Sixth Sunday of Easter

Reading 1 Acts 15:1-2, 22-29

Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers,
“Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice,
you cannot be saved.”
Because there arose no little dissension and debate
by Paul and Barnabas with them,
it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others
should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders
about this question.

The apostles and elders, in agreement with the whole church,
decided to choose representatives
and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.
The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas,
and Silas, leaders among the brothers.
This is the letter delivered by them:

“The apostles and the elders, your brothers,
to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia
of Gentile origin: greetings.
Since we have heard that some of our number
who went out without any mandate from us
have upset you with their teachings
and disturbed your peace of mind,
we have with one accord decided to choose representatives
and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So we are sending Judas and Silas
who will also convey this same message by word of mouth:
‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us
not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,
namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols,
from blood, from meats of strangled animals,
and from unlawful marriage.
If you keep free of these,
you will be doing what is right.  Farewell.'”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 67:2-3,5,6,8

R. (4) O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 Rev 21:10-14, 22-23

The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God.
It gleamed with the splendor of God.
Its radiance was like that of a precious stone,
like jasper, clear as crystal.
It had a massive, high wall,

with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed
and on which names were inscribed,
the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites.
There were three gates facing east,
three north, three south, and three west.
The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation,
on which were inscribed the twelve names
of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

I saw no temple in the city
for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.
The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gave it light,
and its lamp was the Lamb.

Alleluia Jn 14:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord,
and my Father will love him and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 14:23-29

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine
but that of the Father who sent me.

“I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

You heard me tell you,
‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’
If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe.”

– – –
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

St. Philip Neri

Philip Neri was born in Florence, Italy, in 1515 into a poor family. As a young man, he received word in a vision that he had a special mission in Rome, so he cut himself off from his family and friends and left.While in Rome, he studied philosphy and theology, and tutored young boys. Eventually Philip became bored of learning, so he sold all of his books, gave the money he received from them to the poor, and visited the sick.Later, he co-founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity and began to preach, and many people converted thanks to Philip’s preaching and example. During this time, he was a lay person and lived as a hermit, however a good friend eventually convinced him to enter the priesthood, and he was ordained in 1551.Many people came to him for confession. He also began to work with youth. Pope Gregory XIV wanted to make Philip a cardinal, but the priest declined.He then founded the Congregation of the Oratory, also known as the Oratorians, dedicated to preaching and teaching, and they still exist today.He died May 27, 1595, and was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. He is the patron of Rome and the U.S. Army Special Forces.

Seek What Is Above

Today is my wedding day so the readings I hear at Mass will be different than the ones heard at a normal Saturday Mass. I chose this day on purpose because, in looking at the readings I thought to myself, “How incredibly appropriate for this big day.” Please bear with me and hear me out while I explain my thoughts…

The overarching theme of today’s readings is the universal scope of Christianity. In the first reading, we hear of how Christianity spread to Greece. The humble origins of the Church are always so striking to me. Christ chose normal people, unassuming people as messengers of the Good News. He knew that His message of love and redemption would be spread by people who were on fire because of what they witnessed. The responsorial psalm reminds us that God’s love is universal, it belongs to everybody: “Let all the earth cry out with joy!” His love doesn’t belong to just one people, one time, etc.

I recently read an article with the provocative title of something like “Stop Trying to Make Christianity Relevant”. I read it with the intention of figuring out what the “other side” had to say about the relevance of Christianity. What I read, however, was surprising. It was from a Christian perspective, not from the perspective of someone who was tired of hearing the “Christian narrative”. The author was calling other Christians to lead a more radical life. He reminded us that the Christian life is not easy, it is not made for this world. Rather, it is difficult; there are many trials and obstacles. We must fight many battles and sometimes it seems as though we lose all of those battles. What we must realize in our fight is that our battle is not to win favor in this world, it is to merit the next. Our fight is towards Heaven and against evil. To be a Christian is to be a witness of Christ and to be a witness of Christ is to embrace the Cross of Christ.

