Last updated:March 31, 2018

Easter Sunday 2018

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Jesus is risen from the dead. This is the day of celebration and rejoicing. Death has no more power over us.

What a message. Jesus is alive! Do we really believe it? Jesus walks our streets today, lives in our homes and is truly present among us. This was his promise, to be with us until the end of time.

How can we know this promise is being fulfilled in our own day? Easy but not so easy! When the love of God is translated into love of neighbor, Jesus is alive. When we meet our neighbor with forgiveness, compassion, mercy, hospitality, Jesus is present. In other words, because the Spirit of Jesus lives in each of us, Jesus is present in our world. We are his hands, his feet, his eyes and most of all his heart.

This is what we were preparing for all during Lent, to live anew the resurrected life of Jesus.

My prayer is that each of us will continue the journey deeper into God thereby making Jesus visible in our world today.

Jesus is risen, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. May our world know this truth through us.

Sr. Josephine Aparo, MPF
© Copyright 2008

Holy Week - Seven Last Words

6th Sunday of Lent - "From Triumph to Tragedy"

To listen to the 6th Sunday of Lent meditation, click here.

Could you picture Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey surrounded by crowds of people waving palm branches and shouting," Hosanna?" Little did they know that their rejoicing would be swept away by still another cry," Crucify Him." It didn't take long before triumph became tragedy; before palm branches became the wood of the cross; before hosannas became jeers calling for Jesus' death.

Holy Week is the most sacred time of the church year. It highlights the peak moments of Christ's love for us and the price He paid to redeem us. How could one not feel both pain and anguish as he or she reflectively journeys through the passion story, from the trial to the suffering and death of Jesus?

Lent is not the time for us to judge those who played principal roles in the drama of Calvary. It is the time for us to acknowledge that each of us has the capacity to play every single role to perfection: the betrayal of Judas; the denial of Peter; the abandonment of the disciples; the abuse of authority by Pilot; the instigation of Caiphas; the irreverence of the mob; the cruelty of the persecutors, and the instability of the weak.

Perhaps, this Lent will inspire us to play the role of Peter who repented, of Simon who helped Jesus carry His cross; of Veronica who wiped the face of Jesus; of Mary, John, and the women who faithfully stood beneath the cross; of the stranger who cried," Truly He is the Son of God," or of the women who anointed the body of Jesus for burial. It is life that sets the stage but it is we who choose the role to play in the everyday drama of Calvary.

The way of discipleship is the way of the cross. Jesus said, " If you wish to be My disciple, you must deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Me." Mark 8: 34. No one can follow Jesus through the Liturgy of Holy Week without the truth dawning within his or her heart. The truth is that God loves us with a love that cost Jesus His life upon the cross.

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us pray with the psalmist, "O My Help, come quickly to My aid." Ps.22: 19.

May the ashes of Lent remind us that the road to eternal life will not bypass the road to Calvary.

Sr. Geraldine Calabrese, MPF
© 2006

5th Sunday of Lent - ""Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat…" Jn. 12:24 "

As guests ride up the road to Morning Star House of Prayer in mid summer, they are greeted with an explosion of angel trumpet flowers. These prolific plants are about three feet tall, four feet wide and laden with huge white blossoms. I am drawn to them not only because they possess both beauty and grace but also because they cover the small patches of unattractive earth with their splendor.

As each flower dies, it produces a seedpod housing hundreds of seeds. As the seedpod dries up, it bursts open scattering the seeds everywhere. It only takes one plant to produce hundreds and hundreds of seeds, each with the potential to fill the garden with magnificence. To bloom, to multiply, and to enrich the environment is the process of all seeds.

It is this imagery that Jesus uses in today's Gospel to teach us that He had to suffer the horror of Calvary to bring new life into the world. Jesus also teaches us that without a hidden germinating period, a time of pain and disappointment, there can never be an abundant harvest of goodness.

This Gospel challenges us to sow seeds of goodness and generosity even when they seem to be unwanted and ignored; yet believing that one day they will produce a hundred fold.

In this Gospel, Jesus takes the example of the grain of wheat to teach us that the expansion of life can occur only through death. To share in the life of Jesus is to die to one's self-centeredness to become love-centered and focused on many. If one angel trumpet seed could eventually fill the whole field with flowers, the life of Jesus can certainly transform the landscape of human hearts and fill the world with love.

