Easter Morning

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Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 10.58.02 AMBy Catriona Kerwin

The only barrier between him and the sky
is the bridge
under which he sleeps.
He can sense
the dark storm clouds
above him.

Yet he knows that at 6:38
the sun will rise
despite the hopeless scrawls that cover the bridge
despite the needle marks that scar his arms
despite the sharp chill that penetrates his sleeping bag
because it is Easter Sunday.

6:38—kneeling on the ground his arms outstretched
his shadow forms a cross.

Catriona is a first year missionary from Lakewood, Colorado who was studying English before she came to Christ in the City.

I Thirst

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Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 11.30.53 AMBy Cecilia Nguyen

(Based off of John 19:28 “Knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said “I Thirst.” And Revelations 3:20 “Behold I stand at the door and knock…”)

I work with the chronically homeless and because I’m a Christ in the City Missionary, some of the biggest problems I see is them feeling lonely, unwanted, and unloved. This was especially true for one of my friends on the street named James. It’s been awhile since I read this meditation by Mother Teresa, but when it was brought up again a few months ago, I was wondering why I haven’t printed off this meditation for our friends on the street. It’s something they needed to hear, not just them, but all of us.

Let me tell you more about James. The first time my street partner and I met him, he poured out his life to us and started crying. He has an adopted mom who gave him a place to stay. He ended up being kicked out because he had some friends over, they were drinking and anger also played a part of him being kicked out. He knew that he wasn’t making the best choices. So I asked him one day, “What makes you happy?” He said that he didn’t know, but that he didn’t want to live out on the streets anymore. That would change depending on the day. Other days he would say he likes the freedom of living outside. We continued to see him for the next two weeks. I knew that this would be a good meditation for him. I was wondering if I should read it to him or have him read it. I asked him, and he told me to read it. When I started reading it, one part that I read was:

“I come- longing to console you and give you strength, to give you life and heal all your wounds. I bring you my light, to dispel your darkness and all your doubts. I come with My Power, that I might carry you and all of your burdens; with my grace, to touch your heart and transform your life,” and “My peace I give to calm your soul.”

He would interrupt me a few times throughout the meditation and would just say wow. It really struck him and made him tear up. Let me tell you more about his “adopted mom”, The next time we saw him, he said that he told her about us and showed her the meditation. He wanted her to meet us as well.

He asked her one day, “Why do you continue to care for me?” At some part of the conversation, she replied: “What am I going to do with you? I give you a place and it gets taken away, I give you this and another thing happens.” And eventually, she said, “I guess I have to love you anyway.”

What I admire about his adopted mom even though I haven’t met her is that she reminds me of God the Father. She would do anything for James. He would turn off his phone to avoid her calls whenever he would make a bad decision. Whenever we talk to him, we sense this guilt that he holds inside him.

In Luke 5:31, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” God the Father continues to thirst for us, to seek us, but He won’t give up on us, no matter how many times we fail Him, just as his adopted mom never gave up on James. That is self-giving love. We can all relate to James in a way that whenever we are guilty, we want to hide.

Because we are in the Year of Mercy, I wanted him to know God’s mercy and that God is waiting for James to come to Him, as he is, broken and a sinner, just like we all are at some point in our life. I wanted him to know God’s love for him and how He thirsts for him, not just him, but all of us and that he wants to heal us of anything that is hurting us.

He wants to console You, and He knows EVERYTHING about You. Jesus’ deepest thirst is for You! He thirsted for you so much that that He loved us until death, as we celebrated his Passion earlier. I wanted this meditation to give him hope. I believe James cried because he felt that we loved him, in turn that that was God loving him, and that God longed to be with him. St. Augustine says, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” I don’t know what happened to James, maybe he went back to his adopted mom and had the motivation to get his life together, wherever he is, I’m glad that he has heard Mother Teresa’s meditation on God’s thirst for him.

A final quote that I saw that fits well with this meditation is “When you approach the tabernacle, remember that he has been waiting for you for twenty centuries.” Because Mother Teresa knew Jesus’ thirst for her, she wanted to let the sisters know that Jesus thirsts for them. And for you! That’s why the two words, “I thirst” are placed next to the crucifix in every Missionary of Charity Chapel around the whole world. And with that, don’t be afraid to come to Jesus as you are, through your brokenness, your past, your sins, and your loneliness. He can take it and make it new. Come as you are.

Cecilia graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She enjoys quality time with friends, adventuring and exploring, ice cream, and is a big Despicable Me fan.

Am I the Older Brother?

[wr_heading el_title=”heading” tag=”h1″ text_align=”inherit” heading_margin_top=”5″ heading_margin_bottom=”5″ font=”inherit” enable_underline=”yes” border_bottom_style=”solid” appearing_animation=”0″ disabled_el=”no” ]Am I the Older Brother?[/wr_heading][wr_heading el_title=”Heading 2″ tag=”h2″ text_align=”inherit” heading_margin_top=”5″ heading_margin_bottom=”25″ font=”inherit” enable_underline=”yes” border_bottom_style=”solid” appearing_animation=”0″ disabled_el=”no” ]A Reflection on the Parable of the Prodigal Son[/wr_heading]

RM8_9651By Makena Clawson

When we consider the parable of the Prodigal Son, we often ponder just that: the Prodigal Son. But what about the two other characters, the good Father and the older brother?

I am the older brother. Not having had a radical conversion, I identify with the older brother who stayed on his Father’s land his whole life, but maybe never appreciated it. The older brother is bitter and angry when the younger son returns after his life of debauchery away from the Father’s house. How come he is welcomed back so quickly? I’ve put in so much effort and received no reward!

