The Baptism of the Lord; The Father’s Beloved

Changed By Christ; Baptized With Water, Marked With Love
By Gretchen Erlichman

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.” ~Matthew 3:13

Through baptism we are incorporated into the love of Christ and the life of the Church. In being washed by the waters of Baptism, we are forever changed and are sealed with an indelible spiritual mark, or character, that enables us to participate in a full sharing in the life of the Church. It was in Christ’s own baptism by John the Baptist in the river Jordan that this sacrament of initiation was instituted to enable us to share in the Divine Life of the Trinity and to conform ourselves evermore to Christ. St. Gregory of Nyssa, one of the early Church Fathers, puts this beautifully: “…we in receiving Baptism, in imitation of our Lord and Teacher and Guide, are not indeed buried in the earth…but coming to the element akin to earth, to water, we conceal ourselves in that as the Saviour did in the earth: and by doing this thrice we represent for ourselves that grace of the Resurrection which was wrought in three days: and this we do, not receiving the sacrament in silence, but while there are spoken over us the Names of the Three Sacred Persons on Whom we believed, in Whom we also hope, from Whom comes to us both the fact of our present and the fact of our future existence.” (A Sermon for the Day of the Lights) Indeed, by our Baptism, we are initiated into an eternal sharing in the Divine Life of the Trinity and participate fully in the life of grace.

(Pixabay)

Matthew’s Gospel records the account of Christ’s baptism, which we imitate by our own reception of the sacrament: “After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove coming upon Him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” (Matt. 3:16-17) The Three Persons of the Trinity were present at the Baptism at the Jordan, just as we, at our baptisms are sealed “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” At our baptism we are invited into the life of the Trinity, through the sacrament instituted by Christ at the Jordan, which the Father found pleasing, and by which the Holy Spirit seals our souls with an indelible sacramental character. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that, in being washed with the waters of Baptism, “the Holy Spirit has marked us with the seal of the Lord (“Dominicus character”).” (CCC 1274) In receiving this character, we are forever changed in conformity to Christ and we are ‘reborn’ into this new sharing in the life of the Trinity. The Catechism states that this sacrament “signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ.” (CCC 1239) Thus, let us strive to live out our baptismal vows by allowing our lives to be a testament to the way that we have been changed by Christ and marked by Love in our sharing in the Divine Life of the Trinity through Baptism.

 

 

Cleansed With Water, Salted With Fire
By Phillip Baker

“But the one who is coming after me is mightier than I….He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Mt 3:11).

There is nothing Jesus tells us to do that He has not done first Himself. He says “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must…take up his cross daily,” so He first carries His cross all the way to Calvary (Lk 9:23). The first step on this way of the Cross is baptism, for He says “no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (Jn 3:5). Therefore, He is baptized first Himself. No one should be afraid to follow Christ, for Christ, “the Way,” has first walked that way Himself.

And, as Jesus accepts Baptism as the first step on His journey, so He shows us that if we would follow Him, we must first be baptized. When our Lord was baptized, He “[sanctified] the waters of the Jordan,” as St. Jerome says, so that the waters, purified, are no longer a “removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 3:21). Because the Lord first baptized the water, now the water of baptism saves us – not because water washes away sin, but because the Holy Spirit, the same which swept over the waters at Creation, descends upon us in our baptism and recreates us (cf. Gn 1:2). Being born of the Spirit in baptism, we come out of the regenerating waters and hear the Father say to us “this is my beloved son,” for the Son has made us such by sending the Spirit upon us in Baptism (cf. Mt 3:17).

As the Spirit dwells in us, it is truly said “Beloved, we are God’s children now” (1 Jn 3:2). But Jesus’ “winnowing fan is in His hand,” and, as we are baptized with the fire of God’s love, the Holy Spirit, we are being purified – as He says “everyone will be salted with fire” (Mt 3:12, Mk 9:49). Fire both refines and purifies, and so our baptism is both a gift and a challenge. Having been so purified by our baptism in the Holy Spirit, shall we live lovingly, as children of the light, and deserve to hear the Father say “well done, my good and faithful servant” (Mt 25:23)? Or shall we scorn the gift of our baptism and, living as children of the dark, be thrown “into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth” (Mt 25:30)? This is the gift and challenge of our Baptism which our Lord calls us to. We have been salted with fire; may the fire of the Holy Spirit, then, preserve us in our Baptism unto eternal life.

 

COME PRAY WITH US!

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:20

Right now, more than ever, we called to come together as a Church to pray and to engage with the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. As a response to this invitation, we are launching a weekly prayer and discussion group called Quarantine Conversations, which will follow the theme of the reflections of the Quarantine Contemplation series. Each week, we will meet on Friday evenings at 6:30pm CST/7:30pm EST to pray a decade of the Rosary followed by a short reflection and time for discussion. Please join us for all or part of these meetings, so that we may join our hearts in praise of our glorious Creator!

Sign Up Here!

(After signing up, you will receive an email with more information about how to download Zoom and information about receiving weekly links to connect to the Quarantine Conversations.)

About Us:

Gretchen Erlichman

Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video   Read My Story  Donate   Contact

Phillip Baker 

Hi! My name is Phillip Baker and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently reside as I work to pay off student loan debt from my time at Syracuse University. This is my first 6-month class with the Labouré Society, and I anticipate entrance to religious life with the Friars this July.
Watch My Video   Read My Story   Donate   Contact 

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The Coronation of Mary; Queen of Wisdom, Mother of Love

Obediently Crowned
By Phillip Baker

“Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Lk 11:28).

