had entered the church through the window openings put on an aerial performance to the glory of God. 

Each church of stone houses the Church of living stones, which is the dwelling place where the Most-high dwells. Like the sparrow and the swallow, we long to find a resting place close to the heart of God. We believe God has chosen each church to be a place where people can experience his presence and his grace. Like the beloved in the Song of Songs, we peer through the lattice desiring to see the One our hearts love, longing for his loving embrace.

God inspires the building of churches as a sign of his desire to see the Church reach its fullness in the vision of peace. Each of the stones was carefully fitted into the walls of our church, just as each of us was carefully fitted together by the Holy Spirit to be the Church. The cornerstone of this Church is Christ, who nourishes and sustains us as we journey towards our heavenly home. From the ambo, the message of God’s infinite mercy is proclaimed, and the Word is broken open for our instruction and edification. At the altar, the Bread of Life is broken and distributed to us to draw us into the communion of love of the Trinity. At the Chair, the celebrant, standing in persona Christi, offers our prayers and intercessions to the Father and calls down God’s blessing upon us. The Cross holds aloft the figure of the crucified Christ, who is the pledge of the Father’s infinite love that heals the wounds of the human race. All who stand at the foot of the Cross come to share in Christ’s triumph over sin and death.

In the tabernacle, Christ has pitched his tent of meeting. Seated upon his cherubic throne, he is adored by a great cloud of witnesses who never tire of singing his praises. Together with all the heavenly hosts, we come into the presence of Jesus Christ to offer to the divine majesty a sacrifice of praise. Bound together by the Spirit as the Body of Christ, we become a sign and instrument of the intimate union of God with the whole human race.
-Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO, Genesee Abbey
Edited by Erica Faunce


Prayer:

O God, who year by year renew for us the day when this your holy temple was consecrated, hear the prayers of your people and grant that in this place for you, there may always be pure worship, and for us, the fullness of redemption. Amen.​


Quote from a Saint: 
“This worship, given therefore to the Trinity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, above all accompanies and permeates the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy. But it must fill our churches also outside the timetable of Masses. Indeed, since the Eucharistic mystery was instituted out of love, and makes Christ sacramentally present, it is worthy of thanksgiving and worship. And this worship must be prominent in all our encounters with the Blessed Sacrament, both when we visit our churches and when the sacred species are taken to the sick and administered to them.”
-St. John Paul the Great

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Questions: 

  1. Why is it important that we build churches specifically for worship instead of using another kind of building? 

  2. In the Gospel, the Temple had been made into a place of business rather than worship, with moneychangers and merchants. What happens when we do this in the temple of our own hearts? 

  3. King Solomon says the heavens and the earth cannot contain the Lord. Why does he allow himself to dwell in churches? 

  4. Think of an aspect of the Mass or the church building (the readings, the hymns, the Eucharistic prayer, the incense, stained glass, etc.) and discuss how it reflects the relationship between the Lord and his people. 

  5. Christ is the cornerstone of his bride, the Church. What happens when we attempt to build on a foundation that is not Christ? What are the effects on our church and on the wider community? 

  6. How does the beauty of a church building work to show light to a world that is wrapped in darkness? How can we, as living stones of the Church, do the same? 

-Erica Faunce

Oratory Reflection 549: The Gift of Faith: Reflection on Romans 4:13, 16-18

“Brothers and sisters: It was not through the law that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants that he would inherit the world, but through the righteousness that comes from faith. For this reason, it depends on faith, so that it may be a gift, and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants, not to those who only adhere to the law but to those who follow the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all of us, as it is written, ‘I have made you father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into being what does not exist. He believed, hoping against hope, that he would become the father of many nations, according to what was said, ‘Thus shall your descendants be.’” -Romans 4:13, 16-18

We walk by faith and not by sheer grit or determination. Faith is a gift, freely given and meant to be freely received. It cannot be earned, but it must be cooperated with. We may be unfaithful, but God is ever faithful, and that is the reason for our hope. We may falter, but he bends down to us and lifts us up again. We must never forget that the gift of salvation is just that, a gift.

As the People of God, we are called to walk by faith, to lift up our eyes to the Holy Mountain where the Most High dwells and seek His guidance. It is not what we can do by ourselves that matters, for this is very little, if anything at all. What matters is what God does through us. God can produce a bountiful harvest through our fruitless and barren efforts. If we want God to do something through us, we must not be embarrassed to give Him our nothing. Like Abraham, we must be willing to hope against hope that God who is faithful to his word can do all that he promised. The key is to trust that God, who raised his Son from the dead, can do marvels in us. 

As people of faith, we cannot be indifferent onlookers in our troubled world. We are called to be instruments of peace and love who reconcile our fragmented society and bring people together in communion. We must be willing to encounter faces, meet eyes, and share one another’s history. If we intend to enter into dialogue, we must allow ourselves to be challenged. As we progress on this journey, we must be willing to be changed. Because each of us encounters the Word of God uniquely and personally, we must be open to the voice of the Spirit echoing in each human heart. The God of Abraham is calling us to embrace our fruitless and sterile lives, and to surrender all that we are to the movement of the Spirit. Like Abraham, we must be willing to walk away from our comfort zones and follow the lead of the Spirit each day of our lives. In the process, we will be able to embrace one another as brothers and sisters in the Lord. 

