Tag Archives: grace

The Power and Unity of Pentecost

Study:  Reflect on a time when you encountered a difficult experience.  Where did you find your strength?

Pray:  Ask for the Holy Spirit to help you, especially to unite with others in challenging situations.

Serve:  How can you help foster unity in your life?  What can you do to bring people together?

Mass Readings:

Pentecost Sunday at the Vigil Mass

Pentecost Sunday Extended Vigil

Pentecost Sunday Mass During the Day

It can be somewhat confusing to know what readings to follow – depending on the day and the options available a person can hear a number of different Scripture readings this weekend.  Stepping back for a moment, however, we can tease out some major themes that surface on this important feast of the Church:

  • Power – to face what comes before us with God’s strength
  • Unity – to join together beyond boundaries and divisions

In many respects this feast marks the birthday of the Church.  The disciples, having watched the Lord ascend to Heaven, are now “on their own” to carry out the Good News of Christ.  The point, of course, is that they are not alone!  Filled with the Holy Spirit their hearts are transformed and their lives forever changed.  They have become willing instruments empowered by the Spirit to speak and act for the glory of God.  They don’t look anything like their former selves – timid, fearful, and self-serving; they now fearlessly engage the world with the conviction that Jesus is Lord.

And as they are strengthened by the Spirit one sign increasingly becomes apparent – the unity of believers as a self evident sign that God’s grace is at work.  Several approaches underscore this sense of unity:

  • Understanding one another beyond the challenge of language
  • Working together as a body does with its many parts
  • Becoming spiritually fruitful
  • Forgiveness with one another

Language, cooperation, fruitfulness, and forgiveness are all hallmarks of the Spirit’s presence in our lives.  All are crucial and take an enormous amount of effort – supported by the POWER of the Holy Spirit!

Is there a place in our lives today that would benefit from unity?  Are there relationships and situations that require healing and strength to grow?  Do we recognize circumstances (perhaps beyond our control) that cry out for the Lord’s intervention?  If so, then we can confidently turn to the Spirit for the grace we need to face what lies before us.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.  Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.  O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful , grant that by the same Spirit we may be truly wise, and ever rejoice in his consolation.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen!


Daily Mass: Facing the hardship of hate in the world. Catholic Inspiration

There is a cost to following the Lord: sometimes we must endure the hardship of hate in this world and contend with forces that would seek to destroy the goodness in our lives.  Yet we do not stand alone; Jesus Christ gives us the strength we need to face this hardship with the power of his grace.

Mass Readings – Saturday of the 5th Week of Easter

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5th Sunday of Lent: The lesson of a grain of wheat

Study: When in my life have I had to let go of something, someone, so that growth could happen?

Pray: Am I struggling right now to let go?  Ask God for help – wisdom and strength – to do it.

Serve:  Is there someone in my life that needs help letting go of a past mistake or hurt?  How can I help them?

Pastoral Note: The 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent provide an option for using the “Year A” readings at Mass for the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process, but for those who follow the usual cycle the reflection is offered below.

Mass Readings – 5th Sunday of Lent

The Gospel of John today offers an image that contains the central idea of the Christian faith:

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
John 12:24

Picture a grain of wheat in your hand.  It is a tiny, lifeless thing; alone it can be crushed for flour.  Yet if that grain is allowed to fall to the ground two things will happen.

First, the grain will die to itself.  That is, it will cease to be a GRAIN of wheat.  Its hull will be broken down and disintegrate, the kernel will lose its appearance, and it will no longer be able to be used for flour!

Second, the grain will become something new.  The grain will be transformed into a new and living creation, full of life and possibilities.  It will not resemble the grain – it will be vastly larger, living, able to grow, and full of new potential.

Simply put, as the grain of wheat “died” to its old self, a new life was able to burst forth.  The old passed away, making new hope and opportunity available.  This is the Paschal Mystery – a journey from death to life.

Like the grain of wheat, Jesus will also make this journey; from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, his life will be a process of transformation, change, and new life.  Through his death, he will not only be raised to life, but he will become the instrument by which God saves us as well.

What does this mystery mean for us?  If this journey from death to life is our own, how do we live it out?  How do we experience the Paschal Mystery in our lives?  Here are four ideas for reflection:

1.  Death – we no longer need to be afraid!
2.  Life – we let go of our selfishness – to grow!
3.  Sin – we “die” to our faults; God’s grace fills us.
4.  We become like Christ – if he did it, so can we!

The Paschal Mystery makes sense, because we encounter the process of death to life in so many everyday experiences.  It is not an easy journey, but when we open our hearts to this mystery, we allow God’s transforming grace to work within us, remaking us into a new creation, alive in Christ!

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Note: This post was originally published on March 15, 2015.


Daily Mass: O God, be merciful to me a sinner. Catholic Inspiration

The parable of Jesus today offers us a profound phrase for our daily meditation: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

Mass Readings – Saturday of the 3rd Week of Lent

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts


Daily Mass: Jesus drives out demons. Catholic Inspiration

Jesus drives out a demon and then responds to a comment from the crowd.  As we face evil in our lives we call upon the Lord for the strength we need.

Mass Readings – Thursday of the 3rd Week of Lent

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts


Daily Mass: Do I really have to forgive? Catholic Inspiration

St. Peter asks the question that all the disciples are thinking…and Jesus drives home the point about forgiveness with a powerful parable.

Mass Readings – Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Lent

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts


3rd Sunday of Lent: Christ is the sign that gives us strength. Catholic Inspiration

Jesus cleanses the Temple and offers the sign of his resurrection.  As we continue through this season of Lent, may we cleanse what does not belong in our hearts and call upon the Lord for the strength we need to live each day as a precious gift from God.

Mass Readings – 3rd Sunday of Lent (Year B)

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts