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Weeks 621-630

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 625: Preparing for Pentecost : A Reflection on the Gospel of John (John 17 : 1-11a)


1 Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, 2 just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him.


3 Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. 4 I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. 5

Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.


6 “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, 8 because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.


9 I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, 10 and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.



“I accomplished the work that you gave me to do”, Jesus says to the Father. And now that work, which is also the work of the Father, needs to be applied to concrete human lives. For that reason, Jesus says simply, “I pray for them”. It is the Holy Spirit who enables the human Jesus to pray, and it is the same Spirit who allows the work of Jesus to reach out and touch our lives, to fill us with his own eternal life. The work of Jesus was to redeem us and save us by shedding his blood, but it is the Holy Spirit who answers the prayer of Jesus by making that redemption and salvation ours.


St Peter talks about one way we can know that the Spirit has answered the prayer of Jesus for our own personal life. He says “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you”. If our lives are so obviously Christian that others can insult us for being religious, then we can be certain that the Holy Spirit is active within us, and that he has answered the prayer of Jesus for us.


Another sign is if we find ourselves drawn to follow the example of the apostles “after Jesus had been taken up to heaven”. “All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer”, said the reading from the Acts of the Apostles. If we too can “devote ourselves to prayer” as Jesus asked us to, then we should understand that the Holy Spirit is present and active, that he has fulfilled the will of the Father within us. That is the main concern of the Holy Spirit for us, and his whole purpose in dwelling in us: to hand down Christ to us, to apply to our own personal life all that Christ did in the name of the Father, and by the will of the Father.


Jesus adds, “I do not pray for the world, but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours”. Christians belong to God because they were baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. But God leaves us free to respond to the grace of baptism or not, and as long as we are in the world, we can ignore the presence of the Spirit within us, fail to devote ourselves to prayer, or live in such a way that no one would know that we are Christian.


Jesus asks the Father to let him “give eternal life to all those entrusted to him”, those who “have believed that it was the Father who sent him” and have been baptized, but have not let the Holy Spirit do much of anything in their lives. To all of these, scripture gives the commandment, “Be filled with the Spirit”. Stir into flame the gift of God that you have through baptism. Reject all obstacles that would prevent the kindling of the fire of the Holy Spirit. Then you can begin to feel the Spirit moving in your heart.


For this last week of the Easter season is also a week of preparation for your personal Pentecost. Every gift that God has given you is intended to be developed for his glory. Every grace is intended to create in us further grace, until we reach the fullness of the Spirit. Yet however much we struggle, the fullness of the Spirit can never lead to a feeling of satisfaction, because every fullness creates in us new tension and a sense of something missing. There is a perpetual gap between the fullness we receive in the present, and the one prepared for us in the future. But as we make room in our heart and life for the Holy Spirit, he in turn makes room within us for Christ and the eternal life that is his to give.


How precious it is, then, to know how the apostles and Mary prepared their hearts to be worthy homes for the Holy Spirit. How essential it is for our salvation and our joy to follow their example of continuous prayer for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Like them, let us surrender all thought, all will, all counsel, and all action to the Holy Spirit, that he might lead our entire life, its past with its present and its future, using our weakness and our strength, our success and our failure, our health and our sickness, in pursuit of the purpose for which Christ died for us and was raised: BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT!



Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO



Quote from a saint: "The Holy Spirit is like a gardener, cultivating our souls.”-- St John Vianney



Prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.”


Questions for reflection:

  1. Have you devoted yourself to prayer? If so, how has this changed your life? If not, why not?

  2. What does your prayer life look like? Do you pray always or do you only pray during times of need? Should you pray more? Why is prayer so important?

  3. Have you tried different forms of prayer? What has been your experience with those different types?

  4. Reflect on the purpose of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, “to hand down Christ to us, to apply to our own personal life all that Christ did in the name of the Father, and by the will of the Father.” Remember that the “Holy Spirit is present and active.” How have you allowed the Holy Spirit to be active in your life?

  5. Do you live your life in a way that others could insult you for being religious (a good sign that the Holy Spirit is active within us) or do you live in such a way that no one would know that you are Christian?

  6. Have you ever prepared for Pentecost during the Easter season? What are some ways that you could prepare?

  7. Have you ever experienced a sense of something missing as you have progressed in your spiritual life? How did you react?

