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A New Heaven and A New Earth
By Kelly Swan

As a young, white, upper-middle-class child, I remember having total faith in the simplicity, functionality, and justice of systems—everything from municipal waste collection and education to criminal justice and the foster care system. I truly believed that all intentions were good, that all sides were fairly considered, that systems would run as expected—and that systems always held in mind the best interests of each individual person.

This belief shifted, painfully and slowly, but surely, as I encountered lives and communities outside my own—beginning with my step from a small Catholic elementary school to a large public Appalachian high school, then to a struggling small city in college, and to a large east coast city afterward.

It further shifted as I’ve moved in new spaces as the mother of children with learning challenges and medical issues, and formed adult friendships with people whose lives and experiences don’t mirror my own. The systems do not work for everyone—even when they work for me…and people who speak like me, live like me, and look like me.

In today’s second reading from Revelations, the author speaks of “a new heaven and a new earth.” God declares: “Behold, I make all things new.” This, paired with the call to love one another in John’s Gospel, is a powerful reminder of our call as people of faith—and particularly those of us who walk through the world with the privilege of systems that work for us.

We are called to build “a new Jerusalem”—to re-envision the world to challenge and destroy the unjust systems that bring pain, mourning, wailing, and death. We are called to ultimately place love for humanity at the forefront of all that we do, in great hope that someday all children, all people, might have justified faith in the goodness of the world around them.


Easter Challenges
By Jocelyn Sideco

During this Easter season, live fuller, more overjoyed, perhaps maybe a little more uncomfortable as you challenge yourself to live and love closer to one another.

  1. Believe in life beyond death:historical Jesus existed, and we are part of a great Christian legacy. This brown man’s example brought healing to segregation and marginalization. He teaches us that people are not the broken ones, our society—our laws, our customs, and the stories we tell our ourselves to maintain our power—is what is broken. Jesus surrendered into our anxieties to show that love and closeness are the anecdotes to separation and fear.
  2. Live into vulnerability and follow women of color:not because we are perfect, but because we have the most desire to thrive within a society that dismisses us. We are quick to go to the suffering because we know this all too well. Go there with us. Go there often. Like Mary and the other Mary did the day after the Sabbath, go to the tomb to weep. Be surprised by an earthquake and listen to the instructions on what to do next. Go to the people who have been most hurt, damaged, destroyed by society.
  3. Refuse to be bribed:There are people and organizations who will try to buy your loyalty in order to construct a narrative that maintains their power. If their power brings about radical inclusion and belonging, then this is of God. If their power brings about lies, deceit, and distance from the most marginalized, then this is clearly not of God.

Pray with this Mexican Proverb these 50 days of Easter: They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds


Oh Death, Where is Your Victory?
By Bishop Mark J. Seitz

Reflexión en Español

BROKEN, SMASHED, SHATTERED! All our presuppositions, all our rash judgments, all our hopeless meanderings, all our sins scattered across the ground! They are strewn like so much exploded shrapnel littering the ground outside an empty tomb.

Just when we thought that life had died, that the brokenness of the world had consumed its Maker. Just when it seemed that the hardness of human hearts had proved greater than mercy and compassion and forgiveness. In the midst of that dark night of pain, Love arose and conquered! Broken humanity is healed from within!

Here on the border between Texas and Mexico in a place named “El Paso” we daily witness at a very local level one example of what is ultimately a cosmic struggle between love and hate, solidarity and division, accompaniment and isolation, life and death.

Destitute families flee to our border, escaping the chaos of an evil nexus between narco-trafficking gangs and corrupt government officials and then navigating a minefield of threats to their lives as they pass through Mexico. Then they face new abuses at the hands of those responsible for U.S. border security. Those treated as the refuse of the world might well be expected to be broken and hopeless by the time they reach our shelters.

That is not the case! They are wary as they descend from the Homeland Security buses, but they are far from hopeless. We volunteers gather to assist them, but their undying Faith raises us up. They ask us to pray and then they teach us how to pray with utter confidence. In that trust they continue the long journey.

Yes, it may have appeared that human depravity—our own and that of others—had broken us. But in the end, in union with our poor migrant brothers and sisters, we give witness: Christ is RISEN, sin and death destroyed! Alleluia!


Christianity is not a collection of truths to be believed, rules to be followed, or prohibitions. Seen that way, it puts us off. Christianity is a person who loved me immensely, who demands and asks for my love. CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST (emphasis mine) – Saint Oscar Romero, “Su pensamiento,” quoted by Pope Francis, “Christus vivit,” 156


The Daughter of a Carpenter
By Dr. Mary J. Wardell-Ghirarduzzi

I have been brokenhearted, yet not broken. I recall finding my father, seemingly asleep, on a beautiful April Sunday. This day would mark the beginning of me learning what brokenheartedness felt like.

I was nine years old and had run ahead of my mother and younger sister after Sunday church service. My family lived within walking distance to our church and I had made that journey home many Sundays. By this age, I was known as the child who would skip, not walk, way ahead of everyone else in my family. Running ahead was forbidden, yet skipping was a fine compromise. After church each week, I would say goodbye to my Sunday School friends and wait for my mom and sister to come out of the crowd.  As we start walking, I’d make my beeline back home.

