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One Heart

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Happy mid-summer! How did we get to mid-August so quickly? What happened to the summer that we longed for although with limited activities? I know that all of us have been challenged in many ways with physical distancing, adjusting to masks, and making major revisions in our summer vacations. Have you seen the signs on lawns, “We will get through this together.” Are we? 

The Feast of the Assumption of Mary reminds me of this. It is the day we commemorate when Mary “went to sleep” and was raised to heaven, body and soul. More importantly, it was the greatest joy for her to be reunited with her Son, Jesus. Inseparable. Closely united. Alternatively, we can use the Latin term, “Cor Unum.” One Heart. We can imagine the tremendous celebration in heaven when they were reunited. 

Since I was named after the Blessed Mother, I looked up the name Mary with the new interpretation. It means, “Beloved.” Yes, Mary was the beloved of God, and of her son, Jesus. She invites us to that deep relationship with Jesus so that we, too, might experience being His beloved.

It is that unity that Jesus invites us to daily. We are each on a journey of discovering Him in our life. What did you learn about yourself in the past months? What carried you and strengthened you in times of fear and anxiety? Did you feel nudged to come closer to our Lord; to place your trust in Him? Did you feel a need to reach out more to your family members, friends, and relatives? 

I come from a close-knit family. My brother-in-law has a re-occurrence of cancer. When one whom you love suffers, you also suffer. Family pulls together. We rely on the prayers of loved ones, and we want to make every moment together an experience of “one heart.”

Posted by Mary Lestina

Be Enlightened by Jesus

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The Gospel for today is a well-known passage: the Parable of the Sower and Seed. And while every reflection I have ever heard on this Gospel focuses on contemplating what seed we are, I want to draw our attention elsewhere. I want to focus on the section that scares us, the section that we tend to ignore because we aren’t quite sure what to do with it.

When asked why He speaks in parables, Jesus says, “Gross is the heart of this people…they have closed their eyes lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted.” This is a harsh condemnation for the people in Jesus’ community. But as I read these words, I cannot help but find them applicable even now.

We have become a people so defined by our political affiliation that we can’t have friends with opposing views, or have civil discourse on matters of global significance. Instead of letting the Gospel dictate our politics, we have let our politics dictate our Gospel. We have fashioned Jesus in the image and likeness of party values, forgetting that it is us who were fashioned in His image and likeness. It is us who close our eyes and ears to the parts of the Gospel that don’t fit with our political doctrine. It is us whose hearts have grown gross and refuse to be converted by the entirety of the Gospel message.

But we are called to be disciples. We are called to see what others do not see, to hear what others do not hear, to be enlightened by Jesus first, party affiliation second…or last. We are called to be the unifiers, to stand in the middle ground, to be mediators and bridge builders. This is challenging work in a system that makes it ‘either/or.’ But as Christians, let us be the ‘and.’

God Can Heal

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“What Corona reveals God can heal.” 

The quote above is from Life Teen’s President, Randy Raus. I’ve been on a journey of healing from a series of traumatic experiences that snowballed because of toxic coping mechanisms in my late teens and early twenties. For many years I suppressed the need to heal, then in the past two years, through retreats, community, and prayer, I really believed that I was close to healing. However, the new trauma of Corona ripped out the stitches too early. The isolation, uncertainty, and lack of the Eucharist revealed that my wounds were still festering, and that those coping mechanisms I thought I had left in the past could easily pop up, if I was not vigilant.

Life Teen youth ministers from around the country have been gathering weekly through Zoom during  these weeks of Corona. This group has given me courage to reflect on how this new trauma could lead to a greater healing when I lean on God. The beautiful thing is, without a busy social calendar, I have the time to lean into those traumas, pick them apart, and invite Jesus into them for healing. I believe many of us have trauma we suppress. I invite you to reflect on the ways Corona revealed trauma or hurts of your past, and take this extra time we have to invite Jesus into that with you.

 

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