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The Grotto is Open!

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The Grotto opened last week under the governor’s guidelines for the reopening of zoos, museums and gardens.

Hours of Operation: 9 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. daily.

Visiting Guidelines

Mass Information

Daily Spiritual Reflections

Provided by Fr. Don Siple, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Wednesday, July 8

“The names of the Twelve Apostles are these…” (Mt 10:2).

Being chosen for a team is exciting. Being chosen is an affirmation of our talents, gifts and abilities. Jesus chose the 12 Apostles because they possessed the most important quality, faith. Each of the 12 had faith in Jesus and each wanted to believe more deeply.

Being a follower of Jesus does not mean that one’s faith has to be perfect. The desire to grow deeper in faith is necessary to follow Jesus. Like other aspects of life, faith develops and grows when given a good environment (a welcoming heart), proper nourishment (quality prayer), and wholesome rest (trust in the Lord).

When the Apostles let their faith develop, they became fearless preachers of Jesus. As we let our faith develop, we begin to find hope and peace in the midst of life’s challenges. We know the unconditional love of God at all moments. Jesus chooses us because we have faith. He chooses us because our faith is precious to Him.

Tuesday, July 7

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Mt 9:38).

Throughout the many months of this pandemic we have heard the profound stories of the heroics of those on the frontlines. Medical professionals, EMTs, police and fire personnel, and so many others who have given time and talents to care for those suffering from COVID-19. Likewise, our hearts have warmed with the stories of neighbors using creative methods to care for each other.

Today, as we read Jesus’ words to pray for more laborers needed for the harvest, let us remember another group of heroes: the chaplains, lay ministers, and pastoral care persons who continue to serve the suffering. Whether lending a listening ear, celebrating the sacraments or praying with and for the ill and their families, the clergy and all pastoral care persons offer a necessary service to lift the spirits of all who feel the many burdens of fighting the coronavirus.

The cruelty of the virus has moved us all to greater kindness and compassion for each other. Today, offer a prayer for all who serve the ill and their families. Also, thank a medical person, EMT or clergy person today for their service. Let us be grateful for the service of so many heroes who labor for a healthy harvest.

Monday, July 6

“I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the LORD” (Hosea 2:21-22).

In these uncertain times how can a person find joy? Our joy is found in the fact that God has chosen us to receive the blessing of His love. Always close to us, God involves Himself in our lives bringing love and mercy in abundance.

To know God’s presence is to experience His faithfulness in all moments of life. Our joy is that God has chosen us and He will always choose us no matter what.

Sunday, July 5

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. (Mt 11:28).

One of the greatest blessings in life is having that one friend, or group of friends who know us well. They know what to say when we are struggling, and they know how to care for us when we are ill or feeling down. They support us, love us and nurture us. They are always honest with us.

Often life can feel labored and burdensome. We turn to our friends for assistance and support. Today, the Lord reminds us that in His friendship with us we can always turn to Him when we feel labored and burdened.

Our friend’s support gives us joy. The Lord’s support brings peace to our tired souls.

Saturday, July 4

A Prayer for Our Nation

Lord, our nation is blessed by your providence.
Bless those who govern and all citizens.
Grant us the wisdom to work for the common good that all living in this land may experience the joy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
May we thirst so deeply for peace that we passionately and diligently work for equal justice for all.
Give us the resolve to uphold the dignity of all that we see each other as friends and neighbors, teachers and mentors, forever learning that we are more similar than different.
Father, bless our land.
Amen.

Friday, July 3

Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Jn 20:29

The Apostle Thomas could only believe if he saw the marks of Jesus’s passion. When he did, Thomas believed. Thomas now saw life with a different perspective.

Faith does this. It changes our perspective. We are able to see the good in others. We find strength in illness. We have hope in challenging times. We become compassionate to the needs of others.

The perspective that faith gives is the ability to experience the faithful presence of God accompanying us in all of life’s moments. We may not be able to physically see Jesus, but we feel Him near: holding us, loving us and empowering us to share His love with others. In Jesus we walk by faith and not by sight. 

Thursday, July 2

And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” (Mt 9:2).

Mom, Rose and Fr. Bob. These three people, among many, taught me a great deal about how to live my faith in God. Often, these three prayerfully carried me to Jesus.

Our lives are filled with people whose faith in God inspires our relationship with the Lord. How blessed was the paralytic to have friends who brought him to Jesus. Displaying great love for their friend and faith in the Lord, they bring their sick friend to Jesus. We are not sure of the faith of the paralytic person, but the faith of his friends moved Jesus to forgive his sins and heal him.

