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Sunday readings

Ash Wednesday

It seems macabre to have a special day devoted to reminding people they are going to die. Yet on the surface that appears to be the reason behind Ash Wednesday. “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust” and all that… Indeed, this day brings with it a stark reminder of our mortality. We wear it…

A gospel to-do list

“Your light must shine before others…” (Matthew 5:16). As we launch into this day, many of us have a number of things planned. Our “to do” list looms before our mind’s eye, waiting for us to begin. We do our best to keep up with our daily responsibilities. But today’s gospel gives us another to-do…

United in Mind and Purpose

“I urge you, brothers and sisters…that all of you agree in what you say…that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose” (1 Corinthians 1:10). For the past fifteen years I have periodically attended one week of the summer programs at Chautauqua Institution, near Jamestown, NY. I serve as a Catholic…

A prayer for salvation

“I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). When I hear the word “salvation,” my first thought is of a kind of personal benefit, something that I or another person can claim and enjoy. But this passage from Isaiah suggests that…

Prayerful pauses

“Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains” (James 5:7). I gave a talk in a parish on prayer a few months ago and spoke a bit…