Now to bring it back full circle….how in the world is this relevant for a wedding? Well, I work in a very secular environment and I often get questions about why my fiancé and I didn’t live together before getting married. The questions often came in the condescending form of, “Is it for religious reasons?” I found myself wanting to avoid the answer of, “Yes! It is for religious reasons.” Finally, I asked myself why I was so ashamed of that answer and realized that it had nothing to do with being ashamed of my faith but everything to do with how the question was asked. Why would an affirmative answer of “Yes, I do this because of my belief system” be looked down upon? Because, to the world, our faith seems oppressive and restrictive. But the truth is that our faith is incredibly freeing and hopeful! Our faith is based on Truth and Goodness and Beauty. Unfortunately, our world doesn’t recognize that. So, perhaps in our culture, the Cross we bear is weighed down by condescending questions, intolerance, and misguided perceptions of what the Catholic faith truly is.

We, like the Apostles, come from humble origins. We are unassuming people. We work in schools, offices, hospitals, and churches. We encounter people of every race, creed, culture, and tongue. It is our mission to be witnesses of Christ, spread the Good News, and carry our crosses with joy.

May we recognize that even when the world hates us, Christ loves us.

Contact the author


Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO is studying for her Master’s in Spanish, and loves her job as an elementary school librarian. She is engaged to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com.


Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Reading 1 Acts 16:1-10

Paul reached also Derbe and Lystra
where there was a disciple named Timothy,
the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer,
but his father was a Greek.
The brothers in Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him,
and Paul wanted him to come along with him.
On account of the Jews of that region, Paul had him circumcised,
for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
As they traveled from city to city,
they handed on to the people for observance the decisions
reached by the Apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem.
Day after day the churches grew stronger in faith
and increased in number.

They traveled through the Phrygian and Galatian territory
because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit
from preaching the message in the province of Asia.
When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on into Bithynia,
but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them,
so they crossed through Mysia and came down to Troas.
During the night Paul had a vision.
A Macedonian stood before him and implored him with these words,
“Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
When he had seen the vision,
we sought passage to Macedonia at once,
concluding that God had called us to proclaim the Good News to them.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 100:1b-2, 3, 5

R. (2a) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is good:
his kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia Col 3:1

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If then you were raised with Christ,
seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 15:18-21

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
and I have chosen you out of the world,
the world hates you.
Remember the word I spoke to you,
‘No slave is greater than his master.’
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,
because they do not know the one who sent me.”

For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Bede the Venerable, please go here.

For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Gregory VII, please go here.

For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, please go here.

– – –
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

On May 25, the Catholic Church celebrates Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, an Italian noblewoman of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries who became a Carmelite nun distinguished for her intense prayer life and devotion to frequent Holy Communion.In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI marked the 400th anniversary of St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi’s death in a letter to the Archbishop of Florence, her birthplace. He described her as “a symbolic figure of a living love that recalls the essential mystical dimension of every Christian life.�“May the great mystic,� the Pope wrote, “still make her voice heard in all the Church, spreading to every human creature the proclamation to love God.�Born on April 2, 1566, the future “Mary Magdalene� was given the name of Caterina at the time of her birth. She was the only daughter of her parents, who both came from prominent families. Caterina was drawn to the Holy Eucharist from a young age, and she resolved to serve God as a consecrated virgin shortly after receiving her First Communion at age 10.Late in the year 1582 she entered a strictly traditional Carmelite monastery, where Holy Communion was – unusually for the time period – administered daily. Receiving her religious habit the next year, she took the name of Mary Magdalene.From March to May of 1584, Mary became seriously ill and was thought to be in danger of death. On May 27 of that year she made her religious vows while lying sick upon a pallet. Her recovery marked the start of an extended mystical experience, which lasted 40 days and involved extraordinary experiences taken down by her religious sisters in a set of manuscripts.Mary served the monastery in a series of teaching and supervisory positions, while also contributing to her community through manual work. Her fellow Carmelites respected her strict sense of discipline, which was accompanied by profound charity and practical wisdom. Her experiences of suffering and temptation helped her to guide and inspire others.Extraordinary spiritual occurrences were a frequent feature of this Carmelite nun’s life, to a much greater degree than is typical in the tradition of Catholic mysticism. Many of her experiences of God were documented by others in her community, although Mary herself disliked the attention and would seemingly have preferred for these events to remain private.She did wish, however, to call attention to God’s love, which she saw as tragically underappreciated and unreciprocated by mankind. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi is remembered for making dramatic gestures – running through the halls of her monastery, or ringing its bells at night – while proclaiming the urgent need for all people to awaken to God’s love, and respond in kind.Her earthly life came to an end on May 25, 1607, after an excruciating illness lasting nearly three years. Pope Clement IX canonized St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi in 1669.

