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Spiritual Reflections

Real change


Our Easter Gospel readings may leave us surprisingly disappointed. As we go to the garden to celebrate the first day of the new creation, these narratives leave us disoriented in the ambiguous land of an open tomb.

Our path to follow


Passion (Palm) Sunday is one of the all-out favorite celebrations of the church year. Following Christmas and Easter, Palm Sunday ranks with Ash Wednesday -- all days made special because people leave the celebration with a tangible reminder of the experience.

Be merciful as God is merciful


When St. John* XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council almost 54 years ago, he set the tone for that great gathering with these words: "Now the Bride of Christ wishes to use the medicine of mercy rather than taking up the arms of security. ... The Catholic Church ... wants to show herself a loving mother to all; patient, kind, moved by compassion and goodness."

Welcome home


Dutch theologian and Scripture scholar Henri Nouwen first encountered Rembrandt van Rijn's "The Return of the Prodigal Son" on a poster on the door of an office at the L'Arche community in France. That encounter prompted Nouwen to go to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, in order to see the original.

A time for mercy

We're in the middle of Lent, our unique catholic (i.e., universal) retreat time. For 40 days, the entire church, from the greatest to the least, is called to take a look at how our life reflects what we believe about God. Beware: This retreat is not a time of rest. Today's readings call us to focus on the fact that now is the only time we have to live the call of this Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Miracles in store for us

Recently, I heard friends in Ecuador talking about miracles they had experienced. Those events included the Virgin Mary protecting a town from the rage of an active volcano, a downpour following a novena in a little farming village just about to lose everything to drought, and the inexplicable cure of the single mother of two little children for whom a community prayed while the doctors told them to give up hope.

Use your gifts


Listening to today's first reading is to know that a prophet's call is almost always the last element inserted into our biblical collection of the prophet's oracles. Only after a lifetime of delivering God's word does the prophet (or the prophet's disciples) receive some insight into what he or she was actually called to do.

Dare to say amen


In the opening lines of today's Gospel, Luke explains his writing project: He intends to present an "orderly account" of what he has discovered from his research about Jesus. We then skip a few chapters and hear Jesus proclaim his understanding of what he has been called to do.


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In This Issue

October 21-November 3, 2016

  • Reformation's anniversary brings commemorations, reconsiderations
  • Picks further diversify College of Cardinals
  • Editorial: One-issue obsession imperils credibility
  • Special Section [Print Only]: SAINTS