  8. Have you considered the Holy Spirit’s role in making “redemption and salvation ours”?


--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 624: The Unknown God : A Reflection on the Book of Acts (Acts 17: 15, 22-18:1)


15 After Paul’s escorts had taken him to Athens, they came away with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.


22 Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said: “You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.


24 The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything. 26 He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, 27 so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us.


28 For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’ as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ 29 Since therefore we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination.


30 God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent 31because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice’ through a man he has appointed, and he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead.”


32 When they heard about resurrection of the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, “We should like to hear you on this some other time.” 33 And so Paul left them. 34 But some did join him, and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Court of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them. 1 After this he left Athens and went to Corinth.


“As I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed: To an Unknown God.” This comment made me think about the present-day phenomenon of people identifying themselves as spiritual but not religious. Like the Athenians, they are looking for something, but don’t have a name for it. This drive to find a higher power echoes a famous passage from St. Augustine’s Confessions: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Even though some people have drifted from organized religion, something inside them keeps drawing them to find this unnamable thing just beyond their grasp. This search for the “unknown” is at the core of the human heart.


The council fathers, addressing the longings of the human heart wrote: “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear” (Gaudium Et Spes, #22). We will never search alone because He who is the image of the invisible God (CF. Col. 1:15) has entered into our world to be our guide to the Father.


Because God’s love for us addresses the deepest longings of our hearts it surpasses anything we can hope or imagine. Is it any wonder that some people find formal religion a hindrance to their encounter with the living God? Because God is infinite, should we be surprised that we have difficulty putting our experience into words? Indeed, he is the “Unknown God”. St. Paul was on to something when he wrote: “We see things imperfectly, like blurred images in a mirror, but someday we will see everything with perfect clarity. Now all that we know is partial and incomplete, but someday we will know everything completely, just as God knows us” (1 Cor. 13:12). By God’s grace we shall move from glory to glory (CF 2 Cor 3:18), from unknowing to being fully known.


As we journey through life, we will discover who we are. In the silent moments, we hear that small gentle voice calling us by name. When we respond to it, we will discover the One in whom we live and move and have our being. We will discover the Unknown God who cannot be defined, confined, or controlled. He stands above us and orders all our days. He sustains us throughout our life’s journey and is closer to us than we are to ourselves. God is the Ground of Being. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and refuses to be reduced to an object of our making. The Master of the Universe dwelt among us in the flesh. Even though we may not know how to name Him, He constantly calls us by name. We need to listen for his voice with the ears of our hearts.


“Oh! That I might repose on You! Oh! That You would enter into my heart, and inebriate me, that I may forget my ills, and embrace You, my sole good! What are You to me? In Your pity, teach me to utter it… tell me, O Lord my God, what You are for me. Speak, that I may hear. Behold, Lord, my heart is before You. Say to my soul, I am thy salvation. Let me run after and cling to You” (Confessions, chapter V).


Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO


Quote from a saint: "Sometimes we think that we don't hear God's voice. Not because He isn't speaking but because we have the volume of the world way too loud."--Saint Mother Teresa


Prayer: “Loving God, give us hearts that listen for your word. Let us imitate the Good Samaritan, who does not turn away from suffering. Help us listen. May we listen to those who struggle daily for dignity. Let us hear your voice in the stories of those on the margins. Help us always see what binds us together as sisters and brothers. Help us to heal. May we be willing to stand in the place of others. Let us be open to difference that we may arrive at understanding. Help us to seek reconciliation that our world may reflect justice. Help us respond. May our faith move us to action in the public square. Let us work with others of good will, finding solutions together. Help us exercise political charity, seeking the common good and dignity for all. Lord, give us the courage to trust in your hand guiding us. Give us the courage to respond like the Good Samaritan, setting aside divisions to attend to the needs of the other. May we know and see your love present in our communities, made real in the ways we love one another. Amen.”--USCCB

Questions for reflection:

  1. In what ways do you see people who are not religious searching for a higher power? Why would God put this desire on the human heart?

  2. Have you gone through a period of conversion or reversion where you felt the calling of the unknown God? How did you respond? How do you keep responding?

  3. Do you follow a religious rule or have a plan of life that helps you to continue listening for the still small voice? If so, have you found this to be helpful? If not, why not start developing one?