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Reading 1 Acts 15:22-31

The Apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole Church,
decided to choose representatives
and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.
The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas,
and Silas, leaders among the brothers.
This is the letter delivered by them:
“The Apostles and the presbyters, your brothers,
to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia
of Gentile origin: greetings.
Since we have heard that some of our number
who went out without any mandate from us
have upset you with their teachings
and disturbed your peace of mind,
we have with one accord decided to choose representatives
and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So we are sending Judas and Silas
who will also convey this same message by word of mouth:
‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us
not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,
namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols,
from blood, from meats of strangled animals,
and from unlawful marriage.
If you keep free of these,
you will be doing what is right. Farewell.'”

And so they were sent on their journey.
Upon their arrival in Antioch
they called the assembly together and delivered the letter.
When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 57:8-9, 10 and 12

R. (10a) I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
My heart is steadfast, O God; my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and chant praise.
Awake, O my soul; awake, lyre and harp!
I will wake the dawn.
R. I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I will give thanks to you among the peoples, O LORD,
I will chant your praise among the nations.
For your mercy towers to the heavens,
and your faithfulness to the skies.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
above all the earth be your glory!
R. I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia Jn 15:15b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 15:12-17

Jesus said to his disciples:
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”

– – –
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

This I Command You: Love One Another

This last year has seen the cycle of life continue: life, suffering, death, rebirth, rebuild. I shouldn’t expect it to be any different than other years, but it has been more intense for me and I can’t quite put my finger on why that is. The deaths of my children’s grandma, as well as several friends’ parents and spouses, has really brought home the reminder that life is truly precious. The time we have on this earth is finite. We choose what to do with our time.

Kendrick Castillo made wonderful choices in his very short time here on earth. He is a hero, role model, and witness for his faith. Kendrick was 18 years old when he sacrificed his life for his friends and classmates on May 7th. He was granted status as a full member of the Knights of Columbus (he and his dad had logged over 2600 hours of service with KoC #4844). He exemplified today’s gospel, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you” (Jn 15:16). It is a beautiful tribute to Kendrick’s ultimate sacrifice.

I believe Kendrick truly lived the life of JOY that Veronica spoke about in yesterday’s reflection: https://diocesan.com/joy/. Jesus first, others second, and yourself last. Many in today’s society put themselves first. We forget that Jesus put his life on the cross for each and everyone who has ever been created in his Father’s image, absolutely everyone ever created throughout all of time.

I don’t know if I will ever be put to the test as Kendrick was. I do know that we each have been commanded to love one another, twice in today’s gospel. If we follow Jesus’ teachings we are called to love one another. This is a herculean task in human terms… or is it? We are reminded by Jesus in scripture to become like little children and to be humble like a child (Mt 18). Young children have an innate ability to trust and to love and share. This weekend, I was sitting behind a 4 or 5-month-old set of twins and their extended family at Mass. They were sharing toys, looks, drool and affection with all those around them. As we age, we become less trusting and jaded due to our life experiences.

I experienced ‘JOY’ just sitting behind this family. To put Jesus first, we can start by being intentional with our actions, prayers, and responses to the situations that we encounter in our day and through social media. We need to remember to choose the unconditional love of Jesus and our Father and respond through prayer and action. We can choose to pray for people and situations that affect our shared global communities. We can volunteer and participate in ways outside of our usual life.