Like our father in faith, we will discover that everything changes once we encounter God, who made us. Our shriveled hearts will be expanded, making us capable of loving all that God loves. Our weak limbs will carry us along the path of life. We are no longer timid or afraid, because we are guided by the inspired Word. We are willing to be surprised by the workings of the Holy Spirit. Knowing ourselves to be called by God who first sought us, we will rejoice with an inexpressible joy, touched by the glory shining on the face of the Beloved Son.
-Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO


Prayer: 
Powerful and almighty Father, we raise our eyes and our hearts to you as we seek to do your will. Though our efforts without you are as nothing, our efforts with you result in abundance of joy, peace, and love. Help us, in our weakness and tendency to distrust, to run to you in our times of need, and our times of frustration or impatience. Grant unto us the grace to recognize the mercies that you shower upon us every day, and to bear the disappointments with a faithful and trusting heart. Through the merits of the Passion of Our Lord, whom you raised on the third day, we ask all this. Amen. 


Quote from a Saint: 

“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day.”
-St. Gianna Molla


Questions: 

  1. Though Abraham ultimately had faith in the Lord’s promises, he often faltered. In scripture, what were the effects of his little faith? What were the effects of Abraham’s trust in the Lord? 

  2. Is there a part of your life where you have trouble trusting in the Lord’s promises? What makes trust difficult? 

  3. How does the example of Christ’s life teach us to treat faith as a gift? 

  4. Why do we have a tendency to try and earn God’s love? How can we be better about accepting everything the Lord gives us as a gift?

  5. Think of a saint who had very little to offer to the Lord. How did the Lord multiply their offering? 

  6. How does trusting in the Lord’s great love help us to love others better?

  7. Why do we struggle to listen well to the troubles of others? 

  8. What does the example of Christ teach us about how to serve and listen to others? 
    -Erica Faunce

 
Oratory Reflection 548: Living in the Light: Reflection on John 12:44-50

“Jesus cried out and said, ‘Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.’” -John 12:44-50

Whenever we ponder the Lord in glory, we find ourselves close to the heart of the Father. St. Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth: “God, who spoke that light would shine out in the darkness, has dawned in our hearts that we might be enlightened with the knowledge of the glory and majesty of God shining in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). By the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, we become ministers of light to the world. It is the Spirit that makes us able and willing to be ministers of the Good News of salvation and to act for the greater glory of God the Father. As the gospel continues to spread, it will expand, until it reaches the ends of the earth. We must go forward in the strength of the Lord and look to him to bless our efforts with the power of the Holy Spirit, until the kingdom of Christ is fully established.

The kingdom of Christ reflects the communion of the Blessed Trinity. As we gaze upon the face of Christ, we see the face of the Father. United to Christ in love, we learn to obey the Father and are set ablaze with the Fire of divine love. The more we gaze upon him who came as the Light of the world, the more we are conformed to that light, and we become ministers of light for people who walk in darkness. We find these reassuring words in St. John’s gospel: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn. 1:5). In this darkened world, through baptism, we all share in the Lord’s mission to be light. 

Every aspect of our life should focus on the praise of God, on living in this light. By it, we experience the joy of heaven here on earth, though it’s never complete. The more we know the Lord, our Light, the more we yearn to be with him. That yearning is what compels us to persevere, to act as light to others, to complete the mission that the Lord has set for us. 

Alleluia is our song. When we sing Alleluia in the world, we invite everyone who hears it to share that same hope, that same love, that same new life. At Easter, Pope Francis said we leave ourselves behind and encounter others by “being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly, and the outcast.” We are Easter people, people who know that life has already triumphed over death even though the battle continues. We are people with one foot in joy and the other in longing. We are people who stand at the crossroads of the already and the not yet.
-Fr. Jerome Machar
Edited by Erica Faunce

Prayer: 

I adore Thee, O my God, one God in three Persons. Thou alone art being, life, truth, beauty, and goodness. I glorify Thee, I praise Thee, I thank Thee, and I love Thee, all incapable and unworthy as I am, in union with thy dear Son Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Father, in the mercifulness of his heart and through his infinite merits. I wish to serve Thee, to please Thee, to obey Thee, and to love Thee always, in union with Mary immaculate, Mother of God and our Mother, loving also and serving my neighbor for thy sake. Therefore, give me thy Holy Spirit to
enlighten, correct, and guide me in the way of thy commandments, and in all perfection, until we come to the happiness of heaven, where we shall glorify Thee for ever. Amen. 
-Raccolta


Quote from a Saint: 

“Our praise is expressed with joy, our petitions with yearning. For we have been promised a glory we possess now only in part. Because the promise of glory was made by the Lord who keeps promises, we trust it and are glad; but since full possession is delayed, we long and yearn for it. It is good for us to persevere in longing until we receive what was promised. When yearning is over, praise alone will remain.” 
-St. Augustine

Questions: 

  1. When we look at Christ, we look at the Father. What are some ways that we can look at Christ here on earth? 

  2. What has been your experience when you spend time contemplating Christ? His face? Who he is? 

  3. The Holy Spirit is an outpouring of love between the Father and the Son. How do we participate in this Trinity of Love? 

  4. Who has been a light in your life? How has seeing their light affected you? 

  5. Our joy in Christ is incomplete while we are here on earth. Why does he not give us complete joy until we are with him in Heaven? 

