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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. 



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May. 24-May. 30

Sunday, May 24, 2015 -  Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; 1 Corinthians 12: 3-7, 12-13; John 20: 19-23

The Spirit is imaged as wind and fire, as mover and shaker, the one adopting us, filling the world, teaching us.  The Sequence offers so many more images of the Spirit who is God’s power, energy, and love poured out.  

Here are some images from the Sequence.  Taste each one and savor the ones which attract you.  That is prayer enough:   Radiance.  Consoler.  Wisdom.  Guest.  Refreshment.  Rest.  Coolness in the heat.  Consolation.  Light.  Grace.  Fullness.  Healer.  Melter.  Warmer.  Guide.  Salvation.  Joy.

O Jesus, how much we need you to send out your Spirit to renew the face of the earth, to renew all peoples.  Give us the gift of forgiving, the gifts of unity and peace.  Thank you!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sirach 17:24-27, 29; Psalm 32; Mark 10:17-27

Ordinary time slaps us awake. There is no celebration of the Spirit for an octave.  Thus we begin a continuous reading of the dour wisdom writer Sirach and step right into a climactic section of Mark.  Up to chapter 8, Mark has been wowing his readers with miracle stories, but in this chapter Mark begins to tell of a suffering Messiah.  Those who want magic will turn away. And so it may be with the rich, whom Jesus loves and invites to a closer union. Even though Jesus looks tenderly at the man who seeks eternal life, the man turns away “shocked and grieving, for he had many possessions.”

On what do you spend your energy?  What keeps you busy?  How do you feel about the ordinariness of your life?   When have you felt that the humble, the ordinary brought its own blessings? When have you known that Jesus, who was rich became poor to make us rich out of his poverty? Ask to know him more deeply.

Thank you, Jesus, for emptying yourself to share our humanity so that we might share your divinity.  In-spire all that is humble and ordinary in our lives with your radiance.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sirach 35: 1-15; Psalm 50; Mark 10: 28-31

Today’s first reading reminds us of our Christian duty to give alms.  Yesterday Sirach warned that the dead cannot offer thanksgiving (Remember that the people of Israel were divided, some believing in life after death and some not).  Today’ psalm praises “Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice [to] honor me.”   Jesus praises those who have left “everything” to be with him. He promises them the hundredfold—good things, and persecutions.  Why persecutions?  To be close to Jesus is to experience all  that he has experienced, and to trust that all will  be raised in the end.

How do almsgiving and thanksgiving connect?  Listen to St Basil the Great: “This bread which you have set aside is the bread of the hungry; this garment you have locked away is the clothing of the naked; those shoes which you let rot are the shoes of one who is barefoot; those riches you have hoarded are the riches of the poor.”   Pray for the hungry of our world, the greedy (probably including ourselves who harbor some inordinate desire) and all those who are addicted to any substance and/or behavior.  Ask for the grace to be satisfied with one loaf, one garment– whatever that may be.  Ask for the grace of a grateful heart.

Jesus, we want you to be enough for us.  You do satisfy the hungry heart in our rich first world, but so many elsewhere are dying of physical starvation.  Feed us all, Jesus. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sirach 36: 1-2, 5-6, 13-22; Psalm79; Mark 10:32-45

The first reading prays that God will both pity and reward Israel. The psalm admits the truth: “we are brought very low.”  Groans of the prisoners, “those doomed to die,” call for God’s mercy.  For many centuries the Jews were brought very low, but now they are the prison keepers, dooming the Palestinians to die.  Who shall have God’s mercy in our day? Jesus is doomed to die.  As he tries to tell this to his disciples they miss the point and begin to argue about who among them will be greatest, the first.  Whoever wants to be great must become a servant, even a a slave.

Don’t think, but ask the Spirit to let bubble up from the depths of you, to show you when/how you were chosen as Jesus’ special friend.  When/how are you a servant?   Ask the Spirit to help you be very specific, and then be quiet.  Listen to the Spirit within you.

Thank you for your living Word, generous God!  May your Word take flesh in us today.  Fill us with your love and with zeal to make Jesus known. Make us servants of your mercy.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sirach 42: 15-25; Psalm 33; Mark 10: 46-52

Sirach has a mood change as he comes to the end of his tome. He praises all creatures who do God’s will, “and the work of the Lord is full of God’s glory.” He concludes this passage: “How sparkling are the words of God…who could ever tire of seeing God’s glory?”  Alleluia, we respond, for Jesus is the light of the world, and we will have the light of life.  That is what Bartimaeus of the gospel needs as he cries out to Jesus for mercy, not one bit ashamed of his blindness in front a crowd who tries to shush him. “He sprang up and came to Jesus.”  What dignity Jesus accords this man, asking him, “’ What do you want me to do for you?”’ Blind Bartimaeus could have asked for anything but he says simply, “My teacher, let me see again.”