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us pray with the psalmist," Majestic and glorious is Your work, O Lord. Your wise design endures forever. Ps. 111: 3"

May the ashes of lent remind us to surrender to God's transforming love.

Sr. Geraldine Calabrese, MPF
© 2006

4th Sunday of Lent - "God so loved the world."

To listen to the 4th Sunday of Lent meditation, click here.

God will always love us. This deeply moving truth brings tears to my eyes. It's mind blowing to know that God reaches down to us in our sick, bruised, and hurting world and invites us to rise up with Jesus to share in His divine life. If this isn't love then, I don't know what love is.No passage in Scripture puts it better than the words Jesus spoke to Nicodemus," God so loved the world that He sent His only son so that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life." Jn. 3:16

What a wonderful expression of love and promise! It is certainly one of the greatest sentences of hope ever written because it speaks to us of the magnitude of God's love.Remember it is the world that God loves. It is not a nation. It is not just good people. It is not just people who love God. It is the world, the unlovable, the undesirable, the unwanted. The person who loves God knows that all people are included in this vast inclusive love of God. St. Augustine wrote," God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love."

The image of our Crucified Lord absorbing the full brunt of every sin, every cruelty, every hatred, and every injustice definitely reveals the sacredness and the depth of God's love. I don't believe we need any further proof of God's love for us. Do we? How blessed we are to be loved by God with such intensity; to be given God's loving mercy not as reward but as pure gift and to be invited to share the Divine life of God.

However, God respects our personal freedom and will not force us to accept gifts of love and mercy against our wishes. It's possible for us to abandon the love of God for the darkness of sin and separate ourselves from God forever. This would be a very sad commentary.

As we approach the halfway mark in the season of lent, let us pause to ask ourselves: Is my life a joyful response to God's love? Is love finding its expression in the way I live? What am I doing to bring the love of God into the lives of my friends and in particular into the life of my family? Let us remember that the cross, once the sign of humiliation and shame, has become the channel of healing grace, the sign of God's eternal love.

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us pray with the psalmist," Let us give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever. Ps. 118: 29"

May the ashes of lent remind us of God’s tremendous love.

Sr. Geraldine Calabrese, MPF
© 2006

3rd Sunday of Lent - "Cleansing of the Temple"

To listen to the 3rd Sunday of Lent meditation, click here.

Could you picture Jesus driving the money changers and the sellers out of the temple with just a little whip made of cord? It had no power but it certainly caught a lot of attention because this grand symbolic gesture indicated a need to clear out and renew the temple.

The temple had become a noisy market place for the buying and the selling of animals for sacrifice and the traders were using God's dwelling for their own selfish purposes, the making of money. Their babble destroyed temple reverence and their greed obscured the real purpose of worship making it an empty ritual. No wonder Jesus said, "Stop making My Father's House a market place." John 2: 16 The disciples, then, recalled these words of Scripture," Zeal for Your house will consume Me." John 2: 17

By virtue of our Baptism, each of us is a temple of God. Do I respect the beauty and the sacredness of who I am? Do I recognize that both friend and foe are also temples of God? Do I open the door of my temple to the victims of injustice? Do I sweep away the clutter of prejudice, hatred, and nonforgiveness? Do I strive to create a temple environment of compassion, gentleness, patience, gratitude, and love?

Do I also hear Jesus yelling," Stop turning My Father's House into a market place."

Lord, where does my temple need cleansing?

In the cleansing of the temple, Jesus shows us His tremendous reverence for the House of the Lord, teaches us to respect our places of worship as sanctuaries of genuine prayer and exhorts us to respect ourselves as temples of God's presence.

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us pray with the psalmist, " Happy the chosen ones you bring to dwell in your courts. May we be filled with the good things of your house, the blessings of your holy temple! Ps. 65:5

May the ashes of lent remind us to reverence the Temple of God.

Sr. Geraldine Calabrese, MPF
© 2006

2nd Sunday of Lent - "This is My beloved son! Listen to Him."

To listen to the 2nd Sunday of Lent meditation, click here.

For me, there is no better Lenten resolution than the resolution to give time each day to the prayer of listening to God. This lent, let us give ourselves the time and the chance to appreciate God's presence in Scripture, in the Eucharist, and in all of life.