I looked behind regularly to make sure I was not too far out of my mother’s sight—as long as she could see me within the block’s distance, I was safe skipping ahead. Once we turned the last corner, I ran the rest of the way to our home, 1132 South Lincoln Street. I pushed open the walk-in gate, ran up the path, up the front steps, and burst into the unlocked screen door. Dad would anticipate our arrival home right about that early afternoon hour. The front door was generally opened to allow the fresh air in and the screen door would be unlocked. Actually, in those days, the front and back doors were often unlocked for us kids to come in and out as we needed.

Dad was sitting in his favorite chair, sleeping. That was not unusual. He was an early riser, even on Sunday. And when he didn’t go to church with us, which was often, he would work on something around the home or in the yard. By noon he would have been up for hours and be ready for a midday nap. He had mastered sleeping upright in his favorite dining room chair—often he would have the local newspaper opened.

There was something different about him this time. When I made all that noise coming through the front screen day, he didn’t wake up. I announced my return upon arrival and said when I saw him sleeping in his spot, “Hi Dad!” He did not respond to me. I said his name several times. He didn’t wake up. At nine-years-old I knew something wasn’t right. I touched Dad and gently shook his arm. Maybe it was his shoulder that I shook, I’m not quite sure which one it was. All I know for sure is that he slumped a bit downward in his chair. I stood still. He never fell out of his seat.

My father has been gone for a long time now—more than 40 years. Yet I can recall with great detail the imprint of those nine precious years that I had with him: how he sent me to fetch whatever household tools he needed so he didn’t have to stop whatever work he was doing—“Juanita, go get me that hammer,” or “can you hand me the Phillips screwdriver,” or “bring me that rake for the grass,” or “a broom to sweep the workshop.” As an active and curious girl, I was readily prepared to gather whatever items my father may need. He was a carpenter, after all, a laborer to be specific, as noted as his profession on my birth certificate; a man who worked with his hands. And I was his daughter. A daughter of a carpenter.

Discovering my father’s unresponsive body on that beautiful Sunday morning in April before Easter broke my heart. It would take years for me to sort through and understand what it all meant. I have grieved his passing and I feel his loss to this day. I still miss my father.

I have been brokenhearted, yet I was not broken. Perhaps because my father is with me today. He remains in me through those early experiences, memories, and lessons learned about how to live and what matters. He taught me how to be resourceful and handy. He modeled how to enjoy work and make the most of your time. He lives through me.

Psalm 34:19 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” Yes, indeed.


The following is a poem by Jessica Powers, Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD (1905-1988) – The poem appears as a Reflection in “Give us this Day” – Here I reproduce the poem from “The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers,” ICS Publications, Washington, DC
             THE SIGN OF THE CROSS
            The lovers of Christ lift out their hands to
            the great gift of suffering
            For how could they seek to be warmed or clothed
            and delicately fed
            to wallow in praise and to drink deep draughts
            of an undeserved affection,
            have castle for home and a silken couch for bed,
            when He the worthy went forth, wounded and hated,
            and grudged of even a place to lay His head?
            This is the badge of the friends of the Man of Sorrows:
            the mark of the cross, faint replica of His,
             become ubiquitous now; it spreads like wild blossom
             on the mountains of time and in each of the crevices.
             Oh, seek that land where it grows in a rich abundance
              for wherever Christ walks He casts its seed
              and He scatters its purple petals.
              It is the flower of His marked elect, and the fruit
              it bears is divine
              Choose it, my heart. It is a beautiful sign.


The Only Way to Easter
By Sr. Simone Campbell, S.S.S.

Good Friday—the day of anguish for those of us who follow Jesus. As a consequence of Jesus lifting up the needs of those who were suffering, he was condemned to death. As a consequence of irritating the religious leaders, Jesus was condemned to death. As a consequence of NOT “going along to get along,” Jesus was condemned to death.

What a challenging road to follow!

Today in our nation, we followers are called to similar actions. We approach many blind politicians and urge them to respond to the needs of low income and struggling people in our society—and they call us socialists.

We approach the Trump administration to get them to stop imposing punitive policies that tear families apart at the border—and they call us traitors.

I get invited to speak at a parish as part of their Lenten series and then I get uninvited because I am considered too controversial.

We are not literally condemned to death these days, but faithfulness has a price.

The good news amongst the suffering is that in the struggle for fidelity, we are seen by our loving God. As the reading from Hebrews points out: Jesus the Christ is not separate or apart. Jesus the Christ knows our struggles because he lived them too. Jesus the Christ remained faithful “unto death.”

In this turbulent world, let us make our every breath a prayer that we might be faithful to those living in economic poverty and struggling to find their way. Let us make every breath a prayer for our beleaguered earth. Let us make every breath a prayer for help to live Jesus’ way of love—without regard for the consequences.

My fellow Christians, together let us “take courage and be stouthearted all who hope in the Lord.” This communal quest is the only way to Easter.