A powerful prayer for us who see, and hope to see again the glory of the Lord: Let me see again (I checked the Greek).  Let me see with fresh eyes. Where will you look?  What might make you spring up to come to Jesus? You bedridden, you slowed by canes and walkers, how will your spirit spring up?  Let your spirit run free for a few minutes right now and see what comes new to you.  Ask Jesus to lay his hands on your eyes and remove all blocks. Spring up again.

May we never tire of seeing again and everywhere, never tire of hearing again and everywhere those sparkling words of you, God so full of overflowing glory! Bathe us, all over the world, in your light of life! 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sirach 44:1, 8-13; Psalm 149; Mark 11:11-45

The reading for Sirach is often used at funerals, “to sing the praises of our ancestors…whose glory will never be blotted out.”  The psalmist responds with great joy, music and dancing, singing and tambourines. A switch of mood: Jesus curses a fig tree as he walks to Jerusalem.  Ask him about his mood, why he curses and what provokes you to?  He is like us in all things. Then he creates chaos in the temple to underline God’s insistence: “My house is a house for all nations.”  As he and his disciples walk in the evening, he instructs them about the power of faith, of prayer and of forgiveness.

Have you ever felt a faith so strong that it could overcome mountains?  Perhaps interior mountains?  What has faith meant to you over the years?  How has your sense/experience of union with the “least of the brothers and sisters” been growing over the years?  How has your willingness to forgive expanded?  Ask to believe that you are deeply and expansively loved by God, and let your heart respond.  

Give us the faith, hope, love and courage to lay aside, weaken, even destroy as you did, Jesus, all that thwarts God’s plans for our peace.  Let us see again with your eyes!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sirach 51: 12-20; Psalm 19; Mark 11: 27-33

Sirach offers a resume of his constant search for wisdom. The psalmist notes that whether we call them laws or precepts, ordinances or commandments, they are the Word of God. That Word is faithful and true, finer than gold and sweeter than honey.  Jesus ends this week, this octave of Pentecost, with an argument over authority with the priests, scribes and elders.  So for our praying, let us return to the work of the Spirit in us and among us and through us.

Now the work of Pentecost begins:
    to find the lost, to heal the brokenhearted,
    to feed the hungry, to let the oppressed go free,
    to offer peace to all peoples, to make some music... 

Share the Spirit for the next 52weeks, or at least a few days each week! 

Come, Holy Spirit, into all of our hearts.  Jesus Christ is Lord!

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May. 31-June. 6

Sunday, May 31, 20155 -  Trinity Sunday

Deuteronomy 4: 32-34, 39-40; Psalm 33; Romans 8: 14-17; Matthew 28: 16-20

Anything we can say about God we must say by analogy, for “has any people heard a god speaking out of a fire as you have, and lived?”  The depth and breadth of God can only be glimpsed in similes, images and the person of Jesus. Paul proclaims to the Romans: we are children of God and “in fact, we suffer with him [Christ] so that we may also be glorified with him.”  Paul through his suffering on behalf of all the churches, hears a name for God, Abba. Paul uses that name twice, Jesus only once and that in the agony in the garden.

What images arise in you to describe the Trinity?  For Paul, the Spirit cries “Abba” deep within him.  What does the Spirit cry within you?  Be still. Listen.

We breathe you in, Holy Spirit, and we breathe out a smile, your smile on the whole of creation.  Thank you for loving us and for permeating every particle of this universe.

Because we had no octave of Pentecost, because Mark’s gospel this week turns us back to Jesus in conflict, because we have a continuous reading of Tobit, and because we need the gift of joy, we will simply reflect on the Alleluia verses of this week.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Tobit 1:3, 2:1-8; Psalm 112; Mark 12: 1-12

“Alleluia! Jesus Christ, you are the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead. You have loved us and freed us from our sins by your blood.”  (Revelation 1:5)

How and to what has Jesus been a faithful witness in your life?  What is your experience of being loved by Jesus?  Rest in that memory and let it become real all over again.  How have you been growing in freedom over the past years?  Blood is not a sign of death in Jewish spirituality, but of life.  How has the life of Jesus, then and now, set you free?  What more do you want from this faithful one?