  6. “The darkness has not overcome it.” Consider some of the dark parts of your life or the world. How has the Lord brought light to those places? 

  7. How can we invite others into the light of Christ in our daily lives? 

  8. What do our lives look like when we let the Holy Spirit guide and perfect our efforts? 

-Erica Faunce

 
 
Oratory Reflection 547: Friendship with God: Reflection on Wisdom 7: 7-11 and Mark 10:17-27

“I prayed and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I deemed riches nothing in comparison with her [...] Beyond health and comeliness I loved her. All good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.” -Wisdom 7:7-11

“As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.”’ He replied and said to him, ‘Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”
“Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.’”
- Mark 10:17-27

Sometime in the 17th century, the poet Richard Baxter wrote: “They want not friends that have thy love, And may converse and walk with thee, And with thy saints here and above, With whom forever I must be.” 


His experience was that God first loved him, and invited him to deeper friendship with him. When he responded by ridding himself of every obstacle to God’s love, he discovered that not only was God his friend, but all the friends of God became his friends, both on earth and in heaven: “thy saints here and above”, as he calls them.


The author of the book of Wisdom had a similar experience. Because the author set his heart on wisdom and not on riches, he discovered that not only did wisdom come to him, but wisdom came accompanied by all good things, and by all the friends of wisdom. He discovered a spiritual richness that was beyond physical health.


In the Gospel, a wealthy man comes up to Jesus, who is Wisdom incarnate, and asks how to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him that only his riches stood between him and God. Faced with a choice between his riches and the friendship of God, the wealthy man turned away from Jesus and his disciples and went away sad. We are not told that anyone went with him.
The focus in this Gospel is not so much on the man or his wealth, but on the phrase “All things are possible for God.” God never gives up on inviting us to deeper friendship with him, and we should respond by asking ourselves how much we live our life in his presence, how often we think of him outside of church, how much we share our life experiences with him, as friends do.


If there is something cold or distant about our relationship, it may be because there is something in our heart that we love more than him, whether it is riches, or family, or whatever. We can continue to love that obstacle more than him, and then, when we must give an account of ourselves, we will have to turn away sad and lonely, like the man in the Gospel.


Or we can act on our conviction that friendship with God means more to us than anything in the world. We can leave everything that comes between us and God, and make the solitary choice to follow Jesus. The choice is solitary, but the result is not. At once we discover that because Jesus is our best friend, he is not our only friend. He comes accompanied by his saints here and above, who have made the same choice.


All along our journey with Jesus, we will encounter others who have also “given up house or family or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel.” These are people who will love us and whom we may love, who will help us forward and console us on the way. For the love of Jesus is a secret gift which binds together all his friends, and each one can say with the poet: “The heavenly hosts, world without end, Shall be my company above; And thou, my best and surest Friend, Who shall divide me from thy love?”
-Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO


Prayer: 
Lord God, by your infinite love, you constantly extend the invitation of friendship to us, your unworthy servants. By your grace, you remove all obstacles and make us worthy to enter the kingdom of God, which is impossible for all but you alone. Help us, with the intercession of the Heavenly Host, to gratefully accept your loving kindness, and to live with great love and charity in our hearts for your chosen people. Amen.


Quote from a Saint: 
“We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God’s compassionate love for others.”
-St. Clare of Assisi

Questions: 

  1. Jesus tells the rich man to sell all he has, and then come and follow him. Why could the rich man not keep his possessions and follow Jesus?

  2. Jesus loves us and desires our friendship. How can we respond to this great gift? 

  3. The rich man desired eternal life, but desired his riches more. How can we know if we have replaced God in our hearts with something else? 

  4. What kind of obstacles does the world put between us and God? Where do we acquire these obstacles, and where can we go to be rid of them? 

  5. Think of someone who is lonely and someone who has meaningful friendships. What is the difference in how they each lead their lives? 

  6. Jesus says that whoever gives up what they have for his sake will receive a hundredfold in return. What is something that you have surrendered to the Lord? Have you seen the fruit of this surrender?

  7. Is the Lord asking you to surrender something to him now? 

  8. All things are possible for God, but we in our human weakness often lose track of this. How can we work to keep faith in God’s promise of the impossible? 

-Erica Faunce

 
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 546: Our Vocation Crisis: Reflection on Mark 6:7-13

“Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.’ So they went off and preached repentance. They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” -Mark 6:7-13

Jesus’ response to his Church’s first vocation crisis, the one that was already occurring two thousand years ago, was to send out his disciples two by two. Then as now, the harvest was great but the laborers were few. There were so many towns to visit and so little time in which to do it, so many sick and suffering people to be attended to, so many people yearning to be set free from the demons that tormented them and so few people to do the work. Jesus could not do it all by himself, so he took the twelve people he had, and sent them out. As we face yet another vocation crisis today, the Gospel suggests that the Lord’s first response to our prayer is to send us out into our neighborhoods and communities, our workplaces and schools, to prepare his way. 

We can rightly object that we are wholly unprepared for such an enormous challenge. But so were the Twelve. Not only were they poorly trained and uneducated. They had only spent a few weeks or maybe months with Jesus at this point. But Jesus insisted that they travel light: No food. No money in their belts. No sack or luggage. All they had were the clothes on their backs and their own stories about Jesus. They could tell how he had freed them from bondage to the demons who had oppressed them by day and the demons who tormented them by night. And Jesus is sending us out into our harsh and skeptical world in the same way, seemingly unprepared. Our own stories about what Jesus has done for us and the witness of our lives are all we have to offer those we meet as we travel through life. But what good are our stories and the witness of our lives?

