Spirit and Grace



Spirit and grace, here in this meal.
You are the wind that breathes through the field.
Gather the wheat and form us in Christ.
Come, be our source and breath of life.

In this bread, blessed, broken and shared,
Christ is our life, whose presence we bear.
Come, O spirit, make your grace revealed
in this holy meal.

Spirit and grace, here in this meal.
You are the life that flows through the vine.
Gather this drink and form us in Christ.
Come, be our source and blood of life.

Spirit and grace, here in this place.
You are the light that shines in this space.
Gather your people and form us in Christ.
Come, be the heartbeat of our lives.

Spirit of God, sending us forth;
We spread your wisdom throughout all the earth
Gather the nations and form us in Christ.
Come, be the presence in our lives.


#ShortNews: Recover harmony, Pope urges German Catholic gathering

“It is not doing, or external success that counts,” Pope Francis said in a video message to German Catholics, “but the capacity to stop, to look up, to be attentive towards others and to offer them what is truly missing.”

In his message to the Katholikentag gathering, the Pope reminded participants of the need “to recover a serene harmony with the world, with creation, and also with the Creator.” He remarked: “Many people live in a constant hurry.”

Commenting on the theme for the German gathering– “Behold the man!”– the Pope said:

So often we find that man is mistreated in society. We see how others judge the value of his life and how they cause him, in old age and sickness, to die too soon. We see how people are compromised, beaten down here and there, and deprived of their dignity, because they are without employment or are refugees. We see here the suffering and martyred Jesus, Whose gaze falls on the evil and brutality, in all their dimensions, that men suffer or make each other suffer in this world.


#ShortNews: Texas parish aids 35,000 migrants in 2 years

A parish in McAllen, Texas, has aided over 35,000 migrants during the past two years, with the number of migrants surging to over 200 daily on some days this month, according to a Washington Post report.

“The families are arriving because it’s impossible to live in their home countries,” said Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. “They know their child runs a high risk of being killed, of being kidnapped, of being taken away, and they’ve seen this happen to other people, so they figure out: we have to go.”


#ShortNews: Pope Francis leads Corpus Christi celebration

In his homily for the feast of Corpus Christi, which was celebrated in Rome on May 26, Pope Francis concentrated on the words of Jesus at the Last Supper: “Do this in remembrance of me.”

The Pope remarked that “it is the ‘doing’ of the Eucharist that always has Jesus as its subject, but which is made real through our poor hands anointed by the Holy Spirit.” The Eucharist, he said, is the means by which Jesus is present to the Church today.

The Pope also reminded the faithful that Jesus broke the bread before offering it to his disciples, and again at Emmaus He was recognized in the breaking of the bread. This “breaking” is a crucial aspect of the Eucharist, he said. “Jesus was broken; He is broken for us.”

Reflecting on that reality, the Holy Father said:

How many mothers, how many fathers, together with the slices of bread they provide each day on the tables of their homes, have broken their hearts to let their children grow, and grow well! How many Christians, as responsible citizens, have broken their own lives to defend the dignity of all, especially the poorest, the marginalized and those discriminated! Where do they find the strength to do this?  It is in the Eucharist: in the power of the Risen Lord’s love, who today too breaks bread for us and repeats: “Do this in remembrance of me.”


Overcoming Jealousy And Selfish Ambition

In the Gospel readings (Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; Ps 54:3-6, 8; James 3:16–4:3; Mark 9:30-37), we face wickedness: jealousy destroying what is good, selfishness causing harm to others, and pride squashing those who get in the way.

Jesus predicts the evil doings of spiritual outsiders who were fighting against his ministry. The letter of James addresses the worst wickedness of all: the battle within the Church — Christians against Christians.

Jealousy and selfishness are usually the root beneath every scandal in the Church, every division on the parish staff, every discord among ministries, every disappointed volunteer who feels pushed out, every broken relationship in Christian families, and every attitude that chases weaker Catholics away from the faith — it’s all wicked!

To get at the root of any divisive problem, look for self-centered ambition. Honestly and objectively identify even the most subtle forms of it so that you can also identify God’s antidote. When you see divisiveness in others, do you feel sorrow for them? If not, why not? The answer to that usually lies in our own self-centered pride.

Jesus provided the cure for this: “If anyone wishes to be first” (which is a desire motivated by selfish ambition) “you must become the servant of all.”

Selfish ambition is sinful because it tries to grab success away from others. James pointed out that whatever we’re ambitious for, if it’s good, we can have it simply by asking God for it and working in collaboration with the Holy Spirit to achieve our goals — but not if we want it only to satisfy our personal, selfish passions.