Thank you for your faithful witness, for your unconditional love, for our freedom in your Spirit.  Thank you, and Alleluia!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tobit 2: 9-14; Psalm 112; Mark 12: 13-17

“Alleluia! May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to God’s call.” (Ephesians 1:17-18)

Remember how on the way to Emmaus, Jesus called the disciples dull and slow of heart. When has your heart felt and been dull, slow, sluggish, and when has your heart been awake, alert, sensitive to the movements of the Spirit?  Ask the Spirit to call these memories to mind.  Reflect on God’s call to you.  When, how, where, why?  What hope is in your heart because of God’s call?  What do you want?

We want your gift of hope, your gift of Jesus who lights the whole world with his mercy.
We want the very heart of Jesus, pierced like our world and then made whole again by your love.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tobit 3: 1-17; Psalm 25; Mark 12: 18-27

“Alleluia! I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord.  Whoever believes in me will not die forever.”

You are going to die. And yes, this is a week to celebrate joy. A recap of the weekdays thus far shows us Jesus, the faithful witness to resurrected life, a life not of separation from your ¬¬¬loved ones but deeper love for them. You will be set totally free to love. The eyes of your heart will be his heart, open to all people, to all creation. This is 
bliss, this unity of all in Christ Jesus. Note the three theological gifts: first, love, then hope and today, faith Remember that in biblical language faith means clinging to God, a committed trust in God. So we entrust everything to God.

Take, Lord, receive all that I am and possess. You have given all to me. To you I return it. Thank you for this gift of freedom, to let go of all, and trust. Send us to share this good news with all the people.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tobit 4:20, 5:4, 6:10-11, 7: 1, 9-16, 8:1, 4-9; Psalm 128;  Mark 12: 28-34

“Alleluia! Our Savior Jesus Christ has done away with death and brought us life through the gospel.”
[I promised a continuous reading of Tobit? One verse here, one verse there is not very respectful of the story, so please try to find time to read the whole book in one sitting.]

Jesus has done away with death?¬¬ In Hebrews chapter 2 we hear that he has done away with the FEAR of death.  He is our pioneer and what he has gone through, so will we. Many of us have been through excruciating pain for longer than three hours, more of us have been rejected as he was. This is faith, to cling to the crucified one, who will accompany us through life, through death, and into new life.  Through the gospel.  No wonder our Pope is calling us to evangelize our culture which is terrified by death.  Good news: Jesus has set us free from fear of death! We are, as the bumper sticker proclaims: Driven by faith and not by fear. 

Jesus, we do believe, help our unbelief. Let us show by our lives the freedom you won for us by going through death to new life. Give us the courage to bear witness to your great gift of freedom.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Tobit 11: 5-15; Psalm 146; Mark 12: 35-37

“Alleluia! All who love me will keep my words, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them.”

Today’s gospel selection ends with “the large crowd was listening to him with delight.”  How do you keep the words of Jesus? When Luke describes Mary’s reflection on the events around the birth of Jesus, she is keeping them in her heart, she is pondering them.  And you are pondering them right now. Too often “keeping the words” has to do with obedience.  Who is delighted with obeying? But reflecting on the words of Jesus can be delightful.  New insights, new and deeper relationships, growing in wisdom and grace delights you.  Hopefully learning more about Scripture, deepening your relationship with God, Jesus and the Spirit, absorbing the inspiration and the joy within them delights you.
We want to make your word our home, Jesus.  Then we will be your disciples, learning from you; then we will know the truth and then we will be set free! Make us evangelizers of your burning desire that we all are set free, a bit now and fully forever!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Tobit 12: 1-20; canticle of Tobit 13; Mark 12:38-44

“Alleluia! Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kindom of heaven is theirs.”

To bless is to pour out the entire contents of one’s being into the one being blessed. So God has plenty of room to pour out all that God is into those poor in spirit—the endangered species, immigrants and refugees, the jobless, scarred mountain tops and polluted oceans, the homeless, the hungry.  And what about you?  How much space do you offer God?  How much do you want to?  Remember that God loves our deep, our expansive and even our wild desires.    

Come and make your home in us!   Heaven means so little in comparison to your being at home in us, drawing us into kinship with one another and all creation.  Come and make us one!

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