  4. What dangers are there in pursuing a higher power but refusing to follow an organized religion? What are some of the benefits of religion?

  5. In what ways does the Catholic Church provide guidance to finding the authentic God? How does it safeguard the faith?

  6. How has your Catholic faith lead you to peace? If you are not at peace, what is preventing that?

  7. The Church has had various types of spirituality throughout its long history. In what ways does this variety help people to relate to God? Is there a certain type of spirituality that is appealing to you?

  8. How did Jesus coming down to Earth help make God more knowable to humans?


--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 623: Spiritual Encouragement : A Reflection on the Book of Acts (Acts 14: 19-28)

19 However, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city. On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

21 After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.

22 They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” 23 They appointed presbyters for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith.

24 Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. 25After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now accomplished. 27 And when they arrived, they called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 Then they spent no little time with the disciples.

“They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith.” This phrase hit me like a breath of fresh air. Recently, we have been inundated with reports of people being demeaned and ridiculed and I found it refreshing to hear about people trying to build each other up. In the face of all the confusion in the world, we need to strengthen the spirits of the people we meet and encourage them to keep walking the path that will lead them to their heavenly homeland.

To strengthen someone’s spirit and to encourage the individual to keep walking, we need to enter into an open and frank conversation with them. Many people are angry and defensive because they have been hurt by society, or by the church, or their family members. In the face of this reality, they do not need to be condemned for their anti-social behavior. Rather, they need the ointment of compassion and empathy so that they can be healed of the hurt they have suffered. I am not naive, I know the process is messy, and it takes time, but it needs to be engaged in. Recall Pope Francis’s comment In Evangelii Gaudium (‘Joy of the Gospel’).

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and which then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light, and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life.” (EG,49)


When we deal with people who feel powerless, diminished, fearful, or insecure, we need to be compassionate, and patient. Reaching out to people in distress is risky and often daunting. No one ever said that Christian love would be easy. I came across a noteworthy comment attributed to Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” As the Barque of Peter, we need to set out from our safe harbors and search for people who have been cast adrift on the storm-tossed sea. “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. Evangelizers thus take on the “smell of the sheep” and the sheep are willing to hear their voice. An evangelizing community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be” (EG,24).


Each one of us has been invited to live in Christ, to ground our lives firmly in his love. All the baptized need to be confirmed and rooted in the faith. Seeing the Word take root in the hearts of those we meet, we will rejoice to hear that he has opened the door of faith for them. Following the example of the apostles, may we strengthen the hearts of our brothers and sisters and be for them a light of hope as they continue their journey to the Father.

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

Quote from a Saint: “Abandonment to the will of God is the secret of happiness on earth. Say, then: meus cibus est, ut faciam voluntatem eius, my food is to do his will.”--St. Josemaría Escrivá. The Way, No. 766


Prayer: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
”--St. Francis of Assisi

Questions for reflection:

  1. How often do you strengthen other people’s spirits and exhort them to persevere in the faith? When you did this, what was the result? If you haven’t, why not start today? Have others done this for you? If so, what was the result?

  2. What are some ways one can strengthen other people’s spirits? Where should you start? Pray about this. Read how the followers of Jesus did so in Acts and imitate them.

  3. Are you as fearless as St. Paul was in living your faith publicly? Do you pray in public, such as saying grace at a restaurant? Do you make the sign of the cross or just say grace silently so as to remain unseen? You never know whose life you could positively impact through your witness when praying publicly.

  4. Reflect on the quote from Pope Frances:“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” Do you find yourself sticking to things that are safe and comfortable when it comes to sharing your faith with others? What are some ways that you get outside of your comfort zone?

  5. We are the hand and feet of Christ and Jesus said in the Judgement of the Nations, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) How do you see yourself fulfilling this role?

  6. Reflect on the idea of taking on “the smell of the sheep” as an evangelizer. Do you smell like the sheep in your life?

  7. “As the Barque of Peter, we need to set out from our safe harbors and search for people who have been cast adrift on the storm-tossed sea.” This sounds like the Irish monks who would put themselves into a coracle (small boat) and allow God to float them to wherever He wanted them to end up. How are you about giving up control and letting God lead your life? In your silent prayer time ask Him and then act on what he tells you.

