Morning Prayer, 28 Mar – John 15:18-25 ~ not of this world

Morning Prayer

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening sentences – Cuthbert of Northumbria (635-87)

Under protection of the King of life, a protection that will not betray us. May the Holy Spirit come upon us; may Christ deliver us, bless us.

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Resist every kind of evil.

Morning reading

John 15:18-25 ESV:

Christ on cross - bronze

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”

Reflections:

the world and Jesus

The rejection of Jesus by his opponents has been based in their alienation from God. Jesus now refers to them as the world, since the world is that which is in rebellion against God.

Since the disciples are members of Christ like branches are members of a vine, they receive what he receives — both the sunshine and rain of the love of the Father and the storms of the hatred of those who are in rebellion against the Father.

the world and believers

The disciples are included in the world’s hatred of Jesus because, like him, they are not of this world (Neyrey). They are Jesus’ friends, and thus they are not loved by the world. Jesus has chosen them out of the world. They have been transferred to Jesus’ kingdom, which is not of this world.

Jesus says that those who are his disciples are quite distinct from all that is in rebellion against God and should not be surprised when opposition arises. The world’s hatred of them should be an encouragement to the disciples since it is due to the difference Jesus has made within them.

suffering of believers

The disciples are actually experiencing the deep-seated rebellion of sinful humanity against the Father himself. The conflict they experience is a part of something much bigger than themselves.

Sometimes Christians today say they are being persecuted for the sake of God, when in fact they are being rejected merely because they are obnoxious. But many Christians are indeed undergoing the most horrid persecution and suffering for the Name. Jesus’ words of encouragement here speak directly to his disciples in such situations. He gives them the larger perspective, helping them understand that what they are going through is part of the world’s rejection of the Father and the Son.

The IVP New Testament Commentary Series

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Canticle:

Christ, as a light… illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield… overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

Blessing

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

_____________________________________

Peanut Gallery: A brief word of explanation – the general format for Morning Prayer is adapted from the Northumbrian Community‘s Daily Office, as found in Celtic Daily Prayer (see online resources here.) The Scripture readings are primarily from the Gospel of John, with the intent to complete the reading by Easter. Other Scriptures which illuminate the Gospel of John will be included along the way.

Reflections from various saints will be included as their memorial days occur during the calendar year.

On Sundays, I’ll return to the USCCB readings (see online resources here) and various liturgical resources in order to reflect the Church’s worship and concerns throughout the world.

Photo illustrations and music videos, available online, are included as they illustrate or illuminate the readings. I will try to give credit and link to sources as best I can.

Morning Prayer, 27 Mar – John 15:11-17 ~ friends

Morning Prayer

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening sentences – Cuthbert of Northumbria (635-87)

Under protection of the King of life, a protection that will not betray us. May the Holy Spirit come upon us; may Christ deliver us, bless us.

Jesus, only Son of the Father, and High King, Your name is above every name: In the name of Jesus let no evil be welcome in our hearts, or in this place.

Morning reading

John 15:11-17 ESV:

cross-and-nails

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

Reflections:

shared joy

As Jesus’ word remains in them through their obedience they are actually sharing in his life with the Father, which is characterized not only by obedience, but also by joy. The Jewish delight in God’s law is here fulfilled in sharing in Jesus’ own obedience to the Father.

But joy is not what springs to mind for many people when they think of obedience. They see obedience as conforming to rules, which produces drudgery or chaffing… and producing either guilt, or pride. But the obedience Jesus is talking about is an obedience to the Father who is all love. To obey him is to conform one’s life to the very pattern of God’s own life. Such obedience shares in his life, which is characterized by harmony, grace, goodness and beauty. We are in intimate union with him and swept up into his dance for which we were created and which brings the deepest fulfillment and deepest joy to our lives.

Jesus’ joy came from such intimacy with the Father and his delight to do that which pleases the one who is all love and goodness. Jesus is showing how our joy may be complete. If we have no joy in obeying the Father, then we should consider whether we know him as Jesus knows him and whether we understand his will as the description of our true freedom and joy. Indeed, we might ask ourselves what does bring us joy. The answer will reveal to us our own hearts.

obedient love

Jesus loves just as the Father loves, and he commands his disciples to love one another just as he has loved them. Thus, the community is characterized by divine love. If this love were just a feeling, such a command would be impossible to fulfill. But the love Jesus refers to is an act based in a certain state of heart. Specifically, it is the laying down of one’s life based on willing the good of the other. By God’s grace we can indeed choose to will the good of the other, and we can choose to act accordingly. This is the love Christians are called to in Christ, for Jesus says we are to love one another just as he has loved us, which he immediately defines in terms of laying down of one’s life for one’s friends.

transparent friendship

The word used for friends conveys a greater sense of intimacy than does our modern use of friend. The idea that one should lay down one’s life for one’s friends was well known in the ancient world (eg, Aristotle). Jesus reveals that this human ideal is in accord with the divine ideal. It might be thought that laying down one’s life for one’s enemies is a greater love. Jesus does indeed have such love for his enemies, but the focus in the present setting is on the disciples and their change of status from slaves to friends.

