Monthly Archives: July 2018

Readings for the 17th Week b

2 Kgs 4:42-44/Eph 4:1-6/Jn 6:1-15 (110)

30 Monday
[Saint Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church]
Jer 13:1-11/Mt 13:31-35 (401)

31 Tuesday Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
Jer 14:17-22/Mt 13:36-43 (402)


1 Wed Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Jer 15:10, 16-21/Mt 13:44-46 (403)

2 Thursday
[Saint Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop; Saint Peter Julian Eymard, Priest]
Jer 18:1-6/Mt 13:47-53 (404)

3 Friday
Jer 26:1-9/Mt 13:54-58 (405)

4 Saturday Saint John Vianney, Priest
Jer 26:11-16, 24/Mt 14:1-12 (406)

Trials of a Mary Garden

We’re creating a Mary Garden in our monastery garden these days and at the same time we’re reading the parable of the sower in our liturgy. (Matthew 13, 18-23) Today Jesus explains why the seed doesn’t produce fruit. Our world is like hard rocky soil where the seed gets chocked by thorns, where birds or the Evil One take it away. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is responding to the opposition he faces in his ministry as he promises God’s mercy.

Even so, the Sower keeps sowing seed.

Sowing the seed isn’t easy, the parable says. Creating our Mary Garden won’t be easy either. The weather these days isn’t cooperating, for one thing. Hot humid weather and sudden rainstorms are like our parable’s rocky soil and swooping birds. Some of the flowers and plants we were hoping to plant have suddenly become unavailable. But we hope the garden will be ready by the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, August 15th.

The Mary Garden is not a little summer day project. Like the parable, it’s meant to teach us.. Mary Gardens appeared in 14th century Europe following the Black Death, a pandemic that caused millions to die in that part of the world. The gardens, usually found in monasteries and religious shrines, were meant to bring hope to people who feared the earth was bringing them death.

The Mary Garden is a reminder of the garden described in the Book of Genesis that God created for Adam and Eve. The garden brought beauty and healing and nourishment to the representatives of humanity. As we face climate change, a changing, challenging earth, we need to reminded of what the earth gives us– a sense of beauty, medicines that heal us, food that feeds us. We need to care for it.

Mary, “mother of the living,” reminds us of the promises of Jesus Christ, who brings us life.
Honoring her, we’re creating a Mary Garden, which we hope to dedicate on August 15th.

My mother told me as a boy years ago in Bayonne, New Jersey, there was a blessing in the water that day, and so we would go for a swim in the Newark Bay– hardly a place to go for a blessing today. I discovered later that August 15 was the day for blessing medicinal herbs in Europe. People would bring medicinal herbs from their gardens to the water of the sea, to holy wells, to the baptistery of the church for blessing. Afterwards, they would place a sprig of the blessed herb over the bed of the last born child.

God brings life to us through the earth.

A good custom to revive? I think so, but keep away from the Newark Bay.


Praying with Mary and Ann

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Western Wall, Jerusalem

Yesterday’s  Feast of Saints Ann and Joachim, the parents of Mary, the mother of Jesus, July 26, reminds us of the role parents and grandparents play in raising children.  A few years ago I visited the ancient ruins of the temple in Jerusalem from the time of Jesus and  Jewish women were fervently praying with their daughters before the temple’s western wall. They were probably praying the psalms.

Ann and her daughter Mary must have prayed here too.


The picture above is a model of the temple from Jesus’ time at the Israel Museum. Tradition says Ann and Joachim were closely connected to the temple and may have lived nearby.  A church honoring St. Ann stands today near the Pool of Bethesda, where  a paralyzed man was healed by Jesus. (John 5, 1-18) The church (below) and the remains of the pool are to the right of the temple.

st.ann basilica

Church of St. Ann, Jerusalem

A statue of Ann and her daughter Mary, common in many Catholic churches,  can be found in the Jerusalem church. Ann is teaching her daughter at her side.