  8. It is easy to be compassionate and practice charity amongst those whom we love. We are called to love all people, even those who hate us or make us feel uncomfortable. How are you doing with this? How do you feel when you reach out to those who are difficult to love? During your prayer time ask Jesus to let you see others through His eyes and with His heart.

  9. “Each one of us has been invited to live in Christ, to ground our lives firmly in his love.” How do we ground our lives in Christ’s love? The Church has ways to help us do this: the Sacraments, reading the New Testament regularly, silent prayer time, adoration, and other devotions. Are any of these practices part of your spiritual life?


--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 622: The Good Shepherd: A Reflection on the Gospel of John (Acts 2: 14a, 36-41, John 10: 1-10)

[Acts 2] 14a Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed: 36 “Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do, my brothers?” 38 Peter [said] to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.”

40 He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.

[John 10] 1 “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. 2 But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.

3 The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.

5 But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” 6 Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

7 So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came [before me] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.

9 I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

"Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2:14). The Shepherd was led to the slaughter like a silent sheep, but God raised him in glory to shepherd the flock and lead it to lush pasture. “All of us, like sheep, have gone astray and followed our own way” (Is. 53:6). Through the Paschal Mystery we are reminded that God so loved the world that he send his only son to seek, find, and save the lost (CF. Lk. 19:10). The Only-begotten Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart (CF. Jn. 1:18) leaped down from heaven leaving his royal throne (CF. Wis. 18:15) to search out and find those who had gone astray, calling each one by name (CF. Jn. 10:3). “Like a shepherd, he tends the flock. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (Is. 40:1). Jesus shares the intimacy that he has with the Father with us.

Seeing our pitiable condition, the Good Shepherd is moved to compassion for us. As he sets out in search of his lost sheep, the shepherd prays: “Father, [help me find them] so that they all may be one, just as you are in me, and I am in you” (Jn. 17:21). It is important to keep in mind that Jesus does not excuse our wandering just to make us feel good about ourselves. Rather, he seeks us out and walks with us so that we might come to the truth and be set free. Gently and honestly, he speaks to our hearts; then he patiently waits for our response. Only then, when we are ready to let Him, does He pick us up and draw us close to His heart. The wonder of mercy, God urgently and passionately calls to us, but He leaves us free to respond. He will only wrap his arms around us if we let him. Only those who surrender to his loving call can receive remission of their sins and enjoy the newness of life in the Spirit.


The image of the shepherd calling his sheep by name and leading them out brought to mind a verse from the Book of Genesis. “The man and his wife heard the voice of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze” (Gen. 3:8). God enters into our personal space and speaks a word of love to our hearts. The Psalmist having heard the call of God penned these beautiful words. “Know that the Lord is God. He created us, and we belong to him. We are his people, the sheep of his flock” (Ps. 100: 3). We can confidently depend on the Good Shepherd’s love and care for us. He leads us to lush green pastures. He protects us from attacks of ravenous beasts. When we wander off on our own, he risks his own life to find us and bring us back to the fold. When we are thirsty He brings us to streams of living water. We have no reason to fear because the Lamb was slain so that we might live. By his wounds, we have been healed and by his victory over sin and death, we have found peace of mind and heart.


The good Shepherd knows his sheep and loves them. He lays down his life to protect them from harm. He guides them with His Spirit and word. He calls each one to follow Him and then personally shows us the way that leads to the Father. Jesus tells us that he is the good shepherd who cares for his sheep and takes a personal interest in each of us. There is no limit to God’s love for us. No enemy can snatch us out of his hand. In Christ’s life, death, and resurrection we come to know God’s all-consuming desire to be with us and be part of our lives. He defends us from harm and keeps us safe. He wards off all danger by placing himself between us and all that could harm us. Jesus Christ takes on himself the task of reuniting the flock, being the shepherd and guardian of our souls. 


In another place, John wrote: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but through me” (Jn. 14:6). This is a reiteration of Jesus’s comment “I am the gate for the sheep” (Jn. 10:9). He is not only our guardian from harm. He is also our access to the Father of Lights, the Shepherd of Israel. We need to keep in mind Paul’s words to Timothy, “There is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5). When Jesus calls himself the gate for the sheep, he is speaking of his special relationship to the sheep. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote, “Jesus and the people he makes holy have one Father. For this reason, he is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters” (Heb. 2:11).