Today, think of the people whose faith has inspired you. Think of the people who are praying for you. Maybe telephone or message them expressing your gratitude that their faith in Jesus and their love for you blesses your life. 

Wednesday, July 1

A Prayer for Today

Lord, today many things, temporal and spiritual, wage war against me.
Be my defender, my confidant and my peace.

Let me not get lost in the struggle, but let me learn that because you are with me I will move through this struggle to peace with you at my side.
Lord, strengthen my faith, for you are my hope.

Amen.

Tuesday, June 30

“Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he (Jesus) was asleep” (Mt 8:24).

What perfect confidence Jesus has! The storm rages, tossing the boat around and he sleeps. Did He not care about His safety and that of His disciples? Was He too tired to care to help? Of course not! Jesus always cares for the welfare of those He loves. He just knew that no storm, large or small could harm them. Jesus was confident that because He, the Lord of all, was in the boat, all would be well. The storm could not shake His inmost calm.

This profound confidence of Jesus is what He shows in our lives as well. Our hope is that when the storms rage Jesus is present, riding out the storm with us. His presence in the midst of the storm reminds us that nothing can ever separate us from Him. Nothing can ever able shake our inmost calm. Jesus is our hope because He calms the storms of life and brings us safely to the harbor of His love.

Monday, June 29

“But who do you say that I am” (Mt 16:15).

There comes a time in our lives when we have that “moment of truth”. When we stand upon our convictions with confidence and order our lives upon these convictions.

That moment came for St. Peter. Peter had been in Jesus’ company for some time. He listened to Jesus’ instructions, witnessed Jesus’ miracles and listened as people professed their faith in Jesus as the Chosen One of God. Now, it’s Peter’s turn. Jesus asked Peter and the disciples who they believed Him to be. Peter had come to that moment of truth. Was Jesus the Messiah or not? Could Peter risk putting his faith in Jesus? Would following Jesus bring Peter all that he hoped for? With faith and conviction Peter professes that Jesus is the Messiah. While Peter’s faith in Jesus is still developing, he knows that Jesus will bless this faith.

We are all like Peter. We believe in Jesus, but our faith continues to develop. Sometimes our faith in Jesus is strong. Other times we struggle to believe. Jesus simply asks us to believe in Him. He helps us to believe by unfolding His love into our lives at every moment.

Believing in Jesus does not have to be perfect. God works in our lives no matter what. Like Peter, we need to profess faith in Jesus and let our faith develop as we grow in relationship with the Lord. Today is our moment of truth. Will we have faith in Jesus? 

Sunday, June 28

Who inspires you? Whose words and actions inspire the way you live?

As Christians, Jesus must be our first inspiration. His words shape the understanding of ourselves and the world around us. His actions show us how to positively relate to others so that compassion and peace can flood the world.

Jesus reminds us that He is always close to us. Jesus and our relationship with Him must come first so that learning from Him how to love and live, we in turn do so with others, especially those close to us. Jesus must be our inspiration because His way is the means to an exciting and peaceful life. His way is the means to caring well for ourselves and for others.

We need the inspiration of others to teach and motivate us in living well. Our first inspiration needs to be Jesus because His way is always the means to a fuller and complete life here and in the hereafter. Jesus is our most important inspiration.

Saturday, June 27

Prayer to Our Lady

Most Holy Mother, I love you.
I thank Jesus for gifting me with you as my Mother
Mary, you found joy and hope in your life because you trusted that God would always be faithful to you.
Mother, pray that I may always find the strength to praise God in every moment of my life for I know that He is faithful in my life as well.
Mary, pray for me, for my family and for peace in the world.
Amen.

Tuesday, June 23

Do to others whatever you would have them do to you” (Mt 7:12).

How timely are these words from the Lord?

The world is fearful, tired, angry and seeming to lose hope. So many people are facing illness, loss of employment, and pondering how to move our society forward where peace and equal justice flourishes for all people.
Maybe we need to relearn the importance of the Golden Rule. Caring for others is not an extra-curricular activity of being human. It is a divine duty. Respecting the goodness of each other is not a suggestion, but a command from our God who treats all of us equally with respect, love, mercy and great kindness.

To care and respect others is to see that we are only as strong of a people as when we accept our differences as a means to greater understanding. That beneath the differences we are so very similar because we are all lovingly and carefully created by the same God who is Father of us all.

Today, let us resolve to live the Golden Rule as best as we can, for doing so can positively change our minds, hearts and world for the better.