God graced Mary with a number of unique and extraordinary graces. However, neither the Immaculate Conception, nor the Assumption, nor any other particular grace God bestowed upon her crowns and honors Mary so much as her humble obedience to the will of God. Mary’s unique participation in the glory of her Son is given to her through the merits of Christ, so Mary’s glory is, as with all God’s saints, a sharing in Christ’s glory. Mary’s “fiat” mirrors the obedience of her Son, Who “humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted Him…” (Phil 2:8-9) In His life and by His death, Christ showed the way for all His disciples to be raised to glory through obedience to the Father’s Will – as He said “I have given them the glory You gave Me” (Jn 17:22).

“The Coronation of the Virgin” -Fra Angelico, c. 1434-35

Mary was obedient to God’s will throughout her life, and in this way she preeminently shares in her Son’s glory. As our Lord says, “blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it,” and none kept it better than Mary who said “be it done unto me according to thy word” (Lk 11:28; 1:38). By her constant and ready obedience to the will of God, Mary, already preserved free from the stain of original sin, also never committed or consented to even the smallest sin throughout her entire life (cf. CCC 411).

For we who are “mourning and weeping in this valley of tears,” Mary is both hope and exemplar. Would we keep from sin and hold on to the hope of Heaven? Then let us follow Mary’s example and pray that we might receive from God the grace to be as obedient to His will as she was. For the life of Mary testifies to the truth that “sacrifice and offering you do not want … so I said, ‘see; I come… I delight to do your will, my God'” (Ps 40:7-9).

Indeed, God wants nothing from us but ready obedience to His will. God made us to be happy, not necessarily in this life, but in eternity with Him. Our sure way home, then, is to do His will. Mary’s obedience is her crowning glory and her lowliness is her crown, for “the humble of spirit acquire honor,” and “the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Prov 29:23; Lk 14:11). Who of all God’s saints has been exalted more than Mary, who we venerate because God has made her so venerable as Queen of Heaven and Earth? Indeed, “He has looked upon His handmaid’s lowliness,” so Mary, who always heard the word of God and kept it, proclaims forever: “…behold, from now on will all ages call blessed” (Lk 1:48).

 

Mother Mediatrix; Excellent Exemplar
By Gretchen Erlichman

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel. ~Genesis 3:15

The Blessed Mother, since the moment of her fiat, surrendered the entirety of herself to the will of God and, in doing so, consented to her role as Queen of Heaven and earth. In submitting her will to that of the Creator, she became the Queen of Creation and the Mother of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “By pronouncing her ‘fiat’ at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish. She is mother wherever he is Savior and head of the Mystical Body.” (CCC 973)

It is this total surrender to the will of God that raised the Blessed Virgin Mary to reign as Queen of Heaven and earth, and it was her “yes” at the Annunciation that has allowed her to play an integral role in conquering sin and death for our salvation. In agreeing to be the Mother of God, she became an instrument of salvation by bearing Christ in her womb; from the moment of her immaculate conception, God chose Mary to be His mother. St. Irenaeus, in his work Adversus Haereses, states that “He is one and the same, who formed us at the beginning, and sent His Son at the end, the Lord did perform His command, being made of a woman, by both destroying our adversary, and perfecting man after the image and likeness of God.”  (AH 5.21.2) Being born of a woman, namely the Blessed Mother, Christ became man and gained for us our salvation. In giving birth to our Savior, Mary crushes the head of the serpent; Mary joins her Son in conquering sin and death and becomes both our Mother and our Queen.

Indeed, Mary is our Maternal Queen, who guides us ever closer to her Son through her intercession and example. Pope Paul VI’s 1964 constitution Lumen Gentium exalts Mary as “‘the mother of the members of Christ . . . having cooperated by charity that faithful might be born in the Church, who are members of that Head.’ Wherefore she is hailed as a pre-eminent and singular member of the Church, and as its type and excellent exemplar in faith and charity.” (LG 53 It is by the graces merited through her intercession and by closely following her example that we, ourselves, can rise above sin and death, striving to live a life of virtue that leads to eternal life. It is through the Blessed Mother’s example that we can be ‘perfected in the image and likeness of God.’ Mary, Queen of Wisdom and Mother of Love, pray for us!

 

COME PRAY WITH US!

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:20

Right now, more than ever, we called to come together as a Church to pray and to engage with the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. As a response to this invitation, we are launching a weekly prayer and discussion group called Quarantine Conversations, which will follow the theme of the reflections of the Quarantine Contemplation series. Each week, we will meet on Friday evenings at 6:30pm CST/7:30pm EST to pray a decade of the Rosary followed by a short reflection and time for discussion. Please join us for all or part of these meetings, so that we may join our hearts in praise of our glorious Creator!

Sign Up Here!

(After signing up, you will receive an email with more information about how to download Zoom and information about receiving weekly links to connect to the Quarantine Conversations.)