Since Jesus is not ashamed to acknowledge us as intimate members of his family, we should joyfully acknowledge him as our brother, Lord, and Savior. The Shepherd of our souls laid down his life for us so that we might “have life and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). The sheep of God’s flock are offered a relationship of trust and safety because of the loving compassion of the shepherd. Not only does He grant us abundant life, but He also safeguards that life for us. Having entered the fold, we need to listen attentively to the voice of the shepherd and follow wherever he leads. The Christian vocation is always a renewal of this personal friendship with Jesus Christ, which gives full meaning to our lives and makes us open to the Kingdom of God. 


Day by day we must learn to communicate the life of Christ, Lamb, and Shepherd, to all we meet. The Good Shepherd tends his flock with deep tenderness and with an outstretched arm he protects it from evil. Having been grafted to the shepherd through Baptism, we are called to exist for others, for Christ. Through Him and with him we are called to be there for the people he seeks, whom he wants to lead on the path of life. May the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for us continue to accompany us throughout our journey to the Father. May the Good Shepherd, who left no stone unturned as he searched for us, make us patent with one another. As the Good Shepherd walks ahead of us may we keep our eyes focused on Him and follow Him wherever He leads. 

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO


Quote from a Saint: On the CrossHow precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste… By the cross, death was slain and Adam was restored to life. The cross is the glory of all the apostles, the crown of the martyrs, and the sanctification of the saints. By the cross, we put on Christ and cast aside our former selves. By the cross, we, the sheep of Christ, have been gathered into one flock, destined for the sheepfolds of heaven.”-- St Theodore the Studite


Prayer: Prayer to Follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd “Gentle Jesus, compassionate and caring Good Shepherd, help me to follow You faithfully. Strengthen me daily with Your love, and guide me along life's paths. Keep me free from every evil, protect me from sickness and danger, and lead me to serve You with all my mind and heart and soul. Hear my needs and grant me petitions, especially these intentions important to me at this time: {Mention your petitions here} Bless me each day with peace of mind and heart. May I experience Your saving power in my daily life, as I await the fullness of life and joy with You forever. Amen.”


Questions for reflection:


  1. Has the Good Shepherd ever come looking for you because you became separated from the flock?

  2. Have you ever “heard” the voice of the Shepherd calling you? In what ways did that happen? How did you react?

  3. The followers of Christ are represented as being sheep. Do you think of yourself as a sheep who needs a shepherd, or do you try to be the shepherd? Which one do you think Jesus wants you to be in relation to Him?

  4. The Good Shepherd carries and protects his sheep. Are you comfortable with this concept? Will you let the Good Shepherd carry and defend you?

  5. The Good Shepherd recognizes his sheep. Would he recognize you? Why or why not?

  6. The God of the Universe became man. How do you think that affects His relationship with His sheep?

  7. Jesus is not ashamed to acknowledge us. Have you ever been afraid or hesitant to acknowledge Him? Does this hesitancy occur in certain situations or amongst certain people? Pray about this and ask the Good Shepherd to show you how you should react when you find yourself being ashamed of Him.

  8. How do you listen to the voice of the Lord? Do you spend time in silent prayer? Do you make a regular holy hour? The noise of the world can make it hard to hear Him. Find some quiet moments and place yourself in His presence and see what happens. Make a plan to do so this week.

  9. How do you witness to Christ in you daily life? Would people know that you are one of His by the witness of your life?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 621: On the Road to Emmaus : A Reflection on the Gospel of Luke (Luke 24 : 13-35)

13 Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, 14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.

15 And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, 16 but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him.

21 But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. 22 Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning 23 and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. 24 Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.”

25 And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. 29 But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. 31 With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. 32 Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” 33 So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them 34 who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.


“He gave the impression that he was going on farther”. But his heart remained with his two fellow travelers whom he was apparently leaving, and his wish was that the sight of him going away might kindle in their hearts a great desire that he would gladly yield to. It’s just like Jesus to do that. He used to do it over and over again in his earthly ministry.