Long ago, the stories and witness of those twelve disciples Jesus sent out were enough to do His work. They drove out demons and cured the sick. If you and I today are reluctant to trust that telling our stories of faith and the witness of our lives will be enough to make demons subject to us, perhaps it is because those demons we see tormenting others still have their iron grip on us. 

The demons that haunt our world and haunt our lives today are not the grotesque caricatures that usually surface for Halloween and then disappear. Our demons are the ones that try our souls every day of the year--the demons of greed and its twin sister envy, the demons of resentment and its mirror image fear, the demons of unconditional expectations of ourselves and others, the demons of smug self-righteousness and unwillingness to tolerate weakness in others or in ourselves, the demons of blind ambition and stone-deaf hearts. If the witness of our lives suggests that these demons still dominate us, how can we expect people to believe that our stories of what Jesus has done for us can happen to them? Unless they hear in our stories a resonant echo of their own struggles, and the witness of our lives awakens in them a hunger for what we have found, Jesus’ promise will remain pious platitudes with no lasting impact.

Today the Church faces a vocation crisis. As the Gospel reminds us, ours is not the first that the Church has faced--and it will not be the last. But then and now, the real vocation crisis is the crisis of our own ongoing vocations. We need to confront the crisis not only by hoping and praying for others to be sent to do the hard work, but by asking to find in our own hearts and souls the courage and the strength to get up and do what needs to be done to bring the good news to our world. 
-Fr. John Beal


Prayer:
O Holy Spirit, guide and councilor of all, enter the hearts of young men and women, that they may come to understand the Divine Will. Call them with irresistible fire to uphold and defend the glory of the faith. As priests, religious, spouses, parents, brothers, and sisters, give to each the conviction and faith needed to fulfill your Most Holy Will, for the sanctification of their souls, and the glory of the Kingdom of God. Give us the grace to daily live out our vocations, that others may be converted by the witness of our lives. Amen. 


Quote from a Saint:
“It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”
-Pope St. John Paul II


Questions: 

  1. Jesus sent out the Twelve with very little preparation. Why do you suppose this is? What was he trying to accomplish, both in their hearts and the hearts of those they met?

  2. In what ways do you feel unprepared to face the challenges of our day? What is Jesus’ response to those fears?

  3. The Twelve had the power to cast out demons and heal the sick. In what ways does Christ give us these same powers today? 

  4. Have you ever witnessed someone become free from suffering and torment? How did seeing Christ’s work in them affect your own faith? 

  5. The stories of the Twelve disciples have been passed down through the ages. What are some of the ways these stories have changed individual lives and also changed the world? 

  6. What should we do when we recognize in others the same demons that we struggle with? Does Jesus ever speak about this in scripture? 

  7. The Almighty God could have done the work of healing the sick and casting out demons without using people to do so. Why does he choose to work through human beings like us? 

  8. Consider some of the causes of our lack of vocations in the Church. What is a step that you can personally take to change this? 

-Erica Faunce

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 545: Reflection on Zechariah 2:5-9, 14-15a and Luke 9:43b-45

“I raised my eyes and looked, and there was a man with a measuring cord in his hand. I asked, ‘Where are you going?’ And he said, ‘To measure Jerusalem—to see how great its width is and how great its length.’ Then the angel who spoke with me advanced as another angel came out to meet him and he said to the latter, ‘Run, speak to that official: Jerusalem will be unwalled, because of the abundance of people and beasts in its midst. I will be an encircling wall of fire for it, and I will be the glory in its midst.’
‘Sing and rejoice, daughter Zion! Now, I am coming to dwell in your midst. Many nations will bind themselves to the LORD on that day. They will be my people, and I will dwell in your midst.’”
-Zechariah 2:5-9, 14-15a

“While they were all amazed at his every deed, he said to his disciples, ‘Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.’ But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.” -Luke 9: 43b-45

The prophet presents a beautiful image of the Master Architect developing a master plan for the City where he intends to dwell. The plans provide more than adequate space to accommodate all the people who would partake in the eternal wedding feast. While the living space would be adequate to encompass all, it would also be intimate. The streets of the city will stretch north and south, east, and west, bringing each traveler into communion with the Community of Love, the Blessed Trinity where all are welcome, and each person is known by name. 


The City of God was designed with inclusion and expansion in mind. There would always be room for one more, close to the heart of God. All would find a resting place in safety and security, and no one who earnestly sought entry would be excluded. Each individual will feel safe knowing that they live and move and have their being in God. “If we fix our gaze on Jesus, his face comes to be reflected on our own: his features become ours, the love of Christ wins us over and transforms us.” (Pope Francis) Having been conformed to Christ, each person will know him/herself to be a living stone used to build up the City whose builder is God.


The dearly-beloved Son of God was despised and rejected by mankind. The heavenly Father took great delight in him, even though the world turned its back on him and considered him worthless. The Master Architect chose the stone of salvation that was rejected by the people to be the cornerstone on which each living stone would find its place. Each stone is to be fitted into a proper relationship with God, and with others who contributed to the building of the Heavenly Jerusalem. I am reminded of the hymn we sing for the dedication of a church:


“O city of our God, heavenly Jerusalem,
“vision dear of peace and love,
“With living stones built up on high,
“Art the joy of Heav’n above.” 