One of the greatest lessons blindness has taught me is that God is always with me. However, this truth prompts me to ask," Geraldine, are you always with God?" If you ever feel that you are a million miles away from God, perhaps it's time to move from prayer that invites a multiplicity of words to prayer that invites one to be still and to enjoy God's presence. The psalmist prays, "I thirst for you the living God." Ps. 42:1 Our desire for God will be seen in the amount and in the quality of time we make available for prayer.

A serious lent will mean a cutting back on those experiences which do absolutely nothing to help us listen to God such as: newspapers, radio programs, and television shows that seem to offer us a million words of empty, noisy chatter. T. S. Elliot comments, "We have knowledge of speech but not of silence; knowledge of words but ignorance of God's Word." Cutting back on the inflow of words in prayer is a necessary beginning for listening to God.

Once we have chosen to listen to God, the next step is to choose the form of prayer that will open our minds and our hearts to God's presence. For one person it might be spending time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. The Eucharist is certainly a focus point for one's attention to God's presence." My body pines for You like a dry, weary land without water. So I gaze upon You in the sanctuary to see Your strength and Your glory." Ps 63:1-2 Another might find it easier to listen to God by reflecting upon a passage of scripture. Of course, this calls for listening and waiting; waiting and listening. This waiting, however, is an expression of our desire for God. Still others pray from where they are in life. They are learning to listen to God not only in the joys and successes of life but also in the painful and frustrating moments of life. Lenten fast is important but savoring God's presence is far more important. Hard work is good and the generous service of a Martha is very important but at times, the better part is sitting with Mary and listening to Jesus. As we continue our Lenten journey, let us pray with the psalmist," as a deer yearns for running streams, my soul longs for You, O God." Ps. 42 :1

May the ashes of lent remind us to listen to God.

Sr. Geraldine Calabrese, MPF
© 2006

1st Sunday of Lent
"Repent and believe the good news."


To listen to the 1st Sunday of Lent meditation, click here.

"Repent and believe the good news." This is certainly a challenging invitation to holiness and also a call to repentance. My favorite definition of repentance is a turning away from the ways of destruction and a turning toward God, the way of peace.

Therefore, repentance calls us to move from self-indulgence to self-giving; from loneliness to aloneness with God; from fear of tomorrow to gratitude for today; from a philosophy of death to a philosophy of life and from abusing the human body to respecting its dignity. Repentance also challenges us to overcome the evils of selfishness, lust, violence, envy, and greed. History has taught us that war does not eliminate the evils of the world or the injustices of society. All it seems to do is to multiply them. What we need are not warring hearts but welcoming hearts, hearts eager to accept the message of Jesus and the values of the Gospel.

"Repent and believe the good news. What does this mean? It means to turn toward the Way, the Truth and the Life as offered to us in Jesus. It means working toward building a better world through reconciliation and peace. "Repent and believe the Good News." What does this mean?

It means that Jesus willingly suffered and died so that you and I might have eternal life. Is there greater love than this? As we continue our Lenten journey, let us pray with the psalmist, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, and in the secret of my heart, teach me wisdom." Ps. 51:1,6

May the ashes of lent remind us to repent and believe the Good News.

Sr. Geraldine Calabrese, MPF
© 2006

Ash Wednesday
"Return to Me with all your heart."

To listen to the Ash Wednesday meditation, click here.

In today's first reading, God extends to each and every one of us an extraordinary invitation, "Return to Me with all your heart." This invitation comes with a promise of peace because its sender is gracious and merciful; slow to anger; rich in kindness and relenting in punishment.

Like the father of the prodigal son who, night after night, waits on the road straining his eyes looking into the distance hoping and longing to see his son running down the road into his waiting arms, God patiently and eagerly waits for us saying,:" Rend your hearts and not your garments and come home to the Lord your God."

How would you respond to God's invitation? Would you say," Lord, I plan on coming but I need a little more time because there are still so many things I must do first." Or "I'll consider coming, Lord, if You allow me to reserve a little bit of my heart just for me." Or "I'm lost. Help me, Lord. Where do I start? I truly want to return to You."

What is your honest response?

As we begin our Lenten journey, let us strive to be faithful to God's call to holiness and to respond to this invitation with the words of the psalmist," Create a clean heart in me, O Lord and give me, once again, the joy of Your salvation."Ps. 51:1

Friends, isn't this exactly what our gracious and merciful Lord wants to do for us? May the ashes of lent remind us to return to God with all our hearts.

Sr. Geraldine Calabrese, MPF
© 2006

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