About Us:

Gretchen Erlichman

Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video   Read My Story  Donate   Contact

Phillip Baker 

Hi! My name is Phillip Baker and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently reside as I work to pay off student loan debt from my time at Syracuse University. This is my first 6-month class with the Labouré Society, and I anticipate entrance to religious life with the Friars this July.
Watch My Video   Read My Story   Donate   Contact 

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The Assumption of Mary; An Immaculate Journey

Immaculate Intercessor
By Gretchen Erlichman

“When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’  Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servers, ‘Do whatever he tells you.'” (John 2:3-5)

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) With Mary’s “yes” to be the Mother of God, she gave her consent to be the Mother of the Church and the Queen of both Heaven and earth. At her Assumption, the Blessed Mother was assumed, body and soul, up unto the Heavenly Kingdom of Her Son and assumed her reign as the Immaculate Queen over His beloved Church. It is through this mysterious miracle of her Assumption that the Blessed Virgin Mary sits on her throne beside her Divine Son and showers her motherly love upon us as one of our greatest intercessors to Our Lord.

“The Dormition and Assumption of the Virgin” Fra Angelico, 1433-34

In Pope Pius XII’s 1950 apostolic constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, Mary’s Assumption was clarified and defined as a dogma of the Church. In this declaration, Pope Pius XII articulated the special role that the Blessed Mother holds as the Immaculate Intercessor to her Divine Son: “We…to whom we have had recourse so often in times of grave trouble, we who have consecrated the entire human race to her Immaculate Heart in public ceremonies, and who have time and time again experienced her powerful protection, are confident that this solemn proclamation and definition of the Assumption will contribute in no small way to the advantage of human society, since it redounds to the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, to which the Blessed Mother of God is bound by such singular bonds.”

How wonderful it is that Our Blessed Mother, assuming her queenship over Heaven and earth, bestows her maternal love and care upon us by bringing our every need to her Son! At the wedding at Cana, the Blessed Mother interceded for the the newlyweds, so as to save them from embarrassment: “When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.’His mother said to the servers, ‘Do whatever he tells you.'” (John 2:3-5) In this moment, Christ did not refuse the request of His mother. At Cana, Christ heeded His mother’s request to save a wedding. How much more precious are our requests to her that involve the salvation of our souls! How joyful she is to bring before her Son our requests for growth in the grace and virtue that will help us to grow in love of God and neighbor.

St. Basil the Great encourages us to entrust ourselves to the love and care of the Blessed Mother: “O sinner, be not discouraged, but have recourse to Mary in all your necessities. Call her to your assistance, for such is the divine Will that she should help in every kind of necessity.” Indeed, let us confidently bring our prayers and needs to Mary, Our Mother, who will lovingly bring them before her Son on our behalf. Mary, Immaculate Intercessor and Mother of the Church, pray for us!

 

Safe Assumptions
By Phillip Baker

“Behold from now on will all ages call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).

There is no direct Biblical attestation of the Assumption of Mary. We are told of the uniqueness of Enoch, who “walked with God” and was taken into Heaven, and we know of Elijah, who was taken up in a chariot of fire; therefore, there are preceding examples (Gn 5:24; cf. 2 Kgs 2:9-12). Yet, the same details are not given of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother. Because of the absence of biblical details, however, we should not conclude that the Assumption of Mary did not occur.

God reveals the Gospel of salvation both through Scripture, “the speech of God as it is put down in writing by the breath of the Holy Spirit,” and the Tradition of the Church, the living transmission of what Christ taught the Apostles, handed on faithfully through their successors, the bishops (cf. CCC 71, 81-2). Scripture and Tradition never contradict, but Tradition illuminates Scripture, and vice-versa. For our Lord did not give us the Bible during His time on earth, but established the Church, constituted by the Holy Spirit to “go [and] make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that [He has] commanded us” (Mt 28:19-20). Out of this Body of the Church was compiled the body of Scripture. So, although the Assumption of Mary is not recorded in Scripture, still it has ever been remembered in the Church’s Tradition.

For “the wages of sin is death,” and it was after the sin of Adam and Eve that man earned the punishment of mortality (Rom 6:23). Therefore Mary, who was preserved by God’s grace from sin, would not have suffered death. She who heard the angelic greeting, “hail, full of grace,” never sinned and did not know sin and would not have earned sins’s wages in tasting death (Lk 1:28; cf. CCC 966).

Mary is the mother of this Church which has always known that our Mother has been assumed, body and soul, into Heaven with her Son. From Heaven, she intercedes for her children, that she might teach us to love her Son. Let us listen, then, to our Mother’s teachings: Standing by the Cross, she teaches us to do the same, that we might bear all trials with Christ; adoring our Lord in Nazareth, she teaches us how to adore our Eucharistic God; contemplating all the mysteries of the Incarnation in her heart, Mary, Seat of Wisdom, teaches us how to contemplate her Son, Who is the Son of God (cf. Lk 2:19). Claiming no glory for herself, everything in Mary’s life “[proclaimed] the greatness of God,” and she always and only leads us to her son – in this way she “shows herself a mother” and the exemplar of the Church (Lk 1:46). Coming to Christ through Mary, we might learn from Mary to “forget our own people and our father’s house” until we come at last to dwell in our Father’s house (Ps 45:11).

 

COME PRAY WITH US!

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:20

Right now, more than ever, we called to come together as a Church to pray and to engage with the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. As a response to this invitation, we are launching a weekly prayer and discussion group called Quarantine Conversations, which will follow the theme of the reflections of the Quarantine Contemplation series. Each week, we will meet on Friday evenings at 6:30pm CST/7:30pm EST to pray a decade of the Rosary followed by a short reflection and time for discussion. Please join us for all or part of these meetings, so that we may join our hearts in praise of our glorious Creator!

Sign Up Here!

(After signing up, you will receive an email with more information about how to download Zoom and information about receiving weekly links to connect to the Quarantine Conversations.)

About Us:

Gretchen Erlichman

Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video   Read My Story  Donate   Contact

Phillip Baker 

Hi! My name is Phillip Baker and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently reside as I work to pay off student loan debt from my time at Syracuse University. This is my first 6-month class with the Labouré Society, and I anticipate entrance to religious life with the Friars this July.
Watch My Video   Read My Story   Donate   Contact 

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The Descent of the Holy Spirit; Recreated in Love

Who Keeps His Promises
By Phillip Baker

“God remembers forever His covenant… which He made with Abraham and swore to Isaac.”(Psalm 108:8-9)

Fifty days after the Passover, the Israelite people brought the “first-fruits,” or the first reapings, of their harvest to the priest as an offering to God on the day of Pentecost. They also offered, among other things, two unblemished lambs as a “communion sacrifice,” “a sweet smelling oblation to the Lord” (Lv 23:18). Everything in the Old Testament paves the way for the New; not without reason, then, God chose to send His Spirit upon the nascent Church and reveal Her to the world on Pentecost. The Spirit fell upon the Apostles gathered in prayer with Mary and they went out and proclaimed the truth that Jesus is the long-awaited, promised Messiah to the Jews gathered in Jerusalem. Those who heard were, in turn, baptized, becoming the first fruits of the Church, those coming to life in Christ (cf. Acts 2).

Pentecost, from the Armadio deli Argenti (silver chest),” Fra Angelico, 1450-52

“Christ the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” joins His Church to Himself through His Spirit (1 Cor 15:20). The Holy Spirit unites the Church to Christ, making us into the Body of Christ to share in His Resurrection. We are united to Christ in the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit Who blew over the waters at Creation (cf. Gn 1:2), the same Spirit Who the Father blew into the nostrils of clay and made into Adam (cf. Gn 2:7), the same Spirit Who Ezekiel prophesied would blow into the flesh carcasses in the desert and from whom God would make a new people from a derelict Israel (cf. Ez 37:1-14). The Church, revealed on Pentecost, is that new Israel, constituted by the Holy Spirit as the Body of Christ and joined to the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit, Who is the living bond of love between the Father and the Son.

We are the children of the promises of the Old Testament. We are those to whom God promised, “I will put my spirit in you so that you may walk in my statutes… you will be my people and I will be your God” (Ez 36:27-8). “In all wisdom and insight, He has made known to us the mystery” of His plan “to sum up all things in Christ” (Eph 1:8, 10). The Spirit poured upon the Apostles at Pentecost in the breath of God and the Spirit of Wisdom that dwells still in us. God has given us the wisdom to understand that His promises to the Old Israel have not been abolished but fulfilled in us, the New Israel. Let us, then, trust in God more and love Him more because He is a God Who keeps His promises.

 

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit; A Dwelling in Love
By Gretchen Erlichman

“Let us love him and cling to him with the charity that has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” ~Romans 5:5

Through the Holy Spirit, our sharing in the Divine life of the Trinity is actuated and the fruits of grace are made manifest in our souls. As a result of the indwelling the Holy Spirit within us, the love of the Trinity abides in us, while we are invited to dwell within that love. Our souls become His dwelling place; our souls become a place for His love to abide. St. Paul tells us: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy spirit within you, which you have from God?” (1 Cor. 6:19)

How amazing it is that the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, has chosen to dwell within us, to allow our souls to be a temple of His love! This invitation to dwell within the love of the Trinity is extended to us through the gift if sanctifying grace. St. Thomas tells us that “sanctifying grace disposes the soul to possess the divine person; and this is signified when it is said that the Holy Ghost is given according to the gift of grace. Nevertheless the gift itself of grace is from the Holy Ghost; which is meant by the words, ‘the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost’ (Rom. 5:5).” (ST I-I Q.43, A.3)

Indeed, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within our souls is an intimate invitation to the love of the Trinity. In De Trinitate, Augustine points out that love, itself, is triune in nature: “love means someone loving and something loved and love.” (Trin. 8.10.14) This passage speaks to the mutuality between the love of the Trinity that is extended to us through the Holy Spirit and the love for God that exists in our souls through sanctifying grace. Of course, the love that we, in our humanity, have for God can never reach the heights to which we are extended His great love. Yet, this is a further testament of God’s ineffable affection and mercy for His children; a call to dwell in the greatest Love!

Yes, we are called to love! St. Paul draws our attention to the supremacy of this virtue of love: “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13) Let us ponder in our hearts this love, so that we may become ever capacious for the gift of grace and the love of the Trinity. Let us ask the question begged of us by St. Augustine: “Begin to love; you will be perfected. Have you begun to love? God has begun to dwell in you; love Him who has begun to dwell in you that by indwelling more perfectly He may make you perfected. ‘In this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.’. . . Ask your heart; if it is filled with love, you have the Spirit of God.” (Tract. 5.243) Do you love and dwell in Love?

 

COME PRAY WITH US!

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:20

Right now, more than ever, we called to come together as a Church to pray and to engage with the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. As a response to this invitation, we are launching a weekly prayer and discussion group called Quarantine Conversations, which will follow the theme of the reflections of the Quarantine Contemplation series. Each week, we will meet on Friday evenings at 6:30pm CST/7:30pm EST to pray a decade of the Rosary followed by a short reflection and time for discussion. Please join us for all or part of these meetings, so that we may join our hearts in praise of our glorious Creator!

Sign Up Here!

(After signing up, you will receive an email with more information about how to download Zoom and information about receiving weekly links to connect to the Quarantine Conversations.)

About Us:

Gretchen Erlichman

Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video   Read My Story  Donate   Contact

Phillip Baker 

Hi! My name is Phillip Baker and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently reside as I work to pay off student loan debt from my time at Syracuse University. This is my first 6-month class with the Labouré Society, and I anticipate entrance to religious life with the Friars this July.
Watch My Video   Read My Story   Donate   Contact 

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10 Ways to honor Mary this May during quarantine

Check out these ways you can grow in your devotion to the Virgin Mary while staying at home.
Annabelle Moseley | May 01, 2020

Each of the 12 months of the year has a Catholic devotional theme. It’s a great way to bring special traditions, symbols, colors and even foods to enrich our faith life at home.  It’s a special blessing during this time that so many of us are self-quarantined. Here are 10 ways you can make your home bloom with love to Mary, to make your domestic church come alive with faith and love to comfort you and increase your prayer life.

Moisés Becerra | Cathopic CC0

1. DECORATE YOUR TABLE
Now’s the time to bring out that blue tablecloth or runner, in honor of Mary. Or give the kids each a piece of blue construction paper and have them decorate it to honor Our Lady. Then they can use it as a placemat. In a prominent place near by, display a statue or picture of Mary. Add a bouquet if possible. At grace before meals, add a special prayer to Mary.

2. MAKE A MARY GARDEN
Get a statue of Mary for your garden, then honor her by planting some special blooms. There are so many beautiful flowers and herbs associated with Our Lady, such as roses, lilies of the valley (also known as Our Lady’s Tears), rosemary; marigolds (Mary’s Gold). Seven well-placed rocks could represent the “crown of the seven joys of Mary.” Ten stepping stones could signify a decade of Hail Marys and could assist you in praying your Rosary outdoors. Can’t get to the store to buy flowers? Sit outside if you are able, and pray the Rosary or Magnificat as you marvel at the signs of spring, like a reminder of the Annunciation all around you. Don’t have a garden or access to outdoors these days? Take an online tour of Mary’s Garden at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

 

3. HAVE A MAY CROWNING
Children of all ages delight in a May crowning. If you have a garden, the littlest ones in the family will enjoy picking flowers to place before the statue or helping to make a flower crown. If you don’t have access to fresh flowers during quarantine, try making a crown out of paper flowers, made from colored tissue paper, flowers drawn and colored on paper, then glued in a circlet, or a gold pipe cleaner. Gather around the crowned statue, sing songs for Mary or say Marian prayers. No crown? Just gather near a statue of Mary and make a “crown” out of singing 12 songs to her, or reading 12 prayers to Mary. Each of the 12 you recite will symbolize one of the 12 stars in her crown as mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

4. OFFER SPECIAL MARIAN PRAYERS
Say a family Rosary or even a decade together. Try a new Marian prayer you haven’t prayed in a while, such as the Litany of Loreto, the Memorare, or the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows.

5. COOK FOR THE QUEEN
Make a special Marian-themed dinner. Here’s some easy ideas: Since rosemary is the herb associated with Mary, you might try a dinner of rosemary chicken, and for dessert make a rosary or a decade of beads using cookies or cupcakes. Decorate with confectionary roses on the top or blue icing. Or a Bundt cake, naturally made in the molded shape of a crown, would help recall Mary’s queenship. Decorate it colorfully.

6. PLAY MUSIC FOR MARY
Whether it’s Marian Gregorian chant, Bach’s Magnificat or Pavarotti’s Ave Maria, fill your home with the beautiful sounds of homage to our Heavenly Mother. If you can play an instrument, you might try your hand at playing anything from “On This Day, O Beautiful Mother,” to “Gentle Woman.”

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The Ascension; To the Highest Good

Seated at the Right Hand of the Father; In Tabernacles Throughout the World
By Gretchen Erlichman

“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” ~Matt. 28:20.

In His Ascension, Christ rose from the earth into Heaven and is “seated at the right hand of the Father.” (Creed) Yet, although Christ’s humanity left the earth to assume His dwelling in the Heavenly Domain, He still remains with us here on earth in His Presence in the Eucharist. Even after condescending to our humanity, dying for us, and inviting us to be heirs to the Heavenly Kingdom, He continues to pour out His love to us by remaining with us in the Blessed Sacrament. Christ is present with us, here and now, in tabernacles throughout the world. What an indescribably beautiful gift of Love!

The Ascension of Christ, The Last Judgment, Pentecost (Corsini Triptych) by Fra Angelico, 1447-48

It is in Christ’s Presence in the Eucharist by which He physically remains “with us always” (Matt. 28:30) on earth, until we enter into the radiance of His glory in the Beatific Vision. It is through the Eucharist that we intimately enter into this relationship with Him now and receive a glimpse of the joys to come in eternal life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Having passed from this world to the Father, Christ gives us in the Eucharist, the pledge of glory with Him. Participation in the Holy Sacrifice identifies us with His Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in Heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints.” (CCC 1419)

It is through the Eucharist that we are united to Christ in Heaven because the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist is wholly and entirely the same Body and Blood of Christ that is now seated at the right hand of the Father. Christ is with us “always” through the Eucharist because of this beautiful and ineffable offering of Himself. In the Tertia Pars of the Summa, St. Thomas says: “This sacrament has threefold significance. One with regard to the past, inasmuch as it is commemorative of our Lord’s Passion, which was a true sacrifice…With regard to the present it has another meaning, namely that the Ecclesiastical unity, in which men are aggregated through this Sacrament; and in this respect it is called ‘Communion’…’because we communicate with Christ through it’…With regard to the future it has a third meaning, inasmuch as this sacrament foreshadows the Divine fruition, which shall come to pass in Heaven.” (ST III Q.73 Art.4)

Indeed, in His Ascension, Christ rose up from the earth to take His place on the Heavenly throne. Yet, He remains with us, whole and entire, in the Blessed Sacrament. He continues to fill our souls with His goodness and light and to satiate our hunger and thirst for His Presence. In the Eucharist, Christ is present with us, here and now, ever comforting our souls with His words of love: “I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)

 

So Follows the Body
By Phillip Baker

“As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many are one body, so also Christ.” ~1 Cor. 12:12.

“It is better for you that I go” (Jn. 16:7). This is a hard saying of Our Lord! We don’t like times of separation from friends and family. Even if we know we’ll see them again, the separation is difficult.  How, then, can we believe that it is better for us that Our Lord leaves us? He says this to His Apostles during the Last Supper, warning them of His impending Passion, Resurrection, and, specifically, His Ascension. He will be taken beyond their sight and the Apostles will no longer see Him in the way they have. But still, it’s better that He goes, for then He can send the Holy Spirit upon them. And, by His gift of the Holy Spirit, sent upon His Church only after His Ascension, we are incorporated into – made into the Body of – Jesus Christ Himself that is the Church.

St. Augustine teaches forcefully about the unity of the Body: as the body and the head are one, so, too the ever-living Body of Christ is one. Christ the Head is united to His Body the Church in an indivisible unity. This is true, even as Christ is in Heaven. Therefore, we even now share somewhat in the glory of Heaven by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in us. This relationship continues so long as we do not ex-corporate ourselves from the Body of Christ by grave sin. Therefore, St. Augustine says “just as He remained with us even after His Ascension, so we too are already in Heaven with Him, even though what is promised has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.”  Christ, body and soul, has ascended into Heaven; therefore, we, His Body, hope to follow where our Head has gone.

God gives us the gifts and graces necessary so that we might endure with Him and “attain to… mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ” (Eph 4:13). We are not yet perfect, so we do not yet enjoy a full share in Divine Life. However, if we endure with Him, we shall receive that inheritance in full. As members of His Body, grace upon grace is poured out upon us so that we might be perfected and follow to where our Head has ascended. The hope of being with Him in Heaven is guaranteed and that glory is now anticipated by the gift of His Holy Spirit in us. It is this Spirit Who makes us one with Jesus, the same Spirit sent when Christ “ascended on high… (and) gave gifts to men” (Eph 4:8). Therefore it is better for us that He goes, for He sends His greatest gift, His Spirit, on us as He goes. And, as He, our Head, left to prepare a place for us, so He will come back again and take us to Himself, so that where He is we also may be (cf. Jn. 14:3).

 

COME PRAY WITH US!

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:20

Right now, more than ever, we called to come together as a Church to pray and to engage with the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. As a response to this invitation, we are launching a weekly prayer and discussion group called Quarantine Conversations, which will follow the theme of the reflections of the Quarantine Contemplation series. Each week, we will meet on Friday evenings at 6:30pm CST/7:30pm EST to pray a decade of the Rosary followed by a short reflection and time for discussion. Please join us for all or part of these meetings, so that we may join our hearts in praise of our glorious Creator!

Sign Up Here!

(After signing up, you will receive an email with more information about how to download Zoom and information about receiving weekly links to connect to the Quarantine Conversations.)

About Us:

Gretchen Erlichman

Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video   Read My Story  Donate   Contact

Phillip Baker 

Hi! My name is Phillip Baker and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently reside as I work to pay off student loan debt from my time at Syracuse University. This is my first 6-month class with the Labouré Society, and I anticipate entrance to religious life with the Friars this July.
Watch My Video   Read My Story   Donate   Contact 

HELP RESCUE VOCATIONS

The Resurrection; A Sharing in Divine Life

A Healing Judgment; A Resurrected Hope
By Phillip Baker

“Come let us return to the Lord, for it is He who has rent, but He will heal us… He will revive us after two days; on the third day, He will raise us up, to live in His presence” (Hosea 6:1-2). 

God became man so “that [we] might have life and have it more abundantly, ” yet, when greeted with His love, we responded by crucifying and killing Him (Jn 10:10). For this, what do we deserve but condemnation? This condemnation was indeed poured out, but God’s wrath did not fall on us. Instead, like Moses who prefigured Him, Jesus stepped into the breach and took the wrath of God – the just punishment for our sins – upon Himself for the sake of all mankind. Instead of condemnation, then, we receive salvation and healing (“healing” being intuited in the Latin “salvation”). The salutary effect of the Cross is forgiveness of our sins, a healing greater than any bodily healing. For what good is bodily health if the soul is sick (cf. Matt 5:29)?

