Reflection for Palm Sunday

Sunday, April 9, 2017

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Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair.

John 12:3

After Peg’s father died, she rummaged through parts of his house preparing it for sale. When Peg was a child, the bottom drawer of the china closet was always her dad’s exclusive domain. She prepared to open it now like a priest approaching the sacred altar. Inside, Peg found the normal treasures stored against a rainy day: rubber bands, expired coupons and a Swiss Army knife. In an old wallet, she discovered a forgotten twenty-dollar bill and a creased, browning paper. Unfolded, the note revealed a 1960’s Christmas shopping list. Beside her name was scribbled “skates, pajamas and Slinky.” Beside her mother’s name, there was a single phrase: “Chanel N°5.”

Peg’s middle class family avoided extravagance. With five children, they could not afford it. Her father’s one excursion into luxury was to anoint her mother with this prized perfume. The annual act released a balm of silent devotion between them redeeming any of the year’s frayed misunderstandings.

During Holy Week, we see Mary anoint Jesus’s feet with costly aromatic nard. We watch Jesus kneel to pour a sacred blessing over his disciples’ feet. We experience God’s lavish compassion wash over us in blood and water, in sacrament and sacrifice. These acts draw us into God’s infinite, unquenchable love.

Our names have been folded eternally into God’s heart. An extravagant mercy has been given for us. This week, walking with Jesus from the supper table, through the garden and on to Calvary, may we embrace the deep anointing of God’s Passion for us. May it redeem us and open us to full Easter joy!

This reflection was written by Catholic Health Association USA.


Reflection for fifth week of Lent

Sunday, April 2, 2017

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I will keep my covenant with you … to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.
Genesis 17:7

The golden June morning had broken bright and warm through the hospital windows. With its breaking, the attending physician and chaplain had received a page. Dorothy had taken an unexpected turn. She was struggling both to live and to die.

As they attended and comforted her, Dorothy managed to whisper ” … wait for Henry.” Henry, her husband of fifty-eight years, had arrived promptly at 7:00 a.m. daily for all the weeks of Dorothy’s hospitalization. Glancing at her watch, the chaplain saw that it was just 6:50 a.m.

When, after ten eternal minutes, Henry appeared at the door, he carried a small bouquet of yellow roses from their beloved garden. Quickly apprehending the changed situation, he laid the roses aside and hurried to hold Dorothy for the last few minutes of her life. In the loving, covenanted presence Dorothy had waited for, she finally embraced a peaceful death.

It had not been easy for Dorothy to die nor, from then on, had it been easy for Henry to live. Still, through many bereavement visits, the chaplain watched their long, honest love arise to heal Henry. Through prayer and the benediction of memories, Henry realized that their love, like the roses still blooming in their garden, was both fragile and perpetual.

In this week’s readings, God again calls us to such a love. As God brought Lazarus, Suzanna and Shadrack out of darkness and death, so God promises to bring us. “I will keep my covenant with you,” God says. “Whoever keeps my word will never die.”

Accompanying Jesus, as he nears Jerusalem, let us trust and cherish these promises in our own darknesses and bereavements.

Reposted courtesy of Catholic Health Association USA. For the 2017 Lenten series, CHA collaborated with Sr. Renee Yann, RSM, D.Min., a Sister of Mercy of the Mid-Atlantic Community, who graciously authored each of the reflections. Retired after more than 50 years in education and health care, she now ministers through spiritual writing and consulting. She can be followed on Twitter @ReneeYann


Reflection for fourth week of Lent

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Whoever hears my word, and believes in the One who sent me has passed from death to life.
John 5:24
“End stage melanoma,” the doctor pronounced, after Mary requested complete honesty. It seemed unfair to those who knew her: an ebony spot, unnoticed on her back, soon would bleed its ink across her death certificate. For Mary, [more…]

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Spirituality and You: Ash Wednesday, first day of Lent

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

“Return to me with your whole heart; … rend your hearts, not your garments.” – Joel 2: 12-13 
The words of the prophet Joel summarize the goal and the process of life—whole-hearted living that returns me to God. This encounter always invites me to deep change, to rend my heart not just my garments. It may be painful, [more…]

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Spirituality and You: Holy Week

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Holy Week is the week preceding Easter, and the final week of Lent. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and ends with Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. Holy Week includes Holy Thursday and Good Friday, which together with Holy Saturday, are known as the Triduum. [more…]

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CHA Easter reflection: Truth

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Catholic Health Association’s Easter reflection: Bunkum or Truth.
Peter claims, in the Acts of the Apostles, that the servant Jesus has been glorified. Among other things, such a claim might be referring to the testimonies about the risen Lord that the third Gospel drew upon.
While the disciples who had returned from the road to Emmaus were [more…]

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CHA Palm Sunday reflection: A Collision of Themes

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Palm Sunday reflection from Catholic Health Association: A Collision of Themes. The great triumphant procession of palms as well as the betrayed allegiances of the human heart are both woven into the Passion and the death of Jesus.
The liturgy of Passion Sunday is a collision of themes: glorious hosannas and somber omens. Isaiah promised [more…]

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CHA Lenten Reflection: Recognizing Ourselves

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Lenten reflection from Catholic Health Association for the fifth week of Lent: Recognizing Ourselves. The moment we recognize our inadequacy, our sin, our smallness before the greatness of the transcendent God, we are capable of truly being called out of ourselves. When God is heard to say, “Whom shall I send, and who will [more…]

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CHA Lenten Reflection: Love is Arduous

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Lenten reflection from Catholic Health Association for the fourth week of Lent: Love is Arduous. Love is the chameleon that hides in the hue of everything and disappears into any context available.
But not so fast.  This love isn’t just anything. It involves heart and will, soul and life, mind and strength. It requires a [more…]

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Spirituality and You: Almsgiving

Monday, March 31, 2014

This week Sister Valerie Sweeney encourages us to consider the third Lenten practice of ALMSGIVING. Giving alms means making the needs of others our own, especially the needy of our world. They are all around us: children and the elderly, the sick and the suffering, families and individuals, next-door neighbors and people in faraway lands. [more…]

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