God gives us what we pray for when it will benefit the parish community or the entire family or those we are called to serve in our ministries. When we desire something for the sake of how it will help others (rather than just for our own benefit), this desire is pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, and full of mercy and will produce good fruits

© 2015 by Terry A. Modica

Saint Rita of Cascia

rita saintSaint Rita was born Margherita Lotti in 1381 in the city of Roccaporena (near Spoleto, Umbria, Italy). Her parents, Antonio and Amata Lotti,  arranged her marriage, a common practice at the time, despite her repeated requests to be allowed to enter a convent of religious sisters. Her husband, Paolo Mancini, was known to be a rich, quick-tempered, immoral man, who had many enemies in the region of Cascia. Young Rita became a wife and mother of twin boys at only twelve years.

Over the times, there was often open conflict between families, and her husband Paolo was murdered. Following her husband’s death, Rita gave his murderers a public pardon, but Paolo’s brother, Bernardo, was still angry and encouraged Rita’s two sons, Giovanni Antonio and Paulo Maria, to join the feud, moved by the unwritten law of the “vendetta,” would seek to avenge their father’s death.

Rita attempted to stop them, but both of her sons were determined to revenge their slain father. Rita prayed to God, asking Him to take her sons before they lost their souls to the mortal sin of murder. One year later, her prayers were answered when both of her sons fell prey to dysentery and died.

Following these tragedies, Rita placed her trust in God, Rita once more turned her thoughts to the desired vocation of her youth, that of joining the Augustinian Nuns of Saint Mary Magdalene Monastery. Some of the religious of the community, however, were relatives of the members of the political faction considered responsible for Paolo’s death, and so as not to tempt the harmony of the convent, Rita’s request for admission was denied. Fortunately, she was not to be easily dissuaded from following what she knew to be God’s plan for her. She implored her three patron saints — John the Baptist, Augustine, and Nicholas of Tolentino to assist her, and she set about the task of establishing peace between the hostile parties of Cascia with such success that her entry into the monastery was assured.

At the age of thirty-six Rita pledged to follow the ancient Rule of Saint Augustine. For the next forty years she gave herself wholeheartedly to prayer and works of charity, striving especially to preserve peace and harmony among the citizens of Cascia. With a pure love she wanted more and more to be intimately joined to the redemptive suffering of Jesus, and this desire of hers was satisfied in an extraordinary way. One day when she was about sixty years of age, she was meditating before an image of Christ crucified, as she was long accustomed to doing. Suddenly a small wound appeared on her forehead, as though a thorn from the crown that encircled Christ’s head had loosed itself and penetrated her own flesh. For the next fifteen years she bore this external sign of stigmatization and union with the Lord. In spite of the pain she constantly experienced, she offered herself courageously for the physical and spiritual well being of others. During the last four years of her life Rita was confined to bed and was able to eat so little that she was practically sustained on the Eucharist alone. She was, nevertheless, an inspiration to her sisters in religion and to all who came to visit her, by her patience and joyful disposition despite her great suffering.

One of those who visited her some few months before her death — a relative from her hometown of Roccaporena — was privileged to witness firsthand the extraordinary things wrought by Rita’s requests. When asked whether she had any special desires, Rita asked only that a rose from the garden of her parents’ home be brought to her. It was a small favor to ask, but quite an impossible one to grant in the month of January! Nevertheless, on returning home the woman discovered, to her amazement, a single brightly-colored blossom on the bush where the nun said it would be. Picking it, she returned immediately to the monastery and presented it to Rita who gave thanks to God for this sign of love. Thus, the saint of the thorn became the saint of the rose, and she whose impossible requests were granted her became the advocate of all those whose own requests seem impossible as well. As she breathed her last, Rita’s final words to the sisters who gathered around her were, “Remain in the holy love of Jesus. Remain in obedience to the holy Roman Church. Remain in peace and fraternal charity.”

Rita died peacefully on May 22, 1457.  An old and revered tradition records that the bells of the convent immediately began to peal unaided by human hands, calling the people of Cascia to the doors of the convent, and announcing the triumphant completion of a life faithfully lived.  The nuns prepared her for burial and placed her in a simple wooden coffin.  A carpenter who had been partially paralyzed by a stroke, voiced the sentiments of many others when he spoke of the beautiful life of this humble nun in bringing lasting peace to the people of Cascia.  “If only I were well,” he said, “I would have prepared a place more worthy of you.”  With those words, Rita’s first miracle was performed, as he was healed.  He fashioned the elaborate and richly decorated coffin which would hold Rita’s body for several centuries.  She was never buried in it, however.  So many people came to look upon the gentle face of the “Peacemaker of Cascia” that her burial had to be delayed.  It became clear that something exceptional was occurring as her body seemed to be free from nature’s usual course.  It is still preserved today, now in a glass-enclosed coffin, in the basilica of Cascia.