Noli me Tangere, Fra Angelico, 1442

But why should this healing come to us? When I try to find the link that takes us from condemnation to healing, the only link that I can make is that of God’s superabundant Mercy: “by His stripes, we [are] healed” (Is 53:5). The sign of this is the Resurrection, for, as “the wages of sin is death,” so Jesus, by swallowing up sin in His divinity, has overcome death (Rom 6:23). Therefore we now have hope of life everlasting because God’s Mercy reigns supreme, and, as our baptism is an incorporation into Christ’s Body, we might share then in the fruits of His Resurrection. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first Sunday after Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday, wherein we hear of the institution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the forgiveness of sins (cf. Jn 20:19-22). It is this salvific healing that Christ gives to us from the Cross through Reconciliation so that the healing effects of His Redemption – confirmed in His Resurrection – can be continually applied to us. Because of Christ, Who has given us life and healing on Easter morning, we can proclaim “I shall not die but live and declare the deeds of the Lord” (Ps. 118: 17).

One of the most astounding things to me about God’s Providence is the way in which God takes that which is evil and turns it to great good: even death, the effect of sin, is put to use as part of the plan of salvation as it becomes a door unto life everlasting. When we look at the Cross, we quite clearly see that something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and we cannot pretend that we can fix our problems on our own. Yet we see in the light of Easter that we don’t have to: our hope is in the abundant Mercy of God that brings good out of evil; that takes our sins upon Himself to bring us healing; that offers us life with Him – for “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23).

 

Glorified Through Suffering; Becoming Heirs with Christ
By Gretchen Erlichman

“Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with with you.’ When he said this, he showed them his hands and his side – The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” -John 20:19-20

Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection coalesce in the greatest act of mercy and love, in which His infinite glory was made manifest and He gained our salvation. Yet, even in the radiance of His Resurrection, Christ bears the wounds of His suffering, through which He reached His greatest moment of glory. Likewise, it is through suffering that we are most conformed to Christ and are invited to share in His glory. After His Resurrection, Our Lord appeared to the apostles and “showed them His hands and His side;” this was an invitation to the whole Church to enter into the love of His glorified wounds and to enter into His Divine Life – to become heirs to the eternal life He has prepared for us in His Kingdom.

Indeed, it is through suffering that we are united in love to Christ, and it is through suffering that we are given an intimate sharing in His Divine Life. Jesus tells us that “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Matt. 16:25) It was in Christ’s act of selfless love that He died on the Cross to give us new life; it is in our dying to the evils of sin and selfishness by which we come to share in this new life, which is the glory of His Resurrection.

One cannot die without suffering. So too, one cannot rise without dying. Yet, when united to Christ, even our suffering and death is not something to be lamented, but becomes an occasion for rejoicing. Our suffering, no matter how big or small, becomes an act of love united to Him Who is Love. St. Paul tells us that it is in this suffering that we inherit our reward. We become “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” (Rom. 8:17-18)

Therefore, in these hard times, let us joyfully enter into Christ’s passion. Let us lovingly unite our every hardship and suffering to His suffering on the Cross for the salvation of souls. Let us die to ourselves so that we may rise to new life in Him. Let us accept His invitation to enter into the love of His glorified wounds as to become heirs to the Heavenly Kingdom. Let us unite ourselves wholly and entirely to Him so that we may join in the glory of His Resurrection and become sharers in His Divine Life. Alleluia!

 

COME PRAY WITH US!

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:20

Right now, more than ever, we called to come together as a Church to pray and to engage with the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. As a response to this invitation, we are launching a weekly prayer and discussion group called Quarantine Conversations, which will follow the theme of the reflections of the Quarantine Contemplation series. Each week, we will meet on Friday evenings at 6:30pm CST/7:30pm EST to pray a decade of the Rosary followed by a short reflection and time for discussion. Please join us for all or part of these meetings, so that we may join our hearts in praise of our glorious Creator!

Sign Up Here!

(After signing up, you will receive an email with more information about how to download Zoom and information about receiving weekly links to connect to the Quarantine Conversations.)

About Us:

Gretchen Erlichman

Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video   Read My Story  Donate   Contact

Phillip Baker 

Hi! My name is Phillip Baker and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently reside as I work to pay off student loan debt from my time at Syracuse University. This is my first 6-month class with the Labouré Society, and I anticipate entrance to religious life with the Friars this July.
Watch My Video   Read My Story   Donate   Contact 

HELP RESCUE VOCATIONS

The Lord is Alive! He is alive indeed! -A letter from current aspirant Phillip Baker

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Happy Easter!

This has been an Easter unlike any other. For the first time in memory, we were unable to be in church to celebrate Easter morning. Back on Holy Thursday, a friend told me “it doesn’t feel like Holy Week,” and, honestly, Easter felt different for me, too. It was very different this year, and I doubt any of us will forget it.

Yet my Mom likened this Easter to the Christmas in How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The Resurrection still happened. Our Lord is alive, risen from the dead, and neither the Roman Lance nor the Sanhedrin’s stone – nor COVID – can prevent that.  Although it may seem like we’re in an extended Holy Saturday and our Easter is like one celebrated in exile, yet the promise of the Cross makes the gloom of Good Friday and the long sadness of Holy

(Photo of cherry tree planted in my grandmother’s honor outside my home, Nashville, TN)

Saturday seem as only a bad dream that cannot be remembered when we awaken on Easter morning. As we heard at the Vigil Mass, God promised to bring Israel back from exile – so, too, our exile is not forever.

We are not a Lenten People, although we have our share of crosses to bear; nor are we an Adventine People, although our lives are characterized by a kind of expectant longing for the Lord. No, we are an Easter People, because it is the promise of the Resurrection that gives hope to our whole lives, and it is the light of Easter that lets us see clearly how each moment of our lives – even the Cross – is directed towards God.

