Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Reading I Acts 15:22-31

The Apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole Church,
decided to choose representatives
and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.
The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas,
and Silas, leaders among the brothers.
This is the letter delivered by them:
“The Apostles and the presbyters, your brothers,
to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia
of Gentile origin: greetings.
Since we have heard that some of our number
who went out without any mandate from us
have upset you with their teachings
and disturbed your peace of mind,
we have with one accord decided to choose representatives
and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So we are sending Judas and Silas
who will also convey this same message by word of mouth:
‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us
not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,
namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols,
from blood, from meats of strangled animals,
and from unlawful marriage.
If you keep free of these,
you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’“

And so they were sent on their journey.
Upon their arrival in Antioch
they called the assembly together and delivered the letter.
When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation.
 

Responsorial Psalm 57:8-9, 10 and 12

R.        (10a)  I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
My heart is steadfast, O God; my heart is steadfast;
            I will sing and chant praise.
Awake, O my soul; awake, lyre and harp!
            I will wake the dawn.
R.        I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
I will give thanks to you among the peoples, O LORD,
            I will chant your praise among the nations.
For your mercy towers to the heavens,
            and your faithfulness to the skies.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
            above all the earth be your glory!
R.        I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord.
or:
R.        Alleluia.

Alleluia Jn 15:15b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 15:12-17

Jesus said to his disciples:
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Love One Another

The last line of today’s Gospel is a command: love one another. Due to that love, my heart is again breaking because of a weekend filled with shooting sprees in the USA. I am weeping because of the war in Ukraine and the twenty seven areas around the world with violence and conflict. Billions of people around the world continue to feel the effects of a global pandemic and I am filled with compassion and empathy.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I command: to love one another as I love you…to lay down one’s life for one’s friends…I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain…”

Jesus calls us friends not acquaintances. Acquaintances are plentiful when life is good and abundant. Acquaintances will distance themselves when controversy or stressful challenges arise. Jesus is the epitome of a friend. He is there in good times and bad, knowing every strength and weakness about you while loving and encouraging you through it all. Jesus Our Savior knows each of us born on this earth intimately because we have been created in God, His Father’s image. Jesus has an all encompassing love for every member of humanity, no exceptions.

As His friend, I am compelled to praise Jesus and lift Him up in glory because He is the Son of God. Jesus is with us in all things; in the midst of suffering, conflict, illness, and war. He rejoices and celebrates each birth, graduation, wedding, big and small success. He is with us in all instances and situations of life.

We are all part of the body of Christ Jesus. We are united in His everlasting, unconditional love.

That being said, before you open the next tweet, text, link, IM, image or your mouth in conversation, take a moment, a second or a deep breath and try to remember the connectedness and friendship Jesus has for the other. Breathe in the love, patience and understanding He has for you. Be open to listening to or seeing through another loved one’s perspective for just a moment. Keep in mind that love bears all things. It isn’t always easy. Strive to be a friend united in love. You can do it. Jesus is with you, now and forever. Amen.

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Beth Price is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She is a Secular Franciscan (OFS) and a practicing spiritual director. Beth shares smiles, prayers, laughter, a listening ear and her heart with all of creation. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

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Got Joy?

“Are you happy?”, asks Henry, repeatedly, until he receives an affirmative answer from whoever he sees near him. Henry is four. Who knows where Henry first heard this question or how it became so important to him; I will say though, that it has stayed with him for quite some time. It’s his little check-in I suppose. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is telling us something important, bigger than a little check-in, He is giving us the truth about how to find something we all want in our lives. Joy!

And while joy and happiness are listed as synonyms, they are not exactly the same. One difference between the two feelings is that happiness is short-lived while joy is deeper. So a swim in the pool brings happiness on a hot day but there is lasting joy over the pool day when it’s a day filled with family. 

Joy can help us through difficult trials, not by living in the past, but by remembering that there is goodness in our lives.

Jesus reminds us that joy is what He offers us if we keep the commandments and remain in His love. I love going to Adoration. It brings me great joy to be in Jesus’ presence in that particular way. When I leave the chapel, the joy stays with me as I go about my life. And when life goes awry, I can draw on the joy to conquer the difficulty or at least, not become overwhelmed with despair. And, that, right there, is what I want, I think what we all want; not to be overwhelmed, not to despair. 

