A reflection on joy for a Monday morning

The following poem by Mary Oliver appears in her collection Thirst.

Mozart, for Example

All the quick notes
Mozart didn’t have time to use
before he entered the cloud-boat

are falling now from the beaks
of the finches
that have gathered from the joyous summer

into the hard winter
and, like Mozart, they speak of nothing
but light and delight,

though it is true, the heavy blades of the world
are still pounding underneath.
And this is what you can do too, maybe,

if you live simply and with a lyrical heart
in the cumbered neighborhoods or even,
as Mozart sometimes managed to, in a palace,

offering tune after tune after tune,
making some hard-hearted prince
prudent and kind, just by being happy.


Pope Francis says we ALL need the youth to model respect and acceptance for us!

At a prayer vigil for World Youth Day last week, Pope Francis praised young people for their acceptance and universal respect, and urged them to set examples for older adults.

“Today we adults – we adults – need you to teach us, like you are doing now, to live with diversity, in dialogue” he said. “To experience multiculturalism not as a threat but an opportunity…Have the courage to teach us that it is easier to build bridges than walls. We need this.”

So much of the rhetoric surrounding this election is based on fear of those who are different than us: immigrants and refugees, people from different cultures and religious traditions. Fear cultivates hatred, and we forget that these are human beings who are made in God’s image and who have inherent dignity. But time after time, I’ve been so impressed with young people’s willingness to fight back against this rhetoric, and to treat everybody they encounter with the respect they deserve.

These young people remember in their hearts that Jesus himself was a refugee in Egypt, that he spent his time among the poor and the outcast, and that he preached about a Samaritan, an outsider, who practiced a deep love for his neighbor.

We as a church applaud you for this attitude. And as Pope Francis reminds us, we can all learn from it. I hope that all of us, young and old, remember that when we recognize the stranger as a child of God, we are doing God’s work.


Information for this post comes from an article in The Record: “Youth urged to be examples for elders” by Cindy Wooden, published 08/04/16

Why a poor rural Texas town captured the pope’s attention on WYD

CNS Blog

penitas Catholic youth from towns near Peñitas, Texas cheer while kicking off World Youth Day July 26, 2016. Even though the pope is in Poland, he sent a video message specifically to the group gathered in Texas, even though many from the impoverished area can’t travel. (CNS photo by Amber Donaldson)

By Brenda Nettles Riojas

Catholic News Service

MISSION, Texas (CNS) – As World Youth Day kicked off in Poland today, a group of Catholic youth in Texas, some without the money to travel to Poland and others without the legal papers to travel there, got the next best thing: Pope Francis came to them via video, with a message tailored for the community there.

Why did the rural area known as Pueblo de Palmas, near Peñitas get such an honor? Why would the Holy Father send a message to the people of a rural area that some consider “insignificant”?

Three missionary…

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Gospel Reflection for Feast of St Mary Magdalene

St John's Catholic Church, Maitland Blog

John 20:1-2.11-18

(If you have not read the Gospel passage on which this homily is based, scroll down to the end of this text and read it first.)

In this Gospel passage today for the Feast of St Mary Magdalene, the first two verses of Chapter 20 of John’s Gospel are given as a kind of introduction to what is going to follow. Then the text skips to verse 11 to focus on Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Christ. The part that is missing in between is how after having told Peter and John about the empty tomb, and they having run to the tomb to see for themselves, Peter and John returned to their homes. Our text for today then starts: “But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.”

First, while Mary is looking into the tomb, she sees two angels in the tomb, where Jesus had been laid, and…

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From Lorraine Cuddeback via I Have Seen the Lord | Daily Theology, a Gospel message for today: “Mary’s hopelessness is almost palatable. The angels that appear — those who so helpfully explain the meaning of the empty tomb in Mark, Matthew, and Luke — cannot draw Mary’s attention in this narrative. Her weeping overwhelms her sight, […]

via Turn Until You Know Jesus: The Feast of Mary Magdalene — Practical. Catholic. Evangelization.

Family Prayer and Sprituality

As I’ve been trying to incorporate prayer more into my daily life, what’s been most striking to me is all of the different ways that we can respond to God. We can pray with words given to us, or with our own words; through speech and through silence; with our hands, with our bodies, with our breath. And all of these ways can rightfully be called prayer. As we begin to explore ways that we can pray together as families, let us first explore the many different forms of prayer.

  • Repeating traditional prayers and psalms
  • Creating art or music in response to God
  • Listening and engaging to music, art, and stories
  • Speaking in earnest to God
  • Giving of ourselves in service to others
  • Contemplative or silent prayer (repeating a word or phrase, imagining a scene)
  • Traditional devotions like the rosary and novenas

Some of these things will be easier for you than others. There are families who set aside time to say a rosary together every night, and families for whom that’s not feasible or even the best option. (As someone with a lot of trouble focusing, I personally find that the rosary is not the best devotion for me.) Only you can figure out what’s best for your own family. But here are a few ideas:

  • Watch a movie together, and discuss it after. Or, if you want to make it an outing, try going to a play, concert, or art exhibit. See how people have been moved to speak to God through their art, and let the art lift you up to the same place from which the artist was speaking.
  • Say grace before meals if you don’t already. Try asking each child to lead prayer on a different night. This can be planned or spontaneous.
  • Spend a day volunteering together. For a list of great organizations to work with, check out the resources page on this blog.
  • Look into some classic prayers by holy men and women like St. Teresa of Avila or Thomas Merton. Introduce these prayers into your daily life.
  • In casual conversation, ask one another to pray for your needs and the needs of others. For instance. “I’m having lunch with Aunt Betty today. Could you pray for her? She’s been struggling a lot since Uncle Bob died.”

Please feel free to add more ideas and suggestions in the comments!