Jesus’ disciples are his friends because he has made known to them everything he heard from his Father. Jesus says he has kept nothing hidden – all that belongs to the Father belongs to Jesus and he has passed it all on to his disciples. There is nothing more to be known about the Father apart from Jesus and his revelation. We await no new revelation to reveal more of God, nor do we need to search the world’s religions and philosophies to fill in gaps in Jesus’ revelation. Study of other religions and philosophies can be valuable, but all the truths of God present in them, such as the ideal of self-sacrifice just noted, are recognized to be true by their congruence with Jesus. Here we have the exclusivist claims of Christianity at full strength.

fruitful relationship

The primary expression of this fruit that Jesus speaks of here is the love within the Christian community. The fruit that remains is thus the love that flows from, and bears witness to, life in union with God. This love has come into the world in Jesus and now is to remain in the world in the community of his disciples. This divine love manifested within the church will bear witness to Jesus before the world, which will enable some to find eternal life and will also reveal the judgment of those who reject it.

The result of such fruit bearing, of living in union with God and sharing in his love, will be answered prayer. Prayer in Jesus’ name is prayer that is in union with him and in keeping with his character and his purposes. Thus beleivers have the assurance that Jesus has chosen and appointed them for this activity and that the Father will answer their prayers. These assurances correspond to the fact that apart from Jesus the disciples can do nothing. A person’s sharing in the divine life begins and continues only by God’s gracious activity. The grace of God that has characterized Jesus’ life and ministry will continue to characterize the life and ministry of his disciples.

The IVP New Testament Commentary Series

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Canticle:

Christ, as a light… illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield… overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

Blessing

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

_____________________________________

Peanut Gallery: A brief word of explanation – the general format for Morning Prayer is adapted from the Northumbrian Community‘s Daily Office, as found in Celtic Daily Prayer (see online resources here.) The Scripture readings are primarily from the Gospel of John, with the intent to complete the reading by Easter. Other Scriptures which illuminate the Gospel of John will be included along the way.

Reflections from various saints will be included as their memorial days occur during the calendar year.

On Sundays, I’ll return to the USCCB readings (see online resources here) and various liturgical resources in order to reflect the Church’s worship and concerns throughout the world.

Photo illustrations and music videos, available online, are included as they illustrate or illuminate the readings. I will try to give credit and link to sources as best I can.

Morning Prayer, 26 Mar – John 15:7-10 ~ praying God’s will

Morning Prayer

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening sentences – Cuthbert of Northumbria (635-87)

Under protection of the King of life, a protection that will not betray us. May the Holy Spirit come upon us; may Christ deliver us, bless us.

Jesus, only Son of the Father, and Lamb, who shed Your heart’s true blood, dearly to buy us, protect me, accompany me, be near me ever.

Morning reading

vine branches fruitJohn 15:7-10 ESV:

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

Reflections:

answered prayer

Jesus’ dwelling in the believer is referred to as his words remaining in them. If they remain in him and his words in them, Jesus promises their prayers will be answered. To have his words remaining in them means to share his mind and his will. They are to be caught up into his own focus on the doing of God’s will. Accordingly, they will pray for his purposes rather than for their own selfish desires. Jesus’ purposes have been to reveal God and share his life and love so people will be brought into union with him in his new community. Such will be the concerns also of the disciples who have Jesus’ words in them, and God will answer their prayers as they live according to their life in Christ and his life in them.

the Father’s glory

Beleivers bear the fruit of this shared life, which is evidence that they are Jesus’ disciples. Since the fruit refers to the knowledge and love of God, it follows that as the disciples produce fruit the Father is glorified. The glory of the Father is Jesus’ chief delight and has been the focus of all he has said and done. Since the disciples are now going to live in union with Christ, the Father’s glory will be the goal of their lives as well.

the obedience of remaining

The Father is the source and pattern of all love, so, as always, Jesus is doing that which he receives from the Father. Jesus’ disciples must remain in his love, and they do this by obeying his commands. In part this means they are to remain in Jesus’ love for them, but further it means they must remain in his own love for the Father. Jesus’ own love for the Father was seen in his obeying the Father’s commands and remaining in his love. For the disciples to remain in Jesus’ love for the Father, therefore, they must share in Jesus’ obedience. Their obedience is itself the fruit of their remaining in Jesus because it is a characteristic of his love (1 Jn 2:5-6).

