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"Prayer is our continuing response to God's continuing call to mission."
— You are Sent, Constitution of the School Sisters of Notre Dame


Liturgical Reflections

Mary in the Garden imagePrayer brings our whole religious life into focus; it supports the rhythm of our lives emphasizing now the person, now the community, now the world we serve. Thus, prayer is our continuing response to God's continuing call to mission."

You Are Sent, Constitution of the School Sisters of Notre Dame

Sister Rea McDonnell, SSND, offers reflections on the Liturgical Readings for each day. If you wish to share your own reflections or have comments or questions, please feel free to email Sister Rea. For information about Sister Rea's publications, visit our online gift shop. 


Sister Rea is on hiatus. We will resume posting her reflections as soon as she returns. Our current posting of prayers goes through August 29. 

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Aug. 23 - 29

Sunday, August 23, 2015 - Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Joshua 24: 1-2, 15-18; Psalm 34; Ephesians 4: 32-5: 2, 21-32; John 6: 53, 60-69

We sing Psalm 34 for the third Sunday in a row, with its antiphon: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” The first part of our Ephesians reading is a repeat from August 9:
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another…live in love as Christ loved us…”  Kindness, mercy, forgiveness, love are God’s gifts to us, but include our choice to receive them.  Joshua calls his people to choose. Which God will they serve? “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Jesus offers his friends and us the freedom to choose: “Would you also want to go away?”  When others “walk no more” with Jesus, Peter makes a choice: “To whom would we go? You have the words of everlasting life.”  There is a problem for some women in today’s second reading: “Wives, be subject to your husbands” in Ephesians 5: 22.  However, first 5: 21 exhorts: “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

What does “being subject to one another” look like for you who are offered freedom by Christ?  Ask Jesus who washed feet.  How have you tasted that God is good in these past weeks?  Ask the Spirit to remind you.  Savor God’s kindness.  And your own kindness and love—how has your heart expanded since August 9?  What do you want?

We ask for the gift of reverencing all of creation.  We ask for an expansion of our hearts.  Thank you for your love, forgiveness, kindness and life.  We worship you.

Monday, August 24, 2015 - Bartholomew, apostle

Revelation 21:9-14; Psalm 145; John 1: 45-51 

Bartholomew is mentioned in the lists of the Twelve in Mark, Matthew, Luke and Acts.  Only in John is he associated with Nathanael. Some scholars think he should be linked with Matthias.  Who cares? Paul, for one.  For Paul anyone who has met the risen Lord as Nathanael has in the resurrection appearance in John 21:1 is missioned as apostle (missio is Latin for sent; apostello is Greek for sent).  And what are they sent to do? “Your friends tell the glory of your kin-dom” cries the psalmist. 

When, how have you met, realized, understood that Jesus has been raised and made your Lord?  If you have not as yet, stop now and beg for that experience. If you have, how do you tell the glory of God’s kin-dom, a new relationship where all are welcome?  Ask Jesus to teach you.  Be still. Listen.

Open our hearts, Lord Jesus, to all our kin, especially the poor and forgotten ones.
We want to do everything for God’s glory, especially through our loving one another.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Psalm 139; Matthew 23: 23-26

Paul tells this church in Thessalonika that his love for them is “like a nurse, tenderly caring for her own children.”  He wants to share with them not only the gospel but his very self. Paul the Pharisee has indeed been converted.  When we meet the Pharisees in the gospel, Jesus cries “Woe!” to them.  He criticizes their scrupulous straining out the gnat and their neglect “of weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.” 

If Paul wants to share his very self, how much more Jesus!  How does Jesus call you to deeper justice, mercy and faith?  Listen.  How will you respond?

Thank you for putting our life and love in perspective, Jesus.  We want justice to prevail in societies, mercy in our relationships, faith in you. Thank you for sharing your very self.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Psalm 139; Matthew 23: 27-32

Paul seems a little workaholic, “working night and day, so that we might not be a burden to you.”  Does Paul know how to receive love and service?  What is the work that glorifies God?  “God’s word which is at work in you believers.”  Jesus continues to accuse the Pharisees with his “Woe!”  They look good on the outside “but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”  Lawlessness?  It is possible to keep the Law for all the wrong reasons, which would be  lawlessness.

And you?  What laws do you obey and why?  How do you receive the service of others?  (Remember Peter protesting the foot washing?)  When do you notice God’s word at work in you?  How has your love deepened and your heart expanded since you have been praying with the Word?

Thank you for giving us your very Self, God of abundant grace!  You express yourself, so beautifully, so completely in Jesus, your precious Word at work in us.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

1 Thessalonians 3:7-13; Psalm 90; Matthew 24: 42-51

Today is the feast of Monica, mother of Augustine.  The first reading so applies to her unceasing and earnest prayer, her passionate desire for the holiness of her son, that it would be well to read it slowly, with earnest prayer for members of your family.  The gospel too “fits” Monica as the “faithful and wise servant” who stays alert, even when the Master is delayed.  Psalm 90 is our prayer too: “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days….Prosper the work of our hands.”

Take time to read the whole Thessalonians passage for today and try to feel it.  What satisfies you, gets you out of bed in the morning?  What work does God need to prosper for you today?

We want to fall more deeply in love with you, faithful God.  You are what gets us out of bed in the morning, gives us the courage and energy for your work. Thank you!

Friday, August 28, 2015 - Augustine of Hippo

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; Psalm 97; Matthew 25: 1-13

Augustine, who is dear to the SSNDs, only merits a “memorial”.  The first reading which focuses on lust and impurity might seem to fit him, but his common law wife was with him for 15 years. Roman law forbade marriage between social classes.  His confessions are not about conversion from this woman whom he loved and with whom he reared a son, named “gift of God.”  He was a passionate man, but not a promiscuous one.
His real conversion was from a lust for knowledge, from putting his trust in philosophers, from ambition. The gospel compares wise bridesmaids with foolish.  Augustine was converted to wisdom.

Is there something you lust after?  What are your ambitions?  Where does your passion (a gift from God) lie?  How have you been growing in wisdom and grace?  What do you want?

The prayer for today’s Eucharist: “O God, renew in your church the spirit you gave Augustine…May we thirst for you alone as the fountain of wisdom and seek you as the source of eternal love.” 

Saturday, August 29, 2015 - Martyrdom of John the Baptist

Jeremiah 1: 17-19; Psalm 71; Mark 6:17-29

This too is a “memorial” but has a special set of readings.  First is the call of Jeremiah and God’s promise to fortify him against the power of kings and priests. The psalmist names God as a rock of refuge, a strong fortress. The gospel is the narrative of John’s beheading for accusing Herod of adultery.

Baptism makes all of us prophets, so close to the mind and heart of God that we dare to speak God’s word, speaking justice to power, and mercy to the afflicted. Reflect on your call to come closer to God’s thinking and loving.  Where might that lead you?  How do you feel?  Discuss those feelings with Jesus who is portrayed as distressed and depressed over John’s fate.

Please bless all who today lay their lives on the line for justice, peace, faith.  Give us your non-violent heart as we try to take even baby steps toward a more just society.

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