Bring a few Ursuline Sisters and 7 alums of Ursuline schools across the USA to a HOPE-filled place, and you get a service experience filled with meaning and joy. Haven for Hope lists as its core values: radical compassion, servant leadership, hope and excellence. We witnessed each of these and were amazed by so much goodness. Click here for a short video showing a little of the beauty and grace of the week.
Easter Peace to All! May your lives truly be BACKLIT WITH JOY!
Most of us don’t have problems recognizing our friends, unless we haven’t seen them in a long time or they’ve changed a lot due to age or health. But shortly after the first Easter, as two people fled the scene of all that had happened, we’re told “Jesus himself drew near and walked with them.” But they were prevented from recognizing him.
They had just witnessed all that had happened, so why did they not know him? Were they so distracted and disillusioned? Well, yes, probably. We, too, often don”t realize Jesus is walking with us. When wrapped up in the way we think things should be, or when discouragement, fear or grief take our hearts hostage, it’s easy to have eyes closed to the ones nearest to us.
The Emmaus travelers poured out their pain to Jesus, the stranger. Something made them trust him. And when it was evening, they begged him to remain with them. We know the rest. “While he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” Jesus, friend and companion, help us recognize you each day as you bless and break open the bread of our lives and yours.
Winds were strong in Joplin, Missouri yesterday. It’s my first time here, and I couldn’t help but think of the deadly and costly tornado that struck this city in 2011. I also thought the blustery winds were a good metaphor for life today. National and world events explode daily into violent storms; people’s lives change in an instant. In the midst of it all, God continues to whisper, “Be still and know that I am God.”
So it is these days that we encourage students making the Busy Person Retreat at Missouri Southern State University to “Breathe, just breathe” as Jonny Diaz sings. Rest a few moments at the feet of Jesus and let him calm the chaos of daily life. Find the integration and meaning you seek in this friend who says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Breathe, be still, listen—these are practices that are perfect for Lent and for every season.
As I reflect on the many greetings I’ve received and bestowed for the New Year, I’m struck by how many mention peace—wishes for a peace-filled New Year . . . hopes that 2017 may be a year of greater peace, and so on. We are only three days into the new year. It’s impossible not to be aware of the rampant brokenness, violence and death that exists. But what about peace?
As the song proclaims: Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. Here are 2 resources to consider at the start of 2017 for thoughtful prayer and reflection on peace-making and non-violence. The first is Pope Francis’ message for the 50th World Day of Peace. The second is an article by Sr. Susan Rose Francois, CSJP entitled Nonviolence: A New Year’s Resolution. I think you will find inspiration here for how to be an artisan of peace in the places where you live, work, study, and worship.
We wish all of our Backlit readers a blessed and peace-filled New Year!
Did you know that Pope Francis declared last Sunday the Jubilee of Prisoners? It was one more Jubilee within the Jubilee Year of Mercy. You can read the pope’s moving homily here. And here is Pope Francis’ Sunday tweet: “No cell is so isolated that it is shut to the Lord. His love reaches everywhere. I pray that each one may open his heart to this love.”
While we may not all personally know someone who is incarcerated, we all know someone—very often ourselves—who are prisoners of a different kind: a closed mind, a judgmental attitude, a hardened heart, addictions, and so on. As I prayed with Pope Francis’ homily, I began to ask myself this question: How am I like a prisoner? You may want to reflect on this question, too. Keep in mind that in the Old Testament the understanding of Jubilee always had to do with freedom and liberation. We can continue this Jubilee of Prisoners by reflecting on how each of us can offer freedom and forgiveness to ourselves and others. Spend some time with Matthew 25: 31-46. You may also want to consider this quote from Pope Francis’ homily: “Let us never yield to the temptation of thinking that we cannot be forgiven. Whatever our hearts may accuse us of, small or great, “God is greater than our hearts” (1John 3.20). We need but entrust ourselves to his mercy.”