The IVP New Testament Commentary Series

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Canticle:

Christ, as a light… illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield… overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

Blessing

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

_____________________________________

Peanut Gallery: A brief word of explanation – the general format for Morning Prayer is adapted from the Northumbrian Community‘s Daily Office, as found in Celtic Daily Prayer (see online resources here.) The Scripture readings are primarily from the Gospel of John, with the intent to complete the reading by Easter. Other Scriptures which illuminate the Gospel of John will be included along the way.

Reflections from various saints will be included as their memorial days occur during the calendar year.

On Sundays, I’ll return to the USCCB readings (see online resources here) and various liturgical resources in order to reflect the Church’s worship and concerns throughout the world.

Photo illustrations and music videos, available online, are included as they illustrate or illuminate the readings. I will try to give credit and link to sources as best I can.

Morning Prayer, 25 Mar – John 15:1-6 ~ remain in me

Morning Prayer

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening sentences – Cuthbert of Northumbria (635-87)

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Resist every kind of evil.

Morning reading

John 15:1-6 ESV:

iamthevine

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”

Reflections:

The main point of the image of vine and branches is clear enough: the intimate union of believers with Jesus. The disciple’s very life depends on this union. As branches, believers either bear fruit and are pruned to bear more fruit or do not bear fruit and are thrown away and burned – all the details have significance.

new people of God

When Jesus refers to himself as the true vine he is once again taking an image for Israel and applying it to himself. Jesus himself is true Israel. This claim corresponds to his break with the temple at the end of chapter 8 and his forming a renewed people that began in chapter 9 and came clearly to the fore in chapter 10. Israel’s place as the people of God is now taken by Jesus and his disciples, the vine and its branches. This is not a rejection of Judaism as such, but its fulfillment in its Messiah.

The identification of the people of God with a particular nation is now replaced with a particular man who incorporates in himself the new people of God composed of Jews and non-Jews.

bear fruit for God

The new community has been established and now must bear fruit for God. However, among Jesus’ disciples, there are those who bear fruit and those who do not.

What is this fruit? Converts, Christian character – but underlying both is the possession of the divine life itself and especially the chief characteristics of that life, knowledge of God and love. Jesus says when they bear much fruit they demonstrate that they are his disciples. Love is the evidence that one is a disciple and is in union with God and with one another. The image of fruit symbolizes that which is at the heart of both Christian witness and ethics — union with God.

separation from God

Separation from God, the source of all light and life and love, is the essence of all judgment. The ones who are so judged in this passage are those who have refused to remain in Christ. They have rejected Jesus and thereby turned their backs on God and thus life itself. Their former intimacy with Jesus, such as it was, makes their rejection all the more worthy of judgment.

“How a man can be `in Christ,’ and yet afterwards separate himself from Him, is a mystery neither greater nor less than that involved in the fall of a creature created innocent” (Westcott).

The believer’s assurance is not in the decision to follow Jesus, but in the graciousness and faithfulness of the Father and the Son. Though God allows us to reject him, his own disposition toward us is love, a love that continues to pursue even those who reject him. Those who are worried about the assurance of their salvation should find comfort in the character and actions of God. Our fretting over ourselves is itself a preoccupation with self that must be pruned away, for it inhibits our relation with God, our bearing of the fruit of eternal life.

pruned by God

The disciples certainly believe Jesus is come from God. And, even more obvious is their love for Jesus, mostly evidenced in their willingness to lay down their lives for him. That they came to Jerusalem is evidence of this willingness. They are not yet capable of such love when things get bleak, but at least they have the desire to be loyal. Their humility in accepting Jesus, even though this willingness is weaker than they realize, manifests the love that is crucial for remaining in Jesus.

They still have much in their lives that is not in keeping with the life of God. Such false growths need to be pruned away so God’s eternal life might grow and increase in their lives. Part of the good news is that the Father undertakes such pruning in the life of each disciple. The discipline may be painful as the life of self and rebellion is cut away, but the result will be untold blessing for the disciple and for others through him or her. The Father’s pruning is for the sake of growth, which suggests the eternal life is a very dynamic reality.

life in God

Jesus stresses the impossibility of producing this fruit apart from him. People are able to produce much without God, including converts, good deeds and even prophesies, exorcisms and miracles (cf. Mt 7:22-23; Ridderbos). But the divine life such as we see in Jesus is dependent on God’s own character, power and guidance at work in the life of the disciple. Jesus did not will nor speak nor act from himself; neither is the branch capable of bearing fruit “from itself”. Hence Jesus’ command to remain in me.