Just as Jesus allowed himself to be used by the Father and abused by the people who crucified him, we must be willing to be shaped and formed according to the master’s plan. As Christ gave his back to those that beat him, we must be willing to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that the world metes out to us. Following in the footsteps of Christ, we can advance through life with Jesus’s confident trust, because we have come to believe: “Greater is he who is in us than he that is in the world” (1Jn. 4:4). 


Following in the footsteps of the one who prayed that “they all may be one,” “we strive to view one another no longer as strangers but as friends, no longer as foes but as brothers and sisters” (Pope Francis). Because we know ourselves to be beloved sons and daughters of God, our lives can become a testimony to warmth of love amid the icy coldness of contempt and division in the world. Consumed by the Fire of Divine Love, we can be a light in the bleakness and darkness of hatred around us. “The image of God shining forth in humanity must no longer be obscured” (Pope Francis).
-Fr. John Denburger, OCSO; Genesee Abbey

Prayer:
Oh, good and gracious Lord, you granted your chosen people a dwelling place fit for yourself. You gave them plans with which it was to be built, and guided the completion of every detail. Through the folly of man, the privilege of living in your presence was lost, both in the Garden, and in the ancient Jerusalem. 
Let us, your humble servants, be made into fit dwellings for you. Guide our souls and let us follow the plans you have set out for us. Through the merits of your Most Beloved Son, let us never lose the unfathomable privilege of living in your presence, that we may make our journey to the Heavenly Jerusalem with surety and steadfast hearts. 
-Erica Faunce

Quote from a Saint: 
“Remember, we must get to heaven, and it would be madness to think we could do so without sometimes retiring into our souls so as to know ourselves, or thinking of our failings and of what we owe to God, or frequently imploring His mercy. Our Lord also says, ‘No man cometh to the Father but by Me,’ and, ‘He that seeth Me seeth the Father also.’
-St. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle

Questions: 

  1. Think about the meaning of “Jerusalem” and the “City of God.” What are some of the things that scripture tells us about such a place?

  2. How is the Biblical meaning of “Jerusalem” relevant to our own lives in the present? 

  3. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” In what ways have we rejected Christ, both in our society, and in our own hearts? 

  4. Where do you see God’s handiwork, either in your life, or in the world? Where can you see clearly that Christ is the “cornerstone”?

  5. How can we allow ourselves to be conformed to the image of Christ, so that we may become part of the Heavenly Jesusalem? 

  6. How should we respond when the world rejects us, as it rejected Christ? 

  7. The Lord takes delight in us, his beloved sons and daughters. What makes us forget this identity? How can we live this identity more fully? 

-Erica Faunce

 
 
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 544: Blind to Truth: Reflection on 1 Timothy 1:12-16, Luke 6:39-42

“I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry. I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief. Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost. But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.” -1 Timothy 1:12-16

“And he told them a parable, ‘Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,” when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.’” -Luke 6:39-42

In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of the heart without using the word. There is the heart blind to itself, yet ready and quick to point out the cause of others’ blindness, seeing the”splinter” yet missing through blindness the beam in their own eye. It is acting in what appears concern or charity for another when, in fact, it is a personal cover-up, nothing more than self-aggrandizement at another’s expense.

How easy it is to find fault in another and evade the faults in one’s own heart. The tortuous heart Jeremiah speaks about (Jer 17:9) is an evasive heart, evading truth, evading reality, searching, always watching for the mistakes of others. In his letter to Timothy, St. Paul in humility admitted, “I was once a blasphemer, a persecutor and an arrogant man.” Not merely splinters, rather beams. No evasion there, rather a very honest, humble confession.

If and when we evade the truth about ourselves, we evade reality, and in rejecting the truth, we reject the Truth Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord, Divine Truth, is dedicated to setting us free from our sins and shortcomings. Sadly, evasion keeps one in bondage.

Receiving the living Truth in the Holy Eucharist and then rejecting the Truth in our daily relationships is like a child playing with a toy: at one moment enjoying the toy, and in another casting it aside. Truly how tortuous and blind the heart can be.

Hopefully, by God’s grace and our desire, our hearts are transformed from stone to flesh, from blindness to sight, from bondage to liberation. Turning to Christ, to Truth Himself, we are able to see ourselves as He sees us, as sons and daughters of God. With humility, we can take St. Paul’s example, put our sins behind us, and glorify the Lord. 
-Fr. John Denburger, OCSO, Genesee Abbey
edited by Erica Faunce

 

Prayer:
We beseech Thee, Almighty God, graciously incline thine ear to the assembly of thy Church, and let thy mercy to us prevent thine anger, for if Thou shouldst mark iniquities there shall no creature be able to stand before Thee; and in that same admirable charity whereby Thou didst create us, pardon us sinners, and destroy not the work of thy own hands. 

Hear our prayers, O Lord, and enter not into judgment with thy servants; for, knowing that there is no justice in us on which we can dare to presume, we acknowledge no other fount of mercy whereby we can be washed from our sins and delivered from our infirmities, but only
Thee, O God. 