Monday, June 22

A Servite Prayer to Mary

Holy Mary, mother and guide we come in prayer before you.
Virgin of the Annunciation, woman of the new Covenant: help young people to discover and to carry out God’s plan for them; support everyone in their commitment to always do God’s will.

Queen of mercy, protect families under your mantle, raise up the oppressed, console the afflicted, and bring comfort to those in need.

Mother and disciple of the Crucified Lord, our sister on the journey of faith: support your children in the trials of life, comfort them in their sickness and suffering, and be near to them at the hour of death.

Virgin assumed into heaven, first fruit of salvation: accompany us on our daily journey toward the new heaven and the new earth, where God, everlasting source of peace and joy, will be all in all, forever and ever.

Amen.

Sunday, June 21

A Prayer of Blessing for Fathers

God our Father,
in your wisdom and love you made all things.
Bless our Fathers,
that they may be strengthened as Christian fathers.
Let the example of their faith and love shine forth.
Grant that we, their sons and daughters,
may honor them always
with a spirit of profound respect.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

Adapted from the Book of Blessings.

Saturday, June 20

“and his mother kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51).

No person knows us better than our mothers. The relationship between a mother and a child goes beyond the fact that one gave birth to the other. There is a deep emotional and spiritual connection as well. A mother can feel what her child is experiencing thousands of miles away.

Because of the bond between mother and child, mothers play many roles in their children’s lives: teacher, physician, counselor, confessor, theologian, and cheerleader. A mother’s heart remembers not only the memories of the events of their children’s lives but feels these as well.

Mothers ponder the lives of their children, seeking ways to love and support then. Mothers ponder the lives of their children to prayerfully remember them before God. A mother’s heart is full of love for her children. We look to our mothers because they know us best.

In celebrating the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary today, we celebrate both Mary’s motherhood of Jesus and of us. On the Cross, just before He died, Jesus gave us Mary as our mother. In this role she teaches us how to trust God and how to live well in relationship with the Lord. She
reminds us to do what the Lord tell us that we may find hope and peace in life.

Mary’s heart is full of love for us, because like our earthly mothers, she wants what is best for us. She keeps us in her heart that she may bring us closer to Jesus that His love may always bless our lives.

Friday, June 19

For thousands of years humanity has believed the heart to be the keeper of emotions and memories. We speak of a kind person as having a “good heart”. Medical professionals remind us to be “heart-healthy” with our eating and exercise habits. When significant relationships fail, we experience a “broken heart”.

We understand the heart to be more than the muscle that keeps us alive. It is the keeper of our emotions and memories.

Today we celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This ancient image of Christ reminds us that God’s love is directed towards us. Our good, well-being and joy is what God desires for us. God’s heart beats for us because He is in love with us. The memories He has of us are not of our sins and failings, but that we are His greatest creation.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus lovingly beats for us. Celebrate today that YOU are God’s greatest love. His heart beats for you.

Thursday, June 18

One of the profound joys in life is having great friends who love us as we are. One of the great blessings in a day is having a conversation with a great friend.These conversations nurture and affirm us.

Daily prayer is meant to a conversation with our great friend, God. This conversation gives us a chance to hear the Lord remind us of how loved we are by Him. Likewise, prayer is our time to speak to God what we need to bless our lives.

Prayer is not about listing all the things that we want from God, but the moment to hear what God wants to do for us. When Jesus instructs us not to babble in prayer, He is inviting us to trust that God will bless us as He knows is best.

Faith assures us that God knows what we need. Faith invites us to trust God because God knows what we need to move through life in hope. Prayer is to be a conversation where God and we speak and listen to each other. The key to fruitful prayer is not to babble about what we need but to listen to the Lord tell us “I love you, I bless you, I hold you in the palm of my hand, do not worry.”

Like any great friend, God loves us and nurtures us, but we need to listen to Him to know this.

Wednesday, June 17

“When you give alms…When you pray…When you fast…”

Wait! Didn’t we read this Gospel passage on Ash Wednesday? Yes, we did.
Is it Lent in June, like Christmas in July? No, but rereading this text a second time in four months reiterates the place that these three spiritual practices are to have in our lives.

Almsgiving, prayer and fasting are meant to draw us closer to God (prayer), to love others (almsgiving), as we love ourselves (fasting). When practiced regularly these three disciplines help us to realize that in living the two commandments of Jesus, to love God and love others, we are the best version of ourselves.