The Father prunes and cleanses, and the Son has cleansed by his word, showing the Son’s oneness with the Father (cf. Chrysostom). But the disciples themselves must make an effort to remain. Remaining is not simply believing in him, though that is crucial, but includes being in union with him, sharing his thoughts, emotions, intentions and power. In a relationship both parties must be engaged. The divine must take the initiative and provide the means and the ability for the union to take place, but it cannot happen without the response of the disciple.

The IVP New Testament Commentary Series

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Canticle:

Christ, as a light… illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield… overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

Blessing

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

_____________________________________

Peanut Gallery: A brief word of explanation – the general format for Morning Prayer is adapted from the Northumbrian Community‘s Daily Office, as found in Celtic Daily Prayer (see online resources here.) The Scripture readings are primarily from the Gospel of John, with the intent to complete the reading by Easter. Other Scriptures which illuminate the Gospel of John will be included along the way.

Reflections from various saints will be included as their memorial days occur during the calendar year.

On Sundays, I’ll return to the USCCB readings (see online resources here) and various liturgical resources in order to reflect the Church’s worship and concerns throughout the world.

Photo illustrations and music videos, available online, are included as they illustrate or illuminate the readings. I will try to give credit and link to sources as best I can.

Morning Prayer, 24 Mar – John 14:25-31 ~ the peace of Christ

Morning Prayer

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening sentences – Cuthbert of Northumbria (635-87)

Under protection of the King of life, a protection that will not betray us: May the Holy Spirit come upon us; may Christ deliver us, bless us.

Morning reading

John 14:25-31 ESV:

rainbows

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.

“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.”

Reflections:

Holy Spirit

The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, will teach and remind believers – in union with Jesus and in conformity with Jesus’ character and mission. “Jesus bore God’s name because he was the revelation of God to men; the Spirit is sent in Jesus’ name because he unfolds the meaning of Jesus for men” (Brown).

The Spirit understands all about Jesus and will clarify all that he has taught – he will leave out nothing of what Jesus has taught. Jesus is the fullness of the revelation of the Father. No further revelation is needed, nor would it be possible. What is called for is an understanding of the revelation that has come in Jesus, and this is what the Paraclete will provide.

peace of Christ

The peace Jesus is talking about is not the cessation of hostilities from enemies, but rather the gift of calmness and confidence that comes from union with God and faith in him and his purposes. The world’s idea of peace is something that comes through destroying of enemies and consists of physical and emotional comfort.

The peace that Jesus gives is grounded in God and not in circumstances. It is the peace that Jesus himself has exhibited in this Gospel and is exhibiting in this farewell discourse, even while he knows he is about to be killed. Soon he will speak of the continued trouble his disciples will experience in the world, but they will simply be living out what he himself has already been experiencing. They will share his troubles, but they will also have his peace, for they will share in his own relationship with the Father.

no fear

This word family is always used of fear in a negative sense, as the opposite of courage. Those with a settled disposition of such fear evidence a lack of faith in God and a denial of his presence, his goodness and his power.

Those who experience such fear, which includes virtually all of us to some degree, may take comfort that as God’s life grows within us and as our hearts are healed, we enter into the inheritance of Jesus’ peace, which replaces our sinful fear. Jesus here calls us to receive his peace. The grounds of this peace is the “perfect love” that “drives out fear” (1 Jn 4:18). This love is ultimately a sharing of the relationship between the Father and the Son.

love and joy

Jesus’ announcement that he is departing to the Father should fill them with joy instead of disturbance and fear. If you loved me indicates that Jesus’ view is that they have not done so. So their response shows that they have not yet come to love him in the truest sense. They think they love him, but in fact they are more focused on themselves than on him (Westcott).

Fear in itself is focused on self and circumstances rather than on God. Focus on God is central to all Jesus does and says, as it is here: If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father…. Jesus’ great love and focus is the Father; thus the prospect of returning to him fills Jesus with joy. If the disciples shared this focus and really loved Jesus, that is, willed the best for him, they also would share this joy.

The IVP New Testament Commentary Series

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Canticle:

Christ, as a light… illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield… overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

Blessing

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

_____________________________________

Peanut Gallery: A brief word of explanation – the general format for Morning Prayer is adapted from the Northumbrian Community‘s Daily Office, as found in Celtic Daily Prayer (see online resources here.) The Scripture readings are primarily from the Gospel of John, with the intent to complete the reading by Easter. Other Scriptures which illuminate the Gospel of John will be included along the way.

Reflections from various saints will be included as their memorial days occur during the calendar year.

On Sundays, I’ll return to the USCCB readings (see online resources here) and various liturgical resources in order to reflect the Church’s worship and concerns throughout the world.

Photo illustrations and music videos, available online, are included as they illustrate or illuminate the readings. I will try to give credit and link to sources as best I can.