The commandments are not meant to curtail our freedom. They are there to keep us safe and close to the Father. And when we are close to the Father, we are near Jesus. And we receive His joy. It is not linear; it is a circle. It is a great exchange of truth, love, and joy. Stay in the circle and you will have joy. Deep, lasting joy in the depth of your being that is not taken from you no matter what happens in your life.

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Deanna G. Bartalini, M.Ed.; M.P.A., is a certified spiritual director, writer, speaker and content creator. The LiveNotLukewarm.com online community is a place to inform, engage and inspire your Catholic faith. Her weekly Not Lukewarm Podcast gives you tips and tools to live out your faith in your daily life.

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St. Bernardine of Siena


St. Bernardine of Siena

Feast date: May 20

The Catholic Church honors St. Bernardine of Siena on May 20. A Franciscan friar and preacher, St. Bernardine is known as “the Apostle of Italy” for his efforts to revive the country’s Catholic faith during the 15th century.

Bernardine Albizeschi was born to upper-class parents in the Italian republic of Siena during 1380. Misfortune soon entered the boy’s life when he lost his mother at age three and his father four years later. His aunt Diana cared for him afterward, and taught him to seek consolation and security by trusting in God.

Even at a young age, Bernardine demonstrated a remarkable concern for the poor as an outgrowth of his love for God. Having become accustomed to fasting, he preferred at times to go without any food in order to help someone in greater need. From the ages of 11 to 17 he focused on his studies, developing the eloquence and dedication that would serve his future work as an evangelist.

Before becoming a preacher, however, Bernardine spent several years ministering to the sick and dying. He enrolled in a religious association that served at a hospital in the town of Scala, and applied himself to this work from 1397 to 1400.

During that time, a severe plague broke out in Siena, causing a crisis that would eventually lead to the young man taking charge of the entire hospital. Inside its walls, up to 20 people were dying each day from an illness that also killed many of the hospital workers. The staff was decimated and new victims were coming in constantly.

Bernardine persuaded 12 young men to help him continue the work of the hospital, which he took over for a period of four months. Although the plague did not infect him, the exhausting work left him weak and he contracted a different sickness that kept him in bed for four months.

After recovering, he spent over a year caring for his aunt Bartholomaea before her death. Then the 22-year-old Bernardine moved to a small house outside the city, where he began to discern God’s will for his future through prayer and fasting.

He eventually chose to join the Franciscans of the Strict Observance in 1403, embracing an austere life focused on poverty and humility. During this time, while praying before a crucifix, Bernardine heard Christ say to him: “My son, behold me hanging upon a cross. If you love me, or desire to imitate me, be also fastened naked to your cross and follow me. Thus you will assuredly find me.”

After Bernardine was ordained a priest, his superiors commissioned him to preach as a missionary to the Italians who were falling away from their Catholic faith. The Dominican evangelist St. Vincent Ferrer, just before leaving Italy, preached a sermon in which he predicted that one of his listeners would continue his work among the Italians –  a prophecy Bernardine heard in person, and went on to fulfill.

Bernardine’s personal devotion to God, which amazed even the strict Franciscans, made his preaching extremely effective. He moved his hearers to abandon their vices, turn back to God, and make peace with one another. He promoted devotion to the name of Jesus as a simple and effective means of recalling God’s love at all times.

When other priests consulted him for advice, Bernardine gave them a simple rule: “In all your actions, seek in the first place the kingdom of God and his glory. Direct all you do purely to his honor. Persevere in brotherly charity, and practice first all that you desire to teach others.”

“By this means,” he said, “the Holy Spirit will be your master, and will give you such wisdom and such a tongue that no adversary will be able to stand against you.”

Bernardine’s own life attested to this source of strength in the face of trials. He patiently suffered an accusation of heresy –  which Pope Martin V judged to be false – and refused to abandon his bold preaching when a nobleman threatened him with death.

But Bernardine was also widely admired throughout Italy, and he was offered the office of a bishop on three occasions. Each time, however, he turned down the position, choosing to fulfill the prediction of St. Vincent Ferrer through his missionary work. Bernardine preached throughout most of Italy several times over, and even managed to reconcile members of its warring political factions.

Later in his life, Bernardine served for five years as the Vicar General for his Franciscan order, and revived the practice of its strict rule of life. Then in 1444, forty years after he first entered religious life, Bernardine became sick while traveling. He continued to preach, but soon lost his strength and his voice.

St. Bernardine of Siena died on May 20, 1444. Only six years later, in 1450, Pope Nicholas V canonized him as a saint.