God so loved us he gave us Jesus. He commands us to love one another. What are you prepared to do?

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.


Sts. Donatian and Rogatian

Donatian and Rogatian were brothers who were martyred for their faith in the third century.Donatian was the first to convert to Christianity, becoming an ardent witness to the faith after receiving baptism.  His witness was said to be so inspiring that his brother, Rogatian, who had been indifferent at first, was moved by his example to convert. However, the persecution of Diocletian was heavily underway at this time.Both of the brothers were arrested before the bishop was able to baptize Rogatian. The brothers spent the night in jail together in prayer. The next day, after refusing to deny their faith, they were tortured on the rack, and then beheaded. Thus the baptism of Rogatian was a baptism of desire, that is, by the blood of martyrdom.In the fifth century a church was built over the tomb where they were buried together. In 1145, the bishop transferred their relics to the Cathedral of Ostia.

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Reading 1 Acts 15:7-21

After much debate had taken place,
Peter got up and said to the Apostles and the presbyters,
“My brothers, you are well aware that from early days
God made his choice among you that through my mouth
the Gentiles would hear the word of the Gospel and believe.
And God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit
just as he did us.
He made no distinction between us and them,
for by faith he purified their hearts.
Why, then, are you now putting God to the test
by placing on the shoulders of the disciples
a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?
On the contrary, we believe that we are saved
through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they.”
The whole assembly fell silent,
and they listened
while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders
God had worked among the Gentiles through them.

After they had fallen silent, James responded,
“My brothers, listen to me.
Symeon has described how God first concerned himself
with acquiring from among the Gentiles a people for his name.
The words of the prophets agree with this, as is written:

After this I shall return
and rebuild the fallen hut of David;
from its ruins I shall rebuild it
and raise it up again,
so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord,
even all the Gentiles on whom my name is invoked.
Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things,
known from of old.

It is my judgment, therefore,
that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God,
but tell them by letter to avoid pollution from idols,
unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood.
For Moses, for generations now,
has had those who proclaim him in every town,
as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 10

R.(3) Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia Jn 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 15:9-11

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that
my joy might be in you and
your joy might be complete.”

– – –
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Joy

When I was in elementary school, I was a part of a Catholic small group called K4J, otherwise known as Kids for Jesus. Each meeting, we would go through a specific virtue or spiritual gift’s presence in our lives, with an activity to go along with a discussion. Although I struggled to remember exactly what we did in those meetings, I distinctly remember the day we discussed how to find joy.

Our leader, Mrs. Pelletier, read us the same lines that we read in today’s Gospel. Then, we went on to discuss the difference between having joy and being happy. Even as fourth graders, we determined that happiness is caused by an outside stimulus and is temporary, while joy is something that you carry in your heart and could always respond with.

She told us that the key to joy, was to always think about people in the following order:

Jesus
Others
Yourself

If you are honestly and truly putting Jesus first then putting others before yourself will come naturally. When you put yourself last, you are able to understand that you are not the center of the world. You can suddenly see that although things may not be going according to your plan, God’s plan is being accomplished.

It’s been over 15 years and anytime someone talks about being happy, I always think, It’s not about being happy, it’s about living joyfully. We have all been happy before. It puts us in a good mood and we tend to act nicer to those around us. We have all experienced joy, as well. It lasts longer than momentary happiness, but can also fade if we do not internalize it.

Internalizing joy means that we allow the joys of life, of love, and of God, to permeate our lives. It’s living life with a brighter, selfless perspective. Living out joyful lives does not mean that everything is always perfect, but instead knowing that although our situations are not the best, although we are flawed, we are God’s creation and each moment, good or bad, is a blessing.

Today, I challenge you to take a look at your intentions. Do you need to unscramble JOY?

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Veronica Alvarado is a born and raised Texan currently living in Michigan. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various articles in the Catholic Diocese of Austin’s official newspaper, the Catholic Spirit, and other local publications. She now works as the Content Specialist in Diocesan’s Web Department.