Because Jesus is alive, we have hope: God has promised that, just as Jesus has been raised, so we, too, as members of His Body in Baptism, will be raised with Him. Because we have hope in God’s promises, we can be joyful, holding on to the promise of eternal life with God. Therefore, we can live our whole lives in the light of Easter joy, no matter what happens, for Christ is alive!

Reflection: A Season of Joy; A Season of Silence

“Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever” – Jesus Christ; (Rev 1:18)

I suspect that first Easter morning was terribly silent, in all honesty. The women arrived at the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus and, although Our Lord had promised He would rise from the dead, still “they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead” (Jn 20:9). The grief of Our Lord’s death, unexpected to the Apostles, blinded them to the coming joy of Easter. It was a complete surprise.

Yet like a sunrise which comes on slowly, without noise and without ostentation, rising slowly up the eastern horizon until, at last, the world is ablaze with light, so, too Our Lord rose from the dead. In a moment, the world has been changed: death, despair, and the troubles of this world are not permanent. In fact, they have been swallowed up by the Eternal Word, transfigured that they can serve His plan of redemption. Silently, silently the seed of Resurrection blooms on the third day – the first fruits of those who will come to life if we believe in Him.

When I think of Easter, I think of loud music, church bells, and family gatherings. Yet this year, we have a particular opportunity to enter into the silence of that first Easter morning, when the whole world was different, but no one yet knew. In these next fifty days of Easter, by entering into that silence and waiting, we might anticipate the redemption revealed in us, even now, as an Easter people – the promised new life which we share in the Resurrection of Our Living Lord.

In Christ,
Phillip Baker
Labouré Aspirant
Class 18

Learn more about Labouré Class 18

 

 

 

 

Easter is NOT Cancelled! – A letter from Labouré Alumni Bro. Ryan Jones

Dear Friends,

Christus resurrexit! Sicut dixit, Alleluia!

Christ has Risen! Just as He said! Alleluia!

Blessed Easter to you and your family.  I hope you have been well and safe in this “most Lenty Lent that we have ever Lented.”  This time of global worry can lead us into much anxiety and worry, but Christ has proven to us year after year that He is stronger than any anxiety we may have.  Christ has arisen, Easter is here!  We have come once again to this sacred season, but it has been a Lenten season that none of us have ever experience the like.  For me, like many others, it has been a very monastic experience, drawing myself away from friends and co-workers into a solitary time that has given me much time to pray, asking God, “Why this is happening?”

I don’t have an answer like many people, other than it has led me to spend more time with God, in solidarity with Christ who through out His passion, felt so alone and so abandoned.  But even through this, He knew that through this time of His suffering, we would only be brought closer to Him, through our being united in Him and His mystical body. This is beautifully reflected in an ancient homily for Holy Saturday, where in such poetic words the author speaks of the day Christ’s body laid in the tomb,

“Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.”

How eerily this could describe the view from my window here in Washington, DC.  How strange it has been with no morning rush hour on this busy street any day of the week, where cars are usually backed up for blocks.  No people walking together, but only in silent isolation.  Now too does our earth cries out as St. Paul describes in his letter to the Romans.  We all long for our own little resurrection, from our exile.  It will come just as Christ has promised it.  Just as homily finishes, with Christ speaking to Adam (our first father), He says,

“Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”

It may not be our time to rise up to our throne in heaven and the eternal dwelling place, but Christ and Easter joy, is our hope that God will bring us back, back to the unity and the social interaction He created us for.

My prayer for you is that you, even in the light of this time of social distancing, may find the fire of Easter joy in your soul.
Our Lady of La Salette, pray without ceasing for us who have recourse to thee!

Your brother in Christ,
Bro. Ryan Jones
Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette
+JMJ+

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Maundy Thursday, We Are Called To Serve

Reflection by Chris Foote

Today, we commemorate the Last Supper, the tragic moment Jesus bid farewell to his disciples, informed them of the coming passion, and instituted the Mass.  Though this scene has been beautifully depicted by the likes of Da Vinci, Rubens, Tintoretto and countless others, we can only imagine the sorrow and trepidation Jesus felt as He prepared to embrace the cross.

Every time we attend Mass, witness the consecration, and consume the host, we become full participants in the Last Supper.  It’s an everyday miracle many of us have taken for granted, until recently.  Now (and for the foreseeable future) we attend Mass from a distance: we watch from our homes as the Eucharist is distributed to altar servers and instinctively rise to join a communion line that doesn’t exist.

 

 

Holy Thursday is also known as Maundy Thursday – Maundy being derived from the Latin word for “command.” It refers to Jesus’ commandment to His disciples to “love one another as I have loved you.” Following this command he proceeded to wash the disciples’ feet, to the amazement of Peter who recoiled from the gesture. Jesus was explicit in His response: “unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

It’s important to remember that, though we are temporarily deprived of the Eucharist, we continue to be present emotionally and spiritually in every live streamed Mass we attend. And current regulations do not prevent us from responding to Jesus’ Maundy Thursday exhortation: to be of service to others. The coronavirus outbreak presents an unprecedented opportunity to support friends, neighbors, and health care workers through the sewing of masks, blood donation, words of encouragement, and even a smile.

Maundy Thursday reminds us that the time to begin making the world a better place… is now.

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