O God, in whose sight every heart trembles and every conscience is awed; show forth thy mercy upon us, thy suppliants, that we, who trust not in the excellence of our own merit, may never experience thy judgments, but may receive Thy pardon. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
-Raccolta

Quote from a Saint: 
“Sure of her competence as the bearer of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the Church reaffirms the need to reflect upon truth. This is why I have decided to address you, my venerable Brother Bishops, with whom I share the mission of ‘proclaiming the truth openly’ (2 Cor 4:2), as also theologians and philosophers whose duty it is to explore the different aspects of truth, and all those who are searching; and I do so in order to offer some reflections on the path which leads to true wisdom, so that those who love truth may take the sure path leading to it and so find rest from their labours and joy for their spirit.”
-Pope St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), A Letter to the Bishops

 

Questions: 

  1. How are we able to tell if we have a “beam in our own eye”? How can it be removed? 

  2. Saint Paul experienced physical blindness after his first encounter with Christ. Through Ananias, the Lord extended his mercy to Paul, and he went on to become a great saint. In what way is the Lord extending mercy to us? How can we follow Paul’s example?

  3. What does Jesus say will happen when the blind lead the blind? Have you observed or experienced this in your own life? 

  4. A heart detached from reality is detached from the Truth. How can we distinguish what is Truth, and what is a false reality of our own making? 

  5. When we accept and live in the Truth, how does it affect the way we act, especially towards others?

  6. Why is it especially important that we Christians conform ourselves to the Truth, to the love of Jesus Christ?

  7. When our sight is clear, it is our duty to charitably point out “beams” and “splinters” in the eyes of our brothers and sisters. How can this be done with tact and prudence?

  8. How can we look to Saints such as Paul and John Paul II to guide us to the truth? 

-Erica Faunce

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 543: Renewing Spirit: A Reflection on Acts 2:1-11

“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, ‘Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.’”
Acts 2:1-11

Pentecost is not a once-for-all feast. Rather, it is an ongoing celebration of the gift of God’s Spirit, who is always with us, inseparable from us. The fire that was ignited in the hearts of the disciples gathered in that upper room in Jerusalem continues to inflame the hearts of all who have been gathered together in the Church. This Church is our upper room where we come together in a communion of faith and love. Pentecost came for the disciples, after fifty days of uncertainty, not unlike the uncertainty and anxiety we experience today. Yes, Christ is risen from the dead. Yes, Christ conquered death by his death. Yes, Christ granted life to those in the tomb. Yes, the disciples touched him and shared meals with him. However, they were still overcome by doubts and fears. They huddled together behind closed doors because they were uncertain about the future and were too frightened to publicly proclaim the risen Lord. We have a lot in common with that first group of disciples. 


Many of us are isolated from each other. We are paralyzed with shame because of scandals in the Church. We are divided into liberal and conservative camps. We have become so committed to our private, little wars that we no longer see ourselves as a communion of faith and love. At this time of sorrow, anxiety, and bitterness, I am reminded of the prayer offered by St. John XXIII: “Renew Your wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost. Grant to Your Church that, being of one mind and steadfast in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and following the lead of blessed Peter, it may advance the reign of our Divine Savior, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace. Amen. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and manifest among us the signs and wonders of a new Pentecost.” 


Claiming the efficacy of this prayer, may we gain spiritual riches, uncover new sources of energy, and be able to face the future without fear. While we are pilgrims on earth, let us journey towards our heavenly homeland. Illuminated by the Light of the Holy Spirit, may we help our brothers and sisters discover their true nature, dignity, and purpose. May we experience the dawning of a new day and be bathed in the radiant splendor of the Spirit. 


No matter how isolated we are; no matter how overwhelmed by guilt and shame we may be; no matter how stuck we are in the little worlds of our own making, the Holy Spirit can recreate us and renew the face of the earth. When the Holy Spirit manifests itself, worries disappear, and fear is overcome. When the wind of the Spirit blows, lives are changed, and hearts are enabled to run the path of God’s commandments. It is the Spirit who makes Christ live in us. 


Our spirits need the refreshing touch of the Spirit in order to, not only survive, but thrive in faith. Every word of Christ that is received in the heart by faith comes accompanied by the breath of the Spirit; without it, there is no light, no life. Without the Spirit, Christian life unravels, because we lack the love that brings everything together. Without the Spirit, Jesus remains a person from the past; but with the Spirit, he is alive and present in our own time. Without the Spirit, Scripture is just an old piece of literature; but with the Spirit, it is a living and life-giving word. We need the Holy Spirit to regenerate us as Church, as the Chosen People of God, and as a human family. The Spirit gives us perennially young hearts. The Spirit frees hearts chained by fear. He overcomes all resistance. Where the Spirit blows, things are brought to life. Hearts of stone are transformed into hearts of flesh. Thus the Spirit revives our first love.