Once, when the disciples were out on a lake, Jesus came walking on the waters, and “he gave the impression that he was going on farther”, but when the disciples cried out, he got into the boat. Then there were the two blind men by the roadside crying out, “Son of David, have mercy on us”. But “he gave the impression that he was going on farther” to Jerusalem. The purpose of this apparent indifference was revealed when, as the Gospel puts it, “They cried out more earnestly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on us’”.

And that is what he does with all of us sometimes: he seems to leave our wishes and our longings all unnoticed. Then we may think to ourselves, “What’s the use of crying out to him? He doesn’t hear me”. But God raised “Christ from the dead and gave him glory” for that very reason – “so that your faith and hope would be in God”, faith to hear the promise: “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it”, fill it with the Body and Blood of Christ.

Christ has no other reason for any of the delays he puts us through than to make us capable of a richer blessing, because delay deepens our longing, just as absence makes the heart grow fonder. He has an infinite desire this morning, just as he did on that resurrection evening, to draw near to every heart and impress upon us that he has been raised to life and that he lives to bless us. But he cannot draw near to us unless we want him to, and he cannot give us more of himself than we wish. Therefore he has to make our desires greater and stronger, and then he will answer them.

Remember what the Gospels say about the villagers in his native Galilee: “He could work no miracles there because of their unbelief”. Our lack of faith is what limits his power; our faith is the measure of our capacity to receive a blessing from him. He asks us this morning, as he asked the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, “Are you slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke”?

There is one other thing hidden in this morning’s Gospel: Jesus is glad when we “urge him to stay with us”. “They urged him” is a very strong phrase, something like the one Jesus himself used when he spoke about the kingdom of heaven suffering violence, “and the violent take it by storm”. There is a real power in the hearts that really desire Jesus: they can tell him what he should do for them and how much of himself he should give them. On the other hand, the weakness of our desire limits to some extent what God can do for us, because unless we feel on fire as he converses with us on the road, we cannot recognize what he is doing in our lives.

So we are all in the position of the two disciples of Jesus. We can make sure that Jesus will always be our companion on the way to the Father if we do two things. First, he will stay with us always if we honestly and really wish him to be with us all the day long, and if we never go anywhere where he cannot go with us.

And second, as Pope St Peter put it in his first encyclical this morning [Acts 2:14, 22-33], we must “conduct ourselves with reverence during the time of our sojourning”. Our life is a journey we must travel with a deep consciousness of God, so we should not do anything or cultivate any attitude which would drive him away. How can we ask him to come in and sit down in a house which is full of filth and worldliness? First turn the demons out and open the door a crack, and Someone will say, “ I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you”.

He may “give the impression that he’s going on farther”, but if you urge him to stay with you, then at the breaking of bread he will come right in and stay with you, vanishing from your sight, but leaving your heart burning within you.

Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO

Quote from a Saint: “With all the strength of my soul I urge you young people to approach the Communion table as often as you can. Feed on this bread of angels whence you will draw all the energy you need to fight inner battles. Because true happiness, dear friends, does not consist in the pleasures of the world or in earthly things, but in peace of conscience, which we have only if we are pure in heart and mind--Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Prayer: “Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts burn while you speak to us. Amen


Questions for Reflection:

  1. What do you think the disciples were feeling as they walked on the road to Emmaus? Have you ever felt lost or confused, like these disciples?

  2. Why do you think they didn’t recognize Jesus at first?

  3. How did Jesus reveal Himself to the disciples? Why do you think Jesus chose to reveal Himself in this way?

  4. Reflect on how this encounter with Jesus is similar to the Mass. How is the conversation between the disciples and Jesus like the Liturgy of the Word? How is the meal with Jesus like the Liturgy of the Eucharist?

  5. What did the disciples do after they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread? What should we do when we encounter Jesus in the Eucharist?

  6. Have you ever had to wait for God to answer your prayers? Did it make you more able to receive the graces God’s gift to you?

  7. “How can we ask him to come in and sit down in a house which is full of filth and worldliness?” What are you doing to cultivate a place in yourself that is welcoming to Christ?

  8. This encounter with Christ shows the historicity of looking for Christ in the Old Testament. When you read or study the Old Testament do you look for clues of the coming of Christ?

  9. The disciples did not take detailed notes on what Christ said as he opened the Scriptures for them. Do you think some of these teachings made it into the New Testament?


--Kristen & Benjamin Rinaldo

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