The older brother wanted to leave the house many times, but didn’t. We may not have physically left the Father’s house, but what about in our hearts? I left through pride, bitterness, and grumbling about the benefits I’d have if I did leave. And now the younger son who has done what I always wanted to do, returns. How could I welcome him back? He, who got a taste of the outside world and returned without consequences?

As a Christ in the City missionary, I work with the homeless everyday. I go out to the street to meet and talk with people who are normally ignored. I meet people who are broken, ashamed, and want so badly to return to the Father’s house. They have left and now “feel the pinch” as the Gospel says. How do I welcome them back? Am I the older brother who refuses to welcome them? Have I realized the gift that it is to be in the Father’s house?

Dear Lord, You call all of us back to Your house. I have strayed in big ways and in small ways. Please welcome me back. I know Your mercy is bigger than my pride. Help me to not be afraid to run back to you every time I stray.

Lord, help me to welcome back those who have left your house. Help me to not hold any bitterness against them or You. Please give me a humble heart to realize I have left You many times, too. Please forgive me. I love You, Lord. Amen.

Makena Clawson is a first-year missionary and recent graduate of Benedictine College. She wishes the whole world loved Jesus, speaking in Spanish, and Nancy Drew as much as she does.

Fasting, the Poor and Pope Benedict XVI

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Trey By Trey Gross
What marvelous wisdom the Church has in bestowing to us the season of Lent. Like fall, or winter, the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit helps us grow in ways that are impossible in other seasons.

We have been given Lent to again encounter the Word of God – Jesus in the flesh. The savior of man “knocks at the door of our hearts” (Revelation 3:20). We must make a decision to open the door to Christ – to give it all this Lent.

As many of us have heard through years of catechesis and long homilies, Lent “sets before us again three penitential practices that are very dear to the Biblical and Christian tradition: prayer, almsgiving, and fasting” (Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2009).

I will focus on fasting – something that is counter-cultural and involves discipline. Fasting, a practice done by Jesus and the early Christians, prepares us for the mission of being a Christian in daily life. Fasting should not be egotistically driven – not for the sake of “pushing the body beyond limits” or being “healthier” as some do in giving up unhealthy foods. Fasting, which no one claims is easy, instead allows us to listen to the son of God – “through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God.” (Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2009)

Fasting also helps us serve the poor and comfort the afflicted. Fasting is a practice that we can participate in which makes a statement – that we desire not to be strangers with the poor, but to be in solidarity with them. “By freely embracing an act of self-denial for the sake of another, we make a statement that our brother or sister in need is not a stranger” (Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2009).

Do you want to come close to the poor? Take Benedict’s advice – make fasting a foundation for your Lent. Be prudent in how you decide to fast – but be bold. Find other people who will fast with you to keep you accountable.

This season of training in the Christian Life should be taken seriously. I hope you ardently and decisively choose to participate in Lent this year with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. May God bless you!

To read Benedict XVI Message for Lent 2009, click here.

Trey Gross is from Mobile, Alabama and an alum of Auburn University. He enjoys sweet tea, hiking, the Rosary and running. To read more from Trey, see his blog, The Joyful Pilgrim.

5 Ways to Live Out the Year of Mercy

TreyBy Trey Gross

The Year of Mercy started on December 8th, 2015. Did you know that? Some know a great deal about the Year of Mercy. Yet, it seems like many people are unaware of exactly what the Year of Mercy entails. Below are 5 ways that you can live out the Year of Mercy. Go!

1. GO TO CONFESSION. To live out mercy in our daily lives, we must start with ourselves.The Lord Jesus has given us himself in the “sacrament of mercy”- confession! Let us return often to the sacrament which renews us – which truly reconciles us to the Father. “Let us place the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the centre once more in such a way that it will enable people to touch the grandeur of God’s mercy with their own hands.” Pope Francis

2. HELP OTHERS GO TO CONFESSION. What better way to show others the mercy of the Father than to help others return to confession? EVERYONE IS IN NEED OF MERCY. Your coworkers, friends, family, fellow students – everyone. “In this Jubilee Year, may the Church echo the word of God that resounds strong and clear as a message and a sign of pardon, strength, aid, and love.” Pope Francis

3. GO ON PILGRIMAGE TO YOUR DIOCESE’S DOOR OF MERCY. “Everyone, each according to his or her ability, will have to make a pilgrimage. This will be a sign that mercy is also a goal to reach and requires dedication and sacrifice.” The human experience of being a pilgrim on earth must be lived out from time to time this year! Pope Francis says that going on pilgrimage can be a sign of mercy. Make a pilgrimage to the DOOR OF MERCY in your diocese (Click here for a list of all the DOORS OF MERCY.)

4. CORPORAL and SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY. Find ways to encounter the poor in your city! Don’t just serve them – but encounter them – announce to them their great dignity! If you live in Denver, come encounter the poor with Christ in the City at our 2nd Saturday Lunch. “It is my burning desire that, during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy“. Pope Francis (Click here for list of all Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.)

5. PRAY POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER FOR THE YEAR OF MERCY. To live out mercy, we must be close to God the Father, who shows us his mercy. Pray the prayer of Pope Francis daily for the Year of Mercy. (Click here for Prayer.)

BONUS: Do you really want to deepen in your understanding of the Year of Mercy? Read Pope Francis’ Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy. (Click here.)

Trey Gross is from Mobile, Alabama and an alum of Auburn University. He enjoys sweet tea, hiking, the Rosary and running. To read more from Trey, see his blog, The Joyful Pilgrim.