As we prepare to return to some semblance of normal after the initial wave of the pandemic, we need to keep in mind the words of our Holy Father, Pope Francis: “We never emerge from a crisis just as we were. We come out either better or worse.” For this reason, we need to breathe in the breath of the Spirit that frees us from fear and gives us hope. May the Holy Spirit awaken our slumbering hearts and open our eyes, so that we may see and hear the Risen Lord and boldly proclaim his victory over sin and death. May the Holy Spirit blow upon our world the soothing warmth of peace and the refreshing cool of hope. -Fr. Jerome Machar, O.C.S.O., Genesee Abbey

Prayer:
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
    Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
    Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
    In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
    Give them joys that never end. Amen.
-Veni Sancte Spiritus

Quote from a Saint: 
“The Church and the world need more than ever that the ‘miracle of Pentecost should continue in history’… Have we forgotten the Holy Spirit? Certainly not! We want him, we honor him, and we love him... It ought to rejuvenate the world, give it back a spirituality, a soul, a religious thought; it ought to reopen the world’s closed lips to prayer and open its mouth to song, to joy, to hymns, and to witnessing.” -St. Paul VI

 

Questions: 
How have you seen the Holy Spirit transform fear or doubt? 
The Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to communicate in different tongues. What are some other ways that the Holy Spirit draws people together? 
Think about a time in our Church’s history when a division was overcome. Who were the key participants, and how did the Spirit work through them? 
St. John XXIII spoke of a “new Pentecost.” What might this look like on a local level? On a national level? An international level? 
What obstacles in our broken world make it difficult to receive the Spirit? How might these obstacles be overcome? 
Is there a part of your heart that is resistant to the work of the Spirit? If so, how can you begin to let the Spirit work there? 
Think about the miracles in the book of Acts, and the work that the Apostles carried out. What sort of work may the Spirit be prompting you to do? 
Inspired by the Spirit, Peter proclaims Jesus to be the Son of the Living God. How can we invoke the Spirit in order to know Christ better? 
-Erica Faunce

 
 
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 542: Blindness to Mercy: A Reflection on Tobit 2:9-14

 

“That same night I washed and went into my courtyard, where I lay down to sleep beside the wall. Because of the heat I left my face uncovered. I did not know that sparrows were perched on the wall above me; their warm droppings settled in my eyes, causing white scales on them. I went to doctors for a cure, but the more they applied ointments, the more my vision was obscured by the white scales, until I was totally blind. For four years I was unable to see, and all my kindred were distressed at my condition. Ahiqar, however, took care of me for two years, until he left for Elam.


At that time my wife Anna worked for hire at weaving cloth, doing the kind of work women do. When she delivered the material to her employers, they would pay her a wage. On the seventh day of the month of Dystrus, she finished the woven cloth and delivered it to her employers. They paid her the full salary and also gave her a young goat for a meal. On entering my house, the goat began to bleat. So I called to my wife and said: ‘Where did this goat come from? It was not stolen, was it? Give it back to its owners; we have no right to eat anything stolen!’ But she said to me, ‘It was given to me as a bonus over and above my wages.’ Yet I would not believe her and told her to give it back to its owners. I flushed with anger at her over this. So she retorted: ‘Where are your charitable deeds now? Where are your righteous acts? Look! All that has happened to you is well known!’ -Tobit 2: 9-14

Tobit was an honest and just man who was committed to obeying God’s commandments and giving to the poor, at all costs. Tobit even buried a murder victim, at the risk of his own life. St. Ambrose wrote, “Nothing is more excellent than this duty, to give to him who can no longer make a return to you, to deliver from the birds, to deliver from the beasts your companion in nature.” 


Then comes the sting. Exhausted after performing the good work of burying the dead, Tobit fell asleep next to the courtyard wall. There, he was blinded. Because of his physical blindness, he was unable to perform his usual works of mercy. He who had shown mercy to others now needed to rely on the generosity of others. The clash between Tobit and his wife reveals his spiritual blindness. He was unable to admit that his wife was just as righteous as he. He was blind to the wonders of grace that God was working in his life. Luckily, she held the mirror for him and allowed him to look into his own heart. 


It is not enough to pour oneself out in the service of others. One must also be willing to be served by others. The heart that has been touched by love turns to God. In this encounter, the individual is filled with joy and gratitude. In their darkest hours, the Fire of Divine love consumes them and turns their sadness into joy.


We must learn to call out to God who is our rock and stronghold. We need to ask him to enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may cling to the hope that is ours as his children. When we are feeling most vulnerable, we need to turn to the Lord who manifests his strength in weakness. It is when we are down and out that Christ extends his nail-scarred hand to pick us up. It is not what we do that causes God to turn His attention towards us, but rather, what we need. God desires to redeem everything that we hand over to His will and power.
-Fr. Jerome Machar, O.C.S.O., Genesee Abbey

 

Corporal Works of Mercy

  1. Feed the hungry

  2. Give drink to the thirsty

  3. Clothe the naked

  4. Shelter the homeless

  5. Visit the sick

  6. Visit the imprisoned

  7. Bury the dead

  8. Give alms to the poor

 

Spiritual Works of Mercy***

  1. Admonish the sinner

  2. Instruct the ignorant

  3. Counsel the doubtful

  4. Bear wrongs patiently

  5. Forgive offenses willingly

  6. Comfort the afflicted

  7. Pray for the living and the dead

 

***Not everyone is considered capable or obligated to perform the first three Spiritual Works of Mercy before they possess the proper tact, knowledge, or canonical training to do so. Everyone is obliged to perform the works of mercy, according to his own ability and the need of his neighbor. It is important to remember that ordinary deeds done every day to relieve the corporal or spiritual needs of others are true works of mercy, if done in the name of Christ.

 

Prayer:
Blessed are you Lord, ever-loving God. You never cease to love and forgive our many faults. Support our efforts to be people of compassion, recognizing your mercy to us calls us to be merciful towards those who have wronged us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

 

Quote from a Saint:
“I hope that your gratitude will place you in the disposition necessary to receive the graces you need to serve your sick poor in a spirit of gentleness and great compassion, in imitation of Our Lord who acted this way with the most unfortunate.”
-St. Louise de Marillac

 

Questions:

  1. What forms does God’s mercy take in our lives? How can we recognize it? 

  2. What happens when we reject God’s mercy? How does it affect us and those around us? 

  3. Anna rightfully points out Tobit’s rejection of the Lord’s mercy. Who can you depend on to do the same for you? 

  4. What are some things that might prevent us from recognizing God’s mercy? 

  5. The Christian life calls us to perform works of mercy. Looking at the lists above, which works have you performed lately? Which works do you struggle to perform? Why?

  6. Aside from Tobit, where else do we see Works of Mercy in scripture? What do these passages tell us about the Works of Mercy?

  7. How does receiving God’s grace and mercy help us to perform the Works of Mercy for others? 

  8. Think of a time when the Lord extended his mercy to you through someone else. What sort of life does that person seem to lead? 

  9. What are some of the benefits that spring from a disposition of gratitude towards God? 

-Erica Faunce

 
 
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 541: Our Lady of Sorrows:
A Reflection on John 19:25-27

 

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. John 19:25-27

For someone who has no regard for the Blessed Virgin Mary the phrase “standing by the cross” is nothing more than an aside: “Oh, by the way, His mother was there, too.” But for all those devoted to her, Mother of the Body of Christ, these words “standing by the cross” speak clearly of her life and her role in the story of our salvation. She is the only one who was with Jesus from the very beginning to the horrendous end.

Mary is not only the Mother of the Lord; she is also the most faithful disciple. She stood there with the Beloved Disciple and some women. What was going through her mind as she looked upon her Son, His body so terribly abused, hardly recognizable? She knew Him as no one else did. She had seen and experienced His love, His goodness, His uniqueness. She had witnessed His miraculous powers and heard His words. The horror she now saw, looking upon her crucified Son, did not diminish her love in any way. 

If we could ask her what she was thinking, she might speak of the words of the angel that he would be great, the prediction of Simeon about His being destined for the fall and rising of many, of a piercing sword. Perhaps she was holding in her heart the ideas of greatness and suffering together.

She might also tell us that, in the midst of Christ’s suffering and her own anguish, she knew she was receiving His love to the last. She heard His concern when He commended her to the one whom He loved. Even the most terrible torture of crucifixion could not affect His love. She knew his heart. 

As we contemplate Our Lady of Sorrows, by God’s grace we can say that we know Him too, though not as well as the Blessed Mother. We can ask for her intercession, so that whatever we experience in life, whatever suffering comes our way, we can always find support, refuge, strength in the Savior’s love which is “stronger than death.” To do so, to live so, is truly a Marian stance, a Marian virtue. It should not be otherwise as we dedicate ourselves to her, and through her, to her Divine Son. -Fr. John Denburger, OCSO, Genesee Abbey

Devotion to Our Lady's Seven Sorrows


Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows became a standard devotion in the Church around the 14th century. It was revealed to St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373) that devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary's Seven Sorrows would bring great signal graces. The devotion consists in praying seven Hail Mary’s while meditating on the Seven Sorrows of Mary.


Mary, in a unique way, willingly suffered alongside her Divine Son as he gave his life to save the world, and she felt the bitterness of his passion as only a mother can. This devotion is especially remembered during September, the Month of Our Lady of Sorrows (the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is September 15th), and during the season of Lent. 


The Seven Sorrows of Mary:
1. The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:34-35)
2. The Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-21)
3. The Loss of Jesus for Three Days (Luke 2:41-50)
4. The Carrying of the Cross (John 19:17)
5. The Crucifixion of Jesus (John 19:18-30)
6. Jesus Taken Down from the Cross (John 19:39-40)
7. Jesus Laid in the Tomb (John 19:39-42)

 


Prayer
Let intercession be made for us, we beseech Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, now and at the hour of our death, before the throne of Thy mercy, by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Thy Mother, whose most holy soul was pierced by a sword of sorrow in the hour of Thy bitter Passion. Through Thee, Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost lives and reigns, world without end. Amen.

Quote from a Saint
“Trials and tribulations offer us a chance to make reparation for our past faults and sins. On such occasions the Lord comes to us like a physician to heal the wounds left by our sins. Tribulation is the divine medicine.”
-St. Augustine of Hippo

Questions
1. As Christians, how are we called to view suffering? Why? 

2. What drew Mary and the other disciples to the foot of the Cross? How can we let ourselves be drawn in the same way? 
3. How can we learn to hold greatness and suffering in our hearts at the same time? 
4. What can the Blessed Mother’s life teach us about trust in the Lord? 
5. What are some practical things we can do in times of trial and suffering to entrust ourselves to the Blessed Mother? 
6. Think of a saint or someone you know who suffers for the sake of Christ. What are the fruits of their efforts? 
7. Think about the tenderness of Christ’s love as he commends the Blessed Mother to John. What might John be thinking as this happens?
8. Is there suffering in your life (past or present) that you haven’t yet presented to the Lord? What steps can you take to do so? 
-Erica Faunce