We are social beings by nature. We were created to be in relationship. The primary relationship is with God whose love and blessings fill our lives. The secondary relationship is with others, building unity in the human family by caring for others, helping others to live well. Lastly, we honor ourselves and shine when we tackle our inner issues and concerns. Doing so we experience healing and a positive sense of self which shines brightly giving clarity to our goodness and our life’s purpose.

When almsgiving, prayer and fasting are regularly practiced we allow God’s to illumine the most important aspect of our lives: that by God’s grace we are always good and when we care for others we experience a joy that only divine love can provide.

Tuesday, June 16

A Prayer for Today

Father,
I am grateful for your love and kindness to me.
Lord, please heal the world of all that ails it.
Heal those who are ill.
Heal hearts that hurt from hatred and injustice.
May I see others as you do: good, loved and worthy of respect.
May I have the courage to do what I can to build a world where the dignity of all people of is reverenced and creation is honored as the reflection of your beauty.
Lord, change my heart to love as you do.
Amen.

Monday, June 15

“Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Mt 5:38).

St. Gregory of Nyssa teaches “the goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.”We know God to be merciful, loving and compassionate. Jesus taught us this. Being a disciple of Jesus is to train ourselves to offer compassionate responses to difficult and hurtful situations. We are not to look for ways to get even with someone but find responses to diffuse uneasy situations that can achieve peace: understanding, forgiveness, kindness and love.

It is never easy to be wronged, but if we choose to answer insult with injury, we choose not to give peace a chance to flourish. Our heavenly Father forgives our sins. The Lord Jesus forgave His executioners. We can learn to forgive and “turn the other cheek” in pursuit of our living more like Jesus and giving peace in the world a real chance,

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, put it well: ‘that old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.
To be a disciple of Jesus is to do the right thing, which is to become like God by living justly and responding to all situations in ways that give peace a real chance.

Sunday, June 14

The Eucharist is the real presence of Christ come to nourish us. The Eucharist defines us as the blessed and favored children of God. The Eucharist is our mission to build unity in the human family born from the Father’s love. The Eucharist is the experience of taking God into our lives
that He may deeply love us past our sins to redemption and holiness.

Holy Communion is the moment of bowing before God and taking God into our lives that Christ’s flesh becomes ours and His blood flows through the veins of our lives. The Eucharist is God coming to us with the desire to be one with us. To believe in the Eucharist as the real presence of Jesus is to believe that we are only as good as when we let God inhabit our lives through the Eucharist we partake with Him. Why would any Catholic not want God so close as when receiving Him in the Eucharist at Holy Communion? It is like trying to make bread without flour, water and yeast.

Today, as we celebrate the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus, the Lord calls us to deep and life-giving communion with him. Our response is easy and simple if we want to believe, if we hunger for life and peace in abundance. The Eucharist is God’s greatest gift to us. May we receive Him often with reverence and love.

Saturday, June 13

Today, the church remembers St. Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan friar of the 13th century. St. Anthony was both learned in theology and a man of great faith. Popularly St. Anthony is known as the patron saint of lost items. It is thought that this aspect of the saint’s life was due to a book of psalms that was taken from Anthony by another friar. The saint prayed for the book to be returned and it was by the one who took it. The little phrase associated with St. Anthony and lost articles is “St. Anthony, please look around; something is lost and must be found.” Many a devout and not so devout Catholic call upon St. Anthony for assistance in finding a lost article.

Many of us lose things each day. Are we also aware of the important things that can be lost or neglected? Things like joy, hope and faith? Many events, people and ideas challenge us often throughout the day. It can be easy to give into feeling sad, despair and doubt when we are feeling challenged with trying to navigate small and great things. But we are reminded that in
God’s closeness to us we have an ally who wants to help us in such moments. St. Anthony always preached that hope and help in all of life’s trials was God’s closeness to us.

Today, as we feel the burdens of many things, many challenges, many tasks, let’s be hopeful and ask for God’s help. He will help us see our way through these moments to experience peace when we feel lost.

Friday, June 12

You are welcome here … here to this holy, quiet place where God’s love is reflected in the beauty of His creation, in the smiles of our staff and in the prayers of the Friars and Sisters.

You are welcome here to celebrate your blessings and to pray for your needs.

You are welcome here to find hope for your troubled heart and rest from your labors.

You are welcome here to worship God or to find Him in your questions.

You are welcome here to learn about love from Mary, Jesus’ mother, whose life was surrounded in the love of the Father.

You are welcome here to laugh and to cry; to ponder and to marvel.

You are welcome here to just be, and we pray the you will always how loved you are as God’s favored child.

You are welcome here.