What is she teaching her? Some statues I’ve seen show her teaching Mary the scriptures. I’ve seen a statue showing Ann teaching her the ABCs and numbers. (below)That’s what parents and grandparents do: they teach children life’s basics: how to live and how to pray.


Cathedral, Tegucigalpa, Honduras

It’s still the same today. Parents and grandparents, the next generation is at your side. Ann and Joachim pray for us; show us the way.


by Orlando Hernandez

In this Thursday’s Gospel (Mt 13: 10-17) our Lord is asked by His disciples why He speaks to the crowds in parables. I used to think that in this passage Jesus sounds almost disdainful as He talks of those who “look, but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.” They do not seem to deserve the healing that in Isaiah’s prophesy God refuses to give them. I think of the harsh sermons that I remember hearing fearfully when I was a child and went to church. We are so undeserving.

However, our Lord is all goodness and mercy. He cannot have bad feelings toward anyone. This is a vital “knowledge of the Kingdom of Heaven” that I feel He has granted me! I truly believe that He loved those “crowds” who mostly rejected what He taught. But, He could not help but point out that, for the most part, “Gross is the heart of this people” and they were unable to “understand within their hearts” that the Creator of the universe was giving them the very gift of Himself
My wife Berta always tells me that the Passion of our Lord was taking place within Him throughout all His ministry. Jesus must have felt great sorrow as He went about trying to reach the people. They seem to want the miracle and the spectacle, but the message of Salvation and eternal life was beyond them. The Sermon on the Mount was too much for them to understand or accept. Things have not changed. In our modern world what can we followers of Christ tell others that will open their eyes, their understanding, their hearts? Look at Jesus’ frustration in the Gospel. Can we do any better?

I used to think that in Thursday’s Gospel Jesus is saying that He talks to the unbelievers through parables in order to confuse, insult, and reject them. I can’t believe that anymore. In his book “Jesus, a Pilgrimage,” Fr. James Martin says that parables were ways to reach the people through the things they understood: farm life, fishing, home-building, the nature surrounding them, human relations. Jesus must have known that so much of His teaching was beyond their understanding. Perhaps the stories and similes were meant to catch their attention and stimulate their imaginations, like seeds planted hopefully in the soil of their hearts, whether rocky, compacted, weed-ridden, obstinate, or uninterested.

Were the chosen disciples so much better off than these crowds? Yes, Jesus gave them a good amount of healing and knowledge. For His own divine reasons He had also put into their hearts the supernatural gift of faith. But did they really comprehend the vast mystery of God’s Glory and Love? They certainly had a long painful road ahead in order to achieve enough joy and understanding of who Jesus really was in order to become truly committed to the demands of discipleship.

When I sit at Mass I feel like a member of both the undeserving crowd and the circle of disciples. When I hear the modern parables of the priests’ homilies, do I have ears to listen to what God is telling me? When I look around, do I have the eyes to see the presence of the living God in the people that surround me? When the broken, wounded Host is raised before me (“Behold the Lamb of God, Behold Him…”) is my heart pure enough that I might truly see Him, the Eternal God?

Lord, You are such a mystery to me. Sometimes my link to You seems so tenuous. And yet Your gift of faith has been planted in my heart. I do not want to let You go. Please don’t let me go. But, most importantly, I beg You, have mercy on those unbelieving “crowds.” Touch their hearts, show them who You are!

Orlando Hernández

Readings for the 16th Week

Jer 23:1-6/Eph 2:13-18/Mk 6:30-34 (107)

23 Monday
[Saint Bridget, Religious]
Mi 6:1-4, 6-8/Mt 12:38-42 (395)

24 Tuesday
Passionist Martyrs of Damiel
Mi 7:14-15, 18-20/Mt 12:46-50 (396)

25 Wednesday Saint James, Apostle
2 Cor 4:7-15/Mt 20:20-28 (605)

26 Thursday Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary Memorial
Jer 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13/Mt 13:10-17 (398)

27 Friday
Jer 3:14-17/Mt 13:18-23 (399)

28 Saturday
Jer 7:1-11/Mt 13:24-30 (400)